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

Friday, August 31, 2012

Deutsche Bank Championship - Round 1

With the first round of the Deutsche Bank Championship in the books, the Tiger Woods Rory McIlroy showdown we were awaiting last week at Bethpage appears to have shown up at TPC Boston. While Seung-yul Noh leads at 9-under, Woods and McIlroy are two and three back respectively. Here are some thoughts on the opening salvo.

  • Low numbers were the formula for the day, as the wind stayed down and the greens were soft for much of the day.
  • Immediately behind Noh is Chris Kirk. Joining Woods at 7-under is Jeff Overton and Ryan Moore.
  • In the Ryder Cup race for the final U.S. captain's picks, Dustin Johnson's 4-under 67 was the lowest of those widely considered on the short list. The others stacked up as follows: Hunter Mahan (-3), Stricker/Van Pelt/Snedeker/Furyk (-2), Fowler (E) and Watney (+1).
  • Much like last week, this feels like a very unsettled leaderboard. With low scores possible again tomorrow, guys like Noh and Kirk need to shoot something under par to protect their position.
That's it for tonight! Check back tomorrow and see how this starts to shake out.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Big Miss

As many of you may have already, I finally had the time to read "The Big Miss." It is Hank Haney's account on his six years as Tiger Woods' teacher and friend. It's worthy of review in this space because there is some insight that could be beneficial to punters and gamers. I'll go past that and interject some of my own thoughts, but will try and stay objective on ideas related to projections regarding Woods.

(A side note, this is the second Haney book I've read. The first was "The Only Golf Lesson You'll Ever Need.")

While there wasn't much shocking in the book regarding Tiger's game, these nuggets stood out:
  • Haney commented that Tiger would often express frustration or satisfaction in a post-round interview only to call him and tell him the exact opposite. The lesson is not to put much credence in anything Tiger says publicly regarding the state of his game, as a look at history shows that it's just as likely the opposite is true.
  • Tiger isn't always as focused at the majors - in particular the Masters - as many may think. When he is/was focused (the 2008 U.S. Open) he can be deadly no matter his form entering the week. The lesson here is to not put too much focus on his results coming off a bad week or entering the next week because he's portrayed as a combination of ADD and stubborn at times. 
  • He can be stubborn to a self-destructive degree. He is also constantly tinkering with his game. This can be a bad combination. He may win one week, but not be happy that he wasn't driving it long enough and revert to bad habits to prove that he can still hit it 320 on demand. 
  • Maybe the biggest surprise was his lack of attention to his short game and putting since the mid 2000s. It's fairly obvious that he isn't putting as well as he was 10 or 12 years ago, but some of it is due to lack of attention in practice. Haney correlated the number of 3-putts he had at Augusta on several occasions his lack of time on the practice greens in relation to the other majors.
  • Tiger is scared to hit a driver. I know, not exactly a news flash.
  • Tiger is much more conservative in the first round of tournaments as not to shoot himself out of it. Hear that Yahoo! gamers?
Haney is a little touchy towards the "Tiger 2000" comparison, and I think that's fair. I would go so far as to say the main reason Haney penned the book was to defend himself against the heat he took as Tiger's coach. He makes a good case for why, at the very least, his time with Tiger produced equal success to the swing of 2000.
  • As the title of the book suggests, "Tiger 2000" was more about rhythm and timing, leaving him open to "the big miss." When he was on, he could win a U.S. Open by 15. The problem was, his swing was predicated on a timing element that left him open to his dreaded hook with the driver. His big miss. 
  • Haney tried to build a swing to work away from that miss and eliminate the left side of the golf course. By design, his plan wasn't set to have Tiger win majors by double-digits, but to give Tiger a shot on the back nine in more majors.
  • Tiger won 6 majors with Hank, but the plan to put him in it with a chance to win did lead to some near misses. The ones that jump to mind are the 2005 U.S. Open, 2009 U.S. Open and 2009 PGA. In all of those, Haney points out that it was the putter that killed him.
I've heard the argument from both sides as to whether or not the book should have been written. It is a complicated question involving a complicated relationship between Woods and Haney. In the end, it doesn't matter because it's done. While debating the merits of if the book should have been written is counterproductive, I do think it's worth noting some of the elements of the Woods/Haney friendship over the years. As you would assume, Woods hasn't weighed in on his side, so these thoughts are completely from Haney's perspective.
  • Haney seemed to genuinely care about Woods and even reflected that he wished he would have done more to "coach" Woods in more than just golf. During most if their stint together, I am led to assume that there isn't much Haney wouldn't have done to have helped Woods in matters unrelated to golf if Woods was open to it.
  • Woods is portrayed as a complicated man. I am led to wonder if this isn't due in large part to having an upbringing not all that unlike a Hollywood child-star. It doesn't seem that he's capable of thinking past himself. While he considered guys like Haney his close friend, he didn't treat them like most people would treat their close friends. For him, allowing you to be his close friend had more to do with having access to him than having a relationship with him in a way that most people would relate. Haney eluded to this being not so much Tiger's fault as it were a product of his environment and place in history. While Haney is sad for Woods, you could tell it irked him and I can't say I blame him.
  • The one thing I can't get past, is if Haney truly considered himself Woods' friend and he (Haney) was the one that decided to end the player/coach relationship; then why the book? That was the one question the book never answered. In the past, I've had information on current players from credible sources that I could have posted, but I didn't because I'm not into being a gossip columnist. These are guys that I don't even personally know. Why go down that road with Tiger when, for six years, you had a working, if not personal, relationship that expired at your decision; or at worst mutually? Don't get me wrong, I appreciate the insight that I would not otherwise have.
Other thoughts:
  • I loved the inside scoop on Tiger at the 2008 U.S. Open. The behind the scenes look leading up to that week and the effort by the entire team of people behind Tiger to make those 91 holes possible is incredible.
  • You've got to read about Woods' fascination with the military and how far he almost took it. At one point, Haney points out that if Tiger doesn't catch or pass Jack in major wins it very well may be due to the lengths he took is obsessions with chasing a military dream. I'm inclined to agree.
  • I'm a big fan of Haney's approach to coaching. I love that he starts with the ball flight and direction and caters to the individual from that point and works backwards. It helped my game when I read "The Only Golf Lesson You'll Ever Need." He essentially doesn't worry with building the perfect swing, but starts with what you already have and works backwards. That's what he did with Tiger. He figured out that the safest way for Tiger to play golf and contend was to give up the distance of the draw in favor of a cut that he could control more regularly because it would keep him in the tournament for 63 holes. Ultimately, I would guess Tiger eventually turned cold towards Haney and the relationship needed to end because Tiger likely felt like he didn't want to have the hole in his arsenal of not being able to hit a draw off the tee. Still doesn't look to me like he's confidently fixed that.
  • After reading this, I'm more likely to think that Woods will never catch Jack. For one, he's not a good enough driver of the golf ball to cut loose and win like he did over a decade ago and like Rory McIlroy does now when he gets hot. That means he's going to have to accomplish it by eeking out a few one and two-stroke wins and maybe (gasp) even have to come from behind a time or two. The only way I see it happening is if Woods decides to stop fighting his golf swing and commit to manage his misses, while focusing the majority of his attention on his short game and becoming the best putter in the world again. If Haney is right, I'm not sure his tinkering nature and being turned off to swing maintenance rather than improvement will allow him to do it. In essence, if Tiger doesn't get there, it's likely due to him being too stubborn.
  • I don't get why a low to mid-level pro wouldn't die to work with Haney. The perspective and experience he could offer would seem invaluable. Maybe Hank doesn't want to, or maybe he already does work with some and I just don't know it. I know this; if I'm a Web.com Tour player that looks to be soon getting my card I'd be calling Hank to see what he was up to in the off season. I don't think a Casey Wittenberg or Paul Haley II are exactly going to be the target of a major book deal if that's their worry.
In summation, I think "The Big Miss" is worth a read to most serious golf fans. At worst, it frames a nice piece of golf history from a different perspective than anything else out there.

