Playing Favorites at Tigers Tournament

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 2, 2007, 4:00 pm
AT&T NationalBETHESDA, Md. -- If he hosts it, they will come.
 
Well, sort of.
 
Most of the world's best players will be on hand this week for Tiger Woods' new tournament -- including the world No. 1 himself, making his first start since the birth of his daughter -- but the leadup to the event has not unfolded without criticism.
 
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods will try and improve on his putting after a woeful performance at the U.S. Open. (WireImage)
A handful of players voiced criticism over the invitational field of 120, approved by the PGA TOUR in March when the tournament was announced as a replacement for the International.
 
The good news for fans: Outside of the major championships, there are few better chances to see the world's best players in one place than there will be this weekend at venerable Congressional Country Club.
 
Five of the top six players in the world rankings are in the field, including Woods, Phil Mickelson, Jim Furyk, Adam Scott and Vijay Singh. Recovering quicker than expected from a left wrist injury, Mickelson is playing for the first time since the U.S. Open.
 
The bad news for the fans: Well, there is none, really. Unless you were pining to see the likes of Cameron Beckman and John Merrick. They weren't among the 120.
 
The GOLF CHANNEL will have coverage of the first two rounds, while CBS will broadcast the weekend. Next week is the John Deere Classic, where John Senden won last year. Michelle Wie has withdrawn from the event.
 
As mentioned, this weeks AT&T National is an inaugural event. So instead of listing our Tour Trade 2 favorites based on their past performances in this particular tournament, we will look at their PGA TOUR season-to-date.
 
Tiger Woods
Starts: 9
Wins: 3
Top-10s: 6
Best finish: Win (Buick Invitational; WGC-CA Championship; Wachovia Championship)
 
TRADE Talk: Tiger is the tournament host and, as seemingly always, is the overall tournament favorite. This will be his first start since the U.S. Open, where he couldnt make enough birdies to catch Angel Cabrera. It will also be his first start since the birth of his daughter, Sam Alexis. Woods hasnt won in his last three starts, which is the longest hes gone on TOUR without a win since about a year ago this time, when he ended a five-tournament winless streak at the Open Championship. Tiger did not play the 2005 Booz Allen Classic which was contested at Congressional. He tied for 19th in the 1997 U.S. Open at the same site.
 
Adam Scott
Starts: 11
Wins: 1
Top-10s: 5
Best finish: Win (Shell Houston Open)
 
TRADE Talk: Scott missed the cut in his last event, but thats not much of a concern ' at least this week. Scott failed to make it to the weekend at the U.S. Open, but his major championship record has never been that good. He performed fairly well, however, leading up to Oakmont and has had some success in this area. Scott finished inside the top-10 in each of his three pre-Open events, and shared the lead through 54 holes of the St. Jude Championship. He also won the Booz Allen at Avenel in 2004 and tied for second at Congressional in 05.
 
Justin Rose
Starts: 8
Wins: 0
Top-10s: 5
Best finish: 3rd (Bob Hope Chrysler Classic)
 
TRADE Talk: Rose has been hampered by a back injury, but when hes played this year, hes played very well. The Englishman has four straight top-10s, which ranges from the WGC-Match Play in February to the Travelers Championship two weeks ago. He missed the cut in the 05 Booz Allen; though, he is a much better player now, as he had only three top-10s on TOUR in all of 05.
 
Geoff Ogilvy
Starts: 14
Wins: 0
Top-10s: 4
Best finish: 2nd (WGC-Accenture Match Play)
 
TRADE Talk: This will be Ogilvys first event since his reign as U.S. Open champion came to an end. The Aussie took some lumps ' like everyone else ' at Oakmont, and should be happy to see a course that has U.S. Open quality without all of the penalty. He tied for 29th in the 05 Booz Allen.
 
Jim Furyk
Starts: 15
Wins: 0
Top-10s: 6
Best finish: T2 (U.S. Open)
 
TRADE Talk: What would a favorites list be without Furyk? Furyk is a top-10 machine, having finished inside the top 10 a staggering 45 percent of the time over the last three years on TOUR. Winning, however, is another thing. Furyk has only three wins during the same period. Whether or not he wins this week, he will almost certainly be in contention.
 
Four more players to keep an eye on at Congressional Country Club:
 
Phil Mickelson:
Lefty returns and it will be quite interesting to see what kind of condition his injured left wrist is in. This will likely be his only event in between the U.S. Open and the Open Championship. He tied for 43rd in the 97 U.S. Open at Congressional and tied for 29th in the 05 Booz Allen.
 
Bubba Watson:
Bubba made some big noise at the U.S. Open, where he was in contention through three rounds. If he can handle a beast like Oakmont, then perhaps he can manage his game around this 7,204-yard, par-70 layout.
 
Ben Curtis:
Curtis won last years Booz Allen, in what turned out to be the final installment of that event. He missed the cut in 05 at Congressional, but this is as close to a title defense as he will get this year as the other event he won in 06, the 84 Lumber Classic, was also cancelled.
 
Frank Lickliter
Lickliter might not seem like an obvious choice, but this tournament honors American soldiers and few golfers are more Red, White and Blue than Lickliter. Lickliter has visited U.S. troops around the world and helps raise awareness and money with the Wounded Warrior Project.
 
