This week’s “featured group” at the Arnold Palmer Bay Hill Invitational arguably spotlights the three most athletic golfers on the PGA Tour — Tiger Woods, Dustin Johnson and the Tour’s most recent first-time champion, Gary Woodland, who won last week’s Transitions Championship. The long-hitting threesome will tee off No. 1 at 12:56pm on Thursday and No. 10 at 8:26am on Friday.
Interestingly enough, Tiger could be the first to hit his second shot on every hole. No joke. Well, unless Woodland pulls out 2-iron off the tee as he’s often done this year, like on No. 18 at Innisbrook last Sunday. Even then, if Tiger hits 3-wood, we might have to check ShotLink for confirmation on whether Tiger or Gary is away.
Johnson ranks second in driving distance this season, averaging 311.8 yards. Meanwhile, Tiger doesn’t have enough competitive rounds to qualify for the official stats, but he’s averaging 297.9, equivalent to 13th.
Woodland, who has tried to play conservatively this season, leaves his driver in the bag often, hitting 2-iron and 3-woods off the tee. Yet, he still ranks eight in driving, averaging 299.5 yards.
Last Sunday at Innisbrook, Woodland bombed a 337-yard drive uphill on the 605 yard par-5 fifth hole. He went for the green in two with a two-iron, missing the green, but he had enough distance if he hadn’t pulled the shot 30 yards left.
It’ll be interesting to see who has more power — Dustin or Gary.
Woodland, who is 6’0″, played Division II basketball before transferring to Kansas to join the golf team. He can’t dunk anymore, but has heard Dustin can barefoot.
“I think if you’re athletic you can play this game,” said Gary during last week’s post-win press conference. “It’s a lot of hand-eye coordination. I think every athlete — it’s one of those deals where athletes can come play golf, but golfers, it’s tough, we can’t go dunk a basketball. We can’t go hit a 100-mile-an-hour fastball, but they can come play our game, so I think golf attracts a lot of athletes.”
It’s indisputable that Woodland and Dustin are natural athletes. Last week when asked to comment on Dustin’s athleticism, Pat Perez said he had the build of a wide receiver.
But Tiger? I have one word: Urkel.