This is the first of four remaining events before the TOUR Championship wraps up the 2006 PGA TOUR schedule, meaning time is truly running out for those trying to earn their playing status for 07.
It will be the last regular season event for players to earn points and qualify for the 144-man field who will compete in the PGA TOUR playoffs, a three-tournament stretch that leads to the TOUR Championship finale.
The one thing that will remain the same is the location. Forest Oaks Country Club will again host the tournament in 07, as it is doing this year, and as it has done since 1977.
But those jockeying for position around the top 30, 125 and 150 spots on the money list arent overly concerned at the moment with what will transpire next year. In fact, many in this weeks field are just hoping to be around on TOUR next season.
Here are our top 5 contenders for this weeks title:
Choi is the defending champion and is looking to become the first repeat winner of this event since Sam Snead in 1955-56. He has had a steady, if unspectacular season thus far. Though he has missed but four cuts, Choi has only three top-10s in 21 starts. But thats nothing unusual for the South Korean. He had five missed cuts and only two top-10s before winning at Forest Oaks a year ago. He has an exceptional record in this event, tying for fifth in 2003; tying for seventh in 02; and tying for fourth in 01.
Maruyama won this event in 2003 for his most recent victory on TOUR. Like Choi, hes had an indifferent season so far. And like Choi, he has a very good record in this event. In addition to his victory, Maruyama was runner-up last year; tied for 19th in 04; and tied for eighth in 2000.
Faxon has spent a lot of time battling injuries over the last few season, but managed to overcome his ailments to win last years Buick Championship. That gave him eight career TOUR titles. Hed like to get No. 9 this week. And if not a win, at least a top-10, which he doesn't have this year. Faxons record in this event includes a pair of runner-up finishes in 2003 and 1997. He had to skip this event a year ago due to surgery to repair a torn ACL in his right knee.
This is the second time this season that weve mentioned Haas among the five favorites. The first time was at the Wachovia Championship in Charlotte. The North Carolina native and former Wake Forest All-America tied for fourth that week for his only top-10 of the season. Perhaps a return to his home state will do him some good. With over $760,000 this season, his card is locked up for 2007 ' now he just needs a little confidence.
Pettersson, this years Memorial Tournament winner, has exponentially gotten better in this event over the years. He was 86th in 2003, tied for 35th in 04, and tied for 11th in 05. The next step is to win. Should he do so, this trophy would go good with the Chrysler Championship hardware he won last year in Tampa.