Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Fantasy Golf: The Bridgestone Preview

I'm basically pinning my whole one and done season on this tournament as I've been sitting on Tiger since January under the theory that, no matter what happens, we'll always have Firestone where he's won seven times and, more importantly, where he usually wins when he's on his game which he appears to be now (I think). This is clearly one of his favorite courses and every time he's played a track this year where he's super comfortable with the layout, he's won. (I'm not counting the Masters because the ball off the flagstick into the water may honestly have been the worst break in golf history and cost him the tournament).*

The bottom line is that if you still have Tiger on your bench, you're either using him here or next week and we all know how screwy the PGA Championship can be. Four of the last five winners have been Keegan Bradley (when he was a rookie), Martin Kaymer (before he started wearing a scarf on the course), Y.E. Yang (in the tournament that may have sent Tiger over the edge) and Padraig Harrington (in one of the least memorable majors ever).** Not to mention, the last time the PGA was played at Oak Hill in 2003, Shaun Micheel won it over Chad Campbell, Tim Clark and Alex Cejka with Tiger finishing tied for 39th. (Your other three major winners in 2003 were Mike Weir (Masters), Jim Furyk (U.S. Open) and Ben Curtis (British Open) with Tiger finishing T15th, T20th and T4th respectively. I think the WNBA and reruns of Full House had better ratings than the majors that year.***  

Anyway, here are this week's rankings. After Tiger are the two players who I think are currently the best and second best in the world followed by two top five machines. Dustin Johnson is right on the bubble but, before you pick him, be sure to read the disclaimer in the caption below.
I had Dustin Johnson on the list but
The Bridgestone Top Five

1. Tiger Woods
2. Adam Scott
3. Justin Rose
4. Steve Stricker
5. Matt Kuchar

Last Week's Report Card: B+

1. Matt Kuchar -  T2nd
2. Hunter Mahan - W/D
3. Brandt Snedeker - 1st
4. Graham DeLaet - M/C
5. Morgan Hoffman - T52nd

I probably would have gone A- here if DeLaet had made the cut because I'm not penalizing myself for Mahan's decision that made every wife in America turn to her husband and say, "you'd have done the same thing right?" (More on that later). The only surprise was that Mahan wasn't my one and done pick of the week as I had already used him at the Houston Open where he missed the cut.**** I'd like to say that wound has long-since healed but they never really do. At least I didn't have to suffer through what must have been a brutal Saturday realization for those who picked him and then stared at their phone in disbelief as the letters "W/D" appeared next to his name. That would have made for an awkward afternoon at the beach with the FGW and kids . . . "why does daddy keep staring at the ocean and saying bad words?"


* What about Muirfield? He loves that course but he shot 79 on Saturday and finished tied for 65th? (Inserting fingers into ears) LA LA LA LA LA LA.

** Ben Curtis and Sergio Garcia tied for second followed by Henrik Stenson, Camillo Villegas and Steve Flesch. You had to drop all the way to 7th before you found any star power in Phil Mickelson. The tournament that year was hosted by Oakland Hills Country Club which is outside of Detroit and the most recent major played there prior to the 2009 PGA Championship was the 1996 U.S. Open won by the immortal Steve Jones. Might be time to stop playing majors at a course called "Oakland" something located just outside of Detroit. That's just too much bad mojo to overcome. (Reason no. 267 why I write the Fantasy Golf Report under a fake name).
That about sums up my 2013 season.

*** The mere mention of the year 2003 causes PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem to have flashbacks to the nasty phone calls from sponsors and the next thing you know he's Paul Dooley from Breaking Away - Refund?!?.

**** My pick last week was Ernie Els who made the cut on the number and then climbed all the way into a tie for 21st so, with two weeks left in my season, things may finally be looking up (cue the falling anvil).

