1. Scotland. Martin Laird and Paul Lawrie prevailed on both sides of the Atlantic, with Laird even wearing the Saltire as a belt buckle. Freeeeeedom!
2. Sandra Gal. She played fearless golf down the stretch to win her first LPGA event, along the way dusting arguable the best player in the women’s game, Jiyai Shin. And then there are those bikini shots …
3. Sergio. A top 10 at Bay Hill is the latest sign of progress from the once woebegone Spaniard. I honestly can’t wait to see how he plays at the Masters.
4. Those who love to disparage golf. The Greenbrier’s crown jewel has become a part of the TPC network, leading to the tragically named Old White TPC. Let the bad-plaid jokes commence.
5. The Dinah Shore. It’s rare to get the LPGA playing domestically for three consecutive weeks. All the better that this stretch ends with the crescendo of the season’s first major, a rare chance for the tour to shine.
1. Steve Marino. Oh, man, it’s painful to watch this guy keep blowing tournaments. That his physical talent is so obvious is only further proof of what a mental game this is.
2. Rickie Fowler. We’re trying to be patient here. Yes, Fowler is only 22. But he’s now been in position to win a bunch of Tour events, and he hasn’t exactly played heroically. At Bay Hill he made three 7’s on the weekend — two on par 4s — and his closing 78 was a huge step backward.
3. The Florida swing. The over-the-top setup and accompanying trainwrecks at Bay Hill was a fitting end to an excruciating sojourn to the swampland. Doral is a pretty fun event, but the other three tourneys have devolved into boring grind-a-thons. Get me to Augusta, pronto!
4. Hunter Mahan. I hate to pick on the guy, but he’s made a disconcerting habit this year of backing up when in contention. At Bay Hill he played beautifully to open 69-69 and then went 75-76 to skid to 38th place. Perhaps the fallout from Ryder Cup singles is still being felt.
5. Bernhard Langer. My perennial darkhorse Masters pick is now on the shelf for two months after thumb surgery. And yet even with the time off he’ll still likely win the Schwab Cup.