The four-day tournament — which is played at the same time as the British Open — begins this morning at the 7,202-yard course that has hosted the event since 1994 and served as a launching point for several young golfers’ careers.
Because most of the game’s biggest stars are across the ocean competing in the British Open, Annandale gives others a more realistic shot at winning on the PGA Tour.
Six former tournament winners are in this year’s field, including the 28-year-old Kirk, a former Etowah High School and Georgia star who won in 2011.
Last year’s winner, Scott Stallings, earned a spot in this week’s British Open.
Five former major winners are also in the field, including Love III, Lee Janzen, David Toms, Shaun Micheel and Mike Weir.
Love, 49, has been in the top 100 on the PGA money list for 27 straight years, going back to 1986. That streak is in danger — he is currently 158th — after he missed several months because of neck surgery earlier this year.
As is usually the case during mid-summer in Mississippi, the forecast calls for plenty of heat, humidity and the chance of thunderstorms.
If the course gets wet, Annandale’s greens can turn very forgiving, and that’s led to low scores in the past. Stallings shot 24 under last year to capture the victory — beating Acworth resident Jason Bohn by two strokes — by shooting back-to-back 64s in the second and third rounds.
The highest ranked players in this year’s field are Charles Howell III and Kirk, who are No. 21 and No. 26 in the FedEx Cup standings, respectively.
The tournament has a $3 million purse, with $540,000 going to the winner.