Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Tour Ready to Tee off '98 Season

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Tour Ready to Tee off '98 Season

Article excerpt

The PGA Tour's short offseason ends next week with the

Mercedes Championships, at the La Costa Resort and Spa near San


The traditional kickoff to the season, which brings

together the winners of Tour events and major championships

from the previous year, will feature more intriguing story lines

than usual. Among them:

David Duval of Jacksonville goes after his fourth consecutive

victory. He finished the 1997 season by winning his last three

starts, the Michelob Championship, the Walt Disney World Classic

and the Tour Championship, and now attempts a streak only three

golfers have accomplished.

Byron Nelson won 11 in a row in 1945, Ben Hogan won six in a

row in 1948, Jackie Burke won four in a row in 1952, Nelson took

four in succession in the last two events of 1945 and the first

two in 1946, and Hogan won four in a row in 1953.

Leading money winner Tiger Woods, who won the 1997 Mercedes

with a near ace on the first playoff hole with Tom Lehman,

attempts the third title defense of his short career. In the

first two, Disney and the Las Vegas Invitational, Woods finished

tied for 26th and tied for 36th, respectively. In nine rounds as

a defending champion, Woods has broken 70 only three times and

has shot as high as 77.

The Tour's player of the year, rookie of the year and comeback

player of year, as voted by the players, will be announced at a

banquet the night before the tournament. Woods is the favorite

for player of the year, Stewart Cink is the likely rookie of the

year and Bill Glasson, who overcame a series of injuries to win

for the first time in almost four years, is favored as the

comeback player.

This will be the 46th event under this format since starting as

the Tournament of Champions in 1953 in Las Vegas, and the 30th

to be played at the Dick Wilson-designed La Costa track. Next

year, the tournament will move to Hawaii, to be televised in

prime time on ESPN and La Costa will be the host site for the

first World Golf Championship event, the Andersen Consulting

Match Play, Feb. …

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