History of The Florida Swing

By George WhiteFebruary 20, 2001, 5:00 pm
The weather is great. So are the golf courses. The players have been playing a couple of months so they have their swings well grooved. And it is Florida in the springtime. What more could a golf fan ask for?
Ah, the Florida Swing, one month in the Sunshine State. Doral, Honda, Bay Hill, the Players Championship . they've been around since 1974 in one form or another. That was the origination of the Players, the latest entrant to come aboard. The Genuity Classic - nee Doral - started way back in 1962. Bay Hill, which began as the Florida Citrus Open Invitational, has been around since 1966. And the Honda Classic, which began as the Jackie Gleason Inverrary Classic, first welcomed professional golfers in 1972.
Miami, the Greater Fort Lauderdale area, Orlando, the Greater Jacksonville area, the trek goes northward across the state, stop by stop by stop. With only minor glitches, they have been played in that order since the beginning. Occasionally a tournament will come in between Bay Hill and the Players, but that is a rare occurrence. Normally, it's a celebration of PGA Tour golf in Florida the whole month of March.
Actually, golf has been played in the state since the tour began in 1940. The St. Petersburg Open, the Miami Four-Ball, the Miami Open, the Jacksonville Open, the Orlando Open, the Palm Beach Open, the Eastern Open, the National Open and the Pensacola Open have all been played in Florida at one time or another. Some were in March, certainly, but others were scattered throughout the calendar. The Miami Open was in November. Today, there is the tournament at Walt Disney World in Orlando in October.
But the four-tournament rotation known as 'the Florida Swing' is played in March and is contested at Doral's Blue Course, the TPC at Heron Bay, Bay Hill and the TPC at Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach. All are relatively recent additions to tour play, with Doral's Blue the first addition in 1962.
Billy Casper won twice at Doral before the remainder of the Florida Swing swung into action. Arnold Palmer was one of the early winners of the Florida Citrus Open, played then at Rio Pinar Country Club in Orlando. Lee Trevino won both Doral and the Jackie Gleason Inverrary (Honda) in 1973. But when the Players Championship began play in 1974, replacing the Greater Jacksonville Open, the action really began to heat up.
Jack Nicklaus is really the star of the Florida Swing. He has won 10 times inside the state, though three have been at Disney. But when the Swing got going in '74, Nicklaus won in his adopted home state at The Players Championship. He won in '75 at Doral - where, incidentally, he had won in 1972 before there was a Players. He won in '76 again at the Players, in '77 at the Jackie Gleason Inverrary (Honda), and in '77 again at the Gleason. His six wins tops all players. Nicklaus never won Bay Hill, Palmer's tournament, but he lost playoffs at the Florida Citrus in 1966 and at Bay Hill in 1982.
The Florida Citrus was a big reason that Palmer decided to winter in Orlando. He, along with others, purchased Bay Hill and shortly thereafter moved the Florida Citrus tournament from Rio Pinar in 1979. He had won for the final time on the regular tour in 1973 at the Bob Hope, but one of the last times he was victorious came in 1971 at the Citrus.
Doral is the only stop to hold its tournament in one place. In 1962, Dorothy and Al Kaskel (hence 'Dor-al') founded their resort near the Miami airport, and the Blue Course has been the tourney's only stop. Ray Floyd has won it three times, Andy Bean three times, Greg Norman three, and others have won it twice. It has been known as the Doral Eastern Open and the Doral Ryder Open, and this year as Genuity.
Honda was the namesake of the Gleason for eight years, until 1980. It was played in Fort Lauderdale at Inverrary Country Club from its inception in 1972. In 1981 it became the American Motors Inverrary Classic, changed to the Honda Inverrary Classic after one year, and then became simply the Honda Classic in 1984 when it moved to TPC at Eagle Trace in Coral Springs. Weston Hills in nearby Fort Lauderdale had the tourney for four years before it moved to Heron Bay.
Bay Hill has been played only at Rio Pinar and Bay Hill. Sponsors include Hertz, Nestle, Office Depot and now Cooper Tires. The Players Championship was originally the Tournament Players Championship and played in three different locations before heading to Sawgrass Country Club in 1977. In 1982 it moved close by to its new home, the TPC Stadium course.
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Garcia among notables to miss FedExCup playoffs

By Will GrayAugust 19, 2018, 10:24 pm

For the first time in the 12-year history of the FedExCup, the PGA Tour's postseason will proceed without Sergio Garcia.

