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PGA Champions Tour at Hualalai Golf Course

(Photo courtesy of Four Seasons Resort Hualalai)


Dates: January 17-23, 2011
Course: Hualalai Golf Course; Kaupulehu-Kona, Hawaii
Par/Yards: 36-36—72/7,107
Year Opened: 1996
Course Designer: Jack Nicklaus
Field: 42 professionals
Format: 54-hole stroke-play event with no cut.
Charles Schwab Cup (points to winner): 305;
Purse: $1,800,000; Winner’s Share: $305,000
Television: GOLF CHANNEL; Friday, 1:30-4 p.m.; Saturday, 2:30-5 p.m.; Sunday, 2:30-5 p.m. All times are local and each day’s broadcast is live.


This year marks the 32nd anniversary of the PGA TOUR’s Champions Tour and the Mitsubishi Electric Championship is first of 25 official events on the 2011 schedule. The official season concludes with the Charles Schwab Cup Championship, Oct. 31- Nov. 6, at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco, CA. The Champions Tour’s primary purpose is to provide significant competitive and earnings opportunities for players age 50 and older, to protect the integrity of the game and to help grow the reach of the game in the U.S. and around the world.


This tournament is the season-opening event on the Champions Tour. It was first played as the Senior Tournament of Champions in 1984 and the venue was LaCosta Country Club in Carlsbad, CA, from 1984-1994. The limited-field tournament then moved to the Hyatt Dorado Beach in Puerto Rico in 1995 and 1996 before relocating again to Hualalai on the Big Island in 1997. Miller Barber (1986, 1989), Al Geiberger (1992, 1993), George Archer (1990, 2000), Dana Quigley (2003, 2005) and Hale Irwin (1997, 2007) are the only multiple winners of the event, with Archer being the only player to claim titles at two different venues (1990/LaCosta, 2000/Hualalai).


This year’s field will again be made up of the following: 1) winners of Champions Tour major championships in the last five years (2006-2010); 2) winners of Champions Tour official money co-sponsored and approved tournaments within the last two years (2009-2010); 3) seven sponsor choices to exempt players to meet either of the following criteria: a-a minimum of 30 combined PGA TOUR/Champions Tour victories or b-a minimum of 15 combined career wins who also have a minimum of one major championship victory; 4) one sponsor choice can meet the criteria of 10-plus wins and one major championship.

2010 RECAP:

In one of the most exciting finishes in Champions Tour history, 60-year-old Tom Watson birdied the final two holes to overtake Champions Tour newcomer Fred Couples. Watson became the 13th-oldest winner in Champions Tour history and the wire-to-wire victory was his first in 34 career starts in Hawaii on the two Tours. After making a six-foot birdie putt at No. 17 to tie Couples, Watson hit a spectacular second shot at No. 18 from 147 yards with a pitching wedge. His ball landed on the front of the green and rolled 20 feet before stopping four feet from the flag. After Couples barely missed his birdie putt on the 18th from 15 feet, Watson calmly sank the winner and waved his cap to the roaring crowd.


* This year’s Mitsubishi Electric Championship field has won a combined 308 events on the PGA TOUR and 240 tournaments on the Champions Tour.

* 15 professionals in this year’s field have combined to win 31 major championships on the PGA TOUR.
* A total of seven players in this year’s field are members of the World Golf Hall of Fame (Ben Crenshaw, Hale Irwin, Tom Kite, Bernhard Langer, Nick Price, Curtis Strange and Tom Watson).

* There are seven former Ryder Cup captains (Ben Crenshaw, Tom Kite, Bernhard Langer, Tom Lehman, Corey Pavin, Curtis Strange and Tom Watson) in this field as well as two Presidents Cup captains (Hale Irwin, Fred Couples).

* Six players will make their first appearances at this championship. Russ Cochran, David Frost, Gary Hallberg, Larry Mize, Ted Schulz and Rod Spittle all won events in 2010.

* Four players in this year’s field are age 60 and over, led by 65-year-old Hale Irwin. 62- year-old Allen Doyle and 61-year-olds Tom Kite and Tom Watson will also play this year at Hualalai. .

* Tom Watson defends title – Tom Watson became the second oldest winner of this event last year and will try to become the first player since Al Geiberger (1992, 1993) to successfully defend his title in the season opener.

* Bernhard Langer begins quest for unprecedented fourth Player of the Year honor – Bernhard Langer, the 2009 champion at Hualalai, begins his quest for an unprecedented fourth Player of the Year honor.

* Several players back in action after surgeries – Five players in this year’s Mitsubishi Electric Championship field are anxious to return to action on the Champions Tour after having their 2010 season curtailed by injury/surgery.
— Mark McNulty underwent right knee replacement surgery on May 11, 2010 which sidelined him for the remainder of last season. He made only four starts early in the year and none after the Toshiba Classic in early March.
— Lonnie Nielsen first underwent left knee surgery in early January, 2010 which kept him out of last year’s Mitsubishi Electric Championship and delayed the start of his season until early March at the Toshiba Classic. He played in only six events before undergoing right knee replacement surgery on July 21, 2010 which ended his year.
— David Eger won the Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic in early May but then suffered a broken ankle in a June mishap that caused him to miss more than two months during the summer. After experiencing ankle issues, he did not play again the rest of the year after the Ensure Classic at Rock Barn in early October.
— Craig Stadler last played at the E&C Songdo City Championship in Korea and then had left hip replacement surgery on September 15.
— D.A. Weibring underwent surgery in late October for a bone spur in his left shoulder. He did not play again after withdrawing from the Administaff Small Business Classic after the first round.

