Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Old Boys' Club

While Mickelson worked his way back under par in the desert -- he's now at -1 and only 15 off the lead -- and Schwartzel got himself within 8 of the lead in South Africa, the old boys started their season on the Champions Tour.

Anybody for a trip back to Hawaii?

The Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai -- the tournament names just get longer and longer, don't they? -- has only 41 players in its field but the scoring looks more like the Humana Challenge. The leaders are Tom Lehman and Bruce Vaughn (no relation to Vince, see picture below) at -7.

Bruce Vaughn, no relation to Vince

Brad Faxon is in a pack at -6. Tom Watson had it to -5 but three bogeys coming in dropped him to -3. Fred Couples at even par is feeling it in his back again and plans another trip to Germany, the mecca for ailing athletes. (You may have heard that even Kobe Bryant of the Lakers has been there for knee treatment. It's revitalized his career as much as it did for Freddie and Vijay Singh.)

I don't know what's up with Hale Irwin. He's bringing up the rear at +7. I looked but couldn't find anything to tell whether he had some physical ailment or just Mickelson Syndrome (medically described by Dr. Forrest Gump as "you never know what you gonna get").

The Mitsubishi's limited field is determined a bit differently than the PGA Tour's Hyundai ToC. According to the West Hawaii Today site:
"To play in the Mitsubishi Electric, golfers must have won a Champions Tour major tournament in the past five years, won a Champions Tour event in the past two years or received a sponsor exemption. [According to PGATOUR.com, 8 players received exemptions.]

"The players who receive exemptions must have accumulated either a minimum of 30 combined victories on the PGA and Champions tours or tallied 15 combined wins and at least one major championship."
The article also has comments from several of the players in the event, especially John Cook who is currently at -3.

It's no secret that the PGA Tour is looking for ways to increase attendance at the Hyundai. Perhaps they should consider expanding the Hyundai qualifications along the lines of the Mitsubishi. I had already considered adding winners of 9 or more events in an earlier post. Just expanding the field to winners from the last two years might be enough to get a decent-sized field, as many of the one-time winners would almost certainly want to start the year in Hawaii.

And I'm sure some of the old boys would enjoy joining the club as well. After all, with the Hyundai, the Sony, and then the Mitsubishi, what better excuse would you need to spend 3 weeks in Hawaii?

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