U.S. Senior Open players get surprise visit inside Notre Dame Stadium for check-in

June 27, 2019

A town usually defined by its football is taking a swing at a smaller ball this week. The U.S. Senior Open is set to tee off on Warren Golf Course at Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind., just the second university course to host a USGA championship. Vijay Singh, Tom Watson and defending champion David Toms highlight the field.

But before that takes full attention, the players got to soak in the full Fighting Irish experience. Player check-in was at Notre Dame Stadium, which apparently included a tour of the field, a trip inside the locker room, customized jerseys and golden helmets of their own. Some paid a visit to “Touchdown Jesus” — a mural overlooking Notre Dame Stadium.

Players and coaches flooded social media with excitement.

Some were eager to display their dual-sport prowess. Others… well… might want to keep their day job.

The tour included an act that will resonate with golfers and football players alike: touching the famed “Play Like a Champion Today” sign, a long-time Notre Dame tradition. The players hope the symbolic gesture brings them luck this week — though, it should be noted, Notre Dame football hasn’t won a national championship in over 30 years. Perhaps the luck of the Irish isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

The football invocations didn’t stop there, of course. Jerome Bettis and Tim Brown — both former Notre Dame football players — are the honorary tournament chairmen. Plenty more former players will likely emerge from the woodwork this week.

Still, while South Bend bides its time until mid-September, the town appears primed to expand its sports repertoire.

“Notre Dame is so recognized for football and football games, but we’ve really expanded and broadened our capabilities and our welcome,” said Father John Jenkins, the school’s President, to the IndyStar. “We have Premier (League) soccer coming in this summer. We have some concerts, and this just rounds out that welcome for Notre Dame, but also for the region and the city, as we become a destination for so many.”