Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Shell Houston Open Preview

"But honey I'm telling you this is
the one.  I bet that's ESPN or Sports 
Illustrated on the phone right now." 
Please excuse the lack of commentary in this week's preview but it's hard not to look ahead to what could be an epic Masters.  Not to mention, I worked my ass off on Part I of the NFL Mock Draft (see below) at the expense of my family and my job so I've had to switch into "marriage counseling/temp agency" avoidance mode for the last 24 hours to get back into everyone's good graces.  (I figure I'm about halfway there which is pretty much where I spend most of my life anyway so we're back to about DEFCON 4).

I'm desperate for a winner so I may pull Keegan Bradley off of the "Reserved for the Majors" list and play him this week because I agree with Rob Bolton at that he's the guy.  Furthermore, he may not be a good fit at Olympic Club, Kiawah or for the British Open and I'm not ready to make him a Masters pick.*  At this point, I'm sticking with my original game plan but that could change by tomorrow's pick deadline. Just know that if you want to cast your lot with Bradley this week, you have my blessing.

The Overall Picks

Tell me what you're seeing out of
that left eye Keegan.  Is it a win?
1.  Keegan Bradley
2.  Lee Westwood
3.  Phil Mickelson
4.  Aaron Baddeley
5.  Steve Stricker

The Major players have not changed but Justin Rose is still knocking on the door and will probably bump Bradley from this list.

Reserved for the Majors

Tiger Woods
Sergio Garcia
Phil Mickelson
Matt Kuchar
Charl Schwartzel
Keegan Bradley
Rory McIlroy
Lee Westwood

Call it a gut feeling on Baddeley this week.  He's been playing very solid and consistent golf, finished 4th in Houston in 2011 and knows the course from playing it every year since 2008.  Badds also has a history of random wins and something tells me this could be his week.  The picture below didn't hurt his cause.  
The easiest way to the top of the rankings? Marry Richelle
Baddeley (right) and have her stand next to Ana Ivanovic.

The One and Done Picks

1.  Aaron Baddeley
2.  Steve Stricker
3.  Johnson Wagner
4.  Hunter Mahan
5.  John Senden

Last Week's Report Card: B+

1. Bubba Watson - T4th
2. Jim Furyk - T11th
3. Webb Simpson - T36th
4. Nick Watney - T59th
5. Ernie Els - T4th

Pretty solid week considering Tiger was exempt as a future major pick.  We occasionally wonder why Bubba Watson is not more competitive at Augusta (at least golf geeks like I do) considering he can work the ball both ways, hits it high and bombs it off the tee. Then we watch him play rounds like he did on Saturday and think "oh yeah, right."  To summarize, he shot -3 on the front without making a putt over 10 feet.  He made par on 10 and then a four-putt double on 11 with the last three putts coming from inside of 4 feet. He then made a bogey on the par 5 16th despite having 169 yards left on his second shot (he hit it into the water) but salvaged a back nine 39 when his approach shot bounced off a rock next to the pond on 18, landed on the green and he made the putt turning at least a bogey into a birdie.  If he hits and putts it like that at Augusta, he'll finish behind Ian Woosnam who comes just to get bombed at the past champions dinner and only packs enough clothes to get him through Friday.  

* The last two U.S. Opens at Olympic were won by straight hitting course managers, Lee Janzen and Scott Simpson, so Luke Donald or Steve Stricker may be a better fit there. The wind will probably howl at Kiawah and the British Open so neither really suits Bradley's high ball game.  Speaking of which, a giraffe walks into a bar and says, "hey everybody, the high balls are on me."  Thank you.  I'm here all week.  Try the veal.  

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

NFL Mock Draft Part I

"Just when you think you know the
answers, I change the questions."
We're eschewing the post tournament update that would normally appear on Tuesday and taking a little side trip this morning because (a) the Tiger story lines are being sufficiently run into the ground by every media outlet from ESPN to the Food Network, (b) I want to be fresh for the Masters, and (c) (the real reason) I took my kids to the Capitals-Wild* game Sunday night so I missed the final round which is now in the Tivo line behind the season premiere of Mad Men so I may never get to it.  Besides, watching the recorded final round of a golf tournament that you know was won by 5 strokes just to write a golf column sounds a lot like "work."

So to bridge the gap between now and Augusta, I present Part I of the FGR's first annual NFL Mock Draft.  I need to preface this by confessing that I have been obsessed with the NFL Draft since ESPN started televising it in 1980.  As part of its promotion for that first draft, you could write to them and request a free draft kit with a list of prospects, the draft order and sheets where you could write down the picks for each team.  I of course sent away for it and, to my mild amazement, it showed-up a few days before the draft.  (If you're a younger reader, you need to understand that we used to "send away" for crap we saw on TV all of the time but only about half of it would actually show-up, even if we paid for it.  When it didn't, we'd usually just say "whatever" and move on.  If this sounds kind of half-assed, remember we were living in a world run by adults who saw no potential harm in loading-up a sedan with 8 kids, 100 cubic feet of second hand smoke, cranking-up Howard Stern and driving to elementary school.  It was a simpler time).

You had me at "good morning." 
My plan for tracking every move of the draft was therefore in motion but I had one problem.  It was on a Tuesday starting at 9:00 a.m. in April a/k/a a school day and I had never faked an illness before so I didn't know what I was doing (Ferris Bueller wouldn't be released for another six years).  I made the mistake of starting off slow with some mild symptoms but my mother wasn't buying it.  For a second I thought she had made the connection between my sudden abdominal cramps and the draft kit because, as an 11 year old, I wasn't in the business of receiving a lot of mail and ESPN had screwed me by putting the whole thing in a giant bright red folder (damn you Berman!)  As we were about to head out the door, I was ready to pull out all of the stops including putting my arm between two boards and having Michael Caine break it with his foot.**  It finally took me practically collapsing in the doorway before she relented and I was able to scramble upstairs and get myself set-up just in time to see Pete Rozelle announce that the Detroit Lions would be taking Billy Sims with the first overall pick.  A draft geek was born.        

"This is not about whether the Colts
tanked to get the top pick.  They did."
Now I could have done a comprehensive mock draft evaluating team needs, incorporating combine results and quoting experts but that could have taken days and cost millions of lives.  No, for my first mock draft, I think I had to go all out.  I think this situation absolutely required a really futile and stupid gesture be done on somebody's part.  (And you're just the guy to do it).  Thank you.  Let's do it!

1. Colts - Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford:  I still can't believe the Colts fell into this situation and, not to wish ill on young Mr. Luck, but I hope it comes back to haunt them for dumping the man who made their franchise.  If you're like me, and you're looking for a sign that this could happen, consider that HBO recently had to cancel its latest big time attempt at original programming, a show about horse racing and gambling, because three horses (colts) died during production.  The name of the show?  "Luck."  

