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PGA Tour: California's Riviera: Notes from the Ballwasher

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Post by kwinigolfer Wed 12 Feb 2014, 7:06 pm

1).What a pleasure it was to watch golf at Pebble Beach again last week, even better with the volume down. And an equal pleasure in store this week with the on-fire Jimmy Walker returning to his favourite course on Tour, the George Thomas masterpiece, Riviera CC.
 
2).George Thomas was born in Philadelphia and observed, and worked with, a veritable who's who of early 20th century architects including Crump (Pine Valley), Wilson & Flynn (Merion), Tillinghast, Ross etc..
Thomas made his mark in California, the Los Angeles area in particular, and designed, or at least collaborated on, Los Angeles CC (North) site of the 2017 Walker Cup, Bel Air CC, Ojai CC and, further north, the Stanford University course. Almost as notable as his design work was his seminal work on course design, Golf Architecture in America, described by Cornish and Whitten as "one of the finest in the literature of golf". (Copies available from "McLaren".)
 
3).Jimmy Walker has been around for ages, played his first Tour events in 2001 and enjoyed success on the Nationwide Tour (Player of the Year in 2004) in the following years, earning his Tour card for 2005. He promptly got injured, lost his card after the 2006 season, back to the Nationwide and finally back in the "show" in 2008 when he earned $282K.
Successive earnings of: $662K, $937K, $1.3M, $1.6M and $2.1M last year hardly prepared for his explosion in form but Butch Harmon, his coach since early 2012, was telling anyone who would listen that, if Walker won once, he'd win several times.
 
4).For once St.Butch was right; not only that, but Walker thrives in California where, according to pgatour.com, he's won 45% of his career prize-money. $2M in his Fry's and Pebble wins contributes to that but Walker has finished 4th, 4th and 16th the past three years in L.A. so who knows about this week? The bubble will burst, they (almost) all do, but until then he's the Henrik Stenson of the past four months!
 
5)He's almost a cast-iron certainty for Gleneagles and it becomes clearer by the week that one or two of the staples of the past couple of US Ryder/Presidents Cup Teams (Snedeker and Bradley are well adrift for instance, tho' it's certainly early days) will be sitting at home this year - or in the case of Stricker his hunting camp.
PS: What do you make of Watson going for age and aged for his two Vice Captains so far: North and Floyd?
 
6).Riviera also marks the 1/3 point of the pre-Play-Off PGA Tour, 2/3 of the season for our European favourites to secure their cards for 2014/2015. Golfers with no safety net exemption who are currently out with the washing include:
Lynn, Colsaerts, Westwood, Hanson, Olesen and Gonzo. Most will make it, some won't, so watch this space as the season unfolds.
 
7).There is increasing speculation that the "World" Golf Champs MatchPlay will be moved to San Francisco's Harding Park for 2015.
The quality of the golf course would certainly be a step up from Arizona's "Dove Mountain", but what about the weather? I've lived in San Francisco during February and it can be cool and wet. I can't see this being a long-term solution unless the dates are moved.
Plus of course the players might balk at the California taxes (apparently!).
 
8).There is a strong field for Rivera's "Northern Trust (LA) Open" and a competitive International presence with most of the best South Africans in town, and Colsaerts, Dubuisson, Gonzo, Harrington, Luiten, Molinari, Olesen, Poulter, Rose and Westwood among the more irregular Europeans. Plus Clarke, Davis, Jacobson, Knox, Lynn and Pettersson.
 
9).With only Blixt, Scott and Stenson (none of them in this week's field) having broken "America's" monopoly since Rose's triumph at Merion, one imagines there'll be another American winner this week.
I'm riding the Mahan horse thru' the MatchPlay; but there are several that have form here, led naturally by Jimmy Walker and last week's runner-up, Dustin Johnson. Cameron Tringale and Kevin Chappell are among Californians that will win eventually and a half-crown each way on both will pay off one day!
 
10).The web.com Tour begins its 25th season in Bogota, Columbia. Plenty of Tour "veterans" on hand and a smattering of Europeans but don't think there is anyone from Britain or Ireland.
The Champions Tour is in Naples, Florida. No sign yet of The Mechanic, but Langer and Montgomerie are in the field and so is Roger Chapman.
But Rivera's where the real action is this week and early forecasts are good. Looking forward to seeing a classic golf course under sunny skies!

