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Monday, April 30, 2012

Wells Fargo Championship - Fantasy Guide and Power Rankings

Rory McIlroy, Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods and others are gathered in Charlotte, NC at Quail Hollow for the Wells Fargo Championship, and it's time to see how they stack up entering the week. Lucas Glover is the defending champion, and won last year's edition with a smooth putter that kept him out of trouble and allowed him to find some birdies. In fact, he played all four rounds in the 60s. Who will be this year's winner? Let's give it a look and see if we can pick the champ!

The top three on the power ranking came together rather easily. They each have a strong history at Quail Hollow and are all in good form entering the week. The next three after that also fell in line rather nicely, but had a key question mark. Then there were about 20 guys that battled it out for the final six spots, and additional five after that. Without further ado, here's the Dandy Dozen.
  1. Phil Mickelson leads off the rankings. In his last six trips around Quail Hollow, he's finished (starting in 2011) T9, 2, T5, T12, T3, T35. He's also in excellent form coming off the Masters (T3) and Shell Houston Open (T4).
  2. Jim Furyk - His last four starts on TOUR are P2, T11, 11, T8. Starting in 2011 and working back, his last few starts at Quail Hollow are T24, T7, T11, 7, MC, P1 and P2.
  3. Hunter Mahan - He's the only guy with 2 wins in 2012, and he's a great driver of the ball. He's been consistent at Quail Hollow with a T16 in 2011, T17 in 2010, preceded by T22, T12 and MC.
  4. Lee Westwood - He's made for a course like this and he's had a great year already. The only reason he wasn't a little higher is his only real record here is a T38 in 2010. He's 2nd in GIR, 2nd in all-around ranking, and second in total driving. If he has a decent week with the putter, watch out.
  5. Rory McIlroy - He's a bit of a wild card even though he won in 2010. I don't like that he took another long layoff much like the one before the Masters. Even so, he's arguably the best golfer in the world.
  6. Tiger Woods - He won in 2007 and finished fourth in 2009. I don't have him higher because there are plenty of questions about his swing and his putter. He'll likely have a really good round, two decent rounds and a bad round this week.
  7. Rickie Fowler - He's coming off a T10 in New Orleans and his two previous starts here are T16 and sixth.
  8. Bill Haas - I don't like that he doesn't have a top 10 since his win at Riviera, but he's consistent here. His last three starts are fourth, T29 and T22. His game also sets up well for this course.
  9. Zach Johnson - Zack Attack hasn't missed a cut this year and is coming off a second at the Heritage, so check mark on form. He's got a little bit of a checkered past here, but at this point in the rankings everyone does. Finished T6 last year.
  10. Webb Simpson - He's made every cut this year and finished T21 last year. Before that, it was two MC at Quail Hollow.
  11. Bo Van Pelt - I really wanted to put him higher here. Last three starts at Quail Hollow resulted in a T33, fifth and T29. He's also got four top 10s in 2012.
  12. Jonathan Byrd - Boy he's hard to peg. He finished P2 last year to college teammate Lucas Glover and T5 in 2009. Other than that, he's missed a ton of cuts. Point being, if he makes the cut he could really contend. Picking when he contends isn't easy, though.
The next five in alphabetical order are: Keegan Bradley, Ben Curtis, Kevin Na, Vijay Singh and Cameron Tringale.

You may notice I don't have defending-champ Glover on the list. I'm not thrilled about his distance control on his irons and his putting isn't clicking on all cylinders either. Other than that, his history here is great. It wouldn't shock me if he finished with a top 20, but his form doesn't lead me to expect much.

On to the games......

  • A-List - Mickelson and Furyk are 1/2 in the Power Rankings, so Mickelson's starting and Furyk is ready if needed.
  • B-List - Mahan and Westy starting, McIlroy and Woods on the bench. I hated leaving Fowler off, and almost saved Mahan for another week, but he's too good a fit.
  • C-List - Curtis starting and Tringale on the bench.
Golf Channel:
  • Group 1 - You guessed it.....Mickelson over most of our power ranking.
  • Group 2 - Tough group. I'm taking Byrd over Na, Glover, Tringale and Stanley. This will be the make or break category.
  • Group 3 - Pat Perez feels like the right play here. T6 last year after swallowing a bad weekend and 8/10 in cuts made this year.
  • Group 4 - Talk about lacking options.....I'll take William McGirt over Mark Anderson.
In short, it's hard to screw up the Yahoo game this week, but you could really get in trouble if you get the wrong guy in Group 1 and 2 this week.

Best of Luck!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Zurich Classic of New Orleans Wrap Up and Scorecard

Jason Dufner outlasted Ernie Els in a two-hole playoff to take home the title at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans. Here are some things that struck me in the final round.
  • Jason Dufner's par save at the 16th reminded me of Ben Curtis' on the 17th last week. Granted, it was twice as long.
  • For Els, he had the tournament won, but had to exorcise the final demon of making a six foot putt and couldn't do it. That putt has been his nemesis for the last two years.
  • Luke Donald is back to being himself.....top 5s, but not winning. He never was really even in contention.
  • Cameron Trignale is lucky John Rollins couldn't birdie the 18th or he would have had his third consecutive T8.
  • I don't trust Dufner in a Ryder Cup format. Maybe a four ball, but not a foursome or single.
  • Bubba Watson had a nice tournament, but only managed to break 70 once. That's probably a fair expectation for Bubba golf post Masters. A lot of top 20s and a few top 10s with the occasional week of contention.
On to the scorecard. Here's what we got right and here's what we got wrong.

  • Power rankings were on this week. Five of our Dandy Dozen finished in the top 7. Dufner (2nd) won, Els (5th) P2, Donald (9th) third, Stricker (8th) sixth and Tringale (11th) T7.
  • Yahoo! Game was on as well. We had Dufner and Els as starters all week. Our other starters to start the week were Watson (who I subbed out for Rose at the halfway point) and Keegan Bradley (ditto for Webb Simpson). All in all, it was a 220 point week.
  • David Mathis finished T10 and proved to be a nice spot filler in the Golf Channel Group 4.
  • I had Jason Dufner in the "Contender" pick this week. I also had him as one of the two people in the odds section I thought was worth a bet. It should be noted in my prediction post that I said I wanted to take Dufner to win, but chickened out. Guess I should have trusted my gut.
  • Keegan Bradley, Keegan Bradley and Keegan Bradley. The first for having him lead off the Power Ranking, the second for the Yahoo! A Group, the third for the Golf Channel Group 1. Oh yeah, and one more for picking him the winner.
  • Golf Channel Game - When your only made cut is in group 4, you've got problems. Bradley, Pettersson and Cauley did me in.
Not a bad week, but we'll shoot for better next week!

Wells Fargo Championship - Preview

The Wells Fargo Championship is a tournament that is relatively new on TOUR, but has gained a reputation as a favorite among the top players in the world. When you look at the past winners and runner ups, you can see why. It produces major-championship caliber champions.

The Quail Hollow Club staged the first edition of this event in 2003, and here are the winners / runners up:
  • 2003 - David Toms (winner), Vijay Singh, Robert Gamez and Brent Geiberger (runners up)\
  • 2004 - Joey Sindelar (winner), Arron Oberholser (runner up)
  • 2005 - Vijay Singh (winner), Jim Furyk and Sergio Garcia (runners up)
  • 2006 - Jim Furyk (winner), Trevor Immelman (runner up)
  • 2007 - Tiger Woods (winner), Steve Stricker (runner up)
  • 2008-  Anthony Kim (winner), Ben Curtis (runner up)
  • 2009 - Sean O'Hair (winner), Lucas Glover and Bubba Watson (runners up)
  • 2010 - Rory McIlroy (winner), Phil Mickelson (runner up)
  • 2011 - Lucas Glover (winner - playoff), Jonathan Byrd (runner up)
Wow. That's a high octane list of players. Also notice that this tournament identifies guys that are about to win majors. Immelman was runner-up in 2006 and then won the 2008 Masters. Glover finished runner up in 2009 just weeks before he won the U.S. Open at Bethpage. McIlroy won in 2010 and then won the 2011 U.S. Open. Watson was runner up in 2009 and won this year's Masters. Anybody want to buy some stock in J-Byrd at Olympic?

Knowing this, when you are looking at your fantasy options headed into the week, ask yourself these questions.
  • Has this guy won a U.S. Open or a Masters?
  • Could I see this guy winning a U.S. Open or a Masters?
It suits itself for U.S. Open / Masters combo in that it's a long course that requires some total driving skills, but you have to make birdies and get up and down. There are two par-4s that are basically drivable, or close to it, and the par-5s can be scored. So, like the Masters, you are going to see birdies. Like a U.S. Open, you can get in real trouble if are just a little bit off. You are also going to have to make some eight foot par putts.

History tells you that this isn't the tournament for an off the wall winner. Some names not listed above that make sense could be a Bill Haas or Lee Westwood. No disrespect to John Merrick or James Driscoll, but this isn't the week to try and out think the room and go with a guy like that.

I have not done my deep dive into the past history of specific players other than the ones above, but at first glance the following guys could make sense this week: Keegan Bradley, Jonathan Byrd, Angel Cabrera (watch out for his health though), Ben Crane, Ben Curtis, Rickie Fowler, Jim Furyk, Lucas Glover, Bill Haas, J.B. Holmes, Charles Howell III, Trevor Immelman, Zach Johnson, Martin Laird, Davis Love III, Hunter Mahan, Graeme McDowell, Rory McIlroy, Phil Mickelson, Kevin Na, Sean O'Hair, Geoff Ogilvy, Jeff Overton, Rory Sabbatini, Webb Simpson, Vijay Singh, Kyle Stanley, Brendan Steele, David Toms, Cameron Tringale, Bo Van Pelt, Johnson Wagner, Nick Watney, Lee Westwood and Tiger Woods.

Check back tomorrow for our Dandy Dozen power rankings and fantasy preview.

Stadion Classic at UGA - Monday Qualifier

Here is the link to the tee times and results for the Nationwide Tour's Stadion Classic at UGA.


