Friday, June 28, 2013

The U.S. Open Update: Massacre at Merion Ridge


This is the best clothed picture I
could find of The Departed's
Vera Farmiga (hint, hint).
Let's clear-up a couple items before we get rolling on this thing: (1) The reason this U.S. Open post is coming-out nine ten eleven days after the tournament is because I gave-up six hours of writing time watching my beloved Spurs* gag away the NBA Championship and in a life that involves three kids, a job, a money pit for a house that's been doing it's best impersonation of a Carnival cruise ship for the past six weeks and the maintenance of what is currently a very shaky 5 handicap, six hours is an extremely precious commodity, and (2) I have no idea what that title means. It's not really a reference to anything in particular but it sure sounds dramatic, like the title of an 80's made for TV movie before it dawned on someone at HBO that you could make movies for television with real actors that didn't have to look like they were shot on a porn budget. So without further ado, the FGR presents . . .

Oh wait, one more thing, the rest of this will make a lot more sense if you've seen the following: The Departed, The Happening, American Psycho, Pulp Fiction, Lethal Weapon 2History of the World: Part IGame of Thrones, Season Six of Mad Men and the original Star Trek series. If you haven't, just fake it and pretend like you know what in the hell I'm talking about.


At some point about an hour after the leaders teed-off on Sunday, I realized that we were in for a roller coaster ride that called for me to go beyond a few sporadic tweets and into the always popular (and formulaic) timeline format. But before we dive into that, let me give some background on how I was a virtual (emphasis on the word "virtual") lock to take home some cash based on the leaderboard heading into the final round.

We'll begin with the fact that I had a wagering interest in 22 of the 156 players who qualified for the U.S. Open. How did I find myself holding tickets for roughly 14% of the field? Let's break it down starting with my two season long teams which yielded a total of 10 separate entries (see if you can guess which team is in first place and which one I'm thinking of renaming "Don Draper's Liver"):

Apparently Charl only brings his
"A" game when there's a prop from
Game of Thrones at stake.
Team 1                             
1. Phil Mickelson
2. Adam Scott
3. Jason Day
4. Chris Kirk (not entered)
5. Ryan Palmer
6. Tim Clark

Team 2
1. Bubba Watson (buyer's remorse)
2. Charl Schwartzel (see Bubba)
3. Robert Karlsson (desperation free agent)
4. Stewart Cink (see Robert Karlsson)
5. Tim Clark
6. Jordan Spieth

Then I had my two one-and-done picks and, after laboring over that decision for a couple of days, I went with Brandt Snedeker alongside the guy who was pretty much my lock of the year, Graeme McDowell. Thanks for stopping by Graeme. Don't let the door of the G6 hit you on the way out. And because I needed a little more action and felt so confident about the prospects of McDowell and Schwartzel, on the Wednesday before the tournament I got mixed-up in a U.S. Open Calcutta and, feeling a little frisky, bought a stake in a couple of teams that included the following players:
Great Britain = Union Jack =
Rosie Jones = Hubbahubba

The South Africans
Charl Schwartzel
Ernie Els
George Coetzee
Branden Grace
Louis Oostuizen

Great Britain
Graeme McDowell
Jamie Donaldson
Martin Laird
Paul Lawrie
Darren Clarke

Finally, to top it all off, at the Calcutta, everyone was given a player who had been randomly drawn and, if your guy won, you would take down a pretty nice sized hat pool. I drew Hunter Mahan. If you're scoring at home (or even if you're by yourself . . . HAHAHA . . . I do love baseball humor), that adds-up to 22 players. By Sunday morning, here are the contenders I had going into the final round and where they stood before play began: Phil Mickelson (1st), Hunter Mahan (2nd), Charl Schwartzel (2nd), Jason Day (8th), Ernie Els (16th) and Paul Lawrie (16th).

