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Wednesday, May 18, 2016

My "5 to Watch" at the Regions Tradition

The Champions Tour finally gets in on the fun this week with their first major of the season, the Regions Tradition. Jeff Maggert is the defending champion.

Jeff Maggert with 2015 Regions Tradition trophy

The Tradition is being played at a new course this year, Greystone Golf & Country Club in Birmingham, Alabama, so Maggert's past performance isn't a guarantee that he'll do well in his defense. In fact, we have no idea how anybody will perform this week. But this is the first of back-to-back majors -- the Senior PGA Championship is next week -- so whoever wins this week should be in good form for the Senior PGA as well.

And just who makes my "5 to Watch" at the Tradition?
  • Although I haven't seen him in any of the lists I've checked, I think Woody Austin has the inside track to get his first major. Austin has only three Top10s so far this season but they're all wins! Granted, he's been hit or miss -- his next best showing has been a T39 -- but he's got to be in a good frame of mind coming into this event.
  • Bernhard Langer is a perennial favorite when it comes to ANY event. Despite the putting change, he has finished in the Top10 six out of seven times this year, and he has one victory. It's hard not to expect him to make a run at the title.
  • Jeff Maggert has every reason to think he can defend. He's been here before -- he won two majors last year -- plus he's got a T3 and a T2 in his last three events. And he's only got one finish outside the Top16 this season, although he doesn't have a win. This would be a good time to get one!
  • Billy Andrade doesn't have a win yet this season either, but he's coming off three straight Top8 finishes (8, T3, T5). He's yet another player who is in good form and poised to win again.
  • And for my flier... Jesper Parnevik. He got his first Champions Tour win at the last event, so I'm going to gamble that he's finally finding his comfort zone on Tour and we'll see better finishes from him going forward. And, of course, that those better finishes in majors will begin this week!
As I said, if I was betting I'd put my money on Woody Austin. He's always been at the extremes, either playing very well or not so well. But I believe he finally believes in what he's doing, and I think that confidence will serve him well this week.

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