We’ve officially reached March and our second stop of the PGA season in the Florida Swing after Sungjae Im’s first career victory at the Honda Classic. As we truly get into the busy season, let’s do a reset of the season that has been with an eye on the month of March. You can hopefully use this as a guide of what and where to watch golf, the courses you’ll be seeing, and the types of fields that will be on your television screen.
|Tournament of Champions||Justin Thomas||Kapalua: HI|
|Sony Open||Cameron Smith||Waialae: HI|
|The AmEx||Andrew Landry||PGA West: CA|
|Farmers Insurance||Marc Leishman||Torrey Pines: CA|
|Waste Management Open||Webb Simpson||TPC Scottsdale: AZ|
|AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am||Nick Taylor||Pebble Beach: CA|
|Genesis Open||Adam Scott||Riviera: CA|
|Puerto Rico Open||Viktor Hovland||Puerto Rico|
|Honda Classic||Sungjae Im||PGA National: FL|
The Presidents’ Cup was a spirited affair before the season started, but you can see from the list of winners that the guys who were playing well, have continued to display their skills. Of the ten winners on tour this year, seven were involved at Royal Melbourne. All three main Aussies (Smith, Leish, and Scott) captured wins while JT’s success at the beginning of the year has provided an interesting roller coaster of a ride with two other top 10s and two missed cuts. Patrick Reed used his greatest four-round SG: Putting output (11.8) to capture the year’s first WGC, even while losing strokes off the tee. Lastly, Webb’s clutch birdie on 18 to force a playoff and a birdie on the first playoff hole (18 again) ended Mr. Finau’s attempt again at this first full field event win.
Nick Taylor’s wire-to-wire win at the Pro-Am must be this season’s biggest surprise, including his final round slaying of Phil Mickelson. He hasn’t registered multiple top-tens in a season since 2017, but Taylor was able to ride his opening round 63 (low of the tournament for all players) and win by four on a tough Sunday.
Looking on the other side, the slow start in 2020 for Rickie Fowler must be one of the season’s biggest disappointments. Two missed cuts and a disappointing finish at the Waste Management as the year’s previous winner seem to shine brighter than his top 5 at the ToC. However, the results haven’t been there for Fowler, who now sits 27th in the world, his lowest ranking in almost six years, a testament to his consistency.
Now, we had to into the meaty part of the season with the Arnold Palmer Invitational kicking off March. Let’s take a look at the properties and fields you’re going to see.
|Arnie Palmer||Bay Hill: FL||Molinari’s Putt on 18||Eh|
|The Players||TPC Sawgrass: FL||Rory Dominates||The Nuts|
|Valspar||Innisbrook: FL||Paul Casey Repeats||Eh|
|WGC – Match play||Austin CC: TX||Kisner finds his putter; Tiger/Rory duel||Top|
|Valero||TPC San Antonio: TX||Conners wins after Monday qualifying||Meh|
|The Masters||AGNC: GA||TIGER||The Nuts|
NBC is going to be your TV channel of choice up until the Valero, where CBS will take over. It’ll be interesting to see how CBS responds to their disastrous showing at the Genesis and the backlash it faced in the media as well as from fans. NBC has done a very good job showing a lot of good shots and good golf, captivating Sungjae’s win this week while going to nauseating lengths to highlight the Bear Trap. One major upgrade will the chance to see every shot at the Players, a new first ala the Masters. CBS will get a week to work out the kinks at the Valero before showing the season’s first major at Augusta but might have fallen well behind in their golf presentation.
Not the greatest field this week with most of the high-ranking Americans including Tiger skipping the API and looking towards next week and the Players. A tight schedule with the largest purse on tour by over $2.5 million at the Players means some restricting to schedules. The Match Play will get the top players from around the world as most of them will be tuning up for Augusta and Tiger’s defense.
All in all, a wide variety of winners so far this year on the PGA Tour, but some of the big names have been hunting in contention. Rory, Jon Rahm, DJ, Patrick Cantlay, Xander, Tiger, and Hideki all highlight the list of non-winners so far, something that should be changing over the next month. Buckle up as March really starts to get the Tour in motion and into an Olympic year (maybe, thanks Coronavirus).