by Aaron "1-iron" Garry - 08/26/2005
SAY IT WITH ME - "VODKA TONIC VAUGHN TAYLOR."
As the "1-iron" was sitting in his barcalounger last weekend, something surprising happened. The greatest golf Analyst in the world suddenly became much more interested in finding out if Vaughn Taylor could hang onto a six shot lead heading into the final round of the Reno-Tahoe Classic, instead of watching the exciting finish at Firestone Country Club, as Tiger Woods made a clutch par on 18 to hold off Chris Dimarco. Whether it was the Sierra Nevada high, the likable Vodka Tonic, or seeing if Aaron "BADS" Baddeley could surmount a last gasp charge - something in Tahoe clicked with the "1-iron." Great tournament, fantastic course, excellent weather, and an above average field characterized this years edition of the Tahoe. "1-iron" hopes that the tournament can find a sponsor for 2006 and insure the safe return of the golf tournament so that VT can take a shot at three in a row at the Montreux Country Club venue. Big "Thumbs Up" from the "1-iron" this week to the Reno-Tahoe Classic.
If you check back to the "1-iron's" archives, you'll see that he correctly predicted Tiger Woods at 2.5/1 to win the NEC, and had Vaughn Taylor as pick 12 at the NEC. Like I said before, "There's a reason '1-iron' writes the columns, and you read them."
On the flip-side, what an interesting turn of events for Stu Appleby at the NEC. While it's been highly publicized, for those of you who haven't seen it - Appleby was assessed a two-stroke penalty when his caddy inadvertently touched a moving ball that Appleby had dropped while taking relief. The ball had not rolled 2 club lengths which subjects the player (Appleby in this case) to a two-stroke penalty. A rules official realized this and penalized Appleby two holes after the infraction occurred. A tough pill to swallow indeed for Big Stu, as he was two shots out of the lead, and the penalty cost him approximately $106,000 in prize money. What surprised "1-iron" was Appleby's absolute disdain for his Caddy after the incident. Appleby stated he would not pay Joe Damiano for the week due to the lapse in judgment. Absolutely unbelievable. For a guy that the "1-iron" found to be a very respectable fellow before this incident - this column gives Apples a huge "Thumbs Down" for this reaction. Appleby is being an absolute baby about this and needs to get on with his career. What he should be crying about is the fact he hasn't found the winners circle since the Mercedes Classic, and that a lot of good, old, fashioned talent is going to waste in front of all of our eyes.
Another interesting story from this week. Paul Gow (who the "1-iron" does not expect you to know) made headlines this week, when he called Phil Mickelson's actions in front of the galleries "acting." He also called Mickelson "arrogant" and said fellow TOUR players "wouldn't feed him." Now, I don't know if "wouldn't feed him" is some sort of Australian slang for "wouldn't get him a bottle of Jacob's Creek for Christmas" or what, but it sounds real bad from where the "1-iron" sits. Here's my note to "Gowzer" - Paulie, relax. You haven't won on the PGA Tour, and let's be frank - you probably won't ever win on the PGA Tour. The closest you've come is your two NIKE TOUR victories, and well, that ain't gonna cut it. You are talking to a guy (Mickelson) that has won 27 times on TOUR and has 2 Major Championships under his belt. Why in the world would you do that? I love the underdog, but that's going into the "Kook File." Look, is Mickelson a fake? Probably. Is this whole "Smile and Grin" thing an act? Probably. Can the majority of the public simply overlook this? Probably. So why even go there? It doesn't benefit "Gowie" to speak his mind on this one. Let Vijay say it, as it will certainly mean more. Thumbs Down "Pai Gow Poker."
Wow. Another Buick Golf Tournament on the PGA Tour. Sweet God, thanks for sending us Buick as a title sponsor no less then three times this year. Amazingly, lead Buick pitch-man Tiger Woods didn't make the trip to Connecticut this week for the event. "1-iron" feels terrible that this event, which used to be called the Greater Hartford Open, has lost such prestige over such a short period of time. This event has been played since 1952, and has entertained some great champions including Mac O'Grady, Phil Blackmar, and Howard Twitty. Kidding, actually Mickelson, Cink, Norman, Price, Arnold Palmer, Billy Casper, and Pete Jacobsen top the who's who of GHO Champions. The TPC of River Highlands is one of the shortest courses on Tour at just over 6,800 yards - but it still remains a decent challenge to the players and their patience. Should be a great week.
18 Shots -- Buick Open Odds and Picks:6 Who Will: 1. Billy Mayfair (30/1): 6 Top 10's this year with a 2nd at Colonial. Almost $2 Million in earnings and has been competitive just about every week with the exception of the PGA. Hasn't played particularly well here, but he's going to be fine this week.
