Another Freeman brother hitting the Champions Tour

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Jeff Freeman (at right, high-fiving Gary Hallberg after finishing the Qualifying Tournament last year), is making his Champions Tour debut at the Insperity Championship.
May 03, 2012
Vartan Kupelian, PGATOUR.COM correspondent

Jeff Freeman knows exactly what to expect when he tees it up Friday for his Champions Tour debut.

"I've played with a lot of these guys for a million years, on the PGA TOUR, on the Nationwide Tour," he said. "They haven't lost any game at all. They're every bit as good as they were when playing the PGA TOUR."

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There is one guy in the field that Jeff Freeman knows particularly well. It's his brother, Robin.

Who's the favorite when the brothers Freeman tee it up together in a tournament?

"It depends on who you talk to," Jeff Freeman said. "Probably him. He's got a little bit cockier attitude than what I have.

"I'd love for it to come down to him and me, final hole. That would be awesome. That would be good TV."

It would be a mighty good story, indeed.

At the Insperity Championship presented by UnitedHealthcare, the Freemans will become the third set of brothers to play in the same Champions Tour event in a year's time. Lanny and Bobby Wadkins teed it up earlier this year at the ACE Group Classic in Naples and as teammates in the Liberty Mutual Insurance Legends of Golf. Curt and Tom Byrum played in the 2011 Senior PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club.

Jeff Freeman has a 12:25 p.m. tee time Friday with Jim Rutledge and P.H. Horgan III on the Tournament Course at The Woodlands. Robin Freeman has a 10:45 a.m. time off No. 10 with R.W. Eaks and Stan Utley.

Robin Freeman, who will celebrate his 53rd birthday Monday, has posted two top 10 finishes in Champions Tour majors. He tied for eighth in both the 2009 U.S. Senior Open and the 2010 Senior PGA Championship. Robin tied for ninth at the Qualifying Tournament in November.

Jeff has always been the more laid back of the Freeman brothers. He takes things as they come rather than set specific goals, and that's how he'll approach it at The Woodlands Country Clubs.

"I've pretty much been that way my whole life," he said.

The immediate goal is to stay in the present.

"One shot at a time, the old cliché," he said. "A lot of times I get ahead of myself."

At the Champions Tour Qualifying School in November, Freeman was way ahead of everybody.

In a commanding display, Freeman, an assistant PGA professional at the Country Club of Orlando, was nothing short of exceptional at the National Qualifying Tournament in November. He shot four straight rounds of 5-under-par 66 to post a 4-stroke victory on TPC Scottsdale's Champions Course. Needing only to nurse a lead in the final round, he went out in 29, with a string of five straight birdies beginning at the fourth hole.

Freeman, the 1999 PGA Professional Player of the Year, had to wait until his 50th birthday on April 15 to become eligible for the Champions Tour. He missed the first seven events but still has a big chunk of the season, including the five Champions Tour majors, to measure up.

Freeman made 176 starts on the Nationwide Tour, where he played fulltime in 1994 and again for a five-year stretch beginning in 2001. In 2000, he made 10 of his 18 career starts on the PGA TOUR.

Freeman has been biding his time at the Country Club of Orlando doing what club professionals do. Everything.

"I haven't played competitively except for some section stuff, that's about it," he said. "Just practicing a lot. I've got to get my game in shape."

Freeman said he has "always thought about" the Champions Tour but wasn't 100 percent sure he was going to even try the Qualifying Tournament until the day he sent in his entry.

"I'm a little bit behind right now, missing seven tournaments," he said. "We'll see if we can get that game in shape really quick."

The first Champions Tour major of 2012 is later this month. The Senior PGA Championship at the new Golf Club at Harbor Shores in Benton Harbor, Mich., is May 24-27. Tom Watson will defend the title on the new Jack Nicklaus design. Watson won the Senior PGA last year on another Nicklaus design at Valhalla.

"There are a lot of majors coming up," Freeman said. "I know I'm in the Senior PGA and Des Moines after that. I'm not that sure after that. I'll just take it one shot at a time and try to be the best I can be."

The Principal Charity Classic is June 1-3 at Great Oaks Country Club in West Des Moines, Iowa.

Champions Tour Insider Vartan Kupelian is a freelance contributor for PGATOUR.COM. His views do not necessarily represent the views of the PGA TOUR. He can be reached at golfstix@aol.com.

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