Arnold Palmer Invitational round two: Let's hear it for Rocco Mediate
The ideal setup Sunday would be Rocco Mediate and Tiger Woods in the final pairing. That way we could see how the old pro handles the Tiger circus and how the young pro with the tunnel vision focus handles the incessant chatterbox that would be his partner. Boy can Rocco talk for America, and Canada, and Mexico; heck you might as well throw in all the Americas. His interview Friday goes on so long my scroll wheel started glowing.
It was entertaining stuff - well worth a read - and you can well imagine him and Paul Casey almost forgetting they were in a big international tournament with hundreds of thousands of dollars at stake and Woods in the rear view mirror. Maybe the banter helps the two stay relaxed and loose.
There’s no earthly reason why Mediate shouldn’t win, continuing a fine trend set this season by ‘golden oldies’ Fred Funk and Mark Calcavecchia. He is a five-time Tour winner, albeit distant memories now. We are reminded by the PGA Tour website that three strokes is the biggest 36-hole lead this season. His stats describe a man who has taken to this course like a duck to water, of which there’s been quite a lot. He hit 93% of fairways Friday despite the strong winds and, for the second straight day, 83% of greens in regulation. There may be a bad round coming but, given all the emotion surrounding his relationship with Arnold Palmer, this could also be another fairy tale waiting to happen.
The stats are certainly on his side. Since 2000 four Bay Hill winners led at half way and the others were no more than two strokes behind at that point, which puts the task facing Woods into dramatic context. The wind is going to kick up a bit again Saturday, though probably it won’t be as troublesome, and the rain should largely stay away. That suggests the greens might get a bit more interesting.
Casey struggled Friday but has the game, and John Rollins put in an impressive second round, making 89% of greens in regulation. Stephen Ames, favourite of a few tipsters, put in a solid all-round performance, although his approach work looks underwhelming. Shaun Micheel is doing a good job of avoiding the rough and matches Mediate for iron work. He just needs a firmer grip on his putter. The mercurial Ben Curtis, who leads the pack for driving accuracy, is an intriguing possibility.
And then there’s that man Woods. I thought he was a bit histrionic Friday. Pathetic? I thought he was a shade unlucky not to be a shot or two better off after righting his ship down the back nine. Those who were brave enough to take him on could take a modest profit now his price has gone out to 4, although in my view the six-shot gap still makes him a risk well worth taking.
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I've been wagering with a contact down in the islands since internet sports wagering has been proscribed here in the States.
Betting on the theoretical matchups, I've managed a profit of $512 on the first two days of the Palmer.
I bet against Tiger both rounds, dropping $100 on Thursday but winning $250 on Friday.I just can't bring myself to bet on Woods having to lay 2.5, 2.75, or 3 to 1. My fanatical brother-in-law, a Tiger fan if there ever was one, is in the tank again wagering on Woods.
He won $100 on Tiger the first round, became so confident that he doubled his bet in round two against Stenson laying 2.75 to 1 and dropped $550.
He just called to tell me that he is seriously thinking of quadrupling his bet lating 2.3 to 1 on Tiger against Retief. He'd have to lay $920 to win $400! If he loses that one, he may end up in a padded cell. That might be better than facing my sister when she finds out.
My brother-in-law got a "push' yesterday when Woods and Retief both shot 70. I ended up $5 ahead, dropping $200 on Appleby's 73 against Phil's 72, but winning $105 on Vijay's 67 against Ernie's 71, and another $100 on Trevor's 70 to Sergio's 71. I am $517 up for the three rounds of the Palmer, so I have only made two wagers today: $200 on Chad Campbell vs. Paul Casey at Chad +105, and $300 on Sergio vs. Tiger at Sergio +220. If neither of them pan out, I'll still be ahead the magnificent sum of $17.
Anthony, I'm not sure that Tiger would ever be a good bet, what with the ridiculous odds one has to lay when betting on him to win these theoretical matchups. When he loses just one of these matchups, which he invariably does, his backers are put into an almost insurmountable deficit. Then, like by brother-in-law, they have to start "chasing" to get even. As you said once before, Woods is great, he's a superstar, but he's not "superman" which he'd need to be to make his persistent backers winners.
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