After 16 players in their 20s accounted for 18 victories in 2011, Kyle Stanley (24 years, 2 months, 17 days) became the first player in his 20s to win in 2012 at last week’s Waste Management Phoenix Open. Stanley became the first player to make the Waste Management Phoenix Open his first TOUR win since J.B. Holmes in 2006.
With his victory at the 2012 Waste Management Phoenix Open, Kyle Stanley became the first player since David Toms (2011 PLAYERS Championship/Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial) to lose in a playoff and then win the following week.
Two players on the road to recovery from injuries are in this week’s AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am:
- Former Masters champion Mike Weir is making his first start since withdrawing in late July 2011 from the RBC Canadian Open. He underwent surgery on the extensor tendon of his right elbow on August 18. In 14 starts at the AT&T Pebble Beach event, Weir has four top-4 finishes, including runner-up finishes in 2005 and 2009 and third-place showings in 2003 and 2006.
- Dudley Hart will play on TOUR for the first time since the 2009 Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial. Hart underwent spinal fusion surgery in June of 2009, but his first comeback attempt at the 2010 Australian Open was thwarted when he was forced to withdraw after three rounds. Hart has two top 10s in 13 previous starts at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, including a T3 in 2008 where he held a share of the 54-hole lead.
Others in this week’s AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am field:
- The 2000 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am champion Tiger Woods is making his 2012 PGA TOUR debut, his seventh start at the event and first since finishing T12 in 2002. Woods has opened up his season on the PGA TOUR with a victory six times: 1997 and 2000 Mercedes Championship; 2003, 2006, 2007 and 2008 Buick Invitational.
- Three-time AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am winner Phil Mickelson (1998, 2005, 2007).
- Two-time AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am winner Dustin Johnson (2009, 2010), whose five career wins are the most by players currently in their 20s.
- Defending champion D.A. Points, who will once again team with amateur partner Bill Murray. Points has two top-10 finishes in 2012 and sits 14th in the current FedExCup standings.
- Two players looking to rebound from subpar seasons will be making their first starts on the PGA TOUR in 2012: three-time major champion Padraig Harrington and 2010 FedExCup champion Jim Furyk.
- Several players with local ties, including four-time TOUR winner and former Fresno State standout Nick Watney, making his ninth start at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.
- Sacramento native Spencer Levin held a 6-stroke lead through 54 holes at last week’s Waste Management Phoenix Open but finished T3 after a final-round 75.
Tiger Woods (13) and Phil Mickelson (12) have combined for 25 PGA TOUR victories in the state of California.
Phil Mickelson is the leader among active players with PGA TOUR victories at multiple-course events with 12, followed by Tiger Woods (11). Here’s a breakdown of Mickelson’s multiple-course wins: 3—AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am; 3—Chrysler Classic of Tucson; 3—Farmers Insurance Open; 2—Humana Challenge; 1—HP Byron Nelson Championship.
Phil Mickelson (2005) is the only wire-to-wire winner in tournament history.
American Dick Mast, who earned the 12th and final card at the Champions Tour Qualifying School, was the runaway medalist at the European Senior Tour Qualifying School last week, shooting 14-under 270 to win by seven strokes. Since 1974, Mast has made a total of 335 starts on the PGA TOUR but only nine of those years saw him make 15 or more starts annually. From 2001-2011, Mast teed it up on the Champions Tour at least twice every year and produced 12 top-10 finishes from 134 career starts.
The Allianz Championship is the first full-field event of the year. Since 2000, only one player who won the first full-field Champions Tour event of the year has failed to finish among the top-30 money-winners at the conclusion of the season. Jerry Pate, who won the Turtle Bay Championship in 2008, was the only player to not earn a spot in the top-30 list. However, Pate’s year was limited to only 10 starts due to surgeries on his knee and shoulders.
Ian Woosnam will make his first start in a U.S.-based Champions Tour event since the 2011 Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic where he finished T18. Woosnam’s only other Champions Tour appearance last year was the Senior British Open, finishing T16.
Fred Funk will make his first start in a Champions Tour event since last July when he competes at this week’s Allianz Championship. Funk underwent two surgeries in early August, 2011 – one to repair a torn ligament in his left thumb and three days later, a second to repair scar tissue in his right knee. His last start was at the 2011 U.S. Senior Open where he finished T50.
Jim Carter, who finished sixth at Champions Tour Qualifying School, will enjoy a brief status as a fully-exempt player since medalist Jeff Freeman does not turn 50 until April 15th. As a result, Carter will be afforded full access to the Tour as one of the five fully-exempt players from last fall’s Q-School. Carter will be joined by Jeff Hart and P.H. Horgan III as one of three rookies in the Allianz Championship.
Should Jim Carter win the Allianz Championship this week, he would become the sixth player in history to have won tournaments on the PGA TOUR, Champions Tour and Nationwide Tour, joiningRon Streck, Keith Fergus, Tom Lehman, Gary Hallberg and Olin Browne. Carter won the 1994 NIKE New Mexico Charity Classic (Nationwide Tour) and the 2000 Touchstone Energy Tucson Open (PGA TOUR).
Of the last five Allianz Championship winners, Scott Hoch (2008) is the only one to finish in the top-10 (T10) in Driving Accuracy and outside the top-five (T16) of Greens In Regulation for the week.
Winning the Allianz Championship has translated into a trip to the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship for each of the five previous champions.
The previous 11 consecutive winners on the Champions Tour have played in the final group on Sunday. The last time the winner was not in the final group was at last year’s Nature Valley First Tee Open at Pebble Beach when Jeff Sluman won while in the third-to-last group.
The Nationwide Tour's 23rd season begins next Thursday (Feb. 16th) at the Pacific Rubiales Colombia Championship in Bogota, with former U.S. president Bill Clinton in attendance (on Feb. 15th).
The Nationwide Tour 2012 Player Advisory Council election recently took place with the following players being elected: D.J. Brigman (chairman), Ben Bates, Craig Bowden, Jeff Brehaut, Paul Claxton, Jason Gore, Jeff Gove, Kevin Johnson, Doug LaBelle II, Scott Parel and Sam Saunders. Luke List and Darren Stiles were subsequently appointed.
Nationwide Tour president Bill Calfee will appear live in-studio this Saturday on Golf Channel's "Morning Drive" from 8:40 - 9:15 a.m. ET.
As each year goes by, PGA TOUR fields become more and more dominated by Nationwide Tour alumni. Of the top-25 finishers at the Waste Management Open, all but two have Nationwide Tour roots, including champion Kyle Stanley, who played in 26 events in 2010.
Kyle Stanley's win on Sunday was the 325th alumni win on the PGA TOUR. Alums have won all five TOUR events this year.
An interesting contribution to Sam Saunders' bio form at Qualifying School in December under "one thing not many people know about me".....he once caught a 10-foot alligator. Saunders has conditional status on the Nationwide Tour this year.