Olé, Olé…Olé, Olé…

For those of you who have been following my exploits and ramblings on Canadian Golfer these past few months, you’ve likely come to understand that it’s a rare occasion indeed that I’m at a loss for words.  (I do seem to love the sound of my own typing!)

Watching the finale of the Ryder Cup on Monday night, I was not only wordless, but breathless too.  Literally!  And turning bluer by the second waiting for the drama to unfold.

My enjoyment of the climax of the big event had to wait until Monday night, because I lacked the clairvoyance to imagine that the event wouldn’t finish on schedule.  Probably not a great thing for me to admit, since I’m supposed to be the expert golf results forecaster here.  Then again, the organizers have to shoulder at least a little of the blame, don’t you think?  I mean, really…who wouldn’t expect weather problems in October…in Wales? 

So, blissfully ignorant of the possibility of a delayed finish, I had booked a very important Monday appointment with a Marketing and Advertising client of mine located out of town.  Thanking the Great Pumpkin for the invention of PVR’s, I stoically set mine up to record all the action at the crack of 4am…hoping the entire time that the schedule on the digital channel menu wouldn’t magically update the listings and change from 8 one-hour episodes of “Sports Centre” to one eight-hour episode of the “Ryder Cup,” and that the infernal machine wouldn’t be tricked into not taping!

Having successfully managed to get the program taping, the next huge obstacle to overcome, naturally, was staying ignorant for the whole day.  Or should I play up to the  low opinion you’ve formed of me and say “even more ignorant than normal?”

This might seem like a really easy thing to do, but trust me, it’s not.  Sure, it’s painfully simple to throw on a tape or a CD in the car, rather than listening to the radio, BUT the real challenge lies in not accidentally stumbling across blaring media in unavoidable places (the all-news TV channel in my client’s reception area was a real obstacle to overcome!) and dodging the random word-mugging of enthusiasts who already know the results and just can’t wait to tell anyone and everyone within blurting range.

I speak from painful experience here…having had more than one eagerly anticipated date with a pre-taped event completely devastated by some loose-lipped blatherskite barging into a room and blurting “HEY HOW ABOUT…(fill in dramatic conclusion here)” before I could even form the words “don’t tell me anything about…”

And so I had to tread extremely carefully through my busy day, desperately trying to dodge any and all potential references to the event.  Humming loudly, fingers in ears, studiously avoiding all plasma screens I encountered.  If nothing else, it created some interesting conversations and made me a little more memorable to the people I ran into along the way.

“Hi, I’d like an extra large double-double, two old-fashioned plain donuts and please for the love of all that’s good in your soul, don’t tell me ANYTHING about the Ryder Cup, okay?”   

“Uuuuuuhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh…okaaaaaaaaaaaayyyyyyyyyyyy…sir.  That’ll be $3.41, please pull up to the window.”  (I could almost imagine her, waving all her friends and co-workers over to the drive through window, to see the moron driving up with the bib and helmet on.)

Believe it or not, I’ve even found that this direct, simple, seemingly fool-proof approach is not without its’ inherent dangers or drawbacks.  You see, I’ve found that there’s an alarmingly high percentage of people walking among us, who are thinly disguised as functional, sentient beings, who interpret this kind of plea as an invitation to immediately tell you exactly what you just said you didn’t want to know!!! 

Me: “Hi how are you .  Please don’ tell me about (Big Event), I’m taping it”

Them:  “Oh wasn’t it amazing!?!?!?  I just couldn’t believe that X happened!”

Apparently, on the very rare occasions when I form these desperate requests, I’ve developed a nasty habit of slipping into Serbo-Croatian, Zulu, Icelandic or some other rare foreign language I wasn’t aware that I spoke…and which is indecipherable to everyone else.

I’m glad to report that I made my way through the entire morning, deftly dodging information bullets like Neo facing down a hall full of Agent Smiths.  I only had one more potential obstacle to overcome…my evil friends.

Since we haven’t seen each other in a long time, I called up my best friend Svenny, who just happened to work in the same town as my big meeting…and arranged to get together with him for some lunch and a few way overdue laughs. 

Naturally, he picked a sports bar.

