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It's Not the Heat, It's the Humility

After a fantastic two-winners-in-two-weeks start to the month, it seems that the Great Pumpkin was hell-bent on returning me to reality for the latter part of July…with a resounding crash.

I suspect it might have something to do with the bogus historical “fact” I fabricated in my column for The Open Championship.  I created it for the sake of getting a laugh…and I’m being punished for it now.  To make matters even worse, it doesn’t even seem like anyone got it…or maybe that anyone even read it.  Double whammy!

Royal St. George’s was the start of my demise; my top 2 picks (Donald and Westwood) failed to make the cut at The Open Championship, while the best of the rest (McIlroy and Day) could only eke out 25th and 30th place finishes, respectively.  My only comfort in recounting that dismal tally is that I’m certain that I wasn’t the only golf prediction hack that was burned by those performances for the Claret Jug.

Fast-forward a week…and slide 10 time zones to the left…and the humiliation continued at our National Championship in Vancouver.  Once again, nary a sniff of a top 5, or even a top 10 finish adorned my list of picks for the Canadian Open. 

In the end, I would have been much better off sticking with some off my first-draft cast-offs instead of going with the group I committed to.  I can only look at the performances of Van Pelt (6th), Schwartzel (9th) and Tommy Two-Gloves (17th) and think of the week I could have had, but let slip through my perpetually over-typing fingers.

The left coast was the site of another one of “those Canadian Opens” last week. 

The names adorning the top of the leader board weren’t the world-beaters who had shown up to compete, guys like Donald, Kuchar, Fowler and so on.  Instead it was much more reminiscent of the 2008 Canadian Open where the top of the big board was festooned with names like Reavie, Thompson and Mayfair.

You hear those names and your head involuntarily cocks to an angle…like a dog who has just been shown a card trick.

The name Sean O’Hair wouldn’t really have come as much of a surprise as a winner…except for the horrendous year he’s been having so far.  Looking back through the history books, he’s done well in Canada…posting top 3 finishes in 2 of his last 5 appearances up here. 

But for him to turn it all around and get back into the winner’s circle this week?  Well, that kind of stuff happens from time to time when the Tour visits the Great White North.

And (full confession time here) I’m really happy that my rather obnoxious prediction that a Canadian competitor wouldn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell this week turned out to be such an epic miscalculation. 

Seeing Adam Hadwin’s name nestled at the top of the leader board Saturday night was as exciting as it was unexpected (at least for me).  Well done Adam…you played a fantastic tournament and we’re all proud of you!

Results – The Canadian Open

Derek’s Picks D&D (Daughter & Dartboard)
Luke Donald

T17

 $         78,000 Billy Andrade

Cut

Paul Casey

Cut

Patrick Cantlay  (a) ***

T9

 $           140,400
Rickie Fowler

T22

 $         50,291 Tim Herron

Cut

Matt Kuchar

Cut

Tom Hoge

Cut

This Week’s Total  $       128,291 This Week’s Total  $           140,400
Season Total  $  14,402,224 Season Total  $        4,901,849

Nasty!  Another forgettable week in the annuls of Poolside, for sure. 

And you’ll also not that my daughter seems to be on a bit of a tear, selecting players who can’t earn money, but end up finishing well into the cash. 

For the second consecutive week she lobbed a dart into the name of an amateur golfer who not only qualified for the event…but ended up finishing well up the leader board.  As was the case with her Peter Uihlein pick in last week’s Open Championship results, I’ve attributed the cash value of a T9 finish to Patrick Cantlay in this week’s Canadian Open update.  And again, I realize that one more guy splitting the pot would change the math on winnings a bit, but it’s not consequential enough to matter…and I’m not going to nitpick my daughter out of a few extra shekels on a technicality.

The Greenbrier

Since this event was only created last year, there’s an almost complete lack of historical information on which to base any picks for this week’s PGA Tour stop.

And, while lacking a firm grip on history (or reality for that matter) might not prove a hindrance for someone like Sarah Palin in recounting the legendary ride of Paul Revere, it does present me with some problems. 

By the way, since someone from the cheap seats mentioned Sarah Palin, here’s a question for you; in which July theatre release are you likely to find more instances of pure, unadulterated fiction?  A) Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, B) Cowboys and Aliens or C) the new Sarah Palin “documentary” the right wing is trying to flog down in the States?

And, if you said “A” or “B,” whack yourself in the shinbone with your sand wedge immediately!

Yes, as any half-decent market researcher will tell you, one-in-a-row of anything doesn’t identify a trend.  And with only one Greenbrier in a row from which to cull information, I’m deprived of one of my critical methods of reading the sheep entrails for this column.

