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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Honda Classic Final Predictions

With balls in the air in about twelve hours, it's time for the final Honda Classic predictions.
  • For my dark horse, I'm going with Sang-Moon Bae.  While the world rankings might not suggest Bae is a dark horse, his highest stroke play PGA Tour finish ever was a T14 at the Humana.  I'm going to assume his high finish at the Accenture Match play will give him the confidence he needs to play really well this week.  Maybe this could be a Y.E. Yang type story.
  • My contender this week is Mark Wilson.  He's been so good this year and this is a course where he has won before.  It's hard to imagine Wilson not getting at least a top 25.
  • And the winner is........Lee Westwood.  I get the feeling it will take Rory McIlroy a few more weeks to crack the number one ranking, but Westwood doesn't have a chance at it this week.  Westwood's game sets up well for this course and he should have a real shot to win.
Check back tomorrow for updates on the Honda Classic and the Nationwide Tour's Panama Claro Open.  Best of luck to your favorite player! 

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

2012 Honda Classic Odds

The 2012 Honda Classic Odds are out, and it comes as no big surprise that Rory McIlroy is the betting favorite followed closely by Lee Westwood.  Check out the live odds here http://www.madduxsports.com/golf-betting-lines.html.

At the posting of this blog, here are the odds of every player at 40/1 or better and a thought or two on each.
  • 15/2 - Rory McIlroy - Seems like they could have just made it 7/1 or 8/1, but we'll cope with it.  At first glance it may not seem like it, but McIlory is in uncharted territory for several reasons.  First, he's dealing with playing every round of Match Play last week.  He's young, so it shouldn't be too big of a deal, but it is notable.  Also, he knows that a win puts him at World #1 and that could do funny things to him.  He dealt with the same thing last week and wasn't able to beat Hunter Mahan.  This week he has to beat an entire field on a very difficult golf course.  I also can't help but think of the tournaments where Phil Mickelson needed just a modest finish to take over #1 several years ago and he couldn't do it.
  • 9/1 - Lee Westwood - This is probably about right.  Westwood tends to play hard courses well and he'll have some motivation after dropping his last two matches last week.
  • 10/1 - Tiger Woods - Frankly, I don't get this.  He's never played this course as a pro and he's missing putts from very close range.  To win this week his putter will have to be the best of the year and his iron game must be spot on.
  • 25/1 - Charl Schwartzel & Keegan Bradley - I said in my preview that Major Champions are probably a good fit here, so it makes sense to have to reigning Major Champions here.
  • 30/1 - Kyle Stanley - Stanley feels like Rickie Fowler with a win.  I get him at 30/1, but he seems to be rising very fast in the eyes of the media and Vegas.  I worry about his distance control on his irons Sunday if he's in contention.  I like him, as I have him on my Yahoo team starting over Bradley, but this is all happening pretty fast for Stanley.
  • 33/1 - Ben Crane & Graeme McDowell - No real argument here. 
  • 35/1 - Justin Rose - Rose has one some nice tournaments on some nice courses in the last few years, so I could certainly see him having a chance this week.
  • 40/1 - Mark Wilson, Robert Allenby, Y.E. Yang, Jim Furyk, Padraig Harrington - This feels like the "past success" category.  Wilson and Yang have each won here, and Harrington is a past champion of this tournament as well.  Allenby is coming off a marathon playoff loss, but plays this course well and Furyk is a U.S. Open type grinder, albeit one that hasn't played as well the past 6 months.
I have a feeling the champion this week could be PGA National, but we'll wait and see.  It seems a little ironic the USGA picked this week to talk how hard the start of the U.S. Open at Olympic will be at the same time the PGA Tour is touting how hard the closing stretch of The Honda Classic will be.  We'll check back at the end of the week and see if Vegas got it right.

Nationwide Tour Panama Claro Championship

The Nationwide Tour continues to compete abroad with the second event of the year being the Panama Claro Championship.  Last year, this event was the first event of the year and produced PGA Tour veteran Matthew Goggin as the champion.  Goggin used that win to springboard himself back to the PGA Tour in 2012. 

This event has been contested since 2004, and the list of previous winners isn't spectacular.  The past champions are Jimmy Walker (2004), Vance Veazey (2005 & 2009), Tripp Isenhour (2006), Miguel Angel Carballo (2007), Scott Dunlop (2008), Fran Quinn (2010) and Goggin last year.  If you asked me to sum up this list of champions in one word, it would probably be "journeymen."  These guys aren't necessarily flukes, but there not top 150 in the world types either. 

John Dell listed his power rankings this week here http://www.pgatour.com/2012/tournaments/h084/02/27/power-rankings/index.html.  It's a pretty solid list that includes Mark Turnesa, Alistair Presnell, Darron Stiles, Andrew Svoboda and Andres Gonzales.  I especially like the Turnesa pick.  Like the first event, I'll take 5 to go against Dell for fun. 

My last tournaments picks saw Charles Warren finish T6, Morgan Hoffmann T58, while Camilo Benedetti, Andrew Buckle and Aaron Watkins all missed the cut.  http://thegolfaficionado.blogspot.com/2012/02/2012-pacific-rubiales-colombia_13.html

Panama Claro Championship 5 to Watch:
  1. Charles Warren - I rode him last week to a T6 and his career is similar in stature to a Matthew Goggin.  I was a little disappointed he didn't make a better move in the final round, but he'll have a chance to redeem himself this week.
  2. Travis Hampshire - He missed the cut here last year even with a second round 67, but he had a nice showing last week so should have more confidence this year.
  3. Sam Saunders - This is a little bit of a shot in the dark, but Saunders T10 here last year and Arnold Palmer's grandson makes his 2012 debut this week.  Saunders can make some birdies, but he'll have to avoid the big numbers. 
  4. Michael Sim - Sim had a nice start to the year last week, and after his run on the Nationwide Tour several years ago it's a little surprising to see him back. 
  5. Fran Quinn - Quinn's a past champion of this event, and makes as much sense as any.  In the short history of this event there's already been one two-time winner in Vance Veazey.
Best of luck to your favorite golfers!

Monday, February 27, 2012

The Honda Classic Fantasy Preview

When trying to decide on my Fantasy Picks for the 2012 Honda Classic, I really struggled trying to decide on some of these.  I looked at stats and I looked at past results, but what really stuck out to me when it came time to make a selection was this.  The scoring average at the Honda Classic is very high, and there is a value to par.  Finding fairways and greens are also important.  Sounds kind of like a Major Championship, and more specifically a U.S. Open.

That being said, I picked this weeks fantasy lineup with that in mind.  Who would play well on a course where par is a good score and who is currently in good form.  Here's what I came up with.

Yahoo Fantasy Lineup:
  • A-List:  I've got Kyle Stanley starting and Keegan Bradley on the bench.  Stanley has an advantage on "The Bear Trap" that some other guys don't, and that will be hitting a 7 or 8-iron where other guys are hitting 5 and 6-irons.  That said, under pressure Stanley has a tendency to nuke his irons which could be problematic on Sunday.  Bradley just keeps showing up on tough courses.
  • B-List:  I've got Rory McIlroy and Lee Westwood starting and Mark Wilson and Tiger Woods on the bench.  This is dangerous because of how far McIlroy, Westwood and Wilson went in the Accenture Match Play coupled with the question marks surrounding Tiger's flat stick.  But there aren't many people playing better than Wilson this year and there aren't many U.S. Open type players than McIlroy, Westwood and Woods.
  • C-List:  I've got Ben Crane starting and Sang-Moon Bae on the bench.  You can't ignore Bae at this point.  He played really well at the Match Play.  As for Crane, Rob Bolton's got him number one on the weekly power rankings http://www.pgatour.com/2012/tournaments/r010/02/27/power-rankings/ so I'm going to trust him.
Golf Channel Fantasy Lineup:
  • Group 1 - I'll go with Rory McIlroy.  He's got something to prove as he's trying to become World Number 1 for the first time.
  • Group 2 - I'll take Mark Wilson over a lot of good options.  I don't see any way he misses the cut, and I think there's a pretty good chance he contends.
  • Group 3 - John Rollins will be my pick here.  He's got a good history at this event.
  • Group 4 - Matt Bettencourt has made 3 cuts in a row and is trending well.  Also played well here last year.
Tomorrow we'll take a look at the odds and see who Vegas likes this week.

The Honda Classic Monday Qualifier Final Results

Below is the link to the final results to 2012 The Honda Classic Monday Qualifier.


Here are the 4 who advanced.
  • Vaughn Taylor - 64
  • Alejandro Garmendia - 65
  • Bo Hoag - 65
  • Scott Langley - 66 (in a playoff)
Here's hoping one of these is who you were pulling for!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Ryder Cup Power Rankings

With the West Coast Swing behind us, the Ryder Cup Standings are really starting to take shape.  In fact, the current top 8, which is the cut off for automatic qualifiers, would all be widely considered worthy of Ryder Cup consideration. 

