Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Playoffs?

This week marks the beginning of the FedEx Cup playoffs. That's right baby, its playoff season. For those of you who do not understand how the FedEx Cup works, I will enlighten you all in the coming paragraphs. It is actually really interesting once you understand it, because everything happens so quickly and it is constantly changing. The first stop for the playoffs is The Barclays at Ridgewood Country Club in Paramus, New Jersey. With a full field in tow, except for this dolt, let's take a look at who might win this week, as well as who might win the elusive FedEx Cup championship this year.

For those of you out there unclear on how the FedEx Cup works, allow me to explain the system. During the regular season, golfers amass points based on how they perform in tournaments: the better you perform, the more points you get. By virtue of his two tournament wins and 11 top-25 finishes, Ernie Els sits atop the FedEx Cup standings right now with over 1,800 points.

When playoff time rolls around, only the top 125 golfers in the FedEx Cup standings are allowed to advance. Playoff wins are worth 2500 points, so the standings can shift dramatically after one tournament. Throughout the 4 playoff events, the field is pared down to the top 30 golfers by the final tournament, the Tour Championship. After The Barclays, the field is cut to the top 100, down to 70 after the Deutsche Bank Championship, and down to the final 30 after the BMW Championship.

After the field is cut to the final 30, the remaining players are re-assigned point totals by their rank. The top player gets 2500, and the amounts decrease slightly down to the 30th ranked player who receives 210 points. It all sounds very confusing, but the 30th ranked player still has a shot to win the FedEx Cup if he can win the Tour Championship. When it is all said and done, the FedEx Cup champion receives a check for a tidy $10,000,000 and gets his name engraved on a pretty sweet looking trophy. Though it is confusing the FedEx Cup playoffs certainly make the golf events down the stretch very interesting, and rankings can change at the drop of a hat. The TV networks do all the math for you, so just sit back and enjoy.

Now that I got all that 'splainin out of the way. Let's have a look at this week's tournament; The Barclays. The Barclays, formerly the Buick Classic and the Westchester Classic, has its roots in the good old Northeast. For 40 years it was hosted at Westchester Country Club in Rye, New York, but recently has been played at Ridgewood Country Club and Liberty National Country Club in New Jersey. Personally, I think all this flip-flopping between clubs is BS, and the PGA Tour needs to find a permanent stop in this area for a playoff event. They are all very nice courses, but for a playoff event you can't be changing it every year. A TPC Boston-like solution needs to be made here.

The key to Ridgewood Country Club is the greens. Almost all of them have some pretty severe slope to them and are guarded closely by bunkers. That said, tee shots are imperative too as trees lining the fairway can doom your approach shot. Accuracy and putting will be crucial this week. With that knowledge under our caps, here's who I like this week at The Barclays:

Brandt Snedeker- Brandt quickly became my boy after he slightly acknowledged my hooting and hollering at the PGA. He played well last week, is a very solid putter, and hits fairways decently well. Plus, he looks like my boy Z-Mac (left).

Paul Casey- I'm surprised Dorne hasn't latched onto this fella yet. Casey finished 7th at Ridgewood in 2008, and has been playing well recently. However, he hasn't played in a PGA Tour event for two weeks. Still, I like his chances though.

Bubba Watson- Bubba broke all of our hearts by losing to Marty Kaymer in a playoff at the PGA, but he finished 12th at Ridgewood in 2008 and obviously has been playing well lately. Gotta unbutton that top button though.

David Toms- How about a guy like Dave Toms? He hits fairways, and can roll it pretty well. Moreover, he finished 2nd at the Wyndham last week. Ground control to Major Toms?

Tiger Woods- Tiger is officially divorced now, and that is sad. Perhaps he can take his aggression out on the course. He didn't get to play here in 2008 due to injury, but Stevie says he is continuing to progress with his game. Bottom line, we don't really know what he is capable of at this course. However, sitting at 108th in FedEx Cup points, he needs to work his way up in order to make the cut for the next tournament. This might just re-ignite some of Tiger's competitive dominance. I still got your back Tiger.

