Wednesday, April 06, 2011


I have no idea why my formatting evaporated on the last post. Perhaps that is my punishment for being away so long.


2011 Masters Picks

The Masters golf championship begins tomorrow morning in Augusta, GA. I had a chance to attend the practice round on Monday, and had to decline through gritted teeth. I missed a beautiful day there, before the storm blew through, and it looks like the weather will be perfect through the tournament. Phil Mickelson is the clear favorite to win. Dude has three Masters titles, along with ten more top ten finishes. He always brings it in Augusta, and he finally would be #1 in the world with a win. Even though he hasn't won since 2009, Tiger Woods cannot be ignored. Dude finished fourth last year with a band-aid swing and a chorus of cocktail waitresses talking about him to the tabloids. As bad as his game has been, he will contend this year. Among other Americans, I don't think Matt Kuchar has the length to win, and I don't think Dustin Johnson has the putter to win. Nick Watney could sneak in there with his length and confidence. Anthony Kim and Hunter Mahan should both be in the hunt during the weekend, although neither feels like a winner to me this time around. Among Australians, Geoff Ogilvey seems like a guy who should win at Augusta National. He has length, a soft touch, and his patience continues to get better. No other Aussie appears to have the game and be in form for Augusta, although Stuart Appleby comes out of nowhere every so often. The Euros bring a strong group this year. Lee Westwood is always on the board at majors. World #1 Martin Kaymer has the game for August but has never made a cut there. Justin Rose and Paul Casey both feel like serious threats this year - I expect a top ten from or both this year. I don't think Luke Donald has the length in a year when the course is a littel more lush than usual. I think Phil catches Tiger with his fourth Masters and finally takes the #1 world ranking.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

2010 U.S. Open Picks

The U.S. Open golf championship begins tomorrow at Pebble Beach Golf Links, one of three courses (along with Shinnecock Hills and Pinehurst CC #2) locked into the unofficial US Open rota. The course often features high wind and rain, but the weather looks clear and cool for the next four days.

Past U.S. Opens at Pebble have produced wins for the best golfers of the day, and I think the hottest golfers will contend again this time.

Here is my analysis of some of the top players in the world:

Tiger Woods: #1 player in the world is rusty and coming off a neck injury. Pebble is the site of his most dominating win in 2000, but this is a different golfer. He is searching for his swing, some confidence, and most importantly some rhythm. This year was set up for him to win three of four majors, but his head is not back yet - top 20 finish.
Vijay Singh: Cheater Veej got a special exemption from USGA, which was disappointing given the organization's usual commitment to integrity. I expect Vijay to play better than his latest form and get a top 20.
Ernie Els: Twice a past champion with two wins on great courses already this season, he seems to finally be getting his game right again. I don't think Pebble is his best U.S. Open venue, but I like him to get a top 15 this week.
Jim Furyk: This is a good course for the average length hitter, because this is as short as U.S. Open courses get. Furyk is still a world class putter and grinder, and he already has one U.S. Open trophy at home. I like him to contend during the weekend and get a top 10.
Luke Donald: His game is built for U.S. Opens - fairways and greens and fairways and greens. He has a pure short game, and the shorter course helps him. His form has been great lately, and I think he gets a top 8 finish.
Phil Mickelson: Dude has a dozen wins in his home state of CA, including three at Pebble. He has been the bridesmaid in five previous U.S. Opens, and the fans will be with him. Everything seems right, but I think this is only another close call - top 5 finish.
Lee Westwood: It seems he is on the weekend leader board of every major, and his accuracy is a big plus at Pebble. He has been able to stay positive about recent near misses in majors, and that serves him well this weekend. I like Westwood to be the first Euro to win the U.S. Open in 40 years.

There are three sets of dark horses who could contend this weekend. Dustin Johnson and Ricky Barnes are young, strong and confident, and Johnson has won the last two regular Tour stops at Pebble. Old guys Tom Lehman and Tom Watson could be rewarded for their consistency and experience. And don't count out Tim Clark and Zach Johnson, both very straight hitters who are mentally tough and win on tough courses.
With par at 71 I like the winning score to be 280 (-4). That is low for a U.S. Open, but the weather will rob the course of some of its normal defenses.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Trying To Have It Both Ways

I find it odd Charles Davenport, Jr. used the following quote in his most recent opinion column: "In no other occupation is mediocrity -- or positive incompetence -- so thoroughly entrenched as in the teaching profession today." (emphasis mine)

It's strange Davenport would use a quote referring to teaching as a profession, when just a few weeks ago he argued that teaching is not a profession. Of course, Davenport has a mixed past when it comes to using quotes, having employed a debunked quote from Thomas Jefferson in one of his columns, then failing to admit he had done so.

I know the News & Record know what a smart conservative opinion writer looks like. They have one on staff. Would it hurt so much to jettison Davenport and hire a second one?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

2009 U.S. Open Picks

The US Open golf championship begins today at Bethpage State Park's Black Course, the second visit to the first truly public facility to host the championship. This is a long, mean course that only yielded one subpar finish in 2002.