Here are the Current Top 8
  1. Phil Mickelson - 2,637 points
  2. Keegan Bradley - 2,481 points
  3. Kyle Stanley - 1,967 points
  4. Bill Haas - 1,923 points
  5. Hunter Mahan - 1,842 points
  6. Mark Wilson - 1,839 points
  7. Steve Stricker - 1,823 points
  8. Brandt Snedeker - 1,768 points
In breaking this down, Mickelson and Bradley have created some separation, but it looks like something around 3,500 points will be needed for an automatic qualifier spot.  That basically means everyone not in the top 2 would need to almost double their current point totals.  What's fortunate for everyone on this list is they will pretty much all be playing in all the Major Championships which offer double points as well as some limited field World Golf Championship events.  One other thing to note, only 200 points (or $200,000 in regular tournaments or $100,000 in Majors) separate third place from eighth place, so this list will be very fluid.

Here are the 12 guys I think are most likely to represent the United States in the Ryder Cup, as well as the next 4 just off the list.  Unlike past lists where I broke it down by automatic qualifiers and captains picks, this time I won't differentiate.

Ryder Cup Player Predictions:
  • Phil Mickelson
  • Tiger Woods
  • Hunter Mahan
  • Bill Haas
  • Steve Stricker
  • Keegan Bradley
  • Kyle Stanley
  • Brandt Snedeker
  • Dustin Johnson
  • Webb Simpson
  • Jim Furyk
  • Nick Watney
Next 4 Out:
  • Matt Kuchar
  • Mark Wilson
  • Rickie Fowler
  • Bubba Watson
On the above list, Furyk could end up being a controversial pick because I don't see him earning his way on the team and may not even crack the top 20 in points.  I will do my next Ryder Cup Power Ranking after the Masters.  Please keep in mind that anyone winning a tournament who is roughly inside the top 25 of these rankings would jump into the top 8.

The 2012 Honda Classic Preview

The 2012 Honda Classic will take place on the PGA National Championship Course, which is a Jack Nicklaus design.  Why do I lead a golf tournament preview with that?  Because "The Bear Trap", which consists of holes 15, 16 and 17 make up what is one of the toughest stretches of golf on the PGA Tour.  Each hole demands accuracy and distance control.  Oh, and each hole also has water to deal with. 

It's no wonder The Honda Classic has traditionally produced a winner of solid pedigree. 
  • Since 2002, five major champions have won this tournament.  Justin Leonard (2003), Todd Hamilton (2004), Padraig Harrington (2005), Ernie Els (2008) and Y.E. Yang (2009).  It must be noted that all of these tournaments were not at the current course.
  • Other winners since 2002 include Matt Kuchar's first victory in 2002, Luke Donald (2006), Mark Wilson (2007), Camilo Villegas (2010) and Rory Sabbatini (2011).
Here's what I'm looking for in an eventual champion. 
  • Course familiarity and success are important.  For example, in addition to each having won, Y.E. Yang and Luke Donald also hold a second place finish.
  • Current form is important, but it will be hard to judge how someone like Mark Wilson who played every round of the Accenture Match Play will bounce back this week. 
  • I will pay attention to Par 3 scoring, approaches from the 175 to 225 range, greens in regulation and driving accuracy.  All of these will be essential for navigating "The Bear Trap" and while you can't win the tournament on this stretch of holes, you certainly can lose it.
  • I have a hunch the winner is a top 50 type golfer.  Also, don't rule out guys that are pure ball strikers in good form like a Robert Allenby.
Check back tomorrow for our fantasy advice!

Huh Wins Maykoba Golf Classic

A wild day in Mayakoba led to everyone saying Huh.  John Huh.  After contending earlier in the year at the Farmers Insurance Open, John Huh becomes the first rookie to win in 2012 after outlasting Robert Allenby in an 8 hole playoff after shooting an eight-under 63 for the round of the tournament.

Sunday was the first day of the week where scores went low, and Huh took advantage of the conditions to earn the victory.  Here are a few thoughts from the final round.

  • The 54 hole lead continues to be a curse as Daniel Summerhays was the latest to surrender the lead.  Summerhays +2 was the highest score of anyone finishing in the top 60. 
  • John Huh will become the poster boy for critics of the PGA Tour's idea to eliminate Q School as a path to the PGA Tour.  Under the proposed Q School overhaul, Huh would be a Nationwide Tour rookie this year getting ready for his second event of the year.
  • Huh wasn't the only rookie to have a nice week.  Mark Anderson made his third cut of the year, but first top 25 of his career with a T16.  With the reshuffle currently being calculated right now, this will really help Anderson's ability to get into tournaments on the Florida swing.
  • Dicky Pride got his first top-10 since 2009 with a T5 a week after he was making the cut in the first Nationwide Tour start of the year in Colombia. 
  • John Huh no longer has to be concerned about the reshuffle, but others who are part of the reshuffle that really helped their causes with top 10 finished were Matt Every (T3), Colt Knost (T3), Daniel Summerhays (T5) and Will Claxton (T9).  Finishing in the top 10 this week also automatically get them into The Honda Classic next week.
Congrats to John Huh!

Mahan Denies McIlroy #1 Ranking at Accenture Match Play

After knocking off Mark Wilson in the semi-finals, Hunter Mahan capitalized on a sloppy front nine by Rory McIlory to win his second WGC tournament 2&1, and his first Accenture Match Play title.  Mark Wilson made it an American sweep by beating Lee Westwood 1-Up in the consolation match. 

Had McIlroy won, he would have ascended to world #1 and replaced Luke Donald. 

Honda Classic Monday Qualifier Tee Times

Here is the link to the 2012 Honda Classic Monday Qualifier Tee Times.  http://www.sfpgagolf.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/Pairings-and-Alpha6.pdf. Check back later on to see the results.

Here's hoping your favorite golfer advances into the field!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Accenture Match Play Final 4

The quarter-finals of the Accenture Match Play proved to be rather lopsided as the losers all played rather uninspired golf and the winners all played very well.  No match made it past the 16th hole. 

What Saturday did guarantee is that someone will be playing for the World #1 ranking Sunday, as Lee Westwood and Rory McIlroy will play in the semi-finals and either would be #1 with a tournament win.  Saturday also guaranteed an American in the finale as Hunter Mahan and Mark Wilson will square off.

Here are the semi-final previews as well as some notes on potential final matchups later in the day.
  • Rory McIlroy vs Lee Westwood - Westwood has probably played better this week, while McIlroy has gotten a draw of competitors who aren't making may birdies against him.  On Saturday's coverage it was brought up that Hunter Mahan made more birdies on Friday than all of McIlory's competitors combined.  Johnny Miller then astutely noted that it was similar to the "Tiger effect" of several years back when Tiger's playing competitors always seemed unable to play well in his shadow.  Either way, both players will have to deal with the potential of being World #1 on Sunday.  If I had to pick who wins this, I'll take McIlroy because Westwood never seems to win the big events and McIlroy has.
  • Mark Wilson vs Hunter Mahan - Wilson has probably been the most consistent competitor all week, while Mahan has the ability to take it really low.  Mahan will probably put more pressure on Wilson than he has seen all week, but if he doesn't expect Wilson to play a steady round and win this.  Mahan won a lot of holes with pars against Kuchar, but that won't be the case against Wilson.  I'll take Mahan.
  • I won't wast alot of time on "what if" analysis, but here is who I would take in each final scenario.  Westood vs Mahan I'll take Westwood.  Westwood vs Wilson I'll take Wilson.  McIlroy vs Mahan I'll take Mahan.  McIlroy vs Wilson I'll take McIlroy.
Check back tomorrow to see if we have an American Champion or a new World #1

Summerhays leads Mayakoba Golf Classic

Not only will Daniel Summerhays be trying to earn his first win at the Mayakoba Golf Classic on Sunday, he'll be trying to earn his first top 10 finish on the PGA Tour.  He does so from the unenviable position of being the 54 hole leader, as he is two shots clear of Chris Stroud.

Here are some notes from the third round.
  • The final group of Saturday's round combined to shoot a +2.  The penultimate group of Summerhays and Stroud combined to shoot a -7. 
  • It may prove beneficial for Stroud and Summerhays to be paired together for two days in a row since they played so well together on Saturday.  That could help to alleviate some of the final round jitters.
  • There are currently only two players who have managed to shoot every round in the 60's, and they are Summerhays and Stroud.  Assuming at least one of them shoots a round in the 60's, this is probably only a 6 man race, as there are only 5 players within 5 shots of the lead.
  • I get the feeling Summerhays may be able to hold on and win tomorrow.  Part of the reason may be that he's only made 3 bogeys all week, including none in the third round.  He also leads the field in greens in regulation and is tied for fourth in total birdies, while at the same time having the least amount of bogeys in the field. 
  • What a story it would be if Michael Allen, who sits 4 shots back, were to win his first PGA Tour event on Sunday.  He's never won on the PGA Tour, but he's a Champions Tour winner.
  • Robert Allenby (-7), Briny Baird (-6) and Charles Howell III (-6) are all worth watching for a low round Sunday, but would probably need a little help from the top to be able to overcome the deficit they face.
Check back tomorrow for the final round wrap up.