The former Masters champ has struggled mightily this summer, missing the cut in all four majors, and he entered the Wyndham Championship at No. 131 in the season-long points race with only the top 125 making the playoffs. Six years after winning at Sedgefield Country Club, Garcia again made a run up the leaderboard and was projected to reach No. 122 heading into the final round.

But on an afternoon where Brandt Snedeker shot 65 en route to victory and runner-up Webb Simpson carded a 62, Garcia shot an even-par 70 that included three back-nine bogeys to drop from a tie for eighth into a tie for 24th. As a result, he moved up only three spots to No. 128 in the final regular-season event and will not have a tee time next week at The Northern Trust.

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He will remain fully exempt next year by virtue of the five-year exemption he earned with his Masters win last spring.

Garcia was one of 13 players who had made the playoffs every year since the advent of the FedExCup in 2007. Two other members of that select group also saw their streaks end this year, as former world No. 1 Luke Donald has missed most of the season with an injury while Bill Haas finished No. 152 after a T-45 finish at Wyndham.

Other notable players who failed to crack the top 125 include veterans Aaron Baddeley (No. 132), Shane Lowry (No. 140), David Lingmerth (No. 143) and Graeme McDowell (No. 144), all of whom saw multiple-year exemptions for victories in 2015 or 2016 expire this weekend in Greensboro.

Players who finish Nos. 126-200 in the season-long points will have an opportunity to retain their PGA Tour cards for the 2018-19 season at the Web.com Tour Finals, a four-event series that kicks off next week in Ohio. Players who finished Nos. 126-150 will retain at least conditional PGA Tour status for next year regardless of their Finals performance.

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Bryant wins Dick's Sporting Goods Open for second time

By Associated PressAugust 19, 2018, 10:17 pm

ENDICOTT, N.Y. - Bart Bryant made a 25-foot birdie putt on the final hole Sunday to win the Dick's Sporting Goods Open for the second time in six years.

With playing partner Michael Bradley facing a 7-foot birdie putt that he would make, the 55-year-old Bryant rolled in the left-to-right breaking putt for a 7-under 65 and a one-stroke victory.

''It felt good. It really did,'' Bryant said. ''He hit a great shot in there. He went after the pin, which he had to do. ... I gave it a good run. But to make a putt like that to win a tournament, there's a little bit of luck involved and it was just kind of my day. ... I've had putts made on me on 18 to lose before, so it's nice to be on the other end of the stick this time.''

Bradley, the second-round leader, bogeyed the par-4 15th in a 68.

''It was fun. We had a good time,'' Bradley said. ''He shot 65-65 on the weekend, that's tough to beat. But I put a little pressure on, I hit a good shot into 18. He made a hell of a putt.''

Also the 2013 winner at En-Joie Golf Club, Bryant made six birdies in a nine-hole stretch from the third to the 11th and had six straight pars before the winning birdie putt on the par-4 18th.

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''I played awfully well, I didn't hit a bad shot today,'' Bryant said. ''I played conservatively, a little bit conservative coming in, but smart. It got the job done. Very pleased with the way everything went.''

Bryant finished at 16-under 200. The three-time PGA Tour winner's only senior victories have come at En-Joie, the site of the PGA Tour's B.C. Open from 1972-2005.

The 52-year-old Bradley is winless on the 50-and-over tour after winning four times on the PGA Tour.

''I played solid, 65-68-68,'' Bradley said. ''I just got beat.''

Tom Gillis (67) and Marco Dawson (68) tied for third at 13 under, a stroke ahead of Paul Goydos (65), Kenny Perry (67) and Mark Calcavecchia (67).

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Snedeker goes wire-to-wire for first win since 2016

By Will GrayAugust 19, 2018, 10:12 pm

Even after shooting a 59 in the opening round, Brandt Snedeker had to work to secure his ninth career victory at the Wyndham Championship.

Snedeker led at Sedgefield Country Club the entire week after becoming just the ninth player to break 60 on the PGA Tour, carrying a one-shot lead into the final round. But he was caught down the stretch, first by C.T. Pan and later by Webb Simpson, to leave the outcome very much undecided.

