Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Players Championship Update

We've got a lot of topics to cover this week so I'm going to flat-out swipe the variety format from one of my favorite columns, Peter King's Monday Morning Quarterback, right down to the "Tweet of the Week." I'm not going to write about coffee or beer unless you want me to opine on the killer machine at my office with its nine different flavors and cappachino capability or how I sometimes sacrifice the calorie savings and go with the full bodied flavor of a Budweiser over Miller Lite. Assuming you don't need me to elaborate on those, we'll leave the beverage nerdness to Mr. King.

THE PLAYERS CHAMPIONSHIP

This is what life before Xbox looked
like kids. And yes, those red dots
on the screen were the players.
When I was listing all of the problems with the Players last week, I may have left out the biggest one which is that they play the final round on freakin' Mothers' Day. From a ratings standpoint, I can only think of two worse times for the PGA Tour to air the final round of its marquee event:* (1) during the Super Bowl and (2) during the broadcast of footage from the Seal Team 6 raid. Like most golf fans who have a wife who is also a mother, I watched the start of the back nine while cooking dinner and then the last five holes working the DVR like a Coleco football game while awkwardly repeating, "this will be over in a minute if you want to watch something else."

I probably should have stopped watching but I was on the verge of fantasy sports greatness, the likes of which I hadn't experienced since one of my 2011 football teams went undefeated (speaking of nerdness - The Dream Season). With Matt Kuchar, Zach Johnson, Bo Van Pelt and Kevin Na all in the hunt down the stretch, I had the chance to hit the kind of fantasy golf superfecta that people (me) would be talking about for years.  I just needed one of my guys to keep it together down the stretch along with a lack of heroics from the likes of Martin Laird, Ben Curtis and Rickie Fowler, all of whom scared the crap out of me because they are all lights-out putters when they're on (which they were on Sunday). It's amazing what a clutch playoff win will do for you. In the space of one week, Fowler has gone from a novelty item to one of the last guys you want to see in your rearview mirror.**

"We're waiting for this guy?
Hey baldy, where's your hat?"
Fortunately, Kuchar closed the deal, Z.J. managed a piece of second and Kevin Na hung-on to 7th without one of the aforementioned players hip checking him into the water on the way to the 17th green. I actually find Na's ability to intentionally redirect his swing when he's not mentally ready to hit extremely impressive. Then again, if I could whiff shots on purpose when I knew I had a bad swing thought instead of just saying "screw it" and pulling the trigger, you could listen to the live version of In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida twice just while waiting for me to get off the first tee.***  

FGR WORLD GOLF RANKINGS UPDATE

The Players provides our latest opportunity to update the FGR's World Golf Rankings. (For a reminder on how the FGR Rankings are calculated, go here - More Nerdness). Matt Kuchar moves up two spots in the FGR and ten spots in the World Golf Rankings. Meanwhile, the FGR Rankings get a major personality infusion as Rickie Fowler bumps Jason Dufner from the 20th spot. (Dufner reportedly responded to the news the same way he would respond to lipping-out a 40 foot eagle putt, with no discernible change of expression).

FGR Top 20

WGR Top 20

McIlroy
125
McIlroy
9.65
Kaymer
94
Donald
9.52
Watson, B.
88
Westwood
8.27
Westwood
85
Watson, B.
6.52
Donald
82
Kuchar
6.22
Oosti
74
Mahan
5.59
Kuchar
70
Woods
5.29
Scott, A.
69
Stricker
5.26
Schwartzel
64
Kaymer
5.23
Mahan
57
Mickelson
5.16
Johnson, D.
55
Simpson, W.
5.10
Day, J.
54
Rose
5.08
Mickelson
54
Scott
4.98
Hanson, P.
53
Oosti
4.87
Bradley, K.
52
Schwartzel
4.80
McDowell
52
Day, J.
4.69
Watney
41
Johnson, D.
4.66
Woods
40
Fowler
4.51
Rose
38
Haas, B.
4.32
Fowler
37
McDowell
4.25

TWEETS OF THE WEEK

2nd Runner-up: "Siri, how do you get Josh Hamilton out?'' - Oakland A's pitcher Brandon McCarthy. 

1st Runner-up: "If Obama's the first gay president, then I'm the first gay late night host! Oh, he's not gay? Then I was being sarcastic." - Conan O'Brien

Winner: "My son is a coach's dream, if you're coaching the other team." - Jared Wyllys as tweeted to Adam Carolla.

THE BYRON NELSON TOP FIVE

1. Jason Day - It's about time my preseason pick for best player of the year shifted out of neutral. (Seriously, this is getting embarrassing). 

2. Adam Scott - Same thing for this guy. Stevie Williams is on the verge of biting a flagstick in half and mauling a spectator.

3. John Rollins - Random gut pick for a historically random tournament.

4. Ernie Els - He's due for someone else to botch the 18th hole and hand him a win.

5. Brian Gay - Because he plays this course well . . . not because his last name has been the lead story for over a week.

60. Brian Ricketts - Club pro in Dallas who got into the field by winning the 2011 North Texas PGA Championship. The FGR is a big fan of club pros cashing checks at tour events because, for the other 51 weeks of the year, they are just slightly less underpaid than mob informants.

That's great guys, now how about a
few shots of just Ellie kissing the trophy?
LAST WEEK'S REPORT CARD: C+

1. Luke Donald - 6th
2. Sergio Garcia - T56th
3. Jason Dufner - T68th
4. Ernie Els - M/C
5. Nick Watney - T56th
6. Justin Rose - T51st
7. Henrik Stenson - T15th
8. Spencer Levin - T15th
9. Jason Day - M/C
10. Ben Crane - M/C

A solid No. 1 pick but you didn't have to be Nostradamus to figure Luke Donald was going to have a good finish. Not to continue piling on Donald, but aside from not winning majors, he also seems to have the bad habit of starting slowly, sliding safely off the radar and then making a late charge that comes up short. (He had the third best round on Sunday but started the day 9 shots back so never really had a chance). I'm kicking myself for not putting Ben Curtis somewhere on the list because, if we know one thing about Ben, it's that he's like the hot chick you meet while at the beach for a long weekend in high school who digs you for some unknown reason. You do not over think it, try to explain it or ask any questions. You just go with it and, when it's over, be thankful that it happened.****

ENDNOTES

* The PGA Tour does not own the Masters, U.S. Open, British Open, PGA Championship or the Ryder Cup which explains why it continues to hawk the Players Championship like a rug salesman at a Turkish market.
"Has anyone seen
my retainer?"

** If Tony Stewart had stuck with his signature orange Home Depot ride, I'd have a ready made analogy here and a shot at a few random hits from NASCAR nation. Alas, Joey Logano doesn't quite inspire the same sense of dread in his fellow drivers.

*** I'll spare you the 17 minute version and give you this one by I. Ron Butterfly - In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida (Simpsons Version).

**** That never actually happened to me but I bet it would have been pretty magical.

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