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On Bing and Bob…and Boy Bands?

I have to admit, I have a fairly strong urge to go out and buy a handful of lottery tickets this week folks.

Although I wasn’t prescient enough to pick Rocco Mediate for the win at the Frys.com Open (other than Rocco, would anyone else have?), I did manage to place three of my four picks in the top 6!  In fact, the only guy on my list who let me down was defending champion Troy Matteson, who has won the event twice in the past 4 years.  Poor old Troy didn’t make the cut this time ’round.

Speaking of Rocco…here’s a graphic example of just how much one good week means right now for a TON of players desperately hoping to hang onto their tour cards.  Going into the Frys.com Open, Rocco was 182nd on the Money List with a big anchor around his neck.  Even though there’s no quit in the guy, I bet he even had his hotel reservations booked in a moderately swanky inn somewhere near the final Q-School venue.

Thanks to his string of four really good days this past week, Rocco can now cancel that hotel room.  His winner’s cheque at the Frys.com Open vaulted him from 182nd to 72nd on the Money List!  That puts him well within the comfort zone to have a Tour card at the end of the season.

That HAS to be inspiring to the 140 or so guys who are still out there playing their guts out, trying desperately to scrape their way out of the cellar in the next few weeks. Piece of cake, right?

So now with a really great week under my belt (finally!), for the season, my accumulated picks have surpassed the $10 million mark in earnings.  Not quite what Jim Furyk walked away with a few weeks ago at the Tour Championship, but it averages out to a fraction more than $2,000,000 per month, which in just about anyone’s books is serious money.

Meanwhile, armed with zero golf knowledge and only a modicum of skill with the darts, my daughter has managed to rack up over $6 million in earnings.  She might not be breathing down my neck right now, but I assure you her pretty considerable stats DO keep me grounded and in touch with reality as far as my own abilities are concerned.

Here’s how my daughter and I did at the Fry’s.com Open:

Derek’s Picks – Frys.com Open D&D (Daughter & Dartboard) – Frys.com Open
Rickie Fowler 4 $        240,000 Tom Lehman Cut
Troy Matteson Cut Henrik Stenson T38 $         21,000
Tim Clark T6 $        146,071 Jarrod Lyle Cut
Bo Van Pelt T2 $        440,000 Mark Wilson Cut
This Week’s Total $        826,071 This Week’s Total $         21,000
Season Total $   10,142,967 Season Total $     6,178,735

The 40+ weeks on the PGA Tour schedule contain just a few truly fabled events.  Ask anyone with even just a passing knowledge of golf to rhyme them off and the Open Championship, The US Open and the Masters would spring immediately to mind.  As a loyal, frost-bitten Canadian boy I would put the Canadian Open on this list too…but I realize that many would argue the point until they were out of either oxygen or beer and would offer many valid counter arguments along the way.

There are also tournaments that have become revered because of their indelible association with one of the greats of the game; The Byron Nelson, The Colonial (Hogan), The Palmer and the Memorial (Nicklaus).  Of course, the Masters fits into this category too (Jones).  These are the tournaments that the great players simply do NOT miss playing.  And the rookies want to be in these fields almost as much as they want to appear in their first major. The fields are tough, the purses are grand and the caché of having your name etched on one of these trophies, forever linking your name to one of the game’s legends, is a prize that is truly worth capturing.

Then there are the rare few golf tournaments that have achieved almost semi-mythical status because of their association with a golfing celebrity.  The famed Crosby Clambake (Pebble Beach) was the first.  Bing’s best movie buddy followed suit a few years later and The Hope (Palm Springs) appeared on the schedule too.  Both were avid golf nuts and merry hackers from way back.  In fact, Hope rarely performed without a golf club in his hand.  It became one of his trademarks…right up there with the famed ski-jump nose.

While certainly not in the same league as the “On The Road” boys or their tourneys, TV star Danny Thomas contributed too, with his annual event to aid the St. Jude Children’s Hospital…one of the first big golf events to have a charity association.

The courses in all these events were primo and the quality of play was fantastic…but it wasn’t really golf that was the big draw; it was the memorable mixing of golf and celebrity that commanded the attention of everyone with a pulse back in the day.

