Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Fantasy Golf: The Deutsche Bank Preview

Let's start with a bit of housekeeping as we've been remiss on the FGR Rankings updates. It should come as no surprise that Tiger has continued to climb (more on that below) while others like Keegan Bradley and Rory McIlroy have slipped based on their lack of productivity in this year's majors. Brandt Snedeker, Luke Donald and Steve Stricker continue to get no love from the FGR formula as their combined 2013 major efforts yielded a tie for 6th at the Masters (Snedeker) and two ties for 8th at the U.S. Open (Stricker and Donald).* The fact that they were all in great position to win a major on Sunday and then failed to close the deal is not even a factor, however, we may need to make it one. I was going to say we could name it after a certain brash Australian player from the 90's but, in light of my numerous gag jobs, I should just name it after myself . . . we could call it "3 up with 4 to play" (and no, I'm still not over it).

Here are the current FGR Rankings presented alongside the World Golf Rankings:   

       FGR Rankings           World Golf Rankings

1. Scott 121 Woods 14.38
2. Woods 117 Scott 9.44
3. Rose 112 Mickelson 8.62
4. Mickelson 110 McIlroy 8.18
5. McIlroy 108 Rose 7.88
6. Dufner 105 Kuchar 6.58
7. Kuchar 79 Snedeker 6.32
8. Poulter 75 Dufner 5.99
9. Els 74 McDowell 5.82
10. McDowell 65 Stenson 5.77
11. Westwood 63 Donald 5.09
12. Bradley 58 Bradley 5.06
13. Mahan 57 Westwood 4.93
14. Day 55 Stricker 4.92
15. Watson 53 Furyk 4.70

In a completely unrelated story,
Win McMurray is apparently dating
Towson's own Michael Phelps. Holy
FGR Wedding Crashers situation.
After his win at the Barclays last week, golf writers have started speculating that Adam Scott may be the best player in the world and I feel like Bruce Willis in the original Die Hard after he had to throw a body from a high rise onto the hood of a police car before anyone realized that there might be a problem down at Nakatomi Plaza ("Welcome to the party pal!").** As far as I'm concerned, this debate starts and ends with the following facts. Over the past eight majors, Adam Scott has made every cut with an average finish of 11th. He has four top five finishes over that span (2013 - 1st, 2012 British Open - 2nd, 2013 British Open - T3rd and 2013 PGA Championship - T5th). Tiger's average finish over the last eight majors is 20th with two top fives (2012 British Open - T3rd and 2013 Masters - T4th).

Some would argue that I'm overemphasizing the results in majors. To those people I would say that I wasn't the one who made my whole career about winning more majors than Jack Nicklaus. I made my whole career about being able to afford Chick-fil-A for lunch everyday . . . MISSION ACCOMPLISHED BABY!!!

Obviously, what keeps Tiger in the mix and what is currently keeping the FGR Rankings so tight are Tiger's wins at two WGC events this year. It turns-out that while we were away, Tiger even briefly took over the top spot after his win at the Bridgestone but Scott tied him with his fifth place finish at the PGA Championship and then took the lead again with the points he earned for winning last week.*** So at this point, it's your basic "quantity v. quality" debate with Tiger piling-up a bunch of less meaningful wins compared to Scott's green jacket and overall majors performance. It's kind of like comparing the meltdowns of Lindsay Lohan and Miley Cyrus. (Emphasis on the phrase "kind of like" but I had to get a Miley Cyrus reference in there somewhere). Would you rather have it stretched-out over several years and court appearances or watch it all unfold in one unforgettable performance at the Video Music Awards? Your move Lindsay . . . I mean Tiger.

The Deutsche Bank Top Ten
I see your cast of Different Strokes
and raise you an Amanda Bynes.

1. Tiger Woods
2. Phil Mickelson
3. Keegan Bradley
4. Rory McIlroy
5. Webb Simpson
6. Henrik Stenson
7. Steve Stricker
8. Gary Woodland
9. Zach Johnson
10. Jonas Blixt

The TPC at Boston has a great track record for producing quality winners including Tiger, Rory, Phil, Vijay, Stricker, Simpson and Scott. All jokes aside, Tiger probably wins last week or at least forces a playoff if the back spasms don't cause him to bogey the par five 13th hole and if he didn't have to devote so much energy to reminding himself to grimace after every shot, not just the ones where he was actually in pain. I'm going to assume that he's somewhere in Eastern Europe as we speak having the spastic muscle replaced with a baby python so he'll be good to go for Boston. If he doesn't tee it up, take him out of the top spot and bump everyone up a notch.
"This better get me an ESPY."

Last Week's Report Card: C

1. Henrik Stenson - T43rd
2. Webb Simpson - T15th
3. Adam Scott - 1st
4. Tiger Woods - T2nd
5. Brandt Snedeker - M/C
6. Jason Day - T25th
7. Bill Haas - T25th
8. Jim Furyk - T6th
9. Rickie Fowler - T9th
10. Keegan Bradley - T33rd

Maybe someone can explain to me how I could pick Adam Scott to win the FedEx Cup and then not pick him to win the first event. Well . . . I'm waiting.

Email the Fantasy Golf Report here and follow on Twitter @FantasyGolfRep. Seriously, it's lonely out in space.

