Golf, Sun to Meet for PGA Seniors at Valhalla

Plenty of picturesque shots ahead at Valhalla. PHOTO: PGA of America

Let’s hope that the story of the  Senior PGA Tournament doesn’t involve the weather. Today the Pro-Am, in which rich folks get to play with the pros, gets things started officially.  If you’re going, you have to park out at Southeast Christian Church and take the shuttle, because the lot planned for the event is, you guessed it, too wet. And there’s rain in the forecast.

But like the Kentucky Derby, everyone’s looking for a good story, and wouldn’t it be a cool one if somebody with a local connection came out on top Sunday afternoon. There’s Russ Cochran, the lefty from Paducah who was a ho-hum player on the regular tour, who’s blossomed since turning 50. He’s battling wrist problems, but plans to play.

My favorite winner would be Kenny Perry, who went to WKU at the same time I did and had his best years on the regular tour at ages 48 and 49. He suffered one of his most humbling moments of his career in 1996 here when he lost the PGA in a playoff to Mark Brooks, who happens to be in the field at Valhalla this time. Perry played a key role in the 2008 U.S. win in the Ryder Cup at Valhalla.

Then there’s Ted Schulz, who won twice on the PGA Tour but got a real job (he was director of golf at the Cardinal Club) when he lost his tour card. Last year, his first on the Champions Tour, he made a nifty $538K and finished 31st on the money list.

New Albany’s Fuzzy Zoeller, who’s always fun to watch, is in the field, too. He’s one of six Masters champions here.

And while it’d be great if Cochran, Perry, Schulz or Zoeller is in one of the final groups Sunday, remember that the field includes 47 of the top 50 50+ players on the increasingly popular Champions Tour.

Yesterday the tourney notified media that Fred Couples, winner of the ’92 Masters and one of the Tour’s most popular players, is skipping the event because of back problems.  That’s the same malady that’s sidelining two other competitors. Remember, after all, these are old guys.  So let’s go watch ’em hit it.