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Let The Puckering Begin!

Everyone who is old enough remembers exactly where they were when JFK was shot…or when the Shuttle Challenger exploded…or when the first win tower came tumbling down.

I suspect everyone will remember where they were when this latest earth-shattering news happened this week, too.

For me, it’s a day I’ll certainly never forget…

I had started the day taking some classes at Brescia University College back in London, had just wrapped up a brisk 20-minute workout at Curves, and then was pulling onto the 401 to head for Women’s College Hospital in Toronto for my very first prostate exam when I heard the news.

Augusta National Golf Course had just admitted Condoleezza Rice as their first female member! 

(Yes, I know they let one other chick in too…but no one has ever heard of her, as she doesn’t make the story any more interesting that Rice does all by herself)

Naturally, I immediately pulled my 1996 Honda off to the side of the road, yanked out my cell phone and placed an urgent call to Augusta National Chairman Billy Paine to withdraw my application for membership…which was bound to have been accepted any day now. 

I then placed a call to Chairman Emeritus Hootie Johnson, to see if he could still breathe and actually possessed a traceable pulse.

Based on the busy signals I got for the next 18 hours, apparently I wasn’t the only one trying to call through to the club.

Seriously though, I know there will be a lot of people saying “it’s about time.”  And I’m fairly certain that our own senior scribe Robert Thompson will be one of them.  But I have to admit that this announcement made me more than just a little sad.

And before you start dragging out examples from the really bad old days, NO I absolutely do not support a club or organization that discriminates, based on colour or religion or ethnicity.  Those are barriers that really never should have existed in the first place…and shame on all those racist places that did enforce them (Augusta included, of course).

But in my books, gender-specific clubs are an entirely different matter.  And, if you don’t like a club, because they are for men only (or women only, for that matter), then your solution is clear; don’t join if it conflicts with your beliefs.

Would you launch a boycott against a synagogue because they ignored your insistence that they start celebrating Christmas to make you feel more welcome and consider becoming a Jew?

Honestly, is it really so unreasonable for a club to be just for men?  Is a collection of men (and only men), gathering together to enjoy a favourite sport inherently evil in some way?

The people at Curves and Brescia University College and Women’s Hospital certainly don’t seem to think so, when they flip the genitalia differences over to their benefit…and restrict access to fitness, business, education and health care. 

So why then is it such a damned evil thing when a bunch of guys just want to be around only other guys for a round of golf, a bite to eat and a few drinks?

If you’ve read this column before, then I would hope by now you’d know that I’m probably the last guy on the planet who would ever champion the cause of the rich, arrogant, self-important, morally bankrupt bastards at Augusta National, on virtually every other issue.  

But in this case, I think what happened there this week is more than a little sad.  It’s wrong…and it’s the by-product of a very one-sided argument that apparently doesn’t bear criticism when it works in reverse.

And Speaking of Unimaginable Wealth…

“New Car, caviar, four-star daydream

Think I’ll buy me a football team…”

Welcome to the FedEx Cup Playoff season folks!  Big bucks, big pressure, big chokes, big disappointments, big golf entertainment!!! 

Ten million bucks to the overall winner, plus whatever table scraps they pick up along the way in the four playoff tournaments…each worth about a million and a half bucks.

Of course, when Pink Floyd wrote their song “Money” back in 1973, you could actually buy a football team for $10 million.  These days you probably couldn’t even buy one of Cristiano Ronaldo’s houses for that much cash. 

Yessireebob…those were the good old days, when ten million bucks was actually worth something!

But before I continue to wax poetic on the playoffs, there’s some unreported business to cover first; last week’s Wyndham Championship.

Going into this tournament, I think I had the same attitude toward the Wyndham as most of you reading this did; who cares?  Coming hot off the heels of a Major, and jammed one week before the start of the Playoffs, it is perhaps the most anticlimactic tournament in the PGA golf season. 

The only drama it contains is for the guys struggling to get into the playoffs…or to earn some points to keep their Tour card next year.  The rest is a bit of a snore-fest.

Put another way, the Wyndham is to golf tournaments as Ant Man is to superheroes. 

Really?  Shrinking to the size of an ant is a super power???  Hell, I can pull that one off after a brisk swim in sub75-degree water!

And then something funny happened on the way to the forum…a guy I really root for won the damned Wyndham.  And all of a sudden, the tournament actually mattered a little bit to me!

