LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- A total of 47 of the top 50 on the 2011 Champions Tour money list are competing this week in the 72nd Senior PGA Championship presented by Kitchen Aid. The only three not here -- Bernhard Langer, 14th on money list, thumb injury; Tom Purtzer, 37th on money list, family medical issue; and Don Pooley, 49th on money list, back problems.
WARGO OUT, HARRIS IN: Tom Wargo, the last PGA Club Professional to win the Senior PGA Championship presented by KitchenAid, withdrew Monday because of a bad back. He is replaced in the field by John Harris of Minneapolis, Minn.
Wargo, from Centralia, Ill., was the "feel-good" story in golf in 1993. In April of that year, he defeated Bruce Crampton on the second hole of a sudden-death playoff at PGA National Golf Club in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. In doing so, Wargo became the first PGA Club Professional since 1979 (Jack Fleck) to win the most historic and prestigious event in senior golf.
FUNK REPLACES WARGO IN PRO-AM: Fred Funk replaced Tom Wargo in the Tuesday Pro-Am at Valhalla. Funk will start his round at 10:20 a.m. on the 10th tee.
The Professional Tee Times for the Pro-Am:
1st Tee 8:50 a.m.: Mark O’Meara
1st Tee 9:00 a.m.: John Jacobs
1st Tee 9:10 a.m.: Andy North
1st Tee 9:20 a.m.: Mark Calcavecchia
1st Tee 9:30 a.m.: Jeff Sluman
1st Tee 9:40 a.m.: Paul Azinger
1st Tee 9:50 a.m.: Hale Irwin
1st Tee 10:00 a.m.: Hal Sutton
1st Tee 10:10 a.m.: Mike Reid
1st Tee 10:20 a.m.: Kenny Perry
1st Tee 10:30 a.m.: Jay Haas
1st Tee 10:40 a.m.: Fred Couples
1st Tee 10:50 a.m.: Jerry Pate
1st Tee 11:00 a.m.: Tom Watson
10th Tee 8:50 a.m.: Tom Kite
10th Tee 9:00 a.m.: Fuzzy Zoeller
10th Tee 9:10 a.m.: Tom Lehman
10th Tee 9:20 a.m.: Corey Pavin
10th Tee 9:30 a.m.: Sandy Lyle
10th Tee 9:40 a.m.: Larry Nelson
10th Tee 9:50 a.m.: Mark Brooks
10th Tee 10:00 a.m.: Denis Watson
10th Tee 10:10 a.m.: Bob Tway
10th Tee 10:20 a.m.: Fred Funk
10th Tee 10:30 a.m.: Larry Mize
10th Tee 10:40 a.m.: Craig Stadler
10th Tee 10:50 a.m.: Michael Allen
10th Tee 11:00 a.m.: Nick Price
COOK ADDED TO WEDNESDAY INTERVIEWS: John Cook, who has won twice on the 2011 Champions Tour, has been added to the list of formal press conferences to be held on Wednesday. His press conference will take place at 1:30 p.m.
The current interview list:
9:30 a.m.: Robert Thompson (2010 Senior PGA Professional National Champion)
10:00 a.m.: Ken Green
1:00 p.m.: Tom Lehman, Defending Senior PGA Champion
1:30 p.m.: John Cook
2:00 p.m.: Mark Brooks, 1996 PGA Champion at Valhalla Golf Club
3:00 p.m.: Hale Irwin, 2004 Senior PGA Champion at Valhalla Golf Club
4:30 p.m.: Kenny Perry
COOKING WITH KITCHENAID: KitchenAid, presenting sponsor of the Senior PGA Championship presented by KitchenAid and the Official Home Appliance Brand of The PGA of America, is engaging golf and culinary fans throughout the week in the KitchenAid Fairway Club, located adjacent to the 13th green at Valhalla.
The KitchenAid Fairway Club gives Championship attendees the opportunity to see live cooking demonstrations from celebrity and local chefs, touch and test KitchenAid products, have their picture taken with the Alfred S. Bourne Championship Trophy (as well as Chef Duff Golfman’s cake replica) and compete in a daily closest-to-the-pin competition on a golf swing simulator to benefit Cook for the Cure.
LEHMAN TO HOST CHAMPIONS' DINNER: As is tradition, defending Senior PGA Champion Tom Lehman will host the Champions' dinner Tuesday night, at the Muhammad Ali Center in downtown Louisville. Lehman, who won last year at Colorado Golf Club, selects the menu and a gift for the Senior PGA Champions and PGA Champions who take part in the special gathering.
