by Jeff Skinner
With the first two months of the PGA Tour season in the books it’s time to take a look back at the best memories from the West Coast Swing. I’ll take three great memories from the opening portion of the PGA Tour.
At the Bob Hope Classic we saw the birth of a new phenomenon on tour, Johnny Vegas. Whether you call him Jhonattan, Johnny or Johnny Vegas (spelling doesn’t matter) he was the best story on tour over the first eight weeks. The 26 year old Nationwide Tour grad captivated us with his win at The Hope and was in it right down to the last hole at Torrey Pines until he rinsed his approach at the last hole. Vegas played like a tour veteran while smiling and laughing the entire time. He’s enjoying the ride, living the dream and letting us all ride along with him.
Mark Wilson vaulted himself from adequate tour player to the man to beat with his two early season wins at the Sony Open and The Waste Management Phoenix Open. The 36 year old has doubled his career victory total and made his season long before the snow has melted at his Illinois home. Wilson’s a humble and down to earth guy but his 2011 season has been out of this world.
One player that has been in the spotlight early this season is Bubba Watson. Now, Watson isn’t one to shy away from the limelight, he spends plenty of time having fun and sharing it with all of us on his Twitter site. But this season Bubba is showing that his first win at the Travelers wasn’t a fluke. He played clutch golf coming down the stretch at Torrey Pines to beat Phil Mickelson in his own backyard and thrilled us with his game at The Match Play. Watching Bubba play and work the ball is like watching kids hurl a Frisbee around a football field. He hooks and cuts the ball like few golfers on tour can. Maybe some players on tour can work it like Bubba but few choose to do it during a tournament. Bubba hits every shot with some sort of curve on the ball. If he hits a straight shot it’s a mistake and usually long gone. He ranks number one on driving and we all love that for sure. But I think it’s more than his play that draws us to Bubba. He has changed his demeanor and is now a more relaxed golfer on the course. He’s having an absolute ball and it’s great to see him having so much fun while competing at such a high level.
I have to mention Phil Mickelson’s start to 2011. Phil teased us with his second place finish at Torrey Pines and that’s how I classify his start; a really good tease. When Phil is in the hunt there is nothing like it, the entire crowd pulls for him. His week at Torrey had all of us on the edge but his failure to hang on for a win left us disappointed. No one garners more positive energy from the fans than Phil. He’ll be using that at The Masters when he tries for a repeat.