And the Awards Go to...
Player of the Half Year
He's battled tendinitis in his right elbow and a case of the
whiffs, yet ageless Hale Irwin still leads the money list by
$129,000. Irwin has been helped by the tour's parity, as there
has not been a multiple winner yet this year.
BREAKOUT PERFORMER Two weeks after being pistol-whipped in Mexico
City, Rodger Davis of Australia won his first Champions event,
the Toshiba Senior Classic. Davis, who was robbed along with four
other players, has four top 10 finishes this year.
BIGGEST FLOP The disqualification of Fuzzy Zoeller from the Royal
Caribbean Classic. Zoeller was giving a TV reporter an on-air
lesson when tournament officials requested that they move from
the crowded driving range to the empty 6th tee. Zoeller was later
cited for violating the rule that forbids practice on the
tournament course between rounds.
A stroke behind Irwin in a fierce duel at the Verizon Classic,
Bruce Fleischer stiffed his tee shot at the treacherous 217-yard
17th hole of the TPC of Tampa Bay and converted the birdie that
propelled him to victory.
Actually, there are two to choose from, as Irwin three-putted
from an inch during the Kinko's Classic. He whiffed his first
attempt and then barely nudged the ball on his second try,
finally holing out for a triple bogey.
CLUTCH PUTT Tom Purtzer's twisty 58-footer for eagle on the final
hole of the SBC Classic. Purtzer, who was trailing Gil Morgan by
two at the time, earned his first tour win when Morgan
three-putted the 18th hole.
Joe Inman, on the glam lifestyle of the Champions tour:
"It's difficult to eat Valentine's Day dinner with Mark Pfeil,
Bob Gilder and Dave Stockton at Subway...but this is what
you've got to do."
In the News
COPING The competition is not life-or-death on the Champions
tour, but many of the health issues are. Bruce Edwards (below
right) has continued to caddie for Tom Watson while battling Lou
Gehrig's disease; Ray Floyd, 60, is back after beating prostate
cancer; and Tom Wargo, 60, has recovered from a heart attack.
EXTREME MAKEOVER It already happened, as the Senior tour lost its
name after 23 years in favor of the blander Champions moniker. By
any name the circuit is feeling a little tired, which is why Rick
George, the former tournament director of the PGA Tour's HP
Classic of New Orleans, has been installed as the tour's
president and charged with improving its flagging profile and
abysmal television ratings.
JACK'S BACK...SORT OF It's been seven years since Jack Nicklaus,
63, has won a Champions event, but having finally conquered
nagging back pain, he's planning to play more, and his tie for
seventh in Austin was his best finish on tour since July 2001.
He did make time last month to whip sons Jackie, 41, Gary, 34,
and Michael, 29, during a cameo at the Nationwide tour's BMW
The season may be half over, but the party is just getting jiggy.
This week brings the first of five major championships, which
will go a long way toward sorting out the wide-open player of the
year race, but the highlight of the summer figures to be the
Senior British Open, in its first year as a designated major. Cue
the violins as Watson and Nicklaus return to Turnberry, site of
their epic 1977 British
COLOR PHOTO: JIM GUND PERFECT PITCH Jim Ahern went 64-63-69 to set a tournament scoringrecord at last week's Music City Championship, in Nashville.Ahern, 54, beat Jose Maria Canizares by four strokes for hissecond career win on the Champions tour.
COLOR PHOTO: TOM OLMSCHEID/AP (IRWIN)
COLOR PHOTO: DARREN CARROLL/ICON SMI (INMAN)
COLOR PHOTO: KATIE KING/PENSACOLA NEWS JOURNAL/AP (EDWARDS)