Agonizing over my Masters pool picks: Mickelson in; Tiger out
For most of the country, Thursday is the start of the golf season. The Masters is the year’s first major, a tournament that even non-golf fans will watch, especially if Tiger Woods is in contention.
It’s also when I start making my periodic donations to the office betting pools. I keep funds in my PayPal account just so I can enter six or seven of these pools a year. We had a college football bowl pool last December and this January, and I was actually in the money until the last three games, but that’s the closest I’ve ever come to cashing in on one of these things.
The best part about these pools really is how they keep your interest in the event. Not that I need a whole lot of that to watch the Masters, but this makes it even more compelling.
Our Masters pool is divided up into four flights, and you get to pick two golfers from each flight. Then you add up the money your guys make against other folks in the pool. If one of your guys doesn?t make the cut, then you don’t get any money from him. So the idea is to get into the weekend with all eight players. I usually have about four.
Anyway, like most years, I agonized over my picks, changed them at least five times, and was pretty sure, once again, that mostly luck prevails in picking these things.
The wild card is Woods. Really, I have no idea what to expect. His die-hard fans, who refer to those who doubt him as “haters,” say this is the week he gets it together and makes everyone sorry that they ever said anything cross about him. But they say that every week.
India’s Arjun Atwal, who practices regularly with Woods at Isleworth in Florida, says Woods is close, but we’ve been hearing that for a quite a while. Woods didn’t drop all the way to No. 7 in the world because people started hating him; it’s simply because he isn’t playing that well. And last week he didn’t play, which I think is a mistake.
Woods, himself, said practice isn’t like competition, yet he continues to play a light schedule. So I flipped a coin and left him off my list. Like many, I had to go with a guy who chose to play last week and won ? Phil Mickelson.
Mickelson had nine birdies in his final round win at the Shell Houston Open, plus he’s using two drivers this week like he did in his 2006 win. Can’t go against that. My other guy in the first flight is Nick Watney, another Butch Harmon success story.
After that, you just try to find guys who you think will make the cut, and if one of them contends, all the better. For me, that was Anthony Kim and Rickie Fowler in the second flight (although these are pretty good dark horse picks as well); Ryo Ishikawa and Ricky Barnes in the third flight; and Jhonattan Vegas and Martin Laird in the fourth flight. (Vegas lives pretty close to me, and we once had the same golf instructor, though said teacher would really prefer I not reveal that, so I won’t mention him by name.)
That fourth flight, by the way, has a bunch of old guys that won the Masters like 50 years ago, so those choices are a little easier. Then again, it seems every year somebody like Bernhard Langer or Tom Watson makes a run. I’m betting that won’t happen this year.
|« Edge-of-your-seat suspense makes for a superb Masters||Football, poker and golf: Check out the Football Legends event in Las Vegas »|