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.

Advertisements

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’s 2009 US Open Preview

June 18, 2009
Enough Said

Enough Said

The US Open is by far, the best tournament on the golf calendar.  It showcases the strongest and toughest golfers on a course that brings Fed Ex Cup hopefuls to their knees.  This year should be no exception.

There is plenty of drama leading up to the event.  Tiger won a couple weeks ago, and is playing some of his best golf since getting his bionic knee repaired;   Phil is trying to keep his mind out of his way with his wife battling a tougher fight than Bethpage; Sergio returns to the course where fans opened up to him so much that he saluted them…with his middle finger in 2002(I love New York), and Brian Gay tries to keep his dream season going with another win.

The elements will be a factor again at Bethpage as Thursday’s round will be plagued with heavy rain, and the outlook is gloomy the rest of the weekend as well.  So who will rise above the rain, the 7,445 yard course, the NY fans, and  the overall pressure of the biggest championship in golf to take the trophy?

Well, here’s my Nostradamus-like shot at picking the contenders:
My Four Horsemen:

Tiger Woods

I will never not pick Tiger.  In any golf event he is the favorite.  He drove the ball better than he has in years (maybe ever) at the Memorial.  He has switched to a 10 degree driver and it has paid off.  Woods also showed that he still has the balls to take a tournament with his precise approach shot on 18 two sundays ago.  If Tiger is still on, then no one else has a chance…  He could run away with this.

Camilo Villegas

Camilo is a strange little Colombian dude with a strange little Colombian swing, and a strange giant Red Bull buckle, but he keeps on putting up good scores and reminding Anthony Kim of what he could be if he didn’t drink Busch Light all day instead of practicing.
Camilo hits it long and hits greens.  He tends to run out of energy by Saturday, though, because he exerts himself by flexing every time a camera walks by.  It may be his time for a major victory.

Alvaro Quiros

Watch out Sergio.  This guy will replace you as Americas favorite Spanish golfer if he is even a little bit less of a bitch than you

Watch out Sergio. This guy will replace you as America's favorite Spanish golfer if he is even a little bit less of a bitch than you.

It is Quiros’s first US Open, and nobody knows who the hell he is, but he is basically a Bubba Watson, Sergio, Camilo Villegas hybrid.  Sergio because he’s Spanish, Camilo because he’s a prettyboy, and Bubba because he hits it 8 miles and wears big hats.
This guy averages over 315 yds off the tee.  If he hits it straight, he has a chance.  He has one win on the European tour this year (3 career), but has yet to be a factor on tour here in the States.  Watch out for the straw hat.

Nick Watney

Keeping with my theme of long hitters, Watney is a big lanky American with a great swing having a breakout season.  He almost took down Phil earlier in ’09.  He has 3 top 10’s this year and has only missed 2 cuts.  His tee time (1:14pm 1st hole) will be a fun one to watch, with all three guys JB Holmes, Watney, and Quiros capable of quarter mile drives.

Others names I wanna Drop:
David Toms, John Merrick, and Paul Casey.
ESPN is talking a lot about Ian Poulter.  That would be a victory for hair gel and visor-wearers everywhere.

Is there a potential Francis Ouimet in the field?

No.
Well, there never will be again, but if you want me to pick an amateur I have to go with Rickie Fowler.  He definitely has the game, but I doubt he has the mental ability to make the cut at Bethpage.  He dropped a 66 at the FBR earlier this year proving he can play with the tour guys and made the cut last year at the open, but this is not sunny California.

Best Potential Storylines:

There are a lot of them.   Kenny Perry coming back after his miraculous choke at the Masters to become the oldest major champion would be nice, Tiger winning is always good, Rocco beating Tiger will never happen but it would be pretty damn cool, but I think the outcome most are rooting for (other than Sergio running out of golf balls by the third hole Thursday) is for a Phil Mickelson victory.

Good Old Phil

Good Old Phil

Phil is going through a whole lot right now, and handling everything really well.  Mickelson will be the favorite among the New York fans, and is even turning people who are usually not big Phil guys into fans.  A Mickelson vistory would be a great storyline.  I still hate Bones, though.
My 1,000 to 1 shot:
Adam Scott pulls his head out of his ass (Or Kate Hudson’s) and takes the Open.


But Anyways:

The Masters is great early in the season, and Augusta is beautiful.  The Open Championship often gives golfers hell, and makes them play a game they’re not used to.  No one really cares about the PGA Championship, but the US Open is the most grueling, physically and mentally demanding challenge in golf year in and year out.

I almost made a pilgrimmage down to Long Island this weekend, but seeing as I’m broke and have HD I will do what we all should do.  Put some Pabst in a cooler, find a nice chair and prepare the mute button for Jim Nantz.  Count the mentions of Johnny Miller’s 63 in 1973 and enjoy Faldo talking about Poulter’s hair.  Lets hope for bad weather and pure irons, and this should be a fun weekend.


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.