Tom Lehman won the inaugural event in December of 1999 and went on to record his first official victory in over three years at the Phoenix Open the following January.
Last year, Davis Love III fired a final-round 64 to win the event, and then shot a Sunday 63 two months later to snap a 2 1/2-year tour winless drought at Pebble Beach.
'Anytime you win, anytime you shoot a couple of low scores and beat some good players, no matter where it is, you gain confidence,' Love said in a press conference. 'I went right out at the beginning of the year thinking I could play well rather than wondering what state my game was in. It carried over.'
Eighteen competitors are at the Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks, Calif. The field consists of the defending champion, the top 12 available players from the Official World Golf Ranking (as of Oct. 8, 2001), and five special exemptions (Thomas Bjorn, Fred Couples, Mark OMeara, Jesper Parnevik, and Lee Westwood).
Tiger Woods hosts the event; he finished runner-up to Love last year. Woods was born in nearby Cypress, Calif., and attended college at Stanford University. Yet, he has not won in the Southern California area since turning pro in 1996.
I would love to win here, he said Tuesday. All my friends, all my family is here.
Asked about breaking through this week, Woods responded, I like my chances.
But with history helping as a harbinger, you might want to look at someone who doesnt win half-a-dozen times a year to prevail this week.
Nine of the players in attendance won at least once in 2001 ' Woods, Love, Parnevik, Mark Calcavecchia, David Duval, Jim Furyk, Scott Hoch, David Toms and Scott Verplank.
Five havent won in over a year ' Couples, 1998; Bernhard Langer, 1985; OMeara, 1998; Vijay Singh, 2000; and Westwood, 1998.
And the remaining four in the field have never won on tour ' Bjorn, Darren Clarke, Padraig Harrington, and Colin Montgomerie.
Proceeds from the $4.1 million tournament will benefit the Tiger Woods Foundation, which supports programs for underprivileged youths.
First Round Pairings and Starting Times (All Times Eastern)
1:40 p.m. Mark O'Meara, Fred Couples
1:50 p.m. Vijay Singh, Jesper Parnevik
2:00 p.m. Thomas Bjorn, Mark Calcavecchia
2:10 p.m. Jim Furyk, Scott Verplank
2:20 p.m. David Duval, David Toms
2:30 p.m. Lee Westwood, Darren Clarke
2:40 p.m. Davis Love III, Tiger Woods
2:50 p.m. Colin Montgomerie, Bernhard Langer
3:00 p.m. Scott Hoch, Padraig Harrington