Champions Tour Set to Tee Off New Season

The 2011 Champions Tour will start the new season just as it has for the past 15 years, on Hawaii's Big Island for the Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai. The $1.8 million event will tee off Friday. All three rounds will be broadcast on the Golf Channel.

Sixty-one-year-old Tom Watson will return to defend his title. Watson's win last year was his first in 34 career starts in Hawaii. In shooting three rounds of 63-66-65, Watson ended up at 22-under 194 and, at the time, became the second-oldest winner since Hale Irwin in 2000.

Watson is hoping for another auspicious start to the season. "I'm looking forward to the year," Watson told's Vartan Kupelian. "This time of year is always an anxious time, in the sense that, 'What's the year going to produce?' It's like the start of a race - you want to get off to a good start."

Watson had a great duel last year in the tournament with then Champions Tour rookie Fred Couples, who closed with a 64 to make things interesting. "It was a wonderful start last year," Watson said. "I'd like to recreate it. I played well. Fred and I traded punches. I got the last punch on the last hole to win.

Look for low scores like Watson's are the norm in the Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai. The average winning score over the past decade is 20 under, and Loren Roberts set a record on the over-50 circuit when he went 25 under over 54 holes.

Seven players in the 42-man field, including Watson, Couples and Irwin, are in the World Golf Hall of Fame. In addition to 2010 Player of the Year Bernhard Langer, the tournament will feature Hall of Famers Ben Crenshaw, Tom Kite, Nick Price and Curtis Strange.

Playing in the same group - a reprise at tournaments last year when the two were frequently paired together, Langer and Couples tee off last on Friday at 12:10 p.m. Hawaiian time.

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