No problem…I would simply go into a zen-like trance and block our all external sounds… concentrating on nothing but the sound of his voice for the entire duration of our meal…religiously avoiding the temptation to glance at the 7 million TV screens in the joint.  Piece of cake.

Then, as soon as he arrived and got settled into the booth, I told him right away, “please don’t tell me about ANYTHING to do with today’s matches.”  Friday, Saturday and Sunday action was completely on the table for discussion…but nothing from Monday.

Of course, giving a friend this kind of information is like giving them the nuclear launch codes.  Especially my friends…who have been on the receiving end of far too many of my stupid practical jokes and juvenile, demon rum-induced antics, not to welcome an opportunity for some painfully easy payback, served up voluntarily by the victim on a silver platter. 

The nanosecond the words left my mouth, I swear Svenny’s face morphed into a vision of pure evil personified.  I watched in horror as horns began sprouting from his skull, eyebrows arched deep into his receding hairline, a twisted, pensive grin spread across his face that could stop clocks and cardiac activity.  If I’d had the nerve at that point to look under the table, I’m sure I would have seen him petting an Angola cat with his forked tail, while his patent leather shoes split apart to reveal a pair of oversized cloven hooves.

Several uncomfortable moments passed as Svenny chewed over this valuable nugget of information.  Before emigrating to Wales, my ancestors must have spent some time on Krypton, because I suddenly developed X-ray vision…and could actually see the cogs spinning and churning in his head.  The pendulum tipping precariously back and forth, weighing the pros and cons, measuring my threshold for pain against his desire for a quick sadistic fix…and posing the question to himself, “do I , or don’t I?”

And in the end…he drawled that one simple word that literally made my month, “Ooooookay.”

I was so happy I could have bought him a car right on the spot.

Fast forward several hours…a painfully long drive home and many heart-stopping moments in front of the TV watching every second of the action and I finally got to catch up to “real time” and share the exuberation (or pain) every other golf fan had been enjoying all day.  And it was more than worth every uncomfortable second and goofy conversation I had to endure to get there.

What a battle!  What a finish!  What a tremendous display of talent and guts and nerve and pure determination on both sides of the equation!  The 2010 Ryder Cup was a 30-hour, “greatest, most pressure-packed golf shots ever made” highlight reel.

I groaned, I cheered, I laughed, I yelled.  I pounded my fist into the chair in frustration, pumped it in celebration, jumped to my feet, fell to the floor, whooped like a hillbilly and held my breath until I could see spots.  I watched through narrowly spaced fingers as McDowell drained his putt on 16…my heart pounding harder than any cardio workout could ever accomplish.  Minutes later, that same heart literally broke for poor Hunter Mahan as he turned into me for a split second and flubbed his chip into 17.  Regardless of who you were cheering for (and I freely admit to being an avid, almost rabid Euro supporter), the poor bugger just didn’t deserve that.

If I didn’t feel so sheepish about doing it, I’d dig into the Rush well one more time and throw the cover of their album “Grace Under Pressure” on this blog…a beautiful, creative  picture of a fragile, pure white egg, gingerly held in the jaws of a great big C-clamp.  Pure poetry!

The Ryder Cup has been a riveting competition in years past and this one was totally off the scales…by about 4 orders of magnitude.  How anyone could dismiss golf as boring, or claim it’s not even a sport (and more than a few mouth breathers have said that), is simply beyond comprehension. 

I defy anyone to watch the 2010 Ryder Cup and not be completely hooked on the event.  Even the football-or-nothing, baseball-or-nothing, basketball-or-nothing…dare I say it; even the Nascar-or-nothing crowd would have to be moved by the action we saw.  How couldn’t you be? 

Then again, I’ll freely confess that I don’t watch any of those sports…and have been heard to utter disparaging comments about each of them many times in the past.  I could write a book on it.  If that position invalidates my earlier comments, so be it.  To each his own I suppose.

So, let’s put the Ryder Cup on the backburner now.  MANY far more talented scribes and pundits than me will make a career writing and talking about this one for months to come…and will have many wittier and more insightful comments to offer than I have tossed up here.

With Wales now in our rear view mirror, let’s zone in on the real reason for this article…Fantasy Golf Picks for the PGA Tour.  And YES, while all of the drama and tension and incredibly spectacular golf was going on in Wales, there was indeed a regular PGA Tour event happening “on this side of the pond;” The Viking Classic.  And yes, there was some great action in that event too…although very few probably saw it.

