A golf tour that makes turning old appealing drops in on the Big Island this week to open its 22nd season.
The Senior PGA Tour plays the 18th annual MasterCard Championship tomorrow through Sunday at Hualalai Golf Club. The PGA Tour Resort was designed by Jack Nicklaus and opened in 1996 at Kaupulehu-Kona.
WHAT: Senior PGA tournament of champions, season-opening event
WHEN: From 8 a.m. tomorrow and 9 a.m. Saturday and Sunday
WHERE: Hualalai PGA Tour Resort, Big Island (Par 36-36-72, 7,053 yards)
PURSE: $1.4 million ($240,000 first prize)
FIELD: 32 Senior PGA Tour champions from 1999 and 2000 and major champions from past five years, including defending champion George Archer (9-under 207)
ADMISSION: $10 daily, $20 tournament pass (all week). Children 12-under free with ticket-bearing adult.
TV COVERAGE (all times HST): PAX-Tomorrow 9-11 a.m. CNBC-Saturday 1-3 p.m. and Sunday 1-3 p.m.
Nicklaus is one of the 32 seniors in the field, which brings together tournament champions from the past two years, and major champions from the past five. Nicklaus, defending champion George Archer and Lee Trevino who are all older than 60 give the event a trio of "Super Seniors."
Archer closed with a 69 in howling winds to beat Trevino, Graham Marsh, Hale Irwin and Dana Quigley by two shots last year. He became the first player older than 60 to win the season-opening event, and only the third to win it twice.
"I plan to win this every 10 years," Archer quipped.
The tournament purse has been upped $200,000, to $1.4 million, with the winner getting $240,000. It is part of a 38-tournament, $59 million season for the planets best senior golfers.
Theres more. The tour is starting the Charles Schwab Cup, a season-long points race that will pay $2.1 million in annuity bonus money. The player with the most points after Octobers Senior Tour Championship gets $1 million in 10 annual installments.
The tour is also beginning a four-year television agreement with CNBC and PAX TV, which will broadcast 33 events, including Hualalai.
The players in this field have won some 500 events on the regular and senior tours. Last place here is worth $12,250.
SHORT PUTTS: Raymond Floyd and Christy OConnor withdrew from the event because of injuries. ... Along with defending champion George Archer, previous MasterCard winners Jack Nicklaus (1994), Hale Irwin (1997), Gil Morgan (1998) and John Jacobs (1999) are in the field. ... Dana Quigley is playing in his 116th consecutive event, dating to the 1998 MasterCard.
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