25 Nov Legends, Personalities Present in the Field For 2008 Wendy’s Champions Skins Game
LEGENDS, PERSONALITIES PRESENT IN THE FIELD FOR 2008 WENDY’S CHAMPIONS SKINS GAME
ESPN-TV Will Broadcast the $770,000 Alternate-Shot Team Event Feb. 23-24 from Ka’anapali, Maui
KA’ANAPALI, Maui – There’s a new venue that promises to feature much of the old dramatics you’d expect from a field that features Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson, Arnold Palmer and Gary Player, along with Jay Haas, Loren Roberts, Fuzzy Zoeller and Peter Jacobsen. And with Nicklaus and Watson as the defending champions of the Wendy’s Champions SKINS GAME, drama and the legends of the game should play as big a role in the proceedings as they have in the past.
The 21st edition of the Wendy’s Champions SKINS GAME moves to the stunning Royal Ka’anapali Golf Course on Feb. 23-24, 2008. For the third consecutive year, the players will compete in the alternate-shot, team format that lends itself to drama and spectacular shots. The players will play nine holes each day, with ESPN televising the Wendy’s Champions SKINS GAME on a same-day, tape-delayed basis Saturday, Feb. 23 and Sunday, Feb. 24 from 4 p.m. – 6 p.m. ET, 1 p.m.—3 p.m. PT and 11 a.m.—1 p.m. HT. (Times vary in different areas; check your local listings).
Nicklaus and Watson return to defend the title they captured in spectacular fashion earlier this year. Waiting for them are the tandems of Palmer and new partner Haas, Roberts and Player and Zoeller and Jacobsen.
Royal Ka’anapali becomes the fifth course to host the event, which ended a seven-year stay at the Wailea Resort’s Gold Course. That followed 11 years at Mauna Lani on the Big Island of Hawaii. The inaugural match was played in 1988 at Turtle Bay Golf Club on Oahu, and the second in 1989 at the Mountain Course at the La Quinta Hotel Golf Club in La Quinta, CA.
“We are very excited about having the Champions Tour back at Ka’anapali,” said Ka’anapali Golf Resort General Manager Ed Kageyama. “With over 45 years of tournament history and the recent renovations here within the resort, Ka’anapali is the perfect championship venue for these golf legends to again test their skills on our course.”
“Not that anyone should be surprised by this, but last year, you saw what kind of golfing magic Jack Nicklaus is capable of summoning in this format,” said Tony Renaud, vice president of new business for ESPN and the executive overseeing the Wendy’s Champions SKINS GAME. “We know that the showcase that is Royal Ka’anapali, these players and this format will produce another thrilling finish.”
The thrilling finish in 2007 happened in extra holes, not a surprising outcome in an event that went to overtime in 16 out of 20 years. Coming into the second day with $60,000, Nicklaus and Watson seized the lead and $260,000 when Watson sank an 18-foot birdie putt on No. 11, but had to endure a furious rally from Player and Haas, who won $140,000 on No. 14, then another $150,000 on No. 17, when Player drained a 30-foot birdie putt.
When Player directed a short iron to six feet and Haas sank the subsequent birdie putt on No. 18 – the Wendy’s Super Skin hole – the pair seemed on the verge of scooping up another $100,000. But Nicklaus parked his iron shot 10 inches from the cup, leaving Watson a tap-in birdie and sending everyone to extra holes.
“The way I was struggling with my short strokes out there, he told me on the 18th hole ‘You’re not going to have a chance to putt this. I’m going to hit it so close, you’re not going to have to putt this,’ ” Watson said afterward. “And he did. He knocked it 10 inches from the hole. That’s Nicklausian, that’s what that is.”
The magic ran out for Player and Haas on the first playoff hole, when they bogeyed the hole and were eliminated. One hole later, Palmer rammed home a 10-foot birdie putt for the $100,000, meaning all four teams were on the scoreboard.
“It’s just so much fun watching the guys, listening to them and watching them perform,” Haas said. “It was last night I think somebody said to Jack, ‘Boy you sure played well’ and he said, ‘I don’t know what happened.’ I said, ‘Well what happened was the bell rung. It was time to play and he just seems to turn it on.’ And Tom, he still hits it as well as he ever has and I don’t think he missed a shot in two days. He just played beautifully and they were a tough combo for sure.”
Both together and separately, Nicklaus and Watson are a tough combo indeed. Last year’s title was Nicklaus’ third (1991, 2005 and 2006) and Watson’s second (2004, 2006). In the first year of the alternate-shot, team format, the pair finished second to Ray Floyd and Dana Quigley in 2006. The year before, Nicklaus banked 11 skins and $340,000 – the largest payday he ever earned in his legendary career. In 2004, Watson won 10 skins and $400,000.
Nicklaus’ name is all over the Wendy’s Champions SKINS GAME record books. He has 96 skins in his remarkable career, nearly 30 more than runner-up Floyd. Nicklaus’ career money total jumped to $2,295,000 — $380,000 ahead of closest pursuer Floyd. His seven front-nine skins vaulted his career total to 65. And, for good measure, Nicklaus’ front-nine skins money total jumped another $120,000 to $1,513,000, more than $1 million ahead of Floyd.
