Prediction #1. Michelle Wie won't win. Nor will Nancy Lopez. After that it's a crapshoot of sorts with a bevy of players elevating their games and some of the superstars showing a few chinks in their armor. After yesterday's post detailing the favorites with the oddsmakers, I've narrowed it down to my favorite five. Welcome to the land of the considered. I've placed them in reverse order to make you read a little more. Here they are in best Karnac fashion....
5. Paula Creamer - Tough and gritty. Doesn't appear so from the outside. Lack of length off the tee won't hurt on a 6,408 yd. course. Sometimes tightens in the heat of a battle. Others don't.
4. Cristie Kerr - No one will want it more. May be in there at the end. Keep in mind that all my Top 5 have a chance.
3. Lorena Ochoa - Hard to put her 3rd. By far the best women's player. Just a little off of late, which is still good enough to beat most.
2. Angela Park - A hunch more than anything, although she has results to justify. Maybe I'm just mesmorized by her swing.
1. Ya-Ni Tseng - Adds to her major trophy case. Who would have thought a rookie would capture two majors in 2008. Your 2008 RICOH Women's British Open winner.
Be aware that this field is fairly wide open with the best women's golf has to offer. Plenty of other players not mentioned here are legitimate contenders. The way my picks have gone lately, one of them will surely win.
*Average Golfer Observation.....It's a real travesty that the nets have devoted only 7 1/2 hours coverage out of four days of a women's major, with a scant 1 1/2 hours from ABC on Saturday, and just two hours for the Sunday finale. What happened? Is their a badminton tourney somewhere?
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Monday, July 28, 2008
Well, what do you know? A British Open we can actually call the British Open. The R&A, for whatever reason, hasn't sunk their fangs into this one yet, hence not the Women's Open Championship. Truth be told though, the official moniker is the RICOH Women's British Open.
Let's handicap the final women's major of the year. As is our habit, Average Golfer relies on the good folks at Ladbrokes to provide current odds. They provide the numbers, I provide the witty repartee and invaluable insight. Let's examine the top 15 in the eyes of the bettors.
Lorena Ochoa, 3/1 .....Sure, the favorite, but outside the top ten last week and not quite up to her usual domination. Of course she can win, but don't like the odds.
Annika Sorenstam, 12/1 .....Playing well tee to green. Not the putter we're accustomed to. Could win, but don't see her as 2nd favorite.
Paula Creamer, 16/1 .....Would have her ahead of Annika. Multiple wins this year and this is on an American, target style course. Consider her one of the favorites. Obviously.
Na-Yeon Choi, 20/1 .....#1 tour rookie. T2 last week, T3 the week before. On a hot streak. Can win. Tough to make a major your 1st victory though.
Suzann Pettersen, 25/1 .....Threat to win anywhere, anytime. Can overpower a golf course. Disappointing T20 last week. Can win.
Ya-Ni Tseng, 25/1 .....Cool beyond her years. Already has one major in her stable. Why not another? Can win.
Angela Park, 33/1 .....Beautiful golf swing. 2nd last week. Third at US Women's Open. She's due, overdue. Could win.
Cristie Kerr, 33/1 .....6th last week. Peaking at the right time. Pressure won't affect her. Possible, but too many ahead of her this year.
Eun-Hee Ji, 33/1 .....Another excellent rookie. Won Wegman's, T11 last week at Evian. Real shot here.
Jeong Jang, 33/1 .....Great mid-season. Slipping some of late. Could win, don't see it.
Ji-Yai Shin, 33/1 .....Owns all existing KLPGA records. Plays well internationally and in majors. Watch out for this young lady. Could win.
Karrie Webb, 33/1 .....Mediocre at best season by her standards. Still, expect her to elevate for a major. Won't win though.
Seon Hwa Lee, 33/1 .....Surprised she's not higher. Two wins this year including the Ginn Tribute. Could win.
Hee-Won Han, 40/1 .....T3 in putts per green. 4th at State Farm Classic. Not consistent though. Can't win.
Inbee Park, 40/1 .....Won the US Women's Open for Pete's sake. 40/1? A travesty. Can win.
The tournament's being held at Sunningdale Golf Club in Berkshire, England. It's a target course not unlike what the ladies play week in and week out on the LPGA tour. The only thing resembling the men's version will be the British weather. Predictably unpredictable. Be ready tomorrow for Average Golfer's astute predictions.
Friday, July 25, 2008
You've put in the work. The hours of research, the careful placing of ads, the search engine enigma, not to mention the content. Oh yeah, the content. The single thing that establishes my unique contribution to a cyberspace littered with charlatans and fakers. My words, my thoughts, my unparalleled creation. Passion, true passion. Something that profound must have value. Time, energy, and reputation are all worth something.
