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Friday, June 29, 2012

AT&T National - Round 2

At the 36-hole mark of the AT&T National at Congressional Country Club, Hunter Mahan has surged to the front at 7-under-par after second-round 65. There is a wide gap between the leader and those just making the cut, as all those at 6-over will play at least 54 holes. There will be another cut on Saturday.

Here are some thoughts headed into the weekend:
  • I like Mahan where he is. He'll have a tough task on his hands to hold onto the lead, but a final-round 61 at the Travelers and a 65 on Friday afternoon at Congressional with a 70 sandwiched between feels strong to me. He's the man to beat.
  • Bo Van Pelt did as we predicted and backed up. The first round leader is now five off the lead after a second-round 73.
  • Sliding Pat Perez in for Davis Love III was rewarded in the Yahoo! game, as he fired his second 69 of the week to move to 4-under and T5, while DL3 retreated.
  • Robert Garrigus is in a group two back and tied for second. You will remember that he's in the Golf Channel lineup this week and a member of the Dandy Dozen.
  • In all, 10 of the Dandy Dozen made the 36-hole cut with Lucas Glover falling a stroke short and K.J. Choi bombing out with a bad week. Glover fired an afternoon 69 on Friday and played the back nine in 32, but it wasn't enough to erase a bad Thursday morning round.
  • Tiger Woods will be worth keeping an eye on tomorrow (T11). He was sitting pretty headed into the weekend at the U.S. Open before falling apart, but he's been much more proficient in non majors. It's likely he'll at least notch a top 10.
  • For those curious, I'm leaving the Yahoo! lineup of Furyk, Mahan, Woods and Perez alone.
That's all for now!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

AT&T National - Round 1

With the first round of the AT&T National in the books, Bo Van Pelt leads at 4-under-par 67 in a tournament that is playing similar to U.S. Open conditions. Here are a few thoughts on the first round.
  • It will be interesting to see how Van Pelt handles the lead this week. Historically, he's a terrible closer when he's near the lead on the weekend, but going off early on Friday could give him a chance to distance himself.from the field.
  • Van Pelt isn't the only one on the front page of the leaderboard with closing issues, as Brendon de Jonge is a stroke back. in a group that includes Vijay Singh and Jimmy Walker.\
  • Jason Day, Pat Perez and Billy Hurley III fall in line at 2-under. Day and Perez get to go off early on Friday. For those of you that followed our play with Perez on the bench in the Yahoo! C-group, it's worth thinking about subbing him in for Davis Love III (1-under, but with a Friday PM tee time).
  • The real meat of the first round starts stacking up at 1-under and includes the aforementioned DL3, Dustin Johnson, Hunter Mahan, defending champ Nick Watney and last week's winner Marc Leishman. Each of these guys found a spot on our power rankings.
  • Speaking of the power rankings, the busts are shaping up to be Lucas Glover (+9), K.J. Choi (+8) and Bryce Molder (+7).
  • Tiger Woods (+1) and Jim Furyk (+2) didn't do anything to take themselves out of contention in their first round's after disappointing U.S. Open finishes.
That's all for today. Check back tomorrow night for cut-day thoughts.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

AT&T National - Final Predictions

Hours away from the first tee in the ground at the AT&T National, it's time to go on record with our final predictions. Considered in these picks are the comments from players and media members on site at Congressional. Everyone seems to think this week could make up for low scores at the 2011 U.S. Open, and at, or near, par could win.

With that in mind.....
  • My dark horse pick for the week is Kyle Stanley. Why is this a dark horse? Look at what he's done since winning at the Phoenix Open and you won't be impressed. He's changed caddys (again) and completely forgotten how to putt. What he hasn't forgotten how to do is strike the golf ball. If Congressional plays long and tough and he can just putt like a two handicap this week, expect him to have a shot.
  • My contender pick for the week is Hunter Mahan. Frankly, I'm not completely sure what to expect from Mahan. He makes the 54-hole cut last week on the number and fires a 61 on Sunday in the first group out. How much that should be weighed, I'm not certain. What I do know is if Mahan has his B+ game this week, he'll have a shot to win. At his best, he's one of the five best drivers on the planet. His struggle lately has been the flat stick. Sort of like Stanley, if he has a decent week with the putter he'll have a chance.
  • My winner pick is Jim Furyk. This didn't turn out to be a hard pick for me. He plays Congressional really well and he might be the most motivated of the top-tier players.
One more thought.....I've heard some buzz about Adam Scott this week from several angles. I've also noticed that some people that many of you read and I also hold in high regard are high on Scott this week. When one of these outlets casually asked why I backed away from Scott, my reason was his course history at Congressional. He missed the cut in the 2011 U.S. Open and the 2007 AT&T National. Add to that, he's got one stroke-play top 10 on the PGA TOUR this year (T8 at the Masters). Statistically, he stacks up well. He's 23rd in GIR and 30th in driving distance. Roll the dice with him if you wish, but I'm waiting for a little more play and a little better form from the Aussie. If he shows out this week, I'll be the first to point the finger at myself for being incorrect in my wrap up!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

AT&T National - Odds

As we do every Tuesday, we will take a look at this week's tournament which happens to be AT&T National at Congressional to see how the odds stack up. We are pulling our lines from http://www.madduxsports.com/golf-betting-lines.html and all numbers are current as of the typing of this post. Per usual, we will look at everyone 50/1 or better as well as others that appear to be of good value.
  • 5/1 - Tiger Woods - It's hard to argue him as the favorite. If it's a big tournament, but not quite a major, he's been solid. He's won Jack and Arnie's tournaments, so why not his own? He won the last time AT&T National was contested here in 2009 and stands a reasonable chance to do so again. He doesn't seem to be the best value, but who could blame someone for jumping on board.
  • 12/1 - Hunter Mahan - I wonder how much his final-round 61 at TPC River Highlands had to do with this? I know in my own power rankings it boosted him up a good four to six spots. That said, it's hard to invest at this number off of just one great round when he was no better than 1-under on any of the first three days. He was runner up to Woods in 2009, so it does make sense that he would be an eye catcher. It's hard for me to want to buy in at these odds after one great round that was preceded by three very mediocre rounds. So mediocre that he was the first off on Sunday.
  • 16/1 - Dustin Johnson - He's the right fit for this course in many ways. His best previous finish here was a T21 in the 2011 U.S. Open, but I really like his power and pedigree in a field that really isn't all that deep. Is the price right? Maybe.
  • 18/1 - Jim Furyk - I like him here. He's never finished worse than T7 in the three AT&T Nationals held here. I'm reasonably sure his caddy (Fluff Cowan) is a member at Congressional. I also really like that he has something to prove after not sealing the deal at the U.S. Open two weeks ago. He felt slighted by the comments that he was an older "plodder."
  • 20/1 - Adam Scott - The harder this course plays, the better I like Scott. It's been hard for me to get a read off of him all season due to his infrequent schedule, so I'd have a hard time investing in him at 20/1. That's not to say I'd be all that surprised if he wins.
  • 33/1 - K.J. Choi, Ryan Palmer, Nick Watney and Bo Van Pelt - Van Pelt wasn't in good enough form to seriously contend at the Travelers last week, so I don't see that changing at a harder course with some better top-end names in the field. Palmer has become a sexy pick, but you aren't getting enough bang for your buck at this number. Watney's an interesting thought. He would normally fit a course like this well and he's coming off a T21 at the U.S. Open, but his history at Congressional is nothing special. Choi had done everything from win here to miss the cut. He hasn't had a great year, but he's worth a look coming off of top 20s at Memorial and the U.S. Open.
  • 40/1 - Jason Day and Ryan Moore - The only reason Day is here is his runner-up finish to Rory McIlroy in the 2011 U.S. Open. His current form isn't good at all and I would be surprised if he was atop the leaderboard at week's end. As for Moore, see the comments on Bo Van Pelt. Moore was one of the best on paper last week and laid an egg, so there's little reason to think he's going to win a more prestigious event this week.
  • 50/1 - Ben Curtis, Bryce Molder, Martin Laird, Robert Garrigus and J.B. Holmes - This isn't a bad price for any of these guys. Curtis has been a little MIA lately and Molder was underwhelming at TPC River Highland. Laird, Garrigus and Holmes are all bombers, which doesn't hurt on this layout. Garrigus has posted a handful of top 30s here in the past and could break out of the pack.
  • 66/1 - Davis Love III, Cameron Tringale and Pat Perez - These guys are part of a larger group at 66/1, and each of these three have a shot to be somewhat of a dark horse winner.
  • 150/1 - Ricky Barnes and Lucas Glover - Barnes does hard courses well. Remember Bethpage Black? Speaking of the 2009 U.S. Open, I get the feeling that Glover is getting closer to a breakout week. Ask yourself this. Do you like Ryan Palmer at 33/1 more or less than Glover at 150/1?
This tournament feels fairly wide open, but if you gave me Woods, Mahan, D. Johnson and Furyk versus the field, I'd take the four heavyweights this week.

AT&T National - Fantasy Preview

After publishing our power rankings yesterday for the AT&T National at Congressional, we now turn our attention to the different fantasy games this week. As always, we will take a look at the Yahoo! and Golf Channel formats.

Yahoo! Game:
  • A-List - Jim Furyk is the easy choice as the starter. There are a number of ways to look at the bench, but I'm taking K.J. Choi over Adam Scott, Nick Watney, Robert Garrigus and Kyle Stanley.
  • B-List - I don't know that this has ever happened before, but my four picks go right down the list of average points per start. I'm starting Tiger Woods and Hunter Mahan with Dustin Johnson and Marc Leishman ready in reserve.
  • C-List - Davis Love III gets the nod, with Pat Perez coming off the bench nudging out Ben Curtis and John Huh.
Golf Channel Game:
  • Group 1 - All the power is in this one, per usual. I'll stick to my guns and take Furyk over Woods and Mahan.
  • Group 2 - Plenty of decent options here, but I'm going with Robert Garrigus over Marc Leishman and several others worthy of consideration.
  • Group 3 - I'll scoop up DL3 and run with it. Usually when there is a pick that seems so obvious to me it ends up not working out (see Ryan Moore in group 2 last week).
  • Group 4 - I don't see an option here I like any better than David Mathis. He's had a nice spring/summer to date and has a decent chance to cash a check.