Endnotes

* I acknowledge that Matt Kuchar and Ian Poulter's major records were not that much better but at least they've both taken down significant second tier titles this year at the Accenture Matchplay and HSBC respectively. (I don't know why, but that bullsh-t rationalization reminded me of Martin Sheen's classic Wall Street line, "I don't go to bed with no whore and I don't wake-up with no whore. That's how I live with myself. I don't know how you do it." Note that if you ever find yourself saying that to your own son, something has probably gone terribly wrong).

** The people who made Die Hard must have watched Beverly Hills Cop and thought, "we can make the LAPD look much more inept than that" and then they went all out and cast the guy who played Principal Vernon in the Breakfast Club and Clarence Beeks in Trading Places as Deputy Police Chief Dwayne T. Robinson just to seal the deal.

"Hey, you snot nosed punk. You failed
to mention the great work I did in
Maniac Cop 3: Badge of Silence."
*** You get 4 points for the Barclays and then the points go up by one throughout the playoffs with 7 points for the winner of the Tour Championship. You also get 5 points if you win the FedEx Cup, 4 points if you finish second, etc. There are no style points awarded for collapsing in a heap after you smoke a 5-wood into a pond and then grimacing after every bad shot thereafter. By the way, if Tiger played any other sport, we'd call him "injury prone."  

Thursday, August 22, 2013

The 2013 FedEx Cup Playoffs Preview

At some point in the history of this pointless enterprise* known as the Fantasy Golf Report I determined that every year roughly five players who start the FedEx Cup playoffs in the top 30 do not make it to the Tour Championship. (I don't know how I arrived at this conclusion but I can assure you that it took a lot of research time that could have been spent on something more productive like designing a cassette rack for a DeLorean). That determination formed the foundation for the annual FGR FedEx Cup Playoffs Preview, the goal of which is to predict the finishing order of the top 30 and then immediately start writing about football before anyone realizes what a stupid concept that is.

"Hold it Chuck I got it.
Take live tuna fish and
feed 'em the mayonnaise."
The hard part about this is coming up with something slightly more entertaining than the 125 bland facts that PGATour.com gives us for the 125 guys who made the playoffs (emphasis on the words "bland" and "slightly"). I mean what in the hell are you supposed to say about great guys/players like Brandt Snedeker and Matt Kuchar unless you make something up? (Wait a minute).

Before we get to that, however, let's take care of our five out and five in to figure-out which thirty players will be teeing it up for the Tour Championship. (Can you tell this was hastily written to get to the good stuff below? Hey, how about some more parentheses).

Five Out

27. Charles Howell, III: The above-average player who peaked early.

24. Russell Henley: The young stud who peaked early.

21. Hunter Mahan: The world class player who's wife just had a baby. See you in 2014 Hunter.

19. Harris English: The steady young player who got his first win and then lost his mojo.

13. Kevin Streelman: See Harris English.

Five In
Ashley "Putting" Greene?
Too big a reach? Sorry.

35. Lee Westwood: The world class player who'd be higher if he played more in the states.

37. Matt Jones: The young stud who is peaking at the right time.

49. Rory McIlroy: The super world class player who has been in a funk and is about to say "screw-it, I'm going to turn it up a notch because I can bitches."

50. Scott Piercy: The above-average player who won late last year, sleep-walked through the first seven months of this year and is peaking at the right time.

68. Ryan Moore: The guy with the annoying game who will play just well enough to make the Tour Championship and make a lot of FedEx executives very nervous when he is leading at some point in the third round.

The Final 30

1. Adam Scott: He only played in twelve FedEx Cup point events this year and still finished 11th. It should be noted, however, that Tiger played in the same number of events and finished 1st so that is a truly meaningless statistic and I just set the tone for the rest of this preview.

2. Matt Kuchar: Kuch was solid as a rock with seven top 10's and he never came close to missing a cut. He also has borderline world class ping-pong skills and he and his wife are one of the top amateur mixed-doubles tennis teams in the country. Kuch once built an F-14 Tomcat out of stuff he found in a dumpster behind a Home Depot. The Pentagon told him that if he ever did that again, they'd make him disappear. He just gave them a fist bump, laughed and walked away. Kuch is secretly nuts.

3. Tiger Woods: Clearly the man to beat at non-majors this year (ouch) so the Cup is really his to lose.

Dude. I was joking.
4. Henrik Stenson: Stenson is the best big game player in the world over the past month and he could probably win this thing playing in his underwear.

5. Zach Johnson: Kind of an off year for ZJ but he's too solid a player to stay down for long. Especially now that he's paid-off whatever bet he lost that had him wearing those shirts with the plaid collars.

6. Brandt Snedeker: Snedeker's nickname in high school was "Howdy Doody." Not because of the red hair and the freckles but because that's what he'd yell every time he saw someone's feet under a bathroom stall. He's come a long way.

7. Lee Westwood: Recently got into a Twitter battle with some antagonizing followers after the PGA Championship. My personal favorite was his response to "Lee, you don't take criticism very well do you!!" to which he replied, "not from unachieving low life's." We're not going to penalize Lee for his casual use of apostrophes but I'm not sure "unachieving" is even a word. Just another reason they need to put a breathalyzer on iPhones. I'd buy one.

8. Phil Mickelson: They can joke about it now but soon after the debacle at Merion, Phil and Amy were playing a game of Sorry with the kids when Phil got stymied on the doorstep of home with his last piece and Amy made a miracle comeback to beat him. Apparently there was Chardonnay involved so she jumped-up and said, "just like the U.S. Open huh!!!" The whole room froze and the couple did not speak for the next five minutes until they found themselves in yet another "I love you more" battle because love does indeed conquer all.

