Remember the Á La Mode!

There are several factors to consider when handicapping a golf field and trying to pick some winners for this column.  Current form is a vital stat, naturally.  So are past performances on the course.  And leaning more heavily toward straight hitters on tight courses, great putters on evils greens and top-calibre scramblers on tracks loaded with hazards and nasty rough are also important considerations.

And then there’s “gut instinct;” that indefinable something that crawls inside your head and tells you, “go for it!” despite a lack of much supporting evidence to bolster the pick.

The one factor I’ve never considered…and certainly didn’t take into account this week going into The Heritage, was the pronunciation guide!

As it happens, both of the players who won on the Professional Tours this week (PGA and Euro) have one thing in common (which drives me nuts); they possess two of the most-often mispronounced names in professional golf.  And those golfers are Carl Pettersson and Louis Oosthuizen.

For the record, Carl’s last name is pronounced “PET-ter-son” not PEET-er-son.”  And Oosthuizen’s last name is pronounced “Wust-hazen” notOO-stazen” (it sounds a bit like West…but with a very subtle short “uh” instead of a short “eh”).

How do I know this?  How do I say this with so much conviction? 

Here’s the magic folks; it’s because I’ve heard them both interviewed…I’ve heard them both asked that very question…and I’ve listened to their answers…and then remembered what they said.

Most aggravating of all, Carl and Louis were asked that question (“exactly how do you say your last name?”) by TV golf reporters/show hosts…who promptly either forgot the answer, or chose to ignore it, forever after.  (“Wust-hazen?’  Cool…how’s my hair Mr. OO-Stayzen?”)

And they ALL do it!  It’s like the guys at one of the networks got together for a pre-production meeting and went…”nah, that’s name’s too hard for our audience…let’s just call him this instead.”  And then all the other networks followed along, circling the bowl…either too afraid, or too lazy to question the other’s work.

These are the same rocket scientists who break away from regular programming with news bulletins from “EYE-raq” and “EYE-ran.”   

(To paraphrase Dennis Miller, “if you aren’t even smart enough to pronounce the name of the country properly, you probably aren’t smart enough to know if you should declare war on them.”)

Pettersson gave his answer a few years ago at the first PGA event in which he was a Sunday contender.  The reporter asked the question and Carl’s answer was as priceless as it was prophetic; “my name is pronounced “PET-ter-son” but you guys will probably screw it up and say PEET-er-son…”

To his great credit, the only guy I’ve heard pronounce Louis’ name correctly has been Golf Channel contributor and author John Feinstein.  No doubt John has had a lifetime of aggravation hearing people butcher his name and goes out of his way to make sure he doesn’t extend the same discourtesy to anyone else…even if he is surrounded by people who refuse to follow his example. 

Good work John!

So now, there’s one more damned thing to think about every week!  Man, this whole picking golf winners thing is tough folks!

Results – The Heritage

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


 $              24,510 Lucas Glover


 $                 11,514
Matt Kuchar


 $              16,473 Padraig Harrington


 $                        –
Jim Furyk


 $            153,900 Charlie Wi


 $                 13,367
Bo Van Pelt


 $                     – Mark Wilson


 $                 47,310
This Week’s Total  $            194,883 This Week’s Total  $                 72,191
Season Total  $       11,259,015 Season Total  $            2,662,459

Everything is Big Here

For those of you who took a week off from watching golf after the Masters, the PGA Tour heads off to San Antonio for the Texas Open this week.  The TPC San Antonio is the host course for your return to golf on the tube.  Enjoy!

But, if you’re looking for a boatload of big golf stars to return after their assault on Augusta, you’ll have to wait a little longer, I’m afraid.  The pickings in the field are a little on the thin side this week.

Everything might be big in Texas…unless you factor in the star power in this tournament.  Then, not so much golf fans. 

That should make it easier to pick some winners this week, right?  You’d really think so…but take a look at how my “big stars’ did last week at Harbour Town.  I almost feel like making my daughter do some homework on this week’s field…and then just lobbing some darts of my own at the pairings sheet.

The Texas Open – Derek’s Picks

Matt Kuchar – Going into last week’s Heritage at Harbour Town, Kuchar was on quite a heater.  He was on a run of 4 straight top-ten finishes, including a feisty, close-but-no-cigar-and-green-jacket, T3 showing at Augusta.  And two of those top tens were in WGC events, playing against the world elite.

The Heritage wasn’t as kind to him however.  He posted his worst finish of the season, so far…wrapping up the fourth round at +3, for a tie of 44th place.

Maybe he was a little bummed about The Masters.  Maybe he was tired.  Maybe it was a combination of those things?  But whatever the reason, I’m going to chalk up his showing last week as an anomaly and go with him this week in Texas.