Monday, June 25, 2012

AT&T National - Power Rankings

When putting together the Dandy Dozen power rankings for the AT&T National at Congressional, I took a strong look at past history at Congressional, as well as ball-striking and distance stats. I also erred on the side of players who have already been on Ryder Cup and/or President’s Cup teams, because each of the five winners of this event have also been on at least one of these teams. For whatever reason, this event hasn’t come close to producing a true Cinderella champion.
*A quick editorial note, this is being written on Sunday and pre-posted for Monday, so my apologies for any WD’s after the writing of this.
Power Rankings.
1. Jim Furyk – Furyk will come into Congressional with something to prove after failing to close the deal at Olympic Club two weeks ago. His history headed into this event is great, as he was 4th at Colonial, T13 at Memorial, T4 U.S. Open. He is equally good when the AT&T National has been contested at Congressional, finishing T7 2009, T3 2008 and T3 2007.
2. Tiger Woods – Here’s what we know about Tiger Woods 2012. He can win on tracks where he’s won before, but the majors are a bit of a problem still. Well, last time Congressional hosted the AT&T National he won. He also tied for 6th in 2007. He ranks 2nd in ball-striking, 9th in GIR and 26th in Strokes Gained-Putting.
3. Hunter Mahan – His final-round 61 at Travelers made a difference for me entering this week. He was striking the ball well all week, but finally got the putter to cooperate. In the three previous times this event has been contested at Congressional he finished 2nd to Woods in 2009, T12 in 2008 and T8 in 2007.  His ball-striking shouldn’t be an issue (2nd). It will come down to his putter.
4. Davis Love III – This isn’t a typo. DL3 is hot right now, finishing T16 at Memorial, T3 at the FedEx ST. Jude and T29 at the U.S. Open. His history at Congressional is also solid and includes a T11 at the 2011 U.S. Open, a T16 in the 2009 AT&T National and a T27 in 2008.
5. Dustin Johnson – Length is important here, so that fits D.J. perfectly. In limited history at Congressional, he was T23 in the 2011 U.S. Open and T44 in the 2008 AT&T National. Still, how do you not love his current form and power on this course?
6. K.J. Choi – Choi is an interesting pick. It took a combination of his win in 2007 and his current form (T19 Memorial, T15 U.S. Open) to allow me to overlook his missed cut in this event in 2009 and U.S. Open missed cut in 2011.
7. Nick Watney – I’m starting to come back around on Watney. He finished T21 in the U.S. Open, and while his history at Congressional isn’t all that impressive, he is 37th in GIR and 60th in ball-striking. When he’s at his best, he’s one of the best ball-strikers on TOUR.
8. Marc Leishman – Leishman is in top form, coming off a win at the Travelers that included a final-round 62. He’s also made the cut in his two previous trips to Congressional (T51 in 2011 U.S. Open and T25 in the 2009 AT&T National).
9. Brian Davis – He’s coming off a great week at the Travelers and a T25 at Memorial. His history here isn’t very good, but he gets the nod on current form.
10. Robert Garrigus – A little bit of a sneaky pick, but finished no higher than T25 and no lower than T30 from 2007-2009. His current form isn’t all that good, but the bomber is 3rd in distance, 15th in GIR and 26th in ball-striking. If he has a good week with the flat stick, who knows.
11. Bryce Molder – His name just keeps coming up in the Dandy Dozen. Form is good enough (T24 St. Jude, T64 Travelers) and his course history is good (4th in 2009). He’s also 24th in GIR and 7th in Strokes Gained-Putting.
12. Lucas Glover – This may seem off the board, but take a second look. He’s slowly getting his game in order after missing the first few months of the season and has a good history at Congressional; never missing a cut. He was T42 at the 2011 U.S. Open, T5 at the 2009 AT&T National, T54 in 2008 and T12 in 2007. What’s kept a couple of recent top-50 finishes from being top 20s are a couple of disaster holes and some short misses with the putter. If he can avoid the double bogeys and have a solid putting week, he could snatch a top 25 and maybe a top 10.
Next 5 – Blake Adams, Jason Day, Pat Perez, Kyle Stanley, Bo Van Pelt.
Normally, I included my fantasy selections for the Yahoo! and Golf Channel formats in today’s post, but will catch up with that on Tuesday or Wednesday. Please check back then!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Travelers Championship - Final Round wrap up

Marc Leishman popped the cork on his first PGA TOUR victory, and did so in dramatic fashion with a final-round 62 at the Travelers Championship. After he posted, he waited for over two hours before it became clear that nobody would catch is 14-under total.

Here are some thoughts on the final round:
  • Taking nothing away from Leishman, it has to be so much easier to post like he did to claim a first win than to have the pressure of a final pairing like Roland Thatcher and Brian Davis had to deal with. This isn't exactly new information, but once again how it played out.
  • Second to Leishman's win, maybe the most important thing to come out of this was Hunter Mahan's 61. Even with two wins, Mahan was beginning to free fall down the U.S. Ryder Cup rankings and hadn't done much of anything since the Masters. That one round could change the course of the second half of his season.
  • Matt Kuchar nabbed another ho-hum top 10.
  • Bubba Watson woke up from his post-Masters hangover to finish T2. He'll likely think about what could have been if he'd just birdied the par-4 15th instead of washing his tee shot.
  • Tim Clark is back, although I think I declared that after the second round. His T4 was prototypical of days gone by. Get near the lead, but don't close the deal. Rack up a high finish.
Here's what our site got right this week:
  • As mentioned yesterday, 11 of the 12 Dandy Dozen made the 36-hole cut, but we lost two more at the 54-hole cut. We ended the week with 7 in the top 30.
  • We pretty much nailed Webb Simpson when we said don't expect much better than a top 25. He finished T29.
  • Kuchar proved to be a good play in the Yahoo Fantasy game. (Mahan would have been nice in the final round had we left him in our starting lineup)
  • Blake Adams wasn't a bad pick in the Golf Channel Group 3 finishing T29
What we got wrong:
  • The blatant miss was Michael Thompson being second in the power rankings but not coming close to making the cut. Luckily, we didn't have him in any of our fantasy games.
  • I expected much better than a T47 for Ryan Moore, as he was the "winner" pick.
  • I missed on Bubba Watson. I had no confidence in him coming off a poor U.S. Open, but the familiar confines of the TPC River Highlands were just what his game needed.
  • I was mildly surprised with how poorly Bud Cauley played.
Other than that, it was just an okay week. We didn't have a ton of dumpster fires, but we didn't really knock anything out of the ball park either. We'll do our best to get it right next week!

AT&T National - Preview

The AT&T National returns to Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Maryland after a two year absence due to the 2011 U.S. Open. When gearing up for the upcoming week it was odd the things that stood out to me. For instance, the field is top heavy, but isn't all that deep. It seems that many of the European players have skipped back across the pond for the upcoming British Open. There are also some big-named Americans holding out of the event including Matt Kuchar and Webb Simpson.

When AT&T National was last contested at Congressional in 2009, Tiger Woods won at 267 by a stroke over Hunter Mahan. Woods was T3 in GIR, 4th in driving distance, T7 in driving accuracy and T13 in putts per round that week. The premium is on ball-striking, and distance is more important here than most places. If you want a quick reminder of that, think Rory McIlroy in 2011 at the U.S. Open.

Since the event began in 2007,  here is the list of winners and runner ups. Keep in mind, only 2007-2009 were at Congressional. The 2010 & 2011 editions were played at Aronimink Golf Club in Newton Square, PA.
  • 2007 - K.J. Choi (271), Steve Stricker (274)
  • 2008 - Anthony Kim (268), Fredrik Jacobson (270)
  • 2009 - Tiger Woods (267), Hunter Mahan (268)
  • 2010 - Justin Rose (270), Ryan Moore (271)
  • 2011 - Nick Watney (267), K.J. Choi (269)
One other thing worth noting, Rory McIlroy won the 2011 U.S. Open at 268 and Jason Day was runner up at 276.

As we look ahead to the upcoming power rankings, expect names like Tiger Woods and Jim Furyk to be high up the list. Anyone else think Furyk's going to come out with something to prove after his U.S. Open collapse on a track where he's finished no worse than T7 from 2007-2009?

***To the readers that come here often, expect an unusual week on the blog due to the birth of my second child no later than Monday. For instance, the Dandy Dozen may be written on Sunday and set to post on Monday, but would not include the Fantasy lineups. That could also mean that some stats could be the stats prior to the end of play at the Travelers. I'll try to have everything caught up in some form or fashion by Wednesday evening. Thanks for understanding.***

United Leasing Championship - Monday Qualifier

The Nationwide Tour has a new event on the schedule to be contested June 28th-July 1st, and the final spots will be determined via Monday qualifier. The United Leasing Championship at Victoria National Golf Club will feature a par-72 7239 layout.

Here is the link to the informational page for the Monday qualifier to include results and tee times.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Travelers Championship - Round 3

As the third round of the Travelers Championship drew to a close, two men stood atop the leaderboard. Brian Davis and Roland Thatcher will each head into Sunday looking for their first PGA TOUR victory, and will begin the day at 12-under-par 198.

Here are some thoughts to close out the third round and preview the finale:
  • I would imagine there are many out there who would like to see Brian Davis or Roland Thatcher pull off their first win tomorrow. It feels like Davis has been a close-but-no-cigar man, and he has five runner ups, but Thatcher has two as well.
  • Tied for third and two strokes back is James Driscoll. He's also looking for his first win.
  • Joining Driscoll is Stuart Appleby and John Rollins, each without a win since 2010 and 2009 respectively.
  • There's some meat in the group at 9-under (3 back) including Matt Kuchar and Padraig Harrington. When I looked it up, I was surprised to see that Harrington hasn't won on the PGA TOUR since the 2008 PGA Championship. Defending champion Fredrik Jacobson is also in that group.
  • Webb Simpson seems to have finally run out of gas, and he enters the finale at 7-under 216.
  • As Simpson runs out of gas, it seems 2012 Masters winner Bubba Watson might finally be waking back up with his 65.
  • David Mathis went from 18-hole leader to one of 18 to MDF.
  • The first group off in the final round includes Hunter Mahan. What is going on there? Well, he's first in driving accuracy and T5 in GIR, but 66th in putting. I wonder how quickly that can be fixed?
Here's a quick update on how our site's doing this week:
  • 11 of our 12 Dandy Dozen made the 36-hole cut with Michael Thompson the lone casualty. Two more (David Mathis and John Merrick) were snared in the 54-hole cut.
  • Our winner pick of Ryan Moore enters the final round T57. He's not going to win.
  • Our contender pick of Bo Van Pelt is contending for his usual back-door top 10. He's T20 entering the final round.
  • The dark horse was Bud Cauley. Oops.
  • The Yahoo! game is hanging in their with Matt Kuchar (T6), Bo Van Pelt (T20), Bryce Molder (T28) and Harris English (T44) entering the final round.
Enjoy the final round from TPC River Highlands.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Travelers Championship - Round 2

The second round of the Travelers Championship was unable to be completed on Friday due to several weather delays will spill over into Saturday. Fredrik Jacobson is the familiar name atop the overnight leaderboard at 9-under-par 131. There are a number of guys on the course that could catch him and include Nathan Green and Charley Hoffman, each a stroke back with nine and 12 to play respectively.

