Utah Showdown director Bryan Naugle had hoped to have the newly crowned U.S. Senior Open champion at his tournament this week.
It isn't looking good with Ray Floyd and Hale Irwin, who are playing in the final group today at Riviera Country Club in Los Angeles. Neither player is committed to compete next week.Still, even though Floyd and Irwin will be missing, along with several other top senior players, Naugle would prefer to focus on who is coming to Park City for the annual Senior PGA event.
"Except for Irwin, we've got most of the winners from recent weeks coming," said Naugle, ticking off the list, which includes Gil Morgan, Bruce Summerhays, Bob Dickson, Brian Barnes, Isao Aoki, Jay Sigel, Larry Ziegler and Jim Dent. That group accounts for eight of the past 10 Senior Tour tournament winners.
Naugle knew getting Irwin was a long shot, since he needs to take a week off after playing several weeks in a row. He had hoped to get Jack Nicklaus, but the Golden Bear has an ailing hip and may not play the rest of the season. Jim Colbert, the No. 3 all-time Senior money winner, had committed to play and his recent withdrawal was a big disappointment to Naugle. Also it would have been nice to get Johnny Miller again, but he has decided he'd rather be a broadcaster than a golfer.
"We've got a pretty darn good field," said Naugle. "Some of these guys just can't play every week."
Besides the aforementioned players, other big names playing this week include legends Arnold Palmer and Lee Trevino, along with former champ Graham Marsh, Bob Murphy and senior rookie John Mahaffey.
The first Showdown event will be the qualifying Monday at Wasatch Mountain State Park Golf Course where 90 players will compete for four spots in the 78-player field.
On Tuesday a new event, the Lincoln Financial Group Pro/ Celebrity Skins Game will be played at Park Meadows at 10 a.m. Senior golfers will be matched with local celebrities in a best-ball skins competition, where the winner of a hole gets the "skin."
Former Cincinnati Reds catcher Johnny Bench has turned pro and will make his Senior Tour debut this week. He'll team with former Reds teammate Joe Morgan in the skins game.
Among the celebrities slated to compete in the skins game are former Jazz center Mark Eaton, Olympic golf medal ski aerialist Nikki Stone, NFL Hall of Famer Jan Stenerud, L.A. Clipper forward Issac Austin, former Olympic freestyle skier Trace Worthington and Jazz broadcasters Hot Rod Hundley and Ron Boone. Karl Malone and ESPN announcer Jim Kelly will emcee the event.
Also on Tuesday afternoon, the Gillette Tour Challenge, a six-hole alternate-shot competition featuring eight Senior players, will be contested at Park Meadows.
Pro-ams will be played Wednesday and Thursday before the main event, which Friday and runs through Sunday. The $1 million tournament will offer $150,000 to the winner.