Star-Bulletin Sports

Friday, January 29, 1999

S E N I O R _ S K I N S _ G O L F

Floyd trying
for sixth straight
Sr. Skins title

By Bill Kwon


KOHALA COAST -- Raymond Floyd goes after his sixth straight Senior Skins Game title, but you can bet that everyone in the gallery will be pulling for Arnold Palmer.

Even Floyd.

"I think he makes the Senior Skins Game. I don't think it would be as popular were he not here," Floyd said.

Floyd, Palmer, Hale Irwin and Jim Colbert will be gunning for the most skins as the $540,000 annual Senior Skins Game will be held tomorrow and Sunday at the Mauna Lani Bay Resort's South Course.

Floyd won the first playoff hole worth $80,000 to beat Irwin for the second year in a row last January. Floyd's two-day total of $300,000 boosted his Senior Skins Game winnings to $1.47 million. Irwin earned $210,000 last year.

"To win five in a row is pretty incredible," said Floyd, who finished tied for second with Colbert behind winner John Jacobs in the MasterCard Championship last week at the Hualalai Resort that opened the 1999 Senior PGA Tour season.

"It's something that doesn't seem quite possible due to the nature of it. Sometimes it's not the best player or the guy who played the best ... It takes luck to make the birdies at the right time," he added.

Palmer, for example, posted five birdies last year but picked up only one skin worth $30,000.

Irwin said that Floyd is tough to beat because the Mauna Lani South Course fits his game a little more than the rest of the group.

"His length helps him reach the par 5's in two. He's also a good putter and with that combination, he's tough to beat," said Irwin, who set a single-season money record for any tour with $2.86 million in 1998.

Saying his game is starting to come back, Palmer hopes to be more competitive as he competes in the Senior Skins Game for the 11th time in 12 years. He tuned up by playing last week in the Bob Hope Desert Classic at the PGA West Course, which he designed.

Colbert is replacing Jack Nicklaus, who had successful hip-replacement surgery yesterday. It's the first time Nicklaus has missed the event since becoming eligible in 1990. Colbert finished second to Floyd in 1996 in his only other Senior Skins appearance.

"I'm honored to take his place," Colbert said. "When they invited me, it didn't take me five seconds to accept."

"Jim is the ultimate competitor," Floyd said. "He is feisty and always grinding. Senior Skins is right up his alley because of his demeanor."

The foursome will play nine holes each day with the skins increasing in prize money. Holes one through six are each worth $20,000, 7 to 12 worth $30,000 and 13 through 18 worth $40,000. If no player wins the hole outright, the skin is carried over.

Play will start at 8 a.m. both days, with Sunday's competition through its conclusion. It will be televised live by KITV with Vin Scully doing the announcing.

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