Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Greenbrier Preview

I've got about five more interesting FGRs in the pipeline* but between the upcoming holiday and the fact that no one in the Mid-Atlantic can turn on a home computer or has any expendable battery power on their iPhone, I don't think anyone is reading this anyway so why waste them. That makes this a good week to take care of some housekeeping with a brief follow-up on Tiger's win at Congressional, a look ahead to the Greenbrier and an overdo update of the FGR World Rankings so turn your head and cough because, with the exception of that first endnote, it's about to get very golfy.

The AT&T Update

That was a nice win for Tiger but let's keep it in perspective by remembering the following:

(1) He has one top 10 in the last eight majors (the 2011 Masters);

"Way to make it convincing
Bo. I'll have the $2M wired
to your account."
(2) He out-dueled Bo Van Pelt who is one of the most talented players on tour but is not a closer as evidenced by his lone victory at the 2009 U.S. Bank Championship and the fact that he had 217 yards left for his second shot on the par-5 16th hole with one hand on the trophy and then chopped his way to a bogey, bogey, bogey finish. (Right on cue as it followed Gary McCord's recitation of his impressive stats and question to Nick Faldo, "why doesn't this guy win more?" to which Faldo responded something about handling the final round nerves. I like bashing announcers but that was A+ work by those guys);

(3) The big pressure shot for Tiger on Sunday was the driver on 16 when he was still tied for the lead and he blew it left leading to a bogey. If Van Pelt had hit his second shot on the green and then two-putted for a birdie like he should have, Tiger would have been down by two with two holes to play and we probably have a different ending.

The good news for Tiger is that it's been a while since he went toe-to-toe with a decent player on Sunday and watched the guy hand him the tournament like everyone used to which has to be a confidence builder. He also played three rounds in the 60's on Friday, Saturday and Sunday so signs point to continued progress. Let's just not get ahead of ourselves until we see him do something at a major on Sunday other than make an insignificant birdie putt ten holes in front of the leaders followed by one of his crowd pleasing "can you believe that's the first birdie I've made in 20 holes" reaction shots like he hasn't been in the same position at every major for the past two years.      

The Greenbrier Preview

We get one more decent field this week before everyone skips the John Deere Classic to get ready for the British Open (that's everyone except for Steve Stricker who seems more interested in racking-up a bevy of John Deere Classic titles than winning a major). With these rankings, I'm still operating under the assumption that you've used guys like Tiger and Phil already or if not, you're planning to use them elsewhere.

Suzanne Stonebarger (right) and her partner,
Michelle Moore, thankfully take promoting
their volleyball careers very seriously. 
1. Webb Simpson
2. Brendon DeJonge
3. John Rollins
4. Steve Stricker
5. Rickey Barnes 

I don't think you could be any looser than Webb Simpson will be but at the same time he is the kind of guy who wants to build on his first major as opposed to the kind of guy who wants to spend the next two months driving around the country in a red '69 Dodge Charger with a confederate flag on the roof showing-off his green jacket.

I'm going with DeJonge and Rollins based on current performance and the Jonger's past success at this event. You can almost bank on a top 10 for Stricker because this is the kind of 3rd tier event where he shines. (I hate taking shots at Stricker but, in the words of the Bill Parcells, "you are what your record says you are"). Rickey Barnes will be lucky to make the cut but I needed an excuse to include a picture of his girlfriend.

