Category: Champions Tour


August 21, 2013

Delta Airlines breaks Kenny Perry's lucky driver

Posted at 10:28 AM by Scooby Axson

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When you let airlines handle your valuables, you do so at your own peril. 

Champions Tour pro Kenny Perry learned that lesson the hard way when he went to the driving range in preparation for the Boeing Classic at TPC Snoqualmie Ridge.

"I pulled my clubs out and Delta broke my driver, the one I won all of my tournaments with this year," Perry said to the Seattle Times. "It broke the head right off the shaft. I’m very upset at this point."

"I represent Southwest Airlines and it’s in a Southwest (bag), and I flew Delta out here from New York and they snapped my driver. I’m pretty bummed out."

Perry has won two senior majors with that driver (the U.S. Senior Open and the Senior Players Championship) this year, his first season on the Senior Circuit, and finished in the top 10 in nine of 13 events.

"I’ve been bombing it," Perry said. "I’ve been taking advantage of all the short holes and the par-5s. But that’s the only driver I’ve used all year." 

Perry said he has no idea how the driver got broken but he got it reshafted.

"But shafts don’t duplicate," he said. "As much as they say they’re the same, they’re not the same. So now I have to get my confidence back off the tee because that’s been my bread and butter this year."

(Photo by Chris Condon/Getty Images)

April 26, 2013

Rocco Mediate rides golf cart into media center for interview

Posted at 2:15 PM by Josh Sens

Cart paths only?


Not for Rocco Mediate.

Not when he’s rushing to a date with a microphone in the run-up to an event on the Champions Tour.

As Garry Smits reported in the Florida-Times-Union this week
, the affable Mediate turned heads Thursday as he hurried to a press conference in Savannah in advance of the Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf.

Put it this way: he didn’t go by foot.

Riding shotgun in a cart driven by his caddie, Martin Courtois, Mediate rolled straight from the course and down a ramp into the cart barn, breezing by reporters and Champions Tour staff, deep into the bowels of the building and stopping at the doorway of the interview room.

“Well, they say we can take the golf carts anywhere,” Mediate said.

Which is kinda, sorta true.

On the Champions Tour, carts aren’t just permitted in competition. Players can take them onto the practice range.

You could see this as a gesture of respect for our elders. Or as a patronizing insult to the over-50 set, most of whom can walk just fine.

Anyway, it’s hard to hold anything against Rocco, a famously amiable and outgoing player who has always understood how good he’s got it.

“We get to play this game and most of the time they pay you,” he said, explaining his perpetually sunny manner. “I don’t see the problem. I really don’t. It’s still a game. If most guys (on the PGA Tour) would treat it that way, it would be a lot more fun for everyone to watch. If they would have more fun, they’d be better for it.”

With an attitude like that, what say we let him take his cart up on the green?

October 27, 2012

Mark Wiebe's profane tirade caught by Golf Channel mics

Posted at 5:09 PM by Ryan Reiterman

We've all been there -- you're having a good round, and then it goes completely sideways. Frustration builds up, and before you know it, you're launching your 5-iron, cursing at your ball, smashing a putter over your head, or fighting a legendary game show host.

Mark Wiebe had one of those moments Friday during the second round of the Champions Tour's AT&T Championship, and unfortunately for him, it was picked up by Golf Channel's mics, and then the video was posted on Deadspin and YouTube.

WARNING: The video contains very strong language.

October 19, 2012

Truth & Rumors: Super Bowl Champ tees it up at Champions Tour Q-School

Posted at 10:36 AM by Mark Dee

You know what they say about pro athletes: They never retire -- they just take up golf. Well, one Super Bowl champ is pushing that mantra as far as he can.

Former Redskins quarterback Mark Rypien, MVP of Super Bowl XXVI, is trying his hand at the Champions Tour. According to PGATour.com, the 50-year-old Rypien competed this week in the first stage of Q-School at Bear Creek Golf Club in Murrieta, Calif.

