I suspect everyone will remember where they were when this latest earth-shattering news happened this week, too.
For me, it’s a day I’ll certainly never forget…
I had started the day taking some classes at Brescia University College back in London, had just wrapped up a brisk 20-minute workout at Curves, and then was pulling onto the 401 to head for Women’s College Hospital in Toronto for my very first prostate exam when I heard the news.
Augusta National Golf Course had just admitted Condoleezza Rice as their first female member!
(Yes, I know they let one other chick in too…but no one has ever heard of her, as she doesn’t make the story any more interesting that Rice does all by herself)
Naturally, I immediately pulled my 1996 Honda off to the side of the road, yanked out my cell phone and placed an urgent call to Augusta National Chairman Billy Paine to withdraw my application for membership…which was bound to have been accepted any day now.
I then placed a call to Chairman Emeritus Hootie Johnson, to see if he could still breathe and actually possessed a traceable pulse.
Based on the busy signals I got for the next 18 hours, apparently I wasn’t the only one trying to call through to the club.
Seriously though, I know there will be a lot of people saying “it’s about time.” And I’m fairly certain that our own senior scribe Robert Thompson will be one of them. But I have to admit that this announcement made me more than just a little sad.
And before you start dragging out examples from the really bad old days, NO I absolutely do not support a club or organization that discriminates, based on colour or religion or ethnicity. Those are barriers that really never should have existed in the first place…and shame on all those racist places that did enforce them (Augusta included, of course).
But in my books, gender-specific clubs are an entirely different matter. And, if you don’t like a club, because they are for men only (or women only, for that matter), then your solution is clear; don’t join if it conflicts with your beliefs.
Would you launch a boycott against a synagogue because they ignored your insistence that they start celebrating Christmas to make you feel more welcome and consider becoming a Jew?
Honestly, is it really so unreasonable for a club to be just for men? Is a collection of men (and only men), gathering together to enjoy a favourite sport inherently evil in some way?
The people at Curves and Brescia University College and Women’s Hospital certainly don’t seem to think so, when they flip the genitalia differences over to their benefit…and restrict access to fitness, business, education and health care.
So why then is it such a damned evil thing when a bunch of guys just want to be around only other guys for a round of golf, a bite to eat and a few drinks?
If you’ve read this column before, then I would hope by now you’d know that I’m probably the last guy on the planet who would ever champion the cause of the rich, arrogant, self-important, morally bankrupt bastards at Augusta National, on virtually every other issue.
But in this case, I think what happened there this week is more than a little sad. It’s wrong…and it’s the by-product of a very one-sided argument that apparently doesn’t bear criticism when it works in reverse.
And Speaking of Unimaginable Wealth…
“New Car, caviar, four-star daydream
Think I’ll buy me a football team…”
Welcome to the FedEx Cup Playoff season folks! Big bucks, big pressure, big chokes, big disappointments, big golf entertainment!!!
Ten million bucks to the overall winner, plus whatever table scraps they pick up along the way in the four playoff tournaments…each worth about a million and a half bucks.
Of course, when Pink Floyd wrote their song “Money” back in 1973, you could actually buy a football team for $10 million. These days you probably couldn’t even buy one of Cristiano Ronaldo’s houses for that much cash.
Yessireebob…those were the good old days, when ten million bucks was actually worth something!
But before I continue to wax poetic on the playoffs, there’s some unreported business to cover first; last week’s Wyndham Championship.
Going into this tournament, I think I had the same attitude toward the Wyndham as most of you reading this did; who cares? Coming hot off the heels of a Major, and jammed one week before the start of the Playoffs, it is perhaps the most anticlimactic tournament in the PGA golf season.
The only drama it contains is for the guys struggling to get into the playoffs…or to earn some points to keep their Tour card next year. The rest is a bit of a snore-fest.
Put another way, the Wyndham is to golf tournaments as Ant Man is to superheroes.
Really? Shrinking to the size of an ant is a super power??? Hell, I can pull that one off after a brisk swim in sub75-degree water!
And then something funny happened on the way to the forum…a guy I really root for won the damned Wyndham. And all of a sudden, the tournament actually mattered a little bit to me!
Wasn’t it great to see Sergio finally (FINALLY!) rack up another win on the PGA Tour? And damn! it was great to see him having some fun and smiling that Sergio smile again too, wasn’t it? We’ve missed you El Niňo. Welcome back man.
To be completely honest though, the Wyndham actually captured my attention earlier than seeing Sergio lift the trophy on Monday.
Toward the end of play on Day #1, ALL four of my picks for the week were in the Top 3. Pettersson lead the charge with his tournament-leading 62…and Simpson, Gainey and Cauley were hot on his heels with rounds of 66. Schwing!
If only this were an 18-hole tournament, I would have instantly secured my place in the Fantasy Golf Writer’s Hall of Fame.
I can see it now; my name and carnival freak-show face immortalized forever in the opulent Hall of Fame mobile trailer in picturesque Frozen Groin Montana. And that doesn’t even compare to the lustre of the lifetime supply of donuts that goes along with the honour (who wants another jelly?)
Sadly, despite 6 “anonymous” phone calls to North Carolina, and considerable begging on my part, the stuffed-shirt tournament organizers decided to stick to their original game plan and drag this thing out to the full 72 holes.
In fact, they were so adamant, they wouldn’t even budge on their decision when the course was under so much water that Captain Nemo and the Nautilus passed through the 16th fairway on Sunday morning.
