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Encompass in Chicago expected to become a biggie fast on Champions Tour

Updated: June 21, 2013 12:08AM

Not only can the Encompass Championship become a staple in Chicago, which has no other annual pro golf tournament, but the players also anticipate that the event, which has attracted one of the senior tour’s best fields, will become a key Champions Tour event.

‘‘It’s going to rise to the top of the heap as one of the best we have out here,’’ three-time U.S. Open champion Hale Irwin said.

The Encompass has a purse of $1.8 million, including $270,000 to the winner.

Price is right

South African Nick Price, who won the 1993 and ’94 Western Opens at Cog Hill in Lemont, is especially excited to be back here.

Price, 56, not only had a lot of success in Chicago, but he’s playing competitively for the first time since he underwent elbow surgery in January.

While still easing back, he’s determined to get back in top shape.

‘‘I don’t really want to get into TV work or anything like that,’’ he said. ‘‘I just enjoy playing so much.

‘‘I’m going to be like Arnold [Palmer]. I’ll probably be out here when I’m 70.’’

Price kept busy as captain of the Presidents Cup world team, including a visit to the White House last month with Fred Couples, captain of Team USA.

‘‘The president is a keen golfer, too, so it was really easy to talk to him,’’ Price said. ‘‘He was enthusiastic. I think the little 20-minute period we had with him was like a respite from all the stuff he had during the day — a breather for him.’’

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