Tour Championship preview: Nice of Tiger's opponents to turn up
How green is my golf course? Depends on who you read. For some the state of East Lake’s greens is shocking enough to warrant the sacking of PGA Commissioner Tim Finchem, others are wondering what the fuss is all about. I had visions of balls hopping, skipping and jumping all over the place. In fact it looks like the greens will play slow, but fairly sure with only three potentially troublesome holes where the pins will be kept away from the worst areas anyway.
So it looks like a hot putter could still win the day, which answers one of my key questions. The other is what sort of Tiger Woods is turning up. One has to assume that, even if he’s cooled a smidgin from the red hot golfer that burned up Cog Hill last Sunday, he is still in the rudest form and raring to put the icing on a very decent looking cake.
Face it, even for Tiger 10 million smackeroos is a lot of wonga, deferred or not (and imagine the security nightmare of his suggestion that it should all be stacked up at the 18th waiting to greet the winner - I’d be whistling Mission Impossible all week). Be in no doubt either that he would like to be the first winner of what is surely a competition that’s here to stay. Also, revenge for his kicking by Phil Mickelson two weeks ago must surely be atop his list of things to do. And if you still think the case for a Tiger victory isn’t quite strong enough, I’ll tell you his recent stats are up there with the gods. He’s 1st for distance off the tee, 2nd for greens in regulation, 9th for putting (and considering how small the margins are that’s more like top than it sounds) and 11th for accuracy off the tee, which means he’s been hitting an average of 9 and a half fairways to the top man’s 11.
In the light of all that, perhaps we should be grateful the 29 other players have turned up for what is clearly a fruitless task. Thankfully, especially when Rory Sabbatini’s around, hope springs eternal.
Trouble is, with such a small but high quality field that have honed their skills over the last three weeks you could make a plausible case for almost all. But Mickelson has to head the list after his win two weeks ago. He might have been blown away by the Tiger we saw last Sunday and his stats are good but not heavenly. But apart from the lure of beating tiger twice in three weeks, he’s one of only three with a realistic chance of getting that FedEx prize. Plenty of incentive there, you’d think.
Similarly for Steve Stricker, playing out of his socks until last Sunday. I fear, though, that battle fatigue might take the edge off his game. I doubt the very slim chance of winning the cup will deter K J Choi, but his return last week was not impressive; his irons seemed to be giving him some trouble.
Defending champion Adam Scott came 4th last week with an impressive weekend performance and has the stats to back his case. Justin Rose has the form to win, but is his lack of course knowledge might be a handicap. The same goes for Aaron Baddeley and Camilo Villegas, although they are playing some of their best golf.
And I’d harbour a thought for Jim Furyk, second last year and getting back to some decent form. He ranks third for finding both fairways and greens - or is it browns now?
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