Sorry Phil, Duval was a Better Story

June 23, 2009

Another US Open ended Monday with the expected result for Phil Mickelson.  NBC, ESPN, and Golf Channel commentators alike praised him for his fifth career runner-up finish in the biggest tournament in golf’s calendar year.  I just wonder how long it is going to take everyone to realize that Phil is a massive choker.

I almost feel as if I am breaking some rule by writing negative things about the guy right now.  I commend Phil for his play in the tournament.  He said all the right things this week, and did not let what must be a very stressful and scary situation in his home life affect his game.

For a while, I thought Amy’s situation may actually help Mickelson in this tournament.  That may sound naive and emotionally unattached to the situation, but think about it for a second.  Towards the end of the final round Phil was playing against a lot of amateurs when it came to major championship pressure.  Tiger was lingering, but failed to make a big charge.  David Duval is a different golfer than he was when he dealt with his major pressure, and Retief Goosen took himself out of contention before the turn.

Phil has not only dealt with Major Championship pressure before, but honestly, he has bigger issues than golf pressure right now.  These guys are all seizing up worrying about making a putt and Phil is worried about someone across the country.  Maybe it worked against him, but a lot of athletes can thrive when their mind is off the task at hand.

From a Disney standpoint, though, David Duval was the big story.  Duval winning wouldn’t have been as big a deal in the media as Phil, (because they all have crushes on him for some reason) but it would have been a much bigger story in the grand scheme of golf.  Duval was ranked somewhere in the high 800’s before the tournament and among the worst on the tour in driving accuracy and GIR.  These are not the makings of a US Open champ.

But David took his new confidence and new athletic physique to Farmingdale knowing he had a shot.  If Duval doesn’t get stuck under the lip of a bunker on the par 3, 3rd hole there is a good chance he wins the Open.  If he bogeyed that hole he would have finished tied for first.  He also caught other bad breaks, but as he said, “everybody did.”  Whether or not Duval is back is yet to be seen, but it was nice to see a guy who fell off the face of the earth back in contention.  Even if he is wearing a XXL instead of his former medium.

The Phil story is intriguing.  His wife is sick with breast cancer.  She is doing okay, but there is such an unknown future when it comes to cancer.  Did we catch it early enough?  If we get rid of it will it come back?, and any light shined on cancer in the public eye is important because it is such an epidemic these days.  Cancer really affects everybody.  So I really do commend Phil for playing and just bringing attention to it.  The Pga does more charity work than any other sport, and hopefully cancer research benefits from the Mickelson’s situation.  Does this make me want to root for Phil, though?  A little more than usual, but not really.

David Duval’s story is inspiring.  This is a man who also knows the perils of cancer.  David lost his brother to Leukemia when they were teenagers.  A bone marrow transplant from David to his brother failed.  He gained success through college and early amateur years and rose all the way to number one in the world before losing his ability to make cuts.  Duval came alive with a 67 out of the gate this week, though.  He hit fairways, he has the same great putting stroke, and his formerly aloof behavior with crowds was seemingly gone.  This was a new golfer, a new body, a new man.

You were almost waiting for the trainwreck to happen everytime Duval got close to the top on Monday.  After the bad bunker break most thought he was out of the hunt, but in a charge that was in line with his “never quit” message for the week Duval almost pulled it off.

Don’t get me wrong.  I give Phil a ton of credit even for coming out and playing, but his second place finish at an Open is expected, and it is overshadowing a performance that should not be overlooked.  Duval fought against golf demons to fight back to the top of a Major leaderboard, Phil was fighting against something else.  I am much more impressed by a runner up finish from the world’s 882nd ranked player than from the world’s number 2.


Players Preview

May 7, 2009

Because my Masters preview article was dead on, I feel it necessary to write one for the next big tournament on the PGA tour.  So without further ado, here’s my Players Championship Preview.

This is a sick field, and should make for a good tourney. In the past few years the Players has been a ball strikers course, and winners have been near the top in GIR for the week.  Winners have also been accurate off the tee, but Sergio Garcia proved last year that you can win here even if you putt like a blind man getting a blowjob.

My Four Horsemen

Tiger Woods:
I can’t not pick him.  He can’t hit his driver and his long irons haven’t been working of late, but he is still better than everyone out there.  I wouldn’t be surprised to see him pull a Roy “Tin Cup” McAvoy and just bring a seven-iron this week.  He would still make the cut, and scare Phil’s ever shrinking tits on sunday.

Camilo Villegas:

Always seems to find a way to flex

Always seems to find a way to flex

My favorite Colombian since… well, he’s my favorite Colombian, and he draws the right kind of fans to the game.  Seriously though, he is a ball striker and leads the PGA in Greens in Regulation hit this season.  Driving accuracy has been an issue, but he’s getting it on the dance floor.

