I can also be found at Rotoworld.com and on Twitter @RyanGolfBlogger.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

WGC-Bridgestone & Reno-Tahoe Open - Odds

We've got a two-for-one in this week's odds post, with the WGC-Bridgestone leading off and the Reno-Tahoe offering a number of options. In each tournament I'll look at everyone who is 30/1 or better, as well as value I see a little further down. Here is a link from where I'm pulling the lines http://www.madduxsports.com/golf-betting-lines.html

WGC-Bridgestone Invitational:
  • 5/1 - Tiger Woods - No surprise TW leads off the betting. 5/1 is generally not the best of odds, but if you think about it he has won more than half of the playings of this event. In a weird way, it might be a good price considering how well he's played at Bay Hill and Muirfield Village where his record was also impeccable. Point is, he's found ways to win on courses where the history is good, and there's none better than Firestone.
  • 14/1 - Luke Donald - I mentioned yesterday that I was surprised to see him outside of the top 100 in GIR on TOUR. He was T2 last year at Firestone when he led the field in GIR. What gives? His form is solid, but with his lack of length he'll have to be deadly accurate off the tee and with the irons, as well as the putter.
  • 16/1 - Adam Scott- I could see Scott head in any number of directions after his British Open finish. I'm leaning towards a solid, top 15ish, week for the Aussie but it would be a very tall task to win.
  • 18/1- Rory McIlroy & Lee Westwood - I'm gun shy on McIlroy, but I feel okay about Westwood's chances. Let's face it; the guy who wins this event is almost always a major championship caliber player and both of these guys fit. I need to see more out of McIlroy at this price, but if Westwood has a decent week with the putter.......
  • 25/1 - Hunter Mahan - There's plenty going for and against Mahan. His history here overall is solid, bordering on excellent. Problem is, he didn't have a great 2011 at Firestone and his form isn't the best either. That said, he's probably about as likely to win as McIlroy and Scott at a better price.
  • 28/1 - Jason Dufner/Zach Johnson & Bubba Watson - Johnson is Luke Donald at half the price. Watson is a real possibility, as he leads the TOUR in GIR and distance. He's also got a couple of top 25s here. Dufner fits the course tee to green, but his SGP is concerning, as is his lack of history.
Potential value:
  • 33/1 - Dustin Johnson and Rickie Fowler - Fowler was T2 last year and Johnson is a good fit for this 7400 yard par 70.
  • 66/1 - Keegan Bradley and Martin Laird - Bradley played well here last year (T15) in his first trip and is showing some form of late. Laird is a sneaky pick here, with a T11 in '11 and a T16 in '10.
  • 80/1 - Peter Hanson & Retief Goosen - Goosen has top 10s in two of his last three starts and tied for third here in 2010. Hanson has a T21 and an 8th in his last two starts at Firesteone.
For this one, I'd take Woods, D. Johnson, Fowler and Laird.

Reno-Tahoe Open
  • 8/1 - Padraig Harrington - I get this, but I"m not buying. He's the class of the field, but he wins on hard golf courses. Not a Modified Stableford shootout. Stay away.
  • 18/1 - Seung-yul Noh - I'm good with this one. He's crazy long and in great form. I'll take my chances with that.
  • 20/1 - J.B. Holmes - I'm loving this one too. He's another bomber who should feast on the par 5s and he knows how to win.
  • 22/1- John Rollins & John Merrick - This is the kind of tournament that has John Rollins written all over it. He tends to show up (and occasionally win) tournaments that the big boys skip. I'm not crazy about Merrick's value.
  • 25/1 - Pat Perez, Chris Kirk and Troy Matteson - I love all three of these too. You've got a streaky Pat Perez that could catch fire, and the two hottest players coming into this event in Kirk and Matteson.
  • 40/1 - Billy Horschel - He's going to win sometime, so why not this week. his form is as good as it has ever been.
  • 50/1 - Chris Couch - I like a guy like Couch. He's a bomber who can play the par 5s, but he gets into trouble and appears to mail it in when things go bad. That's why this scoring format could be perfect for him. One eagle will erase a bunch of blemishes.
  • 100/1 - John Daly - This format has to be made for him, right? He's made seven of nine cuts, so this isn't out of left field.
  • 175/1 - Richard H. Lee - He hits a lot of quality shots in a round. I followed him pretty closely in Canada and he had a decent week that was close to being a really good week if he putted better from six to 12 feet. You never know.
In the end, I'd take Noh, Holmes, Rollins and Perez and hold my breath!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Reno-Tahoe Open - Preview/Power Rankings/Fantasy

The Reno-Tahoe Open is taking place opposite of the WGC-Bridgestone and for the first time in a number of years a Modified Stableford scoring system is in place. That has an impact on the tournament, and should make for a fun and exciting week.

The way the scoring system works, is you get 0 points for a par, two points for a birdie, five points for an eagle, eight points for an albatross, but lose 1 point for a bogey and 3 for a bogey or worse. The purpose is to create an atmosphere where the risk is worth the reward. Check this link out for more information on the Modified Stableford http://www.pgatour.com/2012/tournaments/r472/07/30/stableford-basics/index.html.

The tournament takes place at Montreux G&CC which is listed as a 7,472 par 72 course, but plays a good bit shorter due to elevation. While bombers like last year's champion Scott Piercy have fared well, so have shorter hitters like two-time winner Vaughn Taylor.

With that brief history and explanation of the scoring, let's jump right into the power rankings. I placed emphasis on three statistics. Birdie average, driving distance and Strokes Gained-Putting (SGP) all seem relevant this week. I probably could throw in par 5 scoring, but didn't. Here we go:
  1. Seung-yul Noh - If you've been watching golf lately, this makes a ton of sense. He's long (17th in driving distance) and he's made 12 cuts in-a-row. He's T52 in birdie average and T58 in SGP, so he can go for it as much as possible and challenge for the title.
  2. J.B. Holmes - He's among the class of the field. He's played in the Ryder Cup and won several events. He's notoriously long (5th in driving distance), T37 birdie average and 63rd in SGP. I'm not seeing any red flags here.
  3. Troy Matteson - Here's a guy fresh off of a playoff loss at the John Deere and a T10 at the RBC Canadian Open who is long (T23 in distance) to boot. Form is probably the best of anyone this week and is also 89th in SGP. That doesn't sound great, but considering it's an opposite-field event it likely puts him in the top 20 in the field.
  4. John Daly - This is serious. He's made 7 of 9 cuts this year with two top 25s. If he had enough rounds to qualify, he would rank 13th in driving distand, 12th in SGP and 47th in birdie average. That's a better combination than anyone in the field. The real kicker is the Stableford scoring this week. Think about what kills Daly. It's not the bogey, it's the triple bogey. Now, he can more than erase a triple with two birdies on a course with four par 5s. I would be surprised if he didn't crack the top 25.
  5. Pat Perez - He's streaky, but a solid choice in an event like this. He's T19 in putting average, and 55th in SGP and distance. If he gets hot, he can take it really low (or high this week).
  6. John Rollins - This is the kind of event that Rollins wins. A weak field with a lot of birdies needed is right up his alley. He's T21 in birdie average, but 119 in SGP. It will be interesting to see how that resolves itself. He tied for second here in 2008.
  7. Chris Couch - You never know what you are going to get out of him, but his splits are good for the week. He's 50th in distance, T63 in birdie average and 84th in SGP.
  8. Billy Horschel - This could be the time for the kid with plenty of potential to break through. He's been playing well lately and is inside the top 100 in all of the categories I deemed important this week.
  9. Vaughn Taylor - You can't drop a guy much further than this who's won this event twice. He's known more for his putting (56th in SGP), and it's led to a 50th ranking in birdie average.
  10. Chris Kirk - He's turning it on lately with a T10 at the True South (where he was defending) and a T4 in Canada last week. He ranks 30th in birdie average, which should serve him well.
  11. Padraig Harrington - He's the true class of the field, but may be using this for a PGA Championship tune-up more than an opportunity to win.
  12. Camilo Villegas - He's off his game, but this could be a spot for him to regain form. There are signs lately, with a couple of made cuts in a row.
Next 5 - Stewart Cink, Nathan Green, Kevin Stadler, Chris Stroud and Richard H. Lee

Yahoo! doesn't play this event, but the Golf Channel does. Here are our picks:
  • Group 1 - Noh
  • Group 2 - Matteson
  • Group 3 - Couch
  • Group 4 - R.H. Lee


WGC-Bridgestone Invitational - Power Rankings and Fantasy Preview

Over the years, the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational has proven to be the Tiger Woods Invitational. He's won seven of the first 13 contests and must be considered one of the favorites this week. He's not the only one with a strong record at Firestone Country Club.

To add to yesterday's preview where I stressed the importance of length, there are examples of highly accurate drivers such as Zach Johnson and David Toms having success at Firestone. Add Luke Donald to that list as well. In fact, maybe as important a factor is experience when it comes to putting on Firestone's greens. Adam Scott, who is not known as a great putter, gained 1.838 strokes putting in last year's win.

With all of that and more in mind, here is this week's Dandy Dozen:
  1. Tiger Woods - Actually, what pushed me over the edge in favor of leading off with Woods may surprise you. I was hesitant to endorse him due to his erratic driver, but when I saw how well Zach Johnson and several other shorter players have held up recently, I became more confidant that Woods could "stinger" his way around the course in a pinch. Essentially the first of two par 5s is reachable by the entire field and the second is reachable by nobody if played from the back tees, so he may not need driver on either par 5. He has also been money this year on courses where he has racked up wins in the past including Bay Hill and Muirfield Village. He's not numero uno without an argument, but I'll take him.
  2. Adam Scott - This is a bit of a dangerous pick for my number two, but history and form warrant it. I do believe he'll have a bunch of media to deal with, but his course history (win in 2011, T9 in 2010 for starters) is as good as anyone not named Woods and he played well at Congressional leading up to the British Open. One more thing, Steve Williams was on the bag for a ton of Woods' wins at Firestone and added another last year with the Aussie. Might be an "X" factor down the stretch.
  3. Dustin Johnson - This is a little bit of a reach due to course history, but he's playing really good golf lately and has shown in multiple majors that he can contend in any event on any course. He was T48 in 2011 and 15th in 2010, but I can't help but think his length and overall ability give him an advantage on the 7,400 yard par 70.
  4. Bubba Watson - He's another bomber rounding back into form of late. He's been consistent at Firestone with a T22 in 2010 followed by a T21 in 2011, but if he's focused and on his game he can contend with anyone. He's first in driving distance and GIR.
  5. Lee Westwood - Westy is a ball-striking machine and has a solid history at Firestone. In his last five tries he is (starting with 2011) T9, W/D, 9th, T2 and T22. Per usual, it will come down to his putter. That will decide if he's T25 or standing on the 18th tee with a chance to win.
  6. Hunter Mahan - If Mahan was on at all he would be second on this list. He's not, but I can't see dropping him a whole lot further down the list given his course history. He had a rough T37 last year, but before that won in 2010, was T4 in 2009, T10 in 2008 and T22 in 2007. He had a half-way decent final round at the RBC Canadian Open after sneaking in on the cut line, so there could be a little bit of momentum on his side. His two wins earlier in the year feel like they were three years ago at this point.
  7. Zach Johnson - ZJ is on fire, following up his win at the John Deere with a top 10 at the British Open. He also showed that he could split fairways and make putts at Firestone with a T6 last year.
  8. Bo Van Pelt - This is the perfect spot for him. It seems like he's finished between seventh and ninth about every week this year (T7 last week). He also was T23 at Firestone in 2011 and T3 in 2010. No reason not to think BVP racks up another top 25, and quite possibly another top 10.
  9. Luke Donald - I know he was T5 at the British Open and T2 at Firestone last year. So why did I fade him? His putting stats at Firestone last year were just okay, but he led the field in GIR. Maybe they are a little better of late, but his irons seem a tad off this year. Enough so for me to fade him a little this week. Most people would not think Donald is 102nd in GIR this season.
  10. Rickie Fowler - Sort of like Zach Johnson, this is another one of those "how did he fall this far" for me. He was T2 here last year and led the field in putting despite average ball-striking numbers. He was T33 in his first trip in 2010. This season he's seen his ball-striking stats improve, while his putting stats have faltered a bit. The formula of a little bit better tee-to-green week at Firestone combined with his familiarity and comfort on these greens could bode very well.
  11. Martin Laird - I love his length and his history in this event. He was T11 in 2011 and T16 in 2010. There's not much else to add. If he has a good week with the putter he could jump into more of an elite tier.
  12. Francesco Molinari - It's hard to cut it off at a dozen this week, but the Italian makes the final cut. He was T15 here in 2011 after posting a T39 in 2010, so he's trending well. Even though he posted just a T39 at the British Open, he recorded back-to-back runner ups before that.
The next 5: Brandt Snedeker, Jason Dufner, Rory McIlroy, Nicolas Colsaerts and Peter Hanson

