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Outback Pro-Am notebook

Hulbert, at 50, makes Champions Tour debut at Outback Pro-Am

LUTZ — There is no Champions Tour player younger than Mike Hulbert.

Hulbert turned 50 on Monday, and this will be his tour debut.

"I couldn't wait to get out here," Hulbert said. "Once the birthday came, it was like a piano was lifted off my back. The handcuffs came off. I'm back competing with the guys. Hopefully, I'll keep the smile on my face all week."

Hulbert has played sparingly in the past four years on the PGA Tour. He played in only three PGA events the past two years and didn't make the cut in any. He spent most of his time in 2007 on the Nationwide Tour.

Hulbert last won on the PGA Tour in 1991, but he did team with Donna Andrews to win the 1996 JCPenney Classic mixed-team event at Innisbrook.

This year, Hulbert spent time as a caddie for Davis Love. Although he might caddie for Love again, he wants to focus mainly on the Champions Tour.

"My plan is to caddie for (Love) at (Royal) Birkdale this year (at the British Open), but then he's got to turn around and caddie for me the next week at Troon (Senior British Open)," Hulbert said. "But he says the bag's too heavy. We'll see. But any week I can, I want to play on this tour."

Quick Turnaround: Andy North was in Augusta, Ga., as an analyst for ESPN's Masters coverage until 11:30 p.m. Sunday. But he flew to Tampa on Monday morning and made it to Lutz in time for the 12:30 p.m. pro-am.

Tap-ins: Scott Simpson and Mark McCumber withdrew. Larry Ziegler and Joe Inman are their replacements. … This is the 21st year for a senior's event in Tampa Bay. Dale Douglass won the inaugural event in 1988, when it was called the GTE Suncoast Classic and played at the Tampa Palms Golf and Country Club. Douglass won $45,000. This year, the winner will pocket $255,000. … Douglass and Gary Player are the only players to attend all 20 previous Champions Tour events in Tampa, but both are absent this year. Douglass, 72, has not played any Champions Tour events this season. Player, 72, is in Abu Dhabi to help in the design of a new golf course. … The Outback Pro-Am is now the last stop on the Florida Swing after it switched dates this year, mostly for better weather. Last year, Tom Watson won in blustery mid 50s weather. This year it is supposed to be 82 degrees and sunny Sunday. … Jay Haas is 0-for-110 in his PGA and Champions tour career in Florida. He is in this week's field.

On tap today: Champions Tour professionals will play practice rounds throughout the day. There is a tournament for some of the professionals at Old Memorial Golf Club, which is not open to the public.

The driving range will be full of kids from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. for a demonstration from Divot the Clown and a long-drive contest.

Hulbert, at 50, makes Champions Tour debut at Outback Pro-Am 04/14/08 [Last modified: Monday, April 14, 2008 8:55pm]
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