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The Ultimate Driving, Chipping, Putting Machine?

A few months from now, when all of the noted golf scribes and TV announcers are their sipping rum and eggnog and putting together the list of “big moments” of 2010, a few stories will inevitably make their way to the top.

Leading the way, of course, will be Tiger Wood’s epic personal and professional implosion.  To call it a “fall from grace,” would be like saying Jack Nicklaus had a pretty decent career.

We’ve seen a lot of celebs plummet over the years, but few can match the Woods story in terms of its duration, overall salaciousness and total cost in earnings and brand equity.

Not since Pee Wee Herman uttered those immortal words, “I don’t feel like going to the clubs tonight guys…I think I’ll take in a movie,” have we seen a celebrity fall so far, so fast.

Okay, so Pee Wee Herman and Tiger Woods aren’t in the same ballpark.  It was the closest and funniest parallel I could think of.

I know you are…but what am I???”

After they finish re-capping all the details of the Woods story in their 2010 retrospectives (2 ½ hours on TV, 15 pages in magazine format), one of the big non-Woods stories of the year has to be the number of unlikely Tour winners this year whose victories were almost totally defined by a single round of golf.

Appleby’s 59 at the Greenbrier, Pettersson’s 60 at the Canadian Open, Atwal’s 61 at The Wyndham and most recently Charley Hoffman’s 62 at the Deutsche Bank Championship (with two bogies!)

YES…all these deserving winners played well for 4 rounds, but their wins were all punctuated by one really low round that threatened to re-write the record books. 

All of them also caught the Vegas bookies and their fields by complete surprise…coming not just out of left field, but from somewhere just outside the solar system in terms of their own expectations for the rest of 2010, based on their form prior to hoisting a trophy. 

Slip a few cocktails into any one of them and they’d probably freely tell you that racking up a win this year seemed like the impossible dream at the time.

Slip a few cocktails into Carl Pettersson and he’d probably go out and win another tournament!  (By the way Carl, my offer to bartend for you at the PGA event of your choice, still stands.  Call me man).

So, where the hell am I going with this?  Good question.  I have a sudden urge to pick a really dark horse for the next round of the Playoffs.  Someone who is on the verge of elimination from the Playoffs…rising like a phoenix to claim the glory.

Before I do that though, let’s re-cap the results of our selections for last week’s tourney and see how we did.

FedEx Cup Playoffs Round 2 – The Deutsche Bank Championship

Derek’s Picks D&D (Daughter & Dartboard)
Jeff Overton Cut   Tim Petrovic T45  $   19,550
Justin Rose Cut   Ryan Moore T67  $   15,375
Paul Casey T25  $   58,500 Kevin Na T33  $   41,438
Steve Stricker   9  $ 217,500 Kevin Streelman T45  $   19,550
This Week’s Total    $ 276,000 This Week’s Total    $   95,913
Season Total    $7,542,118 Season Total    $4,440,356

All in all, not a really stellar week for either one of us, I’m afraid…especially with my two top picks soiling the bed and getting cut!  But I’ll gladly take the win and call it “inspired.”  This is the kind of thinking that prevents me from being invited to any social gatherings more than once in a row.

FedEx Cup Playoffs Round 3 – The BMW Championship

With the field now trimmed down to just 70 players, that means my odds of picking a winner this week have dramatically improved, right?  I mean, that’s less than half of the size of the field for any “regular” tour event…so my odds have to have at least doubled.

Of course, that also means that my little girl has a substantially greater chance of tossing a dart into this week’s winner’s name too.  The house has picked up no discernible advantage in this game folks.

Derek’s Picks

Zach Johnson – Johnson has a few reasons to be riding high this week…and I think all of them bolster his chances of claiming a Playoff win and taking home the BMW trophy.

First, he’s got to be feeling really good about himself today after being named a Captain’s picks for Corey Pavin’s 2010 Ryder Cup Team.  Playing in Wales to represent his country was the brass ring for Johnson and he’ll be driven this week to shoot the lights out and prove to the world that he was a worthy selection.

