Unlike a big boxing match, the Tradition is without a catchy headline. But if there was one, it would be: Unfinished Business.
In the Gain department, there is Peter Jacobsen. Jacobsen is a Portland native and his event management company, Peter Jacobsen Productions, Inc., conducts this tournament. Hes already won one major this season, the Ford Senior Players Championship, so a victory this week would be the sweetest icing on the cake.
In the Prove department, there is Dana Quigley. Quigley is having his best-ever campaign. He has two wins, currently leads the money list and is a candidate for player of the year. But despite some close calls, he is still in search of his first major title.
In the Put-Behind-Him department, there is Craig Stadler. Stadler should enter this week with positive memories of his triumph at The Reserve Vineyards & Golf Club a year ago. Instead, he may still be stinging from a bitter defeat in the U.S. Senior Open.
There are plenty of others in the 78-man field who could fall into anyone of these categories. But these three are the favorites.
Five for the Title:
Jacobsen is the reason this tournament moved from an April event in Arizona to an August event in Oregon. His production company took the reigns in 2003 and the tournament has gone from the first major of the season to the annual finale. The former Oregon Duck would dearly love to win so close to his hometown. He held a share of the 54-hole lead a year ago, but shot 1-over 73 in the final round to tie for fourth. Jacobsen is a major player, with both of his tour wins coming in one of the five elite events (2004 U.S. Senior Open; 2005 Ford Seniors).
Its been an eventful season thus far for Quigley. He began the year with a win at the MasterCard Championship, and added another at the Bayer Advantage Classic. He had a chance to capture his first major championship at the Senior PGA, but lost to Mike Reid in a three-man playoff. He also ended his consecutive-events-played streak at 264 by skipping the Senior British Open. Consistency is Quigleys middle name, as he has won at least one tournament and has finished inside the top 10 in earnings in five of the last seven seasons. But this year he has a chance to be the tours best. A major victory would likely solidify that.
A year ago, Stadler was the tours best. Now he just wants a win. Stadler earned five victories in 2004, including his first major at this event. He was also voted player of the year. This year, he is winless and is still trying to rebound from a difficult defeat at the U.S. Senior Open, where he played his final 10 holes in 7 over to fall from leader to also-ran. He won this tournament by shooting 5-under 67 on Sunday to erase a four-stroke deficit.
Like Stadler, Roberts is trying to put behind him a poor finish at the Senior Open. Roberts held the lead through 10 holes of the final round, but then double bogeyed 11 and bogeyed 13 to ultimately fall one stroke short. This will be Roberts third Champions Tour start. He finished fifth at the Senior British Open.
Watson won the Senior British in a playoff over Des Smyth. It marked his seventh tour victory and his fourth Champions major. He won this event in 2003, when it first moved to the Pacific Northwest. He was also a runner-up in 2000 at Desert Mountain, losing in a three-way playoff to Tom Kite.
Finishing the Front Nine
Four more players to keep an eye on
*Allen Doyle, who won the U.S. Senior Open. Doyle shot 8-under 63 in the final round at NCR Country Club to overcome a nine-shot deficit. Doyle tied for second last year at the Tradition.
*Des Smyth, who has two wins on the season. Smyth has played as well as anyone in the majors this year without a win. He has three top-10s in the first four big events, including the afforementioned playoff loss to Watson.
*Tom Kite, who won this event in 2000. Kites win came at the previous tournament site, but he finished runner-up at The Reserve Vineyards in 2003. He is in search of his first win of the season.
*Hale Irwin, who has won nearly every senior event except this one. The 60-year-old got off to a hot start this season with a pair of early wins, but he hasnt added to his collection (which now stands at 42) since February. Irwin has five top-10s in nine career Tradition appearances.