Let’s see how well our beloved former ‘Dawgs did in the richest purse on Tour:
Greyson Sigg shot 74-77 and missed the cut by 5 strokes. Harris English started 78-71 and missed the weekend by 3. Then Chris Kirk carded 73-75 and was 2 shy of the cut line. But there’s some good news:
Kevin Kisner barely made the cut, shot 73 Saturday, then a horrific 81 Sunday to fall to 75th place, dead last. He got a measly 2.8 FedEx Cup points, but did earn $48,750. And then tweeted he was going turkey hunting.
Davis Thompson also played the weekend after opening 70-73. His Saturday 69 had him in the middle of the field, but that was shot to hell after Sunday’s 79. He captures 68th place solo, and $52,250.
Sepp Straka snuck in under the cut line, and his final round 69 moved him into a tie for 65th. $53,250.
Brian Harman also just made the cut by a couple, and hung around with weekend rounds of 70-71 to get into T44. $75,035.
Keith Mitchell made the cut on the number but took advantage of his opportunity. Shooting 6 under on the weekend (68-70) and slipping up into T35. A single stroke worse on Thursday or Friday means you get nothing. Instead, he wins $114,166.
Brendon Todd shot 71-69-74-69. That is good for a 5 under par total and T27, which paid out $167,656.
Like Mitchell, Russell Henley made the cut on the number. 66-70 in the final 2 rounds improved him all the way up to T19. So again, by a single stroke, he almost missed out on his earnings of $275,000.
Now we move on to this week’s Tour stop.
Tournament: Valspar Championship, March 16-19, 2023
Course: Innisbrook Resort (Copperhead Course), par 71, 7,340 yards. They say it’s Tampa, but it’s actually closer to Clearwater. It is still Florida, which is an okay place to visit but you wouldn’t want to live there. They eat boogers, you know.
Purse: $8.1 million, with $1.458 million to the winner. This is literally less than a third of last week’s purse. Welcome to the world of non-designated events.
Defending Champ: Sam Burns. The LSU Tiger won in a playoff, no less. And Burns was playing as the defending champion, having captured his first PGA Tour title here in 2021. UGA’s own Brian Harman finished fifth, and has a decent track record here. Which is why the lefty graces the cover photo. Plus, he’s due.
Fun Fact: The tournament has never been won by someone born in the state of Florida. That’s fun. Also, the title sponsor Valspar is a paint company. The other big corporate sponsors are Purdy (paint brushes), Minwax (paints and stains), and Krylon (spray paint). What is the name of Sherman Williams is going on around here?
More Fun Facts: Normally, the caddie wears the same bib (over their normal clothes) that advertises both the tournament and has the player’s last name on the back. That way when you walk up on someone playing, or the camera pans that way, the viewer can more easily identify who is playing. In an effort to appeal to younger demographics, and to remove some of the staid stigma of PGA Tour events, Valspar is allowing custom name plates on caddie bibs. There should be some fun with this. Nicknames, poking fun at themselves, possibly more boring showing social media handles. I’m hoping someone pulls a great prank like putting another player’s personal cellphone number. Anyway, I like the thinking.
TV Times: Thursday-Friday, 2 p.m.-6 p.m. ET (Golf Channel), Saturday-Sunday, 1 p.m.-3 p.m. (Golf Channel), 3 p.m.-6 p.m. (NBC). Pretty normal coverage here, but ESPN+ will still have tons of streaming options.
‘Dawgs in the Field: 3. Brian Harman, Greyson Sigg, and Kevin Kisner.
These three guys have some common ground, but also are in very different places. They’re all below-average height, and they all played for Chris Haack in Athens.
Kevin Kisner is a 4 time Tour winner, including a WGC event (“elevated” status) and has represented the US on a President’s Cup team. He’s fairly comfortable in his Tour career, but is currently languishing at #180 on the points list (still #46 in the world rankings).
Brian Harman is a 2 time Tour winner, doesn’t have the big resume’, and might be more well-known for the dinner plate sized putter he uses. But he’s also #18 in FedExCup points and is positioned well for making the post-season.
Greyson Sigg is #211 in the world. He’s only been on Tour full-time for a couple of years, and doesn’t have any long-term exemptions. So he’s got to perform. And without a win, he’s got to perform often. So he embodies the “journeyman” Tour pro - the guys who play seemingly every week, accumulating points from a volume strategy and not necessarily a big win. He is #87 in points, so he will need a good spring and summer to slip into that top 70.
And this is a perfect week to make a move. Most of the top pros are taking a week off after the stressful Players Championship, and probably having played several times over the last month. Plus, they have the Masters coming up in less than a month. So this field isn’t exactly littered with elite golfers. But they do have Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas, plus about a dozen of the top 50 in the world rankings.
It still pays almost a million and a half, and it still has 500 points to the winner - which would come close to solidifying a date in the post season. So there’s plenty of reasons to play, and I personally like the course. It isn’t a favorite, but it’s pretty tough and very different from what we’ve seen lately from the Honda, Palmer, and TPC environments. So enjoy, and as always...