by Jeff Skinner
It’s not the leaderboard that Tim Finchem had envisioned at the start of the week at The Players Championship. Of the top players within five strokes of leader Lee Westwood there are only ten Americans and none of them are named Mickelson or Woods. Tiger and Phil have struggled with their swings and both sit nine shots back at three under par. The Americans that are near the top aren’t the ones that drive up the television ratings but there are a few interesting guys that have found The TPC Stadium Course to their liking. You remember Heath Slocum, he crashed Finchem’s FedEx Cup party last year when he won the first playoff event at The Barclays Championship. He sits one stroke back and is leading the field in putting. Right behind him are three Americans that are known to dedicated fans but would prompt a “Who’s that?” from the casual observer. US Open Champion, Lucas Glover has finally found the formula for this course: this is the first time he made the cut in six tries. Charley Hoffman, he’s the one with the long blond hair, is playing his best golf of the year at Sawgrass. And, Mr. Five Hour Round himself, Ben Crane his using his two minute per shot routine to stay in contention.
At seven under and five strokes back are a mixture of experience and youth. Davis Love III is trying to capture his third Players Championship and he has been playing some great lately. Bo Van Pelt and John Rollins are vets that are trying to for their biggest win of their career. The American youth movement is represented by Bill Haas and Ryan Moore. Haas will have his dad Jay following him around as jay missed the cut. Moore is one of the most recognizable figures on tour with his “old school” attire and deck shoes. He was wearing the flat bottoms long before Freddy Couples started the fad.
It will be an interesting weekend, Lee Westwood looks poised to finally win on The PGA Tour and it may take a collapse on his part to let anyone else take the lead. Lee would be a great Players Champion. However, I wouldn’t mind if Heath Slocum slipped in there to crash Mr. Finchem’s party again. Slocum is a humble guy with a streaky game that lets him compete with the big boys but I bet Tim Finchem, like the rest of America, couldn’t pick him out of a lineup. Go Heath!