9. Bill Haas: I spent last weekend grilling a few guys from Greenville, SC for some good natured dirt I could throw at Bill Haas. Nothing. He apparently makes Tim Tebow look like every movie prison warden.**

10. Rory McIlroy: McIlroy is 24 years old. He's won two majors, dates a hot tennis star and just signed a $250 million contract with Nike. Now if he would just start fulfilling his potential.

11. Jordan Spieth: Everyone is talking about how amazing his story is because he's only 20 years old but the crazy part is that he lied about his age to get on tour and he's really only 15. Unfortunately, we all know how this ends . . . with Kate Hudson overdosing in a New York hotel room but only after a heartwarming moment on the Presidents' Cup team bus after the team picks-up Dustin Johnson from another all nighter with Paulina Gretzky's entourage and Jason Dufner leads them in a Tiny Dancer sing along.

12. Webb Simpson: His parents named him after the TV character "Webster" because well . . . he was kind of a small baby.

13. Keegan Bradley: The name "Keegan" is from the Irish for "The All Mighty Fidgeter."

14. Jason Day: The nephew of Jeff Wiggle (the necrophiliac***). He was one of the back-up dancers until he threw-down with Captain Feathersword in a bar after a show in Des Moines, Iowa. Apparently broken bottles were brandished and Jason was on the next plane back to Sydney where he resumed his junior golf career.

"You see it's quite simple
Murray, he goes or I go."
15. Jonas Blixt: Jonas' great grandfather invented the Volkswagon Beetle so he's playing with house money. He also knows how to handle himself in the back of a very small car . . . if you know what I mean . . . and I think you do.

16. Jim Furyk: Furyk's current putting routine was inspired by a documentary he saw on the Nature Channel about the way chickens eat.

17. Justin Rose: Rose claims that his brilliant final round at the U.S. Open was inspired by the Spinal Tap hit Big Bottom and says that his lifelong dream has always been to be the front man of a band Trouser Mallet.

18. Steve Stricker: In 2003, Stricker missed 13 of 21 cuts and was all but off the tour. Fortunately, his parents had saved all of the money he had sent from his Opti-Grab royalties so they were able to get him back on his feet.

19. Jason Dufner: According to Dufner, the Wanamaker Trophy can hold 43 beers or roughly the same number I drank last weekend on my annual visit to Maryland's Eastern Shore. Ah the Golf Trip to the Sun.

20. D.A. Points: The initials "D.A." stand for "Dancing Acrobat" as he comes from a long-line of vaudevillian performers and his parents had hoped that he would continue the family tradition. Suffice it to say, they could not be more disappointed about the way things turned-out.

Hey D.J., meet Anna Benson.
a/k/a your cautionary tale.
21. Dustin Johnson: The one guy for whom I didn't have to make something up because you can't top "just got engaged to Wayne Gretzky's crazy daughter who likes to take hot selfies." I originally had DJ tumbling out of the top 30 but I'm going to assume that the hardcore psycho wedding planning won't start until later so beware of picking him for anything in 2014.

22. Billy Horschel: Billy seems to have flamed-out a bit since his tie for fourth at the U.S. Open. Some say the octopus pants may have been a bit premature. A smaller contingent disagrees and that smaller contingent is made-up entirely of the guy who designed the pants and Billy's mom.

23. Scott Piercy: Scott was so good at soccer that he was invited to tryout for the U.S. National junior team. That is actually true and also explains why he occasionally rolls around the green writhing in pain after missed putts.

24. Graeme McDowell: Graeme started wearing his trademark cardigan sweaters in high school when a very very mean girl told him that they would make him look taller.

25. Boo Weekley: Boo wrestled an alligator in high school. He won on points but lost to Loudon Swain in the next round.

26. Ryan Moore: Moore used to play while wearing a tie and a cardigan sweater because he has always considered himself kind of an outsider and nothing says, "I'm an outsider" like a carefully crafted outfit that makes you look like an outsider.****

27. Matt Jones: I don't know who he is.

28. John Merrick: A direct descendant of Joseph Merrick a/k/a "The Elephant Man" who was immortalized in a movie of the same name in 1980. I saw this movie the following year when it came-out on HBO at a time when parents still thought, "well if it's on TV, it must be ok for my twelve year old son to watch." It wasn't.

I said, "read your own putt."
Did I f-cking stutter or are
your ears stuffed with sh-t?
29. Patrick Reed: Reed's wife is also his caddie which at least makes it easy to figure-out the week he's not going to play each month.

30. Jimmy Walker: I needed to save the last spot for a guy who goes by the name Jimmy. I only wish I knew for a fact that he talked about himself in the third person. "Jimmy played great today." "Jimmy's going to the Tour Championship this year." "Jimmy's putter is on fire." "Jimmy's hungry."

Email the Fantasy Golf Report here.

Endnotes

* It will officially cease to be a pointless exercise when I can successfully answer either one of the following two questions: (a) Why do you do it? or (b) What do you hope to get out of it? (The current answers are (a) I don't know (with a shrug) and (b) for now, free beers at bars).