Matt Kuchar- I totally meant to give the Donk's boy a shoutout in my PGA picks, but I just plum forgot. Therefore, I'm gonna let "Hoochie" Kuchar's complete stonewalling of me when I told him he was the man from all of about 5 feet away as he was walking off the 6th green at Whistling Straits slide, and pick him as a solid bet at Ridgewood.

Rory McIlroy- Rory has never played Ridgewood CC before. Normally this would be a bad thing; but as we have seen at Quail Hollow and Whistling Straits, Rory dominates courses that he has never played before. I like his chances to win here, and maybe the whole darn thing.

Louis Oosthuizen Shot in the Dark: Chris Couch- I like this guy's name and that's about it. The sad thing is, this bowl of jell-o has missed the cut in half of his tournaments this year, and is still ranked higher than Tiger in FedEx Cup points.

As for who might win the FedEx Cup championship, this year it is really up for grabs. I think the best chance lies with the guys who consistently play in tournaments though: Hoochie Kuchar, Strick Daddy, Dustin Johnson, and Ernie Els are my four top picks to take home the whole thing. Other than the regulars, Rory McIlroy would round out my top five. There you have it. This should set everyone up to enjoy a brilliant finish to the golf season. Enjoy the playoffs!

Gold Rush Out West

Another division that will be going through some turnover this year is the NFC West. The Cardinals have ruled the roost in this relatively weak division for the past two years, and represented the NFC in the Super Bowl (tear) in 2009. However, with the retirement of Kurt Warner this entire division is flipped on its ear. With Warner gone, it is my opinion that the San Francisco 49ers will win this division in 2010. If it is not out of fear of Mike Singletary mooning them, or the improved play of the offense, it will be the old school uniforms that push the Niners to the top of the division this year. Classic. Just classic.

1. SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS

The Niners have been on the rise for a few years now, and with Kurt Warner out in Phoenix I think it is their time to take this division by the horns. They improved their offense immensely in the offseason with the additions of Mike Iupati at guard, Brian Westbrook at running back, and a full training camp with wide receiver Michael Crabtree. Alex Smith has all the pieces around him, now he just needs to prove that he can lead this offense.

On defense, Patrick Willis is the leader and is quickly becoming a carbon copy of his head coach. Look for him to put up defensive MVP type numbers and galvanize this squad. Overall, I see the Niners going 11-5 in this division and restoring the glory of red and gold in gay-town.


2. SEATTLE SEAHAWKS

It's hard to believe that the Seahawks are only 4 years removed from a Super Bowl appearance. With Pete Carroll now at the helm with a revamped defense, look for the Seahawks to over-achieve this year in the NFC West. Their offense is pretty stale with Hasselbeck, TJ Housh, Julius Jones and Deion Branch still leading the charge; but they have some decent young talent in John Carlson and Justin Forsett ready to step up.

On defense, this team could stymie a lot of offenses. First round pick Earl Thomas is going to be a star, and Lofa Tatupu, Aaron Curry, Marcus Trufant and Jonathan Babineaux are all very good defenders. This defense will certainly win ballgames for a mediocre at best offense. I like the Seahawks to go 9-7 this year and be just on the outside of the playoffs.


3. ARIZONA CARDINALS

After a good run in the NFC West, the Cardinals really lost a lot in the offseason. Kurt Warner retired, Antrel Rolle left for the Giants, Anquan Boldin peaced for Baltimore, and Karlos Dansby took his talents to South Beach. That is an awful lot to lose. I don't think that the Cardinals can come back from that, and as a result they will slide pretty far back in the NFC West.

Offensively, everything comes down to Matt Leinart. Can he replace Kurt Warner? All indications are that he cannot so far. This will effect Larry Fitzgerald negatively, and place more defensive focus on the run game, hurting Beanie Wells and Tim Hightower. However, if Leinart can figure it out, I see no reason why Steve Breaston can't step up and adequately replace Anquan Boldin. Moreover, Early Doucet will have a chance to show his stuff this year as well.

