The Honda Classic + Tshwane Open
Sponsored by COLIN MONTGOMERIE, 0 time major winner and the inspiration for all our woes
Things we have learnt this week:
- As mentioned 2 weeks ago, don’t back Lee Westwood (we didn’t this week, but he was +4 on the last day after being T2 at one point)
- Mark Tullo’s middle name is ‘Bottlejob’
- Jack Nicklaus has created one hell of a course
- Don’t change your clubs to Nike…
- Don’t have a sandwich on the 17th and then complain of tooth ache on the 18th
- Don’t back the favourite! (Van Zyl was our 1st backed and probably last)
- We don’t like Colin Montgomerie
- If your selection is on the 18th be nervous, be VERY nervous
There is no irony about our post this week, this genuinely is a tale of our woes! After our outrageous week at the WGC Match Play’s last week, drinks were certainly on Matt Kuchar over the weekend. But there was no time to celebrate in the game of golf and we were straight back into the ‘swing’ of things this time last week.
It was always going to be a tough week. The Honda Classic is notoriously hard to call with Jack Nicklaus doing all he can to create the meanest course on the tour, and he certainly did that. Camilo Villegas going from round 1 leader to missing the cut shows how tough the place was, let alone Branden Grace going from -5 to +12 over the course of the week.
Equally tough to pick was the Tshwane Open. A new event to the European Tour calendar and therefore no previous leaderboards and course form to go off. But it was going to be new to all the guys out there and we found a few names that we thought could really go close here.
We’ll start in South Africa where our picks for the Tshwane were Jaco Van Zyl, Trevor Fisher Jnr, Mark Tullo and Jake Roos. Now Van Zyl has been red hot recently playing the golf of his life, finishing T2 at the Africa Open followed by a win last weekend at the Dimension Data Pro-Am. So it was only fitting he had the one of the worst weeks of his career at the Tshwane. The opening round finished with Darren Fitchardt in the lead after shooting a 65, Jaco on the other hand shot a 75 and subsequently retired… Our main bet up in smoke. Likewise with Fisher Jnr, things just never got going for him and he quietly missed the cut after shooting rounds of 71 and 72 on a course where lots of birdies were needed to win this. Now comes the real woe. Enter the fray, Mark Tullo. The man from Chile played the opening 3 rounds perfectly, not one bogey on his card. He was getting up and down from everywhere. His long hair was swaying in the wind, and he was sitting pretty at the top of the leaderboard on -16. Now you may ask yourself as you look at the leaderboard now, where is he? Exactly. T27, that’s where. After birdies on 4 and 7, Tullo was looking in control of his game and in with a real shout of the title being -2 for the day. 61 holes without a bogey, it was too good to be true. Bogey, par, par, bogey, double bogey, bogey, par, par, bogey, bogey, par is how he played the last 11 holes. And this was no Jack Nicklaus course. Not even a consolation top 5 to ease the pain. So it’s ironic that our 125/1 shot Jake Roos, a local lad, finished top of our picks in T10, which was only 2 shots off a place!
Congratulations are of course in order for Dawie Van Der Walt though, the big man picking up his first ever win and deservedly so. But we’re glad to be seeing the back of South Africa for a year we can tell you that (Although we did pick up our 1st win of the season there in the shape of Richard Sterne)
Now onto the Honda Classic. We put our eggs in the McDowell, Jacobsen, Kaymer, Schwartzel and Potter Jnr baskets. You could already tell it wasn’t going to be a fruitful week when one of our main picks Robert Garrigus withdrew 2 days before. Schwartzel was our 1st man out there and also the 1st to take on the infamous ‘Bear Trap’, 15,16 and 17 being 3 of the hardest holes on the tour. Naturally, Charl was eaten up on the 15th recording a double bogey and then again on the 16th with a bogey there too. He went like that all week, birdies here, bogeys there. At one point on day 3 he found himself -3 but 4 bogeys in 6 holes on the back 9 soon put pay to his chances. This after all was meant to be the form man in golf. As for Kaymer and Jacobsen, they were non-existent throughout whilst Potter Jnr missed the cut by one shot with a bogey on the 18th! Now we move swiftly onto Graeme McDowell. This course was made for him, anywhere you need to grind it out he will be in contention. This week was the same, until round 3 of course. G-mac was comfortably in the top 5 and then from nowhere dropped 5 shots in 4 holes on the front 9 and with them his title chances were ruined. It was understandably a very tough course and you can’t criticise anyone for dropping shots but you have to bemoan your luck when a consistent performer like the Northern Irishman drops that many shots. Our week was rounded off by his bogey at the 18th in round 4 which ultimately cost him a T4 finish and a much needed place! But once again, congratulations to Michael Thompson whose putting was an honour to watch.