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For The Father Who Has Everything…

Take McIlroy to win…he misses the cut.

Shrug it off as a glitch, take him again in the next tournament…he misses the cut.

Stubbornly insist he couldn’t possibly miss 3 in a row, take him again…he misses the cut.

Say to hell with him…he damned near wins!

For those of you who are convinced that this whole picking the winner thing is easy, review those lines carefully.  Golf can be a very weird game…and picking winners successfully is really nothing more than hours of research, mixed in with a HUGE glob of very good luck. 

And the luck part seems to outweigh the research by a factor of about 3:1.

On any given day, ANY one of the 150 or so uber-talented guys in a typical professional golf field can light it up and win…just like any one of the massive pre-tournament favourites can go on an 18-hole pants-soiling “run” and play his way out of town.

My one saving grace in the above scenario is that I only picked McIlroy to win once during his 3-tourney cut-fest.  BUT, if you were following the currents and making your Fantasy picks based on what the “real experts” had to say…you’d be cursing the name McIlroy loudly as you watched your team fall off the leaderboard into oblivion.

Yup…it’s a funny old game, that golf.

Meanwhile, here at Moron World Headquarters, I somehow managed to score my TENTH winner of the season at The St. Jude Classic last weekend.  Ten wins in 23 tournaments.

The Force is strong with this one.

Results – The St. Jude Classic

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

CUT

  Stuart Appleby

T49

 $                 13,294
Dustin Johnson

1

 $          1,008,000 Tim Clark

T42

 $                 18,512
Graeme McDowell

CUT

  Sung Kang

CUT

 
Robert Karlsson

CUT

  Fran Quinn

CUT

 
This Week’s Total    $          1,008,000 This Week’s Total    $                 31,806
Season Total    $        17,924,166 Season Total    $             3,985,876

Okay, when you only have one guy out of 4 making it to the weekend, maybe “strong” is too strong a word.  Okay, maybe the word “maybe” is also too generous there.  

The Force is wonky in this one.  Is that better?

Happy Father’s Day

For the past two weeks, your TV viewing sessions have been sprinkled with commercial sets suggesting the things that would make a great Father’s Day present.  And your mailbox has undoubtedly been littered with flyers dropping the same kind of “helpful” hints. 

(Funny how the volume of Father’s Day commercials and flyers is never a fraction of the amount of stuff we’re bombarded with when Mother’s Day is coming around isn’t it?)

For those of you who are going to do some Father’s Day shopping this week, here are a few helpful hints to assist you as you weigh the pros and cons of these potential gifts:

– An extension cord does not make a great Father’s Day present.

– A tie does not make a great Father’s Day present

– A pair of socks does not make a great Father’s Day present

– Cuff links do not make a great Father’s Day present. 

– Novelty clothing of any kind does not make a great Father’s day present.

– Thinly disguised critiques on dad’s appearance, like nose-hair trimmers, do not make a great Father’s Day present

Yet, having said that, there’s almost no present on earth that a dad who is really worthy of the title “dad” could receive, that he wouldn’t appreciate if it was given by a child, with love.

And since I’ve given you a good (but nowhere comprehensive) list of the kinds of things that make lousy Father’s Day presents, I guess it’s only fair that I balance the equation my giving you some ideas on what would make a great Father’s Day gift.

In fact, I’m going to crack the vault open all the way and give you the #1 gift you can give to your dad this Father’s Day…and every other Father’s Day, from now to the end of eternity.  The one present he’ll cherish more than anything else you could give him…the one that will mean more to him than he can possibly articulate in his own manly, dad-ish way.

And that gift is…your time and attention.

Over the years, I was guilty of giving my dad almost every bad Father’s Day present imaginable…including a few on the list above (tie & cuff links).  And, to his great credit and my undying appreciation, he always seemed genuinely thrilled to be on the receiving end of every crappy, badly wrapped gift I ever handed to him.

But now that I’ve grown older and have children of my own (notice I didn’t throw the word “mature” in there), I’ve come to realize that the greatest thing I ever gave my dad on Father’s Day was my time and attention.

Whether it was going out for a round of golf or just watching the US Open, playing board games, sitting in the backyard having a barbeque, watching a favourite movie or whatever else we might have done, I am thoroughly convinced now, that the best part of the day for my dad; the thing that truly made it special for him, was just being together with his kids and knowing that he was loved and appreciated.

Sadly, both my Mother’s and Father’s Day gift-giving adventures are all over now. 

My mom died 6 years ago and my dad followed just three years later.  And there isn’t a day that I don’t think of them both…and wish I had just a bit more time to spend with them, to let them know, just one more time, how much they were and continue to be loved, and how much I appreciate everything they did for my sister and me…starting with those two magical days, when they gave us the greatest gift ever, by adopting us. 