Sean O’Hair:
He is another ball striker, and coming off a win last week, no one is hitting the ball better.  They mentioned the fact that he didn’t hit a putt over 10ft about 45 times during the final hour of coverage last sunday, but he didn’t have to hit a putt over ten feet because he was pure.  He seems like a huge tool, and he choked hard at Bay Hill and blamed cool weather.  We could see a replay of the choking at 17 here if he’s in the hunt sunday.

Stud

Boo = Stud

Boo Weekley:
I just love Boo, and Boo is due.

My Longshot
DJ Trahan:
Second in the PGA in GIR, and hitting fairways 68% of the time.  14 top-10’s in his career and 2 wins.  If he doesn’t fold on the intimidating 17th he’s got a shot.

And watch out for Ryuji Imada.  Still got a good feeling about him.


Don’t be Surprised if:

Sergio does it again:
I would never pick him because I hate him, but Sergio’s game is built for this course, and in Sergio’s mind, he won a major last year here.  No one has ever repeated in the Players, and I hope to god this little prick isn’t the first, but we shall see.  There is one thing to be sure of, if he doesn’t win, it wasn’t his fault.

Kenny Perry repeats his Master’s performance:
I think Kenny is hoping for a nice tenth place finish.  He would get his nice paycheck without the last pairing pressure.  The thought of Perry on the 17th tee looking across the vast 120yds of water at that bullshit little green with a lead on Sunday makes the old man reach for his Flomax.  I love the guy, and would love to see him ace one there, but my Nostradamus-like instincts tell me otherwise.

We Witness The KJ Choi Show:
Yeah, that’s right.  I said it.

Who Won’t Make the Cut?:
Paddy’s been struggling of late, but I think he will stay in the mix.  I’m gonna go with Bubba Watson.  He has the game, but I just don’t think he can play well two weeks in a row.  He will probably win the tourney now.

Best Finish Scenario:
Tiger and Kenny tied going into 17 on Sunday.  Kenny sticks it close and Tiger aces it.  Kenny birdies 18, Tiger pars, and Tiger beats him in a playoff.  Everyone goes home happy, and we get a lot of video of Kenny’s daughter in the crowd.

Still got game, but does he have the balls?

Still got game, but does he have the balls?

In Closing, this is a tournament that favors great players.   Players have no choice but to feel the pressure.  The guys with Major Championship experience under their belt have a huge advantage.  The TPC at Sawgrass always makes for a great Sunday, though.  So grab a 6 pack, switch on CBS, and rot on the couch, you deserve it.

Can i possibly be wronger (is that a word?) than I was last time?  We shall see.


Sergio Whines About Augusta

April 13, 2009

Here at Blue Duck Sports, we try to give credit where credit is due. Earlier this week, in his preview of the Masters, Carebear had some bold predictions for the outcome of the tournament, and some choice words for Sergio Garcia. And while most of his predictions were not correct, his estimation of the Spaniard was dead on.

Here is what Carebear said earlier this week:

We all know Sergio is a little bitch, but he also is a bad putter.  He strikes the ball great, but has no confidence on the greens.  That is not a good thing at Augusta.  177th on tour in putts per round doesn’t translate well here.  He is also a mental midget (pc? mental little person), and has tendencies to carry bad shots through rounds.

These words were telling, as Sergio responded by shooting -4 in the first two rounds of the tournament and followed it up by hitting +3 and +2 on his final 2 days in tournament. So that would go to prove that Carebear was correct in saying the “has tendencies to carry bad shots through rounds”.

But, most importantly, Carebear’s estimation that Garcia “is a little bitch” was proven correct by the Spaniard after the final round. In honor of my esteemed colleague, I bring to you Sergio Garcia’s complaints about the recently completed Masters:

  • “I don’t like it”
  • “I don’t think it’s fair”
  • “It’s too tricky”
  • “Even when it’s dry, you still get mud balls in the fairway”
  • “It’s too much of a guessing game”

When asked what he thinks Augusta National should do to fix the course, he replied:

  • “I don’t care. They can do whatever they want to. It’s not my problem. I just come here and play and then go home.”

Here’s the video showing his tantrum about one of the most heralded golf courses in the world:

So to Carebear, congratulations. You were dead-on in your assessment of Sergio Garcia’s game and his character. He indeed is a “little bitch” and doesn’t have the mental toughness to hang with the big boys.

And to Sergio, I offer you this advice: If you are going to complain about a world-renowned golf course, please offer a single suggestion as to how to improve it for your highness. How can you piss and moan about Augusta National and then have no response when asked how you would improve it? Man up!

Special thanks to our man, Paddy Harrington, for following up the cry-baby’s comments by praising how fantastic the course was. And then, Harrington added the icing on the cake by saying, “I like it when it’s difficult, but obviously it wasn’t difficult this week. It was as easy as it’s ever going to be.”

So to Mr. “I-just-come-here-and-play-and-then-go-home”, Sergio please, take your binky and go home. This is the big time, if you can’t hang, get out now!


