Steve Stricker's a world champion. Rory Sabbatini nearly reeled in a big one and who's Garrett Willis again? Golf junkies are familiar with all of these names, at least the first two for sure, but where are the marquis players this year? They must've eaten too much turkey in the off season. It's that chemical that makes you sleepy. When will they wake up from their winter naps?
Give Jim Furyk his due. He's no doubt a world-class player, proving it once again at the Mercedes Championships, but he hasn't exactly won over the fans yet. If you ask him, he'd tell you he's not worried about what people think, and rightly so. That very attitude helps him become the best player he can be. After two rounds in Kapalua, it's probably a guarantee that most people were hoping Ernie Els would close the deal. A, because he's an extremely likeable guy and B, after losing last year to Tiger in that playoff, redemption would've been sweet. But it was not to be. For the second week in a row, the Big Easy ran into a hard wall and opened a door for the rest of the world.
Consider this, though. Is it more exciting for you, the fan, when a guy like Tiger wins everything, or is it refreshing to see the wealth being spread across the tour? This is something many of you were begging for about mid-summer in 2000. someone else stepping into the winners' circle. Well, here it is, and it could easily happen again next week at the Sony Hawaiian Open. Granted, 22 of the 33 players in the Mercedes Championships field made their way over to Honolulu, but Tiger, Duval and Mickelson all decided to pass.
If you love seeing a new champion each week, then the PGA TOUR season thus far has certainly pleased your pallet. Another early year bonus we've received comes in the form of tight finishes. The drama has been top notch despite the fact that your favorite players probably weren't involved. Steve Stricker outlasted Sweden's Pierre Fulke by a score of 2&1 in a double round race in Melbourne. On Sunday at the Mercedes, Jim Furyk dropped a clutch 12 footer on the 18th to apply pressure to Rory Sabbatini who, in turn, missed a three foot birdie putt to force the playoff. Now that was a crusher! Finally, Garrett Willis left himself 8 feet for the win in Tucson and, like it was nothing, he jarred it to claim half a million bucks and a two year PGA TOUR exemption. Think about it, a month ago, this 27-year-old kid didn't have a place to play, now he's a PGA TOUR champion!
If you're a Tiger fan, relax, he'll start stacking those huge cardboard paychecks soon enough. If you're a golf fan, then soak it up. The stories are unfolding by the week, but for some strange reason I get the feeling, the best stories are yet to come.