Wide Open Race at BC Open

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2005 BC OpenThe old saying, 'When the cat's away the mice will play,' is never more evident than this week on the PGA Tour as the field assembles in Endicott, N.Y., for the B.C. Open.
 
The proverbial cat, however, is actually a Tiger who joins the rest of the world's best across the pond for the 134th Open Championship.
 
But that certainly won't ruin the party for those 156 players staying stateside and doing battle for part of the $3,000,000 purse.
 
In the 34 year history of the event, 12 different players have earned their maiden PGA Tour title at the B.C. Open, most recently by Spike McRoy in 2002.
 
It also is a great opportunity for some of the older tour veterans to revive their careers, as witnessed by Craig Stadler's triumph two years ago. The then 50-year-old Stadler erased an eight-stroke final round deficit to become the fifth oldest player to ever win on the PGA Tour.
 
But mainly, it is the young up-and-comers who relish the chance to come out from under the shadows of the Tiger and Co. and make a name for themselves.
 
And this week the field is loaded with such young prospects with the likes of Kevin Na, Ryan Moore, Casey Wittenberg and Kevin Stadler. Last week's John Deere Classic winner Sean O'Hair was also in the field before electing to head over to St. Andrews.
 
Five for the Title
 
Jonathan Byrd
Coming into his title defense at the B.C. Open, Byrd fired an impressive final-round 64 to move up into a tie for 13th at the John Deere Classic. That confidence building round could go a long way in securing Byrd his third career PGA Tour title. In last year's win, Byrd posted four sub-70 rounds to win by a shot.
 
Hank Kuehne
Like Byrd, coming off a strong outing at the John Deere Classic where he had his best result of the season. His tie for second with Robert Damron earned him $352,000, easily surpassing his totals for the entire year. Hank knocked John Daly from his eight year reign as the tour's longest driver in 2003. Led tour again in 2004 and currently is fourth in that category.
 
Kevin Stadler
Has endured an up and down rookie year on tour, making eight cuts in 20 starts. Not great, but certainly in a better situation than he was in early last year when he wasn't even a member of the Nationwide Tour. Due in part to being son of Craig Stadler, earned exemption into Lake Erie Charity Classic last year and quickly won the title. Later added a second victory to earn PGA Tour card for 2005. Has two top-10s on tour this year - John Deere Classic (10th) and Chrysler Classic of Tucson (9th).
 
Steve Lowery
Has had decent results in past B.C. Opens, his best coming in 2003 when he tied for second, losing to the elder Stadler in his dramatic come-from-behind win. Started year horribly by missing first eight cuts but has since notched a pair of top-25s, including a solid 12th place finish at The Players Championship. Has made the cut in nine of 10 career starts in Endicott.
 
Carlos Franco
Coming off one of his best years ever on tour in 2004, the strong four-time PGA Tour champion from Paraguay has had mixed results thus far in '05. After finishing 29th in earnings last year, he currently sits in the 110th position. Was seventh heading into the final round at John Deere and a closing 1-under 70 was good for a tie for 13th. Also placed 13th in his last trip to the B.C. Open.
 
Playing Out the Front Nine
 
Four more players to keep an eye on
 
*Esteban Toledo
Recently won the Nationwide Tours Lake Erie Charity Classic then followed up with a tie for 13th at the John Deere with Byrd and Franco. Has great results at the B.C. Open with four straight top-25s, including second place effort in 2000.
 
*Ryan Moore
The recently turned pro who had an All-American career at UNLV, missed the cut at last week's John Deere. With the big names gone from the field he may feel more comfortable and be able to tap into the confidence he had in college.
 
*Casey Wittenberg
Another young hotshot who owns the distinction of being the only player besides Tiger Woods to be ranked the top amateur in the United States prior to beginning college. Has just over $60,000 in earnings in 2005.
 
*Spike McRoy
Won his first and only PGA Tour title at the 2002 B.C. Open. Has split time between the PGA Tour and Nationwide Tour so far in 2005 with best finish being a 13th at the Rheem Classic.
 
Related links:
  • Full Coverage - B.C. Open