2010 Wendy’s Champions Skin

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2010 Wendy’s Champions Skin Game at Kaanapali, Maui Is A Fun Event


by Scott A. Sumner
www.golfingnews.ca
   If you have followed professional golf for many years the names Nicklaus, Watson, Player, Crenshaw and Zoeller must be familiar to you. Add in some current stars like Couples, Price and Roberts and you have some of the most loved golfers in the game; all in one idyllic setting having some fun playing their game! I have covered many golf tournaments as a member of the media but the relaxed nature of the Wendy’s Champions Skin Game made this event really special for me. The team of Jack Nicklaus, age 70 and Tom Watson, age 60 were the winners of the event grossing  some $350,000 and beating their younger competitors in the process.
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 “ Usually the winners of the Skin’s games make more putts than anyone else and that’s what we did. We had more looks at birdie than anybody. I am out here because I like to compete and still have a game with which to compete,” said Tom Watson, who finished second narrowly missing winning the 2009 British Open. “People are still coming up and saying words of kindness about the British Open last summer. You gave me some hope they say. I never lost the hope. I knew I can compete on certain courses. Turnberry is a course I can compete on. I had played Turnberry 5 times before in the British Open so I knew what clubs to use. On the other hand Augusta is one I can’t compete in. I know I will make some bogies because of my shorter length. Some holes require length or you can’t get on the green properly.”
“ You need some experience playing this Kaanapali course as well. You have to know what clubs to use here,” said Watson who enjoyed the course. “Hawaii has perfect conditions. Kaanapali is a good design with a variety of holes up hill, down hill, right to left, left to right. There is quite a bit of variety in the course.”

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“ I wasn’t as good today as yesterday. I didn’t hit balls as close today as yesterday but it was alright. We will back next year if Tom will put up with me. Freddie is the newcomer on the block but he didn’t have one of his best weeks,” said Jack Nicklaus. “When you lose your club head speed it is hard to team up. At a certain age you lose distance. I did make a few decent iron shots and a few good putts and overall we did great and it is always fun to win. I play one tournament a year so with a win I am 100%.  That’s pretty good. I do know that now I don’t hit the ball far enough to compete. If  I played my own ball today, I would be hitting fairway woods to the greens where other guys are hitting 8 or 9 irons. You can’t do that even on the senior tour. Some guys played short all their lives and learned to play that way. I always hit it up in the air and played by trajectory. If you do that move, the club speed has to be fast enough.”
“ The Skins games are an exhibition where you kid the other guy and give them the needle. On the PGA Tour they are playing for a lot of money so it is different. We played the last nine as a practice yesterday because they allowed it. Last year we didn’t and got skunked. My wife always says there is no excuse for not being prepared,” laughed Jack Nicklaus. “Freddie is the king of Skins and wins more money in November than anyone else. The only trouble is it isn't November. I feel we (Tom and I) are competing not me. I would not be competing on my own. In this type of event, where I have a good strong partner that will put up with me, you have a chance. We figured out what is best for us as a team. I would love to continue to play golf. Golf was my vehicle for competition and you lose the vehicle. There have been many times in the last 5 years where I have said I can still do that. As a matter of a fact I have thought this year with business being so bad that maybe I could just play a couple of events someplace. But then when I see my swing speed at 95 MPH and see Freddie Couples hit the ball about 100 yards by me I say that isn't such a good idea. I would love to go out and play again if I had the ability to do so. I am out in a heartbeat. That’s what I like to do.”

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  Both famous golfers Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson enjoy Maui as both a resort and a resort course. “It is a nice resort golf course.   It gives you the opportunity to see a lot of birdies. If we had the winds, it would have been much more difficult. Maui has so many micro climates. Here at Kaanapali it can be good or bad while up the road at Kapalua it may be windy. There are many micro climates here so it depends on where you are.” said Nicklaus. “I played here in the Canada Cup years and years ago.”
Finishing second in the event after winning last year were Fuzzy Zoeller and Ben Crenshaw. “In skins it is a matter of hitting it at the right time. It’s the greatest feeling in the world to walk up to a $300,000 putt to win. We play for this and it is exciting. Sometimes we can do it and sometimes you can’t,” said Ben Crenshaw. “Last year we were out dancing with our wives and had a good time. It is great to be here and be part of this team. It is always an honour to be out with Jack, Tom and Gary. They made the game what it is today. These guys made golf today. Julie and I got married here in 1985 in Kaanapali. We have come over so many times, to build a golf course here- the Plantation course and spent a lot of time here. It is wonderful here and very special to me, that’s an understatement.”
“ The course is in very, very good shape. It is beautiful over here. Hawaii is 72 to 82 degrees F every day. It might be a little breezy but the sun is out every day. There were strong trade winds today and the holes played different. You only live one time and I enjoy being here.” said Fuzzy Zoeller.
The team of Fred Couples and Nick Price won $190,000, while Gary Player and Loren Roberts were skunked.
The opportunity to walk the holes right with these golf legends was a thrill for me. After the game at lunch each day talking to these legends was special and something I will always remember.



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