Thorpe Shoots for Third Title

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DEARBORN, Mich. -- Jim Thorpe is one of four two-time winners on the Champions Tour this year.
 
He hopes to becom the only three-time winner this week at the Ford Senior Players Championship, the second of the tour's five major championships.
 
Thorpe, defending champion Craig Stadler, Bruce Fleisher and Hale Irwin, the top-ranked player on the Champions Tour, have all won twice this year. Nine others have won tournaments.
 
Thanks to a hot putter, Thorpe won last week in New York and last month in Michigan.
 
'I would be really happy to be the first three-time winner this year,' Thorpe said Wednesday. 'And I think I've got a shot because I've played well here the last two years with a couple second-place finishes.'
 
Thorpe only wished it was as easy to beat the 50-and-over set now as it was when he joined the Champions Tour in 1999.
 
'When I first came out here, you could hand pick about eight guys that were the ones to beat,' he said. 'Now, all 78 guys out here can win.'
 
PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem likes that.
 
'The PGA Tour now attracts the best players in the world, and the Champions Tour has attracted all the best players in the world over 50,' Finchem said.
 
The Senior Players is the first of three straight majors on the schedule. In two weeks, the Senior British Open starts, followed by the U.S. Senior Open the next week near St. Louis.
 
Irwin will not go to Northern Ireland in part to avoid the long flights, and what they might do to his back.
 
'I don't think any of us like this back-to-back-to-back stuff,' Irwin said. 'Hopefully, it's just a quirky thing.'
 
It's not.
 
Finchem said Wednesday the current, cramped schedule for three of the majors on the Champions Tour will be in place through 2006.
 
'We would obviously like to get more spacing with the majors on this tour, but there are a number of obstacles,' said Finchem, referring to television commitments and the limited number of warm-weather months.
 
With wide fairways and receptive and true greens, birdies are common at the TPC of Michigan, just outside of Detroit.
 
'The low scoring at this tournament has always been surprising to me because visually, it looks a lot more difficult,' Irwin said.
 
The average winning score the past six years has been more than 17 under at the course ranked 10th out of 31 Champion Tour venues last year, in terms of scoring average.
 
'I think the golf course could be tougher because this is a major,' Thorpe said. 'But we're all playing the same course, so nobody has the advantage.
 
'We all know you're going to have to be close to 20 under to have a chance to win here.'
 
The field is without two familiar faces.
 
Tom Watson, the runner-up here last year, withdrew with a triceps injury and Chi Chi Rodriguez withdrew due to illness.
 
Of course, Dana Quigley will be teeing it up -- again.
 
The event will be the 250th consecutive Champions Tour event Quigley has been eligible for and played in since 1997, and his 235th in a row overall.
 
'I think that's a record that will never be broken, on any tour,' Thorpe said. 'It's incredible.'
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - Ford Senior Players Championship
     
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