2006 Chrysler Championship Preview

Who’s in and who’s out? You’re going to find out soon enough during the tour’s last regular season event of the season, the Chrysler Championship.

Chrysler Championship LogoWith all apologies to the PGA Championship’s overused phrase, this weekend’s Chrysler Classic is truly “glory’s last shot” for a lot of touring pros. Par will be a player’s best friend this weekend in a tournament that usually has more of a Q-School feel than a regular PGA Tour event, as the top 125 money list for the year is finalized with the final putt on Sunday.

You’ll have to excuse most of the guys in this week’s field if they aren’t very friendly; after all, they’re fighting for their livelihood!

Last Year
Another feel-good story wrapped up the PGA Tour regular season, as Carl Pettersson fired a final-round even-par 71 to win his first PGA Tour event over Chad Campbell and Stewart Cink in dramatic fashion.

Pettersson, who was close to missing the money list cut line, did everything in his power to make sure that his first tour victory was a dramatic one with a chip-in on the 15th hole for a par that would ensure the victory.

The Swede however wasn’t the only one that left the Chrysler Championship with a smile.

Tag Ridings breathed a huge sigh of relief after closing with a 67 to tie for third. Ridings was No. 125 on the money list, but moved all the way to 101st and secured his card.

Charles Howell III was in the same predicament, only he was fighting for a spot in the top 30 for the Tour Championship. Howell III followed Ridings run of consistency, closing with a final round 71 that included 10 straight pars. He then had to wait nearly two hours to see whether it was enough to get him into the Tour Championship – it was.

The Course
The Copperhead Course at the Westin Innisbrook Resort‘s is your typical PGA Tour layout. At 7,295, it is a tight layout that really tests a golfer’s patience, especially when that player is playing for his tour card.

The par-5 fifth hole measures 605-yards off the tee but plays much longer than that due to the uphill slope. It doesn’t make it any better that the hole plays into the wind with trees lining the entire fairway. Did I mention that the green is small and well bunkered? Have fun with this hole!

At 590-yard, the par-5 14th hole isn’t one that looks intimidating from the start. A well positioned tee shot will leave a drivable second shot for long hitters; however, those long hitters will need to make sure they play for the back of the green where the slope is less severe. If you happen to miss the green, the Westin Innisbrook Resort’s largest bunker is there just waiting to gobble up shots.

Wind and nerves will be a factor on Sunday when players step onto the par-4 16th hole considered by most to be the most intimidating par-4 on the course. With water stretching the entire right side, a misplaced tee-shot could mean the difference between playing the Nationwide Tour and the PGA Tour next year

9-under-par won last year on a course that probably plays harder due to the end of the year circumstances and nerves riding on the final event. If you threw this course in the middle of the season, you might see lower scores, but I guess the same could be said for a lot of courses. I wouldn’t expect anything more than 9-under this year, as players try and figure the best way to make as many pars as possible.

Who’s Hot
Joe Durant finally won for the first time since 2001. In the past three events Durant has a victory, a second place finish, and has 8 rounds in the 60’s. The man is just playing some great golf right now.

Troy Matteson is the hottest golfer on tour right now. With four top-ten finishes including a victory and a second place finish, he is making the game look really easy. Oh ya, did I mention that his last 16 rounds have been a cumulative 63-under par? That is one disgusting stat.

Who’s Not
Brian Bateman will need a victory this week to retain his card, plain and simple. He has missed his last four cuts while averaging almost 1.9 putts per round. I think there are some guys out there playing weekend golf that could putt better than that!

Carlos Franco wins the Mr. Stinky award for the week. How bad has Franco been lately? 10 of his last 12 rounds have been over par, while his scoring average is a laughable 75.22. It doesn’t get much worse than that.

TV Coverage Times
All times eastern (ET) unless otherwise noted.

Thu, Oct. 26     USA     4 - 6 pm
Fri, Oct. 27     USA     4 - 6 pm
Sat, Oct. 28     USA     3 - 6 pm
Sun, Oct. 29     ABC     2 - 5 pm

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