Friday, November 30, 2007

Charlotte's Tucker plotting comeback at 50

Chris Tucker has been playing golf around Charlotte for decades and had a two-year run on the PGA Tour in the early '90s that gave him a taste of what could be his.

Tucker never made it back to the PGA Tour but now has a chance to play the Champions Tour in 2008.

The opportunity doesn't come with any guarantees -- by virtue of his high finish at qualifying school, Tucker is now eligible to play Monday qualifiers for most seniors events -- but all Tucker wants is a chance.

"The Monday qualifying will be harder than the actual event if I get in," Tucker said.

Tucker jokingly calls the Champions Tour the "most closed society in the world" and it's close to that. The qualifying school he recently completed doesn't award tour spots to the top finishers. It just gives them entree into the Monday qualifying events where 50 to 60 players vie for nine spots most weeks.

Tucker, who turned 50 in November, is just over a year removed from rotator cuff surgery that some thought might end his competitive career. They were wrong.

Always a terrific ball striker, Tucker putted his way through qualifying school to earn his chance to play alongside Jay Haas, Loren Roberts and many of the other guys he played against in his brief PGA Tour career.

To get ready, Tucker played mini-tour events on Carolinas Pro Golf Tour as well as Carolinas PGA Section events.

He hopes to secure some financing to help him through his first crack at the Champions Tour and plans to be in Hawaii in mid-February when the tour season begins.

"If I can play well enough in the one-round shootout to get in the tournament, I feel like I'll have a chance to win," Tucker said. "I may be shocked but I think I can win. I know I can compete with them."