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Couples joins field for Wendy’s Champions Skins Game

By Staff | Jan 7, 2010

Jack Nicklaus (right) and Tom Watson, who won the 2007 Wendy’s Champions Skins Game, are paired for the fifth consecutive time.

KAANAPALI — The 23rd Wendy’s Champions Skins Game will be played at the Royal Kaanapali Golf Course on Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 16-17.

Fred Couples, 50, will make his Champions Tour debut by joining five Hall of Fame members — Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson, Gary Player, Ben Crenshaw and Nick Price — at the West Maui event.

Loren Roberts will also compete in his second Wendy’s Champions Skins Game, while Crenshaw and Fuzzy Zoeller attempt to become the first team to successfully defend its title.

For the fifth consecutive year, the players will compete in the alternate-shot, team format that has produced memorable shots, a sprinkle of intrigue and entertaining player commentary.

The players will play nine holes each day, with ESPN televising the contest on a tape-delayed basis on Feb. 27-28.

Couples will join Price — who is also competing in his first Wendy’s Champions Skins Game — while Roberts and Player create a fantastic putting combination.

“We are thrilled that Fred Couples has chosen to start his Champions Tour career by competing in the Wendy’s Champions Skins Game and join what is a legendary group of the game’s most dynamic personalities,” said Barry Frank, executive vice president of Media Sports Programming at IMG.

“These eight players not only represent hundreds of victories around the world, but they also hold the values and display the personality which makes this such a great game.”

Couples reached the age of 50 last fall. Winner of 15 PGA Tour titles, including the 1992 Masters, he has been a fan favorite since the early 1980s.

“I could not think of a better way for me, personally, to start on the Champions Tour than to play in this format and have the chance to hang out with this group of players,” said Couples. “I am sure there will be some ribbing going on. But, at the end of the day, I know these guys are in it to win. I love the format and really look forward to spending some time at such a fantastic spot.”

This marks the third year Royal Kaanapali Golf Course will host the event.

“Once again, we are honored to host the Wendy’s Champions Skins Game and to provide this incredible group of players a beautiful stage to compete and display their skills,” said Chip Bahouth, president of the Kaanapali Beach Resort Association board and general manager of the Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa.

“There are not many places in professional sports where you can walk from your hotel room, take in a beautiful Maui day and watch a collection of golf’s greatest players compete. It is the perfect setting.”

In the event format, each hole becomes a tournament within itself, and the prize money is carried over if no team wins the hole outright.

The $770,000 purse is distributed to $30,000 for each of the first six holes, $40,000 for each of the middle six holes, $50,000 each for holes 13 through 17 and $100,000 for the 18th hole.

The players will donate 10 percent of their earnings to charity — half to the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption and the other half to a charity of their choice.

“When you look at the field for the Wendy’s Champions Skins Game, you see a group that is entertaining for both the spectator on hand and the international television audience,” said Pete Derzis, general manager of ESPN Regional Television.

“Make no mistake about it — these guys are very competitive, and each team is trying to win the trophy. But each of these individuals also has a wonderful personality. Then you toss in the fact they are all gathered in Maui playing golf, and you have a wonderful recipe for entertainment.”