Just when we were anticipating the annual lull between the U.S. Open and the next major (the John Deere Classic British Open), we were hit with news…… he’s baaaaaaack!
Let’s call a spade a spade. The 2013-2014 season has been a snoozer. Golf nuts like us still tune into all of the Steven Bowditch, Brendon Todd, and Ben Crane victories, but we’re in desperate need of some firepower. We’re over 30 events into the season, and we haven’t had Phil or Tiger threaten a win once! Seriously, that hasn’t happened since Tiger came on tour in ’96. Will Grimmer, the 17 year-old that played in the U.S. Open, wasn’t even alive then. While I don’t expect Tiger to come out of the gate firing come Thursday, it’s a huge relief to at least have the guy around. (Sportsbook has his over/under finish at 8.5, but the over costs -185. I still think that’s an easy play).
The announcement shouldn’t have come as such a surprise considering that Tiger and his foundation host the event. Formerly the AT&T National, it replaced the legendary modified stableford bird sanctuary known as The International. Congressional has been the host since 2007, (with the exception of 2010 and 2011 where Aronimink was given its chance to shine, and did quite well).
Congressional Country Club
Congo dates back to the Pre-Great-Depression early 20th century, and it’s founding members include five former presidents (Taft, Wilson, Harding, Coolidge, and Hoover). What was once a place of refuge for congressmen, lobbyists, and anyone involved in poli-tricks, is now only congressional by name. The course was built by two congressmen from Indiana, yet today’s politicians rarely take their mulligans from Congressional’s tee boxes. Per Grantland:
Vice President Joe Biden, a single-digit handicap, has never played there. House Speaker John Boehner, another accomplished player, is not a member.
During World War II, the federal government provided a boost by renting the club and using it as a training facility for the Office of Strategic Services, the precursor to the CIA. “They practiced hand-to-hand combat training, artillery fire, paratrooper exercises,” Lyberger said. “I’m sure there was spy training and stuff like that.”
They ripped the course to shreds.
And while I have no real idea how Big Cat and the Tiger Woods Foundation ended up hosting this event, here’s how I picture it: Hank Haney wrote in his book, The Big Miss, about Tiger’s obsession with Navy Seal training, and how he almost walked away from the game in 2007 to try to become a Navy Seal. To this day I still envision Cat living his life in the virtual “killhouse,” emboldened in the gaming realm by the oodles of free time his recent injury surely afforded to take his Call of Duty skills to an otherworldly level. So I’m envisioning some Congressional suit making the pitch to the Big Cat and his cronies, and after he used about three words of military jargon describing the old WWII days at Congressional, Big Cat tasked Steiny with drafting up the papers in a matter of seconds.
Today, Congo is known as one of the best courses on the PGA Tour circuit, although it is not above criticism. It’s long, it’s tough, and situated on a nice piece of property, but it’s forced to wear the 2011 U.S. Open “disaster” as a scarlet letter. There were congressional hearings about how many birds were murdered by Rory and the gang that year, and I’m pretty sure PETA got involved. Rory shot 16 under! Tron, for one, is not a fan of D.C. at large:
Our nation’s capital is an overrated, overpriced cesspool of traffic, bullshit, and lawyers. Everytime I go there I want to feel like I’m in Europe – low slung buildings, solid architecture, great mass transit in the core, and yet I always leave disappointed. (However, I CAN get down with D.C.’s Democratic Republic of Congo, here’s an EXCELLENT primer on the course.) It’s a parkland extravaganza; a big-boy ballpark that actually possesses some character. Above all else, that tee shot off the par three 10th from the back of the clubhouse is sweet.
The vibe around Congressional should mirror that of Mid-Atlantic lax camps in early summer. We can expect plethora of Lax Bro Lettuce tamed only by visors typically worn at an obnoxious angle. These Lax Bros plied their craft at the local douche incubators like Georgetown Prep and Gonzaga Prep, before heading down to Charlottesville to perfect their M.O. The sheila’s will don sun dresses and unnecessarily large brimmed hats as they sip Bloody’s from the clubhouse porch with all the fixin’s. The retired laxers lobbyists will be out in full force suckling from the power teets, and with Big Cat in the field, this ticket just became a bigger draw. Let’s hope Brantford Winstonworth leaves the wand at home.