** Is there a more maligned profession in Hollywood? From Warden Norton in The Shawshank Redemption to Warden Hazen in The Longest Yard with honorable mentions for Colonel Winter in The Last Castle, Warden Drumgoole in Lock Up and Warden Beatty in Stir Crazy. No one needs a best selling children's book written about them more than our hardworking prison wardens. Then again, some Hollywood producer would just take The Warden Who Loves Puppies and turn it into The Warden Who Loves to Put Puppies in Solitary Confinement starring Bryan Cranston so what's the point?
"You know, you weren't even
this big a dick on Green Acres."

*** That's "narcoleptic" you idiot.

**** I think it's time I retired the cheap shots at Moore's wardrobe considering (a) he dressed like that in his 20's, (b) he doesn't dress like that anymore, and (c) wearing a tie while playing golf would have ranked pretty low on my attention seeking scale twenty years ago (what about your attention seeking scale now Mr. Unpaid Blogger?).


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Fantasy Golf: The Barclays Preview

The Barclays is a pain in the ass to handicap because they've been playing it on a rotation of courses since they moved-out of Westchester Country Club in 2008. Since then, it has only been played at this year's site (Liberty National) once and that was way back in 2009 when Heath Slocum won it. The fact that he ended-up with a shot at the FedEx Cup that year spawned a meeting of PGA Tour officials and FedEx executives called the "How Do We Rig This So a Guy Like Heath Slocum Never Wins It" conference.

"Fiat SpA shares are traded
on the Milan stock exchange
you weaselly little creep."
The lack of history at Liberty National makes things tricky because in the dark sordid world of fantasy golf forecasting,* we really only have three tools for predicting winners: (1) how well is a guy playing now, (2) how well has he played the course in the past and (3) how well has he previously played similar courses. I personally add a 4th factor: (4) how painful do I find it to watch a guy play a/k/a the Ryan Moore/Jim Furyk factor but that one is a little less reliable like picking stocks based on the quality of a company's commercials (are Fiat and Dos Equis publicly traded by the way?).

To make factor no. 2 even more irrelevant this week, the course has undergone a major redesign since 2009 when one caddie's review of the original layout was that "they ruined a perfectly good landfill."** On the bright side for Liberty National, Tiger Woods, Ernie Els, Padraig Harrington and Steve Stricker finished in a tie for second in 2009*** and Nick Watney, Webb Simpson and Ian Poulter were in the top ten so at least it appears to be a course that good players play well. So with that theory in mind, let's go with the guy playing better than anyone over the past month.

The Barclays Top Ten
Meet the reason Dustin Johnson will not
be appearing in the rankings anytime in
the near future . . . and her friend.


1. Henrik Stenson
2. Webb Simpson
3. Adam Scott
4. Tiger Woods
5. Brandt Snedeker
6. Jason Day
7. Bill Haas
8. Jim Furyk
9. Rickie Fowler
10. Keegan Bradley

Last Week's Report Card: B

1. Webb Simpson - T11th
2. Bill Haas - T20th
3. Zach Johnson - T5th
4. Brendon de Jonge - T52nd
5. Jimmy Walker - M/C

Pretty decent showing considering Patrick Reed was not on many people's radar (though Jordan Spieth certainly was). The Jimmy Walker pick was one of those wishful thinking deals as in "I have him on my season-long team and maybe if I pick him, he'll pull-out of his recent tailspin" which he obviously didn't. Other players you may want to avoid if you see them on my top ten lists over the coming weeks for the same reason are Chris Kirk and the "dead to me" duo of Bubba Watson and Charl Schwartzel who did for one of my fantasy teams this year what Ryan Braun and Alex Rodrguez are currently doing for the credibility of baseball.****

Reach out and touch the Fantasy Golf Report here.

Endnotes

* Fantasy golf forecasting is a world that exists on a cosmic plane that sits just slightly above Bronycon, "a convention held by and for fans of the cartoon My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. This show, originally aimed at young girls, attracted an unexpected audience of young adults and teenagers, mostly male, who call themselves bronies" (as described by the website of Bronycon 2013 which was recently held in Baltimore right up the street from Where-Did-I-Go-Wrong-as-a-Fathercon). 

** Maybe the worst review of anything since Spinal Tap's album Shark Sandwich received a two word critique which read simply, "Shit Sandwich."
"It's such a fine line between
stupid and uh . . . clever."

*** Slocum dropped a putt that denied us what would have been an all-star playoff and I remember thinking, "they're going to find a way to penalize him a stroke or put him on a boat with Tony, Paulie and Silvio and tell him the winner's check is across the river." 

**** The phrase "credibility of baseball" is as hard to say with a straight face as "the throwing accuracy of Tim Tebow" or "the people skills of Aaron Hernandez." (Eat it Patriot fans). 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Fantasy Golf: The Wyndham Preview

Kind of a tough writing assignment considering I spent the weekend speed walking around the streets of midtown Manhattan with the FGW and three kids in tow ("come on . . . we can make this light!"). Even if I wanted to write about the PGA Championship, I couldn't considering it wasn't televised on cable in New York thanks to some ongoing dispute between Time Warner and CBS (I think it has to do with money). So instead of trying to piece together something based on post-round highlights and what I've read about the final round (which is nothing), let's talk about my weekend in the Big Apple.

