Four-time major champion, Ernies Els said in an interview at The Valspar Championship that Copperhead was the best course on the PGA Tour to test your game for Augusta. In fact, by looking at the scores during the Florida Swing, you could almost say that each, and every one of the venues provided a test for the upcoming major season. It started at PGA National, and I’m sure that whoever wins this week at Bay Hill will earn it the hard way.
After The Arnold Palmer Invitational this week, most of the top players will have their games ready for Augusta, and next month’s Masters. The Texas swing will be full of players still needing an invitation, and some top guns that still aren’t happy with what they did in Florida.
If you look at the numbers so far, there have been no winners at any of the Florida venues that have reached double digits. Russell Henley won the Honda Classic in a four-way playoff, but the final 72-hole score was -8 under par at PGA National. Patrick Reed won at Doral with a -4 under par on the Blue Monster, and John Senden’s victory at Copperhead at -7 under par.
Folks, this was a tough stretch, and three unusual players came away with wins on some pretty tough golf courses. The last time three tournaments in a row were won in single digits was 1990. Payne Stewart won the Byron Nelson at -8 under par, Greg Norman won The Memorial at even par, and Ben Crenshaw won Colonial at -8 under par.
If the current weather patterns hold for this spring, and Bay Hill gets some of the afternoon winds that are famous in Orlando this time of year, we could see a fourth tournament in single digits. By the time we get to Augusta next month, everyone should be battle tested, or battle weary depending on how you look at it!
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