Chicago Sun-Times
The Chicago Sun-Times updates on the Ryder Cup and other golf happenings.

May 2013 Archives

Most sports these days are as serious as a major knee injury.

Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau tends to be as forthcoming as a POW when asked certain questions. The Blackhawks have ``lower body injuries.'' Even college teams conduct practices behind closed doors in these internet-wary times.

And then there is the Champions tour.

It features accomplished golfers over 50 who can still play. What they've lost in prodigious length, they make up for with  graciousness and a sense of entertainment.

 ``These guys get it,'' Champions tour president Mike Stevens said Monday at media for the Encompass Championship. ``They've all had great careers on the PGA tour. Now is the opportunity for them to give back. And that's what they do. They're very engaging, with autographs, pictures, even lessons.''


While they have perspective, they remain very competitive. Senior golfers have remarkable skill and nerve, and fans can see it on display in a way that's virtually impossible in other sports. When Michael Jordan, Denis Savard and Frank Thomas are past their prime, they're finished. Unlike golfers, there's no senior tour for them.


The Champions tour is coming to the Chicago area for first time since 2002 next month. The Encompass Championship, a 54-hole event, will be played at North Shore Country Club in Glenview June 21-23.


Tickets start at $20 and are available at


The field is loaded with players who have won majors and been major factors on the golf scene for decades. The commitments include Chip Beck, Mark Calcavecchia, Ben Crenshaw, Fred Funk, Hale Irwin, Tom Kite, Bernhard Langer, Rocco Mediate, Corey Pavin, Kenny Perry, Nick Price, Jeff Sluman, Crag Stadler, Hal Sutton and Fuzzy Zoeller. There is also speculation that Fred Couples also may be a late entry.


``The competition is ridiculous, and it's fast,'' said Champions rookie Mediate, who won his first event in February. ``If you shoot around par on Friday, you're going to get your [butt] kicked.''


There's a chance Bill Murray, who has delighted galleries at the Pro-Am in Pebble Beach, will play in the Pro-Am portion of the Encompass


``Bill's doing a movie,'' said Jeff Sluman, longtime friend of Murray's.  ``If the movie gets wrapped, which he hopes it does, he'll be on a plane and he'll be playing. And that will be spectacular.''


Other celebrities committed to the event include Brian Urlacher, Robbie Gould, Joe Theismann and actor Dennis Haysbert. More celebrity players are yet to be announced as the Encompass tries to create a senior version of the Pebble Beach pro-am.

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