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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Valero Texas Open - One-and-done

My one-and-done pick for the Valero Texas Open came down to the wire, and I'm going with Ryan Palmer.

I like the PM / AM wave the best, as the wind might try and calm down a bit on Thursday PM. Palmer is in that wave. Add to that, he's a solid wind player. I'm not going to overthink it past that.

As for Yahoo!, I'm starting Palmer, Zach Johnson, Jordan Spieth and Brendon Todd, with Fuyrk, DJ, Kuchar and Laird as the backups.

Best of luck to all!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Valero Texas Open - Power Ranking

Before we dive into the Power Ranking for the Valero Texas Open, let's talk weather. While I did not factor tee times into the ranking of players, it would be prudent to pay attention to the weather at TPC San Antonio this week.

There are some weeks where weather plays a very minor role in the outcome of a tournament, and others where it needs to be a consideration. It appears that this is one of those weeks where weather might matter. In particular, Thursday looks to be very windy, with rain in the morning.

I don't have local knowledge when it comes to weather patterns in Texas, but this is one of those weeks to where I know someone who does. My OAD commish, AKA Spotter, AKA Texas Wind Expert tells me that the golf courses in Texas are set up for winds to come out of the south. Think of it as the Trade Winds in the Hawaii tournaments. This week, the winds are expected to come out of the north. Keeping with the Hawaii analogy, that would be a Kona wind. That means holes that are longer and traditionally play down wind, will play even longer and into the wind. Against their design.

For Yahoo! gamers, all of this also means that you want to try and spread your players amongst the AM and PM waves in the first two rounds so you can try and capitalize on any wind advantage that may arise.

Enough of the weather...here we go:

  1. Jordan Spieth - He really struggled in his first two trips to TPC San Antonio, but he rebounded to finish 10th last year. His form is undeniable. This is a hard week to nail a true number one, but he's the safe play in most formats.
  2. Jim Furyk - My guess is that a lot of people will be a little cool towards Furyk this week due to being burned at the Copperhead Course two weeks ago. That's no reason to back off this week. He's finished T3 and T6 in his last two trips to TPC San Antonio and was playing well before his T40 at the Valspar. 
  3. Ryan Palmer - The Texan is a good fit this week, as he's 4/5 with two top 15s on this course and has trended into this event with a MC-T25-T12 in his last three PGA TOUR starts. He's also known as a solid wind player and his stats are off the charts for how this course should play.
  4. Matt Kuchar - He is playing below his standards leading into this event, but one has to like his chances in an event that could turn into a grind fest. Went T13-T22-T4 in his last three stops in San Antonio.
  5. Brendon Todd - He's the name that kept moving up the board this week. He tied for sixth here last year in what proved to be the spark for his strong summer run. He's trending much better into this event this time around, with top 25s in each of his last three PGA TOUR starts. It does not appear that his game has a weakness when it comes to what it will take to top the leaderboard this week. 
  6. Dustin Johnson - This reminds me of the time he played in Memphis for the first time just before the U.S. Open, and then won it. He has no course history at TPC San Antonio, but who really cares. Have you watched him lately?
  7. Charley Hoffman - Current form isn't that good, but he is the cream of the course history crop. His five trips to TPC San Antonio have read T13-T2-T13-T3-T11. He's long off the tee and has a history of playing well in the wind. Much more to like than to hate this week.
  8. Martin Laird - Solid season in the works and has a T9 and a win here. That's enough to crack the top 10. 
  9. Brendan Steele - He looked like a course history giant with a win and a T4 in his first two starts, but slid to a T46 and MC in his last two tries. He's been a cut-making machine of late, so the logical thought is that he'll at least beat the T46 from 2013. 
  10. Zach Johnson - A T9 at Bay Hill and a T6 in last year's Valero Texas Open appear to be a tasty trend. I'll be honest. It feels like smoke-and-mirrors since his top 10 last week was back door by all standards. After all, it took an albatross on the 70th hole to accomplish it.
  11. Jimmy Walker
  12. Matt Jones
  13. Will MacKenzie
  14. Daniel Summerhays
  15. Kevin Na
  16. Jason Kokrak
  17. Charles Howell III
  18. Daniel Berger
  19. Martin Kaymer
  20. Francesco Molinari
Due to the weather, I'm delaying my one-and-done selection until tomorrow night to make sure one wave isn't going to have a significant advantage through 36 holes.

