Lefty Headlines Strong Field in NC


At 5:00 p.m. EDT last Friday, Wachovia Championship tournament officials received official word that Tiger Woods would not be playing their event ' by not hearing anything at all.
Players have until that time each week to declare entry into the following weeks PGA TOUR event. Silence said everything in relation to Woods.
Actually, Woods had said in weeks prior that he would be taking off a significant amount of time, perhaps up until the U.S. Open, to be alongside his ailing father. He said this while in New Zealand, where he was for caddie Steve Williams wedding, and where he also spent time bungee jumping and racing cars.
Vijay Singh
Vijay Singh is hoping a title defense this week will earn him his first win of 2006.
Wachovia officials held out hope that Woods would get a competitive itch and scratch it in the tournament that he has played each of the last two years. It was not to be ' but that doesnt mean the tournament will be without significant star power.
While the worlds No. 1 isnt in the field, the next 10 on the Official World Golf Ranking are in Charlotte, N.C.
That includes Masters champion Phil Mickelson, defending champion Vijay Singh, Ernie Els and Retief Goosen. Not to mention, Sergio Garcia, 2003 winner David Toms, Jim Furyk, Luke Donald, Adam Scott and Chris DiMarco.
Wachovia, though in just its fourth year of existence, is one of the TOURs premiere regular stops. Players are treated like royalty; for example, all are given Mercedes courtesy cars for the week. But while the perks are plenty, players also love the Quail Hollow course.
It's just a wonderful event, Garcia said a year ago. It's very well run, and they take very good care of us. The course is great, and it's just a tournament you look forward to coming back and playing.
It doesnt hurt that a $6 million purse is on offer, with the winner taking home $1.08 million of that.
Singh was that man a year ago, defeating Garcia and Furyk in a playoff. That was the third of four victories on the 2005 season for the big Fijian.
He has yet to win once, however, this year. Singh has seven top-10 finishes in 10 starts, but he hasnt come close to winning since dropping a playoff to Stuart Appleby in the season-opening Mercedes Championships. In his last start, he tied for 36th in his title defense at the Shell Houston Open. That was his worst finish in a tournament in which he made the cut since the 2004 Byron Nelson.
Will Singh get back into the winners circle this week? Here are five players that would love to say no ' and not one of them is Mickelson.
Sergio Garcia
Garcia didnt do much in his Wachovia debut, tying for 61st in 2004. But last year, he exploded to a six-stroke lead after three rounds. The Spaniard could only manage an even-par 72 in the final round, and ended up losing in a three-way playoff to Singh. In fact, he was the first player eliminated, bowing out on the first extra hole, while Singh topped Furyk on the fourth hole of sudden death. Garcia should welcome the challenge of redemption. If he does manage to win for the first time this season, he will have to find a way to finish strong on Sunday. He has yet to break par in the final round of the six tournaments in which he has made the cut this season.
Jim Furyk
Furyk, like Garcia, was unspectacular in his first Quail Hollow appearance, missing the cut in 2003. But he also tied for second a year ago, closing in 66 to make the extra session. Furyk has three top-3 finishes this season. He tied for second in his most recent start at the Verizon Heritage at Harbour Town Golf Links ' another course he loves. The average winning score, in three previous editions of this event, is only 11 under. The difficult conditions should also suit Furyks game.
Adam Scott
Scott has been a big disappointment in the major championships, but he has fared well on difficult non-major courses. Hes won The Players Championship at Sawgrass and the Nissan Open at Riviera; though, he didnt get credit for the 36-hole win. Scott, who is still in search of his first win on TOUR this season, tied for second at Riviera this year over 72 holes. He tied for 16th in his Wachovia debut a year ago.
Lucas Glover
Glover has fared well this season, already earning over $1 million. He has four top-10 finishes on the season and has played consistently in his three starts since missing the cut at the Masters Tournament. He missed the cut in this event a year ago, but tied for 10th in 2004.
Bill Haas
Haas, the son of Jay, was one of the more celebrated rookies on TOUR this year. But he has yet to secure anything better than a tie for 19th ' and that was in January at the Bob Hope. He has five missed cuts in 11 starts, which means he needs to get the ball rolling soon or he may be on his way back to the Nationwide Tour. This should be a good place to gain some momentum. Haas was the collegiate Player of the Year at Wake Forest. He tied for 22nd here a year ago as a sponsors exemption.
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