The course has received lots of rain recently, and they expect a good bit more over the next few days. Unless the USGA moves the tees up (a real possibility), there will be some big scores from familiar names.

Here is my analysis of some of the top players in the world:

Ernie Els: Twice a past champion, his game has not been the same since his knee operation. His recent form is better, though, so he gets a top 25 finish.

Phil Mickelson: #2 player is the fan favorite, and he gets the sentimental vote with his wife's recent breast cancer diagnosis. Golf requires full concentration at its highest levels, and I am not convinced he can block out his personal life. Top 20 finish.

Paul Casey: #3 player has the game for this course, and he already has three worldwide wins this year. I am not convinced he is quite ready to go large on the biggest stages - top 20 finish.

Sergio Garcia: The NY fans rode this whiner's ass in 2002. If he is smart (and I am not sure he is), he will respond to the taunts with some nice gestures to win the crowd over. Dude hits the ball great, but I cannot see a marginal putter winning a U.S. Open. Top 12 finish.

Vijay Singh: Cheater Veej should have already one a couple of US Opens. He is still one of the best drivers in the world, so I like his chances for a top 12 finish.

Jim Furyk: Not many average length hitters have a good chance this year with the length and sogginess, but Furyk is tough as nails. He hits it straight and putts great, so I like him to get a top 10.

Ian Poulter: He showed great heart and breakthrough performances in last year's Open Championship and Ryder Cup. He is ready to hoist a significant trophy...and soon. Top 10 finish.

Geoff Ogilvey: Have you ever noticed he hits his irons so pure that he rarely takes a divot? That can be a good thing on wet fairways. Ogilvy is a real threat to win this weekend (he won a U.S. Open outside NYC in 2006), and I like him for a top 5 finish.

Tiger Woods: #1 player in the world with 17 career majors seems to finally be back at full speed after knee surgery. He played great on a world-class course in his last start two weeks ago, and he is the defending champion. Tiger gets his 18th major (and 15th professional major) to inch closer to Nicklaus' record.

Other dark horses to watch are Sean O'Hair and Angel Cabrerra. Both have the game and demeanor to contend for this title.

The winning number is dependent on the weather and how the USGA sets the course up in response to the weather, but I will go with a My pick for the winning number is 279 (-1).

Thursday, April 09, 2009

2009 Masters Picks

Masters Picks 2009

The Masters golf championship begins this morning in Augusta, GA. I was fortunate enough to attend Tuesday's practice round, when it was cool, cloudy, and extremely windy. Fortunately, conditions look great through Sunday. The course should get firmer during the tournament, and that will allow the cream of the field to rise to the top.

Sergio Garcia: #3 in the world, drives the ball well, and has a solid wedge game. His putter and inconsistent maturity hold him back. He probably makes the cut, but I don't see him contending.

Ernie Els: Hard to believe the Big Easy is down to a #16 world ranking. He has lots of experience at Augusta and has contended many times. I just don't get the sense he is making enough 6' putts, and he will see plenty of them this week - does not contend.

Justin Rose: Good recent history in majors, and he has the length for Augusta, but I don't think he drives it straight enough for a course that has been tightened in the last few years. I also noticed some problems with putting speed during his practice session on Tuesday. Top 25.

Padraig Harrington: #5 player in the world and winner of the last two majors is flying under the radar (how is that possible?). He has the length and grit to play Augusta, but I would like his chances more if the weather were not going to be so perfect. Top 20.

Retief Goosen: Won in Tampa a few weeks ago and appears to be coming back. He is reasonably long and putts ultra-fast greens as well as anyone. Has several good finishes at Augusta in the past few years. Top 15.

Paul Casey: #6 player in the world won last week in Houston and earlier in the year on the Euro tour. Also finished runner up in the World Match Play. Augusta suits his game, as he has shown with three top 11 finishes in four tries. I would not be surprised if he wins, but I am picking a top 10.

Stewart Cink: #18 player in the world. Good length, straight hitter, very good putter, good attitude - a game made for majors. He gets bonus points for insightful tweets about Augusta. My dark-horse pick to win, but I will go with a top 10.

Tiger Woods: Four-time champ and best pressure putter in history. In his two stroke play events this year, each part of his game has looked great at times, but is he ready to put it all together for four days this week? I am not sure he is. He can contend playing less than his best, but I don't' think his complete game is quite there yet. Top 8.

Phil Mickelson: #2 player in the world has two green jackets and has played well this year. He had a bad tourney in Houston last week, but I don't think that cools him down. I think he will be ready this weekend and definitely could win. "FIGJAM" gets a top 5.

Geoff Ogilvy: #4 player in the world is coming on strong. Has length, short game, the right demeanor, and loads of confidence. Geoff Ogilvy gets his second major this weekend.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Inflated Accomplishment

The All-ACC team was announced today, and senior Tyler Hansbrough was a unanimous selection for a record fourth year. It is an incredible accomplishment that needs no inflating, but the press release at the conference web site noted this curious tidbit (emphasis mine):

"Hansbrough last year became the third player in league history to be
unanimously named to the all-ACC team three times, joining North Carolina
State's David Thompson (1973-75) and Duke's Art Heyman (1961-63), and was the
first to do it in his first three years in the league

Since Heyman and Thompson were only allowed to play three years, I would argue they were unanimous all-conference selections in their first three years in the league.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

2009 Oscar Picks

I usually watch the Oscars, if for no other reason than to see a couple of train wrecks. However, wifey has other plans for us this evening, so I will miss all the fun.