Wasn’t it great to see Sergio finally (FINALLY!) rack up another win on the PGA Tour?  And damn! it was great to see him having some fun and smiling that Sergio smile again too, wasn’t it?  We’ve missed you El Niňo.  Welcome back man.

To be completely honest though, the Wyndham actually captured my attention earlier than seeing Sergio lift the trophy on Monday. 

Toward the end of play on Day #1, ALL four of my picks for the week were in the Top 3.  Pettersson lead the charge with his tournament-leading 62…and Simpson, Gainey and Cauley were hot on his heels with rounds of 66.  Schwing!

If only this were an 18-hole tournament, I would have instantly secured my place in the Fantasy Golf Writer’s Hall of Fame. 

I can see it now; my name and carnival freak-show face immortalized forever in the opulent Hall of Fame mobile trailer in picturesque Frozen Groin Montana.  And that doesn’t even compare to the lustre of the lifetime supply of donuts that goes along with the honour (who wants another jelly?)

Sadly, despite 6 “anonymous” phone calls to North Carolina, and considerable begging on my part, the stuffed-shirt tournament organizers decided to stick to their original game plan and drag this thing out to the full 72 holes. 

In fact, they were so adamant, they wouldn’t even budge on their decision when the course was under so much water that Captain Nemo and the Nautilus passed through the 16th fairway on Sunday morning.

And so, there went my bid for the Hall of Fame and all those delicious sinkers…as I watched half my guys sinking off the first page of the leaderboard…and the second…and the third…

Results – The Wyndham Championship

Derek’s Picks D&D (Daughter & Dartboard)
Bud Cauley

3

 $      353,600 Jason Bohn

CUT

Webb Simpson

T22

 $        48,273 Jamie Donaldson

T50

 $          12,542
Carl Pettersson

T4

 $      214,933 Matt Every

T14

 $          88,400
Tommy Gainey

T50

 $        12,542 Nick O’Hern

T46

 $          14,742
This Week’s Total  $      629,348 This Week’s Total  $        115,684
Season Total  $  33,288,888 Season Total  $      8,023,829

Can anyone spare an Apple Fritter?

The Barclays

Oh right, that Playoff thing again.

Now that the “official” Majors are done for the season, these next 4 tournaments are as close as we’re going to get to a fifth (sixth, seventh and eighth) until Augusta next spring.

You already know what’s at stake here, so I won’t spend any more time this week beating that dead, solid gold horse.

And just like making forecasts in the Majors this year, trying to pick some winners in the Playoffs is going to be incredibly tough.  The way this season has unfolded, almost every superstar golfer you’d want on your team has at least one win…and several have two…or more.

It’s the season-long conundrum I’ve been facing in every BIG tournament; who do I keep and who do I dump? 

Keeping in mind that the superstar you dump is probably just as likely to win as the superstar you decide to keep, and there are suddenly few right answers…and few wrong ones.  That is, until after the tournament is over. 

Monday morning quarterbacking and post-tournament handicapping (“yeah I knew he’d win”) are the easiest pastimes in the world.

And, to make matters even more difficult for me this week, my daughter went on a sudden tear on the dartboard and put together her very own golfing version of the Fantastic Four. 

Four guys I would have short-listed for my team (at the very least) were suddenly yanked from trembling, clutching grasp.  If you listen very carefully hear, you might actually be able to hear me weeping on my keyboard a little bit. 

The fact that she has absolutely no idea who any of these guys are, only makes the whole situation that much more difficult to swallow.

So, since I mentioned it, let’s mix things up a bit from our normal format, reverse the order on the “revelations” and show you my daughter’s team first…

D&D’s Picks (Daughter & Dartboard):

Rory McIlroy

Charl Schwartzel

Vijay Singh

Nick Watney

Told you!  Yup…that’s gonna leave a mark for a while.

The Barclays – Derek’s Picks

Another tricky part in picking a winner this week is that I can’t rely on the “horses for courses” strategy I like to factor into each week’s picks.  Are there some players who seem to have an affinity for playing some courses 

Like a Major (and some former girlfriends), this tournament gets around. 

This year the Barclays will be played at Bethpage Black.  And we haven’t seen that particular track since the legendary duel between Hefty and Eldrick at the US Open in 2002…and Lucas Glover’s US Open win back in 2009.

Admit it; you completely forgot that Lucas Glover was a Major Champion didn’t you?

So, since the horses for courses info is too sporadic and stale to be reliable, we’ll just have to muddle through making some picks using another method.  And that method this week will be mud wrestling! 

