Allianz Championship Returns to Glen Oaks
WEST DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) _ After a one-year absence, the Allianz Championship returns to Glen Oaks Country Club with a field full of golfers happy to be back in West Des Moines _ and even happier to be out of Oklahoma.
Last week’s Senior PGA Championship in Edmond, Okla., was brutal for almost every golfer in the field, as only five finished below par. But this week the Champions Tour returns to Glen Oaks, a course with a reputation for playing fair and rewarding golfers who can stay out of the rough.
The word on Glen Oaks is simple: If you can find the fairways, you should be in good shape.
``It’s a good, hard golf course,″ Dana Quigley said. ``But it’s going to be a breather compared to last week.″
Glen Oaks should also be a much easier course to navigate for the fans than the Tournament Club of Iowa, the site of last year’s event. Allianz officials were forced to find a new home for the 2005 tournament after former Glen Oaks officials decided to stick to its original three-year agreement to host the event.
The TCI didn’t work out the way officials hoped. Holes 11, 12, 13 and 14 had to be closed off to fans because of rough terrain, and the uphill walk to the green on 18 was a chore for spectators and players alike.
A change in management at Glen Oaks helped pave the way for the tournament’s return.
``The TCI was pretty hard for our spectators to get around,″ tournament director Jeff Starr said. ``This tour is trying to be fan friendly, and we thought this was in our best interest to come back.″
Tour pros have echoed Starr’s sentiment, including Jim Thorpe, who has won more money at Allianz than any golfer. His 14-under 199 in 2001 remains the best score in the tournament’s five-year history.
``I think this is a better course, to be honest with you. I think the (TCI) is going to be a good course, but I think we played it too early,″ Thorpe said. ``We just love it (at Glen Oaks), and all 78 of us here are very happy to be back.″
Senior PGA champ and current money leader Jay Haas is sitting out the Allianz, so the field is headlined by Loren Roberts, the tour’s second-leading money leader.
Roberts has finished in the Top 10 in every event he’s entered this season and has posted three victories. Much of Roberts’ success has been on the green.
He leads the Champions Tour in putting average, a good sign given the favorable conditions at Glen Oaks.
``The greens are perfect here. You have to use your imagination a little bit on the greens. I like the golf course,″ Roberts said.
The field also includes 2005 Allianz champion Tom Jenkins and notables Fuzzy Zoeller, Ben Crenshaw, D.A. Weibring and Gil Morgan. Besides Roberts, three golfers that have won tournaments this year _ Jerry Pate, Morris Hatalsky and Bobby Wadkins _ committed to the event.
Weather isn’t expected to be a problem. Forecasters predict sunny skies and temperatures in the mid-80s for Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
According to Thorpe, conditions are ripe for a weekend of strong shots and low scores.
``If you keep it on the fairways, you can make birdies out there,″ Thorpe said. ``Right now, the scores are going to be low because the greens are good, the fairways are running and the Champions Tour guys are playing very well this year.″