Viking Classic kicks off Fall Finish series
Sept. 30 - Oct. 3
Course: Annandale Golf Club (7,199 yards, par 72), Madison, Miss.
Purse: $3.6 million. Winner's share: $648,000.
When the Viking Classic held its media day on Aug. 23, tournament director Randy Watkins used humor to reflect on last year’s rainout in Mississippi.
“Our defending champion, Mother Nature, couldn't be here today,” Watkins deadpanned. “She shot a record 22 inches of rain last year.”
The downpour drowned Annandale Golf Club, making conditions unplayable, and it caused the cancellation of the tournament for the first time in its 43-year history.
THREE TO WATCH
Henrik Stenson – After representing Europe in the 2006 and 2008 Ryder Cup, Stenson fell short of making the team. A strong result in Mississippi would soothe his disappointment.
Chad Campbell – After playing for Uncle Sam in the last three Ryder Cups, Campbell has work to do to keep his card this season. He currently ranks No. 107 on the Tour money list. Campbell won the Viking in 2007 and is looking to cook up another big finish.
Arjun Atwal – The native of India won in his last start – 6 weeks ago at the Wyndham Championship. At last, he’s eligible to play again. Is he still hot or has his game cooled off during the FedEx Cup layoff?
What a difference a year makes.
There hasn’t been a drop of rain all month, according to Watkins. In fact, word is the course is parched and likely will stay that way. The long-range forecast is sunny skies, no rain – and scores in the 60s.
Will Mackenzie rode a hot putter to victory in 2008. But Annandale CC, a Jack Nicklaus design, typically is a ballstriker’s course. Five of the past eight champions at Annandale have finished in the top 4 in greens in regulation.
The Viking Classic kicks off the five-event Fall Finish series of tournaments. Considering that many of the best players are on the other side of the pond competing in the Ryder Cup, Watkins was pleased with the Viking’s 132-man field and called it one of the tournament’s best ever. Sean O’Hair, Aaron Baddeley and John Daly were among the late entries. The field also includes six tournament winners from this season, eight former major winners and four past Viking champions. Many of the players in the tournament are still battling to bank enough cash to make the top 125 on the money list and retain their Tour cards.
The winner won’t have to worry about that. A victory during the Fall Finish earns a two-year Tour exemption, just like at any FedEx Cup event.