Balls in the Air: The Memorial Tournament
By Stephanie Wei under Balls in the Air

Welcome to Balls in the Air, where I size up my Fantasy Golf picks of the week, featuring guys to watch (or not) and interesting story lines. Disclaimer: Don’t yell at my if my picks suck. There’s no mathematical formula to my attempt at predicting something as random as golf scores.

Who caught the Skins game coverage on Wednesday? It was like a relaxed, fun preview of 10 marquee players in The Memorial dueling for skins — I mean, because from what I could tell, the guys were taking it really seriously. I watched the tail end. And I use the term “watched” very loosely because it was more like the TV was turned on to the Golf Channel, peeping my head above my computer occasionally while I tried to figure out which announcer couldn’t stop fawning over Tiger’s every move. I mean, like a starstruck fan boy. Turns out it was Bill Kratzert, who I’m told is known for his idolization of Tiger.

Meanwhile, how about Sean O’Hair’s putting? My God. When he missed that three-footer, Jack Nicklaus turned to Phil and uttered something indiscernible to me, but from the looks of it, he was thinking, WTF? Unfortunately for O’Hair, he does that in tournament rounds, too.

Anyway, my picks! You know, I’ve really lost confidence in the past few weeks. I just don’t know what happened. Call it a slump, I suppose. Because I have such a low opinion of my guessing abilities right now, I’m doing something unprecedented — I’m picking Tiger/Phil for Group A. I never thought I’d type those words. I’m actually going against my damn principles. Well, the golf world is in all sorts of disarray these days.


Tiger Woods: I’m sick of all his BS, but I’ve never said I dislike watching him play good golf — which clearly hasn’t happened recently. He’s the defending champ and likes the track. Apparently his neck is feeling better after doing exercises and therapy that he doesn’t want to explain. It’s no secret he’s been struggling with his driver (exhibit A: #7 at TPC, round 1), but last year he hit 14 of 14 fairways in the final round and 88% of the week. I know, I know — that was the old Tiger. At the same time, he was hitting it crappy off the tee going into this same event last year. So, I believe! Oh man, really, I’m like punching myself in the face as I’m typing right now. Did someone spike my coffee?


Phil Mickelson: Ugh. Who knows which Phil will come out to play, but if you want to buy into the theory that Phil steps up his game when Tiger is in the field, then here we go.


Robert Allenby: His first start since playing for second at The Players after he felt his chances to win were quashed when he left his birdie putt short on 17. He hasn’t won in ages in the States — perhaps with Tim Clark winning The Players, Allenby has replaced him as Mr. Second Place? But he’s having a solid year, almost becoming one of my “safe” picks. I just hope he doesn’t putt from the fringe to get it close rather than trying to chip it in for the win again (like at The Players).

KJ Choi: No MCs in 12 starts. He won this event in 2007. He’s the Tank — isn’t that reason enough?


Adam Scott: Oh yes, I did! I’m getting a little crazy. Well, sorta. The dude did win the Texas Valero Open a few weeks ago. Huge. Okay, seriously, though, his swing looked really good and perhaps this talented underachiever is getting back on track after his severe drop to near-dreg level when he missed 10 cuts last season — in a span of 13 starts. Ouchie.

Rory McIlroy: I might be sorry I didn’t start him. The kid looked good on Wednesday. He admitted to getting distracted with his new celebrity status after winning Quail Hollow last month, but now the buzz has settled and it’s back to business. Though it’s beyond cliched, I’m going to say it — go golf youth movement.


Angel Cabrera: Dude who play well in majors play well at The Memorial. If that theory is correct, then Angel is usually a good bet. I always love seeing his grumpy old man schtick, too. Somehow he pulls it off better than most.

Tim Clark: Because grumpy Intern Kevin thinks Tim Clark is like the greatest player alive other than Lee Westwood. And yes, I realize that sentence makes no sense.

Alright, your turn. Who you got? Thoughts on the tournament? Rants? Please leave them below.

Oh, one more thing — because this is the most painfully hilarious thing I’ve heard in a long time, I strongly suggest you take a listen to the voicemail some extremely eloquent and charming d-bag (excuse the language, but it’s appropriate here) named Stu left for a lady he was attempting to woo. My stomach hurts from laughing for 10 straight minutes. Okay, maybe it was more like five.