Friday, January 19, 2018
Golf

Kirk Triplett set for Champions Tour debut

LUTZ — Kirk Triplett will make his Champions Tour debut today. Triplett won three times in his PGA Tour career, the last one in 2006. He spent the past few years playing in select PGA and Nationwide Tour tournaments in order to stay sharp. Now that he's finally here he has only one goal.

"I come to every tournament to try and win it," Triplett said.

One of the main differences between the Champions Tour and the regular tour is the competition, Triplett said. Not that it's any better or worse, it's just filled with players from his past.

"My wife texted me and I said, this is really weird," Triplett said. "It's like being in a time machine."

Triplett knows he isn't the biggest name on the Champions Tour, but he hopes to have more success than he did on the big tour.

"I had a few wins on Tour but it's not like I was a world beater or anything," Triplett said. "I was just a nice, consistent player. I'm looking to build on that and hopefully break through some barriers that I couldn't break through on the regular tour.

"But these guys were beating me 20 years ago so I'll have to do something different or it's going to turn out the same way."

Huston makes local debut: Palm Harbor's John Huston will not only play in his first Champions Tour event at TPC Tampa Bay, he'll also be doing it with a new long putter. After months of not putting well, Huston decided this week was the time to make a change.

"I had to do something," Huston said. "It's no fun if you aren't putting well."

Huston, who joined the Champions Tour in June of 2011, is not off to the best of starts this season. His best finish is a tie for eighth at the Toshiba Classic in mid March. He does have one Champions win, the Dick's Sporting Goods Open in 2011. It was his third Champions Tour event.

He pins the poor play on putting. Hence the equipment change.

"I've putted pretty good so far, but I haven't done it in a tournament yet," Huston said. "It's better, but I have to see if I can do it when I really want to."

Price plays through pain: Nick Price, who won at TPC Tampa Bay in 2009, has been battling a case of tennis elbow for most of this season. He has only one top 10 finish and is playing through some pain.

"Thank God for Advil and Aleve or I'd be benched right now," Price said. "I seem to slip into these bad habits. When I start taking deep divots, you might not want to go anywhere near the bookie. But when I start taking nice, shallow divots, that's when I start playing well."

Bryant Gives Back: Brad Bryant and his wife, Sue, have started a program called the Uniting Hearts Fund. It is a program to provide funds for couples wishing to adopt orphaned children. Bryant, who has an adopted child, said he will donate 10 percent of his winnings this Champions Tour season to the fund. So far, that total is $18,000.

"I'm going to be able to play golf for other people," Bryant said. "I'm really looking forward to that."

Bluegrass pairing: The most interesting pairing is Kenny Perry and Rick Pitino. The twosome will have to get along if they are going to play well. Perry is a die-hard Kentucky basketball fan. Pitino, of course, is the Louisville basketball coach.

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