Here are some notes headed into Saturday:
  • First, for those in the Yahoo! league, you will have to set your round 3 lineups by 5am ET. That means you have to give consideration to guys who are in the house and safe in terms of the cut line, as opposed to guys on the course and on the bubble. The current cut line is T67 even-par. Expect that to likely move to 1-under with an outside chance of 2-under.
  • Knowing that, I've subbed Bryce Molder in for Bo Van Pelt and Harris English for Bud Cauley, who's already toast. I'm tempted to plug in Zach Johnson (in the house at 3-under) for Matt Kuchar (3-under, but 13 to play), but I feel confident enough that Kuch make the cut.
  • Blake Adams is plugging along at 7-under and in the house. He's looking good in our Golf Channel Group 3 slot.
  • Ryan Moore rebounded to shoot a 3-under and finish 36 holes squarely on the cut line at 1-under.
  • David Mathis dropped to 3-under with his 3-over second round. Sleeping on the lead didn't agree with him it would appear.
  • There are a couple of "welcome back" awards to hand out at 4-under to major champions. Lucas Glover fired a 66 in the second round and has a shot to post his first solid finish of 2012. His putter is hot, which is the key with Glover. As he goes to sleep, he's 5th in SGP and gained over 4 strokes on the field in the second round. Keegan Bradley is also at 4-under and looking to jump start his Ryder Cup hopes.

More weather could lead to more delays Saturday, so expect a schedule-challenged weekend at the Travelers. That's all for now.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Travelers Championship - Round 1

Round 1 of the Travelers Championship is in the books with David Mathis leading the way at 6-under-par. Here are a few observations from the first round.
  • I'm a little surprised that 6-under has the lead by itself. It's not unusual to see some 62s and 63s at this event, so just one man shooting a 64 on a Thursday isn't taking it all that deep.
  • We must have gotten our power rankings upside down. Mathis was the last of the Dandy Dozen, but the first two (Moore and M. Thompson) are T87 and T149.
  • Freddie Jac showed there was no hangover from his U.S. Open contention, and he's acquainting himself nicely as a defending champion. He's tied for second a stroke back.
  • Webb Simpson is tied for fifth at 4-under.
  • Patrick Cantlay's first round as a pro was a rocky one, as he posted a 5-over 75.
  • I'm ready to declare Tim Clark "back," as he posted a 66 and seems back in the swing of things.
  • As for fantasy notes, I'm holding tight for another day. For some reason I don't feel like this leaderboard has fully taken shape and I'm going to give it another day to come together.
That's all for today!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Travelers Championship - Final Predictions

It's hard to believe we are less than 12 hours away from another tournament, but the Travelers Championship is here; ready or not. That said, here are the picks:
  • Dark horse - I'll take Bud Cauley. We are finally getting to some tournaments where he has some history to look back at, and he played well at TPC River Highlands last year. He's cooled off a little, but he's coming into this week fresh and could show up on a leaderboard.
  • Contender - Bo Van Pelt is nothing if not a contender. I got into a nice discussion with someone on Twitter last night about Van Pelt and his closing ability. In the end we agreed that he hasn't won enough (once) for the amount of times he's been in contention (43 top 10s). He should find some birdies this week and scare the leaderboard, but I don't know that I'd trust him to win for the second time in 309 career starts. If he gets out of his own way, his history here is solid as is his stat sheet for how this course plays.
  • Winner - I like Ryan Moore this week. He's twice been a runner up, so the course suits him just fine. He's also had a very nice year, so form is good.

A few more notes:
  • Mahan is the big wild card this week in my mind. He's had a bad run of late, but easily could get hot and win, or at least top 10. In a number of fantasy formats, he's a true risk/reward pick.
  • Who knows what will happen with the likes of Webb Simpson and Bubba Watson. That's a psychology experiment, not a golf one.
  • Some people I highly respect really like Matt Kuchar this week, but I'm still not so sure. He's certainly one of the best players in the field, but I think he's a little better on harder courses.
  • Patrick Cantlay and John Peterson are worth following closely. I saw in the Rotoworld chat that Ryan B. said a two-way tie for 14th would give Peterson Special Temporary Status allowing him unlimited sponsors exemptions. Cantlay might find himself under a different kind of pressure now that he's a pro. He's the same golfer he was a week ago, but now it's a job, and he can't always free wheel and hope for the best and brush off the worst. Or can he?
Best of luck to all!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Travelers Championhip - Odds

Per usual on our Tuesday rotation, we'll take a look at the odds for the Travelers Championship. While I'm considering changing up the format to a simple "Five to consider" and "Five to avoid", I'm going to stick with a brief tidbit on everyone 50/1 or better and any others that catch my eye for now. As always, the odds are current as of the typing of this and can be found here http://www.madduxsports.com/golf-betting-lines.html.

This week see's a three-way tie for the lead-off position. Here we go:
  • 14/1 - Matt Kuchar, Webb Simpson and Hunter Mahan - Stay away from Simpson. His week is a whirlwind and he's still trying to process his win at Olympic Club. He's not focused or ready enough to turn the page and go back-to-back. Hunter Mahan is average at best of late. A T19 at Memorial is his best finish since the Masters and only top-35 finish. That said, he's got a win and two runner ups here, so I would buy the thought that there is a one in 14 chance he wins. Kuchar is a bit perplexing to me. I think he could win, but he hasn't played here since 2008 when he finished outside the top 50. Granted, he's a completely different player now than he was in 2008. I'm wondering why he's playing this week. Ryder Cup points?
  • 16/1 - Zach Johnson - He's a great putter, but I'm chilly on his form. He should have eaten up the FedEx St. Jude, but missed the cut. I'm not convinced which Zach will show up this week and these odds aren't long enough for me to want to invest.
  • 20/1 - Padraig Harrington - A bunch of birdies are needed to win at the Transitions Championship. Harrington does hard well, but not going low. I'm not a fan of him in a birdie fest.
  • 22/1 - Bubba Watson and Ryan Moore - I know Bubba won here two years ago, but stay away. He's done nothing since his Masters win to give anyone reason to invest at these odds. 50/1 maybe. Ryan Moore makes plenty of sense, as he's twice a runner up and playing well right now. I'd be on board with Moore.
  • 25/1 - Bo Van Pelt and Fredrik Jacobson - I've said this before, Van Pelt plays really well on the weekdays, but fades on the weekends. His stats set up well here and he's had a T9 in his last three tries with no missed cuts. That's about where I see him ending up this week. As for Jacobson, two things are working against him. For the first time in his PGA TOUR career, he's a defending champion. He's also coming off the pressure of being in serious contention at the U.S. Open. I'll pass.
  • 33/1 - Keegan Bradley, Louis Oosthuizen and Ian Poulter - This group has a high name value, but none of them make much sense to me.
  • 50/1 - John Huh, Bryce Molder, Brendan de Jonge and Chad Campbell - Of these three, I like Molder much more than the others. de Jonge's similar to Van Pelt, but even worse on the weekends. Campbell could always catch lightning in a bottle, but that's what it would take. I like Huh, but I'm not sure he has enough of an advantage having never played here before.
  • 66/1 - There are a ton of guys here, and many of them I like more straight up than the guys above. Included in that would be Michael Thompson, Harrish English, Blake Adams, Bud Cauley and John Merrick.
  • 80/1 - Don't get too excited about Patrick Cantlay here. I like him, as he shot a 60 in the second round last year. There are too many eyes and too much pressure on him in his first pro start to win.
  • 125/1 - David Mathis - He's been playing really well of late and had a top 25 here last year.
If I were betting, I'd put together a portfolio along the lines of Mahan, Moore, Molder, Cauley and Mathis. You've got a favorite, a long shot and some guys in the middle who are good value for their history and skill set here.

Best of luck!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Travelers Championship – Fantasy Preview and Power Rankings

