Champions Golf Tour
CHAMPIONS - Senior British Open Championship Preview
From The Sports Network

DATES: Thursday, July 25th through Sunday, July 28th
SITE: Royal Birkdale Golf Club, Southpoint, Merseyside, England
COURSE ARCHITECT: J.H. Taylor, F.Hawtree, M.Hawtree (1889)
PAR: 70
YARDAGE: 7,082
Hole-By-Hole:1 - Par 4 450 Yds10 - Par 4 408 Yds
2 - Par 4 421 Yds11 - Par 4 417 Yds
3 - Par 4 451 Yds12 - Par 3 184 Yds
4 - Par 3 201 Yds13 - Par 4 499 Yds
5 - Par 4 346 Yds14 - Par 3 191 Yds
6 - Par 4 480 Yds15 - Par 5 544 Yds
7 - Par 3 178 Yds16 - Par 4 396 Yds
8 - Par 4 457 Yds17 - Par 5 572 Yds
9 - Par 4 414 Yds18 - Par 4 473 Yds
34 3,398 Yds36 3,684 Yds
Annual:  27th
Television:  ESPN2 - Thursday/Sunday -- 12-2 p.m. (et)
Defending Champion:  Fred Couples
Runner-Up:  Gary Hallberg
Tournament Record:  263 (Tom Watson, Carl Mason, 2003)
54-Hole Record:  196 (Carl Mason, 2003)
36-Hole Record:  129 (Fred Funk, 2009)
18-Hole Record:  62 (Jim Colbert, 2003 - Turnberry)
Total Purse:  $2,000,000
Shares:  1st Place - $315,600; 2nd Place - $210,500; 3rd Place - $118,000
2012 Finish
Fred Couples271John Cook278
Gary Hallberg273Peter Fowler278
Barry Lane276Bernhard Langer278
Carl Mason276Mark Wiebe278
Dick Mast276Five players at279
Past Senior British Open Winners
YearWinner (Score) -- Runners-Up
2012Fred Couples (271) -- Gary Hallberg
(Turnberry Resort - Ailsa Course)
2011Russ Cochran (276) -- Mark Calcavecchia
(Walton Heath Golf Club)
2010Bernhard Langer (279) -- Corey Pavin
(Carnoustie Golf Links)
2009*Loren Roberts (268) -- Fred Funk, Mark McNulty
(Sunningdale Golf Club)
2008*Bruce Vaughan (278) -- John Cook
(Royal Troon Golf Club)
2007Tom Watson (284) -- Mark O'Meara, Stewart Ginn
(Muirfield Golf Club)
2006*Loren Roberts (274) -- Eduardo Romero
(Turnberry Resort - Ailsa Course)
2005*Tom Watson (280) -- Des Smyth
(Royal Aberdeen Golf Club - Balgownie Links)
2004Pete Oakley (284) -- Tom Kite, Eduardo Romero
(Royal Portrush Golf Club - Dunluce Links)
2003*Tom Watson (263) -- Carl Mason
(Turnberry Resort - Ailsa Course)
2002Noboru Sugai (281) -- John Irwin
(Royal County Down Golf Club)
2001*Ian Stanley (278) -- Bob Charles
(Royal County Down Golf Club)
2000Christy O'Connor, Jr. (275) -- John Bland
(Royal County Down Golf Club)
1999Christy O'Connor, Jr. (282) -- John Bland
(Royal Portrush Golf Club)
1998*Brian Huggett (283) -- Eddie Polland
(Royal Portrush Golf Club)
1997*Gary Player (278) -- John Bland
(Royal Portrush Golf Club)
1996Brian Barnes (277) -- Bob Charles, David Oakley
(Royal Portrush Golf Club)
1995*Brian Barnes (281) -- Bob Murphy
(Royal Portrush Golf Club)
1994Tom Wargo (280) -- Bob Charles, Doug Dalziel
(Royal Lytham & St. Annes)
1993Bob Charles (291) -- Gary Player, Tommy Horton
(Royal Lytham & St. Annes)
1992John Fourie (282) -- Bob Charles, Neil Coles
(Royal Lytham & St. Annes)
1991Bobby Verwey (285) -- Bob Charles, Tommy Horton
(Royal Lytham & St. Annes)
1990Gary Player (280) -- Deane Beman, Brian Waites
(Turnberry Resort - Ailsa Course)
1989Bob Charles (269) -- Billy Casper
(Turnberry Resort - Ailsa Course)
1988Gary Player (272) -- Billy Casper
(Turnberry Resort - Ailsa Course)
1987Neil Coles (279) -- Bob Charles
(Turnberry Resort - Ailsa Course)

* - Won in Playoff

Note:Formerly called Volvo Senior British Open (1988-90).

