Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Zurich Classic Preview

Editors Note: We would like to welcome all of our Amber Watney fans to the Fantasy Golf Report. The post you have stumbled onto in search of the picture below is one of the many previews we do on a regular basis of weekly PGA Tour events, however, to be completely honest, it is not one of our best. So once your work here is done, we would encourage you to take a tour of some of our other work represented in the "Popular Posts" section to your right. We are quite confident that you will be entertained and, if artwork like that which appears below is your thing, you will not be disappointed. Thank you.

The Zurich Classic Preview 

We're going with another brief preview this week because (a) I'm still suffering a mild case of the post-Masters blues, (b) there were at least four sporting events on Sunday afternoon that were more watchable than Ben Curtis bumping it around a tricked-up TPC course, and (c) my schedule is a little jammed-up with four rounds on the agenda including three at #46 on Golf Digests' current Top 100 list.* I'm also brewing-up something a little different for Thursday.

This may be Amber Watney
but I'm not sure. Anyone?
The Zurich Classic sports a pretty strong field but is one of those tournaments where "C" list players win more often than the "A" listers (a fairly common phenomena on TPC courses). In the last seven years Bubba Watson and Nick Watney have won this thing but so have Jason Bohn, Jerry Kelly, Andres Romero, Tim Petrovic and Chris Couch. All swell fellows but probably not the names CBS wants to see at the top of the leaderboard come Sunday, especially after last week's thriller.

I'm going to continue to leave Luke Donald, Keegan Bradley and Nick Watney on the sideline. I would also avoid Bubba because I've got to believe the only reason he's playing this week is that he's the defending champ (and maybe because there is one local morning talk show left in New Orleans that he hasn't appeared on since winning the Masters). I wouldn't be surprised if he misses the cut. The FGR picks this week are comprised of three guys who are playing really well and are all due for a win, one guy who fits the mold of random Zurich Classic winners of the past and a young gun who everyone keeps saying is ready to break through, including me.

To the extent you were wondering whether
P90X works on Irish guys, here's your answer.
The Zurich Classic Top Five

1. Jason Dufner
2. Graeme McDowell
3. Charles Howell, III
4. Kevin Streelman
5. Cameron Tringale

Last Week's Report Card: C-

1. Harris English
2. K.J. Choi
3. Bud Cauley
4. Johnson Wagner
5. Cameron Tringale

Despite the fact that Ben Curtis won,** I should have gone with my gut and stuck with the freshmen and sophomores because if I had, I may have come up with John Huh (T2nd) and Brendan Steele (T4th) instead of K.J. Choi who looks like he's headed for one of those out of nowhere slump seasons that good players start having when they get past 40 (he hasn't finished higher than 24th in a full field event). I figured Johnson Wagner was a pretty safe pick considering he was the second best player in the field (behind Matt Kuchar) and he's from freakin' Texas but that idea went up in flames when he bogeyed half the holes on Friday only to be outdone by my top pick, Harris English, who pulled a Jose Canseco with a 40/40 on Saturday.*** This is a tough handicapping stretch with four out of five tournaments being played on TPC courses. Trying to pick golfers on these tracks is like trying to pick horses racing across a mine field ("and it looks like it's going to be Curlin by a . . . BOOM! . . . well that's a bad break.")


* Unfortunately, my 4th round of the week was a Monday morning fundraiser played in British Open conditions which would have been ok except that when I finished the round I walked into a cheesy clubhouse bar called The Three Putt instead of a Scottish pub. On the bright side, I won $65 worth of pro shop credit which I swapped for a Pink Floyd box set that some guy won as a door prize. (Anyone want to buy a Pink Floyd box set?)

** Ben Curtis' mom didn't even have him in her Top 10.

*** Jose Canseco was the first major league baseball player with 40 home runs and 40 stolen bases in a season. The next two players to do it were Barry Bonds and Alex Rodriguez. Barry Bonds would later become the first 73/13/10 player (home runs/stolen bases/hat size).

Email the FGR

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The FGR Rankings

What? You expected a picture of
Travis Bickle or Jake LaMatta here?
Dan Marino is currently second all-time in career touchdown passes and yardage, arguably the two most often cited individual statistics when comparing quarterbacks. Despite those lofty accomplishments, Marino is an afterthought when the greatest quarterbacks in the history of the NFL are discussed. To the extent that you can even have a Russell v. Chamberlain debate, it ends the moment the guy on the Russell side drops the 11 titles to 2 hammer. (This is a much more legitimate debate than the one about Jordan v. LeBron that Jason Segel has with the kid in Bad Teacher. Jordan v. LeBron? The fact that they used that scene in the trailer should have been the first clue that Bad Teacher = Bad Movie).

I could go on about Ted Williams, Marcel Dionne, Henri Leconte and then maybe try to stretch it to Martin Scorses' Oscar drought that finally ended in 2006 when he won for The Departed (despite the fact that it's probably somewhere between his 6th and 9th best movie)* but I think you get the point.

It's time to put the World Golf Rankings (WGR) out of our misery.  Since May of last year, with a couple of brief interludes, we have been told that Luke Donald is the best player in the world according to a formula that no one can understand.  (You know it's bad when Stephen Hawking studies your calculations for five minutes and says, "you're over thinking it"). This past week, Donald lost the top spot in the rankings to Rory McIlroy despite the fact that McIlroy didn't even play. Donald dropped in the rankings because he finished 37th in a relatively weak field at the RBC Heritage. That performance earned him a .13 point deduction on his WGR score dropping it from a 9.61 to a 9.48. Apparently finishing 37th in a mid-level PGA event is the equivalent of coming out of your triple axle a bit too early.

Golf is a simple game. You add up the number of times you hit the ball and the guy with the lowest number wins. In that same spirit, golf also has the simplest formula in sports to determine its greatest player of all-time. It's A plus B divided by shut up and tell me how many majors you won. Here is the list of the twelve greatest golfers ever:

"What can I say?  I feel terrible
for Tiger.  Really I do."
Jack Nicklaus - 18
Tiger Woods - 14
Walter Hagan - 11
Gary Player - 9
Ben Hogan - 9
Tom Watson - 8
Arnold Palmer - 7
Sam Snead - 7
Gene Sarazen - 7
Bobby Jones - 7
Harry Vardon - 7

Anyone have any significant issues with that list? No. OK, let's move on. The other great thing about golf is that you have to beat so many feakin' players just to win one major that it somewhat negates the "how good was your competition?" argument that mucks-up using the same formula for tennis players. Jack Nicklaus had to beat an average of over 100 players for every major he won. That's 1,800 players for 18 majors. Even if half of those guys were drunker than Roger Maltbie at an open bar wedding, that's still impressive.

