Wednesday, September 9, 2009

This Week in Golf

BMW Championship - The PGA Tour comes to Illinois again for the BMW Championship (formerly known as the Western Open). This is the third leg of four in the PGA Tour Playoffs. My pick to win last week came through for me. University of Illinois alum, Steve Stricker, pulled off an impressive win in Boston on Monday, and he is now the Playoff points leader coming into Chicago. Tiger Woods is close behind, and he will be playing this week. Tiger has won this event four times in the past, and he has lots more positive history in the Chicago area to feed on. After his phenomenal final round of 63 only two days ago, he is definitely my pick to win at Cog Hill this week. Cog Hill's Dubsdread course has undergone some renovations that most critics have said certainly improved the look and playability of the course. Most of the work I heard of had to do with bunkering and some green alterations. I expect the course to be pretty much the same Cog Hill we are used to, though. After the BMW Championship, the Playoffs give the top 30 on the points list one needed week of rejuvenation before competing for the FedEx Cup and $10,000,000 grand prize at East Lake in the TOUR Championship. According to the PGA Tour, any player in the top five on the points list at the end of this week will be able to claim the grand prize with a win at East Lake. As stated earlier, Woods is my pick to win this week, and my sleeper prediction goes to 1985 Western Open champion, Scott Verplank. Scotty birdied the last four holes on Monday to finish one stroke behind Stricker. He always has a steady putter, and he should have a little fire in his belly. Not only did he just finish runner-up after a fantastic performance, he also was snubbed a President's Cup pick, according to some analysts' critiques. I expect Verplank to come out this week and prove that Captain Couples should have included the Oklahoman on his team. Johnny Miller and crew will bring the coverage from Cog Hill.

President's Cup - The President's Cup will be played at Harding Park in San Francisco in early October. However, Captains Fred Couples and Greg Norman selected their two wild cards this past Tuesday. Captain Couples chose U.S. Open champ Lucas Glover and Hunter Mahan to round out the American team, and Captain Norman, surprisingly, picked Japanese teen sensation Ryo Ishikawa and fellow Australian Adam Scott for the International team. The 17-year-old Ishikawa has struggled in his appearances in the U.S. this year, but he did win a Japanese Tour event just days before being selected. He also will bring in a larger international contingent of fans and media attention. Scott has been a strong player for a few years now. He even was ranked as the number 3 player in the world only a year ago. However, the Hawaii Open runner-up has not finished better than T36 in his last 15 events, including 10 cuts in the same time span. Few in the golfing world are unaware of Scott's struggles, which makes this pick unusual. The captain's picks are typically reserved for each team to add either an inspiring veteran with patriotic fire or a guy who has been playing lights out for the past few weeks. Scott does not fit either description. The completion of the teams gets me excited about team play at a classic course coming soon.

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