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Thursday, May 31, 2012

Memorial - Round 1

Round one of the Memorial is in the books, with Scott Stallings your leader by one at 6-under. Here's what you need to know about the first round:
  • It wasn't until late in the afternoon that the lead moved off of 3-under. In fact, at one point 10 players held a share of the lead until Stallings broke through briefly, and Spencer Levin broke through to stay. Stallings would eventually get the best of Levin and Erik Compton by one.
  • And how about Compton? I like that he's letting his play do the talking.
  • Phil Mickelson withdrew after an opening 79 as he was "mentally fatigued." While this isn't a major, one would think it would have been one Lefty too seriously enough to try and add to his resume. Serious questions are out there as to how he will pull it together for the U.S. Open.
  • You can't talk about Lefty without Tiger. Tiger looked mentally rested, shooting an opening 2-under 70. He was only a shot behind the leaders for the morning wave in which he played. A double bogey on his ninth (18th hole) was his only blemish in a round that saw him circle four birdies.
  • Dustin Johnson looked alright shooting a 1-under 71. Notable was that he only made one bogey, but didn't manage to birdie any par 5s. All should have been reachable for him. Still, not bad after a significant layoff.
  • For those of you who look here for Yahoo! advice, I'm not changing anyone in my lineup, as the weather doesn't seem to favor one wave or the other right now and nobody on my bench is more than three strokes ahead of any of my starters in the same group.
  • I don't see anyone in the top 10 that I think will win the tournament. I could be wrong, but I think you have to look at the group at even to 2-under and you see plenty of guys treading water. I'm quite comfortable with the position of guys like Tiger Woods, Ryan Moore, Adam Scott (all 2-under), Luke Donald, Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Dustin Johnson, Jonathan Byrd (all 1-under), and guys at even like Jim Furyk and Hunter Mahan. There's just not that much between them and the lead. Scott Stallings winning The Greenbrier isn't exactly the Memorial. Spencer Levin has folded when he's had chances to win and Erik Compton's already in uncharted territory. Maybe Brandt Snedeker at 3-under makes sense, and maybe he's the real leader right now.
  • Another interesting tidbit, McIlroy swallowed a 4-over seven on a par 3. He pars that hole, he shoots 5-under.
  • The only member of the Dandy Dozen not to be inside the cut line is the aforementioned Phil Mickelson.
Check back tomorrow to see if we get some separation at the top.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Memorial - Final Predictions

In a moment of clarity, we were able to peg Zach Johnson as the winner last week and hope to do the same this week at the Memorial. Mind you, Johnson wasn't exactly going out on a limb as he was the consensus favorite among most experts, but we avoided the temptation to out think the room. Here we go with this week's pics.
  • Dark horse - I'm going to go with a guy that hasn't cracked a top 25 since February, but has a game suited for this course. Kyle Stanley has done nothing of late, but I'm going with the law of averages swinging back in his favor. What typically bites Stanley is a poor first round that leaves him in too big of a hole to overcome. I noticed on Golf Channel tonight that they cut to the range around 6:15pm ET and the only two people on it were Stanley and his caddie Brett Waldman.
  • Contender - I'll take a run at Ryan Moore here. The numbers suggest some other players might be a little safer, but he's been close to some big-time finishes this year and this might just be the week.
  • Winner - I'm going back to Rickie Fowler. Generally I go with the guy that tops my power rankings here, but the group of Rose, Furyk, Donald and Fowler are so close anyway. Rickie's playing the first two rounds with his buddy Bubba Watson and should be comfortable.
Check back tomorrow for some first round notes.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Memorial - Odds

Tuesday is upon us, and it is time to take a look at how the guys in Vegas are viewing the Memorial. This week they are favoring Luke Donald to ride the wave of momentum from the BMW and win again. Per usual, we'll comment on everyone 50/1 or better and add a few more down the line that appear to be good values. Odds are current as of the typing of this post and can be found in real time here http://www.madduxsports.com/golf-betting-lines.html.

  • 9/1 - Luke Donald - It's hard to fault the world No. 1 coming off a win being the favorite, but I'd be surprised if he won. I believe I said yesterday, he seems to grab the top spot in the world and then post some mediocre finishes to eventually lose it. I don't like him winning back-to-back at these odds.
  • 12/1 - Rory McIlroy - I guess the odds makers are just going down the OWGR, huh? McIlroy looked rusty last week in missing the cut in the European Tour's flagship event and admitted he hadn't been practicing as hard. He stuck around on Saturday to practice longer. His length should be an asset here and I certainly wouldn't count him out, but you're paying too much at 12/1.
  • 14/1 - Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods - Mickelson's been on TOUR a long time and he's never won here or come in second. Tiger's won here plenty (most recently 2009), but it doesn't take a genius to see he's coming off some shaky golf. I wouldn't put it past either to win, but this isn't a good value.
  • 16/1 - Justin Rose - This is finally starting to make sense. Rose won here in 2010 and was runner up last week at the BMW. I would like him better around 25/1, but don't mind him here.
  • 18/1 - Rickie Fowler - He's finished in the top 5 in his last three starts including a win and a second. I can't argue with this, and don't mind him here.
  • 22/1 - Steve Stricker - This makes sense here too. I don't really think he'll pull it off, but he's the defending champ and some of the things that make for a good fit at Kapalua, where he won to start the year, also hold true here.
  • 25/1 - Jim Furyk & Bubba Watson - I like the value on Furyk here. He's got a solid record and is in good form. I don't know where Bubba's head's at after his long layoff. Sure, he could win and his strengths fit well here, but I'm not ready to take that leap of faith.
  • 28/1 - Webb Simpson - I see where they're coming from, but I don't think he's any more likely to win than some guys further down the list at longer odds, so I'm not sure I'd buy the value.
  • 33/1- Adam Scott - He's hard to peg this year. I believe I'd lay off due in large part to his lack of play this year. I'm not sure he's in any sort of rhythm and due to that, this feels like a U.S. Open tune up.
  • 40/1 - Hunter Mahan, Jason Day, Bo Van Pelt, Ernie Els, Keegan Bradley, Dustin Johnson - Mahan, Day and D.J. make sense here. I realize Johnson's had a long layoff, but he's got a great track record here, so I wouldn't be shocked by anything. Van Pelt is not a closer at all, but a solid Top 20. Els has been in the press within the last week for the wrong reasons, so I'm not sure that the spotlight headed into the final round fits him this week. Keegan Bradley feels over valued to me. If you really dig into his record, he hasn't done much this year apart from Riviera.
  • 50/1 - Louis Oosthuizen, Charl Schwartzel, Ben Curtis, Jonathan Byrd, Ryan Moore, Geoff Ogilvy - They likely identified two or three top 10 finishers, and maybe a winner. After a bad week at the Byron Nelson, Oosthuizen returned to form at Colonial. I think the fairways may be a little too forgiving and may negate some of his driving ability. Schwartzel doesn't feel right here, but I don't have a solid reason. If Ben Curtis was a stock, sell. He had a great month, and he's not the only guy to do so on TOUR this year (see Johnson Wagner, Kyle Stanley and Mark Wilson who've all fallen off the map). His history shows he won't keep it up long term. Byrd is trending correctly for this week both in recent form and in tournament history, which is exactly why he scares me to death this week. He's not known for long stretches of consistent play, and he's the type of guy that every time you think you have him figured out; you don't. Well, we think we've got him figured out. At 50/1, he might be worth a risk. I don't mind Moore here at all. Some "experts" are starting to warm up to Ogilvy, but I don't see the Aussie winning.
  • 80/1 - K.J. Choi - He's been quiet this year, but he plays hard courses well and has won here before.
  • 100/1 - Robert Garrigus - He has the skill set and has been feast or famine this year. Might be worth a look here.
  • 125/1 - Marc Leishman, Mark Wilson, Stewart Cink and Ricky Barnes - Leishman fits the profile and has quietly had a nice year. Wilson has a great track record here even though he's gone cold. I really like Cink and Barnes' value here.
  • 150/1 - Cameron Trigale & Kyle Stanley - Tringale's cooled off, but these odds aren't bad at all. It was just a few weeks ago that you couldn't buy Stanley at anything better than 40/1 or 50/1. He's not as bad as his last few events and he's the kind of guy that could play well here. Could be the best odds you see him at for a while, but beware he's missed some cuts lately.
As I've said before, I'm not a gambler, but I think there's some real value down the line here. I'd be tempted to take Rose (16/1), Furyk (25/1), D. Johnson (40/1), Jonathan Byrd (50/1) and roll the dice with Stewart Cink (125/1), Ricky Barnes (125/1), Tringale and Stanley (150/1). This feels like a week where you might run into a big one from someone down the list.

Best of luck!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial - Fantasy Preview and Dandy Dozen power rankings

In this week's look at the Memorial we can only hope to do as well as we did last week when we nailed the winner and 11 of our 12 made the cut (36 & 54 hole). There is a formula for Muirfield Village that some golfers have been able to figure out and repeat. There's also a blueprint for us to evaluate others. Length is important. Not just off the tee, but with the long irons into the par 3s as well. You don't want to be stuck in many, or really any, of Jack's bunkers if you can help it.

