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Playing Favorites at Tigers Tournament

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AT&T NationalBETHESDA, Md. -- If he hosts it, they will come.
 
Well, sort of.
 
Most of the world's best players will be on hand this week for Tiger Woods' new tournament -- including the world No. 1 himself, making his first start since the birth of his daughter -- but the leadup to the event has not unfolded without criticism.
 
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods will try and improve on his putting after a woeful performance at the U.S. Open. (WireImage)
A handful of players voiced criticism over the invitational field of 120, approved by the PGA TOUR in March when the tournament was announced as a replacement for the International.
 
The good news for fans: Outside of the major championships, there are few better chances to see the world's best players in one place than there will be this weekend at venerable Congressional Country Club.
 
Five of the top six players in the world rankings are in the field, including Woods, Phil Mickelson, Jim Furyk, Adam Scott and Vijay Singh. Recovering quicker than expected from a left wrist injury, Mickelson is playing for the first time since the U.S. Open.
 
The bad news for the fans: Well, there is none, really. Unless you were pining to see the likes of Cameron Beckman and John Merrick. They weren't among the 120.
 
The GOLF CHANNEL will have coverage of the first two rounds, while CBS will broadcast the weekend. Next week is the John Deere Classic, where John Senden won last year. Michelle Wie has withdrawn from the event.
 
As mentioned, this weeks AT&T National is an inaugural event. So instead of listing our Tour Trade 2 favorites based on their past performances in this particular tournament, we will look at their PGA TOUR season-to-date.
 
Tiger Woods
Starts: 9
Wins: 3
Top-10s: 6
Best finish: Win (Buick Invitational; WGC-CA Championship; Wachovia Championship)
 
TRADE Talk: Tiger is the tournament host and, as seemingly always, is the overall tournament favorite. This will be his first start since the U.S. Open, where he couldnt make enough birdies to catch Angel Cabrera. It will also be his first start since the birth of his daughter, Sam Alexis. Woods hasnt won in his last three starts, which is the longest hes gone on TOUR without a win since about a year ago this time, when he ended a five-tournament winless streak at the Open Championship. Tiger did not play the 2005 Booz Allen Classic which was contested at Congressional. He tied for 19th in the 1997 U.S. Open at the same site.
 
Adam Scott
Starts: 11
Wins: 1
Top-10s: 5
Best finish: Win (Shell Houston Open)
 
TRADE Talk: Scott missed the cut in his last event, but thats not much of a concern ' at least this week. Scott failed to make it to the weekend at the U.S. Open, but his major championship record has never been that good. He performed fairly well, however, leading up to Oakmont and has had some success in this area. Scott finished inside the top-10 in each of his three pre-Open events, and shared the lead through 54 holes of the St. Jude Championship. He also won the Booz Allen at Avenel in 2004 and tied for second at Congressional in 05.
 
Justin Rose
Starts: 8
Wins: 0
Top-10s: 5
Best finish: 3rd (Bob Hope Chrysler Classic)
 
TRADE Talk: Rose has been hampered by a back injury, but when hes played this year, hes played very well. The Englishman has four straight top-10s, which ranges from the WGC-Match Play in February to the Travelers Championship two weeks ago. He missed the cut in the 05 Booz Allen; though, he is a much better player now, as he had only three top-10s on TOUR in all of 05.
 
Geoff Ogilvy
Starts: 14
Wins: 0
Top-10s: 4
Best finish: 2nd (WGC-Accenture Match Play)
 
TRADE Talk: This will be Ogilvys first event since his reign as U.S. Open champion came to an end. The Aussie took some lumps ' like everyone else ' at Oakmont, and should be happy to see a course that has U.S. Open quality without all of the penalty. He tied for 29th in the 05 Booz Allen.
 
Jim Furyk
Starts: 15
Wins: 0
Top-10s: 6
Best finish: T2 (U.S. Open)
 
TRADE Talk: What would a favorites list be without Furyk? Furyk is a top-10 machine, having finished inside the top 10 a staggering 45 percent of the time over the last three years on TOUR. Winning, however, is another thing. Furyk has only three wins during the same period. Whether or not he wins this week, he will almost certainly be in contention.
 
Four more players to keep an eye on at Congressional Country Club:
 
Phil Mickelson:
Lefty returns and it will be quite interesting to see what kind of condition his injured left wrist is in. This will likely be his only event in between the U.S. Open and the Open Championship. He tied for 43rd in the 97 U.S. Open at Congressional and tied for 29th in the 05 Booz Allen.
 
Bubba Watson:
Bubba made some big noise at the U.S. Open, where he was in contention through three rounds. If he can handle a beast like Oakmont, then perhaps he can manage his game around this 7,204-yard, par-70 layout.
 
Ben Curtis:
Curtis won last years Booz Allen, in what turned out to be the final installment of that event. He missed the cut in 05 at Congressional, but this is as close to a title defense as he will get this year as the other event he won in 06, the 84 Lumber Classic, was also cancelled.
 
Frank Lickliter
Lickliter might not seem like an obvious choice, but this tournament honors American soldiers and few golfers are more Red, White and Blue than Lickliter. Lickliter has visited U.S. troops around the world and helps raise awareness and money with the Wounded Warrior Project.
 
Information from The Sports Network was used in this article.
 
Related Links:
  • GOLF CHANNEL Airtimes
  • Full Coverage - AT&T National