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Wetting Your Whistle For Wisconsin

This might sound strange for me to say, but if you’ve been following this column for more than a week, I suppose you’ve come to expect strange in this little corner of cyberspace;

You’ve got to feel a bit sorry for poor old Hunter Mahan this week.

A strange statement…or maybe even downright stupid, I guess; depending on your perspective.

The reason I say you’ve got to feel sorry for Hunter is this; the guy just scored the biggest win of his professional golfing career, beating the other 81 top golfers on the planet.  He won the trophy on a challenging course that was literally tearing up a bunch of the “favorite” stars.  He cashed the biggest cheque of his life; $1,400,000.  Nice coin for a guy who isn’t even 30 yet.  Hell, it’s nice coin for almost anyone, regardless of age.

So, Mahan (the poor bugger) accomplishes ALL of this on the weekend at Firestone and what are the headlines the next day on all the major sporting pages?  “Mahan’s Victorious Assault on Akron?”  Nope.  “Mahan Beats World’s Best at WGC?” Hardly.  Not even some cheesy tab-like eye-catcher like “Hunter Vanquishes Deadly Prey at Firestone.”

The headline in virtually all the mainstream sports pages and sporting websites the next day (and the next) read something like this; “Tiger Can’t Break 75 on Weekend.”

Forget about the winner and his great achievement.  It’s ALL about Tiger, all the time, right?  The guy finishes tied for second-last in a field of 80, stumbling around the course and stomping on his allegedly overworked Johnson the entire way…and he still manages to get more ink than the winner!!!  There’s justice for you.

I admit it IS a story.  And it IS newsworthy.  I’m not that stupid.

But come on…EVERYONE on the planet has a bad week.  Even Bill Gates, who, according to the popular legend, would actually lose money (based on his hourly earnings) by taking the time to bend over and pick up a stray $50,000 bill on the sidewalk, has a bad week once in a while.

It’s not worth 4 inch headlines at the top of every sports section.  Time for a reality check folks…or at the very least, a really stiff check on our priorities.

Why not talk about Mahan, who had a VERY good week, instead?

CanadianGolfer.com, I’m happy to report, was one of the rare exceptions to this journalistic tunnel-vision we’ll refer to as Retinitis PIGmentosa.  Well done lads!

So then, how about that Hunter Mahan?

If you bothered to plow through last week’s War and Peace-weighted pile of dung I put together, you probably know what’s coming next already;

CURSE YOU MARTY McFLY!!!

Yes, I chose Hunter Mahan to win at Firestone…and while I’m really happy for him and elated for myself in managing to score another check mark in the win column, I’m not entirely stoked by the premise I used to select him; my painfully feeble “Back to the Future Gambit.”

I had a LOT of reasons for wanting to take Mahan…and listed them in the column.  But the thing that a lot will probably remember, and the thing that will nag at me, is that I chose him because he was “next” in (reverse) order to win, according to the twisted fold in the space-time continuum I’d conjured up in my overactive imagination.

I really ought to take off the Captain Picard uniform more often and put some more effort into getting laid or something!

So, now I have this goofy premise that defied the odds and actually paid off.  It seems like I’m stuck with it…right up until the point it doesn’t work (in retrospect, that will probably in just a few more paragraphs).

And so, before we boldly go where no moron has gone before…and reveal the selections for this week’s PGA Championship, here’s a quick re-cap on how things went in last weekend’s double-header;

WGC – Bridgestone Invitational

Derek’s Picks D&D (Daughter & Dartboard)

Lee Westwood WD Paul Casey T22 $     72,000
Phil Mickelson T46 $      50,214 Stewart Cink T19 $     81,333
Nick Watney T16 $      90,000 Bubba Watson T22 $     72,000
Hunter Mahan 1 $ 1,400,000 Ian Poulter T65 $     40,750
This Week’s Total $ 1,540,214 This Week’s Total $    266,083
Season Total $ 5,756,222 Season Total $ 3,707,054

Turning Stone Resort Championship

Derek’s Picks D&D (Daughter & Dartboard)

Matt Bettencourt T22 $      32,618 Stephen Ames T16 $     58,000
Brendon de Jonge T16 $      58,000 Charley Hoffman T10 $     88,667
Charles Howell III T48 $      10,320 Billy Mayfair T3 $    180,400
Bryce Molder Cut Michael Bradley T41 $     14,000
This Week’s Total $    100,938 This Week’s Total $    341,067
Season Total $ 5,857,160 Season Total $ 4,048,121

And so, with last week’s dirty business out of the way, let’s plow on and reveal the picks for the latest big tourney.  Here are our selections for the season’s final major:

The PGA Championship – Derek’s Picks

Ernie Els – Other than blowing up with a +6 on Sunday, he was poised to take it all at Firestone last weekend.  He plummeted from T4 to T22 in a few painfully long hours he’d probably rather forget.