Chris Naegel Wins Egolf Tour Oldfield Open

Chris Naegel shot a final round 68 to win the Oldfield Open by 3 shots over Gator Todd.  Check out the final round wrap up here http://www.egolfprofessionaltour.com/naegel-claims-first-professional-win-with-masterful-final-round-68-at-egolf-tours-oldfield-open.

Click below to view the full leaderboard.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Accenture Match Play Elite 8

I'm pretty sure by this point in the Accenture Match Play Championship everyone's bracket is pretty well blown in some form or fashion.  Raise your hand if you had Peter Hanson vs Mark Wilson for a spot in the semi finals?  I could see some Matt Kuchar vs Hunter Mahan predictions, and maybe a few Lee Westwood vs Martin Laird picks, but I doubt there were many Rory McIlroy vs Sang-moon Bae picks either.  The fun thing about the match play, is that's just what we have.

It's interesting to look back at some of the earlier matches and the way these eight players got this far.  For instance, Matt Kuchar had his hands full with Jonathan Byrd in the first round and it took Huner Mahan 19 holes to beat Zach Johnson in the opening round but they've each seemed to find a rhythm since then.

Here are my predictions as to who will make the final four:
  • The Hanson vs Wilson match features two players who have both glided pretty easily to this point.  Mark Wilson reminds me of last years champ, Luke Donald, in more than one way.  He's a steady fairways and greens guy like Donald, but he's also never been in any trouble this week, twice winning 3&2 and once 4&3.  For those similarities, I'll take Mark Wilson to win and put himself in a great spot for Ryder Cup consideration.
  • In Kuchar vs Mahan I'm inclined to lean towards Hunter Mahan.  These are guys with similar PGA Tour records and similar U.S. team experience, so this isn't an unfamiliar position for either of them.  I'll take Mahan for no real reason.
  • McIlroy vs Bae could be a trap match for McIlroy.  He could be looking forward to a possible match with Lee Westwood, as well as a shot at taking over World #1.  I'm not sure how Bae will respond to walking the course with a start the magnitude of McIlroy, but he's beaten three really good players including match play past champion Ian Poulter, Masters champion Charl Schwartzel and John Senden who was on fire until he played Bae.  His luck has to run out, but I'll still take Bae in the upset.
  • Westwood vs Laird feels like it has the makings of a close match.  Laird is long and also may have the advantage of having played the 18th hole once and the 17th hole three times this week.  Like McIlroy, Westwood is playing for World #1.  I'll take Westwood, but wouldn't be surprised at all if Laird knocks him off.

Three Share the Lead at Mayakoba Golf Classic

Greg Owen, Will Claxton and Daniel Summerhays share the 36 hole lead at the Mayakoba Golf Classic.  The important question may be if they will try and be in the lead after 54 holes, or make a few bogeys late in the third round to avoid the dreaded 54 hole lead.  I'm only half kidding the way things have gone the last few tournaments.

Here are some notes on the current leaders to keep an eye on over the weekend.
  • Greg Owen is the most accomplished of the three, but he famously blew the Bay Hill Invitational a few years ago with a major putting miscue on the 17th hole.  It was similar to the drama of Kyle Stanley at Torrey Pines of Spencer Levin at the Waste Management Phoenix Open.  He has 8 top 10's in 146 starts including a 2nd and a 3rd, including a T9 at Pebble Beach this year.  I don't like him as a front runner.
  • Will Claxton has 4 career PGA Tour starts headed into this event with two cuts made and a top 25.  He's virtually unknown, but had a nice run on the NGA Hooters Tour.  This is his first cut made since the Sony Open.
  • Daniel Summerhays is a Nationwide Tour winner and is in his sophomore campaign on the PGA Tour.  He's made 2 of 3 cuts this year, but only has 2 career PGA Tour top 25's.
  • My quick math says out of 183 career PGA Tour starts for our leaders, there are 8 top 10's among them and no wins.  This is an unstable leaderboard at best.
Some other observations:
  • If Gary McCord were to weigh in, he would say that Robert Allenby (-6), Billy Mayfair (-4) and Charles Howell III (-4) are "officially lurking." 
  • With Allenby, it's all about the putter.  I've said it all week with him, if he putts well, he could be dangerous. 
  • With such an unproven leaderboard, if I were playing in this event I would be thinking that if I could figure out a way to get to double digit under par, I would have a chance to win this.
  • And did I mention.....don't be the 54 hole leader.

NGA Members Only Shootout Won by Hudson Johnson

Hudson Johnson shot a 54 hole -10 to win the NGA Members Only Shootout.  To read the full recap, check this out http://www.ngatour.com/general/news/release_855.html.

Here is the front page of the leaderboard.  Click the link to see the full field scores and winnings.

Members Only Shootout @ Black Bear GC
Feb 22 - Feb 24 2012
1Hudson Johnson-10206
T2James Vargas-9207
T2Justin Lower-9207
T4Justin Hueber-8208
T4Erick Justesen-8208
T6Mark Silvers-7209
T6Tyson Alexander-7209
T6Rick Cochran III-7209
9Jeff Corr-6210
T10Patrick Wilkes-Krier-5211
Full Leaderboard

Egolf Professional Tour Oldfield Open Update

The Egolf Professional Tour Oldfield Open is 18 holes away from completion and after a windy Friday the lead is held by Chris Naegel at -9, one shot ahead of Will Collins and Fernando Mechereffe.  Click on the leaderboard below for the full field scores.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Accenture Match Play "Sweet 16"

The Accenture Match Play has managed to eliminate 48 of the original 64 competitors after two days and there are some interesting match ups remaining.  Here's what Friday's 8 matches look like.

Bobby Jones Bracket:
  • Peter Hanson squares off with Brandt Snedeker.  Hanson managed to destroy Ernie Els 5&4, while Snedeker hung on with some pars down the stretch and let Kyle Stanley make enough mistakes to hand him an easy win.  Hanson has gone completely under the radar to this point, while Snedeker is really happy with his performance off the tee.  I like Snedeker in this one.
  • Mark Wilson and Dustin Johnson will be about as big of a contrast as you will find in the third round.  Johnson has seemingly figured out this course as he won handily in the second round, but Mark Wilson has just steadily performed well.  I'll go with the consistent Wilson.
Gary Player Bracket::
  • Rory McIlroy will likely have his hands full with Miguel Angel Jimenez who discarded of the hot Keegan Bradley.  Jimenez entered the tournament as the elder statesman in the field, but is playing like the savvy match play veteran that he is.  If McIlroy wins this, he will have earned it, but I'll take Rory.
  • John Senden versus Sang-moon Bae is not a match up many people picked Tuesday night.  Bae is doing just enough to move on, but Senden seems to be hot.  I'll jump on the Senden bandwagon.
Ben Hogan Bracket:
  • Martin Kaymer has picked up where he left off last year in winning early and often, while Matt Kuchar seems to be coming alive for the first time this year.  For some reason, I can't buy either of these guys but they just keep winning.  I'll take Kaymer.
  • Steve Stricker and Hunter Mahan will be playing for Ryder Cup points, although if either don't make the team they will likely be a captains pick.  Mahan seems to be in a little better for at the moment, so I'll go with him.
Sam Snead bracket:
  • Lee Westwood and Nick Watney make for a high profile match up.  The key to this will be if Watney spent his energy up on beating Tiger Woods or will that victory serve as a catapult for the rest of the week.  Westwood, however is playing for the number one world ranking.  This is a tough one, but I'll take Westy.
  • Martin Laird and Paul Lawrie are fairly high seeds advancing, but Laird may not be that big of a wild card.  I'll take the Scottsman.

Claxton holds 18 Hole Lead at Mayakoba Golf Classic

Will Claxton opened with a -5 (66) to take a one shot lead over a group of seven player at -4 in the Mayakoba Golf Classic.  Among those a shot back are one of the pre-tournament favorites Charles Howell III, Matt Every who had a chance to win the Sony Open and John Huh. 

Our picks to win and contend, Spencer Levin and Johnson Wagner, find themselves at +2 and seven shots off the lead.  Our dark horse, Will McGirt, fared a little better at -2 in a round that included seven birdies.

There's still a lot of golf to be played, but you get the feeling anyone that can get to double digits under par will have a chance on the Sunday back 9. 

Egolf Tour Oldfield Open / NGA Members Only Shootout Updates

The Egolf Tour Oldfield Open and the NGA Members Only Shootout have both reached the halfway point.  At the Oldfield Open, it looks as if the golf course may have won with the lead being shared at -6.  Scores are a little lower at the Members Only Shootout with -9 sharing the lead.

Here is the leaderboard for the Oldfield Open.  Click on it for the full leaderboard.
Click to view complete leaderboard
Here is the leaderboard for the Members Only Shootout.

