Senior Open has top golfers from Champions Tour

July 27, 2010

By Staff

Some might go to the U.S. Senior Open hoping to see their golfing heroes from decades past and present, but the tournament is not just a trip down memory lane. The top golfers in the PGA Champions Tour, open to pro golfers over 50, are coming to the Sahalee Country Club.

The tournament begins July 29 and runs through Aug. 1. The first groups to tee off July 29 will be Jerry Johnson, of Ocean Shores, amateur Martin Rifkin, of Fort Wayne, Ind., and Kim Dolan, of Las Vegas, on hole 1 at 7:15 a.m. Teeing off on hole 10 at the same time will be amateur Kevin Klier, of Colbert, Wash., Eddie Terasa, of Waukesha, Wis., and Dave Bell, of Canada.

Local favorite Fred Couples, 50, tees off at 7:45 a.m. at hole 10 with Tom Watson and 2008 U.S. Senior Open champion Eduardo Romero.

Couples, who grew up in Seattle and graduated from O’Dea High School, is the tournament’s honorary chairman and the top ranked player on the Champions Tour. After turning pro in 1980, Couples earned $21.7 million. This is his first year on the Champions Tour.

In tour events, he’s entered nine tournaments and earned $1.3 million. He’s averaging 67.17 strokes at Champions Tour events and has finished in the Top 10 seven times and in the Top 25 in every tournament he’s entered.

Tom Lehman, 51, is right behind Couples at No. 2 on the Champions Tour. Lehman turned pro in 1982, and earned a tad more than $21 million. He started on the Champions Tour last year, when he racked up another $1.4 million. This year, he’s entered seven Champions Tour tournaments where he’s averaging 68.5 strokes. He has finished in the Top 10 six times and in the Top 25 six times.

South African Nick Price, 53, is ranked No. 3 on the Champions Tour. He turned pro in 1977 and earned $20.5 million in his career. He started on the Champions Tour in 2007 where he’s made $3.7 million more. This year, he’s averaged 69 strokes in the 11 events he’s entered. He’s finished in the Top 10 eight times and in the Top 25 10 times.

Bernhard Langer, 52 of Germany, is fourth on the Champions Tour. Langer turned pro in 1972 and earned $10.1 million. He started on the Champions Tour in 2007, where he made $5.5 million. This year, he’s played in 11 tournaments averaging 69.2 strokes. He has six Top 10 finishes and 10 Top 25 finishes.

Rounding out the top five is Dan Forsman, 52, a pro golfer since 1982 who has earned $8.7 million. He started on the Champions Tour in 2008 and has made $2.3 million there. This year, he’s entered 13 events and has finished in the Top 10 eight times and in the Top 25 all 13 times.

The field of players also includes 59-year-old Watson, who almost became the oldest player ever to win the British Open last year, but lost in a playoff. Watson’s list of accomplishments includes two Masters titles and one U.S. Open championship, and three Senior Open championships.

Fred Funk, a fan favorite at the NEC tournament in 2002, when he finished third, is also back. Funk is the defending champion.

Other past champions entered in this year’s tournament include Brad Bryant (2007), Allen Doyle (2006, 2005), Peter Jacobsen (2004), Don Pooley (2002), Bruce Fleisher (2001) and Hale Irwin (2000).

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