MMGP – Valero

With the Florida swing behind the tour it is onto the short lived Texas track before the Masters in a couple of weeks and what do you know we have another random ass first time winner. Please don’t pretend you know WTF Steven Bowditch is because even if you watched the tournament you still are asking yourself who, what, how? Anyways congrats to another first timer who punched his ticket to Augusta. As far as the overall reactions go:

Steven Bowditch – Again WTF is this guy. Missed the cut in 3 of last 4 tournaments. Best finished was a T-19 at Pebble months ago and he pulls off the victory on a tough, long and windy course. But please let’s not sugar coat this. He shot a +4 (76) on Sunday and almost gave it away. If anyone had tried to make an actual move he would have surely lost. Not to say that he didn’t deserve the win because he had a decent lead heading into Sunday, but seriously that wasn’t too much fun to watch.

Sunday Chokes – No one wanted this thing on Sunday. Sure it was a tough day to play, but look at the guys who were close to the top:

Kuchar – +3 with T-3 finish. Started 3 off the lead after a great Saturday and followed up with crap.
Loupe – +3 with T-3 finish. Stated 3 off like Kuch but couldn’t keep game going.
Perez – +5 with T-11 finish. Started 4 off the lead and after a great week imploded.
Na – +4 with T -11 finish. Started 5 off the lead. See everyone above.

Phil – Not a good sign for Lefty. Clearly his age isn’t helping him these days and his game as been anything but Phil-like. But you know he only cares about the Majors, and is definitely just trying to win another Green Jacket, but a WD on Saturday can’t be good. With Phil and Tiger both hurting it seems like Augusta might have a different feel this year.

JON

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Remember the Alamo – Valero Open Locks

Kevin Chappell – To call Chappell’s start to 2014 slow is an understatement. Before his T-14 at Bay Hill, his best finish was a T-23 at the Northern Trust. This is a guy who had a great year in 2013 finishing 2nd at the Memorial and making the weekend in every PGA event he entered, including the US Open at a tough, narrow, Merion Golf Club. The most important stat at the narrow TPC San Antonio is driving accuracy and Chappell was T-5 last week at Bay Hill on the way to a respectable T-15 finish. His history at the Valero is very good. He was T-15 in 2013 after an opening round 75 and was 2nd in 2011 (WD in 2012). Seems like first time winners are trendy this year and with Chappell, it seems like the ingredient are all there to make it happen.

Brendan Steel – He clearly likes this course given he won here as a rookie in 2011 and followed that with a T-4 in 2012. Sure, his T-48 in 2013 is a red flag but he really wasn’t playing well at this time last year and his T-20 last week at Bay Hill makes me more comfortable with his current form. Brendan is 3rd in total driving, 22nd in overall ranking and 7th in scrambling from the rough. Last week he was T-19 in driving accuracy and GIR. Form meets course history, the perfect combination.

Fredrik Jacobson – Obvious choice alert. I bet he’s the experts’ “love child” this week because he’s on a role and has great history here. The “junkman” loves this course. He’s finished in the top 20 the last three years and was T-5 in 2011. His form is coming around too. He was 10th last week at Bay Hill and has been top 20 in this last 3 PGA Tour starts.

STEVE

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MMGP – Bay Hill

I’m not gonna lie I love this tournament. Love Arnie being there on the 18th to shake hands with the winner. Love the course which is challenging but has a lot of risk reward. Love the last hole which can create a lot of drama and has given us more than a few Tiger highlights over the year. This year wasn’t quite as exciting, but it had plenty to offer and kept the theme of the Florida swing being the real start to the season. A couple expert thoughts about the tournament.

Matt Every – Well done. First win and did it with some solid consistency. Sure there wasn’t anything too flashy about his game or any of his rounds but weekends posts of 66 and 70 proved to be the difference. Every had been playing some solid golf of late with T-8 at Valspar and a T-6 at Northern Trust so it shouldn’t have come as that big of surprise but still a major accomplishment. Not a bad day when you pocket your first PGA Tour win, over $1 million and top with a handshake from Arnold Palmer. Not bad at all.

WTF Adam Scott – How do you let this tournament slip away? Scott open with course record tying 62 (-10) on Thursday. Follows with 68 on Friday for a commanding lead and he finishes in solo 3rd, 2 off the lead. If you are one of the top few players in the world and you are taking the meticulously thought out approach to a limited schedule you can’t let this happen. Top guys don’t do this and they don’t let a “never won” guy steal a tournament from you. Shape up Scott.

