In definite bummer news, it came out early this morning from Nadine at the Gopher Hole that Paul Carter is transferring to be closer to his family. If you remember, his sister is sick with something I don't remember so I'm going to say cancer, and since Carter is close with her he feels he needs to be there for his family. While most Gopher transfers have simply been players who shouldn't have been recruited to the Big Ten in the first place (Limar Wilson, Engen Nurumbi, Aliou Kane), discipline problems (Brandon Smith), or just unhappy (Antoine Broxsie), this is a transfer that actually is a bummer, although it makes a lot of sense for him.
I was hoping Carter could be next year's Damian Johnson, and his offensive game was progressing nicely outside of the 2.5 missed layups per game. Not to mention it was always fun to debate who would win a no-rules bar fight between him and Westbrook. I wish Carter nothing but the best, and hope he has much success wherever he ends up. Whoever is lucky enough to snag him will be getting a good player, a by all accounts great person, and I assume one hell of a bar fighter. This also ensures the Gophers will have enough scholarships for Maurice Walker, Cory Joseph, and Royce White, should that come to fruition, so if you're looking for a silver lining there you go.
With that said, this weekend is of course the Return of Tiger Open held at Augusta, so I feel the need to give a bit of a preview, top ten style. If you're itching to talk Twins we'll get their eventually, but it's only been two games so settle down, nerd. I will say that Delmon looks great, not just because he slimmed down but he seems like he has an idea of what he's doing at the plate. More on that later this week or maybe next.
If you're looking to wager on the tournament, your best bets (for the money) are Furyk at 15-1, Dustin Johnson at 33-1, Nick Watney at 45-1, Mike Weir at 50-1, and Zach Johnson at 55-1. Anyway, here are your top 11, much like I do with NFL odds:
1. Jim Furyk. More of a hunch than anything specifically pointing to him as the favorite, but it's not as if it's a total shot in the dark. Furyk won just a few weeks ago at the Transitions, which, granted, isn't the most high-profile of tournaments but there is still a pretty decent field and it was Furyk's first win since 2007 so he's got momentum. He followed that up with an 11th at the Arnie Palmer against a very good field, and he's always been pretty good at Augusta with four top tens in his career (T-10 last year) and has only missed the cut here once. Plus, there's nothing better than watching that sweet, fundamental swing of Furyk's. That's why they call him "The Big Fundamental."
2. Lee Westwood. Nobody hates it more than me when a dirty Euro comes over here and tramps all over our country and steals our women and our green jackets, but Westwood has the look of a player who is ready to finally win his first major. Also the look of someone with terrible teeth, dumbo ears, and who needs a shower.
3. Ernie Els. With the way this jackass is playing he should probably be your favorite to win this week, but he's played as many holes on the weekend at Augusta the last three years as I have (hint: it's zero). Prior to those missed cuts, however, Els had five top tens from 2000-2004. How much of his crappy play the last few years was due to injury and how much was just being bad? Is he back and awesome or was it all kind of a fluke? I don't know. You tell me.
4. Tiger Woods. God, I don't know where to slot him. I'm not worried about him mentally since he's basically a robot programmed soley to golf and have sex with whores, but he hasn't played competitive golf in months, and playing practice rounds isn't the same thing. I think he's a lot more likely to blow away the field and set a course record than he is to implode and miss the cut. Plus it would be kind of sweet to watch/listen to all the spazzes who hate him cry.
5. Ian Poulter. Poulter is a dingleberry who wears hot pink pants and he missed the cut in his last start, but I can't help but shake the feeling that he's going to be in the mix on Sunday. He seems to live for the big events, even though as I now look at his career in majors it really isn't all that impressive. Huh. This could be one of those "perception isn't reality" kind of things. I guess we'll find out how stupid I am by Sunday. Or, god forbid, Friday.
6. Retief Goosen. He seems to be popping up on a lot of lists as a favorite, and why not? He's playing as well as he has in years with five top-10s already this year, and he's an absolute majors horse. He has four career top-3s at Augusta, and prior to missing the cut last year he had finished top-20 seven consecutive years at the Masters. He's almost certainly going to be a factor again this year.
7. Delmon Young. Is there anything he can't do?
8. Nick Watney. I love this guy. He's just a solid all-around player with no major holes in his game and who rarely seems intimidated by a strong field, a famous course, or a big tournament. He's been solid, if unspectacular this year, but has shown in the past that he can get around at Augusta. In his two career appearances here he's finished 11th and 19th. I think things are lining up for him to jump up and surprise this weekend.
9. Charl Schwartzel. Kind of a sleeper pick, but when he's everybody's big sleeper is he really a sleeper anymore? Schwartzel has played in four tournaments in the States and has three top 10s (including two WGC events) and has two wins on the European Tour to boot. His name is retarded, but he can clearly play and he's from South Africa where apparently everyone is good at golf and racism.
10. Steve Stricker. He has to be on this list because he's just so damn good and consistent, mostly because he's so good with the putting stick. Now that Adam Scott died, he's clearly the best golfer without a major victory and he's been in such a zone that he's almost certainly going to get one this year. Why not now?
11. Padraig Harrington. He's so good in majors that you can't possibly discount him, even if he sort of seems like he's been coasting since that incredible run where he won 3 out of 6 majors. But like I said, you can't discount him. Like an Ipod on Black Friday.