Wells Fargo Championship - Monday Qualifier Info

The PGA TOUR now turns its attention to the Queen City of Charlotte, NC for the Wells Fargo Championship, and there are four spots up for grabs at the Monday Qualifier. Click the link below for the tee times and results of the four-spotter.


Saturday, April 28, 2012

Zurich Classic of New Orleans - Round 3

Jason Dufner has a two-stroke lead over Graham DeLaet headed into the final round of the Zurich Classic of New Orleans. Make no mistake, this will be the biggest round of Jason Dufner's career. This is a tournament where he was considered one of the favorites and he's been in or around the lead the entire tournament. He wasn't supposed to win the PGA last August. He's supposed to win tomorrow.

Here are some thoughts on the third round / fourth round:
  • Els is putting really well. He's probably Dufner's second biggest challenger (the first being Dufner, himself).
  • Tomorrow is a big day for DeLaet, but he doesn't need to win for it to be successful like Dufner does. A top 3 to 5 will do for him.
  • Luke Donald seems to be bouncing back from a poor run at the Masters and Heritage. I agree with Jim Nantz' comments about getting tired of the world No. 1 changing hands when the current No. 1 isn't even playing. If Donald finishes solo 7th or better, he's No. 1.
  • This is typical John Rollins. Show up some weeks and not others. Don't be shocked if he shoots a 66 and wins tomorrow. I would liken Rollins to another recent winner, Carl Pettersson. On any given week he could put it together and win. The thing is, there are 30 guys that are the same way. Not guys you would consider elite, but guys who have won multiple times and all golf fans know. Ben Crane, Jonathan Byrd, Sean O'Hair, J.B. Holmes, Lucas Glover......you get the picture.
  • I'm interested to see what Ben Curtis does tomorrow. If he holds on to a top 10, that's a big story. He's had a runner up at Quail Hollow which will make him a guy to watch next week.
  • Cameron Tringale is T5 right now, but with a little luck, he could get his third T8 in as many tournaments.
  • Bubba Watson shot a 7-under today to jump up to 9-under.
Bottom line, there's a lot of pressure on Dufner tomorrow. If he can't win tomorrow, expect his first victory to be a situation where he starts the final round 4 off the lead and posts a 65 and watches carnage unfold.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Zurich Classic of New Orleans - Second Round

Cut day has come at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, and our build up to the tournament produced some big hits and big misses. Jason Dufner, who we had second in the power rankings and starting in our Yahoo! C group, is in the lead by one stroke at 12-under.

Here are some second round thoughts.
  • Obviously a bit of a shocker that Keegan Bradley missed his first cut of the year. I had him pegged to win this week, so that's going to hurt me across the board in all of my games.
  • Four of our Dandy Dozen reside in the current top 10. Dufner (2nd) is leading the tournament, Els (5th) and Stricker (8th) are tied for fifth and Tringale (11th) is tied for eighth. Greg Chalmers, who we listed in the "next five in" is tied for fifth.
  • Russell Knox is tied for second, and made just his third cut of the year, but he won on the Nationwide Tour and was competitive in San Antonio last week. Don't be shocked if he hangs on to a top 10.
  • There were a ton of low scores on Friday, especially in the morning, and Luke Donald ran into one (65).
  • The Bud bubble finally burst, as Bud Cauley missed the cut.
  • Carl Pettersson's hot streak ended with a missed cut as well. If you're keeping score, my only Golf Channel player still alive is David Mathis (Cauley, Petterson and Bradley all M/C).
  • Here's a nugget for you. Jason Dufner entered the week second in scoring average before the cut, but well down the list on the weekend. That means it's likely the winning score could hang around 16 or 17-under.
  • Keep an eye on Stricker and Els lurking two back. And where did Camilo Villegas come from at 9-under and T8?
  • I mentioned in my odds post that I didn't like Rickie Fowler this week, but was curious as to his form for next week because of how well he thinks Quail Hollow suits him. Well, he's T11 right now, so expect him in next week's power ranking.
  • Bubba Watson barely snuck in and made the cut on the number.
That's all for tonight. Check back tomorrow for some thoughts headed into the final round.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Zurich Classic of New Orleans - First Round

Ken Duke and Cameron Tringale took the early lead at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, and their 7-under total held up for the remainder of the day. Below are some thoughts on the first round.
  • Defending champ Bubba Watson got off to a sluggish start, but managed to pull together a 1-under 71.
  • One of this weeks popular picks, Jason Dufner, is two off the lead.
  • Of our Dandy Dozen, only Luke Donald and Keegan Bradley were over par, and both played in the afternoon wave.
  • Daniel Chopra came from out of nowhere to shoot a 66.
  • Ben Curtis' fine play continued with a 5-under (67).
  • Ernie Els' 66 makes the missed cut at the Heritage seem like a minor blip on the radar.
  • Webb Simpson (68) is picking up where he left off last year.
  • I would expect that unless there is an unusual weather circumstance, the morning wave would again yield lower scores than the afternoon.
  • The Yahoo! game went well with Els and Dufner in the starting lineup. Golf Channel game needs to catch up a little, but everyone is within a shot of the cut or inside
  • Cut looks like it will fall at 1-under.
Until tomorrow!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Zurich Classic of New Orleans - Final Predictions

Only hours until the tees are in the ground, it's time for the final picks for the Zurich Classic of New Orleans.

For a dark horse, I'm going to go with Andres Romero. The past champion seems to always play pretty well at the TPC Louisiana even when his overall game isn't in excellent shape.

My contender this week is Jason Dufner. He's always hanging around the top 10 here, and his game is in good form. I wanted to take him to win, but chickened out.

The winner is Keegan Bradley. He's only made one start here, and it was a respectable T26 just before he became a household name. He's made every cut this year and I like him to boost his year even higher in the stratosphere this week.

Good luck to your favorite player!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Zurich Classic of New Orleans - Odds Post

Luke Donald and Bubba Watson are battling in Vegas for the pre-tournament favorite at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans. Per usual, we will take a look at all those 50/1 or better, as well as a few others that catch our eye. The odds are current as of the posting of this blog and are pulled from Maddux Sports site http://www.madduxsports.com/golf-betting-lines.html.
  • 11/1 - Luke Donald - I get why he's the favorite, but I'm taking a wait and see attitude on the Englishman right now. He finished T8 last year in New Orleans, but he didn't have a good Masters or Heritage. I don't see anything at present that tells me he's a good bet here.
  • 12/1 - Bubba Watson - I've said recently that Bubba is the ultimate wild card. He could win by five or miss the cut by five. He's finished no worse than fourth in his last four starts, which include his Masters victory. He's also the defending champ. This pick is about how you see Watson's intangibles, and not his current form. Will he feel pressure being a Masters champ, or will he play more freely?
  • 18/1 - Keegan Bradley - He's 10/10 in cuts this year, and two of his last three tournaments resulted in top 10s. He also finished T26 in his first trip to the TPC Louisiana last year, which isn't bad for a first go-round. I wish he were a little better bargain, but I don't mind him here.
  • 20/1 - Justin Rose & Webb Simpson - Here are two guys that are hard to figure. Rose's history here is awful, but his stats fit. Simpson lost in a playoff last year, but isn't playing his best golf right now. Both of these picks are flawed at 20/1, but either of them could win. I don't know which I feel better about.....probably Simpson.
  • 22/1 - Steve Stricker & Jason Dufner - Strick's been good, but not great, this year. This is a tournament where I could see Dufner breaking through. His history here is awesome and current form is good. I wish he were about 33/1.
  • 28/1 - Graeme McDowell, Carl Pettersson, Nick Watney - Pettersson's last two finishes are a second and a first. He doesn't have a strong history here, but his history in the event has always mirrored his current form. Well, his current form is good. Watney was the topic of conversation between Rob Bolton and I earlier in the week, and we laughed about how quick people are to write a guy off, but nothing about Watney's form suggests that he would win. His only top-10 was in the match play (not stroke play). McDowell is interesting here due to his stats, but not course history.
  • 35/1 - Peter Hanson, Charles Howell III, Ernie Els - Of these three, Els seems the most likely to win. Chucky Three Sticks is a master of top-15 finishes and nice paychecks, but rarely wins. Hanson seems to struggle on the weekends.
  • 40/1 - Bud Cauley - He's got to win soon doesn't he? I would find this to be an ironic place for him to win since he tweeted on 4/18 that he wasn't playing this event and was a late commit. It's a story that would fly under the radar, but would make for an ironic win.
  • 50/1 - K.J. Choi, Rickie Fowler, Jeff Overton and Ben Crane - I find Crane the most likely of these, and I don't mind him here. Fowler has one top 10 this year, so stay away. (As soon as I say that, he'll finally break through.) Actually, I'm looking forward to seeing how Fowler plays because he told John McGuinness (I believe that's the PGA TOUR radio show I'm thinking of) that the two tournaments he feels most likely to break through on were the Phoenix Open and the Wells Fargo. Well, we know what next week is. You never know with Choi, but I'm not crazy about his current form. Overton has a runner-up here in 2010 which catapulted him into the Ryder Cup. I'm not sure about his current state.
  • 66/1 - Cameron Tringale is appealing.
  • 100/1 - Keep an eye on past-champ Andres Romero. He's played well here often, even when he hasn't been in great form rolling in.
In short, all the picks are flawed this week. I'm tempted to take a stab at Bradley and Dufner. Maybe even Els a little further down. Tringale really isn't a bad option either. Back to back T8's and contended last week.

Best of luck!

Boo Weekley W/D's from Zurich Classic

A quick note, Boo Weekley w/d from the Zurich Classic of New Orleans. You will remember, he came in 12th in our Power Ranking and was our pick to start in the Golf Channel Group 4. I am now going with David Mathis in the Golf Channel Group 4. He's risky, as he's only made two cuts, but finished T8 in New Orleans last year and contended last week.

Monday, April 23, 2012

South Georgia Classic - MQ Results

Here's the link to the Monday qualifier results for the South Georgia Classic. http://gapga.bluegolf.com/bluegolf/gapga12/event/gapga122/index.htm

Note that there are two courses, so toggle to both to see the seven that advanced from each site.