With that in mind, here's this week's Dandy Dozen power rankings:
  1. Justin Rose - This isn't as much of a slam-dunk pick as Zach Johnson was last week, but like Johnson at Colonial, Rose won here in 2010, was runner up in 2008 and is coming off a runner-up finish at the BMW in England. His form is good, as is his history here.
  2. Jim Furyk - Furyk won here in 2002, and was runner up in 1997 and 2009. He also sprinkled in a T10 in 2010. He's also coming off a solo fourth at Colonial.
  3. Rickie Fowler - Fowler was a runner up in 2010 and may be the hottest player in the field this week with Dufner and Johnson sitting out. His last three events are a win, a T2 and a T5 (last week). You could say he's trending in the wrong direction, but come on. Three top 5s in three events is strong.
  4. Luke Donald - Luke's hard to peg, as it seems like every time he regains the top spot in the world he throws up a couple of mediocre tournaments. The black and white facts are, he's coming off a win in England, finished T7 here in 2011, DNP 2010, T14 in 2009 and T6 in 2008. You'd have to think he is a safe top-15 pick at worst, right?
  5. Jonathan Byrd - This is a little bit of a "hold your breath" pick, but I really like his trends from a number of angles. He's finished in the top 12 in each of his last three events on serious golf courses (Quail Hollow, Sawgrass and Colonial), and he's not a guy known for consistency. Here's what I really like though. Both years he's contended at Quail Hollow (T5 in 2009, P2 in 2011) he also contended at Memorial (T3 in 2009 and T7 in 2011) and he led on the back nine in 2009 before slipping to Woods and Furyk.
  6. Ryan Moore - Like Byrd, Moore's been very quietly posting plenty of nice finishes of late. He shot a 4-over in the finale at Colonial to drop out of the top 10, but had top 10s at the Valero and Quail Hollow. He was a runner up at Muirfield Village in 2007 and finished T5 in 2010 and T22 in 2011.
  7. Bo Van Pelt - Like Moore, could have had a big week at Colonial but faltered late. He's had a solid season and finished T3 here in 2010 and T13 in 2011.
  8. Tiger Woods - If Tiger's going to win again in 2012, it will be at one of four places (and yes, just one). Muirfield Village this week, Congressional, Royal Lytham St. Anne (can play it like Hoylake and not hit a driver) or Firestone. He's won here four times including 2009 and finished T19 in 2010. Yes, I watched Quail Hollow and THE PLAYERS. Neither of those courses really fit, as Quail Hollow is too tough of a driving course and TPC Sawgrass is just too quirky. He can get away with some wayward shots here off the tee and he could contend.
  9. Dustin Johnson - This is the risk/reward pick of the week. I have no idea what his form will be coming off an injury and most "experts" out there will probably shy away for that reason. That said, his history here is good (4th 2011, T33 2010, T14 2009) and his length makes him a factor. I wouldn't one & done him or use him in a Golf Channel format, but would highly consider him in a back-up spot in the Yahoo! game.
  10. Steve Stricker - Well, he's the defending champ and finished T17 the week before. I can't put my finger on it, but I feel like something's off in his game. He wins Kapalua, T8s Doral and finishes sixth in New Orleans, but T36 at the Shell Houston Open and T47 at the Masters don't boost my confidence. I don't really care that he missed the cut at THE PLAYERS, but I'm still harping on his light schedule.
  11. Phil Mickelson - I might should have him a little higher, as he's finished T13 and T5 in his last two trips. He gets a check mark for length and pedigree, but he's been an elite players for plenty of years and played this event plenty of times, so for him not to have won or finished runner up is a yellow flag for me.
  12. Hunter Mahan - I've been a little cool on him lately, but I'm starting to heat back up. He finished T13 in 2011 and T14 in 2009, so this could be a week for him to nab another top 10 and feel like he's ready for the U.S. Open.
The next 5 (alphabetically) - Ricky Barnes, Stewart Cink, Rory McIlroy, John Senden and Webb Simpson

Here's our look at the Yahoo! game:
  • A-List - I'm starting Furyk with Donald on the bench.
  • B-List - Rose and Fowler starting with Van Pelt and Moore on the bench.
  • C-List - Byrd starting with Senden on the bench.
Golf Channel game:
  • Group 1 - Rose over all the other high-profile options.
  • Group 2 - This has been the slot that's bit me the past two weeks with Overton and Toms, but I'm going to take Furyk and run!
  • Group 3 - I looked at a ton of options here and didn't really love any of them for different reasons. I'm settling on Tommy Gainey because he's a streaky player. He putted out of his mind last week, but again.....streaky player. Brian Davis finished T18 here last year and I looked at him. I also took hard looks at a number of guys including Vijay Singh, Harris English, J.B. Holmes and Sean O'Hair, but nobody felt like a safe pick.
  • Group 4 - Coin flip between Stewart Cink and Ricky Barnes, but going with Cink. For the record, I like both of these more than anyone in Group 3. 
Best of luck to all! Hopefully I get mine posted ahead of my Rotoworld editor Rob Bolton's pgatour.com article for once!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Memorial - Preview

Next up on the schedule is the Memorial, or Jack's tournament. When looking ahead at the tournament, several things stand out.
  • Unlike many tournaments, length is actually important. It makes a difference not just on the par 5s, but also the par 3s. There is also some forgiveness in the fairways, so you can get away with being a tad crooked off the tee.
  • The list of past champions here is stout. I wouldn't expect to see someone win that isn't qualified to win a major. Think a Quail Hollow type leaderboard.
On that note, here are the past champions since 2000, as well as the runner ups:
  • 2000 - Tiger Woods (269), Ernie Els & Justin Leonard (274)
  • 2001 - Tiger Woods (271), Paul Azinger & Sergio Garcia (278)
  • 2002 - Jim Furyk (274), John Cook & David Peoples (276)
  • 2003 - Kenny Perry (275), Lee Janzen (277)
  • 2004 - Ernie Els (270), Fred Couples (274)
  • 2005 - Bart Bryant (272), Fred Couples (273)
  • 2006 - Carl Petterson (276), Zach Johnson & Brett Wetterich (278)
  • 2007 - K.J. Choi (271), Ryan Moore (272)
  • 2008 - Kenny Perry (280), Matthew Goggin, Jerry Kelly, Justin Rose &Mike Weir (282)
  • 2009 - Tiger Woods (276), Jim Furyk (277)
  • 2010 - Justin Rose (270), Rickie Fowler (273)
  • 2011 - Steve Stricker (272), Brant Jobe & Matt Kuchar (273)
To our earlier point on length, many of these guys jump off the page as being very long, and most others are known as moderately long and solid overall ball-strikers. While Tiger Woods isn't thought of as a bomber today, he was as long as anyone not named John Daly in 2000 and 2001. Ernie Els isn't exactly short. Freddie "Boom Boom" says it all. Brett Wetterich in 2006 is a big hitter.

And who on the above list of winners hasn't contended or won a major? Maybe Bart Bryant, but he won a TOUR Championship.

At this point, I've done more power ranking research than normal for a Sunday evening, so here's a little teaser. Justin Rose is a past winner and runner up, and finished runner up in England this past week. Jim Furyk has a great record here and is coming off a fourth place finish. Keep an eye out on Jonathan Byrd too.  Three straight top 12's and he's done well in this event in 2011 and 2009. Those are the same two years he contended at the Wells Fargo, and he contended at this year's Wells Fargo.

Check back tomorrow for the Dandy Dozen power rankings and fantasy advice!

Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial - Final Wrap Up and Scorecard

Zach Johnson fulfilled our pre-tournament hype and took home the title at the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial for the second time in three years. Not that this was the only site to tout Johnson as the favorite, we hit on some other things too. Here are the hits and misses on the week that was in our weekly scorecard.

What we got right:
  • Well, we had Zach Johnson leading off our Dandy Dozen power rankings. We also had him in our Golf Channel Group 1 and Yahoo! A-list all four rounds. In our odds post when he was 14/1 we said "It's hard to question him as the betting favorite, but the question comes down to his value at 14/1. This is actually much better odds than most betting favorites that tend to be in the 8/1 range."
  • On the topic of the Dandy Dozen, 11 of our 12 made it to the weekend and all of those also made the 54-hole cut. Other notables were Jason Dufner in second and Rickie Fowler T5.
  • In our "next 5" category, we had Jim Furyk who finished fourth.
  • Tim Clark was a nice little find in the Golf Channel Group 4, finishing T19.
  • It was a nice week in Yahoo! all around. If you followed our play, you would have collected 210 points the week. We moved up to 473 in the Spring rankings and 719 in the full season, and we're still in the 99th percentile.
What we got wrong:
  • There wasn't much, but we messed up the David Toms pick. He was second in our power rankings and in all of our fantasy formats.
It was a good week, and we'll try and do better this week!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Crowne Plaza Invitational - Final Round Preview

The Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial is essentially a two-horse race with Jason Dufner leading by one over Zach Johnson, but seven shots separating second and third. Here are a few thoughts leading into the final round.
  • Jason Dufner's record in this event prior to this week was terrible. That goes to show just how well he's playing. Add him to the U.S. Open short list.
  • Will Zach Johnson win tomorrow or get his third runner-up finish of the year? Three runner ups is how Jeff Overton made the last Ryder Cup team and could prove to be Zach's formula this week.
  • Speaking of Ryder Cup, there are a number of Americans alive in the battle for third, and if a guy like Bo Van Pelt, John Huh, Jim Furyk or maybe even Jonathan Byrd down in T14 can grab a solo third that could be worth some big Ryder Cup points.
  • Kelly Kraft had the round of the day (64) in his third professional start. I don't think he's quite the "can't miss" prosepct that Patrick Cantlay or Jordan Speith will be when they turn pro, but he might be the equal to the Bud Cauley/Cameron Trigale/Kyle Stanley group. Cantlay and Speith would be closer to a Rickie Fowler/Phil Mickelson type hype when they turn.
  • I'm a little bit of a homer on this one, but keep a close eye on Jonathan Byrd headed into tomorrow's final round and next week's Memorial. His last three tournaments were T27 at the Masters, T9 at Wells Fargo and T12 at THE PLAYERS. He's currently T14 here, and in this four tournament stretch on some stout golf courses he's only shot two rounds over par. I can pretty much guarantee you'll see him in next week's Dandy Dozen, as he lead during the final round of the Memorial in 2009 and nabbed a top 10 in 2011.
  • No reason to change the fantasy lineup for tomorrow, as all four of our Yahoo! starters rest in the top 7.
Not much else today.....tune in tomorrow for the Zach and Duf show to see who takes home the trophy.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Rex Hospital Open Monday Qualifier

The Nationwide Tour resumes after a week off at the Rex Hospital Open in Raleigh, NC. The Monday qualifiers will be held at the Grandover Resort East and West Courses. Here is the link to the information page that includes pairings, tee times and a results tab for when scores begin to post http://carpga.bluegolf.com/bluegolf/carpga12/event/carpga1226/index.htm.

When I was keeping up the Palmetto Golfers blog, I would frequently mention local guys I was following. Since many of those guys are in this MQ, I'll list below some guys I'm watching (and pulling for) as well as a few notes on them if any of you are interested in finding a dark horse for which to root.

East Course:
  • Chad Collins - Not one of my normal follows, but he's just a few weeks removed from losing his Medical Status on the PGA TOUR, and he's fallen all the way down to trying to qualify for Nationwide starts. Cruel game.
  • Ben Duncan - Clemson guy I've had the occasion to meet a couple of times of late. Plays out of Thornblade where the BMW was just held.
  • Brian Duncan - Ben's brother held the 18 and 36 hole leads in this week's Egolf Tour, and has a shot to win in tomorrows finale.
  • Tanner Ervin - Another Clemson guy playing the mini tours.
  • Josh Gallman - USC-Upstate product playing the mini tours.
  • Elliot Gealy - Clemson product that was a full status Nationwide player last season. Has partial status this year.
  • Michael Maness - Good guy that I had the chance to meet a few weeks ago. The first couple of times I saw him hit on the range, I did a triple take thinking it was Lucas Glover. Held the lead entering the final round in the Egolf event in Columbia, SC. A couple of bad breaks bit him in the finale and cost him the win. He's sometimes better known as Bill Haas' former looper. Maybe most relevant, he told me his wife is a reader of the blog.
  • Ben Martin - Clemson grad and U.S. Amateur runner-up in 2009. He was a member of the 2011 PGA TOUR, but couldn't keep his card. He's had some starts this year on the Nationwide Tour with little success.
West Course:
  • Phillip Mollica - Another Clemson product, the lefty won on the 2011 Egolf Tour in Morocco. I wouldn't be shocked to see him break through.
  • Jordan Powell - I'm pulling hard for Jordan this week. He's actually a cart guy at my course, but a really good golfer too. He earned an alternate spot in a U.S. Open local qualifier a few weeks ago and shot a 68 at Thornblade three days after the final round of the BMW and said it easily could have been lower. He's done well on the Carolina Mountain Tour this year, but his putter's cost him.
  • Austin Reeves - He just turned pro after finishing his career at Furman a few weeks ago. He's 1/2 on Egolf Tour cuts since then. His brother plays for Clemson, and they both grew up at my home course.
  • Tyler Rody- Plays out of my home course.
  • Daniel Stanley - Grew up in my home county and in Tommy Biershenk's home town. He's had limited success on the mini tours.
  • Clint Tolleson - He grew up in my home town of Spartanburg and played out of Carolina Country Club that is in the BMW rotation. Interesting note, the USC (South Carolina) product's father was a major league baseball player for the Yankees, Rangers and White Sox and his older brother Steven is currently a utility player in the big leagues for the Baltimore Orioles. He's Gary Woodland long.

