AMATEUR JUNIOR GATEWAY
Not In Kansas
The elements in Sicily conspired to force
the Euro Tour into a Monday finish, and it had
nothing to do with towering Mt. Etna,
Europe’s tallest and most active volcano,
which was spitting and spewing as recently
as 10 weeks ago.
Meanwhile, in Florida, the Transitions
Championship got a Sunday leaderboard that
was never going to seismically move golf’s
needle. The top three, in order, were Woodland, Simpson and Stallings, which sounds
more like an old-money investment banking
firm in Back Bay Boston.
Actually, the strapping Gary Woodland hits
a golf ball so hard that the ground actually
shakes a little when he hits driver. It’s a sight
Woodland is a former all-state basketball
player from Kansas, where tornadoes are
more common than eruptions. His challenge
has been to dial back his game. In beating
the painfully deliberate Webb Simpson by a
shot and Scott Stallings by three, Woodland
converted 17 straight putts of 20 feet or less
He credited this enviable statistical
anomaly to work done with putting Brahmins
Randy Smith (the teacher who molded Justin
Leonard) and flatstick wizard Brad Faxon.
The biggest of those putts was a snaky
16-foot, five-incher that slithered into the
hole on 17 for birdie and a share of the lead.
When Simpson missed a venomous 24-footer
moments later on his 72nd hole, the deal was
done and the Copperhead Course at the host
Innisbrook Resort had earned its name.