2. Kevin Na (Field 2/1): "Kevin, you won yet this year?" - "Na." 6 Top 25's with 2 Top 10's and you can call it a nice year for "The Big Na'sy." He's comin in hot after a T18 at Reno, and should be gunning for a win in CT. T32 last year at the TPC.
3. Kevin Sutherland (60/1): T9 last year at the Highlands, and plays SO well at this tournament. Playing with Jason Bohn might be a distraction, but the man they call "Bagels" should be able to overcome it. He went T11 in 2003, Cut in 2002, T17 in 2001, T9 in 2000. The guy is always in the hunt.
4. Vaughn Taylor (40/1): You take the Vodka, I'll take the Tonic and together we'll make some cash on Vaughn Taylor at the Buick this week. Coming off the win at Reno, he comes in smoldering looking for win number two this year.
5. Zach Johnson (12/1): If they make another "How Stella Got her Groove Back" - they should make one about Zach Johnson and his Mojo returning to his side in the second half of 2005. After a pedestrian start to the year, ZJ has gone T2, T17, T9 in his last 3 events. Not bad. Comes into the former GHO - "HOT!"
6. Bo Van Pelt (40/1): Last year BVP "simply made cuts." This year, he's missed his fair share of them. He Tied for 17th at Baltusrol however, and "1-iron" sees him comin' with Big Momentum. 3 Top 10's and 7 Top 25's this year.
6 Who Can:7. Ben Curtis (125/1): The Pride of Kent State University and the 2003 British Open Champion. He's represented fairly poorly this year with 13 missed cuts. Yes, you read that right. However, he's made his last two, and his odds aren't going to be great. Also had a 3rd place finish at the Western Open. Keep an eye on him as a longshot.
8. Steve Elkington (40/1): The runner up at the PGA is having his career resuscitated this year, even with the bad disco shirts he's wearing. 2 Top 5's in the past 4 weeks and is playing very well right now. Hasn't had a lot of success at this tournament, but his luck may change this week.
9. Woody Austin (75/1): He'll either bang his putter over his head a couple times or win the golf tournament. He's the defending champion and the Vaughn Taylor effect is in play after last week. Has 1 Top 10 (Zurich) and 4 Top 25's - but he plays out of Derby, Kansas which isn't far from the birthplace of the "1-iron"....tours now forming.
10. Jason Gore (40/1): The Big Man graduated from the Nationwide Tour to the Big Dance a couple weeks ago and he makes his debut this week. Hopefully this merry-go-round works better for him then it did for Spencer Levin and Ryan Moore. Gore had the nice run at the US Open and has won 3 on the junior circuit. Can't hurt to give him a look this week.
11. Jeff Brehaut (75/1): Having a VERY NICE couple of weeks here with a T6 at the Buick and a 3rd at the International - both against VERY GOOD fields. Missed Cut at Reno, but Brehaut is beaming right now. MC's last year at the Highlands. Ranks 22nd on Tour in Total Driving.
12. Mathias Gronberg (Field 2/1): Don't groan when we put Mathias Gronberg in the column again. "Groanie" quietly is starting to put together some nice finishes after finishing last year 132nd on the TOUR money list. He finished T27 at Reno and could carry some 'Mo into CT this week.
6 Who Won't:13. Darren Clarke (12/1): Think Tommy Boy - "Big Name in a Little Field.....Big Name in a Little Field." Playing in a marquee pairing with Ben Curtis and Frank Lickliter II - that won't be fun. DC has 5 Top 10's this year. The problem is that it's his first Hartford appearance, and it's going to take a year to get used to it. Point blank, I could see a missed cut very easily here.
14. Lee Westwood (25/1): See comments regarding "first Hartford appearance." 5 Top 25's this year on this side of the pond. 15. Hunter Mahan: Another great driver of the golf ball (Ranks 29th in total driving), but comes in having missed his last 3 cuts. T21 here last year, but needs to play better golf to make hay. This isn't the week.
16. Brad Faxon (40/1): Really endeared himself to the column with his appreciation of the game during his British Open run. However "1-iron" calls em as he sees them and I don't see big things for Fax this week at the TPC. Missed the Cut at the PGA and that's no way to come into this tournament.
17. Frank Lickliter II (Field 2/1): "The Man from Middletown, Ohio" rolls into Hartford with 14 cuts made this year. Astounding, except for the fact that he's averaging about a T50 in each of those cuts made which doesn't amount to the cheese it should. 32nd on Tour in Putting and that will bid well this week, except 104th in Driving Accuracy won't help. Stay away this week.
18. Wes Short Jr. (Field 2/1): I wanted to make sure nobody took a flyer on Wes last week and he rewarded all of us by withdrawing. He's back this week, so I'll keep the "Wes Short Watch" in effect. Stay way away.
All odds approximate. Check Bodog for updated odds.
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