Stephen Ames aims for repeat-theme birthday party at Mitsubishi

Stephen Ames tees off in the Thursday pro-am at the Mitsubishi Electric Classic, April 25, 2024, at TPC Sugarloaf in Duluth. (Photo by David King)

Credit: David King

Credit: David King

Stephen Ames tees off in the Thursday pro-am at the Mitsubishi Electric Classic, April 25, 2024, at TPC Sugarloaf in Duluth. (Photo by David King)

The way Stephen Ames plays the TPC Sugarloaf, it would not be surprising to see him celebrate his 60th birthday Sunday by being handed another Mitsubishi Electric Classic championship trophy on the 18th green.

He gave himself an early birthday present this week by participating in the Porsche Experience, hitting speeds of 110 mph on the straightaways. He has a group of family and friends in town for the tournament and would like nothing better than to make the day a two-for-one event.

“We have probably about 20 people going to Frankie’s, so we’ll have a couple glasses of wine,” Ames said. “It would be nice to celebrate two things, so we’ll see what happens. That’s kind of the goal right there, 60th and another win, which would be great.”

Ames won the tournament a year ago by four shots. His first win on the PGA Tour Champions circuit came at Sugarloaf in 2017. He tied for sixth there in 2019. He likes the place so well that he’s on a first-name basis with the guard at the entrance gate.

“The funny thing is that to my eye the golf course suits me,” he said. “Design-wise, it doesn’t. Overall, the course, it’s in front of you. You know what you need to do and what you have to do. Certain courses, you look at it and go, ‘Why am I hitting it over here’ sort of thing. This one is right in front of you. You pick your line, you put your best swing and it comes out, which is nice. It’s kind of fair.”

Ames had to navigate through some drama at Sugarloaf a year ago. He and his caddie had just parted ways – “I was fired by my caddie,” he said – and he had little time to line up a replacement. He called on his son, Ryan, to come in and work the bag and the family connection paid off with a win.

“The most important part that week was the fact I had Ryan on the bag with me and we had a wonderful, fun week,” Ames said. “Obviously, the win actually capitalized the whole week there for us together.”

He’s off to another good start this season. Ames won the seventh PGA Tour Champions title of his career in February when he claimed the rain-shortened Chubb Classic. In six events, he has four top-10s and stands at No. 3 on the Charles Schwab Cup points list.

“Always fun to be back here in Atlanta,” he said. “The golf course is in great shape. Actually probably in better shape than it was last year, and this year looks like the weather is going to be cooperative and be nice and warm, so that will be nice.”

Ames has more than $9.2 million in winnings since joining the Champions tour. That’s a nice addition to the $19.7 million he earned while playing the PGA Tour, where he won four times, including the 2006 Players Championship.

And while Ames had an outstanding career, he believes he’s a more efficient golfer now that he’s gotten older.

“The main one is the fact that I’m staying healthier,” he said. “I’m constantly in the gym trying to keep up. We have to at our ages. That’s probably the difference between the younger guys coming up and the older guys going out.

“I mean, Bernard (Langer) is a classic example of that, very fit at 66 now. He’s still capable of winning out here. I think that’s the benefit of being there or trying to keep yourself there. That’s what I’m trying to do also.”

Two-time Mitsubishi Electric Classic champion Stephen Ames gives a fist bump to his pro-am partner on Thursday at TPC Sugarloaf, April 25, 2024. Ames won last year's tournament by four shots.

Credit: Davod King

icon to expand image

Credit: Davod King