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Welcome to the Great Texas Anticlimax Open

WOW…WOW…WOW!!!

What a tournament…what a back nine!

It seems wildly appropriate that, on the 25th anniversary of the Golden Bear’s stunning comeback at Augusta, something special would happen this week.  I don’t think anyone could have predicted just how special the final day of The Masters would turn out.

This one had it all; drama, pathos, heroics, bold charges, heart-breaking failures, courage, calamity and even a little bit of comedy too, whether it was intentional or not.

Never before have so many been so deep in the hunt, and for so long.  Every shot hit by the rapidly swelling list of contending players on the back nine was edge-of-your-seat stuff.  “Where did he come from?” “Where did he go?” “How did he do that?” “Why would he do that?” “What was he thinking?” “What is going through his head right now?”  “How can he possibly stand this unbelievable pressure?”

Now THAT’s entertainment folks!

If a fledgling writer had submitted the final day plot to a Hollywood studio, they would have dismissed the story line in about 5 nanoseconds.  Too preposterous…too outrageous…too clichéd.

This was a Masters that will be written about for years to come…and by much more talented, more poetic scribes than me.  And it will be worth every drop of ink and pixel it gets.  No one will get tired of reading about, or talking about this one for a very long time.

Given the quality and quantity of stuff being written right now, the only other thing I’ll contribute at this point is the re-cap of how my daughter and I did with our picks as they plotted their way around the fabled fairways of Augusta.

The Masters

Derek’s Picks D&D (Daughter & Dartboard)
Phil Mickelson T27  $       54,400 Anders Hansen Cut  
Steve Stricker T11  $     176,000 D.A. Points Cut  
Hunter Mahan Cut   Kevin Streelman Cut  
Nick Watney 46  $       26,400 Y.E. Yang T20  $           93,200
This Week’s Total    $     256,800 This Week’s Total    $           93,200
Season Total    $  5,970,530 Season Total    $       2,563,994

Okay, maybe I should have said, “as they plodded their way around the fabled fairways of Augusta

For the most part, my selections this week seem to have adopted the T&T Strategy…”tease and tank.”  I was totally stoked on Thursday to see my guys making a charge and making their presence felt on the first page of the leader board.  By Friday afternoon, I was still optimistic, but cautiously guarded in my enthusiasm.  Saturday was moving day…and my players basically moved toward the back of the bus.  Sunday came and went…with nary a TV shot of my guys playing a shot…other than the obligatory putt-out on 18. 

Thanks for coming out, we have some lovely parting gifts for you…a case of Turtle Wax, a crate of Mop ‘N Shine and a lifetime supply of Rice-a-Roni, the San Francisco treat.

In the immortal words of Albus Dumbledore, “Alas…earwax.”

The Texas Open – Derek’s Picks

I’m not sure how you’ll be approaching the telecast from San Antonio this week, but for me, no matter what happens, the festivities in Texas are going to be a gargantuan anticlimax.  I hate to say that, but it is what it is…and last week’s Masters has probably ruined golf viewing for many people for at least a couple of weeks.  Everything else, right up until the next major probably, will seem like a very pale knock-off of what we enjoyed at Augusta.

The fact that a huge chunk of the “stars” on this year’s Tour are giving this week a miss, make it even less compelling for me, as a spectator.  It’s not exactly yawn-worthy…but I can’t see myself spending any amount of time this weekend perched on the edge of my seat.

Actually, now that we have some decent weather here (FINALLY!!!), I plan on devoting a very large portion of my weekend to nailing several hundred balls at our excellent local driving range.  I’m a man on a mission; and that mission is working out a few years worth of kinks before I tee it up at our big annual tourney in New York next week (more on that in our next, not-so-riveting episode).

Adam Scott – I’ve been having some mixed feelings about this pick…but in the end I’ve decided to just go with it and see what happens.

It’s really hard not to like Scott this week.  After all, he is the defending champion at this event…having picked up the trophy in 2010 with an excellent -14 performance.  The big reason he’ll probably be on a lot of fantasy golf selections this week however, has more to do with what he did last weekend at Augusta.

After two rounds, Scott was sitting at -2 along with Phil Mickelson and a host of others.  He was comfortably inside the cut line, but a seemingly insurmountable ten strokes back of Rory’s lead.  For all but the die-hardiest of die-hard fans, he had all but been written out of the plot line for the weekend.

Then, he came on fire…stringing together back-to-back rounds of 67.  Just more of the truly great stuff that made last weekend so memorable.  When Scott walked off the green of his 72nd hole, not only was he in contention, he was tied for the lead with playing partner, Jason Day…both with a chance to accomplish what The Shark had come so tantalizingly close to achieving so many times in the past; being the first Vegemite-aficionado to don a Green Jacket.

