Blue Duck Masters Preview

April 8, 2010

O THE AZALEAS

A tradition unlike any other…. Georgia Pines, Pimento Cheese, Undulating Greens, Magnolia Lane, yellow flagsticks, tight lies, and rich middle-aged white men in khakis and gay hats… did we mention the Azaleas.

There is nothing better than tuning into the Masters and listening to Mike Tirico and/or Jim Nantz’ opening monologues that make Shakespeare sound like a cold-hearted prick.  If there is a time for “over the top”, the Masters is the event.

Contenders– Westwood, Els, Paddy, Furyk- We hope he doesn’t contend bc its so damn boring, Goosen- great “fast green” putter, Poulter, Cabrera, Mickelson, Allenby- Augusta is known as a “second-shot” golf course and nobody hits mid irons better, Kenny Perry- I still cry thinking about last year, and- speaking of crying, Steve Stricker has to be a favorite.  Also, Ross Fisher-  who collectively, played better than anyone last year in the Majors.

Luke Donald has put on about 20 lbs in the last year and quietly become relevant again.  3 top 10’s in 8 events this year for the Brit who hasn’t 3 putted since 7th grade, literally.

Staying with the British theme, Ian Poulter’s loud pants and eye makeup should contend.

Sleeper Picks—Couples, Schwartzel/Oosthuizen, Duval, Ryan Moore, Jason Dufner…


I love Freddy, and the dirtbag has been lights out on the senior circuit shooting nothing above 68, and winning 3 of 4 events, but there will be one major element missing at Augusta that has been present for all his victories this year.  A golf cart.  I don’t see him contending for four days.

Brian Gay has had a pretty quiet season following up a breakout year in ’09, but has made 8 of 9 cuts and rarely misses a fairway.  On a second shot course, I always favor Mizunos hitting into slick greens.

Only one person has this wallpaper on their desktop, Brian Gay.

Its hard to call Sergio a sleeper, but, with his history in Majors, Ray Romano may be more of a favorite than the pouty Spaniard.  I just have a bad feeling that he will have a good week.

Tiger Returns–  After many weeks of in-patient therapy, aka A Build-Your-Own-Fleshlight-Kit and a Hooters Calendar, Tiger Woods is returning to professional golf at the Masters.  The Masters is THE week for golfers and golf fans.   There are roars for great shots, ovations for great men, and more fast food joints than you can shake your dick at  (If you shake your dick at fast food joints like we do).

Tiger has to be the favorite.  He plays his best when everything is on the line.  While most of us can barely even get the club back if more than 4 people are watching us tee off, Tiger will tee off on Thursday knowing everyone will be watching.  ESPN is showing his tee shot live more than two hours before their coverage even starts at 4pm.

Best Threesome of the Thursday/Friday lineups other than Tiger, Elin, and Jamie Jungers of course-

9:51am and 12:03pm are both open tee times.  I tried like hell to hook that up on golfnow.com, but that bastard Michael Breed was wrong about how easy it is to book.  I ended up calling Augusta direct, and getting a foursome on at 9:51 under the name ‘Donohue.’  I hope Chad Campbell, Francesco Molinari, and Paul Casey don’t mind slow play.

What the fuck is a Yonex? Even if its the worst club on earth, its better than Wilson Staff.

The Ernie Els, Anthony Kim, Ryo Ishikawa is one of about 3 good tee times.  Kim and Els are coming off recent victories, and Ryo has a press following that rivals Tiger’s.

What to Expect. Augusta is a monster now (7,400 yards) and is not the wide open course that could really be played multiple different ways like it once was.  Don’t get me wrong, it is still the most beautiful, best put together course in the country, but it has lost some of what made it unique.

Tiger coming back is the biggest thing to happen to golf since Jesse Ortiz unveiled the Orlimar Trimetal.  And the return will take much of the attention off what could be the best event on tour.  No doubt, if you weren’t sick of the Tiger scandal already, you will be by Sunday.

Luke Donald wins after Sergio double bogeys on the first playoff hole.  Quiros third.


Anthony Kim Shows Up To Work Drunk, Dominates

October 13, 2009
Out until 4 am the night before a pivotal international matchup, a hungover Kim beat Allenby 5 and 3.

Out until 4 am the night before a pivotal international matchup, a hung over Kim beat Allenby 5 and 3.

Reports have come out this week regarding the preparation, or lack thereof, that Anthony Kim uses before a big match.  Well known as a frat boy on Tour, it is reported that Kim stayed out drinking until 4 am Sunday morning before staggering to his hotel room to rest up for the final round of the President’s Cup.  His opponent, Robert Allenby, alleges that he was told that Kim came back to the hotel “sideways” only hours before their matchup.