Email the Fantasy Golf Report here.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Fantasy Golf: The Canadian Open Preview

We'll have to get to a more comprehensive recap of the British Open later in the week as I had planned to sit down last night and put the finishing touches on it but was derailed when my partner and I blew a 3-up lead with four holes to play and got knocked-out of our two-man matchplay event. Not helping my post-round mood were the following: (1) There were forty-two total dots on the scorecard* with my partner having three of them and me having none (it looked like it had been blasted with pepper spray); (2) The round took four hours and forty-five minutes and we had to let two groups play through; and (3) I made bogeys from the middle of the 15th, 16th and 18th fairways. Suffice it to say that I replayed those three holes several times between 4:30 a.m. and 5:30 a.m. this morning. The only upside is that the FGW and FGKs are at the beach so there was no one there to hear my screams and muffled sobs.

With that bit of therapy out of the way, let's get some picks on the board. The Canadian Open is sporting a very strong field presumably because it's being played in Ontario this year which isn't far from Ohio where the WGC - Bridgestone Invitational will be played the following week. This tournament is played on a somewhat random rotation of courses so it's hard to compare results from year to year. However, the last two times they played at this year's site (Glen Abbey GC), the winners were Chez Reavie (2008) and Nathan Green (2009). The one thing I can say with complete confidence is that the winner of this year's Canadian Open will not be Chez Reavie** or Nathan Green.***

Last week I got a little adventurous, went with Nicolas Colsaerts and Branden Grace at the Open and it blew-up in my face so we're going with the chalk picks this time though this tournament has a history of producing random winners so be ready for anything. Also note that Graeme McDowell has been black-listed from the Fantasy Golf Report for the rest of the season based purely on past futility and not due to any sound reasoning.

Inspired by "Graham" DeLaet and of
course the Swingers reference below.
The Canadian Open Top Five

1. Matt Kuchar
2. Hunter Mahan
3. Brandt Snedeker
4. Graham DeLaet
5. Morgan Hoffman


* There's something inherently wrong with having to give someone who has full use of all of his limbs two strokes on a hole. The phrase "bogey net birdie" simply should not exist.

** One of the guys we lost to yesterday goes by "Chaz." I need to get past this. I'm starting to sound like Jon Favreau in Swingers.

*** Reavie has actually had a better year than I thought with $560,499 in earnings. Green on the other hand has declined steadily since his Canadian Open win and has only banked $86,053 in 2013 which is probably about the point where your caddie starts saying, "um geez Nathan I'd love to this week but you know I promised the wife I'd take her to see Grown Ups 2 on Friday night so um . . . catch you next time."

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Fantasy Golf: The British Open Preview

OK, so maybe his fetish is
not entirely "inexplicable."
We're going with a slightly more serious tone this week (as you can tell from the photo to your right) because this is The Open Championship dammit. I mean did you see the start of The Greatest Game Ever Played when the creepy dudes marched onto Harry Vardon's property and told him they were building a golf course on it? This is some serious black cape and top hat shit.

Over the last fifty years, there have been two British Open venues that have consistently produced hall of fame caliber champions. Not surprisingly, one of them is St. Andrews where Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus have each won twice to go along with individual wins by Nick Faldo, Seve Ballesteros and Tony Lema.* The only outliers are John Daly who still has two majors during his hot mess of a career and Louis Oostuizen who should have two and may have at least that many before all is said and done if he ever gets his inexplicable John Deere tractor fetish under control and starts hitting some fairways.

The other venue that has consistently delivered is Muirfield (hey wait a minute, that's the course they're playing this year) where the last seven winners are Ernie Els, Nick Faldo (twice), Tom Watson, Lee Trevino, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player (don't worry, there will be no Gary Player pictures as we've all seen more of him lately than most of us are probably comfortable with**). Throw-in the fact that Walter Hagen and Harry Vardon also won the Open at Muirfield and you may have the greatest major championship course in history when it comes to delivering "A" list winners.