Feb 22 - Feb 24 2012
T1Erick Justesen-9135
T1Rick Cochran III-9135
T3Michael Welch -7137
T3Hudson Johnson-7137
T5Seath Lauer-6138
T5John Duthie-6138
T7Justin Lower-5139
T7David Holmes-5139
T7Jeff Corr-5139
T7Mark Silvers-5139
Full Leaderboard

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

WGC Accenture Match Play First Round Wrap Up / Second Round Preview

What a wild opening day at the Accenture Match Play!  The lowest ranked player in the field beat the highest ranked player as Ernie Els knocked off Luke Donald.  Rather than offer a first round recap separate from a second round preview, I will reference the first round match ups in my preview.

For those keeping score at home, I went a rather unimpressive 15 for 36 in day one.  While I didn't post my bracket online, I had Baddeley winning it all, so that's pretty well shot.  I also had Donald and Garcia in the final four and I'm not feeling all that confidant that my fourth, and only remaining, final four pick Tiger Woods will fare all that well tomorrow.

Here is how I see Thursday playing out.  Now that there is a little bit of a feel for how players are acclimating themselves to the course, here's hoping for a little higher percentage of round 2 predictions.

Bobby Jones Bracket:
  • I'll take Ernie Els over Peter Hansen for one main reason.  Els putted incredibly well on Wednesday and Hansen had trouble with some shorter putts trying to close Jason Dufner out.  Els looks confident and played really well against the World number 1 and defending champ Luke Donald.  Els 3&2.
  • Kyle Stanley over Brandt Snedeker in a "karma" match.  Snedeker started pretty hot, but Goosen closed on him and took him to three extra holes.  Stanley played a very steady round against a very steady competitor in K.J. Choi.  Stanley 2&1.
  • Mark Wilson over Robert Rock - Wilson played incredibly well in his opening round and Rock just played okay.  Wilson 2&1.
  • Francesco Molinari over Dustin Johnson - Johnson just didn't look comfortable on a course that he should have a major advantage on.  There were a lot of players that played a lot better first rounds and lost than what Johnson played.  Molinari 1 Up.
Ben Hogan Bracket:
  • David Toms over Martin Kaymer - Kaymer played well, but Toms was on fire in round 1 and is playing like a man with something to prove.  This could be a great match.  I'll take Toms 2&1.
  • Bubba Watson over Matt Kuchar - Bubba was on fire against a very nice performance by Ben Crane.  Watson 3&2.
  • Steve Stricker over Louis Oosthuizen - Louis has already knocked off one big name, but I don't know if he can beat two steady guys like Baddeley and Stricker back to back.  Strick 2 Up.
  • Y.E. Yang over Hunter Mahan - I completely wrote Yang off once, but I won't do it twice.  Yang 2&1.
Gary Player Bracket:
  • Rory McIlroy over Anders Hansen - Hansen's margin of victory is a little deceiving as he didn't play as well as it looks.  McIlroy should take care of him pretty easily.  Rory 3&2.
  • Keegan Bradley over Miguel Angel Jimenez - The jittery Bradley versus the only guy that could give Fred Couples a run at coolest golfer in the world in Jimenez.  You got to give it to Bradley, as he played really well against match play giant Geoff Ogilvy.  Bradley 2 Up.
  • Jason Day over John Senden - Day got away with one in round 1, but Senden doesn't have the putter to make a deep run.  Senden will only win so long as he can put pressure on his opponent by hitting fairways and greens.  Day 1 Up.
  • Charl Schwartzel over Sang-moon Bae - Bae destroyed Poulter but he basically beat him with pars.  He can't survive like that over Schwartzel.  3&2 Schwartzel.
Sam Snead Bracket:
  • Robert Karlsson over Lee Westwood - Karlsson had 6 birdies in 13 holes to win his opening match.  It would be hard for Westwood to match an effort close to that.  Karlsson 2&1.
  • Nick Watney over Tiger Woods - Woods was okay at best but Watney brought a very good game on Wednesday.  I expect Watney to put some pressure on Woods early.  Watney 3&2.
  • Matteo Manassero over Martin Laird - Manassero is looking like a natural in match play and every time I get high on Laird he tends to disappoint me.  Manassero 2 up.
  • Ryo Ishikawa over Paul Lawrie - Ishikawa had to play brilliantly down the stretch to beat a very good Bill Haas.  Lawrie can't hang with him if he plays this well again.  Ishikawa 2&1.
I checked out the updated odds here http://www.madduxsports.com/golf-betting-lines.html.  I kind of like Nick Watney at 25/1 right now.  He's a good combination of value with a legitimate chance on this course.

Mayakoba Golf Classic Final Predictions and Odds

The odds are set for the start of the Mayakoba Golf Classic and there are three favories at 14/1.  Johnson Wagner, Spencer Levin and Brian Gay all share the honor of pre-tournament favorite.  Here are all of the golfers at 33/1 or better.  It looks alot like our fantasy line up.
  • 14/1 - Johnson Wagner, Spencer Levin and Brian Gay - I would tend to agree with this and I really think one of these three guys wins this.
  • 20/1 - Jarrod Lyle, Charles Howell III and Rory Sabbatini - This would pretty much be what I would have as the second tier; so I think Vegas is nailing this.
  • 28/1 - Harrison Frazar and Robert Allenby - If Allenby has a good week with the putter; watch out.  Same with Frazar really.  Since his win last year, Frazar is putting himself in better position on a weekly basis.
  • 33/1 - John Huh and Thomas Aiken - Frankly, I don't see it.
Here are my predictions for this week:
  • Dark Horse - Will McGirt is a guy who could grind his way to victory.  He's already trending better than he was at the same point last year and is looking more and more comfortable on the weekend.  Vegas has him at 66/1 and I think that's a good bet.
  • Contender - I'll take the defending champ Johnson Wagner.  Not much else to say.  He's already won this year and he's in great form on a course he knows.
  • Winner - It's redemption week for Spencer Levin.

NGA Tour Members Only Shootout

The NGA Tour opens its full season with a Members Only Shootout at Black Bear Golf Club in Eustis Florida.  With several groups left to finish, Patrick Wilkes-Krier will sleep on the over night lead after shooting an opening -7.

Check out the full leaderboard here http://ngahooters.tourgolfscores.com/gscode/public/leaderboards/player/static/player338.html.

Egolf Tour Oldfield Open Leaderboard

After the first round of the Oldfield Open, Roger Sloan is backing up his second place finish last week with the 18 hole lead this week.  Follow the leaderboard here http://tarheel.bluegolf.com/bluegolf/tarheel12/event/tarheel128/contest/1/leaderboard.htm

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Accenture Match Play Championship Predictions Cont.

Yesterday we previewed the first round matches of the Accenture Match Play Championship in the Bobby Jones and Gary Player brackets.  Today, we will preview the Ben Hogan and Sam Snead brackets.

Here is my best guess at how the Ben Hogan bracket will play out in the first round.
  • Martin Kaymer over Greg Chalmers - If there's a first round upset of a #1 seed, this is my best guess as to who it will be.  Kaymer did really well here last year, but I'm not convinced he's playing at the same level coming in here this year.  I'll take Kaymer 2&1.
  • Rickie Fowler over David Toms - I want to like Toms here, and I'm not sold on Fowler overall.  I am a little worried about Toms length here.  I'll take Fowler 1 Up.
  • Matt Kuchar over Jonathan Byrd - This is one match that really could go either way, and the winner of this match might go a long way.  Byrd's current form is a little better here, but he's very erratic in when he plays well.  It's likely a top 10 last week will mean he plays terrible this week.  That's just how he is.  Kuchar 3&2.
  • Ben Crane over Bubba Watson - I know Watson did well here and I know that he has a length advantage on a long course.  This may not make a lot of sense, but the longer Crane can hang around, the harder it will be for Bubba to pull this out.  Crane 1 Up.
  • Steve Stricker over Kevin Na - How's this for two different personalities.  Na is prone to getting down on himself and Stricker is the ultimate grinder.  Stricker played well after an extended layoff in the first event of the year and I expect him to do the same this year.  Stricker 2&1.
  • Aaron Baddeley over Louis Oosthuizen - This could be an ultimate bracket buster, as Baddeley is my pick to win the whole thing.  Oosthuizen is in pretty decent form, but I've got a feeling about Baddeley this week.  He's coming off two solid weeks and he's both long enough to compete here and a good enough putter to compete here.  Baddeley 2 Up.
  • Graeme McDowell over Y.E. Yang - Yang made a comment on twitter earlier today that he was having a hard time getting into a rhythm.  Well, isn't match play kind of all about rhythm?  McDowell 4&3.
  • Zach Johnson over Hunter Mahan - This is kind of like the Byrd/Kuchar matchup, in that I really think it could go either way.  I like Mahan better for this course, but Johnson is a bulldog in situations like this.  Johnson 1 up.
Overall, this is a bracket that has a lot of really good players that could get hot and win the whole thing.  I'm feeling Baddeley, but I could see a whole lot of things getting crazy in this bracket.  I don't think Kaymer's game is in good enough shape to make a big run.

