Super competitions help keep `names' in game

Tourneys within tourneys open to those 60 and over

July 02, 1999|By John W. Stewart | John W. Stewart,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

There's a special group of players on the Senior PGA Tour who bring something extra to many of the events.

These are the Super Seniors, those 60 and over, who have their own pro-am and their own tournament-within-a-tournament during each of the tour's regular 54- hole programs.

It started in 1987, and has grown steadily to the point where this year, under the sponsorship of Georgia-Pacific, each week's 36-hole purse is $175,000 ($30,000 for first), and the year's total for 23 tournaments will be more than $4 million.

At the end of the season, the top 16 players will compete in their own championship as a companion to the regular Senior Tour championship at Myrtle Beach, S.C.

"It was developed for the older guys to extend their careers," Dale Douglass, 63, said of the Super Seniors yesterday. "The tour wanted to keep the `names' playing, since they were the ones who made it all possible."

At The Woodlands, a baker's dozen of Super Seniors teed it up in what Terry Dill, the professional on the winning scramble team (49), called "a more relaxed atmosphere" than the regular pro-ams.

"They're a lot of fun, and we love it," Dill said. "Here, everybody on my team contributed. Stephen Seyfert capped it when he holed a 75-yard shot at our last hole [No. 15] for a 2 [net 1]."

Other members of the team were Ronnie Attman, Howard Leibowitz and Bill Sheppard.

"It's a great opportunity for us, and at the same time, I like to think the overall tour is an inspiration for all golfers," said Douglass, one of five to win the Super Seniors and the overall tournament in the same week.

One of the Super players is Dick Hendrickson, who grew up in Baltimore and had his first pro job as an assistant to John O'Donnell at Mount Pleasant Golf Course.

He then went to the Philadelphia area, where he was a club pro for nearly 35 years. He joined the Senior Tour in '88 and had four second-place finishes, before moving to the Super Seniors, where he has won three times.

At 64, he battled serious health problems the last year and says this is his final tour season. "I'm not strong, but I feel good," the 6-foot-7, 270-pounder said.

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