While I have no doubt this is true, I do have a problem with Allenby being the one to call out the 24-year old.  Why?  Because Allenby played like garbage on Sunday and lost 5 and 3 to the hung over party boy.  Allenby named Kim the “modern-day John Daly”, as if that’s an insult?  The bigger question is this, who is it more embarrassing for:

Anthony Kim, who won the match, helped contribute to the U.S. victory over the International team, and apparently had a great time along the way?

The U.S. President’s Cup team, which won the tournament and featured dominant golf all-around?

Or Robert Allenby, who was apparently well-rested enough to shoot +3 on Sunday, en route to a loss to Kim?

The verdict?  Allenby, of course.  There is no question that Kim has a reputation for his love of a few too many beers.  Freddy Couples, the U.S. team captain even addressed the issue with Kim earlier in the week.  But Anthony Kim was still able to show up to the course, hung over or not, and put together a solid tournament.  Allenby, on the other hand, played poorly (5 bogeys, 2 birdies on Sunday) and is now bashing his opponent for his lifestyle.  He even went as far as to say “He is the loosest cannon on that team.”  So what, Allenby?  The kid is 14 years younger than you, ranked one place higher than you, and has made more on Tour than you did this year.  He neither hurt himself or his team.  What’s your excuse?

With the performance of Robert Allenby on Sunday, Anthony Kim probably could have taken a seat to catch a nap mid-round.  Or had a couple brews to help his hangover.

With the performance of Robert Allenby on Sunday, Anthony Kim probably could have taken a seat to catch a nap mid-round. Or had a couple brews to help his hangover.


First MacGregor, now Evert

October 2, 2009
The Former Couple at the Open Championship in 2008.

The Former Couple at the Open Championship in 2008.

Chris Evert and Greg Norman announced their separation after 15 months of marriage.  The couple says they will remain friends and supportive of eachother and eachother’s families.

Greg had a spring in his step from his relationship with Evert in 2008 at the British.  The Shark almost became the oldest man ever to win a major, but fell short on Sunday.  The couple has a history of failed marriages, but they seemed to be made for eachother.

Its always sad to see old people break up.  Good luck to both of them, and hopefully this doesn’t get ugly.


Carebear’s Tour Championship Preview

September 24, 2009

The Tour Championship’s claim to fame used to be that it was the only PGA tournament named after a fictitious tournament from the Academy Award winning film, “Happy Gilmore,” but since the start of the FedEx Cup a few years ago, the tournament has taken on the role of being…well, the Tour Championship.  Sort of.

If the winner here is in the Top 5 in the FedEx Cup standings as of today, they will get the big check, and the Cup.  If the winner comes from outside the top 5, any number of things can happen.  Bob Harig wrote a good article about possible outcomes here.

The FedEx Cup system is obviously flawed, but the PGA has made progress with it since its inception, and they are praying for a win from either Tiger, Stricker, Furyk, Zach Johnson, or even Heath Slocum as this would make the system look good.

29 Nobodies, and a Tiger

Its fair to say Villegas is somewhere lifting weights this week, and Kim is somewhere lifting 12oz, but doing far more reps than Camilo

Its fair to say Villegas is somewhere lifting weights this week, and Kim is somewhere lifting 12oz, but doing far more reps than Camilo

Moving on, the final will consist of only a 30 golfer field.  Unfortunately, a lot of the big names in golf have not made the cut for the final event. You won’t see last year’s champion Camilo Villegas out there, or everyone’s favorite Spaniard, Sergio.  Ian Poulter’s bubble popped two weeks ago, and Adam Scott’s bubble popped when Kate Hudson dumped him.  Anthony Kim won’t grace the fairways of Eastlake, and even last year’s FedEx man, Vijay did not qualify to vie for the coveted Gold Jacket.

Its a shame we wont see what Poulter wouldve worn this week.

Its a shame we won't see what Poulter would've worn this week(Getty Images).

So who is in the tournament you ask? Well, a lot of boring guys who hit fairways and greens.  Apparently, that is how you win golf tournaments.  Monsters of the sport like: Jerry Senden, Kevin Na, Marc Leishman, and Jason Dufner are all gonna be there to get those ratings up (all solid players, but not exactly Arnie Palmer clones).  Phil made it, Tiger will be in Atlanta, and Paddy and Geoff fill out the list of interesting players.  It is a group of good players, but it is also a field boring enough to know that TV cameras will follow Tiger, and only Tiger this weekend.

So, without further ado, my predictions.

My Four Horsemen:

With a name like Eldrick, it has to be good.

With a name like Eldrick, it has to be good.

Tiger Woods
Tiger did not win a major this year so you have to think this becomes a major for the winningest player this season.  If he won Eastlake, no one could consider this a disappointing year for Woods.  It would be his 7th win in 17 events, pretty ridiculous.  Also, he dominated two weeks ago at the BMW.  Tiger has two wins and three runners up finishes in this tourney. It hasn’t been his most consistent year, but Tiger is the clear favorite.

