The PGA Tour remains in Florida this week for the Tampa Bay Championship presented by EverBank at the Innishbrook Resort in Palm Harbor. Luke Donald of England defends the title.
This tournament began life in 2000 as the Tampa Bay Classic. It’s also been known as the Chrysler Championship, the Pods Championship and, until last year, the Transitions Championship. This season EverBank have taken over as presenting sponsors. The event has been won twice by both Retief Goosen and K.J. Choi. Both are in the field this week.
Last season Luke Donald came through a playoff against former champion Jim Furyk, Sang-Moon Bae of Korea and long-hitting Robert Garrigus. On the first extra hole, the Englishman found the rough from the tee but played a towering recovery shot to set up a short birdie putt. He rolled it home and none of the other playoff contenders were able to match his three.
Designed by Larry Packard and opened in 1974, the Copperhead course at Innisbrook has played host to 14 PGA Tour events over the years. In 1999 the layout was revamped to bring it in line with the modern game. The redesign was completed just in time for the 1999 JCPenney Classic, an event won by John Daly and Laura Davies.
Unusually for a West Coast Florida course, the track features some fairly significant changes in elevation – up to 80 feet. It has traditionally been one of the tougher courses visited by the PGA Tour though it’s been a little less testing over the last couple of years. A fine weather forecast for this week should mean the players are able to produce some low scoring.
Venue: Innisbrook Resort, Copperhead, Palm Harbor, Florida
Date: Mar 14-17
Course stats: par 71, 7,340 yards
Purse: $5,500,000 Winner: $990,000
Defending Champion: Luke Donald (-13)
Thursday 14 – Sky Sports 3 from 7pm
Friday 15 – Sky Sports 3 from 7pm
Saturday 16 – Sky Sports 3 from 5pm
Sunday 17 – Sky Sports 3 from 5pm
Sergio Garcia – The Spaniard was tied third at last week’s Cadillac Championship. He’s recorded 12 straight top-25 finishes on the PGA Tour and seems to have his putting in check. He has a decent record in this event – two top-20 finishes in his last two starts.
Retief Goosen – Twice a winner of this event, he’s showed glimpses of form this year. He has a supremely solid record in this tournament and is second in all-time earnings.
Sang Moon-Bae – Lost out in a playoff for this event last year. He’s one of the most talented players on the PGA Tour and just needs to string four good rounds together. This could be the week.
Key Hole: 16th. This 460 yard par-4 has ranked as the toughest hole on the course in each of the tournaments since 2010. Water is a factor all down the right hand side.
Skills required: It’s not long driving that tends to win the day at Innisbrook. Far more important is scrambling and putting – Luke Donald put on an impressive display of both to win last season.
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