BARON SEKIYA / WEST HAWAII TODAY
Reigning Champions Tour Player of the Year Jay Haas is among those playing in the MasterCard who will skip Turtle Bay.
Haas, Watson, Stadler skipping Oahu leg
KAUPULEHU-KONA, Hawaii » There are a half-dozen golfers from this week's MasterCard Championship who will not be teeing it up at Turtle Bay on Friday, including Champions Tour Player of the Year Jay Haas.
Not a fan of the Arnold Palmer-designed course, Haas said before this week's winners-only tournament that he hadn't had any success at the Turtle Bay Championship and only wanted to play in 24 tournaments in 2008. Last year, Haas finished in a tie for 33rd at the first full-field event on the Champions Tour.
Joining him on the MIA list are Tom Watson, Craig Stadler, Eduardo Romero, Lanny Wadkins and Pete Oakley. Wadkins opened 2007 with two last-place finishes and wasn't sure he could even play this week because of chronic back problems.
Watson also skipped Turtle Bay last year, as did Stadler. But despite some of the world's best opting out, the weekend event on Oahu still has a stellar field that includes defending champion Fred Funk, Ben Crenshaw, Tom Kite, Curtis Strange, Hale Irwin, Lee Trevino, Loren Roberts, Jeff Sluman, Scott Simpson, John Cook and Chip Beck.
Local standout David Ishii is also playing the par-72 designed course. He finished in a tie for 13th last year. The other sponsor exemptions are Jim Ahern, Dick McClean, Kiyoshi Murota and David Ogrin.
"I have a lot of fond memories of playing there," Funk said. "It's not often I'm that many shots ahead coming down the stretch. It was a lot of fun and I'm looking forward to going back."
is coming off the worst year he's had since joining the Champions Tour a decade ago. Later this summer, he will turn 60, and he knew in the offseason he had to do something about his weight if he wanted to regain his competitiveness with his fellow seniors.
So he hit the weight room, ate better and before he knew it, he had lost nearly 20 pounds and felt fit for duty for the coming campaign. Nobody can argue with the results. Doyle enters today's final round with a one-shot lead over Fred Funk and is two shots clear of Jim Thorpe and Tom Purtzer, who both hit the ball a long way.
Doyle's best finish here is a tie for fifth, although he has managed to land in the top 10 six out of eight previous appearances to earn $374,916.67. If he wins today, first place is worth a cool $300,000.
"At the end of last year, I was in tough shape," Doyle said. "My weight was way up and my feet were killing me. I had a kind of bad last third of the year, the last eight tournaments, so I kind of vowed to shed some weight and to get in better shape. My feet are in pretty good shape now.
"In general, all I did was play golf. I was always amused at these guys who took to the weight room. When you walk by in the glass rooms and they were going like crazy. I always thought, shouldn't you be grooming your golf swing? But I decided to do some free weights, try to tone up a little better and that helped me lose the weight."
Inside the numbers
Doyle will be attempting his 12th title and first since the 2006 U.S. Senior Open. He's gone 32 consecutive events without a win. His main competition may be Funk, whose 9-under 63 was his best with the senior set.
He shot a 62 on the PGA Tour last year en route to winning the Mayakoba Golf Classic in Cancun, Mexico. His best on the PGA Tour is a 61 during the second round of the B.C. Open in 1999.
Thorpe is in position to win his second consecutive Champions Tour event after winning the season-ender for the second year in a row at the Charles Schwab Cup in Sonoma, Calif.
The scoring average jumped to 69.756 yesterday after opening at 67.537. The easiest hole was the par-5 10th with four eagles, 26 birdies and one bogey by Keith Fergus. The hardest hole was the par-3 fifth with a scoring average of 3.244. There were four birdies, 26 pars, eight bogeys and three double bogeys.