The PGA Tour has quietly gotten something right recently. They are putting together some serious “feature groups.” This week’s WGC event at Doral doesn’t really count, because it is a limited field, but even the week in, week out PGA events have gotten away from the standard computer assigned pairings. Like at Riviera, was it a coincidence that President’s Cup captain Fred Couples was playing with two potential team members? No. Rickie Fowler and Lee Westwood played together last week on Thursday and Friday. It makes sense for everyone to bunch the attractions. It’s easier on the TV people, the spectators and no offense to the regular guys on Tour, but no one wants to see Tiger playing with Bill Haas and Charlie Hoffman.
This week the top of the field goes off the World Rankings. Kaymer, Westwood and Donald play together and then Tiger is paired with Graeme McDowell and Phil. I wonder if Tiger is relishing these pairings or if he wouldn’t mind a little less spotlight? Of course, that’d be impossible. He’d have to show up in some elaborate disguise. We know Phil gets pumped up for his pairings with Tiger, but his game this year has been a little erratic. McDowell doesn’t seem to get too excited about anything, so I don’t expect much drama coming from him. The eyes will be back on Tiger, now that he’s had another 2 weeks to continue working. The fangs are starting to come out against his teacher Sean Foley, and if Tiger wants to do his coach a favor and take some heat off, maybe he should actually play well. The good news is, there isn’t a cut, so he’s guaranteed 72 holes of work.
Zack Greinke is the latest NL ace to go down with an injury. Greinke’s rib injury, suffered playing pick-up basketball (moron) seems relatively minor. He’ll start the season on the DL, but should be back by mid-April. Of course, starting the season on the DL, regardless of the reason is never ideal. Cliff Lee missed the start of last season and I don’t know that he ever really settled in with the consistency he would have liked. It’s a cruel stance, but the more pitching that goes down in the NL the better off the Phillies will be. It’s not a big secret that this team doesn’t light up good pitching. The definition of good pitching is that it doesn’t get lit up, but the Phils seem to especially struggle against top-flight starters and strikeout pitchers (oh, and RA Dickey). Still kind of waiting for the Phillies offense to get clicking down in Clearwater. Ryan Howard, Shane Victorino and rightfield by committee are putting up good numbers, but some of the other regulars are scuffling. It could be another feast or famine year.
I’ll admit that I go to philly.com a couple of times a day and at this point I’m expecting to see the Chase Utley will have surgery on his knee headline. I don’t know what else to think. If rest and a cortisone shot isn’t improving his condition, what will happen when Chase actually starts playing again? At this point I’d be more surprised to see his name in the lineup than I would to hear that he’s going under the knife.
I think my favorite part about Tiki Barber’s attempted return to the league is the reaction from the Giants. Their statement was pretty classic. They’re like, “Oh, well as soon as we can make a move we’ll take him off our retired list. Nooooooo Problem.” It’s almost like they are insulted that they even have to do this. That they have to waste the time freeing Barber of his obligation to them under the absurd premise that he could actually help a team at this point. I guess Tiki is finding out that retiring near your prime to become a TV personality only works if you aren’t awful on TV (and generally loathed by a large portion of the public for splitting on your pregnant wife). Looks like he wants to end up in Tampa with his brother Ronde. I’m not sure that the best team in the NFC has the room for him.
Harvard and Princeton are going to have to square off for the Ivy League basketball title and the automatic bid in the tournament. For all their successes in the academic and rowing(?) realms, Harvard appears to have one of the least successful college basketball programs of all-time. Never outright Ivy Champs and no tournament appearances since 1946. Princeton, of course, dominates the Ivy League along with Penn in basketball but has a smaller library. They are holding the playoff at Yale, which to a casual observer like me, seems all to perfect. Harvard and Princeton at Yale? Epic. The problem is, Yale hates Harvard far more than they hate Princeton…so the site is not going to be that neutral. Poor Harvard. I’d actually like to go to this game. I imagine all these nerds whipped into a frenzy would be quite the sight. I’ll pull for Princeton. Tommy Amaker is kind of a mutt.