Seniors Break in New Course
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ The most famous part-time caddy on the Senior PGA Tour will be available for only one round of the TD Waterhouse Championship.
Kansas City Royals great George Brett has other commitments Saturday and Sunday, the final two rounds of the 54-hole tournament that begins Friday at Tiffany Springs Golf Club, a new course that has felt the effects of drought.
Last year on the Loch Lloyd course south of Kansas City, Brett caddied all the way for close friend Larry Ziegler, who edged Tom Shaw by one stroke for his second Senior Tour victory.
``George can only be here on Friday,″ Ziegler said. ``Since he was inducted into the Hall of Fame this summer, it’s unbelievable how hectic his life is.″
Ziegler, who had angioplasty surgery seven weeks ago, faces a much tougher field this year. The par-72, 6,820-yard Tiffany Greens layout is minutes from Kansas City International Airport and surrounded by hotels, making it more attractive to the seniors.
Loch Loyd was more than an hour from the airport and 20 minutes from the nearest hotel.
Last year’s event had just six of the top 20 money-winners. This time there are 17 of the top 20, including five-time winner on this year’s tour Bruce Fleisher, Dana Quigley, Gil Morgan, Hale Irwin and Dave Eichelberger.
One senior who will not be competing for the $180,000 first place money is hometown favorite Tom Watson. He did not reach his 50th birthday _ minimum age for Senior Tour entrants _ until later in the week.
Kansas City officials were denied a special exemption. They had hoped Watson’s birthday could be fudged by a few days, allowing him to play before what certainly would have been a larger gallery.
``When you start changing regulations for those kind of reasons, you run the risk of raising questions of credibility about the entire rules structure,″ PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said. ``From the standpoint of credibility, it didn’t seem like it made a lot of sense, although we would have loved to have Tom play.″
The Tiffany Springs course opened in May and has suffered in the intense heat and drought that has gripped the Midwest.
``Our agronomist looked at it in July and said it was terrific,″ Finchem said. ``But then they’ve had some heat stress and drought. Heat and drought affect the new root structure more than an older, mature golf course. But everybody’s been working hard. I think given the circumstances, we’ll be fine. The players like the layout and we’ve got a great field.″
Ziegler figures the winning score could be as much as 18 under par.
``The greens were absolutely immaculate, and now the weather has really torn them up,″ he said. ``But you can’t control what nature does. I think the guys will forgive that. I don’t think they’ll berate the course because of what nature has done.
``It’s a good layout. How the wind blows and where they put the pins, especially on the par-3s will go a long way toward dictating how good the scores will be.″