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Sunday, March 10, 2013

Tampa Bay Championship - Preview

The Tampa Bay Championship is set to take place on the Copperhead Course at Innisbrook Resort and Golf Club. Everyone has an opinion as to which tournament on the Florida Swing is the best, and this is my favorite. It takes place on a tough but fair course. Length is rewarded but not required. In general, the best player is often identified.

The Copperhead course also has many traits similar to other courses on the Florida Swing. If you like the opening par 5 at Doral, the Copperhead course starts with a 560 yard par 5. If you like the watery par 3s on  The Bear Trap at The Honda Classic, check out the 13th this week. In all, the 7,341 yard par 71 boasts four par 5s, five par 3s and nine par 4s.

What is a shame, is that this course could stand to lose this tournament if a sponsor isn't inked soon. We went through the same thing recently with the RBC Heritage. Thankfully, RBC stepped in to save one of the best stops on TOUR.

This tournament has been on the schedule since 2000, but moved from the fall to the spring in 2007. It was not contested in 2001. While I don't recall why it took a year off, an educated guess based on the dates of the tournament the year prior and after would be that it ran close to the 9/11 attacks in the U.S.

Here is a list of the winner's and runner-ups:

  • 2000 - Winner: John Huston (13-under); Runner-up: Carl Paulson (10-under)
  • 2002 - Winner: K.J. Choi (17-under); Runner-up: Glen Day (10-under)
  • 2003 - Winner: Retief Goosen (12-under); Runner-up: Vijay Singh (9-under)
  • 2004 - Winner: Vijay Singh (18-under); Runner-up: Tommy Armour III and Jesper Parnevik (13-under)
  • 2005 - Winner: Carl Pettersson (9-under); Runner-up: Chad Campbell (8-under)
  • 2006 - Winner: K.J. Choi (13-under); Runner-up: Brett Wetterich and Paul Goydos (9-under)
  • 2007 - Winner: Mark Calcavecchia (10-under); Runner-up: John Senden and Heath Slocum (9-under)
  • 2008 - Winner: Sean O'Hair (4-under); Runner-up: Stewart Cink, Ryuji Imada, Troy Matteson, Billy Mayfair, George McNeill and John Senden (2-under)
  • 2009 - Winner: Retief Goosen (8-under); Runner-up: Charles Howell III and Brett Quigley (7-under)
  • 2010 - Winner: Jim Furyk (13-under); Runner-up: K.J. Choi (12-under)
  • 2011 - Winner: Gary Woodland (15-under); Runner-up: Webb Simpson (14-under)
  • 2012 - Winner: Luke Donald (13-under); Runner-up: Sang-moon Bae, Jim Furyk, Robert Garrigus (13-under / playoff)
The list above is sort of all over the place. There is a very strong International presence on this list, including Goosen, Choi, Singh, Pettersson and Donald. There are also some less polished players known mainly for their length who crack this list, and they are Wetterich, Matteson, McNeill, Woodland and Garrigus. 

If you're trying to figure this one out based on which stats are important, look no further than the four players in last year's playoff to see that the stats may not favor anyone.

Donald: T9 in Driving Accuracy (DA), T43 GIR, 1st in strokes gained-putting (SGP), T27 in Sand Saves (SS), 76th in Driving Distance (DD), 22nd in Proximity, and T5 in distance of putts made.
Furyk: T14 (DA), 4th (GIR), 30th (SGP), T1 (SS), 74th (DD), 2nd (proximity), 25th distance of putts made
Bae: T24 (DA), T59 (GIR), 2nd (SGP), T11 (SS), 19th (DD), 14th (proximity), 2nd distance of putts made
Garrigus: T64 (DA), T5 (GIR), 60 (SGP), 55 (SS), 2nd (DD), 27 (proximity), 13 distance of putts made

So what we can decipher from this is that you better be really good at something (each guy ranked first or second in something), but it doesn't really favor one thing over another. 

We will lean on course history, current form and a little bit of good fortune to try and handicap this field. 

Check back tomorrow for our Power Rankings.

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