20 years of the Champions Tour in Twin Cities

  • Article by: BRIAN STENSAAS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 28, 2012 - 11:23 PM

It's history spans from the Burnet Senior Classic (1993-97) to the Coldwell Banker Burnet Classic (1998-2000) to the 3M Championship. The tournament rolls back into town this week.

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Tom Lehman, at the 2012 British Open Golf Championship, Lytham St Annes, England.

Photo: Jon Super, Associated Press - Ap

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THE BASICS

When: Practice rounds and pro-ams Monday-Thursday; 54-hole tournament Friday-Sunday.

Where: TPC Twin Cities in Blaine.

Tickets: Free general admission all week. The expo tent (Friday-Sunday) behind No. 18 is also free.

Parking/shuttle service: Free from the Anoka County Airport.

Purse: $1.75 million; $262,500 to the winner.

TV: Golf Channel (11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Friday; 3-5 p.m. Saturday; 3-5 p.m. Sunday).

Tournament 54-hole record: 191 (25 under) by David Frost in 2010.

Tournament 18-hole record: 61 by Frost in the final round in 2010.

Last year: Trailing by a stroke after the second round, Jay Haas took advantage of off days from those ahead of him. He fired a 4-under-par 68 to win the tournament by a shot over Peter Senior, Kenny Perry and Minnesotan Tom Lehman. Haas hadn't won since 2009.

Greats: Arnold Palmer is back to highlight the Greats of Golf on Saturday and Sunday. Lee Trevino, Chi Chi Rodriguez, Dave Stockton, Don January and Billy Casper are also among the 14 Greats who will make appearances and sign autographs. Nine of them will play in an exhibition challenge.

GLOBETROTTERS

3M Championship week arrives a day after the Senior British Open concludes at Turnberry. Champions Tour players have navigated courses from Hawaii to Quebec to Scotland, just to name a few, so far this season.

"It's one of the things I've gotten used to over the years," said David Frost, a native South African. "You know it's going to take you three days to get over it. So you just don't drink too much on the plane and take it easy the first couple of days back."

Players generally feel it's easier to adjust back to American time zones than it is to get ready to play in Europe. "Obviously it's going to be a big week for me back there so it won't be too hard to get ready," Lehman said. "This is one of those tournaments you really want to win, want to put your best foot forward."

PUTTER CONTROVERSY

At the British Open last week, Ernie Els became the third major champion to win using a belly putter when Adam Scott imploded while using a long-stick putter. It has caused a major debate: Should long putters or putters anchored to the body be allowed?

Some of the game's most senior and accomplished members were asked about it repeatedly last week. Belly putters and long putters are common among older players. "I really think they are OK," said Fred Couples, who uses a belly putter on the Champions Tour. "I just don't see anyone out there winning every tournament and doing things that have never been done before with a belly putter or whatever that putter is called [that Scott uses]."

Tom Watson said he tried a long-stick putter once and quit after three passes with the club. "I don't believe this is a stroke of golf where you can putt a broom handle," he said. "And as far as anchoring the putter to the body, I don't think that's a stroke, either. But on the other side of the coin, my son, who couldn't putt a lick with a conventional putter, makes everything with a belly putter, which he anchors right under his belly. Makes everything. So he enjoys the game."

Bernhard Langer has won 14 Champions Tour events -- including two majors -- using a long-stick putter. "But by no means is it easier, because otherwise, everybody would be using them, and they are not," he said.

HAAS UPDATE

Since winning last year's 3M Championship, Jay Haas has played some of the best golf of his career. In 20 starts leading up to the Senior British Open, Haas has added another victory and finished in the top 10 in half of the events.

"This is the best I've played in a long, long time," Haas said in June while in Blaine to promote this year's 3M Championship. "I'm still trying to hold on to the magic."

Haas, who has won 16 times on the Champions Tour, is nearing the $1 million mark in earnings for this season.

THE FIELD

Led by Tom Lehman, last year's Charles Schwab Cup season points winner, the top 10 players from last year's money list are scheduled to appear in the 3M Championship. The field includes eight past champions of the event; 15 players who won major championships on the PGA Tour; and five members of the World Golf Hall of Fame. Fred Couples and Tom Watson, who both played in the 3M Championship last season, are not in the field. Nor is Roger Chapman, a two-time major winner on the Champions Tour this season. Chapman withdrew from the Senior British Open on Friday with a neck injury and is still rehabilitating.

THE COURSE

One of 19 courses on the TPC network, TPC Twin Cities is a 7,100-yard par-72 co-designed by Tom Lehman and Arnold Palmer that sits atop a former sod farm. It features various waste bunkers that stretch up to 60 yards in length and has 27 water hazards. None is more daunting than the pond that guards the 18th green some 200 yards out. Many players choose to go for the green in two, setting up the chance for a dramatic eagle to finish ... if they make it over the water.

 

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