On defense, the Cardinals lost two of their most important players in Antrel Rolle and Karlos Dansby. They were the heart and soul of this defense for the past few years. Maybe the signing of Joey Porter can help replace some of this, but all in all this team has just too many questions to be a competitor this year. I see the Cardinals falling back to 7-9 or 6-10 and becoming embroiled in a quarterback controversy of sorts.


4. ST. LOUIS RAMS

Here is a team smack in the middle of a rebuilding project. Hence, they could be the worst team in the league again. Steven Jackson is basically all they have. It will be interesting to see how Sam Bradford does, and if his shoulder can survive the rigors of an NFL season. On defense, Chris Long and Jack Atogwe are two lone bright spots. This team could threaten to go 0-16 this year, but I will give them the benefit of the doubt and say 3-13. Let the Steven Jackson trade demands begin!


I've said it before, I'm sure I'll say it again; the threat of seeing Mike Singletary's ass is the single greatest motivator in all of professional sports. This year, the Niners will heed the call and take over the NFC West, all the while hearkening up visions of these kings of the gridiron from days of yore.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Are You Ready for Some Football?

With football season only a few weeks away, it is time to survey the NFL landscape and start throwing out some Nostradamus-like predictions for the upcoming season. A lot has changed in many divisions this year. Some teams are on the rise, while others appear to be on the decline. The AFC West is no exception. So without further ado, let's take a look at what might go down in that division. I know D Billz has been waiting very patiently.

The Chargers have been the class of the AFC West for many years now. The Broncos have challenged but ultimately fallen short for several years, and the Chiefs and Raiders have been nothing to write home about. This year I see the gap narrowing, but I still see that Chargers taking the division. With the departure of Ladainian Tomlinson, the Chargers are now Phil Rivers' team. I see him taking total control of this team and changing their identity for the better.

1. SAN DIEGO CHARGERS

You would think that a team that lost LT and Antonio Cromartie would take a big step back the next season. I don't see it that way. With LT out, Ryan Matthews in, and Phil Rivers now the undisputed leader of the team, I think the Chargers will be better off. Say what you will about Phil Rivers, but he is one tough SOB. He may be a huge butthead, but his character is a welcome change from the character of the man who recently left for the Jets. LT's lasting image in San Diego will be one of total disinterest when his team needed him the most. You can bet Phil Rivers won't let that happen on his watch.

I don't think the loss of LT or the Vincent Jackson holdout will hurt the Chargers as much as anyone thinks. Ryan Matthews is ready to make a huge impact at running back right away, and the Chargers will get by with Malcolm Floyd as their #1 wide receiver. Moreover, their defense is solid enough to get by without Antonio Cromartie and his mounting child support payments. Look for the Chargers to come back to the pack in the AFC West a little bit, but still go about 10-6 and win this rather weak division.


2. OAKLAND RAIDERS

D Money's die hard support for the Raiders is starting to pay off. They may not win the West this year, but they are moving in the right direction. The JaMarcus Russell experiment is over and the Raiders appear to have found themselves a decent replacement in Jason Campbell. This move improves their offense right away as it gives their passing game some semblance of credibility. The names Chaz Schilens and Louis Murphy might not strike fear into the hearts of many, but they might do just enough to take all the defensive focus off the running game. This will help Darren McFadden and Michael Bush immensely.

On defense, the Raiders will continue to be solid. They have a stout line and a solid secondary. Look for the Raiders to creep up to 8-8 or 9-7 this year. Enjoy, D Money.


3. KANSAS CITY CHIEFS

The Chefs are moving in the right direction as well. They have loaded up on defensive talent over the past few years, and have found some good offensive players in guys like Dwayne Bowe, Jamaal Charles, Matt Cassel and Chris Chambers. Moreover, the addition of Thomas Jones will help the team in the red zone.

On defense, it appears as if safety Eric Berry is going to be the next great defensive player, and the defensive line is stacked with first round talent. Now they just have to live up to their talents. Look for this team to make good progress this year and maybe finish around 7-9.