So clearly majors are what define a great golfer. The problem we have today, however, is that no one is winning them in bunches. The last sixteen have been won by sixteen different players so it's harder figure out who the best really is but, at the same time, when it's this wide open it's easier to figure out who the best really isn't. I don't want to hear about the winner at some Buick sponsored event where only three of the top twenty players in the world competed. That win should have no bearing on ranking the top players. No one knows who has the most career victories without winning a major despite the fact that he's higher on the total win list than legends like Lee Trevino, Johnny Miller, Gary Player and Raymond Floyd.**

"Talk to me when you make the
cut at Augusta at the age of 62."
The other reason we don't want to count the lower tier events is that the truly great players don't get that up for them. Sure they want to win every time they tee it up but Phil Mickelson did not swing by Orlando in January to play a few practice rounds at Bay Hill in preparation for the Arnold Palmer Invitational like he will at Olympic Club for the U.S. Open. Also, players like Luke Donald and Matt Kuchar who had high expectations for the Masters were due for a letdown the following week at the RBC Heritage. As previously noted, Donald's tie for 37th cost him the top spot in the World Golf Rankings which is ridiculous. I actually give him credit for grinding out a couple of 71's on the weekend after a bad start when other players were throwing-up 77's and 78's like a bunch of five handicaps.

(Please tell me this is going somewhere).

All of this has been a very long-winded and convoluted way of saying we need a new ranking system that (a) focuses exclusively on the tournaments that matter and (b) is easier to understand than Euclid's Algorithm. For the FGR Rankings, we are therefore only going to consider the results from majors, WGC events and The Players Championship because those are the only tournaments where all of the best players in the world compete against each other. (I originally didn't have The Players in the mix because I can't take a tournament seriously where Craig Perks, Stephen Ames and Fred Funk have the same number of wins (one) as Tiger and Phil.  In the end, I decided to count it but at a significant discount . . . and then I almost ditched it again when I realized that Tim Clark won it in 2010.  Tim Clark?!?). Using those nine events over a rolling two year period, we are going to implement the following point system (this is what happens when you try to come up with writing ideas while watching Moneyball):

          Majors                        WGC Events                 The Players

1st     40 points                         20 points                         10 points
2nd    20 points                        10 points                           6 points
3rd    18 points                           9 points                           5 points
4th    16 points                           8 points                           4 points
5th    14 points                           7 points                           3 points
6th    12 points                           6 points                           2 points
7th    10 points                           5 points                           1 point
8th      8 points                           4 points                           1 point
9th      6 points                           3 points                           1 point
10th    4 points                           2 points                           1 point

A few more wrinkles. Because we want to reward champions and sports is a "what have you done for me lately" business, we are going to add a winner's bonus that declines in value depending on how many tournaments have been played since the win.  For example, Bubba gets 10 bonus points for winning the most recent major, Keegan Bradley gets 8 points for winning the previous one, Darren Clarke gets 6 points for his British Open win, McIlroy gets 4 points and Schwartzel gets 2.  The WGC events work the same way with half the points so Justin Rose gets 5 points for his win at Doral, Hunter Mahan gets 4 points for the Match Play and so on. And one more thing, you need at least two top 10's in the qualifying events to be ranked (the "Darren Clarke" rule).*** We're not going to recognize one hit wonders.

Applying our new formula, here is the FGR top 20 side by side with the WGR top 20:

       FGR Top 20                WGR Top 20

1. McIlroy 125 McIlroy 9.59
2. Kaymer 94 Donald 9.48
3. Westwood 89 Westwood 8.27
4. Watson, B. 88 Watson, B. 6.47
5. Donald 80 Mahan 5.82
6. Oosthuizen 74 Kaymer 5.58
7. Scott, A. 69 Stricker 5.53
8. Schwartzel 64 Woods 5.48
9. Kuchar 60 Mickelson 5.32
10. Mahan 57 Rose 5.2
11. Johnson, D. 55 Scott 5.13
12. Day, J. 54 Oosthuizen 5.12
13. Mickelson 54 Schwartzel 5.11
14. Hanson, P. 53 Simpson, W. 4.95
15. Bradley, K. 52 Kuchar 4.86
16. McDowell 52 Johnson, D. 4.84
17. Watney 41 Day, J. 4.79
18. Woods 40 McDowell 4.79
19. Rose 38 Haas, B. 4.46
20. Dufner 36 Bradley, K. 4.29

It turns out that I may owe Luke Donald an apology because his track record in big events is better than I thought (unfortunately for Luke, I used up all of my 2012 apologies on Eli Manning). Instead of a referendum on Donald's big game performance, the FGR rankings turned out to be a referendum on Steve Stricker and Bill Haas. Stricker is ranked 6th in the WGR and 55th in the FGR. Haas is ranked 19th in the WGR and does not even register on the FGR because he doesn't have a top 10 in any of the 18 qualifying events. (Figures it has to be two of the nicest guys in the world. Why couldn't it have been Sergio or Tiger?)

Think about that. The last 18 times the best players convened at the same golf course and the 19th ranked player in the world did not finish in the top 10 once. Stricker is not much better. His only top 10's are a 6th at the Cadillac, a 9th at the Match Play and a 9th at the 2010 Bridgestone. He hasn't had a top 10 in a major since he finished 6th at the 2009 Masters yet he's five spots ahead of Louis Oosthuizen who won the 2010 British Open and just came within about an inch of winning the Masters with his putt on the first playoff hole. Stricker is also seventeen spots ahead of Peter Hanson who just finished 3rd at the Masters, 7th at last year's U.S. Open, 4th at the Cadillac and 5th at the Match Play.

"The plaque for the John Deere
 is down in the ladies' room."
How does this happen? First, Stricker dominates the John Deere Classic which he has won the past three years. That's great except for the fact that the John Deere is played in July in Sylvis, Illinois when most of the best players in the world are about 4,000 miles away getting ready for a little something the Brits like to call The Open Championship. Stricker also racks-up one other win every year and in 2012 it happened to be the Hyundai Tournament of Champions which sounds impressive until you consider that only 27 players competed in it and none of them were named Phil, Tiger, Luke, Lee or Rory. In short, Steve Stricker is Joey Knish from Rounders. His skills are undeniable but he's a grinder who hasn't finished in the top 5 of a major since 1999. The 7th best player in the world? I don't think so.

