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Champions Tour stars play Caves Valley, 'fantastic venue' for 2017 Senior Players Championship

Caves Valley Golf Club will host the Constellation Senior Players Championship in July 2017. (Peter Schmuck/Baltimore Sun video)

Bernhard Langer had a busy weekend. He won the wind-swept Constellation Energy Senior Players Championship in Philadelphia on Sunday, then joined 11 other members of the PGA Champions Tour for an outing Monday at Caves Valley Golf Club.

Caves Valley in Owings Mills will be the site of the same event next July, so Langer and the other senior stars came down to play the course with potential suite holders. They could not have picked a better day to do it.

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The morning was cool and breezy, which was much in contrast to the hot, windy conditions at Philadelphia's Cricket Club, where Langer finished one stroke over par but still won his third consecutive Senior Players title.

"It was totally different," Langer said. "This was a gorgeous day today, very little wind and nice temperatures. Yesterday, we had 20- to 30-mph gusts, and at times it was almost unplayable because the wind was so strong and it was just difficult to putt or even hit certain shots because the wind was blowing you off balance."

Chances are it will be a bit warmer at Caves Valley when Langer goes for his fourth straight victory in this event 13 months from now, but he and the other golfers gave the course high marks Monday.

"This is a fantastic venue," he said. "I'm looking forward to coming here next year and defending my championship."

Three-time U.S. Open champion Hale Irwin did not play in Philadelphia because of a scheduling glitch, but he still flew into Baltimore from Arizona just to take part in Monday's outing. He was already familiar with Caves Valley and came away impressed.

"I think we've got a beautiful, spectacular place to play," Irwin said. "The golf course is a fairly stern test of golf. We had a beautiful day today and I didn't think it was a pushover by any means. We've got a major metropolitan area. We've got a fabulous golf course. We've got everything that is considered important for a major championship and we've got it all right here at Caves Valley."

Two-time U.S. Open champion Lee Janzen has more experience with the course than any of the golfers he'll be competing against next July.

"I've been a member of Caves Valley since 1993. It's always an enjoyable trip coming here, so I'm very excited about playing a Champions Tour event here," Janzen said. "I don't know how much home-field advantage there will be, because as the tournament gets ready to go, the course will be prepped in a certain way — new greens, and I expect them to be very fast. The greens are going to be very difficult, I think, once they have matured, but it's a great setting and it's going to be a great week."

Sandy Lyle, who won the British Open in 1985 and The Masters in 1988, was playing Caves for the first time Monday.

"This is the first time I've seen the course," Lyle said. "It's very similar to Augusta, I would say. You've got a lot of undulations and very tall trees, white sand, big green fairways in places. Very, very similar to an Augusta-type golf course. Enjoyable. Of course, if you play well, you can get around with a reasonably low number, but there's trouble out there as well."

The Senior Players Championship will be played at Caves Valley for the first time, but it was played in Maryland from 2007-2010 — three times at the Baltimore Country Club in Timonium and most recently at TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm.

Caves Valley hosted the LPGA International Crown last summer and hosted the U.S. Senior Open in 2002. It also was the site of the 1995 U.S. Mid-Amateur, the 2005 NCAA Division I men's championship and the 2009 NCAA women's championship and several other events.

"It's one of [golf course architect] Tom Fazio's gems," Champions Tour president Greg McLaughlin said. "We want to play great golf courses and we feel like this is going to be a fabulous test of golf."

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