Jim Furyk
Jimmy played very well in the battle for 2nd place at the BMW two weeks ago.  Furyk is making a case for big changes in the FedEx Cup by having a chance to win the thing without winning a single tournament this season.  The very bald, 39-year old has turned it on of late, and has shown that the FedEx Cup is really about winning late.  He really was in no position to contend until a 15th place finish in New York, 8th in Boston, and T-2nd last week at Cog Hill. If he stays hot, he could easily take the Cup.

John Senden
This guy led the tour in Greens in Regulation this season, and can strike it off the tee, as well.  Senden has no wins this season, but has made it to the weekend twenty times.  The Aussie is one of those guys that could play spoiler in Atlanta.

Zach still hasnt taken this jacket off.

Zach still hasn't taken this jacket off.

Zach Johnson
Eastlake is a solid course, but not necessarily one for the longer hitters.  At 7,154 yards, this is a course where this field could put up low scores. Also, Atlanta has been ravaged by rain of late, so the greens should be a little softer at least for the first couple days.  So guys like Johnson who pound fairways and greens, but don’t boom it off the tee can contend.  Johnson could finally prove hes a legitimate, albeit boring, star on the PGA tour with a victory and FedEx Cup.

With only 30 guys in the field at least I can be assured that my guys will be playing on the weekend.  I got about a 13% chance of actually getting the winner this week.


Even though the field is a bit depleted, this should be a good battle, and with there being a good chance that the winner at Eastlake will take home the $10 Million FedEx check, look for nerves, and Tiger intimidation to be in full effect.

Heres a free lesson.

"Here's a free lesson."

And if Shooter beats Happy, Happy quits golf, and Shooter turns Happy’s old room into a trophy room.  Anything can happen at The Tour Championship.


Carebear’s BMW Championship Preview

September 10, 2009
The beautiful FedEx cup.  Golfs biggest prize.  I love corporate sponsorship

The beautiful FedEx cup. Golf's biggest prize. I love corporate sponsorship

The FedEx Cup is winding down and heating up as the tour rolls into LeMont, Illinois this week.  Steve Stricker took over the lead in the cup standings with his victory in Boston and Tiger is still reeling from a few tough losses, but finished strong at the Deutsche Bank. 

Cog Hill is a different animal than it was even last year.  The new 7,300 yard track should make this event finish closer to par than year’s past, but since I am never right when it comes to any of this I will just get to this week’s picks. 

My Four Horsemen:

1. Camilo Villegas:

Camilo is the defending champ of this event, and should defend it pretty well.  He finished well back in the pack last week after withdrawing the Barclays with a wrist injury.   So basically, I have nothing good to report about him except that he won last year. 

2. Jim Furyk

Some men can pull bald off, put the Srixon hat back on, Jim.

Some men can pull bald off, put the Srixon hat back on, Jim.

Furyk played well last week in Boston finishing tied for 8th and finished tied for 3rd at Cog Hill last year.  He is yet to win this season, but has 8 top-10’s.  His length off the tee will hurt him a bit (180th on tour, but he puts it in the fairway) but don’t be surprised to see him in the running. 

3. Paddy Harrington

Paddy started off so slow this season, but has been on a tear of late.  He just seems to find a way to give tourneys away on Sunday, though.  In his last four tourneys Paddy has finished 2nd, 4th, 10th, and 2nd, only Tiger puts up numbers like that regularly.  It seems Harrington has found his game its too bad he uses Wilson clubs or maybe he’d win every week. 

4. Geoff Ogilvy

Geoff had a solid week in Boston in what must be a frustrating season for the big Aussie.  Two wins will make anyone happy, but he won two of the first five events, and has since struggled a bit.  Ogilvy came back last week finishing 7th, and when he is on he is one of the top-5 players on tour.  He has the length to be a serious contender if he puts it together this week. 

My Darkhorse Surprise Guys

I dont know how I feel about Under Armour on a golf course, but Johnsons got a shot(Getty Images)

I don't know how I feel about Under Armour on a golf course, but Johnson's got a shot(Getty Images)

Dustin Johnson

He hits the hell out of the ball, but doesn’t hit the fairway much.  Finished tied for fourth last week, and this is a new course for everybody this week so who knows. 

Sean O’Hair

This being a course the players are not completely familiar with will put Sean O’Hair’s name out there as well.  He is becoming less of an underdog with every tournament he plays, but I will pretend he still is one.  A great ball striker, he may be the story that Villegas was last year here. 

Where’s Tiger?

A familiar image in the past couple months

A familiar image in the past couple months

Tiger has as good a chance as anyone, but he’s too popular a pick.  I really want to see how he deals with all these close defeats, though.  To think the man has played 15 events, made 14 cuts, and has 12 top 10’s and the season’s been a bit of a disappointment just speaks of how much better than everyone else Tiger is. 

