Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Year End Awards

They used to call golf after the Tour Championship the "Silly Season."  Then they created the FedEx Cup and basically turned the last four events of the year into the "Silly Season with Benefits" as they are still playing for official money and trying to keep their cards for next year only no one is watching.  If you had any remaining doubts that the meaningful tournaments were over until January, a Bryce Molder/Briny Baird playoff should have erased them.  Meanwhile, football is shifting into second gear and even baseball is showing a little spunk like an old guy who took a Viagra and then forgot he took it and then took another one.  (Two things that didn’t exist thirty years ago: (1) Nine inning baseball games that last four hours, and (2) erections that last four hours.  I’m not sure either one is a sign of progress).  And you have to love the fact that we have four mid-market teams from middle and southwest America battling to go to the World Series.  I know the people at Fox Sports do.         

But I digress (as usual).  Let’s fill part of golf’s three month hiatus by handing out some awards.  To the best of my knowledge, the PGA Tour officially recognizes players in three different categories - Player of the Year, Rookie of the Year and Comeback Player of the Year.  Pretty vanilla stuff even by PGA Tour standards.  (Next week we’ll hand out the FGR awards for achievements like “Biggest Meltdown”, “Most Disappointing Season” and “Worst Shot by a Player Not Named Mickelson”).  This week, however, we’ll stick to the basics.  And the winners are:

"You know anything about 
this f-cking golf business?"
Player of the Year:  Toughest call on this award since Corey Pavin won it in 1991.  (It was soon thereafter that Dean Beaman and Earl Woods had their meeting with the devil – picture Sonny Bunz selling his restaurant to Paul Cicero in Goodfellas…and we know how that turned out.  “Business bad?  F-ck you!  Pay Me!)  Let’s try to whittle it down by the numbers.  We’ll start by eliminating everyone who didn’t have multiple wins which gets us to Webb Simpson, Nick Watney, Steve Stricker, Keegan Bradley, Bubba Watson and Mark Wilson (and also conveniently removes Luke Donald from the equation).  We’ll eliminate Watson and Wilson because neither of their wins was at a major or even a wannabe major (like the TPC or a World Golf event) and they both finished out of the top ten on the money list.  That leaves four very thin cases for player of the year:

Simpson:  Won a playoff event and is currently second on the money list but he gagged away the FedEx Cup at the Tour Championship. 

Watney:  Won a World Golf event and the AT&T National but did not have a top 10 in a major and fizzled in the playoffs. 

Stricker:  Won the Memorial and finished in the top 20 in every major but also fizzled in the playoffs and didn’t finish higher than 11th in a major. 

Bradley:  Won a major and beat a pretty strong field at the Byron Nelson but also missed 10 out of 28 cuts and only finished in the top 10 four times.

"Greeaaaattt shot
President Chavez."
I feel like I’m pitching stocks to Gordon Gekko.  (“That’s a dog with different fleas kid”).  In a related story, Tiger Woods just finished 30th at a tournament sponsored by an on-line pawn shop and Phil Mickelson is currently 12th on the money list and had only two top 3’s this year.  (Yes, one was at the British Open but we all knew he wasn’t going to win that).  And notice how you don’t hear anymore stories about Phil doing things like getting in shape and spending two days at a major course scouting the greens with Dave Pelz a month ahead of time.  Phil may have reached the point where he’s thinking “I can (a) fly to Atlanta in August and spend two days paying that nerd Pelz to read the greens for me, or (b) fly to Vegas and get a $100,000 a day to play golf with a couple of sheiks and third world dictators and then blow it at the craps table.  Hmmmm.”      

I think when the applications are this weak, you have to give it to the guy who showed-up when it mattered most which was Bradley at the PGA Championship.  So we’re giving Player of the Year to an unheralded rookie who played well in four out of twenty-eight tournaments.  Tim Finchem will say it’s part of the youth movement.  At least he’ll be right about the movement part though “youth” isn’t the word I’d put in front of it.

Rookie of the Year:  Keegan Bradley.  That was easy and because he is such a slam dunk for this award, they’ll probably give player of the year to Watney or Simpson.  Charl Schwartzel is also eligible for rookie of the year which makes sense considering he’s played in 20 majors as a pro since 2003.  If only there was a way to close that complex loophole like making a rule that your rookie season is the first year you play in a PGA event or a major as a professional.  Hmmm.  How could we do that?  Hey I know.  Make that the freakin’ rule!

Comeback Player of the Year:  I’ve never really understood this award in golf.  Do you have to come back from an injury to qualify?  Does alcoholism count because it’s not like the guys on tour are shredding their ACL’s every week?  Do you just have to come back from a lousy season?  If that’s the case, shouldn’t they also have a consistency award for Steve Stricker and the other guys who make the top 10 every year?  I guess we’ll give it to David Toms.  He went from 49th on the money list last year to 10th this year and he seems to get injured about every three months.  We can only hope that Tiger completes the long road back from his sex addiction to win this award next year.  They gave it to John Daly in 2004 for what I assume was his inspirational comeback from being John Daly in 2003 so why not?