Players Return to Sahalee for NEC


For the first time since 1998, the games top players will compete at the Sahalee Country Club in Sammamish, Wash., for the World Golf Championships-NEC Invitational.
Four years ago, Vijay Singh captured his first major in the PGA Championship, contested along the tree-lined fairways of Sahalee. He bettered Steve Stricker by two shots, at 9-under-par 271.
This year, the course will play at a par-71, 6,961 yards.
While Singh may be psyched to return to the Pacific Northwest, Tiger Woods may be a little less enthusiastic.
Woods is the three-time defending champion of the NEC. Hes won the tournament every year of its affiliation with the World Golf Championships, but hes done so each time at Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio.
He tied for 10th in the 98 PGA Championship.
Woods is in fine form heading to Seattle. He won the Buick Open two weeks ago and finished one shot short in last week's PGA Championship.
Woods will try and become the first player in more than 70 years to win the same tournament four consecutive years.
Walter Hagen won the PGA Championship from 1924-27. Gene Sarazen won the Miami Open in 1926, and after the event wasnt played in 1927 due to a schedule change, again in 1928-30.
This is Tigers second chance to win an event four straight years. He tied for 22nd in the Memorial in his first attempt. Ironically, Jim Furyk won in Dublin, Ohio. It was Furyk whom Tiger defeated in a seven-hole playoff to win last year's NEC.
In March, Woods won the Bay Hill Invitational for the third straight time, and will go for his fourth in a row in 2003.
This years NEC field will include the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking after the PGA Championship, members of the most recent Presidents and Ryder Cup teams, players who have won a world-wide event with a strength-of-field rating of 100 or more, and players who have won a designated event on the Australasian Tour, Asian Tour, Japan Golf Tour or Southern Africa Tour.
The purse is $5 million, with $1 million going to the winner.
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