If you are like me, you are probably suffering a bit of a U.S. Open hangover and are having a little trouble gearing up for the Travelers Championship. That said, we’ve found a way to keep our nose to the grindstone and pump out another round of Dandy Dozen power rankings and fantasy advice.
It’s always a little hard to gauge how someone coming off of a major championship like the U.S. Open is going to respond to playing the very next week. As I write this, there is always a chance that several golfers could ultimately pull out of the event, but at present Webb Simpson, Michael Thompson, Matt Kuchar and Fredrik Jacobson are all among those coming from the fires of contention across the country to play in the Travelers Championship.
All of that having been said, the key to winning at the TPC River Highlands is finding a way to take the scores low. It’s a par-70 that will require something in the 15 to 20-under-par range in an average year to win. It is a course that frequently rewards solid putters, and sometimes rewards elite ball-strikers like Hunter Mahan. Whatever the strength, an elite putter with a solid ball-striking week or a top-flight ball-striker with an above average putting week will contend.
This week’s Dandy Dozen are:
  1. Ryan Moore – He’s made his last seven cuts including three top 8s on the PGA TOUR. He’s also twice been a runner up at the Travelers, most recently last year. If you look back a few more years, he was T13 in 2010 and T4 in 2009.
  2. Michael Thompson – This is the first stab at trying to predict how the grind of a U.S. Open will play out on a potential contender. The facts are he finished 4th here in 2011 and is coming off of a T2 at the U.S. Open. He also ranks 5th in Strokes Gained-Putting. My best guess is he will be in a good mindset. He almost wiggled his way into a playoff and managed to open and close with rounds under par at a course that is both tough, but comfortable for him.
  3. Hunter Mahan – This is a tough one. He’s won here and finished runner-up twice. He’s also won twice this year. That’s half the story. The other half is that his best finish since the Masters was a T19 at Memorial. His form is in question. If he’s to get his season turned around, this is the perfect place. That said, if he has an off week here it may be a sign that something is off in his game.
  4. Bryce Molder – He’s got the stats for this course (16th in GIR and 2nd in SGP). He’s also had success here (T6 in 2011 and T19 in 2009). While he was probably hottest late January to late March, he’s coming off of a T24 at the FedEx St. Jude Classic, so there are no red flags from a current form standpoint.
  5. Blake Adams – He just keeps showing up lately, doesn’t he? He’s made his last five cuts including a T12 at THE PLAYERS, a T19 at the Memorial and a T21 at the U.S. Open. That earns him a check for current form. He ranks 44th in SGP, which will likely be important this week and he finished T9 here last year. He’s got it all on paper. Now we just need him to take it to the course.
  6. Fredrik Jacobson – This is a tough one for me. He’s the defending champion, but it’s the first time he’s had the occasion to defend a title. He’s also coming off a U.S. Open that saw him enter the final round two off the lead, which could have been pretty draining. On paper the form and history look great headed into this, but I wonder if there aren’t too many distractions for a tired “Junkman.” He’s earned this spot on the power rankings, but I don’t know that I’d play him as high as he is on paper.
  7. Bo Van Pelt – What to do with Bo? He’s 4th in SGP and 20th in ball-striking. He’s also finished T13, T34 and T9 here in his last three trips. Like most week’s, this is going to be one of those weeks where there are plenty of solid choices on paper, but picking the right one could be tough. If we know anything about Van Pelt, it’s that he isn’t a closer.
  8. Webb Simpson – This doesn’t really require data or stats or history. This is a psychology experiment. For starters, I wouldn’t be shocked if he withdrew before the tournament and wouldn’t blame him either. I would expect this to be a week full of distractions and media requests for Simpson, so while he’ll be one of the best players in the field, I don’t know that I expect him to do much better than a top 25.
  9. John Merrick – He is coming off a solo 2nd at the FedEx St. Jude Classic and his last three trips to the TPC River Highlands have resulted in T9, T34 and T11. Add to that, he’s 23rd in SGP and 86th in SGP. If he has a better than average week with the putter, who knows?
  10. James Driscoll – The Massachussetts native returns to one of his better venues in the northeast. He finished 5th here in 2011, T27 in 2010 and T34 in 2009. He’s 15th in SGP.
  11. Matt Kuchar – This is a head-scratcher, and I wonder if Kuch is playing to try and add some Ryder Cup points to his total. He hasn’t played here since 2008 when he finished T52. Everyone knows he’s a solid all-around player. I just really wonder why he altered his schedule to rush across the country the week following the U.S. Open. This is another that I wouldn’t be shocked to see W/D.
  12. David Mathis – He’s not all that different from Blake Adams. He’s played really well since the Valero Texas Open and made six top 25s in his seven made cuts. He’s 27th in SGP and tied for 17th here in 2011.
The next 5: Zach Johnson, Patrick Cantlay, Padraig Harrington, Harris English and Bud Cauley.

Now onto fantasyland…….
In the Yahoo! game:
  • A-List: I'm going to start Kuchar with Z. Johnson on the bench. The obvious omission is Webb Simpson, but I have such a hard time knowing what to expect from him that I'm going to lay back. Kuchar hasn't missed a cut and Johnson is a great putter so they should both rack up decent points.
  • B-List: I'm starting Bo Van Pelt and Ryan Moore and keeping Hunter Mahan and Bryce Molder ready on the bench. I said earlier that I'm a little worried about Jacobson coming off of contending at the U.S. Open coupled with defending a title for the first time. Van Pelt starts because he's usually a solid play early in weeks, plus I'm not sure about Mahan. I want to watch him for a round and see if he looks like the guy who's won this event before and won twice on TOUR this year, or the guy that's on a bit of a cold snap.
  • C-List: I bypassed some guys on my power ranking to start Bud Cauley and have Harris English ready on the bench. It stands out to me how low each of these guys can go and that's important here. English went really low in his British Open qualifier. On paper, guys like John Merrick make a ton of sense, and I originally had Merrick and Mathis plugged in but I was already kicking myself for bypassing English and Cauley. Patrick Cantlay is an interesting play here as well.
Golf Channel game:
  • Group 1: There is plenty of temptation here, and the trick is avoiding it. Many people are going to want to take Webb Simpson and ride the "hot hand," but don't. Sure he could win, but he's in total unchartered territory. Kuchar will be sexy too, but he's consistently skipped this event since 2008 which is a little telling. Zach Johnson isn't in good form. This pick comes down to Hunter Mahan and Bo Van Pelt. I feel like Mahan has a high upside, but I'm not wild about his form. With Van Pelt, I feel like I'll get a top 10 or 15 at worst. I'm taking Bo Van Pelt.
  • Group 2: Take Ryan Moore and don't think twice.
  • Group 3: There are some crafty options here. Blake Adams, David Mathis, Kevin Streelman, John Merrick, J.J. Henry and they just keep going. I'll take Adams. I like the way he's trending and he had a T9 here last year.
  • Group 4: Usually I get to this group and there are one or two guys that "fit." I don't see it this year. I was hoping a Patrick Cantlay or someone like that would slip, but that didn't happen. I'm going totally with my gut and taking Kenny Perry. He's won here before and taking a week away from the Champions Tour to play with the youngsters. 
Best of luck and have fun!

Tomorrow will be odds day, but I want to throw out a fair warning. Sometime in the next week I'll be celebrating the birth of my second child, so if you come back for an update and don't see an expected post, that's probably the reason.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Travelers Championship - Preview

After a challenging week at the U.S. Open, the PGA TOUR heads to Cromwell, Connecticut for the Travelers Championship at TPC River Highlands. While pars were the goal at Olympic Club, birdies by the bunches will be needed to win the Travelers.

Since 2000, the average winning score has been a tick over 16-under-par 264. The highest score to claim a victory in that time was the 270 posted by Woody Austin in 2004 while the low was a 258 by Kenny Perry in 2009.

When looking at the list of past champions and runners up, one thing that stood out was putting is a premium over length. To win, a player also has to be able to take it really low at least one round, and likely play each of his four rounds in the 60s.

Here's the list of winners and runners up since 2000 (scores in parenthesis):
  • 2000 - Notah Begay III (260), Mark Calcavecchia (261)
  • 2001 - Phil Mickelson (264), Billy Andrade (265)
  • 2002 - Mickelson (266), Jonathan Kaye & Davis Love III (267)
  • 2003 - Peter Jacobsen (266), Chris Riley (268)
  • 2004 - Woody Austin (270), Tim Herron (270)
  • 2005 - Brad Faxon (266), Tjaart van der Walt (266)
  • 2006 - J.J. Henry (266), Hunter Mahan & Ryan Moore (269)
  • 2007 - Hunter Mahan (265), Jay Williamson (265)
  • 2008 - Stewart Cink (262), Tommy Armour III/ Mahan (263)
  • 2009 - Kenny Perry (258), David Toms & Paul Goydos (261)
  • 2010 - Bubba Watson (266), Corey Pavin & Scott Verplank (266)
  • 2011 - Fredrik Jacobson (260), Ryan Moore & John Rollins (261)
Looking ahead to tomorrow's power rankings and fantasy preview, I would expect that names like Mahan, Ryan Moore and Fredrik Jacobson will be highly considered (depending on how Jac does in the open finale today and how draining that could be).

Check back tomorrow for more!

Travelers Championship - Monday Qualifier

The open qualifier for the Travelers Championship will take place on Monday, June 18th at the Gillette Ridge Golf Course.

Here's the link to the leaderboard:

Best of luck to all!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

U.S. Open - Round 3

Three men entered the third round of the U.S.Open tied for the lead. Of those three, only Jim Furyk held onto a share of the lead and he was joined at 1-under-par by Graeme McDowell. David Toms (76) and Tiger Woods (75) each had days to forget.

Here are a few thoughts headed into the final round:
  • 54-hole leaders haven't finished the job at Olympic club despite those leaders being Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer, Tom Watson and Payne Stewart. Like tonight's leaders (Furyk and McDowell) those guys owned major championships as well.
  • The course was too easy for a U.S. Open today. I may be in the minority, but I don't want to see more than one or two people break par tomorrow.
  • People make a big deal about the scores being around even-par, but really it would be pretty easy to call this a par 72 instead of a par 70 when you look at the length of a couple of the par 4s on the front. If you look at it like that, this tournament would have 41 players under par.
  • I believe that either Furyk or McDowell will win tomorrow despite what Olympic Club history suggests, but if they don't it will be interesting to see if it's Lee Westwood's day.
Here's to a memorable final round!

Friday, June 15, 2012

U.S. Open - Round 2

With several players still on the course finishing up the second round, the U.S. Open cut should fall at 8-over-par, and the lead is a three-way tie at 1-under being shared by Tiger Woods, David Toms and Jim Furyk. It felt like Olympic Club played a little tougher in the second round than the first as evident by the lead dropping from 4-under to 1-under and only three players remaining under par.