Zurich Classic of New Orleans - Fantasy Preview and Power Rankings

As we move on from our preview and dig a little deeper into the Zurich Classic of New Orleans' field, the fantasy options for the week are pretty top-heavy. There are a number of premier players teeing it up this week that sometimes skip this stop. Before we go any further, you may have noticed that I did not get my final round wrap up and scorecard from the Valero Texas Open up last night. Rather than go back and hit it, I'll trust that you know Ben Curtis won for the first time since 2006 and I'll interject some data on how we did at the appropriate time.

Last week's Dandy Dozen saw 8/12 players make the cut, and six of those finish in the top 25. Our pick to win, Cameron Tringale, was the highest of those finishing T8. Here's who's looking good this week.

Zurich Classic of New Orleans Dandy Dozen:
  1. Keegan Bradley - He's 10/10 in paydays in 2012, ranks third in all-around ranking and 11th in ball-striking. He finished T26 in his first trip to the TPC Louisiana last year.
  2. Jason Dufner - He's trending incredibly well in this tournament (T3 '11, T7 '10, T9 '09) and he's having a good year with 7/8 cuts made. This is also a tournament that's been fairly receptive to first-time winners over the years.
  3. Carl Pettersson - He and Bubba Watson can't be trending much better. He won his last start (Heritage) and finished second the start before that (Shell Houston Open). His history here is spotty, but they actually mirror his form coming into the events. When he hasn't been playing well leading up to it, he's missed the cut. When he's been playing decently well, he finished T23. If that holds, it could be a big week for the Swede.
  4. Bubba Watson - There's no point in listing stats or form for Watson. Everyone on the planet knows he's coming off a Masters win and 98% of the people reading this know he's the defending champ in New Orleans. I can't resist saying he's finished no worse than fourth in his last three starts. This isn't a form question, but a psychological one. Will he be motivated? How is he adjusting to being a major champion? Will he feel more pressure, or less having won a major? With Bubba who knows, but it should at least be entertaining.
  5. Ernie Els - That's right, The Big Easy in The Big Easy. His only missed cut of the year came at the Heritage, and I'm giving him a pass because he was in the worst weather draw.  He's 8/9 in cuts with three top 5s. He's also 16th in GIR. If Jerry Kelly can pick off a win here, there's no reason Ernie can't.
  6. Webb Simpson - He's 9/9 in cuts this year with three top 10s. He's also finished P2, T14, T32 in his last three starts at the TPC Louisiana, showing a strong trend.
  7. Graeme McDowell - The Irishman is 6/6 in cuts, but had a missed cut in his only start here. Still, he's 21 in GIR, 27th in ball-striking and 24th in all-around ranking.
  8. Steve Stricker - It hasn't been a great year for Strick, but it's been good enough. He skipped 2010, but his last four starts here beginning last year are T13, T7, MC, T11.  He's 18th in GIR and 26th in all-around ranking.
  9. Luke Donald - He's slowed down a little since his Transitions win and burned me at the Masters and the Heritage, so admittedly I'm gun shy. Still he's 6/6 in cuts this year and finished T8 last year in New Orleans. He's also first in Strokes Gained-Putting, but a surprising 107th in GIR.
  10. Bud Cauley - He's going to break through soon. He's turning into Rickie Fowler. Something I found interesting, he tweeted on the 18th that he was skipping this week, but committed late.
  11. Cameron Tringale - Back to back T8's and his last two starts here have been T18 and T28. He's 15th in ball-striking and 32nd in GIR.
  12. Boo Weekley - As you would expect, he's 9th in GIR and his last three starts here are MC, T10, T13. I'm not too worried about his MC, as his form in 2011 was bad everywhere due to injury.
Here's our next 5: Nick Watney, Ben Crane, Andres Romero, Greg Chalmers and Harris English.....okay 6, Matt Every

Here's our Yahoo! picks for the week. Last week wasn't all that good, so hopefully we'll do a little better this week.
  • A-List - Keegan Bradley is starting and Webb Simpson is on the bench. One note, I could switch this if Simpson draws and early tee time on Thursday and Bradley a late one.
  • B-List - Bubba Watson and Els starting, with Justin Rose and David Toms on the bench. I didn't mention Rose and Toms above. Rose history here is awful, but his stats stack up. Toms is a LSU guy, so why not.
  • C-List - Who'd have thought the C-List would be loaded this week? I'm starting Dufner and keeping Pettersson on the bench over G-Mac.
And for the Golf Channel game:
  • Group 1 - Keegan Bradley. As usual there are a ton of great options here.
  • Group 2 - This one came down to Carl Pettersson and Ernie Els, and I'll take Pettersson by a hair.
  • Group 3 - Bud Cauley, it ain't broke.......
  • Group 4 - I was trying to talk myself into Kevin Kisner before I saw Boo's name, so I'll take Weekley.
Best of luck in your fantasy games. As always, feel free to Twitter @RyanGolfBlogger or email thegolfaficionado@gmail.com with fantasy questions.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Zurich Classic of New Orleans - Preview

The PGA TOUR heads to what is likely the best spot in the schedule for a good meal for the Zurich Classic of New Orleans. Making his return to action, defending champion Bubba Watson won't be sliding under anyone's radar. His 2011 victory was dramatic, as he outlasted Webb Simpson in a playoff for his third PGA TOUR victory.

The modern history of this event basically starts in 2007 when the tournament returned to the TPC New Orleans after the clean up of Hurricane Katrina. Since then, here are a list of the winners and runners up.
  • 2007 - Nick Watney (winner) & Ken Duke (runner up)
  • 2008 - Andres Romero (winner) & Peter Lonard (runner up)
  • 2009 - Jerry Kelly (winner) & Charles Howell III, Charlie Wi & Rory Sabbatini (runners up)
  • 2010 - Jason Bohn (winner) & Jeff Overton (runner up)
  • 2011 - Bubba Watson (winner) & Webb Simpson (runner up / playoff)
The winning scores have ranged from 270 (18-under) to 275 (13-under).

There's a pretty good mix of players above, but if I had to handicap what's important statistically I would lean towards iron play and GIR. Watson was T1 and Simpson T3 in GIR last year.

When preparing for fantasy posts and odds posts later in the week, I'll likely be considering guys with a decent history here since 2007, guys playing pretty well and guys that are good iron players. The winners list has some dark horse winners like Romero and Bohn, and predictable picks like Watney and Watson with Kelly falling somewhere in between.

One final thought, Bubba's going to be hard to peg this week. Will he be relaxed and loose after his Masters win and win by five, or will he have lost his focus and miss the cut? Probably somewhere in between. I like that he's a feel player and he could roll off a hot run.

Check back tomorrow for our Dandy Dozen power rankings and fantasy preview.

Zurich Classic of New Orleans - Monday Qualifier Tee Times and Results

The TOUR heads to the bayou for the Zurich Classic of New Orleans and four spots are up for grabs in the Monday Qualifier. Below is the link to the tee times and results information page.


Best of luck to your favorite golfer!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Valero Texas Open - Round 3

The Valero Texas Open is 18 holes from completion, and it kind of feels like it can't end soon enough. Ben Curtis has a three-shot lead, and will likely hang on to win tomorrow. He's a guy that plays good courses pretty well and, unless someone a group or two behind posts a low number, he should be able to hold off Matt Every.

Here are some third round thoughts and final round ramblings:
  • Don't look know, but Kuch is in the second to last group. He's six strokes back, and that might be a little far back, but if he shoots 68 who knows.
  • I'm interested to see what Seung-yul Noh does tomorrow. John Huh too. I saw a tweet where Joe Ogilvie predicted that Huh will be on the U.S, Ryder Cup team. I don't know that I'd go that far, but if he wins tomorrow then it could get a little interesting. I remember Brian Gay having a really good Presidents Cup year, I believe in 2009, where he won twice that year and still didn't get on the team. Huh would have to earn his spot.
  • Ben Curtis is far and away the best player in the final pairing in terms of being able to handle final pairing pressure. He'll likely win. I'd give it a 70% chance.

Check back tomorrow for our final round wrap up, New Orleans preview and other updates.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Jensen takes Forest Oaks Classic

Clint Jenson birdied the 18th hole in regulation and again birdied it in a playoff with Lanto Griffin to with the Forest Oaks Classic on the eGolf Professional Tour. The win is Jensen's third-career eGolf title.

Read more about it here http://www.egolfprofessionaltour.com/jensen-birdies-no-18-twice-to-take-forest-oaks-classic-title-in-extra-holes.

Valero Texas Open - Round 2

The story of the second day of the Valero Texas Open was the weather. Those going at it it in the early way had perfect conditions, but an afternoon thunderstorm turned the tables on the second wave of tee times. With a handful of players left to compete there second rounds Saturday morning, here's what we know.
  • Ben Curtis is the leader at 10-under. He hasn't won since 2006, but maybe it isn't a complete shock that a British Open winner is leading the wind-swept event. While he had the good end of the draw Friday, he had the tougher on Thursday.
  • Matt Every saw his overnight lead evaporate as he teed off after the weather delay. He held it together for a while, but finally ran into some bogeys.
  • Our pick to win, Cameron Tringale, surged up the board and is tied for third with Every (who still has two holes remaining). Contender pick, Bud Cauley is eight off the lead, but still T12. Dark Horse Harris English had to fight the afternoon winds, but with a couple of holes to go is only 1-over for his round and 1-under for the tourney.
  • In fantasy land, Ryan Palmer made a big push up the leaderboard. We'll move him into the starting lineup in the B group for round two in place of Charley Hoffman. Ordinarily, I let the Yahoo! game play out a little more before I start switching people up, but I'm not worried about burning starts with these guys.
  • The cut-line is solid at 4-over. What's funny is when play resumed after the weather delay, the PGA TOUR radio guys were saying it was looking like the cut-line might drop from 1-over to 2-over, but the +3 crowd wasn't looking good. Just goes to show how hard the course played.
Check back tomorrow evening to see where the players sit with 18 to go!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Valero Texas Open - Round 1 Wrap Up

What a day for Matt Every in the first day of the Valero Texas Open. He set the TPC San Antonio course record with a 9-under 63 and leads by three over Hunter Haas. The funniest thing I saw about the round was a tweet by Jason Sobel that alluded to Every's penchant for marijuana related activity that he brought to the forefront at the Sony Open. Needless to say, most people feel pressure trying to follow up a hot round, but with tomorrow being 4/20 and Every having an afternoon tee time, there's at least a chance he'll be the chillest dude on the course.

