by Aaron "1-iron" Garry
If you listened to ol' "1-iron" this week, we laughed all the way to the bank. Our No. 1 pick from last week's "Those Who Will" certainly did us proud at the 9,200-yard Redstone Country Club. Vijay Singh closed out John Daly in a playoff to take first prize money at the Shell Houston Open. Something about Houston must remind Big V of that down home Fijian cookin' I guess.
It was a very auspicious tournament as journeymen Greg Owen and Gavin Coles threatened to rain on our parade for three quarters of the venerable event. However, on Sunday it was the real-life Marlboro man John Daly bringing the crowd to its feet with a final-round 67, which was good enough to qualify the 1992 PGA Champion for a playoff with Singh. I did find it odd that Daly was busy placing an orange construction cone on his son's head, rather than finding the driving range for a playoff warm-up. Sure enough, on the first playoff hole John Kool knocked a 5-wood flush into the Redstone drink. Something about hindsight we hear. On the bright side, he was able to last all of eight seconds in his bout with Vijay.
Pudding from this week's picks included Singh (1st), Joe Ogilvie (6th), Jeff Maggert (T7), Billy Andrade (T13), Charles Howell III (T17), and Stephen Ames (T21).
This week - the Zurich Classic:
The year is 1996. An up-and-coming pro named Kelly Gibson closes with three-straight 65s, but falls a shot shy in his bid to join a playoff with Davis Love III and Tiger Woods at the Las Vegas Invitational. As the story so often goes, the young Woods goes on to capture his first PGA Tour title, while Gibson falls off the public radar screen. Yet we contemplate - If one more shot had gone Gibson's way back in '96, might we be talking about the "Gibby Slam" as opposed to "The Tiger Slam?" Probably not.
Why do we bring this up? Because the Zurich Classic takes place this week at the new TPC of Louisiana in New Orleans, which was designed by Pete Dye, with consultation from Steve Elkington and guess who? Kelly Gibson, a native of New Orleans. While Vijay Singh braved a Monday finish last year at English Turn Country Club to hold off Phil Mickelson and Joe Ogilvie by a shot, Gibson carded 3 rounds in the 60s but faltered with a 3rd round 76. "1-iron" likes nuances, and this certainly could be the year's best Cinderella tale if Gibson could catch lightening in a bottle for 4 straight days here at the Zurich Classic.
Even though the Zurich Classic is being played on a new course, don't be quick to bet against players who have had success here in years past.
18 Shots for the Zurich Classic:(Odds courtesy of Bodog)
6 Who Will
1. Steve Flesch (75-1) - Steady as she goes. Won the Zurich Classic in 2003. Runner up in 1998 and 1999.
2. Joe Ogilvie (30-1) - Just keeps pounding on the doorstep. Somebody's going to let him in soon. (T2 at Zurich in 2004, 5 Top 10s in 2005)
3. Vijay Singh (11-4) - Putting was shaky in Houston, but he's Vijay. He's on this list until I say different.
4. Charles Howell III (20-1) - He dresses funny and he's a touch on the odd side, however T5 in 2004 at the Zurich Classic and some flashes of late have us thinking.
5. Bo Van Pelt (75-1) - In 2004 he "just made cuts". In 2005 he "just misses cuts." T7 at Houston could be the start of a run.
6. Jerry Kelly (40-1) - Quietly having a very nice season. 5 Top 25s. Lock up your daughters this week.
6 Who Can
7. Kelly Gibson (Field 11-5) - Coming from left field, this could turn a small wager into a gigantic payday. $1,667 of official Nationwide money this year. Don't say I didn't tip you off.
8. Tim Clark (40-1) - Four Top 25s and 2 Top 10s. Took a few weeks off to refresh the frequent flier account. This guy is the next Gary Player.
9. Ted Purdy (Field 11-5) - T25 at the Zurich Classic last year. Getting stronger each week (T39 at Bell South, Cut Masters, T56 MCI, T28 in Houston). SI Expose may have given him confidence.
10. Bob Estes (60-1) - "1-iron's" pick for Player of the Year back in 1996 never materialized. Plays very well in New Orleans however. Figured out a way to tame the TPC last year with a 65 in round two. nine for nine this year in Cuts made. T39 in Houston this week.
11. Davis Love III (15-1) - Wanted a sixth tartan jacket at MCI so bad he could taste it. Settled for T2. Will the "No-Love!!" cat-calls be out this week? Hopefully not. We haven't heard his name much, but he quietly has four Top 10's this year.
12. Chris Dimarco (18-1) - "1-iron" has confidence that the Augusta magic will translate in New Orleans. Fired 80 in the final round last year. Going head to head with Carl Paulson won't be the same as the dual with Tiger however.
6 Who Won't
13. Paul Azinger (150-1) - Made the cut at Houston but scorecard was lit up like a Christmas tree with double bogeys. Playing "Sophia Petrillo" golf these days - Old, tired, and full of wisecracks. four of eight missed cuts this year.
14. Carlos Franco (100-1) - If I could speak Paraguayan, I would ask where in the world this guys game has gone. I can't so I'll just rely on his six of nine missed cuts to translate.
15. David Toms (15-1) - Home state, big name - easy pick, right? Wrong. Who knows which Toms you'll get this week. The Accenture Match Play winner or the Masters missed cut? He's not playing David Toms golf, and "1-iron" is taking notice.
16. Joey Sindelar (Field 11-5) - Some of you will look at that final-round 66 last year and think he's got a shot. I will not. Far too inconsistent for my tastes. Hasn't finished higher then 17th this year (Players) and generally lingers around the bottom of the guys that made the weekend.
17. Todd Hamilton (75-1) - The reigning British Open champ is fading fast. Missed the cut here last year and only has 1 top 25 this year.
18. Chris Riley (100-1) - Hopefully he can play a full 72 holes this week, unlike at the Ryder Cup where he pulled himself out of the competition after 18 holes of Match Play. "1-iron" hasn't forgotten.
** Odds are approximate and are subject to change.