"Hey Smitty, what's with the
pictures it's a turnpike!"**
Let's start with the bus ride from outside of Baltimore to the corner of 28th Street and 7th Avenue. That's right we eschewed the train to save a few bucks* and to teach the FGKs that sometimes life stinks, literally, like bad B.O. When we got on board, there were no seats together so it appeared that my six year old daughter was going to have to sit across the aisle from the FGW until she burst into to tears prompting two people to offer-up their seats (a/k/a the always effective "Veruca Salt Approach"). The highlight of the trip was undeniably the guy across the aisle with the two foot telephoto lens who started snapping pictures before we even hit the Lincoln Tunnel. I figured he was either trying to take pictures of Niagara Falls from New Jersey or he thought he was on the worst Statue of Liberty tour ever.

It was a beautiful day and after we settled in to our sweet digs we took a stroll through Central Park ending-up at the Boathouse for lunch. There were tourists rowing in circles on the pond and crashing into each other like some kind of drunken slow motion demolition derby and there were old German men in cycling outfits ignoring the "No Bikes on Sidewalks" signs and crashing through the crowd. It was one of those days that would make you say, "you know, I could actually live here." Then, as we were leaving the restaurant, we passed a couple from out of town who decided that table fourteen would be an appropriate place to change their baby's diaper for the first time that month and it was one of those scenes that made you say, "oh yeah, that's right, no I couldn't."

From there we moved on to the NBC Studio Tour where I got to see the stage where Bruce Dickinson declared that he needed more cowbell. (Now if I ever get to sit in the boardroom where George had the Jerkstore line thrown back in his face, my life will be complete). Forty-five minutes later I was leaning against the news desk on the set of the Today show and . . . well . . . I farted meaning I will never be able to watch the Today show again without cracking myself up (ah simple pleasures).

"I'm not dead yet
you insolent prick."
The next day we did the high rise thing, the Statue of Liberty thing, the get on the wrong subway train thing and the perusing crap at the same stores we have at the mall down the street thing (who knew all I had to do to make my kids happy was take them to Brookstone so they can sit in the freakin' massage chairs?***). I don't remember too many details as I was checking my phone every ten minutes for PGA Championship updates. The salvation for my one and done season, Henrik Stenson, was in the hunt again and I thought I was going to get away from a very shoddy season by winning back my entry fee. However, my last words to my partners before I left town for the weekend were, "if Furyk or Dufner win, we're screwed." Considering the outcome, I apparently must have pissed-off the ghost of Willard Scott with my 30 Rock air biscuit.

Anyway, here are some picks for the week along with last week's report card and a picture of the lovely Amanda Boyd a/k/a Mrs. Dufner.

Turns-out the pictures of Amanda Boyd were pretty tame
so how about Amanda Beard. It's good to be the editor.
The Wyndham Top Five

1. Webb Simpson
2. Bill Haas
3. Zach Johnson
4. Brendon de Jonge
5. Jimmy Walker

Last Week's Report Card: B

1. Matt Kuchar - T22nd
2. Tiger Woods - T40th
3. Henrik Stenson - 3rd
4. Jason Day - T8th
5. Adam Scott - T5th
6. Keegan Bradley - T19th
7. Webb Simpson - T25th
8. Justin Rose - T33rd
9. Jason Dufner - 1st
10. Martin Kaymer - T33rd

You see, I told you that (a) Tiger wasn't going to win, (b) neither would Phil, (c) Hunter Mahan would be a non-factor and (d) we'd have another first time major winner. I just got the wrong guy but I at least had him on the list and all ten made the cut so we're ending major season with a solid "B". My pick was looking pretty strong after two rounds and then Kuch went sideways on me with a third round 76 and that's the last we heard from him. With three more first time major winners this year, however, I think we know that his time will come soon along with Jason Day, Dustin Johnson, Henrik Stenson and Hunter Mahan. As for guys like Sergio Garcia, Luke Donald and Steve Stricker, Lee Westwood may have summed-up their chances when he spent Sunday night futily counter-punching with his Twitter followers ending with the following defeated sounding shot, "Just honest. Bored now. Westy out." It's looking more and more like a Colin Montgomerie situation for those guys.  

Endnotes

* Three ways to do New York City on the cheap: (1) take the bus, (2) have free access to a luxury three bedroom pad on the upper west side, and (3) don't eat.

** I doubt his name was Smitty but, in an effort to maintain some level of political correctness, we've made the appropriate modifications to Rodney's classic Caddyshack line. If you don't know what I'm talking about, you need to devote the next 56 seconds to watching this scene.

*** Do people in New York City actually say, "hey honey, I'm heading down to Rockefeller Center to pick-up some Creatine at GNC and a massage chair at Brookstone . . . be back in an hour"?

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Fantasy Golf: The PGA Championship Preview

And just like that we've got the last major of the season staring us in the face. So many questions to be answered like: (1) Will Tiger finally get off the schneid? (I don't think so); (2) Does Phil have another one in him this year (I really don't think so); (3) Will we see another first time major winner? (I like those odds . . . a lot); (4) Did I let the FGW talk me into a tourist weekend in New York City without checking the golf schedule first? (Yes . . . yes I did); and (5) As a follow-up to question no. 4, am I an idiot? (Yes . . . yes I am). Let's expand on the answers to all of those questions and more by analyzing some of the intriguing characters in this weekend's story starting with the "A" listers.

