Monday, December 27, 2010

"When To Regrip Your Ball Retriever" - Average Golfer Book Review

Who couldn't use some golf yuks right about now more than me? Last week in December, 4 degrees outside, colder than a recent ex-spouse. My clubs are away until at least April so golf thoughts are on the back burner. If you're in a similar situation or just appreciate the humor in this confounded game, you'll find a release in Bobby Rusher's When To Regrip Your Golf Retriever. Forty seven "chapters" arranged in flip chart style with big print. Something for every forehead slapping occurrence we've all had on the golf course. There goes your last excuse for not picking up this book.

Aside from the title's answer you'll find many more solutions faced by the average golfer. Without giving away the farm I'd mention my personal favorites as being "How to Behave When You Lie Two on the Ladies' Tee" and "The Importance of Carrying a 95 Degree Wedge". You see a tree root modified my 60 degree to a 95, so this chapter held particular significance.

The book flows along and Mr. Rusher indeed proves he speaks from experience and of the same language we all pick up pretending to master the game. I've picked the book up several times for rereads and laugh at the same material with the same vigor. Definitely an Average Golfer recommend.

Evidently Mr. Rusher has a substantial cottage industry in the works, this book being the sequel to, How To Line Up Your Fourth Putt and a music CD, "Music To Shank By" by The Mighty Mulligans. All in the same vein, all clever and frequently laugh-out-loud funny.

Find them all at, or check out The 4th Putt Video on YouTube.  I've been assured no balls were harmed in the making of this video.

* Disclaimer - The publisher supplied the author of this review with a gratis copy of each book and the CD. They were subsequently donated to another golfer who enjoys laughing.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

2010 Chevron World Challenge - Odds and Expert Picks

THOUSAND OAKS, CA - DECEMBER 06:  Jim Furyk poses with the trophy on the 18th hole after finishing 13 under par for the tournament during the fourth round of the Chevron World Challenge at Sherwood Country Club on December 6, 2009 in Thousand Oaks, California.  Furyk won the tournament by one shot.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Get ready for the last semi-legit tourney of 2010. An 18 man field, featuring Tiger Woods, in his own event for a change of pace, will compete for a 1.2 million dollar first prize, (and the kinda weird tiger trophy), before heading off to an island somewhere for the holidays. Nice walking around money I'd say. No Lee Westwood, Phil Mickelson, or Martin Kaymer, but a rather good limited field will duke it out in the Chevron World Challenge at Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks, CA. A bit of a home game for Mr. Woods. He could use the edge to save some reputation from an otherwise rather pedestrian 2010.

Without further ado, or wasted web space, let's rate their chances versus current odds presented by Ladbrokes. Here we go........

Tiger Woods, 3/1 - Expected. Home course. Most talent. Does he pop out of his slump now? Well, he could of course. Might win. Putter tells all.

Jim Furyk, 8/1 - Defends. Hard to say how much golf he's played in the last few weeks. Could win, probably won't.

Luke Donald, 10/1 - Luke always impresses me in not winning. Won't break that streak here. 

Rory McIlroy, 12/1 - Would love a win on Woods' turf. Definitely will contend.

Paul Casey, 12/1 - Ryder snub is big motivator. I like him here a ton. Should win.

Ian Poulter, 12/1 - Practicing ball marking no doubt. Long trip, still disappointed, won't win.

Steve Stricker, 14/1 - Woods' buddy. Probably a little rusty. Indifferent year thus far. Won't win.

Nick Watney, 14/1 - Replaced Kaymer. I put him in the Donald category. Impressive game, won't win.

Graeme McDowell, 16/1 - Love his temperament, or lack thereof. Solid all year. Could win.

Matt Kuchar, 16/1 - Making a lucrative career out of top ten finishes. May be rusty compared to Euros. Possible I guess.

Dustin Johnson, 16/1 - Like the odds. Most certainly could win depending on what he's been doing since the Ryder Cup.  

Zach Johnson, 20/1 - Not the Zach we're used to. Short hitter that has to knock down pins and make everything.  Hasn't happened this year. Won't win.

Camilo Villegas, 25/1 - Surprised at the odds. I think he's got a chance. Must avoid typical 1 bad round.

Hunter Mahan, 25/1 - I like him here. Again, depends on practice level since Ryder.

Stewart Cink, 25/1 - Just when I count him out...... Shouldn't win, but.......

Anthony Kim, 33/1 - Written off year due to injury. Some self-inflicted, some not. Take a flyer at 33/1 that he's healed.

Sean O'Hair, 33/1 - Another Woods' pal. Gone backwards this year after much promise. Kind of a Charles Howell III clone in that regard. Don't see it.

Bubba Watson, 40/1 - At these odds you gotta love Bubba. If he can keep it in the county, who knows?

Average Golfer Chevron World Challenge Picks

1. Casey
2. Woods
3. McIlroy

Dark Horse, Bubba Watson

There you have 'em. Expert picks gratis, nada, nothing. Thank me with 10% of your winnings.

Bet early and often.

Til' next,

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Tiger Woods is Irrelevant

NORTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 06: A spectator dresses in a tiger costume to watch Tiger Woods during the final round of the Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston on September 6, 2010 in Norton, Massachusetts. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Tiger Woods' PR machine is coming at us with both barrels. One week shy of the anniversary of his "incident" Woods has surfaced, written and spoken, neither of which he's been all that willing to do, period, ever. A monologue in Newsweek, a phone interview on ESPN's Mike & Mike in the Morning, and perhaps a few other contrived statements are in the works, ghost written by IMG. He's realized his errors, yawn, discovered the joys of fatherhood, like 100 million of us, and is trying to resculpt what was at one time the most valuable image in the world. Better than the Pope's, Ali-esque.

The difficulty in selling all this to us lemmings is that what he got nailed for was beyond regular folk's comprehension. Even my most self-centered, hound-doggish male acquaintances, upon hearing of Woods' transgressions, collectively said "WTF, OMG!" Steroids may have met with more acceptance. It's tough to rally your image from an affair. It's even more tough if it's an All-Universe one. People have standards and morals that certainly vary by the individual, but all have a limit, I hope.

I've never been accused of being a Tiger Woods fan, but I haven't been a basher either. I definitely appreciated his talent on the golf course and enjoyed many hours watching him perform on a level I'd never believed possible. I'd have bet the house he'd break Jack Nicklaus' record of 18 majors and would have been happy to witness the history. Now I don't really give two *#its if he does or doesn't. I'm glad, on a purely human level, that he's claimed to have found the error of his ways. I'm glad he's reconnecting with his children. I truly hope his kids end up as healthy, well adjusted adults. I just don't want to hear about it. Deal with that stuff on your own time like the rest of us do. Don't invade my air and print space with feats that all the rest of us pull off each and every day without fanfare.

Play golf Tiger, or don't play. Now it doesn't matter to me either way.