"You're everyone's problem Snyder
. . . because you're an a-hole."
2. Redskins - Robert Griffin, III, QB, Baylor:  As a life long Redskins hater, it pains me to say that I think they absolutely made the right move trading for this pick but, as a Ravens fan, I'm glad they outwitted the Browns for it. (That is assuming that you can "outwit" an organization that would publicly admit that they wanted to make this trade but botched it by trying to low ball the Rams and then increase their offer after the deadline when it was too late).  Maybe the Redskins' luck is finally changing.  First the Browns screw-up, and then they slide into the Rams' spot.  Some teams wait decades to get a shot at a player like RG, III.  

3. Vikings - Matt Kalil, OT, USC: When you're being chased by bounty hunters, it's good to surround yourself with large people.

4. Browns - Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma St.:  They have so many holes to fill on their roster that what they should do is trade down two spots and grab one of the picks the Rams landed from the Redskins. But they'll probably stay in this spot and take the best receiver in the draft so Colt McCoy can spend next season under throwing him until he inevitably gets injured and they bring in Seneca Wallace to over throw him.

5. Buccaneers - Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama:  The Bucs are exploring any and all alternatives to having Josh Freeman throw the ball this season after he threw 22 interceptions last year.  In addition to drafting a stud running back, other adjustments include instructing the center not to snap the ball under any circumstances when Freeman audibles out of a running play and keeping a pass rushing linebacker in the backfield to sack him in the event he goes rogue.

6. Rams - Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU:  You've got to hand it to the Rams.  Instead of doing something risky like drafting potentially the most dynamic quarterback to enter the league since . . . well . . . ever, they decided to trade the pick and build around an overpaid quarterback who missed almost his entire final season in college with an injury and then suited-up for only ten games last year.  In those ten games he threw six touchdown passes and six interceptions but that was because he didn't have any receivers (except of course for the last five games when he had Brandon Loyd who will have 1,400+ yards and 12+ touchdowns catching passes from Tom Brady in 2012).  The more I look at this, the more I'm convinced that the owner is trying to replicate the formula from Major League in an effort to move the team back to Los Angeles (everyone in St. Louis just muttered "that's not funny").

7.  Jaguars - Quinton Coples, DE North Carolina:  I have no idea who Quinton Coples** is but I'm guessing that since he never played a down of quarterback in college, the Jags are not drafting him to play that position for them which means they are going to give Blaine Gabbert the chance to solidify the fact that he was a bad pick even if it means wasting 16 more games of Maurice Jones-Drew's prime.  I've got two words for you Jacksonville:  "Kyle Boller" followed by two more words, "move on."

"What can I tell you Miami?
He just wasn't my type."
8.  Dolphins - Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa:  Miami is clearly making it a priory to protect their investment in David Garrard because, after striking out on Peyton Manning and Matt Flynn, they genuinely have to wonder if any other quarterback will come play for them.  How are you feeling today if you're a Dolphins fan?  Your team just signed a quarterback who was cut by the Jaguars which has to feel like dating Newman's ex-girlfriend.  The words "desolate" and "foreboding" come to mind which ironically are the same words Titanic director James Cameron used to describe what he saw on his submarine ride to the bottom of the ocean.**** 

9.  Panthers - Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis:  The Panthers will primarily be focusing on defense because they were the 5th highest scoring team in the league last year thanks to Cam Newton's 21 TD passes and 14 TD runs.  Not to belabor a point, but Robert Griffin, III is considered a better passer and is significantly faster than Cam Newton and the Rams said no thanks, we're good with Sam "Greg Oden" Bradford. To illustrate part of my point, check this out (Rams fans may want to avert their eyes) - Griffin v. Newton in the 40.     

So it turns out Ashley Judd
went to Harvard.  Who knew?
10. Bills - Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame:  After six games last year, the Bills were so impressed that they gave Ryan Fitzpatrick a six year $59M contract extension which he celebrated by throwing 12 touchdown passes and 17 interceptions in his last ten games (if you're reading this and not a football fan, I can tell you that, even if you reversed those numbers, they still wouldn't be very good).  The lesson as always, don't trust guys who went to Harvard with your money.  Didn't anyone in sports watch The Social Network? Anyway, the NFL's version of painting over a crack in the wall is drafting a receiver to try to make your crappy quarterback look better (the "Millen Theory") so Floyd's the pick.

11.  Chiefs - Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M: Despite the fact that Matt Cassell missed seven games last year, threw for 10 touchdowns and 9 picks in the games he did play and had a quarterback rating of 20.4 when the Chiefs got clobbered by the Ravens in the 2010 playoffs, Mel Kiper has them passing on Tannehill and taking a linebacker from Boston College.  I think the Chiefs take a look at their situation and ask themselves the most important question this time of year (everyone together) "do we have a quarterback who can get us to the Super Bowl?"  When they look at Cassel and recently signed Brady Quinn, the answer has to be "no" right? Then again, they did hire former Browns head coach Romeo Crennel and they signed former Browns quarterback Quinn so, considering that they're stocking-up on cast-offs from one of the worst franchises in the league, maybe they do believe they're just one linebacker away from greatness.  Sorry K.C. fans, at least you have the Royals.    

12.  Seattle Seahawks - David DeCastro, OG, Stanford:  If you're drafting outside of the Top Ten and you want to guarantee that everyone will say you made a smart pick, take a guard.  If you can get one from Stanford, even better, because everyone will talk about how smart he is and how smart you are for taking him.  Unless of course you're the Browns, in which case everyone will just assume that the guy you drafted has a wooden leg that your doctors missed during the physical.    

"Like I always said Phil, you can't spell
Citrus Bowl without a "u" and a "t".
13.  Arizona Cardinals - Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College:  The Cardinals might as well go with defense after somehow botching the Peyton Manning pitch meeting and not even making it to the final cut.  I'm still befuddled by this.  The only way it makes sense to me is if it went down this way: "Well Peyton we won 7 of our last 9 games last year with John Skelton and Kevin Kolb playing quarterback so you know we're solid at every other position, we have arguably the NFL's best receiver in his prime, we play almost all of our games in a warm climate and . . . oh yeah . . . we just hired Steve Spurrier as our offensive coordinator."

14.  Cowboys - Mark Barron, S, Alabama:  With all of the chatter surrounding Manning, Tebow, Luck and RG, III, it's been eerily quiet around Dallas this off season.  It almost makes you wonder if Dez Bryant started doing all of his shopping on line.          