Sixteenth was about as far down the leaderboard as I thought you could go on Sunday morning and find a potential winner and that would have required one of those guys at +6 to shoot 65 or 66 with the winning score coming in at +1 or +2 which turned-out to be about right (and Jason Dufner actually had a chance to win it from all the way back at +8). But I didn't even need that kind of magic as I had the leader, two players tied for second and maybe my best shot, Jason Day, only three strokes back.

I also had three FGR All-Star wives
(Mickelson, Mahan and Day) rooting
along with me so how could I lose?
This is so darn interesting, let's drill-down a little deeper on my Sunday morning. For breakfast I had raisin bran with blueberries, I shot a 78, won $20 and then ate a turkey club sandwich on wheat toast with no cheese (because that stuff will kill you). But I digress (which should be the name of this website). Let's go ahead and get to the action starting a couple hours before the leaders teed off at the point where Rory McIlroy decided to reconfigure the shaft on his wedge after dumping two balls in the water at no. 11 on his way to making a quad. Of course now we know he was just foreshadowing what would be a diabolical day for most of the players (and at least one volunteer).

Time to powershift into the present tense for effect. I'm going to be approximating some of the times here so bear with me.

3:20:  Just as the leaders are preparing to tee-off, Charl Schwartzel hits one tight on no. 1 and side-doors the birdie putt to tie for the lead. I'm not going to go into great detail on the amount of money I have on Schwartzel but let's just say that, if he wins, a new set of Rocketbladez Tour irons is coming my way with about enough left over for a threesome at Pebble Beach. Suffice it to say that after he birdies the first and sets himself up for another one on the second, I am deep into the custom fitting process on the Taylor Made website. I'm not just touching the money, I'm rubbing it all over myself like a Dom Deluise style treasure bath.

"Mmmm Speed Pocket technology."
3:22: One of the few guys at the top of the leaderboard not representing Team FGR is Steve Stricker who was a sentimental favorite because he's a great dude and has put together a career worthy of a major. Unfortunately, there's a reason some guys never win one and right on cue he wipes a ball out of bounds from the second tee and then follows that with a shank in the same direction. Kudos to Strick for grinding-out the ten footer for triple which keeps him within striking distance but let's face it, he's as done as any member of a Star Trek landing party wearing a red uniform.**

3:24: Luke Donald drills a standard bearer with a driver on the par-3 third hole (nice course set-up USGA). Apparently, she's never played paint ball before because she obviously took cover on the wrong side of the tree. Either that or she just wasn't paying attention which is fairly typical of a woman at a golf tournament.***

3:44: Well it looks like Donald may not recover from cracking that girl's coconut because he just hit a wedge into the creek on the 4th hole. Mr. Donald, if you will come with me, we have a nice seat for you right over here a little lower on the leaderboard in between Mr. Stricker and Mr. Westwood where we think you'll be more comfortable. Someone will be by with your 8th place check in a few hours.

4:11: After lipping-out for birdie on No. 1, missing a short one for birdie on No. 2 and three-jacking No. 3 for a double, it appears my prediction that Phil's putter would finally get hot on Sunday may be going the way of my Graeme McDowell pick. Meanwhile, Hunter Mahan, Justin Rose and Jason Day look like they're playing a different golf course. It's as if they're the only guys who got the memo that you're not just permitted to hit fairways at Merion, it's actually encouraged.

4:40: Schwartzel avoids his third three-putt in row by making a bending 4 footer for bogey on No. 5 but now he looks like someone just handed him a note that says, "Marcellus Wallace has $50,000 on you not finishing in the top ten."
"The South African cat has to go down like
 it's Lethal Mutherf-ckin' Weapon 2. Dig?"

4:42: Jason Dufner is -5 through 14 holes and is on his way to posting +2 or +3 which could be the number for a playoff . . . and of course he just hit his tee shot on 15 over the fence leading to a triple bogey. At about this point in the proceedings, I tweeted that this was starting to look like the last hour of The Departed and Phil was on his way to a stunning demise a la Leonardo DiCarprio exiting the elevator. (Steve Stricker's shank-fest on the second hole was Martin Sheen sailing off the top of the building).