As has been the case the last few years, I have not seen all of the nominated films and performances, but neither have a lot of the voters, so I should be in good shape to nail a few predictions.

Supporting Actress: This seems like a two-way race between Penelope Cruz and Viola Davis. Through the years, this category has been the toughest call (can you say Helen Hunt?), but I give the nod to Penélope Cruz as the fiery ex-wife in Vicky Christina Barcelona.

Supporting Actor: You might have heard - Heath Ledger won this months ago.

Lead Actress: Two months ago, this looked like it was Anne Hathaway's award, but Kate Winslet gets consolidated support for her performance in The Reader by not being nominated for supporting in Revolutionary Road. Sixth time is the charm for Kate.

Lead Actor: This looks like a two-way race between Sean Penn and Mickey Rourke. It's really too close to call, but I will give the edge to Sean Penn with the caveat that Rourke would win if the vote were today rather than a few weeks ago.

Directing: I can't see the best picture not getting one of the other top five awards, so Danny Boyle takes this award for his work on Slumdog Millionaire.

Best.Picture: This award is the second most likely lock behind supporting actor. Slumdog Millionaire wins it.

If there is an upset tonight, I think the most likely category is best actress, where either Meryl Streep or Anne Hathaway could surprise.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Update on Martin Eakes Attack

Durham police are looking for Harry Wayne Massey, Jr. in connection with the attack on my uncle, Martin Eakes. Massey is charged with having Martin's stolen cell phone the day after the attack. Massey is believed to be homeless, so I will be very interested to find out if he is located.

Update: Massey has been arrested.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

O Holy Night

My favorite version of my favorite Christmas song

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Martin Eakes On the Mend

You might have read that my uncle Martin Eakes was attacked last Monday night as he walked from his office to his car. The brutal beating left Martin with a severed left biceps, a ripped hamstring, and in need of 15 stitches in his forehead.

If anything, the news reports failed to capture the severity of the attack. Martin questions whether he would have survived had the noise from going through a plate of glass not caused the attackers to scamper. He estimates he had taken around 30 blows to his head at that point.

Martin has spent a lifetime helping people and businesses help themselves and has been recognized repeatedly for his good deeds. Earlier in the day of his attack, AARP announced Martin was the recipient of one of their 2009 Inspire Awards.

As far as I know, there has been no progress toward identifying Martin's attackers, although CrimeStoppers has offered a reward. The Raleigh News & Observer also is keeping the case in front of the public with a nice opinion piece today acknowledging Martin's contributions to our state.

Martin has played a very important role in my life. Besides our close uncle-nephew relationship, he tutored me as a young lad and helped set me up for good academic performance in later years. He has been my primary role model in recognizing the many ways we can make a difference in communities near and far.

Martin had surgery yesterday to reattach his left biceps and tendon to his elbow, and he faces extensive physical therapy before he can bear weight with the arm. Even with that one arm out of service, I would be the ranch Martin will continue the fight for those with no voice.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Sportsman of the Year Candidates

Sports Illustrated invited its writers to nominate candidates for their annual Sportsman of the Year award. The award often goes to athlete at the peak of his/her career or after s/he has made a great contribution outside the competitive arena.

I found it interesting that SI's top NBA writer, Jack McCallum, nominated Greensboro' Joey Cheek, after China revoked his visa just before the Olympic games in Beijing. I will be surprised if SI names Cheek this year, since they missed a golden opportunity to do so two years ago.


Tuesday, November 04, 2008


Four years ago, I won the electoral college prediction poll at Mathew Gross' blog with a direct hit (unfortunately, he wiped his archives before 2005, probably in an attempt to avoid giving me my prize for the win). Of course, that election was more predictable than now since most states fell in line with the 2000 election.

So this year, it will be a little tougher. Here goes.

NC Governor: Pat McCrory defies the polls and tradition and upsets Bev Perdue by 1% or so.

Mike Munger gets about 4% of the vote to ensure a Libertarian candidate on the ballot in 2012.

NC Senator: Kay Hagan limits Elizabeth Doll to one term with a win by 7%.

US Congress: Democrats pick up eight Senate seats and 22 house seats.

US President: John McCain comes back to win NC in a squeaker that might take a few hours to call.

Barack Obama takes about 53% of the popular vote to win by 8%. His edge in the electoral college is around 352-186.

Best guess is Obama is declared the winner at 9:08pm EST.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Legendary Card

Orson Scott Card has had plenty of success as a writer, but he has reached a new peak now that Snopes has commented on his most recent article.


Saturday, October 25, 2008

Alfred E. Bush

Well that explains a hell of a lot.

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