FedEx Cup

This is the last tournament before the Tour Championship so it has some big implications.  The FedEx Cup will be guaranteed to the winner of the Tour Championship if they are in the top-5 of the cup standings going into the event.  So the BMW becomes a crucial event.  2,500 points will be awarded to the player who is #1 heading into Eastlake as well, making him hard to catch unless someone in the top-5 wins the Tour Championship. 

I don’t understand it either.  PGATour.com tries to explain it, but it may as well be in Swahili because I have no idea. 

Really at this point, Tiger, Stricker, and somehow Heath Slocum are the only guys with a chance to be number one going into the final, but there is a pretty large chance that the last tournament will decide the Cup unlike year’s past.  

As my colleagues did with their football picks, I will encourage you not to bet based on my predictions.  If this is your first time reading one of my tournament previews I tend to be very, very wrong.  But enjoy the tournament. 

A Little Champions Tour Sidestory

Mike Reid, Loyal to clubs or cheap bastard? (Photo/ Getty Images)

Mike Reid, Loyal to clubs or cheap bastard? (Photo/ Getty Images)

Golf is a sport where people often cite ever changing technology and ever rising prices when it comes to the clubs in player’s bags.  A few weeks back Mike Reid took down took down the Jeld-Wen Tradition shooting a 16 under 272 at Crosswater Resort in Oregon.  The surprising thing was, he was hitting ancient clubs.  Here’s a look at the old man’s bag and the club’s values from the PGA value guide.

I will list the High end prices, too. 

Driver:
Titleist 983K, 7.5 Degree (gotta have a sweet swing to hit that one)  $31.30

3 Wood:
Taylormade 200 Tour(I could barely even track this down) $23.65

5 Wood:
Taylormade Burner Raylor(This thing is ancient. I had to search ebay to track it down so I don’t have an exact value, but bidding starts at.) $40

Hybrid:
Titleist 909H- pretty new club- $71

Irons:
(4-E)Ben Hogan Apex Forged, btw, the 1986 models.  The Value Guide has no value on these and the only set I found on ebay was selling them more as antiques I think.  Lets value them at $200 for both nostalgic and former great club value. 

Wedges
Mizuno MP: $ 50
Titleist Vokey $ 50

Putter:  TP Mills Tradition- we will leave this out for sake of argument because it costs more than my whole bag. 

Sans putter his bag costs a grand total of $465.95
So if your excuse for not golfing is that you don’t have clubs, just know that Mike Reid won a big old man tournament with less than a $500 bag.  It would be hard to find any small time muny champ with less than a $500 bag.


Carebear Stares Down Golf’s Amateur Status

August 31, 2009
This is what you get, Royal and Ancient!

This is what you get, Royal and Ancient!

Byeong-Hun An took down the Havemeyer Trophy yesterday with a slightly less than brilliant but workmanlike performance at Southern Hills in Oklahoma.  The 17-yr old becomes the youngest US Amateur winner in history, and the second in a row of South Korean descent.

A few recent events got me to thinking about golf’s definition of amateur golfers.  The first was Shane Lowry’s victory at the Irish Open, the second was Ryan Moore’s victory at the Wyndham, and most recently An’s taking of the most prized possession is Amateur golf.

In no sport is amateurism more important or more distinguished than golf.  Amateurism is becoming more and more absent at the Olympics and now golf seems to be the only sport to hold the status dearly.

My issue with Amateur golf now is that it does not make sense, and it pushes the stereotype of golf being a sport for rich kids in polo shirts (the popped collars all over the course at Southern Hills didn’t help the stereotype, either).  Obviously the majority of the players in the tournament were college athletes hoping to someday go pro, and that is fine, but not really the romantic idea intended when Amateur golf was distinguished in 1885.

Jones and Ouimet Chilling at the Course: For Free

Jones and Ouimet Chilling at the Course: For Free

The days of Francis Ouimet and Bobby Jones are long gone, and its hard to imagine a modern golfer trying to recreate their accomplishments.  Amateur golf (way back in the day) was really looked at as the only golf.  Professional golfers were second class citizens.  They were not even allowed in clubhouses until Walter Hagen made a mockery of the R & A at the 1922 Open, and were only allowed around most private clubs to fix people’s clubs and to teach members how to play.

The Amateur was the real golfer, but when golf became profitable this all changed.

The derivation of the word amateur tells us the word really means a “lover of” something.  But, the word has developed into meaning someone who performs a task as a pastime and not as a profession.  Now that golf is extremely profitable, it seems to me that very few people on tour actually “play the game” professionally.  There is so much money in which ball you hit, which clubs you use, and which failing financial institution you put on your hat, that winning tournaments almost takes a back seat to signing deals.

This is what led me to Ryan Moore.  This is a golfer that has no sponsorships.  I do not know all the details.  I am not sure whether he goes to Hollister to buy his silly hats or if he buys his Puma shoes from TGW.com like the rest of us, but he does not receive money for wearing them.  To me, this is a modern amateur.

