Big names give Champs Tour boost

CHRIS STEVENSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 5:47 PM ET

BLAINVILLE, Que. -- When what was then the Seniors Tour was established 30 years ago, out of the immensely successful Legends of Golf tournament, the circuit was pretty much a nice nostalgic walk down the fairways with some of the game’s former greats.

Most of the legends were far removed from playing their best golf or being contenders on the regular PGA Tour.

But now, when a strong field tees it up beginning Friday morning in the 54-hole Montreal Championship at the Fountainebleau track in Blainville, Que., with a $1.8 million purse on the line, fans will see 50-year-olds still capable of contending on any tour.

You could make the argument that with the playing level exhibited by the Champions Tour guys now and the marquee value of names like Fred Couples, Nick Price, Tom Watson, Tom Lehman and Mark Calcavecchia, the quality of this event is better than some on the PGA Tour.

Corey Pavin, the captain of this year’s U.S. Ryder Cup team, is in the field and is fresh off losing in a playoff at the Travelers Championship last Sunday on the PGA Tour.

“Now it’s just time to go back and play with adults my own age,” said Pavin, who lost in a playoff to Bubba Watson last weekend.

Couples, a Champions Tour rookie, is in the 78-player field as well. He shot 66 in the first round of The Masters last spring and wound up finishing sixth. Couples has three wins as the Champions Tour hits its halfway point with this event.

Calcavecchia might be a guy to watch over the next few days. He turned 50 June 12, so he can benefit from that burst tour rookies usually have (he finished sixth in his Champions Tour debut at the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open). Then there’s the fact he practically has a home-field advantage in Canada, having won the 1997 Greater Vancouver Open and the 2005 Canadian Open.

Then there was the remarkable birdie run he enjoyed last summer at the RBC Canadian Open. He reeled off nine birdies in a row, a PGA Tour record.

“I was thinking that earlier, I’ve played a lot of great golf in this country. A lot of great things have happened to me here,” he said. “You never know – it could just be one of those countries where I just excel. It’s a great place for me.”

Also in the field are Canadians Dave Barr, Jim Rutledge, Daniel Talbot and Yvan Beauchemin.

chris.stevenson@sunmedia.ca


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