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Eduardo Romero set for Tradition defence

With Mt. Bachelor as a backdrop, Crosswater Golf Club is a first-time host of The Tradition, the fourth of five majors on the Champions Tour.

Crosswater is a par-72, 7,436-yard course tucked in preserved wetlands amid the mountains of central Oregon, near the city of Bend. The Little Deschutes River winds among the holes.

"This is a pretty unique place," said Jay Haas, the tour's money leader who has won four events this year. "We haven't seen a lot of the high desert."

Play begins Thursday on the course, which was designed by Robert Cupp and hosted the 2006 NCAA men's golf championships.

"This golf course here has some variety, which I like. You've got some huge greens, and you've got some tiny greens to deal with, and some have depth like the 12th at Augusta," said Tom Watson, who won The Tradition in 2003, the first year it was played in Oregon.

Last year, Argentinian Eduardo Romero came from five shots back on the final day to defeat Lonnie Nielsen with a birdie on the first playoff hole at the Reserve Vineyards & Golf Club in Aloha, Ore., west of Portland.

"The course is fantastic," Romero said about being the defending champion on a new course. "I think it's one of the best courses so far, for me."

Romero tees off on Thursday in a group with Watson and Haas.

"What a group," he said. "I love playing with those guys."

The Tradition started at Desert Mountain in Scottsdale, Ariz., before it was moved to Superstition Mountain. With the help of Oregon native Peter Jacobsen, the event moved again in 2003 to the Reserve.

Jacobsen is among the 79 golfers in the field for this year's event. There is no cut.

Haas has finished in the top ten in the season's first three majors. He also came close earlier this month when he finished a shot back of winner D.A. Weibring in the 3M Championship in Blaine, Minn.

As for this season's first three majors, Watson won the British Open, Brad Bryant took the U.S. Senior Open and Denis Watson claimed the Senior PGA Championship.

"With the new course, I think everybody's a little bit apprehensive about what to expect," said Haas, a nine-time PGA Tour winner. "Practice is practice. Game time is game time."

Temperatures were expected to be in the 70s throughout the tournament with a slight chance of rain on Sunday.

The Tradition is sponsored by Jeld-Wen, an Oregon-based window and door manufacturer.


August 16, 2007

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