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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Deutsche Bank Championship - Fantasy

With hours to go before the second leg of the FedExCup Playoffs is underway at the Deutsche Bank Championship, it's time to put the finishing touches on our Yahoo! lineup.

As published at Rotoworld.com on Tuesday in Playing the Tips, my A-list consisted of Adam Scott and Matt Kuchar. That was before the tragic news regarding the death of Kuchar's caddie's wife. I've fielded several questions in regards to Kuchar since then, and my thoughts are that he will be top 10 or bust. He will come out and try to play inspired for his man, but if he is too distracted it could turn into one of his more forgettable performances.

That said, pairing Kuchar with Scott is pretty safe in the sense that Scott won't miss the cut. I'm leaning AM tee times when it makes sense, so that means Scott starts and Kuchar is on the bench as we watch to see how he responds to the tragedy.

B-List - All of my players have AM tee times, which I normally will not allow to happen. I'm starting Hunter Mahan and Jason Day, with Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy on the bench. I'm down to my last Rory start and want to make sure he doesn't lay an egg in the first round at TPC Boston like he did last week.

C-List - Charl Schwartzel starting with John Senden on the bench.

In the O v. Glass, I narrowly eeked out a two-point victory last week to improve my record to 4-2. I win this week and I will close out Glass. We have four matches this week (Scott, Mahan, Day and Schwartzel), meaning I have Kuchar, Spieth, McIlroy and Senden going up against his crew of Patrick Reed, Keegan Bradley, Graham DeLaet and Jimmy Walker.

I will update future lineup changes and the O v. Glass on Twitter as the tournament plays out.

Best of luck to all!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Deutsche Bank Championship - One-and-done

Let's hope the Deutsche Bank Championship goes better than The Barclays. It wasn't that Paul Casey's T22 was all that bad, rather it was the opportunity cost. As mentioned in the article last week, I was down to Casey and Hunter Mahan. Obviously I chose incorrectly.

That puts Mahan back in play as an option this week.

If my goal was a top-25 finish, or even a top 15, I'd probably ride Mahan and hope he has enough left in the tank to check that box. Other options in play include Patrick Reed and Jordan Spieth.

After missing out on all of Spieth's top-10 finishes earlier this year, I had penciled him in for East Lake (TOUR Championship). He tied for second there a year ago and seemed a very likely candidate to make it back in 2014.

Reed is a wild card. Though he didn't play well at TPC Boston last year (T70), he is known for making bunches of birdies.

I'm playing for a win or a top five this week, and I've landed on Jordan Spieth. His final-round 67 at Ridgewood CC last week was his first sub-70 round since the third round of The Open Championship, so perhaps he snapping out of a mini-slump. The final nail in the coffin was his T4 in this event last year.

As well as Mahan is playing, the odds are against him scoring a top five this week. That means I've slotted him in for East Lake, where he nearly beat Bill Haas in a playoff in 2011.

So, let's go Spieth!

Since the tournament doesn't start until Friday, we will be back Thursday to tab the Yahoo! starters and take a look at the O v. Glass.

Until then, best of luck to all!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Deutsche Bank Championship - Power Ranking

As we dive deeper into our preparation for the Deutsche Bank Championship, let's take a gander at this week's Power Ranking. I encourage you to flip back to yesterday's Preview for more information on the history of this tournament, as well as the lay of the land at TPC Boston.

It's worth mentioning, PGATOUR.com rolled out two new metrics this week. They are Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green and Strokes Gained: Total.Rather than try and explain it all, I recommend going to PGATOUR.com and reading the article on the new measurements. I took a look at Strokes Gained: Total for this week.

Here we go!

