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Champions Tour players gush over North Shore

Bernhard Langer (above) shot 67 share early lead with Craig Stadler Duffy Waldorf. The first round will be completed Saturday.

Bernhard Langer (above) shot a 67 to share the early lead with Craig Stadler and Duffy Waldorf. The first round will be completed Saturday.  | AP

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What: Encompass Championship, PGA
Champions Tour.

When: Tournament ­— Saturday through Sunday. Celebrity
pro-am — Saturday.

Where: North Shore Country Club, Glenview. General spectator parking at Old Orchard mall, shuttle to course. Parking and shuttle are complimentary.

TV: 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Golf Channel.

Tickets: Daily, $20. No charge for children under 18. For more information, 888-302-5446 or

Updated: July 23, 2013 6:19AM

Rain delays don’t bother Bernhard Langer.

“We’re used to this,’’ the two-time Masters champion said. “Wherever we go, it’s raining. Find out where there’s a drought in the country, and we should go there.’’

There was no shortage of birdies for Langer at the Encompass Championship on Friday. Despite a 31/2-hour rain delay that began around 12:20 p.m., he birdied six holes at North Shore Country Club in Glenview and had only one bogey.

Langer shares the early lead with Craig Stadler and Duffy Waldorf, who also shot a 5-under par 67. Waldorf’s lone bogey came on No. 9, the only hole he played after the rain delay. The rain-interrupted first round will be completed Saturday morning.

Even with the watery start, Champions tour players are excited about their first Chicago-area tournament since 2002.

Fred Couples said North Shore is one of the best courses on the Champions Tour. He added that he would just as soon come back for the U.S. Senior Open rather than go to Omaha, Neb., next month.

“I don’t even know what [the Omaha Country Club] is like. It’s probably great,’’ Couples said after shooting a first-round 70, three shots back. “But me, personally, this would be a better spot. I’m probably going to get in trouble for saying that, but this is a great course.

“That one’s going to be great, too,’’ said Couples, casting a vote for a familiar city he likes. “I don’t know much about Omaha. I know a lot about Chicago.’’

What makes North Shore such a good test?

“When you get teeny greens, courses will play hard,’’ Couples said. “If they get rock hard, you’re going to make a lot of bogeys. It’s a really tough, good course.’’

Blaine McAllister, who is in the pack at 4-under par, also is a North Shore fan.

“In Chicago, you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting a great golf course,’’ McAllister said. “To come back here and play old-style golf, it puts you in a great frame of mind.’’

Waldorf, who “sat around and talked with some friends’’ during the rain delay, was disappointed at having to wait to play his last hole.

“When you’re playing well, you definitely want to keep playing,’ he said, but the rain delay wasn’t all bad. “I saw some old schoolmates I haven’t seen in a while. And Jay Delsing and his caddie.’’

Disdaining the crowded clubhouse, Couples retreated to his ­vehicle with his caddie.

“Too much going on. It was a zoo in there,’’ Couples said. “We sat in the car and relaxed. Just sat and laughed and screamed at each other.’’

Among the players one shot back at 4-under is Hinsdale resident Jeff Sluman, who was instrumental in bringing the Champions Tour back to the Chicago area.

“Every player, I told them how perfect it was going to be,’’ Sluman said, “and they said, ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah.’ They came up to me [and said], ‘You were right.’ This place is spectacular.’’

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