Dubious Picks…and Mrs. Doubtfire!

They say that we are all products of our environment.

“They,” of course, are the sociologists, psychologists and anthropologists who walk in our midst.

In fact, if you find yourself at a party, standing at the bar or the snack table, cornered by a practitioner of one of these professions, they’ll be more than happy to explain to you, ad infinitum, how our environment molds who we are.  And with each passing second, you desperately attempt to reach for more vitamin rum and fight to remain conscious and avoid face-planting in the salsa.

Meet my environment.

Since you don’t really know anything about me, other than the (probably unfavourable) conclusions you may have reached so far by reading this column, I introduce this character now merely to shed a little light on who I am…and why.

This picture, perhaps more than any other I could dredge out of the voluminous Aubrey Archives, sums up my environment to a tee. 

He’s one of my all-time favourite golf partners.  And if he were ever to encounter you by the bar or the snack table (both extremely likely venues) you would be held in thrall for every second.  He’d regale you with an inexhaustible stream of consciousness…a masterfully told joke, the latest results of his extensive search for the “perfect breakfast merlot,” a gut-bustingly hilarious blow-by-blow description of the last time he, or someone else in our inner circle, “went sideways.” 

He’s a man who lives to laugh…and to pull uncontrollable laughter out of others alongside him.  And somehow, between all the outrageous comments, spontaneous giggles and farting during his downswing, he manages to defy the laws of gravity, physics and modern sports medicine to shoot a smooth 77 or 78.

And back in the real world, when he exits the telephone booth and resumes the secret identity he’s chosen to wear, would it surprise you to know that he’s a well-respected, successful corporate leader…and a pillar of his community? He’s smarter and more accomplished than me by several orders of magnitude…not that I’ve set the bar terribly high with that comparison.

But it’s not his intelligence or success that draws me and my friends to him.  Quite the contrary.  It’s how he makes us feel.  How he lives life to the fullest and makes sure everyone within his considerable gravitational pull enjoys every second of the journey with him.  He’s the planet Jupiter, made out of a Whoopie cushion.

You thought I was going to use my environment as some kind of excuse for my prognosticating performance?  Not a chance!  I merely wanted to underscore the entire premise that drives this article: Golf is a game…enjoy it.  Picking winners is a game.  And at the end of the day, life is a game too.  Surround yourself with people who make you happy and squeeze every last drop of fun out of the experience you possibly can.

I’m perfectly aware that there are thousands of other places where you can expose yourself to the expert selections of serious golf punters who have MUCH more knowledge and far better success ratios than me. If you want cut-and-dried (and dry) statistical analysis you already know where to find it. 

If, on the other hand, I can spread just a tiny bit of my friend’s infectious attitude toward golf and life…and put a smile on your face for a few seconds, to make your day a little more enjoyable…I consider that a greater success than choosing a winner from the field. 

Right then…I guess it’s time to finally delve into the purpose of this week’s article and start talking about golf pool selections (segues ‘r us).  Before revealing the fearless forecast for this week’s AT&T National, here are the results from last week’s prognostications for the Travelers Championship:

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

Hunter Mahan CUT   Jeff Gove CUT  
Bryce Molder 73  $      11,640 John Huston CUT  
Ryan Moore T13  $      99,750 Paul Stankowski T34  $         29,025
Ben Curtis T13  $      99,750 Roland Thatcher CUT  
This Week’s Total    $    211,140 This Week’s Total    $         29,025
Season Total    $ 1,806,343 Season Total    $    1,976,231

Yes, the gap is shrinking…but I’m still being thumped by someone who knows next to nothing about golf…and takes an average of 1.7 throws per dart, before actually hitting the paper (I’ll pay for that!).  I can hear my friend giggling and reaching to uncork a bottle of Mike Weir’s latest Merlot now.

Pass the Fruit Loops.

The AT&T National – Derek’s Picks

Ricky Barnes.  His remarkable 2010 stats tell the story more adequately than I can.  Exactly 33.3% of the time he’s teed up a ball at a golf tournament this year, he’s finished in the top 10.  He doesn’t have any kind of gloried past at this particular golf tournament to help build my case, but the fact of the matter is he’s on a roll…and he’s more than capable of rolling over the majority of the field this week in Pennsylvania. 

 Given the way he’s been playing, that he hasn’t actually scored a win on the Tour this year is surprising to me…and this might just be the week where he rectifies that situation. 

Robert Allenby.  Now here’s a guy who does have a pretty glorious history at this particular event…and in many more tourneys to boot.

He’s registered two top 6 finishes in the past three years at this tournament and even though his 2010 season has been a bit of a roller coaster ride so far, by his very high standards, I have to believe that it’s just a matter of time before this guy seals the deal and hoists another trophy. There’s a better than average chance that Aronimink Golf Club might provide the setting for his return to the winner’s circle.  

Stuart Appleby.  If Allenby’s 2010 has been a roller coaster ride, then fellow countryman Appleby’s campaign so far this season has been a painfully slow crawl around the circle on a kiddy train at the local carnival.

I know, I know…he’s made the cut in fewer than 50% of the tournaments he’s played so far this year…and he’s only finished in the top 10 twice.  BUT, Appleby is just too good and too diligent not to turn things around soon and start racking up much better performances on Tour. 

 He strung together four very good rounds last week and finished just 6 strokes off the lead.  That just might provide the impetus for him to do even better this week.  Just don’t ask him to pronounce Aronimink in his acceptance speech, because you probably wouldn’t understand what he says. 

Scott Verplank.  Finishing in a 3-way tie for the lead at the Travelers Championship, I think the man with the insulin pump can build on his oh-so-close performance and turn this week into a winner.

With three top 10 finishes in 14 starts, his season has been one that a ton of Tour players would eagerly trade for.  On his own scale, he’s probably only moderately happy with the way he’s played so far…and I’ll bet he has a big fire stoked up in his belly after just missing out to Bubba Watson last weekend. 

To me, he’s the guy that always seems to sneak up on the lead, flying below the radar to catch everyone off guard.  Given his most recent showing, I think there’s a good chance that he’ll be a great big blip on everyone’s radar this weekend in Pennsylvania.  

And now, with my forecasting complete, let’s see what happened when those darts finally struck the paper:

D&D (Daughter & Dartboard) 

  • Michael Allen
  • Jim Furyk
  • Marc Leishman
  • Tim Petrovic

And that’s it for this week folks.  Go out and make someone laugh!



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