Here are some thoughts from the second round:
  • Tiger looks in control off the tee and with the irons. He's putting well enough too. He'll have to stay sharp, as one would expect that down-the-middle drivers Furyk and Toms won't give away too many shots on Saturday.
  • You kind of get the feeling that anyone making the cut could shoot a 3-under 67 on Saturday and find themselves climbing the leaderboard to the point of contending. The X-factor in this tournament is Tiger. He could go out on Saturday and shoot a 68 or 69 and eliminate everyone right now who is not at least at 4-over. However, if the three leaders slip and nobody is under par headed into the finale, literally everyone playing the weekend has a shot.
  • There are plenty of big names lurking in contention. Graeme McDowell is T4 at 1-over. After that, there is a large group at 3-over that include Hunter Mahan, Matt Kuchar, Jason Dufner, and Charl Schwartzel. The 4-over's inlcude Justin Rose, Nick Watney, Ernie Els, Steve Stricker and Padraig Harrington.
How our site's doing:
  • Each of our four golfers in the Golf Channel game made the cut (Tiger Woods, Jonathan Byrd, Padraig Harrington and Alex Cejka).
  • Headed into the weekend, we have four Yahoo! starters (Kuchar, Woods, Rose, Dufner) all inside the top 20.
  • A quick check of the Dandy Dozen shows 10/12 making the cut. The casualties were Luke Donald and Carl Pettersson.
  • In the odds section, of the five identified as good fits for the value, Dufner, Poulter and Rose are all still alive.
It should be a fun weekend from San Francisco!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

U.S. Open - Round 1

With the first round of the U.S. Open nearly in the books, here are some things that stuck out:
  • The lead is 4-under, and held by Michael Thompson, but not really. No disrespect to Thompson who is a solid player, but he's not ready for this. You see this from time to time on the first day of the U.S. Open. A guy who only the most dedicated golf fans know fires a round early in the day that holds up and carries the lead into the second round. Generally, the guy holds on for a decent second round and heads into the weekend somewhere in the 10-20 range before shooting 12-over on the weekend to tie for 54th. Something along those lines. That's what I expect to happen to Thompson. If he sleeps on his first PGA TOUR lead and manages to hold on to a top 10 it will be a big accomplishment; forget winning.
  • That Tiger Woods guy followed the correct formula. Stay patient, hit woods and hybrids and irons off the tee except when there is no other option but driver and rely on your mid to long-iron game.
  • While you can't win the tournament on Thursday, you can lose it. Just ask Luke Donald.
  • Neat to see Casey Martin walk up the 18th fairway to the green while posting a 74. Good for him. There are plenty of pros who would love to have his scorecard today and still be in the tournament.
  • Nick Watney and David Toms decided to show up for the Open with matching 1-under 69s. Both have disappointed of late, so form indicated that it was unlikely they would do well this week. Guess they didn't get the memo.
  • Our "winner" pick, Justin Rose, posted a 1-under 69 and is tied for second.
  • If I had my sights set on winning, I would be sleeping fine if I shot a 2-over 72 or better. Not counting those mentioned above, some of those guys would be Graeme McDowell (-1), Jim Furyk (E), Matt Kuchar (E), Ian Poulter (E), Robert Karlsson (E), Jonathan Byrd (+1), Francesco Molinari (+1), Ryo Ishikawa (+1), Hunter Mahan (+2), Rickie Fowler (+2) and Jason Dufner (+2).
  • For those who follow for fantasy advice throughout the week, I'm subbing in Kuch for Donald, but leaving the rest the same. Pretty shocking round for Donald.
  • The course seemed to play very fair. It rewarded good shots and penalized bad ones. Not sure what more you'd want from an Open course.
  • I would expect the cut to fall at +6 or +7. This year it is the top 60 and ties, but not anyone else within 10 of the lead. If the cut were today, those 4-over or better would slide in.
That's all for now!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

U.S. Open - Final Predictions

With hour's to go before tee's are in the ground for the 2012 U.S. Open, I'll offer my final predictions. This is one of those weeks where you can analyze things to the point of paralysis, but the last two things I looked at before rendering my verdict was par-4 scoring average and left rough tendency. While I've never been to Olympic Club, it has 12 par 4s and I'm told it's not good to miss left here.

With that in mind, here we go:
  • My dark horse pick is Jonathan Byrd. He's 27th in par-4 scoring to go along with everything else we've written about him this week. You'll remember he has top 12s in each of his last four starts. If there's a concern, it will be the miss off the tee to the left.
  • My contender is Tiger Woods. If he plays his irons like he did at Memorial, he may do more than contend if a few putts drop for him. Either way, I find it likely that he will be in the conversation on the various Sunday pre-game shows.
  • My winner is Justin Rose. On top of the other stats we poured over earlier in the week, he's first in par-4 scoring and a respectable 41st in left rough tendency.
If you're like me, tomorrow starts one of four "holidays" of the golfing season. So happy U.S. Open friends!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

U.S. Open - Odds

As we do every Tuesday, it's time to take a look at the U.S. Open odds. The regular rules apply, in that we'll comment on everyone 50/1 or better at the writing of this post. Here is the link to where we are pulling our odds http://www.madduxsports.com/golf-betting-lines.html.
  • 6/1 - Tiger Woods - With so many things changing, one thing seems to stay the same. Tiger Woods leads off the betting at 10/1. His iron play was exceptional at Muirfield Village. His driver wasn't awesome, but he may be able to hit the "stinger" 3-wood around Olympic. He's not the putter he used to be, but still ranks a solid 25th in Strokes Gained-Putting. I would like him more at 10/1, but 6/1 is questionable.
  • 10/1 - Lee Westwood - I'll pass on this one. His ball-striking would have to be historic. It's not just his putter, but his scrambling coupled with it that bother me with the Westwood pick. If he misses the green, he's essentially got two chances to screw things up whereas a guy like Donald has two chances to save the hole.
  • 12/1 - Luke Donald - Luke's the obvious pick from a statistical and form standpoint, which is what scares me about him. Historically, and almost famously, this course never seems to identify the "best" player in the field. Add to that, Donald might feel extra pressure in that many people could consider this to be his best shot at winning a major.
  • 14/1 - Rory McIlroy - I don't trust his driver or 3-wood, period. I see him putting himself in too many precarious positions to navigate over the course of 72 holes. I will say that I like that he will have the opportunity to hit wedges where others are hitting 8-irons into greens, but his bad miss is the quick hook which is really bad here.
  • 20/1 - Phil Mickelson - There are some really smart people that are pretty high on Phil, but I hate him this week. Granted, he's one of the best scramblers on the planet, but I see him having problems similar to McIlroy.
  • 25/1 - Jason Dufner & Dustin Johnson - I like Dufner this week. He's got a really good overall game and seems to have the right demeanor for a U.S. Open. When it comes to D.J., I'm a believer that you have to trust history. I find it very difficult to believe that he wins, but I could see him contending if he stays patient. I worry about his ability to hit GIR.
  • 28/1 - Justin Rose and Matt Kuchar - Rose is a poor man's Lee Westwood. Excellent ball-striker, but questionable putter. He is a better scrambler than Westy. Kuch is the kind of guy that could win Olympic. Not the first guy on people's short list, but a guy that could survive a tournament like this if his putter is above average.
  • 33/1 - Rickie Fowler, Adam Scott, Zach Johnson, Jim Furyk - Rickie's a tough pick coming off his final-round meltdown at Muirfield Village. He's got the game for this course, but I wonder how he bounces back from that. I don't trust Scott's putter in an event like this. ZJ is a little like Fowler, in that he's coming off a rocky final tune-up (MC in Memphis), but he could keep it in play off the tee and putt well. I'm not sure about his long irons. As for Furyk, he's a grinder and this could work in his favor, He's had a good enough year to warrant some consideration.
  • 40/1 - Hunter Mahan, Steve Stricker, Sergio Garcia - If this tournament was eight weeks ago, Mahan would have been 12/1. I'm not sure if that means he's a great value, or his game has fallen off that much. For Stricker, it will come down to his putter. He's certainly a straight enough driver and good enough iron player to have a shot. It's not out of the question for Sergio to win. In fact, this is the kind of major he could win. I could see him entering the final round six off the lead and shooting a three or four under to steal it.
  • 50/1 - Bubba Watson, Louis Oosthuizen, Martin Kaymer, Charl Schwartzel and Bo Van Pelt - I don't like Watson this week. I'm not convinced he's focused enough on golf for this and it doesn't fit his bomb-and-gouge style of play. Like Mahan, if this was 6 or 8 weeks ago, Oosthuizen would be a 15/1, but he hasn't played well lately. I've thought about the common mindset that he's an excellent driver, but that can really be argued. His stats aren't anything special, and the 2010 Open Championship at St. Andrews and the 2012 Masters are considered his driving exhibitions. Well, both of those courses are miles wider than Olympic Club, so that will certainly be put to the test this week. To be honest, I don't know what to make of Kaymer. He might be a decent value here, but I don't have a feel for him. Maybe for Schwartzel, but my vibes aren't great on him. Van Pelt isn't a closer and has won once on TOUR and racked up plenty of top 10s to have given himself a chance at more wins. I don't think he handles the pressure down the stretch if he's in contention, but his stats are awesome.
Some other guys who caught my eye:
  • Ian Poulter at 66/1 feels like a really good value. I could see him sneaking out of here a winner.
  • The 80/1 group includes some guys that are acutally pretty similar to the past four champions at Olympic Club. That includes Francesco Molinari, Jonathan Byrd, Geoff Ogilvy, Carl Pettersson and Aaron Baddeley. I don't hate any of their value here. In fact, if you give me 33/1 that one of these five win it, I'd take it.
  • Super sleepers - Scott Piercy and Lucas Glover and 250/1.
If I'm laying my money down, I'm going with Donald, Dufner, Rose, Poulter and Pettersson.

Best of luck with your picks!