Now off to Fantasyland:

Yahoo! Game:
  • A-List - Starting Adam Scott, with Zach Johnson ready on the bench. The reasons above outline why.
  • B-List - Tiger and Bubba starting with Westy and Mahan on the bench. It's tough leaving BVP and Fowler off the team this week, but there just aren't enough spots.
  • C-List - Laird starting with Molinari on the bench.
Golf Channel lineup:
  • Group 1 - All the big boys you would expect are in the first group, but I'm sticking with Tiger.
  • Group 2 - While there are bigger names like Fowler and D. Johnson available, I'm going to go with Bo Van Pelt and count on him to grab another T8ish finish.
  • Group 3 - I'm happy to gobble up Martin Laird here.
  • Group 4 - Retief Goosen has a good record here and has shown signs of life lately. I'll take the South African.
Check back later tonight for the Reno-Tahoe Preview/Power Rankings/Fantasy post all rolled into one.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

RBC Canadian Open Wrap Up and Scorecard

Scott Piercy closed out the RBC Canadian Open much like Ernie Els finished off the British Open. In the clubhouse. Piercy rolled in a par putt from about six feet and watched as William McGirt left his par putt to force a playoff short and then Robert Garrigus did the same on his birdie effort. It was the second win for Piercy.
  • If only Garrigus could putt. He had so many looks, many from short range, to polish off that tournament for his second win. He's cashing a bunch of big checks, but not winning.
  • William McGirt held his own all week. He let it slide on the last four holes, but to go from never carding a top 10 two weeks ago to back-to-back top fives is solid. No reason he won't contend in Reno.
  • Piercy could be a force. Consider him a dark horse for Firestone this week.
  • Bo Van Pelt finished T7 again. I should just copy and past that about every week.

As for how we did this week, it was fair at best.
  • Nine of our Dandy Dozen made the cut with Els, Furyk and O'Hair the casualties.
  • We didn't have Piercy in the Dandy Dozen, but did list him in our next 5.
  • Each of our four picks in the Golf Channel game made the cut, but none of them did anything noteworthy.
  • After the first round, I was thinking the Greg Owen pick in the odds post might give the Troy Matteson tip at the John Deere a run for the money, but it didn't materialize.
We'll try and get it better next week!

Reno-Tahoe Open - Monday Qualifier

Below is a link to the Monday Qualifier for the Reno-Tahoe Open.

http://ncpga.bluegolf.com/bluegolf/ncpga12/event/ncpga1234/contest/0/contestant/index.htm

It should be a fun event, as it is taking on a Modified Stableford scoring system this year. More to come on that in the preview which will either be up later today or combined with tomorrow's power rankings.

WGC-Bridgestone - Preview

Firestone Country Club will host the 14th playing of the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.  Taking a look at the venue, the Firestone South Course is a 7,400 par 70 beast that will test the field in all phases of the game. Here is a look back at some event history that may prove useful as we begin our research for the tournament.
  • Tiger Woods has hoisted the trophy seven of the first 13 playings of this event, including the first three. He has not won since 2009 (or about 3 months before the infamous wreck). No other player has won more than once, and the other winners are Craig Parry, Darren Clarke, Stewart Cink, Vijay Singh, Hunter Mahan and Adam Scott.
  • When I see that list of winners, I think of excellent ball striking and above-average putting. Most of those guys are long and straight drivers (or were at the time of their victories). Length is important, as this is a big ball park you can't dink and dunk your way around, but a solid putter who is of adequate length can't be overlooked.
  • So what do we do with Tiger this week? That's the million dollar question. He's going to have to hit his driver this week in what amounts to an uncomfortable amount of times for him. That said, he won at Bay Hill and Muirfield Village on courses where he held an incredible record. Throw in Congressional, and you would think he should contend this week due to course history. Some of the longer holes favor a left to right ball flight, which is good for him. The 18th requires a right to left drive, and he's never played that hole well historically. He's going to have to hit the driver pretty well this week to have a chance.
  • Adam Scott will be another tough call, as will Hunter Mahan. How will Scott bounce back from the British Open? Mahan at his best is made for Firestone, but his form hasn't been great lately.
  • In Scott's victory last year he ranked T15 in driving accuracy, 6th in distance, 4th in putting and T9 in GIR. Rickie Fowler tied for second and was T15 in driving accuracy, 34th in distance, 1st in putting and T47 in GIR. Tied with Fowler was Luke Donald who was T11 in driving accuracy, 48th in distance, 22nd in putting and 1st in GIR.
One final note, it's my opinion that current form is very important this week. As you can see from last year's top three, there are different ways to get to the top of the leaderboard but you have to be on your game. Scott did it with a strong all-around game. Fowler did it by putting lights out. Donald did it with his irons. However it's done, it requires owning the strength of one's game and not fighting the course.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

RBC Canadian Open - Round 3

With 18 holes to go, Robert Garrigus is in position to capture his second PGA TOUR victory at the RBC Canadian Open. Garrigus is a stroke clear of William McGirt and two clear of Scott Piercy. Below are a few thoughts on the tournament headed into the finale.
  • Garrigus, Piercy and McGirt have all been at the top of this leaderboard all week. At this point it would be hard to imagine someone other than one of them winning, but at the same time you can see the ingredients for a volatile day.
  • Garrigus is first in driving distance and tied for first in GIR, but 72nd in Strokes Gained-Putting. He's only one once on TOUR and had a monumental collapse at the FedEx St. Jude Classic a few years back not long before he won. If his ball-striking goes wayward down the stretch, his putter won't save him.
  • McGirt's a tough call. He's never won before, but he is coming off his first top 10 finish. He also doesn't have any negative scar tissue to deal with. This could be a situation where ignorance is bliss, and a 4-under finale might be enough. Ironically, he's the best putter in the field this week. It's ironic because he's paired with Garrigus. If Garrigus could do the ball-striking and hand it over to McGirt on the greens they'd probably be about 30-under right now.
  • Piercy had a rough back nine today. We will soon find out if he can recover from that. He's probably the best all-around player in the top three.
  • Bo Van Pelt is sitting perfectly for a top-5 finish. He's won just as many times as Garrigus and Piercy which is hard to believe.
  • It seems like the guys who didn't play the British Open, but who did play either the John Deere or the True South Classic or both are at an advantage. They are in all-out birdie mode.
  • Speaking of the True South Classic, the last two winners of that event are tied for fourth along with BVP. Chris Kirk and last week's winner Scott Stallings are each one low round away from winning Canada's national championship.
I don't have any solid predictions for tomorrow's finale other than to say I think the winner comes from one of the top three.

Enjoy the finale!

Friday, July 27, 2012

RBC Canadian Open - Round 2

The second round of the RBC Canadian Open concluded with William McGirt and Scott Piercy tied for the lead at 11-under-par. While there is not much point diving too deeply into the 36-hole leaders most weeks (and this week is no real exception), what did stand out to me were some people that missed the cut. Here are the thoughts on cut day at Hamilton G&CC.
  • William McGirt recorded his first top 10 in his two-year PGA TOUR career in Mississippi last week and picked up where he left off. I doubt he wins, but stranger things have already happened this week.
  • Scott Piercy co-leading is much less of a surprise.
  • My fourth Ryder Cup update published today on Rotoworld's golf page. http://www.rotoworld.com/articles/gol/40996/315/ryder-cup-update-part-4 Among the things covered was a projection of the four captain's picks. I had a hard time projecting who the final pick would be, but I went with Jim Furyk because nobody else stood out above him. Well, he stood out this week for the wrong reason. He missed the cut in what amounts to a second-tier event.
  • On the Ryder Cup topic, If Bo Van Pelt could close the deal he is a major player for a spot on Davis Love III's team. He isn't right now because he hasn't won this year, and has only hoisted a trophy once in his long, top-10 filled, career. A win here changes things.
  • Furyk wasn't the only big name to fail to earn a weekend tee time. Ernie Els joined him, as did Rory Sabbatini, Charley Hoffman, Paul Casey and Ben Curtis. Hunter Mahan, Kyle Stanley and Jeff Overton all snuck in on the number.
  • An interesting note, they are going with split-tee threesomes tomorrow. I was curious to see what they would do because I could have seen some guys on the number (-1) shoot a 6 or 7-under and find themselves within shouting distance of a top 10. This could do the opposite and be a big help to the guys at the top.
That's it for today.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

RBC Canadian Open - Round 1

Amazingly, round one of the RBC Canadian Open is in the books. With weather all round Hamilton Golf & Country Club, the players were able to get through the day almost without interruption and Scott Piercy was the big winner with a course-record 62. Here are some thoughts on the opening round:
  • In retrospect, Piercy leading is not a surprise. He posted a T12 at Greenbrier and followed that up with a third at the John Deere Classic. While he didn't crack our Dandy Dozen, you may remember he was listed in the "next 5."
  • Greg Owen is tied for second at 7-under and made a cameo in our odds post, as he was one of the four we tipped (at 125/1) to put money down on. Two of the other three (Cameron Tringale and John Huh) are tied for 15th at 3-under while Roberto Castro reached that mark before dropping all the way down to 1-over.
  • Shameless plugs aside, expect Friday's second round to be an all out blitz on the course as preferred lies should again be in play. If the cut fell today, 94 players would have cashed a check at even par. With 70 players sleeping somewhere between even and 2-under-par, expect a very volatile cut line. If the scoring conditions are as low as expected, I wouldn't feel safe posting in the morning wave unless I was 3-under, although 2-under will likely make it.
  • A British Open hangover seems to be in full force. Ernie Els shot a 2-over, but he wasn't alone in his struggles. Jim Furyk, Brandt Snedeker and Hunter Mahan are all even and firmly on the cut line.
Check back tomorrow to see how the log jam in the middle of the pack plays out.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

RBC Canadian Open - Final Predictions

In working up my final predictions for the RBC Canadian Open I've added a minor in meteorology to my economics degree, but it's time to make a call. As for the weather, if there is an advantage it will likely belong to the Thursday late / Friday early tee times. That said, extended delays on Thursday could result in the Thursday early wave finishing their second round in very calm conditions Saturday morning, allowing them to catch up ground.

