Each Thursday, the Boston Globe hands out its weekly golf award, goes inside the numbers, and looks at the week ahead on the tours:
Player of the week: Jason Dufner. It’s tempting to recognize Dufner for his impending wedding on Saturday to Amanda Boyd, but we’ll keep the honor reserved for on-course achievement. Dufner did deliver himself and his bride-to-be a timely wedding present, winning the Zurich Classic of New Orleans for his first PGA Tour victory in his 164th start. Dufner, by most accounts, had been the best player without a tour win (you’re on the clock, Rickie Fowler), but was getting closer, with two playoff losses in 2011 - including to Keegan Bradley at the PGA Championship - and six other top-10 finishes. Now he’s broken through, and with the prestigious and lucrative Players Championship coming next week, he might have to convince Amanda that their honeymoon should wait.
Big Three: Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, and Gary Player will get together on the first tee once again on Saturday, much like they did at the Masters last month. But they won’t just be hitting ceremonial tee shots. They’ll be the featured group (naturally) at the “Greats of Golf,’’ bringing together nine of the game’s best players, at the Champions Tour event in Houston. Lee Trevino will also be playing, along with Miller Barber, David Graham, Don January, Gene Littler, and Dave Stockton. The nine will be split into three-man teams, and play a scramble. It might not be the last time Palmer, Nicklaus, and Player team up in competition. But it might be.
Dating service: Lexi Thompson isn’t your average high school student: the 17-year-old has earned more than $700,000 since turning pro in 2010, is the youngest winner in LPGA Tour history, and is ranked 24th in the world. She doesn’t want to miss out on the best parts of high school, though, so she’s looking for a prom date, and has taken a unique approach to finding one. Thompson recently posted a video on YouTube that outlined her criteria: She’s looking for a military member (age 18-20), with the winner being given an all-expenses-paid, two-day trip to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., for Coral Glades High School’s May 18 dance. Servicemen must send in a photo and explain why they should be Thompson’s date to her Facebook fan page (www.facebook.com/lexi) by Friday. “I’m looking for somebody special and somebody that I respect,’’ Thompson says on the video. “That’s why I’m choosing a guy from the service.’’
This week’s tour schedules:
PGA Tour: Wells Fargo Championship, Charlotte, N.C. Purse: $6.5 million (winner’s share $1.170 million). Defending champion: Lucas Glover. Number of top-10 players in field: Five (Rory McIlroy, Lee Westwood, Hunter Mahan, Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson). TV: Thursday/Friday 3-7 p.m. (Golf Channel), Saturday/Sunday 3-6 p.m. (Channel 4).
LPGA Tour: HSBC Brasil Cup, Rio de Janeiro. Purse: $720,000 (winner’s share $108,000). Defending champion: Mariajo Uribe.
Champions Tour: Insperity Championship, The Woodlands, Texas. Purse: $1.7 million (winner’s share $255,000). Defending champion: Brad Faxon. TV: Friday 7:30-9:30 p.m., Saturday 6:30-9:30 p.m., Sunday 7-9:30 p.m. (all on Golf Channel).
European Tour: Spanish Open, Seville, Spain. Purse: 2 million euros. Defending champion: Thomas Aiken. TV: Thursday-Friday 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m., Saturday-Sunday 8 a.m.-noon (all on Golf Channel).
Nationwide Tour: Stadion Classic, Athens, Ga. Purse: $555,000 (winner’s share $99,000). Defending champion: Russell Henley.
Blog post of the week
“Basically, everything about my game is starting to feel more natural, more like the old me. I’ve been around long enough to not get too cocky, but the way things have turned around - with three top-5s in my last five tournaments - I really believe I’m going to have a great rest of the season.’’ - Ernie Els, in an entry at www.ernieels.com. Els lost to Jason Dufner in a playoff at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, but did improve 23 spots in the world golf ranking, to 40th.