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The Best Golfer Ever…PERIOD!

True confessions time;

I just walked out of two straight days of Marketing strategy meetings (8am-6pm on day 1 and 9am – 9:30pm on day 2…plus a full 2 days of prep and research to get ready) and I don’t have 4 functioning brain cells left in my cranium to scratch together to write today’s article.

The two of you who read this column on a regular basis will probably be quick to point out that that’s 3 more brain cells than I normally would apply to this task…and, while I’d really like to argue with you…well, see above.

So then, operating on a completely empty tank, let’s see what the hell I can cobble together for you this week.

The Colonial

At least I’m entering this dry spell riding on the crest of another win.  Zach Johnson became my 9th official “kill” of the season when he lifted the Colonial trophy over his head on Sunday night.  9 wins out of 21 tournaments so far this year has to earn me some “Club You Points” doesn’t it?

No?  Jeebus you’re a tough crowd! 

Results – The Colonial

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

1

 $        1,152,000 Vijay Singh

T47

 $                16,240
Rickie Fowler

T5

 $           216,960 Johnson Wagner

CUT

Hunter Mahan

T37

 $             29,440 Charlie Wi

T41

 $                23,040
Matt Kuchar

T26

 $             47,360 Y.E. Yang

T31

 $                37,120
This Week’s Total  $          1,445,760 This Week’s Total  $                 76,400
Season Total  $        16,773,566 Season Total  $             3,915,568

 Next stop – celebrating the greatest golfer of all time…period!

Ten weeks ago it was Palmer.  Two weeks ago it was Nelson.  Last week it was Hogan.  This week the PGA Tour pays homage to the greatest golfer ever to have swung a club; Jack Nicklaus.

If you’re one of those people intent on throwing the name Woods into the argument, please save your breath and the electrons you’re going to waste on your keyboard. 

There is no argument.  Until such time that someone else eclipses Jack’s records he is indisputably the greatest ever to have played the game.  Period.  End of debate. 

You’re coming to a gun fight with a Swiss Army Knife.

Any opinion to the contrary is merely subjective…and not based on anything that curmudgeonly, thick-headed bastards like me like to call “facts.”

Relative strengths of fields, age, available technology, fear factor, fitness…whatever…are lovely, entertaining, ambivalent things to bring up, ad nauseum, while you’re arguing over a beer with your buddies at the 19th hole, or bombarding golf website message boards. 

But, at the end of the day, the only fact that matters is achievement.  What the records say.  And on that score, no one can top the body of work of Jack Nicklaus.

Jack Nicklaus – The Facts

Total Amateur wins – 18

US Amateur wins – 2

Total professional career wins – 116

Major wins – 18

                Masters – 6

                U S Open – 4

                Open Championship – 3

                PGA Championship – 5

Runner-up finishes in Majors – 19

PGA Tour wins – 73

Senior Tour wins – 10

Other wins – 33

PGA Money List Winner – 8

PGA Player of the Award – 5

I could go on…but is there really any point? 

No other person on the planet has amassed results that equal the collective accomplishments of Jack Nicklaus.  Some may have eclipsed a few of those results (i.e. Sam Snead has more total Tour wins with 82 and Tom Watson has more Open Championships with 5), but taken in its entirety, there’s no else who can match this staggering list of achievements.

Any opinion to the contrary is just that…an opinion.  The facts support only one person in determining who is the greatest golfer ever to have played the game; and that person is The Golden Bear.

Here endeth today’s sermon.  Now go forth and be ye imbued with certitude on this simplest of points.

The Memorial – Derek’s Picks

Luke Donald – Unless you chained yourself to the TV to watch almost non-stop golf action this past weekend, chances are you might not have seen Donald’s latest masterful performance at Wentworth. 

Pity.

While most were cutting the grass, digging the gardens, spending quality time with family or whatever, so they could budget some quality Lazy-Boy time in the afternoon Saturday and Sunday to watch the Colonial, Luke Donald was putting on a clinic 5 hours ahead of us in Surrey at the European PGA Championship.

He was the only player in the field to shoot in the 60s all 4 days…in an event rightly considered to be one of Europe’s Majors.  So tough was the course playing, that the guy who redesigned it is facing stiff fines from the European Tour for his over-the-top, curse-laden post-mortem interview after Friday’s round. 

And we’re talking about the soft-spoken, perpetually pleasant, always polite Ernie Els here folks…not a guy like Pat Perez! 

That’s how tough Wentworth was this week…even Ernie snapped!!!

Meanwhile our friend Luke fired precision shot after precision shot, scrambling when he had to…and put together a 4-day total of -15, four strokes better than his nearest competitors.  Oh yes, with that win Donald also struck a cross-court smash that vaulted him back to World #1 in his season-long ping pong game with Rory McIlroy…a McIlroy who has defied logic and missed two consecutive cuts!

Fast forward to the present and this week’s tournament at Muirfield Village.  Donald likes this course a lot.  And he should.  For whatever reason, it seems to bring out the best in his game, as witnessed by the results he’s racked up over the past few years; T7 last year, T14 in 2009, T6 in 2008 (he skipped playing here in 2010).

