EL GATO RETURNS: A week after playing in the U.S. Open, Eduardo Romero is back on the Champions Tour where he is defending his 2008 title at the Dick's Sporting Goods Open. Last year, Romero took a one-stroke lead into the final round, shot a 3-under 69 and edged Fulton Allem and Gary Koch by a stroke.
With his win, Romero became the first international winner at En-Joie Golf Course since Sweden's Gabriel Hjertstedt won the 1997 B.C. Open when it was a PGA TOUR event.
This year, Romero has a victory -- at the Toshiba Classic -- and is 22nd in the Charles Schwab Cup standings and 17th on the money list. Last week at the U.S. Open in Farmingdale, N.Y., Romero missed the cut, while fellow Champions Tour players Tom Lehman and Fred Funk made it to the weekend. HALL OF FAME FIELD: This week's Dick's Sporting Goods Open field features four members of the World Golf Hall of Fame -- Isao Aoki, Hale Irwin, Tom Kite and Nick Price. A number of former B.C. Open winners are also scheduled to return to En-Joie this year, including Tom Kite (1978), Don Pooley (1980), Jay Haas (1981), Joey Sindelar (1985/1987), Mike Hulbert (1989), Blaine McCallister (1993), Hal Sutton (1995), Fred Funk (1996), Jeff Sluman (2001) and Craig Stadler (2003).
SLUMANS'S FIRST START: After missing last year's event due to travel complications, Rochester's Jeff Sluman will play in the Dick's Sporting Goods Open for the first time as a member of the Champions Tour. Sluman won the seventh of his eight career titles on the PGA TOUR at the 2001 B.C. Open and finished second at En-Joie in both 1987 and 1994.
N.Y. NATIVES: In addition to Jeff Sluman, this week's Dick's Sporting Goods Open field includes three other players with upstate New York ties who have wins in the PGA TOUR's B.C. Open. Joey Sindelar (Horseheads) was a two-time winner (1985 and 1987), while Wayne Levi (New Hartford) prevailed in 1984 and Mike Hulbert (Elmira) won the title in 1989. Lonnie Nielsen, a long-time resident of the Buffalo area, never won the B.C. Open but claimed numerous Western New York PGA Sectional titles and also won his first Champions Tour event at the 2007 Commerce Bank Championship on Long Island.
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LONG AWAITED RETURNS: Wayne Levi, a winner of 12 PGA TOUR titles and two Champions Tour events, is scheduled to return to the Champions Tour at the Dick's Sporting Goods Open after undergoing double-bypass surgery in early April. Levi has been out of action since tying for 39th at The Cap Cana Championship. Scott Simpson, a seven-time winner on the PGA TOUR, is scheduled to make his first Champions Tour start of the year. In mid-January, Simpson suffered a broken left wrist in an auto accident near his home in San Diego.