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,