Irwin drops out, Kite joins Constellation field

3-time U.S. Open champ bothered by sore back, will miss Champions stop

Golf

September 07, 2005|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,SUN STAFF

Hale Irwin is out, but Tom Kite has been added to a Constellation Energy Classic field that includes 20 of the top 25 money-winners on the Champions Tour.

Irwin notched his 43rd victory among the 50-and-over set Sunday, at the First Tee Open at Pebble Beach. After competing three straight weeks on the Champion Tour's just-concluded West Coast swing, the most successful player in tour history notified local organizers late Monday that a sore back would prohibit him from coming to Baltimore.

The sting of losing a three-time U.S. Open champion was eased by the addition of Kite, a steady Texan who won that major in 1992. Kite, 55, has split time this year between the Champions Tour and the PGA Tour. He has seven Champions Tour wins, the most recent being the 2004 3M Championship.

The $1.7 million Constellation Energy Classic will be played at Hayfields Country Club in Hunt Valley from Sept. 16 to 18. The last two spots in the 78-man field will go to the top two finishers in a Sept. 12 qualifier at Mountain Branch. Tour regulars have until 5 p.m. Friday to enter the field, and tournament director Joe Rotellini is hoping to hear from Gil Morgan.

In addition to Kite, the Constellation field includes at least six other men who have won one of golf's majors - Tom Watson, Gary Player, Ray Floyd, Curtis Strange, Jerry Pate and Larry Nelson, the 2003 champion of the Constellation Energy Classic.

The event is also loaded with men who have found a niche on the Champions Tour, most notably Dana Quigley, who leads the Champions Tour in earnings and scoring average this season. A longtime club pro in Massachusetts, the 58-year-old has two wins, 12 top-10 finishes and $1.78 million in earnings this season.

D.A. Weibring, Mark McNulty, Tom Jenkins, Des Smyth and Morris Hatalsky rank among the top 10 in earnings this season. Other notables in the field include defending champion Wayne Levi, former Morgan State football player Jim Thorpe and Peter Jacobsen, whose management firm is operating the tournament.

Lanny Wadkins and Gary McCord also have pretty good day jobs, as CBS analysts.

Tournament facts

What: Constellation Energy Classic, a Champions Tour event

Where: Hayfields Country Club, Hunt Valley

When: Sept. 16-18

Who: Among those scheduled to compete are Tom Kite, Tom Watson, Ray Floyd and Gary Player.

TV: The Golf Channel, 1:30 p.m. to 4 p.m., all three rounds

Tickets: Week-long passes $50 to $70, daily admission $15

Information: 410-234-7225 or waggleshop.com

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