15.  Eagles - Michael Brockers, DT, LSU:  You can never have too many defensive lineman so this pick makes sense in the first round but at some point the Eagles are going to have to address their clock management issues and draft a kid from M.I.T. or Cal Tech who can explain to Andy Reid the downside of running a 7 second play when you're down by 3 with 6 seconds left on the clock.

16.  Jets - Courtney Upshaw, OLB, Alabama: Ah those kooky lovable Jets.  I just watched the ESPN lead-up to the Tim Tebow press conference and one of the commentators posed the question, "do you think the presence of Tebow will impact the development of Mark Sanchez as a quarterback?"  At first, that seems like a ridiculous question but let's apply an analogy to see if we can make it sound even more ridiculous.

"Am I going to take Sanchez's job?
Hold on . . . I'm sorry you got me,
that was a really good one."
Let's say you've been training to be a carpenter for four years and you've been making progress but are prone to making mistakes that create more work for your fellow carpenters and their frustration has started to show.  Add to this that (a) none of the guys at work like you much to begin with because you drive a Mazda Miata instead of a truck and (b) you do not take criticism particularly well after spending your teenage years having everyone tell you how great and handsome you are.  Now let's say the company you work for hires a younger carpenter (we'll call him Billy) who makes the same mistakes that you do but even more often.  Billy smiles a lot and is really popular with everyone on the jobsite from the electricians to the plumbers and especially your boss. One morning, your boss tells you that Billy is going to spend the day just standing there watching you because work is slow and he figures you could teach Billy a few things.  Unfortunately, you're having a bad day and before you even get to lunch you make two mistakes that have slowed down the whole job and pissed everyone off. After lunch, you make another mistake and everyone at the jobsite starts booing you and then they all start chanting and clapping, "WE WANT BILLY, clap...clap...clap, clap, clap...WE WANT BILLY!!!"  Do you think that might impact your development as a carpenter?

Look for Part II next week.    


* If you're a fan of not just sports but pure jaw-dropping athleticism, you need to go to an NHL game and sit within a few rows of the glass.  You don't need to know a thing about hockey to appreciate a perfectly executed 2 on 1 break performed on skates or the force of two players hitting the glass at 20+ miles per hour.  Just know that you're going to say "Holy Sh-t" the first time it happens so prepare your kids.  

"Wait a minute, you're that guy from
Nighthawks without the beard!"
** In Victory, Michael Caine has to break the arm of the goalie on his World War II POW camp soccer team so that Sylvester Stallone, who has never played the game before in his life, can replace him and travel to Paris with them to play the German National team.  Somehow this all makes sense when you watch it.  It's kind of like Mystery, Alaska with Nazis instead of the New York Rangers and Michael Caine as an unconvincing soccer player instead of Russell Crowe as an unconvincing hockey player.

*** This is about the point when my mock draft starts to look very similar to Mel Kiper's mock draft.

**** I'm assuming he meant it was "desolate" before his ego got there.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Arnold Palmer Preview

This week the tour travels to Orlando to pay tribute to arguably its coolest icon.  Arnie's resume of seven majors and one U.S. Amateur title puts him solidly in the second tier of all-time greats with guys like Watson, Player, Hagan, Jones, Hogan, Sarazan and Snead (the top tier is the exclusive domain of Jack and Tiger).  But it wasn't just his game that made him the legend he is, it was the fact that he was the first player to capitalize on the advantage that golfers have over other athletes which is that you get to see them performing solo on a stage like a rock star.  (Tennis is the next closest thing but no matter how appealing you find Centre Court at Wimbledon, it ain't Augusta National).

"Hey, I finally made the FGR.
What took you so long?"
Palmer and an agent named Mark McCormack were realized that if you combined that visibility with a good looking, charismatic, risk taking player, you could probably reach an audience that included people who couldn't get into Bushwood.  Palmer's popularity ultimately grew so far beyond the game of golf that Hertz paired him up with one of the most beloved football players of the time in a series of commercials that were immensely popular (Arnie and the Juice  - "I know.  Let's cast O.J.  Everybody loves O.J.  What could go wrong?")  This all may explain in part why Tiger takes Arnie's tournament so seriously (he's won it six times).  He and Phil Knight owe him a lot for loosening the top of the jelly jar.  (Mmmm . . . jelly).

Thanks to Palmer's name on the trophy, this tournament has a very solid field that puts it on a level just below The Players or a WGC event and it has its share of past champions big time enough to have first name only recognition - Tiger, Ernie, Vijay, Freddie, Fuzzy and Phil.  (Tim Herron also won it but throwing the name "Lumpy" in there would kind of screw-up my premise).  We're going to stick with that theme this week and put Bubba at the top of the list.  Here is how the rest of it shakes out:        

Thanks to Angie Watson, we'd crush
Europe in a wives hoops game. 
The Overall Top Five:

1.  Bubba Watson
2.  Jim Furyk
3.  Tiger Woods
4.  Sergio Garcia
5.  Webb Simpson

Major Players

The eight players I am holding-out for the majors remain unchanged but Justin Rose is getting very close to bumping someone off of this list:

Rory McIlroy
Charl Schwartzel
Phil Mickelson
Matt Kuchar
Keegan Bradley
Jason Day
Lee Westwood
Sergio Garcia

The One and Done Top Five:

1.  Bubba Watson (Has not finished lower than 18th this year)
2.  Jim Furyk (Seems to be shaking off the post FedEx Cup slump)
3.  Webb Simpson (Broken 70 in 6 of his last 7 rounds)
4.  Nick Watney (He's due)
5.  Ernie Els (Applying the Kyle Stanley bounce back theory)

Last Week's Grade: C-

1.  Justin Rose - T29
2.  John Senden - T38
3.  Bo Van Pelt - 9th
4.  Peter Hanson - T55
5.  Martin Laird - Cut

It's a fine line between a player on a roll and a player on the verge of getting burned out.  Just ask everyone who picked Charl Schwartzel last week.  (He missed the cut by 8 strokes right after I called him the second best player in the world.  Sheesh).  The key appears to be avoiding players coming off two Top 10's in a row because (a) it's just too tough to keep playing at that level and (b) the depth of talent right now is absurd so the odds dictate that we're going to see a lot of turnover at the top of the leaderboard from week to week (case in point: Rose, Schwartzel and Hanson at the Transitions).  Bubba's on a roll and looks more hungry than burned out to me as evidenced by him barking at his caddie for a bad read at the Tavistock Cup.  Besides, he's destined to win the tournament hosted by the guy who had to be at least part of the inspiration for his golf swing.  

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Transitions Update

A special two part NCAA Tournament edition of the FGR starting with a brief recap of the Transitions Championship followed by a Lambada on Duke's grave.