Hopefully you found something in all that to interest you at least a little. Good luck to your favorite golfer!

Crowne Plaza Invitational - Round 2

The Duf man commeth in the second round of the Crowne Plaza Invitational and leads at 11-under by two over Zach Johnson. On the low end, the cut dropped at the last minue to 3-over. Here are some notes from the second round.
  • The low rounds of the day belonged to Jason Dufner, Bo Van Pelt and Bryce Molder at 6-under. It just so happens that each of those were on our Yahoo! picks this week.
  • Tommy Gainey is lurking in a tie for third at 7-under. He's done nothing this year, so this could turn his year around.
  • The only member of our Dandy Dozen not to make the cut was David Toms, who was second in the power rankings. The cut dropping late in the day to include those at 3-over snuck Bill Haas and Pat Perez in.
  • There's a John Daly sighting at 1-under and tied for 21st. That makes him 3/4 in cuts made on the PGA TOUR in 2012. I doubt many people would have guessed he's batting 75%.
  • As for the Yahoo! fantasy games, I'm holding steady with my Friday picks for Saturday as well. Dufner (first), Johnson (second), Van Pelt (T3) and Fowler (T8) are flat getting it done. Kuchar and Senden could get something done early on Saturday, but are you really going to sit the Zach attack and the Duf?
Tomorrow we'll check in to see if Dufner is hanging onto another 54-hole lead.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Crowne Plaza Invitational - First Round Wrap Up

Round one of the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial is in the books, and Zach Johnson is in the lead. The Zach attack went off early and was 5-under on his first nine (the back), before settling down for a 6-under 64 and a one-stroke lead over a group that includes Jason Dufner. Here are a few notes from the first round.
  • To bad today wasn't the finale, or we would have correctly called the winner.
  • Harris English was a sexy pick after his British Open medalist honors in that Monday Qualifier and backed that up with a 5-under 65. I was of the school of thought that he might have used up his birdies a little too early in the week, but that may not be the case after all.
  • What about Jason Dufner? How long can he keep this up? He's one off the lead on a course where he has an awful history.
  • Sergio Garcia spun a 4-under 66 proving he's still right at home at Colonial.
  • Eight of our Dandy Dozen currently reside in the top 20. Johnson (1), Dufner (T2), Garcia (T6), Rickie Fowler (T15), Bo Van Pelt, Hunter Mahan, John Senden and Pat Perez (all T20).
  • The surprise of the day may have been David Toms, settling for a 4-over 74.
Fantasy notes for Friday.
  • My Rotoworld colleague Rob Bolton tweeted that the wind should be steady throughout the day, so their may be no real advantage based on tee time. I tend to favor the morning wave when there is no noticeable advantage.
  • I'm turning over my Yahoo! B group since Van Pelt and Fowler each had better days than Toms and Molder, and each also play in the morning tomorrow.
  • It's a tough call on leaving Zach Johnson in for the afternoon versus subbing in Matt Kuchar (72). You generally don't see a guy go low two days in a row, and Kuchar gets the morning wave. If Kuch shot an even-par round today, this would be an easier call. I'm going to cross my fingers and stick with ZJ.
Best of luck to all!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Crowne Plaza Invitational - Final Predictions

The Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial could be a pretty tough call. The biggest reason is mother nature. It feels like a tournament where one end of the early/late Thursday/Friday draw will get the best end of the stick. If I had to guess, I'd rather have the early Thursday / late Friday draw because it looks like the wind gets a little lighter every day of the week.

With that in mind, here are the final predictions:
  • For my dark horse, I'll take Bryce Molder. I considered going way off the board, but resisted. Molder has the early Thursday draw as well.
  • My contender is David Toms. I know, this is boring. I never like a guy to go back-to-back in consecutive events in the same year, or defending an event he won the previous year (not named Tiger Woods in the early to mid 2000s). That said, I find it hard to believe he won't find his way on a leaderboard at some point.
  • The winner is Zach Johnson. He makes too much sense on paper, so he'll probably bomb out. That said, you can't ignore how his stats, current form and event history stack up here. Going with anyone else would be going with a gut feeling and not an opinion grounded in fact.
Good Luck to all!

Crowne Plaza Invitational - Cink W/D ramifications

Stewart Cink has withdrawn from the Crown Plaza Invitational at Colonial for "personal reasons." It's noteworthy on the blog because he was in the Dandy Dozen, as well as our Yahoo! lineup.

Here are the ramifications:
  • I'm replacing him in the Dandy Dozen with Bill Haas. That moves David Mathis into the "next 5"
  • I'm replacing him in the Yahoo! B-list with Bryce Molder. I had Hunter Mahan one spot ahead of Molder in my Power Rankings, but I'm saving this start for a better fit for Mahan since I'm down to five.
One additional thing. I had someone recommend that I post my personal Yahoo! roster moves throughout the week. Some newer gamers like to see the thought process for helping with their own decisions. With that in mind, I'm going to be making some early/late moves in the first two rounds of the Yahoo! game. The only difference it will make on Day 1, is I'll start Molder and save Rickie Fowler, since Fowler has an afternoon tee time. It's likely that for the Friday round, I'll flip flop the B-list and sub Kuch in for Johnson in the A-list. Dufner and Senden are both on the same end of the draw.

Check back for the final predictions in a little while.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Crowne Plaza Invitational - Odds

It's time to dive into the odds at this week's Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial. Per usual, the odds are current as of the writing of this post and can be found here http://www.madduxsports.com/golf-betting-lines.html. While it was not known at the time of the power rankings, Zach Johnson is the betting favorite as well as number one in our Dandy Dozen.

Here's how everyone 50/1 or better checks out, as well as a few dark horse candidates:
  • 14/1 - Zach Johnson - It's hard to question him as the betting favorite, but the question comes down to his value at 14/1. This is actually much better odds than most betting favorites that tend to be in the 8/1 range.
  • 16/1 - Matt Kuchar & Rickie Fowler - It's hard to argue this. Again, the question isn't so much the order in which these guys fall as much as the value.
  • 18/1 - Jason Dufner - He's worthy of the spot, but it's very hard to imagine him winning three events in four tries after not having won until his mid 30s. I would have a hard time buying in here.
  • 25/1 - Hunter Mahan - He's missed 3 of his last 5 cuts here and is coming off a missed cut at THE PLAYERS. I would pass here.
  • 28/1 - Bo Van Pelt & David Toms - I like Toms' value here. He's very similar to Johnson, but his odds are twice as good. I like BVP to have a big week, but with all the good weeks of his career he only has one win.
  • 33/1 - Jim Furyk, Louis Oosthuizen, Bill Haas, Sergio Garcia, Nick Watney - I don't like any of these guys at this price. Louis couldn't find his driver last week. Haas might make some sense, but I'm just not feeling it. You could probably make the best case for Sergio and Furyk, but not Watney.
  • 40/1 - Geoff Ogilvy, Carl Petterson, Ben Crane, Kevin Na - Again, I don't know that I love the value here. With Crane and Na, this could be the slow play group! I could make just as good of a case for or against any of these.
  • 50/1 - John Senden, Pat Perez, Jeff Overton, Brian Davis, Ryan Palmer - I actually like this group. It's going to be windy the first two rounds, so that could favor a true ball-striker like Senden. Perez is playing well and has a good history here. Overton's a wild card. I don't see Palmer winning, and Davis doesn't have a win to his name.
  • 66/1 - A group of guys here really catch my attention. Charlie Wi, Marc Leishman and Bryce Molder are all worthy of consideration.
  • 100/1 - Ken Duke and Tim Clark are worth a look. I also really like Stewart Cink at 100/1.
  • 150/1 - David Mathis is playing really good golf lately.
I don't like this week from a betting standpoint, as the wind will be a factor, especially during the first two rounds. If I had to go out on a limb, I'd probably go value and take Toms, Senden, Molder and Cink.

Best of luck!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial - Fantasy Preview & Power Rankings

The TOUR stays in Texas as we turn the page to the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial. As mentioned yesterday, fairways and greens are the premium over length, and smooth putting never hurts. One factor to consider this week that isn't normally the case, is a number of players participated in a 36 hole British Open qualifier on Monday. That could get some golfers out of their routine and tire them out before the week begins. It could also make guys like Charlie Wi and Bryce Molder a little harder to handicap.

