Brendan Steele.


Leading up to the opening tournament of the new PGA season,  the main buzz was generated by the expected return of Tiger Woods to competion.

Thus, Woods’ withdrawal before the tournament began, saying his “game is not ready yet” left fans and competitors with decidedly different reactions (see the companion article posted on THE 11O NATION Pages). Most of the gallery that came out to the Silverado Resort and Spa in Napa, California were disappointed,  saying they didn’t mind if Tiger played poorly, they “just wanted to see him.” The competion,  who hadn’t seen Woods on course for some time adopted a “business as usual” attitude.

While Woods was not on the course, it did not mean the weekend was devoid of drama. Scott Piercy, who claimed to use the brief break between the two FedEx Cup seasons to work on his putting,  showed that hard work pays off, making 12 birdies in the first round on his way to a Course record 62 on Thursday. That lead held up until Saturday, when Patton Kizzire shot to the top of the Leader board. Though Kizzire held the lead through the 11th hole on Sunday, his lead over second place was never more than two shots. The level of play was more impressive when one considers that play was suspended twice for darkness and caddies had to tote umbrellas in addition to bags for the players for periods on Saturday and Sunday.

The crowd did have a fan favorite to cheer for, as Phil Mickelson charged from a tie for 22nd to tenth, then ninth, ultimately ending up on Sunday tied for eighth.

Even with all the action of the first three days, there remained the possibility of a playoff between Kizzire, Steele, and Johnson Wagner until the 18th and final hole Sunday.  Steele sank a birdie putt to pocket the 1,800,000.00 Winner’s check.