Hopeless Causes…and Hopeful Picks

We’ve all heard the old chestnut, “if a tree falls in the forest and there’s no one there to hear it, does it still make a sound?”

This phrase is usually immediately followed by the deliverer striking some kind of professorial pose and applying a smug smirk to their face, as if they were the all-knowing, all-powerful Oz…the one to be listened to and trusted above all others.  The wise one.  The keeper of the sacred truths.

If you’re having trouble visualizing the image, think of the smarmy American woman Michael Palin portrays near the end of Monty Python’s “The Meaning of Life…” trying to have a battle of wits with the Grim Reaper.

Unfortunately, in golf these days, there is an all-too-real parallel to that tired and logic-defying old cliché; “if a golf tournament is held, and Tiger Woods isn`t playing in it, will we get to hear about anyone else?”

If you doubt me, look no further than the coverage of the final round of the Memorial for proof.  Faced with yet another weather delay, the CBS crew hunkered down in full-tilt `scramble mode` to fill their airtime until play could resume (2+ hours later).  After re-capping the action of the day and then interviewing several players on how they felt about being temporarily sidelined (and what kind of milkshakes they preferred), they decided to dig into the video vaults and show footage from a previous year.

Well…you already know how the rest of this story goes.  Tiger this, Tiger that, here`s Tiger…and…wait for it…here`s some more Tiger!

By the way, Tiger finished T19 at last year`s Memorial.  Even back then, in “real time,” he wasn`t worth the voluminous coverage he received.  The last time he was truly relevant in this tourney was in 2009, when he won it.

And, it probably goes without saying, but I`ll do it anyway; Tiger wasn`t even in the field this week.  So why do we have to continually be subjected to all things Tiger…especially when he`s not even a competitor?

Well folks, strap yourselves in for more of the same…a LOT more of the same…over the next two weeks and change.  It`s only going to get painfully worse.

The reason is that Woods announced just this morning that he won`t be competing at the US Open at Congressional next week.  And so, regardless of whatever else actually happens in the world of golf over the next few weeks, expect it to be overshadowed by all this nonsense.

Golf announcers and writers will be going out of their way to focus on what ISN`T and what won`t be, rather than celebrating what IS…devoting ridiculous amounts of airtime and reams of paper and pixels to cover someone who isn`t even competing, at the expense of giving the proper attention to those who are and deserve the attention.

“We`ll join the coverage of the dramatic sudden-death playoff at the St. Jude Classic, in progress, but first let`s go to a taped press conference to hear how Tiger feels about not being here this week, even though he wasn`t planning on being here in the first place.  And then we have an exclusive interview with Tiger in which he tells us who he likes to win in this season`s “The Bachelorette.”

“Well Johnny, Luke Donald just hit one of the most incredible shots we`ve ever seen to tie for the lead at the US Open…and we`ll really try to find that one on tape to show you later…but first, we`d like to show you a retrospective video of the best 246 shots Tiger has ever hit at a US Open.”

It`s going to be hard to endure all this crap over the next two weeks.  It`s going to be even harder not to succumb to the frustration and put my foot through the TV set.  Please TV announcers, talk about something else…ANYTHING else. This twisted form of Tiger autism you’ve developed over the years is getting harder to endure every week.

So now that I`ve gotten that off my chest, let`s shift our focus on the really important stuff.  To what is and what was…and put all of the what isn`t going to be crap where it belongs; in the round file, with the coffee grounds, apple cores and other garbage.

Despite some late-day stumbles on both Saturday and Sunday, Steve Stricker managed to put another win up on his resume last weekend at The Memorial…and it was really great to see.  Here`s how my daughter and I did with our picks at the event hosted by the best golfer in history:

The Memorial

Derek’s Picks D&D (Daughter & Dartboard)
Luke Donald T7 $       174,117 Jonathan Byrd T7 $           174,117
Matt Kuchar T2 $       545,600 Jim Furyk Cut
Phil Mickelson T13 $       112,840 Brian Gay W/D
Nick Watney W/D $- Charl Schwartzel T22 $             54,405
This Week’s Total $       832,557 This Week’s Total $           228,522
Season Total $  11,227,563 Season Total $        3,585,371

Close, but no cigar on adding another winner to my list…but overall I have to admit I`m pretty happy with the results my selections turned in from Muirfield Village on the weekend.

The St. Jude Classic

Does the name Amos Alphonsus Muzyad Yakhoob mean anything to you?  Probably not…but it should. That`s the birth name of comedian, actor and TV and Film star Danny Thomas.  Early in his career, Danny promised himself as a seemingly hopeless, starving artist, that if he ever became successful he would open a hospital dedicated to St. Jude; the patron saint of hopeless causes.

Of course, Thomas did become tremendously successful in showbiz…and was as good as his word. He founded St. Jude`s Children`s Research Hospital in Memphis in 1962.    A few years later his name was attached to not one, but two PGA Tour events; The Danny Thomas Diplomat Classic in Florida and the Danny Thomas Memphis Classic.  It probably goes without saying that Thomas was an avid golfer too.

Derek`s Picks

For whatever reason, I find it difficult this week to pick four contenders for the trophy in Memphis.  Few of the guys who are in the field immediately leap off the page as `sure things.` And, of course, a lot of the superstars on Tour are taking the week off after having tuned up for the US Open last week at The Memorial.  All in all, it feels like a bit of a crapshoot trying to divine some potential winners.

