British Open champion Todd Hamilton has committed to next week’s FBR Open, making it three out of last year’s four major championship winners who have signed to play at the TPC of Scottsdale.
Hamilton, last season’s rookie of the year who is ranked No. 20 in the world, joins Phil Mickelson (Masters) and Vijay Singh (PGA Championship). The fourth member of that group, U.S. Open winner Retief Goosen is home in South Africa and not expected to play.
Also committing to the FBR, which starts its 72-hole run a week from today, were Chad Campbell (No. 16 in the world), Robert Allenby (No. 34), Fredrik Jacobson (No. 42) and Tim Clarke (No. 49). Of the top 50 players in the world, 25 will play in the FBR.
Bryon Carney, tournament chairman, also pointed out that the tournament has commitments from 37 out of the top 50 money winners from last year "and we’ve still got three days to go.’’
"We’re still in there for some big names,’’ Carney said of potential players who still have until 5 p.m. on Friday to sign on. "We’re probably going to lose a couple of those, but I hope to get commitments from at least three more (highly ranked players).’’
Carney already has four of the world’s top 10, including Vijay Singh (No. 1), Phil Mickelson (No. 5), Mike Weir (No. 8) and Stewart Cink (No. 10). Of the six remaining players in that elite group, Davis Love III (No. 9) might be the best prospect.
"We know that (No. 3) Ernie Els, Stuart Appleby and Adam Scott are playing in the Heinken Open,’’ Carney said. "And Retief Goosen (No. 4) and Padraig Harrington (No. 7) are home (in South Africa and Ireland, respectively). But we’re hopeful for everybody else.’’
That means Carney has not given up on No. 2 Tiger Woods, who won last week’s Buick Invitational in San Diego and promptly flew home to Florida. Or Sergio Garcia (No. 6) and Love III (No. 9).
Other players of note who have yet to commit but might be here include Jim Furyk and Jay Haas. And Paul Casey, who withdrew a week ago due to a back injury, has indicated through his agent he still might be back in the 132-man field, Carney said.
There also was a report in Golf World that Darren Clarke, rated 14th best in the world, would make his U.S. debut at the FBR Open.
"We’re checking that out, and hope it’s true,’’ Carney said.