Were heading into the weekend at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am and while we dont know whos going to win, we do have quite a collection of winners so far on the PGA Tour.
In order, Stuart Appleby, Vijay Singh, Tiger Woods, Justin Leonard and Phil Mickelson. Gee whiz, thats strong! And Ernie Els has been within a whisker of winning not once but twice thus far. So check out the World Golf Rankings. Three of the top four players have a victory already.
Im as big a fan of the PGA Tour as youll find, but given the way the season started, Im ready for the Masters. No more tournaments necessary.
Im a bit sorry to say that because I absolutely love the Players Championship. But unless you can guarantee me another Sunday 64 by the likes of a champion like Davis Love III, Ill gladly sacrifice, pass, and start thinking azaleas and dogwoods pronto.
OK, we all know that wont happen. So lets be realists about things and given that the schedule gives us another month and a half of tournaments before Phil Mickelson begins Round 1 of his title defense, here are some things that could give us a few other good stories leading up to the drive to Magnolia Lane: How about Colin Montgomerie finds his way into the World Golf Rankings Top 50 the week prior to the Masters? Hes 71st right now. Monty is always capable of a good storyline and contention. Id like to see him in the field.
Id like to see Joey Sindelar in the field. Joey just missed out on the Top 40 on the PGA Tour money list last year. Hed need to be among the Top 50 in the world, be among the PGA Tours Top 10 in money or have won the 2005 Players Championship by the time we are a week away from Augusta.
Lets get Mike Weir going. Hes been too good over the last few years not to arrive at the Masters without some gusto. The year after his Masters win was a honeymoon. This year it would be nice to see him arrive as a serious contender. Come to think of it, a Weir-Mickelson Sunday left-handed duel at Augusta would be rather entertaining in my book.
Could we get a rookie on the PGA Tour to make some noise? How about a guy like D.A. Points? Im not expecting a blast into the Top 50 in the world. But a surprise win would sure bring up the talk of should the Masters field include winners again. Im all for it.
I might not tell you which players are my rooting favorites very often. At least thats the goal unless you read well between the lines. But Id really like to see Darren Clarke get hot. A win at the WGC Accenture Match Play would be just fine. Clarke is as good for the fans as he is for the media. His wife has been battling cancer which has really thrown the Northern Irishman for a loop. Lets send him some magic, get him a win or two and bring him to the Masters looking to win a major for himself and for his family.
Call me crazy, but I still think Bernhard Langer has a chance at another Green Jacket. The European Ryder Cup captain pulled his name from contention to lead the team the next time around because he really believes he can play his way onto the team. Check his record of late ' I believe him. Watch him in the weeks leading up to Augusta. If Crenshaw could find a way in 1995 then so too can Bernhard.
Go crazy Ernie! Go crazy! At the beginning of the year I picked Els to win the Masters. I also picked him to win PGA Tour Player of the Year honors. Els walked away from last years Masters a bit of a broken man. Hell get a Green Jacket before hes done. If he gets back to the States and picks up a few wins - or at least one - hell be just where he needs to be to get the job done.
Wheres Davis been? Davis Love III opened at the AT&T with a low round. A two-time winner of the event at Pebble Beach, if IIIrd can get a third, hell gain some confidence and make us wonder about his chances once again.
Apparently Phil Mickelson is serious about a successful defense. Period. Enough said.
The single best thing that could happen in the coming weeks is for the big names to keep on winning. But if Tiger, Vijay, Mickelson and company keep it up, were in for the biggest media circus youve seen heading into the Masters in years.
By the way, as it currently stands 96 players have qualified for the Masters in April. Id like to see a few more names added to that list. Go ahead, find me some who arent already qualified ' Ill listen. Tell me what the best story might be heading into Mondays practice round on April 4th ' Im all ears.
And FYI the gates open at 8 A.M.
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