15th Annual Gerry Dulac Parkway West Rotary Charity Classic
Monday, July 29th
Sewickley Heights Golf Club
Benefits Robinson Twp. Parks & Recreation Department and Parkway West Rotary Charities
Includes: 18-hole Scramble, Gift, Continental Breakfast, Dinner, Auction.
Register online at parkwaywestrotary.com
Special Editions of the Golf Show
Whether he knows it or not, Tom Watson might be the player most responsible for the Constellation Senior Players Championship returning to the Fox Chapel Golf Club.
It was Watson, after playing a practice round last year, who raved about the design, look and character of Fox Chapel, calling it a "hidden gem" and even photographing some of the design techniques used by course architect Seth Raynor.
Watson, an eight-time major champion, sounded the trumpet and led the parade of Champions Tour players who tossed bouquets at the Fox Chapel layout. And the overwhelming approval of the players was one of the main reasons the tournament will return for the next two years.
"I always define great golf courses by how well you remember it, and I remember virtually every hole on the golf course," Watson said on the phone Thursday from his home in Bucyrus, Kan. "It's unique. From my perspective, every hole has a different character to it. The shot values that are required to play there are sensational."
Watson, 63, finished tied for 20th in last year's inaugural event at Fox Chapel, but it was his first tournament back from a neck injury that caused numbness in his hand. He will be in the field when the tournament, one of five majors on the Champions Tour, begins Thursday.
And Watson can't wait.
"It has a variety of long holes and short holes, from the great Biarritz green at No. 17 to the Redan hole on the front to the drivable par 4 right after that," Watson said of Fox Chapel. "To me, it has a wonderful variety of shot values."
No player in the field has won as many major tournaments as Watson.
He won eight on the PGA Tour, including five British Opens, and six on the Champions Tour. He is considered the greatest links player of all time because he has added three Senior British Open titles to go with the five claret jugs he won in 1974, 1977, 1980, 1982 and 1983.
Despite all those majors, he has never won the Senior Players Championship. His most recent victory on the Champions Tour came in the 2011 Senior PGA Championship.
Curiously, Fox Chapel will be the beginning of a seven-week stretch in which Watson will play six times, including four majors. He will play the Senior Players and the Senior British Open on the Champions Tour and the British Open and PGA Championship on the PGA tour.
"I got a long stretch and three of them are against the kids," said Watson, who will also play in the PGA Tour's Greenbrier Classic in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va. "I wish I could say every time I tee it up I have a chance to win. At the Masters, playing on that golf course is too long for me. I'll still give it a try for another year or so.
"British Open courses, I have a little more chance. If I'm playing well, I have a reasonable chance to compete against the kids. That's important to me. I don't want to compete in a tournament just to compete."
Watson has appeared in only five events this season on the Champions Tour, and his best finish is a tie for fifth in the Toshiba Classic in mid-March. He also teamed with Andy North to finish tied for fourth in the Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf in April.
But his schedule will pick up next week, and he will even take advantage of his trip to the British Open to visit Gleneagles in Scotland, site of the 2014 Ryder Cup matches. Watson is the captain of the U.S. team and wants to start getting the lay of the land at Gleneagles so he knows what to expect.
"I'm familiarizing myself with the regular tour players; I'm watching more golf on TV," Watson said. "When I was at the U.S. Open for the champions dinner, I stood on the 17th tee at Merion and met a lot of the players that went on through. I just watched them swing. I'm trying to get familiar with some of the players who will be on the team."
It is not always easy for Rocco Mediate to watch the U.S. Open, even though he enjoyed watching and rooting for his pal Phil Mickelson last week at Merion.
Mediate knows what it's like to contend at the U.S. Open and finish second. He also knows what it's like to seemingly have the entire gallery and a whole nation rooting for you to win on the final day.
At times, it seems like yesterday to Mediate that he lost in a Monday playoff to Tiger Woods at the 2008 U.S. Open, that he had the best player in the world on the ropes not once, but twice in the final round and again in the playoff.