4:45: Phil just made his second double in five holes. His putter is absolutely killing him . . . and me. This isn't The Departed, this is M. Night Shyamalan's The Happening and Merion is the ominous wind that makes people spontaneously drive into telephone polls and walk into moving farm equipment.****

5:32: Holy crap Mickelson just holed-out for eagle on No. 10. In the words of Flounder from Animal House, "oh boy, is this great!" Speaking of Flounder, did you catch Phil's vertical on that celebration? That just became Exhibit "A" in the case against golfers as athletes. 

6:00: On the 13th tee, Phil asks someone what the lightning forecast is. WTF?!? If we had to pinpoint the moment when we should have known it was about to go south, that was probably it. Not surprisingly, he pumps it over the green from 121 yards. This is why if you want Phil to win the U.S. Open, you can't watch him play the U.S. Open. It's like watching Don Draper try to be a good parent. He wants it so badly but it's just not in his DNA. For Don, it's getting busted by his daughter with the neighbor's wife and for Phil it's trying to finesse a pitching wedge tight on a 121 yard hole where everyone else has been hitting gap wedge. They just can't help themselves.   

6:02: Billy Horschel pumps his fist for Jason Day's putt to go in. That was kind of cool. By the way, I think Horschel is a little tweaked and it's not just because of the octopus pants or the fact that he looks exactly like Christian Bale's character in American Psycho. At one point on Saturday, Mickelson was hitting a putt on his line and as soon as he made contact, Horschel bolted behind him to get the read. Nothing necessarily wrong with that but, if someone did it to me, you would definitely hear something muttered that sounded a lot like "dude, what the frick is your problem?"

6:08: Phil completes the fiasco at No. 13 with a bogey which cancels-out his eagle. He has officially entered the Greg Norman zone of inventing ways to lose the tournament.

6:37: After a solid par on No. 14, Phil puts himself in position to make birdie with a very aggressive tee shot on 15 that leaves him a wedge into the green.

Side note: At some point over the weekend, PGA pro Colt Knost tweeted the following, "I told Phil one day he's pretty good with his wedges, he replied 'no, I'm really f'ing good with them.'"

"Wait, you know what would be really cool? If you
intentionally hit a pop-up 3-wood from 121. That
would blow Johnny Miller's freakin' mind."
6:42: Unfortunately, as he's getting ready to hit this wedge, he makes a comment to Bones about being able to spin it in there and I'm thinking "NOOO." Every time a player tries to spin a wedge on this course it ends badly so of course Phil spins it so far back that he has to chip his next one off the front of the green. This of course leads to his second bogey in three holes where he had a wedge in his hand. Phil makes so many bad decisions, sometimes I wonder if he ever thought seriously about quitting golf to become a break dancer.

6:55: Phil puts himself in position to make another birdie on 16 but slides the putt by. Now the golf Gods are just screwing with him and he has to play 17 and 18 one under to force a playoff. Unfortunately for Phil and us, the USGA set the course up so someone would lose the tournament on the last two holes, not win it.

7:14: Jason Day lips-out a 5 footer that was his shot at a playoff. My golf gambling afternoon is absolutely coming-apart at the seams. Ironically, my wife and kids just gave me a new tennis outfit for Father's Day. Speaking of M. Night Shyamalan, I'm pretty sure that's a sign.

7:32: Phil chases his birdie chip up the hill on 18 and it's almost sad like the dog who bit the mailman one too many times chasing the family car as it leaves the farm where you ditch crazy old dogs never to return (holy crap, I just had a Don Draper Hershey bar in the whorehouse moment on that one). You can even see some hope in the way Bones pulls the pin as the ball rolls a foot wide of the hole. There will, however, be no more miracles for Phil today. It's as if the golf Gods gave him one on No. 10, watched him screw it up on 13 and 15 and then said "we can't keep enabling this guy." I don't think I've felt this bad for a player since Tom Watson let the 2009 British Open slip away (and I'm still not quite over that).