Til' next,

Monday, November 1, 2010

Westwood Swipes World #1 From Tiger Woods

CARNOUSTIE, SCOTLAND - OCTOBER 09: Lee Westwood of England reacts after putting on the nineth green during the third round of The Alfred Dunhill Links Championship at the Carnoustie Golf Links on October 9, 2010 in Carnoustie, Scotland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
Ah, the OWGR. Much debate regarding the significance of an Official World Golf Ranking. Does it earn you more money? Attract women? Come with a jacket you can wear during your reign? What does the moniker really mean? Depends who you ask. I'd say most reasonable folks agree that the two year window from which the ratings are calculated is much too long. How about a one week window? Then Ben Crane's #1. Or perhaps it's Graeme McDowell. On the other end of absurd, what if the window was 50 years? Anyone doubt Jack being #1? A perfect example of the ratings meaning very little about nothing is that the most current rankings have Steve Stricker 5th and Graeme McDowell 10th. So, let me get this one straight. The reigning US Open champ is rated below a player who's riding the results of two years ago. Thought so.

Count Tiger Woods, who has held the #1 ranking since 2005, among the least surprised at Westwood's ascension. "As far as the world ranking is concerned, yes, I'm not ranked No. 1 in the world," Woods said Monday. "In order to do that you have to win and I didn't win this year." The aforementioned McDowell as well as Jim Furyk, Ernie Els and Martin Kaymer may also have reasonable arguments for the #1 spot. 

If ratings are your thing then pay close attention to the upcoming HSBC Champions event. Westwood, Woods, Kaymer, and Phil Mickelson all have a shot at being #1 at the end of that tournament. So what does being #1 really mean? Not much in this average golfer's opinion. How about yours? 

Til' next,

Monday, October 4, 2010

2010 Ryder Cup - Monday Finish Merely a Formality, US Lost on Sunday

Team Europe holds the Ryder Cup after successfully defeating America 14 1/2 points to 13 1/2 on the fourth day of the 2010 Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor resort in Newport, Wales on October 04 2010.  UPI/Hugo Philpott Photo via Newscom
Hunter Mahan doesn't usually leave his tee shot, on a relatively straightforward par three, twenty yards short of the green. He typically doesn't chunk a twenty yard pitch shot from a perfectly good lie. He, in turn doesn't miss the hole completely with 20 foot putt that for all intentional purposes would have just delayed the inevitable. You see Hunter and his American compatriots had their asses handed to them yesterday, a day when, due to monsoons, six points were up for grabs in various manners. The old golf adage, "Even a blind fox finds a chicken now and then" didn't apply to the US on Sunday as they gagged their way to giving up 5 1/2 of a possible 6 points to the Euros. That was too large an obstacle to climb against the talent the Euros displayed. It was a Herculian effort just to make the final score as close as it was.

Both squads were diverse in age, accomplishments, and backgrounds. One could argue and pick regarding world rankings and captain's selections, but the fact is both teams had prodigious talent and represented the best of what each geographic region had to offer. Hard to quibble with that. In a different vein, I decided that the current world ranking system wouldn't hold up to a pile of spit. No amount of deciphering, or just plain ciphering for that matter, can convince me that Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson are the top two players in the world right now. I'd hazard a guess that Mrs. McDowell, if there is one, would agree with me.

Congratulations to the Europeans for a hard fought and well deserved victory! The golf was outstanding by both teams and a pleasure to watch.

PS - Will someone that matters please realize that the British Isles in October isn't the best place to schedule ANY tournament, much less one of this import. I don't want to see the world's best play lift, clean, and place. My regular foursome plays it year round and I'm stinkin' sick of it! Screw the FedUp Cup and move the Ryder back. I know, I know, the money, the money.

Til' next,

Sunday, October 3, 2010

2010 Ryder Cup - US Needs Huge Rally in Singles to Retain Cup

A rainbow breaks over the 12th green on the third day of the 2010 Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor resort in Newport, Wales on October 03 2010.  UPI/Hugo Philpott Photo via Newscom

I mentioned in yesterday's post that the US needed to be tied 8-8 going into the final single's matches. That didn't happen. Not even close. The Euros enjoy a 9 1/2 - 6 1/2 advantage after the rain plagued first four sets of play. Here's the Monday singles line-ups presented by Captains Montgomerie and Pavin....

Singles Match-ups (Europe vs. U.S.)

Lee Westwood vs. Steve Stricker
Rory McIlroy vs. Stewart Cink
Luke Donald vs. Jim Furyk
Martin Kaymer vs. Dustin Johnson
Ian Poulter vs. Matt Kuchar
Ross Fisher vs. Jeff Overton
Migeul Angel Jimenez vs. Bubba Watson
Francesco Molinari vs. Tiger Woods
Edoardo Molinari vs. Rickie Fowler
Peter Hanson vs. Phil Mickelson
Padraig Harrington vs. Zach Johnson
Graeme McDowell vs. Hunter Mahan

You see that Montgomerie has front loaded with his best players in an attempt to go for the jugular early. Arguably his best four players are in the first four matches. He hopes that the efforts of Woods and Mickelson will be moot. The way Mickelson's played it's almost a loss going in anyway. Given our traditional dominance in  singles I'd give us a shot, albeit a somewhat long one. The key are those first four pairings. Stricker, Cink, and Furyk should make a competitive showing. Whether it's enough to make the later matches worth watching remains to be seen. Can anyone say Brookline?

Til' next,

Saturday, October 2, 2010

2010 Ryder Cup - US Up 6 -4, Thanks To Darkness

NEWPORT, WALES - OCTOBER 02: A leaderboard is seen during the Fourball & Foursome Matches during the 2010 Ryder Cup at the Celtic Manor Resort on October 2, 2010 in Newport, Wales. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
In the abbreviated world of the rain plagued 2010 Ryder Cup, the US held a 6-4 lead on paper over the favored Euros. That's because when darkness fell the Euros were leading all 6 suspended matches. If ever a time out was required for the US, this was it. Hopefully a good night's rest, (Hear me Tiger??), will inspire the same sort of comeback we enjoyed after day #1's rain delay. 
It seems all the Americans are getting waxed in the Round #2 sessions with little exception. Here's what HAS to occur for the US to have a decent chance in this thing. The Mickelson and Woods' groups are getting pounded. We need Furyk/D.Johnson, 1 down thru 8 to Harrington/Fisher and Cink/Kuchar, 1 down thru 6 to the Brothers Molinari, to win their matches. That would leave the Cup at an 8/8 tie going into the singles matches, in which we're traditionally heavily favored. Simple, isn't it? We're 4 down and 3 down in two of the remaining matches and two down in the others. Granted, there's a ton of golf left to be played, but if we enter the singles tied, or even 2 down, whenever the play is finished, I like our chances. This Average Golfer should have a fairly good idea how this will play out when he awakes, about 1 PM their time.

Til' next,

Friday, October 1, 2010

2010 Ryder Cup - Rain in Wales? I'm Stunned.

U.S. Ryder Cup player Tiger Woods plays his shot on the second fairway during four-ball play on the first day of the 2010 Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor in Newport, south Wales, October 1, 2010 REUTERS/Brian Snyder (BRITAIN - Tags: SPORT GOLF)
Of course it could rain in Wales in July, or in Peoria for that matter. Still, a late September tee time at Celtic Manor is just asking for a deluge. Too late to move the Ryder Cup, so let's make the best of it. Sir Terry Matthews, Celtic Manor owner and a non-golfer, made good on his desire to bring the event to Wales and his mega-resort. Forget though that it's a target style sort of course diametrically opposed to the innumerable links courses available in the British Isles. Like it's K Club predecessor, it was the dollar signs and the ability to hold 45,000 paying spectators that brought the Cup to this swamp.
Oh, the golf so far? It's really too early to tell as the first match of the tourney had only reached the 12th hole after a 7 1/2 hour rain delay. As they stand right now, Westwood/Kaymer 1 up on Mickelson/D. Johnson thru 12. Cink/Kuchar 2 up on McIlroy/McDowell thru 11. Stricker/Woods all square with Poulter/Fisher and Watson/Overton 1 up on Donald/Harrington thru 8. I sensed a decided momentum shift when the players returned from the lengthy break. Down in three matches at the time, the US has rallied to have the lead in two and halved in a third. It will be interesting to see if that continues tomorrow when these initial matches are concluded.  

