Reno-Tahoe attracts eight Major winners
Jose Maria Olazabal, Corey Pavin and Mark Calcavecchia are among eight winners of major tournaments set to open play Thursday in the PGA's sixth Reno-Tahoe Open.
Rich Beem, Mark Brooks, Steve Elkington, Larry Mize and Scott Simpson are the other major winners in the field at Montreux Golf and Country Club. And a pair of past Reno-Tahoe champs, John Cook and Notah Begay III, will join the man who helped get the tournament started -- 2004 U.S. Senior Open champion Peter Jacobsen -- when players tee off on the edge of the Sierra Nevada.
They will join a host of young players and tour journeymen who are in Reno because they failed to qualify for this week's World Golf Championships in Ohio.
Olazabal, who won the Masters in 1994 and 1999, will be making his debut at the Par 72, 7,472-yard course designed by Jack Nicklaus, as will Calcavecchia, the 1989 British Open champion.
``We're especially excited to have Calcavecchia here and Olazabal, and John Cook hasn't been back since he won in 2001,'' tournament director Jim Kline said.
``Rich Beem used to play here but then he won the PGA and was in the World Golf Championships. Plus there are a lot of young guys. I like the field this year,'' Kline said Tuesday.
Players who withdrew late include Tim Herron, the runner-up behind Kirk Triplett at last year's Reno-Tahoe Open; Bo Van Pelt, who ranks 34th on the PGA Tour money list with $1.3 million; and Briny Baird, who was within a stroke of the lead at the PGA Championship on Saturday before suffering a costly triple bogey on No. 17 at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin.
``We had some withdrawals that are disappointing. But you just know that when someone wins here, three years down the road people are going to be saying, `Oh yeah, I remember when he won at Reno,''' Kline said.
Begay claimed his first PGA win at the inaugural Reno tourney in 1999 and the 2002 tournament was the scene of former UNLV star Chris Riley's first victory. Scott Verplank won in 2001. Riley, Verplank and Triplett are playing at the World Golf Championships' NEC Invitational this week.
Ted Purdy, who has a pair of second-place finishes on Tour this year, is tops on the PGA Money List among the 132 players entered at Reno. He ranks 36th with $1.3 million in earnings this year, followed by No. 45 Duffy Waldorf ($1.1 million), No. 52 Harrison Frazar ($1 million) and No. 60 Joe Ogilvie ($888,000).
``Ted Purdy is playing very well. So is Olin Browne and Brian Gay,'' Kline said of some of the lesser-known competitors.
Ben Crane, 67th on the money list with $817,000, tied for ninth at the PGA Championship last weekend with a 2-under-par 283, best among the Reno field.
Matt Gogel, who tied for 17th at the PGA, also is playing at the mountain course in Reno, along with Billy Mayfair and Reno resident Scott McCarron.
The Reno field features a number of players who rank among the PGA's best in some statistical categories, including the two longest drivers in Hank Kuehne (312.8 yard average) and Scott Hend (312.6 yards).
Cook, Craig Bowden and Browne rank in the top 10 in driving accuracy, while Chris Smith ranks third in hitting greens in regulation (71 percent) and John Senden eighth (70 percent).
Five of the PGA's top seven in sand saves are in Reno this week -- No. 1 Len Mattiace (66 percent), No. 3 Dan Forsman (64 percent), No. 4 Greg Chalmers (62 percent), No. 5. Dennis Paulson (61 percent) and No. 7 Kuehne (61 percent).
Jacobsen's Portland, Ore.-based production company ran the tournament the first four years before tourney officials decided to produce the event on their own.
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