11:16 PM

5 things to watch, including UPDATED parking added at Epic 6/22 ... and SHAQ


There's so much to see and do at the AmFam Champ, but here are five things to watch starting June 22 when the tournament opens; and fans should note changes for parking due to rainy weather. And look for a very BIG special visitor to the course on Friday.

The 2018 American Family Insurance Championship starts Friday, with opening ceremonies on the No. 1 tee at 8:15 a.m. (CDT) followed by tee times beginning at 8:50 a.m.

  1. The players: The 78-player field is arguably the strongest on this year’s PGA TOUR Champions, with all of the top 10 players in this year’s Charles Schwab Cup race, 14 of the top 15 and 37 of the top 40. Fred Couples returns as defending champion, joined by player-host Steve Stricker, Jerry Kelly, Davis Love III, Bernard Langer, Vijay Singh and other stars.

  2. The celebrities: NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal will make an appearance at the championship on Friday. He will be at the 18th green at approximately 1:30 p.m. and the American Family exhibit next to the clubhouse at 2 p.m. Later Friday, he will perform at Madison’s Breese Stevens Field as part of the REO Speedwagon, Sara Evans and A Thousand Horses concert.In addition to second-round play, Saturday will feature the championship’s traditional celebrity foursome. Players will include newcomer and PGA TOUR Hall of Famer Lee Trevino and returnees, Green Bay Packer great Brett Favre, New York Yankee star Derek Jeter and two-time U.S. Open champion Andy North. The group will play a 9-hole scramble, starting on the 10th hole at approximately 1:30 p.m., following the final tournament group for the day.

  3. Parking and traffic: Due to soggy conditions from recent rains, general public parking will shift Friday from the course to off-site locations, where fans will be shuttled to the championship’s front entrance. Off-site parking for fans will begin at Verona High School at 300 Richard Street, Verona, and Badger Ridge Middle School at 740 N. Main Street, Verona. When those lots are full, fans will be diverted to other locations. Shuttle service will begin at 5:30 a.m., with tournament gates opening at 7 a.m., and continue for the entire day. Public parking plans for Saturday will be determined Friday afternoon. Read more on parking plans for the general public, volunteers, sponsors, caddies and media. Large crowds and nearby road construction also may cause traffic delays. Fans are encouraged to plan accordingly and give themselves extra time.UPDATE!! Fans should first go to Verona Schools and then we have added parking at Epic - follow signs to parking area.

  4. The course and amenities: Public bleacher seating on the course has been expanded by 40 percent over last year, with new or additional bleachers on the No. 1 tee, No. 15 tee, No. 17 green and No. 18 green. Bleacher seating is also available next to the 14th green. The 17th hole, a challenging par-3 over water, is a fan favorite, with a stadium-like atmosphere around the green that includes the Leinie Lodge beer garden. Concessions and restrooms are available near the clubhouse and on the course for fans who like to walk and watch their favorite players.

  5. The cause: The incredible support of fans, sponsors, volunteers, players and PGA TOUR Champions, the American Family Insurance Championship has already raised more than $2.7 million for the American Family Children’s Hospital and other charities, like REACH-A-Child and First Tee of South Central Wisconsin. The Steve Stricker American Family Insurance Foundation thanks you for making this charitable success possible and for continuing it this year and beyond.

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About the American Family Insurance Championship
American Family Insurance, the PGA TOUR Champions and PGA TOUR star and Wisconsin resident Steve Stricker launched this professional golf tournament in June 2016. The American Family Insurance Championship, held annually at University Ridge Golf Course in Madison, Wis., features a 78-player field. Past champions include Fred Couples (2017) and Kirk Triplett (2016). Championship week includes the three-day tournament, two Pro-Am competitions, charity concert and a special exhibition featuring celebrities from the sports and music industries. The 2018 event will be held June 18-24 with all proceeds allocated to the Steve Stricker American Family Insurance Foundation for distribution to the American Family Children’s Hospital and other charities. More than $2.7 million has been donated to charity since the inaugural event in 2016. For more information: Web: www.AmFamChampionship.com; Twitter: @AmFamChamp; Facebook: American Family Insurance Championship; Instagram: amfamchampionship #AmFamChamp

About PGA TOUR Champions
PGA TOUR Champions is a membership organization of professional golfers age 50 and older, including 35 members of the World Golf Hall of Fame. The Tour’s mission is to provide financial opportunities for its players, entertain and inspire its fans, deliver substantial value to its partners, create outlets for volunteers to give back and generate significant charitable and economic impact in tournament communities. In 2018, the PGA TOUR Champions schedule includes 27 tournaments across the United States, Scotland and Canada, with purses totaling more than $56 million. The Charles Schwab Cup, which includes the Regular Season and the Charles Schwab Cup Playoffs, is used to determine the season-long champion. All events are televised in the United States, with most receiving complete coverage on Golf Channel, the exclusive cable-television partner of PGA TOUR Champions. Internationally, telecasts air in excess of 190 countries and territories, reaching more than 330 million potential households. Follow PGA TOUR Champions online at PGATOUR.COM, at facebook.com/PGATOURChampions, on Twitter @ChampionsTour and on Instagram @pgatourchampions.