The Viking Classic witnessed the return of Bill Haas to the winner’s circle, claiming his second PGA Tour title.  He started the tourney strong and kept pouring it on right up until Sunday…when he racked up FIVE bogies to almost snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.  Clearly the Ryder Cup wasn’t the only event happening where the pros were succumbing to the pressure down the finishing stretch.  Fortunately for young Bill, his first three days of great play (-15) gave him enough of a cushion to let him get away with those gaffs…and still win by three strokes. 

So, here’s how my daughter and I fared with our predictions for the week:

The Viking Classic

Derek’s Picks D&D (Daughter & Dartboard)
Chad Campbell T71  $            6,948 Rich Barcelo CUT  
Bill Haas 1  $        648,000 Rocky Cleland CUT  
Heath Slocum T45  $          10,090 Rocco Mediate T20  $         43,440
Chris DiMarco T45  $          10,090 Boo Weekley T36  $         16,590
This Week’s Total    $        675,128 This Week’s Total    $         60,030
Season Total    $     9,216,246 Season Total    $     6,146,899

For those of you keeping track, this is the third time I’ve actually managed to pull a winner’s name out of my hinder regions since starting this article back at the end of May this year.  Three winners in 18 starts.  I’ll leave it up to you to decide if that’s a good, dismal or middling record.

Right…with the week that was review taken care of, let’s get on to some serious crystal ball gazing for this week’s event; The McGladrey Classic.

I’m not sure why, but I’m finding it hard to put this tournament on a mental pedestal…and it seems to be because of it’s name.  Somehow, in my twisted mind, the McGladrey handle just doesn’t seem to command the proper amount of respect it should for a pro golf tourney. 

I keep thinking it’s somehow going to involve a guy with far too many impossibly white teeth, impeccably coiffed white hair, dressed in an all-white suit, handing out garbage bags on the front nine.  Or, that somehow the far-too-handsome-for conventional-TV actors who play on Gray’s Anatomy are going to be involved in some way.  McDreamy, McCreamy, McDopey, McSneezy, McGladrey.  In the immortal words of George Carlin, “these are the thoughts that kept me out of the really good schools.”

My apologies to the sponsors who ponied up with cash and resources to introduce this new event to the PGA schedule.  I admire you for it and respect your corporate commitment to golf and local charities.  And I’m sure you do a great job for your clients with all the products and services they want you to provide.  It’s just that, as a golf tourney name, I’m having a tough time with it…and that’s ALL my fault, not yours.  No disrespect intended.

So without any further adieu, here are the results of this week’s navel gazing:

Derek’s Picks – The McGladrey Classic

Before I revel who my picks are this week…let me give you some insight into who they aren’t…and why. 

I was frankly stunned to see the confirmed list of players and realize that two of them were star members of the US Ryder Cup team.  I don’t know about you, but win, lose or draw, I certainly wouldn’t plan on going anywhere near a golf club for at least a week after playing in the Ryder Cup. 

Yeah, these guys are much better golfers than me and are in vastly superior physical and mental shape than I am…but wouldn’t you expect that they would grant themselves a scheduled break after being involved in such a huge pressure-cooker as the Ryder Cup?  Hell, I’d sleep for an entire week, then get up and promptly have a nap!

So here’s who I’m NOT going to pick this weekend;  Matt Kuchar and Zach Johnson.  Don’t get me wrong, I admire both of these guys and cheer for them often.  I’ve also picked them to win a few times each in this article.  And given the fantastic level of skills each showed in Wales, they really should be no-brainer picks for a low pressure tourney like this week’s McGladrey. 

But, given the tremendous mental and physical energy they just exerted…and all the demands on their time before, during and since…plus the heartbreaking loss they had to endure, I just can’t see either one of those guys being in fighting form this week.  They need some time off to sharpen their axes, not another week whacking at oaks.

I’d really like to be wrong.  I’d love to see either of them win it and get a little something back…but I just can’t imagine it happening.

So, having said that, here’s who I WILL be picking this week:

Brendon de Jonge – Here’s a name that kind of resurfaced from nowhere this year…and has been popping up with regularity ever since we first saw it on a leaderboard.  Yes, I know he’s been around for a couple of years now, BUT he’s really made his presence known in 2010.