So if you’re still wracking your brains trying to come up with a truly great Father’s Day present this year, I say this; get your dad anything you want, even one of those lousy ideas I mentioned above…as long as you also give him your time and attention. 

Trust me; it’s the best present you’ll ever give.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering…the best present I’ve ever received for Father’s Day was the arrival of my little girl.  So, this weekend in my house, Father’s Day teams up with a birthday celebration…marking one of the happiest days of my life.

The U.S. Open

America’s National golf championship returns to The Olympic Club in San Francisco this year…and you can bet that it’s going to be a bumpy ride. 

The U.S Open is probably the toughest challenge in golf.  With fairways as wide as a snooker table, rough growing up to your knees and greens shaved porn star close, this is one cruel test of a golfer’s ability!

One USGA official famously defended the practise of making the host courses as tough as they could be one year, by uttering the now-famous quote, “we’re not here to embarrass the greatest players in the world, we’re here to identify them.”

Of course, the logical flip side to that statement is that many of the best golfers in the world are indeed embarrassed by their play at the U.S. Open.  And for twisted golf viewers (like my friends and me), it’s a positively refreshing change to see the game’s elite transformed into us for once, struggling to break 80, rather than going out and shooting another 4 “ho-hum” rounds in the 60s.

Golf at the U.S. Open is a survival contest writ large.  It’s Lord of the Flies played out with wedges, drivers and putters, instead of home-made spears, torches and rotting pig heads. 

The fact that the boys on William Golding’s deserted island and the USGA greens keeping staff both spend their off hours pulling the wings off flies for entertainment is purely coincidental, I’m sure.

The Olympic Club in San Francisco has been the site of many legendary showdowns, upsets and “wait…WHO???” moments over the years. 

The most notable upset probably being unknown golfer Jack Fleck’s defeat of Ben Hogan in 1955.  Hogan was a remarkable 8-for-14 in the Majors, leading up to this event…and was gunning for his record-breaking 5th U.S. Open title!  He lost to Fleck in a Monday playoff, and never hoisted another Major trophy.

It was also here that Arnie Palmer blew a 7-shot, back-nine lead to lose to Billy Casper in ’66; where Scott Simpson trimmed golf legend Tom Watson by a stroke in ’87 and where Payne Stewart built up a 7-stroke lead in ’98, only to become unravelled and lose it all to Lee Janzen.

In the beautifully-crafted words of Hall of Fame writer Dan Jenkins, “hold a US Open at Olympic, and the wrong guy will win it every time!”

So, if legendary wordsmith Jenkins is to be believed, the real secret in picking a winner for the U.S. Open this week is to throw out all the guys who should win…and put your money on the guys who shouldn’t!

Sounds easy…until you start trying to eliminate the top golfers in the world and go with the also-rans.  Then it’s a whole different kettle of fish!

How the hell do you do that???

Derek’s Picks

Since the U.S. Open is played on a rotation of golf courses, going back through recent records to try and suss out a winner is a relatively useless exercise.  True, you might uncover some helpful hints on who responds best to Major pressure, but there’s no real data available on who has a particular affinity for the host course. 

And since this track isn’t one of those that holds a “regular PGA event” each year, it’s been a looooong time since a lot of the guys in the field have played here competitively (like 14 years).  And it goes without saying that a pretty huge chunk of the field has never played a competitive round here.

So, given a complete lack of current “horses for courses” data to go on, reading the entrails and trying to come up with some winners for this tournament will have to be done in a different way.

It seems to me that the most fool-proof method for picking through the field this week is to blend some of the most critical ingredients needed to win what is arguably one of the toughest golfing tests on the planet.  And those ingredients are: current form, mental toughness, driving accuracy, approach accuracy and scrambling. 

Throw them all in a blender, add a bottle of Appleton’s and a generous dollop of luck and voila!  You should easily be able to pick this year’s winner.

And so, at the risk of turning this into a cold, calculating, emotionless exercise in mathematics, here’s what Derek’s Formula X says about the field in this year’s U.S. Open:

Luke Donald – You don’t have to scan very far down any of the most-critical PGA stat lists to find the name Luke Donald.

Driving Accuracy – 8th (69%)

Scrambling – 1st  (68%)

Strokes Gained by Putting – 3rd (.76)

In fact, the only category in which he seems to show some chinks in his armour is in Greens Hit in Regulation, where he ranks 92nd, averaging a “mere” 64%.

Offset that minor hiccup with the mojo he has banked up as World #1, plus his current hotness of form, and I like Donald’s chances this week more than anyone else in the field.

Of course, I always like Donald’s chances when he’s in the field, but now I have science on my side too.  How could this possibly go wrong?