Tiger Woods: In evaluating Tiger's chances, I'm not putting a lot of stock in last week's blowout win. First, Firestone has to be one of his favorite courses in the world considering he's won there eight times. Second, if you turn his second round 61 into a more reasonable 68, then he ends-up in a tie with Henrik Stenson and Keegan Bradley.* Third, I'm still not going to start drinking the Kool-Aid** until I see him contend on the final nine of a major which he still hasn't done this year. He's not going to run away from the field this week. The course is too tough and there are at least two dozen players that we know of who have the game to beat him and that doesn't even include the possibility that a Boo Weekley, Scott Stallings or Kyle Stanley gets nutty and wins the thing. Seven words: Shaun Micheel, Rich Beem and Yang Freakin' Yong-eun (that's Y.E. Yang and all three of those guys are past "where in the hell did that guy come from?" PGA Championship winners).

Phil Mickelson: The problem with picking Phil this week is that he has a tendency to check-out for the rest of the season after he's won a major. Case in point, he has never won a tournament after winning the Masters in the same season ('04, '06 and '10). It's a perfectly natural human reaction to the achievement of a great success and it's what separates us from the cyborgs that will one day rule the Earth. It's also the difference between Phil and Tiger. Draw your own conclusions.

This just never gets old. I wish we
could read the name tag. I bet
it says "Senior Poopy Pants."
Adam Scott: I still maintain and the FGR Rankings support the position that he's the best player in the world right now. A final Sunday pairing of Scott and Woods with Stevie Williams skulking around the greens making Tiger feel uncomfortable like a guy standing too close behind you at an ATM machine would be off the charts.

Keegan Bradley: My preseason pick as the breakout player of the year has one more chance to step-up and make it happen while at the same time crushing one of my fantasy teams because I choked at the draft and picked Bubba Watson ahead of him. "Screw three days worth of research, I'll take Bubba . . . could I get another Bud Light over here sweetheart?"

Jason Dufner: I know he's been a huge disappointment this year but he made strong runs at the last two U.S. Opens and he finished tied for 4th last week so he has to be considered a contender. Even if he goes out of his way not to look like one.

Hunter Mahan: Top ten finishes at the U.S. Open and the British Open make him a logical choice this week until you consider that his wife just had their first baby. Some people are treating that as a positive with one writer going so far as to say, "he's in a happy place." Hah! Spoken like a man who's either never had kids or had them so long ago that he's forgotten what it's like. Mahan's "happy place" is in Texas with his wife and baby because if he's a man who possesses a conscience and a soul (which certainly appears to be the case), his inner voice will be repeating the following for the entire week in New York, "you shouldn't be here." That will begin to change around week four when his inner voice will start saying, "you should probably head home but I understand if you want to say you're hitting balls at the range and then go get a couple of beers." By week six, his inner voice will be saying, "totally your call." And by week eight, his inner voice will be displaying symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder and saying, "I wonder if we can still get into the Chinese Open next week." About two years later, his inner voice (which has the memory of a Cocker Spaniel) will say, "you know that wasn't so bad, let's do it again." This is a roundabout way of saying that Hunter Mahan is going to miss the cut this week.

Bubba Watson: Having something of a lackluster season with only three top tens and one major gag job at the Travelers. The only reason he's worth mentioning this week is because of the multiple doglegs at Oak Hill that he should be able to bomb it over, around and (considering how he's been playing this year) off of.

I was just kidding . . .
please don't hurt me.
Rory McIlroy: Who? No seriously, Gary Player recently opined that Rory needs to find the right wife to be successful. When asked what he meant by that, Player took off all of his clothes, picked-up a medicine ball and said, "take my picture."

Henrik Stenson: Coming off a second place finish last week after his second place finish at the British Open, Stenson is on everyone's radar meaning that he's primed for a fall but he appears to have recovered from the slump brought on in part by his significant financial losses from investing with Stanford Financial (true story) and his decision not to invest in the film rights to the Girl With The Dragon Tattoo series because he thought it underplayed Swedish sexual deviance (I made that up).

Matt Kuchar: It just feels like his time. He's had a steady rise since he slid back to the Web.com Tour level back in 2006. In 2008 he made almost $1.5M. In 2009, he added a million and a win at the Turning Stone Resort Championship. In 2010, he nearly doubled his earnings and won The Barclays. In 2011 he slipped a bit but then in 2012 he came back strong by winning The Players and contending right down to the final holes at Augusta. This year he's already won the Match Play and the Memorial to go along with five other top ten finishes and he hasn't come close to missing a cut. Statistically, he's not very accurate off the tee (145th) but he always seems to hit fairways when he needs to. Not to mention, in what has already been a feel good season with Adam Scott's redemption, good guy Justin Rose's first major and Mickelson's win at the British, what better way to end it than with a smiling Kuch hoisting the Wanamaker Trophy?