The Transitions Championship

Luke Donald took down the Transitions Championship by winning a four man playoff with a birdie on the first extra hole and, in the process, continued to pad a resume loaded with the PGA Tour equivalent of community college classes.  In addition to the Transitions, Donald has now won the Honda Classic, the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals Classic, the Southern Farm Bureau Classic and the Flowbee Home Hair Salon Classic (OK, I made one of those up).*  Tournaments with the word Classic in their names are generally not considered prestigious because they are known for the following three things: (1) Sponsorship problems, (2) Easy courses where players shoot 59, and (3) Tiger blows them off like he's late for breakfast at a Perkins Pancake House . . . BAM! (At least he used to before he recently started trying to act like a regular guy which frankly is getting a little creepy.  I keep waiting for a circuit to blow in one of his post-round interviews, "You know Peter, I hit the ball well today . . . I hit the ball well today . . . I hit the ball well today . . .")

"Hi honey, I'm glad you're here.
Those men accosted me!"
Donald's win means that, despite already being tossed-out by security once, he was able to sneak back into the top spot in the world rankings. I tried that move at a bar once and was literally carried out above the crowd and thrown out feet first.  The timing was perfect because the future FGW had just pulled-up to give me a ride home. I believe it was at that moment, when she saw me come flying out the door, that she first thought, "I'm going to marry that man."  (Unfortunately, it was not so much "Sweet, I just won $1,000 in the lottery and I'm going to marry that man!"  It was more like a "I just got sentenced to 1,000 hours of community service and, God help me, I'm going to marry that man.")  What was my point again?  Oh yeah.  When the top 12 players in your ranking system have won a combined three majors, then it's time to fix your system.  (I think I just figured out how I'm spending the rest of my day).

As is often the case in golf, however, the more entertaining story was about the guy who didn't win.  In this case, that guy was Ernie Els who stepped onto the 16th tee at 14 under par with a one shot lead.  He played two perfect shots to leave himself a four foot birdie putt which would have put him up by two.  He missed it . . .badly.  He then blew his tee shot on the 17th way right of the green and failed to get up and down which dropped him into a tie for first place.  On 18, he pulled his second shot into the left fringe and then an average chip left him another four foot putt that would have gotten him into a playoff.

"You getting the whole belly
putter up there Doc?"
Unfortunately for Ernie, the putter has become the albatross around his neck and you can see it in his face when he's confronted with a critical putt like he had on Sunday.  (If you haven't guessed by now, he missed it).  It's the same face of awkward anticipation that every guy makes when the doctor pulls out the right handed glove, spends five minutes putting it on and then takes a phone call in the examining room while adjusting it and readjusting it.  If you don't believe me, turn down the volume on this post-round interview by Steve Sands and imagine his first question is, "so Ernie, how did you feel in the moments before the doctor checked your oil?" . . . followed by, "and how about when he rolled your marbles?" (Els Interview).  It's "classic."  

Thank You Lehigh

My ten year old son has taken the bandwagon fan to a new level.  First it was the Colts after their Super Bowl win in January of 2007.  I could live with that because I was just happy that he liked sports and I also knew that the opportunity for an intervention was not far off as Peyton Manning couldn't play forever and the odds of the Colts seamlessly replacing him with a franchise quarterback were remote (shit).  Next came the Lakers and again I had no issue because, living in Baltimore, who was he supposed to root for?  The Wizards?  I wouldn't wish that on anybody (except the people of Washington of course).**

But about a year ago I started detecting something more insidious.  It was subtle at first, probably because he knew there would be repercussions and, when I finally confronted him about it, he was understandably cagey.
"As a matter of fact I am a Blue Devils
fan but I don't see how that's any
 of your business Mr. McMurphy."

Me: "Do you like Duke?"

The Traitor: "Well, they're not my favorite team but maybe a little."

Me: "Do you like them more than the Terps?"

The Traitor: "Well the Terps haven't be very good and . . ."

Me: "Just answer the question!"

That's about the time his mom intervened.  Fast forward to last Friday night.  All pretenses were gone by then as he had done everything but dye his hair blue and put a tent in the backyard with a sign out front that said "Welcome to Krzyzewskivile!"  To make matters worse, he had infected his eight year old brother so the battle lines had been drawn.  It was my two sons, Duke students and some of the players' parents vs me, my wife and everyone else on the planet who doesn't hate puppies.  (I say "some" of the players' parents because you know there are a couple who tell their kids, "I'm sorry.  I tried. I really did but I just can't do it").

We know how it played out.  Duke got into foul trouble which must have been a new and exciting experience for them.  (Apparently, the official scorer had to improvise on the fly and create a new column on the stat sheet for the infamous 4th foul that hasn't been called on a Blue Devil since Jim Spanarkel in 1978).   Once the refs came to their senses they tried to bail them out late with a garbage call on a three point shot but it wasn't enough.  When it was over, I tried to step out of the role of Duke hater and into the role of responsible parent but trying to console your son after a Duke loss is like trying to console a friend who contracted syphilis by sleeping with a Haitian prostitute (Bad Idea Jeans). Some lessons you have to just let your kids learn the hard way.       


- "You'll be the first modern day
train robber Martin."
- "But I don't want to be a train robber!"
* Donald also won the 2011 Accenture Match Play Championship which is arguably a prestigious title, however, his path to the Final Four went through Charley Hoffman, Edoardo Molinari, Matteo Manassero and FGR favorite, Ryan Moore.  His one impressive victory was over Matt Kuchar in the semifinals.  He played Martin Kaymer in the championship match which would have been legit if not for the fact that Kaymer had unwittingly promised a designer to wear a ridiculous scarf for the match and, like Jerry Seinfeld wearing the pirate shirt on the Today show, it completely threw him off his game.                

** Ironically, the one home team he does stand by are the Orioles which is great because when we go to games we get to pretend we're the last people on Earth and run around an empty Camden Yards only there's actually a Major League Baseball game happening at the same time.  It's like Field of Dreams with a warehouse instead of a cornfield.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Transitions Preview

Well it's clear that they tried to
address any vision problems.
For the second week in a row, my pick had the lead after the first round and then spent the next three days frittering it away.  (I'm starting to sense a conspiracy).  This week's offender was Adam Scott who, so far this season, is proving that the Tiger/Stevie Williams success story may actually have been more attributable to Tiger's skills than it was to Stevie's ability to count his steps from the closest sprinkler head and then pull a club from a bag.  Remember what an epiphany the long putter was going to be for Scott?  Well his current average from inside of five feet would rank him 150th on tour.  That puts him right behind Vijay Singh who is to putting what Mario Mendoza was to getting on base.*  I'm sure Scott will now go on to win the Masters where I originally had him picked just to piss me off.

