As if golf fans didn’t have enough pent-up excitement for the 2012 golf season, along comes the Honda Classic. Now you wouldn’t normally expect the Honda Classic to push the golf barometer into explosive territory but that was just a case on Sunday as Rory McIlroy used it as a platform to become the number one ranked player in the world. Better yet, he did so with a player on his heels who once dominated the golf world like no other.
It’s hard to believe that it has been 15 years since Tiger Woods first ascended to the top of the world golf rankings but that is the case. A brilliant 62 on Sunday by Woods only added to the drama of the day and helped assure us that, in fact, Rory had the fortitude and ability to hang on to a lead that would give him a win and the top ranking. Even Phil Mickelson has not been able to do that when given the opportunity, leaving the door wide open on predictions about where the 22 year-old McIlroy can take his game.
That should help drive unprecedented viewership for the World Golf Championships – Cadillac Championship this week as Rory will have to fend off Luke Donald and Lee Westwood who have the opportunity to steal away the youngster’s top spot on the global stage. Throw in Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson – along with just about every the top player in the game – and you have a scintillating recipe for the championship.
As much as you have to mention Rory and Tiger when talking about The Honda Classic, the other second place finisher need not be ignored. Journeyman Tom Gillis drained a beautiful birdie putt on the closing hole to tie Tiger Woods and earn the respect of many golf fans unfamiliar with him. The South Florida resident has bounced around in his golf life, including stints on the European and Nationwide tours. His tie for second was the best finish of his PGA Tour career for the likable Michigan native who proved himself to be a pretty cool customer under the glare of the final round spotlight.
A quick personal note about Gillis targeted at good friend and PGA Professional Kevin Haime. On Haime’s Tee It Up with Kevin Haime radio show just over a year ago I touted Gillis as a “sleeper pick” for Haime’s golf pool. Gillis went on to earn more than $800,000 on Tour last year and is well on his way to winning that and more this year. I don’t think Kevin is laughing as hard at me now as he did that day when he exclaimed on air “Who’s Tom Gillis?”
I had a nice surprise in my mailbox on Friday as a copy of “Moe & Me” by Lorne Rubenstein arrived for review. I made the fortunate mistake of leafing through it just to read the introduction. I ended up on my couch for three hours absorbing every page.
I’ll leave a full review for its own column but I’ll recommend that you put it on pre-order as soon as possible. Set to release in April, this is not just a book about Moe Norman but it portrays the impact the Canadian golf genius had on the people around him, particularly Rubenstein. It’s a far more emotional take than I expected and prompted my own fond recollections of Moe.
A fantastic read that I will be sure to thumb through many times over the years.
The Toronto Golf Show took place over the weekend and by all accounts it was a busy one. This weekend, March 10/11, offers up the Ottawa-Gatineau Golf Expo which is always a big week for the Flagstick team. We have exhibited at the show since it started in 1996 and it has become a showcase for our spring print issue of Flagstick Golf Magazine each year.
It will be no different for 2012 with free copies of the issue available at our booth at the show which has a stellar new venue. The CE Centre will be the site of the show, in a massive space that brings great advantages over previous locations.
You can look for us in a large pavilion area surrounding a putting green where we will be running a contest for prizes on both Saturday and Sunday.
We have a special guest this year as we are bringing good friend Lisa “Longball” Vlooswyk in from Calgary to put on clinics, sign autographs, and chat about golf. Vlooswyk is the 7-time Canadian Long Drive Champion and the recent runner-up at the World Long Drive Championships. She is also a gifted and much sought after public speaker with plenty of stories of her adventures as a golfer, long drive athlete, and golf writer.
I’ll get my own bit of stage time this weekend as I will be conducting a golf equipment chat based on out Hot Picks equipment feature in our Spring issue.
A couple other quick regional notes. The application forms for the Flagstick Amateur Shootout are almost ready. There have been some technical difficulties with the online form that we are looking to mend in the next couple days. If you have any issues with the sign-up email Jeff Bauder email@example.com
Manotick’s Brad Fritsch had a nice showing on Sunday with a tie for 7th at the Nationwide Tour event in Panama. It moves him to 16th on the money list after just two events. He is down in Chile this week for the last event on the tour’s South American Swing.
Kingston’s Matt McQuillan looks to make his first cut on the PGA Tour for 2012 this week. The 30 year-old is playing his 3rd event of the year at the Puerto Rico Open. His last round on the tour was a hard-fought 68 at the Mayakoba Classic where he missed the cut. Even so, it gave him some hope and motivation for this week.
And last but more important than anything you see written above we received some fantastic news about long time friend and Flagstick supporter, Tom Steepe. Steepe, a journalist with the CBC in Prince Edward Island who used to work in Kingtson and is originally from Killaloe, had a successful kidney transplant on Friday after years of waiting. We want to wish the best for Tom and his wife Marcia as he begins his recovery process. I know he looks forward to returning to the golf course as soon as possible.