The PGA Tour gathers one final time before the seasons second major.
The name has changed, but everything else has remained the same. For the first time in its 36-year existence, this weeks tour stop will not be known as the Kemper Open.
Friedman, Billings, Ramsey (FBR) Group, Inc., a national investment bank headquartered in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, has taken over the sponsorship reigns. Thus, the precursor to next weeks U.S. Open is now called the FBR Capital Open.
The locale has not changed, however. For the 17th straight year, the 7,005-yard, par-71 TPC at Avenel will play host.
Bob Estes in the defending champion. He won last years edition by a stroke over 1999 winner Rich Beem. Of course, Beem recovered nicely from that defeat later in the season to win the International and the PGA Championship.
Bob Burns didnt do too badly for himself either.
Burns took the lead in the final round of this event a year ago with a hole-in-one at the 11th. He was in that same position until a solid approach shot at the par-4 16th took a bad hop on the green and rolled onto a drainage gate. Instead of a great look at birdie and a chance to extend his advantage, he made double bogey and fell behind Estes.
Burns went on to win the Disney Golf Classic later in the season, becoming one of 18 first-time winners on tour in 2002.
First-time winners havent been frequent on tour in 2003 ' Ben Crane (BellSouth Classic) and Steve Flesch (HP Classic of New Orleans) are the only ones to accomplish that feat, but they have comprised half of the FBR champions list over the last 14 years.
Estes, who had three tour wins prior to his Avenel experience, was the first victor since Stuart Appleby, in 1999, who already had a tour win to his credit.
Another international deluge will rain around the nations capital. Nick Price, Padraig Harrington, Jose Maria Olazabal, Bernhard Langer, Niclas Fasth and Thomas Levet are just a few of the foreign-born players on hand this week.
The Americans are admirably represented by Phil Mickelson, Davis Love III, Fred Couples and Charles Howell III.