Monday, June 11, 2012

U.S. Open - Fanasy Preview and Power Rankings

In working up the Dandy Dozen power rankings for the U.S. Open, I took an approach a little different than my norm. Since it’s been over a decade (1998) when the U.S. Open last came to Olympic Club and changes have been made to the course, I took a look at some statistics that I thought would be keys to navigating the par-70 layout successfully and applied those to the field. Since those stats were pulled from the PGA TOUR, it would not allow me to accurately compare those side by side with the European Tour, so I had to apply a little different formula to those competitors.
I’m not doing this to try and necessarily identify the winner, but to eliminate some people that might be popular picks by name alone. It also helps to identify guys who may be potential dark horses when you stack them up statistically to a Luke Donald or Tiger Woods on paper. Before I go any further, I admit that there are flaws to this. Some guy’s stats are over the course of seven tournaments, where another guy may have played 16. There is also the obvious factor that I may be placing too much, or not enough, value on the wrong variables.
When looking at Olympic Club, it is my belief that a player needs to be more accurate than long. Due to the lack of rain, the fairways should be firm enough to give a moderate-length player about as good of a shot as a bomber. I also believe that, since accuracy is a premium, a solid mid to long iron game is necessary. As with any U.S. Open, scrambling and managing the rough while making putts is important.
Here are the 10 statistical categories I’ve selected as the keys to identifying a proper course fit:
  • All-around ranking
  • Strokes Gained-Putting
  • Driving accuracy
  • Scrambling
  • Putting from 5-10 feet
  • GIR 150-175
  • GIR 175-200
  • Scrambling from the rough
  • 3-putt avoidance
  • GIR from other than the fairway.
I did not consider anyone who is currently under the “once in a generation” or “Jason Gore/Ben Curtis” group from yesterday’s post because I consider them to be too long of a shot to reasonably consider. Of the rest, here are the TOUR regulars who ranked inside the top 50 in these categories (8/10 would mean they cracked the top 50 in eight of the 10 categories). Keep in mind that I identified the categories before looking at the first player.
8/10 – Luke Donald
7/10 – Jason Dufner, Zach Johnson, Justin Rose, Tiger Woods, Scott Piercy, Carl Pettersson
6/10 – Jim Furyk, Sergio Garcia, Dustin Johnson, Matt Kuchar, Hunter Mahan, Rory McIlroy, Steve Stricker, Keegan Bradley, Jonathan Byrd, Bo Van Pelt
5/10 – Graeme McDowell, Phil Mickelson, Webb Simpson, Lee Westwood, Ernie Els, Ben Crane, Charles Howell III, Geoff Ogilvy, Ian Poulter, Alex Cejka, Kevin Na, John Senden
4/10 – Bubba Watson, David Toms, Bill Haas, Y.E. Yang, Thomas Bjorn, Blake Adams, Spencer Levin, David Mathis, D.A. Points
In addition, I looked at the main statistics on the European Tour and identified five more players that should align well with Olympic Club. They are: Francesco Molinari, Nicolas Colsaerts, Soren Kjeldson, Rafael Cabrera-Bello and Peter Hanson
That basically gives me the 43 names from which to pick my “Dandy Dozen” and “next 5.” When considering current form, intangibles, major-championship experience and other factors, I ended up with this week’s Dandy Dozen:
  1. Luke Donald – The two areas where he fell short were GIR other than the fairway (GIRO) and GIR 150-175. That said, he’s splitting fairways and scrambling his you-know-what off when he misses the green, so on paper he’s the best fit.
  2. Tiger Woods – I know I said during the Memorial that his finish at Muirfield Village should not impact how he is viewed for the U.S. Open, and I partially stand by that. Whether he finished first or 10th at the Memorial, his stats stack up incredibly well if he does one thing…..keep the cover on the driver and play the stinger 3-wood Hoylake style. He misses the mark on GIRO, scrambling from the rough and 3 putts, but he has arguably the best top-end stats of the group; especially in the mid to long iron categories.
  3. Justin Rose – Of the seven categories Rosie hit on, he ranked in the top 20 in each of them. It’s not like he’s barely on the good side of the categories. Where he misses is SGP, 3 putts and putting 5-10 feet. My feeling this week is that tidy ball-striking will be more important than slick putting.
  4. Jason Dufner – Duff and Rose basically mirror each other. They miss in the same three categories (SGP, 3 putt & 5-10 foot putting) and you’ve got to like Dufner’s attitude for a testy Open.
  5. Matt Kuchar – This pick comes down to both stats and attitude. He missed my mark in four areas (SGP, 150-175, Putt 5-10, Scrambling from rough). I’m less concerned about the GIR from 150-175 because he’s in the “green” from 175-200. My concern is the scrambling from the rough, coupled with the putting. No matter what, he'll likely play with a smile on his face.
  6. Carl Pettersson – I like that he won at Hilton Head because that’s a tight course that requires some shot shaping. He misses in driving accuracy, GIRO and 175-200, but I take that with a grain of salt because he’s played tracks like Hilton Head that aren’t good for the DA stats. Of course, if he misses fairways and can’t find the green from the rough, he’s in trouble. The good news is, is scrambling and putting numbers are very good.
  7. Steve Stricker – His ball-striking has been pure, but his putter is problematic. To go with a miss in the GIRO category, he missed the mark on all three of my putting categories for the week (SGP, 5-10, 3 putt). If he has a decent week with the flat stick; look out.
  8. Hunter Mahan – He could be a little higher off of stats alone, but his recent form doesn’t give me much room to boost him. He misses the mark in scrambling, scrambling from the rough, SGP and 5-10 footers. His ball-striking needs to be perfect this week because the stats say if he misses the greens too much he’ll be dead.
  9. Zach Johnson – I didn’t drop him this far because he missed the cut last week, but because I’m worried about his mid to long irons. He misses the mark in 150-175, 175-200 and GIRO. It feels like there’s going to be not only a great deal of pressure on him to find the fairways, but also to putt and scramble better than the other top-tier players.
  10. Jonathan Byrd – J-Byrd’s racked up top 12s in each of his last four starts including tough tracks like Quail Hollow, TPC Sawgrass and Muirfield Village. He misses the mark on driving accuracy, 175-200, 5-10 foot putts and 3 putts. I like that everything but driving accuracy is balanced out with a similar stat in the green. For instance, he’s 20th in the 150-175 range, so he’s not exactly a horrible iron player. He’s also 28th in SGP and 8th in scrambling offering that he might be a better intermediate putter than short-range putter. He’s 9th in scrambling from the rough, which should prove helpful.
  11. Francesco Molinari – It’s hard to go apples-to-apples, as he mainly plays in Europe, but on that Tour he’s 32nd in driving accuracy, 6th in GIR and 25th in scrambling.
  12. Jim Furyk – You can’t leave the ultimate grinder and past U.S. Open champ off a course that requires grinding, but his iron numbers really cause me to pause with concern. He misses the mark in 150-175, 175-200, GIRO and putting from 5-10 feet. He’ll have to hit fairways and roll the pill to make up for any shortcomings with the irons.
Next 5 (this time in order): Sergio Garcia, Dustin Johnson, Bo Van Pelt, Ian Poulter and Geoff Ogilvy

Now to fantasyland……….

In this week’s Yahoo! game:
A-List – I’m starting Luke Donald with Matt Kuchar on the bench. Zach Johnson, Steve Stricker and Jim Furyk are all worthy plays.
B-List – Tiger Woods and Justin Rose in the lineup with Hunter Mahan and Ian Poulter on the bench. Also under consideration were Rickie Fowler, Lee Westwood, Dustin Johnson and Bo Van Pelt.
C-List – Jason Dufner starting with Carl Pettersson on the bench over Jonathan Byrd and Francesco Molinari.

The Golf Channel Game:
Group 1 – Even though I led off my power rankings with Luke Donald, I feel safer with Tiger Woods here. Donald may feel like this is his best shot at winning a major, which will add some pressure that Tiger won’t have.
Group 2 – There are a bunch of good options here; all with similar upsides and risks. I’m going to go with Jonathan Byrd over Carl Petterssson and Francesco Molinari due in large part to how consistent he’s been over the past few months.
Group 3 – I’m taking Padraig Harrington over a group of players that I strongly considered including Miguel Angel Jimenez and Matteo Manassero.
Group 4 – Talk about your ultimate dark horse group, I’ll take Alex Cejka.
Best of luck to you in your games!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

U.S. Open – Field Study

Now that the final spots in the 2012 U.S. Open field have been set, it's time to take a look at how the field lays out. One of the things you will notice if you look back at the list of U.S. Open champions over the years is a varying degree of resumes among the winners. Since 2000 you see names like Tiger Woods, Jim Furyk and Retief Goosen, but you also see a name like Michael Campbell sneak into the mix. Today, we’ll break down the field into a number of different categories and see where players fit in before the week gets started.

We’ll start with the “Story of the Generation category”. As it would suggest, any of these guys winning would likely be the underdog golfing story of an entire generation. That would include club pros winning, or an amateur knocking off the title etc. Expect one, or maybe two of these guys to scare the cut.
I found 25 names that this category and here they are alphabetically: Matthew Baldwin, Patrick Cantlay, Jeff Curl, Brian Gaffney, Brice Garnett, Hunter Hamrick, Beau Hossler, Cole Howard, Mikko Ilonen, Brooks Koepka, Steve LeBrun, Dong-Huan Lee, Casey Martin, Mark McCormick, Dennis Miller, Jesse Mueller, Samuel Osborne, J.B. Park, Brian Rowell, Alberto Sanchez, Nick Sherwood, Scott Smith, Anthony Summers, Tim Weinhart and Cameron Wilson.
Moving on, the next category is the “Jason Gore at Pinehurst or Ben Curtis winning the British category”. Think of a guy that has some Nationwide Tour experience and maybe a little bit of PGA TOUR experience but is not on anyone’s long list (much less short list) to challenge for the win.
Here are the 23 guys that fit the bill: Shane Bertsch, Tommy Biershenk, Roberto Castro, Paul Claxton, Martin Flores, Hunter Haas, James Hahn, Brian Harman, Jim Herman, Justin Hicks, Morgan Hoffman, Colt Knost, Scott Langley, Edward Loar, Bill Lunde, John Peterson, Alistair Presnell, Darron Stiles, Kyle Thompson, Nicholas Thompson, Michael Thompson, Aaron Watkins and Casey Wittenberg.
Next is the “Michael Campbell category.” Essentially, these are guys that 95 percent of the United States viewing audience will not have heard of, but are rank-in-file overseas players. Someone who used to fit in this group would have been Louis Oosthuizen just before winning the British. These guys generally don’t play much in the U.S. would be viewed as a shocking winner, but they wouldn’t be quite as big of a shock as anyone in the previous two groups winning.
The 20 are: Gregory Bourdy, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Michael Campbell, George Coetzee, Nicolas Colsaerts, Simon Dyson, Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano, Hiroyuki Fujita, Branden Grace, Raphael Jacquelin, Brendan Jones, Kyung-Tae Kim, Soren Kjeldsen, Peter Lawrie, Alexander Noren, Robert Rock, Lee Slattery, Tadahiro Takayama, Toru Taniguchi and Marc Warren.
Then there’s the “Rank-in-file category.” These are guys, largely on the PGA TOUR, that might own a win or two and are steady professionals, but don’t often challenge and aren’t mentioned as names in majors or Ryder Cup / President’s Cup discussions. They are better than the “Jason Gore / Ben Curits” category above, but not as polished as the upcoming “Lucas Glover/Stewart Cink” category.
Making this cut are 26 guys: Blake Adams, Michael Allen, Stephen Ames, Sang-Moon Bae, Matt Bettencourt, Jason Bohn, Olin Browne, Alex Cejka, Kevin Chappell, Joe Durant, Bob Estes, Tim Herron, Fredrik Jacobson, Spencer Levin, Steve Marino, David Mathis, Kevin Na, Joe Ogilvie, Rod Pampling, Scott Piercy, D.A. Points, Chez Reavie, John Senden, Kevin Streelman, Charlie Wi and Gary Woodland.
Now it’s time to catch up with most of the remaining international players that aren’t the elite, but are better than the “Michael Campbell” category. We’ll name them the “Euro/International Team Quality Category.” Guys that are in the discussion for the Ryder Cup or President’s Cup at various times and wouldn’t be unfamiliar names to most serious golf fans. Make no mistake, there are guys in this category that could win this week and it wouldn’t be a big upset to those that follow golf closely.
One short of a dozen make the list: Thomas Bjorn, Angel Cabrera, Paul Casey, Anders Hansen, Peter Hanson, Ryo Ishikawa, Miguel Angel Jimenez, Robert Karlsson, Matteo Manassero, Francesco Molinari and Alvaro Quiros.
The next category catches the guys that would have included Lucas Glover before winning the 2009 U.S. Open or Stewart Cink before capturing the 2009 British. They are frequently in the discussion for, and sometimes compete in Ryder Cups and President’s Cups. They have likely won multiple times on TOUR or are consistently racking up top 10s. They spend time inside the top 50 of the OWGR from time to time and might sneak into the top 25 now and again.
A solid 21 make this list: Aaron Baddeley, Keegan Bradley, Jonathan Byrd, K.J. Choi, Stewart Cink, Tim Clark, Ben Crane, Robert Garrigus, Lucas Glover, Bill Haas, Charles Howell III, Trevor Immelman, Martin Laird, Geoff Ogilvy, Carl Pettersson, Ian Poulter, Brandt Snedeker, Kyle Stanley, Bo Van Pelt, Mark Wilson and Y.E. Yang.
There were a few guys, six to be exact, that didn’t fit nicely into any category. Finding that, we made a “Veteran Elite” category. These are guys that might be playing like a rank-in-file or “Glover/Cink” category player, but deserve a little more respect than that.
The six are: Ernie Els, Retief Goosen, Padraig Harrington, Davis Love III, Vijay Singh and David Toms.
And last, but certainly not least, are our “Main Contenders.” Let me be clear, these are not the guys that we feel are the 24 most likely to win. There will be players in our power rankings from a number of different categories, so don’t read this to be our guess at the top 24 in the tournament at the end of the week. They are simply those with the best current form and resumes headed into the week considering no other outside factors.
The 24 are: Jason Day, Luke Donald, Jason Dufner, Rickie Fowler, Jim Furyk, Sergio Garcia, Dustin Johnson, Zach Johnson, Martin Kaymer, Matt Kuchar, Hunter Mahan, Graeme McDowell, Rory McIlroy, Phil Mickelson, Louis Oosthuizen, Justin Rose, Charl Schwartzel, Adam Scott, Webb Simpson, Steve Stricker, Nick Watney, Bubba Watson, Lee Westwood and Tiger Woods.
Check back tomorrow for our power rankings and fantasy preview.