Sam Snead bracket:
  • Lee Westwood over Nicolas Colsaerts - Something about this smells fishy, but I'll stick with Westwood at 3&2.
  • Fredrik Jacobson over Robert Karlsson - Karlsson's game fits better here than Jacobson, but you could almost always say that about Jacobson.  Either one of these guys could sneak up on Westwood in round 2, but for some reason I'm feeling Freddie Jac 2&1.
  • Nick Watney over Darren Clarke - Clarke's a match play warrior and if he gets by Watney he could really put some fear into Tiger Woods in the second round.  Watney's a better player and I'll trust that that holds up something like 2&1.  Watney better end it on 17 because if it goes 18 Clarke will find a way to win.
  • Tiger Woods over G Fdez-Costano - The last time a Tiger Woods opponent in Match Play famously called him beatable was Stepen Ames and that didn't end well for Ames.  It did end early, as I'm not sure Ames even saw the 11th hole.  Similar situation here.  Woods 5&4, and the confidence he will gain from that could carry him a while.
  • Webb Simpson over Matteo Manassero - This could get scary for Webb, but I'm going to trust he will figure out a way to win 1 Up.
  • Martin Laird over Alvaro Quiros - There aren't too many players that can at least try and keep up with Quiros' distance and Laird is one of them.  Some people like Quiros as a dark horse this week, and I can see why.  But I'll take Laird 2&1.
  • Bill Haas over Ryo Ishikawa - Ishikawa better hope that Haas is a little tired after last Sunday's victory because that's his only chance.  Ishikawa hasn't played great in America this year, so I'm taking Haas 3&2.
  • Justin Rose over Paul Lawrie - After previewing 31 matches already this last two days, I'll just say Rose sounds right and move on.  Rose 3&2.
As for the big picture of this bracket, I don't see that many guys who could win the bracket.  I would be surprised of Westwood made it out of the Snead bracket, but Tiger has a pretty good draw and so does Bill Haas. 

Monday, February 20, 2012

Accenture Match Play Championshp Predictions

The Accenture Match Play isn't part of the Yahoo Fantasy lineup this week, but it is part of The Golf Channel's Fantasy League, so we'll combine the fantasy and prediction post.  I will preface this the same way all of the experts have by saying this is harder to predict than the NCAA Tournament bracket.  In any given year, there are probably about 6 to 10 NCAA basketball teams that can actually win the NCAA tournament, but in golf, there are probably 25 guys that could win this. 

Here are my Golf Channel Fantasy Picks:
  • Group 1 - Luke Donald
  • Group 2 - Aaron Baddeley
  • Group 3 - Sergio Garcia
  • Group 4 - Bill Haas
The following is my complete bracket breakdown as well as first round predictions for each match for the Bobby Jones and Gary Player brackets.  Tomorrow I will do the Ben Hogan and Sam Snead brackets.

Bobby Jones Bracket:
  • Luke Donald over Ernie Els - There was a day not too long ago where this would be a real battle but Els has two putters; which is like a football team with two quarterbacks.  If you have two, that means you don't have one.  Donald wins this something like 3&2
  • Peter Hanson over Jason Dufner - I don't have a lot of conviction in this one....much like an 8/9 NCAA basketball game.  I'll take Hanson 2 up.
  • Kyle Stanley over K.J. Choi - Stanley's long and he hits a lot of greens which should put pressure on Choi, who doesn't have the greatest record in this event.  I like Stanley 2&1.
  • Brandt Snedeker over Retief Goosen - Snedeker's hotter than Goosen right now and he's putting well.  Plus, how could you not be pulling for a Snedeker/Stanley second round rematch.  Snedeker 3&1.
  • Adam Scott over Robert Rock - I think it will be closer than some people think, but Scott should putt it out at the wire.  Rock will probably have the lead at some point on the back 9.  Scott 1 up.
  • Bo Van Pelt over Mark Wilson - I'm just not sure Wilson can compete on a course this long and Van Pelt is in good form.  I'll take Van Pelt 3&2.
  • Dustin Johnson over Jim Furyk - This is such a tough pick.  My gut wants to pick Furyk due to Johnson's poor iron play last week down the stretch, but Johnson's lenght is too big of an advantage and I don't trust Furyk's putter.  This could go either way, but I'll say Johnson 1 Up.
  • Thomas Bjorn over Francesco Molinari - Bjorn is kind of the sexy pick and that almost talked me out of it, but I'm going to go with it.  Bjorn 2&1.
Now that the brackets have been out a little over 12 hours, Donald seems the smart pick in this group.  I pause because he also was a pretty smart pick last week and didn't play all that well at Riviera.  I expect this to be a pretty volatile bracket.  I would expect the winner of the Johnson / Furyk match to possibly make a run to the finals of this bracket, but I don't have a good feel for who they would face.  Certainly Donald makes a lot of sense, but Kyle Stanley could be really dangerous on this course if he gets acclimated quickly enough. 

Gary Player Bracket:
  • Rory McIlroy over George Coetzee - This should be a blow out, but you never know.  McIlroy 4&3.
  • Kyung-tae Kim over Anders Hanson - I don't have a feel for this one.  Basically this is for the rights to lose to McIlroy in the second round.  Kim 3&2
  • Sergio Garcia over Miguel Angel Jimenez - I would love to watch every shot of this match.  I love Jimenez, but Garcia is poised for a big year and it could start here.  Actually, it could have started last week with his T4 at Riviera.  Garcia 2&1
  • Geoff Ogilvy over Keegan Bradley - I can't put Ogilvy out in the first round of a match play and I think it's alot to ask Bradley to bounce back the emotionally draining Sunday at Riviera by Wednesday to face Ogilvy.  Ogilvy 2&1
  • Jason Day over Rafael Cabrera Bello - This would be a big upset if Bello could win, and Day wasn't great last week, but I'm taking Day 3&1.
  • John Senden over Simon Dyson - Senden can't putt, but he's a fairway and green machine which should putt pressure on Dyson.  I don't think Senden has the putter to go far, but I'll give him a 2 &1 win Wednesday.
  • Charl Schwartzel over Gary Woodland - Woodland's length is tempting but Schwartzel is a better all around player and Woodland doesn't seem on top of things right now.
  • Ian Poulter over Sang-moon Bae - Poulter is a past champion of this event, but Bae might be a tough out.  Poulter 1 Up.
This is a stacked bracket, but I think it will come down to McIlroy or Garcia.  The bottom half of this bracket doesn't seem as stacked as the top half.  My gut is either Poulter or Day will play McIlroy or Garcia.

Check back tomorrow for the other two brackets.

Mayakoba Golf Classic Fantasy Guide

After our preview of the Mayakoba Golf Classic in yesterday's post, it's time to get to the weekly fantasy picks.  We had a big week last week, as we had Bill Haas and Phil Mickelson both on our fantasy team as well as Dustin Johnson and Aaron Baddeley.  With the Mayakoba Golf Classic being an opposite field event, the field isn't nearly as strong or predictable this week.

Either way, you've come to the right place for advice as The Golf Aficionado's Yahoo Fantasy team currently is standing in the 92nd percentile with 989 points.

Here are the Yahoo Fantasy picks:
  • A - List - There are only four eligible players in the A group this week, so it would be kind of hard to get this wrong.  Stay away from Jhonny Vegas, as he's done nothing this year.  Each of the other three are viable options, but I'm going with Spencer Levin to start and Rory Sabbatini on the bench leaving Charles Howell III without a spot.
  • B - List - I'm starting Martin Flores and Briny Baird and I've got Chad Campbell and Harrison Frazar on the bench.  I also considered Michael Thompson, Chris Stroud, Robert Allenby, Charley Hoffman and Danny Lee.
  • C - List - This was an easy group to pick from.  I'm starting Johnson Wagner and I'll have Brian Gay on the bench.  Jarrod Lyle would make a lot of sense here too, but Wagner as defending champion with the year he's having and Gay with a past victory and second place finish are too easy to pass up.
Here are the Golf Channel Fantasy Picks for Mayakoba:
  • Group 1 - Johnson Wagner over Spencer Levin.
  • Group 2 - Brian Gay
  • Group 3 - Briny Baird
  • Group 4 - Cameron Beckman

