1. The PGA Tour. Another thrilling finish produced big TV ratings, Phil’s back in fine fettle and new stars are being minted seemingly every week. Now comes the energy of the Phoenix Open and then visits to two cathedrals, Riv and Pebble. Not a bad start to the year.
2. Bubba. Lead the field in driving distance? Check. Lead in greens in regulation on a U.S. Open track? Check. Insane chips on the final two holes? Check. Hugely clutch putts? Check. Looks like Bubba is no longer a sideshow or a caricature. Dude can flat-out play.
3. Paul Casey. He remains one of the game’s most potent combos of power and finesse. Is this the year he finally makes some noise in the majors? Here’s hoping.
4. The whole tending-the-flagstick-thing from 72 yards out. Only Phil.
5. Jhonny Vegas. Coming out of nowhere to win a tournament is a huge accomplishment. Backing it up the very next week with a big-time performance is almost as impressive. And no one in golf seems to be having this much fun.
1. Tiger. Finishing 44th in a season debut is not that big a deal. But it was how lost he looked that was so jarring. It’s way too soon to say the Woods era is over. But clearly it’s gonna be a long, arduous climb back to where he was.
2. John Daly. His sense of entitlement is mind-boggling. No one in golf has mailed in more rounds or quit in the middle of more tourneys and yet Daly thinks he’s owed sponsor’s exemptions? Gimme a freakin’ break. Professional golf is sport’s ultimate meritocracy — get off the dole, Daly, and try earning your way into some of these events. Like everybody else.
4. Bill Haas. A week after messing up the closing holes at the Hope this would-be young gun blew up with a Sunday 75 to fall from the lead. Careful, Billy, this is how you get a reputation.