A Tradition Like No Other

Posted in Professional Sports on April 7th, 2011 by Ian Paregol

April 7 – The Masters begins today with an array of tasty pairings.  Unlike many of the tournaments on the Tour, which pair players based upon a random draw, the pairings at Augusta National are purposeful and deliberate.  The club committee tasked with developing the pairings for the 1st two rounds of play has complete discretion to group players as it sees fit.  The only exception to their unfettered sovereignty is the one traditional pairing:  the current US Amateur Champ (Peter Uihlein) is paired with the defending Masters champion (Phil Mickelson).  And no one messes with tradition at the Masters.

The Masters offers only 19 ways to recieve an invitation to compete for the Green Jacket.  Unlike many PGA Tour events, the many of the qualifications involve world play performance which promotes a more well-rounded international field.  (See the Fast Facts below for qualifications.)   The committee typically ties the high profile players together into super pairings with the lesser-followed players and many internationals grouped into the time slots between these all-star threesomes.  In this manner, the Committee can control the gallery so that players are able to move though the course, limit noise so that the fan-base is spread throughout the 365-acre grounds, and most importantly for ESPN, assure that television coverage in the morning and afternoon features players who will draw viewership.

Some of the more interesting or comment-worthy pairings are detailed below:

  • 8:18 AM – Ben Crenshaw, Brandt Snedeker, Kevin Na – How did Gentle Ben get paired with these two schmos?
  • 8:40 AM – Dustin Johnson, Adam Scott, Nick Watney – Maybe the handsomest pairing in the field.
  • 8:51 AM – Vijay Singh, Tim Clark, Aaron Baddeley – I am hoping that Bads and the ill-tempered Vijay start fighting and Bads lays VJ out before they reach Amen Corner.  South African Tim Clark is a perfect referee for this fracas.
  • 9:24 AM – Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Jason Day – great pairing of 21 to 23 year old players representing “the next wave.”
  • 10:19 AM – Martin Kaymer, Lee Westwood, Matt Kuchar – The Germanator and Westy, the world’s top two players, paired together.  Look for both of them to be in contention on Sunday even though Kaymer has had zero success at the Masters.  Oh, Kuch, we know you will be playing over the weekend but you’ll need to stand next to Lee to get some air-time in this pairing.
  • 10:41 AM – Tiger Woods, Graeme McDowell, Robert Allenby – Tiger and Graeme have dueled recently.  In December, Graeme won the Chevron World Challenge with a birdie during the first hole of a sudden-death playoff to beat Tiger who had blown a four-shot lead on the final day of the tourney.
  • 11:25 AM – Craig Stadler, Kevin Streelman, a-Nathan Smith – I fully expect the Walrus to quit before the end of the day on Friday.  Not really an ideal pairing for mild-mannered uber-Am Smith.
  • 12:53 PM – Fred Couples, Luke Donald, Steve Stricker – Freddie is simply the most enjoyable golfer to watch play in the last three decades.
  • 1:04 PM – Anthony Kim, Henrik Stenson, Steve Marino – Fans, keep your eyes open for flying objects – the Patented Burgess Putter-Chuck is a given with this brutish group.
  •  1:15 PM – Bubba Watson, Paul Casey, Eduardo Molinari – This may well be the most well-rounded of the three player pairings.  I would take these three guys in a best-ball any day.
  • 1:48 PM – Phil Mickelson, Geoff Ogilvy, a-Peter Uihlein – Coming off of a win in Houston, can Lefty repeat?

The complete pairing list can be found at  http://www.masters.com/en_US/scores/pairings/

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Opening Day for The Bench Jockeys

Posted in Our Mission, Sport/Pol Crossover on March 28th, 2011 by Ian Paregol

It just seemed appropriate that The Bench Jockeys initiated their Blog to coincide with the start of the 2011 MLB Season.  Although there is nothing like debating AL and NL Pennant chances for the upcoming baseball season and analyzing the strengths, but more likely, the weaknesses of current and former ML players, starting this Blog at this time offers The Bench Jockeys the opportunity to assess the potential play-off scenarios in the National Hockey League, as well as the contenders and the pretenders for the Green Jacket, which is  just around the corner on April 7th.  The NBA is just absolute garbage, so you won’t see much from us about that steaming pile, but you will be able to read about the Final Four and VCU’s improbable run.  (We don’t hate basketball, we just hate the NBA.)  Conflicts, oddities and head-shaking actions within NASCAR, soccer, tennis, even the much-maligned PBA, will be served up with cheeky commentary and exploration.

But it’s not just about sports here at The Bench Jockeys, oh no.  We have opinions about any number of subjects.  And along with the sports banter, we intend to mix in a fair share of analysis about the national political scene, potential domestic and global crises, and of course, we fully intend to heckle leaders deserving of derision.  We hope that you will come along for the ride and participate in the discourse.

Oh, and in case you didn’t notice it in the pic above, Barack Obama is a lefty.  Now, there’s a big surprise.

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