|American Express Championship - September 25, 2006
WORLD GOLF CHAMPIONSHIPS-
AMERICAN EXPRESS CHAMPIONSHIP
Par: 36-36—72Yards: 7,170
Purse: $7,500,000Winner: $1,350,000
2005 Champion: Tiger Woods (270, -10)
World Golf Championships-
American Express Championship Notes
Tiger Woods has won 11 of 21 World Golf Championship starts since the series’ inception in 1999, including four American Express Championship titles. Those American Express titles came on four different courses in Spain, Ireland and in the United States (Georgia and California).
The 2004 American Express Championship winner, Ernie Els, returns to the event after a one-year hiatus last year due to his knee injury and consequent surgery last summer. Els is searching for his first TOUR win in two years—his last victory coming at this event. Els won by one stroke over Thomas Bjorn at Mount Juliet Conrad in Kilkenny, Ireland. Bjorn was one of five Europeans to finish among the top 10 that week. The others were David Howell (third), Darren Clarke and Sergio Garcia (tied for fourth) and Padraig Harrington (tied for sixth).
Tiger Woods’ victory at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational marked the 15th time he has successfully defended a PGA TOUR title in his career. He looks to make it 16 at the WGC-American Express Championship and win on the fifth different course at this event.
In the first round in 2005, Richard Green posted a hole-in-one on No. 11 (his second hole) with a 5-iron from 194 yards. In the third round of 2005, Tom Lehman posted a hole-in-one on No. 11 (his second hole) with a 7-iron from 187 yards. The two aces marked the fourth and fifth in American Express Championship history.
The three-shot lead for Colin Montgomerie in 2005 over 11 players matched the largest 18-hole lead in tournament history. Nick Price held a three-shot lead over Padraig Harrington in 2000 after opening with a 9-under 63. Price eventually tied for fifth, while last year Montgomerie tied for third.
Stuart Appleby has competed in all 22 official World Golf Championship events—tops among all players since the series began in 1999. His best finish among the 22 was a tie for second at the 2003 American Express Championship held at the Capital City Club’s Crabapple Course in Georgia.
Sergio Garcia (tied for third) has five top-10s in six starts at the American Express Championship. His only non top-10 was a tie for 12th in 2003. In 17 career WGC starts, Garcia has nine top-10s. Others enjoying continued success at the 2005 American Express event were Vijay Singh (tied for sixth), who has four top-10s in five American Express Championship starts. David Toms (tied for sixth) has three top-10s in six starts.
In the six years of the WGC-American Express Championship, the 54-hole leader/co-leader has won three times—Tiger Woods in 2002 and 2003 and Ernie Els in 2004.
Tiger Woods (2002 and 2005) and Ernie Els (2004) are the only American Express Championship winners to record four rounds in the 60s. In his 2002 victory, Woods’ lone bogey came on the 72nd hole as he was attempting to become the first player since Lee Trevino (1974 Greater New Orleans Open) to play 72 holes without a bogey and win.
Tiger Woods, John Daly and Sergio Garcia were the only three of the 69 players to post four rounds in the 60s in 2005. Twelve players since the tournament’s inception in 1999 have carded four rounds in the 60s.
A year ago, five players posted their first American Express Championship top 10s. John Daly finished second in his first appearance at the tournament, while Henrik Stenson and Colin Montogomerie tied for third. Graeme McDowell tied for sixth, and Stephen Ames was 10th.
Southern Farm Bureau Classic Notes
Heath Slocum won the 2005 Southern Farm Bureau Classic with his father Jack as his caddie. His dad, a former club professional in Vicksburg, MS, played in this event nine times when it was an unofficial event at Hattiesburg Country Club. It is believed to be first son/father, player/caddie tandem to win on the PGA TOUR.
The 8-under-par 64 score in 2005 by first-round leader Bob Tway was the lowest opening round at the Southern Farm Bureau Classic since Steve Lowery and Frank Lickliter II posted the same score in 2000. Lowery went on to win that year. It matches the lowest first-round score since the tournament became an official event in 1994. The others came from Mike Brisky and Craig Kanada in 1997, Russ Cochran in 1999 and Lowery in 2000. The tournament record is 62 by Ernie Gonzalez in 1986 at Hattiesburg Country Club.
