Notes: Return to Turnberry; Couples' Open debut

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Mark Calcavecchia finished tied for ninth last week at Royal Lytham, 23 years after his victory at Troon.
July 23, 2012
Champions Tour staff

The Champions Tour was idle the week of July 16 and now heads to Turnberry (Ailsa Course) in Turnberry, Scotland for The Senior Open Championship on July 26-29. The purse is $2 million and the winner will receive double Charles Schwab points. Last year at Walton Heath, Russ Cochran won The Senior Open Championship by two shots holding off the challenge of fellow Americans Mark Calcavecchia and Tom Watson to capture his first major title.

RECENTLY

• Six Champions Tour players competed in The Open Championship at Royal Lytham and St. Annes in Lancashire, England.

Mark Calcavecchia, the 1989 Open Champion, enjoyed a great week with a T9 finish, his best in 15 years. Calcavecchia fired an even par 280 (71-68-69-72).

Tom Watson drained a 25-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole to sneak into the weekend at The Open Championship. Watson finished T77 by shooting 12-over 292 (71-72-76-73).

• Both Tom Lehman and Sandy Lyle missed the cut at The Open Championship. Lehman was close to making it to the weekend missing the cut by two shots shooting 145 (73-72).

• Mark O'Meara and Russ Cochran were also in the field, but withdrew with injuries.

• There were a large number of Champions Tour players competing in the True South Classic at Annandale GC in Madison, Miss. Willie Wood had the most success out of the numerous Champions Tour players. Wood was in the top-20 finishing T18 at 13-under 275 (66-73-67-69).

COMING UP

• The Turnberry Resort (Ailsa Course) in Turnberry, Ayrshire, Scotland, will serve as host of the 2012 Senior Open Championship, marking the third time in the last 10 years that the event will be staged at the storied venue (2003 and 2006).

• Turnberry also hosted the tournament when it was an unofficial event from 1987-90. The course has also been the site of four Open Championships (1977, 1986, 1994 and 2009) as well as the 2002 Women's British Open, the 1963 Walker Cup and four Amateur Championships.

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• Last year, Cochran won his first major championship in his 11th attempt. His previous-best finishes in majors were tied for third at the 2009 U.S. Senior Open at Crooked Stick and tied for third at last year's Senior Open Championship at Carnoustie. It was his third appearance in the Senior Open Championship.

• Cochran became the first left-hander to win a major on the Champions Tour since Bob Charles claimed his second Senior Open Championship in 1993.

Roger Chapman will also be bidding to join Jack Nicklaus as the only Champions Tour player to claim three major titles in the same season. Nicklaus accomplished the feat in 1991 when he won The Tradition at Desert Mountain, the PGA Seniors' Championship and the U.S. Senior Open.

• Probably no other golfer has enjoyed the success Tom Watson has had in the British Isles. With his 2007 victory at Muirfield, Watson won for the eighth time in the United Kingdom. The Kansas City native has won five British Open titles, as well as three Senior Open Championships. Seven of his eight wins have come in Scotland. The lone exception came in 1983 when he won at Royal Birkdale.

Fred Couples will make his debut in The Senior Open Championship. The 52-year-old Couples had competed in 17 Open Championships in his career with his best showings a pair of T3s in 1991 at Royal Birkdale and in 2005 at St. Andrews. He owns nine top-10 finishes in the event. His lone appearance at Turnberry came in 1986 when he tied for 46th. Couples will be one of Davis Love III's assistant captains for this year's Ryder Cup at Medinah.

Bob Gilder will make his 58th consecutive start in a Champions Tour major when he competes at the Senior Open Championship this week at Turnberry. His best finishes in that event have been a pair of T16s (2005, 2011).

CHARLES SCHWAB CUP

• The Senior Open Championship will be the fifth and final major championship on the 2012 Champions Tour schedule and the final event where double points will be awarded in the Charles Schwab Cup race prior to the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship in November. Through 15 events, Tom Lehman leads with 1,878 points followed by Roger Chapman with 1,756. Bernhard Langer is third with 1,471 points. Michael Allen (1,266) and Fred Funk (1,009) round out the top five.

