Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Further underway

As the year gets further underway, a few more of the big names show up. Ten of the top thirty are in the Buick Invitational, and another eight are playing in Qatar. With Tiger sloughing drag points from the 2004 Buick and facing a slightly stronger field (points-wise) than Vijay, we have potential for that gap to widen again. However, with Tiger facing rust (if such a thing exists in his world) and Vijay facing a slightly weaker field (competition-wise), we also have potential for that gap to narrow. The narrow gap between Ernie and Sergio is at risk this week as well. With Phil playing while Retief takes the week off, there's a chance for Phil to regain his number 3 world ranking.

Along with Tiger, Phil, and Sergio at the Buick, Chad Campbell looks to continue his strong play while Davis Love III looks to find his form. Luke Donald and Jose Maria Olazabal open their 2006 PGA Tour seasons; and Stuart Appleby, Tim Clark, and Fred Couples round out the top players in the field.

Over at the Qatar Masters, Vijay and Ernie head a field also including David Howell, Darren Clarke, Paul McGinley, Nick O'Hern, Thomas Björn, and Henrik Stenson. That's even better variety at the top than last week. A Fijian, a South African, an Englishman, a Northern Irishman, an Irishman, an Aussie, a Dane, and a Swede congregating in the Middle East.

Golfer to watch this week: Newest member of the top 30 Henrik Stenson. Since everyone seems to be suddenly highlighting Stenson after his performance last week, I feel the urge to point out that I made notice of his potential for 2006 back in November.

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