  1. Rory McIlroy - Was due for a letdown after three consecutive wins, settling for a T22 at The Barclays last week. Returns to TPC Boston, where he was the winner in 2012. Expect him to begin another big run leading up to the Ryder Cup.
  2. Adam Scott - He's made each of his nine cuts, with five top 10s, and owns a win and a runner-up at TPC Boston. Enters this week off back-to-back T15s at the PGA Championship and The Barclays. Ranked 1st in Par 5 Scoring Average, 2nd in Par Breakers, 3rd in Par 4 Scoring Average, 4th in Strokes Gained: Total (SGT) and 10th in Ball-Striking.
  3. Jim Furyk - Arguably the most consistent player on the PGA TOUR the last few months, went T15-T5-8 in his last three starts and hasn't missed a cut at TPC Boston. Has five top 25s and three top 10s in the DBC.
  4. Matt Kuchar - A T4-T12-T5 run in his last three PGA TOUR starts trend well into this event, as does his T4 at TPC Boston last year. He's first in Par 4 Scoring average on the PGA TOUR and 3rd in SGT.
  5. Hunter Mahan - Tough to see him going back-to-back, but his T15-T7-Win trend is impossible to overlook. He's 8/11 at TPC Boston, with a T8-T39-T13 in his last three trips. He's been hot with the irons lately, which generally is a lead indicator for success in his case. 
  6. Rickie Fowler - His course history isn't great, but I don't think he's finished outside the top 10 since Tiger and Sean Foley last had a beer together. 
  7. Henrik Stenson - The defending champ enters the week 66th in the FedExCup standings, so he can't afford to lay an egg if he hopes to advance to the BMW Championship and ultimately defend his FEC crown. Tied for 38th at The Barclays last week after a near miss (T3) at the PGA Championship. Expect a top 25, if not a top 10.
  8. Jason Day - His health is continually a concern, but his T15 at the PGA and T2 last week are about as good of a trend as you will find. Had a nice run at TPC Boston with a T2 in '10 and a T3 in '11. 
  9. Bill Haas - If the putter behaves, he will make a run this week. Has a T2 and a T15 in his last two starts at the Wyndham Championship and The Barclays. Has one top 10 and three other top 25s in four trips to the DBC.
  10. Jordan Spieth - While he's been quiet the last month, he ended The Barclays with a final-round 67 to steal a T22 and returns to TPC Boston where he tied for fourth a year ago. Just like Mahan snapped his winless streak last week, it's very possible Spieth could do the same this week.
  11. Patrick Reed - His T70 at last year's DBC aside, he's been trending well (T58-T24-T9) leading up to this week. Considering it will likely take something in the neighborhood of 20-under to win, he's the type of player that could get really hot and throw up that type of number.
  12. Brandt Snedeker - Plenty of pressure on his shoulders this week to make a final impression on Tom Watson, he buckled with a missed cut last week following his T13-T5 run leading up to The Barclays. Has recent success at TPC Boston, with a T5-T3-6-T47 in his last three ventures to TPB Boston.
Next 5 (alphabetical): Keegan Bradley, Graham DeLaet, Phil Mickelson, Charl Schwartzel and Bubba Watson.

We will be back to discuss the OAD tomorrow. Until then, best of luck!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Deutsche Bank Championship - Preview

The second leg of the FedExCup Playoffs winds to the familiar venue of TPC Boston for the Deutsche Bank Championship, as 100 players remain in contention for the FEC title.

While variety is fun for fans, tournaments that rotate venues can be a nightmare for serious gamers. Needless to say, the ability to project results for this week's tournament should be a little easier to pin down than Ridgewood CC. Seriously, raise your hand if you had Stuart Appleby and Cameron Tringale tying for second?

So, what do we know about TPC Boston?

It's a par-71 layout, stretching to 7,216 yards and featuring three par 5s and a par 4 that can be reached with driver, and in some cases 3-wood. While this tournament only dates back to 2003, it's taken at least 20-under to win on five occasions, with 22-under serving as the winning mark in three of the last five years. A player better take care of the par 5s and make some birdies.

Here's the history since 2005.

