Sizing up the TV coverage from the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals Classic ... and away we go.
Let's be honest; very few people probably caught the final round of the Children's Miracle Newtork Hospital Classic. With the NFL on TV and most of golf's big names on vacation, the final event of the Fall Series appeared to be just a mere footnote in the 2011 PGA Tour season.
Look, nobody can blame you for watching football over golf at this point in the year, but for those of you lucky -- or crazy -- enough to choose golf over football on Sunday afternoon, well, you witnessed a couple of pressure-packed hours that certainly rivaled anything on television.
Luke Donald taking the money title in dramatic fashion -- pouring in six consecutive birdies on the back nine -- was reason enough to watch, but in the waning minutes of the final, you got a glimpse of what it's really like to be a professional golfer.
We rarely talk about the guys sitting on the fully exempt bubble until the end of the season, but on Sunday, those players sitting around No. 125 on the money list took center stage. Forget playing for millions, these guys were just trying to make a couple putts to hang around for another season.
"It doesn't get any tougher than this," Kelly Tilghman said. "A lot of these guys have so much riding on these final holes. It makes for great theater, but it's also tough to watch someone come up short in their bid to get inside the top 125."
It made for some fine golf coverage, as the Golf Channel continued to go back and forth between the course and the updated money list during a pressure-packed final 30 minutes that made you realize drama on the golf course doesn't always come from the top of the leaderboard.
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Looking into the crystal ball
With the 2011 golf season coming to a close the next month, the Golf Channel crew took a few minutes during Thursday's broadcast to make some bold predictions about what could happen next year in the sport.
Analyst Curt Byrum had some intriguing predictions, picking Tiger Woods to win two tour events, but no majors; he also predicted an Aussie would win the Masters for the first time; and Luke Donald would win his first major.
"I agree with the Australian observation and Luke Donald," said Peter Oosterhuis, weighing in on Byrum's predictions. "But I'm not so sure about Tiger. I used to be a big fan of Tiger, but I'm not sure where he's going to go from here."
While Byrum had the most realistic picks of the group, Phil Parkin and Billy Ray Brown went out on some major limbs for next season, with Parkin picking Lexi Thompson to be top 5 on the LPGA money list, and seeing an end to the belly putter's run in the game of golf.
But it was Billy Ray Brown who produced the biggest eyebrow-raising prediction of all, predicting Patrick Cantlay would win the Masters, and Tiger Woods would go back to working with Butch Harmon.
"I think he was just trying to annoy us with those predictions," Oosterhuis joked. "I think there's a better chance of Cantlay winning the Masters than Tiger and Butch ever getting back together. There's no chance we'll ever see that happen in the future."
The success of Champions Tour players on the PGA Tour
After years of playing on the PGA Tour, it's clear some Champions Tour players have a difficult time breaking away from golf's most competitive tour. Tom Lehman and Fred Couples have been prime examples of 50-something golfers with a lot of game left in the tank.
While both have been tearing up the Champions Tour this season, they've both managed to have some success on the PGA Tour as well.
"You know, nobody should be surprised that guys like Fred Couple and Tom Lehman are still having success out here," Curt Byrum said. "The pressure to succeed is certainly what keeps them playing at such a high level, but when you don't have to worry about making a cut to stay inside the top 125 to retain your tour card, you tend to swing easier and just go for it when you get out here."
Kevin Streelman's brother loves the mic
Instead of mic'ing the players next year, maybe the Golf Channel should consider wiring the caddie for sound. Case in point: Kevin Streelman's brother Jimmy, who was on the bag for him this week, spent more time talking than his brother.
A missionary in New Mexico, Jimmy seemed to enjoy taking time out of his schedule to be mic'd-up for the opening round.
"Jimmy seems to be digging that microphone," Kelly Tilghman said. "He's been talking throughout this entire round. It's either that or he forgot he's still wearing one."
I'm going to go with the former, but if you're going to mic a guy for a round, you at least want him adding soundbytes throughout the coverage.