A MOBILE FIRST: Beginning Tuesday, the Senior PGA Championship presented by KitchenAid becomes the first major golf championship to allow spectators to carry and use mobile devices in select area on the course.
Spectators at Valhalla may accept or make phone calls in designated areas throughout the golf course, primarily near concession stands. Digital messaging and checking data is allowed on the course.
The PGA of America asks that spectators at Valhalla respect the ground rules for use of mobile devices.
HAAS THE ONLY ONE TO DOUBLE UP: Since The PGA of America decided to take the Senior PGA Championship presented by KitchenAid to great venues throughout the country starting in 2001, Jay Haas has been the only multiple winner of the Championship.
Haas earned his first Senior PGA Championship victory in 2006, at Oak Tree Golf Club in Edmond, Okla. Two years later, he captured the Championship at Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, N.Y.
ALL IN THE THOMPSON FAMILY: The husband-wife “team” of PGA Professional Robert Thompson and his wife, Chris, of Huntsville, Texas, return to Valhalla this week.
Robert, 54, is the reigning Senior PGA Professional National Champion, a PGA teaching professional at Whispering Pines Golf Club in Trinity, Texas. He leads a contingent of 38 PGA Club Professionals into Valhalla. Chris, who has served as associate athletic director of student services at Sam Houston State in Huntsville since 1997, returns to caddie at Valhalla for her husband, their first trip back to the course since 2002, when Robert competed in the PGA Professional National Championship.
One of golf’s enduring success stories on and off the course, the couple met while students at Sam Houston State and have been together 30 years. That's the same period that Chris, who played tennis for her alma mater and later coached the sport, signed up to caddie.
Chris said that she is well aware of a caddie’s three main rules of survival: “to show up, keep up and shut up.”
“Having been a college coach and around athletics for as long as I have, I know when to pump up someone and when to be quiet,” she said. “Caddies have to pick and choose words carefully, I believe, and I understand how important it is for my husband and his passion for the game is so intense.”
Chris, like any veteran caddie, knows her “boss’s game” very well.
“He is so very steady and not flashy,” said Chris. “He goes about his business and does what he has to do. I think that has helped him be a better player through the years.”
Robert also knows that anyone competing for a niche in senior professional golf will be humbled on a regular basis.
“I realize the talent level that exists on the Champions Tour, and what it takes to be playing out there every week,” said Thompson. “I have been trying to keep myself sharp and work harder on the short game. There is a high skill level among the players that has not diminished from those coming from the regular Tour."
Last fall in Indian Wells, Calif., Thompson turned in a 72-hole total of 8-under-par 280, earning $20,000 and becoming the second player in PGA of America history to win a PGA Assistant Championship (1986) and a Senior PGA Professional National Championship.
Slowed by tendinitis in his left elbow and a sore shoulder most of the summer of 2010, Thompson said he is feeling well heading into his fourth appearance in the most historic and prestigious event in senior golf.
“Winning last fall was a confidence booster at the end of the year,” said Thompson. “It was a great week and any time that you can say that you win a national championship, it has extra meaning.”
With Chris at his side, expect Robert Thompson to remain steady at Valhalla. That is a good formula for anyone to follow in a major championship.
DID YOU KNOW: With The PGA of America celebrating its 95th anniversary in 2011, we will feature a series of "Did You Know" items throughout the week related to The PGA of America and the Senior PGA Championship presented by Kitchen Aid.
Did You Know ...
--There were 31 players in the field for the first Senior PGA Championship, played Nov. 30-Dec. 2, 1937, at Augusta (Ga.) National Golf Club.
--Eddie Williams (1942, 1945 and 1946) and Hale Irwin (1996, 1997 and 1998) are the only players to win the Senior PGA Championship three straight times. The Championship was not played in 1943 and 1944 because of World War II.
--Including this week, The PGA of America has conducted the PGA Championship three times and the Senior PGA Championship presented by Kitchen Aid twice in Louisville. The only one of the five championships not played at Valhalla Golf Club was the 1952 PGA Championship, which Jim Turnesa won at Big Spring Country Club.
--The PGA of America had 78 founding members when it was started on April 10, 1916, in New York City. Today, with more than 27,000 members and apprentices, The PGA of America is the world's largest sports organization.
--There are 41 geographical PGA sections. The Kentucky PGA Section, with headquarters in Louisville, has 260 PGA Members and 56 apprentices.