|Champions Tour Kicks Off 2007 Season Next Week In Hawaii|
(Ponte Vedra Beach, FL) - The first of 29 official Charles Schwab Cup Championship events, the MasterCard Championship at Hualalai, opens the Champions Tour's 2007 season next week on the Big Island of Hawaii. Loren Roberts, a four-time winner in 2006, is the defending champion.
The 54-hole event features major championship winners of the last five years and other tournament winners of the last two years, plus sponsor invitees Ben Crenshaw, Raymond Floyd, Gary Player and Lanny Wadkins. The Championship will be played January 15-21 at the Jack Nicklaus-designed Hualalai Golf Course in Ka'upulehu-Kona, HI. GOLF CHANNEL will provide live prime-time coverage of each day's action (Jan. 19 @ 6:30 - 9:00 p.m. ET and Jan. 20 & 21 @ 7:30 - 10:30 a.m. ET).
The following week, January 22-28, the Tour jumps over to Oahu for the Turtle Bay Championship where Loren Robets will defend again. GOLF CHANNEL will also air live prime-time coverage from Turtle Bay on Jan. 26-28.
Champions Tour rookie Fred Funk, winner of last year's AT&T Championship in San Antonio, will get a head start on his 2007 season. The 2005 PLAYERS Champion is entered in this week's Sony Open in Honolulu. Funk will then head over to the Big Island and play the MasterCard Championship at Hualalai.
In addition to players like Funk, Chip Beck and Scott Hoch, who will all play a more extensive schedule in 2007, the Champions Tour welcomes its most accomplished rookie class in history. Major champions Mark O'Meara (January 13) and Nick Price (January 28) will both debut when the Tour visits Florida in February. World Golf Hall of Fame members, Seve Ballesteros (April 9) and Bernhard Langer (August 27), will also join the mix once they turn 50 later this year. Rounding out the class are PGA TOUR veterans Jeff Sluman (September 11) and John Cook (October 2).
In 2007 the Champions Tour will play in 16 states in the U.S., plus Scotland for a minimum of 54.1 million in official prize money.
There are three new events on the Champions Tour schedule in 2007. Allianz, longtime title sponsor of the Tour's event in Iowa, will now sponsor a new event to be played February 5-11 in Boca Raton, Fla. The Ginn Championship at Hammock Beach will be played March 26 - April 1 in Hammock Beach, Fla. and the Dick's Sporting Goods Open in Endicott, N.Y., July 9-15.
Ginn Resorts and Clubs (Palm Coast, FL), The Principal Financial Group (Des Moines, IA) and Dick's Sporting Goods (Endicott, NY) join the Champions Tour family of sponsors.
New venues in 2007 include The Old Course at Broken Sound Club (Boca Raton, FL), Quail West Golf Club (Naples, FL), The Conservatory at Hammock Beach (Palm Coast, FL), En-Joie Golf Course (Endicott, NY), Crosswater Club at Sunriver Resort (Sunriver, OR) and Baltimore Country Club/Five Farms (Timonium, MD).
The Champions Tour's five major championship dates now have separation and will visit the strongest lineup of venues in Tour history. The Senior PGA Championship will travel to Kiawah Island's Ocean Course in late May, the U.S. Senior Open will be held at Whistling Straits in Kohler, Wisc. the first week of July and the Senior British Open presented by Aberdeen Asset Management visits Muirfield for the first time in late July. The JELD-WEN Tradition has a new home at Sunriver Resort in Sunriver, OR and the Constellation Energy Senior Players Championship moves to the first week of October and will be contested at Baltimore Country Club's Five Farms course.
The season once again concludes at the $2.5 million Charles Schwab Cup Championship in Sonoma, Calif. Many of the season's award winners will be determined in Sonoma, including the $2.1 million Charles Schwab Cup champion. Last year Jay Haas edged Loren Roberts by 20 points in the closest race in the six-year history of the competition.
All 29 events will receive national television coverage. GOLF CHANNEL will air 22 tournaments (plus early round coverage of four others) and seven will air on NBC (5), ABC (1) or CBS (1). All five major championships will air on network television.