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Golf icons complete field at Constellation Senior Players Championship at Fox Chapel

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Seniors event tees off Thursday, June 28

Pittsburgh golf fans are in for a star-studded treat this coming week when the 30th Annual Constellation Senior Players Championship comes to Fox Chapel Golf Club.

How is this for a threesome headlining a strong field of champions: Greg Norman, Tom Watson and Fred Couples?

Recently, each of these former major champions have made a big splash against their younger counterparts, proving that that they can still play at a high level.

Couples, 52, played in the final group at the Masters in the third round in April and finished in the top 12. Watson, 63, was one stroke from winning at the Open Championship at Turnberry in 2009, and Norman, 57, was in the lead and in contention in the final rounds of the Open Championship at Burkdale.

All three will be at Fox Chapel this week.

“It's all that muscle memory and mental training you've done for 35 years, you know? It's ingrained, it's in your system, it never leaves you,” said Norman during a conference call with media last week. “Your mind is still as sharp as what it was before, but physically, as I mentioned, you're not as capable of doing the things you did before. Your body speed's not as fast, and obviously you don't have the smoothness, I guess, in your putting stroke because that's age, that's time, that's just the natural course of the older you get.

“But it is all deep down inside, there's no question about it,” he continued. “When you put yourself in a position like Tom and I did a few years ago, those things come flooding back very, very quickly. It's amazing the sense of calmness and the sense of remembrance and the sense of competitive spirit, how quickly it comes flooding back. It's actually a joy because I don't know too many other sports in the world that you can walk away from the game, come back to it, put yourself in a position, you know, up to 40 years or whatever it is playing the game of golf and say ‘Wow, I can still compete with the best of the best.’”

This will be a rare appearance by Norman, who hasn’t played on the Champions Tour since 2009. But the Australian-born two-time Open Championship winner, who now oversees a number of successful global business enterprises, said that he’s looking forward making his return to competitive golf in Pittsburgh.

“Look, when I go to a golf tournament to play, I want to go to a golf tournament to play. You know, I do have a lot of pride in what I do and I want to get up to Pittsburgh and I want to get to Fox Chapel and I want to perform the best I could possibly perform,” said Norman.

Norman, Watson and Couples, the event’s defending champion, will be joined by a field of 81 golfers. Other names to look out for include six additional World Golf Hall of Fame members (Hale Irwin, Tom Kite, Ben Crenshaw, Tony Jacklin, Sandy Lyle and Larry Nelson). Sixty-three of the 81 players in the field own at least one PGA Tour title. Overall, the field has won 457 times on the PGA Tour and 305 times on the Champions Tour. There are 22 players with PGA Tour major titles and 23 players with a Champions Tour major on their resume.

The first round is scheduled to tee off on Thursday morning; the event concludes with the final round on Sunday.

A Seth Raynor classic designed, par 70 course that opened in 1923, Fox Chapel Golf Club is hosting its first PGA Champions Tour event. The Senior Tour is not a stranger to the Pittsburgh area, however, as the Senior PGA Championship was held at Laurel Valley Golf Club in 2005 and Quicksilver Golf Club hosted a Champions Tour event six times from 1993-98.

As the case with all PGA TOUR events, the Constellation Senior Players Championship proceeds will benefit a local charity -- The First Tee of Pittsburgh, a local non-profit organization devoted to bringing the game of golf and life skills development to children of all backgrounds. For more information about The First Tee of Pittsburgh, visit www.thefirstteepittsburgh.org.

Be sure to follow John Krysinsky’s reports for PSR at www.pittsburghsportsreport.com throughout the week for updates from the Constellation Senior Players Championship.

Follow John Krysinsky on Twitter at @johnkrysinsky.

Neil Walker’s contract expires after the 2016 season. The Pirates second baseman is due for a big raise in arbitration this offseason—likely to $10 million—and signing him to a long-term extension will cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $12-$15 million annually.
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