The FGR World Rankings

My almost forgetting to update the FGR Rankings after the U.S. Open probably had something to do with Rory McIlroy's recent slump which has completely undermined the formula that was rigged to put him at the top. However, the fact remains that Rory has still been the best player over the past two years with more top ten finishes (10) in the nine tournaments I use to determine these rankings** than any other player. (Luke Donald has 9 and Lee Westwood has 8 but neither have won a major or a WGC event for that matter). Here are the current standings alongside the "official" World Golf Rankings:

FGR Rankings              World Golf Ranking

McIlroy 123 Donald 9.96
Westwood 89 McIlroy 8.89
Watson, B. 86 Westwood 8.33
Kaymer 86 Woods, T. 6.70
Donald 82 Simpson, W. 6.62
Oosti 74 Watson, B. 6.25
Scott, A. 69 Kuchar 5.90
Schwartzel 64 Dufner 5.75
Kuchar 58 Rose 5.61
Mahan 57 Mahan 5.41
Day, J. 54 McDowell 5.16
Hanson, P. 53 Stricker 5.03
Dufner, J. 52 Johnson, D. 4.89
Bradley, K. 50 Mickelson 4.86
Johnson, D. 47 Kaymer 4.84
Toms 42 Scott, A. 4.68
Watney 41 Schwartzel 4.60
Mickelson 38 Johnson, Z. 4.58
Rose 38 Fowler 4.49
Fowler 37 Oosti 4.49

The biggest movers after the U.S. Open were David Toms who went from No. 28 to No. 16 and Jason Dufner who jumps from No. 21 to No. 13. Ironically, we lost the 2010 and 2008 U.S. Open champions in the process as the points for Graeme McDowell's win and Tiger's 4th place finish at Pebble Beach dropped out of the formula. You may also notice that Webb Simpson does not make the FGR Top 20 despite his win at Olympic as he is a victim of the "Darren Clarke Rule" which states that you have to finish in the top 10 of at least two of the qualifying tournaments over the past two years to be considered. Believe it or not, but that U.S. Open win is the only top 10 Simpson has ever had in a major, WGC event or the Players. Remember that the FGR rankings are designed to identify the players who get it done on the biggest stages against the best in the world. 

Actually, Webb Simpson's win will probably result in the adding of the FedEx Cup events to the equation as he is clearly one of the best 20 players in the world right now. I'm stubborn but I'm not stupid. (Don't say it).  Even if I just give a point for a win in a FedEx event, it would qualify Simpson for the rankings and put him in 14th place which would be about right for a guy who has never had another top 10 in a major. The problem with adding the FedEx events is that it means I'm probably going to have to add a few corresponding European events and that's a slippery slope that could lead me right back to something like the "official" World Golf Rankings. I'm going to ruminate on this today when I'm walking 18 holes in 100 degree heat (a Gold Bonds situation if there ever was one). Hopefully the answer will come to me in the form of a hallucinogenic visit from Mac O'Grady.***
I can see  it. I CAN SEE IT!!!


* The current FGR backlog would look like all of the projects in my garage if I had a garage and, more importantly, if I had any projects. Now that I have achieved a station in my life where I have effectively removed the phrase, "going to the office on the weekend" from the equation, I think the two most lifeblood draining things I could have on my agenda are "home projects" and "moving furniture." I even have a hard time watching Home Depot commercials. I'm convinced that those smiling people in the paint department are either high as a couple of stunt kites or have been recently lobotomized.  

** The nine tournaments are the four majors, the four WGC events and the Players. For a complete explanation of the rankings (along with one of the hottest pictures ever posted on the FGR - and I don't mean the one of Cameron Diaz) check-out the FGR World Golf Rankings.

*** Mac O'Grady is a player and instructor who believes that the game should still be played with blades and persimmon and, to prove his point, he finished 5th in the 2010 Australian Senior Open using vintage clubs. But my favorite O'Grady fact is that he was good enough to be a touring pro playing right handed and was a scratch playing left-handed so he applied for amateur status as a lefty. When that was denied, he tried to enter a two-man tournament called the Chrysler Team Championship by himself playing one ball right handed and one left handed. Deane Beman, who was to the PGA Tour what Bruno Kirby's character was to the radio station in Good Morning Vietnam, didn't let him do it. (I miss Bruno, one of the most underrated comedic straight men ever - Bruno Kirby). 

Happy 4th of July. Now let's go blow some shit up.