I do not plan on burning a big name this week. My sights are locking in on Ryan Palmer, Brendon Todd, and Charley Hoffman. (I used Laird earlier this season at the Shriners Hospitals for Children's Open or he would be on the short list.

I will return tomorrow with a final OAD declaration. 

Best of luck to all!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Valero Texas Open - Preview

The Valero Texas Open leads off the Texas two-step as the final run up to the Masters, and here is a preview to get you off and running in your research.

Steven Bowditch broke through last season in what was the fifth edition contested at TPC San Antonio. TPC San Antonio is a par-72 layout stretching out to a respectable 7,435 yards. It has been the host venue for the last five years, and all research on course history should only include those five years. As one would expect with a par 72, there are the traditional number of par 3s (4) and 5s(4), with the remaining 10 being par 4s.

Here is a list of winners and runners-up since TPC San Antonio has hosted.

  • 2010 - Winner: Adam Scott (14-under 274) over Freddie Jacobson (275)
  • 2011 - Winner: Brendan Steele (280) over Kevin Chappell and Charley Hoffman (281)
  • 2012 - Winner: Ben Curtis (279) over Matt Every and John Huh (281)
  • 2013 - Winner: Martin Laird (274) over Rory McIlroy (276)
  • 2014 - Winner: Steven Bowditch (280) over Will MacKenzie and Daniel Summerhays (281)

For the most part, that list is comprised of solid ball-strikers. Most of them possess above-average length. The last two edition of this event have moved to just ahead of the Masters instead of behind it, meaning the field has enjoyed a step up in class. 

I find stats to be a moving target in this event, but will likely lean on metrics such as strokes gained: tee-to-green and different scoring averages. Proximity is also worth a look, as I recall some of these greens having some very distinct slopes and tiers. 

More than most weeks, I will lean on course history and current form above stats.

We will return in the next few days with this week's power ranking. Until then, happy research!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Arnold Palmer Invitational - Power Ranking and One-and-Done

With the Arnold Palmer Invitational creeping closer by the minute, let's put pen to paper and identify this week's power ranking and one-and-done selection.

You've waited long enough...here it is:

  1. Henrik Stenson - The Swede will likely lead off most rankings this week, and with good reason. He's the perfect blend of current form and course history, nearly winning last week and finishing T15, T8 and T5 in his last three trips to Bay Hill
  2. Bubba Watson - I'm inclined to toss out his WD last year at Bay Hill following a first-round 83. His other starts have produced some solid returns at the API and his form is obviously on point.
  3. Rory McIlroy - He's never teed it up at Arnie's event, but there's no reason to think he won't find it to his liking. The key for him will be to capitalize on the par 5s and avoid big numbers. He tied for ninth at Doral two weeks ago and clearly didn't have his "A" or maybe even "B" game.
  4. Adam Scott - Missed the cut for the first time in forever last week, which will lead to questions about his short putter. Memories are short, as he tied for fourth two weeks ago. Throw in a third-place finish at Bay Hill last week, and it's not quite time to fade him quite yet.
  5. J.B. Holmes - This is a good course for a bomber, and J.B.'s form is arguably as good as it has ever been. He has two runner-up finishes in his last four starts. Throw in an 8/8 record at Bay Hill, with a T10 last year the best, and he's trending very well.
  6. Keegan Bradley - Because he managed a T4 at Riviera, on a course where he offers excellent history, he must be taken very seriously at Bay Hill this week despite some recent poor play. He went T3-2 in his last two visits to Arnie's place.
  7. Rickie Fowler - It's time to really start paying attention to Fowler after a T12 at Doral in the WGC. He peaked for the majors last year, and that could be the case again. He tied for third here in 2013, but missed the cut last year just before going on a run. A bit of a coin flip, but the odds are tilting in his favor.
  8. Graeme McDowell - He will be a darling of course-history buffs this week, and with good reason. The world-class player is competing in a home game and has two runner-up finishes at Bay Hill to go with a T10 last year. He's a good play in numerous formats.
  9. Hideki Matsuyama - First-timer at Bay Hill, but clearly has a game that should fit this layout. 
  10. Brooks Koepka - Easy to get excited about him thanks to a T26 here last year in his first visit when you throw in a steady T17 at the WGC-Cadillac. It appears he's shedding the first-win hangover.
  11. Sean O'Hair 
  12. Jason Day
  13. Kevin Na
  14. Harris English
  15. Jason Kokrak
  16. Charles Howell III
  17. Paul Casey
  18. Brendan Steele
  19. Justin Thomas 
  20. Ian Poulter
One-and-done

