Identifying Each Golf Star's Favorite Course

Ben Alberstadt@benalberstadtFeatured ColumnistMay 26, 2013

Identifying Each Golf Star's Favorite Course

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    What's Tiger Woods' favorite golf course? In a 2006 interview with Jon Robinson of IGN, the world No. 1 identified the Old Course at St. Andrews as his all-time favorite track

    However, as we can't know the minds of all the tour's brightest stars, it's entertaining to look at what their favorite courses ought to be based on their performances at various venues. 

    Riviera is to Ben Hogan as X is to Brandt Snedeker? Read on for the answer to this analogy and others.

Phil Mickelson: TPC Scottsdale

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    Phil Mickelson, a 1992 graduate of Arizona State University, doesn't seem to mind playing golf in the state where he spent his collegiate years. He's won the Phoenix Open a record three times in his 20 years on the PGA Tour. 

    Lefty won the Waste Management Phoenix Open at TPC Scottsdale in convincing fashion this year, firing a 60 in his opening round. The wire-to-wire leader, Mickelson tied the tournament scoring record with his win. 

    Arizona and TPC Scottsdale have been very good to Mr. Mickelson. 

Sergio Garcia: Westchester Country Club

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    TPC Sawgrass, where he won in 2008, may have been one of Sergio Garcia's favorite tracks on the professional circuit—that is, until his turn at the 17th hole during the final round of this year's Players Championship, where he saw his hopes of defeating Tiger Woods sink like his two tee shots into the waters surrounding the famed island green.

    Walter Travis's masterwork, Westchester Country Club, seems to be the Spaniard's favorite course. In fact, Garcia must have been tremendously disappointed to see the course nudged out of the rotation in 2007. 

    Garcia dominated at Westchester when the Buick Classic was held there. From 2000 to 2005, the Spaniard finished third, first, 12th, fourth, first and 22nd respectively.

Luke Donald: Copperhead Course at Innisbrook Resort

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    At the Tampa Bay Championship (formerly the Transitions Championship) this year, Luke Donald finished tied for fourth.

    He won at the Copperhead Course in 2012 in a sudden-death playoff, triumphing over Jim Furyk, Sang-Moon Bae and Robert Garrigus. In 2010, he finished tied for sixth at the event. 

    Clearly, Donald has a real aptitude for playing the Copperhead Course. Given this, it's a wonder he hasn't played more events there.

Rory McIlroy: Quail Hollow

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    Quail Hollow is the course where Rory McIlroy announced himself on the PGA Tour. McIlroy had long been a golfing wunderkind and had played well in Europe, winning the Amateur Closed Championship in 2005. However, it was his win at the Wells Fargo Championship in 2010—and his brilliant final-round 62—that proved he was a legitimate contender on the tour.

    Since his win at Quail Hollow, McIlroy has finished second in a playoff (to Rickie Fowler in his own breakout win last year) and finished tied for 10th this year. This year's 10th-place finish served notice (along with a steady showing at the Masters and other quality finishes) that McIlroy has put the debacle of his hasty exit from the Honda Classic behind him. 

Brandt Snedeker: East Lake Golf Club

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    Brandt Snedeker seemed relatively nonplussed after winning the 2012 Tour Championship—as nonplussed, that is, as one can be after securing a $10 million annuity. 

    Snedeker has won at other courses—Pebble Beach, Torrey Pines, Harbour Town—but the golfer has to have a special fondness for the place where he secured both the FedEx Cup and his future. 

Tiger Woods: Torrey Pines

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    Many of the PGA Tour's finest golfers don't have any great love for Torrey Pines, as evidenced by Geoff Shackelford's poll of the players' favorites

    The best golfer on the planet, however, is of a different mind. 

    It would be imprudent to use the term "affair," but Tiger Woods has had a loving relationship with the William F. Bell's California course for a number of years. 

    Woods secured his 75th PGA Tour win at the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines earlier this year, winning the tournament for a record seventh time.

    Of course, Woods has won at Torrey Pines eight times (the most of any golfer at any single course), and it is his 2008 U.S. Open victory that both defines Woods as a competitor and stands as one of the greatest triumphs in the history of the game.