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CHAMPIONS - Encompass Insurance Pro-Am of Tampa Bay Preview
From The Sports Network

DATES: Friday, April 13th through Sunday, April 15th
SITE: TPC Tampa Bay, Lutz, Florida
COURSE ARCHITECT: Bobby Weed and Chi Chi Rodriguez (1991)
PAR: 71
YARDAGE: 6,898
Hole-By-Hole:1 - Par 4 395 Yds10 - Par 4 395 Yds
2 - Par 3 191 Yds11 - Par 3 179 Yds
3 - Par 4 425 Yds12 - Par 5 495 Yds
4 - Par 4 427 Yds13 - Par 4 345 Yds
5 - Par 4 332 Yds14 - Par 5 588 Yds
6 - Par 3 144 Yds15 - Par 4 452 Yds
7 - Par 5 541 Yds16 - Par 4 430 Yds
8 - Par 4 414 Yds17 - Par 3 217 Yds
9 - Par 4 472 Yds18 - Par 4 456 Yds
--------------------------
35 3,341 Yds36 3,557 Yds
 
Annual:  25th
Television:  Golf Channel - Friday -- 12:30-2:30 p.m. (et),
  - Saturday -- 6:30-9:30 p.m. (et) - taped,
  - Sunday -- 7-9:30 p.m. (et) - taped
Defending Champion:  John Cook
Runner-Up:  Jay Don Blake
Tournament Record:  200 (Jim Colbert, George Archer, 1992;
  Bruce Fleisher, 2000; Mark McNulty, 2004)
36-Hole Record:  131 (Bruce Fleisher, 2000, 2002; Mark Wiebe, 2008;
  John Cook, 2011)
Course Record:  61 (Rocky Thompson, 1994; Fuzzy Zoeller, 2004)
9-Hole Record:  28 (Fuzzy Zoeller, 2004, Tom Watson, 2008)
Total Purse:  $1,600,000
Shares:  1st Place - $240,000; 2nd Place - $140,800; 3rd Place - $115,200
 
2011 Finish
PlayerScorePlayerScore
John Cook *204Tom Pernice, Jr.208
Jay Don Blake204Olin Browne209
Russ Cochran206Nick Price209
Joe Ozaki206Five players at210
Michael Allen208

* - Won in Playoff

 
Past Encompass Insurance Pro-Am of Tampa Bay Winners
YearWinner (Score) -- Runners-Up
2011*John Cook (204) -- Jay Don Blake
2010#Bernhard Langer (133) -- Mark O'Meara, Mike Reid
2009Nick Price (204) -- Larry Nelson
2008Tom Watson (204) -- Jay Haas, Scott Hoch
2007Tom Watson (209) -- Andy Bean, Jay Haas
2006Jerry Pate (202) -- Morris Hatalsky, Mark James, Hale Irwin
2005#Hale Irwin (134) -- Morris Hatalsky, Mark McNulty
2004Mark McNulty (200) -- Larry Nelson
2003Bruce Fleisher (205) -- Hale Irwin
2002Doug Tewell (203) -- Hale Irwin
2001Bob Gilder (205) -- Bruce Fleisher
2000Bruce Fleisher (200) -- Dana Quigley
1999Larry Nelson (205) -- Bruce Fleisher
1998Jim Albus (207) -- Simon Hobday, Kermit Zarley, Jose Maria Canizares
1997David Graham (204) -- Bob Dickson
1996Jack Nicklaus (211) -- J.C. Snead
1995Dave Stockton (204) -- Bob Charles, Jim Colbert, J.C. Snead
1994Rocky Thompson (201) -- Ray Floyd
1993Jim Albus (206) -- Don Bies, Gibby Gilbert
1992*Jim Colbert (200) -- George Archer
1991Bob Charles (210) -- George Archer, Lee Trevino
1990Mike Hill (207) -- Lee Trevino
1989*Bob Charles (207) -- Jim Ferree, Harold Henning, Dave Hill
1988Dale Douglass (210) -- Orville Moody

* - Won in Playoff

# - Rain Shortened

Note:Previously called GTE Suncoast Seniors Classic (1988-89), GTE
Suncoast Classic (1990-96); GTE Classic (1997-2000), Verizon Classic (2001-03), Outback Steakhouse Pro-Am (2004-11).

