After an entracte of six official PGA Tour events to kick off the first split-year FedEx Cup Schedule, it is time to settle into the meat of the year. Those first six events produced six different winners, all of them American and only one of them a first-time Tour winners: Jimmy Walker.
Walker captured the Frys.com Open at CordeValle Golf Club in San Martin, Calif. in October by two shots over Vijay Singh and by three over a quartet of players: Scott Brown, Brooks Koepka, Hideki Matsuyama and Kevin Na. His final-round 66 vaulted him to his first Tour victory in 188 career starts.
The following week saw a win by a well-established young player. North Carolinian Webb Simpson made the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, played at TPC Summerlin in Las Vegas, Nev., his fourth career victory, a list that includes the 2012 U.S. Open. In sixth place after a first-round 64, Simpson turned on the afterburners, posting a four-day total of 24-under par 260 on the par-71 course. He routed the field—primarily second-place finishers Ryo Ishikawa and Jason Bohn—by six shots.
The Tour then began a two-week detour through Asia, holding as official FedEx Cup events the CIMB Classic in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, followed by the World Golf Championships – HSBC Champions in Shanghai, China. At the first event, plagued by rain and thunderstorms at steamy Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club, a continuation to Monday was needed, with Ryan Moore making a birdie on the first playoff hole to outlast fellow American Gary Woodland. Both men finished their 72 holes at 14-under par 274.
The following week, South Carolina native and Coastal Carolina University alum Dustin Johnson extended a streak of winning at least one PGA Tour event to six straight seasons, posting a 72-hole score of 24-under par 264, giving him a three-stroke margin of victory over Ian Poulter.
The following week saw the Tour return stateside for the McGladrey Classic, played at the Seaside Course at Sea Island Resort. Chris Kirk took home his second PGA Tour victory—his first in a full-field, non-opposite-field event (he previously won the 2011 Viking Classic, played opposite The Open Championship). Tour veteran Briny Baird faltered to a bogey on the final hole, while Tim Clark fired a final-round 62 that proved one stroke too high, setting Kirk up for the victory by a shot over the two of them. Kirk returned a four-round score of 14-under par 266.
The following week saw the first playing of the OHL Mayakoba Classic at its new November date on the Tour schedule. The El Camaleon Course a Playa Del Carmen Resort yielded up a number of birdies, especially to Harris, who took home his second career PGA Tour victory. The young University of Georgia alum fired a final-round six-under par 65 for post a score of 21-under par 263, giving him a four-shot victory over Brian Stuard. Jason Bohn returned another high early finish, tying for third a further shot back with Chris Stroud and Rory Sabbatini.
The PGA Tour will pick back up January 3rd, with the first round of the Hyundai Tournament of Champions at the Plantation Course at Kapalua on the island of Maui, Hawaii. The field consists of winners of PGA Toru events from the previous calendar year, meaning for the first time it will include winners from two separate FedEx Cup seasons. Last January, Dustin Johnson topped a field of 30 players in a rain and wind-shortened event, posting a 54-hole score of 16-under par 203 on the par-73 Plantation Course. That gave him a four-stroke victory margin over Steve Stricker.
After a second Hawaii event, the Sony Open, at Waialae Country Club in Honolulu, the Tour will head to California to begin its traditional “West Coast Swing,” and we will be off and running in 2014. Who will continue their strong play, and who will emerge as an exciting new golfer to watch?