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Season Begins in Hawaii for Senior Stars

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The 2002 season officially kicks off for the Senior PGA Tour this week. Thirty-two of the best players in the world age 50-and-over head for the sunny skies of Kaupulehu-Kona in Hawaii for the 19th MasterCard Championship.
 
Fresh off five wins in 2001, Larry Nelson is set for his first defense at the Hualalai Golf Club. The Marietta, Ga., resident fired a final-round 66 to edge out Jim Thorpe last year by a single stroke at 19-under-par 197, while Ed Dougherty and Bruce Fleisher finished tied for third.
 
Thorpe will no doubt be looking for a bit of revenge in the season-opener, as will others such as Dougherty, Fleisher, Tom Kite, Dana Quigley, Tom Watson, Lee Trevino, Hale Irwin and Allen Doyle.
 
The qualifying criteria for this $1.5 million event includes players having won: 1) Senior Tour major championships from the past five years (97-01), and 2) official Senior Tour-regular season events from the last two years (00 and 01).
 
On the line for the select field is a healthy first-place paycheck worth $258,000. Also, this is the first event of the second edition of the season-long Charles Schwab Cup, a points-based race with a $1 million annuity payoff for the winner at the end of the year.
 
Doyle won the inaugural Cup in 01, and like a true champion, donated the entire sum to charity.