March 17 2012
By Fred Albers, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent
PALM HARBOR, Fla. -- It's no coincidence that Jim Furyk and Retief Goosen lead the Transitions Championship. Experience counts at the Copperhead Course. Furyk has won this tournament once while Goosen is a two-time winner. That experience will be invaluable in the final round as only a veteran can fully understand how to play a rapidly changing golf course. The Copperhead layout was soft on Thursday but will play firm and fast on Sunday. Keep in mind, 10 under led the tournament after 18 holes and now, at the 54-hole mark, the lead has improved only one stroke to 11 under.
Prediction: Shortly after Jason Day finished his third round he made a prediction. "The sun is going to bake out these greens and they will be really firm and fast by the time the leaders get here." Day made the remarks at Noon and is spot on. The par-4 16th hole played to a stoke average of 4.2, giving up just six birdies to the 77 players left in the field. The par-3 13th hole surrendered only 5 birdies.
Practice: Ken Duke's second shot at the par-5 14th hole landed in the front of a divot. So he looked around, found another divot from a similar lie and took several practice swings until he grooved the correct contact. Duke proceeded to hit his actual shot and clipped it to within 17 feet of the cup. He then made the birdie. Practice does make perfect.
Laugh it up: Sang-Moon Bae started laughing when I asked him about his triple-bogey 7 at the 16th hole. He said all the bad shots he hit were funny. Not many professionals can laugh off a triple bogey. Give him credit for most improved in a two-hole span -- Bae birdied the par-3 17th.
Coming from behind: Jason Dufner almost sounded relieved he does not lead going into the final round. He has never won on the PGA TOUR and said he would play better in the final round coming from behind rather than holding the lead. Dufner reasoned he is more aggressive trying to catch the leaders then trying to hold the lead.
Translation: By coincidence, Bae and Duke have been paired with each other for the first three rounds this week. That's quite a combination. A young Korean with a veteran from Arkansas. I'm not sure if Duke will be able to speak Korean after this week, or if Bae has now become fluent in Arkansan.