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Golf Greats Battle in Florida

2006 Boeing ChampionshipDESTIN, Fla. -- After winning three straight Champions Tour events to begin the season, Loren Roberts showed up early to the Boeing Championship for some extra practice, hoping to regain his putting stroke.
Roberts, who decided last Friday to play here, arrived at the Raven Golf Club on Tuesday to meet mentor Jim Suttie for some advice on his short game.
'I think it's the first time I've ever taken a putting lesson,' said Roberts, who leads the Champions Tour in earnings with just under a $1 million this year. 'I'm going through a little valley right now and I'm trying to work my way back up again.'
Now in his second year on the tour for players who have reached their 50th birthday, Roberts also leads in the points competition and can pad his advantage over Jay Haas, who is skipping this week's event.
'That figured into my decision,' Roberts said. 'I figured I'd better get back to work.'
Brad Bryant, who won his second tour event of the season last week in Hoover, Ala., with a bogey-free 17-under 199, said he's not as comfortable on the Raven layout.
'This golf course does not suit me nearly as good,' said Bryant, who overtook Mark McNulty on the final three holes last week.
Peter Jacobsen, who now lives in Bonita Springs, played in Thursday's pro-am and predicted some high scores for the weekend.
'The player that wins here will have played some great golf this week,' Jacobsen said. 'If you miss the fairway, you've got trouble. (And) the greens are very difficult.'
Twenty-six of the 30 leading money winners on the Champions Tour are playing at the $1.6 million, 54-hole event that begins Friday and is being played for the first time at the 6,931-yard course at Sandestin Resort.
Ray Floyd, Hale Irwin, Lee Trevino, Tom Watson and a pair of popular 70-year-olds -- Chi Chi Rodriguez and Gary Player -- are in the field along with defending champion Jim Thorpe, who took last year's event when he sank a 4 1/2 -foot birdie putt on the third playoff hole to beat Morris Hatalasky at the Moors Golf Club in nearby Milton.
Tim Simpson, a four-time winner on the PGA TOUR who never won a TOUR event aftter being diagnosed with Lyme disease in 1991, is making his first appearance on the Champions circuit. He turned 50 last Saturday.
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - Boeing Championship at San Destin
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