It may not be the PGA Tour’s most popular tournament, but this week the Transitions Championship provided no shortage of story lines for us to enjoy. The first story of the week was a record breaking first round performance from former fourth overall pick, Padraig Harrington. Harrington opened with a 61, before recovering his old form and promptly plummeting down the leaderboard. The second storyline that we got to enjoy was the resurgence of the seniors. Jim Furyk, Ernie Els, and Retief Goosen spent most of the week in contention, before their time machine broke down and were promptly returned from 2006 back to the present(if you actually look at the PGA Tour’s money list, those three were ridiculously consistent from 2001-2006). The final storyline of the week was Luke Donald’s quest to become World #1 again. With a win, Donald would overtake Rory McIlroy atop the standings… and he did just that. Firing a bogey-free final round 66, Donald got himself into the four man playoff, and when he fired his approach within five feet on the first playoff hole, the tournament was all but over. With another win added to his resume, are we to the point where the media will give Luke the credit that he undoubtedly deserves? This is the wrap up!
I can’t believe I’m actually writing this, but Brent starts off the wrap up this week. Just when we were about to send Brent’s struggling team down to our AAA affiliate, the European Tour, the guy pulls out 195 points in a tier one. He’s still in last for now, but one more week like this one could see him overtake Lawrence for sixth. Luke Donald may not have gotten much coverage in the last few weeks, with Rory McIlroy and Justin Rose lighting it up, but Donald has been incredibly consistent over the last couple of years, and is well deserving of the World #1 ranking and the exposure that comes with it. As if the win wasn’t enough, Brent also managed a second place from Bae, and fifth from the Big Easy (who along with Donald were both part of a six way tie for first at one point. Tack on top 50’s from K.J. Choi and Robert Allenby and this was far and away Brent’s best week of the season so far.
Besides being best of friends, Beast and Brent are also bitter rivals. So when Beast saw the kind of week that Brent was having, he fired back with one of his own. Steve Stricker, Matt Kuchar and Bo Van Pelt are the only players that Beast has had on his roster in all three years of SSF golf, and since the league started, the three of them have combined for 56 top tens! Who needs to rack up wins when you can ring up top tens like this guy? Kooch and Van Pelt shot -6 and -5 respectively to charge into the top ten this week, while Jim Furyk was fighting for the win until the bitter end. Ultimately Furyk would have to settle for the 50 points from second, but the two other top tens this week put Beast on pace for nearly 50! He said as he was submitting his roster, that Streelman would have to earn his way on. Streelman must have heard him, as he too registered a top ten, but it found the pine. With his 110 points, Beast surpassed Bryce, and his team is definitely hitting it’s stride.
Lawrence’s fifty points this week is good for third, but Brent still closed the gap between them by nearly 150. While Matteo Mannassero were having their fun on the European Tour, Retief Goosen was fighting through back pain to try and win for the first time since he won this very tournament back in 2009. The Iron Goose fought valiently, but his final round 75 dropped him out of the top ten and into a tie for 20th. Vijay Singh failed to join the renaissance party of the early 2000’s, as he missed the cut, and 10-year old Chez Reavie(who was in diapers back when Veej was in his prime) earned an admirable 10 points. I honestly didn’t even know Kevin Na was playing in this tournament, but sources say he finished in a tie for 38th. Finally, Lawrence’s highly touted, belly-putting hero Webb Simpson worked his way into the top ten, despite battling food poisoning earlier in the week. Lawrence lost some serious ground to Brent this week, and if he’s going to stay out of last place, he needs to stop David Ward-ing it and keep his eyes on the prize.
Now that Fuchs has mortgage payments on his platter, he may finally consider selling off Hunter Mahan for some cold hard cash. Swan Lake’s newest(and only) 100% certified masseuse has already equaled his favorite number of 105 from last year once, but it’s going to be tough to do it again if Ryan Moore keeps getting goose eggs. Five points each from Snedeker and Senden isn’t going to cut it in the long run, and while Jeff Overton tried to bail him out with a top five, there is only so much that “Boom Baby!” can do for you.
With a full roster including Nick Watney and Ryo Ishikawa, 35 points is tough for James to swallow. Especially when the gap between him and last place is now just 390 points. The aforementioned Watney and Ishikawa along with Camilo Villegas failed to earn any points, and despite a noble Sunday charge, Geoff Ogilvy could only manage ten. Thank Heaven for Jason Dufner, who managed to sneak into the top ten by holing out from a bunker on 18, or it would would have a very disappointing week for the leader.
Coming off a disappointing week in which he failed to earn a top ten, and had Tiger withdraw in the final round due to injury, Bryce needed something big to cheer him up. It didn’t happen. In his title defense, Gary Woodland couldn’t manage more than a top fifty, while Martin Laird and Jimmy Walker couldn’t even do that. The good news for Bryce is that David Toms and Bryce Molder both finished in the top 25, and the two have proven to be decent depth players for his team. Lastly, the “Two Gloves” saga continued this week, and although Bryce didn’t play him, Gainey still managed to miss the cut. The ‘interesting’ golfer from South Carolina now has ZERO points through his eight starts, and is starting to look more like Mike Weir than Mike Weir does.
Finally we come to Dave. After a week that saw him wind up with a win and two more top fives, more than a few tears were shed by a very emotional Dave. It can only be expected that after such a fulfilling win, there is bound to be a bit of fatigue the next week, but no one could have predicted a mere 20 points with the roster that he was fielding. Coming off back-to-back top fives, Charl Schwartzel flamed out spectacularly, missing the cut after opening with 76. Jonathan Byrd made the cut, but failed to make it into the top 50, while Justin Rose and Zach Johnson made the top 50, but couldn’t get to the magic number of -7 and the top 25. A consistent Sergio Garcia was the only one who could manage the top 25, and after earning six top fives in two weeks, Dave holds just a slim ten point lead over third place.
Well that’s the wrap up for this week, my friends. Hopefully you enjoyed the tournament and are looking forward to the Arnold Palmer Invitational next week. I’ll see you then!