FBR Open ready for the rush of golf fans
BY Bruce Young | US PGA Tour | 2005 FBR Open | Preview | 01 Feb 2005
The tournament with perhaps more hype and razzmatazz than any other gets underway Thursday at the TPC of Scottsdale when hundreds of thousands of party crazy Arizonians join the stars of the PGA Tour at the FBR Open. Last year nearly 500,000 people visited the event over the five days with more than 100,000 on the last day. Not all of them are golf fans but rather locals keen to be part of one of the ’events of the year’.
Known since 1935 at the Phoenix Open Invitational and in its two years prior to that as the Arizona Open, the tournament alternated between two courses for its first fifty years or so until the TPC of Scottsdale became its permanent home in 1987. In 2004 the event underwent another major change when the financial company FBR took over as the naming rights sponsor.
Heading the list of stars this week is the world number one and two time champion here, Vijay Singh. Singh was also third here last year and starts the event as the raging hot favourite. He took last week off but has started his season well already with his great win in Hawaii.
The Stadium Course course – one of two at the facility – was designed by the highly regarded team of Weiskopf and Morrish and, opened in 1986, was one of their first collaborations. When teamed together during the eighties and nineties they produced a series of high quality courses throughout the world including the nearby Troon North and also Loch Lomond in Scotland.
Phil Mickelson looks to follow up his somewhat disappointing last day at the Bob Hope Chrysler with a better effort in his third event back in 2005. Mickelson has won or been placed in many of his fifteen starts here and the locals will make him feel right at home.
Mike Weir has a good record here with top tens in each of his last two starts and solid finishes prior. He struggled last week at the Bob Hope but it was perhaps as much the golf course set ups that did not suit him than any other factor.
Tom Lehman is now overdue a win. He puts himself in position every time he plays of late and, as a winner on this course and a resident in the area, he can be expected to continue his good run of late. I expect Lehman to go very close to winning for the first time since his win here in 2000.
Jonathan Kaye is the defending champion and although he let us down last week we will give him another chance especially after his great start to the year in Kapalua.
Stewart Cink has not won here but has often played well. He has played well in his three starts this season and could well figure again.
David Toms has played the event well in recent starts and his three starts to date in 2005 indicate that a win here would not surprise.
Chris DiMarco has performed very well here with a win and two top tens in his last four starts. In his first tournament back last week he produced a mixture, but there was enough good stuff to suggest that his love affair with the event may continue.
Of the Australasians Steve Allen, Robert Allenby, Aaron Baddeley, Steve Elkington, Mark Hensby, Stephen Leaney, Craig Perks, Geoff Ogilvy, John Senden and Andre Stolz make up the field with Brendan Jones as he did last week anxiously awaiting a start from the reserve bench as this is written. Baddeley, Allen, Hensby and Ogilvy are all locals to the Phoenix area.
The event carries a purse of $5.2 million.