Stuart Appleby was the first, winning the Mercedes, and as it developed, he was the least likely of all the early victors. But not many people know that Appleby is now 10th on the World Rankings chart. Boffo beginning, eh?
Ernie Els was up next, at the Sony. Els won the Sony last year, too, before he departed for Australia, Thailand and points yonder where they pay a million bucks appearance fee. Ernie showed up at the pay window for his purse money at the Sony and now is in limbo someplace. But right on cue, the worlds No. 3 got a win.
Then came Phil Mickelson. He had been shut out last year, you recall, but for so long he was No. 2 in the world. He won the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic ' a little tournament that comes up with a great winner time and time again. It was the beginning of an impressive new year for Mickelson ' he later almost won again at San Diego, finishing just a shot out of a playoff. His lowest finish this year is a tie for seventh.
Jonathon Kaye won the FBR Open in Phoenix, and Kaye is rapidly turning into a stealth missile on the PGA Tour. Last year he flew under the radar on his march through the tour, but this year he has come front and center. Hes No. 14 in the world - is that visible enough for you?
The tour moved to Pebble Beach and Vijay Singh kept it rolling with a three-shot victory. It was the third win in nine tournaments dating back to last year for the man who finished first on the tours money rankings last year.
So now we go to San Diego, and the hits just keep coming. This time its John Daly, and its time for everyone to get a little teary-eyed. It seems like everyone on the planet was rooting for him ' Dear John, where have you been?
Mike Weir was next in line. Remember, he won three times last year in the first half ' including the Masters. This time it was at the Nissan ' which Mike also won last year.
And last week, another familiar face popped up, name of Tiger Woods. Gosh, is it that time already? Bay Hill is almost upon us, and you know Tiger will be going full-tilt when its that time of year. Woods has won Bay Hill four times in a row, you know. But he had to get at least one win out west ' as he has for most of his career.
A gent named Heath Slocum won at Tucson in the other tour event last week. He had to beat a bunch of famous names to get to the big dance ' Daly, Tom Lehman, Mark Calcavecchia, Steve Elkington, Larry Mize, all guys who have won majors. So maybe Slocum himself will win one someday.
The tour breaks camp in the West and heads to Doral this week for the Ford Championships. Next up is four tournaments in the Florida Swing. Pardon me for saying so ' but Florida will really have to go some if it wants to beat the West Coast. That lineup of champions is a brutal row indeed.
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