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Notes: Oak Hill makes history again
Designed by world-famous architect Donald Ross, the East Course was the site for the 1949 U.S. Amateur. Charlie Coe of Oklahoma City defeated Rufus King of Texas 11-and-10 in the 36-hole final. The USGA returned in 1956 with it's biggest event, the U.S. Open, and Dr. Cary Middlecoff outlasted Ben Hogan, who missed a 30-inch putt on the 71st hole and ultimately lost by one stroke.
Twelve years later, the U.S. Open was back and Lee Trevino won his first professional tournament, becoming the first man in history to shoot four rounds of sub-70 golf in an Open. The East Course hosted the 1980 PGA Championship and Jack Nicklaus rolled to a record seven-stroke victory. In 1984, Miller Barber won the second of his three U.S. Senior Open titles, defeating Arnold Palmer by two strokes. Curtis Strange made history at the 1989 U.S. Open at Oak Hill, becoming the last man to repeat as champion and first since Hogan put back-to-back victories together in 1950 and 1951. Six years later, the 1995 Ryder Cup was contested on the East Course and the European team, trailing by two points after the first two days of competition, mounted a memorable comeback in the final-day singles to win 14 � -13 �. In 1998, 50 years after its first U.S. Amateur, the event returned and Hank Kuehne won on the 35th hole over Tom McKnight. In 2003, the PGA Championship returned to Oak Hill and Shaun Micheel outdueled Chad Campbell by two strokes.
The 69th Senior PGA Championship will again be the first of five major championships on the 2008 Champions Tour schedule. In addition to the Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, N.Y., four other notable layouts will host Champions Tour majors this year. In late July, the Senior British Open will be played at Royal Troon in Scotland and a week after that, the U.S. Senior Open Championship will be held on the East Course at The Broadmoor Resort in Colorado Springs, Col. In mid-August, the JELD-WEN Tradition will be played for the second time at Crosswater Golf Club at Sunriver Resort near Bend, Ore. In early October, the historic Five Farms course at Baltimore Country Club in Maryland will again be the venue for the Constellation Energy Senior Players Championship.
Those who finish among the top 10 at this year's Senior PGA Championship will earn double points in the season-long Charles Schwab Cup race. Schwab Cup points are awarded throughout the year based on top-10 finishes and dollar amounts won in events on a per-thousand basis (i.e. $80,000 equals 80 Charles Schwab Cup points). Last year, Denis Watson's win at the Senior PGA Championship helped him eventually secure third place in the Charles Schwab Cup race. In 2006, Jay Haas won the Senior PGA Championship and his victory at Oak Tree Golf Club helped him edge Loren Roberts for the Schwab Cup title in the closest race ever. In 2004 at Valhalla, Hale Irwin edged Haas for the Senior PGA Championship title and he went on to earn his second Charles Schwab Cup. Points at all Champions Tour majors are doubled this year as are points being awarded at the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship. The player earning the most points at the end of the official season will receive a $1 million payout and the Charles Schwab Cup, signifying the Champions Tour's most consistent player over the course of the season.
Nine members of the Champions Tour played in the 2003 PGA Championship at Oak Hill and three of them finished in the top 10 that year. Jay Haas shot 69-69 on the weekend to finish T5 and both Fred Funk and Loren Roberts were T7 in Rochester
Three members of the 1995 United States Ryder Cup Team and four from the '95 European Team will converge at Oak Hill this year. The U.S. Team of 1995 will be represented by Jay Haas, Loren Roberts and Curtis Strange. Europe will be represented by Mark James, Bernhard Langer, Sam Torrance and Ian Woosnam.
How good is the East Course at Oak Hill? In the five stroke-play championships contested on the layout, only 10 players have been under par.
A total of 16 countries will be represented at Oak Hill this year. Japan again leads the list with seven players. The overall international delegation: Argentina -- Horacio Carbonetti, Luis Carbonetti, Vicente Fernandez, Eduardo Romero; Australia -- Graham Marsh, Greg Norman; Canada -- Rod Spittle; England -- Gordon Brand, Bob Cameron, Mark James, Nick Job, Carl Mason; Germany -- Bernhard Langer; Ireland -- Mark McNulty, Des Smyth; Italy -- Constantino Rocca; Jamaica -- Delroy Cambridge; Japan -- Isao Aoki, Massy Kuramoto, Hajime Meshiai, Kiyoshi Murota, Jet Ozaki, Joe Ozaki, Katsuyoshi Tomori; New Zealand -- Bob Charles; Scotland -- John Chillas, Ross Drummond, Bill Longmuir, Sandy Lyle, David J. Russell, Sam Torrance; South Africa -- Fulton Allem, Nick Price; Spain -- Juan Quiros, Jose Rivero; Thailand -- Boonchu Ruangkit; Zimbabwe -- Denis Watson.
The New Yorkers in the field are: Jim Albus of Staten Island, Mike Hulbert of Elmira, Wayne Levi of Little Falls, Joey Sindelar of Horseheads and Jeff Sluman of Rochester.
The Senior PGA Championship is the oldest event on the Champions Tour. Augusta National Golf Club served as host of the first event in 1937 at the invitation of the legendary Bobby Jones. After two years in Georgia, the tournament moved to Florida where it was held for more than 60 years in the following cities -- Sarasota, Ft. Myers, Dunedin, Port St. Lucie, Ft. Lauderdale, Orlando, North Miami Beach and Palm Beach Gardens. The event began to rotate around the United States in 2001 and last year was played at the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island, S.C. The 2009 Senior PGA Championship is slated for Canterbury Golf Club near Cleveland, Ohio.