And not only does Muirfield put big names on the Claret Jug, it also delivers the drama as the last three Opens played there were decided by one stroke or less with the 2002 tournament providing a dramatic four hole playoff that featured Els, Steve Elkington, Stuart Appleby and Thomas Levet who came to the 18th tee on the fourth hole of the playoff with the lead and likely needing a par to secure the win. Everyone else hit irons or fairway woods off that tee in the playoff but Levet is French so he of course hit driver into the shizzle and made bogey. When he played the hole for the second time in the playoff in sudden death between him and Els, he of course hit driver into the fairway bunker, made bogey and lost by a stroke. In the words of Gigi, "I don't understand the Parisians."*** If you add that to the Jean van de Velde meltdown at the '99 Open, it makes three times over a four year span where a Frenchman hit an ill-advised driver off the 18th tee at a British Open and it cost him the title. Nine years later, Levet would win the 2011 French Open, jump in a pond and break his leg. I don't have a joke here. Don't need one.

"That would be 'Deux.' As in two drivers and
'duh' I just jumped into two feet of water."
So aside from the fact that we will not be picking any Frenchmen, where does that leave us? Let's make a few assumptions based on the history at Muirfield. Assumption No.1: The winner will be remembered as one of the top players of his era; No. 2: The winner will be a player who has had or we can expect to have much success at British Opens over the course of his career; No. 3: The winner will be a player who can close the deal on Sunday with at least one other top player breathing down his neck.

Let's start with Assumption No. 1 (seems logical). We have three players who already make the "top player of his era" grade in Tiger, Phil and Ernie. Let's throw Rory McIlroy in that mix because he's only 24 years old and already has two major wins under his belt. That list of Muirfield winners since Player in 1959 has won an average of ten majors each with no one winning less than four. Let's therefore add a sub-assumption to Assumption No. 1 and say that this year's British Open will be at least someone's second major. Based on that, we'll introduce Justin Rose, Adam Scott, Webb Simpson, Bubba Watson, Charl Schwartzel, Martin Kaymer, Graeme McDowell, Jim Furyk, Keegan Bradley, Padraig Harrington and Oosthuizen into the equation.

"Thank you reader. You may
help yourself to pie and
cake and ice cream now."
Moving on to Assumption No. 2, take a look at the list of Muirfield winners again and what do you see? That's right, everyone of them has won at least two British Opens (you're smarter than you look). Let's add Scott and McDowell to the former Open winners on our list based on their strong finishes last year and the fact that they just have the British Open look (Scott endorses Burberry and McDowell looks like he could get a sunburn from a flashlight). None of those other major winners have really made any recent noise at the Open and, other than Rose, none of them are playing particularly well this year so let's add Rose and go searching elsewhere for the rest.

Applying Assumption No.3, we need three players who have shown the mental toughness to hit pressure shots late on Sunday at a major. That rules out Lee Westwood, Sergio Garcia, Luke Donald, Brandt Snedeker, Hunter Mahan and Jason Dufner which means we've either accounted for or excluded every player in the FGR Rankings Top 20 except for Matt Kuchar, Ian Poulter, Jason Day and Peter Hanson (who is doubtful with a back injury). So Peter's loss is our gain and I'm also booting Day based on his spotty British Open record. Oostuizen and Harrington are out too because they're each having a lousy year. Oh yeah, Poulter's out as well. I'm starting to see him as the prototypical European Ryder Cup star who never wins a major a la Colin Montgomerie and Sergio Garcia. I also want to leave myself room for two wild card picks and he was overcrowding my top ten.

I want a couple of young guys who don't fit into any of the above criteria because it's my website and that's what I want. Also because there is a handful of players who I think could show-up and make this their first major win. The first one is Nicolas Colsaerts who just finished 10th at Merion and finished 7th at last year's British Open. The man just hits the piss out of the ball and looks like a guy who is going to win a major and, if a Belgian is going to win one, it's going to probably be a this one. Not to mention, the weather is supposed to be benign which should favor the guys who bomb it high and long. My second guy is Branden Grace who's best British Open finish was a tie for 43rd in 2009 and his best finish in any major was a tie for 18th at this year's Masters. However, he had four European Tour wins last year and held-off players like Els, Colsaerts and Thorbjorn Olesen*** to get them. He also finished second at last week's Scottish Open.