Here's a cool website that's puts a price on your precious baby. Follow this link to see what your blog's worth. Based on number of hits, page views, links etc., it places an actual dollar value on your site. Rather eye opening for me. Mine's worth $727.08. I can retire! Til' next Wednesday. Disappointed? Not to worry. Try Dane Carlson's site and try your luck again. Link here. There, that should make you feel a little better. I guess the comparison reinforces the old saying, "Opinions are like.........". Hope everyone had some fun with this. That's all I intended.
Hmm..... Come to think of it there's a real easy way to determine your blog's worth. Walk into your local bank for a loan and tell the loan officer you'd like to use your blog as collateral.
Posted by Average Golfer at 9:01 PM
Monday, July 21, 2008
Before everyone lines up in pro-Wie or anti-Wie camps, lets take her out of the equation. I suppose the golf gods controlled this one. Final Jeopardy........ A. Michelle Wie, Q. Which LPGA tournament participant is most likely to commit a rules infraction? So, for the sake of argument, let's assume this happened to "unknown player". We'll call her Player W.
After the 2nd round of last weekend's State Farm Classic, Wie left the "roped off" scorecard signing area without having signed her scorecard. She was reportedly "chased down" by volunteers, returned to the scoring area, signed her card, and left the course believing everything was fine. She was allowed to begin 3rd round play the next day, with neither she nor tournament officials aware of any rules breach. Only after completing her round was she informed by L.P.G.A. director of tournament competitions, Sue Witters, that she been disqualified. It's irrelevant that she was in 2nd place, one stroke out of the lead at that point.
First, it's true rules are rules, she should have been disqualified. Second, it's an arcane and frankly stupid rule. Is there anyone there that didn't know exactly what score Wie shot that day? Between the national TV, officials, scoreboards, reporters, and other players, it's conceivable that the only person that didn't know Wie's score was Wie. She's not required to total her score, just attest to it for every hole. Let's look at the rule as it appears in the rule book(s).
- USGA rule 6-6b: After completion of the round, the competitor should check his score for each hole and settle any doubtful points with the Committee. He must ensure that the marker or markers have signed the score card, sign the score card himself and return it to the Committee as soon as possible.
- LPGA rule 6-6: A player is deemed to have returned her score card to the Committee when she leaves the roped area of the scoring tent or leaves the scoring trailer.
Again, I don't advocate that Wie shouldn't have been disqualified. I do advocate the following.....
1. Have the players finishing their round immediately enter a scoring trailer, or room, sealed from the public, with just their caddies and one tournament official per player in that grouping. Remind them at that time to sign their card.
2. Account for all scores from today before commencing play the next day. (Was Wie's second round score posted on the scoreboard when she began her 3rd round? Just wondering.)
3. Consider a punishment fits the crime policy. Obviously the L.P.G.A. is comfortable with modifications. i.e. Minor violation, like Wie's, one stroke penalty. More severe, two strokes. Most severe, DQ.
She's not the first, nor will she be the last, to have scorecard issues. I think it's time to revisit the rule/policy. What do you think?
*Average Golfer Aside......Stewart Cink's bunker/bunker/rake mishap occurred last March 29th. That stupid rule was expeditiously fixed on April 8th. When sufficiently motivated the golf solons can move quickly.
Posted by Average Golfer at 6:26 PM
Sunday, July 20, 2008
Padraig Harrington will be drinking his Guinness from the Claret Jug for another year. His superb final round 69 in 40+ mph winds was a remarkable feat and sealed his legacy with golf's oldest major. A 220 yd. second shot five wood to three feet on the 17th hole sealed the deal. He made his eagle putt and proceeded to par 18 as a formality. Ian Poulter's equally impressive 69 gave him solo 2nd place, four shots behind Harrington. Three consecutive bogeys on the front had made for a horse race, but Harrington quieted all contenders with a back nine 32.
Overnight leader Greg Norman bogeyed 4 of his first 6 holes to quickly give back the two shot advantage that he began the day with. He had trouble finding fairways and the putter was missing the fairy dust from the first three rounds. Nevertheless he was in the hunt on the back nine, but another string of bogeys led to a back nine 39 and the end of his miracle run. Still, he finished tied for 3rd with Henrik Stenson and earned an invite back to the Masters in 2009. If I'd told you before the first ball was struck on Thursday that Greg Norman would finish 3rd, would you have believed me? Amateur Chris Wood won the Silver Medal for low amateur when he shot a superb 72 that left him tied with Jim Furyk for 5th place. Furyk was the highest American finisher.
So, what's to bring home from all of this? Well, Harrington's really, really good. Greg Norman had a dream week and obviously can still play, if he chooses. The golf course was virtually unplayable at times during the championship. Still, I'm not sure what I would have done in the official's places. Phil Mickelson can't win on links with weather. You can't beat history and tradition with a sport like golf. I can't wait for Turnberry.
*Correction.....Harrington's 17th hole 5 wood second shot was from 249 yards.