The captain's won't have the luxury of hiding any players on Saturday as the plan is to complete all fourball and foursomes matches in order to get back on schedule for Sunday's singles. All 24 players will be involved to become heroes or goats. The plan is to finish the first fourball, (best ball), round, then play 6 foursomes matches, (alternate shot), followed by the last 2 foursomes and the last 4 fourball matches. Mother Nature will have the final say in this optimistic undertaking.   

*Average Golfer financial tidbit - Sell your Sun Mountain stock if you haven't already.

Til' next,

Thursday, September 30, 2010

2010 Ryder Cup - Friday Morning Odds and Picks

NEWPORT, WALES - SEPTEMBER 30: General View of crowds during the Opening Ceremony prior to the 2010 Ryder Cup at the Celtic Manor Resort on September 30, 2010 in Newport, Wales. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
The WAGS have retreated to the background. Captain Colin has remained relatively Malaprop free. What's left, the sun sets in the East? The betting houses stand to reap the largest reward with Celtic Manor hosting. The Brits will bet on how long a fly will stay on a sausage. Ladbrokes lists Europe as 4/7 to win back the Cup and the USA as 7/4 to retain it. As defenders the US would keep the trophy should this week's matches end in a tie.

Here's a look at the first fourball, (best ball), matches that start in a few hours.  As much as I love the Ryder Cup I'm not playing night owl to get a glimpse.

Match 1 - Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson vs. Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer
Match 2 - Stewart Cink and Matt Kuchar vs. Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell
Match 3 - Steve Stricker and Tiger Woods vs. Ian Poulter and Ross Fisher
Match 4 - Bubba Watson and Jeff Overton vs. Luke Donald and Padraig Harrington

Not much surprise in matches 1 or 3 other than Pavin's decision to send Mickelson's group out first rather than Woods'. Westwood's injury may very well tell the story. Stricker and Woods, by all accounts, should handle Poulter and Fisher. Fourball is a birdie hunt. That's why I expect the US to win both matches, with a worst case scenario being 1 1/2 pts. grabbed by groups 1 & 3.

Groups 2 & 4 have potential disaster written all over them for the US. Cink has played well since winning the 2009 Open Championship and Kuchar, by his own admission, is exhausted. I still can't figure out how a pro golfer can become exhausted plying his trade. Geez, it ain't brick laying! McIlroy could have a birdie putt on every hole. McDowell's riding the crest of his US Open win and has played well all summer. Give this one to the Euros. Match 4 is bewildering. Bubba and hot-head Jeff Overton, both Ryder rookies, force Furyk and Zach Johnson to sit. It's great to get the rooks out on the course, but spread it out a little Pavin and don't pair them. Watson and Overton can make a lot of birdies. Why not spread the wealth? On the downside, they can lose a lot of balls as well. Why not dilute that with a more experienced partner? Hey, if they win, Pavin's brilliant.

To finish, I see us losing matches 2 & 4 and hopefully pulling out matches 1 & 3. I think the morning will conclude Euros 2 1/2, USA 1 1/2. Stay close til' Singles Sunday.

Til' next,

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

THE TOUR Championship 2010 - Odds and Expert Picks

LEMONT, IL - SEPTEMBER 10: Adam Scott of Australia lines up a putt on the eighth green during the second round of the BMW Championship at Cog Hill Golf & Country Club on September 10, 2010 in Lemont, Illinois. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
30 men enter, one leaves $10,000,000.00 richer. That's 2.5 mil. per round for you math majors. THE TOUR Championship at East Lake is the venue for the home stretch of the FedEx Cup and last money event of the year for the chosen 30. Conspicuously absent will be Tiger Woods, winner of two of these things, but not qualified in this his meltdown year. Let's hope he's home working out the obvious kinks in his game in the run up to the Ryder Cup.

If you've been to this site before you know the drill. We use Ladbrokes, the venerable British betting houses' latest odds, comment on player's chances or lack thereof, then pick three top picks and a dark horse. Sounds easy doesn't it? Well, if it was that easy everybody would be doin' it. So, without any pomp or circumstance, here we go.....

Phil Mickelson, 7/1 - Favorite with no betting public pulling for Woods. Can't keep it on the property. Won't win.

Steve Stricker, 8/1 - Would be 16/1 with Woods in the field. Could win, won't. Stricker's solid, just missing the magic from previous years.

Matt Kuchar, 10/1 - Shoulda woken up by now. Hasn't, so, could win.

Dustin Johnson, 10/1 - Monkey off his back? Maybe. Maybe not. 10 mill tightens things up a tad. Could win.

Paul Casey, 14/1 - Has motivation plus after Monty Ryder snub. Average Golfer gives him a legit shot.

Adam Scott, 14/1 - Playing better than I thought he would of late. Seems to be out of 3 year slumber. Kid could win.

Jim Furyk, 16/1 - I've picked him all year only to be let down. Putter isn't the same as his best years. Won't win.  

Ernie Els, 16/1 - Big fella loses when I pick him, wins when I don't. Like to see him win, so I won't pick him.

Luke Donald, 20/1 -   Lovely short game helps. If the putter's hot, Luke could win here.

Retief Goosen, 20/1 - Goose has let me down all year. No reason to think that changes this week. Won't win.

Zach Johnson, 20/1 - Just the venue for ZJ. Holds the course record, 60. He'll sneak up on Sunday and win before anyone knows what hit them. Could win.

Best of the rest.....

Everyone's good this late into the playoffs. Notables to watch include Mahan, Day, Watson, Rose, Moore, Watney, Palmer, and hot Hoffman. Seriously, no great surprise if any one of the 30 pulls out a victory. Full field and 1st round tee times.

Average Golfer's Picks

1. Adam Scott
2. Ernie Els
3. Zach Johnson

Long Shot (If you could call it that)

Ryan Moore

Sentimental Pick

Bubba Watson      

There you have them. No charge, gratis, on the house. Thank me with monetary gratitude. You're welcome. 

Bet early and often.

Til' next,

Friday, September 10, 2010

2010 BMW Championship - Casey Win(s) Would Give Monty Heartburn

AUCHTERARDER, SCOTLAND - AUGUST 29: Colin Montgomerie,The European Ryder Cup captain, talks to the press during his announcement of his three captain's picks after the final round of The Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles at the Gleneagles Hotel and Resort on August 29, 2010 in Auchterarder, Scotland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

Paul Casey carded a pair of 69s in the first two rounds of the BMW Championship at Cog Hill. That placed him two strokes behind Charlie Wi and Matt Kuchar. Casey's well within sniffing distance to claim a win and provide European Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie with a serious case of second guessing. Currently 14th in the FedEx Cup standings, Casey's a virtual lock to advance to the season ending event, THE TOUR Championship, one week before the Ryder Cup. He'll be in a field of only 30, thereby increasing his odds of Monty regretting skipping over the 9th ranked player in the world when selecting his Ryder squad. Part of the rationale in not choosing Casey was his full time involvement in the PGA Tour. Somehow that didn't digest well with Euro xenophobes. Truth is Casey has teed it up in 2010 in 11 European or joint PGA/Euro tournaments. At Cog Hill today some American spectators were heard offering Casey a temporary green card and selection to the US team. I don't care who you are, that's funny.

