TRIUMPH...: Tiger Woods picked up where he left off last season, winning his first event of 2008 in runaway fashion. Woods grabbed sole possession of the lead in the second round and never looked back, ultimately finishing eight strokes in front of runner-up Ryuji Imada for his fourth straight win at the Buick Invitational.
Tiger's seeming ease with which he won this event - for the fourth straight time no less - gets the ball rolling for his 2008 season, a season in which the normally subdued Woods stated the Grand Slam is a real possibility. And, oh by the way, he tied Arnold Palmer for fourth (62) on the all-time PGA TOUR wins list. Next up? The Hawk, Ben Hogan, coming in with a career total of 64.
…AND TRAGEDY: On the eve of the Buick Invitational, a pall was cast over the tournament when it was reported that Steve Duplantis, a long-time PGA TOUR caddie, had been killed in an accident when he was struck by a taxi while crossing a street in Del Mar, Calif. Duplantis was 35.
One of the more popular caddies on TOUR, Duplantis was regarded as having a confident way in dealing with whomever's bag he was carrying. A 'free spirit' off the course, Duplantis and his nightlife were detailed in a book titled, "Bud, Sweat and Tees," a novel that focused on Rich Beem and his time with Duplantis.
HEY, WHAT ABOUT ME?: Perhaps lost in the shadow of Tiger's romp at Torrey Pines, world No. 2 Phil Mickelson also made his '08 season debut as well. Lefty tied for sixth at 6 under, 13 shots back of his rival.
Mickelson was almost scratched from the event due to respiratory problems early in the week, but still managed to gut it out through four rounds. It was vintage Phil, thrilling the crowds at one point with six birdies in a seven-hole stretch on Saturday before finishing his last 27 holes with as many bogeys as birdies.
GREAT SCOTT!: Adam Scott, ranked eighth in the world before heading to the Qatar Masters, posted a career-best 11-under 61 to blow past the field and win his sixth European Tour title. For the weekend, Scott's scorecard looked flawless - 18 birdies, 18 pars and no bogeys.
In a week that had Australia on center stage due to the playing of the Australian Open, Scott reminded everyone back in his native land that there was more going on than just tennis. The Aussie made quite a statement with his win, serving notice to his critics that he might be a force to reckon with this upcoming major season.
ALOHA MEANS GOODBYE: The Champions Tour bid farewell to Hawaii as Jerry Pate was able to overcome harsh, windy conditions to win the Turtle Bay Championship on Oahu. Pate was one of only three players to finish the final day under par for a two-shot win over Fulton Allem and Jim Thorpe.
The story coming into this event was Fred Funk. Not only was he the defending champ, but he was also coming off a win the prior week at the MasterCard Championship on the Big Island. Despite the confidence from his 10th place showing at the Sony Open - on the PGA TOUR, mind you - and his win the week before, Funk was no match for the Hawaiian trade winds. A final round 9 over par left him in a disappointing tie for 32nd.
TIGER SPEAKS: Tiger finally spoke with reporters on the Kelly Tilghman issue and once again he tried to put a cap on the controversy, saying, “Kelly and I did speak. There was no ill intent. She regrets saying it. In my eyes, it's all said and done.”
As much as Tiger – and so many others – want this issue to go away, it will linger for quite some time. And unfortunately for Kelly, it will always be a part of her past. But hopefully, while this will not be completely forgotten, we can at least move on and push it out of our peripheral. After all, as Tiger showed this past week there are plenty more exciting things to talk about when discussing the game’s greatest player.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Tournament organizers were offering a 26-foot luxury yacht to any player who managed to make a hole-in-one on the par-3 17th during last week's Qatar Masters; A statue was unveiled at the Tiger Woods Learning Center, depicting Tiger and father Earl arm and arm; John Daly was denied a sponsor’s exemption into this week’s FBR Open.
Alas, no player was able to come up with an ace on the par-3 prize hole and therefore everyone was forced to drive away from the event instead of sailing away; What a week for the world's No. 1, honoring his late father and then going out and doing what his father taught him best - dismantling the field; The final sponsor’s exemption in Scottsdale was handed to young Aussie superstar Jason Day. Odds are tournament organizers won’t have to worry about him withdrawing.
Contributions from writers and editors on the Golf Channel Digital team.
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