Monday, August 22, 2011

The Playoff Preview Part 1

"You won the British Open
.....WHA HAPPENED!?!?"
None of my guys played in the Wyndham and one of the last guys I wanted to win it did just that so I had a hard time watching it.  I did catch Justin Leonard bogeying 18 on Sunday to miss the Top 125 by one spot which had to feel just like sinking a 45 foot putt to win the Ryder Cup except exactly the opposite.  Leonard’s best finish of the year was a T13 at the Bob Hope Classic in January.  I blame Sean Foley.       

I also watched enough to wonder what Webb Simpson and Tommy Gainey talked about on Sunday considering their disparate backgrounds.  James Frederick “Webb” Simpson was a three time All American at Wake Forest and a member of the 2007 Walker Cup team.  According to his Wikipedia page, “he won several prestigious amateur tournaments.”  Tommy Gainey attended Central Carolina Technical College and worked on an assembly line wrapping insulation around hot water heaters.  According to his Wikipedia page, “he has won four events on the eGolf Tarheel Tour.”  I’d like to think that Simpson called Gainey “Thomas” all day (“nice putt Thomas”) and Gainey was muttering “f---ing pretty boy” under his breath.

With that exercise in manufactured drama out of the way, my interest is piqued as I have six players in the Top 38 of the FedEx Cup standings but only one (my new favorite player -  Keegan Bradley) a lock to make it to East Lake.  Last year eight players started the playoffs outside of the Top 30 and made it to the Tour Championship with Kevin Streelman and Martin Laird coming from as far back as 102nd and 95th.  I’m going to take the easy way out and guess that a couple less than that will make the move this year so, of our current Top 30, we’re going to have six players fade.

So let’s start with a multi-part (could be two, three or four but most likely two) preview of the playoffs with a review of those currently in the Top 30 who will not be making the trip to East Lake and the six who will be taking their spots:

(30) Tommy Gainey – Pretty strong showing from Two Gloves this year but he’s too erratic to hold onto the 30th spot.  (In my snobby voice) While hitting a pitching wedge 180 yards is obviously evidence of great strength, it most certainly is not the key to consistent scoring.       

"Oh dear God . . . he really
does wear two gloves."
(26) Charles Howell, III – He’s been playing well lately but his record in the playoffs stinks and I just can’t envision his name in the field for the Tour Championship.  Hold on…..nope, still nothing.      

(24)  Jonathan Byrd – Got off to a fast start in Hawaii and then made a sick birdie on the 72nd hole to get into the playoff with Lucas Glover at Quail Hollow but has not made a cut since June 12th.  I have him on my roster and he gets one week to prove himself or it’s “Welcome to Dumpsville, Population - Jonathan Byrd.”

(23) Rory Sabbatini – Another player who secured his playoff spot months ago and has been treading water ever since.  It’s got to be tough out there when half of the crowd is rooting for a tree limb to fall on your head.

(22)  Aaron Baddeley – He’s only made about $180,000 since The Players in mid-May and his record on the playoff courses over the last three years is lousy.  That’s all I’ve got on him – seems like a good guy otherwise.        

"Trust me Rickie, this is
going to  be hilarious."
(20) Hunter Mahan – The curse of the “Golf Boys” video.  Haven’t we learned from all of the live mike banter at the Skins Games and the skills challenges that professional golfers shouldn’t force funny?  Can something that was intended to be funny turn out not to be funny and be unintentionally funny at the same time? 

Here are the six I have taking their spots:

(32)  Zach Johnson – Has been playing well since the Wells Fargo in early May and only needs to climb two spots.  He was also my first round draft pick so, if he doesn’t make a move and it costs me the season title because I picked him over guys like Nick Watney and Luke Donald, I’m going to spend all winter roiling with angst and that would be bad. 

"Why does everyone
keep calling me
Bo Van Poopy Pants?"
(39) Bo Van Pelt – I was surprised to see him this far back.  He was playing really well until missing the cut at the PGA.  I expect him to put up at least one Top 5 during the playoffs which should bump him into the Top 30 which in turn might finally make him smile.  If my name was Bo Van Pelt, I think I’d smile all the time.  “Hi, I’m Bo Van Pelt, would you like to buy something from me?” 

(45) Robert Karlsson – He may be the best eligible player not currently in the Top 30 with three Top 5’s in his last seven tournaments.  He’s got too much game not to climb fifteen spots unless the release of his answer to “Golf Boys” with Carl Pettersson, Frederik Jacobson and Jesper Parnevik called “Swedish Meatballs” derails him.     

(59) Sergio Garcia –Sergio has only played thirteen PGA Tour events this year and he’s made the cut in twelve of them with three Top 10’s.  More importantly he has a great record on some of the playoff courses.  Even more importantly than that, he’s not on a roster that’s threatening my chances to win my league so I might actually be (gulp) rooting for him.      

(62) Andres Romero – It only takes one strong finish to jump from 62nd into the Top 30 and Romero is one of the guys with Top 5 potential every week right now.  (Considering that about 75 players have Top 5 potential every week right now, that is some razor sharp analysis).         

(104) John Merrick – I have to pick one deep sleeper.  I’m going with Merrick on a total whim and because he is statistically having a good year and for some reason it’s not translating into FedEx points.  How can you be ranked 21st in scoring average and 104th in FedEx Cup points?  (Answer – you rank 151st in final round scoring average).  I’m banking on Merrick playing at least one good final round, preferably this Sunday before his season is over.     

So those are the six in and six out.  Later this week, I’ll rank the Top 30 and try to figure out who is going to win $10M and then pull a Furyk in 2012.