Mark James of England opened his 2007 Champions Tour season with a victory over the weekend at the Allianz Championship in Boca Raton, Fla. The former European Ryder Cup Captain (1999) shot a final round 4-under 68 to earn a two-stroke victory over Jay Haas, the reigning Champions Tour Player of the Year.
James finished at 15-under 201. Haas birdied the last hole to garner sole possession of second place ahead of a trio of players, R.W. Eaks, Morris Hatalsky and Brad Bryant, who all finished at 12-under 204. World Golf Hall of Fame member Nick Price made his Champions Tour debut, finishing tied for 20th at 6-under. Haas, Eaks and Hatalsky are all scheduled to participate in the 2007 AT&T Champions Classic when play begins March 16 at Valencia Country Club. Of that threesome, Hatalsky had the best finish last year at Valencia CC, coming in tied for fourth. Haas was among a group of 11 players tied at 17th and Eaks came in tied for 28th.
UP NEXT ON THE CHAMPIONS TOUR:
Southern Californians certainly know about two of the famous Pro-Am events on the PGA Tour – the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am which just concluded over the weekend and the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic – but now it’s Pro-Am time on the Champions Tour. The Outback Steakhouse Pro-Am tees off this week just outside of Tampa, Fla., with Jerry Pate as the defending champion and a mix of entertainers and athletes playing alongside Champions Tour professionals. The early Florida swing continues after the Outback event with The ACE Group Classic in Naples, Fla., February 19-25, followed by a one-week break in the schedule before landing in California in early March.
THE NAME GAME:
Aside from the former champions, Tom Kite, Des Smyth, Gil Morgan and Tom Purtzer, announced earlier as expected to return to the 2007 AT&T Champions Classic, the biggest question in the area has been – who else? Well, as the tournament field continues to evolve,
some of the latest names to add themselves to the list of those expected to play include (in addition to the names mentioned earlier): Chip Beck, who is in his sophomore season on the Champions Tour; Raymond Floyd, a member of the World Golf of Hall of Fame and owner of 14 Champions Tour victories; Peter Jacobsen, one of the best known personalities on tour and making a comeback from hip replacement surgery last year; Gary McCord, known for his wit and insight on PGA Tour broadcasts for CBS and a winner of two Champions Tour events; Jerry Pate, returning from shoulder surgery and defending champion of this weekend’s Outback Steakhouse Pro-Am; Scott Simpson, an NCAA Champion and All-American at USC who got his first Champions Tour win in 2006; and Fuzzy Zoeller, a crowd favorite who has earned two victories on the Champions Tour since his debut in 2002. Beck will be making his AT&T Champions Classic debut. The remainder of the group mentioned above all played in last year’s event with the following results: Jacobsen (T4), Pate (T7), McCord (T15), Simpson (T15), Zoeller (T17) and Floyd (T41). More big names will be released in the coming weeks as the countdown continues to the AT&T Champions Classic.
DID YOU KNOW?:
The 2007 Champions Tour season is the 28th for the senior circuit which started in 1980.
In 1980, there were just four sanctioned events with prize money totaling $475,000.
In 2007, there are 29 official Charles Schwab Cup events offering $54.1 million in official prize money.
Tickets for this year’s 54-hole stroke play event are available for purchase online at www.attchampionsclassic.com  with a variety of ticket packages available. Tickets, which start as low as $15, can also be purchased by calling 661-260-1897. A third option is to purchase a ticket through one of the Champions for Charity partners, including the Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital, Special Olympics Southern California/Santa Clarita Chapter, Domestic Violence Center of Santa Clarita, Santa Clarita Valley Committee on Aging, the Santa Clarita Food Pantry, Girl Scouts, First Tee, Canyon High School Boys Golf and the SCV Youth Project.