Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Fantasy Golf Preview: The Farmers Insurance Open

We can officially declare this a rough start. Not quite time to panic yet but certainly time to show some concern like Captain Kirk in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn* as the U.S.S. Reliant approached suspiciously without making contact leading to an all-time William Shatner moment as he leans forward and says, "this is damned peculiar . . ." right before Kahn (Ricardo Montalban)** blasts a gaping hole in the side of the Enterprise . . . (wait, maybe that wasn't such a great example because that was clearly time to panic).

"Now why is the guy from
the Chrysler Cordoba
ads flying that ship?"
You could certainly make the case that I should have had Charles Howell, III in the mix last week based on his tie for 3rd at the Sony and my rationale that "I'm going with the hot hands coming off of last week." You would have thought that would have led me to include Howell in my top 5 (I would have thought that too) but my thinking was that (a) Howell always plays well at the Sony so that's not a strong indicator and (b) he'd only had one top 20 finish at the Humana - a tie for 13th in 2011. As for Brian Gay, I actually picked him for the Humana in 2012 and he finished tied for 42nd which classified him as "dead to me" for this year's tournament.  

More on last week's debacle below but enough of this borderline preseason action. We're off to Torrey Pines where the past ten winners are Brandt Snedeker, Bubba Watson, Ben Crane, Nick Watney, Tiger Woods, Tiger Woods, Tiger Woods, Tiger Woods (call me Stephen Hawking but I'm starting to detect a trend here), John Daly?!? and of course, Tiger Woods. Oh and Tiger also won this event in 1999 and, when they played a little something we like to call the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines in 2008, he won that too.

"Hey mister, don't call that putter
'Lifesaver' . . . call it 'Shithead.'"
If you want to make the case against picking him this week, you could argue that he hasn't won this event in the last four years but, to be fair, you would probably need to qualify that position with the fact that he's only played it once during that stretch, finishing tied for 44th in 2011. However, that was also when he was about to enter a stretch of his career when everyone would spend the next six months shunning him like he was Steve Martin in The Jerk right after he evacuated an entire apartment complex because a dog told him it was on fire.

So with Tiger's unbelievable track record in mind, the pick this week is of course Phil Mickelson for three reasons: (1) He's won at Torrey Pines three times (albeit a long time ago), (2) Tiger is just flying in from Abu Dhabi (which sounds like the set-up for a joke) and (3) Phil is feeling a little left-out from all of the buzz surrounding the new Tiger-Rory commercial and he's going to want to stick it to Tiger the first chance he gets. Apparently Phil is feeling so removed from the conversation these days that he tried to curry some favor with average hard-working Americans by complaining about his taxes because what better way to rally fan support than by making a public statement that you're going to have to make some "drastic changes" to your lifestyle in light of the taxes due on the $50M you made last year doing something for a living that many of us pay to do for fun. Or maybe he confused the reporters he was venting to with people in a similar predicament . . . like the six athletes who made more money than he did in 2012. With Phil, you never know.***  
"I mean I've got mouths to feed."

The Overall Top Five

1. Phil Mickelson
2. Tiger Woods
3. Nick Watney
4. Bubba Watson
5. Brandt Snedeker

For the one and done this week it's almost a toss-up between Nick Watney and Bubba Watson. As mentioned above, they've both won this event and almost always play well at Torrey Pines. Unless you have them pegged for a spot in a major or WGC event later in the season, they're both solid as is Brandt Snedeker who provided the highlight of the FGR's 2012 season when he was my pick and he stole this tournament from Kyle Stanley. (Still not too proud of myself for yelling "GO GO GO" as Stanley's ball rolled towards the water on 18).

Hey look, it's "Amber Watney."****
The One and Done Top Five

1. Nick Watney
2. Bubba Watson
3. Brandt Snedeker
4. Rickie Fowler
5. Ben Crane

Last Week's Report Card: F

1. Tim Clark - M/C
2. Brandt Snedeker - T23rd
3. Matt Kuchar - T16th
4. Phil Mickelson - T37th
5. Chris Kirk - M/C

Normally I base Last Week's Report Card on the One and Done Picks but those were so awful that I couldn't even bear to look at them. Let's face it, that leaderboard looked like the PGA Tour intentionally scheduled alternative programming up against the NFL games. Other than Howell, III, you've got to go all the way down to 16th before you hit Matt Kuchar, Robert Garrigus and anyone else who would get your attention. I finally watched the end of it last night and it played-out just like you would imagine a tournament going down to the wire with a bunch of guys not used to winning highlighted by CH, III and Brian Gay both blowing chances to win with sloppy putting on 18 followed by Scott Stallings hitting a 6-iron into the drink to give the tournament away and then David Lingmerth completely outdoing him on the first playoff hole by hitting his 4-iron so far left that it looked like it landed in a scene from Open Water.***** Gay would redeem himself with a birdie on the second playoff hole but only after going through his entire annoying pre-putt routine when all he needed to do was 2-putt from six feet for the win. If I had been CH, III in that situation, I wouldn't have been able to conceal the "are you freakin' kidding me?" expression on my face . . . nor would I have tried.

Endnotes

* If we ranked movie sequels based on how much better they are than the original, then Star Trek II, may be the best. And before you disagree, try to describe the plot from the original Star Trek movie. I just read the description on IMDB.com and I still can't remember what it was about. How could you possibly make a forgettable Star Trek movie? The recipe is as simple as macaroni and cheese. Kirk, Spock, Klingons, photon torpedoes and a smokin' hot alien. Don't over think it.  

** I could have just gone with the stock clip of KAHN! KAHN! but that would be failing to acknowledge the true brilliance of Ricardo Mantalban and seats available even in soft Corinthian leather.

*** And please do not misconstrue this as some kind of "pro tax" rant. This is a "guys who make $50M a year playing golf should limit their bitching about taxes to private conversations with each other and their accountants because the rest of us don't want to hear it" rant.

"I'm Amber Watney? Am I tripping
again? If so, I need to get to a safe
place. Can I use your bathtub?" 
**** Regular readers of the FGR should know by now that that is not actually Amber Watney. However, due to my misidentification of that picture last year, it is now one of the first that appears after a Google search for Mrs. Watney. What's even better is that the same search produces a veritable who's who of characters previously featured by the FGR ranging from Victoria Secret models to Bronco cheerleaders to Roger Sterling.

***** I never actually saw Open Water but I am going to assume there was a scene in it where all you could see was water. Otherwise, that's a really stupid name for the movie.

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