The winner of an unprecedented 20 major championships, including six Masters, five PGA Championships, four U.S. Opens, three British Opens and two U.S. Amateurs, Nicklaus has won 113 tournaments worldwide and is largely retired from competitive golf after a career in which he was named Golfer of the Century by GOLF Magazine in 1988 and by Golf Monthly U.K. in 1996. A five-time PGA TOUR Player of the Year, the PGA TOUR and Champions TOUR Player of the Year honors now bear his name.
His partner, Watson, will be playing in the Wendy’s Champions SKINS GAME for the sixth time. A member of the original SKINS GAME field in 1983, along with Nicklaus, Palmer and Player, Watson played in six SKINS GAMES, won it in 1994 and finished second three times (1984, 1985 and 1996).
Palmer, who will be playing in his 20th Wendy’s Champions SKINS GAME, is the owner of 97 career titles, including four Masters, two British Opens, one U.S. Open and one U.S. Amateur.
He didn’t play in 1997 because of prostate cancer. He won the Wendy’s Champions SKINS GAME three times in the 1990s, most recently in 1993, and wound down incredible competitive career.
Haas enjoyed another banner year on the Champions Tour that included his second consecutive Arnold Palmer Award as the leading money winner ($2,581,001). In 27 starts, Haas won four times and led all players on the Champions Tour with 18 top-10 finishes. He led the Champions Tour in the All-Around category and total birdies (377).
The ageless marvel that is Player returns to the Wendy’s Champions SKINS GAME for the ninth time. One of the SKINS GAME pioneers, Player won the inaugural SKINS GAME in 1983 and captured the Wendy’s Champions SKINS GAME in 1986, 1988, 1991 and 2000.
One of five men who own the Career Grand Slam, Player has won 108 tournaments worldwide. This year, the 71-year-old Player bettered his age on consecutive days at the MasterCard Championship at Hualalai, shooting 69s in the first and second rounds, then did it for the third time in the season when he carded a 1-under 70 Saturday at The Boeing Championship.
Playing with Player this year is Roberts, who captured the Charles Schwab Cup in 2007 after losing it to Haas on the last hole of the 2006 season. Roberts enjoyed another wondrous year on the Champions Tour, winning two titles – including the Constellation Energy Senior Players Championship – and $2,170,627. Roberts amassed 14 top-10 finishes and led the Champions Tour in scoring average (69.31) putting and birdies per round (4.37).
The final pairing features two of golf’s most dynamic personalities in Zoeller and Jacobsen. Returning to the Wendy’s Champions SKINS GAME for the first time since 2002, Zoeller was blanked in his one and only event appearance. The two-time major champion (1979 Masters, 1984 U.S. Open) enjoyed his best Champions Tour season since 2004, racking up four top-10 finishes and finishing 35th on the money list.
Jacobsen was paired with Palmer in the inaugural alternate-shot team format event in 2006. The personable and outgoing Jacobsen was besieged with lower back problems that limited him to 15 starts in 2007, yet the seven-time PGA TOUR winner still managed to win $182,396. Both of Jacobsen’s Champions Tour titles are majors – the 2004 U.S. Senior Open and the 2005 Ford Senior Players Championship.
“This is a field that features not only the legends of the game in Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Arnold Palmer and Tom Watson, but along with that kind of class, you have some of the genuinely nicest people in the game with players like Fuzzy Zoeller, Peter Jacobsen, Loren Roberts and Jay Haas. This means not only are our viewers going to see some incredible golf, but they’re going to see some funny moments and humorous exchanges,” said Barry Frank, vice chairman of Trans World International (TWI).
In the Wendy’s Champions SKINS GAME, each hole is a tournament within itself, with the prize money carried over if no player wins a hole outright.
The $770,000 total purse is broken down 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 winnings to charity – 5 percent to the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption and 5 percent to the charity of their choice.
While Royal Ka’anapali is no stranger to high-profile golf, the arrival of the Wendy’s Champions SKINS GAME will showcase a multi-million dollar renovation to the course. Golf architect Robin Nelson, who has worked on more than 30 courses in Hawaii, supervised the renovation, which took nearly a year to complete. The result is a challenging course with spectacular views that plays 6,700 yards to a par-71.
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 6,250 restaurants in the United States, Canada and international markets.
About 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.
Located on Maui, along one of the most stunning coastlines in the world, Ka’anapali is rich in history and tradition. From the shores of Ka’anapali, 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, Ka’anapali established a pinnacle for other destinations on the islands to strive to attain over the years. Ka’anapali Resort is set beside three miles of white sand beach and is home to Maui’s only oceanfront shopping Center, 11 hotels and condominiums, two 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 Ka’anapali annually.
The Royal Ka’anapali 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 Ka’anapali Classic for 14 years, the Royal Ka’anapali 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, Ka’anapali 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 Ka’anapali Kai Course and “nip/tuck” enhancements to the championship Royal Ka’anapali Course.
For more information about Ka’anapali Beach Resort visit www.Ka’anapaliresort.com and Ka’anapali Golf Resort visit www.Ka’anapaligolfresort.com or call (808) 661-3271.
Toby Zwikel/Brian Robin
Brener Zwikel & Associates, Inc., (818) 344-6195