Allergies My Ass – So Bubba’s allergy situation has actually be well documented and apparently he is a walking pharmacy on the course just trying to survive around all of the grass and foliage the tour provides. However, while his allergies may have been so bad to make him WD after Thursday I’m not sure you can blame his 11 on the 10th hole. Let me restate that in case you thought it was a typo. An 11. He hit 3 straight tee shots into the drink before finding the fairway on his forth and lying 8. I may suck at golf but at some point you find a way to just put it in play. A freaking 11.

Tiger – His back issues continue to be a major concern and him missing a tournament he loves to dominate is not a good sign for him, the tour or the rest of the season.

JON

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Knee Jerks – MMGP Valspar

Golf is a difficult game, so when my weekly wish of having someone hit an amazing shot to win a tourney fails to come true, I accept that and move on. So when John Senden holed out on 16 (hole #1 of the “Snake Pit” no less) and all but guaranteed himself the win, I thought it was pretty cool. Imagine what the reaction and coverage of this shot would have been were it Rory, Phil, or dare I say….Tiger…it would be insane! I’m not here to tell you to be excited for a win by a 42 year old Aussie journeyman with one PGA victory that came eight years ago, but dammit, we should all applaud that shot.

Need more convincing to be skeptical about stats?  David Lingmerth finished this week 1st in “Greens in Regulation” and “Proximity to the Hole”, yet finished 58th. James Driscoll was best in “Strokes Gained Putting” and finished 54th. Kevin Na finished 2nd in scrambling and second in the tournament, showing some positive correlation, muddying the waters even further for guys looking for a statistical edge.  As I’ve stated before, stats can be a good tool in the tool belt, but have limitations and should be treated as such. Basically, no stat can convince me that David Lingmerth is anything but a mediocre player.

By all accounts Kevin Na seems like a decent human being, but to watch him play golf is something I don’t wish up anyone.  Here’s to hoping he has more holes like this early on in tournaments to ensure we don’t have to see him on TV over the weekend.

From golfchannel.com: Snedeker: I’d welcome gay player on PGA Tour”.  I can’t wait for the day where a) this isn’t a story, and b) it isn’t a story used simply to drive ratings. I like “Feherety” as much as the next guy, but this seems like a cheap publicity stunt.  Take a southern boy and have him support the gays and all the sudden there’s controversy. Except not really because Brandt is a multi-millionaire with endorsements and he knows as well as the next guy that in the “PC” world, taking any other stance is sponsor suicide. I’m not saying he doesn’t believe what he says; I’m just saying that even if he didn’t, he would say it.

Another doozie from golfchannel.comJohn Daly continues to receive sponsor exemptions on the PGA Tour … why, exactly? Because he’s a fan favorite? Those fans must enjoy seeing bad golf, because JD hasn’t won since 2004, has just two top 10s since 2006, has 38 career withdrawals and now has 62 rounds of 80 or higher. Because he’s a two-time major champion? Sorry, but his most recent major triumph was 19 years ago. Jordan Spieth was about to celebrate his first birthday. At least use an excuse from this century. Daly, No. 582 in the world, has made five sponsor-aided starts this season – or one more than talented up-and-coming American Peter Uihlein, who is No. 73 in the world. Something is wrong with that picture. – Ryan Lavner.  

Ummm, this ass-hat could not miss the point more on Daly. Daly is absolutely still a draw for all sorts of reasons, not the least out which is his inability to control his personal life. This is a flawed human with incredible talent who everyone roots for. He understands his flaws and embraces them; he is incredible sound bites like this after posting a 12 on a par 4: “It was a good 12. I got up and down for 12,” Daly told reporters after his round.”  This guy needs to get off his high horse and embrace the legend of Long John Daly.

CHRIS

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Valspar Championship Locks

Harris English to WIN (15-1, $100 to win $1500):  Oh Harris my Harris.  He seems to like this course and has been playing great golf recently.  He won he 2011 Southern Amateur on this track and finished T-7 last year.   If the season ended today, the only thing missing on his player of the year resume would be a win.  I also liked how he battled at Doral.  He shot a 77 in the wind on Friday but battled back with a 74 and a 72 for a T-16.  I think he gets it done this weekend.

