Dates: Jan. 16-22, 2012
Course: Hualalai Golf Course; Kaupulehu-Kona, Hawaii
Year Opened: 1996
Course Designer: Jack Nicklaus
Field: 41 professionals Format: 54-hole stroke-play event with no cut.
Television: Golf Channel; 1:30-4 p.m. Friday; 2:30-5 p.m. Saturday; 2:30-5 p.m. Sunday
THE 2021 CHAMPIONS TOUR: This year marks the 33rd anniversary of the PGA TOUR’s Champions Tour and the Mitsubishi Electric Championship is first of 23 official events on the 2012 schedule. The official season concludes with the Charles Schwab Cup Championship, Oct. 29-Nov. 4, at Desert Mountain Golf Club in Scottsdale, Ariz. The Champions Tour’s primary purpose is to provide significant competitive and earnings opportunities for players age 50 and older, to protect the integrity of the game and to help grow the reach of the game in the U.S. and around the world.
ABOUT THE MITSUBISHI ELECTRIC CHAMPIONSHIP AT HUALALAI: The Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai will open a Champions Tour season for the 29th consecutive time this year and the event is one of the oldest tournaments on the circuit.
It was first played as the Senior Tournament of Champions in 1984 and the venue was LaCosta Country Club in Carlsbad, Calif., from 1984-1994. The limited-field tournament then moved to the Hyatt Dorado Beach in Puerto Rico in 1995 and 1996 before relocating again to Hualalai on the Big Island in 1997.
Miller Barber (1986, 1989), Al Geiberger (1992, 1993), George Archer (1990, 2000), Dana Quigley (2003, 2005) and Hale Irwin (1997, 2007) are the only multiple winners of the event, with Archer being the only player to claim titles at two different venues (1990/LaCosta, 2000/Hualalai).
ELIGIBILITY: This year’s field will again be made up of the following: 1) winners of Champions Tour major championships in the last five years (2007-2011); 2) winners of Champions Tour official money co-sponsored and approved tournaments within the last two years (2010-2011); 3) seven sponsor choices to exempt players to meet either of the following criteria: a-a minimum of 30 combined PGA TOUR/Champions Tour victories or b-a minimum of 15 combined career wins who also have a minimum of one major championship victory; 4) one sponsor choice can meet the criteria of 10-plus wins and one major championship.
2011 RECAP: John Cook birdied five straight holes after the turn and managed to hold off Tom Lehman by two strokes in the season-opening event. Cook began the day three strokes back of Russ Cochran and after two birdies on the front nine, Cook made six birdies in a seven-hole stretch on the back nine to create some distance between him and a hard-charging Lehman. Cook’s final-round 64 gave him his second career victory in Hawaii. It was the first time since Loren Roberts in 2006 that a player made up as many as three strokes on the final day. On the PGA TOUR, Cook won the 1992 Hawaiian Open.
BENEFITTING LOCAL CHARITIES: Proceeds from this year’s Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai will again support the Rotary Club of Kona Community Foundation and Big Island Junior Golf. Last October, officials from the event gave a $55,000 check to the Rotary Club of Kona. The Rotary Club has played an integral role in managing the tournament volunteer corps since the event moved to the Big Island in 1997. Each year, more than 400 volunteers contribute their time and talents in assisting players, sponsors and spectators at this event.
* Season opener features star-studded field – The 2011 Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai will have a 41-player field this year. Fred Funk and Eduardo Romero are eligible, but will not play for various reasons.
* This year’s Mitsubishi Electric Championship field has won a combined 351 events on the PGA TOUR and 220 tournaments on the Champions Tour.
* 17 professionals in this year’s field have combined to win 35 major championships on the PGA TOUR and 19 professionals in this field have won a total of 38 senior majors.
* There are nine members of the World Golf Hall of Fame in this year’s field (Ben Crenshaw, Hale Irwin, Tom Kite, Bernhard Langer, Larry Nelson, Nick Price, Curtis Strange, Lanny Wadkins and Tom Watson).
* There are eight former Ryder Cup captains (Ben Crenshaw, Tom Kite, Bernhard Langer, Tom Lehman, Corey Pavin, Curtis Strange, Lanny Wadkins and Tom Watson) in this field as well as two Presidents Cup captains (Hale Irwin, Fred Couples).
* Six players will make their first appearances at this championship – Jay Don Blake, Olin Browne, Mark Calcavecchia, Brad Faxon, John Huston and Kenny Perry all won events in 2010.
* Seven players in this year’s field are age 60 and over, led by 66-year-old Hale Irwin. 62-year-olds Tom Kite, Lanny Wadkins and Tom Watson will also play this year as will Bob Gilder, Larry Nelson and Ben Crenshaw.