My advice on playing the weather is to only move someone in or out of a lineup in a coin flip scenario. Don't go to the fourth guy on your list just because the first three have Thursday a.m. tee times. Essentially there is a 50% chance of thunderstorms all day on Thursday which means it's a virtual certainty there will be a delay at some point, if not multiple delays. It's also not out of the question that there will be a delay at some point on Friday.

If you are in a situation where you are debating between Jim Furyk and Ernie Els (Furyk is Thursday a.m. and Els is Thursday p.m.) that's where you may want to factor in the weather. This is an exact scenario I've been debating for a game I'm in, and I decided to hold on with Furyk. I did so for two reasons. The first is Furyk is motivated to improve his Ryder Cup position and his running out of time to do so, whereas Els is set up for a let down. My opinion (key word is opinion) is that The Big Easy may be here due to an obligation to one of his sponsors, RBC. Remember how Tiger and Lefty showed up at the Greenbrier to collect their "appearance fees" and promptly missed the cut? The second is that I'm still not sold that Els' stats set up for this course.

Now that that's out of the way, time to pick.
  • For my dark horse, I'm going with Richard H. Lee. No, it's not just because he's in the very last group to tee off. He's made just 6 of 17 cuts, but he's also made 4 of his last 7. Several things catch my attention. He finished T15 at Pebble Beach where the greens are small (smaller) than Hamilton G&CC. He finished T38 at The Greenbrier Classic, and some people seem to think there are similarities between this week's venue and The Old White TPC. He also ranks 16th in driving accuracy, 50th in GIR, 34th in ball striking and 9th in par 3 performance.
  • My contender pick is Sean O'Hair. He's also on the correct end of the draw (we think) and finished third at this venue in 2006.
  • My winner is Matt Kuchar. Right draw, right course fit; now all he's got to do is win.
Best of luck!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

RBC Canadian Open - Odds

With Tuesday evening upon us, it's time to take a look at the odds for the RBC Canadian Open. Before we get started, I wanted to alert everyone to keep an eye on the weather. (I know, that was supposed to be the case last week too.) As of this morning, the weather is supposed to be bad on Thursday (80% chance of rain with rain overnight starting Wednesday night) and a fair chance of rain on Friday. Expect delays along with the possibility of some starting and stopping on Thursday and some guys having to play more than 18 holes either Friday or Saturday, or both.

Here is the link to where we pull the odds in real time http://www.madduxsports.com/golf-betting-lines.html. Matt Kuchar leads off the betting at 11/1, and we'll take a quick look at him as well as a few other favorites and point out some value as well.

  • 11/1 - Matt Kuchar - Needless to say, I would agree that he is the favorite seeing as how he is in all of our fantasy games and leading off the power rankings. I don't particularly like the value for him here to win, as he's more of a top-10 machine than he is a winner.
  • 14/1 - Hunter Mahan - This seems to be following our power rankings. He's the right guy for the #2 spot, and probably as good of a bet to win as Kuchar at a slightly better value.
  • 16/1 - Jim Furyk - He won at this track (Hamilton Golf & CC) the last time the Canadian Open was contested at it in 2006. I like him to have a very good week, but I don't like him to win. He hasn't cracked a top 25 since his U.S. Open let down. As you will see in my Rotoworld Ryder Cup preview on Friday, he's a guy that could use a big week in a bad way this week.
  • 22/1 - Ernie Els & Brandt Snedeker - I don't particularly like either of these two to win this week. As I mentioned yesterday, I believe Els his here because he's an RBC staffer. Sounded to me like he wanted to "blow off" this event in his post-round Open Championship acceptance. As for Sneds, I worry about his ball-striking here. That said, if he's about five back entering the finale, he's got them right where he wants them. Just don't let him be in the lead!
  • 25/1 - Charl Schwartzel - I'm not ready to jump on the Charl train just yet.
The rest:
  • John Huh at 66/1 seems like a bargain to me. Straight off the tee and finds a good number of greens.
  • There are a few guys at 80/1 that make sense to me. Roberto Castro, Cameron Tringale and David Hearn all stick out. Castro and Tringale's stats line up well and are in good form. Hearn played this course in '06 and finished T20
  • Greg Owen is a good course fit at 125/1
This feels like one of those goofy weeks. It's the week after a major and weather could make things even more interesting. Rain could soften the fairways to make some less accurate drivers a little straighter to boot. All of that said, I'd take Huh, Castro, Tringale and Owen, but keep an eye for value as the tournament progresses.

Monday, July 23, 2012

RBC Canadian Open - Power Rankings and Fantasy

With the season's third major behind us, it's time to jump forward to the RBC Canadian Open. As you remember from our preview yesterday, the tournament heads back to Hamilton Golf & CC in Ontario, Canada for the first time since Jim Furyk hoisted the hardware in 2006.

Since course history was limited for the majority of the field, I did my best to analyze what made Furyk and others in the top 5 in 2006 record such solid finishes. As always, current form was taken into account.

Without further ado, this week's Dandy Dozen:
  1. Matt Kuchar - Kuchar bats lead off for a couple of reasons. His current form is fine (T8 and T9 in his last two tournaments) and he has made each of his 15 cuts this season. In all, he has seven top 10s and 11 top 25s. He ranks inside the top 50 in most major statistical categories that were relevant for success in 2006, with his 66 in SGP the outlier. Still, if you hit enough greens putting shouldn't matter as much this week as it does in others.
  2. Hunter Mahan - Mahan is really 1A this week, but I had to settle on one. Mahan is the better driver (4th in total driving) and overall ball-striker (1st), but the reason I dropped him to second is his par 3 performance. He ranks 64th in par 3 performance to Kuchar's 30th and 9th in par 4 performance to Kuchar's 1st. With only two par 5s (reachable by most) and four very difficult par 3s, that's the difference.
  3. Jim Furyk - I can't go any lower than this for Furyk. He won one of his two Canadian Opens at this venue and is one of the better overall players in an average field. One word of caution, he hasn't done any better than a T34 (twice, actually) since his U.S. Open collapse.
  4. Brandt Snedeker - I'll admit that I worry about his ball-striking on this course, but his putting can cover a multitude of problems. He ranks 5th in SGP, 8th in scrambling and 3rd in par 3 performance. I'll stress again, I believe par 3 performance is a key this week. A player could easily play the par 3s at 4 or 5-over for the week and not have enough par 5s to make up for it.
  5. Ernie Els - Like Webb Simpson the week after the U.S. Open, this is more of a psychology experiment than it is a statistical analysis. I believe Els will be still celebrating his fourth major and is likely playing this week under some sort of obligation, so don't expect too much from The Big Easy. That said, how can you not include him?
  6. Bo Van Pelt - He's a very solid player in a field growing weaker by the day. He's made 13/17 cuts with 10 top 25s and six top 10s. He had made six consecutive cuts before failing to see the weekend at the British Open. He's 20th in ball-striking and 4th in SGP.
  7. John Huh - I like Huh this week. Straight off the tee (8th in driving accuracy and 24th in total driving), his 78th GIR clip is okay, 34th in SGP and 45th in par 3 performance. Unlike most weeks, he's not at a disadvantage from not having played the course before.
  8. Cameron Tringale - He's 29th in total driving, 25th in SGP, 38th in ball-striking and has made nine out of his last 10 cuts including four in a row. He's a good young player that is going to win sooner rather than later. Why not this week?
  9. Sean O'Hair - I'm a little skittish after he missed the cut at the John Deere, but he finished third here in 2006. I don't really care that he's the defending champ, as the venue isn't the same. He's made 14/17 cuts this year with five top 25s and two top 10s. He is 5th in par 3 performance and finished 2nd at the Sony Open. While there are major differences in the courses, there are similarities in that each have just two par 5s and each are a little tight off the tee.
  10. Seung-Yul Noh - I don't like how some of his splits are for this course, but I can't ignore that he's made 11 cuts in a row including five consecutive top 30s.
  11. Kyle Stanley - After his win at the Waste Management early in the year, he looked like the "can't miss" kid. He struggled through most of the spring and summer, but has found something in his game since the U.S. Open. He's made four cuts in a row with several top 25s, and he entered the final round of the British Open with a very realistic shot at top 10 before dropping down the leaderboard in the finale. It all depends on his putter this week
  12. David Hearn - This isn't just a throw-in Canadian, but a legitimate contender. He was in the field in 2006 and finished T20. He's made nine of his last 10 cuts, with the miss at the John Deere where he was still 3-under. His stats aren't perfect for this course, but you have to think he's got a shot at at top-10 finish.
Next 5: Ben Curtis, Brian Davis, Scott Piercy, Charley Hoffman and Will Claxton

Now to Fantasyland:

Yahoo! Game:
  • A-List - Start Kuchar and keep Furyk on the bench UNLESS something looks weird with the weather in regards to an advantage in one wave or another in the Thursday/Friday split. That goes for those below as well.
  • B-List - I'm starting Mahan and Van Pelt with Els and Snedeker on the bench.
  • C-List - Huh starts and Tringale backs up.
Golf Channel Game:
  • Group 1 - Kuchar over Mahan, Furyk and others.
  • Group 2 - Plenty of good options here including Sean O'Hair, but I feel like this course should really suit John Huh, so I'm taking him.
  • Group 3 - I'll take David Hearn, but I took a long look at Roberto Castro.
  • Group 4 - I'll take a stab at Richard H. Lee.
Best of luck to all! We'll take a look at the odds tomorrow.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

British Open - Final Wrap Up

Ernie Els rattled home a birdie on the 72nd hole of the British Open to steal the Claret Jug from Adam Scott. The win give Els his fourth major championship and second British Open. Here are some thoughts from the finale at Royal Lytham & St. Annes.
  • Els did what he had to do. A 68 late in the day was an incredibly good round. There were some 67s and even a 65 very early in the day, but as the winds picked up we finally got a British Open in the final round. The Big Easy also burned the edges of a bunch of putts all week. As many times as he's been the bridesmaid over the years, it's nice to see him get another major. Probably his last, but time will tell.
  • You have to feel badly for Adam Scott. There was no disastrous triple bogey let down (see Tiger Woods), but instead it was a death by a thousand paper cuts. He never did anything stupid. He took his medicine when he was supposed to, but just came up one short in the end. Yes, his four bogeys in the last four holes were bad, but to his credit he didn't go Sergio Garcia and curse the golfing gods after his missed par putt on 18. I hope he bounces back soon, but he's had several chances go by the wayside lately and you have to wonder how many more there will be. If he needs advice on how to deal with this, he could do worse than seek out Ernie Els, who's had his heart broken by Tiger Woods a few times over the years.
  • I'm beginning to think Graeme McDowell isn't much of a closer. This is two majors in a row he's been in the final pairing and two collapses to go with it. He played far worse than Scott today.
  • Tiger Woods is stuck in "the process" still. To be fair, he's figured almost all of it out except the last 36 holes of a major. If he played the weekend in 1-under (after opening with 6-under on the first 36) he's in a playoff with Els.
Here's a quick scorecard for how our site did this week.

