by Kevin Sylvester
I’ve always been a believer in the “Horses for Courses” theory, meaning certain players perform on certain courses. Some golf courses just suit the eye of players and they perform well. Think Tiger Woods at Bay Hill, Phil Mickelson at August National, Daniel Berger at TPC Southwind, Dustin Johnson at Club de Golf Chapultepec, or Tiger Woods anywhere. Let’s add Paul Casey at Innisbrook Resort after he won the Valspar Championship for the second consecutive year. The golf course is hard, known for the difficult Snake Pit finishing holes 16,17, and 18. All three holes are named after reptiles you wouldn’t want to meet on a golf course or anywhere (16-moccassin, 17-rattler, 18-copperhead), and gives the course added mystique. It doesn’t really need it because the narrow fairways and rapid greens make the cause intimidating enough. I think it makes Casey’s accomplishment all the more impressive, conquering the field at a difficult course for the second consecutive year and at the ripe old age of 41. Of course, 41 is not that old anymore, as he becomes the third player in his 40’s to win on the PGA Tour this seasons. Casey joins Matt Kuchar (2 wins) and Phil Mickelson as the older winners. If you factor in Charles Howell III (turns 40 in June) and Justin Rose (38) in the close to older category, then we can make a strong case that it’s not just a young man’s game on the Tour this season. Of course, there is a long way to go, The Players was won by a player in his 20’s (Rory Mcllroy), and all four Majors and the Fed Ex Cup are still to come. Either way, it’s nice to see players able to compete and win into their 4th decade on earth.
I felt bad for Jason Kokrak on the 18th hole at Innisbrook. Copperhead (name of the hole) jumped up and bit him right in the arse. The 7 year (full time) player has yet to win on the PGA Tour, but certainly has the fire power to do so. He missed an 8 foot par putt on the final hole to remain at -8, which would have made him the leader in the clubhouse. Instead, the miss (8 feet is not sure thing on any tour) moved him back to -7 and hoping for a playoff with Paul Casey and Louis Oosthuezen. It didn’t happen and probably makes Kokrak feel like it’s never going to happen. It was his third runner up finish in 196 starts on the PGA Tour. I’m sure he’s frustrated, but the PGA Tour is about a season, and he is having a good one to date with three top 10’s and currently inside the Top 30 in Fed Ex Cup Points. But a win would mean everything to the Tour veteran. Validation, a two year exemption, a trip to Maui next January, invite to The Masters and other special tournaments, and some breathing room.
-This could be the week we get out on the courses and clubs in WNY. It seems like a long way, but I’ve always considered March a bonus month of play. We’ll still probably get some snow, and play in some soup, but that’s the deal here. But after a crappy fall, and harsh winter, we deserve a great spring and summer of golf.
-I played a few times on my most recent road trip to Florida. It was great to see from Harvest Hill assistant pro Jim Camp in Orlando. He is the GM at Metro West and leading that courses come back. I also had the opportunity to play The King and Bear course in St. Augustine. That is a must on your next golf trip to Northeast Florida. It’s fun, challenging, and gorgeous.
-I was going to hold off on a new driver this year, but after hitting the Cobra Speedback and Callaway Epic, I’m going to get one——or both! (We’ll see if it’s in the budget).
-I’m also toying with the idea of a driving iron, but would have to figure out which club to take out of the bag. The options are hybrid or wedge and I would leans towards the hybrid as I like having four wedges in the bag.
-If you haven’t already, sign up to be a member of the Tee 2 Green Club. It’s free and you have the chance to win some great golf prizes and take advantage of special opportunities. We also send out a weekly newsletter with some extras you don’t get here or on the show. As the club grows, we plan to have special events throughout the year for golfers.