Hot this week? Stricker, Plantation and the Clambake. Not? Johnny, Nick, Tiger

Wednesday January 11th, 2012
The Plantation Course is demanding of players -- and looks great on TV.
Kohjiro Kinno / SI

HOT
1. Steve Stricker. Who’s the best American golfer right now? Hard to argue against this quintessential Midwesterner, who just keeps getting better and better.

2. The Plantation Course. The most unique track on Tour, demanding an excess of shot-making and imagination. Nice views, too.

3. The Crosby Clambake. Tiger Woods is returning for the first time in a decade, giving him a chance to sample the smashing recent addition to the rota, Monterey Peninsula Country Club. And it’s been a very dry winter so far in NorCal, so all of these superb courses should play firmer and faster than usual. (Of course, the less said about Romo, the better.)

4. Royal Portrush. It’s official, this spectacular links will host the Irish Open, a de facto audition for an Open Championship. Throw in the Scottish Open at Castle Stuart three weeks earlier, and suddenly the world will be getting a primer on the glories of the linskland.

5. Bill Clinton. What’s his greatest accomplishment? Brokering peace in Ireland? Nah. Balancing the budget? Nope. I’d vote for saving the Hope.


NOT
1. The field at Kapalua. I love everything about the TOC, but you have to wonder how viable its current iteration is when pretty much every big name doesn’t deign to show up. Of course, this is more an indictment of the modern touring pro than the tourney -- if a week in paradise and a $6 million dollar purse is unappealing, you know these guys are spoiled.

2. Johnny & Nick. Their chemistry got worse as the week went on, not a good sign given that Golf Channel wants to trot ‘em out as many as a dozen times this year. Then again, maybe we should be hoping things get really bad; an ongoing cat-fight would be delicious.

3. Golfers. Lucas Glover had to WD in Maui after a paddleboarding mishap and Paul Casey is out for two months after a snowboarding wipeout. This is not helping the whole golfers-actually-are-athletes argument.

4. Sabbo. He got docked two strokes for being late to his tee time … while putting on a green that is maybe 50 yards from the Plantation’s first tee. He should’ve been penalized two more strokes for the skull belt buckle.

5. Tiger. His ex-wife is in the news for having just torn down her 12,000 square foot mansion, which should give some indication of the size of the divorce settlement, and now his former swing coach Hank Haney is on the verge of publishing a confessional book. Pebble can’t come soon enough.

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