"Hey Taylor Made, how about a
little something, you know,
for the effort, you know."
In the end, the winners were Justin Rose and Merion which turned-out to be an outstanding U.S. Open course. For those who thought it was too difficult, consider that there were twenty-three rounds under par this year versus eight at Oakmont in 2007. My only complaints were the ridiculously long par-3 3rd hole and the fact that making birdie on 18 was next to impossible which eliminated much of the drama. The losers of course were Phil Mickelson and the FGR. Phil racked-up another painful 2nd place finish and I walked away with nothing but new tennis duds (at least until yesterday when I bought the Rocketbladez anyway).


* I've been a Spurs fan since the days of the Iceman who's poster was one of three on my bedroom wall along with John McEnroe and Tony Dorsett. Then they landed David Robinson who I had spent my high school years watching live as he took the Naval Academy all the way to the Elite Eight in 1986 including the demolishing of #2 seed Syracuse in the Carrier Dome before losing to a Duke team that included Johnny Dawkins and Jay Bilas. Just about everyone remembers where they were when they started hating Duke and I was in my living room watching them deny David Robinson and Navy a trip to the Final Four. Twenty-seven years later and I had to sit with my two sons and watch helplessly as Shane Battier made six 3-pointers in Game 7. The FGW finally threatened to shut the whole thing down if I announced one more time that "there is no God."

"Gentlemen, I'm going to give it to
you straight . . . you're screwed."
** Unless of course it was Scotty who never left the ship because if he did, who would be back on the Enterprise not fixing the damn transporter again? If Scotty had been born in 1952 instead of 2202, he would have been an inept plumber.

*** That is obviously a joke so please let me be absolutely clear so as not to offend female golf spectators that it is not my position that women do not pay attention at golf tournaments. It is my position that women do not pay attention at sporting events in general. BOOM!

**** I couldn't explain why I liked The Happening until I read part of Robert Wilonsky's review on Rotten Tomatoes - "Effective nonsense, chilling nonsense, occasionally wrenching nonsense." That about sums it up. Ironically, Mark Wahlberg was able to survive both the killing spree in The Departed and the killing wind in The Happening. The lesson as always, don't mess with Mickey Ward.  

Email the FGR here.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Fantasy Golf: The AT&T National Preview

Let's blow through this preview so I can get back to putting the finishing touches on the long overdue U.S. Open wrap-up.* Not to mention this tournament has already lost a little luster because, with Tiger bailing, they should change the name to The Groupon Open in light of the two dozen offers for half-price tickets I've received in the last week. Remember that this was also the tournament that did not allow spectators on Saturday last year because storm damage left so many trees in a precarious condition. So to recap, in 2011 Congressional was maligned for having the easiest U.S. Open course in history, in 2012 they had a spectator free Saturday and in 2013 Tiger bailed on his own tournament due to injury. I think it might be time for Congo to have the "it's not you it's me" talk" with the PGA Tour.

I hate agreeing with Rob Bolton's Power Rankings but it's hard to ignore all of the factors in Jason Day's favor this week (plays great at Congo, just finished 2nd at the U.S Open, hot wife, etc.). I'm also going to keep riding Billy Horschel until he cools-off or the New York City Police Department finally catches-up with him. Adam Scott finished 3rd here last year, Bo Van Pelt (who has been uninspiring at best this season) finished 2nd and is due to get on track and Jimmy Walker may be the best player on tour who has never won** (and it's going to take at least one win to get him out of third place on the list of famous "Jimmy Walkers").

"Wait, this would be awesome for
hitting out of buried lies in the bunker."
The AT&T National Top Five

1. Jason Day
2. Billy Horschel
3. Adam Scott
4. Jimmy Walker
5. Bo Van Pelt

Travelers Report Card: C-

1. Hunter Mahan - T24th
2. Jason Dufner - M/C
3. Webb Simpson - T5th
4. John Rollins - MDF
5. Padraig Harrington - T72nd

Those crummy picks can be summed-up by the 80 that Padraig Harrington shot on Sunday and the quintuple bogey John Rollins made on the tenth hole in the third round when he was actually still in contention. Rollins was of course my pick for the week continuing my post Matt Kuchar at Memorial slide. On sort of a lighter note, at least I didn't pick Bubba and then watch him dump the tournament in the lake on 16 like it was a dead body after he decided to hit 9-iron on a 178 yard par three that was all carry and then blame his caddie, Ted Scott, when it came-up short. If I was Ted, the next time Bubba faced a shot over water I'd say, "Bubba, as your caddie I feel compelled to mention that (a) there is about 200,000 square feet of water between us and the hole and (b) golf balls don't float . . . now put a solid swing on it big guy."  

