Senior skins kings Zoeller, Crenshaw back
Fred Couples will make his senior debut and Nick Price his senior skins debut, but chances are that twosome and the five other golfers in the 23rd Wendy's Champions Skins Game won't combine to make as much noise as Fuzzy Zoeller this weekend.
He and Ben Crenshaw will attempt to defend their title Saturday and Sunday at the Royal Ka'anapali course on Maui.
The eight participants have won a combined 42 PGA Tour majors. Jack Nicklaus has a record 18 and Gary Player nine. Tom Watson, who won the alternate-shot format with Nicklaus three years ago, won eight.
Zoeller and Crenshaw have two majors apiece and combined to win a record $530,000 and 13 skins last year, all on the back nine. It was Zoeller's second straight senior skins title, after he won with Peter Jacobsen the year before.
"I'm picking the partners right and I've got absolutely nothing to do with picking them," Zoeller joked. "With Peter and Ben, both years it's just clicked. It's a good format for all of us and we hit the ball very similar. And we made the crucial putts."
Zoeller, 58, has two tour wins, at the 2002 Senior PGA Championship and MasterCard Championship at Hualālai two years later. Since, his only wins have been here, at what he describes as "the place where we have the opportunity to choke for cash —that's what brings us all back."
He has remained competitive, which he says is key, with top-25 finishes in half his starts. Zoeller has also proved popular, particularly in the spectator-friendly skins format.
The seniors will be back on the Big Island next week for their season-opening Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualālai. Couples, Crenshaw, Player, Hale Irwin, Bruce Lietzke, Mark O'Meara, Corey Pavin and Curtis Strange have accepted sponsor exemptions.
The tournament is the first of 26 official events and will be held for the 14th straight year at Hualālai, designed by Nicklaus.
The eight exemptions join a field of eligible players featuring winners of senior majors the last five years and winners of Champions events the past two. Couples and Pavin will be making their official Champions Tour debuts.
JUNIOR GOLF ON FURLOUGH FRIDAYS
Turtle Bay Resort will have a Junior Golf Tournament Series on Furlough Fridays. It starts tomorrow on the Fazio Course and runs through May 14.
The cost for each tournament is $45, $25 for Turtle Bay Junior Golf members. Entry includes green fees, practice balls, tee gift and lunch. Tee times begin at 9 a.m. The older division plays 18 holes and younger division nine holes.
More information: www.TurtleBayGolf.com or 293-8574.
MAKALEI INTRODUCES GET FIT PROGRAM
Makalei Golf Course is introducing a Get Fit at Makalei program, starting Jan. 24 at 4 p.m. and running Tuesdays and Thursdays for four weeks.
Players golf five holes and walk 1 1/2 miles. The $200 fee includes a new Titleist Ultra-light carry bag.
Contact the golf shop at 808-325-6625 to register, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
SOLHEIM TEAMMATES VISIT WHITE HOUSE
Michelle Wie and her victorious U.S. Solheim Cup teammates visited President Obama at the White House this week. The Americans also visited the Pentagon and adjacent 9/11 memorial.
According to one report, Obama announced to the LPGA players that he made his first birdie during his holiday trip home to Hawai'i. He followed that up by asking the players how he could get his daughters involved in golf.
Wie was back at Stanford yesterday, tweeting that the meeting with Obama was "one of the coolest things EVER!!" and confirming the two Punahou graduates bonded. "He's a total local boy!" Wie wrote. "He said 'hey howzit' and gave me a shaka!!!!!!"
Punahou graduate Parker McLachlin and Pete Rolfing, who handles roping for gallery control, placement of TV towers and much more for the Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualālai, The SBS at Kapalua and six PGA events on the Mainland, will talk about what goes into the setup of a PGA event on Sunday's Emily T Gail Talks Golf & Other Sports, at 6 p.m. on ESPN Radio AM850 Hilo/AM790 Kona. McLachlin represents Waikoloa on the PGA Tour.