  • 2005 - Winner: Olin Browne (14-under, 270) over Jason Bohn (271)
  • 2006 - Winner: Tiger Woods (268) over Vijay Singh (270)
  • 2007 - Winner: Phil Mickelson (268) over Arron Oberholser, Brett Wetterich and Woods (270)
  • 2008 - Winner: Vijay Singh (262) over Mike Weir (267)
  • 2009 - Winner: Steve Stricker (267) over Jason Dufner and Scott Verplank (268)
  • 2010 - Winner: Charley Hoffman (262) over Jason Day, Luke Donald and Geoff Ogilvy (267)
  • 2011 - Winner: Webb Simpson (269) over Chez Reavie (playoff)
  • 2012 - Winner: Rory McIlroy (264) over Louis Oosthuizen (265)
  • 2013 - Winner: Henrik Stenson (262) over Steve Stricker (264)
What does that list tell us? Any time I see a list of winners that includes Vijay, Tiger and Rory, I immediately gravitate towards the class of the field. All three of these players, especially in their respective primes, were also extremely long off the tee and could overpower par 5s. Stenson fits that mold, and guys like Oosthuizen, Hoffman and Wetterich are/were players that could dominate par 5s and posses the length to be deadly when everything else falls into place.

It would be a mistake to not at least acknowledge that there are guys that do not fit that mold on the list. Webb Simpson is a good par 4 player and solid putter, not all that unlike Stricker. There are others that are steady putters, etc.

In terms of stats to study, this is probably a good week to lead on some of the major statistical categories. Ball-striking jumps off the page, as does SGP, Par 5 and Par 4 Scoring average and Par Breakers immediately come to mind.

We will get to work on our power rankings and pump something out tomorrow night. Until then, happy research!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Barclays - One-and-Done / Fantasy

With The Barclays ready to kick off, it's time to finalize our one-and-done and list the starters in the Yahoo! format.

To be frank, my OAD options are extremely limited. This week, my attention narrowed to Hunter Mahan and Paul Casey. (I've essentially saved Jordan Spieth for East Lake.)

Mahan represents the better current form, with a T15-T7 run at the WGC-Bridgestone and PGA Championship, but has finished a very modest T31 in both of his trips to Ridgewood CC.

Casey has decent form, coming off a T18 at the Wyndham, but has solid course history at Ridgewood CC. He owns a T7 in 2008 and a T12 in 2010. 

I've decided to roll with Casey. Mahan allows me some flexibility over the next three weeks, so I'll keep that option open.

As for the Yahoo!, I've put two players in my lineup this week (Jim Furyk and Rory McIlroy) that are down to their last start. While I prefer AM tee time for Thursday when possible, I'm much more about managing starts. 

Starters are Adam Scott (A), Justin Rose (B), Bill Haas (B), Charl Schwartzel (C), with Henrik Stenson (A), Jim Furyk (B), Rory McIlroy (B) and Sergio Garcia (C) on the bench.

As for the O v. Glass Challenge, I maintain a 3-2 advantage with four weeks (including this one) to play. Unlike last week, where we matched all eight picks, we have numerous difference this week. I essentially have Adam Scott, Jim Furyk, Rory McIlroy and Charl Schwartzel against Glass' Matt Kuchar, Hunter Mahan, Keegan Bradley and Nick Watney. Should be a fun week.

Best of luck to all this week!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Barclays - Power Ranking

With the FedExCup Playoffs upon us, it's time to take a deep dive into The Barclays Power Ranking. Hopefully you had a chance to visit Rotoworld.com and see my updated top 125 Power Ranking for all of the players competing in the Playoffs. As mentioned on Sunday, that's the reason for the delay in the Power Ranking.

For your patience, rather than a top 12 we doubled it to include 24 this week. One reminder, Ridgewood CC has only hosted The Barclays twice (2008 & 2010). When I refer specifically to results in those years; that's why. 