4. DENVER BRONCOS

Last year, I was taken aback by the Broncos 6-0 start. I predicted them to be one of the worst teams in the league, and I couldn't understand how they were winning games. My original suspicion was finally confirmed by their 2-8 finish, but clearly Josh McDaniels wasn't as stupid as I thought he was. This year, I expect them to finish worse than they did last year though. The loss of Brandon Marshall totally destroys their offense. Now, Kyle "fuckface" Orton has no one to throw to, and defenses will put more pressure on the running game.

On defense the Broncs still have stud Champ Bailey, but have lost their best pass rusher in Elvis Dumervil for possibly the whole season. Moreover, Brian Dawkins is prone to getting burned on deep routes in his old age. Look for the Broncos to play more like the 2-8 Broncos from 2010 than the 6-0 variety that started the season. I see them going 5-11 and ushering in the Tebow dynasty about halfway through the season.


Though the Chargers lost some key pieces from last year's 13-3 team, I still like them to win the AFC East. Other teams are certainly on their way up, but they just do not have the talent to compete with the Chargers yet. Phil Rivers is now the face of the Chargers franchise, and he is expected to get them to the Super Bowl. If he can't do it soon, there are a few teams in his rear view mirror in the AFC West that might keep him from ever getting that far again in the near future.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Grounded

My apologies to Mr. Miller, but I can't let another day go by without discussing the events of the PGA Championship. On Sunday, it appeared as if it was anyone's tournament, and if it weren't for a bogus ruling in my opinion Dustin Johnson could have single-handedly exercised his demons from Pebble Beach and made TPLIYP look good with a prediction for once. Since I have the very unique perspective of being at the tournament, and standing almost in that exact same spot two days earlier, I must tell you that I thought this ruling to be totally bogus. However, rules are rules and Dustin should have thought about what he was doing before he hit the shot. This appears to be a problem for Dustin on Sundays.

As I highlighted in my post on Wednesday, Whistling Straits has over 1,200 bunkers. However, many of these bunkers are merely for show, and only extremely errant shots by PGA pros would land in them. In fact, these bunkers were considered so extraneous that spectators were standing in them the whole weekend. This is precisely one of the bunkers that Dustin Johnson hit into on the 18th hole on Sunday. For those of you unfamiliar with what happened next, Dustin Johnson then "grounded" his club in the bunker before hitting the ball. This is illegal in bunkers, and caused him to receive a subsequent two-stroke penalty after he had just drained a put to make it to a playoff (or so he thought) for the championship.

Normally, an errant shot like this would land in the woods or on trampled grass in the rough, but Johnson's shot landed in a bunker, creating a very thorny issue in my opinion. How is someone expected to hit out of a bunker that people have been walking around in all week? What would have happened if Johnson's ball landed right in a huge footprint? People had been wrecking these bunkers all week, and it is not right for the PGA to consider them bunkers. Johnson's mistake lies in not reading the posting in the locker room, and I certainly don't absolve him of that, but these bunkers should be groomed like bunkers or completely done away with. The PGA is hiding behind a ruling that, to me, is a cop out and needs to be changed. I felt terrible for Dustin Johnson after his penalty, and I thought he was a victim of the PGA covering their own ass. I thought they should have admitted that the bunker was in terrible condition and given him a pass into the playoff.

Despite my support of Dustin Johnson, I still consider him to be a pretty solid choke artist. He is certainly going to be in contention for many more majors, but it appears as if his brain shuts off on Sunday. At Pebble Beach, he had a round similar to the one Nick Watney did on Sunday at Whistling Straits (a round which I called by the way) and he did not appear to be thinking at all in between shots. On the second hole he proceeded to flub about three chip shots in a row
and didn't step back to re-collect himself once or take a practice swing. I think he was having the same kind of brain cramps on the 18th hole on Sunday. Those mental mistakes ended up costing him another major.