El Pato Azul Congratulates El Pato

April 12, 2009
The sweet swingin big Argentinian earned a big green jacket

The BlueDuck congratulates the big Argentinian duck on his Masters victory in an absolute chokefest today.  Angel, light one up, you deserve it.


Carebear’s Masters Preview

April 9, 2009

I realize that half the field has already teed off, but I woke up late so, without knowing who is doing well to this point, here are some predictions.

My Four Horsemen:

Tiger Woods:

Not a stretch here.  I really do not think Tiger has the precision in his game back enough to win this tournament.  Sure he won at Bay hill, but he won ugly.  Plus he made Sean O’Hair shit his pants on sunday and took Arnie’s tournament right out of his hands.  Tiger hasn’t been doing much right off the tee, which is not far from the norm, but he also hasn’t been sticking it as close as usual after those errant tee shots since his return.  Augusta is a course that requires great approach shots. I include Tiger, though because he finds a way to win.  He is the best putter on tour, the best clutch player, and the scariest player to compete against.  His putting may make up for weak approaches at Bobby Jones’ course.

Ryuji Imada:

I really just have a feeling about this guy this week.  So he probably won’t make the cut.  Imada has been playing well this year.  He has the complete game to compete at Augusta.  It is Ryuji’s first Masters, but he hits fairways, greens, and putts well.  Look for him to stick around in this tourney.

Geoff Ogilvy:

Its hard to feel pressure when you're high as a kite all the time

Its hard to feel pressure when you're high as a kite all the time

Another no brainer.  Ogilvy leads the tour statistically in putting this year when he hits the green.  He is fifth in putts per round.  He is also way about tour average in driving accuracy, distance, and GIR.  These are not surprising numbers, but the keys at Augusta are keeping the ball in the fairway, and hitting putts on some of the most slippery greens in the world.  Ogilvy has the ability to do this.  Also, he has the psychological stability of a man playing golf on loads of painkillers.  He is unflappable.  It would be cool to see if he folded against Tiger, but I really think his Aussie “no worries” attitude is above nervousness.  He also wears argyle puma sweaters.  solid.

Zach Johnson:

You always have to favor past champs at this event.  Zach is another tough competitor who is hard to rattle.  He held off Tiger in a Masters win a couple of years back.  So he hits the ball like Michelle Wie at 12 years old, lays up on every par 5, and looks like the guy that makes your sandwich at Subway.  This guy can straight up play golf.  He is 7th in scoring average this year coming in under 70, hitting 70% of fairways (13th) and 70% of greens (10th).  The dude is extremely consistent.

5th Horse (Honorable Mention):

Trevor Immelman:

Trying to defend crown.  He will compete in this tourney.  Not playing great this year, but will put up a fight.

Don’t be surprised if:

Bernhard Langer and Greg Norman put on a clinic. These guys are old as dirt, but both are in good shape.  Langer looks like he’s thirty.  He also looks like one of the guys trying to take over Nakatomi Plaza in Die Hard, but he’s so consistent.  Norman has been playing well of late, and is fresh off his wedding to Chrissy Evert.  Maybe she taught him how not to choke in the last round at Augusta.

Sergio doesn’t make the cut:

Its never your fault Sergio

Its never your fault Sergio

We all know Sergio is a little bitch, but he also is a bad putter.  He strikes the ball great, but has no confidence on the greens.  That is not a good thing at Augusta.  177th on tour in putts per round doesn’t translate well here.  He is also a mental midget (pc? mental little person), and has tendencies to carry bad shots through rounds.

Phil doesn’t make cut: I don’t root against Phil like I do Sergio, but he is just so damn inconsistent.  He wins a tourney then doesn’t make the cut the next week.  Ever since the US open last year and his driverless bag debacle Phil has been a mess.  His short game has never looked better, but don’t count on his putter in big situations.  Phil is 179th in driving accuracy this year barely hitting half the fairways.  If Butch and him had a breakthrough he may stick around, but he may be a trainwreck from the start.

Webb Simpson does something: Webb has 2 top 10 finishes this year, and is poised to make a splash here.  He is a good putter and basically at the tour average for most of his stats.  This kid is going to make a name for himself at some point.  Maybe this week is the week.

Best potential storyline:

Even better than Tiger winning or Paddy continuing his slam run would be Greg Norman staring down the demons and Tiger to finally grab a green jacket.  Norman seems to be playing carefree golf now, and claims he is, but that is easy to say when you’re not really competing.  He got close at the British Open, but this would be a great story.  Him and Tiger tied at the start Sunday and the shark matching Tiger shot for shot.  Lets hope his yips and block don’t come back to haunt him.  Luckily he won’t be playing against Faldo, unfortunately, we have to listen to Faldo.

The Masters is one of the more fun tournaments of the year to watch, and hopefully this one will provide some memorable shots and a good sunday finish.

My final prediction: Ogilvy beats Zach Johnson in a playoff.  Tiger finishes third after a strong sunday.  Watch now.  All three won’t make the cut.