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Palm Trees and Golf Tees…Mahalo!

Well, 2011 is off to a hell of a start already isn’t it?  I can’t wait to see how the rest of the season unfolds over the following eleven months and change.

I was really hoping that I wouldn’t run into my first injury until much deeper in the season, but as luck would have it, I lost 25% of my 4-man roster before the opening tee shot was even fired in the Hyundai Tournament of Champions.

You might recall that in last week’s article I was licking my chops over Geoff Ogilvy, the defending champion and all-around solid pick to start the season off with a bang.  He has literally owned this tournament the past few years and based on all the portents, including a recent win Down Under, he really should have been a solid contender for a good run at a three-peat this past weekend.

Fast forward one day (less, actually)…and Geoff is rushed off to the hospital to get 12 stitches sewn into his hand.

I know what you’re thinking; what high-risk, devil-may-care act of derring-do was young Geoff engaged in to sustain an injury like that?  Was he jumping out of planes?  Wrestling gators?  Zip-lining through the rain forest?  Driving race cars?  Samurai sword practise?  Making lamp stands on the band saw, while slathered in vegetable oil?  Or was he perhaps jumped by Ninjas on his way out of the hotel one dark, lonely night?

Nope…he was swimming.

Yes, swimming.

Introduce a little coral reef, a misplaced hand and bingo…stitches and withdrawal.  Is it just me, or do the words “stitches and withdrawal,” strung together, give you a weird, uncomfortable shiver too?

With that kind of start to the season, I think from now on I’m going to have to send out e-mails each week to all my future fantasy picks, insisting that they duct tape themselves in bubble wrap and refrain from any high-risk activities until the week is done.  Based on the way my luck has gone this week (in other areas as well), this would include activities like lawn bowling, gardening, street-crossing, chewing, sipping, sleeping and high-speed knitting.

Still though, even though I only ended up riding 3 horsies across the finish line at Kapalua, it turned out to be a pretty decent start on the season…three top 10’s.  Here’s how my daughter and I stacked up in our 2011 season debut:

Derek’s Picks D&D (Daughter & Dartboard)
Geoff Ogilvy DNS $              – Bill Haas 8 $         182,000
Dustin Johnson T9 $     162,000 Adam Scott T21 $           71,000
Ian Poulter T6 $     201,500 Francesco Molinari T15 $         107,000
Jim Furyk T9 $     162,000 Jason Day T9 $         162,000
This Week’s Total $     525,500 This Week’s Total $         522,000
Season Total $     525,500 Season Total $         522,000

Hats off are in order for my little girl too, I think.  Considering the huge chunks of money these guys are playing for, a $3,500 difference in totals is about as tight as I can imagine.  For all intents and purposes, dad is calling the start to the season a draw.  (And, if you’ve been following along since the 2010 debut of “Poolside,” you know that this is a MUCH better start for me than my highly dubious launch on CanadianGolfer.com last year.  She absolutely pounded me with those damned darts the first few weeks and it seemed to take forever to catch up to her!)

And now, on to bigger and better things.  Or at least to bigger fields.

This week marks the official start of the season for the full monty of PGA Tour pros.  It’s the Sony Open, from beautiful, breathtaking Waialae Country Club.

Maybe it’s the scenery, maybe it’s the inspiration and optimism of a fresh, shiny start to the year, maybe it’s the clean-slate “go for it” attitude many players adopt early, but this tourney always seems to inspire some really amazing stuff and a jaw-dropping highlight reel.

The Sony Open – Derek’s Picks

Steve Stricker – With apologies to phenomenal author Terry Goodkind (do yourself a favour and pick up his stuff), I’m going to start off my picks by invoking my own “Law of 4’s” this week.

It seems like four is the magic number for Stricker…and in my twisted cranium the fourth occurrence of the rule inspires a change to ONE…as in a win.

Here are the stats.  Stricker started off the year with a 4th place finish at Kapalua last week.  A good beginning that could have easily been parlayed into a win.  So he’s already riding a nice little wave to start off 2011, just like the wave he rode for most of 2010.