If I could get a do over on one player I've used already, it would be Charl Schwartzel who currently looks like the second best player in the world.  He would have fit nicely into the spot I had reserved for Tiger who I just tossed from the V.I.P. Lounge for players I had reserved for the majors.  He may earn his way back in but not until Nike designs some black shoes that don't make his whole body recoil in pain like he was just shot in the back with an arrow.  I'm starting to suspect that Tiger was the kid in 6th grade who went down in a heap every time someone touched him until people finally started ignoring him.  ("Come on Tiger, get up!")  After rewarding all of the people who played him last week with a doughnut in a tournament that had no cut, I'm going to need to see the MRI films myself before I pick him for anything more than The Skins Game.

Here are the eight players I would currently reserve for majors (in no particular order and assuming two picks for each):

And you want to be one
of my Masters picks?
Oh no. Not in those shoes.
Rory McIlroy
Charl Schwartzel
Phil Mickelson
Matt Kuchar
Keegan Bradley     
Jason Day
Lee Westwood
Sergio Garcia

Tiger and Webb Simpson are out having been bumped by Schwartzel and Keegan Bradley who just keeps showing-up in the top 10 against quality competition.  Speaking of which, we have a loaded field this week for a somewhat generic tour stop so I only have one player in both my overall top five and my one and done top five.  Maybe Transitions has promised everyone who shows-up a spot in their next cool commercial. ("That's right Charl, we picture you transitioning straight from a late night crocodile hunt to an afternoon beach volleyball game." - Transitions Ad).

This week's overall top five:

1.  Charl Schwartzel (kicking myself for wasting him on the Match Play)
2.  Matt Kuchar (getting better every week and due for a win)
3.  Luke Donald (this is the kind of insignificant tournament where he thrives)
4.  Webb Simpson (was rolling last week until he came unglued with a final round 77)
5.  Justin Rose (got to go with the hot hand)

I'd save Donald and Simpson for tournaments like The Players and Wells Fargo but I'd ride Rose's momentum this week if I still had him available.

Top five for one and done leagues:

Hello to you Mrs. Donald.
Welcome to the FGR.
1.  Justin Rose (if only I still had him)
2.  John Senden (seems to have learned how to putt)
3.  Bo Van Pelt (solid bet for at least a top 10)
4.  Peter Hanson (might as well use him while he't hot)
5.  Martin Laird (due for a stroke play top five)

Last Week's Report Card:  C+

1.  Dustin Johnson - T35
2.  Charl Schwartzel - T4
3.  Rickie Fowler - T45
4.  Nick Watney - T17
5.  Adam Scott - T13
6.  Hunter Mahan - T24
7.  Luke Donald - T6
8.  Brandt Snedeker - T45
9.  Keegan Bradley - T8
10. Graeme McDowell - T13

I should've had Justin Rose in the top 10 considering he was playing well coming into Doral.  I don't regret not having Bubba in there because he is such a wildcard but he's the one top player I don't have penciled in anywhere this year and I need to figure that out.  I could see him being one of my two PGA Championship picks because he'll be completely unfazed by the conditions at Kiawah.  I felt really good about the Dustin Johnson pick but he never really seemed to engage in the competition.  Then again, he could have had shooting pain in his surgically repaired knee and we'd never know because he didn't change shoes at the turn and carry on like Fred Sanford after every shot.    
"Lamont, get the golf cart.
This is the big one!"

* Mario Mendoza was a professional baseball player who struggled throughout his career to keep his batting average above .200 (which is awful).  His teammates took to calling the .200 batting average the "Mendoza Line" and it stuck.  Kind of like when Italian's started calling those times when a soccer player would miss the ball and fall down a "Frasier" and, if the player was knocked unconscious in the process, they would call it a "Frasier Crane" (Vintage Frasier).

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Blue Monster

Despite the fact that the Fantasy Golf Report has only existed since June of 2011, you could say that it was conceived on March 9, 1997* at the final round of the Doral-Ryder Open.  (If you smell a self indulgent tale coming on, your olfactory senses do not deceive you).  But this story actually begins few months earlier on a cold night in December in the basement of a rented townhouse outside of Baltimore where about a dozen gambling addicts had gathered with random copies of Golf Digest, USA Today, T.V. Guide and anything else they could find with a reference to professional golf to help guide them through what had to be one of the first ever fantasy golf drafts (Rotonews wouldn't publish its first internet fantasy football report for another two months and it took two more years for Yahoo to start offering fantasy sports games).

"You'll be hearing from our
lawyer for that one."
If we'd just had one guy who knew how to write a computer program, we'd probably all be rich today. Unfortunately, we were nothing more than a genetically inferior version of the Winklevoss twins and all I've gotten out of the league is a comprehensive and otherwise useless knowledge of professional golf and, fourteen and a half years later, the inspiration for this website.

You may remember 1997 as the year that one Eldrick "Tiger" Woods decided to make golf his full time job.  After a dominating amateur career followed by two wins and three other top 5's in his last six professional tournaments of the previous season, I expected him to be the No.1 pick in the fantasy draft but luckily the five guys picking ahead of me weren't as convinced (including the guy who picked 1996 U.S. Open champion Steve Jones No. 1 overall. I still enjoy mocking that pick and there's no better way to disperse a group of people than by saying, "remember that fantasy golf draft 15 years ago when you took Steve Jones with the first pick and I got Tiger at No. 6." Let's get to the point  before that line has the same effect here).  I jumped on Tiger with the 6th pick, took the late great Tommy Tolles** with the 19th and Steve Elkington with the 30th (more on him later as I promise this is all relevant, if not the least bit interesting).

"And for my third round pick I was really torn
 between Elkington and Billy Andrade but I went
with Elkington and oh boy am I glad I did." 
Fast forward to March of 1997 when, as a third year law student,  I was diligently preparing for my class on "Law Before the Romans" by flipping through a book of cave drawings. (I did not make that up.  The third year of law school is the biggest waste of educational energy since driving school. Unless of course you're a woman for whom driving school was probably like trying to learn quantum physics . . . in Chinese. Right Norm? - Norm McDonald on Women Drivers).  Out of nowhere I was saved by a call with an offer to attend the final round of the Doral-Ryder Open that weekend along with the opportunity to play the Blue Monster the following day so I put down my book of cave drawings, grabbed my Tommy Armour 845's and jumped on a plane.

