I am not sure if anyone caught any golf over the weekend, but the 2010 Honda Classic gave us a tasty appetizer in preparation for the main course – the majestic Amen Corner. The name of this nemesis? The “Bear Trap”. The 15th ,16th and 17th holes of the PGA National Resort & Spa course are named just that. The course is designed by Jack Nicklaus and the “Bear Trap” absolutely wrecked havoc on the PGA golfers all weekend. In fact watching Vijay Singh plunk his tee shot on the 17th hole – a 166 yard, Par 3 – in the water almost made me feel better about my golf game…. almost. Still, cheers to Camilo Villegas for managing to steer clear of trouble all weekend and capturing his second tournament victory on the PGA tour.
While Camilo’s name will begin to come up in conversations regarding the top players on the PGA tour – it is time to continue our look at golfers who may replace Tiger Woods as the best player in the world. Up this week – Padraig Harrington. Harrington joined the tour in 1995 and has not looked back. Having won back to back British Open Tournaments in 2007 and 2008, Padraig broke through on U.S. soil in 2008 – capturing the PGA Championship. In fact Harrington became only the second PGA golfer in the last 10 years to win back to back major tournaments. The other? You got it – Tiger Woods.
But was this enough for Padraig Harrington? Apparently the answer is no as Harrington decided to make major swing changes right before the 2009 season. Why did he change? Well, Harrington felt that if he was going to elevate his game to be one of the best in the world, he needed to make changes. The Irishman felt his game lacked consistency and in order for him to compete over the long haul – he needed to take the step. The result was a difficult 2009 season for Harrington. Frustrating tournaments and struggles throughout 2009 tested every inch of Harrington’s resolve.
But what makes Harrington so special? He currently ranks right at the PGA average in Driving Distance (275 yards) and Scoring (70.6). The major tell? Harrington’s ability to get out of trouble. Currently Harrington’s sand saves % is 8th in the world at 71.64% . Compare it to the Tour average of 59.60% and it speaks volumes of Harrington’s ability to get out of trouble and still score high.
So what does 2010 bring? Well if you ask Padraig Harrington, he would probably ask for a major or two. But if his swing continues to improve, he could find himself replacing Tiger Woods as the top player on the PGA Tour.