What we got right:
  • We were all over Ernie Els. He was fourth in the power rankings and in our Yahoo! format. We left him out of the Golf Channel game, but he was one of our four final tips in the odds post about who to put pre-tourney money on. He was 40/1 at the time.
  • Luke Donald did just fine for us in the Yahoo! game, finishing T5. Padraig Harrington was okay in the C group.
  • In the Dandy (double) Dozen power rankings, we saw 20 of our 24 make the cut and eight of those grab top-10 finishes.
What we missed on:
  • We were a little too high on Padraig Harrington, Rickie Fowler and Sergio Garcia. I would maintain that if the weather would have been worse, they would have been in better shape but we'll never know. I do know that Fowler and Harrington made up spots on the weekend when the pressure increased and the weather declined.

Check back with us for our RBC Canadian Open Dandy Dozen tomorrow!

RBC Canadian Open - Preview

Coming off of the British Open, the schedule turns to another national championship. The RBC Canadian Open will be contested at Hamilton Golf and Country Club in Ontario, Canada. Similar to the U.S. Open, the Canadian Open is on a course rotation, so the venue is significant to understand.

Hamilton G&CC measures 6,985 yards and plays to a par 70. It was last a host venue in 2006 when Jim Furyk (266) bested Bart Bryant (267) by a stroke at. Before that, Hamilton played host in 2003 when Bob Tway (272) took down Brad Faxon (272) in a playoff.

When breaking down the stats of those successful in navigating the host venue, one thing that jumps right off the page is the lack of importance of distance off the tee. There is only one par 4 that plays longer than 450 yards and seven of them play under 425 yards. The two par 5s are of similar length and are considered a step above short, but still below average at 542 and 550 yards. That said, par 3 performance is extremely important, as three of the four par 3s player over 210 yards.

Looking back at the top five from 2006, ball-striking proves slightly more important than putting, but those on the lower end of the GIR stat had to pick it up with SGP.

Some stats I will take a close look at are:
  • Total driving with an edge to accuracy over distance.
  • GIR
  • For those not accurate off the tee, GIR from other
  • Par 3 Performance
  • Ball Striking
  • SGP for those not in the top tier of BS
I will put more emphasis on a player's statistical breakdown this week over most weeks due to the lack of course history at this venue. There are only a handful of guys playing this week that made the cut here in 2003 and 2006 and include Tom Pernice Jr., Vijay Singh, Bob Estes, Hunter Mahan and I believe that's it.

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

Saturday, July 21, 2012

British Open - Round 3

The third round of the British Open is in the books with Adam Scott in the lead by four strokes at 11-under 199. His nearest chasers are Brandt Snedeker and Graeme McDowell at 7-under 203. Here are some third-round thoughts as well as a few things to watch for in the final round.
  • I'm now convinced that the British Open and PGA Championship have traded places this year. Kiawah Island's Ocean Course, home of the PGA Championship, is located directly on the water and wind should be a major factor in that event.
  • That said, this is actually a pretty boring British Open. I hope the elements play some sort of a factor.
  • I mentioned yesterday that Kyle Stanley suffered a triple-bogey 8 on the par-5 7th yesterday and it was the difference between being 1-under and 5-under and playing with Tiger Woods. I followed that more today and he suffered a bogey on the par-5 11th from the fairway and another bogey on the par-4 13th that was drivable. If those three hole were birdies, He's 9-under. I know that's several what ifs, but the difference in solo second and T14 for him is three holes. Just illustrates how fine the line is between an excellent week and a really good one.
  • A quick weather report, it looks like there will be enough wind to matter on Sunday, and that might be a good thing for Adam Scott. It looks like just enough wind to prevent anyone from going too low, but not enough to where he would shoot something goofy to bring the field back into it.
  • Scott also drew a break by getting Graeme McDowell instead of Tiger Woods. Talk about awkward and distracting.
  • As some of you know, I do the Ryder Cup coverage for Rotoworld on top of my normal weekend blurbing responsibilities and this tournament is the third double-points event of the season. Keep an eye on Dustin Johnson, Brandt Snedeker, Bill Haas and Kyle Stanley in the final round. All are in the top 20 in the current Ryder Cup standings and could use a big day in the third double-point event of the season.
That's it for today. Have fun watching the finale tomorrow!

Friday, July 20, 2012

British Open - Round 2

At the half-way point of the British Open, Brandt Snedeker has claimed the lead at 10-under by a stroke over 18-hole leader Adam Scott. Lurking in third place at 6-under is Tiger Woods. The stage is set for the weekend, as the cut finally settled in at 3-over-par. Here are some thoughts headed into the weekend.
  • When Snedeker saved par on 16 and again on 18 he reminded me a little of Seve. Appropriate, since the Spaniard won two of his majors at Royal Lytham & St. Annes.
  • The Adam Scott / Brandt Snedeker pairing will be an interesting one to watch. Both fit the mold of recent first-time major winners. The Aussie is the better ball-striker and Snedeker is the superior putter.
  • Everyone knows that Woods has never come from behind to win a major when trailing at the 54-hole mark. That makes Saturday a big day. I have to think if Woods can put up a third 67 he will sneak into a final pairing and make things very interesting.
  • Graeme McDowell and Jason Dufner have each thrown their name in the hat in yet another major.
  • Matt Kuchar's record in British Opens is awful, but he's right in the thick of this one at 4-under. You have to think the mild weather has played a role.
  • It stands out to me how much of a difference one hole can make. I was following Kyle Stanley's second round rather closely, as he was 1-under on the day (and tournament) through six holes and I expected to see him birdie the par-5 seventh to climb the leaderboard. Instead, he took an eight to begin a flirt with the cut. After a bogey at the ninth, he played the back in 4-under 32 to finish the first half of the tournament at 1-under. If he birdies that hole, he's 5-under and paired with Tiger in the next to last group. While I have no idea how that triple bogey unfolded, it is possible that one swing could be the difference in a very high finish for Stanley and a middle of the pack week.
  • A bunch of big names were very lucky that the cut dropped to 3-over late in the day. Lee Westwood, Tom Watson, Keegan Bradley and Rickie Fowler among them. Two that fell one short were Sergio Garcia and Justin Rose.
  • It's time to insert Ernie Els and Tiger Woods into the Yahoo! format and hope we don't jinx them.
One additional note, the True South Classic did not conclude the second round on Friday. We'll provide a few notes on it before Sunday's likely finale.

That's it for tonight!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

British Open and True South Classic - Round 1

After a mild day at the British Open, Adam Scott finds himself in the lead by a stroke after a course-tying 64.While the leaderboard boasts not only Scott, but names like Zach Johnson, Graeme McDowell and Tiger Woods, it's hard not to be a little disappointed by the limp flagsticks in the first round. Even a little more frustrating, the forecast doesn't provide for much wild weather the rest of the way.

Here are a few more thoughts from the first round:
  • While guys like Z. Johnson, Woods, McDowell and Ernie Els populate the leaderboard, other favorites like Lee Westwood, Sergio Garcia and Justin Rose will play for their tournament lives on Friday.
  • I get the feeling that the second round will feel a little more like a "moving day" third round. Adam Scott isn't used to leading in a major for starters, and there are plenty of unhearlded names just outside the top 10 that will likely fall.
  • I was asked earlier tonight about the chances of Sergio Garcia (+2) and Lee Westwood (+3) to make the cut. These are two guys that would have fared better relative to the field if it had been a little nastier in the first round. That said, something like 2-over (maybe 3) should make the cut and these guys should be able to rebound and hang around for the weekend.
  • While my "winner" pick Rickie Fowler didn't have the greatest of days, he goes out early tomorrow and has a chance to post a nice round early. He opened with a 79 in 2010 and still nabbed a top-20 finish.
The True South Classic experienced a typical Southern thunderstorm mid afternoon, and did not complete play. In the morning wave, Jason Bohn set the tone with an 8-under round. Not surprising, as low scores generally prevail at this event.

That's it for today!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

British Open & True South Classic - Final Predictions

I'm doubling up on my prediction post to include the British Open and True South Classic in one shot. With just a few hours away from the Open getting underway and a few more hours removed from the start of the True South Classic, here we go.

British Open:
  • What exactly is a dark horse in a major? On Twitter, Steve Elkington took Tiger Woods as his dark horse. I don't quite think a three-time Open Champion and number four ranked player in the world qualifies, but I'm not sure where the line is drawn. I'm going with someone outside the top 75 in the Official World Golf Rankings and taking Ben Curtis. He's been extremely accurate off the tee this year and that should be a factor this week.
  • As for a contender, I'll take Lee Westwood. I would like to think that the Englishman will break through, but I'll resist giving him the jinx with my selection.
  • For the winner, I considered Padraig Harrington, Rickie Fowler and Tiger Woods very closely and came up with Fowler. I like him off the tee and I think he's aggressive enough to make some birdies to erase the bogeys that will come.
True South Classic:

  • The entire field would qualify as a dark horse this week, but I'm going to go with Patrick Reed. He's Monday Qualified for the fifth time this season and you have to think this could be his shot to bust through.
  • As for a contender, I'll take 2006 champion D.J. Trahan. He's a top-15 machine on this course. I understand that his form is poor, but this is a week that he can always rely on for a boost.
  • My winner is Tommy Gainey. When he gets hot, he makes a ton of birdies. Same can be said for Ken Duke, who I almost went with.
Best of luck to all. Should be a fun, but long week of golf!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

True South Classic - Odds

I feel badly for the golf fans of Mississippi, as the True South Classic is taking a beating in terms of strength of field. My first observation is that everyone in this field is generally no better than 40/1 entering tournaments that suit them. In a sense, everyone is over-valued here, but in the same breath someone has to win. A quick housekeeping note, here is the link to the current odds http://www.madduxsports.com/golf-betting-lines.html.