In addition to justifying his Ryder Cup position, Johnson also has some pretty positive recent history at this week’s venue.  If it weren’t for a luke-warm 73 in his opening round at Cog Hill last year, Johnson could have been a threat to take the title.  Despite the bad start, he posted some really good scores in the final three rounds to finish in solo 5th.  Watch for Johnson to make a deep run in the tourney this weekend.

Jim Furyk – Other than Woods, no player on tour has made as big or as consistent a mark on this tourney than Jim Furyk.

Let’s take a quick look at Furyk’s record at Cog Hill: T2 in 2009, T3 in 2008, T14 in 2007, T4 in 2006.  Oh yes, and the year before that, prior to the FedEx Cup Playoffs, Furyk won at Cog Hill, capturing the Cialis Western Open and defeating…wait for it…one of the stiffest fields of the year.

Try the veal folks…I’ll be here all week.

And, there’s one other important thing to consider to fuel the Furyk flames this week.  It’s that Ryder Cup thing again.  Furyk turns into an absolute animal when the Ryder Cup comes around.  He doesn’t just want to beat his opponents, he wants to destroy them…then pillage their villages and eat their babies.

Watch for Furyk to be in Ryder Cup fighting form this weekend…spitting nails, pumping fists and holing birdies from everywhere on the course. 

The only thing that can hold him back this weekend isn’t the strength of his game or his head, it’s the strength of his cell phone battery.  Jim: give me your hotel number and I’ll make sure you get a wake-up call.  I’ll probably be mixing drinks in Pettersson’s room.

Luke Donald – In the interest of presenting a balanced case here, I feel obliged to take at least one guy from the Euro Ryder Cup Team…and Donald is my man this week. 

And, in the interest of full disclosure, I guess I should fess up here and tell you that I’m a first-generation Canadian of British and Welsh descent and ALWAYS cheer for the Euros at the Ryder Cup.  To me, there’s nothing more satisfying than watching the “underdogs” (on paper) gather every two years to dish up a huge helping of humble pie to the “vastly superior” (on paper) superstar Yank team.  I get all tingly just thinking about it…kind of like climbing the rope in gym class (rock on Garth!)

Mind you, it could be a tough slog this year under the captaincy of Mrs. Doubtfire Montgomerie.  He certainly got off to a brutal start by announcing his Captain’s picks while the final round of the Barclays was underway.  But the Euros have an indomitable team spirit that can overcome even that…and I think Donald is poised to shine as one of Europe’s BIG stars in Wales.

Before he gets there though, I think he’s primed to take home some hardware on this side of the Atlantic.  Coming off his excellent second-place showing at the Deutsche Bank Championship last weekend, Donald should be having all kinds of happy thoughts for his chances at the BMW this weekend.

Marc Leishman – I promised to deliver a bit of a dark horse pick this week…and Leishman is it.  I’ll leave it up to you to decide how dark this horse actually is.  Keep in mind that he’s ranked #57 in a field of 70 this weekend, though.

After getting the year off to a promising start, with a second-place finish at the Farmers Insurance Open, Leishman has only managed to register one other top ten in 23 starts on Tour.  

So, why Leishman…and not some other player ranked in the bottom third of the FedEx Cup standings?  The simple answer to that question is his performance at the BMW in 2009.  Leishman was one of just two players who managed to post four rounds in the 60’s last year at Cog Hill, shooting 67-69-68-69, to finish at -11.  The other guy was Tiger Woods, who strung together rounds of 68-67-62-68 to almost lap the rest of the field with his -19 final score.

Despite the somewhat shaky year he’s had since the Farmers, if Charley Hoffman can pole vault from 59th to 2nd in the FedEx Cup standings, I think Leishman can draw on some happy mojo from last year’s run at the BMW and make a strong showing this weekend in the third round of the Playoffs.

And now that my pontificating is done with, let’s see how daughter did on the dartboard this week:

D&D’s Picks (Daughter & Dartboard)

  • Martin Laird
  • Vijay Singh
  • Ian Poulter
  • Camilo Villegas

And that’s all for this week folks.  Enjoy the action!

Cheers,

Derek

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