So here we are, in the midst of the greatest sporting event to ever grace the state of Oklahoma. Make no mistake about it; this is the defining sporting event for Tulsa and the state as a whole. Hey, it only took 100 years.
Every morsel of information concerning 89th PGA Championship has been covered ad nauseam. Here are a few reasons why I can't wait to engulf myself in the tournament.
At the rate my adrenaline is soaring, you would think I was filling in for Bob Tway Thursday morning on the tee box at 8:45 with Tiger Woods. I feel like I could charge through a wall at any moment a la the Juggernaut from X-Men: The Last Stand.
This should come as a surprise to no one. Tulsa has rolled out the proverbial red carpet once again. The city has tidied up quite nicely for our visitors from around the world.
Allow me to contemplate my dilemma with you. What game plan should I employ for the first two days? The weekend is much easier to plan for. The contenders will have separated themselves from the pack and demanded our attention.
Do I follow the hordes and go on a "Tiger watch"? Tag along with one of the locals such as Scott Verplank, Anthony Kim or Hunter Mahan?
Perhaps grabbing a seat on the 1st tee box and watching every golfer tee off is the way to go. What about a nice grassy cop-a-squat behind the infamous 18th green?
Mark my words. The only guarantee I can give you is my rear will not be affixed to a chair in the media center. One hundred degrees? Big deal.
I plan to navigate the course and enjoy the spectacle first hand. Besides, most of the media types could use a little exercise. Trust me.
Here are some intriguing pairings to watch during the first two rounds. Well, they're interesting to me.
Luke Donald, Jim Furyk and Jonathan Byrd. Furyk was a wildly popular choice in my pre-tournament pick 'em contest. Donald, along with Sergio Garcia, is the next big star from across the pond.
Steve Elkington, John Daly, Shaun Micheel. J.D. throwing down in T-Town. Elk is probably one of the funniest, most engaging players off the course. But sign me up for Big John swinging for the greens. Plus, Micheel is an admitted steroid user, but that's another story for another time.
Zach Johnson, Angel Cabrera, Padraig Harrington. As is tradition with the Championship, here are your three previous major winners for the year. I wonder what kind of odds Vegas was giving back in January for this triumvirate?
Vijay Singh, Mark Brooks, Davis Love III. Brooks somehow managed to finagle his way into a playoff with Goosen back in '01 at Southern Hills. Singh and Love III have been known to rattle under pressure in the past. Bunny ears anyone?
Jeff Sluman, David Toms, Phil Mickelson. I'm a huge Toms homer--so there. More importantly, how will Mickelson's wrist hold up under duress? Can you actually count Phil out? Will this be his last tourney of the year before he shuts it down to heal?
Tom Lehman, Sergio Garcia, Geoff Ogilvy. Who has a bigger question mark over their head this week than Garcia? Seriously, his nonchalant remarks after blowing the British Open raised more questions than ever before.
Bob Tway, Rich Beem, Tiger Woods. Or as the rest of the world will refer to them--Tiger and those other two. Honestly, if I have to explain the fascination with this pairing, you probably shouldn't be reading a sports column. Move along.
Hunter Mahan, Henrik Stenson, K.J. Choi. Choi and Stenson are fabulous talents from the international crop of golfers. Mahan = en fuego!
Miguel Angel Jimenez, Scott Verplank, Robert Allenby. Verplank is the local darling. Hopefully Allenby and Jimenez are not averse to the color orange.
Ryuji Imada, Matt Seitz, Eric Axley. Hey, these guys need some lovin' too.
As you can see, the field is stacked. It's just another reason the Championship separates itself from the other majors. It can be argued the Championship field is the strongest of the four.
And finally, a word from a fraidy-cat pro golfer. You may or may not have read the comments by an "anonymous" golfer in last week's Sports Illustrated. Here is a transcript, which I will dissect line by line.
"I'd like to thank the PGA of America for sending us to Tulsa in August." (I love it when prima donna professional athletes complain about their jobs, especially when the job consists of playing golf. Hey, buddy, come sit in my cubicle for a day.)
"I guess Death Valley wasn't available." (That's hilarious. Don't quit your day job.)
"I'm not a huge fan of Southern Hills. It was great in its day--the 1970s--but doesn't hold up to today's power game." (So we now know the golfer is a long hitter with no touch around the greens. He outted himself as a one-dimensional banger.)
"When we all lay up to the same spot on the corner of a dogleg, it seems like the staggered start of a 400-meter race." (One of my fondest memories is of the 1996 Olympic Games. Michael Johnson's 400-meter race was epic. What exactly is your point?)
"I hope they've fixed the 9th and 18th greens, which were such a joke in the '01 Open that they had to mow them to a different length to make them semi-playable."
Congrats on your "news flash" from 2001. Are you going to anonymously tell us about America landing on the moon next week? How about an anonymous tip on the hand full of cuts you missed this year?
How do I know the anonymous golfer multiple several cuts this year? Why else would he mention the 9th and 18th greens when it has been widely reported those were fixed years ago.
Here is a golfer who has done no homework heading into a major championship. Man up and put your name behind these statements.
Just another reason I am super-stoked for this week's festivities. Maybe one of the CBS golf announcers will read this and calm me down.
Seriously, hit me up this week and relax my nerves with your reverent, smooth-toned voice. But, you won't find me in the media center.
I'll be on the course!
A star-studded field calls for something special. Below is an impressive field in their own right. Let's see who our local sports "experts" predict will hoist the Wanamaker Trophy this week.
Cory Burd (Bailey Ranch GC) - Jim Furyk
Chris Jarrett (LaFortune Park GC) - Aaron Baddeley
Pat Jones (Sports Animal) -- Scott Verplank
Don King (The BUZZ) -- Sergio Garcia
Corey MacIntyre (Oilers GM) - Jim Furyk
Joey Meyer (66ers HC) - Jim Furyk*
Luke Phillips (Talons Kicker) - Scott Verplank*
Paul Smith (TU QB) -- Tiger Woods**
Scott Sutton (ORU BB Coach) - Scott Verplank*
Dwayne Davis (UTW) -- David Toms*
* - indicates 1st choice was Tiger Woods
** - indicates refusal to pick alternate to Tiger Woods
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