Email the Fantasy Golf Report here.


I'm saying Wanderlust is
underrated, on many levels.
* Of course that is if you consider ten days "long overdue." But isn't it time that we took a break from our go-go lifestyles with our fax machines, two-way pagers and conference calls and took some time to reflect back on what will surely be remembered as a vintage U.S. Open? In the words of Justin Theroux's character Seth from Wanderlust, "you know you can really get trapped in that web of beepers and Zenith televisions and Walkmans and Discmans and floppy discs and zip drives, laser discs, answering machines and Nintendo Power Gloves." I couldn't agree more Seth. That's why I have "Classic Rewind," "Classic Vinyl" and "The Bridge" among my Sirius presets. (Take my word for it, there is no better cure for road rage than a solid set of Elton John, Cat Stevens and Gordon Lightfoot . . . "If you could read my mind love, what a tale my thoughts could tell . . .").

** Temper that enthusiasm with the fact that I just picked Walker up on both of my season-long teams which seems to have a cooling effect and, by "cooling effect," I don't mean that it makes the player cooler, I mean it makes him play like crap.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Fantasy Golf: The Travelers Preview

Man it's hard not to like this guy.
A more thorough treatment of the massacre at Merion will be coming later in the week* but, for now, let's take care of a little housekeeping as the Tour moves north to Cromwell, Connecticut sporting a pretty nice chunk of the U.S. Open field including the champ and two others who finished in the top five. We're going to leave Justin Rose on the sideline for this one under the theory that he probably wants to be on a plane as early as Friday afternoon with the trophy he's been carrying around New York City for the past couple of days and who would blame him if he goosed a couple of putts to miss the cut by a stroke?      

Let's go with two guys who tied for 5th last week (Hunter Mahan and Jason Dufner) along with the 2012 U.S. Open champ and a couple others with a decent track record at TPC River Highlands. For those who use these rankings to help pay the rent, (a) God help you and (b) please take note that if there is any reason to even consider Hunter Mahan (the 2007 winner of this tournament), he's probably going right to the top of the list for obvious reasons. The only way he would have been bumped this week is because I was such a big fan of Jason Dufner unleashing three years of repressed emotion by rinsing his wedge in the creek on the 4th hole last Friday.** 
Sometimes righting the ship is as simple
as putting Hunter Mahan at the top and
getting Kandi back into the equation.

The Travelers Top Five

1. Hunter Mahan
2. Jason Dufner
3. Webb Simpson
4. John Rollins
5. Padraig Harrington

Last Week's Report Card: C+

1. Graeme McDowell - M/C
2. Tiger Woods - T32nd
3. Steve Stricker - T8th
4. Brandt Snedeker - T17th
5. Henrik Stenson - T21st
6. Matt Kuchar - T28th
7. Peter Hanson - M/C
8. Phil Mickelson - T2nd
9. Adam Scott - T45th
10. Billy Horschel - T4th

I'm torn on where this grade should be. On the one hand, the guy at the top of my list missed the cut by five strokes which is, um, bad. On the other hand, in last week's U.S. Open Preview, I made a pretty compelling case for why you shouldn't pick Tiger and I was right. I also envisioned Tiger giving a post-round interview in which he would be giving a look that said, ""but mom . . . how was I supposed to know Billy Horschel was going to shoot 64?" and damn if Horschel didn't drop a second round 67 on top of what I'm sure Tiger thought was a very solid 70. One point I should make here is that I probably didn't have Rose in my top ten because I had already used him this year at the Arnold Palmer Invitational so he wasn't really on my radar. What can I say? I f-cked-up and I'm sorry. I'll do better next time.    

