Champions Golf Tour
CHAMPIONS - Triton Financial Classic Preview
From The Sports Network

DATES: Friday, June 5th through Sunday, June 7th
SITE: The Hills Country Club (Hills Course), Austin, Texas
COURSE ARCHITECT: Jack Nicklaus (1981)
PAR: 72
YARDAGE: 7,035
Hole-By-Hole:1 - Par 4 366 Yds10 - Par 5 537 Yds
2 - Par 4 409 Yds11 - Par 3 197 Yds
3 - Par 5 505 Yds12 - Par 4 463 Yds
4 - Par 4 442 Yds13 - Par 4 436 Yds
5 - Par 4 423 Yds14 - Par 4 424 Yds
6 - Par 5 520 Yds15 - Par 4 455 Yds
7 - Par 3 188 Yds16 - Par 4 410 Yds
8 - Par 4 356 Yds17 - Par 5 543 Yds
9 - Par 3 183 Yds18 - Par 3 178 Yds
--------------------------
36 3,392 Yds36 3,643 Yds
 
Annual:  7th
Television:  Golf Channel - Friday -- 6:30-8:30 p.m. (et),
  Saturday -- 12-2 a.m. (et) - replay,
  Saturday -- 6:30-9:30 p.m. (et),
  Sunday -- 12-2 a.m. (et) - replay,
  Sunday -- 7-9:30 p.m. (et),
  Monday -- 12-2 a.m. (et) - replay
Defending Champion:  Denis Watson
Runner-Up:  Scott Hoch, Nick Price, Tim Simpson
Tournament Record:  201 (Scott Hoch, 2007)
36-Hole Record:  132 (Nick Price, 2008)
Course Record:  64 (Leonard Thompson, 2007)
Total Purse:  $1,600,000
Shares:  1st Place - $240,000 2nd Place - $140,800; 3rd Place - $115,200
 
2008 Finish
PlayerScorePlayerScore
Denis Watson206John Cook209
Scott Hoch207Mark Wiebe209
Nick Price207John Ross210
Tim Simpson207Scott Simpson210
Loren Roberts208Three players at211
 
Past Triton Financial Classic Winners
YearWinner (Score) -- Runners-Up
2008Denis Watson (206) -- Scott Hoch, Nick Price, Tim Simpson
2007Scott Hoch (201) -- D.A. Weibring
2006Jay Haas (205) -- Mark James, Tom Kite
2005Jim Thorpe (206) -- Dana Quigley
2004Larry Nelson (209) -- Bruce Lietzke
2003*Hale Irwin (208) -- Tom Watson

* - Won in Playoff

Note:Formerly called Kinko's Classic of Austin (2003),
FedEx Kinko's Classic (2004-08).

Top Contenders in the Field
Player200320042005200620072008
Denis Watson------------T-38Won
Scott Hoch------------WonT-2
Tim Simpson------------T-17T-2
Loren Roberts------------3rd5th
John Cook---------------T-6
Mark Wiebe---------------T-6
Mark James---T-508thT-266thT-10
Fred Funk------------T-7T-13
Bob Gilder3rdT-3T-12T-9T-17T-13
Jeff Sluman---------------T-13
D.A. Weibring---T-9T-18T-112ndT-20
Keith Fergus------T-20T-24T-45T-24
Jim ThorpeT-4T-55WonT-21T-50T-24
Jerry Pate---T-27---17th---T-24
Joey Sindelar---------------T-24
Craig Stadler---T-14T-9T-11T-11T-31
Tom KiteT-4T-27T-12T-25thT-35
Morris HatalskyT-7T-3T-9T-36T-22T-35
Tom PurtzerT-55T-40T-20T-36T-7T-39
Jay Haas---------Won10thT-39
Brad Bryant------T-5T-11T-22T-45
Gil MorganT-13T-6T-20T-36T-22T-45
Hale IrwinWonT-40T-28T-64th---
Mark McNulty---T-14---T-24T-50---
Bernhard Langer------------------
Sports Network Selections

Pick to Win - Fred Funk
Darkhorse - Larry Mize
 
Last Week's Pick to Win (Dan Forsman) - Finished tied for 24th
Last Week's Darkhorse (Bruce Fleisher) - Finished tied for 43rd
 
NOTES:
For the seventh consecutive season, the Champions Tour makes its foray into the Lone Star State in Austin for the first of three tournaments in Texas this year, the Triton Financial Classic. This event was formerly known as the FedEx Kinko's Classic. Another outstanding field is gathering this week, as 12 of the top-15 players on the money list are scheduled to compete, including the top four - Bernhard Langer, Loren Roberts, Keith Fergus and Joey Sindelar. Langer and Fergus are the only two-time winners on the Champions Tour this year.

