Legends of Golf Shine in Paradise At the 2010 Wendy’s Champions SKINS GAME - Kaanapali Resort
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Legends of Golf Shine in Paradise At the 2010 Wendy’s Champions SKINS GAME

Fred Couples to Make Champions Tour Debut;
Ben Crenshaw, Fuzzy Zoeller Return to Defend In ESPN-Televised Alternate-Shot Team Event

November 24, 2009

KAANAPALI, Maui – Fred Couples will make his Champions Tour debut by joining five Hall of Fame members as the 23rd Wendy’s Champions SKINS GAME returns to the beautiful island of Maui, Hawaii and the Royal Kaanapali Golf Course Jan. 16-17, 2010.

The 50-year-old Couples is part of a dynamic field that includes Hall of Fame members Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson, Gary Player, Ben Crenshaw and Nick Price.

Along with this legendary group, Loren Roberts will compete in his second Wendy’s Champions SKINS GAME while Crenshaw and Fuzzy Zoeller attempt to become the first team to successfully defend its title.

For the fifth consecutive year, the players will compete in the alternate-shot, team format which has produced memorable shots, a sprinkle of intrigue and a bundle of player commentary. The players will play nine holes each day, with ESPN televising the Wendy’s Champions SKINS GAME on a tape-delayed basis Saturday, Feb. 27, 4:00-6:00 p.m. and Sunday, February 28, 2:00-4:00 p.m. (Times vary in different areas; check your local listings). The broadcast will also be available on ESPNHD.

Crenshaw and Zoeller return to the Royal Kaanapali Golf Course at the Kaanapali Beach Resort to defend their title against 2007 champions Nicklaus and Watson, who are paired for the fifth consecutive time. Couples will join Price, who is also competing in his first Wendy’s Champions SKINS GAME while Roberts and Player create a fantastic putting combination.

“We are thrilled that Fred Couples has chosen to start his Champions Tour career by competing in the Wendy’s Champions SKINS GAME and join what is a legendary group of the game’s most dynamic personalities,” said Barry Frank, Executive Vice President Media Sports Programming IMG. “These eight players not only represent hundreds of victories around the world but they also hold the values and display the personality which makes this such a great game.”

Couples, captain of the victorious U.S. Team in this year’s President Cup, reached the age of 50 this fall. Winner of 15 PGA TOUR titles, including the 1992 Masters, Couples has been a fan favorite since the early 1980s.

“I could not think of a better way for me, personally, to start on the Champions Tour than to play in this format and have the chance to hang out with this group of players,” said Couples. “I am sure there will be some ribbing going on. But, at the end of the day, I know these guys are in it to win. I love the format and really look forward to spending some time at such a fantastic spot.”

This marks the third year Royal Kaanapali Golf Course will host the event.

“Once again we are honored to host the Wendy’s Champions SKINS GAME and to provide this incredible group of players a beautiful stage to compete and display their skills,” said Chip Bahouth, the president of the Kaanapali Beach Resort Association Board and General Manager of the Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa. “There are not many places in professional sports where you can walk from your hotel room, take in a beautiful Maui day and watch a collection of golf’s greatest players compete. It is the perfect setting.”

In the Wendy’s Champions SKINS GAME format, each hole becomes a tournament within itself and the prize money is carried over if no team wins the hole outright. The $770,000 purse is distributed to $30,000 for each of the first six holes, $40,000 for each of the middle six holes, $50,000 each for holes 13 through 17, and $100,000 for the 18th hole.

The players will donate 10 percent of their earnings to charity—half to the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption and the other half to a charity of their choice.

“When you look at the field for the Wendy’s Champions SKINS GAME, you see a group that is entertaining for both the spectator on hand and the international television audience, “ said Pete Derzis, general manager of ESPN Regional Television (ERT). “Make no mistake about it, these guys are very competitive and each team is trying to win the trophy. But each of these individuals also has a wonderful personality. Then you toss in the fact they are all gathered in Maui playing golf and you have a wonderful recipe for entertainment.”

Here is a snapshot of the four teams:

Ben Crenshaw—Fuzzy Zoeller: While Zoeller has won two consecutive competitions as an individual—teaming with Peter Jacobsen in 2008 and Crenshaw in 2009—as a duo they hope to become the first team to win back-to-back titles. Hall of Fame member Crenshaw has accumulated 19 PGA TOUR victories, including the 1984 and 1995 Masters. Zoeller won the 1979 Masters, the 1984 U.S. Open and the 2002 Senior PGA Championship during a career that has included 12 victories.

