Road to the Tour Champ Passes Through Disney


No player is immune from the inane media question, especially not Tiger Woods.
Woods stood before a small gathering of local media following a corporate outing in Orlando, Fla., and was queried as to his frustration level having not been able to win the Funai Classic at the Walt Disney World Resort.
Ive won it twice, responded a befuddled Woods.
Yeah, but its been a while, replied the reporter.
Four years to be precise. Tiger last hung out with Tigger in Disneys winners circle in 1999; he first did so in 96.
But while hes won the last four years at Bay Hill, hes been shut out over that time frame in this other hometown event. He finished third in 2000 and 2002, and tied for 16th in 01.
In Tigers absence there have been Duffy Waldorf in 2000, Jose Coceres two years ago, and Bob Burns last year.
A win this year would do more than just end Tigers Disney drought; it would be his sixth title of the season, and further his cause for Player of the Year honors.
Other Player of the Year candidates in attendance this week include Davis Love III, Jim Furyk and Vijay Singh.
Of course, there is plenty more to play for this week than some season-ending hardware.
This is both the penultimate full-field event of the season as well as the penultimate event to qualify for the Tour Championship at the Champions Golf Club in Houston, Texas.
All players between Nos. 26 and 44 on the money list are scheduled to attend; though, Rocco Mediate, at No. 32, had to withdraw from his title defense last week in Greensboro and is questionable.
Last weeks winner, Shigeki Maruyama, moved to 35th in earnings and is looking to continue his march to Houston. Phil Mickelson, who has qualified for the Tour Championship each of the last 10 years, currently resides in 36th place on the money list.
Not in the field is No. 45 Ben Curtis.
If the past few years are any indication, expect a shootout this week.
Chris DiMarco opened in 64-63 a year ago to set the 36-hole tournament scoring record at 17-under-par 127. He concluded with 69-68 to finish one back of Burns, who took the title at 25-under-par 263.
Coceres won at 23 under in 2001, and Waldorf tied the 72-hole tournament scoring record with a 26-under 262 total in 2000.
The 144 players in the field will each compete on the Palm (par-72, 7,193 yards) and Magnolia (par-72, 7,243 yards) courses over the first two rounds. They will play the Magnolia exclusively over the weekend.
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - Funai Classic at the Walt Disney World Resort
  • More PGA Tour Preview Information