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Golf Today 30th March
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Weather the focus at seniors first major
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Weather the focus at seniors first major

The focus on The Tradition, the Senior PGA Tour's first major of the season, has not been on how the golfers will play, but on if they will play.

The $1.6 million event, which begins Thursday at the Golf Club at Desert Mountain, has been plagued by bad weather since 1990 when it was rescheduled for the week before the Masters. Rain, hail, snow, ice and lightning have caused problems at this event six of the last 10 years, including three of the last five.

Snow and ice were the problem at last year's tournament, forcing the event to be shortened to 36 holes. Australia's Graham Marsh was delcared the winner after shooting an 8-under 136 on the Cochise Course, three strokes better than Larry Nelson.

Marsh, who won the 1997 U.S. Senior Open, claimed his second major championship. This season, Marsh has three top-10 finishes in six starts, including second at the season-opening MasterCard Championship.

Gil Morgan will attempt to win his third Tradition in four years after missing last year's event with a back injury. Morgan battled a rib injury and was sidelined for the first 2 1/2 months of the season. But he came back triumphantly in his first official event of 2000, posting a wire-to-wire four-shot win at last week's Emerald Coast Classic.

Morgan holds the tournament record of 22-under 266 in 1997.

Another notable making his return to a course where he has had tremendous success is the legendary Jack Nicklaus. The "Golden Bear" has won this tournament four times (1990, 1991, 1995, 1996), but missed last year's event while recovering from hip replacement surgery.

Reigning Senior Tour Player of the Year Bruce Fleisher will seek his third victory of the season. Fleisher won two of his first four starts of the season and is coming off a third-place finish last week. He leads the Senior Tour in earnings with $530,939.

Other players of note in the field include two-time Player of the Year Hale Irwin, who is winless this season, Tom Watson and Senior Tour rookie Tom Kite.

The Cochise Course at the Golf Club at Desert Mountain is a par-72 layout which spans 6,959 yards. First prize is $240,000.

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