Here's Sobel's tweet Jason Sobel @JasonSobelGC
"Matt Every has come out smoking, now in the Texas Open lead. If you don’t think he’s fired up for a big second round on 4-20, you’re high."

Here are some other first round thoughts:
  • Put me down as shocked regarding Jimmy Walker (78) and J.B. Holmes' (77) first round debacles.
  • It's looking like a good call that we did not jump on the Kevin Na (79 / WD) and Johnson Wagner (74) bandwagon.
  • We had some nice players in our Yahoo! game, but started the wrong ones. I've switched Kuchar for Holmes and Jacobson for Walker.
  • Our "winner" pick Cameron Tringale's E T35 and has some ground to make up, but will get a chance in the Friday morning wave. "Contender" Bud Cauley is in the same wave, and opened with a 70 and is T11. Same with "dark horse" Harris English (T11).
  • In all honesty, if Every can break par tomorrow afternoon, he'll be in great shape.
  • I don't want to jinx it, but we mentioned Cam Beckman as a super sleeper on Tuesday's odds post and he's T4.
  • I saw a tweet in the last little bit where Kyle Thompson was just diagnosed with vertigo, assumedly after his first round. That's not going to be fun, and could explain why he's missed every cut this year.
Check back tomorrow and see how the second round plays out!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Valero Texas Open - Final Predictions

With hours to go before the tees are in the ground in San Antonio for the Valero Texas Open, here are my final predictions. My picks this week will have a youthful feel to it, as I think there could be some degree of naivety and youthful exuberance needed to aggressively attack the TPC San Antonio. Without further ado:
My dark horse is Harris English. He’s coming off of his best finish of the year and would seem to fit this course. He’s acclimated well to the TOUR in his first season, and should have a puncher’s chance this week.
My contender is Bud Cauley. I followed Cauley for a few holes at Harbour Town and he expects to do something special on every hole. He also hates making bogies; maybe too much. I like his charisma and he’s playing well. He won’t be scared by the TPC San Antonio.
The winner is Cameron Tringale. His history is good and his form is as well. It would be easy to go with a J.B. Holmes or a Charley Hoffman, and it may have been the easiest to go with the ultimate chalk pick of Matt Kuchar but Tringale’s a guy I thought might have had an outside shot at a Webb Simpson type season http://thegolfaficionado.blogspot.com/2011/12/who-could-be-this-years-webb-simpson.html  and it could start right here.
Another little nugget, I had Bud Cauley and Harris English as Ryder Cup dark horse candidates back in December http://thegolfaficionado.blogspot.com/2011/12/early-ryder-cup-power-rankings.html, and if either of them are able to pull off a win, they would be right in the thick of things. Notice another dark horse was Kyle Stanley (currently 9th in points).

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Valero Texas Open - Examining the Odds

Per our normal Tuesday post, we will look at the odds for this week's Valero Texas Open. While there are numerous sites out there with odds, here's where we go to get ours http://www.madduxsports.com/golf-betting-lines.html and the odds listed below are current as of the posting of this blog.

We will look at all of those 50/1 or better, as well as some long shots that bear a mention.
  • 10/1 - Matt Kuchar - Part of me understands why Kuch is the favorite, as he's the highest ranked player in the field, but the other part of me doesn't see him winning. I'm not sure a really long course like this one is his best fit and he's coming off his worst finish of the season. There's no way I'd put in at 10/1.
  • 20/1 - Fredrik Jacobson and Kevin Na - I get why Freddie Jac is here (past history at this event) and Na is playing about as well as anyone in the field.I don't know that either excite me here though.
  • 22/1 - K.J. Choi - Choi's a guy I didn't include in my power rankings or fantasy picks, but it's certainly not inconceivable to see him compete here. He's one of the most accomplished players in the field and he plays hard golf courses relatively well. I don't hate him here.
  • 25/1 - J.B. Holmes and Johnson Wagner - As those of you who read yesterday know, I'm high on Holmes this week and like him here. I don't know that I'm high enough on Wagner's to take a pass at him at 25/1. I have length concerns.
  • 30/1 - Charley Hoffman - I like him here. His past history suggests a big week, but his current form is a little iffy.
  • 33/1 - Bud Cauley - He's been so good this year, and I would not be surprised if he jumped in the winners circle soon.
  • 35/1 - Ryan Moore, Ryan Palmer and Boo Weekley - Moore's an interesting thought. Kind of reminds me of Rickie Fowler, in that he's better than his record. I like Palmer, but don't know that I like him at these odds. Boo might win, but I hate his value here. He was 66/1 last week on a course he's won twice, yet he's 35/1 here. Low ball flight could keep it out of the wind.
  • 40/1 - Harris English, Kevin Chappell, Greg Chalmers and Mark Leishman - English and Chappell seem to be predictable here, but Chalmers and Leishman are a little eyebrow raising. I took a hard look at Leishman for my power rankings yesterday and didn't find him to be as attractive on paper as I was expecting. Chalmers is similar to Jacobson, in that he's not long but might scramble and putt his way around here. Chappell is solid at 40/1 and I don't mind English here either.
  • 50/1 - Kevin Stadler, Kevin Streelman, John Rollins, Spencer Levin, Cameron Tringale, Vaughn Taylor and Jimmy Walker - There is some really good value here. I really like Tringale and Walker here, period. I like Rollins in that he's been a little streaky this year, but I certainly could see him winning and these are good odds. Stadler's had a really good year and he's a good value here too. There's plenty to like about Streelman, and I gave him a hard look yesterday. Taylor's on a pretty good streak lately. I'm a little cautious on Levin.
  • Scott Piercy at 80/1 isn't bad.
  • Troy Matteson at 125/1 seems like a bargain.
  • Cam Beckman at 200/1 is a super sleeper.
  • Jason Kokrak at 175/1 is a rookie to watch.
All in all, I like the value a little further down the list in the 40/1 and 50/1 range over the favorites. I mentioned yesterday that I didn't think there was much separating the top 10 to 15 players this week, so I'd go with value over chalk. I would consider Holmes, Hoffman, Cauley, Tringale and Walker very strongly.

Check back tomorrow and we'll announce our final predictions.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Valero Texas Open - Fantasy Preview and Dandy Dozen

When considering fantasy and Dandy Dozen options for the Valero Texas Open, one thing became apparent. There are many good options out there, but all of them are flawed to one degree or another. I’ll get to the fantasy picks a little further down, but thought I would offer some insight as to how I come up with my power rankings every week.
When I put together the Dandy Dozen, I basically get a feel for the type of player the course is suited for and go through the field and write down players that A. could fit that course, B. have a nice record in the event and C. are presently in good form. Most week’s there are anywhere from 30 to 50 names that pass the first eyeball test, and then four to eight players that jump off the page; leaving the rest of the dots to be connected. What naturally happens, is two or three tiers of relatively interchangeable players form the Dandy Dozen. There’s rarely any real difference between the first and second player, or the 11th and 12th other than feel, but there could be a natural cut off between the top four and the next four.
This week, there weren’t that many “jump off the page” choices. The lines are very blurred because of the flaws all players possess. I say that, because there aren’t really multiple tiers this week. I would be comfortable putting the top 12 in a hat, shake it up and draw the order.
All that said, here’s the Dandy Dozen:
1.   J.B. Holmes – This course plays long, and Holmes gets a check mark there. He’s made five consecutive cuts and finished T8 at the Shell Houston Open and he’s T11 and T13 in his last two Valero starts.
2.   Charley Hoffman – His form's a little suspect entering the week, but his length and history fit. He was T2 and T13 in his last two starts here.
3.   Jimmy Walker – This is a home game, as he lives in San Antonio and has made 8/10 cuts this year with three top 10s. I’m going to give him a mulligan for missing the cut in ’11, as the weather was brutal and he was T3 in ’10.
4.   Cameron Tringale – He’s 10th in total driving and has made 7/10 cuts. Paired with his T5 in ’11 and T28 in ’10, he should be a nice play.
5.   Ryan Palmer – I like Texans in Texas, and he’s 11th in driving distance. He’s only made 5/9 cuts with no top 10s, but finished T9 here in 2010.
6.   Bud Cauley – He’s playing so well right now, and a rookie won here last year so why not Cauley? He’s 23rd in total driving and 25th in all-around.
7.   Harris English – He just always seems to be lingering and finally made his first top 10 last week at Harbour Town. While this course is nothing like that, he seems to be very comfortable on TOUR.
8.   Kevin Chappell – I’m not in love with his year to date (9/11 cuts, but no top 10s), but he finished T2 here last year and has the length to contend here.
9.   Matt Kuchar – Kuch is the top-ranked player in the field, but I don’t really understand why he’s here this week. He’s also coming off his worst week of the year and most of the top players are resting up for the Wells Fargo and PLAYERS coming up in a few weeks.
10. Martin Flores – Texan has been inconsistent (6/11 cuts with one top 10), but made the cut here in 2010.
11. Fredrik Jacobson – He’s a terrible fit for this course on paper, but he’s 7 for 7 in cuts this year with a T5 here in ’11 and a solo 2nd in 2010, so who knows.
12. Vaughn Taylor – Kind of like Jacobson, he doesn’t fit on paper, but is playing his best golf right now. He’s T44 and T34 in his last two starts here.
The next five: Harrison Frazar, Kevin Na, John Rollins, Kevin Stadler and Boo Weekley
Wild Cards: Mark Anderson, Jason Kokrak and Danny Lee (all making their first start here with reason to be optimistic)
Here's how we'll play the Yahoo! game this week.
  • A-List - Slim pickins in the A-List, but J.B. Holmes is the starter, with Matt Kuchar edging out Kevin Na on the bench.
  • B-List - Most of our power rankings fell in the B-list, and we're starting Hoffman and Walker, with Palmer and Jacobson on the bench. I took Jacobson over Chappell due to his history in this event even though I have Chappell a few spots higher on the power ranking. That's what I mean by, there's not much seperating these.
  • C-List - I'm putting my money where my mouth is and starting Bud Cauley with Harris English on the bench. I've had my eye on both of these for about six weeks and haven't plugged them in, but I'm going to see how they do.
Golf Channel Lineup:
  • Group 1 - I'm taking Charley Hoffman over the likes of Matt Kuchar and Fredrik Jacobson.
  • Group 2 - J.B. Holmes gets the nod over Jimmy Walker and Cameron Tringale.
  • Group 3 - It's Bud time. Cauley, that is. Chad Campbell and Harris English are among other decent options.
  • Group 4 - I found this group to be very scant. I'm going with Mark Anderson, as he's coming off his best finish of his career (T13 at RBC Heritage) and hasn't missed a cut since Hawaii.
I've gotten a few fantasy questions of late on Twitter @RyanGolfBlogger, so feel free to ask questions and I'll answer them as I can. Also, feel free to emain in to thegolfaficionado@gmail.com.
Check back tomorrow as we examine the odds.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

RBC Heritage - Final Recap and Scorecard

The RBC Heritage crowned Carl Pettersson champion by an anticlimactic five shot margin. It's hard not to win when you lead the field in GIR and putting, like Pettersson did. For those of you who regularly follow the site, here's a look at how some of our pre-tournament coverage turned out.