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Post by kwinigolfer Wed 12 Feb 2014, 9:16 pm

Interesting (biased?) take on Tiger Woods by Baker Finch:

http://www.golfchannel.com/news/golftalkcentral/baker-finch-tigers-swing-something-not-right/

Not convinced Adam Scott is the obvious replacement at #1; too many Fosters for IBF. I'd think it will take Tiger to lose it, not someone to overhaul him unless it's Rory.

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Post by NedB-H Thu 13 Feb 2014, 12:50 am

Good stuff Kwini,

Can't help but feel that Walker's run will surely grind to a halt this week, he may have form but there's not much precedent for a run like his continuing for any longer than it has already?
For the record, one GB&I spotted in the web.com field, in the shape of Royal Dornoch's tour school gun, Jimmy Gunn... full exemption on tour so hope he makes the most of it. 4 continentals, of which the most promising is surely Norlander, but the most intriguing is possibly Parnevik?

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Post by kwinigolfer Thu 13 Feb 2014, 3:43 am

Cheers Ned,
Forgot about Jimmy Gunn - Norlander's promise seemed to fizzle a little last year, didn't it? A successful web.com year would probably do him the world of good.

Still not sure what to make of Walker's run; he really crashed to earth for a couple of months last summer until he played well at the BMW, then he got HOT! Just worth pointing out his good record in California and affinity with Riviera.

I also see that Lee Westwood has confirmed he's no longer working with Sean Foley - wonder if he's still using IBF as a putting consultant? Not much sign of it so far.

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Post by Lairdy Thu 13 Feb 2014, 9:17 am

Thanks as always Kwini  thumbsup 

Coverage early doors for the AT&T was dire! Improved as we got through to the weekend. Looking forward to Riveria this week, first 'serious' competition for a while. No pro-am, multiple courses or beer fueled fans... and one of the best driveable par 4s in golf.

On Floyd's appointment. I've only read a little on him (not being around while he was in his pomp) and I think he'll bring a real steady hand to the US team. Less style and all substance, he's all about getting the job done. No idea what North is like but you would think Watson will bring in someone soon that is closer to the current tour...

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Post by pedro Thu 13 Feb 2014, 9:38 am

Lairdy wrote:
On Floyd's appointment. I've only read a little on him (not being around while he was in his pomp) and I think he'll bring a real steady hand to the US team. Less style and all substance, he's all about getting the job done. No idea what North is like but you would think Watson will bring in someone soon that is closer to the current tour...
Let's just hope they're all alive by then...

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Post by puligny Thu 13 Feb 2014, 4:44 pm

Good preview Kwini. Really looking forward to this course again, though whether I can cope with US tv coverage is another matter!
Westwood has left Foley, but has anyone else heard that TW was seeking some advice from Robert Rock when they were in Middle East recently? Rock is a known student of the swing (golf) and has helped a number of Euro pros - or at least I am told he has!

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Post by kwinigolfer Thu 13 Feb 2014, 5:21 pm

thumbsup 
Hopefully the TV coverage will settle down a bit - sure to be Hollywood hype and references to "Bogie's tree" but trust they'll keep that to a minimum.

Good lord, you sure Tiger wasn't asking the Rock about his hair? Perhaps "dynamark" can help, he's the Rocking Robert Rock expert.
Maybe that's what IBF meant about Tiger looking "lost".

Scoring not so good as I expected and some good names making a mess of things so far, including Mahan, Haas and Kuchar. Nothing as bad as Verplank though, whose round has already gone Verplunk with a quad, two doubles and another bogey: +9 after five holes.

Franny, Harrington and Westwood off to a good start.

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Post by kwinigolfer Thu 13 Feb 2014, 6:37 pm

Strong leaderboard shaping up at Riviera.
Top eight as the morning players are making the turn:

Dustin,
Charl, Garrigus, Furyk
Franny, English Westwood (of course he is!), Triangle.

Rose going nicely, Padraig in reverse, Poults struggling.

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Post by Davie Thu 13 Feb 2014, 8:05 pm

What's going on with Spieth? pgatour.com live scoring still show him on the list but no start time .. was he a WD?