Ryan Moore. Not exactly a throwback, but nearly logo-free...(Robert Beck/SI)

Ryan Moore. Not exactly a throwback, but nearly logo-free...(Robert Beck/SI)

I have always seen that the purpose of amateur sport is to play golf for the love of the game, and to really want to win for the sake of winning, but when you are dealing with guys who get paychecks whether they finish first or 25th because they got enough TV time to show off their new PING bucket hat do they really need to win?

I am not questioning the average tour pro’s desire for victory, but I am asking who would strive for victory more?  Who needs it more?  The guy with no sponsors whose check for fifth buys him another year on tour, or the guy who finishes 30th every week, but makes a couple million a year from Rolex and Ralph Lauren.

Shane Lowry won the 3Irish Open earlier this year after a battle with Robert Rock, and proceeded to go pro the next day.  Its a shame, but you cannot blame him.  Cash in while you can.  Get your sponsorship money while you have some fame.

An will most likely follow suit as Danny Lee did, and we just have to know that amateur golf is pretty much a  game for college kids and a few aging ringers.  Maybe these are the true amateur golfers now, the old guys like Tim Jackson playing just to play.

There is so much money in sports these days that it is nice to see someone like Moore, who is capable of making more, but, for now, playing just to win.  I know that playing solely for winnings is pretty much the opposite of amateur, but in this day and age, its pretty admirable, as well.


Solheim Cup…Make it a World Cup

August 25, 2009
Why not this much excitement every week?  Maybe because US players never win anymore, but probably just because the SOlheim Cup was fun for everybody(AP Photo/Mike Groll)

Why arent they this excited every week? Because US players never win anymore? Nah, probably just because the Solheim Cup was actually entertaining(AP Photo/Mike Groll)

The Solheim Cup was the most tweeted, blogged, and overall the most talked about event for the LPGA of the season, and for a sport that is struggling to keep sponsors, it was pretty vital.  LPGA tournaments are dropping like flies these days.  Classic events are going away and new ones are not springing up in the near future.

But last week, the ladies showed that they can be interesting, play well, and even at times, be more entertaining than the men’s game.

So what should the LPGA do to capitalize on last week’s success?

Well, the format of last week’s Solheim Cup is a very popular one.  Everyone loves a good Ryder Cup setup.  You start chanting “U-S-A, U-S-A!,” and Americans who have never seen golf of any kind before automatically are glued to the set and are bigger experts than Dottie Pepper.

And, don’t forget, the power of how the rest of the world likes to root against the US (not necessarily out of hatred for our country, but more of a “I hate the Yankees because they spend so much money,” kind of thing”(I was referring there to the New York Yankees, not Americans as Yankees there)).

I am aware there is already a Women’s World Cup of Golf, but they didn’t have me plan it, so obviously, its all wrong.  The LPGA schedule, unlike the men’s schedule, is full of holes.  Plenty of room to take a shot at another event here or there, and here is my masterplan.

Alright, so you got that US team?  Add Canada in with them, and name them something thing like Northern North America.  We can work on names later.  The European team is fine as is.  Asia can easily put together a team, and probably trounce the rest of the world with very little effort.  South Korea has 47 players on the tour alone, and its a little bigger than Indiana.

Then take Mexico (Lorena Ochoa), South America, Australia, South Africa, and any Antarcticans if they happen to spring up and create a 4th team called, World, or something.  So you got 4 teams so far,and you give them a bit of a golf icon as their captain to spark a little more interest:

The Northern North: Golf Icon Captain guy, Lee Trevino, he seems right for this role, maybe because he was in Happy Gilmore.

Europe: GICG, Seve Ballesteros, hands off the ladies, Seve.

Asia: GICG, YE Yang? Nah, not yet, Vijay Singh maybe.

The Black Knight could motivate anybody.  Hed have the world team doing pushups all day.

The Black Knight could motivate anybody. He'd have the world team doing pushups all day.

And everyone else… World?…yeah. GICG: Gary Player seems like a perfect fit.

So everyone plays eachother once.  That is three weekends right there.  Plus you can have the events either separate, or have all four teams play at the same course.  After the four teams have played, they are seeded based on how badly the Asians beat them, and a playoff situation is set up.  1 plays four and so on.

So say Asia is number one and Europe is number four: They would play in say, Seoul for the right to play in the championship while the US and Mexico played at Brookline to get there, too.

It would set up a cool scenario of not only trying to win to get to the championship, but golfers and fans having to TV-watch like other sports do in the playoffs (obviously the timing would be a bit messed up by the 13 hour difference between Seoul and Massachusetts, but bear with me).

Moving on.  They play the championship at some predetermined location, and the champion of the first year guarantees the championship being played on their turf the next year.  This is key because anyone who has ever missed a 4 ft putt in the Ryder cup will tell you, home soil is a little friendlier.

