This week marks the return of Sergio Garcia to the PGA Tour since taking a hiatus after the PGA Championship.
Last year, the winner of this tournament went on to take the FedEx Cup. Not that there's any direct correlation, but that is just something to keep in mind.
The Transitions fall on an unfortunate week. The past three weeks were all extremely popular tournaments with the top-ranked players in the world, and next week is as well (nobody wants to skip out on Arnie). Despite the fact the Transitions are at a fabulous venue, this week's field does not feature the names it normally does.
Nevertheless, it can still provide headline moments. Will Sergio regain form? Can the young blood Matteo Manassero take it to the field? Can last year's champion defend the trophy?
These are all questions that will be answered.
If I had one question I could ask Jim Furyk, it would be: What did you do in the offseason?
Furyk's play has disappointed many after winning the FedEx Cup last season. He has failed to be a relevant force in any tournament he's played in. He, like Tiger, exited early from the Accenture Match Play event, playing extremely poorly.
The only good part about Furyk is that he is the defending champion. So he does have something on the rest of the field this week—that being the confidence that he can take this tournament home.
Anything else about Furyk is anything but favorable. I would call him more of an afterthought for this week.
While I do not like Kevin Na in any way, shape or form, Na has played relatively well to date.
He has played seven tournaments, making the cut in four. That stat is not impressive. In the four tournaments he has played in, he has three top 25s, including a third-place finish.
He is not the picture of consistency, but with this week's field, he doesn't need to be. It is a thin field, and Na definitely comes to mind for the leaderboard this weekend.
He's 17 years old, going on 18 in about a month. He has already won a tournament professionally. Let me reiterate that: A 17-year-old golfer won a professional golf tournament.
Matteo Manassero is, as I indicated above, an extreme talent. He took out Steve Stricker in the first round of the WGC and then beat Charl Schwartzel. Unfortunately, he ran into the freight train that was Luke Donald that week, and he was disposed of. But still, Manassero showed an impressive game to anyone who watched.
His is extremely composed and relaxed, and that is a key to any professional golfer. Expect to hear Manassero's name for years to come.
Last week, Nick Watney's consistency paid off. He came into the final round back two strokes and won by two at the end of the day, finishing with a birdie.
Like I've written whenever I have talked about Watney, his finishes this year indicate a star on the rise, perhaps similar to Matt Kuchar.
The toughest thing about picking Watney to be one of the two top contenders is the fact that he won last week. It's not an easy feat to go back-to-back weeks on the PGA Tour. Expect Watney to be a realistic contender but not the winner.
It's hard not to mention the top player in the world in a preview to a tournament.
To be honest, I was initially thinking of Kaymer as more of a dark horse. But two factors pushed him past everybody:
1. He is the picture of consistency. Although last week wasn't exactly his best performance, Kaymer still took a top 25. He made the finals of the match play, battling every hole until Luke Donald overwhelmed him.
2. This is not a strong field. Yes, they are all professional golfers. But there aren't that many golfers this week who are top-tier professionals.
It was more the first one than the second that factored into my decision. It really is hard to overlook Kaymer, and I just couldn't this week.
This is probably a very unpopular winner. But the favorite doesn't normally win each week, and Garcia certainly is not the favorite in this tournament.
Taking a hiatus from the game of golf after the PGA Championship, you saw Garcia at the Ryder Cup. The difference was that he was an assistant coach.
When he played in Dubai, he and Tiger both played together in the final round. Both of them were cruising, and were contending with the final round to play. Both of them didn't play their best, and neither of them finished in the winner's circle.
What became apparent from Garcia, though, was that he found that fire inside of him to compete. He wants to be in the hunt every week, trying to win tournaments.
That's exactly what I have him doing. Despite not having a history of success at Innisbrook, Garcia said he likes the course layout.
I picked Garcia even though he is someone whose stats don't indicate he'll be in definite contention. Garcia has no stats to support him this year, at least in America. But he has that drive, and should his putter stay with him, he will drive himself to a championship this week.