Showdown at Hogan's Alley

Okay, so I didn’t manage to predict the winner at last week’s Player’s Championship….BUT, I did predict how it would be won (in a playoff). 

Does that count for anything?  A few boxes of Rice-a-Roni, the San Francisco treat?  How about a case of Turtle Wax or a year’s supply of Arm & Hammer baking soda?  And just out of curiosity, can anyone tell me exactly how much a year’s supply of Arm and Hammer would be?  Unless you’re June Cleaver I’d have to guess that it would be a fraction of a single can…not much of a prize really.  “Ward, you were a little hard on the Beaver last night.” 

Feel free to insert your own punch line in the comment section.  Bonus points for using baking soda in it.

The action last weekend at the TPC Sawgrass was fast and furious, as expected.  There weren’t nearly as many catastrophic splashes on 17 (or 16 or 18) as I thought there would be…but there were definitely more than a few “blowed up reeeeeeeal good” moments out there on the course.  Despite all that, only one player in the top 25 failed to break par on the final day (Steve Stricker at +1).

So, let’s whip out the abacus and see how my spawn and I did with our selections for last week’s event:

The Player’s Championship

Derek’s Picks D&D (Daughter & Dartboard)
Phil Mickelson T33  $      50,192 Brian Davis T26  $          67,450
Luke Donald T4  $    418,000 Lucas Glover T50  $          23,133
Matt Kuchar T54  $      21,850 Chris Kirk Cut  
Sergio Garcia T12  $    175,071 Vijay Singh Cut  
This Week’s Total    $    665,113 This Week’s Total    $          90,583
Season Total    $ 9,469,865 Season Total    $     2,827,842

All in all it wasn’t a bad week for my horsies…but it wasn’t a great one either.  As for my daughter, her recent woes continue, unabated.  But, she can lay claim to one small bragging point if she wants: even though only half of her dartboard picks even managed to make it to the weekend, ALL of her players fared better than Tiger.

That might sound petty…in fact it probably is pretty petty, but I’ve REALLY gotten completely fed up with the media’s continuous jamming of Tiger down our throats…to the exclusion of almost every other Tour player, who is actually doing something.  

KJ scores a fantastic sudden-death win; let’s give him a few paragraphs and then write a thousand words on Tiger.  Toms stages a remarkable run at the title at the ripe old age of 44; let’s give him 3 sentences, then harp on Tiger for a few pages.  Watney opens with an amazing 64.  Let’s show a grand total of 3 or 4 of his shots…but switch back quickly to capture every flubbed chip and yanked wedge from Woods…followed by slo-mo instant replays and analysis from 7 different angles.

Golf boards are jammed this week (as they are every week) with the latest drama from Tiger (this is what, chapter 285 since last November?).  The frothing-at-the-mouth supporters are taking on all comers and typing (as loudly and emotionally as they can) volumes on his latest injuries and surgery…and it’s just a matter of days until he starts wining every tournament he plays in, starting with the US Open in a few weeks….and blah, blah, blah.

The “haters” (as the “lovers” love to label them) seem to gravitate toward two trains of thought for the most part; 1) he’s done.  2) his bad knee and Achilles problems were little more than fabrications or were greatly exaggerated to excuse his lousy play and avoid losing even more World ranking points (apparently, there’s no penalty for withdrawing from an event).

As a “journalist” I imagine I’m supposed to be impartial on this…but in all fairness, I‘m not much of a journalist, so I don’t feel those kind of restrictions.  I admit to leaning much more heavily to the latter explanation than all the others.  Seeing Woods “wince” and limp after a bad shot seemed a little too convenient to me…especially after seeing him walk (briskly) off the course, then vault up the stairs two at a time to avoid talking to reporters. 

That’s quite the selective injury when you can’t hit a three-quarters pitch shot or walk properly, because your leg is bothering you…but you can bound up the stairs at a full gallop!  (Yes, I admit that I’m a card-carrying cynic…and Woods hasn’t earned any benefit of the doubt in this camp).

Enough already!

Derek’s Picks – The Colonial

For whatever reason, I always seem to suffer from a golf version of “lunch bag letdown” the week after a big event.  No matter how good the course or how deep the talent in the field, it’s just hard to muster up a lot of enthusiasm for a “regular” event coming straight off one of the biggies.  This week’s event has a lot of prestige and a pretty strong field, but even for an event at historic “Hogan’s Alley” it’s a little hard to get fully pumped.  See above…”not much of a journalist.”

Jason Day – To be honest, I knew the name and the achievements but didn’t really know a great deal about young Jason until the Masters rolled around this spring.  And what an eye-opener that was! 