This week's question is pretty simple. Do you want to go with the chalk and burn Henrik Stenson, or do you want to go against the grain?

If you are happy with where you stand entering the week, then I believe the smart play is to burn Stenson and see if anyone around you makes any mistakes. At worst, expect the people in the money in your game play a little defense and use Stenson. That means if the ship sinks, you'll be in good company.

If you're chasing, this is an interesting opportunity to try and make a move. The two names that fit the bill for a play like that are J.B. Holmes and Keegan Bradley. MAYBE Sean O'Hair. 

In my game, I'm barely outside of the money. That said, I'm not in a hurry to make a mistake so I'm taking Stenson.

Best of luck to all!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Arnold Palmer Invitational - Preview

The next stop on the traveling carnival that is the PGA TOUR is the Arnold Palmer Invitational, and here is a preview to get you off and running with your research.

This tournament has also been referred to as the Tiger Woods Invitational over the years, as he is a eight-time champion here, but he is not in the field this week. Matt Every is this week's defending champion, but enters this week having played poorly during the 2014-15 campaign.

Bay Hill Club and Lodge is the familiar venue. It is a par-72 layout, stretching out to a respectable 7,419 yards. Of note, it has played to a par of 70 in 2007-2009, but that was when the course played several hundred yards shorter.

Here is a look at the winners and runners-up dating back to 2005:

  • 2005: Winner: Kenny Perry (276) over Graeme McDowell and Vijay Singh (278)
  • 2006: Winner: Rod Pampling (274) over Greg Owen (275)
  • 2007: Winner: Vijay Singh (272) over Rocco Mediate (274)
  • 2008: Winner: Tiger Woods (270) over Bart Bryant (271)
  • 2009: Winner: Tiger Woods (275) over Sean O'Hair (276)
  • 2010: Winner: Ernie Els (277) over Eduardo Molinari and Kevin Na (279)
  • 2011: Winner: Martin Laird (280) over Steve Marino (281)
  • 2012: Winner: Tiger Woods (275) over Graeme McDowell (280)
  • 2013: Winner: Tiger Woods (275) over Justin Rose (277)
  • 2014: Winner: Matt Every (275) over Keegan Bradley (276)

So what does that list prompt in terms of stats and research?
  • This list seems to have a bit more of a European flair than most. That could be because many of the European Tour players make their homes in the Orlando area and play out of Lake Nona, or it may be unrelated.
  • Ball-striking seems to be the calling card of most of that list, and that makes since when one considers the large number of water hazards in play at Bay Hill. 
  • If you consider what Tiger Woods was in his prime, which is absolutely relevant considering how many times he's won here, par 5 scoring should be a factor. He was the king of dominating par 5s and breaking even the rest of the way. 
  • While this isn't a bombers course to the extent of a Doral, length matters here. 
We will work on a power ranking and have it out to you as soon as possible. Due to a bit of an unpredictable schedule at the start of the week, I hope to have the power ranking and one-and-done posted on Tuesday night. 

