Maginnes On Tap: West Coast swing wrap-up
Monday, February 27, 2012
It is as if the West Coast swing was orchestrated by a wedding planner this year. There was something old, something new, something borrowed and plenty of blue. There were family arguments, loud in-laws and cold feet, and that celebrity relative even showed up. The lavish locations and the extravagant gifts exceeded every expectation and amazingly the weather cooperated every week, which never happens.
All three prominent age groups were happily represented in the two-month new year kick off to the PGA Tour season. Stricker proved at Kapalua that the old guys are not going to let the kids steal all the thunder this year as they did last year. Uncle Phil kept the 40-somethings prominent when he renewed his vow to greatness at Pebble Beach and then took an early honeymoon, skipping the Match Play.
Sometimes age is just a number, but young Kyle Stanley played the final hole at Torrey Pines like a kid unsure of the decisions that he’s made. Then he proved the very next week that he could handle that wasted opportunity and manage himself at the loudest golf tournament on the planet. They call Phoenix the “greatest show on grass,” but many show up for what they water that grass with. What is a wedding without a loud party?
Brandt Snedeker and Bill Haas crashed a couple of parties in Southern California. Sneds looked the part of PGA Tour winner when he won the Farmers but he couldn’t have gotten in if someone hadn’t opened the door. A few weeks later when Bill Haas’ 40 footer went in on the second playoff hole to beat Phil and Keegan Bradley, it was as if someone had actually stood up when the preacher asked if anyone objected. How many players left Riviera feeling like they had gotten seated at the kids’ table? They heard the music and nearly got up to dance but left before the cake was served.
There was a family meeting on the cliffs overlooking the Pacific in San Diego. Some words were exchanged but the family leaders laid out the new plans for doing business and in the end everyone will acquiesce. A few weeks later the godfather unveiled the greatest gift of the season, an extension with FedEx to guarantee that some lucky couple will be walking away from the season with 10 million reasons to smile for the foreseeable future. That will buy an awful lot of place settings.
The West Coast swing ended with a backyard brawl in Tucson. The Accenture Match Play is the PGA Tour’s only one-on-one competition. It played out in an ‘us versus them’ fashion that no one could have predicted. Hunter Mahan and Mark Wilson gave the U.S. fans a preview of what the Ryder Cup team may look like this fall when we know that Rory and Westwood will be on the other side. For the first time in more than a decade the U.S. made a clean sweep of the West Coast but I wouldn’t expect that to continue.
Tiger was that celebrity relative that who showed up for one of the parties and actually stayed for the duration. Tiger will be back this week and likely play three of the five tournaments in the run up to what is really important to him, major championship season. Whether or not he can still fit into that old suit that he has worn 14 times before remains to be seen. It has been in mothballs since 2008.
The PGA Tour heads to Florida this week and it is back to business as usual. The Masters is just five weeks away and mid-season is just around the corner. The West Coast was what the West Coast is, a series of fabulous destinations that elude winter and make you wonder why you don’t visit more often. Some lives and careers are forever altered by the experience. For others the coast is quickly forgotten and all sites are on the future and what may await.