The Copperhead Course at Innisbrook Resort and Golf Club will play host to the PGA Tour's Tampa Bay Championship, where superstar Luke Donald will look to defend his title.
Donald held the No. 1 ranking in the world for 40 weeks before relinquishing it to Rory McIlroy at the 2012 Honda Classic.
With a win at this event last year, though—in a four-way playoff to boot—a mini-rivalry was underway, which consisted of Donald and McIlroy flip-flopping for the top spot throughout the season. The prodigy eventually took over for good at the PGA Championship.
This should be yet another thriller, as plenty of stars will be in action in this latest leg of the Summer Swing. Below is the tournament information, the TV schedule and some groupings to watch for during the first two days. That is then followed by a prediction as to who will come out on top on Sunday.
Location and Tee Times
Where: Copperhead Course at Innisbrook Resort, Palm Harbor, Fla.
When: Thursday, March 14 to Sunday, March 17
Tee Times: Click here for Thursday and Friday tee times, courtesy of PGATOUR.com.
Thursday: Golf Channel, 3-6 p.m. ET
Friday: Golf Channel, 3-6 p.m. ET
Saturday: Golf Channel, 1:30-3 p.m. ET; NBC, 3-6 p.m. ET
Sunday: Golf Channel, 1-3 p.m. ET; NBC, 3-6 p.m. ET
Groups to Watch
No. 19: Luke Donald, K.J. Choi and Jim Furyk
Incredibly, this big-name grouping hasn't posted a top 10 all season long.
The defending champion will be paired alongside two past champions of this tournament, and Furyk was part of the playoff last season that Donald won on the first hole.
Choi has struggled lately, but this could be a nice opportunity for him to bounce back. There is no question that he can perform on the big stage, having won tournaments like The Memorial and the PLAYERS Championship—considered by many to be golf's "fifth major."
It hasn't been a particularly good start to the year for Furyk either. Despite finding nearly 71 percent of fairways (h/t PGATOUR.com), Furyk has been unable to convert those into enough quality iron shots.
From every yardage save for the 175 to 200 range, iron play seems to be betraying Furyk thus far. At a venue that suits his eye, he is due for a strong finish.
The feeling of reclaiming his No. 1 ranking for the first time last year has to give Donald positive sentiment at the very least as he looks to ward off his challengers.
No. 20: Sergio Garcia, Webb Simpson and Martin Kaymer
The artist formerly known as El Niño should have won a major by now, and is playing alongside two others who have gotten it done. It seems only a matter of time before Garcia gets it done, though, and his form to start the year has been stellar.
That was on display last week, when he shot rounds of 67 and 69 at Doral to finish joint third. A change in putting grip to the claw has definitely helped his cause, as Garcia ranked 27th in strokes gained-putting in 2012 and continues to show improvement in that area.
Simpson is the reigning U.S. Open champion. He followed up his tie for sixth at the Northern Trust Open with a strong showing at the match play championship, and a tie for 20th last week.
When he finished in a tie for 10th a year ago, Simpson posted rounds of 68, 69, 69 and 68, which showed that he can consistently get it done on this course.
After quite a fall from No. 1 in the world, Kaymer became a Ryder Cup hero this past September and is on the way back up. When Kaymer hasn't finished inside the Top 10 this year, though, it's either been a missed cut or a very forgettable result.
The amount of talent in this group is staggering, and will be exciting to watch through Friday's play.
No. 33: Adam Scott, Jason Day and Geoff Ogilvy
All three of these players have been among the best in the world at various points, but not necessarily all at the same time. That is no longer the case, as Ogilvy has experienced a resurgence this season and Day has rededicated himself to the game after an off year in 2012.
Scott comes into this tournament very hot, having shot a final-round 64 at the Cadillac Championship to fly up the leaderboard and into a tie for third.
After a strong third-place showing at the WGC-Accenture Match Play event, Day was too worn out from all the competitive golf and withdrew from the Honda Classic. He showed a little rust last week in finishing tied for 33rd, but he should be refreshed and back in the groove at Copperhead.
The aforementioned regained form for Ogilvy culminated at the very tournament Day didn't partake in, as Ogilvy finished runner-up to first-time winner Michael Thompson.
The winner of the tournament could very well come from this star-studded Aussie trio, who should all get off to solid starts at the very least being paired together.
Winner: Jason Dufner
Two wonderful rounds of 66 at last year's event got Dufner off to a phenomenal start until he faded with matching 71s on the weekend. After a somewhat discouraging start to his 2013 campaign, Dufner posted his best finish of the season so far at the Cadillac Championship with a tie for 12th.
Dufner is simply one of the best ball-strikers in the world, and this is a course that rewards that characteristic.
Being solid tee-to-green is a must, and finding the fairway is paramount especially here. Even 300 to 320 yards down the fairway, the openings are only about 18 to 22 yards (h/t TampaBay.com). The rough is also thick, which is why Donald's winning approach in 2012 was all the more impressive.
Since Dufner makes such good contact with the ball so consistently, he can manage to control his shot even when hitting out of the tumultuous lies. He also doesn't hit it far enough to routinely drive through fairways.
There are plenty of fantastic players in the field, but few who rival the prowess of Dufner as far as his long game is concerned.
If he can drain a few putts along the way and draw on that strong start through two rounds from last time, Dufner should find himself in it to win it by the end of the weekend.
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