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At the time, he said, the experience “was painful, because I knew it wasn’t accurate (about) people as a whole here. It was a little bit unfair.”

The Jack Nicklaus-designed course eased back into the national golf scene by hosting the 2008 U.S. Junior Amateur Championship.

Now, it is replacing the city’s Regions Charity Classic across town. The Tradition was held at Sunriver Resort’s Crosswater Golf Club in central Oregon the past four years before the title sponsor pulled out.

“It feels like a major venue,” said Kenny Perry, who teamed with Scott Hoch to finish second two weeks ago in the Legends of Golf. “It feels like par is a good score this week. Majors on the regular tour, par is the number you’re after. If you can make a couple of birdies, you try to make them, just hang in there with them, hold on to them and not let them go. I think this week’s going to be a similar kind of situation.”

The tournament comes a week after a deadly tornado ravaged the Birmingham area. Champions Tour players have donated items and raised $50,000 at an auction, while the tour is giving $100,000.

Some of the players are rekindling somewhat dim memories of the course. Couples is among 16 returning after making the cuts in 1984 and 1990.

Couples said he doesn’t remember any shots from the venue’s last PGA Championship.

“But I remember Lee Trevino making a putt on the last green and kissing his putter,” he said.

Beyond that, the talk was largely about the rough that lived up to its name. That was in August, though, and the Bermuda grass hasn’t grown out so much this time.

“I remember the rough being to where you had to chip it sideways to get it back out on the fairway,” recalls John Cook, who played in the 1984 event and has already won twice on the Champions Tour this year.

Adds Nick Price: “It was so deep here and you basically felt like you were walking on a tightrope the whole time playing.”

Couples and Price are both dealing with back pain, while Cook has battled a stomach virus for the last week.

Couples said Wednesday’s pro-am was only the second round of golf he has played since the Masters three weeks earlier. He said he was up at 5 a.m. using an electrical stimulation machine for his back.

“It’s been really in pain since last October, where it’s been this toothache, which is not a lot of fun,” said Couples, who has 15 PGA Tour wins and grabbed four Champions Tour titles last year. “I’ve been struggling for a lot of years but not like the last six or seven months.

“I don’t foresee feeling like that and playing much more golf, unless I play five times in a year. It’s not really worth it.”