5 Things to Watch: Tampa Bay Championship
1. Adam Scott is due for a win. He tied for 10th at the Northern Trust Open, lost in the first round of the WGC-Accenture Match Play, and shot a final-round 64 to tie for third at the WGC-Cadillac at Doral. He raked in nearly $3 million last year but hasn't hoisted a Tour trophy since the WGC-Bridgestone in August 2011. That's a small drought for Scott, but it must seem interminable to his caddie, Steve Williams. The seventh-ranked Scott, who hasn't played in Tampa since 2010, is one of four players in the field ranked in the top 10, a group that also includes defending champion Luke Donald (3), Louis Oosthuizen (6) and Matt Kuchar (9). Watch out for Sergio Garcia (17), who also tied for third at Doral last week.
2. Speaking of Donald, he better get going if he wants to keep in touch with top-ranked Rory McIlroy and second-ranked Tiger Woods. With those two taking the week off -- yep, they're skipping the Euro Tour's Avantha Masters in India, too -- Donald could begin to close the gap. He finished T6 at Copperhead in 2010 before winning last year, and this is a pure ball-striker's course as opposed to bomber-friendly Doral, where Donald never broke 70 and tied for 43rd. With Brandt Snedeker nipping at his heels and McIlroy and Woods threatening to pull away forever, Donald needs to start reasserting himself, post-haste.
3. Something tells me we might see another charge from a veteran this week, a blast from the past along the lines of Mark Calcavecchia's surprise victory in 2007. I expect to see Retief Goosen, 44, hanging around the lead Sunday. He's playing pain free after back surgery last year and he won here in 2003 and '09.
4. This is a big week for Peter Uihlein, 23, who looks likely to make it to the PGA Tour sooner rather than later. The Oklahoma State product and son of Titleist CEO Wally Uihlein has no status on the PGA Tour and as a European Tour member has been playing all over the world to get starts. He shot four rounds in the 60s to finish fourth at the Tshwane Open in South Africa earlier this month, and stayed hot after he was given a sponsor's exemption into last week's Puerto Rico Open -- the PGA Tour's opposite-field event during the WGC-Cadillac. Uihlein shot a final-round 67 to tie for sixth. The top-10 finish got him into the field at this week's Tampa Bay Championship at Innisbrook. The Massachusetts product should feel at home at the tree-lined Copperhead course, which looks unlike most Florida tracks. Uihlein is one of six players who got to Tampa as a result of top-10 finishes in Puerto Rico.
5. Harris English will benefit from a new set of eyes in Tampa this week, those of veteran caddie Jimmy Johnson. The pair are working together on a limited basis, as Johnson told me he expects to go back to his regular bag, Steve Stricker, at the Shell Houston Open and the Masters. English missed the cut here last year, but he made a huge improvement from his first round to his second (76-69), and he has to be encouraged by the success of his fellow Georgia Bulldogs. Russell Henley won the season-opening Sony Open; Kevin Kisner won last week's Chile Classic on the Web.com Tour and is playing Tampa this week; and everyone is aiming for a late invite to the Masters, where the defending champ is Bubba Watson.
Groups to Watch (All times Eastern)
8:30 a.m. (No. 10) Luke Donald, Jim Furyk, K.J. Choi
8:40 a.m. (No. 10) Sergio Garcia, Martin Kaymer, Webb Simpson
1:30 p.m. (No. 1) Adam Scott, Geoff Ogilvy, Jason Day
Course: Innisbrook Resort and Golf Club
Location: Palm Harbor, Fla.
Defending Champion: Luke Donald
Architect: Larry Packard (1972)
TV Schedule (All times Eastern)
Thursday: 3-6 p.m. Golf Channel
Friday 3-6 p.m. Golf Channel
Saturday: 1:30-3 p.m. Golf Channel, 3-6 p.m. NBC
Sunday: 1-3 p.m. Golf Channel, 3-6 p.m. NBC
Sirius XM PGA Tour Radio
Thursday-Sunday: Noon-6 p.m. XM 93