While I was writing that last paragraph I bet a LOT of you opened up a second browser window to check and see if Lucas Glover actually did win the US Open in 2009.  Gotcha!

Matt Kuchar – When he finally got his mojo back and started becoming a force on the PGA Tour once again, they called calling him Mr. September, or Mr. October or Mr. Frozen Concentrated Orange Juice, or something like that.

And he earned the nickname well, whatever the hell it was…based on how he excelled in the PGA Playoffs.

For the past two seasons, regardless of the venue, Kuchar has been a force to be reckoned with when the FedEx Cup is on the line.  And he usually gets off to a strong start at the Barclays, no matter where it is.

Second place last year.  Won in a playoff the year before that. 

When the big Fed Ex money is on the line, Kuchar seems to bring his big game to meet the challenge.  I like his chances this week.

(If you didn’t do it before I mentioned it the second time, I bet you really did go off and look up “Glover 2009 US Open” before you got this far, didn’t you?)

Steve Stricker – Here’s another guy who absolutely “brings it” when the Playoffs arrive.

He finished T3 in 2010, T2 in 2009, T19 in ’08, won it in 2007.  Last year’s T24 is the only real blemish on his Barclays record…if you could even call it that.

Hmmm…maybe Stricker was the guy they were calling Mr. September, or Mr. October or whatever?

Either way, given the way he plays in the Playoffs, I think he’s a pretty solid choice this week in Long island (don’t forget to pronounce the “g” in “Long” if you want to fit in).

Dustin Johnson – Johnson is coming off a fairly craptacular T48 finish at the PGA Championship…and a T19 at the WGC Bridgestone in his last two appearances.  That’s probably not very inspiring stuff right?

But remember, he also won the St. Jude (sponsored by FedEx coincidentally) and has top 10s this season at Pebble Beach, Phoenix, the WGC Match Play and The Open Championship.

 Johnson tends to bring it, when the stakes are big, despite the way he played at the PGA.

He also seems to bring his A Game to the Barclays. He won this event last year, finished T9 in 2010 and T15 in 2009…in just his second year on Tour.

And because of that, I think the big hitter could be in for a big week on the big bad Black Course.

Adam Scott – A lot of people thought he might have been gutted and thoroughly broken following his heart-breaking collapse on the final 4 holes at Royal Lytham and St. Annes.  Thankfully, that wasn’t the case, as Scott, finished T11 in the very next Major; The PGA Championship.

Please disregard the T45 at the WGC Bridgestone in between.  It was too soon for the scars to have healed for him really to contend in that one.

Okay, I’m a bit of a hopeless romantic I guess.  I picked Pettersson last week because I thought the golf gods owed him one after the PGA.  (I just forgot that the same golf gods owed Sergio an even bigger one).

I like Scott this week for that same reason…a win here gives him a perfect stage to earn some redemption for The Open.

And you know what, it’s been exactly that kind of season hasn’t it, Pinnochio?

Fin 

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.

Cheers,

Derek

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derekaubrey

13 CommentsLeave a comment

  • Love the column. I am the other guy that faithfully reads it every week and for good reason. It’s the best read on this site and pretty much anywhere golf is written.

    I do have a comment on Augusta. Augusta National is not a men’s club. It is a power club. It happened to be men only, white men only, back in the day when only white men had financial and political power. The colour barrier came down for them quite some time ago and now, finally, the gender barrier is gone too. Augusta has not changed in any way, only the demographics of their desired membership. The brain trust at Augusta knows this and they are responding. They are still super elitist a$$hats they have always been.

    • Great to hear from you Svenny. As always, thanks for reading…and for taking the time to write in

      I’m fully on board with your description of the Augusta crowd. That was the one thing I disliked about the issue and how it’s unfolded; that it created a situation where it actually appeared that I might be sympathetic to them. I can’t say that I know who all the members are, but the ones that I do know about are generally repulsive old white bastards who deserve no sympathy…and pretty much zero respect.

      Without trying to put a political spin on it, the place reminds me of a private Mitt Romney fundraiser.

      Here’s a question for you; how much do you think Condoleezza Rice’s Augusta membership cost? Not how much did it cost her…but how much did the wankers at Augusta have to pay HER to become their first token female???

      I think it’s probably 50-50 at best that she even plays golf…and about 20% that she’ll ever visit the club more than a handful of times in her entire life.

      Thanks again for writing.

      cheers,

      Derek

  • One thing differentiates Augusta from other all male clubs. It has taking the position almost a third governing body in the world of golf. If the club is going to make statements about growing the game it must be inclusive of all genders.