2012 Accenture Match Play Championship Early Preview

The Accenture Match Play brackets have been released and can be viewed here http://i.cdn.turner.com/pgatour/docs/2012_wgc_accenture_match_play.pdf.  I will do a more complete preview within the next 24 hours, but here are my off the cuff reactions.
·         The toughest bracket looks to be the Gary Player bracket where Rory McIlroy is the #1 seed.  This bracket includes Geoff Ogilvy as the #12 seed, but he’s always dangerous in match play format.  He has a first round battle with Keegan Bradley.  Jason Day, Sergio Garcia and Ian Poulter are others in that bracket that all are very capable of winning the entire tournament.
·         The Ben Hogan bracket is the second toughest because of the depth of the bracket.  Martin Kaymer is the #1 seed and could have his hands full with smooth putting Greg Chalmers, but the strength of this bracket is a little further down.  How about a first round matchup between Hunter Mahan and Zach Johnson?  Graeme McDowell, Aaron Baddeley, Steve Stricker, David Toms, Rickie Fowler, Matt Kuchar, Bubba Watson, Ben Crane, Jonathan Byrd and they seem to never stop.  This is the “really good” but maybe not elite bracket.
·         The Snead bracket has a lot of big names, but it feels like a bracket that, save for Bill Haas, doesn’t have a lot of current momentum to it.  Lee Westwood, Tiger Woods, Darren Clarke don’t feel hot enough to roll off six wins.  Other guys ranking high include Webb Simpson and Nick Watney, but neither of them are off to great starts.
·         The Bobby Jones bracket may prove to be the most unpredictable.  Start with the opening match of Luke Donald versus Ernie Els and move on from there.  Two of the strongest competitors in this bracket square off in the first round with Jim Furyk playing Dustin Johnson.  Adam Scott plays Tiger Woods’ slayer Robert Rock and this bracket could feature a second round matchup of Kyle Stanley and Brandt Snedeker if Stanley knocks off K.J. Choi and Snedeker takes care of Retief Goosen.
·         Number 1 seed most likely to lose in the first round:  Martin Kaymer to Greg Chalmers
·         Double digit seed most likely to go the farthest:   Aaron Baddeley (#10 in Ben Hogan)
Check back later for a more complete preview.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

2012 Mayakoba Golf Classic Preview

The PGA Tour heads to Mexico for the 2012 Mayakoba Golf Classic, and even though the tournament is only in its sixth year it already has a prototypical champion.  The previous five winners are Fred Funk, Bryan Gay, Mark Wilson, Cameron Beckman and Johnson Wagner. 

So what can we expect from the 2012 Mayakoba Champion?  The likely answer is someone with a solid iron game and a strong putter.  The winner will probably need to play the par 71 layout in somewhere approaching 20 under for the week.  History also shows that length really isn't all that important in determining a champion.

In last weeks preview I went down the field list and named 28 players that I thought might have a chance to win.  Bill Haas and Phil Mickelson were both on that list, so we'll give it a try this week.

Here are the 28 at first glance that I expect to contend this week.  Briny Baird, Cameron Beckman, Matt Bettencourt, Gavin Coles, Erik Compton, John Cook, Chris DiMarco, Martin Flores, Brian Gay, Charles Howell III, Brandt Jobe, Matt Jones, Jerry Kelly, Spencer Levin, Jarrod Lyle, Billy Mayfair, Will McGirt, John Merrick, Joe Oglivie, Tim Petrovic, John Rollins, Rory Sabbatini, Heath Slocum, Kevin Stadler, Chris Stroud, Vaughn Taylor, Roland Thatcher and Johnson Wagner.

Check back later in the week for our Fantasy Guide.

Haas Wins Northern Trust Open in Playoff

After an opening round 72, Bill Haas closed with three rounds in the 60's to claim the Northern Trust Open in a playoff over Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley.  They playoff also represents three of the top five players in the current U.S. Ryder Cup Rankings in what could be an early preview in who will represent the United States in the fall. 

Haas looked to have won the tournament by posting a -7 score and forcing Mickelson and/or Bradley to birdie 18 to force a playoff.  Mickelson poured in an unlikely 25 footer from the fringe and Bradley followed with a 14 footer of his own. 

In the playoff, all three players parred 18 and then headed to the drivable par 4 10th hole.  Each drove themselves into trouble, and only Haas was able to find the green in regulation but found himself furthest from the hole.  He attempted his 43 foot birdie putt with Bradley 15 feet away on the fringe and Mickelson short sided in a bunker.  When he made it, it forced Mickelson to make a bunker shot and Bradley to roll in from the fringe.  Mickelson's bunker attempt stopped well short and Bradley's valiant effort fell just off the edge and Haas picked up his fourth career win.

It would have been a good week to have given some attention to our preview because our fantasy line up featured two of the three playoff contestants including the winner and also included Dustin Johnson who tied for 4th and Aaron Baddeley who tied for 11th.

Check back later for our Mayakoba Classic preview and fantasy insight, as well as the Accenture Match Play bracket thoughts.

Kendall Wins Pacific Rubiales Colombia Championship

Skip Kendall shot an even par final round, including a birdie on the 18th hole, to win the Pacific Rubiales Colombia Championship by one shot over Andres Gonzales and Andrew Svoboda.  Early on, Kendall looked to be headed for disaster after a bogeying the first two holes. 

Check out the final results here http://www.pgatour.com/tournaments/h104/results.html.

Last year's winner, Brenden Pappas, was one of the few winners to not finish the year inside the Top 25 and earn a PGA Tour card.  Hopefully for the veteran Kendall, history will not repeat itself.

The Nationwide Tour will take a week off before heading to Panama in two weeks.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Northern Trust Open Third Round Wrap Up

Keegan Bradley shot a final round -5 to join Phil Mickelson atop the leaderboard at the Northern Trust Open at -7.  They sit one shot ahead of Bryce Molder, Jonathan Byrd and Pat Perez.  All in all, there are 19 players within five shots of the lead, so Sunday should be quite a showdown.

The third round saw three players shoot a -5 (66) and each moved into the top 6 with that round.  Defending champion Aaron Baddeley was one of those 66, as was Bradley and Bryce Molder. 

Here are some third round notes and final round thoughts:
  • Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley holding a one shot lead is a lot different than Charlie Wi, Spencer Levin and Kyle Stanley having big leads going into the final round.
  • Mickelson was so lost with the driver today that he didn't even hit driver on the Par 4 18th.  After the round he said he played horribly, but was happy to score a -1.  He still insists he's "close" and has already said he's hearing from swing coach Butch Harmon and will have it worked out.  If he does, he probably wins.  If he doesn't someone will catch, and pass him.
  • Pat Perez and Jonathan Byrd both really intrigue me going into the final round.  If Perez could have putted at all today he would have a one or two shot lead right now.  He's striking the ball really well and could be a guy that shoots a four or five under tomorrow to really push Mickelson and Bradley.  His playing partner tomorrow, Jonathan Byrd, has been all over the place this week.  Thursday he had a really nice round, Friday he putted like a 12 handicap and Saturday he only took 21 putts, but only hit 6 of 18 greens.  If Byrd could match up the putting and ball striking tomorrow he could shoot a four or five under and take the title.
  • With three guys shooting five under today and vaulting up the leaderboard and 19 players currently within five of the lead, it's likely that someone not in the lead will shoot a four or five under and make the leaders shoot two or three under to win.
  • I like -10 to win outright or -9 to be a playoff.  Phil did shoot a 64 last Sunday, so if he gets his driver fixed all bets are off.
  • Speaking of bets, don't bet the final round.
  • If you followed our fantasy picks, you would be starting the final round with Phil Mickelson (T1), Aaron Baddeley (T6), Bill Haas (T6) and Dustin Johnson (T6). 
Tomorrow should be great finish!

Pacific Rubiales Colombia Championship Third Round Wrap Up

It was a bad day to be in the final group of the Pacific Rubiales Colombia Championship, as second round leader Billy Horschel shot a 76 to fall into a tie for 10th place.  Nationwide Tour veteran Skip Kendall heads into the final round tied for the lead with Andrew Svoboda with Kirk Triplett a shot back.

Kendall and Triplett are reminiscent of the only two prior champions of this event; Steve Pate and Brenden Pappas, but they will receive a challenge from Svoboda, PGA and Nationwide Tour veteran Charles Warren and budding star James Hahn.  With only five players within four shots of the lead, it's likely a winner will separate themselves out of the current top five.

Check out the full leaderboard here http://www.pgatour.com/leaderboards/current/h104/.

Delahoussaye Wins Egolf Tour Palmetto Hall Championship

Brent Delahoussaye shot a final round -3 to win the Palmetto Hall Championship by one shot.  The victory was the Clemson grad's first on the Egolf Tour and should serve to jump start his season as he has secured starts in two of the next three Nationwide Tour tournaments with his conditional status.

Read the full wrap up here http://www.egolfprofessionaltour.com/nationwide-tour-member-brent-delahoussaye-collects-first-egolf-tour-title-finally.

Click below for the complete leaderboard.

Click to view complete leaderboard

Friday, February 17, 2012

Northern Trust Open Second Round Wrap Up

The second day of the Northern Trust Opened ended much like the first.  With Phil Mickelson in the lead.  Mickelson's round wasn't quite as smooth as Thursday, but holing out for eagle on the Par 4 8th (his 17th of the day) was enough to ensure a 36 hole lead.

