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 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.


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.