The 2005 FBR Open began to take shape in earnest this week with the release of its early commitments. Even though that list will change constantly in the coming five weeks prior to the tournament, as bigger names bump the rookies, the first list was an impressive one.
Among the headliners were defending champion Jonathan Kaye, John Daly, Stewart Cink, Chris DiMarco, Justin Leonard, Bernhard Langer, David Toms, Scott Verplank and three-time Phoenix/FBR Open champ Mark Calcavecchia.
In all, eight past Phoenix/FBR Open winners committed, including 1987 champ Paul Azinger who received the first of five exemptions from the Phoenix Thunderbirds.
Young guns included Aaron Baddeley, Luke Donald, Hunter Haas, Zach Johnson, Hunter Mahan, Kevin Na, Arron Oberholser, Ryan Palmer, Ted Purdy, Bo Van Pelt and Paul Casey, the part-time Scottsdale resident who became embroiled in an international incident involving the level of Americans’ intelligence.
According to Bryon Carney, the tournament chairman for the sponsoring Thunderbirds, "I’m thrilled (with the early commitments)."
"Even though some of the bigger names have yet to commit, we’ve got 13 of the top 30 (money-winners from the 2004 PGA Tour), and 18 of the top 50 ranked players in the world," Carney noted. "And, obviously, we’re going to get some of those top-ranked players who have yet to commit."
Even though Stewart Cink at No. 10 is the only player among the top 10 in the world rankings who is signed, top-ranked Vijay Singh is almost a certainty, considering he is a two-time Phoenix/FBR Open champ.
"I think we’ll get Vijay, no question," said Carney, pointing out that Phil Mickelson at No. 5 is as good as "in," since he announced last week that the FBR is on his West Coast schedule.
Of the remaining seven players among the top 10, most likely to play at the TPC of Scottsdale come Jan. 31 through Feb. 6 are Retief Goosen (No. 4), Mike Weir (No. 8) and Sergio Garcia (No. 9). The long shots would be Tiger Woods (No. 2), Padraig Harrington (No. 6) and Davis Love III (No. 7). Ernie Els (No. 3) apparently is headed for Australia that week to play in the Heineken Open.
So the bumping begins, as every time a higher-ranked player commits to this popular event, the low man drops off.
That’s why players like local favorites Rob Rashell, Danny Briggs, Joey Snyder III, Jimmy Carter and Jason Allred will most likely need a tournament sponsor’s exemption to get into the 132-man field, which actually is just 129 players when taking into account three spots go to Monday qualifiers.
PGA Tour members have until 5 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 28 to commit, and many take the full allotment, most notably Woods, who goes right up until the last minute.
"It’s a real good start," added Carney. "It’s nice to have David Toms back after not being here last year, and players like Brad Faxon, who hasn’t played here in several years."
As far as Casey, Carney said he hoped there wouldn’t be too much flak directed at the Englishman, who was quoted in a British tabloid as saying, "Americans are stupid. I hate them."
"I really don’t know what to expect," said Carney, when queried about the reaction to Casey once he reaches the notorious 16th hole at the TPC. "I do know we’re excited he’s decided to play here, and I hope for the best."
2005 FBR Open field Alphabetical, as of Dec. 28
Steve Allan Michael Allen Jason Allred Stephen Ames Chris M. Anderson Tommy Armour III Woody Austin Paul Azinger Aaron Baddeley Cameron Beckman Rich Beem Jason Bohn Justin Bolli Jeff Brehaut Danny Briggs D.J. Brigman Bart Bryant Tom Byrum Mark Calcavecchia Jim Carter Paul Casey Alex Cejka K.J. Choi Daniel Chopra Stewart Cink Tim Clark Paul Claxton Gavin Coles Ben Crane John Daly Robert Damron Matt Davidson Brian Davis Chris DiMarco Luke Donald James Driscoll Bob Estes Brad Faxon Todd Fischer Steve Flesch Carlos Franco Bill Glasson Matt Gogel Paul Gow Scott Gutschewski Hunter Haas Dudley Hart David Hearn Bob Heintz Mark Hensby Charles Howell III Bradley Hughes John Huston Ryuji Imada Lee Janzen Zach Johnson Brendan Jones Steve Jones Jonathan Kaye Skip Kendall Neal Lancaster Bernhard Langer Franklin Langham Stephen Leaney Justin Leonard J.L. Lewis Frank Lickliter II Peter Lonard Michael Long Andrew Magee Hunter Mahan Shigeki Maruyama Len Mattiace Billy Mayfair Scott McCarron Shaun Micheel Kevin Na Sean O’Hair Arron Oberholser Joe Ogilvie Geoff Ogilvy Greg Owen Ryan Palmer Carl Paulson Dennis Paulson Pat Perez Craig Perks Tom Pernice, Jr. Tim Petrovic Carl Pettersson D.A. Points Phillip Price Ted Purdy Rob Rashell Tag Ridings John Riegger John Rollins Rory Sabbatini Patrick Sheehan Joey Sindelar Heath Slocum Jeff Sluman Chris Smith Joey Snyder III Darron Stiles Andre Stolz Hideto Tanihara Vaughn Taylor Roland Thatcher Mario Tiziani David Toms D.J. Trahan Kirk Triplett Bob Tway Bo Van Pelt Scott Verplank Duffy Waldorf Jimmy Walker Euan Walters Charles Warren Nick Watney Brett Wetterich Jay Williamson Dean Wilson
3 Open Qualifying spots