1. Phil. He’s baaaack. And peaking just in time for Augusta. This is getting interesting.
2. Nick Watney. He came up one inch short, but this ascendant youngster played bravely. His chip-in followed by an eagle in the middle of the final round put a big-time charge into Sunday afternoon. I hope Fred Couples, the U.S. Presidents Cup captain, was paying attention.
3. Tiger. He’s still rusty, couldn’t buy a putt and just kinda hung around for four days, but when you add ’em all up he still cracked the top 10. If he doesn’t win at Bay Hill, it will be an upset.
4. Michael Bradley. The amiable journeyman birdied the 72nd hole to win his first tournament in 11 years at the Tour’s Puerto Rico Open. Even against the jayvee, it doesn’t get any sweeter than that.
5. Tadd Fujikawa. In Puerto Rico, the huggable 18 year old made his third straight cut on the PGA Tour, proving he can play outside his home state of Hawaii. Kid’s only 5’1″ but it’s mostly heart.
1. The Tavistock Cup. How lame is this smug little get-together? Put it this way: I’d rather watch the Senior tour.
2. Henrik Stenson. For the love of Pete, next time just get your pants a little muddy! But as my editor Jim Herre notes, Stenson does have the complete package.
3. Jason Day. Before Rory or Danny Lee or Dustin Johnson, Day was supposed to be the next great young player. He had a great chance for a major career upgrade in Puerto Rico, but he was shaky with the lead on Sunday. He doubled the second hole and then, with a chance to force a playoff on 18, he whiffed a 7-footer. Hopefully the near-miss will inspire him to realize his massive potential.
4. The European golf press. The lads across the pond have never been known for their subtlety, but the hype around Prince Rory has gotten utterly out of hand, the latest and most egregious example being Monday’s headline in the Telegraph: “Tiger Woods raves about Rory McIlroy as Phil Mickelson wins.” Imagine if these guys covered politics: “Biden applauds McCain concession speech as Obama wins.”
5. Jose Maria Olazabal. He has officially signed on as Monty’s assistant captain for the 2010 Ryder Cup. God help him.