|BellSouth Classic - March 27, 2006
Par: 36-36—72Yards: 7,293
2005 Champion: Phil Mickelson (208, -8)
Purse: $5,300,000Winner: $954,000
Last year’s BellSouth Classic marked the eighth of 14 PGA TOUR events that were delayed due to weather, including the third consecutive. Through THE PLAYERS Championship, there have been only two delays this year (one for frost at the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic and one for fog at the WGG-Accenture Match Play Championship) in 10 events.
Four players have won their first respective PGA TOUR titles at the BellSouth Classic: Zach Johnson (2004), Ben Crane (2003), Paul Stankowski (1996) and Tommy Aaron (1970).
Only two players have posted four rounds in the 60s since the BellSouth Classic moved to the TPC Sugarloaf. David Duval did it when he won the 1999 tournament. That same year Davis Love III also had four sub-70 rounds en route to a tie for seventh.
In the history of the BellSouth Classic, only three players have won the event in their 40s. They are Gardner Dickinson (1971) at 43 years, 8 months, 22 days; Larry Nelson (1988) at 40 years, 9 months, 16 days; and Tom Kite (1992) at 42 years, 5 months, 1 day.
Phil Mickelson (2000, 2005) is one of seven players with multiple wins at the BellSouth Classic. Others include Bob Lunn (1968, 1972), Hale Irwin (1975, 1977), Larry Nelson (1980, 1988), Wayne Levi (1985, 1990), Tom Kite (1984, 1992) and Scott McCarron (1997 and 2001).
The 2005 BellSouth Classic was the 24th 54-hole PGA TOUR event since 1990. Prior to the 2005 BellSouth Classic, the last 54-hole event was at the 2002 Southern Farm Bureau Classic, captured by Luke Donald. Play of the final round of the Mississippi tournament was re-scheduled for Monday due to severe weather on the weekend, but unplayable conditions Monday forced the officials to reduce the tournament to 54 holes.
The last player to win a PGA TOUR event and win a major the following week was Sandy Lyle in 1988, when he won the Kmart Greater Greensboro Open and the Masters Tournament.
Phil Mickelson hung on to his career-money lead at the BellSouth Classic, earning $900,000 a year ago for his first-place finish. He moved to $2,033,416 in career earnings at this event.
The TPC Sugarloaf yielded just 10 bogey-free rounds in the three rounds in 2005, including two by Brandt Jobe, who tied for second.
For the week, the course played to an average of 72.818, with the par-4 fifth hole playing the most difficult at 4.318. The par-5 10th was the easiest statistically, at 4.622.
Last year's playoff for Phil Mickelson was the eighth of his career (he’s won seven times), while Jose Maria Olazabal, Arjun Atwal, Rich Beem and Brandt Jobe were all competing in their first playoffs. The last five-man extra session prior to the 2005 BellSouth Classic was at the 1996 Buick Challenge, won by Michael Bradley. That event had been weather-shortened to 36 holes.
Since New Zealand’s Bob Charles won the inaugural BellSouth Classic in 1967, only one player from outside of North America has won this event — South Africa’s Retief Goosen in 2002. Dave Barr of Canada is the only other international player to win in the tournament’s history.
Two-time winners are plentiful at the BellSouth Classic, but no one has ever won back-to-back titles. Phil Mickelson, one of those two-time winners, will look to become the first to win back-to-back this week in Georgia.
While no one has won back-to-back at the BellSouth, Hale Irwin won in 1975 and 1977. The catch here is that THE PLAYERS Championship was contested in Atlanta in 1976, pre-empting the 1976 BellSouth Classic.
This week’s field includes a whopping seven lefthanders — Eric Axley, Greg Chalmers, John Engler, Steve Flesch, Phil Mickelson, Nick O’Hern and Bubba Watson.
With the sterling start by rookie Camilo Villegas, Colombian
television has become interested in the PGA TOUR and will broadcast 30 PGA TOUR events for the first time this season.
Speaking of Villegas, only three players have three Top-3 finishes so far this season — Villegas, Rory Sabbatini and David Toms.
The victory by Stephen Ames last week at THE PLAYERS Championship is the 181st by a former Nationwide Tour player on the PGA TOUR. He’s the third alum to win THE PLAYERS, joining David Duval and Craig Perks.
Scott Gutschewski had a interesting first round last week at the
Chitimacha Louisiana Open. He only fired a 3-under par 68, but he had three eagles on his card to become the 11th player in Nationwide Tour history to record three in one round.
This week’s inaugural Livermore Valley Wine Country Championship will feature 30 former PGA TOUR winners who have collected 61 titles. Included in that group is a former major championship winner (Wayne Grady), two Presidents Cup team competitors (Notah Begay, Bradley Hughes) and two Ryder Cup team competitors (Chip Beck, Steve Pate).
The Champions Tour will head south to Mexico this week for the first time since the 2004 season for the inaugural Puerto Vallarta Blue Agave Classic.
One name missing this week in the field down in Mexico is Dana
Quigley. While his streak of consecutive tournaments played ended last year when he skipped the Senior British Open, it can be noted that he still has not missed a tournament in the U.S. since 1997.
The Champions Tour’s leading money winner, Loren Roberts, took time last week to try his hand back on the PGA TOUR, competing in his 21st consecutive PLAYERS Championship. Roberts shot scores of 75-74 to miss the cut by five strokes.