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It's Do or Die…or Don't Show Up, If You Don't Want To

Unofficially, the PGA’s official “regular” season came to an end last weekend with the playing of the Wyndham Championship.

Oh sure, after the Playoffs the “Fall Series” is still to come, but those events, which are “official” as far as being  PGA sponsored events go…are almost “officially unofficial.”

Think about it.  The majority of the stars don’t show up and the results don’t really count for a great deal…other than adding to a player’s bank account…and helping keep a few guys out of Q-School hell.

Did you know that the Fall Series winners don’t get automatic invitations to The Masters, like every other winner during the “official, really official” season?  As my dear old mom used to say, “How’s them apples?”

Before we delve into the fantasy golf picks for this week though, let’s take a sec and re-cap what happened with our selections for the Wyndham Championship:

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

Ryan Moore Cut Craig Bowden Cut
Carl Pettersson Cut Kent Jones T53 $     11,433
Brandt Snedeker T8 $  142,800 Steve Flesch Cut
Jason Bohn W/D Troy Merritt T49 $     12,725
This Week’s Total $142,800 This Week’s Total $    24,158
Season Total $6,754,093 Season Total $4,177,579

And so, this weekend marks the start of the 2010 Playoff season on the PGA Tour…and the thought that is coursing through the minds of all frost-bitten Canadian boys is this; “when a PGA player gets knocked out of the Playoffs, does he immediately reach for his hockey equipment?”

The PGA Playoffs are a bit of a curiosity to me, because parts of the structure have always seemed wonky.  The biggest wonkiness lies in the fact that players aren’t mandated to show up and play every round.  They can take that risk if they want to…and most often in the past, it’s been the Barclays (this week’s tourney) that gets skipped.

(Yes, yes…I can hear a plethora of hockey fans out there adding in their own punchline to that set-up.  Like; “the players don’t have to show up and play in the Playoffs…just like The Maple Leafs!” (or insert your alternate favourite team to kick here)

Anyway, it just seems to me that the point of a playoff (in any sport) is to create an immediate sense of drama and urgency; it’s do or die.  In every other sport I can think of, the Playoffs begin a phase that immediately starts weeding out the teams or players who don’t make the grade in a progressive elimination format.

I’m not sure the PGA accomplishes the drama and excitement it’s looking for with the FedEx Cup playoffs, if a player can simply opt out of participating in one or more events.

It’s the golf version of an Olympic high jumper taking a “pass” on the first 4 or 5 heights.  I say if he’s that good and that cocky…he should be confident enough to risk failure like everyone else and make the jump.  In other words, “step up and prove it!”

And, given the structure, the top players of the year could do just that (and have in the past)…taking a pass on one or more of the Playoff events, if they had sufficient points banked up and were feeling ballsy enough.

I’m sure the PGA Tour’s big cranium math people have done all the times-bys and guzintas (courtesy Jethro Bodine) many times to make this system fair, but this whole Playoff scheme seems as goofy to me as the formula they use to determine the #1 golfer in the world.  And, by the way, has there ever been a time when that bizarre formula has come under greater criticism…and rightly so?

Everyone who honestly believes that Tiger Woods is the #1 golfer in the world right now…or at any time in the past 4 or 5 (or 6 or 7) months, for that matter…stand on your head!

Fortunately, it seems that the $10 million first prize has turned into a strong lure for everyone (gee, go figure!)…and virtually everyone IS showing up this year.  You can probably chalk at least part of that up to the fact that Woods is currently ranked 112th on the money list…and will literally be scrambling just to make it to the next round!  It’s open season on the cash baby!

Anyway, on to the picks folks.  Here are our selections for round one of the Playoffs:

Derek’s Picks – The Barclays

Rory McIlroy – You betcha I’m going with Rory this weekend.  I can’t think of any other player on Tour who has been as hot as McIlroy the past 6 weeks.

He came tantalizingly close to locking up his first Major title, not once but twice in that brief time span…finishing third in both the Open Championship and the PGA Championship.  The only other guy who comes even close to that record is Martin Kaymer, who finished 7th at the Open Championship, then won at the PGA.

McIlroy seems destined to do great things.  It’s more than a little likely that he’ll explode out of the blocks and score a victory in round one of his quest to win the 2010 Playoff title.

Kaymer, by the way, is NOT playing this weekend.

Steve StrickerI’m not entirely sure where his game has gone since his win at the John Deere, but if there were ever a tourney that could turn it around for him in a big hurry, it seems that this is the one for Steve Stricker.

Stricker is a player who genuinely seems to thrive in the playoff environment.  He finished in a four-way tie for second at the Barclays last year, top 20 the year before that and won the thing in 2007.  A pretty impressive stretch in anyone’s books.

Stricker’s season has ranged from red hot to luke warm, with more of the latter in the past several weeks.  I look for him to be registering in the “hot” column this weekend.

Bubba Watson – I have a personal rule of thumb I’ve followed for several years in making my golf pool picks…never select a player named “Bubba, Boo or Clem.”  They’re just not proper golfing names, are they?

Watson’s consistent, excellent performance the past several years has made me reevaluate at least a third of that rule of thumb.

He hits the ball a ton…doesn’t seem to crack under the pressure and has proven himself a threat when there’s a lot on the line.  He’s also riding a pretty positive wave at the moment…coming off a win at The Travelers and registering a second place finish at Whistling Straits two weeks ago.

I have to admit, the twisted side of me likes ol’ Bubba for another reason too.  I loved seeing and hearing him rip into Steve Elkington for poor etiquette (most would call it gamesmanship) at the Zurich Championship a few years ago!

This situation wasn’t the first time that Elkington’s name and gamesmanship were mentioned in the same sentence…but it was great to see someone say it openly and actually do something about it…rather than speaking anonymously to reporters after the fact.

Camilo VillegasThe name that always makes you go “how did they get THAT?” when you hear the commentators saying it on TV.

After a smoking hot 2008 campaign, Villegas seemed like he was destined to be a perpetual threat to challenge at every tournament he entered…with his huge length and that goofy Spiderman green-reading pose of his.

It hasn’t exactly turned out that way though.  2008’s 45th place money list placing (down from #6 in 2008) was certainly disappointing for him.  But he has been having a sneaky-quiet, but very strong 2010 season that has seen him climb back up to #15 in the rankings.

I can’t tell you exactly why I get a good feeling about Camilo this week, but I think there’s a good shot that he can add a bookend to his Honda title from earlier in the year…and take home the Barclays trophy this weekend.

And so much for my ramble.  Now then, Daughter is away for some holidays this week, so #1 son has had to step in and assume her responsibilities at the dartboard.

He seemed to be far too eager for the task too…and not because he’s so willing to help out his little sister.  I just know that he’s hoping for a 1-2-3-4 showing to bury the old man and put me in my place.  The ingrate!

S&S’s Picks (Son & SwiftFlytes)

  • Robert Allenby
  • Luke Donald
  • Troy Matteson
  • Dean Wilson

And that’s it for this week folks.  Enjoy!

Cheers,

Derek

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