Information from The Sports Network was used in this article.
 
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    Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 11:04 pm

    Adam Hadwin had a career season last year, one that included shooting a 59 and winning a PGA Tour event. But those two achievements didn't occur in the same week.

    While Hadwin's breakthrough victory came at the Valspar Championship in March, it was at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January when he first made headlines with a third-round 59 at La Quinta Country Club. Hadwin took a lead into the final round as a result, but he ultimately couldn't keep pace with Hudson Swafford.

    He went on to earn a spot at the Tour Championship, and Hadwin made his first career Presidents Cup appearance in October. Now the Canadian returns to Palm Springs, eager to improve on last year's result and hoping to earn a spot in the final group for a third straight year after a T-6 finish in 2016.

    "A lot of good memories here in the desert," Hadwin told reporters. "I feel very comfortable here, very at home. Lots of Canadians, so it's always fun to play well in front of those crowds and hopefully looking forward to another good week."

    Hadwin's 59 last year was somewhat overshadowed, both by the fact that he didn't win the event and that it came just one week after Justin Thomas shot a 59 en route to victory at the Sony Open. But he's still among an exclusive club of just eight players to have broken 60 in competition on Tour and he's eager to get another crack at La Quinta on Saturday.

    "If I'm in the same position on 18, I'm gunning for 58 this year," Hadwin said, "not playing safe for 59."

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    Rahm: If I thought like Phil, I could not hit a shot

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 10:39 pm

    When it comes to Jon Rahm and Phil Mickelson, there are plenty of common bonds. Both starred at Arizona State, both are now repped by the same agency and Rahm's former college coach and agent, Tim Mickelson, now serves full-time as his brother's caddie.

    Those commonalities mean the two men have played plenty of practice rounds together, but the roads quickly diverge when it comes to on-course behavior. Rahm is quick, fiery and decisive; Mickelson is one of the most analytical players on Tour. And as Rahm told reporters Wednesday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, those differences won't end anytime soon.

    "I don't need much. 'OK, it's like 120 (yards), this shot, right," Rahm said. "And then you have Phil, it's like, 'Oh, this shot, the moisture, this going on, this is like one mile an hour wind sideways, it's going to affect it one yard. This green is soft, this trajectory. They're thinking, and I'm like, 'I'm lost.' I'm like, 'God if I do that thought process, I could not hit a golf shot.'"


    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


    The tactics may be more simplified, but Rahm can't argue with the results. While Mickelson is in the midst of a winless drought that is approaching five years, Rahm won three times around the world last year and will defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.

    Both men are in the field this week in Palm Springs, where Mickelson will make his 2018 debut with what Rahm fully expects to be another dose of high-level analytics for the five-time major winner with his brother on the bag.

    "It's funny, he gets to the green and then it's the same thing. He's very detail-oriented," Rahm said of Mickelson. "I'm there listening and I'm like, 'Man, I hope we're never paired together for anything because I can't think like this. I would not be able to play golf like that. But for me to listen to all that is really fun."

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    DJ changes tune on golf ball distance debate

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 9:16 pm

    World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is already one of the longest hitters in golf, so he's not looking for any changes to be made to golf ball technology - despite comments from him that hinted at just such a notion two months ago.

    Johnson is in the Middle East this week for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told BBC Sport Wednesday that he wouldn't be in favor of making changes to the golf ball in order to remedy some of the eye-popping distances players are hitting the ball with ever-increasing frequency.

    "It's not like we are dominating golf courses," Johnson said. "When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy? I don't really understand what all the debate is about because it doesn't matter how far it goes; it is about getting it in the hole."

    Johnson's rhetorical question might be answered simply by looking back at his performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions earlier this month, an eight-shot romp that featured a tee shot on the 433-yard 12th hole that bounded down a slope to within inches of the hole.

    Johnson appeared much more willing to consider a reduced-distance ball option at the Hero World Challenge in November, when he sat next to tournament host Tiger Woods and supported Woods' notion that the ball should be addressed.

    "I don't mind seeing every other professional sport, they play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball," Johnson said. "In baseball, the guys that are bigger and stronger, they can hit a baseball a lot further than the smaller guys. ... I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage."

    Speaking Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, Johnson stood by the notion that regardless of whether the rules change or stay the same, he plans to have a leg up on the competition.

    "If the ball is limited then it is going to limit everyone," he said. "I'm still going to hit it that much further than I guess the average Tour player."

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    LPGA lists April date for new LA event

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 17, 2018, 8:18 pm

    The LPGA’s return to Los Angeles will come with the new Hugel-JTBC Open being played at Wilshire Country Club April 19-22, the tour announced Wednesday.

    When the LPGA originally released its schedule, it listed the Los Angeles event with the site to be announced at a later date.

    The Hugel-JTBC Open will feature a 144-player field and a $1.5 million purse. It expands the tour’s West Coast swing, which will now be made up of four events in California in March and April.

    The LPGA last played in Los Angeles in 2005. Wilshire Country Club hosted The Office Depot in 2001, with Annika Sorenstam winning there.