Who says the PGA Tour doesn’t listen to its fans? The powers that be of the Northern Trust Open were certainly dialed in to the mind of the fans with some of their groupings to open the tournament. Who knows, maybe they used focus groups.
In what is perhaps the best possible grouping to start the tournament, Phil Mickelson will be playing alongside Keegan Bradley and Bill Haas. This isn’t such an incredible grouping simply because Mickelson and Bradley played so well together at the Ryder Cup and Bill Haas is the defending champion at Riviera. No, it’s because of what happened on Sunday last year at this same event.
These three men were embroiled in a fight to the finish last year that required a sudden death playoff to decide the champion. Haas began the final hole with a one shot lead, which means that in order to force a playoff, Haas had to par the hole and either Mickelson or Bradley needed a birdie. It turns out that both men felt like playing a little more golf, so they both carded birdies on the 18th hole, sending the group of three to sudden death.
On the second playoff hole, Haas and Bradley were both laying 2 on the green while Mickelson was in the bunker. Bradley was about 12 feet from the pin and Haas about 40 feet away. Advantage Bradley, right? Not so fast. Haas drained his putt from over 40 away, while Bradley’s 12 footer just slid past the hole, giving Haas the victory.
Now, this group gets to have a run at each other again, this time with significantly less pressure than a sudden death playoff. Who knows, we could see them all playing extra holes together again late Sunday afternoon. I’d pay to see that.