The PGA Tour remains in Florida this week for the third leg of its “Florida Swing.” Jim Furyk defends the title at the Transitions Championship at Innisbrook in Tampa Bay.
A strong field has assembled to take on the Copperhead course at Innisbrook this week. Many of Europe’s best have stayed in Florida following last week’s WGC-Cadillac Championship. World Number 1 Martin Kaymer, Paul Casey and Padraig Harrington are among those on the start sheet.
This tournament began life in 2000 as the Tampa Bay Classic. It’s also been known as the Chrysler Championship and the Pods Championship. Transitions, the lens maker, took over as title sponsor in 2009.
Designed by Larry Packard and opened in 1974, the Copperhead course at Innisbrook has played host to 12 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’s one of the tougher courses visited by the PGA Tour. Last season it was the 13th hardest of the 52 played on the circuit.
In last season’s Transitions Championship, Jim Furyk overcame his nerves to beat K.J. Choi by a single stroke. Carrying a two shot lead into the final hole, Furyk drove into the trees then almost hit on-course commentator Roger Maltbie with his second. He had to make a good two-putt for a bogey to win by one.
Venue: Innisbrook, Tampa Bay, Florida
Date: March 17-20
Course stats: par 71, 7,340 yards
Purse: $5,500,000, Winner: $990,000
Defending Champion: Jim Furyk (-13)
Thursday 17 – Live on Sky Sports 3 from 9pm
Friday 18 – Live on Sky Sports 3 from 8pm
Saturday 19 – Live on Sky Sports 4 from 9pm
Sunday 20 – Live on Sky Sports 3 from 6pm
Nick Watney – Last week Watney was the impressive winner of the WGC-Cadillac Championship. If he can maintain the form he showed in that event, he’ll be tough to beat here. He currently leads the 2011 PGA Tour with regards scoring average.
Martin Kaymer – The German had a disappointing weekend at Doral and will be looking to bounce back. For the first two rounds of the Cadillac he looked every bit the World Number 1 and that’s the game he’ll be looking to take to Innisbrook.
Matin Laird – The Scot is one of the longest hitters on Tour and he’s currently one of the most confident guys out there. He was tied for 10th last week but it could have been much better.
Key hole: 16th. An extremely difficult 460 yard par 4, this hole witnessed 25 double bogeys and 5 scores worse than that in last year’s tournament. Water stretches down the entire right side, coming into play for both drive and approach. This one will start the leader’s hands shaking on Sunday afternoon.
Skills required: Experience. This is a course that tends to produce older winners – Furyk last year, Goosen in 2009 and Calcavecchia in 2007. It’s a course that asks the player to manage the course and avoid mistakes rather than go on a birdie blitz.
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