For 15 years now the Big Island has provided the Champions Tour with a luxurious way to launch its year. Hualalai Resort is a divot-free environment.
When the seniors tee off their 32nd season tomorrow in the Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai, they will be playing a course that has been the easiest on the Champions Tour seven of the past eight years. The average winning score over the past decade is 20 under, and Loren Roberts set a tour record when he won five years ago at 25 under.
No one has won here after shooting in the 70s, though a few have won at the age of 60. Tom Watson was the latest, birdieing the final two holes last year to hold off Fred Couples, making his senior debut. Couples would win his next three starts.
It was Watson’s first win in 34 starts in Hawaii. He was the second-oldest champion of this event, after Hale Irwin in 2000.
MITSUBISHI ELECTRIC CHAMPIONSHIP AT HUALALAI
» What: Champions Tour season-opening event, featuring 34 past champions and eight sponsor exemptions
» When: Starting at 8:50 a.m. tomorrow and 9:50 a.m. Saturday and Sunday
» Where: Hualalai Golf Club, Big Island (Par 36-36–72, 7,107 yards)
» Purse: $1.8 million ($305,000)
» Defending champion: Tom Watson (22-under-par 194)
» Pro-am: 7:15 a.m., today
» Tickets: $10 daily, $25 all week
» TV: Golf Channel live, 1:30-4 p.m. tomorrow and 2:30-5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, with repeats
The first round starts at 8:50 a.m. tomorrow at Hualalai Golf Club. The field of 42 is the largest ever, made up of champions from the past two years, major champions from the past five years and eight sponsor invites.
Seven of the golfers, including Watson and Irwin, are in the World Golf Hall of Fame. The field has combined to win 548 events on the PGA and senior tours. Bernhard Langer got five of them in 2010, when he was player of the year for an unprecedented third straight time.
Langer won here two years ago and is back this week, along with fellow World Golf Hall of Famers Ben Crenshaw, Tom Kite, Nick Price and Curtis Strange.
Langer and Couples tee off last tomorrow, at 12:10 p.m.
All three rounds will be shown live on the Golf Channel.