Can success on the golf course translate to success in football picking?


For this week's edition of Armchair Quarterback, I decided to have the best golfer at the Havre Daily News be our guest picker.

No George, that doesn't mean you get to guess twice.

As much as George or Harvey or I would like to believe, we aren't the best golfer at work. In fact, our entire panel consists of people who enjoy spending some time at Beaver Creek Golf Course.

Unfortunately, none of us would have much fun playing against Patrick Winderl when his game is in top form.

Patrick, a six-handicapper, is the type of streaky golfer that can get birdies in bunches. This year on the Sunday of the Beaver Blast, he and his partner Lance Reesor, proceeded to finish second in the calcutta and winning probably more money than his biweekly Havre Daily paycheck.

It could have been even more money had Patrick not missed a two-foot par putt on hole no. 10. While he says he just pushed it, there are rumors that he was preoccupied with other things when he stabbed and jabbed at the short gimme.

Obviously, it was frustrating at first to take a bogey, but the ashen look on his face when he found out that his team missed out on winning the calcutta by just a point was priceless.

But that's where my teasing of Patrick's golf game must stop. Especially since I missed about 10 two-foot putts that day and my team finished about 53rd place out of 60 teams.

Patrick came to the Havre Daily in the middle of last year as a part time reporter while attending school at Montana State University-Northern. After a few personnel changes, he found himself a full-time reporter covering the cops and court beat.

At age 20, he is working a full-time job and still going to school part time at Northern while majoring in English.

Think about what you were doing at age 20. I know two people (George and I) on this panel who weren't that responsible at age 20. Our biggest concerns were the latest episode of Beverly Hills 90210 and the bare minimum of classes you had to attend and still pass.

Covering cops and courts in Havre can be challenging, stimulating and sometimes downright unenjoyable.

It's a challenge because unfortunately there is never a shortage of stories to write about. It's stimulating because you get to write about stories that will be widely read. It's unenjoyable because there are times you have to report and write about things that play on other peoples' and your own emotions.

A cops and courts reporter always has great stories.

"The strangest thing I've ever seen is when the lady drove her car into a house in Highland Park," Winderl said. "Another one was when a lady drove her car into the jail. The cops came out and all they found was a license plate and a piece of rubber. It wasn't too tough to track her down."

The stories can be strange and funny, but often times they can be downright painful to write and report about.

"The most difficult thing has to be interviewing families of people killed in car wrecks," Winderl said. "It's hard because its very emotional. Another difficult thing to cover was when Joshua Rutherford was killed."

Indeed, people who have worked in journalism for many years will often avoid doing the tough stories and interviews that make them uncomfortable. Winderl has been doing them in his first year.

Besides his cops and court coverage, Patrick will write an occasional column, "Patrick's Perspectives" on local and national news. One thing for certain is that it gets read.

Unlike my columns, which George says I shamelessly try to promote myself to find a date, Patrick's columns tackle tough subjects like the war in Iraq and the U.S. budget.

While his liberal political leanings have drawn sharp criticism in a few letters to the editor, he isn't about to change his perspective.

"I am not going to censor what I believe in," Winderl said. "Part of the reason I write them is to elicit a reaction. I think it's good anytime a newspaper can generate a little controversy because it gets people reading it."

And he is right, any reaction positive or negative, is good because it means the paper is being read.

While Patrick may be able to expound on the evils of George W. Bush and Karl Rove and their lack of a domestic policy or their short-sighted foreign policy, does it mean he can pick football games?

Being a reporter, he did what any good reporter does and did some research before picking his high school game. Although I wouldn't call it studying, which is what Wells does. Nope, it was more like cramming since we gave him just under 15 minutes to make his picks. He did check the latest Montana football power poll to help his picks, but other than that he fired from the hip.

"I don't know as much as the experts," Winderl said. "But I feel pretty confident about my picks."

We'll see how confident he is on Saturday. Patrick was the same as the experts, picking Havre, Capital, Miles City and Great Falls High.

But the possibly the best part of his picks is his decision to go with Cal Poly over Montana State.

"You can't have a whole lot of confidence in a team who employs drug dealers for coaches," he joked.

Well, it looks like after this week, Patrick will be begging Harvey to keep his job.

Barry took the top honor last week, finishing 15-3 and would have finished perfect in NFL picks if not for the New York Giants moronic kicker, who absolutely handed the game to the Cowboys.

Wells continued to be consistent, going 14-4 as did George. Last week's guest Ralph Jimison finished 13-5 while Harvey was 12-6. I finished last at 11-7 and enlisted some help this week with my picks.

We have had a few suggestions for our next guest picker, as always call me, e-mail me or grab me on the street and let me know if there is someone we should have on here to exploit, tease and embarrassed, all in the name of fun.


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