Jordan Spieth: I get three picks this week to close-out my one and done season. I'm basically locked into two of them*** and I initially had Spieth penciled in for the third spot as my wildcard. Then I had a dream on Sunday night that he was eaten by a giant Venus Flytrap like the one from Little Shop of Horrors (seriously). Clearly I need (a) football season to get here soon and (b) to stop watching True Blood before I go to sleep. And speaking of True Blood . . . on to the picks:

In the words of the eloquent David
Wooderson, "I love those redheads."
The PGA Top Ten

1. Matt Kuchar
2. Tiger Woods
3. Henrik Stenson
4. Jason Day
5. Adam Scott
6. Keegan Bradley
7. Webb Simpson
8. Justin Rose
9. Jason Dufner
10. Martin Kaymer

Last Week's Report Card: B+

1. Tiger Woods - 1st
2. Adam Scott - T14th
3. Justin Rose - T17th
4. Steve Stricker - 13th
5. Matt Kuchar - T27th

Hey, I picked the winner but shame on me for not having Stenson on that list and double shame on me for pulling him out of my starting line-up at both the British and the Bridgestone (that was like stubbing your big toe and then stubbing your other big toe while hopping around from the first stubbing). Despite my earlier theory that he's being overhyped, he better come through this week because Oak Hill looks like it was designed to fit his game. I've already thrown the reverse jinx on Kuchar so my work here is done. It's out of my hands now.

Email the Fantasy Golf Report here.

Endnotes

"HEY KOOL-AID . . . WHY
IS MY LIFE FLASHING
BEFORE MY EYES?"
* I know that's a big "if" but it's the best tournament score he's ever had so it has to be considered something of an anomaly even if he's done it four times . . . and I'm clearly reaching for a reason to not put Tiger in the top spot this week simply because my gut tells me that his next major win will be the 2014 Masters.

** Is there any phrase that tests the theory that there's no such thing as bad press more than "drinking the Kool-Aid?" I mean all of the people who originally "drank the Kool-Aid" died. Here's a fun fact about Kool-Aid from Wikipedia (so you know it's true). Kool-Aid used to be called "Fruit Smack." The name was changed in 1927, right about the time people started getting arrested for using heroine. Hmmm.

*** And because my win last week jumped me back into contention, I will not be specifically identifying them here (though you can probably figure one of them out if you try and/or care). Like I said, I'm getting ready to spend the weekend in New York City lighting $20 bills on fire so I need things to go very well for me at Oak Hill and very poorly for my wagering opponents.

Monday, August 5, 2013

The Mahan Conundrum

"Golfas always want credit for
some sh-t they supposed to do."
Two Saturdays ago, Hunter Mahan was warming-up for the third round of the Canadian Open which he led at the time by two strokes when he received a phone call informing him that his wife (Fantasy Golf Report favorite Kandi Mahan) had gone into labor. At that point, he packed-up his gear, presumably climbed aboard a private jet and flew back to Texas to be present for the birth of his first child. The media has since blown-out a hamstring trying to manufacture a debate out of whether he did the right thing (apparently they were as bored as the rest of us with the Alex Rodriguez story and they needed something to carry themselves over until Johnny Manziel and Ogre inevitably burn down the Alpha Beta house).

Look, the debate has never been whether you should bail when leading halfway through the Canadian Open to be there for the birth of your first child. If you have doubts about the right thing to do in that situation, you probably watch Mad Men for the parenting tips. For this to be a real debate, we need higher hypothetical stakes like whether you bail before the final round of the Masters with a two-shot lead and no major titles to your credit. The answer will probably be the same but in the latter situation, a good lawyer could at least make the case for staying and playing.

"Oh I almost forgot the most important
thing. Unless it's for a top client, never
drink brown liquor before 10:00 a.m."
In lieu of a "good" Lawyer, I'm going to have to be the one to make that case. First, I need a client. I originally thought that the perfect guy would be a young player who had found his way into the Masters field thanks to a semi-flukey win in 2012 but who could just as easily disappear from the golfing landscape without anyone noticing. A guy like that could live off a win at Augusta forever even if it was the last victory he ever had so he would at least have to think twice before giving-up that opportunity to do the right thing.

The best version of that guy in the 2013 field was probably Ted Potter, Jr. who got in thanks to his win at the 2012 Greenbrier Classic but has since missed the cut in 9 out of 19 tournaments this year. However, as I was scrolling down the 2013 Masters leaderboard looking for my client like Danny DeVito trolling the cafeteria at the local hospital in a John Grisham movie, I stumbled on to a far more intriguing scenario. What if the guy forced to make that decision on Sunday afternoon was Sergio Garcia? He of the 18 top ten major finishes without a victory and arguably the most mocked and ridiculed golfer of all-time. Is there anyone to whom a major win would mean more than Sergio? You could argue Lee Westwood but a major wouldn't radically change his legacy to the extent it would for Sergio. Despite his general unpopularity, you know people would be rooting for him to make a putt on the 72nd hole of a major for the win. Perseverance has to count for something. Not to mention, as my client, Sergio is the perfect illustration of the fact that lawyers often find themselves in situations where they are forced to represent people who they personally can't stand.

So with that being said, ladies of the jury, I present the following case in favor of Sergio blowing-off the private jet and playing the final round at Augusta:

1. It's Not Like He's the One Delivering the Baby:

Unless you are a complete idiot and get suckered into the ridiculous notion that child birth is some kind of natural act that requires nothing more than a bathtub, a midwife and a hemp blanket,* then you're really not a necessary part of the process. If you've never experienced the "joy" of childbirth before and have no idea what I'm talking about, let me paint the following picture for you:

Imagine that you and your wife have been captured by terrorists and they begin torturing her and will not stop until she admits that she has been wrong at least half as many times as you have since you got married. This of course goes on for the better part of ten to twelve hours because she honestly does not believe it to be true** and to admit it would itself be an admission that she was wrong about that. Meanwhile, you are forced to sit in a chair and share your wife's pain but the sons a bitches have done this to you on a Sunday in the fall and they've put a TV in one corner of the room tuned to the Redzone Channel and given you an iPad so you have to pretend you're not watching out of the corner of your eye and checking your fantasy stats.
"Why in the hell would I admit
something like that? Have you
met my buffoon of a husband?"