This year's Senior PGA Championship will be the third senior major staged in New York and the first since the U.S. Senior Open at Oak Hill in 1984. In 1980, the first U.S. Senior Open was played on the East Course at Winged Foot Golf Club in Mamaroneck and won by Roberto DeVicenzo.
Current Champions Tour players Raymond Floyd, Hale Irwin, Curtis Strange, Lee Trevino and Fuzzy Zoeller all posted major victories in the state of New York while playing on the PGA TOUR. Floyd won the 1986 U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills on Long Island, Irwin won the 1974 U.S. Open in Mamaroneck, Strange won the 1989 U.S. Open in Rochester, Trevino won the 1968 U.S. Open in Rochester and Zoeller won the 1984 U.S. Open in Mamaroneck.
Hale Irwin's four Senior PGA Championship victories (1996, '97, '98, '04) are second only to legend Sam Snead's six wins (1964, '65, '67, '70, '72, '73). Gary Player (1986, '88, '90), Al Watrous (1950, '51, '57) and Eddie Williams (1942, '45, '46) each have three wins in this event. With his win in 2004, Irwin joined Snead, Player, Jock Hutchison (1937, '47) and Don January (1979, '82) as the only men to win the Senior PGA Championship in two separate decades.
The field for this year's Senior PGA Championship will again be 156 players, and among those slated to compete are 19 players who together have won 40 major championships. A total of 10 former Senior PGA champions (D.Watson/2007, J. Haas/2006, Mike Reid/2005, Hale Irwin/1996, '97,'98, 2004, John Jacobs/2003, Fuzzy Zoeller/2002, Tom Watson/2001, Tom Wargo/1993) are in the field as well as nine World Golf Hall of Famers and nine former Ryder Cup captains.
Australia's Greg Norman is scheduled to make his first appearance since the 2005 U.S. Senior Open at this year's Senior PGA Championship. Norman finished fourth at NCR Country Club. He debuted a week earlier on the Champions Tour with a third-place finish at the Senior British Open Championship at Royal Aberdeen in Scotland. Norman is a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame and winner of 20 PGA TOUR titles and another 68 other titles around the world.
Hale Irwin's victory at the 2004 Senior PGA Championship came three days short of his 59th birthday, making him the oldest player to win a major since the start of the Champions Tour and the oldest to win any major since 61-year-old Pete Cooper claimed the Senior PGA title in 1976. Two years earlier at Aronimink Golf Club, 58-year-old John Jacobs birdied two of the last four holes to pull away from Bobby Wadkins and win by two strokes.
Hale Irwin has seven top-5 finishes in 10 appearances at the Senior PGA Championship. Jock Hutchison leads with 12 top-5 finishes in 25 attempts. Irwin won the event in 1996, 1997, 1998 and 2004. He finished second in 2000 and 2002 and was fifth in 2001.
Irwin's 12-stroke victory in the 1997 Senior PGA Championship was the largest winning margin for 72 holes in Champions Tour history, but it is not the largest margin in tournament history. Sam Snead prevailed by 15 strokes in 1973.
A total of 11 PGA Championship winners have gone on to claim at least one Senior PGA Championship. Raymond Floyd is the most recent of that group to claim both titles. A two-time PGA champion (1969 and 1982), Floyd won the Senior PGA at PGA National in 1995.
Allen Doyle's final-round, 8-under-par 64 in 1999 remains the lowest Sunday score in Senior PGA Championship history. The previous best was a 7-under 65 by Tom Wargo in 1994. Arnold Palmer and Buck White share the Senior PGA Championship record for the best 18-hole score overall. Palmer shot 9-under 63 in the second round of the 1984 event, while White's 9-under 63 came in the opening round of the 1961 Senior PGA Championship.
In 1987, Chi Chi Rodriguez scored the biggest come-from-behind victory in Senior PGA Championship history when he rallied from six strokes down to win.
The Senior PGA Championship has only had 12 playoffs in history, however, two of the 12 overtime sessions have come in the last three years. In 2006, Jay Haas' sudden-death victory over Brad Bryant with a par on the third extra hole marked the longest playoff in a Senior PGA Championship since 1979 when Jack Fleck defeated Bill Johnston and Bob Erickson on the third extra playoff hole. Two years ago, Mike Reid defeated Jerry Pate and Dana Quigley with a birdie on the first extra hole. Before the back-to-back playoffs the last two years, the last overtime session at a Senior PGA Championship was back in 1993 when Tom Wargo defeated Bruce Crampton with a par on the second extra hole at PGA National.
Seiji Ebihara of Japan tied the Champions Tour's all-time record for nine holes by going out in 8-under 27 at Firestone Country Club in the final round of the 2002 Senior PGA Championship. Ebihara's front nine started with seven consecutive birdies. Jay Sigel originally established the nine-hole record of 9-under 27 during the 1998 Bell Atlantic Classic at Hartefeld National Golf Club near Philadelphia.
Five of the last six winners of the Senior PGA Championship have come from behind to win on the last day. Denis Watson was the most recent, rallying from two strokes back last year to defeat Eduardo Romero by two strokes. Before Watson, Jay Haas in 2006, Mike Reid in 2005, John Jacobs in 2003 and Fuzzy Zoeller in 2002 came from off the pace for victory. During this period, only Hale Irwin, the 2004 champion at Valhalla, was able to protect a third-round lead in this event.
A total of 22 players have won the Senior PGA Championship in their first attempt. Denis Watson was the last first-timer to win, doing so at the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island, S.C. in 2007.