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Hunter's hopes all-but shot down
Aug. 7, 2008
by: Mercer Baggs

 
Congratulations, Hunter Mahan. You are thisclose to assuring yourself of having the week of Sept. 15-21 all to yourself, free to do whatever you want whenever you want.
 
Forgo fancy dinners for a Whopper and onion rings. Sit around in your boxers and watch re-runs of Will & Grace instead of getting all dressed up in a too-tight tuxedo and mingling with boring, old Scrooges. Heck, play in the Viking Classic, if you so desire.
 
Have no fear; the Ryder Cup reaper is near.
 
Mahan, of course, made derogatory comments regarding the Ryder Cup, which were revealed last week. He subsequently apologized, but you cant put toothpaste back in the tube.
 
He started this week two spots removed from earning a place onto the U.S. team, with the top eight players in the standings (not including Tiger Woods) following the PGA Championship automatically qualifying for the biennial matches, to be held Sept. 19-21 at Valhalla Golf Club outside Louisville, Kent.
 
And then he went out and shot 11-over 81 Thursday at Oakland Hills, thus all-but assuring himself of a missed cut and a missed opportunity to make the team on his own merit.
 
Now he is at the mercy of U.S. captain Paul Azinger, who has four wildcard picks to use at his discretion.
 
You would think (I would think) that Azinger would sooner pick himself to be a playing member of his team than Mahan but, you never know. Azinger is desperate to try and end the Americans 3 Cup losing streak (theyve lost five out of the last six). And with still four events remaining until he has to announce his selections, Mahan has time to impress Cap with his play.
 
Azinger wants winners on his team. Should Mahan prove to be one over the next month he may well earn one of those picks.
 
Assuming he accepts it.
 
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Phil it up -- and down
Aug. 6, 2008
by: Mercer Baggs

 
According to odds-makers, Phil Mickelson is the favorite to win the PGA Championship this week. Apparently, they didnt pay attention to the events of last week.
 
And neither should they have.
 
Everything about Mickelsons game is bi-polar. Its peak followed by valley followed by peak, and so on.
 
There is no comprehensible rhyme or reason, no reliable way to predict how he will perform ' and Im sure Dave Pelz has tried in vain to come up with some kind of scientific formula to do so.
 
How Phil fares at one event means little to how he performs at the next; its just like him making a three-putt bogey on one hole and miraculous up-and-down birdie thereafter.
 
Granted, he made three bogeys over his final four holes to bottom out at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, but that just means hes due for another peak.
 
Earlier this year, he missed the cut at Pebble Beach and then won his next event, the Northern Trust Open. He also shot 78 to close his title defense at THE PLAYERS, and then captured Colonial right after that. Last year, he took off early at the FBR, but then took home the title the next week at the AT&T.
 
So dont count out Mickelson at Oakland Hills just because he played poorly down the stretch at Firestone. Of course, you cant count on him to win either.
 
The only thing you can count on is that, win or lose, hell make it entertaining to watch.
 
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Building momentum at Oakland Hills
Aug. 5, 2008
by: Mercer Baggs

 
The PGA Championship has a history of producing some of the most compelling golf on an annual basis, which is why Im willing to stay patient as we ease into this seasons final major.
 
Thus far, the excitement level seems to be lower than the McCain approval rating in the Hilton household.
 
A lot of that has to do with the fact that the two-time defending champion is on his couch. Or on his yacht. Or maybe in custom-build home on the moon. Wherever he is, hes not at Oakland Hills.
 
Another issue may well be the venue. The PGA is often the most forgiving major championship, allowing for lower scores and more drama. The last time this course hosted a regular major championship, though, Steve Jones won the U.S. Open at 2 under par.
 
Weve already seen 1 under force a playoff at this years U.S. Open; and 3 over win the British. Some red numbers would be a welcome sight this week.
 
But theres no reason to panic just yet. After all, no one remembers a major for what happens Monday-Wednesday.
 
Some good golf come Thursday and well be looking forward to Friday. Get a few big names in the mix Friday and well be anticipating the weekend. Keep those names near the top after Saturday and well be glued to our couch come Sunday ' or on our yacht or in our custom-built moon home.
 
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