At that stage of my golfing career, I was still relatively new to the game having picked it up in earnest to fill the void that was created when I was excused from my college lacrosse team six years earlier (that's a whole other column, if not a series of columns) but I had gotten good enough that I could post something in the mid 70's on an easy course under ideal conditions.***  I distinctly remember on the flight down making a commitment to myself that I wasn't going to waste this opportunity by leaving my swing in a South Beach bar on Sunday night.  Our plan was to go out hard on Saturday night, spend the day at the tournament on Sunday, grab some dinner, get a good night's sleep and then be primed for our 10:00 a.m. tee time on Monday.  I just needed to stick . . . to . . . the . . . plan.


Everything was right on schedule until we hit the grounds of Doral on Sunday and met our man on the scene who didn't hand us tickets but instead gave us each a small round badge.  "What do these give us access to?" we asked . . . . "Everything" he said . . . . "Uh oh" I thought.  To paraphrase the poet Robert Burns, "the best laid plans of mice and men (who have just been given access to every corporate tent at a professional golf tournament) often go awry."

"I'm telling you it rides like a dream
and the stereo?  Forget about it."  
The next eight hours may have been the most fun I have ever had at a sporting event thanks to the fact that (1) there was a tent with an open bar everywhere you turned (as a law student with no money, I would've been stuffing drinks in my pocket if I could have figured-out how to do it); (2) the tournament was in South Florida right before the era of Tigermania (he would win the Masters five weeks later) so there was hardly anyone there and we could practically walk with the players including guys like Norman, Duval, Vijay and Mickelson (if you love the game, the first time you see the pros play it up close is definitely a "wow" moment); and (3) my man Steve Elkington won by two and I can vividly remember repeatedly telling everyone within earshot that a guy on my fantasy team had just won the tournament.  Equally as vivid is the memory of the disinterested looks on their faces like I had just told them that I was seriously considering the purchase of a used Buick.        

When the tournament was over we worked our unlimited access for as long as possible by sitting on the clubhouse patio a couple of tables over from Elkington as I barely resisted the urge to walk over and tell him how much his victory meant to me on a personal level. At one point, a Golf Channel reporter with a cameraman in tow (his name was Scott Van Villet or something) came over to talk to us as he knew a member of our crew (cool but a distant second to my Winn McMurray encounter at last year's U.S. Open - The U.S. Open Update).  As the sun went down we were kindly asked to move on at which point we realized that our car was about a half mile away on the other side of the course.  Luckily for us, we stumbled upon a four seated golf cart with the keys in it and, after a quick look around to make sure the coast was clear, we jumped in and started it up.  We made it approximately four feet before we were surrounded by security guards. Apparently our badges had expired.

At that point we were completely spent so we drove back into South Beach and went out for another five hours. All I remember is that we ended-up in an apartment somewhere downtown that had an all black toilet (funny how you remember the color of the toilet when you spend about ten minutes with your head directly above it). My last thought before things went dark, "I'm breaking 80 tomorrow."


"Hope you brought your
"A" game big boy."
"DUDE WAKE UP WE'RE GOING TO MISS OUR TEE TIME!"  Not the words you want to hear when you're supposed to be mentally preparing for the round of your life.  For the next 45 minutes as we raced through a fast food drive thru and then to the course, I felt like Jonah Hill on the limo ride to the Today Show in Get Him to the Greek.  When we arrived, we were surreptitiously ushered to the starter and it became very clear that we may or may not have been on the tee sheet.  Just as I thought this round wasn't going to happen, we were told, "Ray Floyd and his group are going off now and I'm going to try to slide you in behind them." . . . "Can we hit balls? . . . "No!  Just be ready to go when I say go and oh yeah, we're playing from the tips."  Between the sudden urgency, playing behind Raymond Floyd and the unabsorbed remnants of last night's effort, I looked and felt like a Shake Weight.

For those who watched this past weekend, you know that the first hole is a very short downwind par 5.  I either somehow managed to steady myself or I made so many mistakes in my swing that they all cancelled each other out because I pounded my tee shot down the middle and then did it again with my 5-wood.  The next thing I knew, I was staring at a 30 foot eagle putt to start the round.  After looking at it from at least eight different angles, I left it 15 feet short.  (Noooooooo!!!!!!!!!)  Then I stepped-up and drained the birdie putt (Yaaaaayyyyy!!!!!!!)  Here is everything else I remember about the next five hours:

1.  I hit into 19 bunkers (I know this because I started writing them down after the 8th one in the first 7 holes);
2.  The 13th hole is a 245 yard par 3 that was playing into the wind so I hit driver, popped it up and had a full 9-iron for my second shot;
3.  At one point, one of my playing partners got so frustrated that he played an entire hole just walking along whacking his ball one-handed with a 6-iron like a polo player without a horse;
4.  I split the 18th fairway with my tee shot, then hit a 5-wood onto the front edge and promptly three-jacked it to shoot 98.  (I'm mentally exhausted just remembering how I felt on that 18th hole).

I gained a whole new respect for tour players, especially the guys like John Daly and Roger Maltbie who used to do it week in and week out under the same adverse conditions that I faced that day.  I got another crack at the Blue Monster seven years ago.  This time I played it from the blue tees but didn't fare much better as evidenced by the fact that my 5-iron is at the bottom of the lake to the left of the 10th fairway after I sent it in looking for my ball (FGR, February 10, 2012).  I guess I shouldn't feel too bad considering one of my picks for this past weekend, Adam Scott, did the same thing on the 8th hole on Friday (with just the ball, not the club).  From there he shot 74, 71 on the weekend and lost by 7. He should have splashed the club on Friday.  At least then he would have had a story to tell.                                       


"Take a straight and stronger course
to the deep end of the pool . . . "
* March 9, 1997 was also the day that Notorious B.I.G. was gunned down in Los Angeles. I only know this because when I googled "March 9, 1997" to make sure it was a Sunday, a story about Biggie's death was the first entry. I don't want to paint the picture that I was the kid from the suburbs who longed for the edgy lifestyle of the hip-hop scene. On the contrary. We were perfectly happy playing tennis all day and getting bombed on Milwaukee's Best while listening to The Yes Album. In fact, I can remember walking out of a summer matinee of Boyz in the Hood with three friends in a state of total petrified silence before someone finally said, "hey, let's go windsurfing" after which everyone breathed a sigh of relief.    

** There are not many golf careers as curious as that of Tommy Tolles. He finished 2nd at the '96 Players, 3rd at the '96 PGA, 3rd at the '97 Masters, 5th at the '97 U.S. Open but never made the cut in a major after '97 and has spent most of his time since toiling away on the Nationwide Tour. He's golf's version of every actor in The Breakfast Club.

