Dustin Johnson — Getty ImagesIt shouldn't surprise any of us that a year that ends in "13" should start this abnormally. The PGA Tour kicked off this season just like it always does, on the wind-whipped Plantation Course at Kapalua. A resort destination by most American's views as they sit in cold, wintery conditions, the PGA Tour's winners headed to Maui to find the sun shining and birdies a-flyin'.
But none of that happened early in the PGA Tour's opening scene. Wind caused players to head in and out and in again throughout the first four days of play, extinguishing a hot Thursday start by Webb Simpson and multiple attempts by Rickie Fowler to kick the 2013 season off.
And as strange as it was, when golf finally got going on Monday, things seemed ... normal. The big names started to float to the top, some of the players that we picked to have enormous seasons in '13 did just what we thought they might, and it felt like the PGA Tour again.
Tuesday was a little more like the first of the week. Dustin Johnson, who was cruising after a second round 66, kept building his lead in the final round of the shortened event. But right when it seemed over, Johnson opened the door. A wayward tee shot on the par-5 9th lead to an unusual bogey for Johnson, and after he settled the ship with a birdie on the par-4 12th, another ball seemed lost with the driver on the 13th (the 13th in '13? Spoooooky). Johnson found his ball as his time limit was creeping to zero, made a sloppy double-bogey to get Steve Stricker to within a shot of the lead, and then pulled went Y.E. Yang with his chip-in eagle on the 14th.
The whole week was a bit off. The two main competitors that were chasing down Johnson on Tuesday were struggling with health issues (Stricker with a leg and Bubba with the flu), and just when it seemed someone from the back of the pack would make a run (Brandt Snedeker, who was five-under through six holes in his final round), his golf game left him.
But at the end, Johnson's ball-striking and clutch putting saved him and allowed him to cruise to a somewhat stress-free season opening win. Mr. 54 as we may start calling him has now won three PGA Tour events shortened to three rounds in his career and the way he bounced back on Tuesday showed that no matter what happens to the long-hitter, there is always another hole, or another putt, or another driver to smash down the fairway in hopes of circling that score.
The 2013 season is finally away, and while it was as strange a start as we can remember, the results were pretty fantastic. Johnson, Stricker, Keegan Bradley, Bubba and Rickie Fowler all at the top of the leaderboard? Good on you, '13, let's keep it going.