MONTREAL – Mark Calcavecchia likes the tree-lined fairways at Richelieu Valley Golf Club and hopes he can master them for a second straight year on the Champions Tour.
The 53-year-old won the Montreal Championship by four strokes last year and will try to do it again when the US$1.6-million tournament returns to Richelieu Valley Sept. 6-8.
“It’s a course I like, and that helps,” he said Monday during a promotional visit. “I’ll be optimistic that I play well again.”
Organizers said 2010 champion Larry Mize and 2011 winner John Cook have also confirmed they will play in the 54-hole seniors event. So to will tour leader David Frost, Fred Funk, Kenny Perry, Brad Faxon and Rocco Mediate.
Last year’s event was played on the Vercheres course at Richelieu Valley while the 2013 competition will be on the Rouville layout. Calcavecchia got a look at both on his last visit says he’s comfortable with the entire course.
“Right when I first drove in knew I liked it,” he said. “I just liked the look of the clubhouse and the trees and where the range was and the whole setup of the facility.
“I do like tree-lined courses like that.”
And it seems he likes playing in Canada.
The Laurel, Neb., native won the 2005 Canadian Open at Shaunessy in Vancouver and finished second to Steve Jones in 1989 and Nick Price in 1994, both at Glen Abbey in Oakville, Ont.
He also won the 1997 Greater Vancouver Open at Northview in Surrey, B.C.
“I’m a northerner,” he said. “I’ve had some good success over the years, even in the early days at Glen Abbey.
“But when I came here, I knew I was playing well. I putted great all week. That generally happens when you win.”
Calcavecchia has participated in all 11 Champions Tour events this year and will play again this week at Glenview, Ill. He expects to play them all.
The Montreal tournament was held in mid-summer in its first three editions, but has been moved to September. It now falls a week after a new tournament in Calgary, the Shaw Charity Classic at Canyon Meadows from Aug. 30 to Sept. 1.
Calcavecchia, the 1989 British Open champion and a 13-time PGA Tour winner, has won twice on the Champions Tour. He feels he should have won more.
“A lot of guys say the same thing,” he said. “Any time you finish in the top three or four, you’re that close to winning.
“It’s a few things here and there. You don’t quite make enough putts on Sunday or whatever. Overall, I’m very happy with the way I’ve performed but I’m about four wins short of where I should be. But you never know. You can get hot, win a few and all of a sudden you’re right where you want to be.”
Calcavecchia watched the best in the world struggle with the nasty rough and killer greens at Merion in the U.S. Open last weekend. He laughed when asked if he encountered those conditions on the Champions Tour, which is for players 50 and older.
“If you put us old guys in that kind of rough it would be ugly,” he said. “There would be some guys who would play good, but that’s one of the good things about the Champions Tour – the courses generally don’t beat us up too bad.
“We play three or four tournaments with pretty thick rough, but that’s about it. We play some courses that are pretty long. That’s one of the big misconceptions. People think every hole is driver-wedge. That’s not the case. Our pin placements are a little easier as a whole. And the lack of rough week in and week out is probably why we shoot such good scores.”