Without further ado, here's this week's Dandy Dozen Power Rankings:
  1. Zach Johnson - This one was easy. He's coming off a T2 at THE PLAYERS and had another second back at Harbour Town. He won here in 2010 and was fourth in 2011. He's eighth in driving accuracy and 22nd in Strokes Gained-Putting (SGP).
  2. David Toms - This is more like 1 and 1a, but we'll call Toms 2. Not only is he the defending champ, but he's coming off a T15 at the Wells Fargo and a T10 at THE PLAYERS, so form isn't in question. Before his win, he was T13 in '10, T27 '09, T26 '08, T18 '07 and ranks second in driving accuracy and 34th in GIR.
  3. Rickie Fowler - If there's anyone who could rival the heat Dufner's putting off, it's Rickie. His limited history at Colonial is pretty good (T16 in 2011 and T38 in 2010), and he ranks 8th in ball-striking, 17th in GIR, 36th in driving accuracy and 19th all around.
  4. Bo Van Pelt - It's always a little scary to go with BVP this high, but his last two finishes here were a third in 2011 and a T10 in 2010. He's coming off a T7 at THE PLAYERS, and has 5 top 10s and 6 top 25s this year. I went back a long way, and I don't think he's missed the cut here either.
  5. Jason Dufner - While his history here leaves plenty to be desired (MC '11, T59 '09, MC '07), who's going to go against the Duf? He's 6th in driving accuracy, 13th in GIR, 5th in ball-striking and 4th in all around. Those stats set up well for Colonial.
  6. Stewart Cink - This is the one you might scratch your head at, but hear me out. He's 14/14 in cuts made at Colonial. I'll go through them starting with 2011 and ending in 1997 (he didn't play in 2008) T16, T22, T22, T18, T4, T57, T14, T13, T33, T26, T2, T21, T41 and T15. He hasn't had a great year, but a T15 at the Wells Fargo should give some reason for optimism.
  7. Matt Kuchar - We know his form is excellent, and his history here is good enough (T16 in '11, T56 '10, T27 '09 and T36 '07). He's 31st in driving accuracy, 15th in GIR and 42nd in total putting.
  8. Pat Perez - This is another scary pick, but there's plenty of reason for it. If you look past the T62 in 2011, he's coming off his first top 10 of the year at the Byron Nelson and finished T10 here in 2010, 6th in 2008, 4th in 2007 and ranks 20th in ball-striking and 21st in all around.
  9. Hunter Mahan - I really wrestled with this one. In fact, he was a late add to the Dandy Dozen and cost Charlie Wi a spot. I correctly ignored him at THE PLAYERS, but to do so again would be playing with fire. He's got a T10 in '11 and a T27 in '09 surrounded with three MCs, but he's 3rd in ball-striking and the best driver on the planet.
  10. Bryce Molder - Check out these splits and consider how they match up this week. He's 3rd in SGP, 8th in GIR, and 39th in driving accuracy. He missed the cut in 2011, but was 5th in 2010. He's made 8/11 cuts with six top 25s.
  11. John Senden - The Aussie is known for his ball-striking and that should serve him very well this week. His history here is good for this spot (T8 in '11, T56 '10, T18 '09) and he's first on TOUR in ball-striking, third in GIR and 19th in driving accuracy. If he has any luck with the putter, watch out.
  12. Sergio Garcia - It was hard to know what to make of Sergio after his bizarre comments at the Masters, but he won here way back in 2001 and finished T16 last year after a long break from this event. He also had a nice week at the match play last week. He's 32nd in ball-striking and 61st in putting.
The next 5 alphabetically: Jim Furyk, Bill Haas, Kevin Na, Geoff Ogilvy and Charlie Wi

And one more to watch: David Mathis' only finish at Colonial was a 70th in 2011, but after a terrible start to 2012 he's gone T18 at the Valero Texas Open, T10 in New Orleans, MC at Quail Hollow, T15 at THE PLAYERS and T15 at the Byron Nelson.

On to the games.......

Yahoo!
  • A-List - Zach Johnson to start with Matt Kuchar ready in the bullpen sounds good to me.
  • B-List - The B-List is loaded this week, but we'll stick to the power rankings and start Toms and Fowler with Van Pelt and Cink on the bench.
  • C-List - Dufner starts and Senden backs him up. I could live with Charlie Wi over Senden here too.
Golf Channel has a two-for this week, with the BMW going on in England and, of course, the Crowne Plaza.

Here are the picks for the BMW:
  • Group 1 - I'll take Westwood over McIlroy and Donald. Westy tends to fare a little better in the Euro events than the other two, but you can't go wrong here.
  • Group 2 - As I scroll down the list I see Ben Curtis. He's been our friend in this format lately, so why not?
  • Group 3 - How about Soren Kjeldsen? Anybody got a better idea? It was a similar-type pick that landed me Robert Rock in this format the week he bested Tiger Woods.
  • Group 4 - I'll take a go at David Drysdale.
In all seriousness, I don't claim to be any type of Euro Tour expert, so follow my advice at your own peril on this one. All I can say about this tournament is I played the course on Tiger Woods EA Sports golf game on XBox and it has cool ending stretch.

Here are the slightly more educated picks for the Crowne Plaza:
  • Group 1 - Stickin to my guns...Zach Attack!
  • Group 2 - Toms is staring at me in group 2. I thought I was a kid who just robbed the cookie jar when Jeff Overton was sitting in this spot last week and the joke was on me. Hopefully Toms fares a little better.
  • Group 3 - Surprisingly, plenty of solid options here. I'm going to hold my breath and pick Pat Perez.
  • Group 4 - This may prove to be nuts, but I'm going with Tim Clark. He's a two-time runner up who is coming off injury, but he did manage a T25 at THE PLAYERS (the site of his only win), so I'm thinking he may be coming around. He's second in driving accuracy as well, but 181 in SGP. I would think about Verplank here too if he weren't W/D every week with injuries.
Best of luck to all, and check back tomorrow for our odds post.

British Open International Qualifying - America

While there's no Monday Qualifier for the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial, there is the American International Qualifying for the British Open going on in Texas.

The top 8 advance to the Open Championship.

http://scoring.theopen.com/scores_qual.sps?pageid=10&iTourNo=2012105&iTourId=7&Type=3

Sunday, May 20, 2012

HP Byron Nelson Championship - Wrap Up and Scorecard

So what do we make of Jason Dufner now? Wow. He's won two starts in three events and I saw on Twitter where he's led something like 10 of his last 28 rounds. He's first on the FedExCup list, third on the money list and is now a virtual lock to represent the U.S. in the Ryder Cup, as he currently sits in third place with over 4,000 points.

I've been trying to think of what Dufner's run has reminded me of, and one of the people that jumped to mind was Ben Curtis in 2006 when he knocked off the Booz Allen and 84 Lumber to earn a Ryder Cup spot. I think Dufner's run is a little better.

And how about Dicky Pride? He's grabbed over $1 million out of the Past Champion category. That means he'll have at least top 125 status next year, and will make the FedExCup this season.

Enough with the wrap up. Here's the scorecard on what we got right and what we got wrong on our previews leading up to the HP Byron Nelson.

The Good:
  • We made mention of Jason Dufner entering the week. He made our Dandy Dozen power rankings at number 10. When we looked at him in the odds section, we acknowledged his T8 last year, but didn't like that as the only history. Wind was a major factor last year, so we discounted his T8. He did make his way into our Yahoo! C group lineup for Saturday and Sunday and racked us up some points.
  • Six of our Dandy Dozen finished in the top 9 and 9/12 made the cut. Dufner was 10th and won, Leishman finished T3 and we had him 11th, Ken Duke and Phil Mickelson were T7 and we had them sixth and fourth respectively, Jason Day and Robert Garrigus were T9 and we had them second and seventh respectively.
  • In the Golf Channel game, Day was our group 1 starter and finished T9, where James Driscoll was our group 3 starter and finished T19.
  • Matt Kuchar was our "contender" pick and contended much of the week before drifting down to a T15 finish.
  • It was a good week in the Yahoo! lineup, as we ended the week with Jason Dufner in the lineup after Jeff Overton missed the cut. Matt Kuchar grabbed 46 points in the A list and a combination of Ken Duke, Marc Leishman and Jason Day netted us 103 points out of the B list. In all, we had a 209 point week in Yahoo and moved up to the 99th percentile in the Yahoo Game (714 Spring Rank & 867 Overall Rank).
  • Our "dark horse" pick came down to Duke and Leishman and we took Duke. Both were solid picks as Duke was T7 and Leishman was T3.
The Bad:
  • Well, there's the Jeff Overton pick. He missed the cut by a stroke after I pegged him to win, started him in the Golf Channel group 2 and started him for two rounds in the Yahoo C list.
  • I had Cam Beckman in my Golf Channel group 4, but the pickings were so slim that I barely consider that a miss. He was a stroke away from making the cut.
  • Adam Scott was puzzling. While he wasn't in any of our fantasy games (thankfully) he was fifth in the Dandy Dozen and missed the cut.
  • Louis Oosthuizen was 12th in the Dandy Dozen and missed the cut.
In summary, if you erase the Overton major snafu, it was a good week. Jason Day really could have put the icing on the cake with a decent final round; especially in the Golf Channel game.

We'll work hard to get better for next week.

Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial - Preview

The PGA TOUR stays in Texas for one of the most historic events of the year. The Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial generally boasts a strong leaderboard of accurate drivers, green finders and smooth putters. This is a par-70 layout, and length isn't much of an advantage. What is important, is splitting fairways, finding greens and sinking putts.

Here's a look at each champion and runner up since 2000 with their scores (280=even)
  • 2000 - Phil Mickelson (268) and Stewart Cink / Davis Love III (270)
  • 2001 - Sergio Garcia ( 267) and Brian Gay / Mickelson (269)
  • 2002 - Nick Price (267) and Kenny Perry / David Toms (272)
  • 2003 - Kenny Perry (261) and Justin Leonard (267)
  • 2004 - Steve Flesch (269) and Chad Campbell (270)
  • 2005 - Kenny Perry (261) and Billy Mayfair (268)
  • 2006 - Tim Herron (268) winner in playoff over Richard Johnson
  • 2007 - Rory Sabbatini (266) winner in playoff over Jim Furyk and Bernhard Langer
  • 2008 - Mickelson (266) and Tim Clark / Rod Pampling (267)
  • 2009 - Steve Stricker (263) in playoff over Steve Marino and Tim Clark
  • 2010 - Zach Johnson (259) and Brian Davis (262)
  • 2011 - Toms (265) and Charlie Wi (266)
As you can see, all of these winners are multiple winners, and you see plenty of Ryder Cup / Presidents Cup / major champions in the winner's circle.

The names that jump off the page due to their current form and course fit are: Zach Johnson, Rickie Fowler and Matt Kuchar.

Other names I'll be checking out as I deep dive this week: Blake Adams, Robert Allenby, Mark Anderson, Aaron Baddeley, Jonas Blixt, Jonathan Byrd, Chad Campbell, Bud Cauley, Greg Chalmers, Kevin Chappell, Stewart Cink, Tim Clark, Ben Crane, Brian Davis, James Driscoll, Jason Dufner, Ken Duke, Bob Estes, Steve Flesch, Harrison Frazar, Jim Furyk, Sergio Garcia, Brian Gay, Bill Haas, Brian Harman, J.J. Henry, Charley Hoffman, John Huh, Trevor Immelman, Colt Knost, Marc Leishman, Justin Leonard, Spencer Levin, Hunter Mahan, David Mathis, Will McGirt, Billy Mayfair, Bryce Molder, Ryan Moore, Kevin Na, Sean O'Hair, Geoff Ogilvy, Louis Oosthuizen, Jeff Overton, Ryan Palmer, Rod Pampling, Pat Perez, Carl Pettersson, Dicky Pride, John Rollins, Rory Sabbatini, John Senden, Kevin Stadler, Henrik Stenson, Kevin Streelman, Chris Stroud, David Toms, Cameron Tringale, Bo Van Pelt, Johnson Wagner, Scott Verplank, Nick Watney, Boo Weekley, Charlie Wi, Mark Wilson.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

