By Matt Hombach
|Loren Roberts won last year's Constellation Energy Senior Players Championship by six strokes.
Next week's Senior Players Championship at Baltimore Country Club Five Farms in Timonium attracts one of the best fields on the Champions Tour. Players committed to play include defending champion Loren Roberts, Tom Kite, Bernard Langer, Jay Haas, Hale Irwin, Nick Price, Jeff Sluman and Fred Funk. Fan favorites Fuzzy Zoeller, Craig Stadler and Ben Crenshaw have also signed on.
In addition to a shot at a major, the tournament offers the richest purse on the PGA Champions Tour, $2.6 million. Top golfers are also attracted by the opportunity to earn double points for the Charles Schwab Cup, awarded to the best man on the Champions Tour.
"Being the last major of the year and the last chance for golfers to earn double points certainly helps us attract a strong field," said tournament executive director Steve Schoenfeld. "Last year Loren Roberts' win here propelled him into the lead for the Schwab Cup and he never looked back."
Of course, having a prestigious host course like Baltimore Country Club doesn't hurt either. Players appreciate the pedigree of the Tillinghast design and have flocked for the chance to compete there.
"The character of the golf course is what stands out," said Loren Roberts at the recent pre-tournament press conference. "He (Tillinghast) has such great character with his bunkering, his style of the greens, with the way the fairway bunkers are placed. You have so many different options. That's what I like about the golf course. The first time I played the course, I fell in love with it."
In addition to seeing great golf, fans will also be treated to a fun atmosphere at the tournament as players interact with fans throughout the week.
"There's no doubt the golfers are out here competing and trying to win," Schoenfeld said. "But they also make it fun for the fans, talking to them between shots and signing autographs after the round. They understand they are here to entertain the fans as well."
Americans looking to relive some Ryder Cup memories will be well served to head out to Five Farms. The Senior Players Championship has 24 players with Ryder Cup experience (21 Americans and three Europeans) committed to tee it up.
Leading the way is one of the hottest players on the Champions Tour, Bernhard Langer, who has competed in 10 Ryder Cups and was team captain in 2004. Five other former captains are also in the field -- Curtis Strange, Tom Kite, Tom Watson, Ben Crenshaw and Mark James.
Since the inception of The Senior Players Championship (Ford and Constellation Energy), as well as the former Constellation Energy Classic, nearly $8.5 million has been distributed to local charities. In spite of challenging economic times, the tournament expects to make significant donations to several local organizations this fall.
This year's charitable beneficiares include the First Tee of Baltimore, Union Memorial Hospital, Kennedy Krieger Institute and the Baltimore Community Foundation/BGE Community Assistance Fund
Tickets are available for sale online until Oct. 5. Single day grounds passes (good Thursday-Sunday) are $22 in advance online and $27 at the gate. All children 17 and under are admitted free with a ticketed adult.
In addition, Championship Club tickets are available for sale in advance for $90. The week-long pass allows admission to the grounds and an elevated hospitality area overlooking the 17th green. The Championship Club includes premium food and beverage for sale and an upscale atmosphere ideal for entertaining clients.
For more information or to purchase tickets online, visit www.cecseniorplayers.com or call 410-470-3033.
Issue 3.40: October 2, 2008