Reading the Breaks
Handicapping the pros and amateurs according to the momentum they bring to Pebble Beach.
Thursday, February 7, 2013
Sometimes you’re hot, sometimes you’re not. We all face it.
Thankfully, and scarily, change can come quickly. Just ask Tiger Woods – and we’re not even talking about his fire hydrant accident that sent him so suddenly from perfectionist to pariah.
This year he misses the cut one week – albeit while taking a $1 million-plus appearance fee in front of sheiks – and a quick Lear trip later he wins by four in San Diego.
But he’s not the only one for whom things go well and not so well. Here’s a guide to the current ebbs and flows of the golf world, and some of the streakiest pros and amateurs appearing this week.
HOT: Tim Clark
Good news: Four birdies on the final four holes at last month’s Sony Open. Bad news: His playing partner did it on the last five and won, giving Clark his 11th runner up. But long anchor putters are the future. And Clark gets that.
HOT: Carson Daly
While Jimmy Kimmel just moved to the prized 11:30pm slot, Daly’s Last Call is moving all over the place – 3am in some places. Still, Carson gives Kimmel 14 shots a side. And finds golfing alter-ego in Spiderman, tweets a picture of it.
NOT: John Daly
He’s up $10,752 for the year, roughly enough to last him about 20 minutes at the roulette tables (or an hour at Hooters). But he missed the cut at his other appearance, the Farmers Insurance tourney in La Jolla, so the search for sponsor’s exemptions continues. At least he has the loud pants and 2010 country CD he did for Long Ball Records, featuring “Hit It Hard” and “I Only Know One Way.”
NOT: Tom Dreesen
Frank Sinatra loved him. Sadly, Sinatra’s long gone. Dreesen remains the best emcee the Clambake’s had since the Jack Lemon days, but we haven’t heard much from him since a Letterman appearance in 2011. Still, 43 years of standup is damn impressive.
NOT: David Duval
Not unlike his signature Oakleys, well past his prime. At least the former number-one in the world admits he’s made enough money, isn’t what he once was and is more into his kids and skiing. Made all of three cuts last year in 17 events.
HOT: Josh Duhamel
Riding euphoric high of having a romantic ensemble film (Safe Haven) debut on Valentine’s Day. Married to Fergie from the Black Eyed Peas, which impresses everyone except Andy Roddick.
HOT: Jim Furyk
Collects wins every year. Odd swing (loopy), odd endorsements (5 Hour Energy) – but he’s consistent like a metronome. Exciting as a metronome too. Should have won last year’s U.S. Open in San Francisco, so he brings some fiery Northern California redemption energy with him.
HOT: Kenny G
As the Weekly wrote in 2010, the G is a lot like Jesus. Most know him by his first name. He’s inspired millions of believers with his gift from God – and had just as many knock it. And he’s Jewish. Difference is, Kenny G’s a scratch golfer. Like G says, “I should call Pfizer and see if they can bottle what I’ve got.”
HOT: Tommy “2 Gloves” Gainey
This guy won reality contest The Big Break on Golf Channel, which means he’s a natural for the fishbowl that the AT&T crowds can create. He also won on PGA Tour in late 2012 and has an early top 10 in 2013.
HOT: Russell Henley
All he did in the first pro tournament of his life last month was post 63, 63, 67 and 63, collecting more than $1 million with the win. He finished tied for 16 as an amateur here in 2010. Don’t let the baby face fool you.
HOT: Charles Howell III
With a second and third this year already – and the runner’s up coming in the similar pro-am format Bob Hope event – he’s due. Helps that he’s very religious. If leading on Sunday, may conduct 9pm service at Carmel Presbyterian. With win, walks across Stillwater Cove.
NOT: Lee Janzen
The 1998 U.S. Open can seem so far away. Fortunately, the Champions (aka senior) Tour is closer by the day.
HOT: Dustin Johnson
Long hitter, with two wins at Pebble and a T8 at the 2010 U.S. Open after leading for three rounds – plus a victory already in 2013 and second most cash so far. He enjoys Pebble more than Clint Eastwood enjoys berating furniture at IKEA. And he’s got his old caddy back.
NOT: Huey Lewis
The Heart of Rock and Roll now beats for blackjack, if the three upcoming tour dates – at Chumash, Morongo and Wild Horse Pass casinos – are any indication.
HOT: Phil Mickelson
With four victories at Pebble including last year’s final day runaway from Tiger, Phil is perma-hot at Pebble. But he’s coming in smoking after nearly posting a 59 at the Phoenix Open, where he might just move, as he is unhappy with the Golden State’s tax rates. According to Phil he is in a 63-percent tax rate on a reported $53 million in earnings last year. A move to Florida, Nevada or New Hampshire might make more sense than Arizona: no state taxes. Or a jump to a Russian condo with French tax exile Gerard Depardieu. We prefer you stay in Cali, though, Phil. The schools need it.
HOT: Pat Perez
So hot he’s most famous for meltdowns – including 2002’s undoing at Pebble, sending clubs and turf flying at 14 and 18. But the new Perez is a cooler character, and plus $200,000 early in the season. Look for him to access his A game without bringing greenskeepers pain.
HOT: Andy Roddick
Playing AT&T proves that there’s more to life than Brooklyn Decker. There shouldn’t be. Stay home, dude, and polish all your trophies. For us. Still, when you have that to come home to, you can play confident and loose.
NOT: Tony Romo
His 2012 golfer rating is much higher than his quarterback rating, but so is Dick Cheney’s popularity rating. Could be replaced next year by Tim Tebow. Or Roger Staubach. Or Jessica Simpson.
NOT: Darius Rucker
In rock, sells 19 million copies of first album. With one country album, suddenly the most popular African-American singer in Nashville since Charley Pride. Those are wins. His anger at ever being called Hootie, not so much. And the most exciting thing he’s done on the course is almost behead a spectator teeing off at 1 for the celeb shoot-out.
NOT: Vijay Singh
New, weird putting grip – called the “reverse claw” – means hope for the consistent ballstriker who only goes as far as his putting can take him. But just confessed to using banned “deer antler spray.” Tour equivalent of Lance Armstrong scandal, I suppose. And bad news for guys like Boo Weekly and other hunters that use all parts of a deer. If Vijay gets kicked out of Pebble, he can stay local and bike 17 Mile Drive with Lance.
NOT: Boo Weekly
Last decade’s “Two Gloves” Gainey, another good old boy – albeit with none of the momentum. Has struggled since 2006 Ryder Cup. Putts worse than Happy Gilmore. Warning to Pebble Beach prop owners, he may shoot local deer. Needs the meat.
HOT: Kelly Slater
“I think both golf and surfing offer a similar challenge on some level,” he told the Weekly. “Constant challenge, and you might just do something you’ve never done on the next shot or hole.” That makes the guy’s focus superhuman. Besides, he dated Madonna… after Dennis Rodman. He’s fearless.
Mark C. Anderson contributed to this story.