These were four-day, let-your-hair-down-and-have-some-laughs cocktails parties, accessorized by caddies and golf clubs.  The who’s who of the golfing world and Hollywood blended together and put on display for the commoners, either just feet away on the other side of the ropes, or glued to their TV sets.  Where else could you see Arnie or Jack stripe a two iron to two feet, to be immediately followed by the nail-biting drama of Jack Lemmon deftly gunging his 9th stroke out of a fairway bunker…and straight into the Pacific Ocean?

The thrill of victory, the agony of defeat!  Caddy, hand me my putter and fix me up with another refill on this hip flask, pronto!

And that, of course, brings us to this week’s event on the PGA Tour; The Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open.  You know, I really hate to come off sounding like curmudgeonly old fart here, but gawd…it actually caused me a great deal of physical discomfort even just to type that!

Justin Timberlake?

At this point in the proceedings I’m going to make a few semi-educated assumptions about you, the readers of this column.  First; you have way too much spare time on your hands to waste any of it with me.  Second, you have at least a passing interest in, if not a fanatical devotion to golf.  Otherwise, why would you be on a golf site, reading the ramblings of some half-baked Fantasy Golf wag, with a penchant for typing way too much and killing the English language in the process?

Furthermore, you are probably between the ages of 40-65, have an upper-middle to upper class income and are a professional in some field.  And, without being a sexist pig, you are probably a male, imbued with your fair share of testosterone…although some of you might require the occasional blast of Viagra or Cialis to adequately harden the arteries.  (If I ever get a stiffy that lasts for more than 4 hours, I’ll eventually call my doctor…right after I call about 40 other people first).

But back to you; you’d probably rather watch a Sean Connery movie you’ve already seen 20 times, over a new episode of Glee or Dancing With the Stars…and your musical tastes probably lean toward Rush, Pink Floyd, Aerosmith and Green Day, than Christina Aguilera, the Backstreet Boys, Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber.

All of that suggests that a fair percentage of you probably have no idea who Justin Timberlake is…and, even if you did, you probably wouldn’t give a rat’s rectum.

And so, as a public service, and to help you feel like you actually haven’t been living under a rock in the Gobi Desert for the past decade, I present you with a quickie, everything-you-need-to-know-but-didn’t-care-enough-to-ask re-cap of Justin Timberlake and his career:

  • He’s 29 years old
  • He started out as a failed Country singing contestant on Star Search
  • He was a member of the cast of the new Mickey Mouse Club
  • He was lead singer of the unbelievably popular, fabricated boy band, *NSYNC
  • He now has a successful solo recording career
  • He’s made a number of relatively minor supporting appearances on TV shows and movies…most recently in the Facebook movie, “Social Network”
  • He’s the guy who caused Janet Jackson’s accidental “wardrobe malfunction” at the Superbowl
  • He dated Britney Spears

There’s other stuff of course, but that’s more than enough for you to get a general overview of the guy…and gives you a few relevant things you could say at a cocktail party in case his name ever comes up (instead of falling back on your old stand-by routine and stuffing your face full of crab puffs, desperately trying to avoid committing a social gaffe).

Now then, here’s the curmudgeonly old fart coming out in me: shouldn’t 29 years old + Mickey Mouse Club + boy band + Janet Jackson’s pierced nipple+Britney Spears automatically disqualify him from ever having his name attached to a professional golf tournament?  Each of those, on their own, is enough to close the case, in my books.  But taken collectively…well, the prosecution rests your honour.

Timberlake’s accomplishments, and I’ll admit that they are pretty impressive, do earn him some respect…and the right to attach his famous name to quite a few things of note.  Video games for sure.  A sing-along karaoke machine would be good too.  A line of clothes for 18-24 year old men?  You betcha.  Even a cologne I could go for.  But having his moniker etched onto a PGA Tour event?  I have a tough time with that one friends.

If you’ve followed this column for more than one week, you’ve probably already come to the conclusion that I’m just not wired right.  Maybe I am a curmudgeonly old fart after all…even though my age hardly qualifies me as “old” in most people’s books.

And so, with this week’s foreplay babble drawing to a close, let’s press on and see what kind of magic I can conjure to follow-up on my Frys.com selections.

Derek’s Picks – Justin Timberlake Shriner’s Hospitals for Children Open

Rickie Fowler – I hate the idea of selecting a player in consecutive weeks in this column.  I really do.  It seems unimaginative, uninspired and a trifle lazy.  To be honest, it also feels pig-headed.  I’ve done it a few times in the past and never felt entirely good about it…but I am going to do it this week.  Hopefully, the reasons (and the result) will justify the infraction.

