Billy Andrade carries local banner into Mitsubishi Electric Classic

Billy Andrade tees off on the first hole during the final round of the Mitsubishi Electric Classic in 2021 at TPC Sugarloaf in Duluth. (Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com)

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

caption arrowCaption
Billy Andrade tees off on the first hole during the final round of the Mitsubishi Electric Classic in 2021 at TPC Sugarloaf in Duluth. (Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com)

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Now in his ninth season on the PGA Tour Champions, Billy Andrade has become the de facto ambassador for the Mitsubishi Electric Classic. He’s accepted his role as “the Atlanta guy” in his adopted hometown and would like nothing better than make it career victory No. 4 on the senior circuit.

“I tried like hell back in the day when the BellSouth was here and came close a few times then,” Andrade said. “Every player, wherever they live, wants to win at home. And it would be very special to pull one out here.”

Andrade came close a year ago, finishing two shots behind winner Dicky Pride to land in fifth place. And, like most players, he replayed a few shots when the day was over, thinking what might have been.

ExploreLocal golf: Allison Fillmore leaves Tour Championship for PGA Tour post

He nearly jarred his approach shot on the par-4 16th hole, but it rolled 10 feet past the cup, and he settled for par. He had a 25-foot eagle putt on the 18th hole but could not convert.

“So if I birdie 17, eagle 18, you know, I’m the winner, right?” he said. “But then again, everybody’s doing the same stuff coming down the stretch, and you just try to play the best you can and see what happens.”

The difference on the Tour Champions circuit is putting. And players must hit the gas pedal from the first round because the tournaments are 54 holes, not 72 holes.

Andrade, 58, has retained his youthful look and still weighs in at 160 pounds. His commitment to fitness has helped him remain competitive and avoid the sort of back and knee problems that often plague players as they get older.

“Every player, wherever they live, wants to win at home. And it would be very special to pull one out here."

- golfer Billy Andrade

“I’ve been blessed that I haven’t had any significant major injuries,” he said. “I’ve been taking care of myself and working out throughout my career on the PGA Tour. I think that’s a huge deal, and guys that have kept themselves in good shape can handle the bumps of playing professional golf again.

“And I just love the game. I love (to) play. I love competing, and I would say most of the guys out here have that same mindset. This is a pretty special place to be to be over 50. To have a second act for your career, a third act for your career, it’s really really, cool. No other spot can do this.”

In addition to a successful playing career, Andrade has been a trailblazer in terms of charity and giving. Few professionals donate as much time and energy to worthy organizations as does Andrade. Giving back is personal to Andrade, who saw firsthand the struggles faced by his older brother, who was mentally challenged.

“At a young age on the Tour, I saw a few guys doing charity stuff and having tournaments here and there,” Andrade said. “I was on an Arnold Palmer scholarship at Wake Forest, and Arnold talked about the doors that golf can open. All that stuff stuck with me.”

Andrade still was a young man on the PGA Tour when he and Brad Faxon, his pal from their days growing up in Rhode Island, in 1999 created what is now the CVS Caremark Classic. It benefits their favorite charities in their hometowns.

Andrade since has joined with Stewart Cink to create the East Lake Invitational, an annual event that benefits the East Lake Foundation.

“It’s just an avenue where you have the means to meet all these other people, and you ask them to help you raise money,” Andrade said. “I think it’s important, and what makes me feel really cool is that we were really the first to start it back in the 1990s, and now you have these young kids on the Tour that are raising money for charities that are near and dear to their hearts.”

The PGA Tour has raised more than $3 billion in all-time giving.

The Mitsubishi Electric Classic begins Friday and finishes Sunday.

About the Author

Editors' Picks