SAN DIEGO – The 2007 season enters its fourth week at the Buick Invitational, but in some respects, it feels like opening day because of the enormous interest Tiger Woods brings to golf.
Despite sitting out the first three tournaments this year, Woods was mentioned in just about every tourney conversation.
Vijay Singh won the season-opening Mercedes-Benz Championship for his 30th title on the PGA Tour.
Some wondered if Singh was ready to make another bid for No. 1 in the world ranking, a position he took away from Woods a few years ago.
Adam Scott, Charles Howell III, Justin Rose and Lucas Glover – all in their 20s – played in the final group at the first three tournaments and watched someone walk off with the trophy.
That raised more questions about which young player might be capable of challenging Woods.
Charley Hoffman winning the Bob Hope Classic didn’t count.
“I just turned 30,” Hoffman said.
Woods will try for his seventh straight tour victory.
He is the two-time defending Buick champion and has never finished out of the top 10 in the tournament.
The field at Torrey Pines is not as deep as usual.
Just three of the top 10 in the world are on this public course along the Pacific Ocean, because Ernie Els, Retief Goosen, Sergio Garcia and Paul Casey are at the Qatar Masters.
Woods begins his 11th full season on the PGA Tour, and his impact has been fully documented. His television appeal helped the tour negotiate contracts that have sent prize money soaring, from $70 million the year before he showed up to $270 million this year. Is that good or bad?
“You mean money corrupting people into not setting goals high and being satisfied?” pro Luke Donald asked. “In five years, it might take $1.5 million to keep your card.”
PGA TOUR: Buick Invitational. Site: San Diego – Torrey Pines, South and North courses (par 72s). TV: Golf Channel (Thursday-Friday, 1-4 p.m., 7-10 p.m.) and CBS (Saturday, 1-4 p.m.; Sunday, 1-4:30 p.m.).
CHAMPIONS TOUR: Turtle Bay Championship. Site: Kahuku, Hawaii – Turtle Bay Resort, Arnold Palmer Course (par 72). TV: Golf Channel (Friday, 4:30-7 p.m.; Saturday, 10:30 p.m.-1 a.m., 4:30-8 p.m.; Sunday, 10:30 p.m.-1 a.m., 5-8 p.m.; Monday, 10:30 p.m.-1 a.m.).
PGA EUROPEAN/ASIAN TOUR: Qatar Masters. Site: Doha, Qata (Doha Golf Club, par 72). TV: Golf Channel (Thursday-Sunday, 7:30-10:30 a.m.)
NATIONWIDE TOUR: Panama Championship. Site: Panama City, Fla. (Panama Golf Club, par 70). When: Thursday-Sunday (no TV)