The six players tied for the second-round lead at the Southern Farm Bureau Classic were the most on the PGA TOUR since eight players tied for the 36-hole lead at the 2001 Canon Greater Hartford Open. Jonathan Byrd (eventually tied for 17th), John Cook (tied for fifth), Kevin Na (tied for 17th), Tom Pernice, Jr., (tied for 12th), Tag Ridings (tied for fifth) and Bob Tway (tied for fifth) all sat at 10-under 134. None of the eight players in tied for the lead in Hartford after the first round—Jay Don Blake, Chris DiMarco, Doug Dunakey, Ed Fryatt, Jerry Kelly, Shigeki Maryuyama, Joe Ogilvie and Scott Simpson—went on to win the event.
Heath Slocum matched the low final round by a winner at Annandale Golf Club since the tournament became an official event in 1994 (Ed Dougherty/1995 and Fred Funk/2004) with his 6-under 66.
A year ago, Kirk Triplett made the cut in his 10th consecutive Southern Farm Bureau Classic, the longest streak by any player in tournament history. J.P. Hayes and Lee Janzen, who were tied with Brandel Chamblee and Sonny Skinner, for second-longest current streaks at the tournament for players who have never missed a cut, saw their runs end at six straight.
Carl Pettersson is the only player with top-10s in the last two years at Southern Farm Bureau Classic. He tied for 10th in 2004 and tied for second a year ago.
E NOTES FROM THE PGA TOUR
· Heath Slocum will open defense of his Southern Farm Bureau Classic title this week with a streak of 43 consecutive bogey-less holes in the event. Long streaks like that are not unusual for Slocum — he holds the Nationwide Tour record for consecutive bogey-less holes at 106.
· When Eric Axley won last week at the Valero Texas Open, he became the eighth lefthander in TOUR history to win.
· Three rookies have won this season — Axley, J.B. Holmes and Trevor Immelman. Since record keeping began on such things in 1970, the record number of individual rookie winners was five set in 2004.
· Axley’s final-round 71 (1 over) marked the first time since 1960 that a Valero Texas Open champion posted an over-par final round. In 1960, Arnold Palmer shot a final-round 75 in sub-freezing temperatures to win the title.
· He hasn’t won the event yet, but Ted Purdy sure knows how to get off to a good start at the Valero Texas Open. His opening-round 65 marked the third consecutive season that he began the event with a score of 65 or better. He had a 61 in 2004 and a 64 in 2005.
· Two rookies are fighting it out for the Driving Distance crown on TOUR. Bubba Watson has led most of the year, but his lead has been cut to just 0.9 yards by J.B. Holmes. Watson has a 318.7-yard average to Holmes’ 317.8.
· You might want to watch for Carl Pettersson this week at the WGC-American Express Championship. This appears to be the Swede’s time of the year. Starting with the 2004 season, Pettersson has made the cut in 13 of 14 starts with seven Top-10 finishes in events from the first of September through the end of the year.
· Tiger Woods will be going for his sixth consecutive victory on the PGA TOUR this week at the WGC-American Express Championship. He’s won this event four of the six years it has been contested, including last year in San Francisco.
· The race for the 30th and final fully exempt spot on the Champions Tour could not be much closer at this point. Bruce Lietzke has a $189 advantage over number 31 on the list, Mark Johnson.
· Another close race is the one for the Charles Schwab Cup. Loren Roberts and Jay Haas are both entered this week in North Carolina and are separated by only 58 points.
· Roberts also leads the money list by only $53,712 over Haas with just five events remaining on the 2006 schedule.
· David Edwards is enjoying a great rookie season with a victory among his eight Top-10 finishes. He’s also closing in on setting a new Driving Accuracy record on Tour. He’s hit 85.2% of the fairways this season, ahead of the record 84.2% hit by John Bland last year.
· Eric Axley’s victory last week on the PGA TOUR was the 193rd by a former Nationwide Tour player on the PGA TOUR. Axley earned his TOUR card for this season by finishing 16th on the 2005 Nationwide Tour money list.
· One more on Axley: He is the 11th player in history to graduate from the Nationwide Tour and then win on the PGA TOUR the following season.
· Former Nationwide Tour players have won 18 of the first 41 events
(43.9%) on the PGA TOUR this year.
· After taking a week off, the Nationwide Tour will return next week
with players having just four more chances to qualify for the season ending Nationwide Tour Championship at The Houstonian. Only the Top 60 qualify and Stephen Marino currently holds down that spot on the money list by just $287 over Gary Christian.