FedEx St. Jude Classic - Final round / scorecard

Dustin Johnson claimed his sixth PGA TOUR title at the FedEx St. Jude Classic by a stroke over John Merrick. Here are some notes on the final round, as well as how we did on our coverage leading up to the week.
  • Johnson improved his scoring in each of the four rounds. He also was T4 in GIR which bodes well for him in upcoming weeks.
  • John Merrick turned around an otherwise below average season.
  • Chad Campbell, Rory McIlroy and Nick O'Hern each washed tee shots on the 18th. If any of the three had birdied the hole they would have forced a playoff with DJ.
  • Will McGirt finished T13 for his highest PGA TOUR finish.
  • Kyle Stanley was T1 in GIR, but dead last in Strokes Gained-Putting and putts per round. That might be a problem next week at the U.S. Open. Then again, if he finds his putter he might win the thing.

As for how we did, here's our scorecard.
  • We had Dustin Johnson 5th in our Dandy Dozen to start the week and also named him our "Contender" pick this week. We also predicted him to win in our third round wrap up yesterday.
  • A less than impressive seven of our Dandy Dozen made the cut. Johnson, Ken Duke (T7), Jeff Overton (T13),  and Bryce Molder (T24) were the only ones to crack the top 25.
  • Molder was the only one of our Golf Channel picks to make the cut. DJ saved the week in the Yahoo! format.
That's about it. All in all, it wasn't a great week with our predictions, but Dustin Johnson saved us from disaster.

Check back continually for U.S. Open coverage, as we will have a few extra posts this week!

U.S. Open Preview – Olympic Club

The first time the U.S. Open came to Olympic Club was 1955, and an unknown pro named Jack Fleck won the championship over Ben Hogan in a playoff. The Cinderella theme continued when it returned in 1966 and Billy Casper beat out Arnold Palmer. Not to be outdone, Scott Simpson edged Tom Watson in 1987 and Lee Janzen ousted Payne Stewart in 1998.
If history is any indicator, it’s not a good week to be Luke Donald, Rory McIlroy or Tiger Woods. While I don’t know if we’ll see a major champion emerge in the mold of a Michael Campbell, I think it is entirely possible that a Geoff Ogilvy/Lucas Glover/ Graeme McDowell-type winner will raise the trophy.
The research of the course conditions, and who that may favor, has led me to a few observations.
  •  It hasn’t rained in San Francisco in a week and isn’t expected to between now and the end of the championship.
  • The course will require both left-to-right and right-to-left shot shapes on drives and approaches.
  • Par-3 and par-4 scoring will trump par-5 scoring, as there are only two par-5s and one of them is virtually unreachable.
  • The lack of rain could either bring some shorter players into the mix or allow longer and less accurate players the ability to keep the driver in the bag in lieu of the 3-wood (think Tiger Woods stingers).
  • My research has led me to keep a close eye on guys that are good all-around players as opposed to those that are strong in certain areas, but lacking in others. If you dig past just the driving distance/accuracy GIR and putting average stats, the TOUR does a good job of showing who’s good out of the rough or scrambling etc.
Of the four U.S. Opens contested at Olympic Club, the winning scores have been (beginning in 1955) 7-over 287, 2-under 278, 3-under 277 and even-par 280. Most people seem to expect the winning score this week to be over par.
Check back with us later in the week for a field breakdown leading into our power rankings and our fantasy preview.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

FedEx St. Jude Championship - Round 3

The conclusion of the third round of the FedEx St. Jude Championship has resulted in quite the logjam at the top. Not only is there a three-way tie for the lead, but there are six other golfers within a shot of the lead and 22 within four strokes. Here are some notes wrapping up the third round and looking ahead to the finale.
  • The final threesome to go off will have Davis Love III touting 20 wins, while Nick O'Hern and John Merrick are in search of their first win on the PGA TOUR.
  • Of the group one back, Kevin Kisner and Kevin Stadler are each searching for their first win, while Robert Allenby is trying to hoist a trophy for the first time since 2001. That's hard to believe. Dustin Johnson and Chad Campbell are both multiple winners as is Rory McIlroy.
  • With the leaderboard so tightly bunched, this has the feel of a tournament where someone three or four strokes back who's never won could shoot a 6-under 64 and steal the trophy. Keep an eye on guys that would fit that first-time winner category like Roberto Castro (3-back), William McGirt and Seung-Yul Noh (both 4-back).
  • A huge story would be if either Luke Guthrie or Dustin Morris, both 3-under and three back, could pull off the upset tomorrow. Morris made it into the field as the final open qualifier, winning a 4-for-1 playoff for the last spot. Guthrie is making his first pro start on a sponsors exemption a week after competing in the NCAA tournament.
  • If you hold my feet to the fire and ask me to pick a winner, I'll take Dustin Johnson. He's improved his position each round (70, 68,67) and doesn't have the pressure of a final round lead, yet he's only one back.
Best of luck to all!

Friday, June 8, 2012

FedEx St. Jude Classic - Round 2

The second round of the FedEx St. Jude Classic played over a stroke earlier than the first day and ended with Rory McIlroy, the highest ranked player in the field, leading at 7-under par. That's not to say the TPC Southwind didn't offer up it's share of train wrecks. Notables that missed the cut were Zach Johnson, Graeme McDowell, David Toms, Spencer Levin and Robert Karlsson.

Here are some other thoughts.
  • I read from a number of sources throughout the week that this isn't really a bombers paradise. No offense to those people, but they are being proven wrong. Rory McIlroy leads and hits his 3-wood further than half the TOUR hits their driver. He'll be playing in the final pairing with J.B. Holmes. If you're reading this blog and you didn't already know that J.B. Holmes is one of the longest drivers on TOUR over the last five years, you're probably lost. Add to that John Daly (T12), Dustin Johnson (T18) and Robert Garrigus (T22) and you've got a pretty good representation of the longest drivers in the world.
  • I could see Kevin Stadler (currently T2) breaking through for his first win this week.He's been really good this year. Ditto for Ken Duke and Seung-Yul Noh, both T8.
  • Also T12 is John Peterson who MQ for this tournament and the U.S. Open on back-to-back days.
  • For those interested in the fantasy lineup, Garrigus in for Z. Johnson and McIlroy takes over for Toms. We are out of the C-Group with Karlsson and McDowell missing the cut. The Golf Channel game is an utter disaster with only Bryce Molder (T34) making the cut.
  • The cut fell at 2-over 142 with 76 players earning a paycheck.
That's it for today!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

FedEx St. Jude Classic - Round 1

Round one of the FedEx St. Jude Classic is in the books and John Merrick shares the lead with Jeff Maggert at 4-under 66. Somewhat as expected, the tournament proved to be predictably unpredictable. Here are some notes from the first round.
  • Most people felt Zach Johnson was the man to beat coming into the week, and he is a shot outside the cut line through18 holes.
  • Rory McIlroy is two off the lead at 2-under, but still only found six (of 14) fairways. Not exactly a great formula for Olympic Club next week. He also found just half of the GIR.
  • Also at 2-under is John Daly. He was tied for second in the field, having landed 15 GIR.
  • I kept an eye on the Z. Johnson / Robert Garrigus / Kyle Stanley group today and noticed that Stanley is using a fat putter grip. He's definitely having issues with the putter, as he missed three putts inside of four feet. That probably explains why he's gone ice cold since his early February win. He is looking good to at least find the weekend this week, as he's 1-over and safely inside the cut line.
  • Eight of our Dandy Dozen currently reside inside the cut line, but more surprising are the four that are outside. Zach Johnson (T95), Robert Garrigus (T109), David Toms (T109) and Graeme McDowell (T126) all have some serious work to do. Garrigus was my "gut" pick to win this week and the other three were all starters in the Yahoo! lineup.
  • McIlroy (T7) and Seung-yul Noh (T3) were each on our "next 5" list and both are in the top 7, as are Dandy Dozen picks Jeff Overton (T3) and Ken Duke (T7).
  • This has the feel of one of those tournaments where anyone who makes the cut could have a big weekend and win.
That's all for today!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

FedEx St. Jude Classic - Final Predictions

Less than 12 hours from tees in the ground, it's time for the FedEx St. Jude Classic final predictions. This one feels like one of the hardest to peg tourneys of the year. You've got guys making one of there only few starts of the year coming out of the Past Champion category. Then there are those like Spencer Levin that's already logged 108 holes in the last week when you count the 36 hole U.S. Open sectionals. Add to that Zach Johnson coming off a win and Rory McIlroy grasping to find consistency headed into the sternest test of the year next week.

