Hes not too fond of Colonial Country Club. Has indicated that its outdated and doesnt suit the modern player.
Of course, Woods hits less than 57 percent of his fairways and ranks outside of the top 150 on tour in driving accuracy, so the conservative approach isnt the worst option.
Phil Mickelson is the only member of the 'Big 4' in this week's field. In addition to Tiger's absence, Vijay Singh and Ernie Els are not making the short trip from Irving, Texas, site of last week's EDS Byron Nelson Championship, to Ft. Worth.
Singh last played in 2002 ' which may have something to do with that Annika thing. And Ernie Els hasnt played here since 1996.
But the Colonial is not without some recognizable names. Eighteen of the top 30 players on the Official World Golf Ranking are on hand. And many come for the Colonial challenge.
Sure, you cant hit driver every hole, but who says you have to? questioned Texan Justin Leonard. I certainly dont think this golf course is outdated. Its a nice break from a lot of the golf courses that we play.
Now, do I think we should play these kinds of courses every week? No. But I think we should play more golf courses like this where its more of a strategy and you do have to work the ball around and do those kinds of things.
Colonials list of past champions includes, among others: Sam Snead, Cary Middlecoff, Billy Casper, Tom Weiskopf, Lee Trevino, Ben Crenshaw, Jack Nicklaus, Nick Price, Tom Watson, and, of course, Ben Hogan.
Hogan won five times at Colonial, and the venue is nicknamed Hogans Alley. He is renown as one of the greatest, if not the greatest, ball-striker of all-time, so it should come as little surprise that he won so many times on a shot-makers course.
Its a great old course. Its not lost to the test of time, said 2003 champion Kenny Perry. It doesnt hold a back seat to anything.
And theres so much tradition and history here.
Perry is just one of several players who have a history of passing the annual exam that is Colonial Country Club.
Five for the Title:
Perry has made 14 cuts in 15 career starts in this tournament. In addition to his 2003 triumph, he tied for second in 2002 and tied for 12th in his title defense a year ago. He prevailed two years ago ' flying under the radar that was focused on Annika Sorenstam ' with a tournament record 19-under-par 261. He shot a course-record-tying 9-under 61 in the second round en route to victory. But, as Perry points out: There was no wind, and they were having to water the greens to keep them alive from the heat and humidity. And the conditions were just perfect for scoring. Normal Texas conditions returned last year and Steve Flesch won with an 11-under 269 total ' ending some of the speculation that Colonial had indeed become outdated for the modern player.
Mickelson has competed in 11 of the last 12 Colonials. He won here in 2000 and was runner-up the following year. He tied for 35th last year, which was his worst finish when making the cut (he's made nine of 11 cuts). Mickelson tied for 14th last week. It was his first finish outside the top 10 since The Players Championship. In 11 events this season, Lefty has three wins and seven top-10s.
You should be hearing Furyks name a lot over the next few months. He loves this time of year, and has the record to prove it ' including at Colonial. He had to skip this tournament a year ago while recovering from wrist surgery, but he tied for fifth in his last appearance in 2003. He was also runner-up in 98. Furyk, who has a pair of runner-up finishes in his last three starts on tour, has four top-10s in nine career Colonial starts.
Like Leonard, Cink has always finished what he started at Colonial. Cink has made eight cuts in eight starts here. He tied for second in 2000, and has ended in the top 15 each of the last two years. Cink started the season promisingly with back-to-back top-5s, and then made it to the quarterfinals of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship. But he has only one top-10 in his last seven starts. Still, he has yet to miss a cut this season.
Playing Out the Front Nine
Four more players to keep an eye on
*Steve Flesch, who is the defending champion. Flesch was the only player to shoot all four rounds in the 60s last year. He earned his second career tour title by defeating Chad Campbell by a stroke, doing so on his 37th birthday. Flesch is 7-for-7 in cuts made here and has two other top-10s to go along with his win; however, Hogan is the only player to successfully defend his title in this event, doing so in 1947 and again in 1953.
*Fred Funk, who has also never missed a cut in 14 career starts; though, he has twice withdrawn. If accuracy is the key at Colonial then you might expect Funk to have a good record here ' and he does. He tied for second in 1999 and tied for ninth in 2003. Another top-10 this week and it would be his first since capturing The Players Championship.
*Sergio Garcia, who won this event in 2001. Garcia finished first in his Colonial debut, but has since missed two cuts and tied for 35th. After blowing a six-stroke lead in the final round of the Wachovia Championship, he tied for 35th last week in his Byron Nelson title defense.
*Tom Byrum, who used to receive instruction from Hogan at Shady Oaks. Byrum doesnt have a top-10 this year and has only one sub-70 round since Pebble Beach; however, he has made the cut in nine of his last 10 starts at Colonial and tied for 14th last year.