A lot of young players fell by the wayside on Sunday to make room for Martin Kaymer to win his first major. Clearly he has the stones to win a major championship and looked rock solid all day. I think Dustin will get there someday, but he needs to be more deliberate when he has a lead. Go slow, think everything through, and make sure you are totally sure of yourself with every shot. Though he shot himself in the foot on Sunday at Whistling Straits, the PGA deserves some of the blame for creating a bogus rule. Don't be surprised if you see a rule change in that situation in the future. Also, don't be surprised if "Strick Daddy" becomes the next big nickname on tour, or if S.Y. Noh buys an dictionary to look up what "RAIN DROPS!!" means and tries to figure out why a fan yelled it after his shot on Friday afternoon.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Back to School


With college students across this great country icing down coolers and gassing beers in preparation for the upcoming school year, I thought it the appropriate time to enlighten you all with a college football preview. With camps underway already, it is difficult to contain the excitement of the upcoming season. This season will have a very different landscape from the previous one due to numerous marquee players heading on to the NFL; however, it appears as if Alabama is the favorite to win the BCS title again. Let's break it down week by week and look at the top matchups, as well as look at some of the top contenders for the BCS crown this year.

WEEK 1:
Boise St vs. Virginia Tech: Right off the bat we have a great matchup. Boise St. (#5) and Virginia Tech (#6) will put their BCS Championship hopes on the line in week 1, and whoever wins should be considered a big contender for the title. Boise St. may have the edge on paper, but Virginia Tech may have the home field advantage at the "neutral" site of Landover, Md.

UConn vs. Michigan: Pencil in UConn as a sleeper in the Big East this year. With a transfer running back from USC and an experienced core, they could surprise some folks. Week 1 in the Big House will be a good measuring stick for how they fare.

Oregon St. vs. TCU: A solid test for the Horned Frogs right away. Let's see if they can repeat their magic from last year.


WEEK 2:
Miami vs. Ohio St.: Ohio State has been the BCS bridesmaid quite often in the past few years, and has caused a lot of people to disrespect the Big 10. This year could be different for the Buckeyes, but Miami will be a solid test here as they continue to rebuild their program.

Penn St. vs. Alabama: A huge test for the Nittany Lions in Tuscaloosa. Expect a low scoring game here. This week could decide who is the top dog in the Big Ten.


WEEK 3:
Notre Dame vs. Michigan St.: This would be the first good look we get at Brian Kelly's Fighting Irish. This is a let down game every year for the Irish, and we will see how they perform under the new regime. The winner receives the Megaphone Trophy.

Iowa vs. Arizona: Another measuring stick to see where two conferences are at in terms of talent. Iowa is a Big Ten contender and the Desert Swarm could surprise some people in the Pac-10.


WEEK 4:
TCU vs. SMU: The Battle for the Iron Skillet will probably be a blowout in favor of the Horned Frogs, but SMU is slowly getting back to respectability after receiving the death penalty ages ago. The entire Dallas/Ft. Worth area will surely be abuzz this weekend.

Oregon St. vs. Boise St.: Two high scoring teams squaring off on the Smurf Turf. Gotta love it.

West Virginia vs. LSU: Noel Devine is definitely on Heisman watch this year. Tough trip to Death Valley in week 4 though.

Arkansas vs. Alabama: A real test for the Tide here, and a possible let down after the Penn St. game. I have it from an inside source that Ryan Mallett is going to win the Heisman and the Hogs are going to win this game.


WEEK 5:
Notre Dame vs. Boston College: "Holy war, bro!"-Dorne

Texas vs. Oklahoma: The Red River Shootout doesn't quite have the luster of years past, but it still features #3 against #8, and is still one of the coolest events in all of sports.

Penn St. vs. Iowa: HUGE GAME in the Big 10. The winner should be looking pretty rosy for a chance at the Big Ten championship.

Alabama vs. Florida: After this game, one BCS contender will be on the outside looking in.


WEEK 6:
LSU vs. Florida: No Tebow, but it should still be a good game in the always powerful SEC.

Wisconsin vs. Minnesota: C'mon git drunk at the battle for Paul Bunyan's Axe, formerly the battle for the Slab of Bacon.

USC vs. Stanford: Mareo will most likely be cheering on the mighty Cardinal at the game this year, as he was when this happened. Though he will certainly be wearing that shirt, if Stanford wins this year it will not be the biggest upset ever.


WEEK 7:
Nebraska vs. Texas: A Big 12 slugfest. Not for long though.