But Simpson ran out of holes, and Pan made a costly mistake by hitting his tee shot on No. 18 out of bounds while holding a share of the lead. It meant that Snedeker needed only bogey to earn his second Wyndham title and first Tour victory since the 2016 Farmers Insurance Open, instead opting to sink a 20-foot birdie putt for a closing 65 and three-shot win.

"I guess I'm turning into Bubba Watson, wanting to cry every two seconds," Snedeker told reporters. "To do it here, to shoot 59 on Thursday, to be in the lead all week, to deal with that pressure every night, to be able to step up to the plate today and shoot 65 when I had to means the world to me."

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Snedeker struggled with injury for much of last season, and this spring he missed the Masters for the first time since 2010 while toiling near the edge of the top-125 bubble in the points race. But the veteran turned things around with a T-6 finish in Memphis in June, added a T-3 finish last month at The Greenbrier and now has come full circle in the city where he earned his first career win at nearby Forest Oaks in 2007.

"I'm a lot stronger than I thought I was," Snedeker said. "I've still got a lot of great golf in me. I'm excited about the FedExCup playoffs. I've done this before, I've won that thing, and I can't wait to try to make a run to Atlanta in the playoffs because I'm playing great."

It was a bittersweet result for Pan, who had his wife on the bag this week and briefly appeared poised for a breakthrough victory. The former University of Washington standout made six birdies in a 12-hole stretch in the middle of his round to catch Snedeker, but his drive on No. 18 sailed well right. It led to a double bogey, and at 18 under he ended the week tied for second with Simpson.

The result was still Pan's best of his young PGA Tour career, having started the week at No. 108 in the points race despite not having a single top-10 finish this season.

"Just had a little noise in my head and it caused me to hit a bad shot," Pan said. "But overall I feel good about the whole round. I played great. Just one bad shot, but that's OK."

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Taylor crashes playoffs with closing 63 at Wyndham

By Will GrayAugust 19, 2018, 9:31 pm

Nick Taylor picked a good time to shoot his best round of the season.

Taylor was the big mover in the standings during the final regular season event, shooting a final-round 63 at the Wyndham Championship to grab a share of eighth place. The result moved the Canadian from No. 129 to No. 121 in the season-long points race, ensuring a spot in The Northern Trust next week and fully-exempt status for the 2018-19 season.

"You try to block it all out when you're playing. I tried not to look at any leaderboards today, especially the second 18," Taylor told reporters. "When I got my PGA Tour card the first time I shot a 63 in the final round ironically of the Web.com Finals. So I tried to draw back on that, and it worked today."

Taylor earned his lone PGA Tour win at the 2014 Sanderson Farms Championship, and he dug himself an early hole Sunday morning with a triple bogey on No. 14 while completing his rain-delayed third round. But he made four straight birdies on Nos. 2-5 in the final round, added an eagle on No. 15 and birdied the 72nd hole to retain his card with room to spare.

"It was a long day, obviously," Taylor said. "It was a lot of sleepless nights. Last night I didn't sleep that great."

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Taylor was one of two players who moved inside the top-125 bubble in the final round of the regular season. Harris English started the week at No. 132, but a T-11 finish allowed him to eke in at No. 124 with no room to spare. English shot a final-round 68 that included a two-putt par from 60 feet on No. 18 when a bogey would have sent the veteran to Web.com Tour Finals.

"It's one of the more nerve-wracking feelings I've had in a long time," English said. "It's a way different feeling than trying to win a tournament. I'm glad it's over."

With Taylor and English moving into the top 125, two players saw their seasons come to an end after missing the cut at Sedgefield Country Club. Martin Piller fell from 124th to 126th and was the man edged out by English's closing par, while Tyrone Van Aswegen dropped two spots from No. 125 to No. 127.

Ireland's Seamus Power, who also missed the cut in Greensboro, finished the season at No. 125 with 377 points, six ahead of Piller.

All players who finished the season Nos. 126-200 on the points list will have a chance to earn one of 25 PGA Tour cards available at the four-event Finals, while Nos. 126-150 will retain conditional PGA Tour status for next season.