For the first time since the introduction of the World Golf Championship events, the NEC Invitational will be played other than at the Firestone Country Club when the field takes their place Driver mizuno at the Sahalee Country Club in Washington State this week. |
The field is made up of members of the last named US and European Ryder Cup teams and the last named US and International Presidents Cup Teams. The final number in the field will total around seventy eight with the balance, other than those outlined above, made up from the top fifty in the World rankings and winners of selected events around the World during the past twelve months. This week’s PGA Championship offers the final opportunity for someone, other than those already qualified, to gain a spot either by winning the event or being inside the top fifty in World rankings following the event.
Tiger Woods is looking to become only the third player to win an event on the US Tour for the fourth consecutive time following in the footsteps of Walter Hagen (PGA 1924 through 1927) and Gene Sarazen when he won the Miami Open in 1926, 28, 29 and 30. The Miami Open was subject to a schedule change in 1927 and was not played that year. Other players have achieved that feat internationally including Laura Davies (Standard Register Ping event 1994 through 1998) Putters titleist and the New Zealander John Lister (the Garden City Classic in Christchurch, New Zealand from 1972 through 1975) and Karrie Webb in her great run at Royal Pines in Australia. It is however a rare feat, more especially given the depth of the USPGA Tour. Woods had a chance this year to achieve the milestone at the Memorial, but was unable to do so and next year he will have yet another chance when he plays the Bay Hill event having won it the last three years.
The Sahalee Golf Club, an exclusive private golf club in Sammamish Washington just East of Seattle, came to prominence when it hosted the 1998 PGA Championship won by Vijay Singh from Steve Stricker. Opened in 1968 and designed by Ted Robinson the course measures just 6,960 yards and carries a par of 72 but 4.5 inch rough will ensure Putters odyssey accuracy is at a premium this week. For the record Woods was tenth when the PGA was played here in 1998.
Australians likely at this stage include Allenby, Appleby, Lonard, Elkington, Norman and Parry with Michael Campbell and Craig Perks the likely New Zealanders.
An event that is worth $US5,000,000 with $US1,000,000 to the winner
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