Jordan Spieth to WIN (16-1, $100 to win $1,600):  I’m jumping back on the Speith train.  He actually has course history at Innisbrook with a T-7 (tied with Harris).  I don’t think Jordan handled the wind very well at Doral (captain obvious) with a 79 in the bad conditions, but like English, he battled back with 73 and closed with a 69 to finish T-34 last weekend.  I wish there was a line for an English-Spieth final group.

Cameron Tringale to WIN (55-1, $50 to win $2,750):  Cameron also fits the profile.  He was a solo 3rd here last year and shot a 66 on Sunday (did something click?)  He’s made six straight cuts and has been in the top 13 in three out of his last four.  He seems like a guy who could surprise and win here.

Bryce Molder to WIN (65-1 $25 to win $1,625):  I’m ‘Cised for Bryce this week!  Bryce is 6 for 6 in cuts this year and has finished in the top 10 in his last 2 tournaments.  He hasn’t played since the Northern Trust in early February, but that may be a good thing?  He’s been OK here in the past, T-20 in 2012 and aT-30 in 2013, but last year he played 4 of those rounds in the 60’s.

Billy Hurley III to WIN (250-1, $25 to win $6,250):  Sure, you probably don’t know who his is and as you’ve probably predicted this is his first start at Innisbrook, but this guys looked really good going solo 5th at the Honda and has made 6 of 8 cuts this year.  You want stats?  Ok.  He’s inside the top 25 in GIR, driving accuracy, scoring average, scrambling and sand saves.  Look, I’m not looking for much at 250-1, but he’s as good a lottery ticket as any.

STEVE

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Calling the Golf Gestapo (aka Tarpon Springs, FL PD)

Tampa Bay Times – TARPON SPRINGS — Like most Saturdays, the group of golfers gathered at the Tarpon Springs Golf Course for its weekly league. And like most Saturdays, at this course and courses around the country, the round involved a few side wagers. Until Feb. 8. As the group of golfers walked to the clubhouse that morning, it was greeted by general manager Chuck Winship. No more betting in league play, said Winship, revealing he was under investigation by Tarpon Springs police. 

Ok I get it. Running an illegal casino is illegal and there are technically laws against gambling but are these guys serious?  Also nowt sure who is worse in this whole story – the cops or the “former employee” who tattled. Call him a whistle blower or a good Samaritan, but lets not confuse reality this guy got fired, hates the guys who dominate the leagues and probably didn’t tip him enough so he decided to be a little B. Well done. Hope you are happy with yourself. Hardo move right there.

Good thing we never bet on golf.

STEVE

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MMGP – WGC Cadillac

Well that was one hellava tournament. Again it’s great to see tough courses, tough conditions and high scores. These guys are supposed to be the best of the best (WGC should mean something), so I was happy to see guys aiming for par instead of being upset over their mediocre 65s. Anyways here are the winners and losers from this week at Doral.

Winners

Patrick Reed – This kid can play. Sure he looks like an overweight, unathletic 30-something out there but the fact is that he is 23 and just dominating these days. Make no mistake about it this was a legit win. This kind of victory is how guys win majors, specifically a US Open, where everyone is trying to tread water and he just kept on going. Not to mention he causally went wire to wire and was never in real jeopardy down the stretch. Kid kept his nerves in check for his biggest win of his very young career. If he keeps this up he will play himself into major contention and maybe even onto the Ryder Cup team (guy dominates match play).

Doral and The Donald – Completely redone course in under 12 months. Only 3 guys under par and only 2 more at even. Seriously the US Open might have more guys in the red. The lack of trees may make for fewer blocked shots, but wind, water and length all mixed to bring the “monster” moniker back to Doral. The Donald took this over and while the TV couldn’t get enough of him you have to give the guy credit who apparently played a large role in the redesign. Food for thought – he wants to add more water for 2015. Have fun guys.

Losers

Rory, Adam, Tiger – Talk about a mega letdown. Pair the top 3 in the world for the first 2 rounds and they just sucked. Combined for only 2 rounds under par between the 3 of them and while Tiger shot up the leaderboard on moving day with his 66 his back (and insanely inconsistent game) let him down on Sunday. All 3 finished T-25 at +5. I expect more from these guys and honestly so does the majority of people watching, not to mention the TV execs. Need to step it up boys.

JON

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