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Post by kwinigolfer Thu 13 Feb 2014, 8:22 pm

Davie,
Spieth appears to be level par after his first hole, playing with Simpson and Couples.
Collapse from Harrington, not bad from lw1.

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Post by Davie Thu 13 Feb 2014, 8:28 pm

Yes pgatour.com must have heard me .. just appeared on their live scoring now

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Post by kwinigolfer Fri 14 Feb 2014, 11:56 am

Darren Clarke withdraws.
His PGA Tour membership seems very much a ceremonial indulgence - not sure what the point is, but stinking the house out and then walking away is a poor way of showing appreciation for his gratis membership.

Interesting feature about Padraig Harrington in this week's Sports Illustrated - can't find a link yet, but sure it will be up soon.
Lots of bizarro quotes that would seem astonishing with almost any other golfer, and clearly concerned that for the past few years he's not been able to mix and match his "u" and "v" grooves in his bag.
But this is probably his bottom line:
"Winning another major won't change my life. I don't need it to justify the other three. But it will be nice when it happens."

Not if he continues to play like he has been doing, no chance of "nice" at all.

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Post by incontinentia Fri 14 Feb 2014, 12:30 pm

http://www.golf.com/tour-and-news/padraig-harrington-thinks-his-turnaround-finally-near

this might be it kwini, at least it's written by a sports illustrated writer.
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Post by Roller_Coaster Fri 14 Feb 2014, 1:06 pm

Have to say I'm generally in the camp that queries why on earth you'd change a 3 majors in 2 years game. But, that said, I kind of understand where he's coming from if he is that optimistic and likes the challenge/doesn't fear failure.

I still think he was/is wrong, but I'm me and he's him so fair play to him. Sure we all have days where we feel we're playing well but scoring badly. At least he's not having to make money to survive, all in all it's not a bad position to be in, whatever us armchair commentators think.

Really don't think I'd "work" on my tongue position though...

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Post by kwinigolfer Fri 14 Feb 2014, 1:18 pm

That's it incontinentia,
I was googling SI!

I had heard him talking about the grooves issue many times before but hadn't appreciated that his pre-rules-changes game hadn't made so much use of his alternating strategy.

Agree Roller, but us armchair commentators want our conquering heroes to carry on conquering! (Apologies to Syd James and Kenneth Williams.)

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Post by Shotrock Fri 14 Feb 2014, 1:27 pm

If anyone wants to understand how confidence can affect one's performance in the professional golf game, one only need to look at J. Walker. Some run he's on.

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Post by MontysMerkin Fri 14 Feb 2014, 1:39 pm

kwinigolfer wrote:That's it incontinentia,
I was googling SI!

I had heard him talking about the grooves issue many times before but hadn't appreciated that his pre-rules-changes game hadn't made so much use of his alternating strategy.

Agree Roller, but us armchair commentators want our conquering heroes to carry on conquering! (Apologies to Syd James and Kenneth Williams.)
My god he comes across as a swivel eyed loon! If there was ever a case of over-complicating golf, this has to be it. And an oirishman to boot!
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Post by SmithersJones Fri 14 Feb 2014, 1:55 pm

Dress it up how you like but the phrase that springs to my mind reading that article is 'a bad workman blames his tools.'
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Post by Lairdy Fri 14 Feb 2014, 2:10 pm

I would have told Paddy and Westwood to head back to europe until they win again but suppose Westwood has only just moved over there and is doing ok so far this week. We'll see what happens after his first 3 putt....

Well done on the Tringale shout Kwini. I'm on Walker e/w again. 20/1 he was, which is silly value considering.

Laird scrambled a decent round but Knox obviously not his usual fairways and greens. Schwartzel must have brought his putter this year. Should have won at a canter last year if I remember correctly? Maybe year before...

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Post by kwinigolfer Fri 14 Feb 2014, 2:19 pm

Hi Lairdy,
Perhaps Knox would do well to give himself a little break, come back for Puerto Rico and Tampa. Martin Laird will be taking "paternity leave" shortly, tho' it would be a shame (but presumably not for him and the missus) if he missed Bay Hill and San Antonio.

