Despite a full-course press by the sponsoring Phoenix Thunderbirds, Tiger Woods ended all speculation Friday afternoon when he failed to sign on the dotted line for next week’s FBR Open. It marked the third straight year that the top-ranked player in the world had passed on the tournament.
Even though Woods will not be among the 132 players teeing off at the TPC of Scottsdale, the FBR did end up with a stellar cast for the $5.2 million event. Topping the marquee will be No. 2-ranked Vijay Singh, who has posted 10 consecutive top-10 finishes, including three victories during that date back to August 2003. Singh is the defending champ.
Tournament chairman Greg Hoyt said the Thunderbirds would have "loved to have had Tiger in the mix, but hopefully next year."
"We made all the appropriate contacts we could make without annoying someone," Hoyt said of the behind-thescenes wrangling that went on over Woods, who apparently will not play again until the Buick Invitational at San Diego Feb. 12-15.
"But we do have Vijay, and he’s the No. 1 money guy from last year," Hoyt said. "In fact, I’ve heard that he’ll be here Sunday to start working on his game for his title defense."
In all, the FBR got 29 of the top-ranked players in the world, including 12 former champs. The latter category included Phil Mickelson (1996), who currently is leading the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic; three-time defending champ Mark Calcavecchia (1989, 1992, 2001), who needs one more win for the all-time record; and local favorite Tom Lehman (2000).
Other headliners included Masters champ Mike Weir (ranked No. 6 in the world), Retief Goosen (No. 7) and Kenny Perry (No. 9). Also, crowd favorites John Daly, Peter Jacobsen and Sergio Garcia will play.
Hoyt also announced Friday that he gave out his final sponsor’s exemption to former University of Arizona All-American Ted Purdy, a recent graduate of the Nationwide Tour. Hoyt earlier gave out exemptions to Paul Casey, Ricky Barnes, Jim Carter and Per-Ulrik Johansson.
There are still three spots to be determined in the field. That will come Monday when qualifying tournaments take place in Scottsdale at Gainey Ranch and McCormick Ranch.