HP Byron Nelson - Round 3 Wrap Up / Final Round Preview

Before I go into the third round of the HP Byron Nelson Championship, let me first apologize for not getting a post up yesterday. No, I wasn't pouting that my "winner" pick Jeff Overton failed to make the cut, but rather had family obligations that didn't allow me the time. Here are a few thoughts about the third round and pending fourth round.
  • Jason Dufner. Jason Dufner. Jason Dufner. It looks like he's not content on just being a flash in the pan. If he wins tomorrow, he'll be on the U.S. Ryder Cup team. Who expected that when the year started?
  • How about Dicky Pride? While it would look better for me if Jason Day or Dufner hoisted the trophy tomorrow, but me down as pulling for Dicky Pride. Should he win, he would join Ben Curtis as the second guy to win out of Past Champion status; both coming in Texas.
  • There are a lot of people with a chance to win this tournament. 8-under leads, but you could easily go back to 2 or 3-under to find the champion. Do drop a few big names, Mickelson is 2-under while Keegan Bradley and Matt Kuchar are both 4-under.
  • Tomorrow could be the day when a dark horse type guy wins. It's possible that a guy at 5-under posts a 66 tomorrow and the score holds. Don't count out Marc Leishman in a scenario like that.
I don't know what will happen tomorrow, but there are storylines everywhere.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

HP Byron Nelson - Round 1

Today was the day to attack at the HP Byron Nelson, as the wind seemed to lay down most of the day and low numbers were there to be had; even in the afternoon. Here are some notes.
  • Ryan Palmer leads at 6-under, and that's not really a shock.
  • We gave Marc Leishman some publicity early in the week and he's a shot off the lead alongside Alex Cejka. Too bad we left the Aussie on the bench in our Yahoo! game.
  • Matt Kuchar doesn't seem to be missing a beat. I haven't checked the lines, but I would have to guess he's the current favorite.
  • Jason Day had a nice round going but finished with a double bogey and ended the day at 2-under.
  • Our pre-tourney favorite Jeff Overton made plenty of birdies and bogeys en route to an even-par round.
  • How about Adam Scott shooting a 3-over? Didn't see that coming.
  • I heard on Twitter last night that Louis Oosthuizen was spraying his driver, and I guess that explains his 3-over. It's hard to image him spraying a driver.
  • A couple of guys worth pointing out at 4-under and tied for fourth are Andres Gonzales and Dicky Pride. Pride's playing out of Past Champion status this year and has done really well. Gonzales was a regular last year, but has basically been playing the Nationwide Tour, where he has a win and is second on the money list. These two are worth keeping an eye on.
  • Phil Mickelson shot even par in the morning wave and has to feel like he let a few get away.
That's all for today. Have fun watching tomorrow and we'll be back to share come cut-day thoughts.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

HP Byron Nelson - Final Predictions

With the tees going into the ground in a matter of hours, it's time for our final predictions. There are a number of "safe" picks out there, as well as some dark horse candidates that could do big things. I doubt any of these will be surprises based on my power rankings, but here goes.

  • My dark horse came down to Ken Duke and Marc Leishman, and I'm going with Duke.
  • For a contender, I'm going with an old faithful. I'll take Matt Kuchar, because I believe he returns to typical Kuch. He'll have a high finish, but it's a lot to ask for him to go back to back.
  • My winner came down to Jeff Overton and Jason Day. Ultimately, Overton feels to me like Dufner did headed into New Orleans, so I'm taking him for his first win.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

HP Byron Nelson - Odds

Topping the odds at this week's HP Byron Nelson is a familiar name. Phil Mickelson takes the top spot at 10/1 http://www.madduxsports.com/golf-betting-lines.html. As always, we'll take a quick look at everyone 50/1 or better as well as a few others that catch our eye.
  • 10/1 - Phil Mickelson - This makes sense in some ways and doesn't in others. I don't like the value here, as he hasn't posted top 20s in either of his last two starts, but tends to play better when he's playing frequently, and he's played the two weeks leading up to this. He hasn't always had this tourney in his rotation, but has been successful when he has.
  • 12/1 - Matt Kuchar & Adam Scott - Kuchar would have to have a major change in his recent history to all of a sudden win back to back. He's a win once a year kind of guy who notches a bunch of top 10s. I certainly could see him grabbing a top 10, or even a top five, but doubt he wins. Scott is a sexy pick this week, but it's hard to get a true feel for him with his less than regular play. He's racking up the top 25s, but not really contending. He does have a good history in Texas, but I don't know that I love him at 12/1.
  • 16/1- Keegan Bradley - This is fools gold. He's missed two of his last three cuts and won this event in some extreme weather conditions. He's better when he's sneaking up on a field, not when he's front and center.
  • 18/1 - Jason Day - Now we are starting to get to some odds that might make sense. The Aussie has a win and a fifth-place finish here in his last two starts, so you can make an argument for him here.
  • 20/1 - Louis Oosthuizen - This is flying a little blind, as he hasn't played here and he missed the cut at THE PLAYERS. I don't read as much into the MC last week as I do the lack of experience. He might win, as he's an excellent player, but I don't know that you can talk me into 20/1. Maybe 50/1.
  • 22/1 - Jason Dufner - See Matt Kuchar. His limited history is good here, but his only start was a T8 last year where weather was a major factor.
  • 28/1 - Ernie Els and Carl Pettersson - These are guys that I view pretty similarly this week. There is reason to be optimistic, but I don't know that I would bite here.
  • 35/1 - Ryan Palmer - I get that he lost in a playoff last year, but I think putting him this high puts too much emphasis on a bad weather tournament.
  • 40/1 - Brian Gay, Brian Davis, Jeff Overton, Johnson Wagner - Now we're getting somewhere. Here is where value is really matching potential. Gay had a good history here, but isn't in particularly good form. Davis has a second-place finish in 2009 surrounded by a bunch of missed cuts, but is in good form. Overton feels like a really good value here, and Wagner is about right.
  • 50/1 - D.A. Points, Charles Howell III, Scott Piercy and Padraig Harrington - I don't know that I'm inclined to jump at any of these. Maybe Paddy.
  • 66/1 - There are more than this, but John Huh, Jimmy Walker, Marc Leishman and Greg Chalmers could all be argued here.
  • 80/1 - Ken Duke might be the man here.
  • 100/1 - Watch out for James Driscoll
  • 150/1 - Danny Lee could be a super sleeper.
If I were to throw in some money on this one, I'd look the hardest at Day, Overton, Duke and maybe throw in a Driscoll. Guys like Mickelson and Scott stand a better chance of winning than some of those guys, but the price just isn't right for me.

Monday, May 14, 2012

BMW Charity Pro-Am Preview

I've been a little lax on the Nationwide Tour coverage of late, but I really wanted to put up something about the BMW Charity Pro-Am. For those unfamiliar with it, it's basically the Pebble Beach Pro-Am of the Nationwide Tour, celebs included. It plays as a three course rotation for the first three rounds in the Upstate of South Carolina, with Thornblade Club serving as the host course where the action concludes in the final round. Carolina Country Club and Greenville Country Club (Chanticleer Course) fill in the rotation during the first three rounds.

For those of you who have followed this blog for some time, you probably have caught on that I am from South Carolina, went to Clemson and play out of Thornblade Club, so this is an event high on my calendar. Here's what to expect from the courses, as I've watched this tournament and played two of the three courses numerous times.

Carolina Country Club is the easiest of the rotation, and it's not uncommon to see some 8-under 68s posted. Three of the four par 5s are easily reachable by the vast majority of the field. The par 3s aren't too difficult and overall the course plays pretty short. The back nine (which I think flips to the front just for the tournament) is probably my favorite nine to play anywhere. I find the other nine relatively boring.

Greenville Country Club (Chanticleer Course) - This is known as one of the toughest courses in South Carolina, and while I've never played it, guys like Bill Haas and Charles Warren frequent it. I've heard from one of the pros playing this week that it's in good shape, but may be overshadowed by host-course Thornblade. This will be the course where pros want to shoot anything under par and move on.

Thornblade Club - Founded by Jay Haas, who's house is on the sixth tee, this is the course where Lucas Glover also grew up and is a Tom Fazio design. It's a par 71 layout that's tough, but fair. You'll see 66s and 76s here. The front nine is generally easier than the back, but features three par 3s. Two of the four par 5s are easily reachable in two and the other two can be with a long drive in the proper position. The par 3s on the back are difficult, as is the par-4 closing hole which plays over 490 from the back tees.

Here are some guys who regularly play out of some combination of the three courses who are in the field, and may share an advantage. (Alphabetically) Justin Bolli, Brent Delahoussaye, Matt Hendrix, Ben Martin, David May, Charles Warren and Frank Wrenn IV.

I'll try and post a note or two about this as the week plays out.

HP Byron Nelson - Fantasy Preview and Power Rankings

With the HP Byron Nelson firmly in our cross hairs, it's time to take a look at how the field sizes up for the TPC Four Seasons. As you probably know, Keegan Bradley broke through with the win in last year's edition and Jason Day brought home the 2010 trophy. Here's how they stack up this week.

The Dandy Dozen Power Rankings:
  1. Jeff Overton - Overton at the Byron Nelson reminds me of Jason Dufner in New Orleans. He has a solid history (T8 in '11 and T2 in '10) and enters in decent form. He's 10/13 in cuts with five top 25s and two top 10s. The stats haven't been great, but he's a steady horse for this course.
  2. Jason Day - It's impossible to deny his recent record, as the 2010 champion finished fifth in 2011. He's 5/7 this year, and while he missed the cut at THE PLAYERS, he posted a solid T9 the week before at Quail Hollow.
  3. Matt Kuchar - Do I expect him to win? Probably not, but you can't ignore his form and his record here. He finished T6 here last year and has made each of his 10 cuts in 2012, with eight resulting in top 25s.
  4. Phil Mickelson - Lefty always seems to play better once he's warmed up, and he's played two weeks in a row coming into the week. He's got a win, a P2, a T3 and a T4 already in his 11 starts. It's been a while since he's played here, but he won in 1996 and finished T3 in his last start here in 2007.
  5. Adam Scott - The Aussie's played a light schedule, but cashed in each of his five starts with four of them resulting into top 25s. He also won here in 2008 and finished T3 in 2006.
  6. Ken Duke - Duke's putting together a solid year with 11/14 cuts and three top 10s. He finished T23 in 2009 and T7 in 2007.
  7. Robert Garrigus - He's feast or famine, notching five top 25s and two runner ups in his six made cuts. He's also missed six cuts. He's finished T20, T26 and T16 in his last three starts here, so I'm counting on a feast week.
  8. Ernie Els - The Big Easy has missed two cuts, but I'm not sure the Heritage and THE PLAYERS are really the best litmus for this tournament. It's been a while since he's played here, but but together a T13, T10, T7 run starting in 2006 and working back to 2004.
  9. Keegan Bradley - He's playing his worst golf of the year, with MC, MC, T35 in his last three starts, but he is the defending champion. I'm not sure how much that will matter, as the wind will be much less of a factor than the tornadoes they were playing in last year.
  10. Jason Dufner - His form is well documented and finished T8 here last year.
  11. Marc Leishman - The Aussie's last three starts here were MC, T12 and T8, but I'll give him a pass on the MC due to the extreme weather here last year. His current form isn't great, but he's made 9/11 cuts this year and is a legitimate dark horse.
  12. Louis Oosthuizen - He has no history here, which makes him tough to peg. He's coming off a MC at THE PLAYERS, but I'm trying not to read too much into that.
Next 5 (alphabetical) - James Driscoll, John Huh, Danny Lee, Carl Pettersson and Jimmy Walker

