Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

The Best of Both Golf Worlds Seniors Benefit from Changes to Legends Event

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

The Best of Both Golf Worlds Seniors Benefit from Changes to Legends Event

Article excerpt

Byline: Garry Smits, Times-Union sports writer

Two weeks ago, the best field on the PGA Tour gathered in one spot to compete in The Players Championship. Despite the presence of 48 of the top 50 players on the World Golf Rankings, No. 203 Craig Perks won with a finish on the closing holes that was nothing short of astonishing.

This week, the best field on the Senior PGA Tour will play in three divisions at the 25th Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf, which takes place at the World Golf Village King & Bear Course in St. Augustine. Thanks to a modified format, which includes a stroke-play division for official money and two divisions of team play, this tournament has the best of both worlds.

Former PGA Tour stars such as Hale Irwin, Tom Watson, Tom Kite and Lanny Wadkins, and Senior Tour stars Allen Doyle, Bruce Fleisher, John Jacobs and Dana Quigley can get cut-throat for $3 million in official money.

Other PGA Tour stars of the past who are no longer competitive on the Senior Tour, such as Chi Chi Rodriguez, Lee Trevino, Don January and Gene Littler, have the team format. They can play for a decent chunk of change ($500,000) and yuck-yuck with the crowds.

Not that Irwin, Watson and Kite, et al., will not. Just don't look for a wisecrack when they've made a bogey and don't have a partner to cover their rear.

And this week, through directives issued by the PGA Tour, the Senior Tour is doing all it can to make sure the fans are part of the show.

At The Players, you were spectators, kept at a safe distance behind ropes and white fences, watching Tiger Woods, Sergio Garcia, David Duval, Ernie Els and, yes, Craig Perks try to conquer the Stadium Course. For a $6 million purse, a five-year exemption on the PGA Tour and a free ticket to all four majors, they needed to work with only your cheers as evidence you were there.

But this week, some of you will caddie for a Senior player in one of the two pro-ams, walk with a group for 18 holes, get a tour of previously off-limits places such as TV production sites and the media center (leave some cold-cuts for me) and pose questions directly to a Senior star after Saturday's round. …

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