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Golf Barometer: Belichick Finally Beats the Giants

David Ferris

David Ferris

Ferris covers the PGA Tour for RotoWire. He is an award-winning sports writer and a veteran fantasy columnist. He also is a scratch golfer.

UPGRADE

Phil Mickelson:
His Sunday round was a thing of beauty; it's nice to see that he's still capable of dominating, arthritis to the side. Mickelson might be a misguided favorite in Los Angeles this week - I'd pick Luke Donald first - but I'll be ready to dial him up at Augusta. If Lefty starts feeling good around the greens, watch out.

Fred Couples:
I don't care that he's 52, you dial him up at Riviera this week (he's in the C-group in the Yahoo! pool). Couples has 14 Top 10s here (including a seventh last year and a third in 2009) and has missed the cut just twice over the last three decades. This is Tin Cup at Cottonwood; he could walk these fairways in his sleep.

Jonas Blixt:
He's made three of five cuts as a rookie, in part because of a sizzling putter. Next step is handing the nerves on Sunday: he shot a 75 at Pebble, a 75 in San Diego and a 72 to close in Hawaii. The Swede and Florida State product is a name to know.

Tony Romo:
You have to tip your cap to someone who can play in a foursome with Phil and Tiger and somehow look like the coolest cat in the group. Romo's a legitimate scratch player as well; if he's not knocked senseless in the second half of his NFL career, maybe he can think about a Senior Tour retirement plan when he turns 50.

Bill Belichick:
Not only did he finish third at the Pebble Beach Pro-Am, but he was 17 slots ahead of the Matt Cain team. At long last, The Genius found a way to beat the Giants. And Belichick was respectful enough to ditch the hoodie on Sunday.

DOWNGRADE

Leading Into Sunday:
We saw the Kyle Stanley meltdown in San Diego, we saw the Spencer Levin collapse in Phoenix and last week it was the Charlie Wi unraveling in Northern California. It's not easy to carry a lead into Sunday, and sometimes there's more pressure when you're ahead by multiple shots - you're expected to win, and it takes you out of your routine. Stanley and Levin have played well since their giveaways (Stanley won the next week, in fact), and Wi will be better for his experience at Pebble. You're not the first guy to miss short putts on bumpy greens, Charlie.

Ray Romano:
Your 15 minutes has been up for a while. No one laughs at the whiny bit anymore; we want something more intelligent, or edgier, from our comedians. Here's hoping you never make the Sunday cut again; three days is enough.

HOLDING STEADY

CBS Sports:
The pictures were great from Pebble Beach, and major kudos to Pete Kostis for the celebrity swing breakdowns. But the commercial breaks were constant and obtrusive, and the announcing crew went out of its way to praise the event a little too often. We can see it's a gorgeous spot, especially in today's age of HD television. Sometimes you have to let the picture tell the story, guys.

Tiger Woods:
His rebuilt swing is getting close, no getting around that. As for the putting, well, that comes and goes with any pro in the second arc of his career. Tiger rolled the ball beautifully on Saturday, then looked like a 23-handicapper on Sunday. That's going to happen. But one thing we can't overlook is that Woods can no longer intimidate, and beat, the field just by showing up; he can't topple opponents simply because (a) he wants it more, and (b) everyone is afraid of him. He used to have an advantage before the first ball was hit; that's no longer the case. Mickelson, in particular, seems to thrive on a pairing with Woods these days - we never would have said that 10 or even five years ago.

Dustin Johnson:
It was surprising to see him close with 72-70-70 after the opening 63 last week - the Clambake fits his game as much as anyone's - but at least the knee seems to be rounding into form. Johnson's been hit-or-miss at Riviera, missing the cut last year after a pair of Top 10s prior to that. I've got him on my Yahoo! list, but I won't start him Thursday.