Jacobsen Skips Defense to Play Tradition

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ALOHA, Ore. -- Last year, Peter Jacobsen was too young to play in the Tradition. This year, he has already won a major on the Champions Tour as he readies for his debut in the tournament he helped bring to his home state.
 
Jacobsen won the U.S. Senior Open in St. Louis earlier this month, his first victory on the 50-and-over circuit and his first major title.
 
On Thursday, he'll forgo defending at the PGA Tour's Buick Championship to play in the JELD-WEN Tradition at the Reserve Vineyards and Golf Club in the suburbs west of his native Portland.
 
'It is Portland,' he said matter-of-factly. 'It is my hometown.'
 
Jacobsen, who went to the University of Oregon, won the tournament formerly known as the Greater Hartford Open last year at age 49. He became eligible for the Champions Tour when he turned 50 in March.
 
But the tournaments clashed on his schedule, forcing Jacobsen to make a choice.
 
The Tradition moved to Oregon last year after 14 years in Arizona. Jacobsen, who had hosted the popular Fred Meyer Challenge charity tournament for several years in Oregon, helped lure the Champions Tour to the area.
 
Peter Jacobsen Productions, the golfer's sports management firm, runs the Tradition. It is the tour's fifth and final major of the year.
 
'I will not miss Hartford one bit,' Jacobsen said, 'because my heart is here.'
 
After several days of rain, the 7,212-yard layout at the Reserve was seriously soggy Wednesday. The few spectators who watched practice rounds had umbrellas at the ready for frequent downpours.
 
Hale Irwin, winner of this year's Senior PGA Championship, said the recent weather will be a factor over the tournament's 72 holes, even though the forecast for the weekend called for sunny and warm conditions.
 
'This is not going to dry out that much by this weekend,' Irwin said. 'It's still going to be soft out there.'
 
Tom Watson won the inaugural Oregon event, defeating Tom Kite and Jim Ahern with a birdie on the final hole. It was Watson's last victory with longtime caddie Bruce Edwards, who died in April from Lou Gehrig's disease.
 
Watson is unsure of his prospects at the Reserve this year, mostly because he has been dealing with nerve compression, which has sapped his strength in his right arm.
 
The problem peaked in June, but has been getting better.
 
'I just have to deal with it,' he said Wednesday. 'Fortunately, there's no pain with the weakness.'
 
Jacobsen got his first Champions Tour victory by beating Irwin by a stroke at the Senior Open. The win sent his production company hurrying to retool television commercials for the Oregon event.
 
In the old spots, Jacobsen said: 'I can't wait to tee it up in my home state of Oregon and win my first major championship.'
 
Thanks to some foresight months ago when the commercials were made, the new spots featured Jacobsen saying he was anxious to win his 'second major championship.'
 
But Jacobsen's rookie season on Champions Tour has been marred by injury. He had hip surgery earlier this year and had to pull out of two tournaments before the Senior Open.
 
'Every week it gets better,' he said. 'It's just a matter of time.'
 
For the moment, however, the hip wasn't a concern. It was the rain.
 
'I hope it's gone,' he said optimistically.
 
Related Links:
  • TGC Airtimes
  • Leaderboard - JELD-WEN Tradition
  • Full Coverage - JELD-WEN Tradition
     
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