Pay Day; Birth and Death of a Narrative; Fantasy Scandal Executive Briefing

9:22 pm Grillo Gets ‘Er Done!  Wins in first attempt as PGA Tour pro!  Na gracious in defeat.  Lanny spot on with analysis of Grillo, Kaufman, Varner.  Justin Thomas super solid, bodes well for rest of season.

9:03 pm  Grillo misses short putt for win; heading to second playoff hole

8:45 pm Grillo and Na in Playoff!!

*******

Pay Day on the PGA Tour:  I’ve watched embarrassingly little golf this weekend, but I have been leaderboard following.  Patting myself on the back, I suggested yesterday that the battle-tested Euro Tour vet Emiliano Grillo would do better than Varner and Kaufman.  Scores on Saturday?  Grillo -7, Varner -3, Kaufman -3.  Looks like Ole Lanny knows his golf!  I’ll stand by yesterday’s analysis and go with Grillo again today.

Rory McIlroy is having a pretty pedestrian event by his standards.  Even with a great round, he’ll be hard-pressed to garner a top ten finish.  As for Justin Thomas, he hasn’t had a train wreck round like those that doomed him so many times last year.  He’s not out of it, but he is three back of the leader and one or two back of ten other guys.  Needing to have a better round than so many other guys slims his chances.

Brendan Steele does not get a lot of publicity.  He was just a name to me prior to last summer’s CBS’s “PGA Tour 2015: Coming Home” documentary.

At that time I wrote this brief description of what I learned about Steele:

Every segment was first-rate, but there is one other I will mention, and that is the one about Brendan Steele and Idyllwild, California. Idyllwild, a town of 4000, is a remote and beautiful mountain town which has no golf course. Steele, who didn’t take up the game until age 13 (another point worth stressing) seems to have learned the game and grooved his swing largely from hitting into an outdoor net.

Thirteen is hardly “old,” but it’s older than the age at which most PGA Tour pros took up the game.  By the way, I still highly recommend that CBS documentary.  I’d watch it a second time, for sure.

This is a damn fine leaderboard.  Lots of great stories in the top 25 or so.

Birth and Death of a Narrative:  I’m pretty it was Peter Jacobson, so I’m go to tell this as if it was…  On Thursday or Friday, one of the golf announcers stated the narrative about how young players today come out of college ready to win on Tour.  It’s the kind of balderdash that makes knowledgeable golf fans roll their eyes and shake their heads.  It’s one of those things that some golf reporter said in the past, and all the other lemming golf reporters scrambled to repeat.  At any rate, Jacobson had had enough…

He spoke up, paraphrasing: “We hear about these young guys today ready to win on Tour, but plenty of guys won right out of college in my day, too.”  He mentioned Curtis Strange (I’m not sure he’s a great example; I think he won as a rookie, but that was a couple years out of college), Ben Crenshaw (a great example, as he won his very first PGA Tour event out of college), and himself (hmmmm…  maybe it wasn’t Jacobson, as he doesn’t appear to have won early).  Anyway, the point is that the meme of “today’s young pros straight of college are ready to win on Tour” is nothing new.  From memory, I can give you two examples that top anything today’s young guys have done.  (Okay, okay, I’m not counting Jordan Spieth!  He’s a one-off, who already resides on golf’s Mount Olympus with Jack and Bobby Jones.)

First, consider Phil Mickelson, who won a Tour event in 1991 while still IN college in 1991.  Next, consider Scott Verplank, who won a Tour event in 1985 while still IN college.  I should also point out that one of the examples often cited as an example as one of today’s “players ready to win right out of college” is Justin Thomas, a player who hasn’t actually, you know, won.  (I don’t mean to pick on Thomas; I’m just trying to keep it real.)

Anyway, I get so tired of these false memes that get repeated so many times they become “conventional wisdom.”  I was really happy when Jacobson (or whoever it was) challenged this particular one.

Fantasy Scandal Executive Summary: [Note: The fantasy sports  scandal is one of the most fascinating and important issues currently in the news.  The major theme is, as I see it, officially-approved, intentional, premeditated deception — which is the core of my problems with the golf media.]

Like so many things once the media gets ahold of them, the discussion is being turned into a simplistic, binary argument that misses the actual issue.  The following two examples distort the issue so that dummies can easily “debate the issues”:

From the New York Post, “I pissed away my fortune and family on fantasy sports.”

From the Sacramento Bee, “Another View: Concern over fantasy sports gaming is misplaced.”

The first presents the “side” that online fantasy sports betting ruins lives.  The second presents the “side” that online fantasy sports betting does not ruin lives.  What they’ve done is take the real issue — why fantasy sports is considered a legal “game of skill” while poker, for example, is considered an illegal “game of chance” — and morph it into the old standby: Is gambling a fine thang or an evil thang — Let’s ar-gew!  It should be obvious that has nothing to do with why online fantasy sports is legal while online poker is not.

Anyway, I’ve encountered a number of well-researched and well-written articles on the topic:

This one from ThinkProgress last May might be the best I’ve seen.  It gives a great description of the history and addresses the topic of whether or not it constitutes a “game of chance.”

From Forbes, back in 2012: “Why Is Gambling On Fantasy Football Legal?”  The author lays out the argument for legality, but doesn’t agree.

From Business Insider, a good piece describing some of the current legal actions by various states, “State scrutiny of daily fantasy sports grows.”  Here’s a nice little snippet from the article:  “It appears that although the sites’ representatives publicly state that they do not believe daily fantasy sports involve ‘wagers’ or ‘bets,’ they do use the terms ‘betting’ and ‘wagering’ when they are not dealing with law enforcement agencies,” the memo noted.

This highly-interesting Wall Street Journal piece (“The Deals That Made Daily Fantasy Take Off“) has something worthy of note by golf fans:  But the fuel that ignited the current spending boom was the most recent round of financing this July, when FanDuel raised $275 million from six investors while DraftKings announced it had secured $300 million. Companies that were listed as investors included Google Capital, KKR, Comcast, TimeWarner and 21st Century Fox in addition to several major sports leagues. Note that Comcast is the company that owns NBC, i.e., Golf Channel and NBC’s golf programming.  Do you think NBC News’s coverage might be affected by the fact that THEY HOLD A STAKE IN DraftKings!!!  (Comcast and NBC Sports also hold a stake in FanDuel, according to the article.)  Also damned interesting is that “several major sports leagues” are also investors.  I highly recommend reading this article; it shows the incestuous nature of fantasy sports, advertisers, professional sports, and the media.

From the Legal Sports Report’s “DFS Partnership / Sponsorship Tracker“:

Free agent: PGA Tour

Fantasy golf is the hot new vertical in DFS. DraftKings ran a contest in April around the Masters that guaranteed $2.2 million, with $1 million to first place. And the contests around the majors got bigger from there.

With the amount of entries DFS golf contests are seeing, it seems like only a matter of time until a major site partners with the PGA Tour. Official branding during television broadcasts would likely make a huge difference. Currently, FanDuel does not offer golf contests.

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2 Responses to Pay Day; Birth and Death of a Narrative; Fantasy Scandal Executive Briefing

  1. TigerFan says:

    Jordan has 2 majors and less than 10 total wins in 4 seasons but because he won 2 majors as a youngster he’s in the company of Jack and Bobby? Gimme a fucking break.

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