Tiger Woods: In evaluating Tiger's chances, I'm not putting a lot of stock in last week's blowout win. First, Firestone has to be one of his favorite courses in the world considering he's won there eight times. Second, if you turn his second round 61 into a more reasonable 68, then he ends-up in a tie with Henrik Stenson and Keegan Bradley.* Third, I'm still not going to start drinking the Kool-Aid** until I see him contend on the final nine of a major which he still hasn't done this year. He's not going to run away from the field this week. The course is too tough and there are at least two dozen players that we know of who have the game to beat him and that doesn't even include the possibility that a Boo Weekley, Scott Stallings or Kyle Stanley gets nutty and wins the thing. Seven words: Shaun Micheel, Rich Beem and Yang Freakin' Yong-eun (that's Y.E. Yang and all three of those guys are past "where in the hell did that guy come from?" PGA Championship winners).
Phil Mickelson: The problem with picking Phil this week is that he has a tendency to check-out for the rest of the season after he's won a major. Case in point, he has never won a tournament after winning the Masters in the same season ('04, '06 and '10). It's a perfectly natural human reaction to the achievement of a great success and it's what separates us from the cyborgs that will one day rule the Earth. It's also the difference between Phil and Tiger. Draw your own conclusions.
|This just never gets old. I wish we
could read the name tag. I bet
it says "Senior Poopy Pants."
Keegan Bradley: My preseason pick as the breakout player of the year has one more chance to step-up and make it happen while at the same time crushing one of my fantasy teams because I choked at the draft and picked Bubba Watson ahead of him. "Screw three days worth of research, I'll take Bubba . . . could I get another Bud Light over here sweetheart?"
Jason Dufner: I know he's been a huge disappointment this year but he made strong runs at the last two U.S. Opens and he finished tied for 4th last week so he has to be considered a contender. Even if he goes out of his way not to look like one.
Hunter Mahan: Top ten finishes at the U.S. Open and the British Open make him a logical choice this week until you consider that his wife just had their first baby. Some people are treating that as a positive with one writer going so far as to say, "he's in a happy place." Hah! Spoken like a man who's either never had kids or had them so long ago that he's forgotten what it's like. Mahan's "happy place" is in Texas with his wife and baby because if he's a man who possesses a conscience and a soul (which certainly appears to be the case), his inner voice will be repeating the following for the entire week in New York, "you shouldn't be here." That will begin to change around week four when his inner voice will start saying, "you should probably head home but I understand if you want to say you're hitting balls at the range and then go get a couple of beers." By week six, his inner voice will be saying, "totally your call." And by week eight, his inner voice will be displaying symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder and saying, "I wonder if we can still get into the Chinese Open next week." About two years later, his inner voice (which has the memory of a Cocker Spaniel) will say, "you know that wasn't so bad, let's do it again." This is a roundabout way of saying that Hunter Mahan is going to miss the cut this week.
Bubba Watson: Having something of a lackluster season with only three top tens and one major gag job at the Travelers. The only reason he's worth mentioning this week is because of the multiple doglegs at Oak Hill that he should be able to bomb it over, around and (considering how he's been playing this year) off of.
|I was just kidding . . .
please don't hurt me.
Henrik Stenson: Coming off a second place finish last week after his second place finish at the British Open, Stenson is on everyone's radar meaning that he's primed for a fall but he appears to have recovered from the slump brought on in part by his significant financial losses from investing with Stanford Financial (true story) and his decision not to invest in the film rights to the Girl With The Dragon Tattoo series because he thought it underplayed Swedish sexual deviance (I made that up).
Matt Kuchar: It just feels like his time. He's had a steady rise since he slid back to the Web.com Tour level back in 2006. In 2008 he made almost $1.5M. In 2009, he added a million and a win at the Turning Stone Resort Championship. In 2010, he nearly doubled his earnings and won The Barclays. In 2011 he slipped a bit but then in 2012 he came back strong by winning The Players and contending right down to the final holes at Augusta. This year he's already won the Match Play and the Memorial to go along with five other top ten finishes and he hasn't come close to missing a cut. Statistically, he's not very accurate off the tee (145th) but he always seems to hit fairways when he needs to. Not to mention, in what has already been a feel good season with Adam Scott's redemption, good guy Justin Rose's first major and Mickelson's win at the British, what better way to end it than with a smiling Kuch hoisting the Wanamaker Trophy?
Jordan Spieth: I get three picks this week to close-out my one and done season. I'm basically locked into two of them*** and I initially had Spieth penciled in for the third spot as my wildcard. Then I had a dream on Sunday night that he was eaten by a giant Venus Flytrap like the one from Little Shop of Horrors (seriously). Clearly I need (a) football season to get here soon and (b) to stop watching True Blood before I go to sleep. And speaking of True Blood . . . on to the picks:
|In the words of the eloquent David
Wooderson, "I love those redheads."
1. Matt Kuchar
2. Tiger Woods
3. Henrik Stenson
4. Jason Day
5. Adam Scott
6. Keegan Bradley
7. Webb Simpson
8. Justin Rose
9. Jason Dufner
10. Martin Kaymer
Last Week's Report Card: B+
1. Tiger Woods - 1st
2. Adam Scott - T14th
3. Justin Rose - T17th
4. Steve Stricker - 13th
5. Matt Kuchar - T27th
Hey, I picked the winner but shame on me for not having Stenson on that list and double shame on me for pulling him out of my starting line-up at both the British and the Bridgestone (that was like stubbing your big toe and then stubbing your other big toe while hopping around from the first stubbing). Despite my earlier theory that he's being overhyped, he better come through this week because Oak Hill looks like it was designed to fit his game. I've already thrown the reverse jinx on Kuchar so my work here is done. It's out of my hands now.
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|"HEY KOOL-AID . . . WHY
IS MY LIFE FLASHING
BEFORE MY EYES?"
** Is there any phrase that tests the theory that there's no such thing as bad press more than "drinking the Kool-Aid?" I mean all of the people who originally "drank the Kool-Aid" died. Here's a fun fact about Kool-Aid from Wikipedia (so you know it's true). Kool-Aid used to be called "Fruit Smack." The name was changed in 1927, right about the time people started getting arrested for using heroine. Hmmm.
*** And because my win last week jumped me back into contention, I will not be specifically identifying them here (though you can probably figure one of them out if you try and/or care). Like I said, I'm getting ready to spend the weekend in New York City lighting $20 bills on fire so I need things to go very well for me at Oak Hill and very poorly for my wagering opponents.