Until then, happy research!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Valspar Championship - Power Ranking and One-and-Done

We've been hot of late, and it's time to release the power ranking and one-and-done for this week's Valspar Championship.

This week's field seemed full of A-/B+ options, but was light on A+/A candidates when factoring in current form, course history and relevant statistics. Feel free to refer to the Preview from earlier this week for more on stats and history.

Without further ado, here is a list of players that should featured prominently on the leaderboard at the Copperhead Course this week.

***Power Ranking Updated to reflect the omission of Adam Scott. He was always on the spreadsheet but didn't carry over due to "operator error." Thanks to Adam (a reader, not Scott) for the catch!***

Here we go:

  1. Jim Furyk - Past winner at the Copperhead Course, Furyk is among the class of the field and enters off a T7-T14-T12 run to kick off his 2015. He's cracked the top 20 in his last five trips to the Valspar and ranks first in strokes gained: tee-to-green and seventh in total driving. We know he's incapable of winning a tournament, but he's the safest option across all formats.
  2. Jordan Spieth - Finally getting some course history under his young belt, Spieth has gone T7-T20 in his two trips to the Copperhead Course. Posted a coupe of top 10s before his T17 at Doral last week. Solid, but not spectacular, across the board statistically.
  3. Matt Kuchar - He's six out of seven with five top 20s in this event, but has never done better than a T9. That might scare some people off, but it depends on what you're looking for this week. He's a solid option in formats like Yahoo! 
  4. Henrik Stenson - First-timer in this event, but his T4 at Doral has him clicking on all cylinders entering this event. 
  5. Lee Westwood - Another first-timer, but I love his trend of T25-T12 in his last two starts leading into this week. Just quiet enough to not attract major attention, but certainly trendy. His game seems to be a good fit on paper for this layout.
  6. Martin Laird - If he didn't take the last month off, he would likely have moved up two spots. Went T15-T5-T7 before his late-winter break and tied for fifth here in 2011. 
  7. Brandt Snedeker - I worry that his ball-striking isn't quite up to the Copperhead, as evident by just two top 25s in seven starts here. The good news is, both of those were top 10s, so when it's clicked it's been good. Likely will come down to how well he drives it.
  8. Will MacKenzie - With a very short lens, he's an enticing pick this week. After missing the cut at The Honda Classic in his first start of 2015, he bounced back with a T6 (one out of a playoff) in Puerto Rico last week. Also tied for fourth here last year and has a nice history on Bermuda. 
  9. Harris English - It's easy to fall in love with his stats this week, but the rest of the picture is murky. Went P2-T30-MC in his last three PGA TOUR starts and has gone MC-T7-T38 at Copperhead. There's really good, really bad and average. See the delimma?
  10. Daniel Berger - The third first-timer in the top 10, his play at Honda was the culmination of a great few months. Being a native of Florida and a really good ball-striker, he should be a nice fit. I like that he took last week off to collect himself after his playoff loss at PGA National. 
  11. Adam Scott - Poor (by his standards) course history, but T4 last week at Doral.
  12. Kevin Na - Form meets history for last year's runner-up. 
  13. Patrick Reed - Not sure he drives it well enough to contend here.
  14. Luke Donald - Enticing history, but questionable form absent Honda. Good week to watch with an eye on the Heritage.
  15. Boo Weekley - One of the best places to play a great ball-striker and a decent Bermuda putter.
  16. Jonathan Byrd - Golf Channel Group 4 and DraftKings gold given his great course history and T16 last week. 
  17. Nick Watney - Feels like he's trending in the wrong direction and he's not necessarily a Bermuda guy.
  18. Jason Dufner - Feels like he's getting closer, but not all the way there yet.
  19. John Senden - Defending champ, questionable form.
  20. Justin Rose - Worst form we've seen out of him in a long time despite solid course history.
  21. George McNeill - Very good history and solid Bermuda player.
Fantasy

Please be warned. I'm going to go ahead and jinx myself. Go to Rotoworld.com and read Playing the Tips for my Golf Channel and Yahoo! picks. I'm up to fourth in the Golf Channel game and 15th in the Yahoo! game, meaning there is virtually no where to go but down. I'm due for a crash. You've been warned. Whatever you do, don't follow my picks this week!

