But 56 times in just 10 years?
Its been one decade ' and 55 more PGA TOUR titles ' since Tiger Woods earned his first TOUR win in the 1996 Las Vegas Invitational. The skinny rookie from Stanford knocked off veteran Davis Love III in a playoff for win No. 1.
Woods is riding a six-event winning streak on TOUR; though, he will not extend it this week, as he is not in attendance. Woods came back to Vegas in 97 to try and defend his title. He tied for 36th that year and hasnt since returned ' except to gamble, practice or host Tiger Jam.
No Tiger is good news for the rest of the field, many of whom are scratching and clawing for their TOUR cards for 2007. This is one of only three full-field events remaining on the 06 calendar.
This years edition, the 24th overall for this event, is called the Frys.com Open. It offers a purse of $4 million, with $720,000 going to the eventual champion.
For the third straight year the tournament will be contested over 72 holes, after being a 90-hole tournament for the majority of its existence.
The TPC at Summerlin will play host with the TPC at the Canyons also in the rotation over the first two days.
And now that you have the particulars, here are our five favorites for this week:
Furyk is the unquestionable King of Vegas ' in relation to this event. In 12 career starts, he has three wins and six top-5 finishes. He was runner-up a year ago, losing in a playoff to Wes Short, Jr. Aside from the Ryder Cup fiasco, Furyk has played exceptionally well over the last 3 months. In his last eight starts on the PGA TOUR, he has seven top-5s, including a victory in the Canadian Open.
Each of the last two Vegas winners have been first-time winners on TOUR. And each player, Andre Stoltz in 2004 and Short in 05, won in Vegas without any momentum. Short had only one top-10 finish all year before coming up aces; Stoltz hadnt had any (both men have combined for all of one top-10 since their victories). Could another first-timer prevail at Vegas? If so, it could well be Moore. Moore was an amateur legend at UNLV. He's come close to winning a couple of times on TOUR; this could be his breakthrough performance.
Or perhaps Lady Luck could favor Ellis. Like Stolz and Short, Ellis enters Vegas without any fanfare. He has only one top-10 and is in dire need of a good finish to keep his card for next year. He has twice played this event, tying for seventh in his last appearance in 2004.
It's probably no coicidence that the winning number the last two years, since the event returned to a 72-hole format, is 21 under. Verplank, who hasn't had a winning hand since 2001, hopes to hit blackjack this time around. This is his 16th start in this event, and he has finished inside the top 25 in six of his last eight appearances, including a three times in top 10.
Charles Howell III
Speaking of winless droughts, Howells dates back to 2002. He has become the poster boy for underachieving U.S. players in their 20s on TOUR, which means he desperately needs another win. Despite the fact that he has only two top-10 finishes this year, he has amassed nearly $1.4 million. Thats because his two top-10s have been runner-up finishes. If he gets his ever-evolving game clicking this week, he could be a contender. He was solo fifth here a year ago.