Sometime during late fall and continuing through the holiday season, golf seems to disappear. During this time the game is still played worldwide at the highest level, but televised golf tends to take a multi-month sabbatical, making it harder to live and die with every 2-foot birdie putt or slice on a drive that looked just right off the tee. Golf tends to disappear – but it’s back.
With the return of nationally televised golf, we’ll be geared up this weekend for the Sony Open in Hawaii.
Jimmy Walker has won the event the last two years, so we have an immediate storyline heading into the weekend. On Wednesday, Walker explained his recent success at Waialae Country Club.
“I’ve really putted well,” he said. “I felt like last year I really got into a good groove of putting and really seeing the greens and the grain and the breaks and just making a lot of putts. And that was the difference.”
Winning the same tournament three years in a row is so difficult that it isn’t even really a feat one even really considers. But this year, Walker has a shot.
The shortlist of golfers who have done it includes only Tom Watson, Steve Stricker, Stuart Appleby and Tiger Woods, who have done it six separate times.
To see Walker pull it off would be exciting, but I’m more excited about a fledgling tradition that starts around this time every year: the office golf pool.
For the office golf pool, a number of colleagues each pick a golfer (choosing the same individual a maximum of twice), thereby hitching ourselves to his winnings for that week.
If by Sunday your golfer has won $1-million, then you become the recipient of an imaginary $1-million yourself. At the end of the season, the entrant with the most money, earned from wise picks, wins bragging rights for those weeks when televised golf goes relatively dark.
Each week I’ll break down my pick for the current tournament, starting this week with Russell Henley.
He hasn’t played since the RSM Classic in November, but Henley already has two Top-10 finishes on the young season. He didn’t win an event last year, and Walker certainly seems to have the market for success at Waialae cornered. But at only 26-years-old, I think of Henley as a breakout candidate.
In 2014, his 2nd year on the tour, he missed 12 cuts in 29 events. Last year, that number was pared down to just 4 cuts missed in 24 events.
So, yes we’ve gone with a guy who might not be your first pick, but it is always fun to root for the “underdog” and we look forward to tuning in the rest of the tournament in warm Hawaii.