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Natalie Gulbis, John Elway, Tiger Woods: Who gets the "Silver Silly" award this golf season?

By Tim McDonald, Contributor

Since we're nearing the end of professional golf's media-driven "silly season," the question that has been undoubtedly burning in your brain is: Just what is the silliest of them all?

Natalie Gulbis
Is Natalie Gulbis the new darling of the "Silly Season?"
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Natalie GulbisFred Funk
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That's easy: The ADT Skills Challenge. They played this thing Nov. 5, but it won't be televised until Dec. 29.

Talk about tape delay. I guess officials figured we'd be dying to know how Dan Marino and Bubba Watson did, and they'd tease us for nearly two months.

They did fine. Actually, they finished second, for those of you who can't wait for the news any longer. John Elway and Natalie Gulbis won the thing.

Gulbis said the pressure was on, seeing how she was the only "girl" in the competition.

"Being the only girl, there's a little bit of extra pressure, extra desire, to hold your own," Gulbis told PGA Tour.com.

Gulbis is 24 years old.

The event pits a pro golfer with another top athlete from a different sport. Who came up with this format? It's like having a debate and teaming up Hillary Clinton and Pauly Shore against Mitt Romney and Jerry Lewis.

Who cares?

The ADT is really just an excuse to sell junk. It takes product placement to new depths.

• The Del Webb Father-Son Challenge is very strict about who it invites - sort of. The tournament is open only to major championship winners and their "sons."

But, Arnold Palmer plays every year with his grandson, David Duval played this year with his stepson and Fuzzy Zoeller totes his daughter - what a rebel!

Still, it can be interesting. They should open it up more, though. Let the women major winners and their offspring in. Then again, maybe not. The women would whine about all the cigar smoke.

• The Wendy's 3-Tour Challenge pits the men from the PGA Tour, the men from the Champions Tour and the ladies from the LPGA in stroke play.

This should be interesting, but for some reason, isn't.

The LPGA team of Gulbis, Morgan Pressel and Christie Kerr beat the Champions team of Fred Funk, Jay Haas and Nick Price this year. The PGA Tour team of Chris DiMarco, Bubba Watson and Camilo Villegas finished a distant third.

PGA Tour teams play from the back tees at Lake Las Vegas Resort, the old fellas from shorter tees and the women from the pink tees.

I don't know why it's not more interesting. Maybe the PGA boys don't take it seriously enough.

By the way, have you noticed how popular Gulbis and Watson are getting to be in silly season events? Personally, I think Bubba should focus more on the golf and less on Gulbis, if you know what I mean.

• I've always been a sem-fan of The Skins Game, and apparently so have a lot of people. They've held it for 24 years now. Still, more than a few people are calling for it to slide into posterity.

I agree it isn't exactly filled with blockbuster stars any more, and even Fred Funk in a pink skirt won't bring them back. Gone are the days of Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player and Tom Watson. This year we had Fred Couples - it wouldn't be a Skins Game without Couples - Zach Johnson, Brett Wetterich and Stephen Ames.

Ames won it, to a universal yawn.

The relatively big prize used to mean something, thus drawing the big stars. The million-dollar prize nowadays is peanuts to the top money-winners. In fact, the top nine players on the money list reportedly turned down invitations. Wetterich thought it was a joke when he got a call to come on down.

The only way to revive it is to make the players use their own money. Why not? That's the way 99 percent of everyday golfers play skins. I would love to see that. I might even pay money to see that.

• The Merrill Lynch Shootout was founded by Greg Norman. The idea is to pair up buddies and have them shoot it out at a Tiburon Golf Club in Naples, Fla.

That's what it is, buddies playing golf. And yet we watch it. Fred Funk and Jeff Sluman, Jerry Kelly and Rod Pampling and Chris Berman and Brad Faxon. Did somebody say Chris Berman?

The best thing about the event is the $10 million shot. No one came close this year from 179 yards.

• The final event in the silly season is the Target World Challenge in mid-December, hosted by three-time winner and defending champion Tiger Woods.

This is almost like a real tournament, with an elite 16-player field and a top prize of $1.35 million at Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks, Calif.

The tournament helps raise money for Woods' charities, so I dare not use the word "silly" here lest I have people in unmarked sedans outside my home.

This year, Woods told the media before his tournament that he's used the off-season to beef up like he's never been beefed up before. There's nothing silly about that. Scary, but not silly.

Tim McDonaldTim McDonald, Contributor

Veteran golf writer Tim McDonald keeps one eye on the PGA Tour and another watching golf vacation hotspots and letting travelers in on the best place to vacation.


 
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