News and notes from PGA TOUR officials for the PGA, Champions and Nationwide tours.
International players Daniel Chopra of Sweden and K.J. Choi of South Korea have won the first two PGA TOUR events of the season. If you include the end of the 2007 season, international players have won the last five TOUR events. The 2003 season started with a record four international winners in a row.
Keeping note number one mind, in the 48-year history of the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic only three international players have won'Bruce Devlin in 1970, Jesper Parnevik in 2000 and Mike Weir in 2003.
While he isnt playing this week, Arnold Palmer will still have an impact on the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic. A five-time winner of the event, including his final PGA TOUR title in 1973, Arnie designed three of the four courses that will be used in this weeks rotation'the Classic Club, the Palmer Private Course at PGA West and the Palmer Course at SilverRock Resort.
Jerry Kelly continued his sterling play at the Sony Open in Hawaii last week with his third-place finish. The site of Kellys first TOUR win in 2002, Kelly has recorded 28 rounds in the 60s in his last 33 tries at Waialae CC.
Every week really does count. When Charley Hoffman won the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic last year and earned 4,500 FedExCup points, it represented 75.7% of his regular season total. Hoffman went on to reach the third PGA TOUR Playoff event for the FedExCup before being eliminated.
Steve Stricker has picked up right where he left off last season. Including his final four starts of last year, Stricker has five finishes in the Top 10 in his last six starts with 19 rounds in the 60s out of 24.
As hot as Stricker has been, Rory Sabbatini may be even hotter. Including his last four starts last year, the South African has five Top 10s in his last six outings and has posted 21 rounds in the 60s in his last 24 tries.
Several PGA TOUR rookies enjoyed a nice start to their seasons last week in Hawaii with 15 making the cut and five finishing in the Top 25. Dustin Johnson was the top rookie finisher last week thanks to his T10.
Golf becomes more global by the week it seems. A total of 25 different countries have at least one player in the Top 100 in the current Official World Golf Ranking.
The Champions Tour kicks off its season this week with the MasterCard Championship at Hualalai. While its the first event of the year for most everyone else, Fred Funk has already got two tournaments in Hawaii under his belt. Funk finished T25 at the Mercedes-Benz Championship and T10 at the Sony Open in Hawaii on the PGA TOUR the past two weeks.
Hale Irwin is the defending champ at the MasterCard Championship at Hualalai after breezing to a five-stroke victory last year. Substantial margins of victory are nothing new to Irwin. Hes won 12 of his career titles on the Champions Tour by four strokes or more and 10 by five or more.
Only two players in Champions Tour history have won the same event 10 years apart. Both Hale Irwin and the late George Archer have accomplished the feat'both at the MasterCard Championship at Hualalai. Archer won in 1990 and 2000 and Irwin won in 1997 and 2007.