And so, there went my bid for the Hall of Fame and all those delicious sinkers…as I watched half my guys sinking off the first page of the leaderboard…and the second…and the third…
Results – The Wyndham Championship
|Derek’s Picks||D&D (Daughter & Dartboard)|
|$ 353,600||Jason Bohn||
|$ 48,273||Jamie Donaldson||
|$ 214,933||Matt Every||
|$ 12,542||Nick O’Hern||
|This Week’s Total||$ 629,348||This Week’s Total||$ 115,684|
|Season Total||$ 33,288,888||Season Total||$ 8,023,829|
Can anyone spare an Apple Fritter?
Oh right, that Playoff thing again.
Now that the “official” Majors are done for the season, these next 4 tournaments are as close as we’re going to get to a fifth (sixth, seventh and eighth) until Augusta next spring.
You already know what’s at stake here, so I won’t spend any more time this week beating that dead, solid gold horse.
And just like making forecasts in the Majors this year, trying to pick some winners in the Playoffs is going to be incredibly tough. The way this season has unfolded, almost every superstar golfer you’d want on your team has at least one win…and several have two…or more.
It’s the season-long conundrum I’ve been facing in every BIG tournament; who do I keep and who do I dump?
Keeping in mind that the superstar you dump is probably just as likely to win as the superstar you decide to keep, and there are suddenly few right answers…and few wrong ones. That is, until after the tournament is over.
Monday morning quarterbacking and post-tournament handicapping (“yeah I knew he’d win”) are the easiest pastimes in the world.
And, to make matters even more difficult for me this week, my daughter went on a sudden tear on the dartboard and put together her very own golfing version of the Fantastic Four.
Four guys I would have short-listed for my team (at the very least) were suddenly yanked from trembling, clutching grasp. If you listen very carefully hear, you might actually be able to hear me weeping on my keyboard a little bit.
The fact that she has absolutely no idea who any of these guys are, only makes the whole situation that much more difficult to swallow.
So, since I mentioned it, let’s mix things up a bit from our normal format, reverse the order on the “revelations” and show you my daughter’s team first…
D&D’s Picks (Daughter & Dartboard):
Told you! Yup…that’s gonna leave a mark for a while.
The Barclays – Derek’s Picks
Another tricky part in picking a winner this week is that I can’t rely on the “horses for courses” strategy I like to factor into each week’s picks. Are there some players who seem to have an affinity for playing some courses
Like a Major (and some former girlfriends), this tournament gets around.
This year the Barclays will be played at Bethpage Black. And we haven’t seen that particular track since the legendary duel between Hefty and Eldrick at the US Open in 2002…and Lucas Glover’s US Open win back in 2009.
Admit it; you completely forgot that Lucas Glover was a Major Champion didn’t you?
So, since the horses for courses info is too sporadic and stale to be reliable, we’ll just have to muddle through making some picks using another method. And that method this week will be mud wrestling!
While I was writing that last paragraph I bet a LOT of you opened up a second browser window to check and see if Lucas Glover actually did win the US Open in 2009. Gotcha!
Matt Kuchar – When he finally got his mojo back and started becoming a force on the PGA Tour once again, they called calling him Mr. September, or Mr. October or Mr. Frozen Concentrated Orange Juice, or something like that.
And he earned the nickname well, whatever the hell it was…based on how he excelled in the PGA Playoffs.
For the past two seasons, regardless of the venue, Kuchar has been a force to be reckoned with when the FedEx Cup is on the line. And he usually gets off to a strong start at the Barclays, no matter where it is.
Second place last year. Won in a playoff the year before that.
When the big Fed Ex money is on the line, Kuchar seems to bring his big game to meet the challenge. I like his chances this week.
(If you didn’t do it before I mentioned it the second time, I bet you really did go off and look up “Glover 2009 US Open” before you got this far, didn’t you?)
He finished T3 in 2010, T2 in 2009, T19 in ’08, won it in 2007. Last year’s T24 is the only real blemish on his Barclays record…if you could even call it that.
Hmmm…maybe Stricker was the guy they were calling Mr. September, or Mr. October or whatever?
Either way, given the way he plays in the Playoffs, I think he’s a pretty solid choice this week in Long island (don’t forget to pronounce the “g” in “Long” if you want to fit in).
Dustin Johnson – Johnson is coming off a fairly craptacular T48 finish at the PGA Championship…and a T19 at the WGC Bridgestone in his last two appearances. That’s probably not very inspiring stuff right?
But remember, he also won the St. Jude (sponsored by FedEx coincidentally) and has top 10s this season at Pebble Beach, Phoenix, the WGC Match Play and The Open Championship.
Johnson tends to bring it, when the stakes are big, despite the way he played at the PGA.
He also seems to bring his A Game to the Barclays. He won this event last year, finished T9 in 2010 and T15 in 2009…in just his second year on Tour.
And because of that, I think the big hitter could be in for a big week on the big bad Black Course.
Adam Scott – A lot of people thought he might have been gutted and thoroughly broken following his heart-breaking collapse on the final 4 holes at Royal Lytham and St. Annes. Thankfully, that wasn’t the case, as Scott, finished T11 in the very next Major; The PGA Championship.
Please disregard the T45 at the WGC Bridgestone in between. It was too soon for the scars to have healed for him really to contend in that one.
Okay, I’m a bit of a hopeless romantic I guess. I picked Pettersson last week because I thought the golf gods owed him one after the PGA. (I just forgot that the same golf gods owed Sergio an even bigger one).
I like Scott this week for that same reason…a win here gives him a perfect stage to earn some redemption for The Open.
And you know what, it’s been exactly that kind of season hasn’t it, Pinnochio?
And that’s all for this week folks. As always, thanks VERY much for reading and for playing along with my silliness…and enjoy the tournament.