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 me if my picks suck. There’s no mathematical formula to my attempt at predicting something as random as golf scores.
I was on the phone last night with a dear friend as I was making my picks. Being that he claims he reads every word I write, I was surprised he wasn’t aware of the fantasy golf format. I called him out, “You don’t read ‘Balls in the Air,’ do you?”
/holding back tears
“No, I don’t,” he admitted sheepishly. “I don’t read it because there’s no Stephanie in it.”
Huh? There’s the most of me in these silly posts than anything else! — it’s just me rambling for about 800 words. That said, I totally understand if people don’t read it because I understand it can get tiresome.
Onward to more interesting things, like Tiger Gossip! We already know Tiger was seated next to Bon Jovi at the opening ceremony. Well, rumor has it that Tiger is staying at the mansion of a cop turned fund mogul, who lives across the street from Overbrook GC. Supposedly there was a party hosted there on Wednesday night (presumably for charity), where Bon Jovi gave a private concert. Apparently the road near the home was closed yesterday evening.
Meanwhile, Tiger had a dinner reservation at Fleming’s on Saturday night, but apparently it was canceled because it was leaked. Shock!
Enough. I’m looking forward to checking out Aronimink on the telecast this week. From what I’ve read, it’s one of those traditional courses that is considered a great (but reasonable) test of golf. Creative shotmaking and good ballstriking are rewarded nicely. Let’s go to the picks.
Tiger Woods: Well, it’s basically Tiger and the field, right? Which hasn’t generally been the case this season, but Phil isn’t playing and most of the top-ranked Europeans are playing in the French Open. He played like crap at the US Open and managed to pull off T4. We never know what to believe, but he says his game is “close.” While he’s defending champion of the event, it was played at Congressional last year. But those who play well there should also enjoy Aronimink.
GROUP A BENCHER
Ryan Moore: It was a toss-up between Moore and Verplank. Despite Ryan’s cranky attitude lately, he’s playing pretty well. He shot four rounds in the 60s last week and placed T13. Thing is, his putting was awful — check that, he burned a lot of edges. And he’s not a fan of poa greens, which he’s putted on the past two weeks. Watch out if those missed birdies start dropping. Aronimink is the type of course he shines on. From the sounds of it, it should remind him of the courses he grew up playing in the Pacific Northwest. And I believe he’d call it a reasonable test of golf. He played well at this event last year.
Jim Furyk: He’s an excellent shotmaker and hits a lot of greens, which is supposedly important at Aronimink. Simply, it suits his game.
Sean O’Hair: He’s a member at Aronimink and native of the Philly-area. He’s always been shaky on the greens, but he seemed to be happy with his putting at US Open — he just thought Pebble’s greens were the worst he’d ever putted on in his life. Besides that, he had one of his most solid putting days on the back nine in the final round at the US Open. In past two starts, he’s finished T12. And after my encounters with him at Pebble, I’m a big fan. Nice, (surprisingly) chatty guy.
GROUP B BENCHERS
Brian Gay: Once again, because Foltzy said to pick him. Apparently Gay plays well at these types of courses. It’s not super long. Gay leads in driving accuracy and makes putts. He’s missed the last two cuts, but who knows, maybe he’ll bounce back this week.
Rickie Fowler: The kid is going to win at some point this year, right? He looked really good last week, where he finished T13. His ballstriking was superb. I know he hit 16 greens in the third round, but he just couldn’t buy a putt. He’s played well at these traditional tracks — like at Quail Hollow and The Memorial.
GROUP C BENCHER
Ricky Barnes: Suddenly, the bro has become a bastion of consistency. He is tied for the most top-tens on the tour this season with six. He finished T5 last week, but said he hit the ball well enough to win. More important, he’s managing to score — his general stats suck, I mean, are mediocre, except he hits a good amount of greens and he’s fantastic out of the sand (good news, there are 72 bunkers at Aronimink, just aim there, Ricky!). But it appears he’s awesome from 100 yards out. Oh, and I almost forgot! He finished T1 at the CVS Caremark Charity Classic earlier this week.
I’d also look out for Davis Love III, who might put up a good showing. It’s his last shot to make the British Open via the short money list, so he basically has to win.
Alright. Your turn. Who you got?
Oh, one last thing — I’m interested to see how Dustin Johnson, Justin Rose and Y.E. Yang will do. Can they bounce back? Yang shot a 49 in his last nine (before missing the cut) at the US Open. He tweeted this a few days after: