Sergio Garcia Easy Favorite at Tampa Bay Championship

With a field that does not include the slowly surging Tiger Woods or dominant Rory McIlroy, the Tampa Bay Championship at Innisbrook in Palm Harbor, FL turns its eyes to Sergio Garcia to win the course. The 17th ranked golfer sure could use this win to climb up the ranks early in the season. Yet, with only one top ten finish this year, is Garcia still a player to be feared on the course? With so many of the top players not putting down tees this weekend, perhaps this is a solid chance for Garcia to move into the top ten.

Garcia has some history on this course. He’s finished in the top 20 in his last two starts here, and is playing with a chip on his shoulder right now. He’s ready to serve up a strong challenge to the younger players on the course. With 12 straight top 25 finishes, there really is no reason to doubt that Garcia can win this weekend. I mean, save for defending course champion Luke Donald.

Donald is ranked 3rd in the world right now, only behind Woods and McIlroy, yet the attention is clearly on the other two. There is no reason not to think that Donald won’t finish in the top ten this weekend – at least. Frankly, there is no reason to not think that he and Garcia will be paired up on Sunday as number two and one respectively. Copperhead isn’t a course with many surprise, so the key is going to be getting down the fairways quickly and saving a stroke for the traps and possible windy conditions.

While these two might be fighting for the lead on Sunday, don’t count out Adam Scott. Personally, he’s one of my favorite golfers and I like to watch this guy play. He’s got a smooth swing and already has two top ten finishes and two top 25 finishes this season. Its early in the season, but I bet Scott would really love a win. Again, with the top two players out, and if he’s able to push out Donald and Garcia, Scott has a serious chance to pull off a win here. He’s definitely going to be in the top ten, and we’ll see by the end of Saturday how he’s looking for the last 18 holes.

With all stops on the tour, you always try to find that dark horse in the field. There is always a player out there that we haven’t seen much from that will rise up during the four days and play amazing. This weekend, I’m looking at young Ryo Ishikawa to step up. He’s been playing for par lately, and needs to fire up his game before we really see what he has to offer. But at only 22 years old, Ishikawa needs to seize an opportunity to make a name for himself, and this weekend would be the perfect opportunity for it. He hasn’t done well in his last three appearances, tying for 39th, missing the cut and tying for 61st.

No matter who wins this weekend, it’s a chance for a player who is not Tiger Woods or Rory McIlroy to get their name in the headlines for at least a day or two.

The Tampa Bay Championship at Innisbrook in Palm Harbor, FL runs Thursday – Sunday.

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Curtis Silver writes about sports here mostly. NFL, Golf, Baseball - whatever. Find him on Twitter @cebsilver, if you've got a bone to pick.

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