1. Doral. It always winds up as one of the season’s most exciting events, and this time around there is the added buzz of Tiger’s continuing comeback. And, unlike his dud debut at the Match Play, el Tigre is guaranteed to play four rounds this week.
2. The Asian golfer. Last weekend Y.E. Yang won on the PGA Tour and Ji-yai Shin continued her ascension on the LPGA. The field at Doral includes six Asian players drawn from Thailand, Taiwan, Korea and Japan, to say nothing of Americans Anthony Kim and Ryuji Imada. And let’s not forget the guy with 14 majors, either — since Tida is full-blooded Thai and Earl was of mixed descent, Tiger is more Asian than anything else.
3. DL3. Love was the last guy into the field at Doral, and if he has a decent week he should stay in the top 50 in the World Ranking, punching his ticket to the Masters. Even a heartless scribe like myself would love to see him make one more run at Augusta.
4. The LPGA. It has been announced that this year’s Samsung will be played at Torrey Pines’s South Course. Nothing helps the Tour like visiting a big-time venue. Pebble, your move.
5. Erik Compton. Yes, he faded on the weekend at the Honda, but the fact that he’s even out there competing at such a high level is remarkable. I can think of a handful of more talented players who don’t have this much heart.
1. Mark’o. Tiger’s man servant remains oh-fer-the-Senior-tour after contracting the yips during the final round at his old his stomping grounds, the Newport Beach Country Club. He must be fatigued from staying up all night changing Charlie’s diapers.
2. Barney Frank. I’m a fan of this iconoclastic Congressman but his shrill criticism of golf sponsors has been ill-informed and harmful to the working-class folks who are the backbone of the hospitality industry. Frank should know that companies still have to advertise, and golf attracts a prime demographic. I’ll say this — if he tries to take away free beer in the press room there will be riots in the streets.
3. Angela Stanford. She had a prime opportunity for another win at HSBC Women’s Champions but stumbled home with a 73. Still, she’s proving herself to be one of the handful of players on tour who is a threat to win every week.
4. Hank Haney. I finally caught an episode of him working on Barkley’s swing and it’s even uglier than I imagined. Of course, I like to watch a great athlete struggle with the golf swing, because it confirms how difficult our game is.
5. Sergio. If he wins at Doral and Tiger finishes 27th or worse than Garcia will go to No. 1 in the World Ranking. And never will such an honor be less deserved.