FBR Open: USPGA Tour's biggest spectacle
BY Bruce Young | US PGA Tour | 2007 FBR Open | Preview | 01 Feb 2007
The PGA Tour heads further east this week to Scottsdale near Phoenix in Arizona for the FBR Open at the TPC at Scottsdale.
The Stadium Course course – one of two at the facility – was one of the first collaborations by the highly regarded design team of Weiskopf and Morrish and opened in 1986. When teamed together during the 1980’s and 1990’s they produced a series of high quality courses throughout the world including the nearby Troon North and also Loch Lomond in Scotland. The course carries Bermuda greens and measures 7215 yards.
Twelve months ago, the big hitting rookie, J.B.Holmes, developed an almost cult following on the PGA Tour by winning by seven shots over a group of five golfers including another rookie, Camilo Villegas.
Two time winner Phil Mickelson is likely to be the favourite but he has been less than impressive to date in his two starts back after a break and will need considerable improvement. He loves playing in front of a crowd and he will get his wish this week as more than 100,000 will be here on each day over the weekend. It is the highest attended event on the PGA Tour and by Sunday afternoon has one of the most electric atmospheres in tournament golf.
Vijay Singh has also been a two time winner but unlike Mickelson he has found early season form already with a victory at the Mercedes although he has not followed up in his last two starts. He has produced some very low rounds at the TPC and might do so again this week.
Trevor Immelman played well at the Mercedes Championship and just reasonably at the Sony. He has not played on the PGA Tour in the last two weeks but he did well in his first time in this event last year and if he was to win his second USPGA Tour event this week it would not surprise.
Chris DiMarco returns from two good showings in the Gulf States and has a record in this event good enough to consider him a chance. His schedule has been exacting but as a previous winner and runner up in this tournament he will be inspired to play well again.
Charles Howell III has not enjoyed much success in this event but has made the cut in each of his five starts. He has found some very good form of late being runner up twice in his last three PGA Tour starts and with the confidence of a close tussle with Tiger Woods last week at Torrey Pines, he could improve his record considerably.
Mark Calcavecchia is a previous three time winner and has found form in the past two starts, more especially when 4th last week at Torrey Pines. He seems to have rediscovered his game over the Xmas break.
David Toms has recorded two solid finishes already in 2007 and has a very consistent record at this course. He was fourth last year and appears to be a very good chance to do even better.
There are plenty of Australians in the field with several living in the Scottsdale area. One who has just moved to the area is last week’s surprise packet, Andrew Buckle, who moved into his new home in Scottsdale only two days ago. Buckle led by two with seven holes to play last Sunday. He eventually finished 4th in just his third event in his rookie season and while it may be a bit much to expect for him to do as well this week, people will be more aware of his performances from now on.
Geoff Ogilvy is another who makes Scottsdale his home and has been playing well in recent starts. He has hardly been a star here previously but he is the reigning US Open Champion and his best finish in the event might be just a few days away.
Rod Pampling, Nathan Green, Aaron Baddeley, Peter Lonard, Mathew Goggin, Mark Hensby, Steve Elkington and Stephen Leaney are other Australians in the field, several of whom now make Arizona their home.