It’s been a whole week since a former Bulldog has won on the PGA Tour, but there was still some good results from the Arnold Palmer Invitational last week. And some not so good. The course was tough, and it only got tougher on the weekend with windy conditions and greens that got crusty quick. Of the 77 players who made the cut, 17 of them finished the tournament in double digits over par, and there were 6 rounds in the 80’s on Sunday. So no shame in not performing well. But here’s who did what at Bay Hill:
Hudson Swafford shot 77-78 and missed the cut by 8.
Kevin Kisner’s 75-77 was only 3 better and he missed the weekend by 5.
We can forgive Sepp Straka for missing the cut by 2, but having recently deposited a check for $1.4 million, I’m sure he wasn’t slamming his trunk in the parking lot.
Greyson Sigg made the cut by 1, and did just enough to stay out of last place (T68).
Keith Mitchell essentially did the same, but did squeak into a T61.
Brendon Todd made the cut by 2, and beat Mitchell by 1 shot for a solo 60th finish.
Russell Henley continued his steady play, staying on the 2nd page of the leaderboard and finishing T13.
And Chris Kirk bounced back Saturday to stay on the 1st page of the leaderboard, tying for the lead at one point Sunday but ultimately finishing 2 shots back. But his T5 finish had an unexpected benefit - we’ll see Chris across the pond in July.
Now the Tour slides up I-95 (or 17/92 if you like the scenic route) to the First Coast area. Maybe they take the St. Johns River north, but however they get there, they land at PGA Tour headquarters and it’s showcase course, the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass.
Tournament: The Players Championship, March 10-13, 2022
Course: TPC Sawgrass (Stadium Course), 7,256 yards, par 72. Located in Ponte Vedra, FL, just outside of Jacksonville.
Purse: $20 million in total, and $3.6 million to the winner. Say what you want about the SGL, PGL, whatever mythical competing golf Tour you want, but the PGA Tour took notice in their flagship event and the purse is crazy high. This is the most money you can win outside of winning the FedEx Cup outright.
Defending Champ: Justin Thomas. The Louisville-born and Tuscaloosa-bred JT used a fairway finder tumbling draw off the tee and a hot putter to tame Pete Dye’s masterpiece, especially over the weekend. While he had some folks on his heels, he grabbed the lead for good at the turn Sunday and held on while others fell away. Former Bulldog Brian Harman shot 69-69 over the weekend to sneak into a tie for 3rd.
Fun Fact: This is the site of the “better than most” call when Tiger rolled in a long triple-breaking putt on the iconic 17th green. And it’s fitting that Tiger is inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame Wednesday night, with his teenage daughter Sam giving the introductory speech.
TV Times: Thursday-Friday, 12 p.m.-6 p.m. ET (Golf Channel). Saturday-Sunday, 1 p.m.-6 p.m. (NBC). So we’ll have Dan Hicks brown-nosing Paul Azinger, some sappy Jimmy Roberts pieces, and of course Gary Koch.
‘Dawgs in the Field: 9. Brian Harman, Russell Henley, Chris Kirk, Kevin Kisner, Keith Mitchell, Sepp Straka, Hudson Swafford, Brendon Todd, and Bubba Watson.
The tournament is now settling down in it’s more traditional March setting, having spent a decade or so played on Mother’s Day weekend. And north Florida in March gives more variety in weather and scoring conditions, which makes the course much tougher overall. This week will be a perfect example: there’s a 90+ percent chance of rain Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Then the mercury drops and it gets into the 30’s Saturday night into Sunday morning, with a Sunday high of a measly 53. These guys are going to be miserable, and I for one am here for it.
I know many of you will be either be watching Georgia make an incredible run through the SEC tournament, or Tom Crean officially off the UGA payroll. Unfortunately I think it might take another tornado outbreak to do the former, whereas I bet Josh Brooks will be holding the door for the latter. Either way, there are some Bulldogs in the pro ranks worth rooting for. Because we like millionaires to make more millions. And as always...