Now that we have our ten, we need to put them in order. We're not going to put Ernie at the top because I just can't believe he is going to repeat last year's win at the same course where he won in 2002. Too many boring story lines there. I'm not writing Tiger off but I'm worried about him coming back from an elbow injury to a course where he's going to have to take some swings in waist-high grass. Phil is an intriguing pick after his win at the Scottish Open last week but I'm just not feeling a Phil week. My theory is that Phil wins a British Open in about ten years and there is much weeping with joy as he will just be coming off and unbelievable 11th heartbreaking second place finish in the 2023 U.S. Open (probably to Jordan Spieth).

The guys in the black capes and top hats are telling me that's enough analysis and it's time to get on with it. I'm going for the redemption pick after Graeme McDowell let me down at the U.S. Open. I will admit that there is a part of me that wants to see an Ulsterman win the British Open on the heels of Andy Murray winning Wimbledon to give the English another hollow feeling of glory as they glom onto their second consecutive "British" champion who is not really one of their own (I could have sworn Andy Murray showed a little Ivan Drago after his win - "I fight for me!"). Anyway, here's the rest of the list and a picture of a pretty British lady on the beach next to Muirfield.

Well you don't know she's not
at Murifield. Oh behave.
1. Graeme McDowell
2. Nicolas Colsaerts
3. Phil Mickelson
4. Tiger Woods
5. Matt Kuchar
6. Justin Rose
7. Branden Grace
8. Adam Scott
9. Ernie Els
10. Rory McIlroy  


* I had to acknowledge the accomplishments of a guy who's nickname was "Champagne" Tony even if the 1964 British Open win was his only major. Unfortunately, he died in a plane crash two years later but only after he had racked-up eight top tens in majors over a five year span so, if nothing else, "Champagne" Tony at least put together a better resume than "Michelob" Maltbie.

** Player was recently featured in ESPN Magazine's "Body Issue" where athletes are photographed naked without revealing their naughty parts (think Austin Powers). Player, who is a very fit 77 years old, decided to take it one step further by appearing in an ESPN television feature on his photo shoot. I saw it this weekend on a golf trip with seven other guys and half of us were sitting around in our underwear waiting for the rain to stop (wait, that didn't come out right). Suffice it to say that watching Player pose nude was getting a little awkward until we switched the channel to 2-Headed Shark Attack on the Syfy Channel (apparently it's the prequel to Sharknado).
"Does anyone smell tuna?"

*** And there you have it. I just quoted a 1958 musical staring Maurice Chevalier. The end of the FGR is clearly in sight.

**** I know you've never heard of Olesen but he's really good and should probably be one of my wild card picks. If he wins now, I will drown myself in a vat of relish.

Email the Fantasy Golf Report here.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The John Deere Preview/FGR Rankings Update

"You're freakin' kidding me right?"
We've got something of a soft spot in the schedule this week between the Tour's pimping of high-end resorts and farm equipment so let's take this opportunity to work-in a long overdue FGR Rankings update. I think the last time we did this was back in March right before Tiger won his third out of four tournaments at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and based on that sentence alone, you'd think that he would top the current FGR Rankings and you would, of course, be wrong.

The FGR Rankings were formulated to recognize big game performance which is fairly easy to measure in golf because there are four really big games a year and then a handful of kind of big games and then a whole bunch of other far less meaningful games. To Tiger's credit, he's as close to the top of the FGR Rankings as he's ever been* thanks to his wins at the WGC Cadillac and The Players but it's almost impossible to reach the top spot without winning a major and that is by design. Remember that this whole idea was hatched at a time when Luke Donald and Lee Westwood were trading the #1 ranking back and forth like two Mountain West teams while we all waited for Alabama or LSU to show-up and restore order.

Rory McIlroy dominated the original rankings because they are based on a two year cycle and, at the time, he had two major titles to go along with a slew of other top ten finishes in WGC events. Since then, he has slid down to third as his U.S. Open win fell out of the calculation while Adam Scott and Justin Rose added majors to recent WGC wins (Scott at the 2011 Bridgestone and Rose at the 2012 Cadillac). Keegan Bradley is clinging to the 4th spot but he is poised to plummet in August when he stands to lose the 40 points he earned for his 2011 win at the PGA Championship. (For an explanation of the original point system which remains mostly intact, click here).