Top Contenders in the Field
Player2002200320042005200620072008200920102011
John Cook------------------4thT-8T-60Won
Jay Don Blake---------------------------2nd
Russ Cochran------------------------T-21T-3
Michael Allen---------------------------T-5
Nick Price---------------T-17T-8WonT-5T-7
Larry Mize---------------------T-8T-37T-9
Joey Sindelar------------------T-15T-16T-44T-9
Hale Irwin2nd2ndT-13WonT-2T-30T-50T-33T-58T-9
Mark Calcavecchia---------------------------T-9
Keith Fergus---------T-38T-15T-12T-15T-41T-5T-14
Tom JenkinsT-12T-106thT-25T-35T-14T-5T-41T-15T-17
Mike Goodes---------------------T-21T-15T-20
Corey Pavin---------------------------T-20
Kenny Perry---------------------------T-20
Loren Roberts------------T-5T-4T-26T-3T-12T-25
Andy Bean------T-57T-2255thT-2T-29T-21T-21T-25
Brad Bryant---------T-16T-26T-14T-39T-33T-37T-25
Jay Haas------------T-30T-2T-26thT-21T-34
Fuzzy ZoellerT-43T-13T-3T-16T-32T-14T-50T-16T-32T-34
Jeff Sluman------------------T-8T-21T-32T-39
Mike Reid---------T-3141stT-17T-12T-41T-2T-43
Morris HatalskyT-17T-51T-27T-2T-2T-42T-34T-33T-25T-45
Bruce FleisherT-3WonT-11T-25T-5T-55T-22T-8T-37T-45
Dan Forsman---------------------T-21T-5T-53
Bernhard Langer------------------T-34T-13Won---
Tom Watson---T-13---T-53---WonWonT-47T-8---
Jerry Pate------T-27T-6WonT-42---T-57T-62---
Mark McNulty------WonT-2T-10---T-29T-16------
Sports Network Selections

Pick to Win - Jeff Sluman
Darkhorse - Bobby Clampett
 
Last Week's Pick to Win (Jay Haas) - Finished tied for 17th
Last Week's Darkhorse (Larry Mize) - Finished tied for 62nd
 
NOTES:
The Champions Tour returns to Florida this week for the Encompass Insurance Pro-Am of Tampa Bay, formerly the Outback Steakhouse Pro-Am. This is the last of three events in the Sunshine State for 2012. Corey Pavin captured the Allianz Championship in Boca Raton and Kenny Perry won the ACE Group Classic in Naples -- both in February. The top four players on the money list are in action this week -- 2010 champion Bernhard Langer, Michael Allen, Loren Roberts and Dan Forsman.

Langer and Allen sit in the top two positions on the money list despite not having a victory. Langer has finished in the top-20 in all five Champions Tour events he has played, including three top-3 finishes and two second-place finishes. Allen has four top-10 finishes, including three in the top-3.

Kirk Triplett will make his Champions Tour debut this week. Triplett, who turned 50 on March 29th, has three PGA Tour victories and was on the 2000 United States Presidents Cup team. Triplett became the Nationwide Tour's oldest winner when he won the 2011 News Sentinel Open at 49 years old.

This tournament will also feature a unique celebrity and amateur component. Celebrities and amateurs will play alongside Champions Tour players in the first and second rounds, with a select number competing again in Sunday's final round. Celebrities scheduled to appear are: Ronde Barber, Derrick Brooks, Phil Esposito, Fred McGriff, John O'Hurley, Stone Phillips, Rick Pitino and Joe Theismann.

Last year, John Cook overcame a disastrous double-bogey on the 18th hole in the final round when he birdied the same hole in a playoff to capture the tournament. Cook defeated Jay Don Blake in the extra session. It was the first win for Cook in his career in the state of Florida. He was previously 0-for-106 between the PGA Tour and Champions Tour.