The champion wins a lot of pride and flag waving, but really that is why sponsors will love this.  You do not need a huge purse, and people will come to these events if they are scheduled right.  People will even watch them on TV.

Also, with golf’s addition to the Olympics this will be a great tuneup.  Who wouldn’t like to hear Nick Faldo say, “Michelle Wie going after her first gold medal, but she has to take on Anna Nordquist, who beat her mercilessly in the World Cup last year.”

It sets up different types of matches and easier to follow TV coverage, and gives LPGA fans and non-fans an easier time trying to find something they haven’t had in the last few years, someone to root for.

I am all for having Jessica Alba golf every week, but Im sure she has better things to do, and Id rathr just see good golf.

I am all for having Jessica Alba golf every week, but I'm sure she has better things to do, and I'd rather just see good golf.

The other alternatives I have seen for the Ladies’ circuit to get their sponsors back are more about wearing tight outfits, and teaching supermodels to golf.  So, I think this is a viable alternative.  Not that I wouldn’t want to see Gisele pout like Sergio after knocking one in the water on 18, or even just grabbing her ball out of the 18th hole, but I would prefer just good golf.

The Solheim Cup brought the best out of the LPGA players, fans, and even perked up the sleeping sponsors.  It was much more interesting than a Tiger-less Wyndham Championship.

There is no reason the LPGA cannot create something similar on a more regular basis.

Just name it after us, The First Annual Blue Duck Ladies World Cup.  Quack.


Tiger Undisputed Best Ever…at Firestone.

August 10, 2009

It seems whenever I don’t write a preview and pick Tiger to win, he wins.  So, being a fan of the man, I guess I should only write previews to tournaments he doesn’t participate in.  Or else he may never catch the Golden Bear’s 18 Major milestone.

Tigers Open Championship woes are distant memories now.

Tiger's Open Championship woes are distant memories now.

Tiger showed us yet again, that his better is better than everyone else’s.  He is the only guy on tour that can not be beat if he is playing close to his best.  This was Woods’ 7th victory at Firestone, the most ever by a player at a single course, and really marks his return from injury.  He showed signs of past brilliance in besting Sean O’Hair earlier this season, and at Memorial, but the past few weeks, and especially today’s performance, have really shown the gutty, grinding, dominant Tiger we grew accustomed to.

After his British Open club throwing show people seemed to doubt him, but Woods has since proved there is still a giant discrepancy between the world’s #1 and whoever may be the world’s #2.

This week also marked the return of another Blue Duck favorite in Paddy Harrington, who fell off the face of the earth earlier this season, but (thankfully for Wilson Staff, who live and die by Paddy’s performance, unless Ricky Barnes has another good day) the Irishman came back to form this week.  Harrington was bested as much by a timing official as by Tiger.  And was beaten by the 16th hole, nicknamed “the Monster,” a Monster which Woods slayed with a bomb of an 8 iron from trouble 180 yards away.  Vintage Tiger knocked it inside the leather and tapped in for birdie.  It ended up being a 4 shot swing, and Woods cruised to victory.

I understand the rules, but why be sticklers with the last group on sunday? The officials pulled out their stopwatches as if there was a group of hackers waiting in carts on the sixteenth tee.  Did CBS have to get to 60 minutes?  Does Tim Finchem just like to flex his nuts from time to time?  The timing issues seemed to leave Tiger feeling uneasy and unsatisfied by his victory.  Both players had a blast duking it out for 16 holes and it was a shame it had to end with time being an issue.

Regardless of clocks and all that nonsense, Tiger showed he is the modern king of sport yet again.  And with every victory Woods gets closer to Nicklaus as the all time best.  Tiger’s 70th victory leaves him only three behind Nicklaus (Snead has more I know).  A month ago, a Golf.com article ranked Tiger a close second to Nicklaus all time.  I can’t say that this victory changes that, but looking at the top 20 you will be quick to notice that Tiger is the only modern player on the list.  Knowing that Nicklaus had to deal with 7 of the rest of the top 20 at some point in his career makes his numbers a bit more impressive.  Tiger did compete against Annika once or twice, though.

Youre like a big f***ing bear man.

"You're like a big f***ing bear, man."

As the Golf.com article points out, Bobby Jones said of Jack Nicklaus when he first witnessed him play, “he plays a game with which I am not familiar.”  I think the great amateur would have a similar reaction to Mr. Woods, but he might tell him to stop throwing his clubs.


Carebear’s British Open Preview/ Predictions

July 15, 2009
Can two guys recreate the Duel in the Sun 32 years later?

Can two guys recreate the Duel in the Sun 32 years later?

The 2009 British Open is being held at Turnberry for the first time since 1994.  15 years ago, Nick Price took down the Claret Jug with a young Jesper Parnevik nipping at his heels.  Turnberry presents the unique challenges that make the British Open a change of pace from other tournaments on the PGA tour schedule.  It gives guys a taste of what many of the European players deal with on a weekly basis, and most of the players are happy to get back to the States when its over.