If you've read it, what do you think?

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Deutsche Bank - Final Predictions

I realize that the Deutsche Bank Championship begins Friday, but I'm a creature of habit so I'll go ahead and put the final picks out there.
  • This week's dark horse is John Senden. He's a ball-striking machine that has a solid history on TPC Boston, and while not normally thought of as a winner, he's got a chance to sneak away with the trophy.
  • For a contender, I'm taking Brandt Snedeker. If he contends, then he should also lock up a Ryder Cup selection. I saw on the Golf Channel's Morning Drive this morning that if the Ryder Cup standings had been running as they were, with points from the Wyndham and Barclay's added in, he would have moved up to 10th.
  • My winner is Luke Donald. He had a very nice week at Bethpage where the course shouldn't have suited him. Add to that, he's finished T2 and T3 in his last two stops at TPC Boston. The only thing missing is a W.
As for tomorrow, I'll have a post of some sort but I'm not sure what. I'm actually about half-way through The Big Miss, so I might share some thoughts on that topic if I get it knocked out. If you haven't read it, some of the information on Tiger Woods could be useful to gamers and punters.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Deutsche Bank Championship - Odds & BuzzDraft

As the week turns to Tuesday, it's time to take a peek at the odds for the Deutsche Bank Championship and see if there is any value to be found. Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods share the top spot at 10/1. As always, we'll provide a little insight on anyone 33/1 or better and hit on some value further down the line.

Standard disclaimer; odds are current as of the typing of this post and can be found here http://www.vegasonlinesportsbetting.com/Deutsche-Bank-Championship-PGA-Odds_P2650.html.