Monty has the unique ability to open mouth, insert foot. I'm looking forward to the inevitable gaffes afforded by open microphones in the next few weeks. Some people are just natural targets. Lotsa room for a bullseye on ole' Monty. Should be fun!

Til' next,

Thursday, September 9, 2010

2010 BMW Championsip - Woods, Mickelson Flop

PARAMUS, NJ - AUGUST 26: Matt Kuchar watches his tee shot on the 11th hole during the first round of The Barclays at the Ridgewood Country Club on August 26, 2010 in Paramus, New Jersey. (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
Tiger Woods is reportedly working on a new swing under the eye of Sean Foley. What's Phil's excuse? Neither Ryder Cup teammate looked the part of #s 1 and 2 in the world at the BMW Championship as Woods struggled to a +2, 73 and Mickelson posted a +1, 72, both in contrast to 1st round leader Matt Kuchar's -7, 64. Woods began his day with a double bogey on his first hole and then played par golf the rst of the way. He hit 36% of the fairways and 56% of the greens, hardly inspiring numbers. Mickelson by comparison hit just 50% of the fairways and 61% of the greens to back up his 73. Woods had posted 11 consecutive rounds in the 60s here at Cog Hill prior to today's pedestrian performance. Neither player was exactly confidence inspiring with an impending Ryder Cup on enemy turf looming.

Fanning the flames for Player of the Year consideration was Matt Kuchar, whose brilliant 64 led Ryan Moore by one and Ian Poulter by two at day's end. Kuchar nailed 64% of his fairways, 78% of his greens in regulation and needed just 26 putts to complete the circuit. Kuchar entered the event 1st in FedEx Cup points and appears to be feathering his already comfortable nest. Full Field 1st Round Scores.

Woods is attempting to become the first player to begin the FedEx Cup "playoffs" outside of the top 100 and qualify for the Tour Championship which consists of the last 30 men standing. Not lookin' real good for Tiger.  

Stay tuned to Average Golfer as the drama unfolds....

Til' next,

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Laird Giftwraps Barclays Trophy, Hands to Kuchar

Matt Kuchar holds the Barclays Trophy after the final round of The Barclays at Ridgewood Country Club in New Jersey on August 29, 2010. Matt Kuchar defeated Martin Laird in a one hole playoff and finished with a score of 12 under par. UPI/John Angelillo  Photo via Newscom
Martin Laird three putted the 18th hole from twenty five feet to force a playoff with Matt Kuchar in the 1st FedUp Cup playoff event of the season, The Barclays. On the 1st playoff hole Kuchar stuffed his approach to 30 inches and completed the comeback. Laird had a five shot advantage at the start of the final round. Kuchar shot 66 to Laird's even par 71 to set up the extra hole.

Kuchar's win moved him to the #1 position in the FedUp Cup standings. Matt has enjoyed 9 top 10s this year culminating in this, his first 2010 win. Laird's efforts earned him the #3 spot in the playoffs, up from 95. Tiger Woods' closing round 67 moved him from 112 to 65, easily gaining a spot in the next FedUp Cup event, the Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston. 

I've always portrayed the FedUp Cup as a manufactured money grab at the end of a long golf season. I will admit though that it did indeed present a top shelf field this week, which resulted in compelling action, witness today. Given the 80s temps, I was on the golf course and compiled this from other post-tourney articles. I changed a few words to avoid the plagiarism rap.

Til' next,

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Barclays - Odds and Expert Picks

NEW YORK - AUGUST 24: Phil Mickelson talks with US Marine Jeff Combs for the Chips for Charity event at Intrepid Aircraft Carrier on August 24, 2010 in New York City. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
125 men go in, 100 men come out. Thank Tina Turner. The Barclays, sounds like a restaurant/resort doesn't it? Regardless, the first round of the so-called PGA/FedUp Cup playoffs begins here on Thursday. Holding with tradition this Average Golfer will provide you with the knowledge and skill necessary for you to earn a little dinero while you watch this potential snoozefest. Nothing like a little action to help us pay attention.

Staying true to form we'll use Ladbrokes odds as our baseline and provide the useful commentary that will "almost" guarantee to pad your bankroll.In the end I leave you the caveat, "Hey, it's your money". Let's begin....

Phil Mickelson, 12/1 - Co-favorite with Woods. One tanked round in four seems to do him in this year, Masters excepted. Strange as it may sound, could win, probably won't.

Tiger Woods, 12/1 - Needs the money now. Might supply motivation. Game at best is in flux. Needs 50ish to advance. Will advance, won't win.  

Rory McIlroy, 14/1 - Oddsmaker's joy. Plenty of "I like Rory money". Still, straight and long on less than 7,400 yds. Could win.

Steve Stricker, 16/1 - Popular pick among writers. That's because they feel he's due. I don't. Won't win.  

Jim Furyk, 20/1 - Like I've been sayin' all year. "As goes the putter, goes Jim." I like him here. Semi-shorter track = shorter putts = win.

Paul Casey, 25/1 - An enigma wrapped in a conundrum. Certainly can win. Probably won't and I have no reason.

Dustin Johnson, 25/1 - Had his chances. Snakebit to be kind. That was obviously a bunker BTW. Still smarting from last week. Won't win.

Ernie Els, 33/1 - Best season in many moons. Two wins this year. I assume he hasn't forgotten how. Could win.

Padraig Harrington, 33/1 - Paddy's a head scratcher. Just when I say his game's missing, watch him lap the field and make every putt he looks at. Won't win. I think.

Matt Kuchar, 33/1 - On paper having as good a year as almost anyone. Unfortunately the game's not played on paper only scored. Still, gut feeling, could win.

Hunter Mahan, 33/1 - Tools as good as anyone out here. Seems to go to sleep for 9 holes in 72. Possible.

Retief Goosen, 40/1 - I've picked him plenty this year. Oh fer. Can't ever count him out. Unreal putter. Yet, I have a tough time picking him after so many letdowns. Won't win. May change my mind on Saturday.

Nick Watney, 40/1 - I like Watney, but how he rates over Bubba Watson at 50/1 is beyond me. Needs more killer instinct to add to his prodigious talent. Won't win.

50+/1s To Look Out For....  

Luke Donald, 50/1, Bubba Watson, 50/1, Sean O'Hair, 50/1, Camilo Villegas, 50/1, JB Holmes, 66/1, Adam Scott, 66/1, Justin Leonard, 66/1, Rickie Fowler, 80/1, and a host of others.  Barclays 1st Round Field and Tee Times.

Average Golfer's Expert Picks

1. Ernie Els
2. Jim Furyk
3. Phil Mickelson

Dark Horse

JB Holmes


Woody Austin 

As per usual, "Bet early and often".

