Expert Picks for Transitions Championship
One of the more recent additions to the PGA Tour schedule, the Transitions Championship has gained steam over recent years following outstanding competitions filled with some of the best golfers from all around the world. Its place after the WGC Cadillac Championship brings more than a few international golfers to the field as they seek an extended stay in the States and such is the case again this year with what may rank as the best field this tourney has ever enjoyed. Formerly known by other names – including the Tampa Bay Classic, the Chrysler Championship, and the PODS Championship – the Transitions has been inviting those competitors to the links of Innisbrook for eleven years. Respected as one of the premier golf destinations in the United States, the Innisbrook Resort offers five different the courses with the Copperhead Course, this week's venue for the Transitions Championship, listed the most demanding. It is long (over 7,300 yards) and loaded with native water and vegetation known by all who have enjoyed southern Florida. Fairways are lined throughout with water and the greens, while forgiving, are among the most challenging in the area. Past champions include K.J. Choi and Retief Goosen (both two-time winners), Vijay Singh, Carl Pettersson, Mark Calcavecchia, Sean O'Hair, and the defending champ Jim Furyk. That list proves a talented set of irons are a necessity to compete at Innisbrook while length can be of benefit (though it is not a necessity). This year's group of participants may be as talented as any this course has seen and thus the adjoining ranking were a challenge, but fantasy owners will be blessed with multiple choices who could provide benefit this week.
Not only is Choi a two-time champion at this event but he has enjoyed strong performance at Innisbrook over the vast majority if his experience when he wasn't earning victory. He nearly won at this event again last season and that makes this course his baby.
We warn of the potential for early withdrawal, coming off an exciting win at the WGC Cadillac Championship last week, but that momentum teams with his outstanding finish at this event last year to give us faith in his potential in 2011.
Martin Kaymer [Yahoo Class C] - World Ranking: #56
Kaymer let us down last week with a pair of 74s on the weekend at Doral but we remain confident in his abilities to serve as the best golfer in world. He has the game needed to tame this course and we would have to see dramatic, prolonged failure to jump off the bandwagon at this point.
Jim Furyk [Yahoo Class B] - World Ranking: #79
Furyk is the defending champ and he clearly has the talent to repeat that emergent performance in defense of that title, but the bulk of his Innisbrook resume along with some concerning rounds this season are cause for worry.
Like Choi, Goosen is a two-time winner at this track. Like Choi, Goosen has posted some phenomenal rounds at this tourney when he hasn’t been at the top of the leaderboard. Unlike Choi, we have yet to see a sign of momentum this year from golf’s other South African.
Paul Casey [Yahoo Class B] - World Ranking: #16
Casey is too talented to push out of the top ten, no matter the venue or course at hand. He played reasonably well in the warm up at Doral last week and is giving it another go this week. We won’t have too many opportunities to employ him this season, so take advantage.
Justin Rose [Yahoo Class B] - World Ranking: #13
Rose has been rather strong this season and he tends to play well at the Transitions regardless. He’s been a member of this writer’s roster when Innisbrook hits the schedule and we plan to let it ride again this season.
Bubba Watson [Yahoo Class B] - World Ranking: #40
Watson lacks the depth of history we see from some others on these links in Tampa but last season he was in the mix for a spot at the top of the final leaderboard and he’s improved since. That makes him a prime target.
Bill Haas [Yahoo Class A] - World Ranking: #39
Haas has been so consistent this season it is hard to deny him a place on the radar regardless of course history. However, he has enjoyed the links of Innisbrook throughout his career and thus could be in it to win it this time around.
Following an impressive showing at the Match Play Championships, it is clear to see the talent this young teen phenom brings to the course. This long track will give Manassero plenty of room to get after it again and we like his chances.
Ogilvy has let us go without much sign of hope for a bit now but it wasn’t that long ago we witnessed Ogilvy at his best. He has the length to do work on this long Innisbrook track and he’s shown well on these links in the past.
Sean O'Hair [Yahoo Class C] - World Ranking: #72
O’Hair has a win on this Innisbrook course but he has failed to give us much reason for hope since. Injuries have been a problem but this season he has struggled to find the best in his bag. This is a course that could reverse his fortunes.