1. Henrik. Not only was that 66 one of the most dazzling rounds in Players history, but it also marks Stenson’s arrival as the long-term heir to the No. 2 spot in the World Ranking. I asked him afterward for the specs on his 3-wood, which he used to hit an astonishing 26 of 28 fairways over the weekend. “It’s 13 degrees and goes very far,” he said. Sounds like a good stick for Bethpage.
2. Long John. Daly’s near-miss in Italy is a reminder that, for all of his demons, he remains one of the game’s biggest talents. It will be fun to see if JD can keep it going, even though his wardrobe has added new meaning to the term Ugly American.
3. Cristie Kerr. A solid win in Williamsburg is a nice bounce-back after having blown another Dinah Shore. I like Paula Creamer as much as the next guy, but Kerr remains the best American until someone knocks her off that lofty perch.
4. NBC. As Tiger became irrelevant to the outcome on Sunday, the Peacock did the unthinkable, all but banishing him from the telecast in favor of players who actually mattered. A grateful nation of golf fans are still reeling from the shock.
5. Jacksonville. So bad it’s good. For one glorious week every year I get to relive the ’80s in this town, where mulleted dudes in Camaros blasting Whitesnake still roam the Earth, dinosaurs in too-tight 501s.
1. Tiger. His unparalleled scoring ability and grit and determination keep him entrenched on the leaderboard, but last week was as bad as I’ve ever seen Tiger hit the ball, and I’ve been watching him play since he was an amateur. Tiger’s wins bring a huge buzz to the sport, but I have to admit I’m enjoying watching him struggle, as it adds so much suspense to a tournament. Will he figure out his swing by the Memorial? Stay tuned!
2. Lorena. Bad week for No. 1s as Sra. Ochoa followed a 64-65 start with a pair of ugly 74s to let the Ultra get away. Adding to the sting: nobody on the LPGA tour, and I do mean nobody, likes to be bested by Cristie Kerr.
3. Alex Cejka. You knew it was going to happen, but it was still painful to watch this agreeable journeyman fall on his sword. Sean O’Hair would offer the promise of redemption but for one small detail: O’Hair is young and incredibly talented, and Cejka is neither.
4. Phil. His best golf is as good as Tiger’s best, but the Players graphically illustrated the difference between these two mega-talents. When Woods struggles he still grinds out a high finish; when Mickelson doesn’t have his A-game he seems quite content to be a non-factor. It’s these 55th-place finishes that will prevent Phil from ever taking over the No. 1 spot.
5. Brian Gay. A week after we put him on the cover of our SI Golf Plus stand-alone Players preview, Gay shot an 80 and then withdrew, still reeling from the effects of some unplanned minor surgery. The SI jinx plays no favorites.