Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The AT&T Preview

"They gave me a two man scramble
tournament in mid-November.
That means they like me. Right?
The Tour returns to the FGR's backyard for Tiger's AT&T National at Congressional this week. Golf fans will remember that the AT&T National came into being with much fanfare in 2007 merging the superstardom of Tiger, the corporate might of AT&T and the mission of recognizing members of the military by playing it in the vicinity of the Pentagon around the 4th of July. What the event really signified was that Tiger had reached that echelon of golf where he got a tournament to call his own a la Bay Hill for Arnie, The Memorial for Jack and the Shark Shootout for Greg Norman.*

So you had a tournament hosted by one of the most popular athletes in the world that was (a) backed by an A-List sponsor and (b) devoted to honoring the one cause that has 100% bipartisan support in this country. What could go wrong? Well apparently Tiger decided to start reading himself some Oscar Wilde and came across the line, "the only way to get rid of temptation is to yield to it"** and the AT&T's run of purity came to a crashing halt in November of 2009 for reasons with which we are all too familiar. Then it hit another bump when it had to move to Aronimink for the last two years because Congressional was hosting the 2011 U.S. Open. (Aronimink is a fantastic golf course but it's never hosted a major so it does not have quite the cache as Congressional).

Now we're back to Washington, Tiger has regained some of his buzz and we've got a solid B+ field. I'm going with a redemption pick this week and hoping that Jim Furyk has had enough time to rid himself of the demons from Olympic. I'm also hoping they don't move one of the tee boxes up a 100 yards on Sunday which would make the hole easier for most guys but somehow causes Furyk to hit wicked pull hooks with the tournament on the line.
Temptation . . . thy name is Uchitel.

The AT&T Top 5

1. Jim Furyk
2. Martin Laird
3. Dustin Johnson
4. Bo Van Pelt
5. Davis Love, III

Last Week's Report Card: B+

1. Ryan Moore - T47th
2. John Rollins - T5th
3. Brian Davis - T5th
4. Bubba Watson - T2nd
5. Andres Romero - W/D

That would have been a banner week if (a) Ryan Moore didn't play like Ryan Moope***, (b) Brian Davis or John Rollins could close and (c) Andres Romero had actually shown-up. We probably should've expected a final round gag fest considering the back nine leaderboard was jammed with guys like Charlie Hoffman, Tim Clark and Davis who rarely finish the job on Sunday. Let's rank their meltdowns:

3rd Place: Brian Davis (who I had recently taken a financial interest in) was 3 shots back standing in the middle of the par-5 13th fairway and he was clearly struggling with his club selection, shot type or both which was understandable because he had about a 230 yard carry over water guarding the front left of the green. After about five minutes of confidence draining analysis, his caddie inexplicably handed him a fairway wood instead of dropping a 9-iron on the ground and then running away with the rest of his clubs. As soon as he made contact Davis' shoulders slumped and I thought, "ok he blew it right - away from the water . . . up and down for a birdie." But no. He pull hooked it into the water about 25 yards short of the green. It was Jim Furyk's 3-wood on the 16th hole at Olympic without the U.S. Open pressure. It was also one of the worst shots I've seen a pro hit this year and it only made 3rd place on this list.

"Back of the cup baby!!!"
2nd Place: Tim Clark was one shot back and had a two footer for par on the 17th hole. He pulled it and, just to make sure it wouldn't trickle in the left edge, he hit it with what D-Day would call "ramming speed." I assume he left his ten foot birdie putt on 18 short to make himself feel better because it would have gotten him into a playoff if not for the missed two footer on the previous hole. At least that's what I would have done.

Winner: Charlie Hoffman stood on the 17th tee with a two shot lead and water on the right. Apparently CBS was busy pimping How I Big Banged Your Mother because we didn't actually see Hoffman hit his tee shot straight into the water but at least they made up for it by keeping the camera on him almost the entire ten minutes he spent trying to figure out where to drop. (Nothing like a guy with a blond mullet wandering around with a golf ball in his hand to keep the audience riveted). That led to a double bogey and a tie for the lead. He then blew his drive on 18 to the right, hit his second shot into the bunker, blasted out and then left his putt to make it into a playoff short ultimately handing the title to Marc Leishman who was sitting in the clubhouse trying to figure out ways not to pump his fist every time one of these guys stepped out of his way.

Endnotes

* That's an inside golf joke even by FGR standards as the Shark Shootout is not a real tour event but more like an event that you'd play at your local course where you draw partners out of a hat and play for shop credit. Imagine Greg Norman making his case to the tour for a tournament of his own like Eddie Murphy making his case in 48 Hours for why he deserved a nice meal in a nice place. If you'll recall, that scene ended with Nick Nolte handing him a candy bar from a vending machine and saying, "there's your goddamned dinner." (If you're having trouble keeping-up, the Shark Shootout is the candy bar).

** Wilde also gave us, "I can resist everything except temptation." That's why the guys in his car club called him "The Cruiser."**** 

*** "Oh noooo . . . I'm so sorry it's the Moops, the correct answer is the Moops."

"You know, consistency is the
last refuge of the unimaginative." 
**** Here's a bonus Wilde quote while I'm already showing-off my ability to find stuff on the internet that makes me appear well read . . . "Do you really think ... that it is weakness that yields to temptation? I tell you that there are terrible temptations that it requires strength, strength and courage, to yield to. To stake all one's life on a single moment, to risk everything on one throw, whether the stake be power or pleasure, I care not -- there is no weakness in that." Amen brother.

Email the FGR