Divots and Divination…

Hello world…and welcome to the very first installment of “Poolside” on the brand new!

Each week in this column I’ll be taking a look at the upcoming PGA tournament and will do my best to read the “tee leaves” and make some intelligent suggestions on who might hoist the winner’s trophy.

First, I’d like to thank Robert and Jeff for inviting me to join their exciting new site and play along with all the golfing fun. I’ve always loved writing and am really looking forward to putting my feeble thoughts down on virtual paper every week.

I have to admit, I’m more than a little filled with trepidation about this weekly piece I’ve been asked to contribute. It’s not the writing so much…it’s the nature of the column that has me rekindling my nasty old childhood habit of fingernail chewing.

After all, think about what I’m being asked to do here for a minute. Every week I have to conjure up some kind of mental gymnastics routine, wade through piles of PGA Tour statistics, sift my way though a pile of sheep entrails and then predict who is going to win on the Tour that weekend! Right…piece of cake.

It’s one thing to do that as you’re sauntering down the 15th fairway kibitzing with a few friends, while thinking about who’s paying for the post-round beer…but believe me, it’s an entirely different matter when you know that your prognostications are going on the public record, for all to see and comment on (pardon my dangling participle!)

I’ve been mentally thickening my skin for days to prepare for the onslaught of ridicule my predictions are likely to inspire from the readers of this column. So I’ll ask the both of you now, as a personal favour, to please be gentle with me!

And, just to make sure I stay firmly grounded as I make my weekly picks, I’ve added a bit of a humbling twist to this column. I’m introducing a counterpart, known as “D&D,” who will also provide a matching set of picks each week to compete against my own.

Before you start conjuring up images of some long-haired hold-back from the 80’s, dressed in wizard’s robes and holding court in his mother’s basement, surrounded by an assortment of geeks and freaks, I’d like to shed some light on the real identity of “D&D.” I’ve dragooned my non-golfing daughter to help out each week by tossing 4 darts at my pool sheet. I suppose it’s also worth mentioning that my daughter doesn’t play darts either…and I wear a helmet during this process.  

And so, for our purposes in Poolside, “D&D” means “Daughter & Dartboard.”

After seeing where her 4 first missiles landed this morning, I think that introducing this prognosticating foil of mine should keep me from getting too impressed with myself (as if my questionable picks won’t do that for me already!) When I saw what she came up with in her 4 casual tosses, I suddenly wanted to swap selections with her!

The 8 seconds it took her to make her picks also made me question the wisdom of investing hours of my time studying and wringing my hands over my selections every week. Kids have a habit of somehow doing that to their parents, don’t they?

Okay…enough delay then…let’s get on with this week’s picks for your fantasy golf pool.

The Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial

Jason Day. I can already hear the groans. How can this guy come out of the gate and possibly suggest, with a straight face, that a first-time winner can score his second PGA win the very next week? It’s lunacy!

But, before you close this window and check out your Facebook account for the 5th time today, consider this: I think it was much more likely that Day would have registered his first Tour victory this week at Colonial, rather than hoisting the trophy last weekend at the Byron Nelson.

In 2009, he came that [ ] close to winning, by shooting three consecutive rounds of 65 and then capping off his performance with a very strong 69 on Sunday. His -16 total put him just one stroke shy of entering the playoff that was eventually won by Steve Stricker. And if that, coupled with his surprising win last week, doesn’t give him happy thoughts about his chances for his second PGA win, then nothing will.

The only question is, how has he handled his sudden fame and fortune and can he get his head back into championship form for Hogan’s Alley? Time will tell…but I think he actually has a very good shot at a follow-up.

Tim Clark. Now that I’ve introduced you to the fringes of insanity, here’s a pretty safe pick, and one which should engender far less ridicule. That’s assuming of course that anyone is still reading at this point.

The one thing you need at Colonial is the ability to keep the ball in play and shoot for targets off the tee. So far this year, no one has done that better than Tim Clark, who leads the PGA Tour in Driving Accuracy with a stellar 74.37%.

Like Jason Day, the wee South African should also be filled with nothing but positive mental mojo when he steps on the first tee at Colonial. After all, he did finish last year’s regulation play in a 3-way tie for top spot.

Add his accuracy and love of playing Colonial to the fact that Clark is an absolutely fearless bulldog when he gets in the hunt and I really like his chances this weekend in Texas.

