DULUTH - Our local PGA Tour stop has taken some hits lately.
It lacks for marquee players like Tiger Woods, who hasn't played at the TPC at Sugarloaf since winning in 1997. Phil Mickelson dropped this stop when it switched to a May date instead of its previous spot before the Masters.
Stewart Cink, at No. 15, is the highest player in the World Golf Rankings at the AT&T Classic.
Speaking of AT&T, its sponsorship is done after this year. So the tournament is in search of another title sponsor to keep it alive.
The course itself has had a fight, with the drought putting the pressure on superintendent Mike Crawford and his staff.
Yet for all those issues, the golf tournament is still something special. It's an event a lot of us took for granted, maybe we didn't appreciate just how unique it is to have a PGA Tour event right here in our backyard.
This year's tourney won't yield a champion the status of past winners Woods and Mickelson, but it still makes for a fun week with plenty of perks.
It's tough to beat a nice, relaxing day at the golf course with nice weather (aside from today's rain). There are plenty of good places to soak up the sun and the golf action, in between people watching.
And when it comes down to it, these golfers may not be Woods. But they're pretty darn good, certainly better than most of us. This week gives all of us a chance to see those players up close and watch them hit shots we only dream about.
One of those guys might be the PGA Tour's next star. The field is full of young up-and-comers, golfers you might not know today but who could be a major winner tomorrow. You can say you saw them back when.
All told, it makes for a great week and it's something we should be thankful for, that we're able to enjoy an event like this on an annual basis.
Will Hammock can be reached via e-mail at email@example.com. His column appears on Thursdays.