    • Thanks very much for writing Brian.

      I appreciate your point, but I’m not sure if I would say that Augusta is a defacto “third governing body” for the game. How so?

      The only thing they influence, as far as I can tell, is their absolutely draconiam control over the TV networks and how coverage of the event is presented. To this day Gary McCord still can’t appear on a Masters telecast…just because he joked that the greens were so fast he thought they’ve been bikini-waxed…and then followed the gag up a few hours later by saying they were faster than a Puerto Rican pickpocket. That must have been ten years ago!

      And you can bet your ass that they probably have a full team of “Augusta moral police” listening to every syllable David Feherty utters…and straining to catch any wayward farting noises…waiting to give him the boot too. (I’d love to be in the prep meetings when the CBS honchos read Feherty the riot act).

      But I really can’t think of any ways they’ve influenced the rules of golf like a governing body would? And as to them “growing the game,” there is NO growth at Augusta National, other than flora and fauna. The rest of the joint is moral decay and rot.

      It’s entirely possibly I’m missing something here, so help me out please. How are they like a 3rd governing body?

      Thanks again for writing in…and for checking out my column. I appreciate both very much.

      Cheers,

      Derek

    • Thanks Jeff. HUGE fan of the group here too…second only to Rush for me.

      I was lucky enough to meet the guys in Floyd a bunch of years ago. And they were just as humble and down-to-earth and pleasant as you probably hoped they would be. (Not trying to impress by name-dropping here…just thought you’d like to have your admiration for them confirmed one more notch. It’s not just their incredible music that is worth admiring)

      Thanks for reading and taking the time to write in…and shine on you crazy diamond!

      Cheeers,

      Derek

    • Derek, thanks for the reply back. I do have something else to say on the matter.

      FWIW, I only know 3 people who have played Augusta as guests. 2 of the 3 are women. The club is quite open in that regard. That said I have been to Augusta and I find the whole thing totally morally disgusting. The city is endless crushing poverty on a scale you have to see to believe. And the city actually stinks, the air is foul. I love the South. The wonderful history, the food, the manners, the people, the food (worth saying twice). We go down south every year. I could not wait to leave Augusta and could not get out of there fast enough. Will never go back even if offered free tickets to The Masters. I am not kidding. You would think that the billions upon billions in combined membership wealth would lift their effing eyes and help these folks out. Shame on them all. Condy and Darla included. I found writing my little bit on your blog to be a little cathartic. I hope others will comment back.

      • That’s some great insight Svenny. Thanks very much for sharing it with us.

        I had heard that the area immediately surrounding Augusta National was one of extreme poverty, but hearing a first-hand account really puts an exclamation point on it and paints a vivid picture of the situation.

        It goes without saying that the pictures we see, after the players have driven down “Magnolia Drive,” give us an artificial impression of what Augusta is really like. To watch the CBS coverage every year, you’d think that Augusta was one of the most beautiful places on earth. Based on your description, it sounds more like the course is a rose petal, floating in a sea of sewage.

  • OK, Derek. D & D wins bigtime, no? But you did get Dustin in the mix. And how about GDL (sleeper pick on the PGA site) and DH? Good weekend for Canadian golf, I’d say.

    • Yes, there was a little celebrating at the old man’s expense last night THB…and I couldn’t have been happier for her and her dastardly darts.

      Getting whacked by a 3:1 ratio though, leaves quite a nasty wound. The “expert” being trounced by random chance! (By the way, this was her second win of the season, which is pretty remarkable).

      All in all, it was a great weekend for Canadian Golf. Hearn and DeLaet both did us proud…and that 15 year-old girl who won the Canadian Open has established herself as one of THE biggest stories in golf…not just women’s golf. Maybe the biggest?

      The only thing that could have made the weekend even better would have been a Sergio win. Even thought I didn’t pick him, damn…I was cheering him on as hard as I could.

      Thanks for writing in!

      Cheers,

      Derek

    • I have to agree man, although there will be many who will refuse to because “it’s only women’s golf.”

      Lydia Ko is an amazing story; a 15 year-old amateur, with 4 huge wins in a year…including two professional tournaments (she won the first when she was still 14). And one of those, for all intents and purposes, is really a Major; our own Canadian Open.

      There’s a young girl who lives not far from where I’m living now who you should keep an eye on; young Brooke Henderson, from Smiths Falls. She’s still 14 years old…and is racking up a hugely impressive CV. Check her out.

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