Columns & Blogs

History shows picking a Wells Fargo Championship winner is tricky business

Elsewhere on these pages, you will find a list of players Observer staffers have chosen as probable winners in the Wells Fargo Championship this week at Quail Hollow Club.

Beware of that list if you’re thinking of placing a bet.

Somebody different wins almost every week. You could look it up.

In his best interests, I won’t mention the name of the man I picked and his friends should hide the paper.

You don’t want me to pick you. I’m the guy who once picked a winner in the U.S. Open, only to see him fall ill (no doubt after hearing I had picked him) and withdraw in the first round.

I pick winners on the PGA Tour every week in a pool with a couple dozen guys with what might be called modest success, or might be called pathetic mediocrity. Over our morning coffee, my wife Beth might ask whom I picked that week and when I tell her, she’ll say something like, “That poor devil.”

Picking winners on the PGA Tour is like buying a lottery ticket. Last year’s Wells Fargo winner Derek Ernst, who got in as an alternate when someone else withdrew, went off at 500-1. He was ranked 1,207th in the world coming in. I think most of us missed that one.

And yet we try to predict winners. It’s about as scientific as the chicken who used to predict the winner of a stock car race by which grain of corn he ate. No, really.

We’ve had some interesting winners in our pro golf tournaments over the years. None more than Doug Sanders, who won both the PGA Tour’s Kemper Open and the World Seniors Invitational here. He is the only champion we’re aware of who offered a professional hitman $40,000 to kill him if surgery on his neck was not successful. At least, that’s what Sanders told Golf Digest. The surgery was successful.

David Toms won the Wells Fargo with an 8 on the last hole. Anthony Kim won it in 2008 en route to greatnesss, we thought, but he doesn’t play anymore and we don’t know why.

Bob Menne, an obscure part of the scenery, won the Kemper against an elite field when he was so broke, he and his wife were cooking burgers in a hotel room to exist, looking at leaving the tour. Joe Inman won while living in Charlotte. It was his only PGA Tour win.

The one who was most dominating was Hugo.

Hurricane Hugo blew the field away, along with trees and other stuff in 1989, forcing the cancellation of the World Series Invitational.

My prognosticating apparatus is still bruised from that one. On the day before the tournament was to begin, several players were sitting in the locker room at Quail Hollow watching a weather report that showed Hugo was coming ashore. They asked me if the hurricane was coming to Charlotte.

I said, “Nah, those things never get this far inland.”

Ron Green Sr. is a retired Observer sports columnist