International legends Woosnam, Player and Lyle headline deep field at Ginn Championship

While many of the PGA TOUR brightest stars will pass on this week’s Zurich Open in New Orleans, the Champions Tour’s Ginn Championship at Ginn Hammock Beach in Palm Coast has all hands on deck.Ginn Hammock Ocean Course

Former Ryder Cup captain Ian Woosnam, winner of the 1981 Masters, will make his Champions Tour debut and is joined by one of the deepest Champions Tour fields assembled in the past few years. The event will be played on the Jack Nicklaus-designed Ginn Hammock Ocean Course.

Until Gil Morgan withdrew from the event, all 30 of the top-30 money winners from 2007 had signed on to participate in the event. Throw in international stars like Gary Player and Sandy Lyle, who are both making their Ginn Championship debuts, and this tournament exudes an aura of history and success.

“This is something we understandably take a great deal of pride in seeing and something we know golf fans all over the area will take a great deal of enjoyment in seeing,” tournament director John Subers said. “You can count on one hand the number of events that carry a field with such depth and class, and we’re proud the Ginn Championship is one of those events.”

Lyle and Woosnam, who were on hand to address the media on Wednesday, only add to the impressive statistics compiled by this year’s field.

The 2008 Ginn Championship participants include nine past Masters champions, nine U.S. Open champions, seven past PLAYERS champions and ten former Ryder Cup captains.

Woosnam will play a full slate of events on the Champions Tour this year after recovering from a bout with chronic fatigue syndrome. The 2006 European Ryder Cup captain said he is looking forward to getting back out on the course and competing.

"To have an opportunity to win Rookie of the Year again is a great feeling,” said Woosnam. “This year is going to be exciting, and I'm looking forward to just trying to play some decent golf and see how it goes really.

"I've got to say, my game has been reasonably good,” he added. “But it's a different thing when you're just playing a round of golf without having a scorecard in your hand. No doubt about it, when I haven't played for a year, I feel very nervous and when I stand on the tee on Friday morning, I'm going to feel nervous, no doubt about it.  I'm just trying to feel my way into it, get used to the golf course, getting used to the tournaments and hopefully I can have some decent finishes."

Lyle, who made his Champions Tour debut earlier this year at the Toshiba Classic, said he is looking forward to the more laid back atmosphere surrounding the Champions Tour that includes smaller fields and later start times.

“There are a lot of things that are nice about it but the competition is still tough,” Lyle remarked. “Everybody is friendlier by far and it’s all people in the same age group and people I grew up with; guys that I met in the early 80s and are still banging away.

“It’s just a nice, more pleasant way of playing towards the end of your career in golf,” he concluded.
Woosnam was in agreement.

"No doubt about it,” he said. You come out here, you’re more relaxed, and you can talk to people and sign autographs. You just go out and enjoy.

"We have traveled around the world for 30 years, and it's nice to come to places and actually sit out and enjoy it; instead of like you're in the restaurant, you're in bed, you're on the practice ground, you're just playing,” Woosnam added. “It's nice to maybe just take a bit of time out and go and see the area and what's around. So for me and Sandy and I guess a lot of lads, you just sit down and smell the roses."

All five of the 2008 Champions Tour winners are in the field, a list that includes two-time winner Scott Hoch (Allianz Championship, ACE Group Classic), Ponte Vedra Beach's Fred Funk (MasterCard Championship), Boca Raton's Bernhard Langer (Toshiba Classic), Pensacola's Jerry Pate (Turtle Bay Championship) and Denis Watson (AT&T Champions Classic).

The Ginn Championship at Hammock Beach is the first of Ginn's four Champions Tour, PGA TOUR and LPGA events on the 2008 professional golf calendar.

Televised by Golf Channel, the Ginn Championship will again feature one of the largest purses on the Champions Tour - $2.5 million, with a $375,000 winner's check.

 

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