Yahoo! Game:
  • A-List - It doesn't get much safer than Kuchar, so while I don't expect him to win, I'll start him and keep Mickelson (over Scott) ready on the bench.
  • B-List - At the moment I've got Day and Duke starting with Els and Leishman on the bench, but I may mix this up and start guys with morning tee times on Thursday and Friday to maximize the wind conditions. I've got enough starts with all of these guys to do that.
  • C-List - I'm starting Overton with Dufner on the bench.
Golf Channel game:
  • Group 1 - I'm taking Jason Day. I was tempted to go with a safer Matt Kuchar, but stuck to my guns on my power rankings.
  • Group 2 - You gotta gobble up Overton here.
  • Group 3 - James Driscoll is comfortable here.
  • Group 4 - I'm giving Cam Beckman a shot here.
Best of luck to all!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

HP Byron Nelson - Preview

The 2011 HP Byron Nelson saw Keegan Bradley emerge on the world golf stage when he took home the title in brutally windy conditions. To put it in perspective, Bradley's 277 winning total was the highest since 1981. So when looking ahead for the purposes of projecting the 2012 version of this tournament, it might be wise to throw out last year all together. The list of past champions is also all over the place. Here are the winners, there scores (par 70) and the runner's up since 2000.
  • 2000 - Jesper Parnevik (winner) 269 - Davis Love III & Phil Mickelson (runners up) 269
  • 2001 - Robert Damron (winner) 263 - Scott Verplank (runner up) 263
  • 2002 - Shigeki Maruyama 266 - Ben Crane 268
  • 2003 - Vijay Singh 265 - Nick Price 267
  • 2004 - Sergio Garcia (winner) 270 - Robert Damron & Dudley Hart (runners up) 270
  • 2005 - Ted Purdy 265 - Sean O'Hair 266
  • 2006 - Brett Wetterich 268 - Trevor Immelman 269
  • 2007 - Scott Verplank 267 - Luke Donald 268
  • 2008 - Adam Scott (winner) 273 - Ryan Moore (runner up) 273
  • 2009 - Rory Sabbatini 261 - Brian Davis 263
  • 2010 - Jason Day 270 - Brian Gay, Blake Adams & Jeff Overton 272
  • 2011 - Keegan Bradley (winner) 277, Ryan Palmer (runner up) 277
The weather seems to be a big factor in this event, and looking ahead the chances of rain are slim and the winds on the tournament days vary, but are in the 10 to 15 MPH range each day.

This event has named some top-tier winners like Singh, Garcia, Verplank, Scott and Bradley. It's also produced some rank-in-file type winners like Parnevik and Sabbatini.

I'll do some deep digging over the next 24 hours, but here are some names in the field that jump out in alphabetical order. Blake Adams, Mark Anderson, Ricky Barnes, Cam Beckman, Kris Blanks, Keegan Bradley, Chad Campbell, Greg Chalmers, Kevin Chappell, Brian Davis, Jason Day, Graham DeLaet, James Driscoll, Jason Dufner, Ken Duke, Ernie Els, Martin Flores, Harrison Frazar, Robert Garrigus, Brian Gay, Padraig Harrington, Charley Hoffman, J.B. Holmes, Charles Howell III, John Huh, Matt Jones, J.J. Killeen, Colt Knost, Matt Kuchar, Danny Lee, Justin Leonard, Spencer Levin, David Mathis, William McGirt, John Merrick, Phil Mickelson, Louis Oosthuizen, Jeff Overton, Ryan Palmer, Pat Perez, Carl Pettersson, John Rollins, Rory Sabbatini, Adam Scott, Vijay Singh, Heath Slocum, Brendan Steele, Vaughn Taylor, Scott Verplank, Johnson Wagner, Jimmy Walker and Boo Weekley.

If it seems like I named half the field, I may have. It's probably going to be one of those weeks.

THE PLAYERS Championship - Final Wrap Up and Scorecard

Matt Kuchar broke through on the big stage and won THE PLAYERS Championship, and what a likable champion he is. Other members of the Sea Island mafia, Jonathan Byrd and Zach Johnson, were waiting to congratulate their buddy after the finale. Here are some thoughts on the final round.
  • Rickie Fowler is going to be a handful.
  • Ben Curtis reminds me of the Ben Curtis that got hot and made the Ryder Cup team a few years back. Interesting that this is a Ryder Cup year and he's up to 12th in the standings.
  • Speaking of those standings, Kuch is 3rd.
  • I don't think anyone's shocked that Kevin Na isn't in the winner's circle. Best of luck to him, but he's got some issues to deal with.
As for how we guided you at THE PLAYERS, here's our scorecard.

What we got right:
  • Zach Johnson was second in the power rankings, as well as our contender pick, and he finished tied for second.
  • Five members of the Dandy Dozen finished in the top 12. Three of them were tied for second (Johnson, Ben Curtis and Rickie Fowler). Luke Donald was sixth and Jonathan Byrd T12.
  • Johnson, Fowler and Curtis were all in our Yahoo! game. Johnson and Curtis all four rounds, and Fowler subbed in for the final two.
  • The Golf Channel Game had Curtis, and Johnson both notch T2s and carried the team, while Kevin Stadler (T25) and Lee Westwood (T61) brought up the rear.
  • In all, nine of our top 12 made the cut.

What we missed:
  • Lee Westwood let us down this week. Ernie Els too.
  • Rory McIlroy had a bad week, but his history here suggested that.
  • Jerry Kelly missed the cut as the dark horse, but he was basically a name drawn out of the hat.
  • No love for Kuch entering the tournament.
We'll see what we can do next week!

HP Byron Nelson - Monday Qualifier

Below is the link to the HP Byron Nelson Monday qualifier. There will not be a MQ for this week's Nationwide Tour BMW Charity Pro-Am.

http://ntpga.bluegolf.com/bluegolf/ntpga12/event/ntpga1219/index.htm

Best of luck to all!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

THE PLAYERS Championship - Third Round

I didn't expect the story of the third round of THE PLAYERS Championship to be Kevin Na, not because I didn't think he was capable of leading at the 54-hole point, but why he's the story. I haven't seen anything like what Na went through since Sergio Garcia at the U.S. Open at Bethpage Black. In fact, I tweeted earlier today that I half expected a New Yorker to yell "just hit the damn ball Kevin" like they did to Sergio.

I feel bad for Na. It can't be easy to be one of the best golfers in the world in one of the biggest tournaments in the world and fight a mental block like that over the tee shot on virtually every hole. I feel bad because of how he handled it. He poked fun at himself, apologized for that (along with his notorious slow play) and admitted that it's embarrassing and hard to deal with. In truth, I can relate to him. I have more swing thoughts going through my head when I'm about to hit a driver than anyone. Or so I thought. Na might have me beat.

Here are some other thoughts:
  • The lead is at 12-under, and as we chronicled a week ago, the average winning score since 2000 is 11.75-under. I don't see Na breaking par tomorrow, so that would mean someone sitting at 6-under could shoot a 66 (like Rickie Fowler did today) and steal it.
  • Speaking of Fowler....keep an eye on the Fowler/Curtis group tomorrow. I'll go on record as saying I don't think Fowler will win tomorrow, but it would be a HUGE story if he did.
  • Shameless plug...there are four members of our Power Ranking currently resting in the top 6 (Fowler, Curtis, Johnson and Byrd).
  • I look forward to 17 and 18 playing harder tomorrow. The pins couldn't have been in safer places today, which made fireworks rare. That won't be the case tomorrow.
  • Speaking of 18, how about Charlie Wi 4-putting today.
  • Tim Clark is T14 at 4-under. This should mark his best finish since his injury very early in 2011.
Watch with us tomorrow to see how in the world Na handled the final round pressure at the TPC Sawgrass. I, for one, feel an Alex Cejka coming on.

Friday, May 11, 2012

THE PLAYERS Championship - Round 2

At the half-way point of THE PLAYERS Championship, a trio share the lead at 8-under-par. Zach Johnson posted in the morning wave and saw Kevin Na and Matt Kuchar join him. TPC Sawgrass rookie Harrison Frazar is a shot back at 7-under, and there is a strong group lurking at 6-under. Here are some other notes from the second round:
  • Steve Stricker missed his first cut in forever.
  • Some other notables that missed the cut included Ben Crane, who fired a 67 in the first round and followed it up with a 78, Louis Oosthuizen, Jason Day, Webb Simpson, Ernie Els, Rory McIlroy, and Hunter Mahan. Els, McIlroy and Crane represented the only three of the Dandy Dozen to miss the cut.
  • Zack Johnson is earning his second spot on the power rankings this week.
  • All of our Golf Channel starters are T17 or better right now.
  • Tiger Woods shot an uncharacteristically low 68 at the Stadium Course today to make the cut by two. It might be worth filing away that he's much better playing the second of two weeks than the first.
  • Lee Westwood and Luke Donald are in a group at 3-under and T17 that need to be watched. They are only five off the lead.
  • Something I noted on Twitter earlier today (@RyanGolfBlogger), the past three winners of the Justin Tmberlake tourney are all T5 or better (Kevin Na T1, Jonathan Byrd T5 and Martin Laird T5).
I hope everyone sits back and enjoys moving day tomorrow!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

THE PLAYERS Championship - First Round

Round one of THE PLAYERS is in the books and Ian Poulter and Martin Laird share the lead at 7-under 65, with Blake Adams a shot back. Here are some thoughts on the first round.
  • The leaderboard is all over the place in the first round as you might expect. It didn't look like there was a big difference in scoring between the first and second round, which means if there is any advantage to be had on the Thursday / Friday draw, it's the Thursday P.M. / Friday A.M. group.
  • The current cut line resides at even par.
  • I don't know that many golf fans were shocked that Tiger Woods shot a 2-over 74 and is tied for 100th. There are probably a few that are surprised Hunter Mahan's sitting right there with him. I was more surprised that Ernie Els was among that group.
  • The only two members of our Dandy Dozen Power Rankings that reside on the wrong side of the cut line are Jason Dufner (+1) and Els.
  • Ben Curtis stayed hot with a 68. Jonathan Byrd is in good shape to keep up the momentum from his top 10 at Quail Hollow with his opening 68.
  • Our winning pick of Lee Westwood is at 1-under. He jumped around the 1-over to 2-under mark the entire day. Contender Zach Johnson is 2-under. Dark horse Jerry Kelly is out of it at 10-over.
  • It seems everyone is expecting the course to get very firm and fast for the weekend. The X factor could be the wind.
That's it for today. Have fun watching tomorrow and check back for some notes on the cut!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

THE PLAYERS Championship - Final Predictions

With hours to go until the first tee is in the ground at THE PLAYERS, I'll go on record with my final predictions. One thing that hasn't changed is that this feels like a wide open event. Most reports are suggesting that the TPC Sawgrass will play firm and fast, and most feel the winning score will be a little higher than average. With that in mind, here we go.