Day, at 23 years of age, was the epitome of grace under pressure as he leapt into the lead at Augusta…and stayed there.  Oh sure, he had some stumbles along the way (who didn’t?), but he carried himself with poise and confidence that were waaaaay beyond his age and experience.  And the way he carried himself in the post-round interviews was proof positive that he is one of the “good guys” out there…humble, polite, enthusiastic and gentlemanly.

Day is definitely one of the “hotter’ players on Tour at the moment…so there’s plenty of reason to like his chances this week in Texas.    He’s teed it up in North America ten times in 2011 and has finished in the top ten 50% of the time.  In fact, he’s scored three top 10’s in a row, starting with his fantastic 2nd place finish for the Green Jacket.

As far as his “street cred” for this tourney goes, it’s there too.  The young Aussie finished 4th here two years ago…just one stroke short of entering a 4-way playoff with eventual winner Steve Stricker, Tim Clark and Steve Marino.  I like his chances of posting a really good finish this weekend a lot!

Steve Marino – Up until this season Steve Marino was a perpetual middle-of-the-pack kind of performer…and not a great deal more than that.   He had a few top 5’s over the years, but was rarely a threat….and almost never able to string together a run of successful tournaments.  In case you think that’s a mean statement, let me say that middle of the pack in any PGA Tour event is still a hell of an accomplishment in my books.

This year, Marino seems to be hitting a new gear…and while it’s still too early to tell for sure, I think he’s about to hit a new plateau that includes finally getting his hands on some trophies.  In a dozen events this season, he already has two 2nds (The Sony and The Arnie) and a 4th (Pebble Beach).  Mind you, he also has 3 cuts and two T66’s in there as well…so this “new gear” notion isn’t locked in stone by any means.  It’s a work in progress.

Marino also has some pretty decent results at Colonial to fuel his charge to the top this week.  He finished T10 here in 2008 and, as mentioned, fought his way into a 3-man playoff in 2009.

I wouldn’t drop a mortgage payment on his chances this week, but I do like him to do well at Colonial.

Zach Johnson – I don’t take the defending champion very often in this column…but despite a lot of reasons not to, I’m going to go for it this week anyway.

Johnson has had a very un-Johnson-esque 2011 so far.  Only one top 10 finish in eleven starts (T6 at the Wells Fargo two weeks ago).  His next best showing was T12 last weekend at Sawgrass.  For whatever reason, he’s definitely not living up to the potential we’ve seen from him the past 5 or 6 years.

Which brings us to this week’s event at Colonial.  Why take him?  Well, there is that whole defending champion thing.  He’s been there and done that.  In fact he was the last one to be there and do it…and that has to count for something.  In addition to his win at Fort Worth in 2010, Johnson finished T9 at Colonial the year before…so the course definitely suits his game.

Given how his season has gone so far, this might be a wildly stupid pick, but there’s something in the back of my head that says Johnson is worth a shot and this week is the one that gets his season on the right track.

Ben Crane – Take everything is wrote about Zach Johnson…remove the defending champion references…and what you have leftover is pretty much what I’ll say about Ben Crane.

No, it hasn’t been a stellar season for Crane either, so far…although his 2011 campaign has been better than Johnson’s.  In ten events, he’s posted only two top 10’s (WGC World Match Play & the Heritage).  No, he’s not riding a hot streak, or even a lukewarm one right now for that matter.  Actually, he’s a little frosty at the moment…and not in a good way (as in frosty-“cool”).

So why on earth would I pick him this week?  It’s all about what he’s done here in the past, not what he’s doing in the present. 

Crane has racked up a pretty impressive list of finishes at Colonial over the past several years.  He was T3 here in 2010.  5th in 2008 and T4 in 2006.  If those results don’t put a little lead in his pencil when he steps on the first tee Thursday, I’m not sure what would.

Again, like the Johnson pick, that might be laughably faulty logic on my part…but there’s something about Crane at Colonial that gives me some happy thoughts for his chances this week.

And now that I’ve set myself up for an epic fail, let’s see how my little girl did with her picks on the dartboard:

D&D’s Picks (Daughter & Dartboard)

  • ·         Angel Cabrera
  • ·         Stewart Cink
  • ·         John Mallinger
  • ·         Bo van Pelt

Hmmm…you know, I really like three of those picks a lot!  I’m going to go out on a limb and say that D&D finally gets a kick-ass week here…one that has a very good chance of waxing the old man’s picks too.

And that’s it for now folks.  Have a great week and enjoy the tourney!



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  • I agree with you that there is way too much written on Tiger week after week. But its entirely 100% the media’s fault. Tiger does not ask for this. But if he doesn’t accomodate the media guys, then he is the “bad” guy. This stuff will stop if / when the media decides it. Thats too bad, because I dont think they will.

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