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SHO and Tell: The Latest on The Shell Houston Open
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Bill Collins
Bill Collins (1960)
Memorial Park GC
Transitions Championship - March 16, 2009

Innisbrook Resort & Golf Club

Palm Harbor, FL
Par: 36-3571Yards: 7,340
Winner's FedExCup Points Share: 500
Purse: $5,400,000Winner: $972,000
2008 Champion: Sean O'Hair (280, -4)

Transitions Championship Was the Site
of O’Hair’s Second PGA TOUR Title

The Transitions Championship is this week in Palm Harbor, FL, with Sean O’Hair defending his 2008 title at the Innisbrook Resort and Golf Club’s Copperhead Course. O’Hair, who previously won the 2005 John Deere Classic, picked up his second TOUR win when he came from three strokes off the pace on the final day a year ago by shooting a 2-under 69 to edge six players by two strokes. O’Hair’s 4-under score was the highest winning score in Transitions Championship history and the highest on TOUR since Angel Cabrera’s victory at the 2007 U.S. Open.
The win helped O’Hair to a 75th-place finish in the 2008 FedExCup. He also enjoyed his second season where he won at least $2 million.
This season, O’Hair has played in six tournaments and has yet to finish outside the top 25 in any of them. His best performances came at the Mercedes-Benz Championship (fourth) and the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship (tied for fifth). Following his tie for 13th at last week’s World Golf Championships-CA Championship, O’Hair is 14th in the FedExCup standings.

Transitions Championship Notes

Defending champion Sean O’Hair is off to a strong start in 2009, with three top-10s in six starts, and sits 14th in the FedExCup standings. Last week, O’Hair tied for 13th at the World Golf Championships-CA Championship. Prior to that, O’Hair won three matches en route to a tie for fifth at the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship. He knocked out Adam Scott, Boo Weekley and Ian Poulter before falling to Stewart Cink in the quarterfinals.

Seventeen-year-old Japanese pro Ryo Ishikawa is playing this week on a sponsor’s exemption. Ishikawa made his PGA TOUR debut earlier this year at the Northern Trust Open, where he missed the cut by three strokes. Ishikawa won the 2007 Munsingwear Open KSB Cup on the Japan Golf Tour at age 15. He turned professional in 2008 and won his second Japan Golf Tour event last November.

Australian Adam Scott, a six-time PGA TOUR winner, including victories in each of the last three years, played the Transitions Championship twice when it was in the fall (missed cut in 2006 and tied for 35th in 2005). Scott has not played in the last two years with the tournament date in the spring. The 28-year-old, who also owns eight international victories, started the season strong with a tie for second at the Sony Open in Hawaii.

Seven-time TOUR winner K.J. Choi has been hot and cold in Tampa Bay. Choi earned two of his seven victories at the Transitions Championship, making him the only multiple winner in the tournament’s eight-year history. The South Korean, who now resides in The Woodlands, TX, has also missed two cuts (2000 and 2004) and withdrew after a first-round 79 in 2005. Choi opened with an 8-under 63 when he won the title in 2002 and followed with a trio of 68s to post a then tournament-record of 17-under 267, which Vijay Singh bettered by a stroke in 2004.

With The Presidents Cup coming up later this year at Harding Park Golf Course in San Francisco, the Transitions Championship has three past champions who are eligible for the International Team: K.J. Choi, Retief Goosen and Vijay Singh. Others among the top 10 in the current Presidents Cup standings slated to play the Transitions Championship include Adam Scott, Trevor Immelman and Tim Clark for the Internationals and Kenny Perry, Steve Stricker, Zach Johnson, Nick Watney and Jim Furyk for the American team.

John Huston (2000) is the only former Transitions Championship past winner to have played in every Transitions Championship. His streak ends this week. K.J. Choi has played seven of eight times and is the only multiple winner (2002, 2006). Mark Calcavecchia (2007) and Carl Pettersson (2005) have played six times, while Vijay Singh (2004) and Retief Goosen (2003) have played five. Sean O’Hair, the defending champion, has played four times or every year since he became a PGA TOUR member in 2005. The tournament was not held in 2001 due to the terrorist attacks on September 11.

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