Tuesday, September 22, 2009

THE TOUR Championship 2009 - Odds and Expert Picks

BMW Championship- Final Round
The East Lake Golf Club hosts the dual honor of THE TOUR Championship and the FedUp Cup finale. $10,000,000 to the Cup winner with an additional $1,350,000 for the tournament winner. Not chicken feed.The top five in the dizzying rating system can clinch the Cup with a win. The others need a confluence of events that would stagger Stephen Hawking.

We're here to pick the winner and offer stunning commentary on the favorite's chances. No more, no less. So, with our usual assistance from betting house Ladbrokes, may the games begin.....

Tiger Woods, Even - By all rights should win. Stupefying odds difference between him and the field. Still, as goes the putter.....

Jim Furyk, 14:1 - No wins this year, just solid play. 6 top 10s at East Lake. Laser irons. Could win.

Padraig Harrington, 14:1 - Swing changes kicked in. If he avoids 8s and worse, could win.

Steve Stricker, 16:1 - Should be rested. Kinda gassed at last. Hot putter? Could win.

Zach Johnson, 20:1 - Has course record 60. Great iron player. Could win.

Phil Mickelson, 20:1 - Who knows? Can't get a read on his game after a very tough year off the course. Could, probably won't.

Retief Goosen, 25:1 - Sneaks up on you. Easy to forget about. Hot putter = could win.

Sean O'Hair, 25:1 - Has the game. Implodes at worst times. Won't win.

Hunter Mahan, 33:1 - Average Golfer's been on him all year. Hasn't come through. Might here.

Dustin Johnson, 40:1 - Bomber with game. May surprise. Take him as a dark horse.

Ernie Els, 40:1 - Better of late. Still no killer instinct. Might win if others fall off. Won't snatch it.

Geoff Ogilvy, 40:1 - Underperformed all year. No reason to think that'll change here. Won't win.

Luke Donald, 40:1 - Nope, not here. Take him in my scramble though!

Scott Verplank, 40:1 - Remarkable putter. 2nd in last event. Longest of shots. Like him though.

Notes on Others......

Stewart Cink at 66:1 is a nice bet. Heath Slocum at 100:1 is in the top five FedUp Cup standings, which means a win nabs him the 10 million. US Open champ Lucas Glover is a bewildering 66:1. Masters winner Angel Cabrera is posting at 50:1. Not exactly much respect for this year's major winners. Full 30 player field.

The Atlanta area has endured torrential rains of late with the outlook of more of the same. East Lake switched to Bermuda greens which should drain better than bent grass. Officials were predicting a 12 on the Stimpmeter, regardless of the recent water. Expect pin seeking to be rewarded and the best iron players of the week to be right there at the end. The course will play at 7,154 yards, par 72.

Average Golfer's Picks

1. Woods
2. Furyk
3. Toms

Dark Horse. Just one in a 30 man field. Cink.

Bet early and often.

Til' next,

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

FedUp Cup Heads For Home

Finally, a resolution to the the seemingly endless pursuit of a mythical championship and a kazillion more dollars for the lucky pro golfer that survives THE TOUR Championship at East Lake. He'll get to lug the trophy home and plant it on his big screen next to his bowling hardware. Bragging rights will have subsided at that point as he'll only have 29 other losers to chirp at. Soon the FedEx Cup will have it's victor and we can resume normal pursuits, like the NFL and Ice Road Truckers.

This Average Golfer is certainly not the sharpest tool in the drawer, but I did survive college calculus. Try as I might though, I can't get a grasp on the bewildering points system that the FedEx uses to crown it's millionaire of the year. The points are reset for the last event with 2500 for Woods as the #1 seed and 210 for John Senden as the #30. Based on the logic as I understand it, for Senden to get the cup he'd have to win with all the other participants finishing in reverse order. The top five, Tiger, Steve Stricker, Jim Furyk, Zach Johnson, and Heath Slocum can all win the crown with a victory. I would assume that your prospects are on the severe decline from there. Got me so far? Good, cause my hair hurts.

Oddly, last year's top four cuppers, Vijay, Camilo Villegas, Sergio, and Anthony Kim will have front row seats on their couches for this year's finale. Shoot, they can come over to my house and share my davenport. I'd do that for them. Truth is, I'll check out the action. If it's compelling, I'll watch. If not, I'll take a nap or three. The idea behind the FedEx was to maintain some golf interest past Labor Day and provide some incentive for the best players to prolong their seasons. In that respect it's worked with Woods playing more consecutive weeks than one ever could have expected. After the majors though, my interest wanes as the temperatures drop. I'll spend my last weekends before snow and furnace tune ups trying to squeeze in a round during limited daylight. What will you do? Let me know.

Til' next,

*Average Golfer Aside.........The winner of THE TOUR Championship gets $1.35 million dollars. Nice parlay if he takes the cup as well.

Friday, September 11, 2009

The Back Nine - Average Golfer Movie Review

The Back Nine
It's Time To Take Your Shot

The Back Nine is a documentary style film forwarded to me by the author, Jon Fitzgerald. It journals his efforts, upon reaching the age of forty, of elevating his golf game to the professional ranks. Who among us golf nuts haven't "Walter Mittied" our own games only to awake to the realism of a triple bogey on a dog track muni? Fitzgerald is afforded the opportunity to pursue his goal in more than proper fashion. He enlists a cadre of coaches to cover all the bases, mind, spirit, and body not the least. Truth be told, upon seeing his swing recorded on film, it's evident that he won't be starring on Sundays any time soon. He has an adequate move on the ball to be a consistent single digit handicap in most foursomes, but lacks the effortless power and grace that pro's possess. Still, his goal and dedication to it is genuine and we quickly can line up in his, (our), camp.

