Its the tournament, youll remember, that matches all the winners of the 2002 events - except Woods, who won five, and Mickelson, who won twice. There are some guys who should be here who failed to get a victory in 2002, and others who got in on the basis of one hot week and a bunch of mediocre ones. Craig Perks? Spike McRoy? Kevin Sutherland? Phil Tataurangi? They all won last year, so you shouldnt snicker. Hey, Davis Love didnt make it, David Duval didnt make it, and Ill bet both could find some use for the $45,000 guaranteed last-place money.
The Mercedes, though, does carry a certain amount of worldwide prestige. A couple of South Africans are playing ' Ernie Els and Retief Goosen ' at the same time as their national Open is being held. The South African Airways Open is being contested this weekend, a regular stop on the European Tour, while Els and Goosen are in Hawaii. Retief won the BellSouth Open in Atlanta last year after being the U.S. Open champ the year before. Els took home the British Open, which, in case youve been away the last few years, is now a stop on the U.S. tour.
But no Woods, and no Mickelson. Woods chose this time to have knee surgery, and it is expected to keep him out another month. He could have had it anytime in the offseason, but his own tournament prevented him from doing it before.
And Mickelson? Well, he didnt play here last year, remember. The prevailing winds are tough on a left-hander. Wife Amy will soon be delivering a third child. In reality, well, he just isnt doesn't seem interested.
Am I? Well, yes, but without those two, this jusrt doesn't seem like the Mercedes. Maybe Perks will step up and deliver an uppercut to the field like he did at the Players Championship. Maybe Sutherland will beat the best in the world like he did during the Accenture World Match Play. Maybe Rich Beem ... well, you get the picture.
But no Woods, no Mickelson, no Love or Duval - no drama? That's still better than the LPGA - there it's no tournaments, not until March. We've got the Mercedes, but it would sure have been more fun with Woods and Mickelson.