Bob Hope Classic
We discuss golfing celebrities, casino hot streaks and of course, this week's event
Bob Hope Classic
Where: La Quinta, Calif.
Courses: PGA West (Palmer), PGA West (Nicklaus), La Quinta CC, Silver Rock
Defending champion: Bill Haas birdied the final two holes to hold off Matt Kuchar, Tim Clark and Bubba Watson by one shot for his first PGA Tour title.
Welcome to another edition of Fantasy Fix, where I'm feeling extra good about my picks this week after making a rare successful trip to Atlantic City. My luck began at the blackjack tables and didn't run out until learning the rest-stop KFC on the way back was out of chicken. So without further ado, here are this week's words of wisdom.
After two weeks in Hawaii, the PGA Tour begins its West Coast swing with the Bob Hope Classic. The five-day event (remember to set your lineups by Wednesday) features four courses, a plethora of celebrities, and more birdies than you can shake a U-grooved wedge at.
THAT'S (FANTASY) GOLF
Before focusing on this week's tournament, a point about the week that was if I may. As Waialae Country Club collected rain like I pile up fantasy sports titles, I heard more and more experts say long hitters would rule in Honolulu. But in the end, two of the shorter and more accurate players, Mark Wilson and Tim Clark -- two guys who can't hit it past the celebrities they'll be paired with this week -- finished 1-2. Length is certainly advantage every week, but the bottom line is that all these guys have the distance to contend at just about any event. And before I ramble too much, the bigger point is that golf, like sports in general, is sometimes impossible to predict. I mean, did you see that Jets-Patriots game?
Bill Haas. It was last year at this event when I showed my unabashed bias toward fellow Wake Forest alums, especially those from the class of 2004. Haas picked up his first PGA Tour win by birdieing the final two holes to beat Matt Kuchar, Tim Clark and Bubba Watson and added another title at the Viking Classic later in the year. Can he take another step toward having this event officially renamed the Bill Haas Classic? His initials are a good start.
STUD OF THE WEEK (OTHER THAN BILL HAAS)
Matt Kuchar. Looking at this field, you could make the case that he's the only stud at La Quinta. Kuchar, who nearly won this tournament last year, is the highest-ranked player in the field at No. 13 and the only player in the top 25. Meanwhile, No. 1 Lee Westwood and No. 4 Phil Mickelson headline a much stronger field on the other side of the world at Abu Dhabi. Back to Kuchar, I may have underestimated him last week at the Sony, but I won't make that mistake again. The breakout player of 2010 appears to be here to stay with a T-5 and a T-6 in Hawaii.
DON'T BE SURPRISED TO SEE THESE GUYS MAKE A RUN
Chad Campbell and Pat Perez. For a second straight week, we'll highlight Campbell, who won this event in 2006. He's also coming off a T-13 at the Sony, where he began his season by firing four straight rounds in the 60s. Perez didn't play as well in Honolulu, but no one has been more explosive (both good and bad) in this event. He has a 60 under his belt and has twice shot 61, including in 2009 when he picked up his lone PGA Tour title. Of course, the year he opened with a 60, he somehow managed to finish 73rd.
BEST ATHLETE IN THE FIELD THIS WEEK
This may surprise some people, but I'm not going with Brendon de Jonge (though he is one of our top sleepers for 2011). Instead, I'll take Bo Jackson, the 1985 Heisman Trophy winner who went on to become the only person to ever make an all-star team in two professional sports. And yes, Bo knows golf.
FITTING ENDORSEMENT DEAL OF THE WEEK
David Duval signed with Scratch Golf and then promptly went out and put together a pair of 72s and a missed cut. Point is, scratch golf is a lofty ambition for most of us, but it's not going to cut it on the PGA Tour. Speaking of Duval, he once shot a final-round 59 at this event for a memorable win. Again, though, that seems like ancient history. Stay away.
FAN MAIL BREAK
"Hey Alex, thanks for picking me last week. Sorry I couldn't win for you, but I promise to do better next time. I'm going to sign off before I start getting choked up. Sincerely, Steve Stricker."
No, the Strick Show didn't actually write me, but then again, he didn't have to after posting a solid T-9 finish. Seriously, though, please feel free to email me with comments, questions or just to make fun of my picks. And of course, you can follow me on Twitter.