I hope to accrue enough points to make it into the top 10. If not, I hope to show (International captain) Gary Player that I warrant an invitation.
Price is currently 22nd on the International Presidents Cup team points standing, which is based on ones position on the Official World Golf Ranking. The top 10 on the list following the conclusion of the PGA Championship will automatically qualify for the biennial event, which will be contested Sept. 22-25 at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Club in Lake Manassas, Va.
In order to make it on his own accord and spare Player the dilemma of having to use one of his two captains picks on him, Price may have to do something dramatic over the next four months ' like win.
Price could certainly help his cause at this weeks FedEx St. Jude Classic.
As the tour heads out of Texas and into Tennessee, there are just three tournaments before the seasons second major championship.
Many of the favorites for the U.S. Open are not on hand this week. Theres no Vijay or Tiger or Phil or Ernie ' or even Retief, for that matter.
Of course, they were all in Irving for the EDS Byron Nelson and Ted Purdy walked away the victor.
That just goes to show the depth of field on tour. And it is because of that depth that it is so very difficult to pick a winner ' at least before the start of an event. But here are some of the favorites to win this weeks FedEx St. Jude Classic.
Five for the Title:
Thanks to some minor technical adjustments, Price is seeing a major improvement in his iron play this season. One of the games all-time ball-strikers, Price was a ghastly 192nd on tour in greens hit in regulation last season. Hes 51st this year. Putting, however, is what plagues the 48-year-old Hall of Fame member. Price was 17th on tour in putting average last year, compared to 169th this year. Should he get the flat stick going this week, Price could contend for his first tour title since the 2002 Colonial. In 17 career starts at the FedEx, Price has two wins (1993, 98), two runner-up finishes (1988, 2003) and six top-5s. He is also fresh off his best finish of the season, a tie for sixth at the Byron Nelson.
Toms is the two-time defending champion ' and he tied for fourth in 2002, which makes him a de facto favorite. However, he is mired in a legal battle against his former agent and has said the personal problems have affected him professionally. Since earning four straight top-5 finishes early in the season, including a dominating win at the WGC-Accenture Match Play, Toms hadn't cracked the top 30 ' until last week, when he tied for third at Colonial. He will be trying to become the first player to win this tournament three straight years, and the first to win any event on tour on three consecutive occasions since Tiger Woods concluded his four-year reign at Bay Hill in 2003. Lee Trevino (1971, 72 80) and Dave Hill (1967, 69, 70, 72) are the only players to win this tournament at least three times.
Aside from Toms, Estes might have a better record at the TPC at Southwind than anyone else in the field. Over his last six FedEx starts, he has a first- (2001), a second- (2004), a third- (2003), and a fourth-place (1998) finish. He had seven straight birdies in his second-round 64 a year ago. Estes has missed only one cut in 15 appearances since the tournament moved to Southwind in 1989. He made his first nine cuts this season, but has failed to qualify for weekend play in two of his last three starts. This may prove to be the perfect place for Estes to not only reverse that trend, but also win on tour for the first time since 2002.
The tour media guide generously lists Herron at 210 pounds. After a week in the balmy Memphis climate, Herron may actually sweat himself to that weight. But he may also exit the area with his first win in over six years ' or at least a hefty check (no pun intended). Herron has played here seven times and he has six top-20 finishes. He earned his best result last year, tying for third. Herron is having his typical Lumpy season thus far in 2005. He has made the cut in nine of 13 starts for a 69-percent success rate (he averages 70 percent over his career). He also has three top-10s (he averages about 4.5 per season). What he doesnt have is a win, which last came in 1999 at Bay Hill.
Playing Out the Front Nine
Four more players to keep an eye on
*Sean OHair, who is making his first start since his impressive runner-up performance at the Byron Nelson. The 22-year-old tour freshman has already locked up his card for a sophomore season. With security ' and momentum ' on his side, he may be poised to become the first rookie to win on tour this season.
*Shaun Micheel, who lives in Memphis and plays out of the TPC at Southwind. Micheel has done little on tour since winning the 2003 PGA Championship and hasnt fared well here either. He has six missed cuts in 10 starts and has never finished better than tied for 19th. He may not win this week, but hes a local favorite who has ties to both FedEx (his father was one of the companys first pilots) and St. Jude Childrens Research Hospital (he visits cancer patients there).
*Loren Roberts, who lives near the course and has missed the event only once since it moved to Southwind. Like Micheel, Roberts is a local favorite with plenty of course knowledge. But unlike Micheel, Roberts has had some success here. Roberts has four top-10s in 22 career starts, dating back to 1982. He tied for 18th last year and has only one round over par on this course since 1999.
*Kip Henley, who is making the move to the PGA Tour this week. Henley, of Big Break II fame, used his first Nationwide Tour exemption last week in Virginia, where he barely missed the cut. He earned his way into this event by making it through a local qualifier. He has four times before competed in this event, missing the cut on each occasion. But in his last two attempts, he did manage to shoot sub-70 scores in the second round.