BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - Bob Tway feels a bit like a rookie going into his first Champions Tour event since he'll be playing on an unfamiliar course against a different roster of players than he has been facing lately on the PGA circuit.
Tway has even received a bit of rookie-style razzing. "I've caught a lot of grief already, so I can definitely feel it that way," he said.
Tway turned 50 on May 4, making him eligible for the Champions Tour. The eight-time PGA winner will debut Friday in the $1.7 million Regions Charity Classic on the 7,503-yard, par-72 Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail at Ross Bridge.
Not everything about the venue is unfamiliar to Tway. Walking into the players' dining room and seeing plenty of familiar faces he used to frequently compete against was hardly a rookie moment.
"It was quite special," said Tway, who won the 1986 PGA Championship. "It brought a smile to my face. All of a sudden, I kind of thought, 'This is pretty cool.'"
The first player to make his Champions Tour debut this year, Tom Lehman, teamed with Bernhard Langer to win the Legends Division at the Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf in his initial start. Only 12 other first-timers have accomplished that.
And Tway isn't predicting he'll add to that number.
"Do I think I'm going to go out there and win? I don't think I've ever felt that," he said. "I just kind of go and prepare and play and try to give myself a chance. That's all I ever really try to do. I don't know what to expect this week. I'll probably be nervous, because I'm sure people expect me to go out and play great. I've just got to go play golf."
The winner of the $1.7 million classic gets $255,000. Ross Bridge is the longest course in the tour's history.
Tway had initially committed to play the PGA's Texas Open in San Antonio this week but decided to move up his Champions Tour debut.
"I was going to start next week, then I started thinking, 'Maybe there's going to be some extra things you have to do your first time out. It might be easier to do that this week than next week in the PGA,'" Tway said. "I just thought, 'What the heck, I'll just go play.'"
Tway has only made the cut once in six PGA Tour events this year, tying for 42nd at the FBR Open.
He has talked to others on the 50-and-over Tour leading up to his first start.
The advice: "They all say just go and enjoy yourself. That's how I'm going to look at it," he said. "I love to play golf, I love to practice, I love to compete, and I'm just going to go enjoy it."