A troubling aspect of Harrington's form, tho' presumably not to him, is that he's struggling on courses like Phoenix, Pebble Beach and Riviera, where he's played very well in the past. He's not in the WGC's, or The Masters or US Open, and it's difficult to see from here where he's going to suddenly rebound.

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Post by kwinigolfer Fri 14 Feb 2014, 3:25 pm

Europeans in the "Northern Trust" had mixed results Thursday, running the gamut from Franny's 67 to Darren Clarke's 78 and susequent withdrawal.
With the cut likely to be -1 or even par, several have their work cut out to play the weekend; Harrington and Knox as we've said, but Davis, Luiten and Pettersson also need a 66 to get paid, possibly 67 if you want to endure some squeaky bum time.

A nice balance of scoring, nothing ridiculously low (yet) and a cut around even par - the mark of a top course and a good set-up for the top pros. Riviera overdue for another PGA Championship (tho' perhaps Tiger's lobbying against it?).

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Post by Shotrock Fri 14 Feb 2014, 4:26 pm

Speaking of Euros, quite a meltdown from Colsaerts at the end of his round. And even that "ever steady" Poulter will need to go a bit lower to make the cut.

Riviera would be a great course for the PGA Championship. And what a market to draw from.

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Post by kwinigolfer Fri 14 Feb 2014, 4:46 pm

Colsaerts is the Belgian version of Rickie Fowler except he's even more accident prone.
They say Rickie has a double or worse in him at some point during every tournament.
Mussels has a triple or worse in him. He needs to sort that out to prosper on any Tour.

Cabrera intruding on the leaderboard.

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Post by Shotrock Fri 14 Feb 2014, 5:03 pm

Cabrera just u-turned ... still, loads of time.

Rickie's handsy action does him no favors. And that's one thing that J. Walker said he's had to work on, and has obviously mastered at the moment.

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Post by kwinigolfer Fri 14 Feb 2014, 5:43 pm

81 golfers within 6 shots of the lead as the early starters are well in to the back nine.
Packed together closer than semi's on the Pennsylvania Turnpike!

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Post by kwinigolfer Fri 14 Feb 2014, 9:35 pm

Martin Laird hoping the cut goes to +1 - which it possibly will, but not high enough to rescue the likes of Colsaerts and Olesen, Davis and Knox, Freddie Jac and Carl Pettersson.

Luiten and Poults off to a decent start but it's Franny Molinari leading the Euro effort (unless you count Bernhard Langer's lead on the Champions Tour).

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Post by kwinigolfer Fri 14 Feb 2014, 11:26 pm

Four fairways hit by Baddeley, but a +6.5 "Strokes Gained Putting" which might be the largest gain ever registered! That's the way to shoot 65.
Too bad "GJ The Aussie Stud" is no longer with us.

Laird looking good for the weekend despite his struggles today.

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Post by kwinigolfer Sat 15 Feb 2014, 2:14 am

Final holes of late starters' Round 2 to be completed Saturday early a.m.

Confirmation that Woods, Mickelson and Scott are avoiding MatchPlay combat, but McIlroy and Rose will be there, plus everyone else in the Top 64+.

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Post by Shotrock Sat 15 Feb 2014, 12:42 pm

Eyes this morning on the elegant sport of Hockey. USA/Russia should be a close match!


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Post by kwinigolfer Sat 15 Feb 2014, 12:45 pm

Half a dozen slow-coaches still to complete Round 2.
Unlikely to affect the cut however; Laird survives by the skin of his teeth, but Luiten and Harrington join the morning stragglers on their way outathere.

Badds' strokes gained putting up to 6.6 for Round 2.

Fowler and Kuchar joining Colsaerts, Olesen etc in missing the cut. Terrible start to Fowler's year.

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Post by kwinigolfer Sat 15 Feb 2014, 12:52 pm

Sr,
I had tickets to the Miracle On Ice - went to see the Comets vs the Erie Golden Blades instead.
It's a long story!

Got up to watch Sunderland vs Saints, but no luck there. Think I'll go and shovel instead.

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Post by Shotrock Sat 15 Feb 2014, 1:27 pm

Kwin - You went to what????? To be fair, the Olympic game was predicted to be a blow out, so I might have done same.

Good game through first period!

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Post by kwinigolfer Sat 15 Feb 2014, 3:47 pm

That's a nice quick turround in LA, Round 3 underway, with David Lynn, playing with Gonzo, and Molinari among the early starters.

