tigerphil

We have quite the dilema on our hands right now.  We now have six premier events to judge the season on and things are finally getting clearer and there’s maybe a dozen players that have really seperated themselves from the rest of the bunch and it’s about damn time.

So…Bay Hill was exciting, wasn’t it?  Yea, sure was.  So what do we get for a follow up to rusty Tiger’s theft of a win?  Phil, Sergio and Adam Scott at a birdiefest.  Nice.

I’m not going to lie, the top spot was a difficult decision, so check out the full rankings to see the explanation…

1. Phil Mickelson (1): I still think Phil is the best player going right now, yes, even after Tiger’s theatrics.  What sold me were the two wins.  With Riviera and Arnie’s events having equal fields, the deciding factor is Phil’s WGC win, which, at this point, only a major, Players or Quail Hollow win would trump.  The other factor is Phil’s health and the state of his game as compared to Tiger’s…Phil has never looked more solid, both in physique and off the tee, and his always solid shortgame is now razor sharp.  He’s on the top right now and I hope he finds some gumption to stare Tiger in the eye and stay up here.

2. Tiger Woods (2): Bay Hill was awesome for sheer entertainment, but for golf?  Tiger left a lot to be desired from 100 yards on out hitting less than half of his fairways and just playing like crap.  He was absolutely brilliant with his shortgame and putter, and while that’s important, what’s probably more important at this time is being able to have a consistent long game.  The strange thing is, he hit the ball like he used to at Doral, just couldn’t putt…Tiger needs a complete round before I’m sold, but I wouldn’t be shocked to see it come out at the Masters.

3. Geoff Ogilvy (3): The two wins are keeping him up here, and really, he’s pretty safe in the top 5 for awhile.  Not a lot to go on as of now, but he has been too good so far this year to drop even after the lackluster Doral performance and the last few weeks off.

4. Nick Watney (4): 7th in driving distance, 6th in birdie average, 6th in par-breakers and 2nd in scoring average, three top 10’s, a runner up at the most prestigious event to date, where he outplayed the Hall of Fame leader, and a win at one of the best courses on the tour rota.  If I had said that in January, you’d have sworn I was talking about Sergio or AK…nope.

5. Kenny Perry (5): Five top 10’s in 2009 including a win at the FBR Open.  He’s easily the most consistent player on tour this year and is a legitimate threat to win every tournament he enters.  It’s amazing how well KP has matured into an elite golfer…most old guys lose distance, but KP is still averaging 293 off the tee despite often taking a 3-wood, and is 8th in scoring average.

6. Sean O’Hair (NR): Talk about under the radar.  Lets not dismiss his performance at Bay Hill, that was a great tournament that was unfortunately derailed by not taking enough club on one hole.  I expected big things from O’Hair this year and have been a fan of his for awhile now, but I’ve completely missed the 2009 he’s been having.  Four top 10’s, 9th in scoring average, 2nd in all-around ranking, and, get this, 28th in putting.  He’s one of the top 10 ballstrikers on tour and his Achilles heel has always been the flatstick…not so this season.  Expect more from him.

7. Rory McIlroy (6): I’m pretty sure he’ll be at the Shell Houston Open this week (anyone care to confirm?  I’m all researched out.) so we’ll have something more to judge him on after this week, but he’s got uber-potential and some good performances.  It’s the potential he’s flashed that’s keeping him up this high.

8. Sergio Garcia (7): Again, not a lot to go by.  He’ll be teeing it up at the Shell, which is nice.  He’s on here because he’s so talented it’d be foolish to leave him off.  That and his end of 2008 performance which was scintillating.

That, and the fact that there are maybe three people on earth who can do this in tournament golf…

9. Steve Stricker (8): An absolute statistical monster.  13th in GIR’s, 6th in putting, 8th in birdie average, 5th in scoring average, 8th in par-breakers and FIRST in all-around ranking.  Here’s the thing that bodes well…49th in total driving.  What putting is to O’Hair, the driver is to Stricker and ranking 49th in total driving is a GOOD sign.  But whether or not he freaks out in contention again is a completely different story.

10. Zach Johnson (NR): Zach Johnson is the David Toms of his generation.  Not long off the tee at all, not a spectacular talent, not really special in any way when compared to the talent the guys above flash, but what Zach does well is score.  He’s top 10’d on three drastically different courses, picking apart the short, ballstriker’s course at the Sony, the long monster in Kapalua and the gambler’s paradise at Bay Hill.  He’s so freakishly good with his short irons and wedges that anything from 160 in is an automatic GIR and, shock, he ranks 10th in GIR’s and 11th in scoring average.

I’ve come full circle on Zach since his Masters win.  I didn’t like his game then, came around last year a little bit, saw him at some fall series events just knocking everything stiff, and since then, he’s been one of my favorite golfers to watch.  If you have children and want to teach them the game, Zach is a guy to show them.  He’s not overly talented, but he works hard, and plays smart, and his swing with his short irons and full wedge shots is so unbelievably stunning that it instantly hammers home the point that golf is truly a game of accuracy and precision, not raw power.

Zach Johnson has become one of those guys who simply drops smart bombs all over the place and makes every 10 footer, and I’ll tell you this right now…he’s my HEAVY favorite to win at Colonial this year.

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