And then you have Tiger at no. 5. I've asked it before and I'll ask it again, "how can you be the number one player in the world when you haven't won a major or, in Tiger's case, when you haven't won one in over five years?" When I look at his wins over the last two years, it reminds me of the time in Risky Business when the scout from Princeton goes over Joel's (Tom Cruise) list of high school accomplishments and condescendingly tells him "you've done a lot of solid work here, but it's just not Ivy League, now is it?"**

"Introducing me to a couple of
Perkins waitresses certainly
wouldn't hurt your cause."
Not only hasn't Tiger won a major since 2008, he only has three top 10's over the last three years. Over that same span, Scott has a win, two seconds and two other top tens. Comparing their current major records is like standing in 2013 and comparing Christian Bale to Tom Hanks. One is coming into his own (The Fighter and The Dark Knight trilogy) and the other hasn't done anything worth watching in years (Charlie Wilson's War in 2007?). Why are we even having this conversation? And don't get me started on Brandt Snedeker who is currently 7th in the World Golf Rankings despite nothing on his major resume other than a tie for sixth at this year's Masters and a tie for 3rd at last year's British Open.***

So if Tiger and Snedeker are overrated, then who's underrated? The most obvious one is Bradley who is the only player other than McIlroy, Rose and Scott who, in the last two years, has backed-up a major win with another quality win. Jason Dufner gets no love currently sitting at 21st in the World Golf Rankings despite finishing tied for 4th at the last two U.S. Opens and solo 2nd at the 2011 PGA Championship. And don't forget defending British Open champ Ernie Els who also finished 4th at this year's U.S. Open and 9th last year at Olympic Club yet is stuck behind perennial major bridesmaids like Sergio Garcia, Lee Westwood and Steve Stricker in the World Golf Rankings. It's a shamockery ("not only false, but scornfully contemptuous in its incorrectness" - Urban Dictionary).

If you're still reading at this point, the current rankings are below and side by side with the World Golf Rankings. The winner of the British Open will earn 50 FGR Rankings points so anyone as far down as Ernie Els at 8th could take over the top spot by the end of next week or one of the top three could establish himself as the dominant major player of the day. (Scott and Rose could win their second of the year or McIlroy could add his third in three years and get within a Masters win of the career slam). Fittingly, it would also give them the highest point total in the history of the FGR Rankings. The effect such a win would have on the World Golf Rankings is not as clear but it wouldn't push any of them past Tiger for the top spot. Apparently they need to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational a couple of times to make that happen.

FGR Top 20

WGR Top 20

1. Scott, A. 119 Woods, T. 12.72
2. Rose, J. 117 McIlroy, R. 9.15
3. McIlroy, R. 111 Rose, J. 8.05
4. Bradley, K. 89 Scott, A. 7.14
5. Woods, T. 85 Kuchar, M. 6.64
6. Kuchar, M. 80 Mickelson, P. 6.12
7. Mickelson, P. 80 Snedeker, B. 6.01
8. Els, E. 76 Donald, L. 5.93
9. Dufner, J. 67 McDowell, G. 5.43
10. McDowell, G. 61 Oosti, L. 5.09
11. Westwood, L. 58 Stricker, S. 5.03
12. Poulter, I. 58 Westwood, L. 4.89
13. Day, J. 55 Garcia, S. 4.83
14. Donald, L. 55 Schwartzel, C. 4.82
15. Hanson, P. 54 Els, E. 4.81
16. Watson, B. 53 Bradley, K. 4.71
17. Stricker, S. 52 Watson, B. 4.59
18. Simpson, W. 51 Day, J. 4.44
19. Mahan, H. 51 Simpson, W. 4.39
20. Snedeker, B. 47 Poulter, I. 4.36

The John Deere Classic Preview

I was tempted to just put Steve Stricker's name in all five spots because he won this thing three times in a row before finishing in a tie for 5th last year. Not to mention, he's only played in seven events this year but he's made $2,187,146 for an average of $312,449 per tournament which, as Freddie Jacobson pointed-out when we were having lunch with him at Medalist, is "pretty good right?"*** If you've already used Stricker or you're just feeling adventurous, Zach Johnson is probably the second best horse for this course but he's having a bit of a bumpy ride this year.

