PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. ?- Twenty-two major champions, a world-class international field and a challenging venue are all part of the package for the 65th Senior PGA Championship, May 27-30, at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Ky.
The oldest and most prestigious event in senior golf, the 65th Senior PGA Championship features its largest-ever field of 156, including defending Champion John Jacobs and 11 past Senior PGA Champions. Overall, the 24 major champions in the field have won a total of 75 major titles.
More notes about the 65th Senior PGA Championship:
Golf's Legendary 'Big Three' at Valhalla: Arnold Palmer, 74, winner of seven major titles, is making his 23rd Senior PGA Championship appearance. He won the Senior PGA Championship in 1980 and 1984. Jack Nicklaus, 64, a Senior PGA Champion in 1991 and the designer of Valhalla, is making his 14th appearance. He owns a record 18 major championships spanning three decades. Gary Player, 68, has won nine major championships and returns for his 19th Senior PGA Championship, having won titles in 1986, 1988 and 1990.
A Full House: The 65th Senior PGA Championship, featuring 156 players, joins the PGA Championship, U.S. Open, British Open, U.S. Senior Open and U.S. Women's Open with the largest fields in major championship golf.
The Elder Statesman: Jack Fleck, 82, makes his 18th appearance in the Senior PGA Championship. Fleck is best remembered for stunning the sports world with his 1955 U.S. Open playoff victory over Ben Hogan. A resident of Fort Smith, Ark., Fleck won the 1979 Senior PGA Championship.
Familiar Territory: Seven players in the field have competed in both the 1996 and 2000 PGA Championships conducted at Valhalla Golf Club. They are: Ben Crenshaw, Jay Haas, Tom Kite, Jack Nicklaus, Sam Torrance, Craig Stadler and Tom Watson. Of those seven, Watson owns the best performances of the group, with a T-17 in 1996 and a T-9 in 2000. Haas, who is making his senior rookie appearance at Valhalla, was the only other player to make the cut in both majors at Valhalla. He tied for 31st in 1996 and T-64 in 2000. Overall, 16 players have competed in at least one previous major at Valhalla. The remainder of the delegation are: Bob Ford, Hubert Green, Mark James, Mark McCumber, Larry Nelson, Lonnie Nielsen, Tom Purtzer, Ed Sabo and Fuzzy Zoeller.
You Can Go Home Again: Louisville native Bobby Nichols, the 1964 PGA Champion, will compete for the first time at Valhalla Golf Club. Nichols attempted to compete in 2000 but withdrew before the opening round due to a knee injury. Nichols' career best finish in a Senior PGA Championship was third place in 1987.
The Last Time: The last time the Senior PGA Championship was contested in May, Tom Watson came away with a title, capturing the Alfred S. Bourne Trophy in 2001 at The Ridgewood Country Club in Paramus, N.J.
Senior Golf In Kentucky: The Bluegrass State has hosted 15 previous Champions Tour events, from 1983 to 1997, all in Lexington, Ky. Prior to the 65th Senior PGA Championship, the last championship was the Bank One Classic in 1997, when Argentina's Vicente Fernandez triumphed at Kearney Hill Links by one stroke over Japan?s Isao Aoki.
Winning in Kentucky ? Hall of Famer Gary Player has won twice in the Bluegrass State, capturing the 1993 and 1995 Bank One Classic in Lexington.
The Best 18 at Valhalla: Spain's Jose Maria Olazabal posted the competitive course record at Valhalla Golf Club, with a 9-under-par 63 in the third round of the 2000 PGA Championship. The course was then played at par-72, and will be set at par-71 for the 65th Senior PGA Championship.
Past Champions Roster: Defending Champion John Jacobs is joined in the field by the following past Senior PGA Champions: Allen Doyle (1999), Jack Fleck (1979), Raymond Floyd (1995), Hale Irwin (1996, '97, '98), Jack Nicklaus (1991), Arnold Palmer (1980, '84), Gary Player (1986, '88, '90), Doug Tewell (2000), Tom Wargo (1993), Tom Watson (2001) and Fuzzy Zoeller (2002).
Overall Major Champions in the field:Jack Nicklaus, 18
Challenging Venue: Though playing to a par-71 and 6,990 yards this year, some comparisons can be made for the challenges presented by Valhalla Golf Club. In the 1996 PGA Championship, played at par-72 and measuring 7,144 yards, the field averaged 72.67 strokes. In 2000, with the course measuring 7,167 yards at par-72, Valhalla Golf Club yielded a 73.97 scoring average.
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