Jack Nicklaus—Tom Watson: These two legends and Hall of Fame members have entertained and amazed sports fans for decades. Still considered the greatest to play the game, Nicklaus started his professional career by winning the 1962 U.S. Open for the first of an unmatched 18 major championship titles. Watson excited the sports world earlier this year as he lead the British Open late into Sunday before losing a playoff to Stewart Cink. It would have been Watson’s sixth Open title. Together this twosome has won 134 official events on both the PGA TOUR and Champions Tour.

Gary Player—Loren Roberts: This team is in place for the second time. They finished third with four skins in 2008. Roberts has won the Charles Schwab Cup title two of the past three years and has accumulated 11 wins on the Champions Tour, including three this year. Player has won 163 tournaments around the world, including nine major championship titles. The Hall of Fame member will be competing in this event for the 11th time.

Fred Couples—Nick Price: Not only is this Couples debut on the Champions Tour, both of these players will be making their first appearance in the Wendy’s Champions SKINS GAME. They will also be the youngest team in the competition. Couples enjoyed his year as captain of the victorious U.S. team at the Presidents Cup this fall. He arrives on the Champions Tour with 15 career victories and has won the Tour’s version of the Skins seven times. Price just completed his third year on the Champions Tour and picked up one win this year. He won 18 times on the TOUR.

About Wendy’s Restaurants
Wendy’s Old Fashioned Hamburgers Restaurants was founded in 1969 by Dave Thomas and is the third largest quick-service hamburger restaurant chain in the world, with more than 6,600 restaurants worldwide.

ESPN Regional Television
ESPN Regional Television (ERT) is the nation’s largest producer and distributor of collegiate sports programming, producing more than 1,000 sporting events per year. In addition to event sponsorship, ERT produces 800 events for national, regional and local networks, serves as the exclusive syndication rights-holder for college conferences (Big 12, Big Ten and BIG EAST) and exclusive marketing rights-holder for select schools (Kansas, Oregon, South Florida and Iowa State). In recent years, ESPN, Inc. has created or acquired events it owns, markets and televises to increase its value to advertisers and affiliates.

About Ka’anapali
Located on Maui, along one of the most stunning coastlines in the world, Kaanapali is rich in history and tradition. From the shores of Kaanapali, the neighbor Islands of Lana’i and Moloka’i are in clear view. The slopes of Mauna Kahalawai, the West Maui Mountains, serve as the dramatic backdrop for this luxury, 1,200-acre resort destination which was once a warrior training ground and the playground for Hawai’i’s royalty.  As the state’s first planned resort, Kaanapali established a pinnacle for other destinations on the islands to strive to attain over the years.  Kaanapali Resort is set beside three miles of white sand beach and is home to Maui’s only oceanfront shopping Center, 11 hotels and condominiums, three world-class spas, two golf courses and over 40 restaurants.

Recognized as the playground of the Pacific, over a half a million visitors choose to visit Kaanapali annually.

The Royal Kaanapali Course, a Robert Trent Jones Senior design, opened in 1962 and has tested the skills of golf professionals and amateurs alike.  A Par 71 stretching 6700 yards, the Royal Course combines wide fairways and undulating greens, making it both distinctive and demanding.

Home of the Champions Tour Kaanapali Classic for 14 years, the Royal Kaanapali Course also hosted Shell’s Wonderful World of Golf, the Canada Cup and LPGA Kemper Open, donning such golfing greats as Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, Chi Chi Rodriguez, Jan Stephenson and Betsey King. Over the last three years, Kaanapali Golf Resort has invested over $13 million in renovations and infrastructure.  Golf course architect, Robin Nelson, was brought in to oversee the rework of the Kaanapali Kai Course and “nip/tuck” enhancements to the championship Royal Kaanapali Course.

For more information about Ka’anapali Beach Resort visit www.Kaanapaliresort.com and Kaanapali Golf Resort visit www.Kaanapaligolfresort.com or call (808) 661-3271.

Media Contact: Lee Patterson, 704-913-1088, leep@qhcgolf.com