Posted by Average Golfer at 2:34 PM
Saturday, July 19, 2008
Break out the straw hats with shark bands. Dust off the rainbow sweaters that look like a TV test pattern. Greg Norman is in position to decide who wins the Open Championship. His 2 over 72 today left him 2 shots clear of K.J. Choi. Choi was tied with defending champ Padraig Harrington, who matched Norman's third round 72. Simon Wakefield, the best Brit hope, carded a stellar even par 70 that left him at +5. Four were locked at +7, five off of Norman's pace. They were Ben Curtis, Ross Fisher, Anthony Kim, and Alexander Noren.
40+ mile per hour winds at Royal Birkdale claimed casualties. Robert Allenby and Rocco Mediate came in with 76s. Jim Furyk, 77, and Camilo Villegas penciled a 79. Players waited as balls moved on the greens and threatened to add more strokes to inflated scores. Pure survival and Norman, to this point, has survived the best.
I'll leave it to scribes with more accomplished word play than mine to describe the enormity and meaning of a Norman win. Average Golfer just says it would be huge. I can't wait for round 4 to start.
Weather Forecast for Southport, England, Sunday, July 20.
Mostly cloudy. High, 16 deg. C, 20% chance of precipitation, Winds to 37 km/hour.
Posted by Average Golfer at 7:18 PM
Friday, July 18, 2008
Holy Viagra Batman! Greg Norman is one shot out of the lead at the 137th Open Championship. I don't mean to steal K.J. Choi's thunder, it's just that the Shark is the bigger story. I also don't mean to imply that Mr. Norman is a Viagra client. Not that there's anything wrong with that.
The weather calmed down today from shipwreck to just windy and cold. Mr. Choi's incredible 67 vaulted him to the head of the class with 139 total whacks at the orb. Norman's second 70 in a row gave him solo 2nd, one shot behind, capped by a twenty foot putt on 18. Camilo Villegas' mind blowing 65 set him up in sole 3rd, two behind the leader. Villegas finished off his round with five birdies in a row. Bet he wished they were playing 36. Then the fun begins. There's 18 golfers within 5 shots of the lead. With the possible weather conditions that almost puts anyone that made the cut in contention. Almost. A resurgent David Duval was at +2 with Jim Furyk, Padraig Harrington, Robert Allenby, Graeme McDowell, Alexander Noren, and Rocco Baby, Rocco. Glad to see Rocco's still riding the U.S. Open wave.
Adam Scott, +4, Jean Van De Velde, +4, Jay Williamson, the last guy in that took the jet from the John Deere, +5, Sergio, +5, Scott Verplank, 77, 67, +4, nice rally.
Notables going home with the cut being at +9.....Stewart Cink, Tom Watson, (missed by one), Aaron Baddeley, Mark O'Meara, Chucky 3 Sticks, Geoff Ogilvy, Vijay Singh, Angel Cabrera, J.B. Holmes, Ryuji Imada.
Moving day tomorrow. I suspect there will be significant movement with Mother Nature taking swipes at an already tough golf course.
* Average Golfer's picks through two rounds....
Westwood - Made the cut on the number.
Jimenez - Missed cut by a furlong. Couldn't keep his cigar lit in the rain.
Leonard - +7, Needs to make a huge move.
Posted by Average Golfer at 8:22 PM
Thursday, July 17, 2008
Dastardly weather made mince meat of the early groups at the 137th Open Championship. Gale wind, torrential rain, and temps in the 50s turned a major tournament into a survival contest. "Can't wait to go home" said Pat Perez, summing up many of the first players to go off sentiments. Perez shot 82. he wasn't alone. A toll of the carnage featured Phil Mickelson, 79, J.B. Holmes, 79, and this quartet at 80, Vijay Singh, Ernie Els, John Daly, Boo Weekly. Barring a repeat of today that saw the weather surrender to the afternoon groups, these guys are toast. I know weather is part of the game, but where do "conditions" reach the level of unplayable. The only certainty there is lightning and I get the impression that it's too cold there for lightning. It's a horrible break to see some world class golfers virtually eliminated from a major on the first day. It's close to holding a major with 1/2 the field on different courses. Sandy Lyle withdrew after 10 holes and +11. Peter Dawson, chief executive of the R&A, wasn't thrilled. "Disappointing," he said. "I have to say pro golfers should complete the round. That's what they're paid to do."
On the happy side of the draw there were surprises in bunches. Human conditions saw Rocco Mediate share the lead at -1, despite getting treatment at the turn for his chronically bad back. He shared it with Graeme McDowell and Robert Allenby. Now I know why Allenby wears those goggles. For sideways rain. Greg Norman shared 2nd at even par with Adam Scott and Bart Bryant. Looks like being newly married suits the Shark and his game. Never hurts to able to hit the ball low. There's an eight way tie at +1 led by Retief Goosen, Mike Weir, and Jim Furyk. Defending champ Padraig Harrington survived his wrist to post a respectable +4, 74, tied with Tom Watson. Could Watson sneak up and add to his Claret Jug collection? Stay tuned, watch the survivors and the victims of Mother Nature's impregnable powers.
