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And The Bleak Shall Inhibit Their Girth…

There’s a pretty cool tradition that occurs among older Chinese people when they run into friends or business acquaintances.  Rather than asking, “How are you?” they inquire “Have you eaten rice today?”

At first glance, this seems like a really odd question to ask someone. But, like many things Chinese, the question is subtle and artful…and indirect.   It’s not an inquiry into someone’s dietary habits…instead it’s a way of asking about a person’s state of prosperity.  If you are doing well, you are making money…and if you are making money, you are eating rice. 

For a country with such a rich agricultural tradition, the parallel between wealth and the sometimes precarious gathering of food is inescapable.

And this week on the PGA Tour, there are many fewer players eating rice than there were last week.  70 went into the BMW Championship…only 30 survive to fight another week.  The other 40 will have no rice this week.  Thus the title of this week’s column…if your performance is bleak, you don’t get fat.

Oh sure, the reality is that guys like Furyk and Fowler and Laird and Schwartzel and Villegas aren’t going to be desperately panhandling for the price of a figurative bowl of rice tomorrow morning.  Their bank accounts are positively groaning with cash…especially Furyk’s, after winning the FedEx Cup’s $10 million first prize last year.  But it has to sting guys like that a hell of a lot to endure a forced layoff and not make it to the last round of the Playoffs.  The run for the glory is over. 

The thrill of victory…the agony of defeat…the heartbreak of psoriasis.

And that’s where things stand now golf lovers.  The herd has been thinned without mercy…and only the strongest (or luckiest) have survived to make it to the final battle in Atlanta.  Uncle Charlie Darwin would have been proud!

But before we break down the field and reveal our picks for the Tour Championship, let’s take a quick look back and see how my daughter and I did with our picks for Cog Hill last week:

Results – The BMW Championship

Derek’s Picks D&D (Daughter & Dartboard)
Jim Furyk

T22

 $          68,444 Chez Reavie

8

 $            248,000
Camilo Villegas

T6

 $         278,000 K.J. Choi

T10

 $            208,000
Luke Donald

4

 $         384,000 Rory Sabbatini

T59

 $              17,680
Adam Scott

T37

 $          36,000 Chris Kirk

T31

 $              46,400
This Week’s Total  $         766,444 This Week’s Total  $            520,080
Season Total  $    18,058,405 Season Total  $         6,229,601

Four top 10’s between us…and four total clunkers.  A 50-50 week for each of us.  For my daughter, Choi and Reavie (one of the season’s biggest surprises) will live to fight another day, while Sabbatini and Kirk can book their family cruises early.

Which makes me wonder; Does a golfer who gets nuked from the Playoffs take up hockey in his off-season?

For the old man, Scott and Donald will duke it out in Atlanta.  Villegas made a nice charge, but still came up short…and Furyk looked like he actually might win the damned thing, until he suffered from a tragic case of Golfer’s Explosive Bowel Syndrome Sunday afternoon and soiled himself all over the fairways outside Chicago, bogeying 4 of the first 5 holes.  Thankfully, Furyk is a strict adherent to the old fashion rule, “no white pants after Labour Day.”

And Now a Word From Our Sponsor…Mr. Grumpypants

I’ll start off this section by letting you know that while I’m writing this article, I’m in a bit of a foul mood.  Fair warning to all.

The reason for my grumpyosity is that I’m pounding away on my laptop with the TV on in the background…and I’m witnessing one of the greatest tragedies ever seen in the history of Canadian Sports Broadcasting.

No, it’s not coverage of synchronized swimming, or that gymnastics thing where girls prance around the mats with long ribbons trailing behind them.  This is a much more serious injustice Canadian sports fans.

You see, TSN just starting airing the classic hockey movie “Slapshot” a few minutes ago.

Running a movie like Slapshot on an all-sports channel seems like a fairly brilliant twist on their regular programming doesn’t it?  Especially a hockey movie on a Canadian sports channel. Especially, especially since it’s one of the greatest and funniest sports movies ever made.  Hell, I’m not even a hockey fan and still I find this flick an irresistible attraction…must see TV.

So far, so good…BUT, that’s the only thing about this story that is good.  This pleasant surprise circled the bowl and went deep into the septic tank about 5 seconds into the opening credits.

That’s about the time it took to realize that the brain trust at TSN decided to run the movie EDITED!  And in this case, edited means no coarse language, no sexuality and no nudity.

For those of you who know this movie (and it probably should be a condition of Canadian citizenship for everyone in the country over the age of 14 to see it at least once), it will probably take you about a 100th of a nanosecond to realize that the movie Slapshot, stripped of its coarse language, sexuality and nudity, is no movie at all.

Think about it.  Take out the swearing and you’re left with a total of about 6 minutes of dialogue in a 2 hour film!  Almost nothing that coach/player Reggie Dunlop says makes any sense…and the Hanson Brothers are relegated to just being 3 funny-looking guys with coke-bottle glasses, who fight a lot and have no dialogue, other than “we’ll call the pizza man!”

Some rocket scientist at TSN, earning a high 6-figure salary, thought this was a good idea???

This ranks right up there with Much Music’s mind-bogglingly stupid insistence on running “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” 8 times a month and cutting out all the swearing, sexuality and nudity.  After all the censorship, you’re left with about 10 minutes of painfully un-funny dialogue and a lot of bizarre action without context.

Mind you, both channels still ran “parental advisories” warning us about all of the dangerous material they completely hacked out before every segment.  Apparently this is their way of hooking people into thinking there’s still a remote possibility that something genuinely funny might be coming up in the next 7 minutes, between commercials.

These two examples might lead you to believe that we Canadians are an extremely tight-assed, sensitive bred of people.  In the land that the guys from Monty Python credit for making them superstars, this has never been my experience.  But the absolute worst case of all happens south of the border, where every couple of weeks one of the Turner movie stations insists on running the all-time classic comedy “Blazing Saddles,” chopped completely to hell.

And, if you’ve ever seen the movie (and it should be mandatory for everyone on the planet to watch it at least once), then you know exactly what I mean when I say “chopped to hell.” 

There’s no nudity to hack out.  No sexuality to trim (no pun intended).  But they did edit out the audio in the hilariously juvenile farting scene around the campfire…rendering it to nothing more than 45 painfully meaningless seconds of guys eating beans, then standing up and sitting down again!  (Ironically, when Mel Brooks delivered the final cut of the movie to the studios back in the 70’s, the farting scene was almost a deal-breaker for the Warner Brothers executives who reviewed it…they were fine with the language though!)

But, of course, all of the coarse language is gone when the movie hits the TV screen.  We’re not even talking about traditional swearing so much, as the coarse language of racists and bigots.  You know the words….or THE word I‘m talking about here.  In some ways, I hate myself for not writing it…but it’s a terrible word that I despise…and it’s an absolute lightning rod for drawing hatred.  To jot it down here would probably land me on about 50 Klan automated e-mail lists…and about 150 anti-supremacist watchdog lists simultaneously.  Who needs that?

But in the context of Blazing Saddles, the word is not only essential to doing justice to the very essence of the film, it’s a travesty to even think of running the movie without it.

You might as well run “Apocalypse Now” without the combat scenes.  Then again, you could never get away with doing that in the States.  Nipples…no way!  The word nipple…probably not.  Headless torsos, gruesome crimes against humanity and non-stop blood and guts…that’s gold baby!

To air a movie whose sole purpose is to make us laugh by ridiculing racists and showing how stupid they are, and then chopping out the very elements that illustrate the point so brilliantly (their thoughts and language)…is to completely strip away every iota of Mel Brooks’ genius in making the movie in the first place.

It’s like filing down Excalibur into a butter knife.  It vaguely resembles what it once was…but its true nature has been completely stripped away, to the point of being meaningless.

But that’s the decision made by an even bigger and more powerful guy earning a 7-figure salary down in Atlanta.  Apparently someone in his programming department told him that the movie is funny…but didn’t take the time to explain exactly why it’s funny. 

The fact that it’s the American Film Institute’s 6th funniest movie of all time…and #1 on most critic’s lists, seems to be enough in his mind to justify airing it…after a heaping helping of editing, of course.

Stupid, gutless, narrow-minded decisions all; and ones that were completely unnecessary, provided that TV programmers have a basic understanding of what made the movie so worthwhile (and so popular) in the first place…and therefore why their audience would want to see it.   

And so, to all the big decision-makers at TSN and Much Music and the Turner stations and any other station who does this, here’s a message from open-minded movie lovers everywhere; If you can’t run a movie without ruining it, or simply won’t because you don’t have the balls to do it…then don’t run the damned thing at all! 

No one will judge you harshly for not running a movie they didn’t know you were considering airing in the first place.  But I guaran-damn-tee you that they WILL hate you with a righteous, burning passion for effing up one of their favourite films of all time by chopping out everything that made it great!

Okay…Where the Hell Was I?

Jeebus…I guess I really need to pay much closer attention to my med schedule!  Sorry about that folks…I do love to rant when the mood strikes me.  And apparently seeing Paul Newman’s lips move for 2 hours with no words coming out sets me off for some reason.

Oh yeah…golf!

The Tour Championship

For me, one of the things that makes the TV coverage of the Tour Championship so vastly entertaining isn’t the enormous 10 million dollar payday on the line.  Oh sure, the huge prize makes every shot very compelling and meaningful and the whole tournament takes on a really interesting do-or-die feel that build up the tension very nicely over 4 rounds.

Nope, for me the real entertainment is in listening to the TV announcers fumble and stumble over all the mathematical permutations and combinations that spell success or defeat for every player on the course.  After hearing them go through just one or two run-throughs, it quickly starts to sound like Jethro Bodine cyperin’ his timesbys and guzintas on an old re-run of the Beverly Hillbillies (“2 timesby 5 is ten, 2 guzinta 4 two times”)

You’ve heard all the golf coverage for weeks now that tells us that the players coming into Atlanta in the top 5 in FedEx points control their own destiny…and that’s true.  BUT the fact of the matter is that EVERY single guy in the 30-man field can actually win the FedEx Cup…provided that they win the Tour Championship and all the stars line up by having a host of other stars in the field fall down in an elaborate series of golfing pratfalls. 

Even Bo Van Pelt, the ‘lowly” cellar dweller down in 30th place, has a theoretical chance of winning the Fed Ex Cup!  Granted, it’s about as mathematically plausible as the odds of Sarah Palin saying something intelligent in our lifetime, but it IS still possible.  He just needs to win the Tour Championship AND see a collection of all the right guys implode around him, that’s all.

Listening to Johnny Miller, Roger Maltbie Dan Hicks and the other characters on the Golf Channel and NBC painfully running the math on every possible scenario of win/place/show/crap your pants, every 45 seconds is going to be hilarious.

“Well Johnny, Luke can win if he wins, but he’ll lose if he loses and doesn’t finish at least third.” 

“That’s right Roger, but don’t forget about Badds, who can still win if he wins, as long as…uh…let’s see here…Webb finishes 23rd or worse, Dustin finishes 7th or worse, Justin finishes 5th or worse, Luke finishes 4th or worse and Matt and Brandt finish 5th or worse.”

“And of course, as long as he doesn’t play in the final round with a guy who is wearing a glove with a black logo on it…and as long as he didn’t have eggs for breakfast…and if his playing partner doesn’t have a mother with an even number of consonants in her maiden name…or was born south of the 22nd parallel.  Other than that, he’s golden!”

“Hang on a minute Dan…I think I just chipped a tooth!”

By the way, if you’re really interested in seeing all the convoluted math on who has to do what, and at whose expense, to win the Fed Ex Cup, pgatour.com has a wonderful sheet set up here http://www.pgatour.com/2011/fedexcup/09/20/scenarios/index.html

Take some 222’s first!

The Tour Championship – Derek’s Picks

It’s not easy to make it to The Tour Championship folks.  If you doubt that’s true, then consider this; only 2 of the champions from the past 6 years even made it into the field this week.  No Furyk, no Villegas, no Woods…and no Bart Bryant!  Only Mickelson and Scott are here this week to represent the panoply of recent trophy-lifters.

For the both of you who are still reading (and/or conscious), here then are my selections for the final round of the FedEx Cup Playoffs; the Tour Championship:

Luke Donald – Yes, I’ve picked him every week in the Playoff race.  No, I don’t apologize for my pig-headedness.  Not one little bit.

Donald is a golfing machine right now…and, even though he hasn’t won a Playoff event yet, he’s absolutely justified every selection I’ve given him so far.  4th last week in the BMW.  T3 the week before that at the Deutsche Bank.  His big “slip” so far was only finishing in 18th place at the Barclays (beating about 130 other guys in the field).

Add to that everything else he’s done this year, on both sides of the Atlantic, and it would be insane not to take him this week.

Donald, currently sitting in 4th position in the FedEx Cup race, is far and away the most interesting story in the field this week, for me.  He can accomplish something that no one else has ever done by having a strong showing this week; locking up not only the American PGA Player money List…but also the European Tour’s Order of Merit (The Race to Dubai) in the same swell foop! 

A win in Atlanta means he also wins the FedEx Cup.  Depending on how the other contenders do, he could also take the whole enchilada if he finishes no worse than 3rd this week.  Based on his incredible form for virtually all off 2011, and his recent string of Playoff successes, a third-place finish for Donald is absolutely do-able this week. In fact, it’s almost a lock.

Adam Scott – To me, it just feels like Scott has one more big win to score this season…and this is basically his last chance to get it done.  I can’t picture him “going for the glory” at the 3-Tour Challenge.

Scott won at this venue back in 2006, but since then he’s failed to crack into the top 10…or even top 20 again, in Atlanta.  I think that all goes away this week and he posts 4 really solid rounds to at least finish in the top 5.  Winning the WGC Bridgestone a few months ago made it a very good year for him…you can bet that he’ll be going full-tilt this week to add another trophy to his mantle for the 2011 season.

Jason Day – Yes, I’m arming my team with both Aussies this week.  We’ll see how daring that move is on Sunday night, when I toss a few shrimp on the Barbie and crack open a big can of Foster’s.

In his last five starts on the PGA Tour, Day has scored 2 top-5 finishes.  That’s a pretty good reason to take him all by itself.  In the opening event of the Playoffs, he came oh so close at the Barclays….and just might have done it except for Hurricane Irene cutting the event to 54 holes so everyone could play and then scarper as far away as they could Saturday night (the golfing equivalent of dine-and-dash).

He also racked up a T3 at the Deutsche Bank.

Day is going into the Tour Championship in 10th place overall…and has a decent mathematical chance of winning the FedEx Cup with a win this week.  If anyone is going to come out of the pack and storm to the front to threaten to take the FedEx Cup, he’s one of the guys I would pick to make it really interesting this week…and I am!

K.J. Choi – Since my daughter gets to lay claim to her players before I get to pick mine each week, she usurped a few guys I would have loved to have slotted into this position…or at least had an opportunity to think about.Sadly for me, perhaps, that’s not the way we work things…so I don’t have to worry about whether to toss Watney, Simpson, Snedeker or Toms onto my squad.

I’m also passing on Dustin Johnson because I think he’ll be uncertain about his ability to seal the deal…and will be cursed by the golf gods this week after winning a shortened Playoff event (The Barclays).  Steve Stricker also hits the discard pile, because I’m very hinky about taking a guy that withdrew from a big-bucks, big-points Playoff event with a bad neck…which he did last week.

And so, of the 23 guys who are still left on the table this week, K.J. is the one I’m picking for my final slot.   

After a really solid year, in which he won The Player’s Championship and registered 7 top-10 performances, K.J. went on a bit of a late-season slump, starting with The Open Championship.   After a T32 at The Barclays and missing the cut in Boston, I’m hoping that his 10th place finish last week at the BMW signals a return to form for the very likable Korean golf star.  He definitely has the stamina and mental power to zone in and win big tournaments and he’s one of the coolest customers under pressure in this field…perhaps this is his week.

Okay, and now that this painfully long thing is wrapped up, let’s see which players my daughter laid claim to on the dartboard this week:

D&D’s Picks (Daughter & Dartboard)

  •          Webb Simpson
  •          Brandt Snedeker
  •          David Toms
  •          Nick Watney

And that’s more than enough for this week folks.  Thanks VERY much for reading and playing along with the silliness…and enjoy the big tournament!

Cheers,

Derek

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