It’s the last event of the regular PGA Tour season this week. Davis Love III defends the title in the Children’s Miracle Network Classic at Walt Disney World.
It’s a last chance for players to secure their playing privileges for 2010 so there’ll be some nervous pros and an increasingly tense atmosphere as this tournament reaches its climax.
Some big names are in danger of finishing outside of the all-important top 125 on the money list. Two of those players were very nearly Major champions this year. David Duval and Ricky Barnes tied for second at this year’s US Open but since then they’ve struggled on Tour. Barnes is currently 121st on the money list and Duval is right on the bubble at 125th. Both need to make some cash this week to ensure they are back full-time on the circuit next season.
Most of the top players on the PGA Tour are taking a break this week but there are some big names in the field including no less than 13 Major champions. Zach Johnson is the player on the start list with the best World Ranking – he’s 24th.
The tournament is contested over the Palm and Magnolia golf courses at the Walt Disney World Resort. It’s one round on each layout in a pro-am format before the leading pros go on to play two further rounds of the Magnolia Course.
The event began life in 1971 as the Walt Disney World Open Invitational and the great Jack Nicklaus won the first three. Since then, other famous names like Payne Stewart, Ray Floyd, Mark O’Meara and Tiger Woods have lifted the trophy.
Venue: Magnolia GC, Lake Buena Vista, Florida
Date: November 12-15
Course stats: Magnolia – par 72, 7,516 yards; Palm – par 72, 6,597 yards
Purse: $4,700,000 Winner: $846,000
Defending Champion: Davis Love III (-25)
Thursday 12 – Live on British Eurosport 2 from 6.30pm
Friday 13 – Live on British Eurosport 2 from 6pm
Saturday 14 – Live on British Eurosport 2 from 6pm
Sunday 15 – Live on British Eurosport 2 from 6pm
Rickie Fowler – If the youngster can score a top-10 finish this week he’ll secure a Tour card for next season: A pretty good effort seeing as this will be just his third start as a professional on the PGA Tour.
Zach Johnson – A two-time winner on the 2009 Tour, he’ll be favourite in this tournament.
Brian Gay – He’s been a bit hit or miss this season but, in the tournament’s he’s hit, he’s been unstoppable. If he can find the form that won him the Verizon Heritage and the St Jude Classic he’ll be tough to beat.
Key hole: 17th – Magnolia Course. A long par 4 of some 485 yards, it’s generally considered the toughest hole on the Magnolia Course. The drive is over water then they’ll be left with a mid or long iron into a tight green. This is a difficult hole to par if the pressure’s on coming down the stretch.
Skills required: Going low. Last year Davis Love III won this event with an incredible four-round total of 25-under-par, and he didn’t streak away from the field. The top 15 players finished on 15-under-par or better.