FRED COUPLES will make his first full-field US Champions Tour event debut this week, somewhat stealing the limelight from fellow debutante Peter Senior.
Other new names on the lucrative American circuit for the over 50’s include Paul Azinger, a 12-time winner on the PGA Tour and captain of the victorious 2008 Ryder Cup team, and two time PGA Tour winner Tommy Armour III.
They will all be teeing up for the $US 1.6 million The Ace Classic at The Quarry in Naples Florida (Telecast from Saturday morning February 13 on Fox Australia).
Senior has been having a whale of a time playing European and Australian over 50 tournaments since hitting the magic figure in July last year and topped it off by winning his section of the Champions Tour qualifying school.
Couples, pictured during the Pro-Am for the Ace Classic earlier in the week, was trying to temper expectations before his first full-field event on the Champions Tour.
“People will be watching a lot of us,” Couples said Thursday US time. “There might be more watching me. But as far as expectations on whether I’m going to win or finish second or be in the last group every single week, I’m pretty smart to realize that to do that, you have to play a lot of golf. There are times when I just don’t do that.”
Couples was coming off a 37th-place tie last week in the PGA Tour’s Northern Trust Open at Riviera. He made two senior starts in Hawaii last month, teaming with Nick Price to finish third in the Champions Skins, then losing to Tom Watson by a stroke in the Mitsubishi Electric Championship.
Azinger was also taking a low key approach.
“I’m not going to stress about it,” Azinger said. “I’m just going to play the first shot and enjoy it. I think if you put expectations, it’s like the cart ahead of the horse.”
Armour was talking about the impression that the Champions Tour is a street paved with gold.
“I don’t have this preconceived notion that I’m going to come out here and they’re just going to give me money every week,” Armour, who had back surgery last June, said.
“They’re going to give you money (because there is no cut), it’s just a matter of how much. To make a lot of money, no matter where you play golf for money, you’ve got to play well. They don’t just give it to you.”