Royal Birkdale Weather Forecast....
Friday, Rain at times, Wind 25-35 MPH.
Saturday, Blustery showers, heavy at times. Gusts to 35 MPH, perhaps 45 MPH during heavy showers. Strong wind hazard.
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
It's Open Championship eve and Average Golfer is musing about what's to unfold, complete with some side thoughts. We made picks and predictions yesterday so everyone had ample opportunity to sidle up to their favorite betting venue to take a serious run at some profit. certainly better odds than the stock market right now. Cash in those 401Ks and grab some odds with Tiger out of the field.
Changing topics in midstream, the Royal Birkdale Golf Club is a spectacular site. Between the natural dunes, rolling acreage, and unparalleled flora, it's truly the epitome of an Open venue. The poster child, 2nd only to St. Andrews. Truth be told, St. Andrews is a moonscape with a great clubhouse and the winner in history. Royal Birkdale has without any shred of doubt the ugliest clubhouse on the face of the planet. Such an opposite to the course itself. I can't decide if resembles the Martian capitol building or drug addled architect's future view of a McDonald's restaurant. If you look closely you can almost see some drive-throughs. Truly, my best guess is that the club captain lost a bet, with the winner being able to design and plop there whatever they wanted.
I've got some pre-tournament thoughts on players with almost no chance to win. Short on chances, but long on charisma, or at least newsworthiness.
- John Daly. Being a previous champion means Big John can play for free in the Open until he's 65. Well, in John's case they allowed until he's 65 or 400 lbs., whichever comes first. It's going to be close.
- Tom Watson. Five Open titles. Phew. How great would it be to see Tom make the cut and play well on the weekend? I think he has a shot.
- David Duval. Maybe a return to the links will inspire David. I hope so. It's getting a little embarrassing.
- Colin Montgomerie. Could be Monty's last major gasp. If he's going to play well, this close to home soil should help.
- Davis Love III. DL3 went through qualifying to be here. You know he wants it. With no one gving him a chance, I'd love to see him contend.
- Graeme Storm and Rohan Blizard (A). Just my two favorite weather names. Actually, the only two weather names.
- Jean Van De Velde. Easy one here. Win = Redemption.
Posted by Average Golfer at 7:54 PM
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
It's that time again. Time to crunch numbers, pore over statistics, and just plain guess who will win the 137th Open Championship. Royal Birkdale is ready and will play to a par 70 and 7,173 yards. The British weather is so unpredictable, the only thing to count on is that they'll have some.
So, with no further ado, and with our usual assist from the British betting house Ladbrokes, let's tear this apart and put a Claret Jug in somebody's hands before they've hit the first tee. Ready....
Sergio Garcia, 12/1..... Was 10/1 yesterday. An enigma wrapped in a conundrum. Has game, head questionable. Could win, should win.
Ernie Els..... 16/1, See above. Who knows? Bet carefully on Els. Could disappoint your wallet. Could win.
Lee Westwood..... 20/1, I see him a one of the favorites. Just missed at U.S. Open. Playing with confidence and had a great all-around arsenal. Could win.
Phil Mickelson..... 20/1, Sorry, ain't buying Phil. His game doesn't translate to links. He plays in the air, even around the greens. Pelz has his full attention. Nobody should have a world class golfer's full attention. Won't win.
Geoff Ogilvy, 25/1..... Played great earlier in the year. Slowing some of late. He's the type of steady player that just hangs around and suddenly is in position to win. Could win.
Jim Furyk, 25/1..... Last year, perhaps. This year, no. Erratic putter this year. He depends on his putter to make up some lack of distance. Won't win.
Padraig Harrington, 25/1..... Odds dropped due to very recent right wrist injury. Limited his practice rounds and won't hit out of rough until the tournament. Defender won't win. Tough break Paddy.
Adam Scott, 33/1..... Broken finger still a factor. Would still have questioned his major toughness. Like the kid a lot, but won't win.
Justin Rose, 33/1..... Storybook ending in the making. Expected more from him so far this year. He's back home though and should be comfortable. Could win.
Stewart Cink, 33/1..... Has all the tools. Having a great year. Something I can't quite put a finger on. Could win, I guess.
Vijay Singh, 33/1..... Good ball striking year, good as ever. Not putting the ball in the hole as quickly as he needs to. On the strength of his reputation........Could win.
Graeme McDowell..... 40/1, Must admit I'm not very familiar with his game. If he was better, I would be. Won't win.
Miguel Angel Jiminez..... 40/1, Leading Order of Merit, would expect more respect. Unflappable. His style suits the pressure and he's a Euro. Could win.
