On Sunday at the Valspar Championship, the golf world saw the triumphant return to the winner’s circle for one of it’s great talents. Oh, and Tiger Woods had a great week, too.
While most all of the world was rooting for Tiger Woods to complete his comeback with a win in just his fourth start of the year, I was pulling hard for Paul Casey, the eventual Valspar Champion. Having money on someone changes things completely.
The “Tiger Effect” was in full effect in Tampa last week, with the Valspar coming in as the highest rated non-major golf broadcast in years. Obviously, the big cat still moves the needle.
While Woods and Casey had great weeks, there were plenty of folks who fell somewhere between the Englishman and Smylie Kaufman for the week. Here’s a look at those who enjoyed their time in Tampa and those who excited to be moving on:
Paul Casey — For the first time since 2009, Paul Casey is a PGA Tour winner. A scant 3,262 days removed from his maiden triumph on Tour, Casey carded a 6-under 65 on Sunday to win the Valspar by a stroke over Tiger Woods and Patrick Reed. For Casey, the win was his fifth worldwide since 2009, but the first on the PGA Tour. Casey has come close — and thought, for sure, Sunday would prove to be much of the same. Fortunately for Casey — and people like who heeded Golfstradamus’ advice — he was able to dodge the bullets fired by Tiger Woods and Patrick Reed.
Tiger Woods — Speaking of Tiger Woods, he was alright last week, huh? As someone who has been outspoken about the fact that Tiger will never be the Tiger or old, he certainly did much last week to make me look like a moron. Woods putt on 16 to move to 9-under literally made the hair on the back of my neck stand up. Woods, 42, seems like he might have more in the tank than I predicted — which is great for the game of golf. If you’re not taking whatever action there on him at the Masters, you’re a fool.
Corey Conners — Predicting that Corey Conners would be the 54-hole leader at a tournament that boasted a field with Jordan Spieth, Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Sergio Garcia, Justin Rose and more would’ve been impossible. Predicting Conners’ final-round 77 would have been quite easy. Not that there’s anything wrong with what happened to Conners — looking to win your first PGA Tour event with Tiger freaking Woods chasing? Of course nerves would be a factor. It happens all the time — including last week at the WGC-Mexico Championship.
Rory McIlroy — Yo, Rors, what’s up? I don’t want to hit the panic button — and I’m not, yet — but I’m starting to get a little worried. I got bills on you in four weeks at Augusta, dawg. I’m gonna need to see something in the next couple weeks or my trip to the Masters is gonna be a little nerve wracking. While he got off to a hot start on the European Tour in January, his four starts on the PGA Tour have been meh or worse. With his MC at the Valspar, McIlroy is 2-for-4 with a T-20 and T-59 to his name in 2018.
Jordan Spieth — As I’ve said before and will say again in the next blurb, even the world’s best are entitled to missed cuts. Jordan Spieth did just that at Innisbrook. Rounds of 76 and 71 on Thursday and Friday just wasn’t enough and Spieth was sent packing early. No need to fret — we all know Spieth has proven to be consistent and that he can be trusted every week in every format. His performance at the Valspar was just a small hiccup.
Tony Finau — Early in the year, I predicted big things in 2018 for Tony Finau — and I still believe he’s going to breakthrough. That said, I also warned that he’s still a bit inconsistent to be trusted week in, week out. Last week at the Valspar, Fianu proved me correct. Obviously, there are plenty of great players who miss cuts then bounce back, but Finau’s inconsistency is the once thing that worries me. Rounds of 74 and 74 in the first two rounds lead to his second missed cut of the season.