Bill Haas' case is even weaker. Sure we all remember the great shot from the water to win the Tour Championship**** last year and the miracle putt on the first playoff hole at Riveria but the fact is that Haas' best finish in a major ever is a tie for 12th at last year's PGA Championship and that is his only top 20. If you're ranking the best players in the world, you can't have him one spot ahead of the guy who actually won the PGA Championship, Keegan Bradley, even if the only other highlight on Bradley's resume is a tie for 8th at this year's Cadillac. I can hear the argument now, "but Haas beat Bradley AND Mickelson in the playoff to win the Northern Trust Open." Yeah yeah. That's the equivalent of Josh Freeman outplaying Drew Brees when the Bucs beat the Saints in Week 6. Did anyone remember that by the time Brees was breaking Marino's single season yardage record and the Saints were locking-up the division at the end of the season? Nope.
Kelly Brook at No. 60?
She must have totally
botched the verbal. 

I don't know many places that engrave your name on the wall of the clubhouse for winning the Nine and Dine, the Turkey Shootout and the Tuesday Night Twilight. Not to belittle the rest of the PGA schedule because God knows I need it to get me from February to September, but factoring in the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open***** to decide the best player in the world would be like Maxim counting SAT scores when determining it's Hot 100 list. What it really comes down to is this. Whether you're ranking golfing greatness or female hotness, only the truly relevant measurables should be considered.                  


* For me it's (1) Goodfellas, (2) Raging Bull, (3) Taxi Driver, (4) Mean Streets, (5) Cape Fear, (6) The King of Comedy, (7) The Departed, (8) Casino, (9) The Last Waltz, (10) Bringing Out the Dead . . . with an honorable mention for The Color of Money . . . "On the snap Vincent!"

** It's Harry Cooper who is tied for 16th with 31 career wins. If you got that, you're either Harry Cooper's son or Ken Jennings.
"I will take Utterly Useless
Golf Trivia for $1,000."

*** I should probably discount the British Open in light of Clarke's win and the recent close calls by Tom Watson and Greg Norman but I can't bring myself to downgrade the Mad Men major (The FGR British Open Update).

**** The Tour Championship is borderline worthy of being part of the FGR Rankings but it's really just a 30 man version of The Players Championship.

*****  I did not make-up the name of that tournament. I also just set a personal record for endnotes.

If you would like to email me your comments on this or any other column or you would like to see the stats behind the rankings, you can find me here

Monday, April 16, 2012

The RBC Heritage Update

"Augustus, that trophy is not made
of chocolate . . . don't eat it!" 
Carl Pettersson won the RBC Heritage in a snoozer and, along with three of the other top five finishers (Colt Knost, Kevin Stadler and Billy Mayfair)* set the "golfers are athletes" argument back about 20 years. Turns out that, while vertical stripes are slimming, when you combine them with horizontal stripes in a tartan plaid, not so much.  

This week in San Antonio we have one of the least intriguing fields I've ever seen for a tournament not being played at the same time as the British Open and it's not going to get much better next week in New Orleans as the top players gear-up for the Wells Fargo and The Players in three weeks. You know it's bad when your field features six major champions but they're Ben Curtis, Justin Leonard, David Duval, Rich Beem, Shaun Micheel and Lee Janzen (oh, those six) and the highlight package that CBS has lined-up devotes more time to the 16 that Kevin Na made on the 9th hole last year than to any shots hit by the winner (it was Brendan Steele in case you forgot).**  

"The suspense is terrible
. . . I hope it'll last."
Some would see this as a soft spot in the schedule but I see it as an opportunity to finalize the formula and calculations for the unveiling of the inaugural FGR World Golf Rankings. I've been banging on Luke Donald for six months because he is the most unqualified golfer ever to be ranked #1 (and he might be the most unqualified athlete to be ranked #1 in his sport since Rocky Balboa in Rocky III). Luke Donald, however, is not the problem. The system that tells us that he's the best golfer in the world*** is the problem and I'm going to fix it. Consider yourself teased.

* At one point, a microphone caught Zach Johnson asking "OK, who took all of the power bars out of my bag?"  

** This is what a PGA pro making a 16 looks like - The Double Snowman.

*** I know Rory McIlroy reclaimed the #1 spot thanks to Luke Donald's 37th place finish at the Heritage but that just helps prove my point. It's gonna blow your mind. You'll see.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Masters Postmortem

I'm not going to devote a lot of time to forecasting the RBC Heritage because frankly it's always a let down after the Masters (especially after that Masters) and a postmortem on my dreadful picks from last week is going to be a lot more entertaining (and hopefully cathartic).  The Heritage actually sports a pretty strong field and usually provides a fairly high caliber winner (Snedeker and Furyk have won the last two). The fairways are tight and the greens are small but I've given up trying to associate course types with certain skill sets because the top 50 players in the world can all do everything well now (except for Westwood and Harrington who inexplicably can't putt). There is some value in being familiar with a course like Harbor Town so we'll factor that in along with who is currently playing well.

The Overall Top Five
Just a reminder that stretching is an integral
part of any successful pre-round routine.

1. Matt Kuchar
2. Bo Van Pelt
3. Jim Furyk
4. Luke Donald
5. Jason Dufner

The One and Done Top Five

1. Bo Van Pelt
2. Jim Furyk
3. Jason Dufner
4. Brandt Snedeker
5. Ernie Els

Last Week's Report Card: D+

When I compared the golfers coming to Augusta to the gangs converging on Van Cortlandt Park in The Warriors, I never imagined that Tiger and Rory would play the roles of the Furies and the Orphans respectively (at least Tiger put up a fight while Rory just let the field stroll right through his turf on Saturday and Sunday). I'm most disappointed in myself for making chalk picks at 1-9. That will never happen at a major again because, as I asked when I started making these picks, what's the point of just regurgitating the Vegas odds?  The FGR needs to be better than that. Let's go pick by pick and see where I went wrong:

1. Rory McIlroy - T40:  I became so enamored with his game after watching him bomb 300 yard 3-woods and stick wedges at the Match Play and the Honda that I ignored the fact that he's only won twice since the U.S. Open and didn't contend at the British or the PGA last year. The reason I ranked him 5th coming into the season ( was that I thought he had some petulant punk in him, especially after he whined about the weather at the British Open. I still think there is a 50/50 chance he could sour like Sergio and the U.S. Open win just postponed it.