  • Our coverage on Carl Pettersson leading up to the first tee in the ground was scant. The only mention was in the odds section when he was listed at 50/1 and we mentioned that he made sense there.
  • Our "winner" pick of Matt Kuchar fell flat, as Kuch finished T44
  • Our "contender" Brian Davis was on the fringe of contention and finished T13. He was also a solid pick for us in the Golf Channel Group 2 picks and the Yahoo! B group lineup. He was 9th in our Dandy Dozen Power rankings, so that was about right.
  • Our "dark horse" Boo Weekley turned out to be a good pick, as he finished T6. He was also in our Yahoo! C lineup, and 11th in our Power Rankings, so solid pick.
  • Luke Donald led off our Power ranking, started in the Yahoo! A and Golf Channel Group 1, but disappointed as he finished T37 and never contended.
  • Jim Furyk was 4th in the P.R. and in our Yahoo A and finished T8. That's not far off where we had him slotted.
  • Brandt Snedeker was in our Yahoo B and was third in the P.R. His T17 was a little too low to report as successful.
  • I proved to be a little too high on Geoff Ogilvy as he finished T29 after starting in our Yahoo B and coming in at 5th in the P.R.
  • Ernie Els missed the cut. He was 7th in the P.R. and a back-up in the Yahoo B group.
  • Aaron Baddeley missed the cut after being 2nd in the P.R. and starting in the C group. That was a big miss.
  • Vaughn Taylor was our Golf Channel group 4 starter and finished a solid T13. I'll take that every week in the G.C. group 4.
  • Brian Gay missed the cut in group 3.
  • We briefly mentioned Zach Johnson, who finished second, in the 40/1 odds section where I said I didn't mind him there and that he was a poor man's Luke Donald.
  • Colt Knost was not covered at all.
All in all, we had a few decent calls (Boo, Davis, Furyk, Taylor) and a few big misses (Baddeley and Els stand out the most, but Donald and Ogilvy could be considered in that category as well).

Check back tomorrow for our look at the Valero Texas Open from a fantasy standpoint.

Valero Texas Open - Preview

After a stop in Hilton Head, South Carolina for the RBC Heritage, the PGA TOUR moves to San Antonio, Texas for the Valero Texas Open. To be honest, I find this one of the most boring stops on the schedule. It's a par 72, 7,522 yard layout that has just two years of history. The Greg Norman design, with help from Sergio Garcia, saw Adam Scott win in 2010 with a 14-under tally and Brendan Steele win in his rookie season with an 8-under 280 last season.

This week's field will have only one player in the top 15 in the world (Matt Kuchar), which is somewhat expected coming off of the Masters and the Harbour Town. The top players in the world are also preparing for the upcoming stretch of the Wells Fargo in three weeks followed by THE PLAYERS Championship, which makes for different strategies on whether or not to play the Valero and next week's Zurich Classic of New Orleans.

Here are a few thoughts about the Valero Texas Open:
  • This could be the week a rookie having a nice season could capture a victory. Think a Harris English or Bud Cauley type.
  • I would take a close look at players riding hot streaks coming into the week, as well as guys with a good history in Texas in general. There certainly could be some wind issues this week.
  • Charley Hoffman and Kevin Chappell tied for second last year and each had decent weeks at the RBC Heritage.
  • Brandt Snedeker was fourth last season and may make sense as an early favorite.
  • Keep an eye on the weather forecast around Tuesday night or Wednesday to see if wind will be a major issue. It could have a bearing on what you want to do with fantasy golfers.
  • I wouldn't use anyone in a one and done format that you have a good feel for later in the year. It could be a good week for a Hoffman or Chappell, but I don't know if I'd burn a Snedeker if he's still in your stable. Too many variables in this tournament to have a great feel about anyone.
Hope this helps you out a little. As always, we'll have our Dandy Dozen power rankings and fantasy advice tomorrow!

Valero Texas Open Monday Qualifier Tee Times and Results

The Valero Texas Open Monday Qualifier tee times and results can be found at the below link. (I have updated the link, as I had the incorrect one earlier.)


Best of luck to your favorite golfer!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

RBC Heritage - Third Round Wrap Up / Final Round Preview

The third round of the RBC Heritage ended with Carl Pettersson sporting a one shot lead over Colt Knost at 12-under par. That tells part of the story, but below is the rest along with a few final round thoughts.

  • I was really impressed with Colt Knost. He somewhat predictably blocked his opening tee shot in the trees right of the first fairway (o/b left) which led to bogey. He bounced back with a perfect drive and nice approach into the par-5 second which led to a 16 yard eagle hole out. He then watched fellow playing competitor Carl Pettersson roll off five straight birdies. That he didn't buckle in the midst of all that tells me alot about Colt Knost. Sleeping on his first overnight lead and shooting a 69 is solid, and he has a shot tomorrow.
  • I've hit on Pettersson, but he had a really nice round and is a proven winner. It would be no surprise to see him shoot a 68 tomorrow and make this a two horse race.
  • While I didn't write about him much, if any, leading into the event, it can't be a real surprise to see Zach Jonson in the mix in third.
  • Boo Weekley was my dark horse pick and sitting in fourth. If he didn't miss two short par putts on seven and eight, this could have gotten really interesting.
  • There's a three way tie for fifth with defending champ Brandt Snedeker, Kevin Na and Robert Garrigus. One of these names is not like the other. Yep, I wouldn't have had Garrigus in my top 30 power rankings, much less my top 12. Good for him though.
  • And then seven back of the lead and tied for eighth are Tommy "Two Gloves" and Brian Davis. Both have had past success here and should be taken seriously to post a top 5, but both are probably two far back to have a realistic shot at winning.
  • John Daly is quietly T27 and 1-under. Well, I guess that's relative as I'm sure his pants aren't quiet.
  • If you would have told me that Luke Donald, Webb Simpson and Geoff Ogilvy would have been tied for the lead headed into the final round I would have bought that. I just wouldn't have bought that they'd be tied for 52nd.
That's all for today. Check back tomorrow and see our final round thoughts, scorecard and early Valero Texas Open preview.

Ryder Cup Update

I have posted several very early Ryder Cup updates on this site over the last four months, and now I'm handling the Ryder Cup build up for Rotoworld. Check out my first feature article with Rotoworld here http://www.rotoworld.com/articles/gol/40329/315/ryder-cup-update-part-1.

If Colt Knost converts his 36-hole lead into a win, he would move from 81st on the Ryder Cup standings to roughly 20th!

Let me know who you think could be the next big Ryder Cup mover!

Friday, April 13, 2012

RBC Heritage - Round 2 Observations

I was fortunate enough to spend the day at the RBC Heritage today and I'll recap the second round using many of my observations as the guide. A quick bit of housekeeping, Colt Knost is an impressive 9-under and leading by two after two rounds.
  • I spent about 15 holes following Matt Kuchar, Lucas Glover and Geoff Ogilvy and also caught a good bit of the Webb Simpson, Bud Cauley and Zach Johnson in the group ahead of them.
  • Geoff Ogilvy looked solid. He almost aced the 17th. In fact, a rule official had to reconstruct the cup. I also noticed a woman living and dying by his every shot and chatted with her walking down one of the sixth fairway and found out it was his mother. She was a very nice lady who rarely makes it over to see Geoff play. I wonder if that serves as added pressure for a player.
  • Kuchar is easy to miss because he's not flashy at all. It's easy to see that as much as he's covered.
  • Glover is a mixed bag. He hit some incredible drives and was sharp with the long irons. He also his some pretty bad shots and was loose with the short game and putter. It was hard to know if you were going to get brilliance or sloppy play from one hole to the next.
  • Simpson is very vocal with encouragement to his competitors. In fact, there was plenty of encouragement and chatter among both groups that made for a comfortable feel.
  • Boo Weekley and Tommy Gainey have a cult following this week. Gainey's a South Carolinian and Weekely is a two-time champ and fits the personality of the area. I also think the biggest gallery was the John Daly / Rickie Fowler gallery.
  • The greens are rock hard. I can't tell you how many times I saw a pitching wedge or 9-iron hit on a relatively flat portion of a green and release 12 to 15 feet. They never backed up.
  • Something that struck me is how fine a line there is between a great shot and a really good shot with a really bad result. Especially on a tree-lined course with tiny greens. Two yards on an approach can be the difference in a tap-in birdie and an awkward chip.
  • I also believe that the sand save statistic is more a measure of putting than bunker play. Twice, Glover had the ball in green-side bunkers with downhill lies and hit shots that couldn't have been done much better by anyone on TOUR and still was left with 15 footers. That stat didn't / couldn't show how good a shot he hit with the difficulty of the lie and the speed of the greens.
That's all for tonight!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

RBC Heritage - First Round Wrap Up

As I've stated earlier in the week, I'm down in Charleston, SC right now and headed to the RBC Heritage for the Friday round. Selfishly, I'll be rooting my Clemson Tigers on (Lucas Glover, Kyle Stanley, D.J. Trahan, Tommy Biershenk, Corbin Mills). I played golf in Charleston this morning right off the ocean in very similar elements to what the early group faced at the Heritage, and I'll attest that the conditions were tough. It was much colder than normal and the wind was a factor. I won't bore you with my score, but for perspective I shot 15 strokes over my handicap. I say that to frame why the leading score is 4-under and 2-over is currently the cut line.

