Sunday, March 15, 2009

Of course, like you and golf buffs everywhere, I'll be watching what Nick Watney and Phil Mickelson do in the last group. In last week's Sports Illustrated, I wrote something like this Doral event had lost it's mojo. Wrong-o! This has been a great a tournament, and Phil has a lot to do with, and so does Rory McIlroy and especially Camilo Villegas. The tournament organizers slashed ticket prices this year. The numbers are way better and so is the enthusiasm. (Great weather is a critical factor, too.) Spanish is nearly as common as English at Doral. People begin conversations here with me in Spanish. At the autograph line, what you hear is, "Ca-me-OH!" A few years ago he was an exciting kid. Now he's a winner.But that's just a preamble to what I'll be watching Sunday at the CA Championship. As part of one of my continuing and weird golfing experiments, I'll be eager to see what Azuma Yano of Japan does on Sunday. He's dead-last in the now 79-man field, with rounds of 77, 71 and 76. On Sunday he'll be first off, either by himself or with a marker. All the pressure is off now, of course. He can play at any pace he wants and doesn't have to worry about anyone other than himself. Guys in that spot, I've noticed in the past, often go lowish: four, five, six shots better than they've been averaging for the week. I'm looking for something in the high 60s, in the still early morning air with the greens still soft. He can avoid finishing ... you know the three-letter call.

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