Funai Classic preview: Can too much TV mess up a golfer's brain?
Cripes. If you thought last week was tough to call you aint seen nothing yet. First problem down at Walt’s place is trying to spot a golfer who’s got his mind on the job, in between taking the family to the Disney attractions and carting off the spoils of sponsorship. I take it Mike Weir’s caddy wasn’t joking when he wrote: “I was asked several times today what exactly Funai is. After watching all the players come out of the locker room carrying televisions in big Funai boxes, I am going to guess that they are an electronic equipment manufacturer.”
Makes you wonder what they’d get if they were sponsored by Hooters eh?
Anyway, what with that and the huge cold that has besieged my brain, this week’s competition is proving a mission. It has also been hard to find a profile in my stats that comes close to matching last year’s winners: putting most important, closely followed by good approach work, with a modest distance game edging it over accuracy off the tee. Mind you the weather played its part last year and it looks as though we might be spared too much of that this time. And if Lucas Glover can repeat the two amazing shots on the last two holes last year that earned him a stunning last-gasp victory we might as well give him the trophy now and watch all those free tele sets.
The numbers, especially for his short game, say he won’t be doing that this time, but his recent results say otherwise so I’ll steer clear.
Because of my confused state the only thing I am considering is taking on the favourite Vijay Singh. I hadn’t quite realised how far he had slumped in the ratings until I looked at this week’s figures. Davis Love III, hot off his Greensboro win, makes a better favourite, despite his poor iron play stats.
That might well prove his undoing, as the other interesting thing Weir’s caddie said was that the fast greens would put a premium on getting the right side of the holes.
Cue Eric Axley. Third for putting and seventh for GIR, but essentially the kind of good all-round stats that can produce a champ here. Winner of the Texas Open and third at Greensboro, he let me down last week (didn’t they all!), posing the question of whether he has had enough golf for one season. Still with an outside chance of making the Tour Championship, he may surprise us again.
There’s a case to be made for Bo Van Pelt, 5th and 11th in his last two outings, and not a bad match for the winning profile. Daniel Chopra fell at the last yet again last week and you wonder how many more times he can dust himself off. But these Swedes never know when they’re beat and he’s got a hot putter. So does Ben Crane, another who fluffed his lines last week but can’t be ruled out.
I guess we should also mention Frank Lickliter, a late threat last week with the kind of all-round form you would think well suited to this competition. The negative is that he does not have a happy record in this event and looks to be out of the TC race.
I would also be more enthusiastic about Brett Quigley if it wasn’t for his poor distance play. He’ s pretty much in the money list comfort zone too.
But there’s one person who , while he doesn’t shine in any particular discipline, has one of the best all-round games in the competition. Oh, and he came third last year. Justin Rose, the most frustrating English golfer south of the North Pole, could just get himself into the Tour Championship if he put his back into it. I know, he missed his best opportunity against Axley in Texas, but I live in hope.
If he doesn’t fly your plane, there’s some interest in the two others that tied for third last year - Ryan Palmer, who won the year before, and (yes Oliver) Rich Beem. After placing fifth at Greensboro, Palmer was a strong tip last week but missed the cut. Was that a windmill too far? I’m afraid the numbers I have for him leave me a bit cold. And with Beem I get frostbite, except that he was 11th last week and does need the money to avoid slipping out of the exemption zone.
And keep an eye on Lee Janzen, who is making an excellent fist of trying to make up the $150,000 or so he’s short of the exemption line.
Mind you, there’s more than 20 competitors bunched within $200,0000 of the line and any one of them could suddenly develop an awesome game for a weekend.
That’s if they’re not too busy watching their free TVs.
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