First round thoughts:
  • It was a bad opening day for Yahoo! A and Golf Channel Group 1 starter Luke Donald. He had the worst of the elements, but playing partners Kyle Stanley and Brandt Snedeker were both able to better him by four strokes.
  • Vaughn Taylor was the gem of our Golf Channel game, co-leading after 18 holes.
  • Furyk is one back and was our back-up on the Yahoo A.
  • In our odds preview, our best values of Geoff Ogilvy and Aaron Baddeley are +3 and +2 respectively. With 4-under leading, they may not be all the way out of it, but it's not looking good.
  • Our winner pick, Matt Kuchar is 1-over. I don't think that's too far back to win.
  • Our contender, Brian Davis is also 1-over.
  • Our dark horse, Boo Weekley, is 1-under and in nice shape.
  • John Daly shot a 1-under. Don't freak out; he plays this tournament regularly and often fairly well.
  • Jose Maria Olazabal famously got to the Heritage as fast as he could, but is 6-over.
That's all for today. It will be interesting to see how the second round shakes out and if the morning wave plays harder tomorrow as well.

Check out Rotoworld.com tomorrow for a new feature article........you may recognize the author!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

RBC Heritage - Final Predictions

With only hours to go until the opening tee shot at the RBC Heritage, it's time to pen my final predictions. I've gone back and forth with a handful of players in my head over the last few days, and here's what I've settled on.

  • Dark horse - This week's dark horse is Boo Weekley. There are a number of horses for courses here and one of the reasons I settled on Boo is because of the storyline. Some of you who read this blog probably know that Boo and Bubba Watson went to the same high school and Watson really looked up to Boo. We all learned on Sunday eventing that Watson can shape shots, but Weekely is an incredible ball-striker himself. He's also won both of his PGA TOUR titles at this event.
  • Contender - I would like to see Brian Davis' name be read as the winner, but a winless history shows that he's more likely to just contend. It would be an awesome story if he won after having a heartbreaking finish in the 2010 Heritage.
  • Winner - I'm going to take Matt Kuchar. What sealed it for me was his four consecutive top 10s and a decent history in this event. Luke Donald makes a ton of sense, as do most of the guys in our Dandy Dozen from Monday.
Best of luck to all!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

RBC Heritage - Examining the Odds

For those of you who read the Dandy Dozen power rankings yesterday, it would then come as no surprise the betting favorite for the RBC Heritage is Luke Donald. Here are how the other favorites stack up as well as a comment on each of those 50/1 or better. Per usual, we used Maddux Sports site for the lines http://www.madduxsports.com/golf-betting-lines.html.
  • 6/1 - Luke Donald - The Englishman's combination of iron play, short game and putting would fit this course perfectly. He has racked up successful finishes here, but never a win. I agree with Donald as the favorite, but there are enough other horses for courses at Harbour Town to make me not like him enough to take him at 6/1. 12/1, yes. 10/1, maybe.
  • 14/1 - Matt Kuchar - Again, I'm not sure the value is right. I like him on this course and his game's in good shape coming out of Augusta. I would like him more in the 25/1 - 33/1 range.
  • 18/1 - Jim Furyk - This is getting closer to the right person at the right value. I'm a little skeptical as to the overall state of his game, but he could put it together this week. This is also a course that likes to crown repeat winners, and he won in 2010.
  • 22/1 - Webb Simpson - He's not racking up the high finishes quite like he was last year, but this course would suit him. I'll pass at 22/1.
  • 22/1 - Bo Van Pelt - I'll go back to what I said about him a few weeks ago. He's won exactly once on TOUR but racked up plenty of top 10s. He's a 5/1 to get a top 10, but a 50/1 to win.
  • 25/1 - Ernie Els & Brandt Snedeker - Els is the first guy on the list who didn't play in the Masters. He played the weeks leading up to the Masters very inspired to try and work his way in, so it will be hard to gauge if he continues to play this well. My gut is that he'll be relaxed and might have another good week. Snedeker is the defending champion, but isn't in quite as good of immediate form headed into the week as he was in 2011. Both guys are tempting here.
  • 30/1 - Aaron Baddeley and Padraig Harrington - Now we've reached some guys who's value seems to match the probability of winning. Wind could be a factor. Harrington's won two British Opens. Past history is important. Baddeley has a first and a second. I really like Badds at 30/1 and I don't mind Harrington there either.
  • 33/1 - Jason Dufner and Kevin Na - I don't know what to make of Dufner this week. My gut tells me he'll have a few good days, but he's not a good closer at all. I don't know how Na's temperament will fit Harbour Town. I would likely pass on each.
  • 40/1 - Charles Howell III, Zach Johnson, Bud Cauley, Rickie Fowler, Bill Haas, Geoff Ogilvy - Of this group, I like Ogilvy the best and think he's a good value here. I actually don't mind any of these guys here. Haas makes alot of sense. If I've said it once, I've said it just about every time his name comes up. I wouldn't spend any money on Fowler until he wins, but this course might fit. I wish Cauley had a year's experience here under his belt, but he's got a shot. Zach attack is a poor man's Luke Donald. Howell concerns me because he feels a little too mechanical and he's playing a feel course.
  • 50/1 - Carl Pettersson, Bryce Molder, Brian Davis, Jeff Overton and Henrik Stenson - Davis is a sentimental pick and is coming off of back to back T4s. Molder could possibly putt his way around here. I don't really get the Overton pick, but I get Pettersson and Stenson.
  • Fredrik Jacobson and Sean O'Hair both caught my eye at 60/1
  • Boo Weekley could be a decent value at 66/1. It's probably a longer shot than that though.
  • Brian Gay and Robert Allenby are both 80/1. Could you pick two more contrasting skill sets?
  • Vaughn Taylor (100/1) and Greg Chalmers (125/1) could win this in Brian Gay fashion.
  • While he doesn't make sense for alot of reasons, keep an eye on D.J. Trahan (150/1) for several reasons. He practically grew up on this course, as his father was the Director of Instruction at Harbour Town Golf Links until D.J. reached high school. He also plays fairly well here.
  • I like Nick O'Hern at 125/1
  • Briny Baird at 150/1 is the best value at that slot. He's got a solid history here.
  • A super sleeper would be Will Claxton at 250/1.
Without going deep down the list, the best values seem to be the Aussie tandem of Baddeley (30/1) and Ogilvy (40/1). That would be where I would consider laying down money.

Best of luck!

Monday, April 9, 2012

RBC Heritage - Fantasy Guide

With the season’s first major in the rear view mirror, the PGA TOUR heads to one of the most relaxing stops of the year in Hilton Head, South Carolina for the RBC Heritage. As we previewed yesterday, Harbour Town Golf Links tends to favor solid ball-strikers and is a second shot golf course. It also requires a nice short game due to the size of the greens.
Before we dive into the fantasy guide, here are this week’s Dandy Dozen:
  1. Luke Donald – He had a poor week at the Masters, but finished runner up here last year and has the perfect combination of strong irons and a steady putter required for success here.
  2. Aaron Baddeley – The Aussie has won here once before and has a runner up to go with it. He also didn’t have a bad week at the Masters.
  3. Brandt Snedeker – He’s the defending champion and his game fits the traditional mold for success at Harbour Town.
  4. Jim Furyk – The 2010 champ is the ultimate grinder and seems to be finding his game. He’s accurate off the tee and a good iron player, which is the right combination for this course.
  5. Geoff Ogilvy – Another Aussie makes the list. It’s been a few years since he’s had this event on his schedule, but had some nice success here over the years.  Another solid player.
  6. Matt Kuchar - Kuch almost won last week and his relaxed demeanor should fit well here. He's also got a solid history at Harbour Town.
  7. Ernie Els – He missed the cut here last year, but you have to feel like he may come through pretty big with the weight of the Masters invite off his shoulder.  He’s playing really good golf.
  8. Bud Cauley – I usually don’t like first-timers here, but he’s played so well lately. It will be a different looking and feeling golf course than any he’s competed on this year and if he struggles it won’t be a shock.
  9. Brian Davis – Maybe karma will come back around and award the Englishman for his 2010 playoff honesty. He’s in good enough form to think there’s a chance including back to back T4s at Bay Hill and Houston. He’ll also be a little more under the radar than he was last time around.
  10. Bo Van Pelt – I’m not sure this is the perfect course for him, but his recent success on the PGA TOUR and his penchant for ball-striking make him a “must mention.”
  11. Boo Weekley – He’s won here twice and is actually playing about as well as he has anytime in the last 18 months. I’m not saying he’ll be doing the Happy Gilmore at the 2012 Ryder Cup, but could be a dark horse to keep an eye on.
  12. Brian Gay – Like Weekley, a “horses for courses” kind of guy this week. He’s comfortable here and could get the rock rolling.
We'll start our fantasy guide with the Yahoo! game.
  • A-List - I'm starting Donald with Furyk on the bench. It was hard keeping Kuchar out of this one because he's so consistent.
  • B-List - I'm starting Snedeker and Ogilvy with Davis and Els on the bench. Other options that make a lot of sense are Van Pelt, Bill Haas, Fredrik Jacobson and Bryce Molder.
  • C-List - I'm starting Baddeley and took Weekley over Gay on the bench.
For the Golf Channel game:
  • Group 1 - Per usual, Group 1 is loaded with what amounts to the majority of our power rankings, so I'll stick with Donald.
  • Group 2 - Brian Davis is the pick here over Bryce Molder. Ricky Barnes and Nick O'Hern make some sense here too.
  • Group 3 - This group has some sneaky good picks. I know I have Cauley a little higher in the power rankings, but I'm taking Brian Gay. There are some good potential dark horses like Ken Duke, Briny Baird and Henrik Stenson here.
  • Group 4 - I'm taking Vaughn Taylor over Will McGirt, Brian Harman and Joe Durant. Durant's the best ball-striker and Taylor's the best putter, so I'm going to lean towards the putter. Harman has a very good rookie season going and this course could end up suiting him, but I just don't know for sure. McGirt also has a tendency to cash.
One tidbit I saw was that Ben Crane withdrew. One can only think that he's so excited about fellow golfing boy band partner Bubba Watson's Masters win that he's back in the studio writing the script for the next music video. No word on if Rickie Fowler has pulled out yet!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

RBC Heritage - Preview

The PGA TOUR leaves the hallowed grounds of Augusta National and heads to one of the best parties of the year. The RBC Heritage is a relaxing, but challenging golf tournament played right on the coast of Hilton Head, South Carolina. It was in serious danger of becoming extinct until RBC came in as the title sponsor. In all honesty, I don't understand why more of the higher profile TOUR players don't make this a regular stop.

