New Name New Faces in Hartford

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PGA Tour (75x100)When Peter Jacobsen left the media center after winning the 2003 Greater Hartford Open, he offered these parting words: I look forward to seeing you next year.
 
Jacobsen, at the time, had no idea of the scheduling snafu which would be presented in 2004.
 
This weeks Buick Championship, formerly the GHO, is being played concurrently with the Champions Tours final major, the Jeld-Wen Tradition. And Jacobsen, the 2004 U.S. Senior Open winner, will be vying for his second senior major of the season instead of trying to win his second straight Buick Championship.
 
Obviously, not being able to come back and defend my title this year is going to be very, very difficult for me. I feel like Hartford is a second home, having won the tournament in '84 and last year in 2003, Jacobsen said.
 
Hartford, Conn., may feel like Jacobsens second home, but Portland, Ore., is his first. And thats why hell be in the latter this week rather than the former.
 
Jacobsen was born and raised in Portland, and headed the Fred Meyer Challenge, a two-day charitable event in Aloha, a Portland suburb.
 
After an 18-year run, the Fred Meyer is no longer, but in its Portland place now stands the Jeld-Wen. The senior major is being played for the second straight year at the Reserve and Vineyards Golf Club, which also hosted the Fred Meyer, and Jacobsens company, Peter Jacobsen Productions, is running the event.
 
All things being equal, I have to go and do what I need to do for my hometown. So I know I'm probably going to make a lot of people mad, said Jacobsen, who wouldn't be in this particular predicament if the Buick were held at the same July date as last year.
 
For all those reasons, the Buick Championship is without a defending champion this week. In fact, the previous winner is absent as well.
 
Phil Mickelson, who won back-to-back in 2001 and 2002, is skipping the tournament for the first time in four years. This years Masters champion hasnt played a regular PGA Tour event (non-major, non-WGC event) since the Buick Classic, more than two months ago.
 
Notah Begay III, who won in 2000, pulled out Tuesday. That leaves Brent Geiberger (1999) as the most recent Buick Championship champion in this years field. He is joined by four other past winners: Olin Browne (1998), David Frost (1994), Nick Price (1993) and Mark Brooks (1988).
 
This is the 53rd playing of the event that was most notably known as the Greater Hartford Open. Canon was the sponsor for 18 years, but ended their association after 2002. After failing to find a corporate sponsor last year, the tournament was in danger of becoming extinct, until Buick stepped up and made it the fourth Buick-sponsored event on the 2004 PGA Tour calendar.
 
Four players have won multiple Hartford titles, including Arnold Palmer (1956, 60), Billy Casper (1963, 65, 68, 73), Paul Azinger (1987, 89), Mickelson, who is the only repeat winner, and Jacobsen.
 
Jacobsen waited 19 years in between his first victory in Hartford, in 1984, and his most recent. But thats not the tour record for most years in between wins at the same event. Hale Irwin holds that mark, having won the MCI Heritage 21 years apart, in 1973 and again in 1994.
 
This years purse has been upped by $200,000 to $4.2 million. The winner will receive $756,000. Jacobsen earned $720,000 for his victory a year ago, which was exactly 10 times what he won for his 84 triumph.
 
The TPC at River Highlands (par 70, 6,820 yards) is the venue for the 21st consecutive year.
 
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  • Full Coverage - Buick Challenge