Tiger as a Yankee.  It was all
right there on the screen.
2. Tiger Woods - T40:  Who knew he was going to take all of the progress he had made with his swing that led to his win at the Palmer and spend two weeks undoing it? I knew it was over on Friday when he had to push a 9-iron into the bunker on the right on 16 because the swing he had working that day brought the water on the left into play. He didn't kick his club because he was mad about the result, he kicked it because his swing was such a mess that he had to intentionally bail-out on a 140 yard shot. (I've been there, kicked club and all). I'm still miffed at how you regress that much from a win two weeks earlier. I'm guessing there were a few awkward moments throughout the weekend with swing coach Sean Foley. I mean someone has to take the fall.

3. Phil Mickelson - T3:  My only mistake with Phil was not ranking him #1. He'll be at or near that spot on this list until he's hitting the ceremonial opening tee shot with Tiger and Jose Maria Olazabal in 2035.

4. Justin Rose - T8: I had him about right. If he had done anything the first three days, he would have been in the mix. Apparently the swing that Sean Foley taught him is working.

5. Luke Donald - T32: I'm kicking myself for this pick as Donald shouldn't even have been on the list. With his lack of distance and his inability to take charge of a tournament, he has no shot of winning a Masters.

6. Keegan Bradley - T27: I would give Bradley a better than 50/50 chance to win a green jacket one day but his lack of experience cost him in 2012. His second round scorecard says it all with 4 birdies, 5 pars and 9 bogeys . . . and he still managed to finish +2 for the tournament.

7. Hunter Mahan - T12: I had him pretty well slotted but, like I said in the Masters Update yesterday, he's just too fat and happy right now. Maybe all of the love and attention Bubba is getting will make him jealous and inspire him for the U.S. Open.  By the way, he's another one of Sean Foley's students. Just sayin'.

8. Lee Westwood - T3: Considering he finishes 3rd in about half the majors he plays, I'm not sure what I was thinking here. He's already locked-up the bronze medal when they add golf to the Olympics in 2016.

9. Charl Schwartzel - T50: As far as I can tell, the only player who has backed-up his first Masters win with a second one was Nick Faldo in '89 and '90. There is just too much that goes along with being the defending champion from the sponsor obligations to the autograph seekers to hosting the champions' dinner.  Faldo was of course unfazed by all of that because he was a prick.

Darn it!  It even looks like
The Golf Boys video. 
10. Charles, Howell, III - T19: Not a bad call for a sleeper pick.  I did consider Oostuizen but he'd never made the cut at the Masters before.  I also considered Gary Woodland who shot 85 on Saturday and withdrew so there you go.

As for whiffing completely on Bubba, all I can say is that I wrote the following the week before the Masters, "[w]e occasionally wonder why Bubba Watson is not more competitive at Augusta (at least golf geeks like I do) considering he can work the ball both ways, hits it high and bombs it off the tee. Then we watch him play rounds like he did on Saturday (at the Arnold Palmer) and think 'oh yeah, right.'" That pretty much sums up my forecasting ability. Lay out the case for why a player should win a particular tournament and then disregard it based on one round. It's all part of the learning process. Let's just hope my picks don't flatline at any more majors before I figure it out.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The 2012 Masters Final Round Timeline

"Oh my God the 2000 Tiger is back!!!
Let's pick him ...let's pick him!!!"
Due to various fantasy leagues, Calcuttas and side bets,* I came into the Masters with a financial stake in 29 of the 95 players in the field highlighted by Tiger, Rory, Matt Kuchar, Hunter Mahan and Jason Day.  In my one and done league, I'd had Phil locked-in alongside McIlroy since January. Then Tiger won at Bay Hill and I kept my cool like a 12 year old girl at a Jonas Brothers concert and immediately put him in Phil's spot.  Suffice it to say that every putt Phil drained down the stretch on Saturday felt like a sand wedge to the shin.

During one of his many interviews aimed at proving he's a regular guy now, Tiger explained his mess of a swing this way: "I think short-game work might have crept into my takeaway of my full swing . . ."  To put that excuse into perspective, imagine you're sitting at the bar with about 20 guys who played that day and someone says, "I think short-game work might have crept into my takeaway of my full swing."  I don't care if that guy is a 2 handicap or a 20, if he uttered that excuse there would be a momentary pause followed by universal laughter and then at least ten minutes of his ass being mercilessly worn out to the point where it would start to get awkward. Then, for the rest of his life, it would be open season on him anytime he was seen practicing his short game . . . "don't hit too many chips Bobby, we don't want that snap hook to rear its ugly head again."

My other pick of the week, Mr. McIlroy exposed himself as well and reminded me why I went out of my way to avoid having to root for him all season. Look, if you want to suck-up to the crowd and hug Sergio when you're having a bad day that finds you 10 shots back with four holes to play on Sunday, be my guest. But to do it when you're 8 shots back with 24 holes to play is weak. At that point he was +2 and now we know he would have needed to shoot 12 under the rest of the way to make the playoff. That's 4 under on holes 13-18 on Saturday and a 64 on Sunday (which is what Bo Van Pelt shot so we know there was a 64 out there). It would have been tough and he would have had to grind his ass off but he's one of about five players in the world with the talent to pull it off. Instead he took the easy way out, started clowning around on Saturday, shot 76 on Sunday and faded to 40th where he ironically tied with Tiger. Good riddance.**

Apparently they're still using the
chairs from the "little" house.
By the time Sunday afternoon rolled around, here are the players I still had in the mix - Peter Hanson (the classic Masters 3rd round leader with no chance in hell of winning), Kuchar (you do not want your money on a guy who smiles that much and says "oh dear" like he did when he thought he hit his shot in the water on Saturday), Padraig Harrington (we'll get to his putting . . . if you can call it that . . . later) and Hunter Mahan (too fat and happy from his two wins, cheerleader wife and the 19,000 square foot embassy he is building in Dallas to be taken seriously). Considering the talent laden leaderboard that almost assured us of a dramatic finish, I decided to do a final round timeline complete with real life Easter related interruptions. We are switching to present tense to remove any doubt that I wrote all of this in the moment.        

2:24 - I'm off to a late start because this is turning into one of those Easter Sunday's that will not end. I like three things in my holidays and Easter has none of them: (1) I want it to land on a weekday so I feel like I'm getting that day off, (2) I want a defining moment a la presents on Christmas morning, fireworks on the 4th of July and my 2nd Irish Car Bomb while watching the NFL conference championship games the day before MLK Day, and most importantly (3) I want a proverbial five o'clock whistle so I know when it's over like when the last present is opened, the grand finale of the fireworks display and my 5th Irish Car Bomb.***    

2:25 - HOLY CRAP Louis Oostuizen just made an albatross. That almost woke my dad up off the couch. I just hope we didn't witness the turning point of the tournament with 4+ hours left to go.