Then again, he had good company in the “Sucked on Sunday” category at the WGC event.  According to my calculations, 49 of the 80 golfers in the field couldn’t break par on the final day of the tournament.

Having said all of that, Ernie is having a hell of a great year and I don’t think a fizzled finish at Firestone will have any effect on how he does at Whistling Straits.  Els is ALWAYS a threat when he steps onto the golf course…and I think he’s overdue to add another Major championship to his resume.  This could easily be the Big Easy’s weekend.

Jim Furyk – Another guy who always presents a clear and present danger to the field when there’s something big on the line.

I think this is a particularly auspicious time for Furyk too.  According to my twisted way of looking at things, all the stars are lining up and this could be another weekend when we see him hosting a very large trophy over his head.  The logic goes like this: it’s getting ever so much closer to Ryder Cup time and there’s something about that event that brings the inner tear-them-to-shreds competitive demon in Furyk to the surface.  I admire the way he draws deep on his skills in the event, but can’t stand the all-too-often displays of out of control jingoism and poor sportsmanship he exhibits in the heat of the battle.

His antics at the Ryder Cup are why I don’t like him and rarely choose him in a golf pool.  I know it’s not shrewd, but I think it’s important to want to cheer for the players you pick.  This weekend I’ll take him…begrudgingly.

Rory McIlroy – What a fantastic young talent this kid is!  He’s made the cut in 8 of the 12 PGA events he’s entered this year…and then went on to finish in the top 10 in half of those!

Along the way he found his first career win on this side of the Atlantic, crushing the world’s best with a stunning final round 62 and winning by a 4-stroke margin at the Quail Hollow Championship.

Oh yes, he’s also managed to rack up a hefty bank account in the process, cashing almost $3 million worth of cheques so far this year.  AND a few weeks after he won his first trophy, he turned 21, so he could finally start chewing on pints of Guinness, legally in the States.

Other than Mickelson at Augusta, this year’s major winners (McDowell & Oosthuizen) have defied the longest of odds the bookies could post. In fact, I’m not even sure either of them put a fiver down on themselves.

With that perspective in mind, and the fact that he finished T9 at Firestone, picking a kid like McIlroy to walk over the star-studded field at Whistling Straits isn’t really as big a wild-assed departure from reality as many would think.

Matt Kuchar – Here is it…my obligatory Back to the Future selection for the week!

Again, other than the ridiculous premise I’ve saddled myself with (temporarily), I have a LOT of reasons to like Kuchar to do something special this weekend.  He’s had a truly stellar year; making the cut in 17 of 20 events and finishing in the top 10 in almost half (8) of those…including three top 3’s!

Just to maintain consistency in this bizarre Back to the Future Gambit of mine, I’ve scrolled the clock back 7 more days on the Delorean to the week of the Travelers Championship to come up with Matt’s name.

Some of you may recall that he didn’t actually play that week, pulling out at the 11th hour due to the death of his grandma.  Here’s to wishing this truly nice young guy a MUCH better week, this week in Wisconsin.

And now that my prattling picks are finally done, here’s what magic my daughter managed to conjure up on the dartboard this week:

D&D’s Picks (Daughter & Dartboard)

  • Simon Khan
  • George McNeill
  • Vaughn Taylor
  • Tiger Woods

Yes…after everything I said earlier about the press he got this week, she toed the line, casually tossed a dart and lobbed it straight into Woods’ name!

Now that the WGC event has been relegated to the ancient history files (3 days in the attention-deficit world of pop journalism), Woods continues to dominate the sporting press and the golf forum sites.