Ohio St. vs. Wisconsin: Another solid Big Ten battle for Big Nappy's Badgers.


TCU vs. BYU: Offense vs. defense. Who will give? If TCU gets by Oregon St. in week 1, this will be their next big test to see if they are BCS bound.


WEEK 8:
LSU vs. Auburn: The Tiger Bowl

Penn St. vs. Minnesota: The battle for the Governor's Victory Bell could be a trap game for the Nittany Lions

Oregon vs. UCLA: The Ducks are sort of the only team standing in the Pac-10 this year, and have a chance to take over as the conference power in light of USC's troubles. This is the start of a difficult stretch for them.


WEEK 9:
West Virginia vs. Connecticut: This is gonna be an awesome game. i expect about 800 rushing yards between the two teams.

Oregon vs. USC: Here is Oregon's chance to assert themselves as the Pac-10 powerhouse of the future.

Michigan vs. Penn St.: Mark Forwood would rather have Penn St. win this game than the Eagles win the Super Bowl. The Forwood Amendment?

Florida vs. Georgia: The World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party. Sure to be some serious bros (Remis?) and CHICKS at this game. I doubt anyone really cares about the Okefenokee Oar that the winner gets though.


WEEK 10:
TCU vs. Utah: The final test for TCU on their way to another possible BCS berth.

Alabama vs. LSU: The Saban Bowl is in Death Valley this year, and could derail the Tide's run at back-to-back BCS titles. I would be careful if I were Nick Saban that week.

Georgia Tech vs. Virginia Tech: Tyrod Taylor could be putting the finishing touches on a Heisman run, and Virginia Tech a BCS run, at this point. The Wreck are the last big test for the Hokies in 2010.


WEEK 11:
UConn vs. Pittsburgh: This game could decide the Big East.

Penn St. vs. Ohio State: This game could decide the Big Ten.


WEEK 12:
Lehigh vs. Lafayette: Get ready for some bottle smashing, potty tipping, beer gassing fun. Hopefully Lehigh can keep their momentum going.

Yale vs. Harvard: NERDS!


WEEK 13:
Texas A&M vs. Texas: I can honestly say that I have watched the Lone Star Showdown every year for as long as I can remember. A Thanksgiving tradition.

LSU vs. Arkansas: According to my inside source, this game will be the coronation of Ryan Mallett.

Oklahoma vs. Oklahoma St.: Bedlam.


WEEK 14:
USC vs. UCLA: Slim pickens by this time of year. The Victory Bell is on the line though.


WEEK 15:
Army vs. Navy: Mareo will probably be at this game too. Probably wearing some slick Navy sweatpants too.


PREDICTIONS:
As we all know, I am not a solid forecaster when it comes to college football. i think my best pick last year was calling Virginia Tech to beat the Hurricanes, whom ESPN was busy fondling the balls of. This year, you gotta like Alabama to roll back to the BCS Championship again. Who they play is a mystery though. Therefore, I am gonna force the hand of the BCS Committee and say that they take on either Boise St. or TCU for the BCS Championship. It will be a groundbreaking matchup, but I like Bama to win it again. Roll tide!

Mark Ingram is once again the Heisman favorite, especially with all the famous quarterbacks in the NFL now. As always though, I like Noel Devine to throw his hat in the ring. Moreover, my inside source could be onto something with Ryan Mallett, and lastly I like Terrelle Pryor.

The college football landscape this year has changed drastically now that Colt McCoy, Sam Bradford and Tim Tebow are playing pro ball, and now that USC has been cut down. This leaves Alabama and everybody else in the picture for the BCS Championship. Let's kick back and enjoy the upcoming season ladies and germs. It should be a good one. There you go D Money, a non-golf post. Tomorrow we will go right back to golf.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Glory's Last Shot

The PGA Championship returns to Whistling Straits this week after a six year absence. As someone that will be in attendance for Friday's round, all I have to say is, "YEAHHHHHH!!!!!" Now that I got that out of the way, I can say that I am decidedly less excited about the play of Tiger Woods coming into the PGA. He nearly missed the cut at Whistling Straits in 2004, and is playing arguably the worst golf of his career at this point. Things do not bode well for Tiger, but anything can happen at the PGA. So grab a beer, a brat, and some fried cheese curds and let's have a look at the upcoming tournament in good old Kohler, Wisconsin.

