1. The LPGA. Three days of Michelle Wie on the leaderboard, the announcement of two very important new TV deals, a taut, see-saw final round and a star-in-the-making winner in Angela Stanford. Not a bad way to start the year.
2. Dustin Johnson. I would like to have seen how this young stud handled the final round pressure on America’s greatest golf course, but the asterisked victory is still a major boost to his career. I’d hate to be the high seed who has to play him in the first round of the Match Play.
3. U.S. Solheim Cup team. Already stocked with young talent, now you can pencil in Stanford and Wie as two more cornerstones. Europe better annex Korea to keep this thing interesting.
4. Justin Timberlake. He wants to move his October event out of the Fall Series, and he usually gets what he wants. There’s always been talk of moving Pebble post-PGA Championship, when the local weather is usually perfect. Hmmm …
5. The Masters. Sure, they love the pricey TV rights, but the lords of Augusta are genuinely interested in growing the game overseas, and nothing generates interest like an invitation to the Masters. Ryo Ishikawa is generating a huge buzz this week, and now comes word that the winner of the nascent Asian Amateur will receive an automatic invite to Augusta. If I’m a teenage golfer in Tokyo, I’m hitting a few extra balls today.
1. DJ Trahan. He needed to finish 5th at Pebble to get into the Match Play. After three rounds he was in 6th place but he never got the chance to move up.
2. Paddy. Everyone is ragging on Phil for his slow start, but Harrington has been almost as shoddy, including a missed cut at Pebble. I love the guy, but he’s played like a chop since the PGA. With Augusta only eight weeks away, it’s time to get busy.
3. Golf’s Olympic bid. It just lost a lot of pizzazz with the announcement that the format being proposed is 72 holes of stroke play. Gee, how original. I think I’d rather watch team handball.
4. Tim Finchem. The commissioner is very serious about his own golf game, but he looked a little overwhelmed playing at Pebble, including a missed one-foot birdie putt on a hole his partner Davis Love had bogeyed. Maybe Finchem shouldn’t have shaved — that seems to work for a lot of his constituents.
5. Anthony Kim. The California kid is forsaking his home state this year to cash appearance fees in places like Dubai and, last week, Malaysia. I hope all that jet lag doesn’t hit him when he has to walk the hills of Augusta National.