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.

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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.