DiMarco makes 2006 TOUR debut at frenzied FBR Open Jan. 30, 2006
By Dave Shedloski
PGATOUR.com Senior Correspondent
It’s not a party until something gets broken. At the FBR Open there’s always a party and about 500,000 of the PGA TOUR’s closest friends are invited. And when players get on the Tournament Players Club of Scottsdale, some scoring records get broken.
A field consisting of 132 highly paid agronomy students visits suburban Phoenix this week for the best-attended event on TOUR. With a half-million fans in attendance and at least one player shooting 63 or better five of the last six years at the par-71 TPC of Scottsdale, it’s no wonder the FBR Open is called, “The Greatest Show on Grass.”
Five of the world’s top 10 players and 12 former champions are among the visitors to the Stadium Course at the TPC of Scottsdale. Throw in eight of last year’s top-10 finishers from a year ago and you have, well, an A-list type party with decent door prizes: $ 5.2 million total purse and $936,000 to the winner
There’s always a buzz at the FBR Open. Trust us. Enough said.
Last year: A perfunctory but sometimes adventurous final-round 3-under-par 68 gave Phil Mickelson a 267 total and a runaway five-stroke victory over Scott McCarron and Kevin Na. Mickelson’s largest margin of victory among his 27 PGA TOUR events was his second at the FBR Open.
How he did it: Mickelson, a former Scottsdale, Ariz., resident, was the first player in 2005 to protect a 54-hole lead, but he established his front-runner status in round 2 with a career-low 60 (in an official TOUR event). The 11-under-par total, which tied the course record, keyed a 19-under sprint in the last 54 holes. After six bogeys in an opening 73, Lefty made just two bogeys the rest of the tournament thanks to a hot putter. Though he ranked in the lower half of the field in driving accuracy and greens in regulation, Mickelson was second in putting.
Strange but true: The longest putt Tiger Woods made all weekend in winning the Buick Invitational of California was eight feet.
True but not necessarily strange: A PGA TOUR player has shot 60 each of the last three years and five times in the last five seasons. Two have come at the TPC of Scottsdale, by Mickelson and Mark Calcavecchia (in 2001). Grant Waite also shot 60 there in 1996.
If the course could talk: Excuse me, but I’m not the pushover I seem to be, low scores aside. Give me some desert chill and a little wind to work with, and I’ll show you some defiance.
• Presidents Cup standout Chris DiMarco makes his PGA TOUR debut this week after winning his first tournament in four years two weeks ago abroad at the Abu Dhabi Championship. DiMarco’s FBR Open record includes three top-5 finishes, all in the last five years, including his last TOUR title in 2002. He missed the cut last year.
• Camilo Villegas, who received a sponsor exemption into the FBR Open, seems to be fully healed from a slight mishap at his TOUR debut at the Sony Open in Hawaii. His left thumb had become infected after he pulled off the nail and he needed an injection to finish in Hawaii.
Chris DiMarco won the FBR Open in 2002. (Martin/WireImage)
• After switching drivers at the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic, Jesper Parnevik is 31 under par in his last 10 rounds with a 62 and 64 to his credit and has as many top 10s (two) as he had all of 2005. Now Parnevik gets on a golf course where he’s been under par in 12 of his last 16 rounds and where he won in 1998. By the way, his lowest round last year was a 65 -- at the FBR Open.
• David Duval returns to the TPC of Scottsdale for the first time since 2001. He has never finished in the top 10 in eight career starts, one of the few places he doesn’t own a finish that high.
• Multiple left-handed players have finished in the top-10 in Scottsdale four of the last five years.
• Ben Crane withdrew from the Buick Invitational of California after one round because of a back injury, which he has battled in the past. It’s bad enough to also force his withdrawal from the FBR Open.
TI’s strength of field index: Five of the world’s top-10 players, 12 former champions, 19 of last year's top-30 money winners … nice. 8.4
TI’s power ranking for FBR Open: 1. Chris DiMarco, 2. Phil Mickelson, 3. Jesper Parnevik, 4. Vijay Singh, 5. Tom Lehman.