Play of the Week 33

June 19, 2012

This week, I’m afraid I have to give the POTW to the USGA. Typically, I am not a fan of the US Open. When I’ve watched the tournament in years past, I’ve typically found it to be rather boring for a number of reasons. In most cases, it is pointlessly difficult, to where even the best in the world can make nothing of the courses (Oakmont, 2007; Shinnecock, 2004). In many cases, the winner is boring or surprising–as if we were playing the John Deere classic instead of a Major (e.g., Lucas Glover 2009, Angel Cabrera 2007, Michael Campbell 2005, Reteif Goosen 2001/2004). Often, it’s just a war of attrition, where the one player who’s lucky enough to find his ball on every hole manages to sift through the gauntlet and survive the fray (GMac, 2010). Or, the tournament is just boring (McIlroy, 2011).

But every few years, the USGA gets it right. One of the most memorable tournaments I’ve ever watched was the US Open at Torrey Pines in 2008, where Tiger edged Rocco Mediate with a gutsy performance that just outlasted one of the most tenacious players in the game. Or 1999, where the image of Payne Stewart sinking a 20-foot putt to save par on the 72nd hole has become an icon of the game of golf. But in 1999, although the winning score was -1, the course played fairly. It showcased how the greatest in the world (a very young Tiger, a younger than now Phil) could play when the pressure cooker was on, and Payne’s lasting legacy of 1-putting the last 3 holes to hold on was truly a riveting watch.

Like ’08 and ’99, this year, the USGA got it right. The US Open this year wasn’t flashy. It was a simple test–a par 70, even. No water hazards to fly over, no forced carries, not even more than a few fairway bunkers. But Olympic Club was just right. The winning score a nice +1, with Webb Simpson coming out on top over Jim Furyk–trying to hold on–and Graeme McDowell, who charged in at the end but couldn’t seal the deal. Webb posted his second 68 of the weekend hours before GMac and Furyk walked off the course, leaving the scene for great tension and excitement. Olympic was a true test–not just a slaughterhouse. It TESTED the best in the world, but the test could be passed. Players didn’t complain that it was unfair or say that it was too penal. Instead, they went about their business, and the winner played under par both rounds on the weekend. When was the last time you said that about a US Open winner? (well, other than 2011, when Rors was on an absolute tear, but who else?) And, for the second time this year, the winner of a major has come from a pairing other than the final group, which is some welcome excitement that we don’t often see.

I’m not saying this was as exciting as the Masters is every year, or that the US Open is no longer my least favorite of the majors. What the USGA typically does to the players isn’t right, on any level. But this year, the course was what a true test should be. When a player masters that test, he should get the trophy, and Webb did. So, to the USGA, we solute you. And, to Webb Simpson, congrats on passing the test.

us open olympic

POTW 32: Magic at 16.

June 4, 2012

Forget that he won.  Forget that he won for the 73rd time.  Forget that he tied Jack AT JACK’S PLACE.  Forget that he came from 4 back to win by two.  Forget that you couldn’t tell if it was 2000 or 2012 when watching the final round at the Memorial.  The play of the week goes to the shot that will likely define Tiger’s comeback.  A shot that Jack called the greatest shot he’s ever seen in the circumstances.

Go ahead.  Watch it again.  We are.

Play of the Week 31

May 7, 2012

This week’s POTW is an obvious choice. Rickie Fowler finally broke through after two years on the PGA Tour, capturing his first victor at the Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow, beating D.A. Points and Rory McIlroy on the first hole of the sudden-death playoff.

I’ve been critical of Rickie in the past….particularly, What’s worse, he’s taken his douchy-dressing to a new level.

Can you say “child molester?” I threw up a little in my mouth when I saw the replay of the Saturday round with Jim Nance and Nick Faldo (wearing full suits and ties) interviewing the little punk dresser with his backward cap, molester stache, and bright yellow outfit.

People keep saying “he’s great for the game.” And, while I wish he weren’t SO far to the bright colors and outlandish outfit side, I’m starting to come around. Dude has incredible game. Nothing he does is really over the top or completely polished, but he manages no to make big mistakes and he manages to put it together for great rounds and exciting golf.

What’s more, the tournament yesterday was rivetting. Webb Simpson almost broke through, but came up just short. A 3-man playoff and Fowler nailed a 5-footer for birdie on a 460-yard par 4 to take home the trophy. Dare I say it? Is golf becoming exciting again? Even….without….Tiger?

Even better, for the first time in a long time, a major champion is at the top of the World Golf Rankings: And even Tiger Woods is now back in the top 10.