Brendon de Jonge is the favorite this week at 11/1, which is almost funny to me. Yes, his course history is strong, and he's made a ton of cuts, but he hasn't done anything on the weekend. Having said that, here are five guys that I think may be worth a look if you're feeling lucky.
  • 16/1 - Ken Duke is a veteran that easily could walk away with this one. His course history is good enough and, despite barely missing the John Deere cut, I'm as good with his form as anyone's in the field.
  • 28/1 - Tommy Gainey - He's a guy that can make birdies by the bunches, and that's the type of guy that will probably win. I'd love to see Two Gloves about three back entering the finale and posting a 65 to wait in the clubhouse. That's probably how someone will win this anyway.
  • 40/1 - Brian Gay isn't having a great season, but at least he's a guy in the field that's won before.
  • 40/1 - David Hearn is an intersting thought. As good as any in the field this week.
  • 50/1 - D.J. Trahan is a major horse for this course. His current form is junk, but it's not the first time he's limped into this tournament.
I could look at some guys further down the list, but you have to think it's likely that someone 50/1 or better will win despite the poor value.

Best of luck!

British Open - Odds

As the British Open inches closer, it's time to have a look at the odds. Normally I take a look at every player 50/1 or better, as well as others I find to be a good price. This week, I'm going to stray from that a bit. Reason being, there are way too many guys thrown in the mix at 40/1 or 50/1, so I'll speak to those 35/1 or better and others who I see as having a good value. Here is the link to where the odds are pulled http://www.madduxsports.com/golf-betting-lines.html. It will be updated accordingly.

  • 8/1 - Tiger Woods - He's never cracked a top 20 at this venue, yet it seems to suit the "new Tiger" better than other venues. He said in his press conference today that he wouldn't play this week like Hoylake in 2006, which scares me a bit. While he probably deserves to be the favorite, if you give me Tiger vs the field I'll take the field.
  • 14/1 - Lee Westwood & Luke Donald - I like Westy here better than Donald, as he puts himself in position to win majors much more often than Donald. Being as strong of a ball-striker as Westy is, this could be a course that favors him. Of course, Donald may be the best bunker player in the world and that may be important this week.
  • 16/1 - Rory McIlroy - As the weather forecast lightens, I like his chances more. That said, I'm not sure I love him. He could have a magical week, but I'm still in a bit of a holding pattern on him.
  • 18/1 - Padraig Harrington - I liked him enough to lead him off in my power rankings. Apparently I'm not the only one, as his price is fairly steep for a guy that hasn't won in quite a while.
  • 30/1 - Francesco Molinari, Graeme McDowell and Justin Rose - Molinari's form is incredible, coming off of back-to-back runner up finishes in the French Open and Scottish Open. McDowell was in the thick of it at Olympic Club before suffering a poor final round. Rose has the game for this course, but doesn't scare majors as often as a player of his caliber should.
  • 33/1 - Martin Kaymer, Phil Mickelson and Sergio Garcia - Sergio's British Open record is as good as it could be without a win. Kaymer doesn't feel like a guy that's ready to win major #2 is to me. Mickelson posted some low numbers last week in the Scottish Open, but when the weather began to turn on Sunday, his game went south.
I'm going to call an editorial timeout. I would not bet any of the above pre tournament. With the weather the number one factor in an Open and prices being fairly steep on all of these, I would want to give it a day or two and pay a slightly higher price headed into the weekend knowing that I was throwing money at something solid.

When I threw up long shots last week, one of the three I mentioned at 150/1 was Troy Matteson, and he came oh-so-close to pulling it off. Here's who I like a little further down the list this week:
  • 40/1 - Ernie Els, Rickie Fowler and Hunter Mahan all grab my attention here. I really like Fowler and Els this week, as The Big Easy's history at this venue is awesome. Fowler has only played in two Open's, but he has shown a knack for it. I think he has the right mix of driving accuracy and ability to try and make birdies when the opportunities present themselves.
  • 66/1 - Ben Curtis - He's missed his share of cuts here, but the three he's made have resulted in no worse than an eighth-place finish.
  • 100/1 - Simon Dyson and Raphael Jaquelin are sneaky picks here.
  • 125/1 - Watch out for Michael Hoey. He's from Northern Ireland and is the current Alfred Dunhill Links Championship winner at St. Andrews. He beat a stout field that week as well. Northern Irishmen have a knack for winning majors of late as well.
  • 150/1 - Jonathan Byrd is an intersting thought. Great scrambler and above-average putter. The BIG question with him will be finding fairways.
  • 200/1 - Kyle Stanley and Lucas Glover stand out. Stanley is a ball-striking machine and after a terrible late spring / early summer, he's seemed to have found his form the last two tournaments. Glover was the 36-hole co-leader with Darren Clarke last year, and has cashed in 4/6 Opens.
  • 300/1 - Tom Lehman - Won here in 1996 and everyone keeps saying length isn't a premium. Could make sense.
In short, my advise is this. Don't rush to throw money in just yet. See how things play out for a round or two. If you want to take a stab at a few long shots and hope they work out, I think that makes more sense than trying to pick between Tiger, Luke, Westy and Rory.

I would be inclined to throw a few dollars on Els, Fowler, Dyson and Jaquelin, then sit back and see what happens.

Monday, July 16, 2012

True South Classic - Power Rankings and Fantasy

The stars are dropping like flies at the True South Classic, but we'll do our best to give you the Dandy Dozen. In truth, I had the power rankings done by Sunday afternoon, but decided to sit back and see if/who pulled out. Good thing I did, as my number one (Jeff Overton) withdrew as did Spencer Levin and Matt Every who also cracked the original Dandy Dozen.

In truth, this could be a week not unlike the Greenbrier when a rookie has a life-changing week much like Ted Potter Jr. Without further ado, this week's Dandy Dozen:
  1. Ken Duke - He's coming off a T7 at the Greenbrier before laying an egg at the John Deere Classic. His history at Annandale is solid (T11 '07, T25 '08 and T8 '10). This could be his big week!
  2. Tommy Gainey - Two Gloves was T7 in 2011 and T13 at last week's John Deere Classic. While not known as consistent, he can make birdies by the bunches.
  3. Chris Kirk - The defending champ has a decent shot to go back-to-back. He missed his three cuts headed into the John Deere, where he posted a T30. Interesting tidbit, he was T22 at the John Deere in 2011 before his win.
  4. Brendon de Jonge - If there ever were a week he may be able to close the deal, this would be it. He's made his last 13 cuts and finished T13 in '11 and T3 in '10 at Annandale.
  5. Blake Adams - He was T9 in 2011 and has made his last nine cuts overall.
  6. D.J. Trahan - A true horse for course, he won here in 2006 and has some other high finishes as well (T9 '11, T3 '10, T12 '05). His form is not good at all, but it's not uncommon for my former high school and college classmate to have unexpected big weeks. He needs a big week here to get his year back on track.
  7. Will Claxton - The rookie has made 14/20 cuts this year. He's what I mean by a potential life-changing week.
  8. Brian Harman - He's been on several leaderboards this year, including last week's John Deere Classic. In all, he's cashed in 15/22 events with seven top 25s, but no top 10s.
  9. Jerry Kelly - Last year is was veteran Tom Pernice Jr. that about stole the show. This year it could be Kelly. He was T11 here in 2010 and has cashed in 11/18 events this year.
  10. William McGirt - While the sophmore is still in search of his first top 10, he's had a number of good weeks. This could be the great one, as he was T27 lasst year.
  11. Bud Cauley - Hasn't played well of late, but was T4 last year.
  12. Scott Brown - He's made 4/16 cuts, but nabbed a top 10 at the John Deere and a T5 in Puerto Rico in an earlier opposite field event. He was putting together a solid week at The Greenbrier Classic before W/D in the finale for the birth of his child.
There will be no next 5 this week, as I had to rob half of them to complete my Dandy Dozen!

Golf Channel Game:
  • Group 1 - Ken Duke over most of the rest of my power rankings.
  • Group 2 - I'm taking Trahan on course history alone.
  • Group 3 - McGirt.
  • Group 4 - 2008 champ Will MacKenzie
Best of luck!

British Open - Power Rankings and Fantasy

With the research done, I will go ahead and stick my neck out with the Dandy (Double) Dozen power rankings for the British Open (Open Championship). I assure you, it was no easy task to compile the list this week, as there are many factors. The biggest factor is the hardest to predict. Mother Nature.

In looking ahead, the early forecast may give the edge to those out late on Thursday and early on Friday. The current forecast calls for rain early on Thursday getting lighter as the day rolls on with a nice day in store for Friday. Of course, that forecast may have changed three times since I looked, as the experts in that field have said they aren't the most confident in their predictions just yet.

The biggest factors for this weeks Dandy (Double) Dozen were past history in Open Championships, experience on links courses, current form and certain statistical categories such as driving accuracy and scrambling in that order. Below are the 24 that best fit those criteria.