This is Lucy Pinder who I once mistook
for Amber Watney. These things happen.
The John Deere Top Five

1. Steve Stricker
2. Nick Watney
3. Jordan Spieth
4. Morgan Hoffman
5. Zach Johnson

Last Week's Report Card: C+

1. Webb Simpson: T41st
2. Graham DeLeat: T30th
3. Charlie Wi: T54th
4. Jimmy Walker: T2nd
5. Russell Henley: T30th

Well at least they all made the cut and I had one of the second place finishers in the mix. Baby steps and low expectations are the foundation upon which we will build a strong finish to this season.


* Though the concept of the FGR Rankings has been rolling around in my head for longer than I care to remember, they did not formally come into existence until April of 2102.

** Ironically, I had a very similar conversation with an Ivy League lacrosse coach. Ivy League admissions departments can look past a lot of things but they can't look past an "F" in calculus. His words not mine. Unfortunately, unlike Joel in Risky Business, I didn't have a house full of hookers to bail me out of that jam.

*** I know he won the Tour Championship last year but that's a thirty player field so it gets limited points in the FGR Rankings. His wins over full fields at the 2012 Farmers Insurance Open and AT&T Pebble Beach Pro Am were more impressive. Let's at least see a sign that he can hold it together on the back nine of a major on Sunday before we make him top ten. It should be noted that I would not be the least bit surprised if that happens at Muirfield next week because I think he's ready.

**** That was a subtle name drop. We weren't so much eating lunch with Freddie as we were eating next to him. He did get a little wide-eyed talking about Stricker's per tournament haul though and, not surprisingly, he soon thereafter jumped in his cart and headed back to the range.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Fantasy Golf: The Greenbrier Preview

I didn't really watch much golf last weekend after my pick, Billy Horschel, took a left turn into Bogeyville on Saturday with a 79 and let's face it, the only people who are reading the FGR this holiday week are here to see my top five so they can decide who not to pick. And let's face it again, how are you going to predict the winner of a tournament where the defending champion is Ted Potter, Jr. and the year before that it was Scott Stallings when he was the tour's version of Ted Potter, Jr.? So instead, let's talk about the match my partner and I played last Sunday (have you no shame? . . . no, I don't but I'll make it up to you with the scenery).

Well that's not going
to be too distracting.
One of the few benefits of belonging to a club with about 7,000 golf members* is that you have enough players to put on a full sixty-four team match play tournament a la the Accenture. The four primary differences between our version and the pro version (aside from the quality of play) are (1) we play in two-person teams, (2) our event takes the entire season with one match played per month, (3) our matches are handicapped and (4) our field includes women (and that's a whole other FGR rant that we'll save for another day).** I have played in this event four times before this season with the same partner. We won it our first year after escaping a semifinal match where one of our opponents missed about a two-footer on the eighteenth hole to beat us. We lost in the semifinals on eighteen last year after we both missed birdie putts from inside eight feet (probably karma for not giving that putt four years ago but, if that's the case, it was worth it).

The other two years we were one and done. To demonstrate how much luck plays a role in this event, in one of those early exits we lost the second hole (the hardest on the course) to a net eagle when our 16 handicap opponent hit it about 280 yards down the middle, knocked an 9-iron to five feet and made the putt because you know, people eagle that hole all the time.***

Anyhoo, this year I picked-up a new partner for reasons that surprisingly had nothing to do with a falling-out between me and my old partner and we got off to a bit of a rocky start when our 16 handicap opponent made a net birdie on the first hole by getting up and down from 100 yards out. Then on the second hole, my partner (with a stroke) hit a 200 yard 5-iron from the middle of the first fairway, across the second fairway and onto the third tee box which would have been ok but for the road that separates the second and third hole. Not to worry, however, as I calmly knocked the ball on the middle of the green and then calmly three-putted from about 25 feet to lose it.