Til' next,

Monday, August 23, 2010

Majors Over, PGA Tour Money Grab Begins at The Barclays

Phil won the Masters. The other three were won by..... Oh yeah, McDowell, Oosthuizen, and Kaymer. Now we're expected to get excited about golf tournaments during football season? It's the money, follow the money. Some kabillionaire golfer cashing a ten million dollar check and the NFL is a remote click away? Not here. As far as this Average Golfer is concerned it's golfing purgatory. The upcoming Ryder Cup is must see TV. This is a regular tour event with a better purse. Not that I'm against regular tour events, it's just that I've about had my fill after 27 of them and the majors shuttled until next year. I Know, I know, it's the money. Ratings, sponsors, ticket sales, etc. I like meaningful golf. The only meaning in this fabricated post-season is for the guys playing. Parochial on my part? Yes. Hey, I only have so much time and when my head hits the pillow I can't get that day back.

Since you insist, this week's FedUp Cup playoff event is The Barclays at Ridgewood Country Club in Paramus, NJ. Wouldn't Paramus be a great name for a newly discovered dinosaur? 125 of the season's point leaders will tee it up for the honor of pocketing boatloads of cash and surviving to play in next week's Deutsche Bank Championship where the field is pared to a paltry 100. The lucky 70 that survive that tourney play in the BMW Championship where the field is decimated to arrive at the lucky 30 that battle in THE TOUR Championship, the end of the playoff run. (BTW, those are their capital letters, not a nervous finger on my part). Phew, feel the drama.

Placing hard earned money on players/horses is one way to spice up the FedUp Cup. Tomorrow we'll provide valuable insight for The Barclays to ensure you're baby's college fund is safe.

Til' next,

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Fred Couples Spurns Champions Tour Major for Wyndham

August 1, 2010.Fred Couples on the 11th tee during the final round of the 31st U.S. Senior Open at Sahalee Country Club in Sammamish, Washington. Bernhard Langer shot a 67 to beat Fred Couples by 3 strokes. .George Holland / Cal Sport Media.
Perhaps it's the difficulty in reaching a milestone in terms of age. Maybe it's the desire to still compete with the young guns. Pragmatically, it could be the difference in purse size. Regardless, Fred Couples will be teeing it up in the Wyndham Championship in Greensboro, North Carolina rather than the Jeld-Wen Tradition in Sunriver, Oregon. How the Tradition commands "major" status is beyond me. It's not even mentioned on Golf Channel's website's homepage on the eve of the event. That just corroborates the fact that no one watches the Champions Tour, (see Seniors), or LPGA tournaments. Hell, there's barely enough folks tuning into PGA events these days with the circus that is Tiger Woods and players with foreign names winning majors. Come to think of it, Woods should be playing this week. He desperately needs Ryder Cup points and and has to move up in the FedUp Cup standings to play past the Barclays next week.

Fred is still Tour long off the tee and finished T5 here last year. Like any other player, as his putter goes, so go his chances. The grease fire that is John Daly tees it up here and that gives you a clear picture of how much weight this tourney holds. It's 3:2 that Big John WDs. Those are the best odds seen on Daly in quite some time. David Duval, Billy Mayfair and Tom Pernice Jr. enhance the field and validate that this event is the last shot for players to A:  keep their card, or B: rack up some FedUp Cup points before next week's first playoff event. The Wyndham offer a 5.1 million dollar purse vs. the Tradition's 2.6 million dollars. Hmm......Tough choice, huh Fred?

Suffice it to say that if this Average Golfer sees a golf ball this weekend it'll be in person. It may be in the woods or a body of water, but it'll be in person. Sure, I'll check scores to stay in touch, but my remote will be getting a well deserved vacation.

Til' next,

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Hunter Mahan Cruises to Bridgestone Invitational Win

AKRON, OH - AUGUST 08: Hunter Mahan watches his approach shot on the first hole during the final round of the World Golf Championships - Bridgestone Invitational on the South Course at Firestone Country Club on August 8, 2010 in Akron, Ohio. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Hunter Mahan shot 66, 64 on the weekend to lock up the WGC Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club. Only 25 putts, many of the 10-20 foot variety, contributed to his Sunday 64, -12. Mahan waited near the 18th green to watch Ryan Palmer's eagle attempt from the fairway fall short. Palmer finished two strokes back in solo 2nd at -10. Retief Goosen's closing 65 left him in a tie for 3rd with Bo Van Pelt. Sean O'Hair took fourth alone at -8. Palmer's first hole birdie had given him a brief lead. He followed with a bogey on the 2nd hole. Mahan rattled off five birdies on the front nine and cruised to a clubhouse lead that was never in serious jeopardy. Mahan cemented his Ryder Cup spot and won his second event of the year having previously won in Phoenix. At first glance this morning there appeared to a bevy of players with a chance. Mahan separated himself from the pack and shot down any notion of a playoff. The win should put a little extra wind in his sails heading into this week's PGA Championship. Final Full Field Scores.

Woods Hits Rock Bottom, Mickelson Tries To Follow

Tiger Woods teed off this morning to a less than Woodsian gallery. Makes sense, since you could have gone to your local muni and watched any number of players shoot 77. Woods finished at +18 with Henrik Stenson, +20, to thank for keeping him off the bottom. When asked if he planned on practicing at Whistling Straits for the upcoming PGA, Woods quipped that he was flying there this afternoon and would have time to play 18 and still catch the leaders finish at Firestone. True. With the world #1 ranking in his sights Phil Mickelson took the gas pipe enroute to a final round 78. Had Woods and Mickelson played best ball for the Bridgestone final round they'd have shot 70, middle of the pack. Ernie Els' round four 76 beat them both. Ladbrokes has Woods and Mickelson as 8:1 co-favorites for the PGA. That says tons more about the betting public than the state of either player's games.

Til' next,

Friday, August 6, 2010

Goosen Leads, Woods Disappears, Westwood WDs at Bridgestone Invitational

AKRON, OH - AUGUST 06: Retief Goosen of South Africa hits a shot on the ninth hole during the second round of the World Golf Championships - Bridgestone Invitational on the South Course at Firestone Country Club on August 6, 2010 in Akron, Ohio. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Phil Mickelson and Lee Westwood both had a chance to supplant Tiger Woods as the world #1 at this week's Bridgestone Invitational. Woods has more than done his part to give up the title. Westwood spit the bit with a WD due to a nagging torn calf muscle. The injury will keep him out of the PGA Championship and threaten his Ryder Cup placement. Woods' calf muscles seemed fine, but his 2nd round 72 was the nagger that will keep him out of a run for the championship and place his #1 status in serious peril. 6 over par and 13 behind the leader forces Woods to treat the final two rounds as a practice opportunity or a shot at some locker room skins money.

Retief Goosen is your 2nd round leader at -7. 51 putts through the first two rounds will do that for you. Contrast that to 58 putts for Woods and it just proves Average Golfer's continual admonition that putting wins tournaments. Mickelson and Justin Leonard share 2nd, one stroke back. Peter Hanson, Bo Van Pelt, and 1st round leader Bubba Watson share 3rd at -5. Fully 22 players are within 5 shots of the lead making this a wide open event heading into the weekend. Full Field 2nd Round Scores.