The Dandy (Double) Dozen:
  1. Padraig Harrington - He's got everything going for him headed into the week. We all know he's hoisted the Claret Jug twice (2007,2008), and he has fared well at Royal Lytham and St. Annes with a 37th in 2001 and an18th in 1996. Add to that, he posted a 4th at the U.S. Open, 7th at the Irish Open and 16th at the Scottish Open leading up to this week. He's even on the predicted correct end of the draw!
  2. Rickie Fowler - While he's played in just two Open Championships, he's competed well. He was 14th in 2010 at St. Andrews and 4th at Royal St. George's last year. He won in May at Quail Hollow and ranks near or inside the top 50 on basically every major category on the PGA TOUR. The only yellow flag is his T41 at the U.S. Open . I love his iron game for this course.
  3. Tiger Woods - He's a three-time Open Champion (2000, 2005 and 2006). For the sake of Royal Lytham and St. Annes, his 2006 experience at Hoylake could come in quite handy this week. If you will remember, he hit driver just once the entire week en route to his victory, and the same patience could be needed this week. He's won three times in 2012, and only lacks a major. If you were one of our followers way back in December, you will remember we said the most likely spot for Woods to claim a major would come this week. He may be on the wrong end of the draw, but we'll see.
  4. Ernie Els - The Big Easy has done everything but win at Royal Lytham and St. Annes in his last two trips. He was T3 in 2001 and was runner up to Tom Lehman in 1996. His form is fine, as he posted a T9 at the U.S. Open and was in contention on the back nine. If Els has one more major in him, this could be it.
  5. Lee Westwood - Westy has close calls and big misses in the Open, and his history at Royal Lytham and St. Anne's isn't great. That said, he's in excellent form and this is the kind of week that he could finally break through (heard that before). With a tough closing stretch, I would get really excited about the Englishman if he were about four back to start the final round and charged up to post a number.
  6. Sergio Garcia - Garcia has done everything but win the Open. He's made his last seven cuts in this championship including 5 top 15s, 4 top 10s and 3 top 5s. The golfing gods could have the last laugh, as the man who thought they were against him in his runner up to Harrington at Carnoustie may be on the wrong side of the draw.
  7. Ben Curtis - He's feast-or-famine at Open Championships, as he's made 3 of 9 cuts, but they have gone for a win in '03, a 7th in '08 and an 8th in '07. His stats stack up brilliantly, as he's 3rd in driving accuracy, 6th in GIR, 3rd in SGP and 62nd in scrambling on the PGA TOUR. He also has a win to his credit in 2012 already.
  8. Francesco Molinari - On the bright side, he's trending beautifully. He was 29th at the U.S. Open, 10th at the Irish Open, and runner up in both the French and Scottish Opens. On the down side, he's missed three of his four cuts in British Opens, with the lone payday a 13th in 2009.
  9. Justin Rose - The Englishman is in top form in 2012 and comes off a 21st at the U.S. Open. While he's made 7/10 cuts in this event, his only top 10 was as an amateur in 1998 when he finished fourth. He played the 2001 edition at Royal Lytham and St. Annes and finished 30th.
  10. Jason Dufner - The Jason Dufner that has missed his only two cuts in Open golf isn't the same one that will tee it up this week. His last three starts were a win at the Byron Nelson, runner up at Colonial and T4 at the U.S. Open. His ball-striking stats are insane, but his putter is just average.
  11. Rory McIlroy - While his overall form has been poor of late, he did post a 10th-place finish at the Irish Open. His best links efforts have both come at St. Andrews, where he was third at the 2010 Open and runner up at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in 2011. I'm not sure if that makes him a solid links player, or a horse for St. Andrews. I can't shake his attitude about playing in poor weather, which is a big reason I've dropped him this far.
  12. Davis Love III - It seems like every year there is a veteran that finds the fountain of youth at the Open Championship, and this year's likely candidate is the U.S. Ryder Cup captain. He's made 15 cuts and has eight top-15 finishes in this event. The last time it came to this venue, he posted a 21st. He was 29th at the U.S. Open and 17th at the Greenbrier, so form is there.
  13. Luke Donald - Let me first say that Donald's skill set is perfect for this course. But it was at Olympic Club as well and he missed the cut. He's also been a bit underwhelming in Open Championships, posting just two top-30 finishes and missing the cut last year.
  14. Zach Johnson - He's steady, making the cut in his last five British Opens after having played the John Deere, but he has yet to crack a top 15. He has two wins and two runner ups in his last eight starts, but his T41st at the U.S. Open was a disappointment. I predict a bit of a let down after his win at TPC Deere Run, but find it likely he plays four rounds.
  15. Graeme McDowell - For someone that grew up playing links golf, McDowell doesn't have a top 10 in a British Open. He was in the final pairing at Olympic Club last month, and Royal Lytham and St. Annes requires similar skills.
  16. Dustin Johnson - He was runner up to Darren Clarke last year, and has steadily improved in each of his three Open starts. I'm not sure this is the best venue for him, but he seems confident (on Twitter). He hasn't done much since his win at the FedEx St. Jude, so I wouldn't invest too much in him, but you never know.
  17. Jim Furyk - This is really anyone's guess as to how quickly he can put the disappointment of the U.S. Open behind him. He's done everything but win this year, and is an accurate driver (except on the 16th at the U.S. Open). His history at this venue isn't the best, but he's 10/16 in cuts.
  18. Hunter Mahan - He's made 4/7 cuts, with his lone top 25 a sixth at Carnoustie in 2007. That venue is nothing like this week's. His last start was a T38 at the U.S. Open, so he should be well rested. His ball-striking stats stack up well, but his scrambling does not.
  19. Steve Stricker - He's 10/12 in paydays here, including seven consecutive dating back to 2001. He finished 12th in 2011 after winning the John Deere Classic, so he can manage the jump across the pond. I'm just not sure he's in his top form.
  20. Ian Poulter - He's 8/11 in Open cuts, with a runner up to Harrington in '08 the best. To go with that, he's 9/9 on the PGA TOUR this year with a T41 at the U.S. Open in his last start. He's 7th in scrambling on TOUR.
  21. Fredrik Jacobson - Why not go with the Swedish Seve on a course where the Spaniard claimed two Claret Jugs? He's made five of his last six cuts in this event including three top 20s. He was 15th in the U.S. Open and 16th in the Scottish Open.
  22. Retief Goosen - He's made a spectacular 14/17 cuts in this event including a 13th in 2001 at Royal Lytham and St. Annes. He has seven top 10s in Open Championships, and finished T10 at the U.S. Open this year. He is fourth on the PGA TOUR in scrambling.
  23. Simon Dyson - Check out his links play of late. He was 29th at the 2012 Scottish Open, 10th at the 2012 Irish Open, 9th at the 2011 Open Championship, winner of the 2011 Irish Open and  winner of the 2009 Alfred Dunhill Links Championship at St. Andrews. While his overall Open record isn't great, his recent form on like events is.
  24. Andres Romero - He's 4/4 in Opens, with three top-13 finishes. If he gets hot, watch out.
Instead of a next 5, I'll take a look a two different sets of five.

Five Dark Horse candidates: Michael Hoey (2011 Alfred Dunhill Links Champion over a stacked field at St. Andrews and a Northern Irishman to boot), Raphael Jacquelin, Raphael Cabrera Bello, Lucas Glover (36-hole co-leader with Clarke last year) and 1996 champ Tom Lehman.

Five obvious omissions: Phil Mickelson, Matt Kuchar, Martin Kaymer, Adam Scott and Louis Oosthuizen

Now to the games:

Yahoo! format:
  • A-List - I'm starting Luke Donald due to his draw and keeping Sergio Garcia on the bench.
  • B-List - Rickie Fowler and Lee Westwood get the starts, with Tiger and Els on the bench.
  • C-List - Padraig Harrington is our no-brainer starter with Ben Curtis on the bench.
Golf Channel format:
  • Group 1 - Tiger is the best bet here.
  • Group 2 - I'll stick to my power rankings and take Fowler.
  • Group 3 - I'll gladly take Harrington here.
  • Group 4 - I'll go with 1996 champ Tom Lehman.
Check back tomorrow for a peek at the Odds!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

John Deere Classic - Final Wrap Up

Steve Stricker didn't pull off his fourth John Deere Classic title, but native son Zach Johnson did. It was Zach's second win of the year and came in a tournament he considers to be his fifth major. For those that missed it, after both Johnson and playoff foe Troy Matteson made double bogeys on their first attempt to play the 18th in the playoff, Zach stuck his approach from a fairway bunker to a foot on the second go-round. With that, here are some thoughts on the final round.
  • It was a weird final round. For a while, it looked like nobody wanted to win this tournament. Senden charged to the front with an eagle on the 14th and an ensuing birdie on the 15th, but hit his tee shot on 16 into a hazard leading to bogey and made a very messy bogey on the par-5 17th.
  • Stricker really messed things up with his drive on the 14th. Making bogeys on 14 and 17 are inexcusable.
  • Troy Matteson gave it a valiant effort, but came up short. Assuming he plays the British Open, and who could blame him, I really would have liked him at the True South Classic.
  • Scott Brown has now made four cuts in his rookie season and two of those have amounted to top-7 finishes. A T5 at Puerto Rico and a 7th this week.
Here are a few notes on how our site did this week.

What we got right:
  • 10 of the Dandy Dozen made the cut and three of them finished in the top five (Zach Johnson (1) John Senden (4) and Steve Stricker (T5)). I doubt I'm the only one that had Zach and Stricker in their Power Ranking!
  • What I was most happy with was my mention of Troy Matteson as a good value at 150/1 in my odds post on Tuesday. He was oh-so-close to pulling it off.

The big miss of the week was Sean O'Hair. Not making the cut after expecting him to be one of those names in contention in the end was disappointing.

While I normally spend a tad longer going over the week that was, it's time to turn the page quickly with two tournaments beginning on Thursday! Thanks for understanding!

British Open - Preview

The 141st playing of the British Open (or Open Championship) is set to be contested July 19th-22nd at Royal Lytham and St. Annes. The last time the Open was held at this venue in 2001, David Duval hoisted the Claret Jug for his only major championship to date. Other recent winners at Royal Lytham and St. Annes include Tom Lehman (1996), the late Seve Ballasteros (1988 and again in 1979).

When previewing the Open, whether for gambling, fantasy sports or just for looking smart around the water cooler, a different set of metrics should be employed than those for many tournaments. Here are some examples of what I mean:
  • The number one factor is the weather, and it is expected to be a wet and windy Open this week. With little wind and elements, Open venues generally aren't that tough on their own, but when elements are interjected everything changes.
  • People who play Open Championships well historically are worth heavy consideration. This is one tournament where course history (or in this case course rotation history) is more important than current form.
  • While people competing in their first Open have won (see Ben Curtis), it's rare. In fact, Curtis has nabbed two top 10s since that win showing he's a good fit for Open golf.
  • The course layout of a links course like Royal Lytham and St. Annes is vastly different than those of American courses, so expect most Americans with little links experience to really struggle if the weather is a factor.
  • The typical Thursday / Friday draw rules don't apply. The weather could be bad at anytime, unlike on the PGA TOUR where the morning wave generally gets the better. In some Open's, half of the field is eliminated because they catch the worst end of the draw both days. Another reason it's hard to handicap these.
I do have one additional theory on the weather. Extremely good weather and extremely bad weather can produce a "fluke" champion. The cream rises to the top when weather is a factor, but not the complete story. By all indications, weather will be a factor this week, thus eliminating a number of lesser players. Unless the weather gets stupid, expect a solid champion.

A few words about the host course of Royal Lytham and St. Annes:
  • Many consider it to be among the tougher of the Open venues, so while it will likely take something under par to win, don't expect a John Deere Classic to break out.
  • There are bunkers everywhere, so the "bomb-and-gauge" philosophy might not be a wise one. It is a strategy golf course, and one that requires plodding.
  • The last few holes are considered by some to be the toughest stretch in Open golf. That could lend itself to someone posting a number in the final round and watching the leaders fall by the wayside. It could also mean that someone looking for their first win in one of the final groups would have something besides just nerves to contend with. Likely expect the winner to come from back in the pack posting a number, or a seasoned veteran in the lead holding on.
Below is the top 10 of each of the last two Open Championships contested at Royal Lytham and St. Annes:

2001                                                                          1996
1 - David Duval                                                          1 - Tom Lehman
2 - Niclas Fasth                                                          T2 - Ernie Els
T3 - Darren Clarke                                                     T2 - Mark McCumber
T3 - Ian Woosnam                                                      4 - Nick Faldo
T3 - Ernie Els                                                              T5 - Jeff Maggert
T3 - Miguel Angel Jimenez                                           T5 - Mark Brooks
T3 - Bernhard Langer                                                  T7 - Fred Couples
T3 - Billy Mayfair                                                        T7 - Peter Hedblom
T9 - Sergio Garcia                                                       T7 - Greg Norman
T9 - Mikko Ilonen                                                        T7 - Greg Turner
T9 - Jesper Parnevik
T9 - Kevin Sutherland

Also worth noting, here are the Open Champions and runner ups since 2000:
  • 2000 (St. Andrews) - Tiger Woods over Ernie Els and Thomas Bjorn
  • 2001 (Lytham & St. Annes) - Duval over Fasth
  • 2002 (Muirfield) - Ernie Els over Steve Elkington, Stuart Appleby and Thomas Levet
  • 2003 (Royal St. George's) - Ben Curtis over Thomas Bjorn and Vijay Singh
  • 2004 (Troon) - Todd Hamilton over Ernie Els
  • 2005 (St. Andrews) - Tiger Woods over Colin Montgomery
  • 2006 (Hoylake) - Tiger Woods over Chris DiMarco
  • 2007 (Carnoustie) - Padraig Harrington over Sergio Garcia
  • 2008 (Royal Birkdale) - Padriag Harrington over Ian Poulter
  • 2009 (Turnberry) - Stewart Cink over Tom Watson
  • 2010 ( St. Andrews) - Louis Oosthuizen over Lee Westwood
  • 2011 (Royal St. George's) - Darren Clarke over Dustin Johnson
Check back tomorrow for our Dandy Dozen Power rankings and fantasy advice.