  • As a dark horse, I'll take a total shot in the dark with Jerry Kelly. He's fifth on TOUR in driving accuracy, and the firm / fast conditions should make his 176th driving distance a little less of a problem. He's made and missed his share of cuts here, but veterans like Paul Goydos and Fred Funk have shown that the fountain of youth can be found in Florida.
  • For a contender, I'll take Zach Johnson. Similar to Kelly, he's a fairway splitter and the conditions should equalize any length disadvantage he might have. He's 11/11 in cuts this year and has a good history at Sawgrass.
  • My winner is Lee Westwood. Everything feels like it's building up to this week for Westy, and I wouldn't be surprised if he walks away with it. Higher scores could favor him as well, as it would mean he might could afford a missed four footer or two.
I wanted to go with Tiger Woods as a dark horse, but that might not be completely fair. He'll likely be an interesting side story the first two days.

Best of luck to all!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

THE PLAYERS Championship - Examining the Odds

Tuesday is here, which means it's time to examine the odds for THE PLAYERS Championship. I'll reset the normal ground rules. We'll give a thought on everyone 50/1 or better, as well as a few people further down the line who could be interesting dark horse candidates. Odds are current as of the typing of this and can be found here http://www.madduxsports.com/golf-betting-lines.html.

One other disclaimer I'll throw out this week......there's no way I'd bet this tournament. But, for those who dare, here goes.

  • 9/1 - Rory McIlroy - Well, he's got a first, two seconds and a third this year in just five starts, but he's 0/2 in seeing the weekend at TPC Sawgrass. While I find it hard to believe he'll miss the cut again, I can't endorse these odds.
  • 14/1 - Luke Donald and Lee Westwood - Not bad value here. I'm on record as liking Westy already, Donald seems a solid fit for this course and has good history.
  • 20/1 - Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods - I wonder when the last time Woods was 20/1 and healthy in an event? Here's a lock for you.....Tiger isn't going to win. He said it himself in his presser today in not so many words, "you can't fake your way around this course." When I heard that, I kind of chuckled and said to myself  that he just eliminated himself. Lefty makes decent sense here. He's won here before, and he's hit or miss.
  • 33/1 - Jason Dufner, Hunter Mahan and Steve Stricker - I'll take this opportunity to expand on a Twitter question I fielded about why I left Mahan off the Power Rankins. I've endorsed Mahan plenty of weeks, and agree that he's an excellent driver. He may win. The last two years when he's finished high here it's been after top-20 finishes at Quail Hollow. He didn't have a good week last week, so I'm concerned the trend could hold for a below average week this week. It might mean nothing, as the courses are very different. As I said yesterday regarding Dufner, the wild card is how he will respond the week after he got married and how he will handle being a PGA TOUR winner. I see him having a good week, but not winning. Stricker hasn't been that sharp this year. He's been good, but not as good as he usually is.
  • 40/1 - Webb Simpson, Adam Scott, Jason Day, Louis Oosthuien, Justin Rose, Jim Furyk, Rickie Fowler, Sergio Garcia and Nick Watney - Good grief. Okay, hold on tight. Simpson's history here is bad, and he couldn't close the deal on his home course. Scott's won here before, but playing a light schedule, so who knows. Day's only top 10 was a T9 last week, but I'm not too excited yet. King Louis' an interesting thought. Why not? Rose and Furyk are as good a guess as any. It'd be a huge, but unlikely story for Fowler to suddenly go back to back. Garcia's first tournament after weird Masters interview, so I'm holding on him. I don't know what to think about Watney, but I don't like him enough to bet on him.
  • 50/1 - Zach Johnson, Ernie Els, Matt Kuchar, Keegan Bradley and Martin Kaymer - I like Johnson and Els here. Not so much Kuchar. Bradley isn't trending well at the moment and neither is Kaymer.
  • 80/1 - K.J. Choi and David Toms are both here. They were last year's playoff contestants.
  • 200/1 - Davis Love III - It's a long shot, but he's won here twice, and is the last guy to do so.
If I'm betting, I'll take Westwood, Johnson and Els.

Best of luck and we'll put our final predictions on paper tomorrow!

Monday, May 7, 2012

THE PLAYERS Championship - Fantasy Preview & Power Ranking

The daunting task of handicapping the strongest field of the year on one of the most famous courses in the world is upon us at THE PLAYERS. The TPC Sawgrass Stadium Course is the crown jewel of the PGA TOUR and the most famous of the Pete Dye creations.

It is a course that requires an incredible amount of course management and a person's "A-game." Missing in the correct spots is paramount, as is avoiding the big numbers lurking on many holes. Understanding when to settle for bogey versus trying to pull off an unlikely shot is important.....pay attention Phil.

But it's not all scary, as there are reachable par 5s and opportunities for birdies on other holes as well. And there's this little par-3 17th hole that's a pitching wedge or 9-iron for most players, but for some reason it doesn't play all that easy. Maybe it's the little bunker on the front right, but there's a chance it could be the water everywhere.

As for the power rankings, the same formula of previous success and current form was administered that usually is, but the outcome of the tournament can be wildly unpredictable. Here's my best shot.

The Dandy Dozen Power Rankings:
  1. Lee Westwood - I had him fourth last week when he was a somewhat controversial selection, and he paid off. He' on record as saying he really likes the course, he's on a roll and his last trip here in 2010 resulted in a T4.
  2. Zach Johnson - 11/11 in cuts this year and stays out of trouble off the tee (10th on driving accuracy). I like him to avoid the big numbers. He finished T12 here last year, so there is some precedence.
  3. Ernie Els - His recent history here isn't great, but he's had his share of good finishes over the years. What's more important, his current form is excellent and International players have done well here in recent years.
  4. Rory McIlroy - His history here is terrible, but he's 5/5 this year with a win, two seconds and a third. I don't know how you would drop him much lower.
  5. Luke Donald - He's coming off a third-place finish in New Orleans and he finished T4 at Sawgrass last season. He was runner up in 2005.
  6. Ben Crane - It's easy to forget about him after he finished T45 here last year, but he finished T4 in 2010, T5 in 2009 and T6 in 2008. Oh yeah, and he's a "Golf Boy." Bubba won the Masters, Mahan won a WGC and Rickie captured Quail Hollow, so why not the fourth member win the "fifth major?"
  7. Jason Dufner - Here are the facts. Won in his last start, T6 at last year's PLAYERS. Here's what we don't know. How will he play after his first win? How will he play after getting married a few days ago? I don't have the answers, but he's solid on paper.
  8. Ben Curtis - He's done really well since his win in Texas, finishing T13 in New Orleans and T5 at Quail Hollow. His history at TPC Sawgrass isn't anything special, but his form is.
  9. Phil Mickelson - He's had good weeks and bad weeks here. The biggest question will be his ability to manage the big numbers. If you've found this blog, I trust you follow golf closely enough to not need a big lecture on the pros and cons of Mickelson. He won here in 2007, so there's no reason he can't do it again.
  10. Jim Furyk - Sort of like Mickelson, he doesn't need a ton of commentary. MC last year, but T5 in 2009, so there's reason for optimism and pessimism.
  11. Jonathan Byrd - Coming off a nice week at the Wells Fargo and has a good history of cashing checks here. He was in contention in 2009 before a final-round 78 dropped him down to T37.
  12. Rickie Fowler - His history here is terrible, but you can't ignore him after his first win. There are plenty of unknowns as to how he'll respond to that win. Some people think he will turn into David Duval and roll off about five more wins this year, and others see him as a once or twice a year kind of guy. I don't know where I see him yet, but he's worthy of a spot in the Dandy Dozen.
Next Five (alphabetical): Sergio Garcia, Sean O'Hair, Adam Scott, David Toms and Nick Watney

Yahoo! Game:
  • A-Group - Plenty of good options here, but I'm starting Zach Johnson and benching Luke Donald. That means I'm leaving off Mickelson, Stricker, Garcia, Scott and Simpson among others.
  • B-Group - Starting Westwood and Els, while keeping McIlroy and Fowler on standby.
  • C-Group - Starting Curtis and benching Dufner.
Golf Channel Game:
  • Group 1 - Westwood over every major contender.
  • Group 2 - Plenty of good options, but Zach Johnson feel like the safest.
  • Group 3 - Padraig Harrington tempted me, but I went with my man Ben Curtis. Ride the hot hand!
  • Group 4 - I wanted to go DLIII, but passed in favor of Kevin Stadler.
One other note: While I don't give out one and done type picks often on this site, I'd stay away from anybody you might want to use later due to the strength of the field and the unpredictability of the course. I would pick someone riding a hot streak who you could live with not having later in the year. Maybe a Ben Curtis or Jonathan Byrd type.

Tomorrow we'll be back to look at the odds.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Wells Fargo Championship - Final Round Scorecard

Rickie Fowler broke through with his first PGA TOUR win, and boy am I glad I subscribed to PGA TOUR radio. It was hearing Fowler on the radio a few weeks ago talk about how he thought he would most likely break through at Quail Hollow or the Phoenix Open that gave me the final push to include him in last week's power rankings. Here's how some other parts of our preview panned out.

The Good:
  • Five players who finished in the top 10, and four who finished in the top 5 were in our Dandy Dozen Power Rankings (Fowler, McIlroy, Simpson,Westwood and Byrd). Ben Curtis was in the "next five" and finished T5, and was also our Yahoo! C starter.
  • Rickie Fowler comments - we had him 7th in the Power Ranking. In the Yahoo B group, we left him off, but commented that we hated leaving Fowler off. In the Odds post, we commented that the 40/1 group (Fowler, Haas, Van Pelt) had a lot of value, and Fowler was in good form coming in.
  • Jonathan Byrd ended up being a good choice to finish out the power rankings and to start the Golf Channel Group 2. Many people who I read were scared off by Byrd's inconsistent record here (and everywhere), but we stuck with him and were rewarded.
The Bad:
  • We were a little too high on Mickelson/Furyk/Mahan. Mickelson and Furyk finishing T26 isn't exactly what I had in mind. Mahan at T53 was a surprise as well.
  • I was equally surprised that "Contender" pick Bill Haas missed the cut. Glover as a "dark horse" was a true dark horse, so I'm not too disappointed about that.
  • Pat Perez and Will McGirt were misses in Golf Channel Group 3 and 4, but there wasn't much to pick from in either category.

Check back next week and let's see if we can identify any gems in the hard to predict PLAYERS.