Here we go:
  1. Rory McIlroy - Next.
  2. Adam Scott - Though he is 15th in the FedExCup standings, he is a top-10 machine any time he tees it up. Tied for ninth at Ridgewood CC in 2010. 
  3. Jim Furyk - Continues to scare the top of leaderboards across the PGA TOUR on an almost weekly basis. Tied for 12th at Ridgewood in 2008 and DNP in 2010. 
  4. Sergio Garcia - It seems there is a developing theme in the Power Rankings of the last few big tournaments. Garcia, and the names above him are always near the top of the list and for good reason. Oh, and Sergio tied for second at Ridgewood CC in 2008.
  5. Henrik Stenson - The trend is looking up. Has gone T39, T19 and T3 in his last three starts. Though he's never played Ridgewood CC, this was the time last year when he got hot and stayed hot.
  6. Rickie Fowler - Finished inside the top three in three of his last four starts. The other...a T8. He's a solid play anywhere, regardless of course history, until he proves otherwise.
  7. Matt Kuchar - While Adam Scott is technically the defending champion, Kuchar won the last Barclays played at Ridgewood CC in 2010. Forced to WD from the PGA Championship with back pain, but has declared himself 100% for this week.
  8. Phil Mickelson - Finally broke through with his first top 10 of 2014 on the PGA TOUR with a runner-up at the PGA Championship, and there is little reason why he couldn't be a legitimate threat this week. Mixed bag, with a T19 and MC in two trips to Ridgewood.
  9. Justin Rose - Borderline-elite player in above-average form. He tied for 15th at Ridgewood in 2010, so the course doesn't scare him.
  10. Charl Schwartzel - Finding form of late, with a T43-T4-T15 in his last three starts. Ranks fifth in Par Breakers, so it stands to reason that he can make enough birdies to contend. 
  11. Hunter Mahan - Largely irrelevant the last few months until a T15-T7 run at the WGC-Bridgestone and PGA Championship. Considered to be on the short list for a Ryder Cup pick, so there is plenty of motivation, if not pressure, to nab another top 10 this week.
  12. Kevin Streelman - Form is horrible, but he has a T3 and a T4 in his first two trips to Ridgewood CC. Go figure.
  13. Webb Simpson
  14. Paul Casey
  15. Brandt Snedeker
  16. Keegan Bradley
  17. Nick Watney
  18. Lee Westwood
  19. Jason Day
  20. Bill Haas
  21. Ryan Palmer
  22. Jimmy Walker
  23. Bubba Watson
  24. Graham DeLaet
We will return tomorrow with our one-and-done selection and the Yahoo! starters. Best of luck to all!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

The Barclays - Preview

With the PGA TOUR regular season now in the books, the FedExCup Playoffs kicks off at The Barclays. This week's venue is Ridgewood CC, and it hosted The Barclays in 2008 and 2010. 

Ridgewood CC is a 7,319-yard course, stretching out to a par of 71. As one would expect, there are three par 5s, four par 3s and 11 par 4s.

Quick math says 2010 was four years ago, so while course history is important, it certainly isn't the only thing. For some perspective of the type of player that has performed well at Ridgewood, below are the top 10s from 2008 and 2010. 

2008 - Winner - Vijay Singh (-8) Playoff; P2 - Sergio Garcia and Kevin Sutherland; T4 (-7) Ben Curtis, Mathew Goggin and Kevin Streelman; T7 (-6) Paul Casey, Martin Laird, Justin Leonard, Nicholas Thompson and Mike Weir.

2010 - Winner - Matt Kuchar (-12) Playoff; P2 Martin Laird; T3 (-10) Steve Stricker and Kevin Streelman; T5 (-9) Jason Day, Ryan Palmer, Rory Sabbatini and Vaughn Taylor; T9 (-8) Dustin Johnson, Adam Scott, Heath Slocum.

When I study those lists, ball-striking stands out as a key for several reasons. For starters, there are numerous players on those lists known much more for their tee-to-green prowess than other aspects of their game. (As a disclaimer, I realize that Curtis and Taylor don't fit that bill.) Also, the score relative to par isn't all that low, telling me that this isn't a putting contest. 

An interesting side note, Heath Slocum nearly played his way into the Playoffs last week, while Nicholas Thompson was the only man to fall out of the top 125 at the Wyndham. Both have top 10s at Ridgewood. 

My ideal players this week will be above average or elite ball-strikers who are at least serviceable putters. As is the case anytime there are more than 10 par 4s, an emphasis on Par 4 scoring average is wise.

*****Please note a slight change to the schedule of the blog this week.*******

I am currently working on a top 125 player value ranking for the entire FedExCup Playoffs for Rotoworld, to be published on Monday afternoon or evening at Rotoworld.com. Because of that, I will not be ready to release my Power Ranking for The Barclays until Tuesday.

Check out Rotoworld tomorrow evening for that feature, and I will be back Tuesday with my weekly Power Ranking.

Happy Research!