Bill Haas (Member FDIC), added the AT&T National to his impressive resume with a three shot win over some less than impressive names.
To cap it off, we got a great awkward player-caddie celebration that we’ve come to expect on a weekly basis:
(These will never get old to me. Can we get someone that practices these things?)
(all lines courtesy Ladbrokes.com, the Official Bookmaker of NoLayingUp.com)
Horses for Courses
JAYYYYSON DAY (12/1) – This is one of those instances where I really don’t care what the odds are. His form is on point following a strong weekend at Pinehurst and an even stronger weekend up in the ConnectiCUT. He’s healthy, raring to go, and looking to put four standout rounds on the board. THAT’S Rocketballsier.
Brandt Snedeker (20/1) – T17 in the U.S. Open here in 2011, and a T8 here last year. A T9 at the U.S. Open and a T11 last week a the Travelers make it safe to label him with the #trending tag. He’s moved from up from 25/1, as he’s too talented to hold down for too long.
Bill Haas (35/1) – Defending champ rolling into D.C. in good form at 35/1 odds? Yes please. 35/1 is a slap in the face to a guy who hasn’t missed a cut since last September at the Deutsche Bank. Billy’s won about $29 million on-course in about 8.5 years on the big tour (hence his “Member, FDIC” designation), and this is a big money event ($1.17 mil to the champ). Prior to last year’s victory here, he finished T4 at Memorial and then MC’d at the US Open. This year? He finished T8 at Memorial and then posted a consistent T35 at Pinehurst. And he’s got Greenbrier to look forward to next week, a tournament he owns. This is about the time of the year when he quits playing “just the tip” and slays the dragon. I’m coming back for seconds.
Gary Woodland (40/1) – Since the Honda Classic, only seven players have a better average finish (24th) than Woodland (minimum 5 starts.) He’s long, and he played well here last year. He’s been incredibly consistent, and the breakthrough is only a matter of time.
Mark Leishman (50/1) – Shaky track record at Congo, but he’s got four top-25’s in his last five starts, including a T11 last week.
Billy Horschel (50/1) – We may go bankrupt on Billy, and I’m ok with that. We’re loyal. He’s finished in the top 26 in each of his last four starts, and Congressional rewards ball striking. Rinse, repeat.
Robert Garrigus (66/1) – Loves Congressional. T64 last year, but finished T4 in 2012, and T4 at the U.S. Open in 2011. Was playing quite well prior to withdrawing in Memphis. He’s got the length so the flier is worth it.
Kevin Chappell (80/1) – 2011 US Open here: 76-67-69-66 for a stellar T3. T28 LY at this event, ballstriking stats are phenomenal of late, and he’s long. 80/1 odds that his putter gets hot sound good to me.
D.H. Lee (250/1) – T4 last year. Look at those odds! And he loved Congo last year:
Honorable Mentions & Fantasy Fodder
Bit of a hunch on Keegan Bradley, Martin Flores, Bo Van Pelt, Seung Yul-Noh, and Patrick Reed (seeing glimpses lately of him getting back in the top-five game), so feel free to insert those guys into odd spots in the fantasy lineup.
- We got lazy and didn’t write a recap for the Travelers Championship. After being dangerously close to hitting the jackpot at 100/1 with Badds, and holding a Ryan Moore 33/1 ticket in our back pocket, the NLU team was primed before both struggled on Sunday. Our Chad Campbell flier would have looked a lot better if he didn’t get wet on 15 every time they showed him on the telecast. NLU hasn’t picked a winner since the Players, but we remain up 82.5 units on the year. As Cat would say, it’s a process.
- With big events happening on both sides of the Atlantic I find it interesting to see Scott and McIlroy taking the week off. The BMW International features a sneaky good field field with Kaymer, Stenson, Serg, Bjorn, Casey and Donaldson all teeing it up. It’s likely both are just gearing up for the Scottish/British/off week (unless the Russians up the ante on some appearance fees)/WGC/PGA stretch on the horizon.
- The new Titleist driver that a lot of guys are debuting looks like an absolute WMD. Can’t wait to head to the PGA Tour Superstore crackhouse to try it out.
new big stick out this week from @Titleist pic.twitter.com/1HF3AAFGH3
— Bud Cauley (@BudCauley) June 23, 2014
Enjoy the week and catch us on twitter during coverage @NoLayingUp.