Now, the big topic of discussion is whether or not he should be used as a captain’s pick for the 2010 US Ryder Cup team.  I was on one Canadian sporting site yesterday and clicked on the forum hotlink to see what the general tone of the discussion was.  Unsurprisingly, there were about 70 gazillion comments posted, by armchair experts that made some REALLY entertaining reading.

To say that the opinions expressed were hugely polarized and often outrageous would be like saying Elle MacPherson is pleasant looking.

One of my loyal readers even sent me an unconfirmed transcript of a secretly recorded conversation, allegedly recorded on Monday evening, allegedly between two guys who sound a lot like Woods and Ryder Cup Captain Corey Pavin.

From what I’m told, this tape was recording using the cutting-edge technology of the BFPT-5000 phone tap, at great expense to one of the American tabloids, who has already sunk hundreds of thousands of dollars per week into having Woods’ garbage cans sifted on an hourly basis.

Here’s a brief snippet of the alleged conversation:

Woods:         Hello

Pavin:           Hi Tiger, it’s Corey.

Woods:         Hey baby!  How did you get THIS number?

Pavin:           Uh…Corey….Corey PAVIN!

Woods:         Oh, err, yeah, right…COREY!  Uh, sorry about that man, but you know you got that high-pitched girlie voice going on.

Pavin:           Yeah, I get that all the time.  So, anyway…uh…I’m calling about the Ryder Cup

Woods:         Oh (expletive deleted) man…I knew this was coming.

Pavin:           Yeah…so…anyway…I’m getting called, like every five minutes about whether I’m going to make you one of my captain’s picks, you know?

Woods:         Uhhhhhhhhhhh…okay.

Pavin:           Finchem’s bugging me all the time, all the old captains are calling me with their two cent’s worth, the networks are hounding me 24/7 and the sponsors are ringing my phone off the hook!!!

Woods:         SPONSORS???  WHAT (expletive deleted) SPONSORS???  Not my (expletive deleted) sponsors!  I don’t have any left, man!  I even have to go out and buy my own (expletive deleted) razor blades again!

Pavin:           Yeah, well the thing is, I have to make up my mind pretty soon you know, so I figured we should talk about it.

Woods:         Sponsors!  Like I told Thierry Henry those sponsors all just a bunch of (expletive deleted), (expletive deleted), (expletive deleted).

Pavin:           Yeah, so anyway…uh…did you…you know…want to be on the team?

Woods:         Have you been off the (expletive deleted) planet for the last six months???  Why the hell would I want to do that?

Pavin:           Uhhhhhhhhhhhh

Woods:         My game is completely in the (expletive deleted).  I’ve lost pretty much all of my (expletive deleted) sponsorship money.  AND, those European (expletive deleted) in the press would have a (expletive deleted) field day with me if I went over there.

Pavin:           Uhhhhhhhhhhhh

Woods:         Did you see what they did to Faldo and Monty?  And they only had ONE girlfriend…EACH…for (expletive deleted) sakes!

Pavin:           Errrrrrrrrrrrrrr

Woods:         And you think those fans over there in Wales aren’t gonna get on my (expletive deleted) every second I’m on the course too?

Pavin:           Well…

Woods:         There is NO way man.  NO WAY I’m going though that!

Pavin:           Whew!  Well, that’s a relief!

Woods:         Huh?

Pavin:           Er, well, you know…I didn’t really want to you on the team in the first place, so that makes it a whole lot easier.

Woods:         Uhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

Pavin:           But you know, I HAVE to have an out on this thing Tiger.  I need to cover my scrawny little butt on this so it can’t blow up in my face.

Woods:         Errrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

Pavin:           I mean, if we lose again…and don’t tell anyone I said so, but I think we’re gonna get whacked pretty badly over there…I can’t be labeled as the guy who didn’t pick you and blew the whole damned thing for the rest of my life, you know?

Woods:         Ummmmmmmmm

Pavin;           So anyway, here’s what I was thinking we’d do…I’ll say I asked you to be on the team…but you said you couldn’t do it because…

(At this point, the alleged recording of the alleged conversation was allegedly interrupted when an alleged nanny exited the alleged house under surveillance and deposited an alleged bag of allegedly soiled diapers in an alleged garbage can…which had to be sifted through immediately!)

Smile…and have a great week!

Cheers,

Derek

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