That said, here we go.

  • Dark horse - I'm going way off the board to a guy I've known about for 15 years. Tommy Biershenk is a streaky player and I like that he won the Memphis sectional for the U.S. Open. I also like that he's made comments on Twitter in the last few days about how confident he is right now after spending some time with his swing coach last week. His best weeks on the Nationwide Tour last year were after he spent some time at Bulls Bay in the Charleston, SC area with his coach. While I don't think he wins, I do feel very good that he bests his T50 at the Valero Texas Open for his best finish of the year and might just have to deal with the nerves of being near the lead on the weekend.
  • Contender - I"ll take Dustin Johnson. I love how he played at Muirfield Village after a long layoff. I don't care about the course, he's a world-class player.
  • Winner - Zach Johnson's the "chalk," but I really like him next week and don't think he peaks this week so quickly after his Colonial win. This is a prep week for him. McIlroy's the highest ranked player in the field, but is a little off. My gut has pulled me hard all week towards Robert Garrigus, and that's who I'm taking to win. He's known as a bomber, but is a really good overall player. I'm not shocked that he had an off year in the 2011 St. Jude after losing in a playoff in 2010, and I think that allows him to fly a little under the radar this year.
Best of luck to all!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

FedEx St. Jude Classic - Odds

Yesterday we posted the power rankings and fantasy advice for the FedEx St. Jude Classic and today we move on and take a look at the odds. As always, odds are current http://www.madduxsports.com/golf-betting-lines.html as of the writing of this post. We will look at everyone 50/1 and better, as well as anyone else that catches our attention.
  • 9/1 - Rory McIlroy & Zach Johnson - Zach makes plenty of sense as the favorite, but his course history here isn't quite good enough for 9/1. I laughed when I saw McIlroy. Sure, he might win. I don't like him at 9/1 though. I will say that this partially feels like Tiger at Memorial, but without the course history.
  • 16/1 - Dustin Johnson - Somebody's reading my mind on this. That said, I'm not sure this is the right spot for Johnson from a value perspective.
  • 25/1 - Graeme McDowell, David Toms, Robert Karlsson - I would take McDowell or Karlsson at 25/1 before I took any of the above at their odds. Toms has a great long-term record here, but not so much in the recent years.
  • 28/1 - Martin Laird - Played here in '08 and '09 and missed the cut both times. I'm not sure I follow this one.
  • 33/1 - Brian Gay, Ryan Palmer, Charles Howell III & Fredrik Jacobson - I could make an argument for and against each of these guys. I probably like Gay the most here.
  • 40/1 - J.B. Holmes, Padraig Harrington, Spencer Levin, Matt Every, Camilo Villegas and Ryo Ishikawa - I don't know what it is about this week, but I can't find the passion to separate these. Will Levin be flat or motivated? Villegas is popular on this course, but I'm not sold on him. Every is totally hit or miss, so flip a coin. Ishikawa is probably trending up coming off a great week at Muirfield Village. Holmes feels like the one with a best shot to win with Harrington second on that list.
  • 50/1 - John Rollins, Sean O'Hair, Henrik Stenson, Bryce Molder, Robert Garrigus - I like Garrigus and Molder here alot. I don't mind Rollins. I also have a sneaky feeling about Stenson. O'Hair, maybe not as much.
  • 66/1 - Tim Clark - The Penguin's trending in the right direction. He might fit this course.
  • 80/1 - Bob Estes, Ken Duke & Kevin Stadler - Estes has excellent history here. Duke feels right and Stadler's had a great  year.
  • 125/1 - Tim Herron, Dicky Pride and Justin Leonard - Pride's only win came here and he's had an exceptional 2012. Leonard and Herron each have great records here.
  • 175/1 - Brian Harman - He's played much better than 175/1.
The players that feel like the right value and the right fit are G-Mac, Molder, Garrigus.

Best of luck!

FedEx St. Jude Classic - Update

With Blake Adams W/D from the FedEx St. Jude Classic, it forces me to update the power ranking and the Yahoo B Group. In the Yahoo game, I'm throwing Rory McIlroy on the bench. The biggest reason is exactly what happened with Tiger Woods last week. He was the last cut for my team, but I almost kept him because I thought he could win and pick me up bonus points for winning if he put it all together. Otherwise, I'd keep him on the bench.

I'm moving Tim Clark up from the "next 5" to the Dandy Dozen and adding defending champ Harrison Frazar to the "next 5."

Monday, June 4, 2012

FedEx St. Jude Classic - Fantasy Preview / Dandy Dozen

With the Memorial behind us, it's time to turn our complete focus to the FedEx St. Jude Classic. There are a few solid options at the top of the list, but really this is a little wide open. With the lack of "chalk," big moves could be made in different fantasy formats.

Not to bore you, but generally when I'm doing my power rankings after my second pass I have my list narrowed down to about 20 players. From that we get the Dandy Dozen and the next 5. After the second pass this week, I was still at 26 guys that were decent fits and another 10 that had little or no course history or might fit. Sometimes in football (American football for our European/Australian readers) you hear a phrase that if a team has three quarterbacks, they don't actually "have" a quarterback. That's kind of the feeling this week. There's plenty of risks, but if you get the picks right you'll likely reap big rewards.

One more note; the elephant in the room this week is Rory McIlroy. He's on a cold snap at the wrong time and looked very uncomfortable at Memorial. He's worth watching closely, but hard to invest in.

Here's the week's Dandy Dozen:
  1. Zach Johnson - He's the hottest in the field with a win and two runner ups this year. He finished T32 in 2011 and T12 in 2010. One other thing that stands out to me, David Toms has done really well here over the years and the two of them have similar games. Split fairways, land greens, putt well.
  2. Robert Karlsson - He's lost in a playoff here each of the last two years. He's made 4/5 cuts this year without any great finishes, but this course seems to lend itself to "horses for courses" over the years and he fits that.
  3. Graeme McDowell - He's skipped the last two trips to Memphis, but G-Mac finished T7 here in 2009. He's also 7/8 with two top 10s including a runner up at Bay Hill. Even with his limited history, he feels like a good fit.
  4. David Toms - He's the all-time leading money winner in this event and has racked up seven top 10s including two wins and two runner ups in his 19 starts. He's made 16 of those 19 cuts, but his recent history hasn't been as stellar. His last four starts were MC, T29, T2 and T37, which is why he isn't higher. He's made 9/12 cuts this year with two top 10s.
  5. Dustin Johnson - I had him a little lower, due to his lack of history here, but saw him say on Twitter (https://twitter.com/DJohnsonPGA/status/209810716650254337) he was glad to be in Memphis and the course really fit his eye. He posted a T19 at the Memorial last week after a long layoff, and he's driven to make up some Ryder Cup points in a hurry. You got a better option?
  6. Bryce Molder - Molder is in the sixth hole due to his T2 in 2009 and a solid season to date. When he gets the putter rolling he can be tough. He's made 9/13 cuts with five top 25s, but just one top 10. He's 11th in SGP and 23rd in total putting.
  7. Blake Adams - This is a bit of a feel pick, but not totally out of left field. He was T15 in Memphis last year and made each of his last four cuts including a T19 at the Memorial. He also easily survived the U.S. Open sectional qualifier in Columbus, Ohio on Monday.
  8. Spencer Levin - He's kind of due isn't he? This isn't a bad course for him, as he finished T15 here in 2011 and T37 in 2010. He also made putts and chips from everywhere last week, and it doesn't usually take a stupid-low number to win here.
  9. Robert Garrigus - If this were a draft (and I say this with the MLB first round draft going on as I type) this would be the pick where I'd say "How is he still here?" He's the definition of feast or famine, as he blew a huge lead on the 18th in 2010 and lost in a playoff to Lee Westwood and came back to miss the cut in 2011. But that's kind of Garrigus. He's made eight cuts this year and converted six of those into top 25s.
  10. Charles Howell III - Three Sticks is 12/15 this year with five top 25s. He finisehd T3 here in 2011, T44 in 2010 and MC in 2009. He's probably a safe made cut this week, but it's hard to tell how high he'll finish.
  11. Jeff Overton - He's scary isn't he? It seems like every time I'm ready to back him, he lays an egg. It would make sense to back him this week, as his last three starts here were a T10 in 2009, T35 2008, T10 2007. He's made 11/16 cuts with five top 25s, but missed his three cuts immediately before his T38 at the Memorial.
  12. Ken Duke - He's made 13/17 cuts this year, but what stands out to me is that each of his four missed cuts came at big events. This isn't exactly a big event, no offense to Memphis. His last start here was way back in 2007 and was a T55.
The next 5 - Tim Clark, Tim Herron, Ryo Ishikawa, Rory McIlroy and Seung-Yul Noh

Now onto the games!

Yahoo! lineup:
  • A-List - Zach Johnson starting with Robert Garrigus on the bench. I have Levin a spot higher than Garrigus on my power ranking, but I'm going with Garrigus because he has a really high upside and if he busts I feel sure Zach will be around.
  • B-List - Dustin Johnson and David Toms starting with Bryce Molder and Blake Adams on the bench.
  • C-List - Starting G-Mac with Karlsson on the bench.
Golf Channel Game:
  • Group 1 - Not sure how you don't take Zach Johnson here.
  • Group 2 - Molder over Garrigus and Adams in a close one.
  • Group 3 - Tim Herron over Justin Leonard, DLIII and Dicky Pride among others. Herron's made 13/14 cuts in this event and three top 10s. In this group, I'd love a top 25 and Lumpy feels like a decent bet. Also earned a U.S. Open spot on Monday.
  • Group 4 - Patrick Reed over Lee Janzen. Reed feels like a Bud Cauley in the process of earning a card through MQ and Sponsors Exemptions. He's made 3/4 cuts with top 35s in each of them, and this could be a tournament that's kind to a dark horse winner.
Best of luck!