2:42 - And Louis makes a ridiculous par save on 3 to calm the nerves. Apparently people call him Shrek because of the gap in his teeth and his big ears. That description gets him halfway to the punchline of a joke you probably won't be able to tell at Augusta this time next year. (I'm not going to print that joke here but I gave you enough clues to find it).

"Oh no you di'int!!!"
2:57 - Peter Hanson taps in for his second shaky bogey on 3. He's headed for zero airtime on the back nine until he putts out on 18 to the tune of some sympathetic words from Jim Nantz. Also, I'm no Richard Blackwell, but I don't think he dresses right for his body type.

2:58 - Pardon me. I have to go set-up an Easter egg hunt.

3:34 - I'm back and, to buy some time, I hid those suckers so well they'll need a bloodhound and a machete to find them.

3:35 - Phil decides to try a high cut from 220 yards with a hard right to left wind. Maybe he forgot he was left-handed because that's a suicide mission. If he did, he got a brutal reminder when he discovered his ball buried in bamboo and pine straw that he had to shovel out twice right-handed just to get a clean look at the green. At least by not picking Phil this week, I am able to enjoy this particular moment. (There is something morally wrong with that).

3:42 - Crap . . . now I need to go video the Easter egg hunt I rigged for failure.

4:51 - OK I'm back, hopped-up on jelly beans and settled in for the back nine on Sunday. We've got about eight players circling each other in the ring - Oostuizen, Mickelson, Hanson, Bubba, Kuch, Westwood, Harrington and Poulter.  Let's just hope none of them pulls a Schwartzel and starts connecting with haymakers to take all of the drama out of this.

4:55 - Padraig just missed another putt from about ten feet on 12. You could almost see the thought cloud over his head . . . "I tink I moit need to troy the belly putter."

5:28 - Lee Westwood hit a brilliant second shot into the 15th green. My prediction, he misses the eagle putt, makes one more bogey down the stretch and loses by 2.

"Then why'd you tell me to
hit 8-iron in the first place
you stupid f--ing robot?!?"
5:29 - Oh my God what was that shot Hanson just hit on 12?  An 8-iron that went about 125 yards out and 30 yards right. I'm going to give him the benefit of the doubt and assume that his brain started yelling "DANGER WILL ROBINSON!" at the top of his backswing because he had way too much club so he intentionally fouled it down the first base line to minimize the damage.

5:32 - Westwood just missed his umpteenth critical putt on the last nine of a major. Can we get another belly putter over here?

5:37 - Hanson just putted out for his bogey on 12 and dismissively flipped his ball into the water. This guy is really growing on me even if his man boobs are somewhat distracting.

5:41 - Paddy just pulled another putt on 14, tapped his putter on the ground and muttered, "fook."

5:43 - Good lord Shrek almost chipped-in for eagle on 13. This guy is really starting to piss me off.

5:48 - Hanson from 196 for his second shot on 13 and at some point on his downswing he just thought "don't shank it" and dumped it into the creek . . . and it just ricocheted backwards. That's the kind of break that should help you win the tournament.

5:49 - Phil just hit it to 20 feet on 13 and is poised to make another eagle on the hole he absolutely owns. I still feel like it's his tournament to lose.

5:51 - Paddy finally made a birdie putt on 15 . . . of course it was only after he left himself 6 feet following his horrendous first putt.

5:56 - Hanson "capitalizes" on his great bounce out of the creek with a half-hearted birdie attempt on 13 that's not even close. My horse is fading fast on the backstretch.

5:57 - KUCH JUST STUCK IT FROM 252 YARDS ON 15 . . . and Shrek just curled in another ridiculous par putt to suck the life right out of the moment for me. Grrrrrrrrr.

5:59 - Westwood with another missed opportunity on 17. This is what happens when you only work on your putting during drunken practice green contests with Darren Clarke and Ian Woosnam.

"No no no . . .  I said I need
help to STOP choking." 
6:00 - Right on cue, Paddy misses another birdie putt on 16. I like Paddy but his three major wins are more suspect than the two NBA titles the Houston Rockets won during Michael Jordan's "retirement."

6:02 - Bubba just put a little extra ass into his tee shot on 15 and Shrek followed him right down the middle. Assuming Kuch makes his eagle putt, it looks like it's down to those three and Phil.

6:05 - KUCH!!! (He made the eagle putt and is smiling like he just got his first . . . it is Easter, let's move on).

6:08 - I think half the spectators on the grounds are sitting around the 16th green. Kuch must be thinking the same thing because he just hit the worst Sunday tee shot I've seen on that hole since Greg Norman plunged one in the lake amidst his epic 1996 collapse. The guy just hit a laser from 252 yards on 15 and blew a short iron 30 yards right on 16. This game is brutal . . . on me.

6:12 - Bubba just hit one one if his flailing putts and left it short on 15. If Bubba could putt, he'd win five green jackets in the next ten years.

6:13 - Shrek drains another 10 footer . . . this one for birdie on 15. Don't think I can call him Shrek anymore. He's putting with some serious cojones.

6:14 - Westwood drains a clutch putt on 18 to get to 8 under and clinches what I'm sure will be his usual tie for third.

6:15 - My neck is killing me from swiveling my head from the TV to the computer. I need to do some Pilates before I try writing another one of these. Either that, or write it from one of those massage parlors out by the airport.
"Nice call Bones.  Where
were you back on No. 4?"

6:18 - Phil's tournament rests on this club choice from 222 yards on 15.

6:19 - Good choice.

6:24 - Bubba just made the putt of his life on 16 and appears to be very focused or in Bubba's case, borderline psychotic. He's actually staying down on his putts like he doesn't see fire ants charging at him from the hole.

6:25  - You know Phil doesn't have his good stuff today when he leaves the eagle putt short on 15 . . . and Bubba just jacked it left on 17. Not sure I like his chances against Oostuizein at this point.

6:27 - Apparently the pressure is a little greater when you're tied at Augusta with two holes to play as opposed to being up by 7 at the British Open because Louis just followed Bubba into the trees.

6:32 - Hanson sticks it close on 16.  He'll miss it because he's not ready to seize this kind of moment yet (that's a blatant attempt at a reverse jinx).

6:35 - Bubba almost takes charge with a birdie on 17. You could also say that Bubba almost gave away the tournament by blowing it 15 feet past on 17 but the hole got in the way.