Fowler seemed like a very good pick to me last week at the Frys.com Open.  Based on his T4 finish last weekend, which would have been even better were it not for Mediate’s spectacular eagle two on the penultimate hole…Fowler was indeed a solid pick.

Well, based on my calculations, he’s an even more solid selection this week folks.

In addition to the great achievements he’s already racked up in his debut year on the tour, the host course for this tourney, the TPC Summerlin, also happens to be Fowler’s home course. This is the track where he literally cut his golfing teeth.  He knows every nook and cranny, every mogul and swale, every shortcut, and disastrous position…every break in every green.

Beyond the guys who are fighting to keep their Tour cards next year, Fowler’s is still one of the more interesting and gripping stories unfolding as the season winds down to its conclusion.  Can he register his first win on Tour before the season runs out in a few weeks?

Given his great year, his most recent strong performance and his intimate knowledge of this course, if ever there were a week when Fowler should win…this is it.

George McNeill – 99.9% of golf fans, even the die-hards, could probably sit down at a lunch counter and join this guy for lunch…and never have any inkling who he was.  But don’t confuse anonymity for skills.  McNeill has lots of each right now…and it’s the latter that will be on display this weekend, hoping to take a chunk out of the former.

McNeill has shone in this golf tournament in the past few years.  He finished tied for 2nd last year, posted a top 15 in 2008 and won on this course in 2007, when it hosted the Frys.com Open.  That’s a pretty impressive stretch in anyone’s books.

It’s true that he hasn’t really had a banner year in 2010…he’s made the cut in only 11 of 26 starts, posted just one top 10 and only 4 other top 25 finishes for the season.  But, like I said, he does seem to shine on this particular course, so why not this week too?

It’s also worth mentioning that McNeill is currently wallowing in 141st place on the Money List…and he really needs to pull a “Rocco” soon in order to avoid Q-School.  Considering his history at this event, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him charge out of the pack to make something happen.

Charley Hoffman – I have a sneaking suspicion that Hoffman was actually developed by the US Air Force (see earlier paragraph: “I’m not wired quite right”).  He doesn’t just fly under the radar, he’s almost completely impervious to it.  He’s a B2 Stealth Golfer, covered in plaid anechoic polyester.

He reminds me a bit of Retief Goosen, say ten or 12 years ago…but with a more exuberant personality…and a mullet.  Charging from nowhere to make his presence known on the leaderboard…and then promptly falling off all the prognosticator’s scopes again the next week.  It took the guys at the Golf Channel years (and a few major titles) to finally remember not to forget Goosen’s name, when making their predictions.

How’s that for tortured syntax?

Hoffman has had an excellent year on the Tour in 2010.  He’s posted five top ten finishes, including his come-from-nowhere win at the Deutsche Bank Championship just a few weeks ago in the FedEx Cup.  He also finished 6th at the Tour Championship…meaning he’s going into this tournament riding a pretty big wave.

Charley also finished T4 at this event in 2009, giving him some extra happy thoughts going into this weekend.  I like his chances.

Hunter Mahan – I’ll be completely honest with you.  This pick is probably about 80% sentimental and only 20% logical.

Even though I was cheering on the Euros at the Ryder Cup (I always do), I was positively gutted by what happened to poor Hunter on his final hole at Celtic Manor.  To have that much pressure on your shoulders and then fail to deliver in such a spectacular way is just heart-breaking.

I literally felt it.  I certainly felt for him…and I still do.

If the golfing gods have any tricks up their sleeves other than handing out bad breaks at inopportune times, then this is the week when they should decide to hand out some good karma to a deserving fellow like Mahan.  He needs some good stuff to happen to him, FAST, to shake Wales out of his system.  Some guys would never recover from that experience, but I’m confident Mahan will. And the sooner the better in my books.  I know I’ll be cheering him on this weekend.

And so, with my picks out of the way, let’s switch gears and see how my daughter managed to do on the dartboard this week:

D&D’s Picks (Daughter & Dartboard)

  • Ryuji Imada (2nd week in a row.  Pretty long odds on that)
  • Richard S. Johnson
  • Pat Perez
  • Nick Watney

That’s it for now folks.  Have a great week!

Cheers,

Derek

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