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Integrity Comes To Congress(ional)

There’s an old British saying that goes something like this; “Guy Fawkes was the last man in history who entered the British Houses of Parliament with honest intentions.”  And given the destructive, “our party must win at any cost,” state of U.S. politics today, it makes you wonder who the last man to enter the U.S. Congress or Senate with truly honest intentions was. 

Abe Lincoln?

Maybe.  But, then again, we only recently found out about that whole vampire hunting thing he did 150 years ago…so how can we really know for sure about “Honest Abe?”

When the PGA Tour swings into Maryland, it’s the one time each year that the words “Congressional” and “integrity” can be uttered in the same sentence without causing uproarious laughter. 

Integrity from someone in the U.S. Congress?  Bwahaha! 

Integrity from a professional golfer?  Youbetcherass!

But before I press on to this week’s prognostications, it’s time to spend a few seconds re-capping what happened with our picks last week at The Traveler’s Championship.

Results – The Traveler’s Championship

Derek’s Picks D&D (Daughter & Dartboard)
Bubba Watson

T2

 $           528,000 Stuart Appleby

T18

 $                75,600
Hunter Mahan

T11

 $           132,000 Jason Bohn

CUT

Michael Thompson

CUT

Joey Snyder III

CUT

Padraig Harrington

T11

 $           132,000 James Driscoll

T18

 $                75,600
This Week’s Total  $           792,000 This Week’s Total  $              151,200
Season Total  $      28,148,298 Season Total  $           5,853,917

This week’s battle was actually a lot closer than the final results might indicate.  Going into Sunday’s final round, Daughter’s darts had laid claim to two guys who were tied for 3rd place…Appleby and Driscoll.  Unfortunately for her, matching rounds of 72 saw them both plummet to 18th by day’s end.  But, for a while there, I was definitely feeling another generous portion of crow in the offing for Sunday dinner.

Congressional Country Club

Unlike the sponsor’s earlier (and more “prestigious”) PGA Tour stop of the year at Pebble Beach, we don’t have to tolerate hours upon hours of painful TV coverage of B and C-calibre “celebrities” sandbagging their way to victory on this event.

That, in itself, is something to celebrate this week; a professional golf tournament focused on professional golfers.  What a concept!

The AT&T National returns to the hallowed fairways of Congressional Country Club in Maryland this week…after a 2-year relocation to Aronimink Golf Club in Pennsylvania.  THE USGA used those two years to get Congressional championship-ready for the 2011 U.S. Open, in what would soon be known as Rory’s Revenge.

Congressional has been the site of many PGA Tour events over the years; The Kemper for several years, followed by The Booz Allen Classic.  In addition to the 2011 U.S. Open, it has also hosted 2 other National Championships, a Senior U.S Open and the PGA Championship. 

Congressional was re-added to the PGA Tour’s list of stops back in2007, when the newly-created AT&T National was introduced to replace the old “International” in Colorado with its goofy modified Stableford scoring system.  The International was not a tournament to watch for the hard of thinking!

Congressional is a course that is always spoken of in the most reverential way.  The players love it…love the history…and love coming to play here.

So then, who is likely to make history this week?

The AT&T National – Derek’s Picks

Hunter Mahan – Since this tournament hasn’t been held at Congressional for two years, the traditional “horses for courses” element to picking winners needs to be slightly modified…but not in a wacky, what were you drinking when you came up with that?, Stableford kind of way.  The recent wins (2010-2011) count for a bit less, since they were achieved at a different track.

And, of the three remaining years when the AT&T was played at Congressional, one golfer who has really distinguished himself as one of the very best, among the guys in this week’s field, is Hunter Mahan.

Over those three years, Mahan built up an impressive record of T7 (2007), T12 (2008) and 2nd (2009).

Other guys won in those years, obviously, but only one other name shows up as consistently and high as Mahan’s (and I’ll get to him next).

And remember, that was a different, much less accomplished Mahan.  Mahan 1.2 if you will.  The Mahan who will be stepping onto the course this week is the new-and-improved, Mahan version 2.0. 