Keep an eye on Rory McIlroy, at 4 back, who more than held his own playing with Mickelson for the 1st two rounds. A lesser playing partner might ignite the young Irishman who has shown the ability to go low in big events. Miguel Angel Jimenez at 3 behind is a man to be watched as well. Should make for good weekend drama. Hit the narrow fairways and make putts and the keys to the kingdom are yours.

Til' next,

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Tiger Woods Hacks His Way Through 1st Round at Bridgestone

Tiger Woods tosses grass to check the wind on the 17th hole during first round play at the WCG Bridgestone Invitational golf tournament in Akron, Ohio August 5, 2010. REUTERS/Aaron Josefczyk (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT GOLF)
There's no cut at this week's WGC event, the Bridgestone Invitational. That's good news for Tiger Woods. The troubled linkster, with a tenuous grip on the #1 world ranking, stumbled to an opening round 74, placing him T70 in the field of 81 golfers. On a course and in an event he virtually owned, Woods couldn't muster even a lick of mojo and I'd have to say there wasn't a single highlight to his round. He spent so much time in the woods you'd have to have been planted in a deer stand to claim spotting him. Five fairways hit, 61% GIR, and 32 putts led to his 74 on a Firestone Country Club course with soft greens that was ripe for the taking. Woods' off course life changes have clearly affected his play. Understandable of course to us humans, but confounding I'm certain to Woods.

Bubba Watson's maiden appearance in this tourney didn't faze him in the least as his 64 led the way after round 1. Kenny Perry, Phil Mickelson, Adam Scott, and US Open champ Graeme McDowell all generously shared 2nd place at -4. Mickelson's playing partner, Rory McIlroy, turned in a respectable 68. Antony Kim struggled to a +5, 75 on his return from injury. Camilo Villegas, on the other hand, had no such excuse for his 75.

The weather calls for dry and sunny for the next two days, so expect more runout from Firestone's tilted fairways and a generally tougher time scoring for the boys. I like the event, but find the venue rather boring as it seems to be long, straight par 4 after long, straight, par 4. Age and history doesn't necessarily gain a golf course instant status.

Good start. I'll watch tomorrow to see if Bubba can keep it going and if Woods can somehow find the remnants of what used to be his game.

Til' next,

Monday, July 26, 2010

Larry the Cable Guy - Golfer

Who hasn't been in this predicament?  Now I don't care who you are, that's funny.

I think he's sporting the Boo Weekley Signature Collection.

Til' next,

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Oosty Cruises, Casey Crumbles at 2010 Open Championship

South Africa's Louis Oosthuizen holds the claret jug after winning the 139th Open championship by eight shots in St. Andrews, Scotland on July 18, 2010.  UPI/Hugo Philpott Photo via Newscom
If it was a fight they'd have stopped it on the 12th hole. Paul Casey's triple bogey and Louis Oosthuizen's birdie resulted in a four shot swing and left just the formality of Oosthuizen completing the final holes and securing the 2010 Open Championship at St. Andrews. Yes indeed, the gold medal champion golfer of the year he was. Dissecting fairways, hitting greens, and nailing putts has always been a formula for success, especially at majors, and Louis performed the task at hand admirably for 4 days. The 200:1 longshot at the tournament's start glued together rounds of 65, 67, 69, and 71 to finish at -16, seven better than runner-up Lee Westwood. Casey's final round 75 plunged him to 3rd behind compatriot Westwood and tied with Rory McIlroy and Henrik Stenson. Young McIlroy would have won the thing had it been based on best three rounds. His windy 80 on Friday cost him much of a shot and to his credit he rallied from that disaster to post 69, 68 on the weekend. Final Full Field Scores.

The best American finishers were Sean O'Hair and Nick Watney in a tie for 7th place at -6. Tiger Woods, 23rd, and Phil Mickelson, 48th, looked like senior players yielding to the youth movement. Both were trounced by Korean Jin Jeong, the low amateur and winner of the Silver Medal. Mickelson couldn't keep his ball on the property at the course with the widest fairways on the planet. Some are over 100 yards wide. Woods made a much ballyhooed putter switch for the event and found he couldn't putt with that one as well. He'd have done just as well with a shovel. This weekend raised many questions about the upcoming Ryder Cup to be held on Euro soil. One has to question the US' chances.

Oosthuizen was a deserving winner having survived the elements and the obstacles the Old Course  had in defense of her honor. The size of his victory was testament to his ability to hit fairways in spite of the wind and be as long or longer than the others as well. Quite a spectacle and enormous fun to watch. Every Open Championship should be held at St. Andrews. Now it will be interesting to see if young Oosthuizen is a one hit wonder like Lawrie, Hamilton, and Crane, (all of whom missed the cut this week), or will his name appear on leaderboards to come? Worth watching.

Til' next,

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The 2010 Open Championship - Odds and Expert Picks

ST ANDREWS, UNITED KINGDOM - APRIL 26: The Open Championship Trophy beside the Swilcan Bridge, with the the R&A Clubhouse behind as a preview for the 2010 Open Championship to be held on the Old Course at St Andrews on April 26, 2010 in St Andrews, United Kingdom. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
Dust the cobwebs from your wallets, Open Championship time is upon us. Iconic St. Andrews is the site, a stellar field contends for the oldest of golf's crown jewels. Once again we'll link Ladbrokes' odds and insightful commentary to assist you in turning a profit on this year's Open.

No fewer than 15 previous champions will compete with odds ranging from 6:1 for Tiger Woods to 1000:1 for Sir Nick Faldo. Of note for Woods is his decision to switch putters this week, moving to Nike after his long affair with a Cameron Titleist Newport II. Woods claims longish putts on slower greens this week necessitated the change. As typical of St. Andrews the weather will determine the week's scores. The course is noticeably more lush than one would expect. A lack of wind will render the old girl defenseless due to it's Walmart  parking lot sized fairways. Any hint of solid wind however will force players to hit shots they usually don't need leading all sorts of unpredictable results and a higher entertainment factor for us watching at home.

Which leads us to what we came for, an expert look at player's chances. This Average Golfer believes that St. Andrews rewards experience. Local knowledge, particularly regarding the insanely large greens, goes a long way toward crowning a champ.  Some putts this week might better be served with a wedge shot. From 30 yards most players have more experience with a wedge than rolling a 100 ft.+ putt. Enough jabber, here's what we came for....

Tiger Woods, 6:1 - Why? He's Tiger Woods of course. 5 years ago they would have just handed him the trophy here and forsaken the formality of playing 72. That was then... Could win. Best major shot on this course.

Phil Mickelson, 16:1 - They say his game's not suited to links golf. I say with his length and these wide fairways, Phil could destroy par here. Could win.

Rory McIlroy, 16:1 - Power, precision, links experience. Would be nice to have him in contention on Sunday and see if his nerves hold up. Could win.

Lee Westwood, 20:1 - Finally won on US tour. Seems logical here. Everything lines up. Could win.

Ernie Els, 20:1 - Better year. Still something about his manner that concerns me in the big ones. May be the "Big Too Easy". Possible. Don't see it though.

Padraig Harrington, 25:1 - Spending the year fiddling with his game. Don't make the mistake of counting him out here though. Knows how to put the ball in the hole, which can't be learned from a swing coach. Possible.

