Weir Returns to Action Tour Returns to Charlotte

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The PGA Tour returns to Charlotte, N.C., for the first time in 24 years, for the inaugural Wachovia Championship.
 
An impressive field will be on hand at Quail Hollow Club.
 
Mike Weir is set to make his first start since winning the Masters Tournament, four weeks ago. He is joined by Masters runner-up Len Mattiace, three-time 2003 winner Davis Love III, Shell Houston champion Fred Couples, Phoenix Open champ Vijay Singh, David Toms, Charles Howell III and Nick Price.
 
Weir has been a wanted man since donning the green jacket. He dropped the ceremonial puck at a Toronto Maple Leafs playoff game, received a signed basketball at a Utah Jazz game, and even had a street named after him in Draper, Utah, where he lives.
 
'It's been busy, but it's been a real good busy the last three weeks,' said Weir, who added he hadn't played a full 18 holes until Tuesday's practice round.
 
The lefthanded Canadian, who turns 33 Monday, will try and shake off the rust this week. He said he expects to play next week's Byron Nelson Classic and the Memorial before the U.S. Open.
 
Tiger Woods contemplated playing in Charlotte ' which would have been his first event since a disappointing tie for 15th at Augusta National ' but decided last week to remain on the sidelines.
 
This is the first of two maiden tournaments on the 2003 tour schedule, and Woods will be certain to attend the second one. The Deutsche Bank Championship, which will benefit the Tiger Woods Foundation, will take place Aug. 29 ' Sept. 1 at the TPC of Boston.
 
This is the first time since 2000 that the tour has introduced a new event. The 84 Lumber Classic of Pennsylvania (formerly the SEI Pennsylvania Classic) and the Chrysler Championship (formerly the Tampa Bay Classic) debuted that season.
 
But unlike those tournaments, which offered second-tier purses, the Wachovia Championship is handing out $5.6 million, with $1,008,000 going to the winner.
 
Quail Hollow is no stranger to professional competition. It hosted the Kemper Open from 1969 to 1979, as well as a Champions Tour event, last known as The Home Depot Invitational, from 1980 to 88.
 
This, however, is a far different course than the one PGA Tour players competed on over two decades ago. Tom Fazio, in Sept. 1997, reconstructed the par-72 course with the length extending to 7,396 yards. The clubhouse was even renovated in July 2000, as well as the practice facility, in Spring 2001.
 
But, if history is any indication, expect past major champions to contend this week.
 
During Quail Hollows 11-year stretch at the Kemper, Raymond Floyd (1975) and Tom Weiskopf (1971, 77) won, while 13 past or future major winners finished runner-up.
 
The silver-medal list includes Lee Trevino (twice), Gary Player (twice), Weiskopf (twice), Andy North, Jerry Pate, Lou Graham, Lanny Wadkins, John Mahaffey, Bill Rogers and Mark Hayes.
 
Player extracted a bit of revenge on the course when he hit the senior circuit. He won the PaineWebber World Seniors Invitational in 1987. Peter Thomson and Gene Littler, both of who won majors on the regular tour, also prevailed at Quail Hollow on the Champions Tour.
 
Ironically, Doug Sanders, who twice finished runner-up in the British Open, is the only player to win at Quail Hollow on both tours. He won the Kemper in 1972 and the World Seniors Invitational in 83.
 
There are 23 past major winners in this weeks field.
 
Related Links
  • PGA Tour Statistical Preview
  • Full coverage of the Wachovia Championship