May 03, 2011
Vartan Kupelian, PGATOUR.COM Contributor
Editor's note: Vartan Kupelian is the Champions Tour Insider and a PGATOUR.COM Contributor. Each week, Kupelian will size up the field and provide his top 5 players going into the tournament, based on factors such as the player's strengths, the course setup, recent performances, etc.
The name is familiar but the look won't be when the Champions Tour's first major of the season, the Regions Tradition, relocates this week to Shoal Creek Golf Club.
Fred Funk is the defending champion after winning the title last year in Oregon. Funk joined Jack Nicklaus and Gil Morgan as the only two-time winners of the event.
Many in this week's field played the Nicklaus design at Shoal Creek in past major championships (the 1984 and 1990 PGA Championships) but significant changes have been made over the past 18 months with 3,000 trees being removed to improve growing conditions. The Birmingham, Ala., course lost 25 additional trees in last week's storm.
The Tradition, which previously had been played later in the year, is moving into the Regions Charity Classic spot in the schedule and will be the first of five majors on the Champions Tour. It will be followed by the Senior PGA Championship May 24-29 at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Ky.
|Power Rankings: Regions Tradition|
| || ||Tom |
|A two-time winner this year, his quest now is to add more majors to his haul which began last year at the Senior PGA Championship. Tops on the Money List and Charles Schwab Cup points list. His game is in top form.|
| || ||Fred |
|Runner-up at the '90 PGA Championship, he knows Shoal Creek and he's eager to get his first victory of the season. Drives the ball immaculately averaging 298.6 yards and 73.81 percent fairways always a key in major championships.|
| || ||John |
|Joins Lehman as the only two-time winners this year (victories came at Mitsubishi Electric Championship in Hawaii and Outback Steakhouse Pro-Am) and he's another whose game is clicking on all cylinders.|
| || ||Nick |
|He's No. 3 behind Lehman and Cook on the Money List and Charles Schwab Cup points list and enjoying his best start on the Champions Tour. Won the Toshiba Classic and now he's looking for a major breakthrough.|
| || ||Russ |
|Has played his way into the top tier of the Champions Tour over the past 18 months. A solid ball striker (No. 4 in the All-Around stat), Cochran is top 5 in seven categories and seventh in Greens in Regulation (77.78 percent).|
This week's Champions Tour Power Rankings: