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The Epic Showdown That Wasn't…and Riviera Reviewed

For those of you wondering what happened to Tiger Woods in the final round of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, the answer was revealed in an interview, just hours after everyone had left the course.

When asked what happened to the “epic Sunday showdown” between Woods and playing partner Phil Mickelson that everyone was eagerly anticipating,…in which Phil shot lights-out, while Tiger played the part of a dazzled spectator… Woods revealed he’d suffered a recurring injury the evening before.

“Yeah, it was bothering me all day today,” he said.  “I was in great position to win after round 3…and decided to go out Saturday night to blow off some steam.  And then, after a delicious supper at the IHOP, someone pulled my groin.”

You won’t find that interview on the Golf Channel or CBS video archives.  It was a much more low-profile conversation, conducted by a cub reporter from “MILF Monthly.”

Bah dum bah…try the raspberry topping and be sure to tip your waitress folks.  I‘ll be here all hour.

The AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am

What a final round…what a performance!  All of the reservations I mentioned about taking Mickelson before the event began were quickly put to rest as play began Sunday.  Par-birdie-par-birdie-birdie-eagle.  Five under through 6 holes! 

Meanwhile, 54-hole leader Charlie Wi was four over par through his first six holes and, just that fast, a 6 stroke deficit was parlayed into a stunning lead…one that Mickelson would never surrender.

It was classic Phil all day long.  Booming drives right down the middle of the fairway, pinpoint approach shots, deft, creative wedge work around the greens…a rock-steady putter, and a few jaw-dropping long putts from the parking lot.

And to top it all off, Mickelson was putting on this clinic, while playing heads-up with his nemesis, Tiger Woods; the one guy on the planet most responsible for Phil not racking up a hell of a lot more trophies to join the 40 he has displayed in his library.  And, for this day, as has been the case for the past 2 ½ years, Woods was largely irrelevant. 

Welcome to Karmaville.  Population; Tiger.

This is the kind of sappy, improbable story that Hollywood hacks write…one rarely seen out in the real world.  And it was a thing of beauty!

Mickelson’s victory was especially sweet for me too, of course, because I picked him to win this week.  And for both of you who are keeping track, you’ll know that I am now running a record of 50% so far in 2012.  Six events, 3 winners selected so far this season!

Hell, I might just have to open that Ladbrokes account after all. 

Results – The AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am

Derek’s Picks D&D (Daughter & Dartboard)
Dustin Johnson

T5

 $             243,200 Paul Goydos

CUT

Nick Watney

T40

 $               21,850 Martin Laird

MDF

Phil Mickelson

1

 $         1,152,000 David Mathis

CUT

Brendan Steele

CUT

Pat Perez

T58

 $                   14,208
This Week’s Total  $            1,417,050 This Week’s Total  $                     14,208
Season Total  $            4,824,564 Season Total  $                1,245,772

And now…the Shameful “Am’s”

Thanks very much to the folks who took some time out of their busy days to write in comments about my last article…and to the several who sent me private e-mails, pressed “like,” decided to share the thing on Facebook or pass it on to their friends on Twitter.  Yer beautiful!

 It seems that I struck a bit of a nerve with my anti-cheating rant…and I’m more than a little pleased to report that the response I received was 100% unanimous in agreeing with my premise. 

(And, by the way, to the handful of bogus posters who continually try to write in “comments” that have nothing to do with golf, but instead try to flog phony Viagra pills under the radar; give it up…it’s not going to work.  And to the dozens of bogus websites who constantly steal material like mine and re-post it like it’s their own work, so they can sell ads for phoney Viagra pills…cut it out already!)

To put a wrap on the whole sordid mess, here’s a breakdown of the top 25 Pro-Am teams who made it to the final round.  When reading these scores, remember that an amateur should only shoot better than his handicap, an average of 25% of the time that they tee it up. 

And as reader “Jim” mentioned in his comments, it’s also a good thing to keep in mind that amateurs usually don’t perform in front of tens of thousands of live spectators, plus a TV audience of millions, AND in front of the superstars of the game. 

We can all agree that those conditions are definitely NOT conducive to shooting your handicap, let alone smoking it by 10 or 11 strokes, can’t we?

For your convenience (and just to increase your level of frustration and pissed-offed-ness), the scores are broken down to isolate the Pro scores and show how many strokes their Amateur partners contributed to their 4-day effort:

Rank

Partners

TEAM

PRO

AMATEUR

T1

Harman/ Ontiveros

-35

-7

-28

T1

Harrington/ McManus

-35

-10

-25

3

Barnes/ Belichick

-33

-13

-20

4

Haas/ Stoops

-31

-1

-30

5

Bowditch/ Romano

-30

-8

-22

T6

Walker/ Peyton

-29

-9

-20

T6

Singh/ Narayen

-29

-6

-23

T6

Mickelson/ McGee

-29

-17

-12

T6

Wi/ Quattrone

-29

-15

-14

10

Teater/ Wagner

-28

-4

-24

T11

Kokrak/ Colleran

-27

-9

-18

T11

Saunders/ Ferris

-27

CUT

 

13

Mahan/ Dundon

-26

-8

-18

14

Love III/ Long

-25

-7

-18

T15

Bramlett/ Yang

-24

-3

-21

T15

Dunlap/ Arora

-24

CUT

 

T17

Gay/ Donahoe

-23

-7

-16

T17

Woods/ Romo

-23

-8

-15

T17

Duke/ Dreesen

-23

-10

-13

T20

Bettencourt/ Cain

-22

0

-22

T20

Owen/ Barton

-22

-9

-13

T20

Todd/ White

-22

-9

-13

23

Blixt/ Stafford

-21

-3

-18

T24

Bae/ Inciarte

-18

1

-19

T24

Jones/ Rosen

-18

CUT

 

The prosecution rests Your Honour!

Hogan’s Alley

Wrong Hogan stupid!

This week the elite of the golfing world turn their attentions to fabled Hogan’s Alley in Los Angeles.  In an area made famous for the shallowness and flavour-of-the-moment-ness of its denizens, Riviera Country Club stands out like a rare jewel for its depth and rich, storied history.

This is the place where the legend of Ben Hogan is rooted.  He won the Los Angeles Open here three times  within 6 years back in the 40’s…and added a couple of second place finishes to boot.  Oh yeah, he also won the US Open here in ’48, if those other stats weren’t impressive enough.

And all of this happened before his “career-ending” car crash in ’49…where doctors told him he would never walk again, let alone play golf.  Except, of course, that he went on to win 6 of his 9 majors after the crash.

Simply put, Hogan owned Riviera as much as any golfer could ever own a golf course…and the beautiful statue of him displayed on the premises is a fitting tribute to one of the game’s greatest.

The Northern Trust Open – Derek’s Picks

Phil Mickelson – After Phil’s comprehensive win last week at Pebble, he’s pretty much impossible to not take this week at Riviera.  He put on a clinic…and he’s a good bet until he shows otherwise.

The only question for me is; will his fantastic win last week be a springboard for an amazing 2012 campaign…or will he revert to some old, occasional bad habits and bounce up and down like a toilet seat for the rest of the season?  Is this the start of a roll…or are we hopping back on the rollercoaster?

I’m hoping it’s the former…but there’s a persistent nagging red light flashing in the back of my head, reminding me that Phil failed to make the cut just three short weeks ago at Torrey Pines (where he’s recorded a total of three wins and had 4 top ten finishes in the past 10 years).

Mickelson’s record at Riviera is even more impressive folks.  He ran up back-to-back wins here in 2008-2009…plus a second and a fourth the two years before that.  The only other active player to build up a similar record here is Mike Weir (winning in 2003-2004)…and that poor bugger couldn’t even get a sponsor’s exemption into the event this year!!!  (Maybe he should have pulled a Jason Gore and begged his fan base to launch a Twitter campaign to get him in?)

And by the way, shame on you for snubbing Mike Weir Northern Trust!  Unless they’ve now moved on to the Senior’s Tour, multiple champions at your event should ALWAYS have a place in your field.  No exceptions.

Hmmm…come to think of it, isn’t Freddie in the field this week?

Luke Donald – We’ve missed you Luke.  God, we’ve missed you! 

After the phenomenal year you put together in 2011, we’ve been champing at the bit waiting for you to come back to this side of the ocean…and to see what’s coming next. 

Oh sure, watching you play great on the Euro Tour is very satisfying stuff…but it’s always that much more thrilling when we watch you thump a field where we instantly recognize most, if not all of the names and faces.

How do you follow up winning both the North American Money List and the European Order of Merit in the same season?   I have no idea…and since no one has achieved that before, no one else has any real idea either.  But man, we’re really looking forward to seeing what happens!  And I think most of us are rooting for you too.

A remarkable two wins…14 top 10’s…and 16 top 20’s…in just 19 events!

As you might recall, Luke took an extra-long holiday to begin the 2011 season.  In fact, he didn’t make his first North American appearance until the Tour hit Los Angeles for this event.  And, other than missing the cut at the Open Championship and finishing T45 at Congressional, Riviera was the site of his only other real ‘stain” of the season.

He opened with a smooth 68, but followed with a head-scratching 79 and failed to make it to the weekend.

But setting aside everything Donald accomplished in 2011…and what he couldn’t accomplish here at Riviera, there are still plenty of reasons to take him this week at Hogan’s Alley.  In previous years he’s racked up a pretty formidable record here; finishing 2nd in 2010, T6 in 2009, T3 in 2008 and T16 in 2006. 

Add it all up and Donald’s an excellent bet for this week’s event.

And now I’d better move on to my next pick, before someone accuses me of having a man-crush on this guy!

Padraig Harrington – I’m not sure that I’ve ever taken Paddy in an event before, but he really feels like one of the “must-picks” for this week’s event to me.

After a fairly lacklustre 2011 campaign, that stunningly yielded more cuts than top 10 finishes, Harrington is showing some signs of bouncing back to his Major-winning form this season.  Yes, I know that a survey of one is nothing to bet the farm on…but you have to admit he was very impressive last week at Pebble.  And it was good to see his name near the top of the leaderboard again, wasn’t it?

Harrington also brings some very positive past successes into this week’s tournament, to further bolster the strength of my selection.  From 2006-2008 he placed third, seventh and second at this event.  True, the case would be stronger if those performances were a bit more recent, but the stats do say that Harrington is very comfortable on this course and should be a contender if he’s on form, like last week.

Aaron Baddeley – This slot was going to go to Steve Stricker this week…but for some reason I’m not aware of, he’s not in the field this week.  He started off the year with a win at the Tournament of Champions, then finished top 40 at the Sony…but has yet to set his peg in North American soil.  With a win and a second placed finish at Riviera within the past 3 years, his absence from this tournament seems like a bit of a mystery to me.

Oh well, onward and upward I guess.  Or in this case onward and downward…as in “down under.”  My final spot on the roster this week is going to Aussie Aaron Baddeley.

Baddeley has a few things in his favour this week.  First, he’s coming off a really hot week at Pebble, where he strung together rounds of 66-72-69-67 to finish in solo 4th place.  Second, he’s the Defending Champion at this event.  In 2011 he shot four rounds in the 60’s and finished with a 2-stroke margin over his next closest competitor (a rejuvenated Vijay).  And to prepare for last year’s win at Riviera, he put together a very solid charge the week before at Pebble…finishing T6 (two positions lower than his finish this year).

Add ‘em all together and I really like his chances this week.

And now that I‘ve had my say, let’s head downstairs and see what my little girl can come up with, with those darts;

D&D’s Picks (Daughter & Dartboard):

  •        Tom Gillis
  •        J.J. Henry
  •        Charles Howell III
  •        Anthony Kim

And that’s all for this week folks.  As always, thanks very much for reading…and enjoy the tournament!  And please, keep those comments coming.

Cheers,

Derek

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