There are a number of things to note about Harbour Town Golf Links.
  • For one, the course is called Harbour Town "Golf Links." As the name suggests, the course is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean. More specifically Calabogie Sound. It doesn't play like a links course on the other side of the pond, but the ocean breeze can be a factor. It was just a few short years ago when play had to be suspended due to high winds.
  • You don't see flukes win this tournament. Arnold Palmer won here in this tournaments first year. Jack Nicklaus won here, as did Johnny Miller (twice), Tom Watson (twice), Hale Irwin (three times), Hubert Green (twice), Nick Faldo, Fuzzy Zoeller (twice), Greg Norman, Davis Love III (five times), Payne Stewart (twice), Boo Weekley (twice) and Jim Furyk to name a few; well a bunch.
  • This course is a second shot golf course that puts a premium on hitting small greens. To do so, you need an accurate driver. Length isn't all that important, but being able to scramble is. There are many different types of winners that are produced here. The biggest contrast could be a Boo Weekley vs Brian Gay in recent years. The important thing is, if you can't ball strike, you better be able to putt and scramble.
  • There are three par 5s. The first of them is reachable by the entire field. In fact, many players take a 3-wood off the tee for accuracy and still reach the front left of the green with an iron. The second par 5 is just awkward, so if you're long, you better be able to find the fairway or you'll have a tough approach. The final par 5 is more of the same. Length is good, but there's real trouble off the tee if you are wayward.
  • Each of the four par 3s require accuracy, and each have water in play; some more than others.
  • You can't fake your way around this golf course and overpowering it is useless.
We will take a look at the fantasy preview tomorrow, but without even thinking expect to see guys like Luke Donald and defending champion Brandt Snedeker high on the list.

One further note, I will be taking my second trip to this tournament for the Friday round; so while my coverage may be a little touch and go on Thursday and Friday evening, I will try and update some sights and sounds sometime on the weekend.

Masters Scorecard

Wow, what a Masters. Bubba Watson looked like Phil Mickelson meets Seve with his escape from the trees on the second playoff hole to win the green jacket. I'll go ahead and warn you that our Masters picks didn't work out so hot. Here's a look at the week that was.
  • As any golf fan with a pulse knows, Bubba Watson won his first major and many tears were shed. As for our site, we had Bubba ranked 25th on our Masters Power Rankings. We included Watson as a possible alternative to our selection of Bo Van Pelt in the Golf Channel Group 2. The other mention of Watson came in our odds breakdown, where Bubba started the week  at 40/1, but commented that we thought he'd be too jittery to eventually win the green jacket.
  • Our Golf Channel game saw all of our picks make the cut, but Tiger Woods was a major disappointment. This was his worst Masters since he missed the cut in 1996. Bo Van Pelt and Geoff Ogilvy at least both cracked the top 20, but Trevor Immelman really struggled finishing T60.
  • The Yahoo game was a bit of a mess as well. all of our picks made the cut, but I couldn't seem to get the starts right. Mickelson would have been the better start than Donald with the exception of the final round. Subbing out Woods for Mahan and Cabrera for Immelman would have also improved things. I did make the Cabrera move after the first round, but didn't pull the trigger on any others.
  • Picking Donald to win proved only slightly less disastrous than the rest of the world picking McIlroy or Woods. Speaking of McIlroy, he's racking up some serious scar tissue on Augusta National. Woods is in two steps forward, one step back mode. Newsflash, he won't win the U.S. Open. He might win the British.
  • Justin Rose as a contender was solid, as he finished T8.
  • Oops on Immelman as a darkhorse.

Here are a few additional thoughts:
  • So, where did Jason Dufner end up?
  • Westwood teased again. It could have been a different tournament if he dropped the eagle on 15, but when he missed it you kind of knew he might be in trouble.
  • I didn't think Kuchar had the killer instinct to win a major and I'm not sure if today proved it or refuted it. That approach and resulting eagle at 15 was clutch, but he made a terrible mistake on where he left his tee shot on 16.
  • Peter Hanson's round wasn't as decent as it looked on paper. He was three over and well out of contention in his final round until he found a birdie on the 15th.
  • I hope Rory McIlroy doesn't = Greg Norman
  • I can't remember where I heard it, but someone said that Tiger Woods swing that won his first three Masters was perfectly built for Augusta National The problem is, when he went through his multiple swing changes his current swing isn't as well suited for the course. When he's talking about "reverting to old habits," what he's really saying is his instinct knows the old swing was right for the course, but he's playing golf swing instead of golf.

Up next, Harbour Town for one of the most fun TOUR stops of the year.

Soboba Golf Classic crowns Andres Gonzales winner

Andres Gonzales won his first Nationwide Tour event with a two stroke victory over Andrew Svoboda at the Soboba Golf Classic. On a course that played difficult for the week, 8-under proved to be the winning score.

Golf fans who follow Twitter will remember that Gonzales would frequently tweet Tiger Woods in his rookie season of 2011 in an attempt to gain a practice round with him. I don't recall it ever working out, but now that he's first on the Nationwide Tour money list at just under $200k he's virtually assured a return trip to the big show in 2013.

TPC Stonebrae Monday qualifier

The TPC Stonebrae Open will have a Monday qualifier for the remaining spots in the field on April 9th. Below is the link to the information page that includes all tee times and results for both courses being utilized for the qualifier.


Best of luck to your favorite golfer!

Masters Third Round

Sorry for no third round update last night. I trust that you are well up to date on what's going on through other outlets. I was hit with a bug last night, but back in the swing now. Stay tuned tonight for a RBC Heritage Preview and Masters wrap up!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Masters Reset - Round 2 Wrap Up

Forget the top 44 and ties; at the half-way point of the 2012 Masters we have 63 players with in 10 shots of the lead and scheduled to play the weekend. Of those 63, most of the expected contenders are playing the weekend, but some of the names we thought likely to win aren't in contention while others are.

That said, let's recap where we are and hit the reset button on what the weekend may hold.
  • Starting with the leaders, we have Fred Couples and Jason Dufner in the lead at 5-under with a host of worthy chasers. I didn't buy into Dufner, even after Atlanta Athletic Club. He barely made the top 50 power rankings earlier in the week coming in at 46th. I still don't like his tendency to head a little south on the weekends and there are way to many big-time players chasing. As for Freddie, he started the week 20th on our power rankings. I don't think he'll win, but stranger things have happened. This feels a little like Tom Watson at Turnberry.
  • One shot back rests Louis Oosthuizen (NR), Lee Westwood (8th in Power rankings), Sergio Garcia (22nd), Rory McIlroy (3rd) and Bubba Watson (25th)
  • Tiger Woods looked very mortal and is resting (if you'd call it that) at 3-over.
  • Three amateurs made the cut; two on the number (Kelly Kraft & Patrick Cantlay) and last year's low amateur Hideki Matsuyama is on the fringe of contending at 1-over par.
  • In the last quarter century, the winner has been inside the top 12 headed into moving day. I don't necessarily think you can stop the search for the 2012 champion at those at 2-under. It's feasible that the winner is 1-under, or maybe even par.
  • There are currently 23 players under par, and thus within four shots of the lead. Only seven players have posted both rounds under par.
Just for fun, I'm going to give you a quick snippet on each player currently under par. Something along the lines of a contender/pretender segment.
  • 5-under - Dufner and Couples - I'm going to say I think it's unlikely either of these guys win. Dufner keeps surprising me, but I see him shooting a 73 or 74 tomorrow and trying to hang on to a top 10 on Sunday. As for Couples, who knows. It would really be fun to see him in contention standing in the fairway on 15 Sunday afternoon. My gut is, he takes a step back on Saturday and doesn't make a big charge on Sunday to end up in the 6-10 range.
  • 4-under - Oosthuizen, Westwood, Garcia, McIlroy and Watson - This could be Westwood's time, but I'm not encouraged by his 73 on Friday. Gun to my head, I'd say he doesn't win but he's going to be right there as a contender. This could be Garcia's major. There's a lot of talk about Seve and he's got a lot of Seve's spirit in him. You could easily argue that he doesn't have the Sunday putter to win, but it has a feel of destiny to it. McIlory's right there too. If I had to put a dollar down, he feels like the safe pick. He's got a tendency to hole a couple of 20 footers a round and has the total package for Augusta National. I'm not sure Louis' record at Augusta or collapse in Houston last week hold up here, although you don't have to look very far back to see a guy blowing a lead and winning the next week. I'll still say pretender. Same with Watson. I said earlier in the week he feels a little to jittery for my liking and I'll stick to that. Probabaly a top 10.
  • 3-under - Paul Lawrie, Matt Kuchar, Miguel Angel Jimenez - I don't know that I see a winner in this group. Lawrie birdied three in a row to end his round, but I don't see it lasting. Kuch is probably a steady top 10, if not top-5 finisher. And wouldn't it be cool to see Jimenez in the final pairing Sunday with Couples? Two of the coolest cats in the game. I see Jimenez sticking around, but ultimately getting something like a T7.
  • 2-under - Ben Crane, Charles Howell III, Vijay Singh, Phil Mickelson, Peter Hanson, Aaron Baddeley, Henrik Stenson and Nick Watney - There are a lot of dynamics in this group. A couple of guys in this group are going to shoot something in the 60s tomorrow, and a couple of others are going to shoot in the mid 70s. Really, everyone in this group is a candidate for either outcome. Stenson's shown both a tendency to choke and resiliency all in two rounds. Crane and Baddeley both could get it rolling and shoot something low, but if their ball-striking is off then it could all fall apart. Phil's Phil, what more do you want there. He could shoot 65 or 75 tomorrow. Singh is an interesting participant. He's missed his last few cuts here, but seems in good form this week. Hanson had a great first 27 holes, but his back 9 was messy. Not sure if that's recognition of where he was on the leaderboard, or just a bad 9. Either way, I'm not sold.
  • 1-under - Sean O'Hair, Jim Furyk, Jonathan Byrd, Y.E. Yang and Gary Woodland - For one of these guys to win, they'll likely have to shoot something like a 68 tomorrow. Woodland might be the most likely to make a bunch of birdies, but I'm not sure about how many bogeys will offset them. Furyk's more of a par machine that will throw in some birdies. I like him to hang around and grab a top 10, but not much better. O'Hair's an interesting dark horse hanging around. His form's been good lately and he could sneak up the leaderboard. Byrd's had two steady round on the strength of four birdies on par 3s, which shouldn't be a shock since he's the par 3 champ. Problem is, he's only -1 in the par 5's and his lowest round in 12 tries is 71 (twice including today). On the bright side, if he did have a hot day on the par 5s, he might could be the guy that shoots the 68. Yang's always right in that top 10 range at Augusta National.
I also took a quick look at the lines and here are Vegas' top 5.
  • McIlroy - 3/1 - Makes sense.
  • Westwood - 6/1 - Also makes sense.
  • Phil - 8/1 - I can see that.
  • Bubba Watson - 12/1 - maybe, but I don't love it.
  • Dufner / Couples / Garcia / Oosthuizen - 16/1 - I can see that.
  • Tiger Woods - 20/1 - Really? First, Tiger rarely wins if he's not leading after 54-holes. Second, have they watched the first two rounds? Does anybody out there really think he'll shoot 65/66 to get to 10-under and give himself a shot? 20/1 on a top 5 maybe.
Sit back and relax this weekend. It should be a great show!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Masters - Round 1 Wrap Up