The best way I can describe the Whistling Straits in Kohler, Wisconsin (about an hour North of Milwaukee) course is as a British Open course on steroids. At over 7,500 yards, Whistling Straits is the second longest course to host a major. That in itself should be enough of a test for golfers, but Whistling Straits goes above and beyond the normal challenge for a PGA tour player. The course also features over 1,200 bunkers, tall fescue everywhere, elevation changes, and wind whipping off of Lake Michigan. If Pebble Beach met Royal Troon, had a kid, and gave the kid HGH for breakfast everyday, the kid would grow up to be Whistling Straits.

With bunkers and tall grass everywhere, accuracy is obviously going to be a key at Whistling Straits. However, at over 7,500 yards distance off the tee is also a necessity. The best part about the combination of these two challenges is that Whistling often forces players to attack the green with a precision shot. Laying up is often not an option and players have to hit the ball just right while also accurately judging the wind. Its gonna be sweet. Let's now take a look at which golfers might be best equipped to do this.

Hunter Mahan- Hunter won last week at the Bridgestone, and is tops in total driving on the PGA Tour. He has never played Whistling Straits before, but has the chops to win it.

Rory McIlroy- Rory can spank the ball off the tee, and is very proficient in hitting long irons onto the green with accuracy. Forged by British Open style courses and wind, Rory could be just the guy to take home his first major at the PGA. Plus, he parties with CHICKS.

Steve Stricker- Stricker will no doubt be a hometown favorite, making his residence in nearby Madison. He played well at the Bridgestone last week, and if anyone is going to fair well having to scramble out of all those bunkers, it is "Strick Daddy". And like that, we have a new nickname.

Rickie Fowler- Rickie is a solid driver of the ball, can hit greens, and can drain long putts. He has played well in his last two tournaments, and can compete with anybody.

Phil Mickelson- I only mention him because I heard he recently became a vegetarian. I wonder why.

Ernie Els- Ernie finished fourth at Whistling Straits in 2004, and has a good combination of accuracy and distance.

Dustin Johnson- Can DJ exercise his demons from Pebble Beach and win his first major? Maybe. He's got the distance off the tee, and this course suits his game pretty well.

Long John- Daly missed the cut here back in his booze swilling days, but as we saw at St. Andrews he can still play an Open style course. Hopefully we can spot him somewhere in downtown Madison on Thursday night.

Louis Oosthuizen Shot in the Dark: Sonny Skinner- Skinner is a golf pro from Albany, Georgia who has never really done anything in professional golf ever. He will soon find out he has two huge fans he never knew about though. Let's go Skinny Boy!!!

This is going to be one of the best experiences of my life. Should you choose to watch the PGA Championship on Friday (TNT 1pm-8pm) be sure to look and listen for anything unusual. It will probably be me and Trey. And until that day comes, keep your ear to the grindstone.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Tamed.

Tiger Woods had won the Bridgestone Invitational seven times, and never finished worse than fourth place before this year. Then, we were forced to watch an 18-over, tied for 78th place abomination. If this is any barometer of Tiger's dedication to the game of golf, or level of play for that matter, all of us still in the Tiger Woods camp are in for a miserable season. That said, let's try and take a look at some of the positive things Tiger can still try to achieve by the end of the 2010 season.


FIX SHORT GAME: The first thing Tiger Woods needs to do in order to turn his season, and possibly his career, back around is to fix what ails his short game. We are used to seeing shots like this, this, and this from Tiger. Now, his chipping is straight up lousy, his approach shots are missing the green, and he is three-putting from inside of 20 feet. His short game is the first thing he needs to work on if he wants to be competitive again. When we start to see Tiger draining some long putts and sticking shots from the fairway close, then a turnaround might be imminent.

QUALIFY FOR FEDEX CUP PLAYOFFS: Right now, Tiger sits at 119th in FedEx Cup points. Only the top 125 qualify for the FedEx Cup playoffs, so this would seem like a reasonable goal for Tiger to try to achieve. He might need to participate in an extra event, but a little competitive spirit might do him some good.

