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Champions Tour returns to place where it all started

5/8/2003

AUSTIN, Texas -- The latest Champions Tour stop should be
tailored just for Jack Nicklaus. After all, he designed The Hills
Country Club course more than 20 years ago.

But Nicklaus says it's been so long since he played here that he
won't have much of an edge over the rest of the field when the
Kinko's Classic starts Friday.

Still, he's looking forward to matching current wits and shots
with the ideas he had when he designed the course nestled in the
Texas Hill Country.

''It's kind of fun to see what your thoughts were 20-something
years ago versus today,'' said Nicklaus, who hasn't played here
since the mid '80s. ''But, it's not an advantage. There's about 20
guys in this field who've played this golf course a heck of a lot
more than I have,'' he said.

He also thinks he did a pretty good job designing the par-72
course.

''The senior tour doesn't play as many good golf courses as the
regular tour plays, but we're starting to play more,'' he said.
''So, when you get a good course, obviously I'm partial, you get
guys supporting it.''

The Kinko's Classic, one of six new events on the Champions
Tour, is making its first stop in Austin. The tour and Texas'
capital city have a long history. Austin is considered the
birthplace of the seniors tour concept when, in 1978, the Liberty
Mutual Legends of Golf tournament was played at Onion Creek Country
Club.

And the new tournament has drawn most of the tour's best players
and biggest names, including Hale Irwin, Gary Player, Nicklaus and
Arnold Palmer. It's also a home stop for locals Tom Kite, Ben Crenshaw, Terry Dill and Tom Jenkins, last week's winner of the Bruno's Memorial Classic.

Irwin said the field should expect a strong showing from the
locals.

''For most of us, it will be a new course,'' Irwin said. ''Tom
Kite is always a contender. And what better place for Ben Crenshaw
to break through than right here in Austin?

''Of course, we're talking about second place,'' Irwin joked.