Retief Goosen, 40/1..... Other than dissing Tiger we haven't heard a peep from Goose all year. Won't win.
Robert Karlsson, 40/1..... Like him. Strong player with complete game. Could win.
Andres Romero, 50/1..... Think of him as the Latin Anthony Kim. Long and strong and just enough savvy gained to take a shot at this. Could win.
Anthony Kim, 50/1..... See above. Super game, not as experienced as Romero. This will help him down the line, but not this year. Gotta pay some dues. Won't win.
Hunter Mahan, 50/1..... Coming along, but not here, not now. Can't win.
Justin Leonard, 50/1..... I think the course is perfect for him. Extremely straight hitter. Great for the 10 yd. wide fairways. Wonderful short game and putter. I think he's got a real shot. Could win.
Robert Allenby, 50/1..... With the goggles he wears he reminds me of the Jeff Goldblum movie, The Fly. Decent player, no more, no less. Can't win.
Sleeper picks at greater than 50/1 odds......Henrik Stenson, Martin Kaymer, J.B. Holmes, Tim Clark.
Average Golfer's favorite names.....Chih-Bing Lam, Peter Appleyard, and of course Danny Chia, my pet name.
Average's Golfer's Pick to Win the 137th Open Championship
1st - Lee Westwood
2nd - Miguel Angel Jimenez
3rd - Justin Leonard
There you have 'em. 1st, 2nd, and 3rd, no charge. On the house. I trust y'all will send me a percentage of your winnings. Operators are standing by.
Posted by Average Golfer at 6:46 PM
Monday, July 14, 2008
The granddaddy of them all. Scene of Tom Watson's last Open Championship in 1983,Mark O'Meara's in 1998 when last played here, Royal Birkdale again requests the honor of your presence to crown the year's champion golfer.
What to expect...
Expect rough, lots of rich green rough. When the spring is wet in the British Isles, the rough is long and green. This spring was wet.
Expect the unexpected if handicapping this tournament. With Tiger Woods on the sidelines there's no clear favorite. That will make for some ripe golf viewing. Sergio's installed as the early favorite at 10/1. Keep in mind that is just a number to even out the money bet across the field. He's obviously a fan favorite. Average Golfer says beware of betting on a man to win a major that hasn't won a major. Try this link for Ladbrokes' current odds on the field. We'll handicap the field ourselves tomorrow and make accurate predictions.
Expect an exciting Sunday. This field is too close in talent to have it any other way. There's about a third of the field that I've never heard of before. I foresee a real horse race finish and some tangible excitement. Can't wait.
Since last held here in 1998 Royal Birkdale has been grabbed by both ends and forcefully pulled. No. 17 is 30 yards longer with a devilsh new green. The intended 10.5 on the Stimpmeter may be too fast for this roller coaster.
Nos. 7, and 12, both par threes, are the only holes left untouched since O'Meara's win. Everything else is longer, with the total added yardage at 155 yards. Playing lines have been altered on many holes however, as well as tightening of the bunkers and additional mounds to confound the world's best.
The great determiner, British weather, has been left untouched. Combine some wind with 10 yard wide fairways and ball hunting may be a popular sport. Gradual tree removal over the years has insured the wind will play a part.
How to watch...
If you're not on a plane by tomorrow, settle for TV coverage.
Thu., 7/17 7:00AM-2:30PM, TNT
Fri., 7/18 7:00AM-2:30PM TNT
Sat., 7/19 7:00AM- 9:00AM TNT
Sat., 7/19 9:00AM-2:30PM ABC
Sun., 7/20 6:00AM-8:00AM TNT
Sun., 7/20 8:00AM-1:30PM ABC
Tomorrow from Average Golfer...
Predictions including the winner of the 137th Open Championship.
*Open Trivia...No Brit, European, or South African golfer has won the Open at Royal Birkdale. Americans and Australians reserve that role to this point.
*Publisher's note. The link given for Royal Birkdale is the course guide from the R&A website. The club site was unavailable at press time, probably overloaded due to too many requests.
Sunday, July 13, 2008
You could see it in their eyes. Deere in headlights. When the three players arrived at the 1st playoff hole to decide the John Deere Classic the difference in their demeanor was palpable. Jay Williamson looked as nervous as a long tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs. Brad Adamonis had a half hearted smile and a quickened step. Kenny Perry's shirt had been untucked for some time. Whether he knew it or not, it didn't matter. Adamonis pushed his tee shot right into heavy junk and trees. Williamson was down the middle, saving his choke for later. Perry's was 310 and straight. Hum drum. Adamonis threw on his red cape and tried to hit a 200 yard low, screaming cut through trees with water on the left. Plunk. Williamson was in fine shape when he decided to dead yank his iron. Splash. Perry routinely hit his green and two putted for his 3rd win in five starts. All the action and maneuvering in the final round to get to this point is old hat. The tournament was won and lost of the strength of nerves. Understandable from two players unaccustomed to being in position to win a P.G.A. Tour event. Adamonis' shot was just a horrible display of lack of golf savvy. Par is a good score on a 457 yd. par 4 with water left. Punch back to fairway, knock it on and take your chances with the putt. Williamson's was just a bad shot, pure and simple. Consolation for Jay is that he efforts earned him the "highest finisher" spot in this week's Open Championship. It'll be interesting to see if his long putter makes it all the way across the Atlantic. He'd been talking to it earlier. Congratulations Kenny. Ryder Cup spot locked up and 2nd to Tiger in Fedex Cup points. Great year.
