Yet at the same time, Tiger very well could be called a streaky player. Heck, he indeed is the player who has fashioned some of the greatest streaks the game has ever seen.
Which leads us to this week and his quest to extend another current streak that has the golfing world abuzz - his attempt to win his seventh consecutive PGA TOUR stroke-play event. He already produced a similiar streak at the end of the 1999 season and beginning of the 2000 season. A win here would give him seven, just four behind Byron Nelson's TOUR record of 11.
A victory here would hardly come as a shock - he just so happens to be the two-time defending champion at Torrey Pines and the winner three of the last four years. Simply put, his record in the Buick Invitational is staggering - in his nine starts, his worst finish is a tie for 10th. Other than that, he has four wins, a runner-up, a third, a fourth and a fifth.
'I've been playing here since I was 12,' Woods has said in an understatement about Torrey Pines. 'I've had some success here even in the junior ranks. The golf course just suits my eye.'
Yet there is someone else in the field who also has a hankering for the course - Phil Mickelson. Mickelson, who grew up in San Diego, has been playing the course even longer than has Tiger. And his results are quite similiar: three wins, a runner-up, a third-place showing, and a pair of fourth-place ties. Unlike Tiger, however, he has missed the cut on four ocassions.
Heres our list of players to watch for from four different categories: Superstar (top-10 ranked player from the Official World Golf Ranking); Second Tier (guys outside the top 10, but no lower than 100); First-Timer (a player who has never won before on TOUR); Veteran (a guy who has played 10-plus years on the PGA TOUR and may or may not have won in some time).
As stated above, Tiger is obviously the man to beat. Maybe more so here than at any other event. Other than he and Phil, Vijay Singh is the only other player from the top-10 in the field this week. Although Singh already has a win under his belt this year, his performance at the Buick Invitational is just so-so, not even a top-10 in his four starts. Even with the question concerning Tiger and how rusty his game might be come Thursday, Woods is still the pick to take home the trophy from Torrey.
Currently ranked 59th in the world, Charles Howell III finished off last season on somewhat of a roller-coaster. Following his best showing of the season with a second-place at the 84 Lumber Classic, he missed the cut in his next event. He then had a T19 at the Chrysler Classic of Greensboro and then another missed cut. He registered a top-10 at the FUNAI Classic before yet another missed cut. This season, more of the same - a tie for second and then a T65. Time for another good finish -- and maybe his first win since the 2002 season.
Former U.S. Amatuer champion Jeff Quinney is a rookie on the PGA TOUR this season. And he is wasting no time trying to make his mark. He got his feet wet by making the cut at the Sony Open and then held a share of the lead midway through the final round last week at the Bob Hope. Quinney had a great year on the Nationwide Tour in 2006 with eight top-10s to finish sixth on the money list.
When he's been able to make it to the weekend, Mark Calcavecchia has had very good results in the Buck Invitational. In his 12 starts he's missed the cut four times and withdrawn on two ocassions. But he has racked up five top-10s in the other six attempts. His best showing was a runner-up finish back in 1995 and a tie for seventh in 2003. He played well at the Hope, finishing in a tie for eighth.