With two wins under his belt so far this year, including a huge WGC event, Mahan should be full of confidence and on a mission to clean up some unfinished business at Congressional this week…and that unfinished business is getting a win here.  After last week’s T11 finish at the Traveler’s, I like his chances.

Jim Furyk – This is the only guy in the field who can legitimately say, “my record here is better than Mahan’s.”

During the three year stretch the AT&T National was hosted at Congressional, Furyk’s worst finish was T7 in 2009.  The previous two years he finished T3 each time!

Given that Furyk finally seems to have shaken off the FedEx Cup Champion’s curse, he’s a threat virtually every time he tees it up in a tournament…again.  And, when he strolls onto a course where he’s done so well in the past, he should be pretty deadly.

His recent T4 finish at the U.S. Open might not be the best source of inspiration, since he blew the lead on Sunday…but I think he’s enough of a pro to shake something like that off and come back breathing fire.  And the time to start snorting is right now!

Dustin Johnson – This pick really isn’t about past successes here, or running on a heater…it’s all about taking a guy with something to prove.

Johnson’s name was on a lot of people’s lips when U.S.  Open fantasy teams were being selected a few weeks ago…especially after registering a very convincing win the week before at The St. Jude Classic.  People couldn’t wait to jump on his bandwagon heading into The Olympic Course.

A smooth 75-74 later and he was sent packing two days early…mentally battered and bruised from his drubbing in San Francisco.  Of course, he had good company on the way out of town…with other pre-tourney favourites Luke Donald, Rory McIlroy, Bubba Watson and Louis Oosthuizen skulking out of town too.

Hmmm…can you actually “skulk” in a private Lear Jet?

So, I’m taking Johnson this week for no reason other than that he’s coming into this event with a little something to prove.   And, casting the carnage at the U.S. Open aside, he’s in pretty good form right now.

K.J. Choi – For some reason I have a good feeling about Harris English this week…and Jeff Overton too…but in the end I decided to go out on a bit of a limb and throw my support behind K.J.

The 2012 season has been largely unspectacular for a star the calibre of Choi.  He began well, finishing 5th at the season-launching Tournament of Champions…but he went down the crapper pretty fast after that. 

Missed cuts (3 of 13), a bunch of finishes deep in the 30s and 40s (7) and a mere two in the teens!  A very un-Choi season indeed!

Mok Choy?

Nope…wrong country.  Regardless, I’m taking Choi this week for two reasons.  First, the guy’s just too good to be in a slump like this much longer.  And second, he has some excellent results at this tournament…both on and off Congressional. 

Choi finished solo 2nd here last year.  Okay, not actually here, but at this tournament at Aronimink.  More importantly, he won the event here (and when I say here this time I mean here at Congressional) the first year the tournament debuted back in 2007.

I might live to regret giving the slot to him this week, but something in my guy tells me that Choi has a great chance of getting back in form at Congressional, where he can relive some past glories.

Then again, maybe it was that tainted meat I had for supper?

And now that I’ve blurted out my thoughts, here’s what daughter came up with downstairs…

D&D’s Picks (Daughter & Dartboard):

Matt Every

Beau Hossler

William McGirt

Chris Stroud

 

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

Cheers,

Derek

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derekaubrey

2 CommentsLeave a comment

  • Are you giving your daughter darts with straight tips, or spinning her around blindfolded before the toss? Hitting those four names is like scoring four “treble ones”.

    Keep up the great writing.

    • Ha…that’s pretty funny Sir John!

      I’ve made it a habit, NEVER to make any comments about daughter’s picks at the end of the article…ever since the week she stabbed some similarly lame-seeming names, I poked some cocky fun at them…and then she kicked my can all over the basement.

      I do see your point though…and don’t hold out much hope for her to earn much (any?) money in this week’s showdown.

      Thanks VERY much for reading…and for taking the time to write in. And thanks also for the kind words.

      Have a happy Canada Day weekend!

      Cheers,

      Derek

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