6:36 - Hanson barely scares the hole on 16 with his birdie putt. I'm done. Might as well start rooting for Bubba.

Man I hope that guy at
least drew the charge call.
6:40 - Bubba just posterized the 18th hole Blake Griffin style including the stare down with a 320+ yard drive down the middle . . . and Louis answers.

6:44 - One of these guys is going to birdie 18. When was the last time we had two guys standing in the middle of the 18th fairway tied for the lead in a major? This drama almost makes up for the fact that I don't have either of these guys. I think the excitement may be causing me to overuse the word "guys."

6:47 - Not sure I've ever heard an Augusta crowd this raucous for a walk-up 18. It's got a little bit of a Phoenix Open feel at this point. The Bubba factor.

6:50 - Louis runs his birdie effort five feet by setting his putting stroke up for another gut check.

6:51 - So the Masters comes down to Bubba's putter . . . and a respectable effort but there was no way he was going to jam it in there and leave himself any kind of putt coming back.

6:52 - Bill Raftery just jumped off his couch and yelled "ONIONS!!!" as Louis drained that par putt.

6:59 - Phil misses going 4 for 4 on 18th hole birdies and loses by two with no bogeys and one triple on the card. Add another chapter to his legacy.

7:01 - Hanson finally makes a putt . . . to tie for 3rd. Frankly, he exceeded my expectations but man if anyone left the tournament out there, you could say it was him (or Westwood, Harrington, Kuchar and Mickelson).

7:04 - Rolling through the leaderboard before the playoff.  Must have been some big numbers because Stenson, O'Hair and Watney appear to have spontaneously combusted.

7:07 - Bubba just piped it again on 18 and made his "in your face" face. Louis?

7:08 - Louis answers with authority. For those who haven't been watching the Masters for the past 20 years, you need to know that players used to drive it into those bunkers on the left all of the time . . . with wooden drivers. Bubba can barely reach them. That's how long they've made the hole.

7:11 - Phil just told Bill Mcatee that he hit it where he wanted to on 4, just caught a bad break and hit the railing on the bleachers. Did they erect the bleachers while his ball was in the air?

7:12 - Solid B+ effort from Louis on his second shot but Bubba throws an A- at him. Louis is currently ranked 27th in the world and Bubba is 16th and they're duking it out like Nicklaus and Watson in their primes. The depth of talent in the game of golf right now is unreal.


7:18 - I love Bubba's game but he's not going to win this with his putter.

7:21 - Both players just made a mess of the tee shots on 10 but to their credit, they missed them to the right and didn't pull what Johnny Miller calls the double choke which is trying to take left out of play and hitting it left anyway.

7:23 - Did Jim Nantz really just ask if Bubba can get the ball on the green from there? Has he seen Bubba hit a golf ball before? He probably has five shots in his repertoire that will get him on the green from there.

7:24 - Whichever one of the five shot he chose was the right one because . . . um . . . wow.

7:29 - Oostuizen's indifferent chip tells me that Bubba's shot took some of the life out of him and who can blame him?

7:31 - How fitting that Bubba is going to win on a shot from jail.

"I'm just so darned proud of the
way we practiced this morning."
7:34 - Uh oh, here come the waterworks. Bubba makes Dick Vermeil look like Chuck Knoll.

The way I see it, that was the 10th Masters out of the last 12 that delivered the goods.****  Aside from the fact that there was a playoff and an Albatross that directly affected the outcome, we had eight of the best players in the world in contention at the turn and, by the time it was over, 15 of the top 16 finishers were ranked in the top 25 in the World Golf Rankings and/or had won a major. In the process we also buried the notion of Tiger and Rory vs. the field. At least I hope we did for my sake because if I have to watch those two go down to the wire in one of the three remaining majors after I wasted them at Augusta, we could have another Billy Cundiff situation on our hands. (And no, I'm still not over it).


* That will be the opening line of my introduction at my first Gamblers Anonymous meeting.

** If you want to dismiss that as the bitter rantings of a frustrated gambler, go ahead because that is exactly what they are. They're also true.

*** I paid the true penance for that night by taking the kids to see a Veggie Tales movie the next day. There is nothing like watching a movie about Christian values presented by a bunch of off-key singing cartoon vegetables to rev-up the guilt spiral. Oh yeah, I was forced to drop a deuce at the theater so I had that going for me.

**** Zach Johnson and Trevor Immelman's wins don't make the cut as evidenced by the fact that they're forced to sit by themselves at the kids' table during the champions' dinner.

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Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Masters Preview

My passion for the game of golf was born in the unlikely location of a small strip mall on a commercial highway south of Baltimore, Maryland.  That is where a local businessman thought it would be a good idea to open a golf store (despite the fact that it wasn't near any golf courses) and where I would start my thankfully brief career in retail (the store went out of business in less than 3 years).  There's not a lot to do in a golf store outside of Baltimore, especially in January and February when we'd be lucky to see two customers in a day and maybe swap a red golf bag that someone got for Christmas for a blue one.  We'd spend most of the morning talking about whether we were going to get chili dogs from the 7-11 on one side of us or a cheesesteak from the greasy Italian carry-out place on the other side.  After lunch, we'd have a putting contest around the store* until it was time to total up the one receipt, turn out the lights and go home.      

The other thing we did to pass the time was watch golf related videos of which we had the following five:

"We'll be right with you sir
. . . after this scene is over."
(1) Caddyshack which surprisingly never got old though it did get a little awkward when customers would walk in during the sex scene involving Danny Noonan and Lacey Underall.  I suppose we could have fast forwarded it but the remote was broken and the VCR was a good ten feet from the stools we would sit on all day like Cliff and Norm.  

(2) Jack Nicklaus' Golf My Way which was a two hour instructional video narrated almost exclusively by Jack himself. It is somewhat outdated now but I think they still blare it at embassies where hostages have been taken because if anything is going to take away your will to live, it's the sound of Jack Nicklaus's high pitched voice droning on and on about his own golf swing.

(3) Some random Peter Kostis instructional video in which he states with complete sincerity something to the effect of, "I could play on tour but I would be about the 50th best player out there so I teach instead." This quote was made more comical when we learned that Kostis would apparently walk around at tournaments with a golf glove hanging-out of his back pocket and the pros would ask him, "hey Peter, what'd you shoot today?"

(4) A video of the final round of what I think was the Sony Open in Hawaii. We watched it dozens of times but I can't remember who won because all we cared about was one part where Paul Azinger was addressing his ball and it moved at which point he looked at Brad Faxon and said, "Bradley, my ball just rolled in the bunker." That line became our go to for just about anything whether it made sense or not. "Did you unpack the new Taylor Made drivers?" . . . "Bradley, my ball just rolled in the bunker." (Hilarity ensues).