In 2010, Stricker finished Top 4 at the Sony.  In 2008 he finished T4.  Four years ago he rang in 2007 with…ready?  Another T4.

One fourth of four…is one.  It’s quantum mechanics folks.  You just can’t argue with it.  Mostly because you just can’t understand it (yeah, like I could!).

I can hear my son licking his chops now, waiting for a chance to explain what real quantum mechanics is…while my eyes glaze over and I promptly faceplant into a plate of scrambled eggs on toast.

And you thought picking golf winners was easy didn’t you?

Seriously though, as soon as I posted my picks last week I regretted not riding the Stricker wave on the first tourney of the season.  His results last week bear me out.  My good buzz on the guy continues and I’d be silly not to make him a pick this week.

Carl Pettersson – Our reigning Canadian Open champion gets the nod this week.

Like Stricker, he comes into this tourney riding some good recent mojo, combined with impressive past glories at the Sony.  Carl crafted a really solid T4 last week at the Hyundai and got his excellent 2010 campaign off to a great start at this tourney last season, by finishing in the top 5.

Pettersson also has a certain laid-back, mosey around the track kind of attitude that I think is a perfect fit for Hawaii (and Canada).  It’s not science. It’s probably not even a rational attribute to consider.  But, I’m going with my gut and picking his carefree attitude to carry the day and do well at Waialae.

This tournament could be another Toronto…with palm tress, for the Swede/Brit/North Carolinian.  Mahalo, borky, bork, pip, pip, y’all!

Charles Howell III – Yup, I know.  Where did this guy disappear to last year…and why would I possibly pick him this week?

Not long ago, it seemed like Thurston was a consistent threat to the leader boards.  He was focused, he was talented, he hit the ball a ton, he was confident and proved he could seal the deal against some strong competitors.

Many golf wags labelled him “the next (insert hall of fame name here).”  Amazing how often that label seems to turn into a curse isn’t it?

While I might not pick him again for the rest of the season (fickle, aren’t I?), I do think there are some good reasons to select him this week.  Hawaii seems to love Howell…and he loves it right back.  He’d probably kiss it right on the mouth if it weren’t for the threat of getting dirt in that overbite.

Howell started off the 2010 with some promise, finishing T5 at the Sony.  He was 4th in 2009.  Nada in ’08 (a truly terrible year for him), then T2 in 2007.  Regardless of what he does elsewhere, he does bring his “A” game to this tourney and that’s enough for me to make him a pick this week.

Matt Kuchar – Another guy that’s really hard not to like right now…and another player I regretted not selecting last week as soon as I hit the “submit” button on my column.

Picking Kuchar for this week’s event is all about riding the momentum and not at all because he has displayed any past brilliance in Hawaii.  In fact, he’s failed to make the cut in his last two starts at the tourney…and finished an uninspiring 65th and T73 the two years before that.

Hang on…is it too late for me to change this one?  This is starting to sound pretty shaky, even for me!

Oh, what the hell.  Even though Kuchar hasn’t even covered his airfare to the tourney in 4 years, I still like his chances of doing something good this time around.  Fifth time’s a charm Matt.

A phenomenal 2010 campaign, followed by a really strong T6 last week at Kapalua are enough to give me happy thoughts and keep him on my roster.

And now that I’ve had my ramble, let’s press on to the rec room and see where my daughter has managed to land her darts this week.

D&D (Daughter & Dartboard)

  • Pat Perez
  • Brian Gay
  • DJ Trahan
  • Nate Smith

And that’s it for this week folks.  Wednesday is deadline day in our golf pool (we skip the Tournament of Champions to give people more time after the holiday) and I’ve got a serious backlog of teams to enter before the first putt is sunk.  Plus, I always get totally swamped by 11th hour entries on D-Day, so I’m strapped in for a really hectic day.

Since the tourney is in Hawaii, the time zone works in my favour though.  Thursday here would be, like, next Monday there, right?  That’s what the quantum mechanic down at the shop told me.

Thanks for reading and have a great week!

Cheers,

Derek

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