Thursday, August 9, 2007

Welcome To Tulsa Hell:
2007 PGA Championship Preview

Things you should do in 105 degree heat and humidity:

1. Stay the hell inside with the AC cranked
2. Move to a city or state where it doesn't get 105 degrees with mondo humidity

There you go- that's the list.

You will notice that "playing golf" is not on this list, not to mention "playing golf whilst being mandated to wear pants by rule" or "playing golf for 4 days straight against the best golfers in the world with the aim of winning a major championship whilst not being able to wear shorts by rule".

Today the 2007 PGA Championship gets underway at Southern Hills in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where temperatures have been pushing 110 all week, with the added bonus of super humidity- none of that Arizona "dry heat" shit- that is for pussies. Whereas usually the main storyline is either Tiger, Tiger/Phil, or the course setup, this week all of that is being topped by the absolutely brutal weather conditions which border on physically dangerous for players and spectators alike.

Master of the obvious analysis: the winner this week will be 1) relatively young 2) very, very fit and 3) used to playing in heat and humidity, either from where they grew up or going to college at say Oklahoma State or Texas or some other place with similar conditions. This means you can throw out as your winner:

1) anyone over the age of 40- sorry Vijay
2) anyone who is overweight/out of shape- John Daly, Calchavecchia, Paul Goydos, Mantits Mickleson, or the legendary Tim Herron whose nickname is "Lumpy"
3) anyone from cold ass climates, specifically Northern Europeans- so no 2 majors in a row for Irishman Paddy Harrington, and you won't see superpimp Darren Clarke, Thomas Bjorn of Denmark, or any of the Swedes hoisting the Wannamaker trophy on Sunday evening.

So who wins? Tiger, right? You would think so, as he is the best player on the planet, and also the best physically conditioned golfer, and is coming off a complete bitchslapping of the best golfers in the world last week at the World Golf Championships at Firestone.

The one caveat: Southern Hills is playing to a par of 70 this week, and Tiger's record in par 70 majors is not nearly as dominant as his record in par 72 majors, where he gets 4 par 5s to shoot at. The numbers don't lie:

Par 72 majors
10 wins in 19 starts
.526 winning %
Avg. finish: 6th
Top 10 finishes in 14 of 19 starts

Par 70 majors
1 win in 16 starts {2002 U.S. Open at Bethpage Black}
.063 winning %
Avg. finish 19th:
Top 10 finishes in 6 of 16 starts

That's not to say he won't win, just that the numbers say that it is not a given by any stretch. That being said, I still wouldn't bet against him.

Either way, he certainly qualifies by the criterion I laid out above. He didn't grow up or play college golf in a really hot place, but the talent gap between him and everyone else, as well as him being the most fit, basically gives him an exemption to this factor. And if not him then someone else relatively young, very fit, and not from a cold place. And don't be surprised if it is someone off everyone's radar, in the last 6 years the PGA has produced obscure winners David Toms {obscure at the time}, Rich Beem, and Shaun Micheel.

You can follow the action from your cubicle at the official site of the PGA Championship, and this weekend on CBS, which I will be enjoying from the 60 degree cool climate of Fog City, USA. Enjoy.

***Update, Thu. 10.20 a.m PST***
Of course, the leaderboard right now is:

1. Arron Oberholser, a native of notoriously cool and chilly Northern California
2. Markus Brier from Austria
3. John Daly, the chain smoking and overweight hero to the common man golfer

But it's early on day 1- I stand by my analysis that in the end none of these three, or anyone else like them, will be around after 4 days in the 105 degree heat & humidity.

3 comments:

OMAA said...

I'm reading this Friday afternoon. I was amused at your leaderboard. I was going to call you about a bet on Tiger. I was going to see if you would give your Tiger v. the field bet. What made me think of it was that the past times he didn't win one of the first 3 majors, he only one the last one once. The odds are really against him this week. Unless JD gets drunk after making the cut tonight. But that is just mean.

Kanu said...

Don't put it past JD to shoot 84 and miss the cut, or just say fuck it and walk off the course...

AMAZING quote from JD's presser yesterday: "I didn't drink any water out there all day." WTF?!?!? That in addition to smoking several cigs during the round. It was 101 and the heat index was 109. Dude is just too epic.

As far as the Tiger vs. the field bet, I would only do it at 3/1 if the other person committed to the same bet for all 4 majors in 1 year. Give me Tiger at those odds in any year- if her wins 1 out of 4 I break even, if he wins 2 or more than I win big, and if he gets blanked then I lose, but not big- given his past performance it's a great bet, even better if you can get someone to agree to it at 7/2 or 4/1.

Actually I would take Tiger against the field in a one off, but it would have to be a Par 72 major, and I would demand at least 3-1. Given that he is batting over .500 in Par 72 majors, that is also a great bet.

But in a par 70 major, I would need to get longer odds to take a Tiger vs the field bet. I'd do it at 5/1- although he's only 1 for 16 career in par 70 majors, he has finished in the top 5 6 out of 16 times, so I would feel good about my chances on Tiger's side of the bet at 5/1.

OMAA said...

I thought of you this morning when on ESPN they were doing a Jack vs. Tiger comaprison and were asking when, if ever anyone gave Jack vs. the field in a tourney.