MAKE THE RYDER CUP TEAM: Corey Pavin has got a very difficult decision on his hands. How do you justify selecting Tiger Woods for the Ryder Cup when he has played so lousy this year? Or, how do you justify not selecting the #1 ranked golfer in the world and someone who shines brightest under the most pressure? It's a very tough call; but I think that over the next few weeks, Tiger needs to prove that he is worthy of playing on the Ryder Cup team this year. The only way he does this is by completing the first two tasks on this list.

Going into the PGA Championship, I expect nothing of Tiger. This is unfortunate for Glenn and me because we will actually be in attendance for the event, but we will find other ways to cause trouble. Tiger just needs to focus on one thing at a time, and continue to progress. If he can fix his short game, he can qualify for the FedEx Cup playoffs. If he can qualify for the playoffs, he might be able to make the Ryder Cup team. If he can do that, watch out because Tiger thrives on pressure. PGA Championship preview coming soon.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Stars Are Out at Firestone

Nearly every golfer from #1 through #50 in the FedEx Cup (and #51 for that matter) will flock to Firestone Country Club this week for the World Golf Championship at the Bridgestone Invitational. This course will provide every golfer with a solid chance to tune up before the PGA Championship next week at Whistling Straits, where I hope to live blog from the 18th green or at least audibly cheer for my boy Sonny Skinner. SKINNER! Anyway, let's break down yet another course in the pee-pee soaked heckhole that is the state of Ohio. By the way, did you guys hear the Cavs signed Joey Graham? Big story bro, read the papes.

The South Course at Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio is known simply as "The Monster." With a par of 70 at over 7,200 yards you can see why. This course rewards the player that can boom it down the fairway. Only one par-4 is under 400 yards, and only one par-3 is under 200 yards. Did I mention that there is also a 667 yard par-5 with a pond in front of the green? With yardages like those, something tells me that a golfer with Jeff Klauk-like distance won't be winning this tournament. The winner of this tournament will be a guy who can crush it off the tee, hit solid approach shots and make crucial putts. That is why it has been Tiger Woods four out of the last five years.

While Tiger will no doubt be at least a captain's pick for the Ryder Cup, he really needs to get his butt in gear. Tiger has owned this course over his career, and I would like to see him get his game together and start to dominate again. Though he has not won a tournament all year, he still has to be a prohibitive favorite to win this week. Now, as is customary, let's take a look at some other men who could win this week;

Stewie Cink- Stewie has a win at Firestone and two other top-10s (including 6th last year). Look for him to be in the hunt over the weekend.

Lee- Lee has three top-10s at the Bridgestone at is threatening to take over the World No. 1 ranking from Tiger. That will be enough motivation for him this week, and he should be in one of the final groups come Sunday.

Angel Cabrera
- The Duck has been hit or miss this season, but he has three top-10s at the Bridgestone Invitational in the past. Look for him to either play well, or miss the cut altogether.

Rory McIlroy- Rory has only played Firestone once, finishing 68th last year. If you recall however, he had never played Quail Hollow before this year and shot a final round 62 to win the whole damn thing. He is playing great golf this year and can crush the ball, so I like his chances the second time around. Plus he gets CHICKS.

Steve Stricker- Blah.

Paul Casey- Casey has played well at Bridgestone in the past, including two top-1os. He will be looking for redemption after being forced to withdraw due to injury last year.

Louis Oosthuizen Shot in the Dark: Welcome to a new section of TPLIYP golf previews, inspired by King Louis himself. Being that this is the inaugural edition, I will choose none other than The Oost Man. In the future, this section will be used to predict golfers with funny names and the like. Also, I will probably say that whomever I choose is the Donk's boy.

Speaking of the Donk, I'd like to hear his thoughts on this week's tournament. Or CheeseDorne for that matter. All his been quiet on the TPLIYP front for some time and I'd like to get the comments going again. Regardless, it is just good to have a championship caliber field playing golf for the next two weeks.