Weather seems to always be a huge focal point when the tour jumps across the ocean and this year should be no different.  Tiger spoke in depth about the wind after his practice round on Tuesday, and talked about how this is a ball striker’s course.  Looking at past champions, Nick Price, Tom Watson and Greg Norman you would think you may see a big name take the Jug, but there are so many solid strikers teeing off that it is pretty wide open.

So, without further ado,

My Four Horsemen
Tiger Woods

Tiger has become the British Open king in the last few years.  He has won two of the last three Opens he has played in, and has the shotmaking ability and precision with his irons to keep his Trans-Atlantic dominance in full effect.  Throw in the fact that he has already won three tournaments this year and has been driving the ball quite well, and it would be irresponsible not to pick him as a potential winner.

Martin Kaymer

Martin Kaymer is hot right now.  The young German has won the last two tournaments on the European tour and this may be the week that he makes his big splash on the world scene.  19th right now in the World Golf Rankings, Kaymer has got a shot if he keeps his strong play going.

Rory McIlroy

Rory McIlroy: Perfect Swing, Jackass Hair

Rory McIlroy: Perfect Swing, Jackass Hair

I am always going to side with the European players when it comes to the British Open.  Even though before Padraig Europeans haven’t had a huge amount of success at the Open Championship, they are just so much more adapted to the style of play necessary to tackle the courses and the weather in the big tourney.  McIlroy is also an easy choice because he is extremely talented.  He has finished in the mix in many tournaments on both sides of the pond this year, but has yet to really show the golf world what he is capable of.  There is no better stage for the young Irishman to show his ability.

Boo Weekley

Boo has had some injury trouble so far this year, but I love the guy.  He is the type of American player that the Brits really like.  He is a cartoon American, a gun toting, southern accent twanging, camo wearing, American caricature, but he is also a great ball striker who hits it straight and can hit it low.  Boo showed some signs of life at an easy course in Hartford a month ago, and hopefully he will put it together at Turnberry.

Who’s Really Hot Right Now?

Other than Martin Kaymer:  Hunter Mahan.  He finishes top ten every week now.  Not really sure if he can contend on this course, but he has surprised me all year.  If Hunter could put a whole week together, he might have a few wins this year.  Very close to a US Open championship.

Old Guy that could Contend:

Greg Always had his priorities straight:  Hair, bitches and trophies take notes Rory.

Greg Always had his priorities straight: Hair, bitches and trophies. Take notes Rory.

Greg Norman: Throw some money down on Greg.  He won at this course once.  So what it was 23 years ago.  He was leading this event going into the last round last year.  Greg makes enough money off of wine to not feel the pressure of winning anymore, and even more of a reason to favor the 54yr old Aussie, he doesn’t use MacGregor equipment anymore.  He swings actual golf clubs now, but then again, Paddy’s won 2 in a row with Wilson.

2 More Longshots

Robert Rock and as always, Ryuji Imada.  Rock lost in an epic playoff in the Irish Open that was a baby-British Open.  Don’t expect a similar result, but I’d look like a genius if one came.

Best Potential Storyline

There are a few good finishes that could come out here.  Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods facing eachother down on the Isles would be pretty cool.  Rory is everyone’s expected heir apparent, but hasn’t shown it yet.  I’d expect expect him to shake in his footjoys in a showdown against his idol, but maybe we will find out on Sunday.

Sergio losing in 2007 is one of my favorite recent golf memories, but it was only after Padraig put two in the water on 18 to give him a shot to blow it.  This brings in the potential for a 2009 meltdown.  Who will be the victim?  My guess: Lee Westwood?  Paul Casey?  Who knows?  Expect a choke, though.  If Ricky Barnes was playing I’d pick him.  He wears the dumbest hats.

A Warning for the TV Audience
This weekend should be a commentator’s dream come true.  Check out the Results from Turnberry’s last Open.  One David Feherty finished fourth, Nick Faldo finished eighth, and if they decide to bring Peter Jacobsen along, he finished in a tie for twenty-fourth.  Faldo’s actually playing this week, too.  Johnny Miller was rehearsing for his lines in Tin Cup when the tournament took place.

Before becoming the semi-funny guy thats not Mccord, and not as serious as Baker-Finch, David Feherty put up a solid week at Turnberry.

Before becoming the semi-funny guy that's not Mccord, and not as serious as Baker-Finch, David Feherty put up a solid week at Turnberry.

So, on that note I will conclude.  Having Tiger back in the Open Championship returns it to prominence in 2009.  The course that was the site of the famous Duel in the Sun in 1977 should make for a great venue and no doubt, the British crowd will be as boisterous as ever.  If you’re a night owl, you can really take it all in.  Set down in the recliner at 1:30AM thursday morning and start pounding beers.  They only tee off at the first so you got tee times for the next 9 hours.  That means Calcavecchia and his athletic frame will be done with eighteen before you get up for work.  So enjoy another good week of what has been a solid season for golf thus far.