True South Classic - Preview

While the eyes of the world will be squarely focused on the British Open, the True South Classic will take place in Madison, Mississippi for those not headed across the pond. This is an event that normally is relegated to an opposite field event or a Fall Series event, and this year finds itself sitting opposite the year's third major. While the field is generally light, it has produced a number of solid winners over the years, and even identified some future stars in the game. This tournament is the answer to the trivia question "Where did Luke Donald collect his first PGA TOUR victory?"

The True South Classic is played at Annandale Golf Club, and is a par 72 playing to 7,199 yards. Here is a look at all of the winners and runner ups since 2000. (Note the tournament was cancelled in 2009 due to weather).
  • 2000 - Steve Lowery (266) over Skip Kendall in a playoff
  • 2001 - Cameron Beckman (269) over Chad Campbell (270)
  • 2002 - Luke Donald (201) over Deane Pappas (202)
  • 2003 - John Huston (268) over Brenden Pappas (202)
  • 2004 - Fred Funk (266) over Ryan Palmer (269)
  • 2005 - Heath Slocum (267) over Carl Pettersson and Loren Roberts (269)
  • 2006 - D.J. Trahan (275) over Joe Durant in a playoff
  • 2007 - Chad Campbell (275) over Johnson Wagner (276)
  • 2008 - Will MacKenzie (269) over Brian Gay and Marc Turnesa in a playoff
  • 2010 - Bill Haas (273) over Michael Allen (276)
  • 2011 - Chris Kirk (266) over George McNeill and Tom Pernice Jr.
Saying someone has an excellent course history here is somewhat of a back-handed compliment. Something interesting I noticed, everyone with the exception of Kirk who has won this tournament since 2000 is a winner of multiple PGA TOUR events. It was the first win for Cameron Beckman (3 wins), Luke Donald (only 5 wins), D.J. Trahan (2 wins) and Kirk. The second win for Lowery (3 wins), Slocum (4 wins), MacKenzie (2 wins) and Haas (4 wins). The fourth win (of 4) for Campbell, sixth win (of 8) for Funk and seventh win (of 7) for Huston.

There are a few guys known for putting on the list above, but the majority of these guys are ball-strikers. In fact, there are some guys on this list that I would say can't putt.

As always, consider course history where applicable, but give some special consideration to the obvious choices this week. Don't rule out a guy with a hand full of wins who is later in his career picking up his final victory here (Jerry Kelly? Woody Austin?). Tom Pernice Jr, Michael Allen and Fred Funk were all nearing the Champions Tour when they earned their way onto the above list. If you are going to take a look at a rookie, or someone who hasn't won before, ask yourself if he's a multiple TOUR winner in the future.

Check back tomorrow, as we will have the Dandy Dozen power ranking for this event, as well as the appropriate fantasy plays.

True South Classic - Monday Qualifier

For players looking for a spot in a weak field, look no further than this week's Monday Qualifier for the True South Classic as a way to chase the dream. Click below for the field, tee times and leaderboard for the open qualifier.

http://gulfpga.bluegolf.com/bluegolf/gulfpga12/event/gulfpga1217/index.htm

Saturday, July 14, 2012

John Deere Classic - Round 3

For the third night, Troy Matteson will sleep on the lead at the John Deere Classic. After opening with a 61, Matteson followed that up with a respectable 68 on Friday. Saturday's round was somewhere in between, but good enough for a three-stroke lead over Steve Stricker.

Here are some thoughts entering Sunday's finale:
  • Matteson has been awesome. It's not easy to bounce back from a round as low as his opener, but he did. Then to take it pretty low again on Saturday was solid. It's almost unfair to him that he is now paired with Stricker in the finale. While three strokes separate them on the leaderboard, I'd call it a tie entering the final round.
  • While someone could get hot and post a really low round, I essentially think this is a three horse race between Matteson (-18), Stricker (-15) and throw in Zach Johnson (-14). The way TPC Deere Run sets up, here is what each needs to do to win:
    • For Matteson to win, he needs to grab a birdie on one of the first two holes to send a message he's not going to roll over. He then needs to figure out a way to be 2-under when he steps on the 7th tee. He can play 7-9 in 1-over, but if he does he needs to pick up a birdie on the par-5 10th. It's important he be 2-under walking off the 10th. He then needs to pick up one more between the 11th and 16th. Then birdie the par-5 17th and hold on to par 18. If he posts a 4-under 67, that makes Stricker post a 64 to force a playoff.
    • For Stricker to win, he needs to play the front nine in 3-under and close the gap to one or two headed to the back. He then needs to birdie the 10th, 14th and 17th, while picking up one more somewhere else. That gives him a 64.
    • Johnson needs to go flag hunting. It will take a 7 or 8-under to have a chance.
  • One observation I had from the third round, many of the guys inside the top 10 backed up, while many of the guys just outside the top 10 and down to the 25 range traded places with them. It will be interesting to see if the new guys in the top 10 retreat, or hold their line. It will also be interesting to see if the guys that fell off the pace today can find a low round tomorrow.
  • For our Yahoo! followers, Stricker stays, as does Clark and Moore. The decision is what to do about Senden and Byrd. My gut tells me Byrd will have a better round than Senden, but on the off chance Sended pulls out the win we would want the 20 points that come with it. Starts aren't an issue with either. I'm going to go ahead and plug Senden in, because even if Byrd beats his round by a stroke or two, we're talking about 2 to 4 fantasy points. If Senden were to do something special and win, we'd get 20 bonus points plus something like 16 to 20 points for how low of a round it would take for him to win. This move will likely cost me 2 to 4 points, but I can live with being wrong in that direction.
That's all for tonight. Tomorrow we will post an early preview for the True South Classic and the British Open, so keep a look out.

Friday, July 13, 2012

John Deere Classic - Round 2

With the half-way point reached at TPC Deere Run, Troy Matteson held onto the lead at the John Deere Classic with a 3-under 68 moving him to 13-under. Immediately behind him is veteran Jeff Maggert and rookie Brian Harman. Here are some thoughts going into the weekend.
  • Matteson backed up a blistering 61 with a solid 68. It's hard to back up a round that low with another low round, so no shame in the 68. The third round could be the most important for Matteson, as he'll have to find a way to shoot something lower than 68 on Saturday if he is to sleep on the lead for the third night.
  • While Maggert isn't in uncharted territory, rookie Brian Harman is. While the rookie is a virtual lock to keep his card with six top-25 finishes already in the bank, he is going for his first top 10.
  • Harman isn't the only rookie making noise. We mentioned Tommy Biershenk yesterday and he backed up an opening 66 with another one and is T8 at 10-under. Not only is he going for his first top 10, but he's yet to crack the top 50. While he's been decent with the putter this year, he leads the field in putts per GIR and birdies this week. It will be interesting to see if and when either of these rookies figure out where they are on the leaderboard.
  • Now to the favorite. Steve Stricker is quietly hanging around 10-under and is three back. To say he's officially lurking would be an understatement. He will be paired with Robert Garrigus in the third round, so expect some birdies from that group.
  • Ten of the Dandy Dozen made the cut, with Ken Duke and Sean O'Hair the casualties. As you may remember, O'Hair was our "contender" pick this week given his penchant for seeing the weekend in 2012 and his history at TPC Deere Run. Our dark horse, Matt Jones, also fell victim to the cut.
  • While Duke had a nice second round, we now must replace him in the Yahoo! B Group. I'm plugging in Ryan Moore and leaving Brendon de Jonge on the bench. Many of you know that de Jonge has a reputation for going backwards on the weekend. In the A List, I'm leaving Stricker alone and holding Zach Johnson on the bench despite Johnson's Friday 65. While John Senden has bested Jonathan Byrd in each of the first two round, I'm leaving Byrd in due to his early tee time (best scoring conditions) and Senden's penchant to retreat on the weekends. He's not as bad as de Jonge, but it's likely Byrd will be a couple of strokes better on Saturday.

While it didn't occur on the PGA TOUR, Phil Mickelson showed some signs of life with a 64 in the second round of the Scottish Open. Francesco Molinari and Alexander Noren share the lead at 12-under.

One other note, keep an eye on the Web.com Tour in Utah this week. Morgan Hoffman leads at the midway point. He's one of those "can't miss" young prospects, so it will be worth following how he handles himself over the closing 36 holes.

That's all for now!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

John Deere Classic - Round 1

With the first round of the John Deere Classic in the books, Troy Matteson has set the pace at 10-under-par 61. Also important, Steve Stricker fired a 6-under and is four back. Here are some notes from the first round.
  • While you never know who will top the leaderboard after 18 holes, I'm happy to see it's Matteson since we tipped him at 150/1 in our odds post. He's the type that might have staying power on a leaderboard in a "go low." The two-time TOUR winner hasn't had the best season, but it could all change this week.
  • Three strokes back and alone in second is Ricky Barnes. I typically think of Barnes as being a factor in tournaments on tougher courses (T2 at 2009 U.S. Open), so we'll see how he holds up as birdies are needed.
  • Two members of our Dandy Dozen check in at 6-under and in a tie for third. Ironically, it was the first member (Stricker) and the 12th member (Robert Garrigus).
  • Speaking of the Dandy Dozen, half way to the cut nine of the 12 are inside the cut line with Jonathan Byrd, Ken Duke and Sean O'Hair bringing up the rear.
  • Jimmy Walker is 5-under and T10. Where was that last week when we backed him to win?
  • Last week's winner, Ted Potter, posted a solid 4-under and is T20. This week's Ted Potter alert could be Tommy Biershenk who rattled of four birdies in his final five holes to post a 5-under 66 (T10). Potter has seven Hooters Tour wins on the main tour, while Biershenk trails him by one with six wins. The Clemson product's play is all about confidence, so it will be intersting to see if he goes low again in the morning wave.
  • While our Yahoo! game was a mixed bag in round one, I'll hold off on any changes just yet.
That's it for today.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

John Deere Classic - Final Predictions

With little time left before balls are set flying at TPC Deere Run for the Steve Stricker Invitational (John Deere Classic), we will go on record with our final predictions.