In 2009, Nick Price finally collected his first Champions Tour victory. Price enjoyed a Hall of Fame career with 18 PGA Tour wins, including three majors. Prior to winning in 2009, Price had two joint runner-up finishes on the elder circuit. Price carded rounds of 66-67-71 to finish at nine-under-par 204 and won by two over Larry Nelson.

Tom Watson fired an opening-round 63 in 2008 and went on to successfully defend his title. Watson finished at nine-under-par 204 for a one-stroke victory over Jay Haas and Scott Hoch. Second-round leader Mark Wiebe had a three-shot lead with four holes to play in the final round, but played his last four holes in six-over to tie for fifth. Watson's victory was his 11th on the Champions Tour, along with 39 wins on the PGA Tour. He joined Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Hale Irwin and Lee Trevino as the only players to have at least 10 victories on the Champions Tour, 20 wins on the PGA Tour and 50 titles combined on both tours.

Bobby Wadkins recorded the first double-eagle in tournament history in 2008 in the first round when he holed his second shot with a five-iron from 191 yards on the par-five 12th hole.

In 2007, Watson entered the final round two strokes behind. Watson was also staring at an 0-for-93 career record in Florida. He was 0-for-77 on the PGA Tour and 0-for-16 on the Champions Tour. Watson posted a one-under 70 in the final round to win by one stroke over Andy Bean and Haas. He completed the event at four-under-par 209. Weather conditions rivaled those of the British Open with temperatures in the upper 40s with winds gusting between 25 and 35 miles per hour. No problem for Watson, a two-time Senior British Open and five-time British Open champion, who had three back-nine birdies to push to the top of the leaderboard; he calmly parred his final five holes for the win.

Watson's total of four-under-par 209 in 2007 was the highest winning score at this event since Nicklaus won in 1996 at two-under-par 211. The 2007 final- round scoring average of 75.17 was the highest since the event moved to the TPC Tampa Bay in 1992.

Jerry Pate brought to an end one of golf's storied winless droughts in 2006, as he broke through to capture the title and collect his first win of any kind since the 1982 PLAYERS Championship. Pate burst on to the golf scene with a win at the 1976 U.S. Open. His last title came at The PLAYERS Championship in 1982 when he famously jumped in the lake off the 18th green at the TPC Sawgrass with then PGA Tour Commissioner Deane Beman and course architect Pete Dye. Pate's win in 2006 was dramatic, as he birdied the 18th hole to shoot a five-under 66 in the final round and win the title by one stroke at 11-under- par 202.

In 2005, Hale Irwin won the weather-shortened event by one stroke over Morris Hatalsky and 2004 champion Mark McNulty. Rain throughout the weekend reduced the tournament to 36 holes and Irwin was forced to complete his second round on Monday. Irwin finished at eight-under-par 134 for his second victory of four in 2005 and gave him multiple wins for the 11th consecutive year, by far a Champions Tour record.

In 2004, McNulty became only the 11th player in history to title in his first elder circuit start. McNulty, who shot all three rounds in the 60s, became the first player to win in his first Champions start since 2001 when Bobby Wadkins captured the Long Island Classic. McNulty's three-day total of 200 tied the tournament mark set by Jim Colbert and George Archer in 1992 and equaled by Bruce Fleisher in 2000.

Bob Charles, Jim Albus, Bruce Fleisher and Watson are the only two-time winners. Charles won this tournament in 1989 and 1991, while Albus titled here in 1993 and 1998. Fleisher was victorious in 2000 and 2003, while Watson is the only player to win in consecutive years (2007-08).

Tampa Palms Golf & Country Club hosted this event the first four years of its existence, while the TPC Tampa Bay is hosting the tournament for its 21st straight year. The 2011 playoff was the third in tournament history and first since 1992.

The Champions Tour travels to Savannah, Georgia next week for the Liberty Mutual Insurance Legends of Golf, where David Eger and McNulty captured the title in the team event last season.

04/11 09:45:36 ET

As of April 11, 2012, at 09:45 AM ET

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