Email the FGR


* I've got some kind of timeline/movie themed hybrid working for the U.S. Open recap that is flailing around like an unattended fire hose at this point and it's not being helped by the fact that I spent Sunday watching four guys that I wagered on take turns gagging away the lead. There's a free "FGR" hat for the first person who can guess the movie theme (as soon as I finally get around to making the hats).  

** And if you think Dufner's display of emotion was out of line, go read someone else's website. Seriously go, your preoccupation with decorum is making me uncomfortable.    

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Fantasy Golf: The U.S. Open Preview

"Hey . . . wanna hear the most
annoying sound in the world?"
As I lay in bed Monday night listening to the torrential rain work its way through the hole in my roof and then through the ceiling of the hallway on the floor above me before descending into a large copper tub with a steady drumbeat of sound that can best be described as a "ploop" followed by a "twang,"* two thoughts took turns passing through my mind: (1) now I get Chinese water torture; and (2) how is this going to effect the U.S. Open which will be played about 95 miles northwest of this monsoon?

The overriding story of the 2013 U.S. Open so far has been the rain which wiped-out member guest rounds up and down the East coast last weekend** and continued into the beginning of this week with a force not seen since Ed Harris tried to capsize Jim Carey at the end of The Truman Show. According to Ernie Els, you could bring helicopters in and they wouldn't be able to dry-out Merion by this Thursday (but what about hovercrafts Ernie . . . did you think of that . . . no, I didn't think so). So it's going to be a bit squooshy out there, but what does that mean to us as we try to project ourselves into the back nine on Sunday to see who's intestinal fortitude Johnny Miller will be questioning?

Tiger is obviously the prohibitive favorite at 6 to 1 but, if you still have him available, you had to already be asking yourself a couple of questions even before the weather became a factor (and, oh yeah, the rain is not done this week): (1) Did the train wreck at Muirfield give you second thoughts on the state of Tiger's game?; and (2) Will the repeated questions from the U.S. Open media circus about Sergio annoy Tiger to the point of distraction? If you answered "yes" to either of those, you may want to take a long look at a player who hits a few more fairways and one who won't be surprised when the atypical U.S. Open conditions don't eliminate some of the pretenders. (Tiger has been known to give a few stunned post-round interviews where a score he thought was solid came-up way short . . . those are always fun because he can be as incredulous as a 17 year old girl who just got her cell phone taken away for failing biology).

"Yeah, well so is my Johnson."***
Before we answer those questions, let's first acknowledge that the list of golf "experts" who have doubted Tiger to their peril in the past is long but distinguished. As recently as March, some of us were questioning him after he was knocked-out of the Match Play in the first round and then finished T37th at the Honda Classic. He then went cuckoo for Coco Puffs winning the WGC Cadillac Championship, the Arnold Palmer Invitational, the Players Championship and he would have won the Masters if not for the absurdly bad break with the shot off the flagstick in the second round.****

That means his last five results are win, win, should have won, win and then a tie for 65th. I think it's safe to say that he was either (a) working on something at the Memorial or (b) really didn't feel like hanging-out and kissing Jack Nicklaus' ass on Sunday after his round (and if you watched the somewhat painful coverage with Jack in the announcers booth, you wouldn't blame him . . . whoa . . . was that a lightning bolt?). For the sake of this discussion, however, let's assume that Tiger was refining a few parts of his game that he thought would be critical for navigating Merion. If you accept that and dismiss the notion that any lingering Sergio chatter is going to distract him (which I think is reasonable), then Tiger's case is pretty strong . . . unless you consider the following:

1. Tiger has finished first or second in five U.S. Opens but they have all come when conditions have been brutal or borderline brutal. In 2008 at Torrey Pines, the winning score was a tie at -1. In 2002 at Bethpage, Tiger was the only player under par at -3. In 2007 at Oakmont, Angel Cabrera won at +5 with Tiger a shot behind and the winning score at Pinehurst in 2005 was even par with Tiger two back. (Tiger's win at Pebble has it's own unique place in history with Joe DiMaggio's hitting streak and Rich Kotite's coaching career because we'll probably never see anything like either of them again). With the wet conditions this week, everyone is calling for a record number of birdies and that's going to reduce Tiger's advantage over the field because he thrives on grinding more than just about any player in history. Get ready for at least one post-round interview where he looks like he's about to say, "but mom, how am I supposed to talk to my friends and how was I supposed to know Billy Horschel was going to shoot 64?";

2. If Tiger is going to win another U.S. Open, he's going to have to earn it. In his last six major wins, the runner-ups have been Rocco Mediate, Woody Austin, Shaun Micheel, Chris DiMarco (twice) and Colin Montgomerie who have combined to win exactly one major. Take a look at Rob Boltons Top 25 Power Rankings from this week and tell me that Tiger isn't going to have to outrun at least one, if not two or three world class players to the finish line on Sunday; and

3. He is playing his first two rounds with Adam Scott which means a lot of quality time with Stevie Williams and a slightly less awkward version of an Ike and Tina Turner reunion tour.

Ultimately, this should be similar to 2011 when Rory McIlroy went bonkers on a rain-soaked Congressional course and made 18 birdies and an eagle on his way to shooting 16 under. The one difference is that the rough at Merion is supposed to be unprecedentedly thick so there will be more of a premium on accuracy off the tee. This week's top ten list is therefore a delicate blend of straight hitters and birdie machines. As you can see, I am leaning ever so slightly away from putting Tiger in the top spot based on the conditions and the competition but I get two picks this week and he's being strongly considered for one of them. Will he make the FGR cut? I'll let you know on Thursday via Twitter (hey, I've got a league to win too).

Hey, look who has U.S. Open fever.
U.S. Open Top Ten

1. Graeme McDowell
2. Tiger Woods
3. Steve Stricker
4. Brandt Snedeker
5. Henrik Stenson
6. Matt Kuchar
7. Peter Hanson
8. Phil Mickelson
9. Adam Scott
10. Billy Horschel


* Why did we use a large copper tub? I have no f-cking idea. Using a snare drum or a glockenspiel to catch the water would have been less annoying.

** Fortunately, I was playing on the road last weekend at a club that takes the attitude of, "if our course isn't worth trashing for our member-guest, then what's the point of having it?" I love my home course but man they treat it like an old lady who refuses to take the plastic off the couch.

*** We've been way overdue for a Top Gun reference. Speaking of which, has anyone seen Rick Rossovich since his classic portrayal of the lovable if not somewhat dimwitted fireman across from Steve Martin who played a modern day Cyrano de Bergerac in Roxanne? Rossovich was responsible for one of the most randomly quoted lines of my college career when he was trying to impress a hot bartender with tales of his travels to the California Redwoods and noted of the experience, "I like to go there and just be . . . I always take a meat sandwich with me." That of course led to "we take a family trip to the beach every summer . . . I always take a meat sandwich with me" and "I'm heading over to the library . . . I'm going to take a meat sandwich with me." (college style hilarity ensued).

Practice, practice, practice.
**** If the ball doesn't hit the stick and ultimately cost him four strokes, Tiger is one shot back going into Saturday and no one is convincing me that he doesn't run away from the field at that point. The fact that he fought back to finish tied for 4th under the circumstances may be one of his greatest accomplishments. He knew he should have been DQ'd but that didn't distract him as all of those years spent leading a double life apparently trained him for that guiltless moment proving yet again that luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity. The guy is a pro.

Email the FGR here.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Fantasy Golf: The FedEx St. Jude Classic Preview

The FedEx St. Jude Classic is one of those tournaments that, like Tuesdays, has no feel (the other obvious one is the Zurich Classic). As a result, it lands on the schedule this forgotten week between a high profile event like the Memorial and the U.S. Open. That usually means something of a generic brand field but we've got some players in the mix this week looking for a Merion tune-up on a course that is going to demand similar accuracy off the tee. Note the straight driving* past winners in Memphis - Justin Leonard (twice), David Toms (twice), Brian Gay, Jeff Maggert and Bob Estes. That list of dynamic champions calls to mind Gordon Gecko's classic barb, "Jesus, if this golf tournament owned a funeral parlor, nobody would die!"

