The winners of the first four tournaments of the 2013 will now be battling each other for PGA Tour Player of the Month honors. Dustin Johnson, Russell Henley, Brian Gay and Tiger Woods were all nominated for the Player of the Month award after bringing home early season titles. Let’s take a look at each tournament and how these golfers got their victories.
Johnson won the season’s first tournament, the Hyundai Tournament of Champions. This field of 30 is comprised only of golfer’s who registered wins on the PGA Tour in the year prior. The event, held at the Plantation Course at Kapalua, was delayed for days because of high winds and was eventually cut from a 72 hole event to a 54 hole event. Johnson registered a four stroke victory over Steve Stricker by shooting a 16 under par 203 through 54 holes. With this win, Johnson has now won an event in each of his first six years on the tour and is also undefeated in three events that have been shortened due to weather delays.
The second tournament brought us the rise of Henley at the Sony Open in Hawaii. Henley birdied the last five holes, set a Sony Open scoring record with a 24 under par score of 256 for the tournament and won the first event he competed in as a PGA Tour rookie. Henley beat Tim Clark while shooting the third lowest overall score in PGA History for a 72 hole tournament and got himself a tee time at Augusta. That is an impressive weekend for any golfer and really something special for a rookie in his first PGA Tour event as a pro.
Gay was victorious at the Humana Challenge, the PGA’s third tournament of the year, after overcoming a five shot deficit in the final round and winning on the second sudden death playoff hole. Gay shot a nine under par 63 in the tournament’s final round to get back into contention and take home the championship. The wild final round on PGA West’s Arnold Palmer Private Course has been the most exciting of the year, only rivaled by the Phil Mickelson 60 at the Waste Management Phoenix Open.
The fourth and final tournament of the month of January was the Farmers Insurance Open, held at Torrey Pines and predictably dominated by Woods, who won this tournament for the seventh time, won at Torrey Pines for the eighth time and registered his 75th career PGA Tour victory. Tiger had missed a cut the week prior at Abu Dhabi but came back to the States and showed the dominance we have grown to love and yearn for from what can be golf’s most dominant player.
Looking back at the first month, each win was an impressive performance. High winds, rookie nerves, a final round surge and, well, Tiger being Tiger. None of these wins can be discounted but certainly one will have to be chosen to rise above the rest to give us our first player of the month. The golf has been so good in 2013 I may need to flip a few coins or pull a name out of a hat to pick one above the rest.