Last year, Denis Watson birdied the 18th hole on Sunday to win the title, shooting a three-under 69 in a final round that was rife with late-day collapses. Watson claimed his fourth Champions Tour title at 10-under 206, rolling in an eight-foot birdie putt on the last hole for a one-shot victory. He was just one of five players who could have walked off The Hills Country Club course a winner. Nick Price double-bogeyed the 15th and 16th holes to let a three-shot advantage slip away and shared second place with 2007 champion Scott Hoch and Tim Simpson. Simpson had moved into the lead following Price's second double-bogey, but only remained there for one hole. He missed a four- foot par putt at the 17th to fall back, creating a five-way tie for the lead. Loren Roberts was the fifth player who stood at nine-under par late in the round -- along with Watson, Price, Hoch and Simpson -- but he stumbled to a double-bogey at the 17th.

In 2007, Hoch shot rounds of 67-66-68 to win the title by two shots over D.A. Weibring. Hoch, an 11-time winner on the PGA Tour, picked up his first title on the Champions Tour and finished at 15-under 201. It was the first professional victory for Hoch since he won the 2003 Ford Championship at Doral on the PGA Tour. Hoch set a new tournament record of 201, breaking the old mark of 205 set by Jay Haas in 2006.

In 2006, Haas fired a seven-under 65 in the final round to come from behind and win the crown. Haas ended the event at 11-under-par 205, two clear of the field. Six players were tied for the lead after the first round in 2006. That marked the most players to share the 18-hole lead at a Champions Tour event since six were tied at the 1999 Cadillac NFL Golf Classic.

When the Champions Tour returned to Austin in 2003, it marked the first time since 1994 that the tour had an event in the city. The Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf moved after the 1994 season. Considered the catalyst for the creation of the Champions Tour, the Legends originated in Austin in 1978.

The Hills Country Club is no stranger to the PGA Tour, having hosted the Nationwide Tour's previously named Nike Greater Austin Open from 1997-98. In terms of difficulty in 2008, the Hills Country Club ranked ninth among 29 Champions Tour venues with an average score of 72.987 (+.987). The most difficult hole was No. 3, with an average score of 3.341 (+.341). That ranked as the 23rd most-difficult hole overall on the Champions Tour in 2008. There were just 18 birdies at the third hole all week and 70 scores over par. In addition, hole No. 9 was rated the 42nd-hardest on the Champions Tour in 2008 with a scoring average of 4.288 (+.288).

Texas is well represented on the current Champions Tour with a large number of players being natives of the state or currently living in Texas, including a number of players from the Austin area. Ben Crenshaw, Tom Jenkins and Tom Kite all live in or near Austin. Others from Texas include: Phil Blackmar (Corpus Christi), Keith Fergus (Sugar Land), Bruce Lietzke (Athens), John Mahaffey (The Woodlands), Lee Trevino (Dallas), Lanny Wadkins (Dallas), D.A. Weibring (Frisco) and Robert Thompson (Huntville). In addition, Dave Eichelberger was born in Waco, but now calls Honolulu home. Brad Bryant was born in Amarillo, but now resides in Lakeland, Florida and Blaine McCallister was born in Fort Stockton, but now lives in Jacksonville, Florida.

Kite will be attempting to end a long streak of not winning in his home state. Kite has never captured a Tour-sanctioned event in Texas, which spans 113 events. His best finish on the Champions Tour is a tie for second at the 2006 Triton Financial Classic.

The Champions Tour moves to Endicott, New York in three weeks for the Dick's Sporting Goods Open, where Eduardo Romero won last year.

06/02 16:45:13 ET

As of June 2, 2009, at 04:45 PM ET