Palmers Party Long on Big Names

By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 13, 2007, 4:00 pm
2007 Arnold Palmer InvitationalThe PGA TOUR remains in Florida for the third of four straight events in the Sunshine State for the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
Formerly known as the Bay Hill Invitational, this event was renamed after TOUR legend Arnold Palmer. Palmer owns the fourth most PGA TOUR wins with 62, including seven major championship crowns.
Palmer played in this event for 35 straight years from 1970-2004. He won the title just once, 1971, and last made the cut in 1993 at the age of 64.
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods would like nothing more than getting back into the winner's circle at Bay Hill. (WireImage)
Rod Pampling walked away with the title last year, thanks in large part to Greg Owen's gaffe. The two were playing together and at the 17th, Pampling stumbled to a bogey, seemingly to fall two behind.
However, Owen pushed his par putt. Then without lining up his bogey try, that putt lipped out. Owen tapped in for double-bogey as he and Pampling headed to the last tied for the lead.
Pampling two-putted for par at the last to earn the win as Owen could not save par from a greenside bunker. Pampling, who hails from Australia, became the second international player to win this crown. Ernie Els was the first in 1998.
A strong field is on hand this week with seven of the top 10 and 15 of the top 20 players from the latest world rankings teeing it up at Bay Hill. Jim Furyk, the second-ranked player in the world, is the highest ranked player not playing this week. He is taking the week off with a sore wrist.
The GOLF CHANNEL has coverage of the first two rounds, while NBC will cover the final two rounds.
Next week the TOUR plays the last of four straight events in Florida with the World Golf Championships - CA Championship, which will be played at Doral.
This replaced the Ford Championship at Doral and fell under the World Golf Championships umbrella. Tiger Woods fended off Camilo Villegas and David Toms to win the Ford Championship by one stroke in 2006.
But, as for this week, big names rule at the Arnie Invitational. Here are five not-so-surprising names to watch for:
Tiger Woods
Hey, the streak isn't dead yet. Well, at least the one that states he has won seven straight PGA TOUR stroke-play events. At one time Mr. Woods owned this event, racking up four straight wins from 2000-03. But the last three years Tiger has been anything but, well, Tiger. He's gone T-46, T-23, T-20 and has only broken 70 once in that span. It's a good bet, however, that he'll get his mojo back this week at his hometown event.
Phil Mickelson
Despite not playing at Bay Hill for the past four years, Lefty has built quite a resume in Arnies event, winning once and having three other top-5 showings. But in true Mickelson form, he has also missed the cut in three other starts. And so it goes for Phil, like always. Which Phil will show up ' miss-the-cut Phil or battling-for-the-lead Phil? Hes gone 1-2 in his last two starts, but with Augusta just around the corner, his mind might be elsewhere.
Sergio Garcia
Sergio Garcia is hoping to be in the hunt come Sunday. (WireImage)
Sergio Garcia
Much has been made about the 26-year-old Spaniards inability to score well in final rounds of events and here at this event is no different. In his seven starts at Bay Hill, Garcia has four top-10 finishes, including a T-10 last year. But, as stated above, his fourth-round scoring average is a glaring problem. He was tied for sixth heading into Sunday in 06 but posted a 1-over 73 and never threatened. He trailed Tiger by one in 2001 and closing 74 dropped him to fourth.
Geoff Ogilvy
It will be interesting to see how the new and improved Ogilvy will play at Arnies event this year. He has teed it up five times previously at Bay Hill with his best showing a T-26 that came last season. He has since won the U.S. Open and has now climbed to seventh in the world. Ogilvy played well at the Sony Open in Hawaii at the start of the season and made it to his second straight WGC-Match Play final before falling to Henrik Stenson.
Vijay Singh
Mostly, Vijay is about winning. But in his 14 starts at Bay Hill he has yet to visit the winners circle. He has come close, though, several times ' three to be exact ' with runner-up finishes. The most recent was two years ago when he fell to champion Kenny Perry by two strokes. Singh is having a curious year thus far in 2007; he opened with a victory in Maui, but has since dropped to ninth in the world rankings.
But beware big dogs, as the past three weeks the PGA TOUR has seen winners come from outside the top-50 in the world rankings. Here's four others, inside and outside the top 50, to keep an eye on:
Charles Howell III
Howell looks to be simply coming into his own - finally. Standing atop the FedEx Cup point standings, Chucky 3-Sticks closed with a 65 on a tough course at Innisbrook Resort to finish sixth last week. Add a win and two other runner-ups in '07, and the Augusta native is licking his chops on his way to the Masters.
Lucas Glover
The star-in-the-making Glover held the 36-hole lead last year in Orlando before an awful weekend left in a tie for 17th. His back-to-back 67s in the first two rounds shows promise. Better yet? He finished fourth last week in Tampa, just two back of Calcavecchia.
Zach Johnson
Johnson had a decent result at the PODS Championship with a 14th-place finish and could parlay that new found confidence coming back to Arnie's place. In three starts, Johnson has two top-10s - a T-6 and a T-8 in '04 and '05, respectively.
Greg Owen
We all know what happened to Owen last year on the 17th green - two-shot lead vanished following a sickening three-putt double bogey. How will he try to cope with those demons upon his return to Bay Hill? So far this season, in six starts he has five missed cuts. But the ray of hope? A T-4 at Pebble Beach.
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