Monday, March 19, 2012

The Limerick Summary: 2012 Transitions Championship

Winner: Luke Donald

Around the wider world of golf: Frenchman Julien Quesne (pronounced Kane) won the Open de AndalucĂ­a Costa del Sol on the European Tour; David Lipsky won the HANDA FALDO Cambodian Classic on the Asian Tour; Loren Roberts won the Toshiba Classic on the Champions Tour; and despite four weather delays, the LPGA managed to finish the RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup and -- huge surprise here... wait for it -- Yani Tseng got her second victory of the year.

Donald celebrates win

I believe it was Indiana Jones who uttered the immortal words, "I hate snakes." Had Indy been a golfer, he would almost certainly have been talking about the Copperhead Course at Innisbrook.

There are many PGA players who may agree with him, but I doubt that Luke Donald is one of them. Not that he did anything spectacular Sunday. He didn't shoot the lowest final-round score -- his 5-under round pales beside Scott Piercy's 9-under. He wasn't the only player to shoot a bogey-free round, although he was the only one of the Final Four to do so. His driving average was a paltry 264 yards. Even Jim Furyk beat that... by a full yard, plus change.

No, all Donald did was simply stride through the Snake Pit and chop off its head. For the entire week he made just a single birdie there... but he made it during the four-man playoff when it counted. He beat out Jim Furyk, Robert Garrigus, and Sung-Moon Bae with the simple plan of "give myself birdie putts."

The plan worked. His "Strokes Saved - Putting" stat was 2.594 -- #1 for the week -- and during the fourth round it was an incredible 4.416 strokes.

Oh yes, there was the little matter of OWGR #1 as well. After Rory McIlroy took that position from Luke a couple of weeks ago, most people believed Rory would hold it for a while. Guess who's back on top? Luke may not have seemed too disturbed to lose it, but he doesn't seem too eager to let it go without a fight either.

Granted, Luke didn't beat Rory to take it back, unlike last year when he beat then-#1 Lee Westwood to take the title from him. Still, Luke had to win to take it back and the fact that he did it (just as he did at Disney last year when he needed a win to take the PGA Tour money title) says more about his toughness than his non-threatening demeanor would let on. Say, don't they say the quiet ones are the ones you should be scared of?

Luke -- like Rory -- won't be teeing it up again until the Masters. And no, I don't expect Luke to win the Masters -- not because Augusta "doesn't favor" short hitters, but because it doesn't favor accuracy. With little or no rough, anybody can probably win there. But given how tight and unforgiving the Copperhead Course is, this win reinforces my belief that Luke should be the favorite going into the U.S. Open this year.

In the meantime, enjoy this little Limerick Summary that salutes the apparent underdog who just keeps taking a bite out of the field. With the NCAA Tournament taking its toll on teams from my home state (North Carolina) I need somebody to cheer for!
The golfing world went all a-twitter
When McIlroy tried on the glitter
Of World Number One.
But Luke wasn't done;
That title's not something he'll fritter.
The photo came from the tournament wrap-up page at PGATOUR.com.

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