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Turnberry All Set for Senior Open Championship


The Champions Tour returns to action this week for the Senior Open Championship. The $2 million major begins Thursday on the Alisa Course at Turnberry in Scotland.

Among the favorites is Tom Watson, who won the 1977 at Turnberry during his famous "Duel in the Sun" with Jack Nicklaus. That Claret Jug was among five the Kansas City native took back to America. Since turning 50, Watson, now 62, has also won three Senior British Opens, including in 2003 at Turnberry.

On Wednesday, a plaque was unveiled that commemorates Watson's win 35 years ago when he hit a 7-iron approach to two feet on the 72nd hole to secure the victory. "This is a very special place for me," Watson said of Turnberry. "Obviously, the premier of many of my memories is the 'Duel in the Sun,' when I just edged out the greatest player who ever played the game. I believed in myself after that.

"Unveiling the plaque is very special. I remember hitting the shot, which meant so much to me and so many other people."

For the first round Watson will be paired with Aussie great Greg Norman and the Champions Tour's hottest player, Roger Chapman. The 53-year-old Englishman, who had a pedestrian career on the European Tour, has recently come out of nowhere on the American over-50 circuit with victories in the 2012 Senior PGA Championship and Senior U.S. Open.

"Fortunately, I'm a bit more experienced and I'm full of confidence after my two back-to-back senior major victories, so I won't be feeling quite the same as I did when I played in my first Open Championship at Turnberry," Chapman told europeantour.com.

"I remember standing on the seventh tee looking out over the Ailsa Course and gazing at the huge crowds and thinking, 'what on earth am I doing here.' I felt totally out of my depth. It would be a boyhood dream to win another major on home soil," Chapman added.

Making his debut in the Senior Open Championship is Fred Couples, who will be paired with fellow Yank Mark Calcavecchia - the 1989 British Open winner at Royal Troon - and Englishman Barry Lane.

Couples is impressed with the venue. "Turnberry is a beautiful place and I can't wait to get started in my first British Senior Open tomorrow," he told reporters Wednesday. "I feel like I will be one of the guys up there this week, but you have to play really good golf. You can't screw around and miss shots or you'll be bogeying a lot of holes."

Defending champion Russ Cochran withdrew last week and was replaced by first alternate Michael Thompson. But also entered are 1996 British Open champion Tom Lehman, 2011 U.S. Senior Open winner Olin Browne, 2012 Senior Players champion Joe Daley, multiple major winner Bernhard Langer, and former major champions from England Sandy Lyle, Ian Woosnam and Tony Jacklin.

For live scoring, visit http://www.europeantour.com/seniortour/season=2012/tournamentid=2012860/leaderboard/index.html.