SFB Classic Has Different Feel

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2005 Southern Farm Bureau ClassicMADISON, Miss. -- The Southern Farm Bureau Classic has a different feel this year.
 
For starters, the tournament was pushed back four weeks from the first weekend in October because of Hurricane Katrina.
 
That delay places the event opposite the Tour Championship and increases the urgency for some players needing strong performances starting Thursday at Annandale Golf Club to reach several incentives for next season.
 
The top 125 on the PGA Tour's money list earn tour cards for 2006. Those ranked 126-150 earn provisional status for next season, and the top 40 can play in the Masters.
 
``You've had all year to do it and, hopefully, it doesn't come down to one tournament,'' said Todd Fischer, who ranks 117th with $664,098 in earnings.
 
The par-72, 7,199-yard layout was hit hard when Katrina tore through Mississippi and the Gulf Coast in late August, with fallen trees and splintered branches littering the fairways at the Madison course.
 
The event was originally scheduled for Oct. 6-9, but officials delayed the tournament to give the beleaguered region time to recover from the storm. Director Robert Morgan said all net proceeds from the event will be donated to hurricane relief efforts in Mississippi.
 
``I'm sure there are a lot more important things than just a golf tournament for people to have to go through,'' Fischer said Wednesday. ``I'm glad to see it out here.''
 
Players praised the course, saying it recovered remarkably well from the storm. But some said the texture of the greens could lead to trouble in later rounds.
 
``They're like new greens -- they're not thick underneath, so in the afternoon, you can get some bumpy putts,'' Ryan Palmer said.
 
Palmer certainly is familiar with Annandale Golf Club. He finished second last year, one stroke behind Fred Funk, who tied a tournament record with a winning score of 22-under 266 and snapped a six-year winless streak on tour.
 
Funk isn't back in Mississippi to defend his crown. Instead, he's playing in the Tour Championship in Atlanta after winning The Players Championship and ranking 10th in winnings with $2,718,246.
 
``To come back to a golf course you shoot 21-under-par on, you have a good feeling,'' Palmer said. ``Remembering some things that happened last year, I'm looking forward to it.''
 
Palmer, who is 59th on the money list with $1.28 million, is trying to reach the top 40 and qualify for the Masters. Other players are just hoping to earn cards for next year.
 
Kent Jones, ranked 121st, and Nick Watney, ranked 127th, are separated by just $24,575. The tournament has a purse of $3 million, with a winner's share of $540,000. Second place is worth $324,000, and third $204,000.
 
``You can't control what other people do -- just stay in focus and give it your best shot,'' Fischer said.
 
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