  • 10/1 - Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy - Rory's last trip to TPC Boston resulted in a T37 in 2010, and his wins have typically come on courses where length is a big deal. If you read our preview on Sunday, you will remember that length doesn't statistically seem to be much of a factor. Woods looked about as bad on his back nine on Sunday at The Barclays as I can remember. He was always hacking out of the rough and wasn't making anything. Putting and scrambling are important here and I don't get a good feel for Tiger.
  • 18/1 - Luke Donald - Now this is more like it. He's got a T2 and a T3 in his last two visits to Boston and fits the mold of a putter/scrambler. I'm not sure if the price is right, but it would be hard to argue against giving Luke a strong look. Had a respectable T10 at The Barclays on a course that wouldn't seem to favor him, speaking to his form.
  • 20/1 - Dustin Johnson and Jason Dufner - Much like McIlroy, Johnson may have some of his biggest strength (length) deemed irrelevant. His form is excellent, but his course history is spotty. Dufner had a T2 in 2009, but hasn't cracked a top 10 in his last two trips to TPC Boston. It's a bit of a guess as to if the week off for Dufner will refresh him for a big week, or cool him off. I don't know that the Deutsche Bank is the big prize for Dufner right now. He'll likely be geared up for the TOUR Championship and the Ryder Cup.
  • 25/1 - Bubba Watson - His best finish in five stops is a T16 last year, but he has gotten progressively better. Still, I'm not sure if this is the best course for his skill set.
  • 28/1 - Stricker, Scott, Westwood, Rose, Oosthuizen and Snedeker - This is a deep group, and a pretty good value for some. Stricker won in 2009 and is in good form if you look past his week at Bethpage. Scott won here in 2003 and often runs into top 10s here. I hate his statistical splits for this course, but he gets it done. I don't like Westwood from the standpoint that his chipping and putting is poor and scrambling and putting is usually very relevant at TPC Boston. Rose would make sense from every angle except course history of late. His form is excellent, but hasn't cracked a top 50 here since a T4 in 2006. I would kill for some course history on Oosthuizen, as I like him from a bunch of angles, but he's never played here. Sneds is a great fit and is playing really well trying to nab a Ryder Cup captain's pick. If he didn't have that on the line, I would absolutely love him this week. As it stands, I really like him.
  • 33/1 - Webb Simpson - He's sort of a wild card, as he is the defending champion and hasn't been great since the birth of his second child. He also didn't have a good course history before his win last year, so I could see him falling by the wayside or playing well. He's a likely top 15 or top 20 guy this week.
  • 80/1 - John Senden seems to be a solid value. He's the right mix of course history and current form.
  • 100/1 - Harris English - He's going to win sometime. He's hot and this course should fit him reasonably well.
  • 125/1 - Greg Chalmers - He's a scrambler and a putter who is in good form. I could think of worse fits.
BuzzDraft Time:

Here's a breakdown of who I like in Group Play.
  • Group 1 - Donald and Simpson make the most sense.
  • Group 2 - Dufner, Stricker and Scott all offer different ways of looking at the same coin. Dufner has a runner up and Stricker and Scott have each won here.
  • Group 3 - Bradley, Kuchar merit the closest look.
  • Group 4 - Oosthuizen, Mickelson and D. Johnson comprise the short list. Back to what I said earlier....I wish I had something more to go on with King Louis this week.
  • Group 5 - Lots of options here....Bo Van Pelt, Senden, Furyk and Snedeker all demand some attention. Throw in Watney and Fowler and you've got most of DL3's short list for the Ryder Cup in this group.
  • Group 6 - Ogilvy and Baddeley deserve the closest look.
  • Group 7 - Huh, Chalmers, Cauley and Harrington are bouncing in my head.
  • Group 8 - Look closest at Palmer, Singh, Moore and Tim Clark
  • Group 9 - Tringale, Walker and Kirk.....I don't consider any of these to be great options.
  • Group 10 - English, Perez, de Jonge and Harman are all worth a look as a dark horse.
Salary Cap:
  • Three best values: Bo Van Pelt $13,000 Jim Furyk $12,500 and John Senden $12,000
  • Three reaches: Tiger Woods $24,000 Hunter Mahan $17,500 and Ernie Els $16,000
Best of Luck!

Monday, August 27, 2012

The Deutsche Bank Championship - Power Rankings and Fantasy

With the second leg of the FedExCup Playoffs set for the Deutsche Bank Championship and a return to the familiar confines of TPC Boston, we get something of a luxury this week. A venue from which to pull some course history!

It seems like starting with the British Open in Royal Lytham & St. Anne's and running through Bethpage, tournaments have been working on a rotation that have made identifying horses-for-courses a bit of a challenge. While our power rankings have largely been a formula of educated guesses relative to likely statistical fits, we have course history to go along with current form and statistical fit this week!

