Theyre Back But Are They Ready


Cialis Western OpenTiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, trying to put behind them a pair of bitter endings to the U.S. Open, return to action this weeks at the Cialis Western Open.
For Woods, his week at Winged Foot concluded on Friday, when he missed the cut by three strokes. For Mickelson, it didnt end until the final hole, where he made double bogey to lose by a single shot.
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods hopes to have a more enjoyable -- and longer -- week than he did at the U.S. Open.
Of the two, Woods may be in a better frame of mind, as his defeat was more frustrating than agonizing. Mickelsons game, though, may be in better shape, as he played quite well leading up to U.S. Open Sunday.
Woods is competing in just his second event since the death of his father on May 3. After taking off nine weeks, he came back to play the U.S. Open, shooting back-to-back 6-over 76s to miss his first cut in a major championship as a professional.
The worlds No. 1-ranked player struggled mightily in all aspects of his game on Winged Foots West Course, hitting 25 percent of his fairways, 50 percent of his greens in regulation, and taking an average of 31.5 putts per round.
Mickelson, on the other hand, hit 58 percent of his greens in regulation and averaged 28.5 putts for the week. He found the fairway 55 percent of the time through three rounds ' then came Sunday, in which he hit just two of 14 fairways. Had hit just hit one more, he probably would have claimed his third consecutive major championship.
Leading by one on the final hole, an errant tee shot culminated in a double bogey and a runner-up finish to Geoff Ogilvy.
This will likely be the only start for both men before they compete in the Open Championship in two weeks at Royal Liverpool. Mickelson has already made one trip to Hoylake, England, continuing his major preparatory routine. Woods will head that way some time after leaving Lemont, Ill.
Tiger would obviously love to fine tune his game, getting it in proper shape for his title defense at Royal Liverpool. But given his history at Cog Hill Golf and Country Club, its quite possible that Woods will walk away with more than just a little confidence.
Woods is a three-time winner of this event, claiming top honors in 1997, 99 and 2003. In 10 career starts, he has six top-10 finishes, including three in a row. The only time hes ever missed the cut at the Western was as an amateur in 1994.
Mickelson, meanwhile, is playing this tournament for the first time since 2003. In nine career starts, he has never cracked the top-25.
Both men will be in focus this week. But if their Winged Foot headaches linger, they each could end up watching one of these five favorites hoisting the Western Open trophy come Sunday evening.
Jim Fuyrk
Jim Furyk
Jim Furyk's Western Open victory last year was his first on TOUR since 2003.
Furyk is the defending champion, having held off a hard-charging Woods in the final round a year ago. While Furyk may not have as many Western title as does Woods, his record otherwise is quite comparable. Furyk, like Woods, has six top-10s here in 10 starts. And not only has he recorded four straight top-10s here, he has finished inside the top 5 in three of his last four Western starts. He has five top-3 finishes on TOUR this season, including a playoff victory in the Wachovia Championship.
Stuart Appleby
This year has been one of firsts for Appleby ' and thirds. The Aussie captured his third straight Mercedes Championships title in the first event of the season. He then won the Shell Houston Open in April to garner the first multiple-win season of his career. Appleby has a great record in this event, with four top-10s in 10 starts. He tied for fifth in both 2002 and 2004.
Robert Allenby
While many of his fellow Aussies have experienced great success this year ' Appleby winning twice; Ogilvy winning twice, including the U.S. Open; Aaron Baddeley winning for the first time; Rod Pampling winning at Bay Hill ' Allenby hasnt had much success. He has only two top-10s in 12 starts. But watch out should he make the cut this week. Allenby is one of those all-or-nothing players. His record in this event is a prime example of that. He has played the Western seven times and has a couple of missed cuts. Aside from those two blemishes, however, he has never finished worse than tied for 16th. He has three top-10s here and won this tournament in a playoff in 2000.
Mike Weir
Weir isnt having as bad a season as you might think. Hes just not having as great of a season as weve come to expect. Weir has five top-10s in 15 starts and has made nearly $1.5 million (already more money than he earned all of last year). But he doesnt have a win on TOUR since the 2004 Nissan Open. Weir has an Allenby personality in this event, in that he has three missed cuts and has three top-3s in eight career Western starts. He has missed the cut each of the last two years, but before that he tied for third in 2003 and 2001, and finished runner-up in 1999.
Fredrik Jacobson
The Swede could be a dark horse this week. He has only played this tournament twice, but finished inside the top 10 on both occasions. He tied for 10th last year and tied for eighth in 03. He has a pair of top-5s this season at the Ford Championship and a few weeks ago at the Barclays Classic.
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