So far, it hasn't gone too well for Rypien, who shot rounds of 81-77-75, only good for T28 with one round left. That said, it's not bad for a guy who describes himself as "a two- or three-times a week golfer."

But, as a replacement for competitive football, it's something: "Just like football and the first snap, the first tee shot is the most nervy," Rypien told PGATour.com. "As a quarterback, you always hoped that (Coach) Joe Gibbs would run off-tackle on the first play."

January 17, 2012

Former Champions Tour player arrested in Florida child-sex sting

Posted at 4:46 PM by Mike Walker

Steve_thomasProfessional golfer Steve Thomas [right] was one of 40 people arrested in a sting operation and charged with soliciting sex from a minor via the Internet, the Osceola County (Fla.) Sheriff’s Office said Tuesday.

Thomas, 55, of Meridian, Miss., was charged with Travel to Seduce Child to Commit Sex Acts; Use of Computer to Seduce/Solicit/Entice a Parent, Legal Guardian or Custodian of Child to Commit Sex Acts on the Child; Attempted Lewd & Lascivious Battery on a Child, according to the sheriff’s office.

In 2009, Thomas played in 19 events on the Champions Tour, earning $157,549. According to the PGA Tour’s website, Thomas turned pro in 1980. His most successful season on the PGA Tour was 1988, when he played in 29 events, making nine cuts and earning $22,669.

The arrests were the result of a week-long, multi-agency, undercover operation called “Operation Red Cheeks.” As part of the sting, undercover detectives posed as children or their parents in chat rooms and on Internet messaging programs. According to the sheriff’s department, suspects traveled to a meeting location in Osceola County with the purpose of having sex with a child.

[Photo: PGATour.com]

November 04, 2010

Fred Couples says he's 'done' with PGA Tour

Posted at 12:51 PM by Mike Walker

Fred-couples-masters-nov42010 Life didn't begin at age 50 for Fred Couples, but his rookie year on the Champions Tour has been a rebirth of sorts for the laid-back fan favorite. This year, Couples was celebrated for everything from his four Champions Tour wins to his sixth-place finish at the Masters and his skateboard-inspired spikeless Ecco shoes (worn without socks of course).

However, on the eve of the Charles Schwab Cup Champions Tour finale at Harding Park in San Francisco this week, Couples said he was finished as a competitive player on the PGA Tour, although he still might play a couple of PGA Tour events in addition to a full Champions Tour schedule. Couples said he played some PGA Tour events in 2010 with the hope of getting a Ryder Cup nod, but missing the cut at the Wyndham Championship in Greensboro, N.C., in which he finished T5 in 2009, convinced him that he belonged on the Champions Tour.

"I did really well at Greensboro last year," Couples said. "I almost won. I thought if I went there and played well and maybe had a shot at winning, Corey [Pavin] might call me up and say, 'Hey, you might get picked.' That's really why I played.

"And I didn't play well, and now I know that I am done with the regular tour. Absolutely done. That I know. Absolutely," Couples said.

That doesn't mean you won't see Couples at all on the PGA Tour in 2011. He said he might play the L.A. Open at Riviera in February and also the Shell Houston Open before the Masters. Couples said he can't make those decisions until he knows the Champions Tour schedule for 2011.

"But no one knows the schedule," Couples said. "I've never worried about a schedule, and now I want to play a couple times on our tour, and I'm all worried about it. It kind of bothers me. I don't know.

"Whereas I played 29 years on the regular tour and I knew every tournament, out here I couldn't tell you the names of the courses, the tournaments or anything," Couples said. "I just go to 'em and show up and play. That's the truth. I mean, I couldn't tell you the names of any of the courses. I know we're at Harding Park because we're right here"

Continue reading "Fred Couples says he's 'done' with PGA Tour" »

February 11, 2010

Daily Flogging: Parnevik may avoid surgery; Oberholser doesn't

Posted at 10:05 AM by Gary Van Sickle

The doctor is in. Your official golf medical report:

Jesper Parnevik may be able to avoid surgery for a broken vertebrae, he told the Associated Press one day after telling a Swedish news outlet that it would take a miracle for him to play golf again.