All in all, it’s generally been a bad bet to go against Donald in the past year-and-a-half when he’s in the field…and I’m not in the mood for taking a bad bet this week by passing him over.

Rory McIlroy – Mentioned him above (and not in a good way), but I’m going to throw some tokens in his hat this week anyway.

As unlikely as is might be for young Rory to have missed two cuts in a row, I think it’s highly unlikely that he’ll make it 3 this week at Jacks’ tournament.  That’s not necessarily logic talking, because it certainly could happen. 

Let’s call it gut instinct instead…or maybe those one or two brain cells I’m drawing on right now.

Either way, I think it’s more likely that he rebounds from his past two failures with a blaze of glory kind of performance and really lights up Muirfield Village this week.

Does he have much experience playing here?  Not at all.  In fact, last year’s Memorial was his first and only appearance in a pro tournament at the Golden’s Bear’s track. 

He finished fifth!

And given the riveting back-and-forth battle going on between McIlroy and Donald for world domination right now, I fully expect him to at least match, if not improve upon last year’s outing in Ohio.  After all, the tournament is being played in Dublin. 

It’s kismet, right?  And let’s be honest here, who isn’t licking their chops at the prospect of a legendary Luke versus Rory sunday showdown?

Phil Mickelson – You’ll be pretty hard-pressed to find a guy whose name appears more often near the top of the Memorial leaderboard than Mickelson’s does.  T13 last year, T5 in 2010, T20 in 2008, T4 in 2006 (he skipped 2009 and withdrew in 2007).  Of the players in this week’s field, I think probably only Woods has a more impressive record at this track.

Even though he’s never won at this tournament, I do like Phil’s chances this week.  He’s had a really good, but still a bit of a topsy turvy kind of season so far; 2 very good tournaments, followed by two so-so ones, followed by another two very good ones, followed by two more so-so-ones.

And if you’re wondering where he is trending on that roller coaster right now, he’s riding the wave of one very good tournament in a row…his T7 finish at The Nelson a few weeks ago.

If that pattern is worth anything at all, that means that we can look forward to a very strong finish from Mickelson this weekend at Muirfield Village…maybe even his first win.

Matt Kuchar – Heart and mind are in serious conflict about giving Kuchar another nod this week.  And given that I’ve already told you that the mind isn’t function today, the heart has won out on this one.

My mind says Kuchar absolutely, positively has to be fried right now.  No gas in the tank.  No strength in the legs.  No focus between the ears.  In other words, he’s me.

And yet, despite all of that, when I look back on what he’s done at Jack’s course, I find it almost impossible to give him a skip this week.  T2 last year, T8 in 2010, T5 in 2009, T10 in 2008, T13 in 2007.

Hmmm…come to think of it, if I had more energy I might consider going back and re-writing the bit about no one having a better list of showings than Mickelson, other than Woods. 

Damn!  This kid has been impressive here!  So much so, that I just can’t kick him to the curb for this week’s tournament.

And now that I’ve had my say, time to turn it over to daughter and her projectiles:

D&D’s Picks (Daughter & Dartboard):

  •        Chris DiMarco
  •        Bo Hoag
  •        Ryan Moore
  •        Gary Woodland

And that’s all for this week folks.  As always, thanks very much for reading and playing along with my nonsense…and enjoy the tourney!

Cheers,

Derek

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derekaubrey

4 CommentsLeave a comment

    • Well….crap!

      Looks like I neglected to update my field list before picking the final 4 Ted. He was in the field…then withdrew.

      No defense on my part for the stupid oversight…other than the excuses I used at the top of this week’s column.

      Meanwhile, great catch on your part!

      Thanks for reading…and pointing out my gaff.

      Derek

    • Derek’s picking Kuchar reminds me when the Ottawa Roughriders actually drafted a deceased player. Look it up.

      For me Woods is the greatest player ever. No one has ever dominated the sport the way he did. I don’t know if anyone has ever dominated any other sport the way he did. Gretzky maybe?

      • Thanks very much for reading this week’s column…and for writing in your comments Svenny.

        Although I don’t follow North American football, I recall the story about Montreal drafting a dead player…but only because Humble and Fred turned it into a hilarious bit on their morning show on the Edge in Toronto. (Meanwhile, on the other football front, I am counting the seconds ’til the start of Euro 2012 next week).

        Yup…I screwed up big time by not checking the freshest pairings sheet before making my final picks. Not catching Kuchar’s withdrawal hurts on a couple of different levels.

        As far as Woods goes, I’d enourage you to go back and review the facts I listed. “Dominance” is an apt word for Wood’s performance in the late 90s and 2000s (before Elin wrapped a 9-iron around his teeth), but it’s still a subjective thing.

        Until the day Woods eclipses Nicklaus’ records (and while no one has ever come closer, it’s seeming less likely by the month that he’ll actually do it), Jack is still the all-time best according to all the facts.

        Thanks again for reading and writing.

        Derek

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