Top Contenders in the Field
Fred Couples---------------------------Won
Gary Hallberg---------------T-11T-50T-20mc2nd
John Cook---------------2ndmcT-1111thT-6
Bernhard Langer---------------4th4thWonT-12T-6
Mark Calcavecchia---------------------T-142ndT-10
Tom WatsonWonT-22WonT-23WonT-5T-8T-24T-3T-10
Tom Lehman------------------T-58T-11T-21T-10
Corey Pavin---------------------2ndT-3T-15
David Frost---------------------T-146thT-15
Michael Allen------------------T-13T-30T-28T-18
Peter Senior---------------------T-3T-31T-21
Bob GildermcT-33T-16mcT-51mcT-43T-50T-1623rd
Jeff Sluman---------------T-2124thT-11T-28T-40
Larry Mize------------------T-6T-14T-21T-47
Mark James---4thT-12T-15T-61T-16T-43T-20T-72T-53
Fred Funk------------------T-2T-3T-7T-57
Bruce Vaughan------------T-34WonT-8T-20mcmc
Colin Montgomerie------------------------------
Sports Network Selections

Pick to Win - Fred Funk
Darkhorse - Corey Pavin
Last week's Pick to Win (Fred Couples) - Finished tied for 14th
Last week's Darkhorse (Colin Montgomerie) - Finished tied for 30th
NOTES:The Senior British Open Championship returns to England this week at
Royal Birkdale Golf Club for the 27th edition of the event. Now in it's 11th year as an official Champions Tour event and final major of 2013, the Senior British boasts quite a winner's list with Gary Player, Bob Charles, Brian Barnes, Tom Watson, Bernhard Langer and Fred Couples. This week, Watson will try to become the first player to win this event four times. He and Player are the only players who have won three times.

Last year, Couples birdied the final two holes to win. Couples shot rounds of 64-67 on the weekend to finish two clear of Gary Hallberg at 9-under-par 271. The victory was Couples' eighth on the Champions Tour and was his second major on the senior circuit.

In 2011, Russ Cochran fired two rounds of 67 on the weekend to win by two strokes over Mark Calcavecchia. Cochran finished at 12-under-par 276. It was his third Champions Tour title, but first in a major.

Langer held at least a share of the lead after every round in 2010, as he defeated Corey Pavin by one stroke. Langer shot rounds of 67-71-69-72 to finish at 5-under-par 279. The German won a pair of Masters titles on the PGA Tour, but this was his first major championship crown on the Champions Tour.

In 2009, Loren Roberts hit the fairway and green on three consecutive playoff holes and won when he made par on the third, knocking off Mark McNulty for his fourth win at a senior major. Roberts also won this event in 2006.

Bruce Vaughan drained a 20-foot birdie putt on the first playoff hole in 2008 to beat fellow American John Cook. The duo finished regulation at 6-under-par 278. Vaughan captured his first Champions Tour title and first major championship. Vaughn's only other PGA-sanctioned wins came on the Tour in 1994, when he won twice.

In 2007, Watson won his third Senior British Open in five years, the only survivor to par at tough Muirfield after four windy days on the Scottish coast. Watson closed with a 2-over 73 in the final round, making a double bogey at the 18th hole, but still beating Mark O'Meara and Stewart Ginn by a shot. He met an old foe in Muirfield, the site of his 1980 British Open victory on the PGA Tour. The weather cooperated for Watson down the stretch, with clouds yielding to blue skies as he closed out his fifth of six majors on the Champions Tour. He ended the event at even-par 284.

Watson parred the third playoff hole in 2005 to defeat Des Smyth. It was Watson's first win since losing his longtime caddie Bruce Edwards, who succumbed to ALS in April, 2004.

When Watson won in 2003 at Turnberry, he joined Bob Charles as the only player to win both a Senior British Open and British Open at the same venue. Watson captured the 1977 British Open at Turnberry. Charles' 1-stroke victory over Player in the 1993 Senior British Open at Royal Lytham & St. Annes came 30 years after his playoff victory over Phil Rodgers in the British Open there. The New Zealander's winning score of 3-over-par 291 at Royal Lytham was the highest in tournament history. Charles, a two-time winner of this event, has been a runner-up five times.

In 2004, long shot Pete Oakley, who qualified for the tournament two days before it started, closed with a 2-under 70 in the final round to win his first Champions Tour title by one stroke. He finished with a winning score of 4-under-par 284 in just his second trip to this event. It was his 18th appearance in a major championship overall. During the championship, Australian Graham Marsh made a pair of aces on the same hole, a first in Champions Tour history. Marsh aced the 11th hole in the first round and again in the third round.

When Player won his third title in 1997, at age 61, he became the oldest player ever to win this event. Player's brother-in-law, Bobby Verwey, won in 1991 at 50 years, five months and 23 days, the youngest winner in championship history. In 1990, Player scored the biggest come-from-behind victory in tournament history at Turnberry. Despite posting a 5-over 75 on the final day, Player rallied from five strokes down to edge Deane Beman and Brian Waites by a stroke.

The Champions Tour moves back to the United States next week for the 3M Championship in Minnesota, where Langer will defend his title at TPC Twin Cities.

07/23 17:23:21 ET

As of July 23, 2013, at 05:23 PM ET