Friday, June 22, 2018

Tampa Bay's PGA event at Innisbrook gets ranked players

The Tampa Bay Championship added two players in the top 10 of the Official World Golf Ranking to its field.

Louis Oosthuizen (No. 5) and Matt Kuchar (No. 8) have committed to play in the PGA Tour event at Palm Harbor's Innisbrook Resort and Golf Club in March. Kuchar is coming off a victory in last week's WGC-Match Play Championship.

The Tampa Bay Championship, formerly known as the Transitions Championship, now has five players ranked in the top 10 including defending champion Luke Donald (No. 3), Brandt Snedeker (4) and Adam Scott (7). Jason Dufner and Webb Simpson have also recently committed.

The tournament is March 14-17 at Innisbrook's Copperhead Course in Palm Harbor.

Tournament director Kevin Krisle said the search continues for a title sponsor. Transitions, a Pinellas Park optical company, ended its four-year run in 2012. This year's event is being played without a title sponsor but if one is not found by the end of the year, it likely will mean the end of the tournament.

"We are continuing to pursue a title sponsor, but nothing new to report,'' Krisle said. "We, along with the PGA Tour, remain optimistic in that regard.''

Fla. swing for Tiger, Rory: This is not the rivalry anyone had in mind when Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy began the year.

They made their debut in Abu Dhabi last month, and both missed the cut. The next time they played in the same tournament was last week in the WGC-Match Play, and both were eliminated in the first round.

The difference is Woods returned to Torrey Pines the week after missing the cut. He left little reason for anyone to doubt his game, winning by four shots for his 75th career victory on the PGA Tour.

McIlroy knew starting the year at Abu Dhabi with Woods would put attention on his equipment change from Titleist to Nike, and it only intensified with bad results.

But the start of the Florida swing is no time to panic, and McIlroy didn't sound worried Thursday in preparation for today's Honda Classic.

"It's fine," he said. "I knew coming into (the year) it was going to be a bit of a process, and I knew there was going to be comments if it didn't happen for me right away. I'm only two tournaments into the season. I've still 20 to go, so it's not like I'm in any rush."

The Florida swing also signals the start of the road to Augusta and the Masters in April. Only 34 players in today's 144-man field are currently in the Masters.

LPGA: Ai Miyazato withdrew from the HSBC Women's Champions in Singapore as a precaution after she was hurt in a weekend auto accident.

Information from Times wires was used in this report.

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