Canon Greater Hartford Open breakdown

By Greg Robertson
ESPN Golf Online
Sunday, July 2

When Thursday-Sunday
Course TPC at River Highlands, Cromwell, Conn.
Par/Yardage Par 70; 6,820 yards
Purse $2.8 million (Winner: $504,000)
1999 champion Brent Geiberger
Tournament record 25-under 259 (Tim Norris, 1982)
Television Thursday-Friday: 2-4 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Saturday: 4-6 p.m. ET (ABC)
Sunday: 3-6 p.m. ET (ABC)
The tournament
  Hole by hole
  Hole Par Yards
  1 4 434
  2 4 341
  3 4 431
  4 4 460
  5 3 223
  6 5 574
  7 4 443
  8 3 202
  9 4 406
  Out 35 3514
  10 4 462
  11 3 158
  12 4 411
  13 5 523
  14 4 421
  15 4 296
  16 3 171
  17 4 420
  18 4 444
  In 35 3306
  Total 70 6820
  Key holes:
The tournament comes down to playing the par-4s, since there are 12 on the course. Two of the more interesting are Nos. 15 an 17. At just 296 yards, the 15th can be reached with a perfect drive, but the key word in perfect. The fairway doglegs to the left and bunkers guard both sides of the green. The 17th features a 90-degree dogleg to the right, a bank along the left rough and water along the right. Stewart Cink made an incredible shot from that bank over the water and onto the green to secure his first tour win in 1997
The Canon Greater Hartford Open means two things on the PGA Tour: You'd better be prepared to go low if you expect to win, and don't be surprised if there are newcomers on the leaderboard.

Despite having just two par-5s on the course, the TPC at River Highlands is a place to make birdies. In the past six years, the winning score has been in double digits under par, topped by Brent Geiberger's 18-under 262 last year.

In fact, the winner at Hartford has not shot a single round in the 70s since D.A. Weibring shot 70 during the third round of the 1996 event. Want more evidence that River Highlands is a scoring mecca? Last year, both Doug Martin and Mike Reid shot four rounds in the 60s, and they tied for 34th.

Geiberger's win last year continued a trend of firt-time winners at Hartford. Geiberger, Olin Browne (1998) and Stewart Cink (1997) all won for the first time in this event, so don't be surprised if another newcomer is hanging around on Sunday.

Geiberger's win was not only historic for him, but for his family. The son of Al Geiberger became the first son of a former PGA Tour champion to win a tour event since Guy Boros, son of Julius Boros, won the 1996 Greater Vancouver Open.

Geiberger was also the first player since Justin Leonard at the 1996 Buick Open to win a tournament in which he had a hole-in-one.

One of the newcomers to keep an eye on this week is making his professional debut. NCAA champion Charles Howell turned professional on Tuesday, and he picked a good time to earn some money. Not only did he shatter scoring records at the NCAA Finals this month, he played the Tour last week and tied for second at the Greensboro Open.

This event is being played earlier than normal this season. Last year, Geiberger won in early August during the lull between the British Open and PGA Championship. This year, the British Open lurks just three weeks away, leaving many of the top players on a break.

Tiger Woods, David Duval, Tom Lehman, Phil Mickelson and Fred Couples are just some of the top stars skipping the week.

Many of them will be in the field next week at the Western Open. The tour then heads to Milwaukee for the final British Open tuneup.

A dozen players to watch
Billy Andrade: This is a big week for the Rhode Island resident, but 2000 has been nothing but a struggle for Andrade. He has made just seven cuts in 18 starts and hasn't cracked the top 20. Maybe New England can turn him around.

Notah Begay III: Was it a weak field, or has Begay become a top-notch player? His win last week at St. Jude was his third in 10 months. last year, he tied for 14th here with four rounds in the 60s, including a 64 on Sunday.

Olin Browne: Browne earned his first PGA Tour win at Hartford with an amazing playoff chip in 1998, but 2000 has been a struggle. He has missed eight cuts in 18 starts, with his best finish a tie for 13th at the Memorial.

Stewart Cink: Cink has owned this tournament in the three years he has been on tour. He won as a rookie in 1997, lost a playoff to Browne in 1998 and tied for eighth last year. And in 2000, he is playing his best golf.

Jim Furyk: Furyk hasn't missed a cut in 16 starts this season, but the past month has been a disappointment. He was 60th at the U.S. Open, 51st at Westchester and 25th at Memorial. It's time for him to find his swing again.

Brent Geiberger: He picked up his first win in Hartford last year by a comfortable three shots. But he's taken a step back in 2000, showing no positive results after a pair of top-10s on the West Coast swing.

Pete Jordan: The four-time Q-School veteran went a long way toward securing his 2001 card with a tie for fourth last week at Memphis, taking him to 96th on the money list. He shared the 36-hole lead in this event last year before settling for sixth.

Justin Leonard: After a season of struggles, Leonard has come out of his funk in the past month. He finished second at both the Memorial and Kemper, and was a respectable 16th at the U.S. Open.

Davis Love III: Love seemed to contend all spring, with seven top-10 finishes from February through May. But he was 33rd at Westchester and nowhere near the cut at the U.S. Open. It's time to get back on track.

Steve Lowery: The veteran has had quite a run of late, finishing fifth at Memorial, second at Kemper and 10th at Westchester. He'll see if two weeks off have cooled him down.

Tom Scherrer: Scherrer broke through with his first win at Kemper to start June, then finished seventh last week at Memphis. This course is much like the TPC at Avenal, so Scherrer should be confident.

Mike Weir: The lefthander has been in the top 20 in two-thirds of his tournaments this year, including six top-10 finishes. His last four starts have been strong, including a tie for 16th at the U.S. Open.

Begay makes it two in a row at GHO

Canon Greater Hartford Open scorecard

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Triplett doesn't stumble in shooting record 61

Young and old leading way in Hartford

Begay carries hot streak into Hartford

Begay hoping to remain hot in Hartford

Canon Greater Hartford Open field

1999 Canon Greater Hartford Open results

Canon Greater Hartford Open past champions

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