Parnevik's outlook got more optimistic after he spoke with Gary Gary, a Detroit-based specialist who was recommended by Parnevik's sister, who once worked with the Detroit Red Wings. Parnevik will meet with Gray in Detroit next week. Parnevik missed the last half of 2009 due to hip surgery, the AP reported.

“It’s painful and all that,” Parnevik said from his home in south Florida. “The good news is I finally found out what’s been bothering me the last few years. The good thing is now I can do something about it. The bad news is I never expected it would be a fractured vertebrae... That I’m going to quit the game and my career is over is not the case. He was very optimistic that I could back without having the surgery. I’m going to have to rest for a few months and go on his workout schedule. I’m going to do everything I can to get back and hopefully get rid of the stiffness and pain in my back, and play normal golf.”

PGA Tour player Arron Oberholser underwent surgery on his right hip to repair a torn labrum, Rex Hoggard reported for GolfChannel.com. A former AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am winner, Oberholser is expected to be on crutches for seven weeks. He missed most of the last two seasons due to a left-wrist injury. The surgery was done by Dr. Marc Philippon, who has famously repaired hips for the likes of Greg Norman, Alex Rodriguez and others.

Tom Kite rejoins the Champions Tour this week for the ACE Group Classic in Naples, Fla. Kite had surgery four months ago to repair a torn tendon in his left biceps. Austin's Statesman.com reported that Kite, 60, issued a statement saying that his shoulder flexibility and strength were about 80-85 percent of normal, and that Chuck Cook, Kite's swing coach, conceded that Kite's swing reflected that after they worked together on a launch monitor at the University of Texas Golf Club.

“He was about 10 miles an hour slower with his irons,” Cook said last week. “Everything about his swing is good, except that it’s short.”

Also teeing it up in Naples is Peter Jacobsen, who has battled a string of ailments ever since he turned 50 six years ago. From Naplesnews.com:

Last year, Jacobsen was knocked out with rotator cuff shoulder surgery, performed by Naples doctor Michael Havig. That was his 13th surgery: two hip surgeries and a hip replacement, three knee surgeries and a knee replacement, and five on his lower back.

“You can either let it frustrate you or motivate you,” Jacobsen said.

January 19, 2010

Daily Flogging: Report of Tiger in sex rehab, rescue at Torrey, the year of the Champions

Posted at 12:04 PM by Gary Van Sickle

Waldo's where?!?!

And so the center of the golfing universe moves to Hattiesburg, Miss. The New York Daily News claims to have confirmed that Tiger Woods is, indeed, undergoing treatment for sex addiction at the Pine Grove Behavioral Health & Addiction Services there. Which means you should consider yourself lucky not to be part of a circus parade of gossip journalists and paparazzi undoubtedly descending on the area, which was previously best known for being adjacent to a pair of nuclear device detonations in the 1960s plus assorted civil rights unrest. Nicknamed the Hub City, Hattiesburg was built as a lumber and rail center and named after a founding lumberman's wife.

Wife? Oh, right. That brings us back to Woods and the golf story that won't go away. Here's what you need to know about sex addiction, according to journalist Benoit Denizet-Lewis in The Daily News:

"We mock or it we say it's not a real addiction. But it's very much the real deal. He's not going to be allowed to go out and golf in the morning. He'll do like everyone else--get up early, eat the same food and go through the same emotions... It's a really intense experience. People tend to come in and be pretty freaked out. You arrive, and suddenly it hits you, My God, I'm going to rehab for sex addiction."

The woodsy, fenced-in Mississippi clinic, which would not confirm Woods' arrival, is considered among the best at setting sex addicts straight, Denizet-Lewis said. He added that no one should hold onto the "glib perception" that entering rehab for sex addiction is akin to landing a prize invite to an orgy.

"Trust me, you're not going to score a lot in sex rehab," he said.

If Woods really is holed up in Hattiesburg, the carnival atmosphere there should quickly build.