Golf is revealed to be secondary in The Back Nine. The introduction of his wife, father, and stepfather into the character list uncovers the crux of the story. I'm instantly jealous of his understanding spouse and am convinced that if mine had been half as understanding, I'd still be married. Mr. Fitzgerald's recovery of his relationship with his natural father, a colorful, spontaneous man, in contrast to his more stoic, grounded stepfather are the points in which the film grows legs and are the real ponderables. You see, The Back Nine is a dissertation on relationships and life with golf as the backdrop. We draw the analogy between Fitzgerald's journey and our own and in this respect the film succeeds. It relates.

I enjoyed The Back Nine, albeit not quite in the way I expected. Perhaps that was Fitzgerald's intent or maybe the natural conclusion to his chronicle. I am certain that the fact he did what many of us wish to was a large part of the appeal. Vicarious living is still living of sorts, right? Regardless, it was an easy 90 minutes or so that I'm glad I took the time to view. So should you.


Monday, September 7, 2009

Deutsche Bank Championship - Stricker Outlasts Throng

Jason Dufner was hitting balls on the range, prepping for the possible playoff. Scott Verplank was scoreboard gazing. Steve Stricker was birdieing the 72nd hole to win the Deutsche Bank Championship, the 2nd leg of the contrived FedEx Cup. Locked with Dufner and Verplank at -16 going into the par five 18th, Stricker calmly got up and down from a lie in the rough just left of the flag. The 18th played as the easiest hole on the course today, more like a long par four. Still, Stricker had to card the bird and card the bird he did. That leap- frogged him past Tiger Woods into first place in the FedEx Cup standings going into next week's BMW Championship at Cog Hill. Woods shot the round of the day with a 63, but was still five behind Stricker. Just proves the adage that you can't win the tournament on the first day, but you can lose it. Woods' failure to go low on days one and two, while others were piling up red numbers like Michael Moore at a $10 buffet, was his downfall. Don't feel too sorry for him however if he fails in this cup quest. He still has an extra bazillion or three and should survive. Angel Cabrera, Padraig Harrington, and Dustin Johnson finished tied for third at -15. Final Full Field Scores.

Stricker has "Big Mo" on his side and is more than earning the moniker of Mr. September. Nobody's hotter going into week three, with Steve having won three of his last nine events and coming in second last week. He's played well at Cog Hill with a win and a 3rd on his resume. Woods likes the layout as well and it will be fun to see if he can dismount the roller coaster that's been his scorecard of late and notch a win. This Average Golfer is of the opinion that Woods' game is just fine, it's the others that are getting better.

The bottom side of the field saw Vijay Singh, FedEx Cup defender, fall out of the chase, ending the week in 78th place. The top 70 advanced. Unlucky #71 was tagged on Sergio Garcia. Expect to see Sergio on TV earlier in the morning in Euro events. I'd chalk up Vijay's year to a knee rehab and Sergio's to a bad attitude. Remember Sergio, "Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean the whole world's not out to get you". On the upside, Verplank's 2nd place may have cemented him a spot on Freddy's President's Cup squad. Verplank can flat out putt, verified by his closing four birdies today, and putters are huge in a team event.

It's short wait until Cog Hill with the Monday finish, so polish up the leather recliner and keep the beer cold. In the meantime, enjoy the sterling weather (here anyway), and get out and lose some balls!

Til' next,

Friday, September 4, 2009

Stricker, Furyk Light Up 1st Round of Deutsche Bank Championship

Steve Stricker and Jim Furyk rendered par virtually a suggestion in the first round of the Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston. They led they way with -8, 63s, trailed by a bevy of low scores. The second event of the "FedEx Cup Runneth Over" cemented Stricker's rep as a playoff monster and Furyk's as a dart thrower. Benign conditions allowed tons of players to go low, but Furyk's 18 of 18 greens in regulation stood as a clinic. Stricker has beaten Tiger Woods in his last three rounds in which they've played together including today's eight stroke pasting. Make it safe to assume that Woods' intimidation factor is dive bombing, at least from Stricker's vantage point.

Trailing in second stood the likes of Angel Cabrera, Retief Goosen, Matt Kuchar, Justin Leonard, and Scott Verplank, all at -6, two back. 16 others were spread between -4 and -5 creating a logjam of red numbers. Woods' -1, 70 and Phil Mickelson's even 71 were terrible rounds on a go low day. Both superstars couldn't buy a putt, although Stricker and Furyk's answer to that problem would have been "Hit it closer". There's no reason to believe the scoring fest won't continue with perfect conditions forecast through Labor Day. Course officials will have to get stupid with pin positions to slow the tidal wave of birdies. First Round Full Field Scores.

Woods is practicing the deadly habit of late of spotting the field a half dozen strokes going into the weekend. The best players in the world will take the spot without even a thank you. Mickelson's game is just lost. Too many coaches and opinions cause a brain freeze. This Average Golfer is acutely aware of the bad stuff that occurs when one thinks on the golf course. Act smart, play stupid.

I for one am a tad underwhelmed by the invented spectacle of the FedEx Cup. I consider the majors to be the pinnacle events. Still, it's compelling golf with great fields before football season gets in full swing. Better than the best players shutting it down after the PGA. Find time between the beer and the burgers and you just might catch something special.

Til' next,