Here are some thoughts from the second round:
  • Mickelson is in familiar territory sleeping on the lead unlike the leaders of the past few tournaments.  That's not to say Phil won't collapse, as anything is always possible with Phil, but if he does it won't be due to being unfamiliar with his circumstances.
  • When I scroll the top 10 looking for someone that could top Mickelson, Matt Kuchar's name comes to mind.  Jonathan Byrd is also hitting his irons well enough but needs to figure the greens out.  Erase his three, three putts and he's have a one shot lead.  Add back all the other putts he's missed inside 6 feet and he's be even further ahead.  Spencer Levin is contending again as well.
  • I hate that Fred Couples missed the cut.  So much for my dark horse.  My contender, Aaron Baddeley, made a nice move up the leaderboard and into the top 30 and we already know how my pick to win, Phil Mickelson, is doing.
  • The scoring of this tournament is making it feel like a Major Championship.  It's a little hard to predict what the winning score would be, but I find it hard to imagine it going any lower than -12.  I think the most likely scenario is in the -8 to -10 range, but Mickelson could have something to say about that.
  • I mentioned yesterday that Kyle Stanley started to bounce back after being +5 thru 8 holes and he shot a 68 on Friday to get it all the way back to even.  At only 6 off the lead, I am very intrigued to see where his weekend will take him.  After all, take away the triple bogey at the 8th on Thursday and he's only 3 off the lead.
Let's all watch tomorrow and see who will hold the 54 hole lead and thus be doomed to fail.

Pacific Rubiales Colombia Championship Reaches the Half-Way Point

At the half-way point of the Pacific Rubiales Colombia Championship Billy Horschel holds the lead at -10 by two over Brian Smock.  Horschel tweeted Thursday night that he really liked the course and was looking forward to making more birdies Friday, and the Florida Gator did just that. 

Check out the full leaderboard here http://www.pgatour.com/h/leaderboard/.

Egolf Tour Palmetto Hall Championship Third Round

The Egolf Tour Palmetto Hall Championship is 18 holes away from declaring a winner and the 54 hole lead belongs to Birmingham, Alabama's Zach Sucher.

Check out the third round wrap up here http://www.egolfprofessionaltour.com/sucher-claims-54-hole-lead-at-palmetto-hall-as-arduous-cupp-course-takes-center-stage.

Click on the link below for the entire leaderboard.

Click to view complete leaderboard

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Northern Trust Open First Round Wrap Up

The wind blew early during the first round of the Northern Trust Open, but it calmed enough for Phil Mickelson to pick up where he left off at Pebble Beach.  The first round still has a handful of players on the course, but none of them will get to the -5 (66) that Mickelson shot to set the pace.

Jonathan Byrd set the pace during the morning wave with a steady -3 (68) that easily could have been lower.  Byrd missed two birdie putts inside of five feet and also three-putted the 11th hole for birdie.  His round ended with a bogey at the 18th, which is a par 4, but at the time was playing statistically higher than the par 5 first. 

Here are some other notes from the first round:
  • The players that scored well seemed to play under control.  They didn't take unnecessary risks; especially those in the morning wave.
  • The course seemed to play progressively easier as the round wore on; especially in the late afternoon.  J.B. Holmes made eight birdies in the afternoon wave and Hunter Mahan birdied four holes in a row before parring his last hole (9th).
  • While there are only 23 players under par as Thursday night falls, it's probable that the eventual winner figured out a way to shoot under par.  The wind blowing during the first round most likely served to eliminate some strong candidates.
  • Guys I really like right now: Phil Mickelson, Hunter Mahan, Jonathan Byrd, Sergio Garcia and Matt Kuchar (all -2 or better).
  • Guys I'm most intrigued by: J.B. Holmes (8 birdies today.....wow), Luke Donald opening with a -1 in the worst conditions and how about Fred Couples shooting a -1!
  • Will Anthony Kim be headed to Q School next year?  He hasn't made a cut yet and opened with a 78, so that trend will continue this week.
  • Kyle Stanley was five over after triple bogeying the 8th hole, but reeled it back in for a +3 and a T80.  I'll be interested to see how the rest of the week plays out for him.  Elite players take what looks like disaster and turn it into top 25's, and it's not impossible to think he might do that.  He played with Mickelson and took some risks that were reminiscent of Mickelson.  Riviera in general, but especially today is a course to be patient on.
Check back to see where things stand after the second round tomorrow.

Pacific Rubiales Colombia Championship First Round Wrap Up

The first round of the Pacific Rubiales Colombia Championship is almost in the books, as several groups will have to finish the second round Friday morning.  Tied for the lead at -5 are three names familiar to golf fans.

Long time PGA Tour veteran Peter Lonard, Nationwide veteran Brian Smock, and former college star and recent PGA Tour player Billy Horschel are tied for the lead; one ahead of Morgan Hoffmann and Erik Flores. 

The current cut line sits at +1, with 75 players currently at +1 or better.  Check out the full leaderboard here http://www.pgatour.com/h/leaderboard/.

Egolf Professional Tour Palmetto Hall Championship

At the half-way point of the Egolf Professional Tour Palmetto Hall Championship Jay McLuen and Chris Baker are tied for the lead at -11 and three shots clear of the next closest competitors.  The 36 hole cut fell at even par and 63 players will be playing the weekend.

Here is a link to the second round wrap up http://www.egolfprofessionaltour.com/mcluen-and-baker-reach-11-under-through-36-holes-to-share-the-lead-at-palmetto-hall.

Check out the full leaderboard by clicking below.

Click to view complete leaderboard

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Nothern Trust Open Predictions

With the first round of the Northern Trust Open only hours away, it's time for our final pre-tournament predictions.  Last week, I took D.J. Trahan as my dark horse and he made the cut.  My "contender" was Tiger Woods and he contended until falling off late.  For my "winner" I took Hunter Mahan, but noted that I strongly considered eventual winner Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson.  Obviously Phil would have been the right pick and Dustin Johnson a better pick than Mahan, but still not a bad week.

  • This week my dark horse is Fred Couples.  I've talked about him all week and really like him on this course.  He's in good form after playing the European Tour last week.  I would expect several good rounds out of him this week and if he could put four together watch out.
  • For a contender, I'll go with Aaron Baddeley.  He's the defending champion and he's coming off a great week at Pebble, so there's no reason not to expect him to be in the hunt.  It's a tall task to go back to back, but it's not as uncommon at Riviera as it is at other courses.
  • There's a lot of ways to go with a winner.  I'm going with Phil Mickelson even though I'm regretting it as I type it.  It's going to be hard for him to be focused this week after having the "Tiger" juices flowing in that final round 64, but he played with so much control last week and if he does that again he wins by a ton. 
We'll check back at the end of the week and see if these picks were solid or not, but I feel decently comfortable with them as of right now.

Egolf Professional Tour Palmetto Hall Championship

The opening event of the Egolf Tour is under way at the Palmetto Hall Championship and the opening round leader is Matt Schall at -7.  One shot off the lead is Chris Baker, Alex Hamilton and Roger Sloan.

Click on the link for the full leaderboard.  http://tarheel.bluegolf.com/bluegolf/tarheel12/event/leaderboard.htm

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

2012 Northern Trust Open Odds

The 2012 Northern Trust Open currently has Phil Mickelson as the betting favorite at 9/1.  Check out this link for the current odds throughout the remainder of the week http://www.madduxsports.com/golf-betting-lines.html

When I look at the current odds, there are a ton of true contenders with odds that would yield a really nice return.  The question is, which one will bring it home.

Here is everyone at 40/1 or better with a few comments.
  • 9/1 - Phil Mickelson - I think Phil's the right favorite and he's kind of a bargain at 9/1.  I don't remember a favorite being any lower than 9/1 this season.  I can only guess he's this low because there will be some motivational questions this week and there are a bunch of players who could win this week, but 9/1 looks to be a pretty good bet.
  • 14/1 - Luke Donald - If Luke Donald is a stock on Wall Street, sell.  He's never going to have another season like last year, and with tons of respect to Rob Bolton, who I frequently read, Donald is not a good bet this week.  There are too many guys who are already in the groove of the season.  I know Donald has had some really nice finishes here over the years, but now is not the time to jump on Donald.
  • 22/1 - Dustin Johnson - I'm a maybe on Johnson.  He's one of the few guys that can get to all three par 5's in two this week, so that will help.  He's also playing his fourth week in a row, and coming off an injury this off season I wonder if he will start to wear down.  I wouldn't feel the need to rush to put money on him yet, but if he has a good first two rounds I might be apt to take him with smaller odds and a better chance to win later in the week.
  • 28/1 - Sergio Garcia & Adam Scott - I wouldn't be surprised if either one of these guys won.  In fact, I might like both of them more than any of the three ahead of them.
  • 30/1 - Aaron Baddeley - I think he'll have a really good week, probably a top 10 type week, but I don't feel like he'll win.  I think he's a great fantasy play, but not a great bet to win.
  • 33/1 - Hunter Mahan & Kevin Na - I get why they have Na here, but I'm surprised they have Mahan this high.  He didn't finish well last week on a course I think fits him better than this weeks venue.  Much like Baddeley, I think Na's a better fantasy play than he is bet because he'll have a hard time beating a field this strong as hot under the collar as he runs.
  • 40/1 - Brandt Snedeker, K.J. Choi, Matt Kuchar, Nick Watney, Kyle Stanley, Bubba Watson, Bill Haas, Rickie Fowler, Keegan Bradley, Padraig Harrington & I think maybe the Easter Bunny - This feels like the category where Vegas said "I think these are all really good players and I don't know exactly how you separate them, so we'll just throw them all together and let them work it out."  If you give me 40/1 on the list of them, I'll buy.  I find it interesting that Kyle Stanley is improving vastly every week in the odds department.  Vegas doesn't seem to think he's a fad.
With this many candidates, I doubt I'd lay anything down this early. 

