Gambling with Outlaws: A COVID-19 story

As I’ve mentioned in this space previously, I’m a guy who likes fantasy sports and specifically fantasy golf. In an ironic twist, I even started what was meant to be a weekly column called, “Who I Did NOT Bet on in DraftKings this week” which was meant to be a leading indicator of who would actually do well, as they wouldn’t be on my team. That started the week of The PLAYERS Championship, which you may be aware of was cancelled after the first round and was the beginning of the PGA Tour being shutdown due to the coronavirus, aka COVID-19.

I live in California, and in the Bay Area specifically all public parks and gathering places – which includes golf courses, have been closed for weeks and will be at least until May. So not only is there no golf to watch, there’s no golf to play. And honestly, seeing pictures of people flagrantly scoffing at social distancing makes it gross for me to think of doing it, even though I clearly would love to play responsibly.

And that, it turns out, is what the Outlaw Tour is doing. (I know, they’re outlaws, but they’re abiding by the law here, son. Apologies, I can’t help but add a Western twang to some of this.

Even their logo wears a mask for safety! Image courtesy of https://outlawtour.bluegolf.com/

I noticed that DraftKings was showing a golf tournament and assumed it was much like what they’ve been doing for the NBA and NFL — having Madden games played and people betting on the outcomes. I’m serious about this. And I cannot bet on something like that.

I have standards, people.

And apparently those standards include The Outlaw Tour. What IS the Outlaw Tour, you (and I) ask? Well, instead of me summing it up, here’s some snippets of what THEY have to say about themselves:

The mission of the Outlaw TOUR is to create a cost-effective, self-sustaining, “developmental” professional golf tour showcasing rising talent while promoting the growth of participants skills. The goal is to create an environment that becomes the battlegrounds of the Professional golf system and a checkpoint on the road-map to a PGA Tour card. From inception, the goal of the TOUR has been to create an environment that is conducive to developing players talent by providing a cost-effective solution to “mini-tour” golf and a week in week out competitive atmosphere that becomes the “proving grounds” of the professional system… You are the CEO of your own company as a professional golfer; we can help you with your game as well as scheduling, budgeting, and goals. We want YOU to succeed.

Courtesy outlawtour.bluegolf.com

The first obvious observation is, that’s a lot of things in quotation marks! I feel like the CEO of the Outlaw Tour dictated this to someone using finger air quotes and it got transcribed extremely literally.

But overall, this is a mini-tour that isn’t trying to compete with the other mini-tours, but to provide a place for guys to get their games back on point.

And here’s an important thing that made me feel easier about this – the tour, while playing, is doing so in a socially responsible way. Players are walking, carrying their own bag, not raking bunkers, playing with the flagstick in, etc. As someone who has gotten very high-and-mighty about other folks not being responsible with shelters-in-place, this felt important and kind of the only way I could get behind this effort.

So who plays the Outlaw Tour? Typically, this means guys who are no names in terms of golf fans. But with the Outlaw Tour literally being the only game in town, this week featured at least one player that true golf degenerates know: Alex Cejka.

Fairly sure my guy is rocking a man-bun here. I can’t confirm, but he IS an Outlaw. (At least this week.) Photo courtesy of Wikimedia.

Cejka, if you’re not familiar, has one career PGA victory (at the Puerto Rico Open, which has a history of winners never winning anywhere else on tour) and 11 international victories (four on the European Tour). He has a top-ten finish in the PGA Championship and the U.S. Open, and an 11th place in The Open, as well as 26th down in Augusta. His career earnings are somewhere around $13,000,000. But, my guy is pushing 49 years old, and likely won’t qualify for the Champions Tour, so it’s time to finish grabbing that cash.

I took him in my DK lineup, as did 31% of all entries. Why? He’s literally the only name I’d heard of. Here are some other guys I chose and why:

Ryan Porch – I’m not going to lie to you. I’ve been watching a lot of HGTV while in quarantine (reminder: THERE ARE NO LIVE SPORTS ON) and my wife and I keep watching a TV show called “Home Town” where they remodel homes in Mississippi. The show could be renamed “Everybody wants a porch.” It’s a big deal, and a social gathering place. So, I want a porch, too.

I feel certain these guys did not mean to influence my DraftKings picks this week, but here we are.

Thomas Lehman — no, not THAT Tom Lehman. But yeah, that’s why I chose this guy. By the way, while we’re here, there is NO truth to the rumor* that AC and I followed Melissa Lehman around in an almost assuredly creepy way at the 2000 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. (* There’s some truth to this rumor.) But he’s actually the son of the British Open winner and former world number one golfer. I like winners! He’s on my squad.

I did not choose this Tom Lehman in the Outlaw Tour.

Matt Marshall. Not going to pretend I did any research before setting my lineups (I literally would have stated there was no research to do!) but it turns out Mr. Marshall is 11th on the money list in 2019, and was 11th in 2018 as well. Now…those winnings TOTAL less than $13,000, but that’s hardly the point. Plus, his name sort of reminded me of Marshall Mathers, and Eminem is cool, right? (Looks around…right?)

I’m Slim Shady, all the other Slim Shady’s are not playing on the Outlaw Tour! (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia.)

Mark Baker. It seems I took him in both of my lineups, and I’m not going to lie – it’s probably because he was one of only three entrants who had a picture. I figured that meant something. (Editors Note: It does not.) All I need now is a Butcher and a Candlestick Maker.

Here’s the good news – it’s a three-day tournament! I hope to be back after Tuesday’s or Wednesdays round. The Outlaw Tour is here to save us all.

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