Justin Rose, 25:1 - Hottest player in the field. Win would validate all the potential. Definitely could win.

Graeme McDowell, 33:1 - Popular pick coming off  Pebble "links type" victory. Great all around game. I think US Open hangover will get him. Won't win.

Ian Poulter, 33:1 - Hard to argue against. Seems pressure immune. Different type of pressure on Sunday though. Possible, not probable.

Luke Donald, 40:1 - Another Brit on the upswing on relative home turf. Putter and short game could win it for him.

Paul Casey, 40:1 - Not as hot as Donald, Rose, or Westwood. Don't see it this week.

Martin Kaymer, 40:1 - On the cusp of a big win. Lots of Euro experience. Still, don't think so here. Too many Brits to overcome.

Steve Stricker, 40:1 - Has the short game and putting prowess required. Knockdown shots in wind may be suspect. Really a target golfer. Won't win.

Jim Furyk, 50:1 - Has the tools and moxie. Not usually a stalwart on this side of the pond, for whatever reason. Won't win.

Retief Goosen, 50:1 -  Puzzled by Goose. Not reason not to pick him, but hasn't come through lately. Has everything required for this event. I'm leaving him a question mark.

Ross Fisher, 50:1 - Another in the Euro resurgence. Possible, not likely though.

We stopped at 50:1 for space considerations. Regardless, there's a host of other players with a chance and some with take notice odds for the risk takers among you. Examples, Villegas, 80:1, Schwartzel, 80:1, Tim Clark, 80:1, Stenson, Choi, Adam Scott, defender Cink, and Angel Cabrera, all at a lip smacking 100:1.

Survey the field and open your wallets. Then sit back and enjoy Bet early and often.

Average Golfer 2010 Open Championship Picks

1. Justin Rose
2. Padraig Harrington
3. Ian Poulter

Dark Horses

Ben Curtis

Til' next,

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

2010 US Women's Open - Ladies Tackle Oakmont "Beast"

OAKMONT, PA - JULY 07: The eighth hole tee sign is seen during a practice round prior to the start of the 2010 U.S. Women's Open at Oakmont Country Club on July 7, 2010 in Oakmont, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
6,584 yards of pure terror. If you think Oakmont is giving in to the ladies for their annual national championship, guess again. The par three 8th hole can play 252 yards. The par five 12th is the longest in women's history at 602 yards. Throw in the church pew bunkers and bathtub greens and par begins to look like a winning score.

The 2010 US Women's Open comes to venerable Oakmont Country Club, Pittsburgh, PA. For history buffs Exhibit A is Julie Inskster, who at 50 years young is returning to the site of her 1992 Open playoff loss to Patty Sheehan. For making history buffs there's newly minted world #1 Cristie Kerr fending off close behind challengers Ai Miyazato, Jiyai Shin, Suzann Pettersen, and Yani Tseng. Don't leave out defending champ Eun-Hee Ji and a host of others in the 156 player field. 2010 US Women's Open Field and Tee Times.

Hot, dry, and fast should be the order of the day, at least for the first two rounds. Hitting fairways will be paramount, but as is almost always the case, making putts will determine the winner. A few years ago I'd have installed Michelle Wie as the heavy prohibitive favorite based on her strength and length. Sideways out of bunkers may be commonplace this week and Wie "had" the chops to hit shots out of trouble that no other woman had any business attempting. Here's hoping for a reemergence for Wie and a US champion.

Although noticeably behind their male brethren, the women will play for a 3.25 million dollar purse with  $585,000 being the winner's share. Sit back and enjoy.

Til' next,

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Bubba Watson Cashes 1st Winner's Check at Travelers Championship

PALM HARBOR, FL - MARCH 18: Bubba Watson watches his drive during the first round of the Transitions Championship at the Innisbrook Resort and Golf Club held on March 18, 2010 in Palm Harbor, Florida. (Photo by Michael Cohen/Getty Images)
Up until now Bubba Watson had to be one the biggest surprises in not having won a PGA Tour event. One of the longer hitters the game has ever seen and possessing a deft touch around and on the greens, Watson had been pegged as an up and comer since day one. Today the "potential" moniker was removed when he captured the Travelers Championship, besting Scott Verplank on the 2nd playoff hole.

Watson, Verplank and Ryder Cup skipper Corey Pavin began the playoff on the 18th hole. Pavin dumped his 2nd from 219 into the front bunker. Verplank stiffed it to 8 ft., but Bubba nearly holed his 2nd for an eagle to gas up the always lively Connecticut crowd. After Pavin's 25 yd. sand shot came admirably close, Verplank calmly eased his putt in to match Bubba's tap-in. After depositing Pavin in the clubhouse, Watson and Verplank played the par three 16th. Verplank missed the green long and Watson left himself a tough two-putt from long distance. Watson cozied his effort close while Verplank's putt from off the green struck an invisible something and scooted directly left, leaving him an 8 footer, not unlike the one he just holed on 18. Not to be for Scott though as he slid his putt just left and Bubba  sank a three footer for the win. An emotional Watson, acknowledging his father's cancer struggle, hugged his wife and created one of the more emotional scenes on Tour in some time. Final Full Field Scores.

Assisting Watson in his quest was 3rd round leader Justin Rose, whose grease fire +5, 75 collapse was necessary to put the playoff into motion. Six of the top seven finishers had all four rounds in the sixties. Quite a contrast coming off a US Open. The playoff featured Watson and Pavin, a study in contrast with the Tour's longest and shortest hitters playing 72 holes and ending in a tie at -14. One has to wonder as well about the opportunity presented to American players by playing with this year's Ryder Cup captain. Perhaps Verplank and Watson increased their standing in the captain's pick area.

Up next for the big boys is the AT&T National at Aronimink Golf Club, Newton Square, PA. Tiger Woods defends.

Til' next,

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Dustin Johnson 3 Up at 2010 US Open at Pebble Beach

Dustin Johnson of the U.S. waves to the crowd after sinking an eagle putt on the fourth hole during the third round of the U.S. Open Golf Championship in Pebble Beach, California June 19, 2010. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT GOLF)
Tiger Woods emerged from his funk and shot 66 in the 3rd round at the US Open today. Dustin Johnson matched his 66 and kept the 5 shot cushion over Woods he began the day with. Graeme McDowell watched his 3rd round lead wilt by tossing an even par 71 and will play with Johnson again tomorrow, albeit with a 3 stroke deficit.

Woods appeared to be the Woods of old firing a blistering back nine 31 after having bogeyed 2 of his first 3 holes to fall 9 shots off the pace. He jumped from 25th to 3rd with the effort. He'll be paired tomorrow with Gregory Harvet of France who crafted a nifty 69 of his own. Ernie Els and Phil Mickelson will be playing partners for the final round. Phil's 73 today was marked by some wildness off the tee and Ernie had a rather unremarkable 73. 3rd Round Full Field Scores.

It will be intriguing to see if Johnson can hold up under final round pressure in a major. He obviously is well suited to Pebble having won the last two Pro-Ams held here. He destroyed the 305 yd. par 4 fourth hole, hitting 3 iron to 5 feet before nailing the eagle putt. If he keeps it in front of him he'll be tough to catch, even by Woods. As fate would have it I'll have to miss the finale. I'm scheduled to work 12-11 PM. Perhaps I'll have to reinvent my World Series Catholic school days trick and sneak in a TV.

