T.J. Auclair is a Senior Interactive Producer for PGA.com and has covered professional golf since 1998, traveling to over 60 major championships. You can follow him on Twitter, @tjauclair.
McGladrey Classic | Five players to watch in Sea Island
Series: Golf Buzz
Published: Wednesday, November 06, 2013 | 9:36 a.m.
Following a two-week stint in Asia, the PGA Tour returns stateside this week for the McGladrey Classic at the Seaside Course in Sea Island, Ga.
Tommy "Two Gloves" Gainey returns to Sea Island as the defending champion. Davis Love III is the tournament host and is also in the field this week.
Here's a look at five players to watch at the 7,005-yard, par-70 Seaside Course, where we could see players flirt with a 59 -- Gainey shot a course-record, 10-under 60 in 2012.
5. Harris English.
Best finish in 2013: T9 at the Greenbrier Classic.
Reason to watch: Like many players on this week's watch-list, English calls Sea Island home. So, it stands to reason he should have some kind of an advantage, right? Of course, with a home game also comes more pressure. Aside from his eight top-25 finishes in 2013 -- four of those top 10s -- I also like English because he's coming off a tie for seventh at the CIMB Classic in Malaysia. English's consistency (he made the cut 21 times in 25 starts last season) will also serve him well.
4. Davis Love III.
Best finish in 2013: Winner of the St. Jude Classic.
Reason to watch: I don't think it would be hyperbole to say that -- for PGA Tour players living in Sea Island -- Davis Love III is the guy who put the place on the map. The 2007 PGA Champion and 2012 U.S. Ryder Cup Captain has enjoyed an incredible career. He's got nothing left to prove, having won 20 times on the PGA Tour and top-5 finishes in all the majors. While he hasn't played great lately -- two missed cuts and two T62s in his last four starts -- maybe a week at home is just what the doctor ordered for Love. It won't be easy. As tournament host, Love will have a lot of responsibilities outside of the ropes. Still, you can bet there's nothing Love would (ahem) love more than to win at home.
3. Webb Simpson.
Best finish in 2013: Runner up in a playoff at the RBC Heritage.
Reason to watch: Along with Rory McIlroy and last week's winner Dustin Johnson, Simpson is the only player under the age of 30 with four or more PGA Tour victories. That's pretty solid. And, after a winless 2013, Simpson is already a winner in 2014 (weird, we know since it's still 2013 -- but that's how the new wraparound schedule works). Simpson won in Las Vegas in his first start of the new season, so he's still riding high on confidence. Furthermore, Simpson hasn't missed a PGA Tour cut since the Memorial way back in May -- a stretch of 12 events that included seven, top-25 finishes.
2. Matt Kuchar.
Best finish in 2013: Won the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship and the Memorial.
Reason to watch: Few players on the PGA Tour are as solid, week-in and week-out, as Kuchar. He hasn't missed a cut in 27 PGA Tour starts. The last time he missed the weekend was the 2012 PGA Championship. Bottom line -- the man doesn't make mistakes. In two starts at the McGladrey Classic, Kuchar's best finish was a tie for 20th in 2011. As good a player as he was then, Kuchar is an even better player now. Forgive us for sounding like a broken record but, yes, it's also a home game for Kuchar and his first start of the new season.
1. Zach Johnson.
Best finish in 2013: Won the BMW Championship.
Reason to watch: Anyone want to guess where Johnson makes his home these days? If you said Sea Island, you're close -- he's just over the bridge in St. Simons Island. So, yes, another elite player with a home game this week. The 10-time PGA Tour winner and past Masters champion is as good as anyone in the world with his short game -- especially the putter. As usual, Johnson was so good in 2013, racking up eight top-10 finishes, including that victory at the BMW Championship. In short -- if Johnson is rolling his ball this week, look out.
Follow T.J. Auclair on Twitter, @tjauclair.