Round one of the Masters is in the books and Lee Westwood is the 18-hole leader at 5-under 67. The Englishman made seven birdies to two bogeys on the strength of 16 GIR.

Here are a few thoughts on the first round:
  • The weather wasn't an obvious issue. I say obvious because there were several times when mud balls were visible, as the ball was being played down. In fact, the later tee times may have actually had the better of it. There is a high probability that there will be rain over night and into Friday morning, so the players aren't out of the woods yet.
  • First round leaders don't have a good history of going on to win the green jacket. Other than Trevor Immelman in 2008, you have to go all the way back to Ben Crenshaw in 1984 to find a first round leader who won.
  • Tiger Woods (T29), Phil Mickelson (T55), Luke Donald (T64) and Rory McIlroy (T14) were widely considered to be the favorites and all struggled at times.
  • To make up for soft conditions, it seems the first round pin placements were a little tougher than usual. I heard comments about the fifth and eighth on the front. I also noticed that the 12th was back right near the traditional Sunday location. The 16th location reminded me more of a Saturday pin than a Thursday.
  • Miguel A. Jimenez is two back of the lead. I would love to see his champions dinner menu if he were to win. Not so much for the food as the cigar and spirits menu.
  • Patrick Cantlay is the current low Am. at -1.
  • It's not often in a major championship I can say with confidence "I could have done better than that" on a given hole, but that was the case with Henrik Stenson's 18th. He managed to drop from first to what ended up being T14 in one hole after making an eight.
The cut line will come at the low 44 players and ties, or anyone within 10 shots of the lead. Westwood at -5 and the guys at -4 could have an impact on the cut depending on where they finish.

Check back tomorrow night and see who still has a chance at the green jacket.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Masters - Final Predictions

When doing the predictions for this week's Masters it would be easy for me to label my dark horse as the person I think would finish third, contender second and winner first but I'm going to resist that temptation and try to keep the dark horse as someone at least outside the 50/1 odds range.

That said, we'll jump right in.

For my dark horse, I'm going with  former champion Angel Cabrera. He's got two top 25s in his last three starts and since his 2009 Masters win he's finished T18 and 7th. That's good enough for me to be confident that he'll be rounding Augusta National on Sunday and possibly contending. Does he look like a guy that plays with anything to lose? I don't think so either.

My contender is Justin Rose. Sure, it would be easy to go with Woods/Mickelson/Westwood/McIlroy, and perhaps they are more likely to contend than Rose. Where's the fun in that, though? Rose won at Doral and has played well here before. He's got a real shot to win.

The winner will be Luke Donald. I've had him on my mind for over a week. Yes, I'm a little concerned about his length with the soggy fairways. The thing about Donald is he doesn't have a weakness, whereas I see glaring possible weaknesses in some of the other popular winner picks. I'm not sold on Woods or Mickelson's putter. Mickelson putted incredibly well in the first round of the Shell Houston Open, but didn't the last three rounds. Tiger won Bay Hill by picking apart the par 5's and not 3 putting, which is the old Woods formula for victory. That said, putting at Bay Hill is a lot different than Augusta National. McIlroy's going to have to deal with his back 9 last year if he contends this year. He'll have to think about snap-hooking his drive on 10 and 13 in last year's final round.

I just don't see a better combination of precision irons, driving accuracy, short game and putting than Donald. He might not be able to reach all the par 5s and he may play those holes at -8 or -9 whereas the other big names play them at -10 or -12, but he'll make that up on them on the par 3s and 4s by avoiding more bogeys than other contenders.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Masters - Examining the Odds

In what will be one of the most wagered tournaments of the year, it's time to take a look at the Masters odds. Something worth considering is the weather for a few reasons. First, with afternoon thunderstorms possible I tend to think that the guys playing Thursday morning could have the best of the draw. They will likely get all 18 in on Thursday, while the afternoon tee times could experience delays that cause them to not finish Thursday and have to play more than 18 on Friday. If that happens and there are afternoon thunderstorms on Friday as well, you are looking at the guys that teed off on Thursday morning getting to finish up in likely benign conditions Saturday morning. Also, rain would likely make the course play longer.

Per usual, I've taken my odds from this site http://www.madduxsports.com/golf-betting-lines.html and all lines are current as of the time of this post. I will mention everyone 50/1 or better as well as hit on a few others.
  • 4/1 - Tiger Woods - This can't be a surprise to anyone. Like Bay Hill, he probably should be the favorite but there are an awful lot of players in good form to lay down too much money at 4/1. I still don't trust the putter with Woods, and if it's shaky it will be exposed here much more than Arnie's tournament.
  • 11/2 - Rory McIlroy - In my opinion, he's got a really bad draw going off in the next to last tee time on Thursday. What I wonder about McIlroy here is how he would feel standing on 10 tee on Sunday if he's in contention. Will he be his generations Tiger Woods or Greg Norman? If anyone could run away with this tournament, it's him.
  • 11/1 - Phil Mickelson - I'm not saying I think Lefty's more likely to win than Woods or McIlroy, but I don't think he's half as likely as McIlroy or almost a third as likely as Woods. I hate his draw (last off Thursday) but he's a better value than Woods or McIlroy here.
  • 16/1 - Luke Donald - If weather wasn't an issue, Donald would be my pick to win. I have to take a hard look at that now. It's also a little scary that he's never won a major, but he's the best short game player of the top 4 and a great putter. If I had to take one of the first four to make a putt to win the Masters from 25 feet on the 18th, I'm probably taking Donald.
  • 20/1 - Lee Westwood - I don't like him here because of his short game and putter. He's a premier ball-striker, but his putter is too inconsistent here.
  • 22/1 - Hunter Mahan - Awfully hard to go back to back. I think the odds are about right here. I'm also not so sure that Mahan's game isn't better suited for a U.S. Open than a Masters. Playing with Mickelson in what I'm banking on being a terrible tee time.
  • 28/1 - Justin Rose, Adam Scott and Keegan Bradley - I'm good with Rose and Scott here. I tend to like Rose a little more than Scott, but hard to argue with Scott's last 12 months. I think this is a sucker bet for Keegan Bradley. Do you really think he's going to win his first two majors he's ever played in and be the first guy since Fuzzy to win the Masters in his first try with a belly putter? If there are ghosts on Augusta National, he ain't winning.
  • 40/1 - Charl Schwartzel, Jason Day, Bubba Watson - Not a bad spot for Schwartzel and Day. I think it's unlikely Schwartzel defends and I'm not sure about Day. Ask yourself this about Watson. As jumpy and jittery and fast as he is, do you really think he can hang on to win coming in on 17 and 18? Every time I think of him in a major, I think of how fast he made a mess of the front 9 at Oakmont in the U.S. Open and how fast he kept playing chip shots.
  • 50/1 - Steve Stricker, Nick Watney, Sergio Garcia and Martin Kaymer - Are you kidding me with Kaymer? He was a sexy pick last year and missed his fourth cut in four tries. I could see scenarios where the other three could win, but I don't really think they will. I think Sergio's got the best chance. Watney's got a decent track record here, but I'm not sold on his form. Who knows with Stricker, but I don't think the weather is going to do him any favors in terms of his length compared to some others. Great wedge play and putting is a formula for success here though.
  • Angel Cabrera at 90/1 intrigues me. He could pull this off and I like him as much as anyone at 50/1.
  • Trevor Immelman at 100/1 seems like a bit of a bargain too.

Here's how I would wrap this up. Don't out-think the room on this. I would consider it a huge upset if someone not on the above list wins. I think there's value in Mickelson and Donald because at the end of the day I think they are just as likely as McIlroy and Woods to win. If you give me the four of them vs the field, I'll take the four of them. If I were to go outside the big four, the name I can't quite get out of my head is Justin Rose. This could be his time.