And therein lies my quandary.  Will Scott feed off his superb weekend at Augusta and use it to power his way through the somewhat anaemic pack in Texas this weekend?  Or, has his close-but-no-jacket performance left him with a few mental scars that will need some time to heal?

It’s a close call, but Scott is a tough competitor with a lot of experience (and a few wins) under his belt…and I’m pulling for the latter result this week in San Antonio. 

Geoff Ogilvy – If not for that aggravating 73 on Saturday, Ogilvy might well have been the first man from Oz to slip into a Green Jacket in Butler Cabin on Sunday night.  Turn that into a modest 69 and he would have been going back out on #10 for a playoff with Schwartzel.  Woulda, coulda, shoulda.

Up until this weekend, Ogilvy’s 2011 campaign has been a bit of a balky snore-fest.  I’ve chosen him a few times to win in earlier events…and he’s consistently failed to live up to his potential each time I’ve put him on the roster.  Some of it was bad luck (a wonky hand injury while swimming).  Most of it was just uninspired play, I think.

Geoff was anything but uninspired at Augusta though.  There were many riveting (and bigger) comeback stories unfolding on the fairways…but his was one of the ones that had me most interested.  I’ve always liked this guy…and to see him returning to form at such an important event, was a great thing to watch (although we really didn’t get to watch very many shots from him, did we?)

There’s nothing in his past performances at this event to justify giving him the nod this week, but I’m putting a big check mark beside Ogilvy’s name to do well in Texas.  Coming off such a great week in Georgia, and with the relatively weaker field to battle this week, he just seems like a really good pick to me.

Spencer Levin – Unlike my first two picks this week, Levin was not in the hunt at Augusta last weekend.  In fact, he wasn’t even in the field…he was at home, hunting through the fridge for snacks and watching the drama like the rest of us.

The only difference is that he was watching and fantasizing about winning a Green Jacket of his own.  Oh sure, I was doing the same thing (and so were you…admit it), but the difference lies in the fact that Levin actually has a shot of turning that fantasy into reality one day (unlike me…or you too, I’m guessing).

2011 has been a breakthrough year for young Mr. Levin.  He lost in a playoff at the Mayakoba, finished T4 at Pebble, T6 at the Arnie Invitational and top 15 at Riviera and Palm Beach Gardens.  With the possible exception of his Mexican charge, none of the tracks on which he’s excelled this year can be called easy…far from it. Same goes with the fields he’s played against.

The only thing missing from Levin’s resume this year is a win.  After having spent the weekend watching major championship golf, rather than playing it, I feel like he’s going to return to the Tour this week with a huge fire stoked up in his belly…and he’ll be a man on a mission; to earn his first win and make himself a guarantee to appear at The Masters in 2012.

Bo Van Pelt – For a little while there, he was arguably the hottest player on Augusta National late Sunday afternoon.  And given what was happening all over the back nine, that’s really saying a hell of a lot!

He started his Master’s experience with a respectable, but unspectacular 73 on Thursday…following that up with progressively improving rounds of 69 and 68, Friday and Saturday.

Not much happened on the front nine for him on Sunday. An opening bogey, offset by a birdie on #7 had him making the turn even par for the day and -6 for the week…4 strokes behind the leaders, which, at the time, seemed like too much to chew off with too little time in which to do it.

Then Bo hit the legendary, make-or-break par 5’s on the back nine…and absolutely killed them both.  Eagle-eagle.  Tied for the lead with 3 to go, thank you very much.

Just as quickly though, he gave a good chunk of it back, and kissed his chances of winning goodbye.  It was almost like he walked off the 15th green, looked at a leader board and said to himself, “holy crap…I’m tied for the lead at The Masters!!!”

As if answering to himself, “you’re right…that just can’t be!” Van Pelt then proceeded to cough up fur balls on 16 and 17, to wrap up his late-day charge back in the pack at -8.  He’ll play #16 over in his head for a looooong time to come.

But, that will be during his off hours, mostly…and I think when it’s time to go to work, his head will be squarely zoned in on the task at hand when he steps on the tees at the TPC San Antonio.

And, since I haven’t said anything truly stupid in 6 or 7 paragraphs, I’ll finish off with a little gem here.  Of all the guys in the field this week, doesn’t it somehow seem fitting that a guy named “Bo” should win the Texas Open?  I think so.

And now that I’m done inflicting this on you, let’s see what my daughter did downstairs on the dartboard.

D&D’s Picks (Daughter & Dartboard)

  • Bobby Gates
  • Richard S. Johnson
  • Michael Thompson
  • Jhonattan Vegas

And that’s all for this week folks.  Enjoy the tournament…and more importantly, enjoy the weather and get out there and hit some balls!

Cheers,

Derek

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