"Two down crossing the road is
no way to go through life son."
When I birdied the third hole, my partner correctly told me not to get too high on myself because we should have been even at that point. We did get even on five, took the lead when we both birdied six and then lost seven to a net birdie even though the hole is a 330 yard par 4. Losing to a net birdie on that hole is like getting a kick in the shin . . . by Chuck Norris. I lipped-out for birdie on eight and my partner made a nice four footer for par on nine so we made the turn at even.

Our opponents imploded on the tenth hole and then we were at a stalemate on and around the eleventh green when the skies opened-up and we had to take it in for about a one hour rain delay. Fortunately, someone on the course had made a hole-in-one so hey . . . free Transfusions for everyone. (The other benefit of having 7,000 members is that there is a hole-in-one nearly every freakin' day). When we finally got back out, we halved eleven and then I gave away twelve when I gagged a four footer for par. I redeemed myself by being the only one to hit  the green and par the thirteenth (don't worry, this isn't really going anywhere, I'm just blissfully typing away at this point).

We won fourteen and fifteen to go three up with three to play. Then I birdied sixteen and it was over. . .  except that I had just gotten back to two over and, if I could birdie-in, I'd shoot even par on my home course for the first time. Oh yeah, it also dawned on me at about that point that I had hit every fairway (Jinx Factor: High). When I two-putted the seventeenth for a par, I was left needing to hole-out on eighteen to shoot 70 (now I wouldn't drag you all the way to this point for no payoff . . . would I?).

I split the fairway on eighteen meaning that I had hit every one and frankly, I should have been flirting with 68 not 70 (remember the &$#*@ putting issues on two and twelve). I had the same knockdown 9-iron that I had hit stiff on the six hole so I was actually thinking I had a legitimate shot at this . . . until I pulled it left of the green, hit a sloppy chip and made bogey for 73 (sorry, no eagle on eighteen this week folks . . . thanks for coming).

Why do I tell this completely self-serving story? Because last week I caught a tweet from a fairly established golf writer that said, "yesterday I needed an 8 on the 18th hole to break 100 for the first time ever. I got a 10." That really bothered me because, for some reason, I think that golf is different than other sports and that to write about it you need to have experienced at least a taste of what it feels like to play for something other than just trying to break 100. You need to have had that experience of seeing your ball roll by the cup on 18 and take your chance of forcing a playoff with it. Anguish is relative and I will never know what it feels like to be Phil Mickelson after letting another U.S. Open slip away but I'm sure Phil has spent many a night staring at the ceiling and asking himself why he hit pitching wedge instead of gap wedge on the thirteenth hole and, believe me, I know exactly what that feels like.
In honor of Graham DeLaet's first
FGR mention, this is Canada's own
Grace Park who also shares her name
with a pro golfer. How convenient. 

The Greenbrier Top Five

1. Webb Simpson
2. Graham DeLaet
3. Charlie Wi
4. Jimmy Walker
5. Russell Henley

Last Week's Report Card: D-

1. Jason Day - T21
2. Billy Horschel - T61
3. Adam Scott - T57
4. Jimmy Walker - M/C
5. Bo Van Pelt - M/C

Last Week's Report Card bears an eerie resemblance to the one I received in the second semester of my freshman year of college. On the "FGR to College Grade Conversion Chart, "M/C's" would represent D's.


* We don't really have 7,000 members. It just seems that way when you're trying to get a tee time. On the other hand, if you can't find someone to play with at a club that big, you might want to speed-up your pre-shot routine . . . or switch deodorants.

"Call me."
** I will answer the obvious question, "how can they make the matches fair between men and women?" They can't.

*** Our second hole has served as the closing hole for the Senior Players Championship and even from the white tees it's about 430 yards with out of bounds left, trees on the right and a green more suited to a 130 yard par-3. Making birdie on that hole is like putting on your blue blazer, reaching into the inside pocket and finding a hundred dollar bill . . . and Olivia Munn's phone number.

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