Branden Grace's back-to-back European Tour victories have people talking.
Richard Heathcote / Getty Images
By Alan Shipnuck
Tuesday, January 24, 2012

HOT

1. Abu Dhabi. The season starts now.

2. Mark Wilson. The gritty little cheesehead has a very legit five PGA Tour victories. When will anybody notice?

3. Branden Grace. Winning two tourneys in a row on any tour is a big deal. When you do it by vanquishing two legends from your home country in sudden death, that's a star-is-born moment.

4. Boys with toys. Bubba Watson bought one of the General Lees from "The Dukes of Hazzard." Of course he did. Since Johnson Wagner already has the 'stache, I fully expect him to now buy Magnum P.I.'s Ferrari.

5. Larry Nelson. At the senior tour opener in Hualalai, this Hall of Famer bettered his age, which is pretty stout considering he's 63. Nelson's goal is to become the oldest winner in tour history. Don't bet against the guy.

NOT

1. Bill Clinton's golf swing. Makes me pine for the fluid action of Gerald Ford.

2. Ernie Els's putting stroke. Makes me long for the purity of Bernhard Langer ... when he was battling the yips.

3. Dustin Johnson. I understand he's antsy, but it's foolhardy to rush back to competition if his body's not ready. After withdrawing from the Hope during the second round, he said that the day before was the first time he'd walked 18 holes since his knee surgery. Really?!

4. Golf. Pecan Valley, site of the 1968 PGA Championship and once a thriving public destination in San Antonio, was just shuttered, as was Baywood Golf Club, the center of an upscale development in North Carolina. It's never a good sign when a course closes, but these weren't exactly overbuilt, overpriced, would-be destinations in the middle of nowhere. Discouraging stuff.

5. Rickie Fowler. He's on the cover of the new GolfWeek and in the news for his recent equipment switch, but he still hasn't won on the PGA Tour. I like the kid and what he brings to the Tour, but the pressure just keeps getting ratcheted up for this make-or-break season.

Correction: An earlier version of this story said that Pecan Valley hosted the 1936 PGA Championship. It was 1968.


 

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