Average Golfer takes on the Open Championship all this week, starting tomorrow. Stop by.
CREAMER PREVAILS IN JAMIE FARR OWENS CORNING CLASSIC.
A two over 73 was enough for Paula Creamer to hold off a red hot Nicole Castrale and record a wire-to-wire win in the Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic. It was her 3rd L.P.G.A. Tour win this year and exorcised some recent late round collapses. Castrale's back nine 31 had her hoping, but Creamer's cushion proved to be too much to overcome.
Saturday, July 12, 2008
A logjam at the top at the John Deere Classic heading into the final round. Kenny Perry hung tough and ended at -15, tied with Brad Adamonis, and Eric Axley. The course bled red numbers thanks to near perfect scoring conditions. One back was Will MacKenzie and Jay Williamson. Fan favorite MacKenzie's Sybil-like round almost had him out of touch with the leaders until a timely eagle on 17 brought him back to the fold. At round's end there were 18 golfers within 5 shots of the lead. That sort of makes tomorrow a one-day tourney. Of note....amateur Phillip Francis brought in the clubhouse a -7, 65 today. That placed him at -11 overall and very much in contention.
CREAMER LEAD SHRINKS
Paula Creamer's 6 shot lead at the start of the day was shaved by 2 strokes in the Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic. Eun-Hee Ji's 68 cut into the deficit to leave her four behind Creamer going into the final round. This is essentially a two woman tournament at this point. The next closest pursuer is Racel Hetherington at-11, 7 strokes off the lead. Creamer better pay attention, Ji's rock steady and a fairway and green machine.
I was innocently waiting for CBS to return from commercial to their coverage of the John Deere Classic. Time check, 3:47 PM, EST. With open mike, but a tick before video came the unmistakable lilt of Ian Baker-Finch uttering "Sheep Shagger" to the anxious national audience. Yup, a very distinct, well enunciated, "Sheep Shagger". Normal coverage resumed. Feherty must have been involved in some way. You know it, I know it, and the American people know it.
Easy to figure. We know what sheep are and we've seen enough Austin Powers to have shagging mastered. You do the math. It all kind of sheds a new light on Baker-Finch. I always thought he was a bit restrained and inhibited. Wrong again I suppose.
"Honest officer, I was only helping him over the fence."
Friday, July 11, 2008
Boarder, skier, adventurer, and part time P.G.A. pro Will MacKenzie's -13 sets the pace after the 2nd round of the John Deere Classic. The birdie factory didn't disappoint, as the projected cut, with a few stragglers left on the course, was at -3. Go low or go home. MacKenzie's 7 birdie, 11 par round 64 gave him 14 birdies in the 1st two rounds and a two shot lead over the foursome of Eric Axley, Kenny Perry, Charlie Wi, and Brad Adamonis. Brian Davis carved out his spot at -9 and was followed by 20 golfers at -7 and -8. Kind of the anti major here I'd say. Perry continued his torrid play and his ploy to make the Ryder Cup team by skipping majors has proven out. Can't fault a guy with a plan and Perry will make a great addition to a team that needs some shake up. Based on recent Ryder Cups, "If what you're doin' ain't workin', do something else".
Average Golfer's picks, Bart Bryant to win is at -3. My long shot Dean Wilson at -7 is in the mix and can win the thing with a couple of rounds in the 50s. Not out of the question here at the Deere! I sadly noticed Tim Herron, one of my favorites is going home after a two round +7. I hope it's temporary with Tim. He's a great player and at the point of his career where he needs to rack up some more wins.
Watch the shoot out over the weekend. Just remember, at this tournament a 5 is a 4 and a 4 is a 3. Capice?
CREAMER STAYS LOW AT OWENS CORNING CLASSIC.
Do you think Paula Creamer was disappointed in any way with her 2nd round 65 at the Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic? After all, it was 5 shots higher than yesterday's torrid 60. She's six shots clear of a game Eun-Hee Ji and no one else is within binocular distance. Hand her the trophy tomorrow morning and let everyone else form a scramble. If this was a fight it would have been stopped. In fairness she has to finish and not repeat her U.S. Women's Open Sunday. I don't see that as a problem. Watchables include Stacy Lewis at -6, T5 and Michelle Wie, even par, T62. Both are trying to earn enough money by the end of the year to secure their cards and not have to go through Q school. I can't wait to see what Creamer posts tomorrow though and will admit it's the only reason I'll check out this B event.