Without further ado, this week's Dandy Dozen:
  1. Luke Donald - We'll lead off with Donald, who's flying a little under the radar at the moment due to a weak showing in the majors. What we know from our preview yesterday is that we favor a player who is a solid putter and strong scrambler with a steady all-around ranking. The Englishman fits the bill and is in form (T10 at The Barclays) and has the history (T3 and T2 in his last two starts at TPC Boston).
  2. Jason Dufner - Duf enters the week well rested after taking the grueling test of Bethpage Black off and returns to the site of his T2 in 2009. While his putting stats don't excite me, his all-around, GIR and scrambling numbers are all solid.
  3. Matt Kuchar - Like Dufner, Kuchar is solid across the board with a little better putter, but a little worse current form. He's finished inside the top 25 in each of the last three years, but hasn't cracked a top 10 in those tournaments.
  4. Brandt Snedeker - Sneds is a horse for this course and is coming off a runner-up finish at The Barclays. He finished T3 in 2011 and T5 in 2010 at TPC Boston, and fits the mold of a great putter/scrambler. If the ball-striking holds up, he may force DL3 to nab him as a Ryder Cup captain's pick.
  5. Steve Stricker - The 2009 champ also finished 9th in 2010 and is in the midst of a very good 2012. No reason to expect anything other than a solid week from Stricker.
  6. Rory McIlroy - While we don't have anything to go on in the form of course history, McIlroy will be at the mercy of his putter. He struggled with the flat stick at Bethpage, but who didn't.
  7. Webb Simpson - Simpson is the defending champ, but his form is a bit questionable right now. Statistically, I don't love him this week, but he fits the mold of the recent TPC Boston winners. His course history was a little sketchy before last season's win, but that win vaulted him into an entirely different stratosphere that he's yet to come down.
  8. Adam Scott - Scott scares me to death. This pick is 100% based on his course history which includes top 10s in each of the last two seasons and a win in 2003. A terrible putter, Scott has gotten it done with excellent ball-striking over the years.
  9. Jason Day - This is another one that might seem off the board, but Day finished T3 in 2011 and T2 in 2010 which is identical to Donald. He had to make up ground at The Barclays just to earn a seat at the table this week, but TPC Boston could be an elixir to an otherwise average season.
  10. Jim Furyk - The "X" factor here may be how much pressure Furyk is under (real or perceived) to impress DL3 and make the Ryder Cup team. If he already knows he's in, then he's a great fit this week. If he's still got work to do, then he's already shown several times this year how he handles pressure down the stretch (Transitions, U.S. Open and WGC-Bridgestone).
  11. Louis Oosthuizen - King Louis seems to be trending decently well right now, and though he lacks history at TPC Boston, he could be a solid fit. He's got two top 5s in his last three starts including a T5 at The Barclays last week.
  12. John Senden - The ball-striking Aussie has found TPC Boston to his liking, notching top 25s in each of his last three trips. He won't win any putting contests, but his history is worth watching.
Next 5: Tiger Woods, Bo Van Pelt, Justin Rose, Keegan Bradley and Carl Pettersson.

Now to Fantasyland:

Yahoo!
  • A-:List - Starting Donald, with Kuchar on the bench.
  • B-List - Snedeker and Woods (like him early in the week) starting with McIlroy and Rose on the bench.
  • C-List - Dufner starting with Oosthuizen on the bench.
GolfChannel:
  • Group 1 - I'll take Luke in a loaded pool of players.
  • Group 2 - I'm going to ride Snedeker and see what happens.
  • Group 3 - I'm not in love with the options here, but I'll take John Huh
  • Group 4 - I'm riding Harris English.
Check back tomorrow and we'll talk odds and BuzzDraft!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Barclays - Final Round

When watching the final round of The Barclays, I couldn't help but think about the Ryder Cup ramifications. Nick Watney beating Brandt Snedeker by three for the win and Dustin Johnson tied for third with Sergio Garcia has to be a good and a bad thing for Davis Love III.

Truth be told, I was engaged in a rather lengthy debate with a Rotoworld colleague surrounding the Eurpoean and American options for captain's picks. While this post is supposed to be about The Barclays, this is the last chance to weigh in on the European picks before Jose Maria Olazabal sets them in stone tomorrow.

First The Barclays:
  • Nick Watney was beginning to lurk at some tournaments. He's had a decent season, but he jumped out of the pack this week.
  • It's hard to expect anyone to go back-to-back these days, but Sergio gave it a solid go. Were he not taking next week off, I would tell you to lay back on him.
  • Brandt Snedeker probably separated himself from the likes of Bo Van Pelt in terms of Ryder Cup consideration. He has a very nice record at TPC Boston, so it will be interesting to see if he nabs another top 10 this week.
  • Rory was somewhat predictably not all that sharp this week. He flirted with a back-door top 10 on Sunday but eventually came up short.
  • Tiger looked as bad as I've seen out of him all season on the back nine. It's hard to know what to expect from him the rest of the way. He's got a decent record at TPC Boston, but it's a littler further in the past and at least one swing change ago.
  • Bethpage doesn't seem to necessarily identify the best player.
What we got right/wrong this week:
  • We had Harris English in our Dandy Dozen and as our Golf Channel Group 3 pick. A triple bogey at the final hole dropped him out of the top 10.
  • We were also all over Graham DeLaet. He was our Golf Channel Group 4 pick and noted in the BuzzDraft preview that he was the "must play" in Group 10.
  • While we mentioned that Watney was starting to trend well in our Wyndham Odds post, we did not carry that over to The Barclay's Preview.
  • We also put too much stock in Tiger and Rory.
  • Phil showed flashes, but couldn't put four rounds together.
We'll try and do better for next week!

