Erin go Bragh!
5:49 pm Update: Shane Lowry does it! Erin go Bragh!!!
4:20 pm Update: Game On! A tournament has broken out at the WGC Firestone. Shane Lowry and Bubba going toe-to-tie! A few others with a chance to contend. I like both Lowry and Bubba (I mentioned both this morning, to pat myself on the back), but I’m for Lowry today. But Bubba would make a nice winner, too.
Whistling Straits Odds: Here are the odds for the top betting favorites at Ladbrokes:
- Jordan Spieth 5/1
- Rory McIlroy 8/1
- Dustin Johnson 12/1
- Jason Day 14/1
- Adam Scott 20/1
- Bubba Watson 20/1
- Justin Rose 20/1
- Rickie Fowler 20/1
- Henrik Stenson 25/1
- Louis Oosthuizen 33/1
- Martin Kaymer 33/1
- Phil Mickelson 33/1
- Sergio Garcia 33/1
Hallmark Card Tournament: With Jordan Spieth dropping off the pace, and no other big favorites of mine near the lead, my interest in the Firestone is ebbing. Furyk or Rose either one would make a fine champion, but neither is a golfer I live and die by. Shane Lowry, my favorite among the leaders, has been fun to watch this year, and it would be nice to see him get a big win. It would be good for golf to have a winner with a few extra pounds and a lumberjack beard; I’m so tired of the golf media insisting there is some optimum body type for the game. (In football, wide receivers certainly don’t look like offensive linemen.)
Why did I title this section “Hallmark Card Tournament”? Because it’s proclaimed “a limited field of elite players” in the way that Hallmark greeting cards proclaim Boss’s Day or Secretary’s Day is a big deal. We’re all expected to be good lemmings and go along with the choreography.
Life isn’t really like that, though, and neither is golf. Even the big holidays, planned and scripted for weeks, often end up falling way short of expectations. They can become dreary obligations.
On the other hand, a true celebratory day can spring out of nowhere. Two of your foursome cancel late; the remaining two decide to play anyway, but your hearts are not in it. You get to the course Saturday and are grouped with two out-of-towners who are more fun than any of your regulars. Oh, and a cool front passed through two days earlier, wringing the heat and humidity out of the air. You have the most fun of any round all year. You get to the clubhouse for a beer with your two new friends and see the first college football Saturday has just gotten underway, and your favorite team is about to spring a big upset on a national powerhouse.
That day, which started with such poor prospects, winds up being the most fun day you have the entire year. There is no Hallmark card for Playing Golf With Two Hilarious Guys in Great Touch-of-Fall Weather Day. It just spontaneously occurred.
It’s the same with golf. The Hallmark Golf Media can champion the WGC Firestone all they want, but that doesn’t mean it will pan out as a great event. On the other hand, they probably cringed at the thought of the Valspar, but it turned out to be one of the top events of the year. This year’s Valspar, with Spieth holing dramatic putts and beating Reed and O’Hair in a playoff, will be among the best events of the year. And there was very little fanfare leading up to it. No Hallmark card.
Of course today’s finale at Firestone could surprise; for example, I would love to see Graeme McDowell burst out of the pack and climb to the top, and I’m slightly invested in Lowry, as well. Maybe Bubba can put together a big run and win in dramatic fashion. We’ll have to wait and see, but it’s likely the Firestone will prove to be more sizzle than steak. More Hallmark card than actual fun.
As it is, I’m already looking ahead to Whistling Straits.
Lanny Knows Golf: The Euro Seven are not having a great week, but remember some of them are seeing the course for the first time. Consider Anirban Lahiri’s three scores: 77, 72, 67. See the trend? As he learns the course, he is seeing dramatic improvement. Branden Grace shows a similar trend: 73, 69, 67. I wrote this two days ago, after his opening round: “It’s the first time many of them are seeing the course. I wasn’t necessarily surprised by any of them other than Grace. I expect Grace to shoot three rounds better than today’s.”