We can only hope that maybe Phil Mickelson or Dustin Johnson gets interested and locks horns with a young stud like Billy Horschel or Russell Henley in a Sunday afternoon showdown. At least as far as Phil is concerned, however, I wouldn't be surprised if he's only heading to Memphis for 36 holes of practice and his pilot has already filed the Friday evening flight plan to Philly.

The FedEx St. Jude Top Five

Sean Young (who appeared in both of this week's FGR
featured films) was getting it done in the late 80's before
someone whacked her with the Hollywood crazy stick.
1. Brandt Snedeker
2. Billy Horschel
3. Tim Clark
4. Charles Howell, III
5. Russell Henley

Memorial Report Card: A-

1. Tiger Woods - T65th
2. Matt Kuchar - 1st
3. Keegan Bradley - T50th
4. Webb Simpson - M/C
5. Justin Rose - T8th
6. Adam Scott - T13th
7. Brandt Snedeker - M/C
8. Jason Day - T41st
9. Zach Johnson - T71st
10. Luke Donald - T21st

One of the great gloats of all-time takes place in Stripes** when John Winger and Russell Ziskey walk into the hangar after the mud wrestling match debacle and Ziskey says, "What's everybody so down about . . . didn't everybody make it with a beautiful MP tonight?"*** That's how I always feel when I pick a winner in my one and done league like I did at the Memorial ("didn't everybody pick Matt Kuchar this week?") . . . and yes, I just compared having sex with Sean Young in her prime to correctly picking the winner of a golf tournament. Welcome to my world.

Sorry if I led you astray by putting Tiger at the top of the rankings but if you still have Tiger available for one pick and you wasted it on the Memorial, that's a "you" problem. (In fairness, I probably should have mentioned that he played a practice round at Merion instead of Muirfield last Tuesday and is currently in full U.S. Open tweak mode). It should be noted that the last time he won a major (at the 2008 U.S. Open), he hadn't played a PGA Tour round since that year's Masters eight weeks earlier. It should also be noted that his record that year through the U.S. Open was four wins (including the Accenture Match Play), a 2nd at the Masters and a 5th at the WGC CA Championship. Sounds a little bit like the start of this year doesn't it? But let's not get ahead of ourselves. We'll save the Tiger-U.S. Open debate for next week when foreign reporters arrive and start asking really awkward questions about poultry.


* The major exception to this rule is defending champion Dustin Johnson who has never finished higher than 136th in driving accuracy. Then again, we covered why it would be futile to try to figure-out D.J. in the 2013 Preview when we decided that "moving the jet ski" might not really have anything to do with moving a jet ski.

** The undeniable (try to deny it, I dare you) best five year run for movie comedies occurred between 1978 and 1983 when we were treated to gems like (chronologically): Animal House (1978), Being There (1979), The Jerk (1979), Caddyshack (1980), The Blues Brothers (1980), Airplane (1980), 9 to 5 (1980), Arthur (1981), History of the World Part I (1981), Modern Problems (1981), 48 Hours (1982), Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982), Trading Places (1983) and Vacation (1983). Stripes (1981) belongs in the top five on that list but we'll save those rankings for another day.

Cruiser? My God who gave
you a badge and a gun?
*** Researching that Stripes quote led me to maybe my biggest "holy shit, that's the same actor?" moment ever when I discovered that John Diehl who played Cruiser in Stripes later played key roles in two of my favorite T.V. shows as Detective Larry Zito in Miami Vice and then as Assistant Chief Ben Gilroy in The Shield. How did I not know this? I must have known this. This is what I do. In fact, it may be the only thing I'm really good at. I'm genuinely shaken. I think I need to lie down.

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