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Senior Players Championship coming to Caves Valley in 2017

Caves Valley Golf Club will host the 2017 Constellation Senior Players Championship the week of July 10-16.
Caves Valley Golf Club will host the 2017 Constellation Senior Players Championship the week of July 10-16. (Algerina Perna / Baltimore Sun)

The Baltimore area will host another major professional golf event in the summer of 2017 when the Constellation Energy Senior Players Championship comes to the Caves Valley Golf Club, which hosted the inaugural LPGA International Crown multi-national team tournament last summer.

Constellation and the Champions Tour announced on Tuesday that the senior major will take place at Caves Valley July 10-16, 2017. It will be the fifth time that Maryland has hosted the Senior Players Championship, which was held at the Baltimore Country Club three straight years from 2007-2009 and at TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm in 2010.

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Of course, it's almost two years away, but the club and the Champions Tour took the opportunity on Tuesday to bring 2013 Charles Schwab Cup champion Kenny Perry to town for a media event to showcase the golf course and reinforce the message to local fans that Baltimore is a marquee professional golf destination.

Champions Tour president Greg McLaughlin made sure to reminded everyone of the terrific finish at the 2002 U.S. Senior Open that took place at Caves Valley, when Don Pooley defeated Tom Watson in a five-hole playoff, and checked off all the other pro and amateur events that have been held there before gushing over the beauty of one of the most exclusive golf clubs in the region.

"The competition inside the ropes is tremendous and outside the ropes it provides a tremendous portrait unique to only a handful of places probably in the country,'' McLaughlin said. "Rarely do you come driving in and all the sudden have this 'a-ha' feel. I've been here 20 times over the years and there is this unique thing, where you can get to Baltimore in 15 minutes and you feel like you're in North Carolina.

"So, I think all of that adds to it, and the fact that it has hosted a major championship and hosted the ladies version of the President's Cup … not to mention great amateur golf here. This venue is, to me, one of the best that we'll play in recent years."

Perry, who won the 2013 Senior Players Championship, joined in the Caves lovefest. He played on the PGA Tour for three decades before deciding to retiring from under-50 golf at the Memorial Tournament in early June.

"It's a world-class facility,'' Perry said 30-year PGA Tour veteran Kenny Perry. "I mean, it's a big golf course, so you better bring you're A-game here. It's so beautiful. When I play it, being from Kentucky, I like to hunt and fish, and you get out in these big holes and you see all these lakes and woods, and I get distracted a little bit."

Perry said the chance to play just outside a major city adds to the enjoyment of for the players, who tend to take a more relaxed — and fan-friendly — attitude into the senior events after grinding out years of intense competition on the regular PGA Tour.

"The city of Baltimore is unreal,'' he said. "Big cities are fun for the Champions Tour. It gives us things to do, places to go and hang out, meet a lot of people. This will definitely feel like a major when we show up here. This facility, it's like going to a U.S. Open or to the Masters. It's just got that feel to it."

Constellation Energy has been a long-time sponsor of the Champions Tour and, of course, has very close ties to Baltimore, though the company moved its corporate headquarters to Chicago after the merger with Exelon Corporation.

"Having worked 32 years in the city in a bunch of different locations, to be able to bring top talent into the area and showcase the city is is a great opportunity," said Constellation's president of retail sales Mark Huston, who lives in Ellicott City. "Our company was a founding member of this club, which was designed to help economic development in the region, so to bring the tournament here and have our name associated with it is a big deal."

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