LG and I often romanticize the idea that Tiger Woods will come back to make the game exciting again. But we’ve had several nailbiting tournaments this year, and they didn’t rest solely on Tiger’s performance (as the PGA Tour has for so many years). I’m starting to find myself following players that, previously, I had no interest in. If Fowler wants to dress like a d-bag, go ahead; the kid can play the game.

So, to you, Rickie Fowler, we salute you. Many congrats on breaking through for your first win, and thanks for helping keep the US in the winner’s circle.

God that stache is horrid.

Play of the Week 30

April 30, 2012

This week’s POTW goes to none other than Jason Dufner.

Now, I know what you’re saying. Dufner just looks…bleugh. And until this week, I probably would’ve said that there isn’t much to be excited about with this guy. But watching him play yesterday, I found myself rooting his way, and, for what reason, I don’t know. To look at the guy, you wouldn’t think he was an athlete of any kind. To watch him play, he certainly doesn’t inspire confidence in American golfers.

But what Dufner loses with a shy, internalizing personality he makes up for with amazing ballstriking, short game, and a remarkably good overall game. Dufner played his college ball at Auburn, mastering the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail. He finished runner-up to Trevor Immelman in the 1998 US Amateur Public Links. And, more recently, he finished second at the PGA Championship to Keegan Bradley, who practically knifed him right there on the golf course. Few people could come back from that.

Even though Dufner hadn’t come through the ranks for a win, his game is clearly tremendous. A guy who can shoot -19 in a tournament while posting a final round 70…that’s pretty amazing. While he might not have that striking and shining personality that we love to see from guys like Phil and Tiger, he also isn’t faking it. This guy is who he is, and who is he is…well, that’s one heck of a golfer.

To you, Jason Dunfer, many congratulations.

Also, a mini-POTW shout out to Ernie Els. Although Big Easy didn’t break through at the Zurich Classic and ended up falling in the playoff to Dufner, this is the first time we’ve seen him in contention in a long, long time. It’s good to see one of the classic swings of the game back in contention. Maybe we’ll harken back to the good ole Tiger/Phil/Vijay/Ernie days, back when golf was really, really exciting.

Here’s to you, Big E.

Where to begin, where to begin?  First, we sincerely apologize for falling off the map.  JK and I are both junior attorneys at law firms, and JK has an army of little munchkins to corral.  it is easy for us to fall off the wagon.  But, we are back!  Let’s do this awards show style (the Power Fadeys):

Best Original Screenplay: Tiger Woods

It wouldn’t be the Power Fade without a shout out to our boy, TW.  While Bay Hill always provides an amazing venue and great host, the tournament becomes electric when Tiger is in contention.  He absolutely owns the place.  With an air tight tee to green performance and outstanding putting.  Tiger showed a true return to what we remembered.  79.2% of GIRs and a 1.8 putting average will win a LOT of golf tournaments.  More importantly, he only made 5 bogeys on the week.  Grueling conditions appear to be the norm for Mr. Woods.  The moment that I thought he was “back” was when I realized he was the only player under par in the last four groupings.  Ring a bell?  (2000 U.S. Open at Pebble, anyone?).   Here’s to you, Mr. Woods.

Best Crybaby: Sergio Garcia

JK and I have gone back and forth on Sergio.  JK doesn’t like him.  I used to.  Sure his mental game needs work, but he hits the ball so pure.  Surely it was only a matter of time before he made the breakthrough?!  Well, now, if you talk to Sergio, even he will say it’s not going to happen:

“I’m not good enough, and today I know it,” he said. “I’ve been trying for 13 years, and I don’t feel capable of winning. I don’t know what happened to me. Maybe it’s something psychological. … I’m not good enough for the majors.”

For that, Mr. Garcia, you win the Fadey for “best crybaby”.

Worst Timing: Dustin Johnson

Quick shout out to DJ.  How are you going to go and miss the masters?  fail.

At least he has a sense of humor about the whole Whistling Straits thing…

Best Supporting Actor: Louis Oosthuizen

Oostie put on one hell of a show.  The sweet-swinging South African put on a clinic for knocking in pressure putt after pressure putt on the back nine on Sunday.  He really did look like he had “ice water in his veins.”  Cool as a cucumber, as JK might say.  There isn’t much for me to say that his swing didn’t say on Sunday.  For some reason, we forget that he won the Open Championship at the home of golf by an outstanding 7 strokes.  Oostie, you are a brilliant golfer.  After you performance on Sunday, I consider it only a matter of time before the past champions are looking down at their plates the year after you win saying “what the hell is this?”