Derek’s Picks

Phil Mickelson – To be honest with you, I was kind of stunned to see his name in the field.  This can’t be considered a warm-up for the next major and the tournament doesn’t have any rich history or golfing allure to it that I’m aware of.

He’s the cream of the crop in this year’s field in West Virginia…the highest ranked guy confirmed to tee it up this week. 

 

Phil is coming off an oh-so-close performance at Royal St. George’s two weeks ago.  Rarely if ever before a legitimate threat in the Open Championship, Phil was this close [] to lifting the Claret Jug on Sunday night.  His front nine charge was the stuff of legend. 

And then “the Phil Putt” reared its ugly head. 

You know the Phil Putt?  It’s the laughably simple, insignificant putt, from kick-in range, that somehow manages to miss the hole entirely.  The putt he would sink 99 times out of 100…with Dave Pelz riding piggyback on his shoulders, while singing Oktoberfest drinking songs and swinging a back full of dead gophers over his head.

And it’s not the missing of the Phil Putt that is the problem.  After all, a missed putt is only one stroke.  Nope, it’s what inevitably happens afterward that makes it truly painful to watch.  Lunge, gunge, hack, thwack.  Out of contention.  To see a top pro with a gazillion wins become so unravelled by a single shot seems to defy logic…and yet, how many times do you remember this happening over the years to Phil?

Mickelson is head-and-shoulders above the rest of the pack in the field this week.  On paper he already has the trophy.  The only questions in my mind are a) has he recovered from that disappointment in Sandwich so soon and b) can he really bring his “A” game to bear when playing against a field he so clearly should dominate?

Time will tell.

Jeff Overton – In last year’s inaugural Greenbrier Classic Jeff Overton dominated the field.  The next closest competitor below him was 4 strokes back.  And the next after that was a pack 6 behind.

There was just one problem; a Vegemite-eating guy named Appleby who shot a final round 59 to turn a 7 stroke deficit into a one stroke victory.

Overton has had a very good 2011 campaign so far and a win here this week would seem like a very fitting way to follow up his close-but-no-cigar 2010 performance.  His last performance on home soil was a few weeks ago when he finished T3 at the AT&T National, so I think it’s safe to say that he’s riding a current high that’s pretty good.

Now, it’s up to the golf gods to see if he can get that trophy.

Webb Simpson – He’s come sooooo close a couple of times this year.  It seems like it’s just a matter of time now until he seals the deal and scores his first Tour win.

Simpson has had a fantastic 2011 season.  Of the 17 events he’s entered, he’s only failed to make the cut in 2…and both of those were fairly early in the year.  He’s posted five top 10 finishes, including two second-place showings.  The most notable was the heartbreaking playoff loss to Bubba Watson at the Zurich Classic…a playoff that might not have even been necessary if it weren’t for a harsh rule violation on the 15th green. 

To refresh your memory, it was a windy day…very windy.  Simpson, with a nice lead over Watson on the 15th green addressed his ball, which rested a mere 5 inches from the cup.  With his first victory clearly in sight, he decided to take his time and not treat even a short putt like that nonchalantly.  He removed his putter, the wind gusted, the ball rolled half an inch…penalty, playoff, second place. 

Thanks for coming out Golf Gods.

I’d really like to see Simpson finish this season with at least one win under his belt to right that wrong.  With the way this week’s field is shaping up, I think this might be one of his best chances.

Sergio Garcia – To my way of thinking, this would be the perfect complement to Stuart Appleby’s surprise comeback win last year.

Watching Sergio play you can see his renewed commitment to excellence this season.  You can also see that he’s having more fun than he has in the past few years too.  Not as much as the old 5-foot-wide smile, leaping and bounding down the fairways Sergio…but more fun that I can remember seeing him have in quite some time.

And he’s squeezed some good results out of that new attitude too.  He’s made 9 cuts in 10 events…with 3 top 10 finishes so far.  And don’t forget, two of those top 10’s were in Majors.

I really hope it’s just a matter of time until Sergio returns completely to form and starts lifting trophies again.  He was always such a joy to watch and I can’t wait until he scores his next victory to get this drought monkey off his back.

If all goes well, this could be the week his game gets fully reignited.  Go El Nino!

And now that I’ve had my ramble, let’s see what my daughter came up with on the dartboard this week;

D&D’s Picks (Daughter & Dartboard):

  • ·         Kevin Chappell
  • ·         Chris Couch
  • ·         Ben Martin
  • ·         Aron Price

And that’s all for now folks.  Thanks very much for reading and enjoy the tournament!

Cheers,

Derek

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