The elder circuit is set to engage in the inaugural Kinkos Classic of Austin. It is the first of three new tournaments on the 2003 tour schedule.
Meanwhile, PGA Tour players are competing in the first-ever Wachovia Championship in Charlotte, N.C., at Quail Hollow, site of the Champions Tours former Home Depot Invitational.
The Hills Country Club is the host venue in Austin. The Jack Nicklaus-designed par-72 layout measures nearly 6,900 yards. The purse is $1.6 million; the winner will collect $240,000.
In an effort to increase its fan base, the Champions Tour is steadily bringing its product to areas of prominent players. Four years ago, they began stopping in Kansas City, Mo. ' which will be contested the following week ' where Tom Watson is a native.
Austin is the hometown of Tom Kite and Ben Crenshaw.
Tom and I have a great allegiance to the (Champions) Tour, but also to all the fellows that we grew up with, said Crenshaw. Austin is the place where the (tour) began and we want to do everything we can do to make this tournament a success.
The tour returns to Austin for the first time since the Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf moved after the 1994 season. That tournament, which was first played at Onion Creek Country Club in 1978, spawned the Champions Tour.
In two weeks, the tour will play the inaugural Columbus Southern Open in Columbus, Ga. They will finish the first-time trifecta in the Greater Hickory Classic at Rock Barn, in Conover, N.C., Jul. 4-6.
The seniors played three new tournaments in 2001, as well: the Siebel Classic, the Allianz Championship and the SAS Championship. The latter two are on the 2003 schedule, while the Siebel Classic was scrapped after Hale Irwin won a year ago.
Irwin, the 2002 Player of the Year, is still in search of his first victory of the '03 season. He led through 36 holes of last week's Bruno's Memorial Classic, but shot 73 on Sunday to tie for third.
He will be in attendance in Austin, as will course designer Jack Nicklaus, Watson, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, Lee Trevino, Bruce Lietzke and Raymond Floyd.