Justin Rose – One of the guys who is vying with Luke for overall stat supremacy going into this U.S. Open is fellow Englishman Justin Rose.

Driving Accuracy – 19th (66%)

Greens In Regulation – 3rd (71%)

Scrambling – 6th (65%)

He’s solid in all of the categories that matter most at a U.S. Open, with the possible exception of Strokes Gained by Putting, where he ranks 123rd.  In fact, according to the stats, he hasn’t really gained any strokes in this category, he’s actually lost some (.13 per round)!

But, I’m going to go with Rose to do well regardless of that stat.  The winning form he’s shown so far this season, combined with driving accuracy, GIRs and scrambling give me some good thoughts for his chances at Olympic Club.

Matt Kuchar – Yes, I double-checked…and he actually IS in the field this week.  Thanks for asking, wise guy!

Kuchar comes into this week’s tournament as another chart-topper in vital stats.  Okay, maybe not chart “topper,” but close enough for jazz.

Driving Accuracy – 25th (65%)

Greens In Regulation – 10th (68%)

Scrambling – 13th (64%)

Like Rose above, the one bit of kryptonite for Kuchar seems to be in gaining strokes by putting, where he ranks 79th this week, at .096.  And, like Rose and Donald, I’m giving him a bunch of current form mojo in this contest, to offset that one bad stat.

Jason Dufner – I started writing this column with the intention of having Jim Furyk on my squad this week, but one stray dart from my daughter foiled that plan, big time (see “D&D’s Picks” below). 

Mickelson, Westwood, Mahan and Stricker were also high up on my radar this week, but in the end I decided to go with Jason Dufner.

The stats on Dufner make a pretty compelling argument:

Driving Accuracy – 11th (68%)

Greens In Regulation – 6th (69%)

Scrambling – 17th (63%)

Once again, the whole in the story is in putting…where Dufner ranks 95th going into this week (-.002)

But (and it’s a big “but”) you have to give it to this guy in one really huge category…his completely lizard-like metabolic system when he’s in the hunt.  He has no highs, he has no lows…the guy is all middles.  If his emotions were put on a sine wave, he’d be a flat liner.

Given the way he carries himself around a golf course, he’s definitely one of the guys who is best suited, temperamentally, to withstanding the dramatic peaks and troughs of competing for the U.S. Open and coming out on top.

And now that I’ve had my say, let’s turn it over to the birthday girl, to see how she’s conspiring to beat the old man on Father’s Day at the Olympic Club.

D&D’s Picks (Daughter & Dartboard):

Jim Furyk

Scott Piercy

Webb Simpson

Kyle Stanley

And that’s all for this week folks.  As always, thanks VERY much for reading and for playing along with my silliness…and enjoy the tournament.

And, to all the dads reading this, have a Happy Father’s Day!

Cheers,

Derek

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derekaubrey

4 CommentsLeave a comment

  • Wonderful article on Father’s Day, well done. I never got the quality time “thing”. It’s just time spent in each other’s company that matters. Cheers to you.

  • REALLY pleased to hear you enjoyed the column this week Svenny! Thanks for taking the time to let me know.

    Wishing you a Happy Father’s Day. I hope you get to spend it with your dad and your bairns.

    Derek

  • That was a touching editorial on Father’s Day and I enjoyed it with a smile.
    I read with interest your scoring stats on the guys and with each one I share a stat: with Luke it’s accuracy and with Justin, Matt and Jason it’s putting! I received a new putter for my birthday and it’s quite good, unfortunately my depth perception, visual concept and body stillness are still working against me.
    Have a wonderful father’s day Fearless Leader (last year!) … Boris and I are golfing with the children and grandchildren and he will receive a travel mug that finally works (I hope).
    You’re still one of my favourite authors !!!

    • Thanks for writing Natasha…really glad you liked this week’s column.

      Based on the first two rounds, it looks like Luke doesn’t abide by math and science…or give a rat’s rectum what I think. +11…really???

      I’m generally happy with the other guys I’ve taken…and even more happy for sticking to my formula (and my guns) by not taking some of the “obvious” picks all the other experts made; guys like Mickelson and Bubba and Rory and Dustin. They all would have made great emotional winners…but just didn’t feel, to me, like they had a chance at this course, in US Open shape.

      The one obvious oversight that’s looking bad so far is in not taking Woods to do well. I figured he’d be back to spraying the ball and missing fairways and wouldn’t be a contender this week. There’s still lots of time for that to happen though…and if there really is such a thing as “karma,” you have to believe that a guy like Woods won’t lift a US Open trophy on Father’s Day, of all days.

      Enjoy your weekend and the coverage…and good luck with the new putter!

      Thanks again for reading…and for writing in.

      Derek

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