Playing three weeks in a row can be a bit of a grind, especially when week #1 is a razor-edged Augusta survival contest, but I still like his chances to post at least another top 5 finish this week…and maybe even a win.

Charley Hoffman – Hoffman is one of those “Stealth Golfers” I write about from time to time. 

He’s rarely on anyone’s list of favourites going into an event, and yet, every once in a while, there he is right at the top of the leaderboard.  You can almost hear the guys in the broadcast towers saying “where the hell did he come from?” 

And with more career cuts than top tens, it’s an easy oversight to make.

That really shouldn’t be the case this week in Texas though…and I’d be stunned if Hoffman weren’t on at least a few fantasy golf lists. 

Over the past few years, Charley has distinguished himself at this event, to the point where he really ought to be short-listed as a fave.  T2 last year, T13 in 2010, T9 in 2009, T11 in 2007, T8 in his first year on Tour in 2006.  There aren’t many other active PGA players who have a resume like that at this tournament.

And, despite a pretty lacklustre season so far, in which he’s mostly struggled to break the top 50, he is coming off his best finish of the year; T8 last week at The Heritage.  I think that, plus his past performances here, make him a pretty good pick this week in Texas.

Fredrik Jacobson – I have absolutely NO idea why this is might be the case, but if you look through the history books for the TPC of San Antonio, you’ll find that Scandinavians seem to thrive on this track.

I’ll save you the trouble of looking it up.  Jacobson, Parnevik, Pettersson, Gronberg, Chopra…all names that have figured prominently here in the past 5 years.  And last week’s winner, Pettersson, is the weakest of the bunch with a T22 two years ago. 

Weird, right?

Are there fjords I didn’t know about in Texas?  Is there some place in San Antonio that sells secret stashes of pickled herring?  Does some Swedish ex-pat, living in luxury on the borders of the course, blast the Muppets Swedish Chef theme song in a loop for 4 days from his swimming pool area?

Seriously…the number of times that Scandinavian names show up in the record books for this event are so off-the-scales disproportionate to the number of players in the field that it simply defies explanation.

And since there has been only a handful of Scandinavians playing on the North American PGA Tour…that means we’re talking about an extremely small sample size here…2 or 3 guys in a field of 150 each year.  This is the kind of thing that makes statisticians and researchers scratch their heads, yank out a fistful of hair and reach for the vitamin rum.

In the past few years Jacobson has been the Swedish standard-bearer at this event.  T5 last year, 2nd in 2010, T5 in 2009.  Jesper Parnevik passed him the torch back in 2007…or maybe, in keeping with the theme, we could say that he passed on Mjölnir, the Hammer of Thor.

Whatever the case, when making your fantasy picks this week, you ignore the Swedes at your own peril.

It’s not Santa Anna’s Mexicans the modern-day Davy Crocketts and Jim Bowies will have to battle this week under the shadow of the Alamo…it’s the Scandinavians. 

Borky borky bork!

J.B. Holmes – No matter which way you slice it, it’s been a pretty rough 6 months or so for J.B. 

Diagnosed with Chiari malformations at the base of his brain, Holmes had brain surgery back in September to relieve the pressure on his thinker. 

For the benefit of both of you reading this, Chiari malformations affect balance and coordination…you know, probably the two most important things that golfers need to perform.  They can cause also cause severe headaches, dizziness and wonky vision…like listening to a non-stop loop of the Rush Limbaugh show.

From what I’ve read, Holmes keeps a quarter-sized remnant of his skull on display in a windowsill at home.  And while it may be a bit gross, I completely get that.  Those are my trophies over there…you know, where I won some golf tournaments.  But here’s a piece of my skull…you know, where I fought for my life and won. 

Which display would mean more to you?

After being declared fit for active duty, Holmes has had a steady, if unspectacular return to golf.  He started off the season missing two of the cuts in his first three events.  Then a T8 at Riviera (his 4th event) showed some signs of the “old” J.B. returning to form.

And despite following that up with a T56, T68 and T29 in his next three events, I think another T8 a few weeks ago in Houston is a good portent for his chances this week. 

Call me a silly old romantic, but even if he’s not quite in form this week, I’ll still be cheering him on to make his recovery complete, by sealing up his next win in Texas.

And now that I’ve had my babble, let’s see what dastardly deeds daughter conjured up on the dartboard this week…

D&D’s Picks (Daughter & Dartboard):

  • ·         Erik Compton
  • ·         Hank Kuehne
  • ·         Scott Langley
  • ·         Chad Campbell

And that’s all for this week folks.  As always, thanks very much for reading and playing along with the silliness…and enjoy the action at San Antonio.



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