I feel a little out of my comfy zone with this week`s picks, getting set to name names I`ve never named before..but I`ll do my best to come up with some gems for you.

Brian Gay – A tough pick right out of the gate…but one that was chosen with a lot of thought.

The reason that Gay is a tough pick to make, lies not in his talents (which are considerable), but because he seems to be a little on the undependable side.  If you scroll above, you`ll notice that my daughter coincidentally lobbed a dart into his name for last week`s event…and that he withdrew from the action at Muirfield Village.  Sadly, that wasn`t the first time he`d pulled the plug on the Memorial…or a list of other tourneys either.

I have no idea why he didn`t show last week in Ohio…but I`m hoping he honours his commitment to play in Memphis this week.  And, he has pretty good reason to, based on his track record there.  Gay was the St. Jude champion in 2009…posting a score that was 5 strokes better than his closest competitors.  He also racked up a 4th place finish at this event two years prior…along with two more top 20`s in the past 5 years.

Based on all that, I`m putting him in my roster this week…with a BIG grain of salt.  Here`s hoping he shows up…and shows up to play his best!

David Toms – I`ll be completely honest here.  As recently as 3 or 4 weeks ago, the name David Toms would never have found its way into my roster for a PGA Tour event.  I`ve always liked the guy and have admired his game, but I admit to thinking that he was too old and too short and too dominated by younger, stronger guys to once again be a legitimate threat to win.

All of those hugely mistaken assumptions were quickly corrected in the past month, however…and I`m looking at David Toms with a new set of eyes and a much better appreciation for his abilities.

It all started, of course, with his playoff loss to K.J. Choi at the gruelling Player`s Championship.  For Toms to finish regulation play tied for the lead was an eye-opener for me.  An even bigger jolt of reality came the very next week, when he brushed off his disappointment, got down to business and emerged victorious over a very tough field at Hogan`s Alley.

In addition to his recent successes, Toms also has an impressive track record in Memphis to draw upon this week.  He finished second at this event in 2009, third in 2007 and T10 in 2006.  He knows the course well, it seems to suit his game very well…and with his impressive achievements in the past month, I like his chance of doing well here this week.

Lee Westwood – Westwood wasn`t at the Memorial last weekend…in fact he took the week off entirely.  So this week is his warm-up for the US Open.

The last time Westwood swung a club in competition was at the European PGA Championship at Wentworth two weeks ago.  He finished that event tied for the lead with Luke Donald…and then lost in the playoff.  Not only did Donald take the trophy, he also took the mantle of World`s Number One Golfer from Westwood with that victory.

Westwood returns to North American golf this week as the defending champion at the St. Jude`s Classic.  Obviously, the course fits his game very well and he`ll have plenty of strong memories from 2010 to fuel his charge for a repeat this week.

I think he`s also going to be digging deep to get in shape for next week`s action at Congressional, so he can take the US Open and wrest the World #1 title back from Donald.  Whether he`ll be able to do that is anyone`s guess right now, but I think he has a great shot to defend his title this week in Memphis.

Heath Slocum – This spot almost went to 2007 champ Woody Austin, who seems to have an affinity for the St. Jude`s Classic, plus a knack from coming from absolutely nowhere to win tournaments…but in the end, I decided to go with Slocum instead.

In either case (Austin`s or Slocum`s), it`s not about recent successes at all…it`s all about past performance at this particular event.  In fact, if I were basing my picks solely on 2011 performances, it would be virtually impossible to type either guy`s name…because neither has really done anything this year.  (Hmmm…what the hell am I doing then???)

After a really good couple of years, Slocum has had a pretty lousy 2011 PGA campaign so far.  15 events, only 6 cuts made.  And of those 6 cuts, he`s only managed to post one top 25 finish so far.  Major lunch bag let down.

Slocum`s past glories in Memphis however, make him worth at least a look this week.  6th last year, 10th in 2009, 12th the year before that.

As ridiculous as it seems (and it`s feeling more ridiculous with every word I type), I`m going to give him the nod anyway.  Something in my guts tells me this is going to be the week when Slocum turns his year around.  Either that, or last night`s curry is disagreeing with me.  Now I better stop typing before I talk myself out of it.

D&D`s Picks (Daughter & Dartboard):

  • · Ben Crane
  • · Sergio Garcia
  • · Bobby Hudson
  • · Michael Putnam

And that`s all for now folks.  Have a great week…and enjoy the action from Memphis.  I`ll be doing my best not to throw anything at the TV during the entirely predictable and interminable Tiger talk!



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  • You are well aware that I appreciate your [sarcastic] humour and thought-provoking comments … I laugh with you every week and this week was no exception. I would so love to send this column to ALL the guys at The Golf Channel and CBS, just ‘cuz I know you and I are not alone in this thinking. I too am sick and tired of seeing and hearing of The Tiger constantly, whether or not he is playing, when there are lots and lots of other guys out there making lots and lots of other “interesting” and “talented” golf shots. Hello, we know he is a talented golfer but there are a nice group of young guys coming up who are also driving, pitching, putting their way up the leaderboard. Go young men, Go !!!

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