With Attention on Wie Others Focus on Win

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2006 Sony OpenShes back. Back to try yet again to make the cut in a PGA TOUR event.

Six times Michelle Wie has played a TOUR event. Six times she has failed to make it past the first two rounds. On one occasion she only made it through 18 holes as she was forced to withdraw mid-round at last years John Deere Classic due to exhaustion.

Michelle Wie
Michelle Wie will have another large following this week at home.
Wies foray into mens events on the professional level began in 2004 at the Sony Open in Hawaii. The then 14-year-old Wie wowed the golfing public by shooting 72-68, missing the cut by just one swing.

Three years later, the promise and potential remain. But Wie hasnt since come as close to qualifying for weekend play on TOUR.

Wie made three TOUR starts a year ago. She shot another 68 in the second round at the Sony ' but that came after an opening 79. She then had to be taken by ambulance to the hospital midway through the second round of the John Deere, where she was well below the cut line at the time of her withdrawal. And things didnt get much better at the 84 Lumber. She managed to finish 36 holes this time, but did so in 158 strokes.

Once again, the high school senior will garner a great deal of attention this week. But while she has shown flashes of brilliance at Waialae Country Club, a course she has played countless times, she most likely wont factor into the final outcome ' even if she does make the cut.

This is the first full-field event on the 2007 TOUR season, the first chance for most of the players to earn FedExCup points.
 
Some, however, already have a jump on everyone else. Thirty-two of the 34 players in last weeks Mercedes-Benz Championship field are hopping over to Honolulu from Maui.

On the other hand, there were 39 players on the original commitment list who were either Nationwide Tour or Q-school graduates.

With the new FedExCup system in place, both sets arent sure how many times they will get to compete this year ' particularly on the Q-school side early on.

While 20 of the 22 Nationwide grads were on the original field list; only 19 of the 40 players who made it through the Qualifying Tournament were on there. Two of those players opted not to compete this week, but the other 19 didnt make the original 144-person field.

With limited opportunities, it will be important for these players to play well when given the chance.

Unfortunately, given the recent history of the Sony, it will be very difficult for any of them to actually win this week.

Recent winners at Waialae have been established champions, like Ernie Els, Vijay Singh and David Toms.

Toms is back to defend his title. But is he among our favorites? Heres our list ' with a new twist. Instead of nominating our overall tournament favorites ' which can consist of many of the same players each week ' we will present our favorites from four different categories: Superstar (top-10 ranked player from the Official World Golf Ranking); Second Tier (guys outside the top 10, but no lower than 100); First-Timer (a player who has never won before on TOUR); Veteran (a guy who has won before, but not in some time).

Superstar
Vijay Singh
Vijay Singh looks to win in back-to-back weeks for the fourth time on the PGA TOUR
There are four players ranked inside the top 10 in this weeks field: Jim Furyk, Vijay Singh, Luke Donald and Geoff Ogilvy. Ogilvy is the only player who has never competed in this event. The other three, meanwhile, have had modest-to-great success. Donald has three top-20s in four starts. Furyk has four top-10s, including a win in 1996. But Singh is our choice. He has finished inside the top 10 each of the last three years, winning in 2005. Hes also riding a Pacific Ocean wave a momentum from last weeks victory at the Mercedes ' and hes not afraid to make it back-to-back victories. Singh has won in successive weeks three times before in his career. Two other times he's won in two straight starts, with one bye week between the two.

Second Tier
Plenty of choices in this category. J.B. Holmes comes to mind. He tied for 10th in his Sony debut a year ago, and tied for fourth last week. Theres also Stuart Appleby. His streak is over at The Plantation Course, but he could start another winning run at Waialae. He has four top-10s, finishing tied for seventh last year and runner-up in 2000. But were going with a guy who has never before played the course: Trevor Immelman. Immelman made his first start at the Mercedes-Benz last week and fared just fine there, finishing solo third. We like his chances of doing even better this time around.

First-Timer
Just like at most every tournament ' with the exception of the Mercedes-Benz ' the Sony field is littered with players who have never won on TOUR. One is Brett Quigley. He has been playing on TOUR since 1997, but has only a couple of runner-up finishes to his credit however he is coming off his best-ever campaign, in which he finished 20th on the money list. Hes been hit or miss at this event. He has three missed cuts in six starts, but also has a pair of top-5s when hes made it to the weekend. With plenty to choose from, well select Bubba Watson. Watson made an immediate impact on TOUR last year when the rookie finished fourth at this event. Jerry Kelly, in 2002, is the only player in over a decade to make this event his first TOUR victory.

Veteran
And that leads us nicely to our final category, the one in which Kelly is our man. After capturing the Sony, Kelly went on to win the Western Open that same season ' and he hasnt since won. Its been four-and-a-half years since Kelly tasted victory, and this competitor is starving for another trophy. Over the last five years, Kelly has a win and two other top-5 finishes here. He also tied for 13th in 2006.

Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - Sony Open in Hawaii
  • Golf Channel Airtimes