*** My fairly rapid rise (descent?) to a single digit handicap was a direct product of (a) working at a golf store (that's also several other columns) with an indoor hitting cage for three years and (b) shamelessly milking the family membership at my dad's club as a student until the pro asked me how many times they were going to let me repeat my senior year. It was always a little dicey on those midweek afternoons in October when he'd ask "how's school going?" and I'd respond "great, thanks" and then put my head down and walk to the first tee.

Email the FGR

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The WGC - Cadillac Preview

Don't get crazy on us Jimmy.  You
were born to rock the sweater vest.
Being the keen observers that you are, you may have noticed the new feature in the upper right hand corner called the "Honda Classic Top Five" (Now "The WGC - Cadillac Top Ten") which comes in response to a recent flood of requests for more fantasy golf analysis.* Well if nothing else, the Fantasy Golf Report aims to please so if even just one of my readers wants more analysis of fantasy golf and less rambling about my son's little league basketball team, a 3-wood that I shanked back in 2003 or what Jimmy Roberts was wearing when he interviewed Rory McIlroy before the trophy presentation on Sunday (some kind of crazy striped sweatshirt that made it look like he came straight from Jazzericise), then by golly I'm going to give it to him (along with all of that other crap of course).

So this is the week we take the FGR to the next level and add not one but two lists of predictions for your consideration.  The first will be the overall ranking of the players for the upcoming tournament like the one you see every week on  I've been reluctant to do one of these every week because (a) the odds makers already provide that service and (b) in the game most of us play, you can't pick the same player twice so what good does it do to reshuffle the top five players every week?  For anyone else, I'd say screw that list but for you, I make an exception, so here you go:

Congratulations Mrs. Mahan,
your husband just made the list.
WGC - Cadillac Championship Overall Rankings

1.  Phil Mickelson
2.  Tiger Woods
3.  Rory McIlroy
4.  Dustin Johnson
5.  Charl Schwartzel
6.  Rickie Fowler
7.  Matt Kuchar
8.  Nick Watney
9.  Adam Scott
10. Hunter Mahan

The second list will be based on the premise that you're playing a game similar to that which is described in Item (b)(careful, it's starting to sound a little lawyery).  This list will take into account that you may want to save the better players for the bigger tournaments.  Now it's not like I've gone overboard and mapped-out my picks for the entire season but I have set aside eight players for the Masters, U.S. Open, British Open and PGA (along with a player for a few other tournaments . . . ok a lot of other tournaments . . . ok every tournament except the Reno-Tahoe Open . . . I swear the FGW and I do not live in my parent's basement).  So for the "One and Done" list you will not see these guys unless it's the week of a major (in no particular order):

"If he's on this list, you must resist."
Jason Day
Webb Simpson
Sergio Garcia
Rory McIlroy
Lee Westwood
Phil Mickelson
Tiger Woods
Matt Kuchar

This list could obviously change depending on injuries, who is playing well leading-up to a given tournament and my last minute hunches that I somehow allow to override the detailed research I did to come up with the original pick back in January.**  Until further notice, however, those are the guys I'm picking for the majors.  There is one more element to the second list (we should've known).  The guy I pick for the week in my own game may not be at the top of the list. Three reasons for this: (1) I may have already used the player I like the most for the upcoming tournament, (2) I may be saving him for a later tournament, or (3) I'm trying to deceive my opponents.  I will, however, guarantee that the guy I am picking for the week will be somewhere on the list (and I have now used the word "list" more times than Al Gore*** used the term "lock box" during his entire presidential campaign . . . which is too much).  Without further ado, here is the "One and Done" list:

WGC - Cadillac Championship Rankings (One and Done Version)

A subtle clue for one of
my two picks this week.
1.  Dustin Johnson
2.  Charl Schwartzel
3.  Rickie Fowler
4.  Nick Watney
5.  Adam Scott
6.  Hunter Mahan
7.  Luke Donald
8.  Brandt Snedeker
9.  Keegan Bradley
10. Graeme McDowell

And one last thing.  Every week I will give myself a grade for the picks made the previous week.  The grading will not be based on any formula and will be completely subjective. Kind of like when Kim Jong Il took the SAT's and scored 75,000 out of a possible 2,400. Here is last week's report card:
"I have to finish the round to
get paid?  Are you serious?"

Last Week's Grade: B-

1. Mark Wilson - 30th
2. Justin Rose - 5th
3. Padraig Harrington - 71st
4. Y.E. Yang - 30th
5. Robert Allenby - 36th

All five picks made the cut and, if you went with Rose (like I did), you had a good week (that could have been a lot better if he didn't flat out give away about four f---ing strokes on the weekend).  I would have given myself a "B" if Harrington didn't lay down on the weekend and shoot 79.  At least he tried a little harder than Ryan Moore who posted a very tidy 10 par, 4 bogey, 4 double bogey 82 that raised his final round scoring average from 73.25 to 75.0 and dropped him to 168th place in that category, 0.67 strokes ahead of somebody named Tommy Biershenk.  Ryan Moore comes across like golf's version of the guy with top 30 talent who just doesn't appear to give a crap like J.D. Drew, Baron Davis and that waste of a scholarship, Jamie O'Hara (I'll give you a hint . . . "You just summed up your entire sorry career here in one sentence!  If you had a tenth of the heart of Ruettiger, you'd have made All-American by now!")  Until I see Moore slam a club, drop an f-bomb or exhibit some other sign of a pulse, he's not making "the list" on principal alone.****                   


* Ok it was one comment that said "less golf, more fantasy" which I'm going to assume was not posted by one of the 75 Ukrainian porn trollers who visit this site every week because the word "fantasy" has led them astray.

"You see my plan is to put all
of the lists in a lock box and
. . . why are you yawning?"
** I call these moves "Van Pelts"  after the journeyman quarterback for the Buffalo Bills, Alex Van Pelt, who I decided to start at the last minute in a fantasy football playoff game back in 2001 over the guy who got me there, Kordell Stewart, because Van Pelt had strung together a couple of respectable games and had a decent match-up.  Suffice it to say that Stewart threw for three TD's and ran for one while Van Pelt went for 208 yards and one TD.  I lost by 5 points.  Drinking helps but it can't stop the nightmares.  

*** The FGR has no political agenda but the fact is that Al Gore latched on to the term "lock box" during his presidential campaign like he was selling them on an infomercial. - (Lock Box).

**** If you're using this site for gambling purposes, you're going to need to account for certain unscientific methods used to rank the players.