"Can you believe it's been five years?" Mediate said the other day.
Mediate doesn't play in the U.S. Open anymore, at least he hasn't since 2010. He has tried to qualify several times since his playoff defeat at Torrey Pines, but did not attempt this year because it didn't fit logistically into his Champions Tour schedule.
So he sat around and watched Justin Rose win his first major championship -- "He played two of the best and prettiest shots I've ever seen at 18," Mediate said -- and got the idea that maybe his days of playing in the U.S. Open aren't over.
"I got to tell you, I'm not done with the PGA Tour yet," Mediate said. "I'm playing the Champions Tour, but I don't think I'm done. People can laugh about it, but I don't feel that way.
"I miss it. It would have been great to be at Merion, whether I played great or lousy."
• What: Constellation Senior Players Classic, the third of the Champions Tour majors, Fox Chapel Golf Club.
• When: June 27-30.
• The skinny: Kouki Idoki (Senior PGA) and David Frost (Tradition) won the season's first two majors.
Mediate, a Greensburg native, gets a chance to win his first major on the Champions Tour when he returns to his hometown area to play in the 30th Constellation Senior Players Championship next week at one of his favorite courses, Fox Chapel Golf Club.
This isn't Mediate's first return home. He has played the past two years in the Web.com Tour's Mylan Classic as a favor to tournament chairman Rod Piatt. But returning home to play in a major tournament, even on the Champions Tour, is a big deal.
"I'm looking forward to next week; I'm looking forward to being home," Mediate said. "In my opinion, Fox Chapel and Allegheny are the best two courses in Western Pennsylvania. Laurel Valley is up there, too. Fox Chapel is special to me. I played the Pennsylvania Open there in 1980. I can't believe I get to play in an event like this at that golf course."
That's what many of the Champions Tour players said a year ago when they got their first look at Fox Chapel. Mediate said that's all he heard them talk about or ask him about heading into next week's 72-hole tournament, which begins June 27.
"I knew when they picked Fox Chapel guys would lose their mind," Mediate said. '[Ben] Crenshaw said it's one of the best places he's ever seen, and Crenshaw and [Bill] Coore have built some of the best golf courses on the planet. I already knew that, but it was cool to hear that."
Mediate got off to a fast start in his new career, becoming the 17th player to win his Champions Tour debut. After that, he finished fifth twice and sixth once in his next three events.
Since then, though, his best finish is a tie for 12th in six events. In each of the first two majors on the Champions Tour, he finished 20th at the Senior PGA Championship and 35th at the Regions Tradition.
"I love Shoal Creek; I just didn't putt good," Mediate said, referring to the site of the Regions Tradition. "I hit it great that week. I hit it great all year. I'm getting back in good shape. I'm ready to go."
Fred Couples is the biggest attraction on the Champions Tour that features a parade of former stars. And he has committed to return to the Constellation Senior Players Championship that begins next week at the Fox Chapel Golf Club.
Couples, the 2011 champion and an eight-time winner on the Champions Tour, has four top-five finishes this season. And he is coming off a second-place finish at the Regions Tradition, the tour's second major of the season.
But, at 53, he remains competitive on the PGA Tour, as well.
He has made the cut in all three tournaments he has played this season, finishing tied for 13th at the Masters after being one shot from the 36-hole lead.
Couples was the 36-hole leader last year at Fox Chapel and was bidding to become the only player other than Arnold Palmer to win the event two years in a row. But, bothered by a stiff back that hampered his ability to swing, he shot 70-71 on the weekend and finished tied for fourth behind winner Joe Daley.
Couples was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in May along with Colin Montgomerie, who is also in the field at Fox Chapel. Montgomerie will be making his senior tour debut.
The Champions Tour will be in Glenview, Ill., this week for the Encompass Championship. The top 76 players on the points list after the Encompass Championship will qualify for the Senior Players.