NUMBERS

• 62 -- Jim Colbert's 8-under 62 in the second round of the 2003 Senior Open Championship at Turnberry remains the event's 18-hole record. Colbert's round included just 24 putts and made him the youngest player ever to match his age in a Champions Tour.

DID YOU KNOW??

• Turnberry was designed by Willie Fernie and first opened in 1906. The property was used as an airbase during World War I and again in World War II, as the hotel was used as a hospital during both conflicts. The course was redesigned by Mackenzie Ross and re-opened in 1951.

Gary Player remains the oldest winner of this event. Player earned that distinction when he won his third Senior Open Championship in 1997 at age 61. Player's brother-in-law, Bob Verwey, won the Senior Open at 50 years, 5 months, 23 days, making him the youngest winner in championship history. Both events were unofficial titles at the time.

ON THIS DATE

7/23/89 -- Mark Calcavecchia, Wayne Grady and Greg Norman finish tied for the lead after 72 holes at the British Open at Royal Troon, before Calcavecchia prevails in a four-hole aggregate playoff. His key shot was a 5-iron from 190 yards to seven feet and a birdie on the fourth and final hole.

7/24/05 -- Tom Watson wins his second Senior British title, defeating Des Smyth in a playoff at Royal Aberdeen in Scotland.

7/25/99 -- One week after winning the Ameritech Senior Open, Hale Irwin goes wire-to-wire to win the Coldwell Banker Burnet Classic near Minneapolis and by doing so moves into second place behind Lee Trevino on the all-time Champions Tour victory list.

7/26/92 -- New England native Brad Faxon wins the New England Classic less than an hour from his home in Rhode Island when he is two strokes better than Phil Mickelson in Sutton, MA.

7/27/06 -- Corey Pavin sets a new PGA TOUR 9-hole scoring mark when he birdies eight of his first nine holes and shoots an 8-under-par 26 on the front nine in the opening round of the U.S. Bank Championship on his way to a 9-under-par 61.

7/28/02 -- One week after defeating Hale Irwin in a playoff, Bob Gilder does it again. He makes a birdie-3 on the third extra hole to win the FleetBoston Classic and becomes the first wire-to-wire winner of the event. In the process becomes the first pro to win consecutive events in a playoff since Lee Elder won consecutive Champions Tour events in playoffs in 1985.

7/29/90 -- Starting Sunday's round eight strokes off the pace of 54-hole leader Hale Irwin, Chip Beck fires a 7-under 65 to beat Irwin, Fuzzy Zoeller and Mike Donald by one at the Buick Open in Michigan.

QUOTES TO NOTE

"I'm sleeping great at night as this is a tiring golf course -- you have to think a lot out there...I'm glad the wind we had on Wednesday died down as I think I would have completely lost my mind if that hadn't been the case." -- Mark Calcavecchia shares his thoughts on Royal Lytham and St. Annes and the generous weather that occurred during The Open Championship.

"That was lucky, man. I pushed it and it broke more than I thought it would. I was as surprised as anyone!" -- Tom Watson talking about making a 25-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole of the second round to make the cut at The Open Championship.

"I was in the trailer working out about a month ago and Tom Kite came in. I was on the bike for 30 minutes and I did 30 minutes of exercise and stretching. I'm kind of an easygoing guy on the workouts. Tom goes at it hard for 45 minutes. He's 62, throwing a bunch of weight around and doing balance moves. ... I'm watching and thinking, 'He's been doing this and working and trying to play his best golf for 40 years.' It's impressive that he still has that drive to play well." -- Kirk Triplett comments on the competitive environment on the Champions Tour in a recent interview.

TWEET OF THE WEEK

@garyplayer: Congratulations to my friend Ernie Els for rallying to win the @The_Open. Wonderful to see him lift the Claret Jug once again.

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