THE PLAYERS Championship - Preview

The season's "fifth major" is about to get underway at the TPC Sawgrass, as THE PLAYERS Championship is next up on the schedule. When looking back at the past, there are a few trends that stand out, but not many.
  • International players tend do have fared well recently.
  • There are no repeat winners since Davis Love III won in 1992 and again in 2003.
  • The event produces consistent inconsistency.
For the fan who likes to sit back and watch drama unfold and unexpected outcomes, this is your week. It's the 5/12 matchup in the NCAA tournament. For the fantasy gamers out there, this is the week where ulcers are formed.

Here is the list of every winner and runner up dating back to 2000. I will also include the posted score. Keep in mind, Sawgrass is a par 72, so a 275 would equal 13-under-par etc.

  • 2000 - Hal Sutton (278), Tiger Woods (279)
  • 2001 - Tiger Woods (274), Vijay Singh (278) 
  • 2002 - Craig Perks (280), Stephen Ames (282)
  • 2003 - Davis Love III (271), Jay Haas / Padraig Harrington (277)
  • 2004 - Adam Scott (276), Padraig Harrington (277)
  • 2005 - Fred Funk (279), Tom Lehman, Luke Donald, Scott Verplank (280)
  • 2006 - Stephen Ames (274), Retief Goosen (280)
  • 2007 - Phil Mickelson (277), Sergio Garcia (279)
  • 2008 - Sergio Garcia (283), Paul Goydos (283)
  • 2009 - Henrik Stenson (276), Ian Poulter (280)
  • 2010 - Tim Clark (272), Robert Allenby (273)
  • 2011 - K.J. Choi (275), David Toms (275)
To make the math simple, the average winning score since 2000 is 276.25, or 11.75-under. The runner up is averaging 278.33, or 9.66-under. So, shoot 10 or 12-under, and you'll have a shot to win.

As you may can tell, there's not a consistent "type" of player above. You've got short hitters like Fred Funk and Tim Clark, and long hitters like Woods, DLIII and Mickelson. You've got major champions, and you've got Craig Perks.

Spoiler alert: When I dive into my fantasy preview tomorrow, I would expect that the advice I will give is don't burn anyone in any format that you may need later. This is the week to take some chances, because everyone's a gamble. Even though the tournament is called THE PLAYERS, it's really all about the course!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Wells Fargo Championship - Third Round

Moving day came and went at the Wells Fargo Championship and, like we predicted yesterday, some of the 6-under guys after 36 holes are very relevant with 18 to go. Rory McIlroy and Rickie Fowler are two and three back respectively. Here are some other notes.
  • Webb Simpson is in the lead by one. He played well enough, but not spectacular on Saturday. Another 69 on Sunday like he shot Saturday will likely be enough to clinch a victory.
  • Nick Watney failed to shoot under par with the lead.
  • Lee Westwood and Phil Mickelson finally realized a golf tournament was going on and each posted early 68s. They're still five strokes out of a top 10.
  • Ryan Moore's a shot off the lead after having to take a controversial one-stroke penalty in the second round. Also ironic, is that Webb Simpson lost a golf tournament in a playoff after incurring the same penalty in New Orleans last year. An interesting "pay it forward" situation to be sure.
  • Stewart Cink made a messy double bogey on 18 without finding the creek. Nothing like a three-putt to end the round.
  • Keep an eye on Patrick Reed. He's two out of a top 10, which would get him in the next full field event.
  • Sunghoon Kang is now Sung Kang. I thought about going by my middle name in college to switch it up a little bit, but the thought only last a couple of minutes. Looks like Kang entertained it a little longer.
That's all for now!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Wells Fargo Championship - Half Way Home

What a weird first 36 holes of the Wells Fargo Championship. Nick Watney leads at 12-under by one over Webb Simpson. That doesn't seem all that far fetched, but Watney's done next to nothing this year for a guy of his caliber; but he is a high caliber guy. Here are some highlights and oddities of the first 36 holes.
  • Phil and Westy are going off together in the third round, but in the second group out. Not second to last group out. Second.
  • Phil and Westy are in better shape than notables Tiger Woods, Vijay Singh, defending champ Lucas Glover, Kyle Stanley, Bill Haas and Keegan Bradley who all missed the cut. That's somewhere between 1/4 and 1/3 of the upcoming U.S. Ryder Cup team in all likelihood.
  • There was an advantage in the groupings, as the Thursday late/Friday early grouping had the better of the tee times. Quail Hollow finally began to play like the intimidating track that it is Friday afternoon. Wind was a factor and the greens began to firm up and add speed.
  • Moving day could get interesting tomorrow, especially if the morning plays a good bit easier than the afternoon.
  • 9/12 of our Dandy Dozen made the cut, including 7/8 of our Yahoo! lineup. Tiger Woods was the Yahoo! casualty, but was not a starter. Bo Van Pelt and Bill Haas were the other two that missed out on a paycheck this week. In the Golf Channel Game, Phil made the cut by the skin of his teeth, and J-Byrd's looking good in the Group 2, but Pat Perez and William McGirt are out to pasture.
  • The lead is at 12-under, but most of the guys in the top 10 caught the good end of the weather draw. I wouldn't be surprised if a few of the guys at 6-under still have a legit shot at winning this. Watch Rickie Fowler, Jonathan Byrd and Rory McIlroy closely on moving day.
Check back tomorrow for a third round wrap up and a final round preview!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Wells Fargo Championship - First Round Wrap Up

The first round of the Wells Fargo Championship turned into an unexpected birdie binge at Quail Hollow. In fact, the cut line currently resided at 1-under-par, with 79 players in red figures. Here are some thoughts on the first round.
  • Webb Simpson got the member bounces in the first round en route to a 7-under 65 and a share of the lead. He holed out for eagle on the par-4 eighth and snaked in a gigantic putt on the 12th for birdie after being on the wrong level.
  • Ryan Moore and Stewart Cink joined Simpson in the lead. What's even more surprising is that all three of the leaders played the afternoon wave, when scoring conditions are generally a little higher.
  • The group of guys one off the lead was led by Rickie Fowler and included Monday qualifier Patrick Reed.
  • Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Phil Mickelson all showed some rust, having not teed it up since the Masters.
  • There was a Nick Watney sighting at 4-under 68.
  • Defending champ Lucas Glover shot even-par 72.
  • I was shocked to see Bo Van Pelt shoot a 78 in the morning wave.
Let's sit back and see if Quail Hollow develops some teeth tomorrow, or if the scores stay low.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Wells Fargo Championship - Final Predictions

Game on in Charlotte, NC and it's time to go on the record with the final predictions of the Wells Fargo Championship. This is a tough one, but I'm going to stick with my formula of the picks being guys that I think otherwise would perform well at a Masters or U.S. Open, are currently in good form and have a good past history in this event.
  • The dark horse may not fit the mold for a normal dark horse, but I think you'll give me a pass for obvious reasons. I'm going with defending champ Lucas Glover. I think he qualifies since he hasn't cracked a top 60 this season. He's a U.S. Open champ as well. He seems confident that he's built for this course and his game is finally coming around after several injury bouts. I'll skeptically trust him.
  • My contender is Bill Haas. He was born in Charlotte and raised in Greenville, SC about an hour and a half away from Quail Hollow. He finished fourth last year behind other guys with local ties (Glover and Jonathan Byrd) and South African Rory Sabbatini. Someone forgot to tell Sabbatini that it was "South Carolina" ties playing well, not "South African."
  • My winner came down to a pool of players that included Mickelson, Mahan, Furyk and McIlroy. I'm going with Lefty, although none of the above are bad picks at all.
Check back tomorrow for first round thoughts.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Wells Fargo Championship - Examining the odds

Per our normal Tuesday scheduled, it's time to see how Vegas views the Wells Fargo Championship lineup and add our two cents. Rory leads off as the betting favorite at 15/2 http://www.madduxsports.com/golf-betting-lines.html. Our normal disclaimer applies here, in that all odds are as of the writing of this post. We will look at all those 50/1 or better and any others that catch our eye.
  • 15/2 - Rory McIlroy - I'm a little "wait and see" on Rory at these odds. He's got a win in 2010, but a skeptic could say it was due to one really hot round that happened to come on a Sunday. He didn't see the weekend in 2011, and you can't say it was a cold streak because he won the U.S. Open about six weeks later. I also don't love that he hasn't played since the Masters.
  • 9/1 - Tiger Woods - This feels tired. Everyone knows the deal. He won at Bay Hill where he's won a bunch and didn't have a good Masters. I'm in a holding pattern with Tiger.
  • 12/1 - Phil Mickelson - I can live with this. He tops my Power Ranking, so that he's a better value than McIlroy and Woods is a plus. It'll all come down to his putter.
  • 14/1 - Lee Westwood - Westy's history at Quail Hollow isn't good, but that doesn't scare me off. I don't think 14/1 is the right spot for him though. Maybe 20/1 or 25/1?
  • 20/1 - Hunter Mahan - Good spot for Mahan. He hasn't knocked on the door of the winner's circle here, but he's been consistently lurking around the top 10. The way he drives the ball makes him a good play. It'll come down to the putter.
  • 22/1 - Jim Furyk - He's got a great record here and is in really good form. I'm good with this.
  • 28/1 - Keegan Bradley - I have a hard time with this one. Coming off his first missed cut of the year, and no real sign that Quail Hollow is a good fit for him.
  • 30/1 - Webb Simpson - He's trending as a hot pick, but I'm not really sure why. His record is MC ('09), MC ('10) and T21 ('11). His form is solid, but not as good as guys like Mahan and Furyk and his record isn't nearly as good.
  • 33/1 - Zach Johnson - Zach Attack is coming off a second at the Heritage and had a nice year last year at Quail Hollow. He makes more sense than Simpson.
  • 40/1 - Bill Haas, Bo Van Pelt, Rickie Fowler - I think there's some good value here. Each of these guys has a top six or better in the last two years. Fowler and BVP are probably trending a little better coming in, but I'm fine with Haas here.
  • 50/1 - Jason Day, Nick Watney, Cameron Tringale, Carl Petterson and Kevin Na - Not a lot to go on with Day. Tringale's form is awesome, but his history here isn't. I don't get Watney here. He's not playing well right now. Na's an interesting thought here as is Petterson.
  • 66/1 - Jonathan Byrd - Feast or famine guy here. A T5 and a P2 to go with a slew of missed cuts. He's a better putter and iron player than his stats suggest, so if the stars align maybe.
  • 80/1 - Ben Curtis - He's hot and he's got a runner up here. He makes more sense to me than most of the guys at 50/1.
  • 80/1 - Lucas Glover - Defending champ is physically healthy, but I'm a little iffy on what may be going on behind the ears. No doubt he's got an excellent course record here. One thing to watch is that he hasn't contended this year and has been a little disinterested on the weekends. If he got into contention early in the week, I'd be interested to see if he played with a little fire.
If it were me, I'd look hard at Mickelson, Mahan, Furyk and maybe toss in one of the 40/1s. Probably Haas.

Best of luck!