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Ian Baker-Finch to tee up at Colonial

The most nervous Annika Sorenstam ever felt on a golf course was standing on the 10th tee at Colonial in 2003 when she became the first female in 45 years to compete on the PGA Tour.

Ian Baker-Finch might be able to understand how she felt.

The 48-year-old Australian, a past champion at Colonial, has entered the Crowne Plaza Invitational, which begins May 28. This will be the 20-year anniversary of his victory at Colonial, but only his second time to compete in the last 12 years.

“I turn 50 in a couple of years and I want to see where I am, whether it’s worth putting extra effort into playing a bit,” Baker-Finch said Tuesday. “I’d be an addition to the field as a past champion, so if I did shoot a bad score, I wouldn’t feel bad about taking a place.”

Why the nerves?

Baker-Finch, a television commentator for the last decade who now works for CBS Sports, has not played tournament golf in eight years, going 74-77 at Colonial to miss the cut. Most people recall his return to the British Open as a former champion when he played at Royal Troon in 1997 and shot 92 before he withdrew.

He has considered playing a couple of times over the years, but was cautious because of what happened at Troon, playing with an ailing back, nowhere to hide before thousands of fans.

But he’ll still be nervous.

“I’m out of my league now,” he said. “I call the golf and still play well, but it’s different when you play a tour event. I’m a little apprehensive how my form would be. I have no visions of grandeur.”

His one wish is that the PGA Tour will consider grouping past champions together at tournaments where they can still play, such as Colonial and the Memorial.

Baker-Finch said Colonial officials have embraced the idea, and he is hopeful the PGA Tour would go along with it.

“I really think it would add some spice to the event,” he said. “You add groupings of past champions, there’s extra spice, more of a media angle. I think it would be good for the tournament. And the older guys are going to be more comfortable playing with each other. I’m not sure I want to get drawn with two young guys that hit it 340 yards.”

Baker-Finch said depending on how the Colonial goes, he might consider returning to play the British Open next year at St. Andrews.


May 13, 2009

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