Poulter playing with his mate "Rosey", and Geoff Ogilvy - that would be a fun threesome to follow!

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Post by kwinigolfer Sat 15 Feb 2014, 6:45 pm

Sporty stuff at Rivera with plenty of eagles and birds among the leaders.
Jordan Spieth having another good day, rapidly turning in to the Emiliano Grillo of the PGA Tour.

Europe struggling, no-one in the Top 20.

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Post by kwinigolfer Sun 16 Feb 2014, 1:27 am

Looks like this site is dying on the vine. Or is it just because I've just scarfed a couple of bottles?
Regardless, Stricker seems to think he's competing at the MatchPlay after his brother endured a successful liver transplant.

Very nice work from Westwood today; is it too much to hope that he can come out Sunday with both barrels firing and "post a score"?

Ho-hum from the rest of Team Europe.

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Post by SmithersJones Sun 16 Feb 2014, 9:10 am

It's quiet Kwini but dying is probably a bit pessimistic.

As for Westwood, yes it is too much. I predict a level par or +1 final round that sends him down to about 50th spot.
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Post by kwinigolfer Sun 16 Feb 2014, 1:03 pm

Blimey! I knew this Pro Golf lark was "stressful" but pgatour.com is reporting that Cowboy Hal Sutton suffered a mild heart attack before he withdrew after 8 holes of Friday's Round 1 of the Champo Tour.
Perhaps he was day-dreaming about pairing Mickelson and Woods together if the PGA asked him to Captain another Ryder Cup Team?

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Post by kwinigolfer Sun 16 Feb 2014, 6:14 pm

The three leaders are on Riviera's first tee.
Can one of them do the business, or will Dustin Johnson (or one of the other chasing group) overtake them?

Wish it would be Westwood but a bogey on the easy first hole is like giving two shots to the field.

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Post by puligny Sun 16 Feb 2014, 6:57 pm

Won't catch up with the coverage until tomorrow, but from what I have seen this is a proper golf course!
I see Westwood 1 under after 6, and while a charge to the top looks improbable, form might be on the up? He is a quality golfer and top bloke so I hope he gets it back.

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Post by sirbenson Sun 16 Feb 2014, 7:07 pm

Bubba only two back, it will be interesting to see how he fares here.

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Post by sirbenson Sun 16 Feb 2014, 7:17 pm

Now one back! Fair play to him after two doubles in his first three holes of the tournament!

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Post by kwinigolfer Sun 16 Feb 2014, 7:52 pm

Two left-handers tied for the lead, following in the Riviera footsteps of Weir and Mickelson.
And now King Charl joins them!

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Post by GPB Sun 16 Feb 2014, 8:49 pm

Looks like the Web-com tried to play the 4th round and then more weather moved in.  4th round canceled and Alex Cejka wins!  Should move up to about 320th in the OWGR.

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Post by Shotrock Sun 16 Feb 2014, 9:27 pm

Top dogs moving to the front of the pack ... can that major winner Bubba finish this tournament??

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Post by kwinigolfer Sun 16 Feb 2014, 9:35 pm

Or will Masters Charl pass him on the rail?

Fingers crossed for Dustin meself.

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Post by sirbenson Sun 16 Feb 2014, 10:10 pm

Dustin third fave for me for the Masters behind Tiger and Phil

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Post by kwinigolfer Sun 16 Feb 2014, 10:25 pm

Team Europe treading water again today - none of the top guys playing well so far this year.
Hope they come alive at the MatchPlay.

Big opportunity missed by Charl & Dustin at #17 - Bubba's to lose now?

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Post by Shotrock Sun 16 Feb 2014, 11:02 pm

Looks like Bubba wants to be part of RC team this Fall. And nice tournament from Allred, who I last saw play (and win) at the US Jr. Amateur at Aronimink.

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Post by pedro Sun 16 Feb 2014, 11:43 pm

So Mr. Pink Driver moves up to #14-15 on the OWGR. 2nd in Phoenix and now a win here. Augusta?

Mediocre tournament by the Europeans, to say the least. One would have expected a bit more from the 20-odd Europeans in the field - and that's just from a statistical point of view.  Headscratch

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