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Star-Bulletin Sports

Friday, January 26, 2001

S E N I O R _ S K I N S

Senior Skins’
super weekend

Irwin returns to join Player,
Palmer and Nicklaus on Maui
to compete for $600,000 purse

By Bill Kwon

WAILEA, Maui -- A golf tournament with two defending champions?

It's one of many novelties at the 2001 Senior Skins Game tomorrow and Super Sunday.

For one, the two defending champions are Gary Player and Hale Irwin, who'll be joined by Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer.

They'll be battling for the $600,000 purse in the 14th annual Senior Skins Game, which will be held for the first time at the Wailea Gold Course.

The event had been held at the Mauna Lani Resort on the Big Island the previous 11 years.

There are two defending champions because Irwin, who won in 1999, sat out last year to allow Tom Watson to join Player, Nicklaus and Palmer.

That foursome was the cast of the original Skins Game in 1983 and the organizers wanted to bring them together to start off the new century with a "blast-from-the-past" reunion.

Player stunned everyone last year by showing that it's never over until it's over.

Shut out for 18 holes, Player birdied the first playoff hole -- Mauna Lani's signature par-3 15th -- to zoom past his fellow golf legends with a zero-to-$220,000 finish to win it all.

He captured the final four skins to beat Watson, who had seven skins and $210,000. Nicklaus won four skins and $90,000, while Palmer picked up three skins for $80,000.

"To win at that marvelous par-3 over water was a thrill, particularly for my grandchildren and friends who had flown over from South Africa to be there," said Player, who won his first Senior Skins Game title in five tries.

In 1999, Irwin bagged seven skins to earn $230,000, ending Raymond Floyd's five-year winning streak. Since Irwin voluntarily sat out last year, he's viewed as the defending champion as well.

"Arnold and Jack have helped make this event what it is, Gary is a great defending champion and we are delighted to have Hale back after he graciously stepped aside last year," said Chuck Gerber, vice president and general manager of ESPN Regional Television, Inc.

"The Senior Skins Game has always been one of the Senior PGA Tour's most attractive events," said Commissioner Tim Finchem. "The Wailea Resort is a spectacular setting for our second Senior Tour event of 2001."

The resort will host the event again in 2002.

And, unlike last year, when the foursome played all 18 holes on one day -- ABC televising 12 holes Saturday and the remainder on Sunday -- this time they'll revert to the previous format of playing nine holes each day.

In the Skins format, each hole is a tournament within itself with the money carried over if no player wins a hole outright. If one ties, all tie.

The first six holes are worth $20,000 each. Then it's $30,000 each for the next six holes, $40,000 for holes 13 through 17 and $100,000 for the 18th hole.

Tomorrow's starting time will be 8 a.m., Sunday at 7:15 a.m. It will be televised delayed by ABC-TV, at 10:30 a.m. both days.

Daily tickets are $25.

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