Average Golfer observation..... Did anyone else experience the bizarre, time warp coverage by The Golf Channel last evening of the John Deere Classic? I knew it was a rebroadcast so I kept flipping back to it to see some action. Every time I did Zach Johnson was hitting an approach shot. The same shot, hole and result. It was like watching Groundhog Day. I know, I know, rain delay.
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
These are just the coolest tee markers on the face of the planet. I suppose the only way to one-up these would be at the Johnnie Walker Classic. My home course uses rotting birch logs with the ends painted to indicate the various tees. The short hitters get to the tee box first and kick them forward. By the end of the day they've played a course that's 500 yards shorter. There's no risk of theft however, which is good.
The John Deere Classic is a favorite spot among tour players. By being so close to the Open Championship however, it's tough to attract the world's top ranked players. The "elite" are either in Europe thinking an extra week will transfer their links games by osmosis, or they're home resting. I still can't come to grips with pro golfers and resting being linked. Nevertheless, the Deere organizers jump through hoops to show their appreciation for the guys that do show up. They charter a Boeing 767 to leave immediately at the conclusion of the tournament and fly the players butts to the Open Championship venue. This year they've promised the players will be very close to Royal Birkdale by 8:00 AM on Monday. How can you beat that?
The host, as usual, is the TPC Deere Run. It's a birdie fest with the average winning score since 2000 being 18 under. Get out the red pencils. The course, in Silva, Illinois, is a par 71 and plays to 7,257 yards. Jonathan Byrd defends. If you like action and tons of birdies, this is a gotta see.
Woody Austin, Aaron Baddeley, Kenny Perry, Zach Johnson, Mark Calcavecchia, Camilo Villegas, and Bubba Watson. Keep an eye on Jamie Lovemark, 2007 NCAA individual champion. There's plenty of stars here to make for a nice event. It's all big time to them as they accumulate Fedex Cup points and try to ensure their status for 2009.
Average Golfer's winning pick...........Bart Bryant. Kind of out on a limb, but Bryant shoots at pins wherever he plays. That's perfect for here.
Average Golfer's sleeper pick............Dean Wilson. Good solid all-around game. Just a hunch.
Monday, July 7, 2008
Winning the AT&T National on Sunday was nothing but pure validation for young Anthony Kim. By doing so he became only the second American golfer to rack up two P.G.A. Tour victories before his 25th birthday in the last ten years. Tiger Woods is the other. Perhaps there's still a little hope for a Tiger challenger to emerge from the twenty-something millionaires. This year, in addition to the AT&T, Mr. Kim won the Wachovia Championship, finished T2 at the Verizon Heritage, and T3 at the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic. That places him 5th in Fedex Cup points, and 5th in the Ryder Cup standings. He's building a resume that's the envy of many of his peers. Peers of which have described his game as "awesome", "fearless", and having the "skills of Woods". He's 2nd this year in scoring average, 69.55, wails it 301 yards off the tee, hits 67.20% of the greens in regulation, and uses 29.14 putts/round. If he could shave 1/2 putt per round he'd be damn near unbeatable.
I'm not implying he's the Tiger beater that hasn't appeared yet, just a potential Tiger competitor for once. And a young one at that. Here's an article from my friend The Armchair Golfer that will balance everything and return this to sanity. In the meantime, who wouldn't like to see a 23 year old step up to the challenge? Contend at the Open Championship, be in the mix at the P.G.A., and stomp some serious European butt at the Ryder Cup. Charles Howell III, Sergio, Justin Rose, Luke Donald, Adam Scott, Aaron Baddeley, Hunter Mahan, et al. They've all had their chances. Let's give Anthony Kim a shot. He's earned it.
*Average Golfer stat watch............P.G.A. Tour, 1 Kim. L.P.G.A. Tour, 10 Kims.
Thursday, July 3, 2008
What do the 100 meter dash, parallel bars, and golf have in common? They could all be Olympic events in 2016. That's if the chieftains of the controlling, world wide golf organizations have their wishes. P.G.A. Tour commissioner Tim Finchem, European Tour chief George O'Grady, L.P.G.A. commissioner Carolyn Bivens, U.S.G.A executive director David Fay, and R&A chief executive Peter Dawson recently met informally with International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge to discuss the notion. Wow, that's more titles than Netflix. Let the record state that international golf's pitch for Olympic inclusion was presented by a united front.