Steve Stricker. Stricker has been written off by a lot of people who think he’s been off his game recently. Compared to his amazing start to the 2009 season, that might be true, but it would be very tough to have come out of the gates the way he did last year. And remember, he has already racked up 4 top 10 finishes this season, including a win at the Northern Trust Open…so he’s not exactly wallowing in mediocrity.

He’s also third on the PGA Tour in Scrambling, which is a vital skill to have if you’re going to gut it out for 4 days at Colonial and have a hope of putting on one of those gawd-awful tartan jackets.

Stricker won this event last year in a 3-man playoff against Steve Marino and Tim Clark and it just feels to me like he’s going to be riding a lot of happy memories when he and his caddy crack open their yardage book and see the way they dismantled Colonial last year. They have the recipe for success right in their hands. Now it’s just a matter of staying with the script and executing it one more time.

Mike Weir. Yup…I know…it’s been a disappointing start for Mike this season. I also know that he hasn’t exactly draped himself in glory in recent years at this tourney either.

But, this IS the debut of and I think it would be unpatriotic of me not to pick a frost-bitten Canadian boy to place well in the event.   And Mike’s my man.  

Partisanship and silly rationale aside, to me it just feels like Weir is long overdue for something great to happen and it’s more than possible that it could happen this week.

I also think that the lousy weather that has been assaulting Texas the past 2 weekends might be a pro-Weir factor, if it persists. Remember, he won the Masters the year Augusta was under water and if the skies open up over Texas yet again, a great mudder like Mike has the tools to do the job.

And now, to challenge my picks and bring me solidly back to reality:

“D&D” (Daughter & Dartboard)

  • Bo Van Pelt
  • Ben Crane
  • Vijay Singh
  • Ricky Barnes

See what I mean??? Four careless lobs at the dartboard and I feel like I’m already trying to play catch up with the little ingrate!

We’ll compare our picks in next’s week’s issue and see who fared better. Meanwhile I’m developing the distinct feeling that I’ve set myself up for a season full of taunting around the dinner table at home.

One final note before I wrap it up this week. And this really should go without saying…

In case my rambling and picks haven’t already convinced you that I don’t know what I’m talking about, I want to make it absolutely clear that everything I’ve predicted should be taken with a grain of salt so big it would cripple Atlas.

I figure my odds of actually picking a winner on any given week are only slightly greater than my odds of being inducted into the hall of fame (of anything). My son the math wiz would be quick to point out that they’re not quite that dismal; only 1 in 36 (4 out of a field of 144).

It’s so tiresome to be corrected by a teenager isn’t it…even when they’re only doing it in your imagination.

Keep in mind that if I were really some kind of pool-picking genius I’d be sitting on a beach somewhere, surrounded by bikini-clad super models and enjoying the vast fortune I’d made from taking William Hill and Ladbrokes to the cleaners each week.

If you’re silly enough to use my weekly gibbering to make bets with your  hard-earned money, then you’re the one responsible for eating Kraft Dinner for the rest of the month…not me! I just walk around, cleverly disguised as a fully-functioning adult and shouldn’t be taken seriously.

‘til next time.



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6 CommentsLeave a comment

  • Not going out on a huge limb this week, but I like Phil this week. He obviously has a hate on for Tiger and this is the week he can take over #1.

  • David;

    Thanks VERY much for contributing the very first comment on my new article.

    I admit I gave Mickelson a LOT of thought when I was putting my list together, but I decided against taking him in the end.

    There are 2 Phils that can show up at a golf tourney: the Phil that carefully plots his way around the golf course to ensure the win…and Evil Phil, who wants to win AND prove something at the same time.

    He’s the Phil that starts trying to hit hero shots around trees, under scoreboards and off garbage can lids. You know, the one who handed the US Open to Geoff Ogilvy.

    We haven’t seen him emerge too often lately, but I figured with the chance to take #1 away from Woods this weekend, there was a greater possibility that Evil Phil would strap on the spikes at some point and would take himself out of contention.

    Thanks again for your comment. I hope you enjoy the column!



  • Little late, but I bet on Casey, Choi, Na and Johnson. All of them have been playing well and I try to stay away from the name players. William Hill, who you mentioned earlier, are my bookmakers and they have a tendancy to keep the odds low on the leading boys. I always bet each way and that means that if one of the players finish in the top five I get a quarter of the odds. So Na at 50-1 would return 12.5-1 if in the top five. Ten dollars each way means my outlay this week was $80.00, do if Na is in the top five I get $125.00 as a win and my original bet of $10.00 back. Will wait to see what happens. By the way, good start to your column.

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