By the way, nice double eagle, guy.

Best Picture/Best Actor: Bubba Watson

This is an obvious choice, but we here at the PF love the Masters.  We love everything about it.  It’s our favorite week of the year.  You wrote the perfect story.  The second playoff hole is the reason we play golf.  Crush the ball dead right into the trees…no shot…dead.  Unless you’re Bubba.  150-odd yards to the green, but you have to make the ball take a screeching right turn off of some pine straw.  That sounds like Bubba golf to me.  There’s really nothing I can say that Bubba can’t say for himself:

“I get down there, saw it was a perfect draw,” Watson said. “Even though the tower was in my way, I didn’t want to ask if I could get relief or anything, because it just set up for a perfect draw – well, hook. That’s what we did. We just kept talking about you never know what’s going to happen out here. Anything can happen.”

Way to make it happen, Bubba.  You deserve it.

Play of the Week 28

December 4, 2011

This week, the PF salutes Tiger Woods.  Winning again is one thing, but to win as Tiger did was, well, Tiger-esque.  Down one shot going into the final round to the mind-numbingly consistent (and boring) Zach Johnson.  Grinding it out one hole at a time.  Drawing even on 17 with a clutch 15 footer for birdie.  Smashing an iron passed Johnson on 18 and draining the 6 footer to put away the W.  Hell yeah.  Golf in December, baby!  Are you watching this?  We are.  Congrats, Tiger.


Play of the Week 27.5

November 29, 2011

A quick shout out to the US (again) for again showing that we are the best in the world. Matt Kuchar and Gary Woodland took the field by storm at the Mission Hills World Cup and took home the U.S.’s first win in the event since Tiger and DD took down the W 11 years ago. The American pair fired six birdies in the alternate-shot final round at Mission Hills Blackstone course to finish at 24-under, 264 overall, notching the 24th U.S. win in the history of the tournament.

They took down the likes of the Molinari brothers, Team Ireland (Rory and McDowell), and Team England (Poulter and Rose) who shot a blistering 63 to come in second at -22.

Here’s you, gents. Good luck getting that trophy home.

Play of the Week 27

November 28, 2011

This week’s POTW goes to Australian Golf.

I have to admit, I’m not a fan of the Aussies. Like the Brits, they can be a little loud and obnoxious at times. But they got it right this year with the winter series. Maybe it was just dumb luck that Tiger woods decided to return to golf at the Australian Open, but the last few weeks have been wonderful viewing.

Particularly for those of us who work long days (and, some nights), the last few weeks of the Australian Open, President’s Cup, and Australian PGA Championship were tremendous. The time difference is perfect–I just come home from work, flip on the TV, and watch some of the best in the world duke it out…LIVE! No tape delay or DVR here! And when I say the “best in the world,” I mean it. Look at this leaderboard from the Australian Open:

Of the top 15 at the Australian Open, the field included John Senden, Tiger Woods, Geoff Ogilvy, Nick O’Hern, Adam Scott, Jason Day, Nick Watney, Aaron Baddeley, Bubba Watson, and Fred Couples. Quite honestly, I’d rather watch this field than the John Deere. That’s a pretty tremendous crowd–and a number of these guys were in contention at the 2011 Masters.

The next week, we watched as the US manhandled the World in the President’s Cup. And, just this weekend, Greg Chalmers (who no one had heard of before he took down the aforementioned field in Australian Open) put his name on the world stage by winning the Aussie PGA as well.

So thank you, PGA of Australia, for setting yourself up like this. And thank you Tiger Woods for deciding to make winter golf interesting again. And thank you to the President’s Cup for giving the US something to cheer about after that terrible Ryder Cup defeat last year.

I’m looking forward to more from the PGA in 2012.

Play of the Week 26.5

October 31, 2011

The more significant play of the week for this week (sorry Sergio) goes to JK’s family.  Congratulations on your newest addition – A new baby girl!!  Soon JK will have his own foursome and will have no need for LG.

Congratulations from your PF family!

Play of the Week 26

October 31, 2011

This week’s POTW should actually be a POT(2)Ws – Play of the 2 Weeks.  Sergio Garcia has racked up back-to-back wins on the European Tour.  Two weekends ago, he took down the Castello Masters by an astounding 11 strokes to break a three year dry spell, and he backed that up this weekend with a one-shot victory over the most interesting man in the world – Miguel Angel Jimenez – at the Andalucia Masters.

Sergio always seems to peak right around Ryder Cup time.  Here’s to you, El Niño.  Keep up the strong play, and we’ll look forward to watching you dominate.