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Welcome to the Real Silly Season!

Damn!  Another frustrating week of prognosticating stares at me in the rear-view mirror…one in which I’m staring wistfully at my discard pile and thinking, “if only…”

I could have had a pretty brilliant week at the Wyndham…if I hadn’t tried so hard to be brilliant, I guess.  When I made the final cuts to my roster, Pettersson was scrapped in favour of Dufner and Gainey was dumped to make room for Snedeker.  Honest.

My sense of whimsy was trumped by my serious, “got to be respectable,” side. 

Granted, neither Carl nor Two-gloves ended up winning last weekend…but they did come tantalizingly close.  And to make matters even more frustrating, neither Dufner nor Snedeker even played well enough to stick around for the weekend.

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

Meanwhile, my daughter launched her darts with gay abandon at names I would have never picked…and she came damned close to nailing a diamond in the rough.  Deep into the tournament, one of her targets, Daniel Summerhays, was poised in the top 5 on Sunday morning, ready to contend for the hardware.  Whodathunkit?

I was so confident in how unlucky her picks were I even quipped about buying her some new darts for Xmas.  Ah, hubris…being paid back for being so cocky can be nasty.

Results – The Wyndham Championship

Derek’s Picks D&D (Daughter & Dartboard)
David Toms T17  $          65,780 Kris Blanks T40  $              19,240
Jason Dufner Cut Skip Kendall Cut
Brandt Snedeker Cut Kevin Kisner T59  $              11,336
Lucas Glover T30  $          28,964 Daniel Summerhays T17  $              65,780
This Week’s Total  $          94,744 This Week’s Total  $              96,356
Season Total  $    15,331,298 Season Total  $         5,427,974

Welcome to the PGA’s Real Silly Season

Many people have labelled the events following the Fall Finish on the PGA Tour as golf’s “silly season.”  You know the events; The Three Tour Challenge, The Skills Challenge, The PGA Grand Slam, the World Challenge.

These are “tournaments” that serve no real purpose and have no true value, other than to pad player’s wallets and try to extend interest in golf beyond its’ best before date every season.  Call me a cynic (and I am a card-carrying member of the club), but I find it impossible to picture anyone cancelling plans or rushing home to catch the final round of the Three Tour Challenge…unless they were desperately in need of a good afternoon’s sleep and ran out of cough medicine. 

The only real winners in these events are the charities who benefit from them.

Silly?  Yes.  Meaningless?  Pointless? A little embarrassing perhaps?  Yup, pretty much. 

But for me, the real silly season starts this week with the opening round of the FedEx Cup Playoffs. 

Not silly because the events have no value or because they’re meaningless.  Take a look at all the hoopla surrounding them and you’ll see that’s hardly the case.  No, it’s silly because of the ungodly huge amounts of money that are at stake over the next 4 events.

Ten million dollars goes to the eventual winner of the Playoffs.  A cool $3 mil for finishing runner-up, $2m for third, 1.5m for 4th and $1,000,000 for being fifth.  Even the “losers” down in 150th place cash a cheque for $32k…which is, sadly, more money than a lot of people earn in an entire year.

And, of course, those are just the payouts for the final standings in the Playoffs.  Along the way, these players will also earn even more huge gobs of dough, based on how well they place in each event.   In this case, each tourney carries a purse of $8 million, with $1.35 million going to the winner.

Congratulations sir.  Your reward for winning more money in 4 weeks than the entire GDP of Poland is a nice, fat bonus cheque…of another $10 million!

If a guy could somehow manage a clean sweep and win all 4 events, he’d walk away with about $17 million for a month’s worth of work.  Yes, that’s only cigarette money for a guy like Cristiano Ronaldo…but still.  Holy crap!

Mind you, there does seem to be a down side to being the winner of the FedEx Cup.  You wouldn’t think so would you…but there is. 

In the 4 years since the Playoff structure was introduced, we’ve had 3 winners; Tiger Woods, Vijay Singh and Jim Furyk.  And every one of them has seen their careers go in the crapper almost immediately after cashing their cheque. The only exception was Woods, who didn’t start his spectacular circling of the bowl until after he won his second title in year 3.

There’s no need to start microscopically analysing why this happens…or seems to happen.  There are many legitimate reasons why it might occur though, including age, lack of incentive, lack of focus, lack of drive, lack of hunger, maybe even developing inexplicably odd cravings for waffle waitresses and strippers at all hours of the night, when you have a perfectly stupendous Swedish model waiting at home.

Whatever the cause, the symptoms from our limited 4-sample research seem ominous so far; win the FedEx Cup and kiss your career goodbye…at least temporarily.

It’s like “The Curse of the Mummy.”  Perhaps, in this case, “The Curse of the Money.”

In all fairness though, I have to admit that I’d probably find it a little tough to build up a head of competitive steam for “going to work” at the golf course every day if I suddenly had a bank account groaning with ten million extra dollars.

With that much cash on account, it’s very hard to picture myself getting up at the crack of yawn every morning to shuffle off to another 4-hour driving range session, or to check into a string of Howard Johnsons littered across the country, to compete in the Whatever It Is This Week Open and slog it out for a cut of the purse. 

I think I’d find it hard to develop some motivation at that point.  Wouldn’t you?

To put this premise to the ultimate test, if there’s anyone reading right now who would like to toss a cool $10 or $15 million my way, I’d be more than willing to sacrifice myself for the greater good and see if this hypothesis has any validity. 

I’d be happy to provide weekly reports to the benefactor, conscientiously recording any lifestyle changes, alterations in work ethic, demeanour, attitude, etc.

It’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make.  All in the interest of scientific inquiry and to advance the betterment of mankind, of course. 

Call me!

The Barclays

This tournament was particularly notable for two specific reasons last year; the winner and the guy that got booted out.

The winner was Matt Kuchar; the young, fresh-faced talent with the permanent goofy grin, who took the golf world by storm and led the PGA Money List for 2010.

The guy who got booted out, was Jim Furyk.  Furyk, as you might recall, was turfed from the tournament before it even started, because his alarm didn’t go off and he was 5 minutes late for his Pro-Am tee time.  Meanwhile, half the field didn’t have to play in the Pro-Am…and were comfortably sequestered in their hotel rooms, sawing logs.  Yeah…that’s fair!

Almost immediately, the PGA Tour honchos realized the stupidity and unfairness of that rule and rescinded it.  Almost immediately after the tournament ended and it was too late to do Furyk any good, of course!

Fortunately for Furyk, the importance of the first event in the playoffs really doesn’t amount to very much…and this whole incident didn’t really matter. He was the guy who eventually ended up winning the FedEx Cup Playoffs a few weeks later…despite missing 25% of the events!  

Make it into the top 125…and then skip the first round.

I wonder how much rosier the Maple Leafs post-season might be if the NHL adopted this system??? 

Of course, they’d still have to make it into the top 125 first!

(A special jab for all of my hockey pervert friends out ther…Walk, Svenny, Spacepants, King William, Pokey, Jabby, Hamish, et al.  Not that they read this farging thing.)

Derek’s Picks

Steve Stricker – Since the FedEx Cup Playoffs were introduced, Steve Stricker has become known as “Mister September.” 

It seems that no matter how well (or how moderately) he played during the ‘regular season,’ Stricker has consistently managed to dig deep and really rack up some major points during the 4-week Playoff stretch. 

In the four year history of the Playoffs, Stricker has racked up $5.97 million…and that’s just the money he’s won in Playoff bonuses and doesn’t count the 2 or 3 million more he earned by winning (2) or placing (several) in the actual Playoff tournaments. 

$8 or $9 million…not bad for 16 week’s work! 

Fortunately for Stricker, perhaps, he’s never quite accomplished enough to win the whole enchilada and incur the Curse of the Money.  He finished second in 2007 and third in 2009 though…and has proven himself a great bet in post-season action in the process.

Based on past playoff successes and the great year he’s had, it’s hard to bet against him this week.  Actually, it hard to bet against him this entire month! 

Luke Donald – When there’s a big prize on the line, Donald seems to have an almost infallible ability to dig deep and go deep.

His accomplishments this season are familiar to everyone…and they are numerous.  Ten top 10 finishes in 13 starts in America…including his comprehensive WGC Match Play win.  With the exception of a few notable hiccups at the US Open and the Open Championship, he’s been solid gold all year.  A sure thing to finish high up the leaderboard.

He’s the world’s #1 Golfer…and has been for quite some time, so the mantle of being at the top of the mountain is one he’s grown comfortable with (pardon my dangling participle).

And, unlike a lot of other guys at the top of the FedEx cup standings, who started the season hot and have petered out in the past few months (Watney, Mickelson,  Choi, Watson, Wilson, etc.), Donald is running a strong streak of current success going into the playoffs.  In his last two events, the WGC Bridgestone Invitational and PGA Championship, he’s finished T2 and T8.

Oh yes, there’s alos one more important thing to consider;  while it’s very easy to remember the classic Furyk/Kuchar duel for the trophy last year, ,many might forget that Donald finished the Playoffs in 3rd place last season. 

He’s been riding the crest of the wave pretty much ever since then.  It would be stupid to think he’d fall off the surfboard now that the Playoffs are underway.  Book ‘em Danno!

Matt Kuchar – Hard to pick based on his most recent play…but really hard to pass on as well.

In his last five events, he’s finished T14, Cut, Cut, T19 and T19.  Not exactly inspiring…but not terrible either.  At least 100 other guys on Tour would have taken that and called it a good year.

Kuchar is the defending champ at this event…and that’s the criterion that swings the pendulum in his favour for me this week.  He’s been there and done that on this course.  The fact that he enters this event ranked #12 in the rankings, instead of 1st (as was the case last year), only serves to give him more incentive to play well this year.  At least I hope so.

Kuchar was the runner-up to Furyk in last year’s Playoffs.  Not that he has anything to prove, but I think he’ll come into this year’s stretch very energized to finish the season strong and go one notch better than last year.

Adam Scott – I’m not picking his caddy…I’m picking the actual guy thank you very much.  In fact, given the choice, I’d pick him with a different caddy altogether, just to make it crystal clear who is making the shots and scoring the wins.

Scott is one of the guys who is riding the crest of the wave right now.  Since his semi-surprising (but shouldn’t have been) win at the WGC Bridgestone invitational, Scott just seems to be playing with a fresh new bounce to his step and a heightened sense of self-confidence.  Winning does that to a guy.

Up until that win, Scott had a kind of sneaky-good season that somehow managed to stay under the radar of a lot of people.  Weird when you consider how well he did in so many big tournaments; T2 at Augusta, T6 at the WGC Cadillac, T3 at the AT&T National…and then 7th at the PGA Championship after his win.

I think Scott is a great pick to finish the year strong…and contending for the pinnacle of golf payoffs.  This week is a great time for him to start writing the next chapter in what has turned out to be a very entertaining story so far this year.

And now that I’ve had my misguided babble for the week, let’s see what daughter managed to cobble together on the dartboard to embarrass her old man this week:

D&D’s Picks (Daughter and Dartboard):

  • ·         Phil Mickelson
  • ·         Heath Slocum
  • ·         John Merrick
  • ·         Brendan Steele

And that’s all for this week folks.  Thanks, as always, for reading…and enjoy the tourney.

And seriously…call me about that $15 million.  I’m ready to start the research right away!

Cheers,

Derek

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