Senior PGA Championship now a month away in Benton Harbor

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The Senior PGA Championship at Harbor Shores at Benton Harbor is now less than a month away.

Major names like Tom Watson, Fred Couples, Colin Montgomerie and 2012 champion Roger Chapman highlight the field for the tournament, which begins play May 22nd and runs through May 25th.

Watson did not play two years ago due to a wrist injury but is no stranger to the course--having opened Harbor Shores four years ago in a golf outing with course designer Jack Nicklaus and fellow legends Arnold Palmer & Johnny Miller.

Defending Senior PGA Champion Kohki Idoki of Japan will also be in the star studded field. Idoki was at Harbor Shores on Thursday for Media Day and took part in quite the spectacle.

Idoki hit golf shots off the rooftop of the new Inn at Harbor Shores onto a makeshift green. In took several shots to hit his mark, but he finally did.

"It was a great setup but since I'm afraid of heights, it was hard for me to hit from here," Idoki joked through a translator.

Despite his limited English, Idoki was quite the showman and put on an entertaining performance.

"We had a blast with him--he's so engaging," said Pete Bevacqua, the CEO of PGA of America. "He has so much positive energy and I think he was really happy to be here today."

Bevacqua is a Notre Dame graduate and is excited for the Senior PGA Championship to be in Benton Harbor for the 2nd time in three years.

"I know the area has gone through some hard times but to see how its being revitalized and to see the role Kitchen Aid and Whirlpool has made to bring this event here in 2012, this year, and then again in 2016 and 2018, it really allows us to build a bond with the community," Bevacqua said.

And despite all the bad weather in Michiana over the winter, the course itself is already in great shape. General Manager Ross Smith credits course Superintendent Brad Fry for ensuring the course did not have ice damage like many courses in the Midwest.

"He did a lot of preparation last fall to get ready for this," Smith said of Fry. "We're really amazed at the condition of the golf course right now and it's only going to get better if we get some heat in the next 30 days."

Tournament officials say they will build on the success of the 2012 championship to make this year's event even better for fans.

"I'm really excited," Championship Director Jeff Hintz explains. "To welcome these players back to this community. It's so unique. We're ecstatic and people have really embraced this championship."

Tickets are available at Children 17 and under are allowed in complimentary. Events begin May 19th with the tournament itself running from May 22-25.

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