Til' next,

Halfway at 2010 US Open - McDowell Leads, Mickelson Closes In, Woods Mediocre

Graeme McDowell of Ireland hits his approach shot on the ninth hole during the second round of the U.S. Open Golf Championship in Pebble Beach, California, June 18, 2010. Carmel Beach is seen in the background. REUTERS/Matt Sullivan (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT GOLF IMAGES OF THE DAY)
Genius that I am, I removed Phil Mickelson from my fantasy team roster for day #2 of the 2010 US Open. You see Phil is the definition of a streaky player. The key is to time his streaks. If anyone should have realized that Phil would go low after a lackluster 75 in round #1 it should have been me, astute golf fan. His 66 today was the best round of the day by two full strokes and landed him in a knot for 2nd place at -1 overall. Irishman Graeme McDowell's 68 left him with the lead at -3. Joining Mickelson were Ryo Ishikawa, Dustin Johnson, and Ernie Els. Els' 68 was one of the better rounds today. Locked at even par after two rounds were Paul Casey, Alex Cejka, Brendon DeJonge, and Jerry Kelly. All said there were 14 golfers within 5 strokes of the leader. Full Field Scores After Two Rounds.

Notables after two rounds were Lee Westwood, +3. Tiger Woods, Padraig Harrington, Vijay Singh, David Toms, and Angel Cabrera at +4. The cut line was at a healthy +7. Those going home for weekend included Geoff Ogilvy, Miguel Angel Jimenez, Adam Scott, Ben Crane, Hunter Mahan, Rory McIlroy, Rocco Mediate, YE Yang, and sadly Erik Compton.

With Pebble not easily surrendering birdies, Saturday is pivotal. Moving day will prove worthy of it's tag as players jockey for position for Sunday's stretch run. The likes of Woods, 7 off the lead, need to take it low tomorrow. Something in the order of a 66 would do nicely. Nothing in Woods' game however has indicated he's capable of such a score. The Tiger of ten years ago, who won on this course in blow-out fashion, never would have complained about course conditions, a la bumpy greens, etc. This however is the new rudderless Tiger with complaints and excuses for his pedestrian efforts. In retrospect, perhaps he should have taken a year off to right his off course ship. Troubled minds and golf is a disaster recipe. 

Nothing indicates that Pebble will be getting easier in the next two days. Pars are like birdies, some bogeys are OK. Stay out of doubles and worse and you just might find yourself with a chance. The US Open purports to identify the best golfer. This year so far it's well on it's way to mission accomplished.

Til' next,

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

2010 US Open at Pebble Beach - Odds and Expert Picks

PEBBLE BEACH, CA - JUNE 14: The entrance is seen during a practice round prior to the start of the 110th U.S. Open at Pebble Beach Golf Links on June 14, 2010 in Pebble Beach, California. (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
The 110th version of our National Golf Championship gets under way Thursday at historic Pebble Beach Golf Links. As per usual Average Golfer's here to handicap the top part of the field with an assist from Ladbrokes, the British betting house, providing current player odds. Keep in mind that odds are determined by the betting public's interest in a player and have no bearing on their actual chances of winning. In other terms, plunk down your money and cross your fingers.

Odds aside, there's a couple of sentimental favorites teeing off this week. Ageless Tom Watson, on special exemption, tees it up for perhaps his last US Open. Tom's legacy is carved in granite at Pebble thanks to his 1982 17th hole chip-in that sealed his Open win over Jack Nicklaus. The other remarkable story is the tale of Erik Compton, a two time heart transplant recipient, who survived the grueling 36 qualifier just to get here. 

With all formalities out of the way and without further ado, let's find a winner.......

Tiger Woods, 8/1 - Short odds due to his resume, especially here at Pebble. Will have to hit it straight off the tees. Don't see it with the state of his game. Won't win.

Phil Mickelson, 8/1 - Odds make more sense here. 5 runner-ups at Pebble, 3 wins. Major mojo. Should win.

Lee Westwood, 12/1 - Coming in off a victory. Perhaps should be the favorite. Has all the tools with new found confidence. Could certainly win.

Padraig Harrington, 25/1 - Has pedigree and talent required. Constant fiddling with his game may hurt. Still, could win.

Rory McIlroy, 25/1 - Maturity beyond his 21 years. Knows how to win. Will be awesome tee to green. Putter will be the decider. Could win.

Dustin Johnson, 25/1 - US version of McIlroy. Defended Pebble Pro-Am here this year. Entirely different course for the Open, but Johnson has the all-around game. Putter will tell. Could win.

Ernie Els, 33/1 - The Big Enigma. Having a solid year for a change. If he's straight off the tees will have a short iron in his hands a lot. It's possible, but doubt it. Can play down to the occasion.

Jim Furyk, 33/1 - Laser-like irons will help with small greens. No need to strong arm this course. As goes the putter, goes Furyk. Possible.

Luke Donald, 33/1 - Great game for this course. See Furyk regarding iron play. Could win this thing.

Nick Watney, 40/1 - In the D. Johnson mold. Sort of a local boy. Will have tons of short irons. Could win, but doubtful.

Steve Stricker, 40/1 - Would have been a pick at the beginning of the season. Game isn't as sharp as usual. A major is no time to figure things out. Won't win.

Camilo Villegas, 50/1 - Not afraid to go low. Risk/reward choices make for some big numbers however. Female gallery fave. Won't win here though.

Retief Goosen, 50/1 - Should be in any major conversation. Short game and putting ideal for this tourney. Not exactly peaking, but should at least contend.

Geoff Ogilvy, 50/1 - Uncharacteristically blase season thus far.  Obviously knows how to win an Open. May surprise, but I don't think so.

Paul Casey, 50/1 - Long, fairly straight. Prone to putting lapses. At 50/1 I like him. Possible.

Adam Scott, 50/1 - Appears to be rounding back into Scott of old form. Rather large question mark left though. I don't see him contending.

Bo Van Pelt, 50/1 - Van who? Not Lucy from Peanuts brother. Lots of top tens this year put him here. Nice year so far. Should wilt under the major microscope.

Best of the Rest  

Hunter Mahan, KJ Choi, Tim Clark, Matt Kuchar, Zach Johnson, and Stewart Cink all go off at 66/1. Of the bunch I see value in Mahan and Kuchar. And.... never, ever underestimate Tim Clark in a major. All he does is get the ball in the hole. Ian Poulter at 80/1 seems a bit out of whack as does Ben Crane with the same odds. Graeme McDowell at  80/1 odds is a possible dark horse. Who would have predicted Sergio going off at 100/1? Young Ryo Ishikawa pays at 200/1 if you're so inclined. That's a commentary on the importance of shooting 58 on a 6,500 yard course in Japan I suppose. With this strong of a field there's tons of potential dark horses. The trick is identifying them. Let's take our best shot..........

Average Golfer's 2010 US Open Picks

1. Mickelson,  (Yeah, I know. easy to go with chalk)
2. Dustin Johnson 
3. Tim Clark,  (Could easily be considered a dark horse)

Dark Horse Picks

Ty Tryon at 1000/1  (Now that's what I call a dark horse)
Lucas Glover and Henrik Stenson  (The defender and great player at 125/1, worth a shot)

As always, bet early and often.

Til' next,