  • For the dark horse, I'm going to go way down the list with a guy that I mentioned in yesterday's Odds post and call out Matt Jones. It would be easy to name Chez Reavie a dark horse, but when you look at his course history and recent form that's not exactly true. Jones had a top-5 finish in 2010, but missed the cut last year and his current form isn't exactly the best.
  • There are plenty of ways I can go with a contender pick, but my gut is leading me towards Sean O'Hair. He's made plenty of cuts and has a good course history.
  • My winner pick is Steve Stricker. I know, it's boring, but I've tried to think my way around this and can't. I considered Zach Johnson, Jonathan Byrd, Tim Clark, O'Hair, John Senden and really everyone else in my Dandy Dozen, While there are signs that many guys can win this week, Stricker's form is as good as anyone and his course history is better than everyone. There's credence to the argument that the pressure of going for four in a row could be too much, but the same could have been said last year. Remember, I'm not picking him to win his fourth John Deere in a row, I'm picking him to win this "one."
Best of luck to all!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

John Deere Classic - Odds

As we plow on in our preview of the John Deere Classic, it's time to dive into the odds. It should come as no surprise that the betting favorite is Steve Stricker. Per usual, we will give a brief thought on all those 50/1 or better and mention a few others down the line that might be worth a look. Standard disclaimer, odds are current as of the writing of this post and can be found here http://www.madduxsports.com/golf-betting-lines.html.
  • 7/1 - Steve Stricker - This doesn't warrant much discussion except to examine the price. This really isn't all that bad of a price for an overwhelming favorite in a weak field. When Tiger is a favorite on courses that he's won on before, he's usually in the 4/1 range to give some perspective.
  • 12/1 - Zach Johnson - ZJ warrants consideration, but his most recent form isn't great. Still, he's got a pair of top-3 finishes here and holds this tournament in the highest of regard outside the majors. I like him, but not sure at this price.
  • 20/1 - Nick Watney - I don't get this based on his course history. He's played here three times and has missed all three cuts, the last coming in 2008. He's not having his best season, although it hasn't been awful, but this makes little sense at this price.
  • 25/1 - Jonathan Byrd & Ryan Palmer - Here are two guys in the midst of really good years. Byrd's won here in 2007 and has a runner up in 2003. His recent history isn't great in this event, but he's shown that he likes the course and he wouldn't be playing the week before the Open Championship if he didn't like his chances. Palmer's finished inside the top 15 in each of his last four starts coming into the week. He has a T23 in 2009 sandwiched between two missed cuts in his last three trips to TPC Deere Run. I could make an argument for each and against each, but I like Byrd a little better here.
  • 33/1- Jeff Overton, Seung-yul Noh, Brendon de Jonge and Tim Clark - I'll put it this way; all four of these options are probably better than Watney. Overton hasn't played here in a few years, but his current form is good and he's a streaky player. Noh's never played here, but he's been a story on TOUR of late. de Jonge has a pair of back-to-back T7s here and has made a boat load of cuts this year, but rarely contends. Clark is coming off a T4 in his last start and was the runner up to Byrd in 2007. Clark commands a great deal of consideration, and Overton does as well. The price isn't right on the other two.
  • 40/1 - Ryan Moore, Carl Pettersson, Robert Garrigus, Sean O'Hair, John Senden, Charley Hoffman and Charles Howell III - What I love and hate about this group, is any of them could win, but any of them could miss the cut. You have two past champions in this group in O'Hair and Senden, and each have top 10s in their last start coming into this week. CH3 has some solid finishes in this event over the years, but isn't hot right now. The rest of these guys are streaky guys that can make a bunch of birdies if the stars align and win. I don't know how you seperate Moore, Pettersson, Garrigus and Hoffman. I like Garrigus the best of the remaining four due to his T4 at AT&T National. Hoffman faded badly over the weekend at the Greenbrier. I'm kind of indifferent on Moore and Pettersson.
  • 50/1 - Bryce Molder, Pat Perez, Kyle Stanley, Ken Duke, Ben Crane and K.J. Choi - I'm fading on Molder, but he can putt and that's key here. Perez is as streaky as they come. His lone TOUR win came in a birdie fest, so maybe. Stanley showed a return to form at AT&T (T22), but the putter is a big question mark. Most people remember that Stricker's unlikely birdie on the 72nd hole last year bumped Stanley from a playoff. Duke scares me with the putter on a Sunday back nine. Crane and Choi don't seem at their best right now. If we're betting on top 25s, give me Duke and Stanley. I don't know that I see any of them winning unless Stanley gets hot with the putter.
  • Chez Reavie is a good value at 66/1. He's got a nice course history and is playing well right now. I like him better than many of the guys listed ahead of him.
  • If you're looking for a deep sleeper, maybe Troy Matteson at 150/1. Same with Chris Kirk and Matt Jones.
In the end, I'd take Stricker, Byrd, Clark, Reavie and maybe toss in Matt Jones (5th here in 2010) for a few dollars.

Best of luck!

Monday, July 9, 2012

John Deere Classic - Power Rankings and Fantasy

I can assure you there were no stones left unturned when compiling the John Deere Classic's Dandy Dozen power rankings. Course history was studied as was current form. In fact, I compiled four different power rankings before finally settling on the one that satisfied me the most.

There are a few things that make the John Deere Classic a tough call.
  • Since it's the week before the British Open (or Open Championship depending on where you may reside) there are many players that have the TPC Deere Run as a variable on the schedule. You may see a guy play it one year, but if he's in the British Open he may decide to skip it the next. What that equates to, is many players who aren't in top form tee it up, while the best are over in the U.K.
  • This week in particular, there are a bunch of guys who have a good course history here, but aren't in the best of form. Similarly, there are a bunch of guys in good form that have poor or no history at this event.
  • You will not see Charlie Beljan, Ted Potter Jr. or Troy Kelly in this ranking. They all need time to process their recent success and move past it.
Without further ado, here is my best stab at it:
  1. Steve Stricker - This really isn't up for debate. He's won the last three years. I didn't look at the first stat. His form is good enough to not allow me to think myself out of this. Case closed.
  2. Zach Johnson - This is Johnson's fifth major, as it's the closest to his Iowa roots. On top of being important to him personally, he's played well here. He was T3 in 2011, T21 in 2010 and T2 in 2009. I'm not in love with his current form, but he has won this year and loves this event.
  3. Tim Clark - Here's where the fun starts. Clark seems fully recovered from a 2011 injury to me. He posted a T4 in his last start (the Travelers). Couple that with a T7 in 2010, T18 in 2008 and 2nd in 2007 at TPC Deere Run and there isn't a better option. He's one of those guys that has been "in and out" of this tournament from a scheduling standpoint.
  4. Jonathan Byrd - Byrd's always a tough call due to his inconsistent nature in the past, but through 36 holes he looked like he might win The Greenbrier Classic last week. He didn't putt well at all on the weekend after leading the field in Strokes Gained-Putting at the half-way point. J-Byrd won this event in 2007 and was a runner up in 2003. He's also got his share of missed cuts and everything in between, but he's in the midst of a really good season. One caution, I hope he's rested and recovered from the cold that he was suffering from at The Old White TPC.
  5. John Senden - He's coming off a T10 at the U.S. Open which just so happened to be his last start. He won this event in 2006 and was T12 in 2010. The in between is a little dicey, but as many of you know it will all come down to the putter for the Aussie.
  6. Sean O'Hair - He's a guy that wasn't even on my first pass at a power ranking this week, but when you look at it he's made 14/16 cuts this season and is coming off a T7 at The Greenbrier Classic. Add to that, he won here in 2005 but has kept an inconsistent schedule since.
  7. Chez Reavie - Similar to O'Hair, he didn't make the first pass but can't afford to be ignored. His last two starts on the PGA TOUR resulted in a T11 at the Travelers and a T15 at AT&T National. He was T5 in the 2011 John Deere Classic. He can be streaky, so let's hope he stays hot.
  8. Ken Duke - I'm not going to lie, his putter scares me. Especially after watching him yip it in on the 15th at The Old White TPC when he had a shot to win the Greenbrier. While he hasn't played here since 2009, his T18 in 2008 shows he can get around TPC Deere Run and he's been contending in plenty of tournaments this year.
  9. Jeff Overton - He's trending well (T15 St. Jude, T22 AT&T and T17 at Greenbrier), but hasn't played here since 2008 when he tied for 24th. Still, he's another streaky player that feels like a good investment on the bottom part of the rankings.
  10. Kyle Stanley - He came so close to winning last year before Steve Stricker managed to make a birdie on the 18th from a fairway bunker without even hitting the green to keep Stanley from a playoff. While he'd been ice cold most of the spring/summer, he showed signs of life with a T22 at the AT&T. He led the field in driving accuracy at this event in 2011.
  11. Brendon de Jonge - While he hasn't been racking up the high finishes, he has made 12 cuts in a row and finished T7 in this event in both 2011 and 2010.
  12. Robert Garrigus. He's coming off a T4 at the AT&T and did crack the top 25 here in 2009. He's another guy in this edition of the Dandy Dozen that can be very hit or miss. If you are looking for a safe play, look elsewhere, but if you want risk/reward he might be your guy.
The next 5 (this time in order): Daniel Summerhays, Charles Howell III, Seung-yul Noh, Nick Watney and Scott Piercy

Now onto Fantasyland........

The Yahoo! Game:
  • A-List - We are starting Stricker with Zach Johnson on the bench. What's scary is the other good options in this section (Reavie, O'Hair, Stanley, Garrigus, CH3 and Watney). Someone not feeling "chalky" could go risk/reward.
  • B-List - Starting Tim Clark and Ken Duke with Brendon de Jonge and Ryan Moore on the bench. Moore grabbed the last bench spot over Ryan Palmer.
  • C-List - Starting Jonathan Byrd with John Senden on the bench. Sure, there are other tempting options, but you have to think one of these two guys is going to nab a top 15 at worst.
The Golf Channel Game has two tournaments featured this week. The Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open and, of course, the John Deere Classic. While I do not claim to be an expert on all things European Tour, I will give you my picks and hope for the best.

The Scottish Open:
  • Group 1 - Francesco Molinari over Luke Donald.
  • Group 2 - Many of the PGA TOUR players are in group 2, including Padraig Harrington. I'll go with  him, as I like how he's trending headed into the Open Championship. I heard someone say recently that he's got the "crazy eyes" again, so watch out.
  • Group 3 - I'll take my chances with Henrik Stenson.
  • Group 4 - I'll go with Bradley Dredge.
The John Deere Classic:
  • Group 1 - Again, you can't pass on Stricker in any format this week.
  • Group 2 - It came down to Sean O'Hair and Jeff Overton, and I'm feeling O'Hair this week, but think both will bring home a top 20.
  • Group 3 - Tim Clark.
  • Group 4 - Matt Bettencourt over Troy Matteson.
Check back tomorrow for our look at the odds. Best of luck!