Wednesday, April 26, 2006

THE WEEK IN GOLF


By Jared Trexler

This Saturday I will be playing in my first charity golf tournament of the season. For all five of you that care, the results of the Bangor Area Operation Graduation Golf Scramble will be published in next week's installment.

Now, on to the world of more important matters (i.e. the Zurich Classic in reconstructed New Orleans).

1. The Top Five list starts in The Big Easy, where tournament officials should be saluted. New Orleans was under water after Hurricane Katrina ravaged the beautiful port city. Tournament director John Subers and his staff were certain that there WOULD BE a Zurich Classic in 2006. The tournament returns to English Turn, where the event was held from 1989-2004, after the TPC of Louisiana was severely damaged following the natural disaster. Many volunteers should also be praised for their hard work. The 2006 Zurich Classic is a testament to the people's determination. Where there is a will there is a PGA Tour event.

2. Speaking of a tour event, the PGA Tour has been witness to the Australian invasion over the past two weeks. Stuart Appleby cruised wire-to-wire in Houston, a week after fellow countryman Aaron Baddeley took home the plaid jacket at Harbour Town. Appleby has tremendous talent, can win prestigious events (look at his track record at the winners-only Mercedes Championship)and has spent the last several years on the cusp of stardom. While a win is a win, Appleby needs to contend in majors more often in order to take the next step in his golf career.

3. Speaking of careers, Jay Haas is certainly extending his on the Champions Tour. Haas won at the Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf in Georgia over the weekend -- but no one noticed. Haas is a quality player who is still competitive on the big tour, as is over-50 putting guru Loren Roberts. However, neither player is sexy. That is why the Champions Tour needed Greg Norman, but because of injuries and a lack of desire to duel down the stretch with Jim Thorpe, Norman has balked at an extensive senior schedule. The tour will welcome Nick Faldo, Jeff Sluman, Nick Price and Mark O'Meara in next several years. A U.S. Senior Open that includes Faldo, Price, O'Meara and Norman in contention will be great theater. Until then, while the quality of play is still solid, the tour will take a hit in the television ratings.

4. Speaking of ratings, the tour's weekly television numbers will suffer with Tiger Woods on hiatus. Woods was racing stock cars and jumping out of airplanes last week and will be spending time with his sick father until the United States Open in late June. I'm confident Woods could take an extended break from competitive golf and still stay sharp, but when will Woods find time to practice? Winged Foot is tailor made for a sharp Tiger, but The Phanatic says the game will show rust and the mind will be elsewhere when Woods tees it up in upstate New York.

5. Speaking of New Y....I mean Orleans, it is time to pick a winner for this week's Zurich Classic. Scott McCarron's final round 76 kept me from a Top-20 finish in my first event of the year. However, I am 1-for-1 in cuts made. I'm going safe this week with Retief Goosen, but will also be monitoring the progress of David Duval. Duval seemed to have made strides in his game prior to an embarrassing first 27 holes at Augusta National. Then, the former world number one proceeded to move through Amen Corner in sterling fashion and carded a 32 on his final nine holes of the week.

Enjoy the sun-splashed weekend in the Northeast and never leave a three-foot putt short.
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