Don't get me wrong, Tom Lehman is leading the Transitions Championship after the third round with a nifty -8 with restrictive fairways and slick greens. The 50 year old being on top makes for a nice story, just not a great one. I tried to watch some yesterday, but must admit that March Madness won the battle for my remote. The big guns are sitting this one out. No Woods, Mickelson, Garcia, et al, makes for an opportunity for the 2nd tier pros, but dampens interest in the run up to the Masters.
Lehman's putter put him where he is as he ranks 6th for the three rounds in putting. If he could putt, Charles Howell III would be leading this thing. Chuck is hitting 84% of his fairways. With his length that should put all the course records at Innisbrook in jeopardy. Charles is dead with the putter in his hands though and as far as I know they haven't removed putting from the rules. Retief Goosen is a hair behind Lehman at -7. The recently turned 40 South African is trying to regain his world-class form and seems to be on the right path. the aforementioned Howell is knotted at -5, three back with Trevor Immelman, Jonathan Byrd, and Stuart Appleby. Immelman is attempting to land just his 2nd top ten finish since his jaw dropping Masters win last year. Peaking at the right time I reckon. Eight players then fall in line at -4 including David Toms, another player searching for past glory.
Next week the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill represents the real tune up for the overblown, (more on this theory in the weeks to come), Masters. A better field will mean more interest. The fact that it's Arnie's shindig carries a lot of weight with players. The Shell Houston Open leads into the Augusta hype fest with a cadre of 2nd level players trying to pad their wallets and maintain their Tour status. Those journeyman will have to beat Phil and Sergio however, as both are committed to play in this year's event. Greg Norman's in the field as well and that alone may pump up the interest.
*Average Golfer aside..... For my previously published review of Transitions lenses fitted in an Oakley frame, click this link.