Sanders to defend Columbia Seniors crown

Field is largest in tournament history.
Wednesday, July 11, 2007 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 9:01 a.m. CDT, Friday, June 20, 2008

One week after failing to make the cut in the U.S. Senior Open, Dee Sanders is back on the golf course and facing a new group of competitors at this year’s Columbia Seniors Championship.

The championship will take place on Saturday and Sunday at Lake of the Woods and A.L. Gustin golf courses, respectively. Sanders won the tournament last year, beating Tim Rooney in a playoff. He looks forward to defending it this year.

This year, Sanders will have to fend off 37 other golfers, the largest number of participants in the 14-year history of the tournament. According to tournament chairman, Rex Dillow, the tournament typically has 32 to 36 players.

“It’ll be very difficult to defend,” Sanders said. “There are some very good players. It’s going to take two good rounds, probably under par (for the tournament) to win.”

Rooney, last year’s runner-up, said he’s not worried about the number of players he has to compete against. “It doesn’t matter if there’s 38 or 50 other players,” he said. “It depends on how well you play and how you handle the courses. It’s just you against the course.”

Despite playing in the U.S. Senior Open a week ago, Sanders said he is rested and ready to go. Having Sanders compete in this year’s tournament after just playing in the U.S. Senior Open adds to the prestige of the tournament.

“Dee is highly respected as a golfer and as a person,” Dillow said. “We’ve anticipated Dee becoming eligible (for the tournament) for a long time.”

In order to be eligible to compete in the tournament, the participants must be at least 50 years old. Last year was the first time Sanders was able to compete. The players must receive an invitation from the University of Missouri Retiree Association as well.

Although the competition may be tough, the players seem to enjoy getting the opportunity to go play golf with one another.

“Golf courses are among some the prettiest pieces of property in the world,” Rooney said. “It’s a great chance to get outside and be with my buddies and have fun.”

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