Super Bowl Sunday was a busy day. As I patiently awaited dawn on the East Coast, and a report from the furry creature in Pennsylvania who predicts the weather, I tuned into the Golf Channel for the final round of the Dubai Desert Classic. Later in the afternoon, it was the finale’ at the Waste Management Phoenix Open with record-setting crowds, and on to the Super Bowl for a 6:30 kick. What a day!!
History was made in Dubai, we had a new first-time winner in Phoenix that will set up some new history at The Masters, the Super Bowl was a blow-out, and by the way, the Ground Hog saw his shadow so we will need to endure another six weeks of bad weather before spring comes calling. I didn’t want to hear that, I’ve had enough of winter already.
Kevin Stadler wins the Phoenix Open by one stroke over Bubba Watson, and Canadian, Graham DeLaet on Sunday afternoon. It was the younger Stadler’s first PGA victory, and sets up his first appearance at the Masters. Kevins father, 1982 Masters Champ Craig Stadler has been waiting for his son to qualify, so they can become the first father/son to play in the annual event.
The 60 year-old Stadler has a lifetime invitation to Augusta, but wants to call it quits after the pair play in this year’s tournament.
History was made on the other side of the world on Sunday morning when Stephen Gallacher succesfully defended his 2013 title at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic. This was the first time in it’s 25 year history that someone has won back to back in Dubai.
The win gets the 39 year-old Scot into the top 40 in World Rankings, and qualifies him for all of the WGC events, a possible Masters Invitation, and a hard look from Team Europe Captain, Paul McGinley for a berth in the Ryder Cup.
Gallacher battled Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy through the first two rounds at the Emirates Golf Course, and prevailed down the stretch for the win. His -9 under par 28 on the back nine Saturday, was good for a record, but a shaky start on Sunday almost derailed the victory. He recovered on the back nine once again, and picked up his third win on the European Tour.
The PGA Tour moves on to the Monterrey Peninsula for the Pebble Beach National Pro Am this week, and the European Tour leaves the Desert Swing, and returns to South Africa for the Joburg Open at the Royal Johannesburg & Kensington Golf Course.
The Pebble Beach National Pro Am gets underway on Thursday, featuring an excellent field of 156 tour players and amateurs teeing it up on three different courses in the Carmel Bay area. Brandt Snedeker is the defending champion with 2012 Camp, Phil Mickelson seeking his fifth victory in this event, and a tie with Mark O’Meara.
The Joburg Open will have a pretty good field of European Tour players now that this event has become part of the qualifying process for the Open Championship being held in July. Of course, players will continue to seek points for the 2014 Ryder Cup.
South African, and 2011 Masters Champ, Charl Schwartzel, who won here in 2012 will lead the field when they get underway early Thursday morning. Schwartzel finished runner-up last year to rising South African star, Richard Sterne.
The Champions Tour goes back to work this week after a short layoff. Charles Schwab Cup points leader, Bernhard Langer will lead the former PGA stars into Boca Raton, Florida for the Allianz Championship. Rocco Mediate won his Champions Tour debut last year at the Old Course at Broken Sound, and will defend when they tee off on Friday morning.
The LPGA continues to enjoy some down-time, and will have another week off before they go to Australia next week, and the ISPS HANDA Australian Women’s Open.
It promises to be another fine week of Professional Golf on tap for the week. Enjoy!
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