(5) A video of the final round of the 1991 Masters (hey now it looks like we're getting to the point). The 1991 Masters has been somewhat forgotten which I don't really understand considering it had one of the most dramatic Sunday back nines ever. It had pretty much come down to Tom Watson, Jose Maria Olazabal and Ian Woosnam who was then the best player in the world (yes, Ian Woosnam was once considered the best player in the world). Tom Watson put his ball in the water on 12 and made a double to fall several strokes back but then eagled 13 and 15 to tie for the lead. Unfortunately, he made a mess of 18, carded a 6 and lost by 2. Olazabal, who would win the Masters in '94 and '99, was also tied for the lead when he played 18 a group ahead of Watson and Woosnam but he made bogey. This opened the door for Woosnam to drain a five footer for par to win the tournament and strike one of the most underrated victory poses in golf history.

My point to the extent that I have one is that watching that final round never got old and everyone who walked into the store would pause and watch** because, if you love golf, the Masters has a holy quality that elevates it way above all other tournaments and, for that matter, above all other sporting events with the possible exception of the Super Bowl. And that's in an ordinary year. This year feels different because it is different. The best players in the world are not merely showing-up for a tournament as much as they are converging on Augusta like the gangs at the start of The Warriors.

You don't need to be an expert to figure out this week's top 10 list (and there is only one list this week because we're not holding anyone back).  It's just a matter of how you want to arrange the top three and who you want to put in the 9th and 10th spots.  What stands out is how many of these guys have won tournaments this year or have been close multiple times.  There may never have been a year when so many top players are coming to Augusta on a roll:

Shake it off Rory.  You're
not that kid anymore.
1. Rory McIlroy: He'll have a lot of pressure on him after butchering the final round last year but the same was true when he teed it up at the U.S. Open where he proved that he has the kind of game that works when he's playing for vengeance . . . kind of like someone else we know.

2. Tiger Woods: Very hard not to put him at the top of the list considering he hasn't finished worse than 6th at Augusta since 2004 but he had a couple of nasty pull hooks when he won at Bay Hill and those suckers are evil little demons that tend to show-up out of nowhere.  Feels weird to say this but I don't think he has the firepower to keep up with McIroy's "A" game.  

3. Phil Mickelson: I had Phil locked into the second spot until Tiger's win. You know it's a loaded field when a guy who has two green jackets and has ten top 10 finishes in the last eleven years only draws the third best odds at 11-1.

4. Justin Rose: You could put any of the next six players in this spot.  Rose is coming in a bit under the radar but he's playing as well as anyone this year.  (Man, writing nice things about good players is booorrrrinng).

At least this trophy wasn't presented
by a guy in a Donald Duck suit.
5. Luke Donald: I went to a Masters Calcutta dinner last night to do some research (which is my excuse for the tardiness of this week's picks***). Multiple people took the time to tell me I was wrong about Luke Donald and how much they liked his chances this week. I will say that I'm coming around on him to the point where he could be near the top of this list for the U.S. Open but he needs to show me more than a win at a tournament that Ernie Els gift wraps for him before I can take him seriously at Augusta.

6. Keegan Bradley: He tied for 4th last week for his 3rd top ten of the season. The only downside is that he has never played the Masters before but, while a lack of experience may hurt him around the greens, it's not going to stop him from hitting 350 yard bombs and reaching all of the par fives in two.

7. Hunter Mahan: He's played the Masters four times with mixed results (8th, 10th and two missed cuts) but he's got a ton of confidence coming off his second win of the year.  I can see him winning a major within the next two years but not this one.

8. Lee Westwood: Westwood has become the forgotten man considering he has six top 3 finishes in the last sixteen majors and is still ranked third in the world but when you keep getting that close and coming up short, people stop taking you seriously. Just ask Colin Montgomerie.

9. Charl Schwartzel: Schwartzel looked like he was about to enter the best golfer in the world conversation at the start of the season but then he shot a 76 in the first round of the Transitions and apparently Dr. Evil walked off with his mojo.  He's too solid a player not to find it again.

10. Charles Howell, III: I was going to put Adam Scott in this spot but he hasn't given us much to judge him by this year having only played three times in the U.S.  Besides, I have to pick at least one semi-dark horse.  Howell has the power game to keep up and has become a solid putter. Not to mention, he was born in Augusta which has to count for something.  (It actually doesn't have to count for anything but you can't mention Charles Howell, III and the Masters without including the fact that he was born in Augusta. I think it's a law in Georgia).

". . . so I got that goin' for me, which is nice."
Last week's Report Card: B

1. Aaron Baddeley - MC
2. Steve Stricker - T36
3. Johnson Wagner - T29
4. Hunter Mahan - 1st
5. John Senden - T18

That's the last time I put a player at the top of my list just because I find a picture of his hot wife (no it's not).  At least I had the winner in the mix and my overall pick of Keegan Bradley finished 4th . . .  


* We had to stop the chipping contests when they turned into flop shot contests and light bulbs started getting smashed.  Then there was the matter of the customer who walked in undetected and we didn't see until he almost took a skulled lob wedge to the forehead. That's about the same time we put a bell on the door.

** Occasionally a customer would look at the TV and ask, "is this live?" and we'd have to resist the urge to throw him out of the store.

*** Note to self.  "Do most of the writing BEFORE you go out until 2:00 a.m. on a Tuesday. Oh the humanity."

Monday, April 2, 2012

FGR NFL Mock Draft Part II

Because nothing says NFL Mock Draft like Masters week and the NCAA Championship Game,* I give you the FGR NFL Mock Draft Part II.  (Check out Part I here - FGR NFL Mock Draft Part I).

"I had it cut to look like a
helmet. Pretty cool huh?"
17.  Bengals - Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama: This is the pick the Bengals received from the Raiders as part of the Carson Palmer fleecing/trade. We'll get to the Bengals later.  The Raiders appeared to be heading in the right direction last season until they made one of the worst trades in the history of sports that had the rare distinction of being identified as one of the worst trades in the history of sports before it was even made.  Head coach Hue Jackson announced after the season that all future organizational decisions would run through him.  He was subsequently fired which means that he either fired himself or refused to toe the line and tell new owner Mark Davis how much he liked his new haircut.  Either way, it's business as usual in Oakland.