Farmers to the rescue at Torrey Pines

Monday's big news was that the PGA Tour finally found a sponsor, any sponsor, for its tournament at Torrey Pines next week. Next week?

"You talk about the 11th hour..." Rick George, PGA Tour official, joked to The San Diego Union-Tribune.

The sponsor is Farmers Insurance and while there are plenty of farms in Southern California, there aren't many in heavily settled La Jolla, Calif., site of the tourney and home to high-end retailers and luxury houses. But a sponsor is a sponsor. Nobody complained when Wickes, a low-rent home furnishings company, sponsored this event in the 1970s.

The Farmers Insurance sponsorship is, for now, a Band-Aid. It's a one-year deal, although it's possible the company could agree to make it long term. At least it gets the Tour off the hook for most of the $5.3 million purse.

Here's what else Todd Leonard reported for The San Diego Union-Tribune:

"I think, psychologically, this is huge," said Century Club Chairman Tom Wornham. "We were able to do this with the Tour's help, and it makes it so much easier on everybody. And when you can get somebody like Farmers, a world-class brand, it does wonders for the entire organization and the entire tournament going forward. There's an emotional high that comes with this, after a very, very long journey."

Farmers Insurance has not sponsored a PGA Tour event, but its parent company, Zurich Financial Services, has been the title sponsor of the tournament in New Orleans since 2005.

In a news release issued by the Tour, Farmers' CEO Robert Woudstra said, "We take great pride in having been the first insurance company on the ground and at the scene in helping the San Diego area rebuild following these wildfires. Farmers continues to actively support fire safety programs for the citizens of San Diego. Like what Zurich Financial Services does in New Orleans, supporting and sponsoring this PGA Tour tournament in 2010 is an extension of our corporate outreach and commitment in continuing to make a difference in Southern California and across the United States. We look forward to helping the Century Club through our Farmers Insurance Open sponsorship."

Meanwhile, it appears that Wornham won't get one wish. Here's what he told Leonard in a Nov. 13 story in The Union-Tribune on the quest for a sponsor:

"It's sort of like being a yoga instructor with Tourette's," Wornham said. "You're expecting a different outcome and — boom — you move on… I fully hope and anticipate Tiger will be here. I can't see anything that would keep him away from San Diego. For a course he's invested so much in, and a tournament he's invested so much in, I would hope he would come help us in a time for need, and I think he will."

Well, they've got a temporary sponsor. One out of two isn't bad.

Happy days for Champions Tour

A cynic might say that after opening with a team event in which Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus were the winners, it's all downhill from here for the Champions Tour.  But there are no cynics in golf writing (no comment) and besides, hasn't the Champions Tour taken enough hits already?

The Sports Business Journal reports that the Champions Tour appears to be in for a good year. It's got 26 events—one more than last year—and an additional $1.7 million in prize money, for a total of $51.5 million. There's a new tournament in Mississippi, another new one to be determined, and the tour's first event in Asia, at a Jack Nicklaus course in South Korea. Another Asian event is likely to be added in 2011. Six more tour events have contracts up for renewal after this year:

Champions Tour president Mike Stevens said the tour is not dropping its prices on extensions or new deals, but dropped its requirement for new tournaments to have at least a $2 million purse. Industry sources said title sponsorships cost $2 million to $4 million a year.

Looking to 2011 and beyond, Stevens expects to continue with 25 to 30 events with flat purse levels and no further international growth.

Bob Hope Classic could get soaked

The Bob Hope Classic is usually known for its spectacular weather in Palm Springs. This week, it could be spectacularly bad. Larry Bohannon in The Desert Sun has the grim forecast:

The Bob Hope Classic won't allow spectators onto its four golf courses Tuesday, but not because the golf courses are too soggy from today's rains. Instead, tournament director Mike Milthorpe said the tournament is concerned about the condition of the dirt parking lot for the event at the corner of Jefferson Street and Avenue 52. That lot is the main lot for all general parking for the event, which officially begins Wednesday. To keep the parking lot in good shape for more expected rains Wednesday and Thursday, the lot will be closed all day Tuesday. Rain is expected to return to the desert Tuesday night and into Wednesday, with harder rain predicted for Thursday.