Hot off a third place finish at the Viking Classic last weekend, de Jonge appears to be riding a pretty strong wave that began to swell for him this summer.  In addition to his most recent result, he has also posted two other top three finishes, a fourth and a seventh this season, to rack up a hair over $2 million in earnings.

He might not quite be always a bridesmaid, but he’s definitely not the groom’s sister either…in the wedding party and standing at the very end of the reception line in the ugly lime green dress, because she’s, well…the groom’s sister.

It feels like de Jonge has been knocking on the door for weeks and weeks now.  This week, I think the fates just might open it up for him and give him his first Tour win.

Jonathan Byrd – Another guy who is coming off of a pretty hot week at Annandale, Byrd finished tied for fifth place at the Viking Classic, just 5 strokes off Bill Haas’ lead.

His performance last weekend might just be the ticket to inspire Byrd to put on a charge and finish the year strong.  Otherwise, he’s looking at posting one of the first sub-million dollar years since he joined the PGA Tour back in 2000. 

The Viking Classic spiked his earnings to $720k for the season…a hell of a long way off the $1.3 million he earned last year, or the $1.8 mil. three years ago.   The Viking moved him from 130th place to 115th on the Money List.  It’s not enough to ensure he keeps his card for the 2011 season…but it might be just the impetus he needs to get back into winning form.

Graham DeLaet – Back in May, when I debuted this column, I devoted picks in my first two weeks to Mike Weir…with the feeble-minded hope that just by invoking his name in a golf prediction column it might possible convince the golfing gods to start smiling on him once again.

After the second consecutive week of disappointment and no small amount of ribbing from my friends, golf pool members and guys like Fairway Stevie Waxman, I decided to pull the plug on Mike…and haven’t picked another frost-bitten Canadian to win on Tour since.

This week I’m waving the flag again…and this time it’s in favour of DeLaet.  Tied for 5th last weekend, third in Houston earlier in the year and three other top 25 showings in between, DeLaet has had a solid, if unspectacular debut year on the tour (full year that is).  He’s currently at $720,000 in earnings…38 time more money than the $18k he’s earned since going pro last year.

With a fresh success under his belt…and a nice little bit of security in the bank, DeLaet should feel footloose and fancy free hitting the Sea Island course in Georgia this week as he hopes to build on his move from 129th to 114th on the Money List and keep his card next year.

JB HolmesWith one win and three other top five finishes on his resume this year, Holmes is definitely one of the biggest and most-feared predators prowling the field this week (the Ryder Cup guys notwithstanding, of course).

He currently sits at #30 on the Money List, so he’s not playing on pure fear-power like so many others in this tourney who are hoping to strike gold at the 11th hour and secure their cards for next season.

All of those factors add up favourably for Holmes this weekend in Georgia.  I wouldn’t be a bit surprised to see him hoist another trophy Sunday night.

And now that I’ve had my interminable ramble, let’s see what my little girl managed to come up with for her picks:

D&D Picks  (Daughter & Dartboard)

  • Ryuji Imada
  • Justin Leonard
  • Craig Barlow
  • Vaughn Taylor

 And that’s it for this week’s edition folks.  Have a great week…and stay warm!



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  • I still had the devil face on by the time I got home. The missus took one look and said “Great, horny…again”. Well, Friday night came a few days early so I thank you for that. We’ll just have to do another lunch and soon so we can dissect the Ryder Cup good and proper. Outstanding writing as always. Every article a gem. But then, you have always been our own Dave Barry.

    • Thanks VERY much for chiming in on the latest ramblings Svenny!

      When I was first approached to do this article, I had “sugerplum fairy” visions of all kinds of great benefits spinning out from my involvement with Canadian Golfer…up to my eyeballs in invitations to play complimentary rounds on the nation’s greatest courses, a garage full of new cutting-edge golf equipment, hanging out with PGA stars, fame, fortune and a bevy of nubile blonde groupies with rock-hard bodies and single-digit handicaps.

      Whodathunk that the first “benefit” I would see from my work would be getting one of my friend’s shillelagh waxed!?!?!?

      Something about that strikes me as quite unfair.

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