* Former Mitsubishi winners are back: This year’s 42-player field includes seven former champions – Fred Funk (2008), Hale Irwin (1997, 2007), Tom Kite (2002), Bernhard Langer (2009), Loren Roberts (2006), Tom Watson (2010) and Fuzzy Zoeller (2004).

* Irwin’s magic in the Aloha State: Hale Irwin will make his 16th consecutive appearance in this year’s Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai, easily the most ever in a row. Irwin also is the leading money-winner in tournament history with $1,108,188

* Winning on the first attempt: A total of seven players have claimed this championship in their first appearance. Loren Roberts (2006) was the last to do so. Others to accomplish the feat are: John Jacobs (1999), John Bland (1996), George Archer (1990), Dave Hill (1988), Peter Thomson (1985) and Orville Moody (1984).

* Roberts’ records at Hualalai: When he won the 2006 event at Hualalai, Loren Roberts established several new standards on the Champions Tour. Roberts posted rounds of 63-67-61 for a total of 25-under-par 191, setting the all-time record in relation to par and matching the all-time lowest numerical score. His 26 birdies that week also set an all- time Champions Tour record for a three-round Champions Tour event. Roberts’ 61 on Sunday also tied the all-time record for lowest finish by a winner and was the best round ever shot at Hualalai.


Here’s a look at some significant moments in Champions Tour history or involving Champions Tour players that happened on dates concurrent with this year’s Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai.

1/18/81 – After leading or sharing the lead thru four rounds, Bruce Lietzke won his sixth career PGA TOUR title when he defeated Jerry Pate by two strokes at the Bob Hope Desert Classic.

1/18/76 – In just his second start on the PGA TOUR, Bob Gilder, an Arizona State alumnus, captures the Phoenix Open by two strokes over Roger Maltbie.

1/18/98 – Gil Morgan becomes the third player in Champions Tour history to earn the distinction when he wins his third straight title. After closing the 1997 with successive victories at Ralph’s Senior Classic and the Energizer SENIOR TOUR Championship, Morgan earns a six-stroke win over Hale Irwin and Gibby Gilbert at the MasterCard Championship in Hawaii. Morgan’s final-round 64 included a 31 on the front nine.

1/19/92 – John Cook makes three straight birdies and then an eagle on the fourth playoff hole to outlast Mark O’Meara, Rick Fehr, Gene Sauers and Tom Kite to win the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic. He would go on later that year to win three times and earn $1 million in season earnings for the first time.

1/19/97 – John Cook ties a then PGA TOUR record for consecutive rounds when he closed with rounds of 62-63 for a one-stroke victory over Mark Calcavecchia at the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic

1/20/02 – Tom Kite goes wire-to-wire to win the season-opening MasterCard Championship by six strokes over John Jacobs. Kite’s victory included an opening-round 9-under-par 63 which included a pair of eagles on the front nine. Kite’s winning margin was the largest since the event moved to Hualalai Golf Club in 1997.

1/21/07 – Shooting rounds of 66-62-65, Hale Irwin blitzes the field by five strokes to win the MasterCard Championship at Hualalai. At age 61, Irwin won for the ninth time in the Aloha State, including eight on the Champions Tour.

1/22/84 – Tom Purtzer’s birdie on the final hole is the difference as he defeats Corey Pavin by one stroke at the Phoenix Open. The win was especially gratifying because Purtzer spent most of his life in the Phoenix area. The key was his third shot at No. 18 on Sunday. After hitting his second into a bunker, his third shot was spectacular, coming to rest just two feet away. He tapped in for the win.

1/22/05 – Dana Quigley made a three-foot putt for par on the third extra hole to claim the MasterCard Championship over Tom Watson. Quigley’s three-putt bogey at No. 18 in regulation opened the door for Watson, but Watson was unable to convert a nine-foot birdie putt, setting up a playoff. After each player made pars on the first two holes, Watson made a mistake at No. 17 (third extra hole), hitting his 7-iron into the lava rocks resulting in a bogey. Quigley’s par ended the playoff.

1/22/89 – Thanks to rounds of 65-64 on the weekend, Mark Calcavecchia wins the first of three Phoenix Opens by seven strokes over Chip Beck.

1/23/83 — Both Keith Fergus and Rex Caldwell shoot consecutive 65s on the weekend at the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic, but Fergus, approaching the final hole and trailing by one stroke, makes a 20-foot birdie putt to force a playoff and then wins the event with a par on the first extra hole for his third TOUR victory.

1/24/88 — Opening with a 63, Jay Haas follows with three more rounds in the 60s and a final-round 70 to post a two-stroke victory over David Edwards at the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic.

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