As for the Ryder Cup, here are some thoughts.
  • I have a feeling that Davis Love III was almost set with Steve Stricker, Jim Furyk and probably Hunter Mahan entering the three weeks between the automatic qualifiers and the captain's picks. If that's still the case, then Nick Watney, Brandt Snedeker and Dustin Johnson are all making an excellent case for the final pick.
  • I would be very nervous if I were Jim Furyk and Hunter Mahan. Rickie Fowler too.
  • If Nick Watney grabs a top 10 this week I get the feeling that would be very bad for either Jim Furyk or Hunter Mahan. Both Furyk and Mahan missed the cut at The Barclays and have plenty of pressure on them to at least nab a top 25 at the Deutsche Bank
  • If I were the U.S. Ryder Cup captain and I had to pick today, I'd choose Stricker, Dustin Johnson, Brandt Snedeker and Hunter Mahan. And Mahan barely edges out Watney. All Watney would need to overtake Mahan this week in my book would be to finish ahead of him.
  • I'm not the Ryder Cup captain, so if the picks were today I would guess DL3 picks Stricker, Furyk, Mahan and Johnson.
  • As for the Euros, Ian Poulter is one pick and Nicolas Colsaerts will probably be the other. I tried to explain as best I could why Padraig Harrington should get the final not over Colsaerts, but my colleague correctly pointed out that my argument for putting Harrington on the Euro squad was the exact some rationale for keeping Fuyrk off the U.S. squad. The only difference I see is that Harrington has much more experience in both Ryder Cup's and on American soil than Colsaerts.
That's if for tonight!

Deutsche Bank Championship - Preview

The FedExCup Playoffs heads to TPC Boston for the Deutsche Bank Championship in the second leg of the $10 million dollar cash grab, and we are well into our research for the event. The course is a 7,214 par 71 that features three par 5s; two of which are reachable by most players.

Here is the list of past winners and runner ups at the Deutsche Bank:
  • 2003 - Adam Scott (264) with Rocco Mediate (268) runner up
  • 2004 - Vijay Singh (268) over Tiger Woods and Adam Scott (271)
  • 2005 - Olin Browne (270) over Jason Bohn (271)
  • 2006 - Tiger Woods (268) over Vijay Singh (270)
  • 2007 - Phil Mickelson (268) over Woods, Brett Wetterich and Aaron Oberholser (270)
  • 2008 - Vijay Singh (262) over Mike Weir (267)
  • 2009 - Steve Stricker (267) over Jason Dufner and Scott Verplank (268)
  • 2010 - Charley Hoffman (262) over Jason Day, Luke Donald and Geoff Ogilvy (267)
  • 2011 - Webb Simpson (269) over Chez Reavie in a playoff
It's easy to look at the above list and see Scott and Singh and Woods and Mickelson and Wetterich and think bombers and ball strikers, but when diving deeper into the top 10 of the last three Deutsche Bank Championships, that's not necessarily the case. Here are some observations:
  • There are seven guys with multiple top 10s at TPC Boston over the last three stops. They are Brandt Snedeker, Steve Stricker, Jason Day, Adam Scott, Luke Donald, Geoff Ogilvy and Jim Furyk. The majority of those guys are much better at putting and scrambling than they are bombing and ball-striking.
  • Distance is largely irrelevant when you study the results. Guys like Adam Scott and Jason Day are long drivers, but it's not required.
  • It's important to be really good at something. If you're not a good putter or scrambler, you better be a great ball striker (Adam Scott). If you're not a good ball striker, be a great putter and scrambler (Brandt Snedeker). Players who are just average across the board don't do as well as guys who are really strong in certain areas and weak in others.
  • There seems to be a pretty solid element of past success leading to future success, so feel free to jump on some course horses.
  • It seems obvious, but when in doubt go with a Playoff veteran over a rookie.
  • If you are down to two guys in certain formats, I would suggest going with the better putter/scrambler over ball striker. (Unless that person is Adam Scott.)
  • I almost forgot the most important stat. Almost all of the guys hanging around the top of the leaderboard the last three years rank very highly in the all-around ranking. Don't pick a guy who's 98th in all-around ranking. Zero in on the top 25.
A final note, keep in mind the tournament starts on Friday and finishes on Monday (Labor Day in the U.S.). I haven't decided if that will impact the posting for this week, but expect a power ranking at the very least tomorrow.

Best of luck doing your research this week!

