Looks like K.J. Choi’s recent success hasn’t come unnoticed. After winning a couple of PGA Tour events this year, his homeland of South Korea has a rekindled craze for golf. Children mimic his swing and Choi is recognized as if he were Tiger Woods. “It went to another level when I won the two tournaments this year. It just created that much more buzz,” he said.
If the event at Congressional Country Club is Tiger’s Tournament, then Firestone Country Club should be dubbed Tiger’s Track. Tiger Woods plays Firestone like it was his backyard. Woods has won the Bridgestone Invitational — part of the World Golf Championships — five times in the last seven years, including the last two years. Stewart Cink made Woods work for last year’s title, succumbing to a birdie putt on the fourth playoff hole in what would be the fourth of Tiger’s run of seven straight PGA Tour wins. This week also serves as a pretty good tuneup for next week’s PGA Championship at Southern Hills.
Believe it or not, the Women’s British Open hasn’t always been a major. It replaced the now-defunct du Maurier Classic as a major in 2001 and has only been an official LPGA event since 1994. Veteran Sherri Steinhauer has won the Open three times and is the defending champ. While many eyes will be on Natalie Gulbis after her win last week at the Evian Masters and a close watch will be paid to Michelle Wie in her comback from a wrist injury, it might take a veteran’s moxie to win it this year as the tournament makes its debut at historic St. Andrews and the Old Course.
While there are two big events, some attention must be paid to the second-string PGA tournament. That is because 16-year-old Tadd Fujikawa is making his debut as a pro at the Reno-Tahoe Open. The Hawaiian, you may recall, became the second-youngest player in history to make a cut at the Sony Open in January in his home state.
THIS WEEK’S TEE TIMES
EVENT: Bridgestone Invitational
WHERE: Akron, Ohio
COURSE: Firestone Country Club, par 70
DEFENDING CHAMP: Tiger Woods
EVENT: Reno-Tahoe Open
WHERE: Reno, Nev.
COURSE: Montreux Golf and Country Club, par 72
DEFENDING CHAMP: Will MacKenzie
EVENT: Women’s British Open
WHERE: St. Andrews, Scotland
COURSE: St. Andrews Old Course, par 73
DEFENDING CHAMP: Sherri Steinhauer
EVENT: 3M Championship
WHERE: Blaine, Minn.
COURSE: TPC Twin Cities, par 71
DEFENDING CHAMP: David Edwards
EVENT: Wichita Open
WHERE: Wichita, Kan.
COURSE: Crestview Country Club, par 72
DEFENDING CHAMP: Kevin Johnson