Tiger Woods will see his Wachovia Championship title change hands this week as he recovers from knee surgery.
Woods, sidelined since having the procedure shortly after The Masters, is again absent this week for the US$6.4 million tournament, which was to start yesterday at Quail Hollow.
The world number one set the tournament record of 13-under-par 275 last year as he posted a two-shot triumph over Steve Stricker.
Four other former champions are in the field, including 2006 winner Jim Furyk, 2005 champion Vijay Singh, 2004 champ Joey Sindelar and David Toms.
In all, 19 of the top-25 ranked players in the world are entered, including world No. 2 Phil Mickelson.
Mickelson has already notched one victory this year, as well as a playoff loss and tie for fifth at the Masters.
He returns to action after a two-week break and will be keen to improve on his tie for third here last year. Mickelson’s short game should prove useful around the fast Quail Hollow greens.
“I haven’t played great in this tournament, but I’ve played well every year,” said Mickelson, who has three top-seven finishes in the past four years.
“I think some course knowledge will help. There’s a lot of difficultly in reading these greens, because there are a lot of putts that double break, or break more or less than it looks visually, so it’s hard to adjust,” he said.
With Woods sidelined, Singh should be in the spotlight. Along with Kevin Sutherland, Singh is the only other player to have made the cut at every Wachovia Championship since the tournament’s inception in 2003.
World No. 4 Stricker is having an inconsistent year, with four top-10s but also three missed cuts, including the Masters.