Mylan Classic - Monday Qualifier

It's getting late in the Web.com Tour season, but opportunities remain to get hot and earn a PGA TOUR card. The next stop is the Mylan Classic, and the information for this week's Monday Qualifier is below.

http://tristate.pga.com/popup.cfm?content=dcms&option=tour_8003&typeid=8003&onlinereg=no

Best of luck to all!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

The Barclays - Round 3

The third round of The Barclays had some thinking Shinnecock, as Bethpage Black played firm and fast but at the end of the day Sergio Garcia posted a 2-under 69 and leads by two. Here are a few thoughts.
  • I think it's a bit of a stretch to call Bethpage "unplayable" as some were on Saturday, seeing as the final pairing combined to shoot 2-under. There certainly was an advantage to the early tee times, but the scores didn't scream unfair.
  • A point that is a fair one, the greens were inconsistent. Players didn't know which greens would hold a shot and which were too firm. They also complained that the speeds weren't consistent. Thankfully, Sergio hasn't yet blamed the golfing gods, Easter Bunny or Tooth Fairy for having it out for him.
  • Brandt Snedeker is T4 and making a case for DL3 for a captain's pick.
  • Don't look now, but my contender pick of Phil Mickelson is T10.
  • Hard to say what happens tomorrow not knowing how the greens will play, but my guess is that they would put a little water on them to avoid some severe player backlash. You would have to think the TOUR doesn't want the story coming out of the first Playoff event to be controversy surrounding course setup and green speeds, so I'd guess tomorrow's setup plays easy and favors some low scores. I could be very wrong.
Best of luck to all!

Friday, August 24, 2012

The Barclays - Round 2

Anyone else look at the leaderboard from The Barclays and wonder if you're looking at the correct season's leaderboard? Nick Watney and Sergio Garcia are tied for the lead at 8-under-par with Vijay Singh and Bob Estes a stroke back. A month ago we weren't talking about any of these guys, yet they hold the key to the $10 million dollar FedExCup in the collective palm's of their hands.

Here are a few notes:

  • Starting from the bottom and working our way up, some notable names missed the cut. Jim Furyk, Hunter Mahan and Bill Haas each saw their chances at a Ryder Cup captain's pick take a hit by failing to see the weekend. 
  • Speaking of Ryder Cup, what happens if Nick Watney wins this week and top 5s TPC Boston? Is he a better pick than Hunter Mahan due to form? Interesting debate.
  • I wonder how much the Davis Love III's thought pattern changes when considering captain's picks. If I'm the U.S. skipper, Steve Stricker is probably my only definite. He's going to take Furyk, but I'm not sure I would. Rickie Fowler just showed up in the top 10 at The Barclays. If you asked me a week or two ago, I'd say that development would make Fowler the final pick (following Mahan, Stricker and Furyk). If you ask me today, I'm very interested in what Nick Watney does this week. I also hear rumors that Medinah will be set up for bombers. Newsflash; Furyk isn't a bomber. Watney kind of is. Mahan too. Fowler's not short. And then there's Dustin Johnson. 
  • Keegan Bradley and Webb Simpson were two of the hottest names to miss the cut, but they're already on DL3's team.
  • I'd love to know how Tiger Woods really feels. Granted, I'd be interested to know the truth behind the Kennedy assassination too, but I'm likely to have either fully satisfied. It seems like he's always one tweak away from an extended absence. He developed a limp at Kiawah for a few holes and then you didn't see it again. Today it was the back. Is it an issue? I don't know. 
  • I'm reading more and more about the Jose Maria Olazabal / Padraig Harrington issue from days gone by (I realize this has next to nothing to do with The Barclays, but it's current). I know their are multiple sides to that story, but Ollie looks ridiculous. Harrington questioned something in real time during a match play situation against Olazabal and things got icy for the next 15 holes. It sounds like Harrington did everything he could to help the situation and apologize for any slights, real or imagined, but Ollie had none of it. If the captain's picks on the Euro side came down to Ian Poulter, Padraig Harrington and anyone else, for most rational people this is an easy selection. You don't pick Nicolas Colsaerts over either of these and say with a straight face that the incident from a decade ago had no bearing on the selections. 
Thanks for putting up with a few semi off-topic rants today.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Barclays - Round 1

The first round of The Barclays concluded with Padraig Harrington in the lead after his early 7-under 64 could not be matched. Six birdies on the difficult back nine led to a rare 29 on Bethpage Black. Here are a few more thoughts:
  • The Tiger / Rory duel "part one" has Woods at 3-under and McIlroy at 2-under. Neither did anything to shoot themselves out of the tournament.
  • Nick Watney had shown signs of making noise lately, and finally did so with a 6-under 65 matched only by Brian Harman.
  • The morning wave had it much easier than the afternoon group. It still feels like the leaderboard is very unsettled right now.
  • It's easy to forget, but the 7th hole plays as a par 5 this week, instead of a par 4 as it did in the U.S. Open.
That's about it for today. More needs to play out and should tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Barclays - Final Predictions and FedExCup BuzzDraft