Monday, March 5, 2012

The Honda Classic Update

Tiger Woods, R.N.
That was the best day golf has had in a while. First, Tiger showed glimpses of his old form by shooting a 62 that included a second shot on the par 5 18th, the likes of which we haven't seen since his sex addiction cruelly robbed him of his ability to control the high fade.  (I hope this means science has found a cure).  We knew it was going to be a good day for Tiger as soon as he stepped onto the first tee because the recent problems with his game had nothing to do with his driving, putting or short game and everything to do with the fact that he was dressing like Gaylord Focker.  Either Nike finally relented and put some soft spikes on the bottom of a pair of Zoom Hyperdunks or Tiger took matters into his own hands with a black Sharpie.  Either way, it worked.          

 Tiger Woods, F.U.
Second, in Rory McIlroy we now have a No. 1 ranked player worthy of the title.  No offense to Luke Donald, but for the past 40 weeks he has been the most unqualified player to sit atop the World Golf Rankings (ok, maybe that was slightly offensive).  He and Lee Westwood are the only two players without a major title who have ever held the top spot but the difference is that Westwood has finished 2nd or 3rd in 6 of the last 16 majors with a legitimate shot at winning a couple of them.  Luke Donald on the other hand is always the guy pulling his ball out of the 72nd hole with a satisfied smile as the announcer says "another fine showing for Luke Donald." Unfortunately for Luke, he is the king of the "fine showing" which is a euphemism for "you started Sunday in contention and never sniffed the trophy."  

Hey, Did I Mention "The Bear Trap"?            

Shortly after Tiger eagled 18 to move into second place at 10 under, Jack Nicklaus graced the announcing booth to regale us with his rapier wit and sunny disposition.  (For the record, the FGR admired Nicklaus the golfer and, out of respect, we'll leave it at that).  At the time, McIlroy had a two shot lead on Tiger and was standing on the tee of the par 3 15th hole which is the first of a difficult three hole stretch known as "The Bear Trap."*  It's named after Nicklaus (a/k/a "The Golden Bear") who designed the holes and then apparently had the following conversation with the owners of the course:
Let me guess.  The
bear's name is "Jack."  

Nicklaus:  "Hey fellas, wouldn't it be clever to call these three holes 'The Bear Trap'?"

Owner 1: "Well Jack we hadn't really planned on naming the holes . . ."

Nicklaus:  "Look, I went ahead and had this really neat sign made."

Owner 1:  "OK Jack I guess we could have a small sign over . . ."

Nicklaus:  "And if you think that's great, check-out this giant statue of a bear standing on its hind legs that we could put next to it."

Owner 1:  "You've got to be kidd . . ."

Owner 2:  "Jack, what my partner wants to say is that you've got to be kidding me that we didn't come up with that great idea first.  And here we thought naming every item on the menu after one of your 18 majors was brilliant.   What will you think of next?"

When asked for his assessment of the current situation with McIlroy holding the lead and Tiger in the clubhouse at 10 under, Nicklaus said that, at that point, if it were him, he'd rather be in Tiger's position.  Johnny Miller really let me down here because he should have responded with, "so let me get this straight.  You, Jack Nicklaus, the greatest golfer and one of the most fierce competitors of all time would rather be the guy sitting in the clubhouse with no control over his destiny than the guy standing on the 15th tee with a two shot lead?"  I only wish Roger Maltbie's microphone had been live at that moment so we could have heard his reaction.**

What Nicklaus was implying was that he had designed three holes that are so hard that even he, the best player of all-time, wouldn't be able to hold a two shot lead while playing them.  You have to admire the relentlessness of the man's arrogance.  At 72, he can't beat the best players in the world with his game so now he has to rely on his golf courses to do it and damn if he was going to concede that some punk Irish kid with one measly major under his belt was going to weather "The Bear Trap" and bring home the prestigious Honda Classic trophy.  (I bet that is one reliable and affordably built trophy.  Unfortunately, no one made an ace on the 15th hole to win the minivan.  I think Rickie Fowler and Kyle Stanley intentionally hit it into the water just to make sure they didn't have to be photographed while sitting in it).            

Oh Danny Boy

The start of the Florida swing on tour also means the return of Dan "The Man" Hicks (there is no way people don't call him "Dan the Man" or at least "Action Dan").  I'm pretty sure Hicks was hired straight out of game show host school to counter-balance the caustic Johnny Miller and their relationship actually works because Hicks is always upbeat and enthusiastic so the audience never gets too beaten down by the fact that, even when Miller is being complimentary, he's negative.  (Their relationship would be exactly like my marriage to the FGW if Hicks periodically leaned over and told Miller, "ok, now you're just being an asshole and you need to stop talking").          

"Johnny, I'm starting to feel like I
did when we used to climb the
rope in gym class.  You?"
The problem with Hicks is that he tries too hard to manufacture a story instead of letting the game speak for itself and sometimes it makes him sound like a knucklehead.  Announcing golf would seem to be a lot like playing golf.  You can't force it.  For example, after Tom Gillis and McIlroy hit their tee shots on 15, Hicks said of Gillis who was one shot behind Tiger at the time, "with [Justin] Rose making bogey at 15, other than McIlroy, Gillis is really the only guy Tiger has to worry about."  (Let's ignore for a second that he somehow managed to make that non-Tiger moment all about Tiger). The problem with his logic was that Rose was still very much a factor as he was just two shots behind Tiger at the time with three holes to play including the reachable par 5 18th where Tiger had just made eagle.  At that point, however, Hicks was so obsessed with the prospect of a Woods/McIlroy playoff that it was making him shift in his khakis and all he could think about was getting the other golfers out of the way to make it happen.

We're already fans
of the McIlroy era.
Alas, it didn't happen this week as McIlroy somehow managed to survive "The Bear Trap" with three pars and cruised to a two shot win.  (Nicklaus was later overheard complaining about how modern technology is ruining the game . . . and also that his iced tea was just too darned cold).  Rory then did just what you would want your 22 year old new number one player in the world to do.  (He went back to his art studio, put on a smock and ate imported cheese?)  Nope.  He hopped into his private jet and flew to New York to hang-out with his hot tennis star girlfriend.  A good day for golf indeed.  


* To hear the announcers describe it, you would have thought that there were literally hundreds of bear traps hidden all over the 15th, 16th and 17th holes. Fortunately, no one was maimed . . . this year.

** Roger Maltbie is a former player who made no bones about how he liked to spend his time away from the course as evidenced by his staff bag with "Michelob" written in giant letters down both sides.  He infamously once said that he divided his drinking into "Michelob when the sun is up and Scotch when the sun goes down" and when asked his favorite hole he responded, "the one in the top of the can."  He now works as an announcer for NBC, usually walking with one of the lead groups and providing some of the best commentary in the game while crushing more cigarettes than the sonar operator on a Russian submarine.