As for the one-and-done, a really good run of P2 (DJ / Northern Trust Open), T3 (Paul Casey / Honda) and Bubba Watson (3, WGC-Cadillac) was close to three wins. Again...due for a market correction. Remember...buy low / sell high and my stock is high, so IGNORE ME this week. 

What's made me successful in the OAD the last three weeks has been sticking to a plan when it seemed obvious. DJ was hot coming out of the AT&T Pebble and had a great record at Riviera, so I didn't mess with saving him or overthinking it. Casey had a P2 at the NTO and enough of a history at the Honda, plus he passed the eye test in the NTO playoff, so he got the nod. I had my eye on Bubba forever for Doral and his string of top 20s did nothing to sway me, so it was obvious. 

I'm keeping it just as simple this week. The last time Jim Furyk won a golf tournament was the 2010 TOUR Championship. Earlier that year, he won at the Copperhead Course. That's a big check mark for course history. His form this year has been very good. A T12 for a player of his length at Doral last week was essentially like a top-five finish. I'm taking Furyk.

If I had to name a backup, I would say it's Lee Westwood. I really like his T25-T12 trend as he heads to a course that should suit his game. Because he doesn't have course history, he's very much flying under the radar, which I also like.

Best of luck this week!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Valspar Championship - Preview

The Valspar Championship is next up on the PGA TOUR schedule and represents the third leg of the Florida Swing, and here is a preview to get you off and running. 

The Copperhead Course at Innisbrook Resort is the familiar setting. It is a par-71 layout, stretching out to 7,340 yards. While it plays to a par of 71, it still has four par 5s. The difference is that it also offers five par 3s to go with nine par 4s. 

Four of the five par 3s measure 200 yards or longer, with the exception being 195 yards. It also doesn't skimp on the yardage of the par 5s, with the yardages ranging from 560-605 yards. Oh, and only one of the par 4s measures less than 420 yards. 

That could lead one to believe that distance is the key, much like Doral last week, but that isn't necessarily the case. There are examples of long players doing well, but the real formula seems to be above-average length mixed with solid mid-iron play and an ability to scramble. The problem is, it's hard to determine solid mid- and long-iron play based off stats. While there are boutique stats available, they are just that. 

Here is a look at the winners and runners-up dating back to 2005:
  • 2005 - Winner: Carl Pettersson (9-under 275) over Chad Campbell (276)
  • 2006 - Winner: K.J. Choi (271) over Paul Goydos and Brett Wetterich (275)
  • 2007 - Winner: Marc Calcavecchia (274) over John Senden and Health Slocum (275)
  • 2008 - Winner: Sean O'Hair (280) over Stewart Cink, Ryuji Imada, Troy Matteson, Billy Mayfair, George McNeill and John Senden (282).
  • 2009 - Winner: Retief Goosen (276) over Charles Howell III and Brett Quigley (277)
  • 2010 - Winner: Jim Furyk (271) over K.J. Choi (272)
  • 2011 - Winner: Gary Woodland (269) over Webb Simpson (270)
  • 2012 - Winner: Luke Donald (271) over Sangmoon Bae, Jim Furyk and Robert Garrigus (playoff)
  • 2013 - Winner: Kevin Streelman (274) over Boo Weekley (276)
  • 2014 - Winner: John Senden (277) over Kevin Na (278)

As you can see, that list has a little bit of everything. 

We will put together our usual formula of course history, current form and relevant statistics in an effort to put together the best power ranking possible. 

Until then, happy research!