Notes: Funk set to return after five-month absence

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February 06, 2012
Champions Tour staff

The Champions Tour season continues with the Allianz Championship (Feb. 10-12) at The Old Course at Broken Sound Club in Boca Raton, Fla. The purse is $1.8 million and the winner will receive $270,000 and 270 Charles Schwab Cup points. Last year, Tom Lehman won by a stroke over Rod Spittle and Jeff Sluman. Lehman went on to win two more times in 2011and was voted the Champions Tour Player of the Year.

RECENTLY

Kenny Perry was the lone Champions Tour professional to make the cut at the PGA TOUR's Waste Management Phoenix Open last week, finishing T65. Tom Pernice, Jr. and Mark Calcavecchia both missed the cut.

• American Dick Mast, who earned the 12th and final card at the Champions Tour Qualifying School, was the runaway medalist at the European Senior Tour Qualifying School last week, shooting 14-under 270 to win by seven strokes. Since 1974, Mast has made a total of 335 starts on the PGA TOUR but only nine of those years saw him make 15 or more starts. From 2001-2011, Mast teed it up on the Champions Tour at least twice every year and produced 12 top-10 finishes from 134 career starts.

• Champions Tour professional David Frost, a ten-time PGA TOUR winner, was recently confirmed as a competitor in the NZ PGA Championship (March 29-April 1) at The Hills Golf Course in Queenstown, New Zealand. Frost has collected one win on the Champions Tour, the 2010 3M Championship, and accumulated more than $2.3 million in 54 starts.

• The 2012 European Senior Tour schedule was unveiled last week with the announcement of a new tournament, the Pon Senior Open in Germany, and a minimum of 15 Order of Merit events.

COMING UP

• The Allianz Championship is the first full-field event of the year. Since 2000, only one player who won the first full-field Champions Tour event of the year has failed to finish among the top-30 money-winners at the conclusion of the season. Jerry Pate, who won the Turtle Bay Championship in 2008, was the only player to not earn a spot in the top-30 list. However, Pate's year was limited to only 10 starts due to surgeries on his knee and shoulders.

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• Seven members of the World Golf Hall of Fame are scheduled to compete at the Allianz Championship (Hale Irwin, Tom Kite, Ben Crenshaw, Bernhard Langer, Nick Price, Curtis Strange and Larry Nelson).

Ian Woosnam will make his first start in a U.S.-based Champions Tour event since the 2011 Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic where he finished T18. Woosnam's only other Champions Tour appearance last year was the Senior British Open, where he finishd T16.

Fred Funk will make his first start in a Champions Tour event since last July when he competes at this week's Allianz Championship. Funk underwent two surgeries in early August, 2011 -- one to repair a torn ligament in his left thumb and three days later, a second to repair scar tissue in his right knee. His last start was at the 2011 U.S. Senior Open where he finished T50.

Jim Carter, who finished sixth at Champions Tour Qualifying School, will enjoy a brief status as a fully-exempt player since medalist Jeff Freeman does not turn 50 until April 15th. As a result, Carter will be afforded full access to the Tour as one of the five fully-exempt players from last fall's Q-School. Carter will be joined by Jeff Hart and P.H. Horgan III as the three rookies in the Allianz Championship.

• Should Jim Carter win the Allianz Championship this week, he would become the sixth player in history to have won tournaments on the PGA TOUR, Champions Tour and Nationwide Tour, joining Ron Streck, Keith Fergus, Tom Lehman, Gary Hallberg and Olin Browne. Carter won the 1994 NIKE New Mexico Charity Classic (Nationwide Tour) and the 2000 Touchstone Energy Tucson Open (PGA TOUR).

• Of the last five Allianz Championship winners, Scott Hoch (2008) is the only one to finish in the top-10 (T10) in Driving Accuracy and outside the top-five (T16) of Greens In Regulation for the week.

• Two-time champion Fred Couples will return to Riviera Country Club in two weeks to make his 30th start at the PGA TOUR's Northern Trust Open after receiving a sponsor's exemption. Couples, who won the Northern Trust Open in 1990 and 1992 and finished T7 in 2011, will equal Gene Littler for the most starts in tournament history with 30.

• The Monterey County Office of Education's migrant education program will host a three-day dental clinic in partnership with the PGA TOUR and the Champions Tour. This week, volunteer dentists and their assistants will provide dental care to 120 children of migrant farm-worker families in Monterey County, where the PGA TOUR plays this week and the Champions Tour will host the Nature Valley First Tee Open at Pebble Beach in July.

CHARLES SCHWAB CUP

Dan Forsman holds a 121-point lead over Jay Don Blake in the Charles Schwab Cup race after winning the season-opening MItsubishi Electric Championship. Last year, Tom Lehman's lead was 149 points (over John Cook) after winning the Allianz Championship, the second event of the season.

• Winning the Allianz Championship has translated into a trip to the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship for each of the five previous champions. Here's where the tournament's former winners have finished on the final earnings list in the year of their victory in Boca Raton:

Year Champion Final Earnings/Finish Charles Schwab Cup/ Finish
2007 Mark James $778,865/26th 568 Points/24th
2008 Scott Hoch $1,497,530/9th 1,453 points/9th
2009 Mike Goodes $675,717/24th 454 points/24th
2010 Bernhard Langer $2,648,939/1st 3,597 points/1st
2011 Tom Lehman $2,081,526/1st 2,422 points/1st

NUMBERS

22 -- The number of birdies recorded by Bernhard Langer when he recorded 22 birdies on his way to victory at the Allianz Championship. It set a tournament record for most birdies in the 54-hole event.

DID YOU KNOW??

• The last 11 winners on the Champions Tour have played in the final group on Sunday. The last time the winner was not in the final group was at last year's Nature Valley First Tee Open at Pebble Beach when Jeff Sluman won while in the third-to-last group.

ON THIS DATE

2/6/83 -- Jack Nicklaus finishes 6th at the Bing Crosby Pebble Beach National Pro-Am and becomes first player to top $4 million in career earnings.

2/7/99 -- Bruce Fleisher becomes the first Nationwide Tour alumnus to win on the Champions Tour when he beats Isao Aoki by two strokes at the Royal Caribbean Classic.

2/11/73 -- Arnold Palmer wins the Bob Hope Classic for his last PGA TOUR victory.

QUOTES TO NOTE

"I've already won two majors and I'd like to win the other three. That would be a great goal, to win all the majors." -- Tom Lehman aims for the career Grand Slam on the Champions Tour. (Jack Nicklaus is the only player to capture four different Champions Tour major titles. Note: Gary Player has three Champions Tour major titles, as well as multiple victories at the Senior British Open before it became a Champions Tour major.)

"It's tough leading for three rounds so I was pleased with how I handled it." -- Dick Mast ended up with a seven-stroke victory at the European Senior Tour Qualifying School.

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