Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The FedEx St. Jude Preview

At various points at the end of last year, I made the following three predictions:

1. The Thunder would beat the Heat in six games for the NBA title (was looking pretty good until about fifteen minutes ago);

2. Lane Pryce would be dead or in jail by the end of the current season of Mad Men (he hanged himself in the last episode*);

3. Jason Day would be the best player on the PGA Tour this season (hmmm).

None of this really has much to do with this week's tournament but in light of (1) the Louden Swain-esque** reversal the Thunder just put on the Spurs, (2) Mr. Pryce's inevitable demise, (3) Jason Day's second missed cut in his last three tournaments and (4) the fact that the FedEx St. Jude Classic represents a big stretch in the use of the word "classic", I thought it might be a good week to explore the studio space instead of boring you with the full analysis on why I picked David Toms over Zach Johnson this week (and that represents a big stretch in the use of the word "full").

"No I don't want her to move in.
How am I supposed to train in my
space suit with a perpetual boner?"
Last season Jason Day had ten Top 10 finishes in the twenty-one tournaments he played including a tie for 2nd at the Masters and a solo 2nd at the U.S. Open. He also finished 4th at the Bridgestone, 6th at the Players, 6th at the Tour Championship and 9th at the Match Play. This followed a 2010 season in which he finished 8th in the FedEx Cup standings. He was clearly trending-up and he always struck me as one of those guys who would carom a shot of his mother's shinbone if that's what it took to win.

This season he's played in nine tournaments and his highest finishes are two ties for 9th to go along with a missed cut at the Players and a withdrawal from the Masters with an ankle injury. (I think he sprained it while kicking my fantasy golf season into oncoming traffic). As usual, I don't really have a point here other than to illustrate how unpredictable this sport can be unless you're making calls like "there's no way Spencer Levin is holding onto that one shot lead on Sunday." (I started looking away on the back nine because I was afraid watching his swing was going to screw-up mine). It's well-documented that I love Spencer's game but at some point he's going to have to have to pull his emotions off of the Kingda Ka*** and move them over to the Tea Cups.

On to the picks.

The FedEx Top Five
"Um David, we know she's hot but
could you just stop practicing your
putting grip for a few minutes?"

1. David Toms
2. Zach Johnson
3. Padraig Harrington
4. Ryan Palmer
5. John Rollins

Let's face it. Some random guy not gearing-up for the U.S. Open is probably going to win this thing so you may want to take a flyer on a tour grinder who is playing well like John Rollins or Chris Kirk but if you want to play it safe, Toms is the way to go. Then again, Rory McIlroy could also have a strong week. An exhausting win in Memphis would give him a great excuse for being flat at the Open next week.

Last Week's Report Card:

1. Jim Furyk - T13th
2. Rickie Fowler - T52
3. Justin Rose - 8th
4. Ernie Els - T58
5. Ben Curtis - M/C

I can live with my number one pick shooting 75-73 on the weekend and I can live with my sleeper pick shooting 79 on Friday to miss the cut. What I can't live with is MY personal pick for the week shooting 84 on Sunday to drop from 3rd to a tie for 52nd. Rickie said after the round that, by the back nine, he was just trying to stay out of Tiger's way. Mission accomplished dude. Let's look at a few stats from a meltdown that would be drawing a lot more attention if (a) Tiger hadn't stolen the spotlight and (b) golf writers weren't a gaggle of twelve year old girls to Fowler's Justin Bieber.

  • Rickie lost to Tiger by 17 strokes heads-up.
  • Rickie's 84 was the worst score of the day by 4 strokes.
  • Rickie didn't make a double bogey all week until Sunday when he made three.
  • By the back nine, Rickie looked like an orange traffic cone that someone kept moving around the green while we waited forever for Tiger to putt (ok, that's not technically a "stat").

"I really didn't make that many bad swings," said Fowler. Really? I find that somewhat unconvincing considering he only hit five greens in regulation but it's hard to say because CBS shut down the coverage on him so early. I'm assuming there was a call from Puma to the control booth and the point was made that showing Rickie shoot 44 on the back nine was not going to sell many orange hats. You know if the roles had been reversed and that had been Tiger going down the tubes, we would have seen every shot and a highlight package every 45 minutes. In a bizarre way I guess that's a sign of respect earned by winning 14 majors and not by dressing like an Austrian garbage man with a porn stache.

Endnotes

* My early money was actually on him going down in a "do you mind if we dance with your dates" situation by trying to win a Harlem street fight while still abiding by the Marquess of Queensberry rules but the downward spiral of the last few episodes made it clear that it was not a matter of "if," but a matter of "when" and "how." By the way, you're not watching Mad Men to your full potential unless you're reading this after each episode - Mad Men Power Rankings.

"I'm actually from a little town
near London called Cookham.
From whence do you hail?"
** Louden Swain was the main character in a 1985 movie called Vision Quest in which Mathew Modine played a high school wrestler who decided that he was going to make his mark against Shute, one of the most intimidating high school characters to grace the screen since Carrie. To complicate matters, his father lets a bra-less drifter played by Linda Fiorentino move in and, after teasing all of us sixteen year olds for most of the movie, they finally get it on (Thanks Dad!). Oh yeah, Madonna was the singer at the local bar where the high school kids hung-out with the teachers. Throw-in a little Lunatic Fringe by Red Rider, and you had all of the ingredients for a mid 80's "classic."  

*** At 456 feet, it's the world's highest roller coaster and is located in Jackson Township, New Jersey. I have no idea why anyone would get on it other than to get 456 feet away from Jackson Township, New Jersey for a few seconds.