The Florida swing continues this week with the annual tour stop in Tampa Florida for the Tampa Bay Championship. By PGA Tour standards this is not an old tournament with a rich history tracing back decades. Instead, the inaugural event was held in 2000 under the name, Tampa Bay Classic. From 2003-2006 it was the Chrysler Championship and from 2009-2012 it was played under the name the Transitions Championship.
One constant for the event is Innisbrook Resort and Copperhead as the host course. The course will play all of 7,340 yards and to a par of 71. Unlike other courses on the Florida swing this event will have tree lined fairways and rolling hills for the players to navigate. There will be a premium placed on tee shot placement this weekend especially on two of the par-5s. On these two holes there are double doglegs which is something the players do not see week in and week out. If they want a shot at these greens in two then they will have to drive it in the right location.
It doesn’t get much better than the final three holes at the Copperhead. They are affectionately referred to as the “Snake Pit” because you can feel a bite before you know it. Just ask Ernie Els whose bogey-bogey finish cost him a title, a playoff and a trip to Augusta in 2012. The 16th is a beefy 475 yard par-4 which then flows into the 215 yard par-3 17th before finishing over the 445 yard par-4 18th. Many have tasted the venom in the short tournament history.
In its short history there have been some marquee names that have tasted victory at Innisbrook Resort. The likes of Luke Donald (2012), Jim Furyk (2010), Retief Goosen (2003 and 2009), Vijay Singh (2004) and KJ Choi (2002 and 2006) have all been a top the leader board at the end of the weekend. Vijay Singh owns the course 72 hole record at 266 and the low tournament round belongs to Padraig Harrington and his 61 in 2012. Here are some highlights from the past.
YouTube Video Courtesy of pgatour
A tour stop would not be complete without a charity at the forefront of the event. As with most PGA Tour events the primary charity is the 1st Tee. The purpose of the First Tee is to develop affordable golf learning facilities to provide an avenue for young people of diverse needs and backgrounds to enjoy the game of golf while also building character in the youth of today. This week it is the 1st Tee at the Chi Chi Academy. Other beneficiaries this week in Tampa are derived via Copperhead Charities Inc., who distribute funds to over 50 different Tampa Bay location charities. Since 1978 the Copperhead Charities have raised over $30M.
Picking a winner on tour is never an easy thing but that is especially true at Innisbrook but who has the best shot this weekend to take home the $990k first place check? Well the course will focus the players to concentrate from tee to green without much chance to take a hole or shot off. So with that in mind who are some guys worth watching this weekend?
Up Next: The Contenders