18.  Chargers -  Cordy Glenn, OT, Georgia:  The Chargers have been one of the most active teams in free agency trying to find some combination of players who will try hard for Norv Turner as he apparently spends training camp pleading like Donald Sutherland in Animal House, "I'm still waiting for some of you to pick-up playbooks.  I'm not joking. This is my job."

19.  Bears -  Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina:  Most experts agreed that the Bears' top priority in the off season was to upgrade the offensive line and improve the pass protection for Jay Cutler but the Bears had a better idea.  Trade for Brandon Marshall who, at 6' 4", will be easier for Cutler to see when lying on his back and will always be easy to locate thanks to the sounds of screaming women coming from his general vicinity as he punches them in the face.         

"Did I mention the offer includes
free soda pop in the cafeteria?"
20.  Titans - Fletcher Cox, DT, Miss, St.: Titans owner Bud Adams put on a full court press to sign Peyton Manning which included an offer for him to work in the team's front office when he retires.  I'm surprised Manning turned that down considering all of the sleepless nights he spends wondering how he's going to make any money when he retires.      

21.  Bengals - Doug Martin, RB, Boise St: The Wikipedia entry for the Bengals notes that "they have shown signs of improvement, posting a 9-7 record in what is widely regarded as one of the the toughest divisions in the NFL."  What it fails to point out is that the Bengals didn't win a game against a team with a winning record last year and went 0-4 against the Steelers and the Ravens. Peter King recently described their free agency efforts as "plumbing the depths of the lower-middle-class and seeing what, if anything, sticks." Reading between the lines, I don't think he's impressed.  

No, not that DirecTV ad.
22.  Browns -  Nick Perry, DE, USC:  This is the pick the Browns received from the Falcons as part of the 2011 draft day trade that resulted in Atlanta picking Julio Jones. Let's play the DirecTV game with the Falcons on this one.  When you think you have a franchise quarterback who is not a franchise quarterback, you trade two first round picks, a second round pick and two fourth round picks to move up twenty one spots and take a wide receiver.  When you trade-up to get a wide receiver, you don't have any draft picks left for defensive linemen.  When you don't have any picks left for defensive linemen, you give up 172 yards rushing in a playoff game.  When you give up 172 yards rushing in a playoff game, you lose 24-2.  Don't lose a playoff game 24-2.  Keep your draft picks.      

23.  Lions - Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama:  The Lions gave up 946 yards passing and 9 touchdown passes in their last two games so they need to take a cornerback with this pick. If for no other reason than the fact that all of the conerbacks they had at the end of last season were apparently dead.

24.  Steelers - Dont'a Hightower, LB, Alabama:  I don't know anything about Hightower other than, if he plays defense and the Steelers are drafting him, he must know how to deliver a cheap shot.  Speaking of the Steelers and cheap shots, on March 20th, Satan's favorite player retired.  On March 22nd, God's favorite player was traded to a team that plays at the center of the media universe where he will become the starter and be loved by all.**  The forces of good are clearly winning.  Suck on that Mayans!

Not a good sign when Clarence Beeks
announces your name at the draft.
25.  Broncos - Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor:  Sometimes it truly is better to be lucky than good. If the draft plays out this way, Justin Blackmon will spend his first three years being thrown to by whatever half-assed quarterback situation the Browns come up with followed by him selling his Rouchefoucald watch to a Cleveland pawn broker while Kendall Wright is catching 80 passes a year and eating Foie Gras.

26.  Texans - Whitney Mercilus, LB, Illinois:  He has all of the physical tools to be dominant but the big question on him coming out of college is whether his bad ass last name will be enough to counter his feminine leaning first name.  I guess if former Patriots' defensive back Richard Felt could make it, then Whitney should be OK.      

"Yeah I can't be 'Head Coach'
but no one said anything about
'Director of Player Movement.'" 
27.  Patriots (from the Saints) - Kendall Reyes, DT, UConn:  As if draft day wasn't going to be miserable enough for Saints fans having lost their second round pick, they also have to watch Special Agent Belichick use their first round pick. The only guy who doesn't seem to be taking this bounty thing seriously is Sean Payton who is serving as interim general manager trying to hire Bill Parcells before he settles into a lucrative studio gig with Fox or CBS.  Nobody's thumbed his nose at a suspension this brazenly since Ace Rothstein.            

28.  Packers - Andre Branch, DE, Clemson:  If you're in advertising and you try to make something funny like the Discount Double Check commercials and they turn out to be so painful to watch that they actually gain a second life as a parody of themselves thereby gaining more exposure for the product than you ever imagined (or deserved), do you get promoted or demoted?  

29.  Ravens - Peter Kronz, C, Wisconsin:  The Ravens resigned 35 year old center Matt Birk who is arguably one of the finest and most well educated men playing in the NFL but unfortunately those attributes didn't keep opposing defensive tackles from caving in the middle of the Ravens' line last year.  In the words of former Kentucky forward Demarcus Cousins before hammering academically superior Cornell in the 2010 NCAA Tournament, "it's not a spelling bee."  

"I went 13-3 with Alex Smith and you
ask me if I have a God complex.  Let
me tell you something. I am God."
30.  49ers - Coby Fleener, TE, Stanford:  A great way to measure the level of arrogance in a young NFL coach is by how many of his former college players he drafts (a/k/a "The Spurrier Meter") so this pick feels about right.  By the way, if you didn't see the transcript of the Harbaugh-Manning recruitment meeting, here it is:

Manning: "Let's start with the play calling."

Harbaugh: "I'll be calling all of the plays."

Manning: (Standing up and extending his hand) "Thanks for your time."

31.  Patriots - David Wilson, RB, Virginia Tech: The Patriots have been one big play receiver and a couple of cornerbacks away from winning at least two more Super Bowls in the Tom Brady era but they've only taken one player at either of those positions in the last ten years and they'll probably go a different direction again this year just so Belichick can spite the draft experts in the spirit of former Colts GM Bill Tobin. (Mel Blasts the Colts - wait for the 2:00 mark. . .  Tobin Blasts Kiper - this is worth it just for the classic Sportcenter footage and Olberman's mustache).   

32.  Giants - Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford: There will undoubtedly be at least one Giants fan who thinks Tom Coughlin should get fired for making this pick.     


* After one of the most uneventful tournaments in recent memory, I'll be happy tonight if the refs have one shining moment.

**And on March 27th, God's linebacker gave the pregame speech that propelled Stanford to the NIT Championship (Ray Lewis is Pissed Off for Greatness).  Please tell me Ray didn't call every coach in the NCAA Tournament before weaseling his way into an NIT locker room.