Who brings rain gear to Palm Springs? If this is the start of a long surge of El Nino storms, the tour's West Coast Swing could be a real slog.

Some players still fly commercial

What do you do after you win the Sony Hawaiian Open? You celebrate and move on. Golfweek.com's Alex Miceli gets a ringside seat, literally, with winner Ryan Palmer. How about this for access?

HONOLULU – After two weeks in the islands, I'm ready to get home. I usually grab a red-eye flight out of Honolulu on Sunday night after the Sony Open. This time, the flight went from Honolulu to L.A. Of course, with the Bob Hope Classic the next week, there usually are players on the flight as well. This time, I saw Charles Howell III and Carl Pettersson in the gate area. I usually try to steer clear of players outside of the course. They want privacy, and I do as well. So it wasn't until the plane started boarding that I saw Charles and Carl. Charles was walking one of Pettersson's daughters on the plane. It turns out he needs the practice; he just found out that his wife is going to have a daughter in May.

A great read from Miceli, who delivers the kind of inside story writers seldom get today in a world where rich athletes travel in different circles from media types.


September 22, 2009

Ken Green for Champions Tour comeback player of the year

Posted at 4:22 PM by Rick Lipsey

I don't usually care about end-of-season awards because they're so anticlimactic. But Ken Green is my pick for the Champions Tour comeback player of the year.

Green, 51, met death eye-to-eye in June in a horrific crash that killed his brother, his girlfriend and his German shepherd. They were driving through Mississippi when their RV blew a tire and hit a tree. Green was the lone survivor. He spent weeks in a hospital. His right leg was amputated. His mind was shattered.

The crash interrupted a season that might have put him in the running for comeback player of the year. After eons of cashing almost no checks on any tour, Green had finally fought off mental health problems, the yips and other issues and was doing reasonably well in his first full season on the senior circuit. Before the crash, he had earned $123,906 in 11 Champions events.

Green is now back home in West Palm Beach, Fla., and learning to walk on a prosthetic leg. But that's not all. According to pgatour.com, he's determined to become the first professional golfer to play with a prosthetic. A couple of weeks ago, Green played for the first time since the accident and shot a three-over 39 for nine holes. He quit, exhausted, after 11 holes.

"It was good," Green told pgatour.com. "I played halfway decent, considering."

Green wants to play on tour with his prosthetic, but he says he probably won't be ready in 2010. So why not vote him comeback player of the year this season? The fact that he played golf just a few months after the accident is inspiring and amazing. Since there are no official qualifications - his fellow players simply vote -- it would be a cool gesture if his peers elected him comeback player of the year.

And if he ever plays a Champions Tour event again, no matter where he finishes, he should win in a landslide. That's how amazing his comeback would be.

June 06, 2009

What to Watch for: Sunday at the Triton Financial Classic

Posted at 10:08 PM by John Garrity

AUSTIN, TEXAS – Second-round leader Bernhard Langer and his pursuers will be thinking ahead to the par-3 18th hole at The Hills Country Club. It’s no big deal – a straight-forward shot of 178 yards or so – but an old pro like Langer raises a wary eyebrow when he hears that the 18th is usually the 16th. Par-3 finishes are rare, and this one has been contrived to please the Golf Channel. The cameras love the guarding tiers of boulders, spillways and waterfalls, and if a faltering pro has to watch in horror as his ball ricochets from rock to rock to rock before splashing in the creek – well, that makes for good television.

What I WON’T be watching for is an amateur entrant forgetting himself and diving on his ball as it rolls across the green. The eight Heisman Trophy winners in the field have retired to the clubhouse, where tournament-within-a-tournament winners Ty Detmer and Chris Weinke will be buying drinks for their bummed-out peers – those, anyway, who aren’t out with the other vultures at the faux 18th. If I were a betting man, I’d wager that this one will be decided on the closing hole – or, as a television director might put it, “I’d like that ‘on the rocks.’” 





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