Let’s check in on the current crop of Bulldog golfers before we jump into the high rollers.
The UGA Women’s Golf team is coming off a 6th place finish at the Florida Gators Invitational weekend before last. A pair of opening 78’s put Josh Brewer’s charges behind the chains, even though Caterina Don and Jenny Bae had consistent weeks. They are now playing on the few patches of grass in Columbia, SC at the Gamecock Intercollegiate. This is a stacked field, with the top 5 teams in the nation and 11 of the top 25 (Georgia sits at #13 - they’ve been nibbling at the top 10 most of the early season). Play was halted yesterday and they hope to finish the 2nd round today as well as play the final round. UGA is in 6th place after a very good round 2.
The Men’s team has returned from Baton Rouge where they played in the LSU Invitational. A good second round had the Bulldogs 9th, and Trent Phillips was top 5 in individual play. But a lackluster 3rd round put Phillips out of contention and the ‘Dawgs overall fell to 10th. Now on to the pros:
Tournament: Arnold Palmer Invitational Presented by Master Card. March 4-7, 2021
Course: Bay Hill Club & Lodge, par 72, 7,454 yards. On the southeast side of Orlando, just 15 minutes from Disney World. And 15 minutes from the outlet stores on I-4. And 15 minutes from Lake Apopka. It’s a geographical oddity - 15 minutes from everywhere.
Purse: $9,300,000 with first prize of $1,674,000
Defending Champ: Tyrell Hatton. The tempestuous Englishman survived tempestuous winds, and emerged at 4 under par, one of only 4 players under par for the week. Since that time, Hatton has won 2-3 more tournaments worldwide (European PGA Tour) and is now #5 in the world. Georgia’s Keith Mitchell finished tied for 5th at even par, Harris English tied for 9th, and Brendon Todd tied for 18th.
Fun Fact: Much has been made of Tiger’s 8 tournament wins here. But how about this? Aussie Marc Leishman has career earnings at Bay Hill of $3.3 million. And the only time he hit double-digits under par was 2017, the year he won.
TV Times: Thursday-Friday, 2 p.m.-6 p.m. (Golf Channel). Saturday-Sunday, 12:30 p.m.-2:30 p.m. (Golf Channel), 2:30 p.m.-6 p.m. (NBC). NBC gets the next 5 or 6 weeks before CBS takes back over at the Masters and carries through the spring and summer.
‘Dawgs in the Field: 7. Sepp Straka, Hudson Swafford, Chris Kirk, Keith Mitchell, Kevin Kisner, Harris English, and Brendon Todd.
This is a great tournament, benefitting a great charity (local children’s hospital), on a great course, with a great man as its namesake and legacy. It’s also a week I don’t look forward to.
Over the years, I’ve mentioned my apathy for Arnold Palmer. I might be the only one in the world who doesn’t care for him. Yes, he has done more good for more people than I can ever hope to accomplish. He’s brought joy to literally millions with his swagger, his play, and his philanthropy. That’s awesome. I just am looking forward to Monday, unless of course one of our former Bulldogs can pull out a win.
Speaking of which, this is a good week to pick up some FedEx Cup points. All of those entered are inside the top 76 in points (other than Keith Mitchell who is #162), which is a good thing. Straka and Todd are at #74 and #76 respectively. If you can hold that, great. Because the top 120 get into the playoffs come August. And even better, we’ve entered a weird section of the schedule where there are more points available.
This week has 550, fifty more than the typical PGA Tournament. Next week is the Players which offers 600. Then a WGC event with 550, and a couple of weeks later is the Masters and its 600 points. The other side of that coin is that not everyone gets into the WGC events or the Masters. We’ll update you later on who is eligible and what’s necessary to get in.
This week might be the best option for these seven ‘Dawgs because many of the top pros and point holders are taking the week off. They just played a tough WGC event in South Florida, the Players is next week, and guys are looking for breaks to rest up for the Masters. So while the Big Cat’s away...
I hope you enjoy the golf. There is a lot going on for Georgia athletes right now: baseball and softball have started, the basketball team is doing well and the men’s basketball team is showing up and working up a sweat, tennis and swim & dive are clicking along, etc. It’s just a good time for Bulldog athletes. So as always...