The title will make sense in just a bit, and I encourage you to hit the hotlinks. The PGA Tour has ended the early season West Coast Swing (see my myriad other Fanposts), and now starts the Florida Swing. They will reside here for the next few weeks before a two-week detour through Texas, finally landing in God's Country the first full week in April - as is right and proper.
This particular week they are playing The Honda Classic at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, FL. This is a pretty sweet Florida resort about 1.5 hours north of DavetheDawg (aka Miami). The Champion Course they will play was originally designed by Fazio (Tom & George for those who know and care), but redesigned by Jack Nicklaus. The Golden Bear. While there is some dispute as to the origin of the nickname, either describing his strong and blond appearance or his high school mascot, there is no disputing his influence. Nicklaus has called this area home for a long time and raised 5 kids and 21 grandchildren here (one of whom is about to be drafted in the NFL, has a MNC, and is nicknamed The Golden Cub). Jack serves as the unofficial host, and the proceeds are essentially directed to charities chosen by Jack's wife Barbara. This is his tournament (well, one of his tournaments). Also, he did a particular job on holes 15-17 and this is now known as The Bear Trap - it has it's own statue and everything. It is a tough track, and the cut is usually right at even par. That validates it as a challenge, even though it only measures just over 7100 yards (but essentially at sea level). And now you uderstand the Fanpost title... and knowing is half the battle.
This week marks the 2015 US premiere of one Rory McIlroy - the 5'6" wee lad from Northern Ireland who is far and away the best golfer on the planet as we speak (and since last summer). He's lately been making bank in the middle East and fighting lawsuits, but make no mistake that his golf game will be ready. Because of the location (gorgeous FLA), the date (start prepping for The Masters), the host (aforementioned Jack Nicklaus), and the course, this tourney attracts a top-flight field. And that field will be 4.86% from The University of Georgia.
For the 2nd week in a row, the field features the defending champion from UGA. Last week it was Bubba. This week it's Russell Henley. The "Muscle from Macon" (okay, I promise to never use that again) has made his last 6 cuts. He's played sparingly, but has cashed checks and is always a threat. He's 35th in the FedEx Cup and over $700k to his name so far this season - which means he can buy Macon (MaconDawg can represent him in his dealings). The other Bulldog alums are as follows (with FedEx Cup ranking in parentheses):
Erik Compton (108). Not good. Missed last 3 cuts after a top 10 in Palm Springs (the other coast). Needs to turn it around quick.
Harris English (17). Pretty dang good. But not brilliant. Harris has flirted with the lead (Torrey Pines and Sony Open), and has made his last 5 cuts. He is making serious money - $980k so far this season - but I'd like to see him close one out or blitz the field or just SOMETHING.
Brian Harman (95). The other lefty from Chris Haack's prodigious pro golf factory (not named Bubba), he won last year but hasn't hit his stride in 2015. Missed cut last week but also has 2 top 20s and a T32 this season. He seems to have one bad round every week.. eliminate that and he is worth talking about.
Chris Kirk (44). He's as solid as Harris English, but he hasn't put everything together in one week so far. He's made over $500k this season, he's in The Masters (actually he's 22nd in the world right now) but I'd like to see him challenge the leaderboard on Sunday pretty soon.
Kevin Kisner (95). He's 274th in the world, but hey... the 287th player in the world won the tourney last week, so why not Kevin this week? The reason is mostly his game... it's not up to snuff at the moment. A withdrawal and then 5 missed cuts says that he needs some retooling. Here's hoping he gets it together this week.
Hudson Swafford (66). He's 320th in the world. So.... see Kevin Kisner above. Okay, that's actually a disservice as he made the cut at Pebble Beach two weeks ago. But still. GET IT TOGETHER SWAFFORD (you idiot)!
Only 7 in the field this week, but that's a sight better than anyone else. And if you're keeping score, as I am, UGA alums have totaled over $6 million in earnings this PGA Tour season. 2nd place UNLV has less than $4.2 million, and third place FSU has less than $2.5 million. So we're good. Like crazy good. We just need some exposure to the Winner's Circle (aka a comically large check like in Happy Gilmore), and all will be right with the world.
Be loud, be proud, and turn in to the Golf Channel Thu/Fr from 2:00-6:00 pm ET, Sat/Sun 1:00-3:00 pm ET, with the main broadcast on NBC (it's their turn) from 3:00-6:00 pm ET Sat/Sun. Let's go 'Dawgs!!!!