Just when you think that she's about to break, out jumps a nine pound pick-pocket who immediately steals 50% of your freedom and 25% of your future earnings before being fitted with a small ski hat and put under a warming lamp like a plate of pasta at The Olive Garden. At that point your wife passes-out from sheer exhaustion and relief and you really perform your only important task which is to call a handful of people and tell everyone that mom and baby are doing great. I'm pretty sure that if you're on the verge of winning the Masters, one of your agent's lackeys could handle that part of the job.  

2. Winning the Masters is a Life-Changing Event for Both of You:

And I don't mean like the time Homer blew-off marriage counseling to catch a giant fish (General Sherman) and then tried to convince Marge that it meant a better life for the both of them.**** I'm talking about the difference between Alan Shepherd being the first American in space versus Gus Grissom who came later and then blew the hatch too early leading to the sinking of the capsule. One guy and his wife got to meet the president and have a ticker-tape parade and the other guy received a participation medal and then he and his family got stuck in a two-bedroom efficiency across the highway from a Florida beach that I'm guessing today looks like a heroine needle farm.*** Or to reference an even older movie, it's the difference between being Debra Winger and getting carried-out of the paper plant by Richard Gere or being Lynette, the blond haired skank who drove David Keith to hang himself in the shower when she was oh so close to punching her ticket to a better life.*****

"Who walks-out on a chance to win the
Masters? I want a green jacket not that
corduroy piece of crap from J.C. Penny."
My point is that staying and winning the Masters is not a purely selfish act. I mean for the rest of her life, anytime someone asks your wife what her husband does for a living, she could say, "he plays golf and oh by the way, he won the Masters." Every spring whenever anyone asks her to do something, she could respond, "I'll need to check the calendar and make sure it doesn't conflict with our trip to Augusta." Even on a random Tuesday in November she could drop the occasional, "I'll be there shortly. I just need to stop and pick-up my husband's green jacket at the cleaners."

And getting back to the Sergio thing, whenever people would wonder, "why would she marry him?", they could rationalize it with, "well, he did win the Masters." (I think there's a Mark Zuckerberg "well, he did invent Facebook" joke in there somewhere but I've watched The Social Network enough times to know that I probably don't want to go there).


3. If She really loved you, she would want you to stay and win the Masters:

And if she really really loved you, she'd call right before you're about to tee off and, between contractions, gut-out a "good luck honey, not much going on here." Remember when Rocky completely lost his training mojo because Adrian was in a coma after having their first child and then, when she came out of the coma, she delivered this motivational chill scene. I mean that was great but what took her so long? She couldn't have blinked that in morse code while she was in the coma? He lost days of valuable training time moping around that could have cost him the title. Paulie was right. She was a loser.

Or to paraphrase an exchange from the greatest sports movie of all time . . .

Myra Fleener: You know, a golf hero around here is treated like a god. How can he ever find out what he can really do? I don't want this to be the high point of his life. I've seen them, the real sad ones. They sit around the rest of their lives wearing their green jackets and talking about the glory days when they were thirty-seven years old.

Coach Norman Dale: You know, most people would kill to be treated like a god for just a few moments.

And there it is members of the jury. I can't say it much better than Norman Dale who was fired from his college coaching job for punching one of his players but hey, I'm sure the kid had it coming. After considering all of the evidence, what say ye?


Yeah, that's what I figured. Sorry Sergio, I tried.

Endnotes

* That of course is a shameless plug for the one thing I've written that was ever formally published (unless you count all of the constructive criticism I've posted on the message boards of a certain local newspaper). You can check-out the madcap tale of FGK 1's entrance into this world here.

** And she's probably right.

Lest we not forget The Right Stuff's sneaky
70's and 80's hot Barbara Hersey before she
dulled it down to portray Myra Fleener.
*** This a reference to The Right Stuff, a great 1983 movie about fighter jet test pilots and the first American astronauts that features quite a cast including Ed Harris, Scott Glenn, Sam Shepherd, Dennis Quaid, Jeff Goldblum and Harry Shearer who is of course the voice of Charles Montgomery Burns, Ned Flanders and Reverend Lovejoy.

**** I actually had the following exchange with the FGW while watching Tiger's 61 after getting home late on Friday:

Me: I just want to check this out . . . Tiger shot 61 today.

FGW: Good for Tiger (not a big fan).

Me: Hey, not just good for Tiger, good for us because I picked him this week.

At that point the FGW said something that I didn't quite catch but it sure sounded a lot like "what was I thinking 20 years ago?"

***** That would be An Officer and a Gentleman, a great 1982 movie about Naval recruits training to fly fighter jets (Jesus this whole website is like one big contrived theme park). If you're choosing between the two, The Right Stuff is probably the better film but An Officer and a Gentleman is far more entertaining and includes one of the best random fight scenes of all-time (at least now you have a reason to watch it after I gave away the ending). Oh screw it, just watch this clip from The Simpsons episode - A Homer and a Gentleman and you'll get the idea. (OK, I'm done).

Email the Fantasy Golf Report here.