The Turnberry Lighthouse will be the backdrop for another big Major week.

The Turnberry Lighthouse will be the backdrop for another big Major week.


Carebear’s Traveler’s Championship Preview/ Predictions

June 25, 2009
Connecticut has Womens Basketball and this

Connecticut has Women's Basketball and this

I don’t usually do previews of the smaller tournaments on tour.  To this point, I have reserved myself to cover only tournaments that Tiger participated in, and that were of major or near-major status.  I will make an exception, though for the big red umbrella.  Since this tournament takes place in my backyard, and I used Traveler’s employee’s passes to get into the Pro Am on Wednesday, I will do a preview.

First off, I have to say that they actually have a really talented field.  Despite the fact that the biggest name in the game isn’t present, Travelers managed to draw most of the other big guns to the dreary old Hartford area.  Partly because the US Open was very nearby and partly because Travelers and The TPC have done a great job developing the course’s practice facilities in the last few years.

But much to the players delight, this is not Bethpage.  For much of the day Wednesday, the weather was Bethpage-esque, though.  As heavy rain fell throughout the 6,800 yd layout to the point where when Sergio got to the 17th tee, he joked to the surrounding audience, “It’s sunny in Spain today.”  Yes, I said 6,800 yds.  This is not a monster.  It is a straightforward layout with a few holes down the stretch that could make for an exciting finish, but you do not have to be Alvaro Quiros or Bubba Watson(they hit the ball 8 miles each) to take down the Travelers.

With that in mind, here are my contenders:

My Four Horsemen: 

Brian Gay:

Though I feel bad for his caddie for having to take the constant snickering from the crowd as they walk by and see the back of his smock, I don’t feel bad because he’s making ten percent.   Thats about $274 grand this year.  Not too shabby.  But honestly, Brian Gay is playing remarkably well this season even though he is sixth to last in driving distance on tour.  His length was evident in missing the cut at the 7,426 yd US Open course last week, but The River Highlands does not present the same obstacles.  Look for him to be close to the top.

Zach Johnson:

I pick Zach in almost every tournament, but in the same regard as Gay, Johnson is accurate and purposeful with each shot.  He also missed the cut last week, and played pretty poorly at Muirfield as well, but look for him to bounce back in Cromwell.

Hunter Mahan:

Create a caption

 

This guy can hit it long, but he also won the Travelers in 2007.  The 27yr old Californian has been in the mix a lot this year with three top 10’s including two in majors and one last week.  He was robbed on Sunday at Bethpage when he hit the pin on the par-4  16th, and his ball ended up off the green.  The ball would have ended up close, and a birdie would have put Mahan at 3 under.  Instead he bogeyed, and was put out of contention.

He hits greens at a stellar rate, and the greens at the Travelers are a bit on the small side.  Mahan should be a factor by week’s end.

Corey Pavin:

Circa 1995

Circa 1995

Now.  He better not shave during the Ryder Cup.

Now. He better not shave during the Ryder Cup.

 

If the Ryder Cup Captain is gonna win anywhere this year, it is here.  He is last on the tour in driving distance, and is hitting greens less than half the time, but I’m rooting for him because he looks sort of like Billy Bob Thornton.  One year off the senior circuit, it would be nice to see Corey beat up on some young guns.

It would also be nice to see: Anthony Kim win a tournament.  Kim has struggled a bit this year, but showed signs of life last week at the Open.  He seemed to be in good spirits at the Pro Am, and has apparently lost 4 inches off his waist (if you see the guy in person, you realize, him losing 4 inches off his waist means he’s now shopping for slacks at Gap Kids.), but he would outdrive me by thirty yards so I will shut up.

With the course’s proximity to two of the largest casinos in the world, though, I think Kim’s chances are slim.  If I see him out I will buy him a beer.  If I see Sergio out I will gloat about the terrible US soccer team beating his Spaniards in a hideous game (yesterday’s news, sorry.)

My Final Thought:

This is hard for me to say, but at the Pro Am today the players were accessible as ever.  It was a Wednesday in rainy Cromwell, CT so needless to say, few were at the 17th tee to see Sergio tee off at 9:30am, but he treated everyone well, signed autographs until all were pleased, and he didn’t bitch once in the few minutes I was within earshot of him.  Though, I still will never root for the guy, maybe he’s not as big a douchebag as I thought, but he probably is.

My Bold Prediction:

Justin Rose will win it because he was the only golfer I didn’t have to say, “Hey man, nice drive” to, for him to say hello.  Other than Boo’s caddie, who chewed more tabacco than Lenny Dykstra in a hitting slump.

Hes Gotta Win Eventually

He's Gotta Win Eventually

I do have a good feeling about Ryuji Imada as well.