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Champions Tour's First Major of the Year Begins this Week


The Regions Tradition will be teeing off Thursday at Shoal Creek in Birmingham, Ala. The event is the first major on the year on the Champions Tour.

The 81-player field boasts 10 members of the World Golf Hall of Fame - Fred Couples, Hale Irwin, Tom Kite, Bernhard Langer, Sandy Lyle, Colin Montgomerie, Larry Nelson, Nick Price, Curtis Strange and Tom Watson. Couples and Montgomerie were inducted last year.

Sixty-three of the players in the field have a combined 470 PGA Tour titles. Irwin is the over-50 circuit's all-time winner with 45, while Langer has 20. The German won the Mitsubishi Electric Championship in January, and the last event on the calendar, the Insperity Championship in early May.

"This year's field is one of the strongest Shoal Creek has seen since the championship moved to Birmingham in 2011," said Matthew Dent, tournament general chairman. "Fans will see some of the greatest golfers compete for this prestigious title, and we are honored to host these players, fans and volunteers at Shoal Creek."

In addition to Montgomerie - who's seeking his first victory on the Champions Tour, Regions Tradition first-timers include rookies Jeff Maggert, John Riegger, Joe Durant, Scott Dunlap, Wes Short, Jr., Anders Forsbrand and Ian Woosnam. The 50-year-old Maggert won the Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic in March in his first start.

Also playing is defending champion David Frost. The South African closed with a 4-under 68 at the 7,231-yard, par-72 Shoal Creek to edge Couples by a stroke for his first major title and his fifth overall on the Champions Tour.

The event has been played at the Jack Nicklaus-designed layout since 2011. Tom Lehman won the first two years the Regions Tradition was held at the course.

The players this week will be seeking to gain some ground on Langer, the runaway leader so far in the Champions Tour's season-long Charles Schwab Cup. The top-10 finishers in the Regions Tradition, along with the other majors - the Senior PGA Championship, the Senior Players Championship, the Senior U.S. Open and the Senior British Open - receive double the points in the Cup race.

After seven events, Langer is setting the pace with 1,169 points, followed by Couples (781), Jay Haas (580), Montgomerie (471) and Michael Allen (365).