Monday, February 13, 2012

2012 Northern Trust Open Fantasy Guide

The 2012 Northern Trust Open offers lots of tempting fantasy options.  The tough part will be seperating the real contenders from the popular names. 

One tool I always check out is Rob Bolton's Power rankings that can be found here http://www.pgatour.com/2012/tournaments/r007/02/13/power-rankings/index.html

Here are my Yahoo Fantasy Picks:
  • A List - Phil Mickelson as the starter is an easy choice.  We had him on our team last week and inserted him in the starting lineup for Saturday and Sunday.  If he plays like he did last week, he'll win his third Northern Trust Open.  The second choice wasn't nearly as easy.  I went with Adam Scott, but could have just as easily gone with Sergio Garcia, Luke Donald, Kyle Stanley or Charles Howell III.  Scott's won here before and makes a lot of sense.  For some reason I'm getting a Sergio Garcia vibe too, but that feels about as risky as Rickie Fowler.
  • B List - This list of players felt like the good, but not great list.  I was indecisive and just stayed with who I had starting last week at Pebble with Dustin Johnson, but dropped Hunter Mahan for Jason Day.  I plugged in Bill Haas and Mark Wilson as the bench players.  I also considered Rickie Fowler, Hunter Mahan, Bubba Watson and Robert Allenby for the bench spots.
  • C List - The C List was by far the easiest to pick.  The starter is Aaron Baddeley and the bench player is Fred "Boom Boom" Couples.  Seriously.  Couples always plays well here.  There are a number of good players in this group, but none I considered after seeing those two names.
Here are my Golf Channel picks:
  • Group 1 - This list is loaded with players that can win, but I can't pick against Mickelson.
  • Group 2 - Aaron Baddeley is a pretty easy choice here, and I'm glad he wasn't in Group 1.  He's the defending champion and had a great week at Pebble last week.
  • Group 3 - I like Ricky Barnes.  He played really well at Pebble with New England Patriots Coach Bill Belichick as his partner and he also has a flair for playing hard golf courses well.  Riviera isn't a "go low"
  • Group 4 - Again, "Boom Boom" Couples.
Check back tomorrow for the Odds and thoughts on the odds.  If you remember, last week when we did our Odds preview Phil Mickelson was 20/1 and behind only Tiger at 5/1 and our comments on Phil were "Mickelson's shown enough in the last two weeks to potentially be dangerous."  Little did we know how dangerous.

2012 Pacific Rubiales Colombia Championship Preview

The Pacific Rubiales Columbia Championship is a Nationwide Tour stop that is still relatively unknown .  Last year's tournament was a wash out after 36 holes and, according to one of this years competitors, it probably shouldn't have made it that far. 

It's also a tournament played at altitude, so some yardage adjustments have to be made.  Altitude could also bring some shorter hitters into the equation. 

Here's what we know about this history of this event.
  • Both winners were veteran players.  Steve Pate won in 2010 and Brendan Pappas won in 2011 in a 36 hole tournament.  Ironically second place in 2010 was Aaron Watkins (playoff) and second place in 2011 was Matt Every; both of which are younger players.
  • We can't put too much emphasis in last years tournament for a handful of reasons including weather and length of tournament.
It's hard to make predictions any week on the Nationwide Tour, but it's especially hard to make predictions the first week of the season in a tournament many of the players haven't played in a country many of the players have never been to.  John Dell took his weekly stab at it here http://www.pgatour.com/2012/tournaments/h104/02/13/power-rankings/index.html and it's as good a guess as any.  Sometimes I think Dell is a little too reactive in his power rankings, but I like that he makes a go of it every week. 

While I might not pick a different five from Dell every week, I will put together a list of five I think could win this week that are different from Dell.
  1. Aaron Watkins - He finished second here in 2010, so that's as good a place as any to start.  He's at least got some familiarity in a 72 hole tournament here.
  2. Andrew Buckle - Australians often start seasons well as this is summer in the Southern Hemisphere.  Buckle finished T11 last year with two rounds in the 60's, so I could see him doing something.
  3. Charles Warren - PGA Tour mainstay for the better part of the last decade, Warren is an excellent ball striker and had probably his best chance to win a PGA Tour event in Reno where altitude was also a factor.
  4. Camilo Benedetti - He's a Colombia native, so that's as good a reason as any for me.  He made the cut here last year and has been a succesful Nationwide Tour player.
  5. Morgan Hoffmann - For my final spot, I'll plug in recent Oklahoma State star Morgan Hoffmann.
The race for this year's "25" begins Thursday.  Good luck and play well!

2012 Northern Trust Open Monday Qualifier Results

Here is a link to the results of the 2012 Northern Trust Open Monday Qualifier. 


Hopefully your favorite golfer makes it through!


Here is the final leaderboard.  This means Justin Itzen and Erick Justesen qualify and Will MacKenzie, Craig Barlow, Austin Graham, and John Mallinger will be competing in a playoff for the final two spots.

 Pos PlayerScoring To ParTotal
1expand Justin Itzen-5F67
2expand Erick Justesen-4F68
T3expand Will MacKenzie-3F69
T3expand Craig Barlow-3F69
T3expand Austin Graham-3F69
T3expand John Mallinger-3F69
T7expand Sam Saunders-2F70
T7expand William Horschel-2F70
T7expand Jeff Rangel-2F70
T7expand Chris Satterlee-2F70
T7expand Jeff Quinney-2F70

Sunday, February 12, 2012

2012 Northern Trust Open Preview

The 2012 Northern Trust Open is shaping up to be quite the tournament after Phil Mickelson's win at Pebble Beach.  Mickelson is a two time past champion and his game is in perfect form to make another run at things.  As a matter of opinion, this is one of the best tournaments on one of the best courses of the year (Riviera CC) that is not a Major.

Known as "Hogan's Alley" after the success Ben Hogan enjoyed here, Riviera always seems to identify a great champion with a strong overall game.  Every facet of the game is important at Riviera and you can't get by with just one major strength.  Past champions include long players like Phil Mickelson and short players like Corey Pavin.  Ironically Pavin and Mickelson have each one this tournament on back to back occasions. 

Here are some reasons why I don't think Riviera favors one type of player, but a great overall game that is in good present form.
  • The course has three par 5's.  The first one is reachable by virtually everyone in the field, but the other two are reachable by only the very longest players.  That means the playing field is fairly even on the Par 5's for the field.  A really long player that gets aggressive on the longer par 5's needs an equally strong short game to bail him out of trouble if he doesn't hit the green.
  • In my opinion, the signature hole is the drivable par 4 10th hole.  While probably 90% of the field could put a tee shot hole high, it's almost impossible to have a tee shot end up on the green.  If you try and drive the green, you will likely put a lot of stress on your short game.  A strong wedge player could hit iron off the tee and wedge in closer than some of the other players trying to drive the green and missing.
  • The par 3's are not easy and will likely require some short game prowess.
  • Most of the par 4's are both long and require accuracy on the approach.  The demand of an accurate approach will have some of the longer hitters hitting 3 woods, which level them off the tee with some of the shorter guys hitting driver.
  • You can get into trouble off the tee, but the real trouble comes on approaches.  If you get into real trouble around the greens, you better be able to chip and putt.
Another interesting note is how well last year's top 5 at the Northern Trust Open played at Pebble Beach this week.

Here is the top 5 from last year's Northern Trust Open and where they finished at Pebble Beach
  • Aaron Baddeley - Winner - Finished 4th at Pebble.
  • Vijay Singh - 2 - Finished T25 at Pebble.
  • Kevin Na - 3 - Finished T5 at Pebble,
  • Jimmy Walker - T4 - Finished T9 at Pebble.
  • Ryan Moore - T4 - Finished T20 at Pebble.
  • Robert Allenby - T4 - DNP
Just looking at the field, here are the names of guys that jump off the page at me as potential contenders.  In the next few days, I will dial this down a little deeper in my fantasy picks, odds and predictions. 

Keep an eye on these guys:  Robert Allenby, Aaron Baddeley, Ricky Barnes, Chad Campbell, K.J. Choi, Fred Couples, Jason Day, Luke Donald, Rickie Fowler, Sergio Garcia, Bill Haas, Charles Howell III, Dustin Johnson, Zach Johnson, Matt Kuchar, Spencer Levin, Hunter Mahan, Phil Mickelson, Ryan Moore, Kevin Na, Geoff Oglivy, Rory Sabbatini, Vijay Singh, Brandt Snedeker, Kyle Stanley, Jimmy Walker, Nick Watney and Mark Wilson.

When I started writing, I didn't think the list would be 28 names, but oh well.