Olympic golf, despite it's advocates, is no shoe in. In 2002 the International Olympic Committee decided to limit the number of sports in it's summer games to 28. A vote is subsequently held on the roster of sports for the next games. Any sport that gathers a simple majority of over 50% of the vote stays in for the next games. So, a sport has to be dropped before a new sport can get in. Rugby, tiddley winks, or Guitar Hero could be golf's competition for 2016. Surely golf has built in advantages. No arena need be constructed, it already has international appeal, and a large number of counties participate. In 2016, the earliest possible debut for golf, Tiger Woods will be 40, Chicago would be the host city, if chosen. The lucky winner is selected on Oct. 2nd, 2009, in Copenhagen. Lots of planets would have to align to be watching Tiger play for his country in Chicago. The Olympics' history though begins with naked Greek guys wrestling, so time they have.
Then there's the question of whether golf needs the games and vice versa. It would have to be rammed in somewhere with the year's last two majors, the Fedex Cup, and the Ryder Cup. Perhaps the matches could be nine holes? If given the spot I'm sure all the details would be ironed out. It's eight years off, if at all, but worthy of speculation at least. I'm curious as to average golfer's reactions and comments. Lay 'em on me.
Curiously, golf's been an Olympic sport before. At the St. Louis games in 1904, two teams competed for Olympic hardware, the U.S. and Canada. 74 players from the U.S. and 3 from Canada teed it up. George Lyon, (CAN), captured the individual gold. Chandler Egan, (USA), took home silver, and Burt McKinnie, (USA), and Francis Newton, (USA), split the bronze. Guess there were no playoffs back then. Mr. Lyon was obviously the Mike Weir of his era. I can't wait for the Saudi golf team to make a run in 2016. I hear they're the world's best bunker players.
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
$35,000,000.00 in total purse, $10,000,000.00 to the winner. Those aren't typos. You'd think that kind of jing would boggle the mind of anyone, even a successful golf pro. Place the four playoff events in a time of the season that's typically on the wind down and you'd have a recipe for an instant classic. Yes? Well, not so easy. Classics aren't created overnight and money can't buy history and prestige. Well, perhaps enough money can buy prestige in other circles.
Last year's inaugural Fedex Cup was steeped in dollar signs and low on explanation as to how it worked. The premise is that points are earned throughout the "regular" P.G.A. Tour season. At the beginning of the "playoffs", the four designated events of the year, the points are reset from highest to lowest based on how golfers ended the regular season. Capice? The first playoff event, The Barclays, Aug. 21st-24th, will start 144 golfers with the readjusted points plan. The field size narrows through the Deutsche Bank Championship, Aug. 29th-Sept. 1st, the BMW Championship, Sept. 4th-7th, and winding down at the finale, THE TOUR Championship, Sept. 25th-28th. By then there's one survivor on the island with $10,000,000.00 and some other guys with boat loads of cash as well. That's the basic theory and the P.G.A. and the "not brown" trucks hope we can't unglue our eyes from the 50" LCDs we bought just for this extravaganza.
Here's the difference between theory and practice, at least in Average Golfer's feeble mind. All that cash means nothing to me. I want to see competition regardless of what wad they're throwing at the last man standing. Tiger and Phil don't need it. I could use some, but won't wait by the phone for the hand out. It's not real money anyway. It's deferred. Tiger won't see any of his ten million for fourteen years. Not that it's a huge cash flow problem for him, but nobody will see their cash on the day they win. Last year, understandably misinformed about the purse, K.J. Choi stated that if he won the cup and the ten million, he'd generously donate all of it to charity. Stewart Cink accurately retorted, "He'd have to get a loan." So forget the dough. How about the competition? Well, through no fault of their own there won't be any Tiger/Phil showdowns like in Boston last year. Thank goodness both of them didn't choose that as the event to skip. This year's likely scene stealers might be Mickelson/Stricker, Cink/Perry, Leonard/Imada, or some other mathematical permutation of the top ten in the standings. The way the points are biased on the reset, there's only about 10-20 players with a realistic shot at having to buy a plane ticket for a trophy.
Lastly, there's a few unavoidables thrown at this instant classic. Ahem, The National Football League. The elephant in the room. Name the TV sports giants. NFL, that's the list. In my part of the country, one with four seasons, the clubs go away when the NFL starts. And, not without mention , the baseball season is winding down and pennant races are heating up. For more traditional golf action, two majors will have recently passed by, the Open Championship and The P.G.A. Championship. If you need a late season golf fix, what better than the Ryder Cup? That has history and tradition up the ying yang. So much so that they regularly host it on goat farms when it's their turn and everyone's afraid to say "The Emperor has no clothes!" So, yeah, in September, if the Red Sox are out of the pennant race, and the entire Raiders team has been arrested, or I'm not on the golf course because we just had our first snow, then sure, I'll flick the Fedex Cup. At least during commercials on the History Channel.
Convince me I'm wrong. Sell me on this baby. I'm opinionated, but can be swayed. Sometimes wrong, never in doubt. Let's hear from you. My mind's a speck open.