Not only will we offer up the final predictions for The Barclays, but we will also finish up our BuzzDraft preview by looking at the FedExCup game. We'll dive right in:
  • For my dark horse pick, I'm going with Harris English. He's a solid statistical fit for Bethpage and has a good combination of length off the tee and accuracy with the mid to long irons. He's also coming off a nice week at Sedgefield.
  • My contender is Phil Mickelson. His form is poor, but he's twice been a runner up at Bethpage and he's not the type of player that always shows signs of big weeks before they happen.
  • For my winner, I took a hard look at Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Bubba Watson and I settled on Bubba. It was more of a process of elimination than a anything. I don't love McIlroy's record immediately following a win, but I think it will help him focus early in the week being paired with TW. I also think Woods will be focused, but maybe that's not a good thing. Watson should be a solid fit on a course that's been good to another left-handed bomber mentioned above.
A quick recap of the BuzzDraft FedExCup game, there are 10 groups and you pick one player from each group. Points are accumulated for everyone finishing in the top 70 of the FedExCup race or higher (essentially everyone who makes it to the BMW Championship.

The strategy to this game is looking for guys who are solid fits for the long haul with the groups containing higher-ranked players. With the latter groups, focus on guys who are a good fit for The Barclays, as you are just trying to walk them into the third playoff event. Here are a few thoughts:

  • Group 1 - Tiger Woods makes the most sense because he's won at three of the four venues for the playoffs. Rory McIlroy and Webb Simpson are worthy of consideration.
  • Group 2 - I like Bubba Watson and Jason Dufner in this one. Watson seems to fit all the venues fairly well and Dufner has been extremely steady all season. I might lean towards Bubba since Dufner is skipping the first event.
  • Group 3 - Keegan Bradley is a great option due to his form, but Matt Kuchar is also a legit choice because of his tendency to rack up top 10s.
  • Group 4 - This is actually a dangerous group. Rickie Fowler isn't in great form and Ernie Els already has his prize for the year. Louis O, Phil and Dustin Johnson remain. Mickelson has some nice history at Bethpage, TPC Boston and East Lake, and I'm intrigued by DJ at Crooked Stick.
  • Group 5 - There are some really nice options here, including Bill Haas, Carl Pettersson, Bo Van Pelt, Sergio Garcia and Jim Furyk. Haas and Furyk have both won the FedExCup and the TOUR Championship. BVP is solid for a top 10 or two.
  • Group 6 - I'd look the closest at Laird, Baddeley, Byrd and Senden.
  • Group 7 - This is where it's time to start looking at who will advance out of The Barclays in the best shape. That means Garrigus, Piercy, Stanley and Harrington all jump off the page.
  • Group 8 - Seung-Yul Noh, Cameron Tringale and Bud Cauley are all worth a look.
  • Group 9 - I like Harrish English here. Blake Adams and Brendon de Jonge also make sense.
  • Group 10 - Josh Teater, Will Claxton and Graham DeLaet are the three I like the most at Bethpage and warrant consideration.
If you want to register for BuzzDraft and play their games, click on the link to the right of this page and use promo code RotoRyan or TGAGolf20.

Best of luck!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Barclays - Odds and BuzzDraft

The Barclays is shaping up to be a duel between Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, and Vegas has taken notice. In our weekley peek at the odds http://www.madduxsports.com/golf-betting-lines.html, McIlroy and Woods lead off the betting at 7/1. Here is a quick note on everyone 33/1 or better, as well as a few with value down the line.
  • 7/1 - McIlroy & Woods - If you read yesterday's power rankings, you likely know that I have a hard time disagreeing with this. Per normal with favorites, it comes down to their value more so than being deserving of the ranking. I like McIlroy more to win, but think it more likely Woods earns a top 10 if that makes any sense.
  • 20/1- Justin Rose - It's a bit of a drop off from McIlroy/Woods down to Rose, but he's a good candidate. I don't find him to be a steal here, but he should certainly have a chance this week. I'd likely pass, but he's worth a solid look.
  • 22/1 - Bubba Watson & Luke Donald - Could you get two players that are more polar opposites? I have a hard time endorsing Donald here, but could easily sign off on Watson. He's (Watson) probably the best value of the bunch so far.
  • 25/1 - Adam Scott, Sergio Garcia, Steve Stricker, Dustin Johnson and Keegan Bradley - This is a solid group. Stricker has a nice history here in the two previous U.S. Opens, notching top 25s in each. He would not be a good fit if the course is set up somewhat forgiving. I love Garcia and Bradley's momentum. As I've said already this week, Garcia played really well here in 2002 and I like a hot Sergio. I also like Keegan this week. Both seem to be fair value. While Bradley and Garcia are the best overall value of this group, Scott and Johnson can't be tossed out without some thought. I would like them at a little better price, but both fit the mold of a potential Bethpage winner.
  • 33/1 - Phil Mickelson - I like Phil this week in certain formats. He's a roll of the dice, but his course history here is outstanding. It's hard to say what you are going to get out of Lefty, but I wouldn't be shocked with anything.....including a win.
  • 100/1 - Robert Garrigus - A poor man's Bubba Watson at a much better price.
  • 150/1 - Harris English - I love him at this price. I mentioned yesterday he reminds me of Lucas Glover entering the 2009 U.S. Open.
  • Over 250/1 - Graham DeLaet - I didn't even see his name on here, but I like his game this week.
BuzzDraft Time:

I had my best week in BuzzDraft last week, and know at least one of our readers did as well. This week, the guys at BuzzDraft are introducing a new game just for the FedExCup. It has 22 spots (11 are already filled) and is a $50 buy in for $1,000 pot with five spots paying. It is a Group Play format, with smaller groups at the top to try and allow for more players to reach the latter stages of the Playoffs. To be honest, I haven't had a chance to dive as deeply into this as I would like, but if you sign up for the game I'll post a little more about my thoughts on it tomorrow. In the mean time, check out John McNamara's most recent long-term 101 where he also ranked everyone on the Playoffs http://rotoworld.com/articles/gol/41179/314/long-term-101-volume-five.

Everything else is what you are used to. A feature game with 55 players and a $20 buy into a $1K pot. It is Group Play format. There are also various $5, $20 and $100 games spanning Group Play, Salary Cap and Match Play formats.

Group Play:
  • Group 1- Focus on Tiger and Rory. Don't out-think the room on this one.
  • Group 2 - Bubba Watson, Justin Rose and Steve Stricker merit the most attention
  • Group 3 - Keegan Bradley, Hunter Mahan, Phil Mickelson and Graeme McDowell lead the charge. While Bradley makes the most sense on paper, Mickelson could be worth a roll of the dice. He comes into this week feeling like Sergio did last week.
  • Group 4 - Bo Van Pelt, Carl Pettersson and Jim Furyk are all worth consideration.
  • Group 5 - Robert Garrigus, Scott Piercy, John Senden and Kyle Stanley lead the way. This entire group feels like a risk/reward.
  • Group 6 - Ryan Palmer, Padraig Harrington and Ben Curtis lead a contingent that don't seem to fit this course all that well.
  • Group 7 - Seung-Yul Noh, Sean O'Hair and Cameron Tringale are all worth a look.
  • Group 8 - Narrow your focus to Harris English, Charley Hoffman, Brendon de Jonge and Davis Love III.
  • Group 9 - Ricky Barnes, Kevin Stadler and Daniel Summerhays are the cream of a weak crop.
  • Group 10 - Graham DeLaet has to be the pick, but if you want to look deeper check out Boo Weekely and Roberto Castro.
Salary Cap:
  • Five solid values: Harris English ($8,400), Graham DeLaet ($5,800), Robert Garrigus ($13,000), Scott Piercy ($12,900) and Boo Weekley ($5,000)
  • Five over priced - Sang-Moon Bae ($13,600), K.J. Choi ($14,600), Zach Johnson ($18,500), Brandt Snedeker ($16,200), Rickie Fowler ($17,200)
Match Play -

McIlroy over Donald, Woods over Westwood, Scott over Simpson, Watson over Rose, Stricker over Dufner (w/d), Bradley over Kuchar, McDowell over Z. Johnson, Mahan over Oosthuizen, D. Johnson over Els, Mickelson over Fowler, Poulter over Schwartzel, Van Pelt over Day, Furyk over Snedeker, Garcia over Haas, Pettersson over Watney, Senden over Toms, Laird over Choi, Ogilvy over Jacobson, Baddeley over Bae and Byrd over Wilson.

Hope this gets you started!

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Barclays - Power Rankings and Fantasy Preview

With Sergio Garcia’s victory at the Wyndham Championship in the books, it’s now time to begin the search for this week’s winner at The Barclays. As we previewed yesterday, Bethpage Black is the venue and has been kind to the bombers and drivers in the two U.S. Opens it has hosted. Tiger’s won here. Phil’s twice been runner-up. Sergio contented and tied for fourth in 2002. Rory tied for 10th in 2009. The big names are stacking up and chomping at the bit.
If you want some clues at the formula used to compile this week’s Dandy Dozen, check out yesterday’s preview. Without further ado, here we go:
1.      Tiger Woods – I wanted to go with someone else. I really did. When I ran the numbers, the distance between Tiger and second place was the same as the gap between second and ninth, and I couldn’t ignore it. His driving and ball striking stats are all excellent, as are his scrambling numbers. He’s won at Bethpage and finished fifth in the only two tournaments we have as a litmus for this week’s event. His current form is fine, and he has performed really well in non-majors on courses where he has won in the past.
2.      Bubba Watson – Bubba tied for 18th in the U.S. Open in 2009 and everyone knows he’s a bomber. He’s also excellent at finding GIR from longer distances (probably because he hits a pitching wedge when others are hitting 7-irons). If the course is set up less penal and the rough is shorter than the USGA setups, he’s one to keep a close eye on.
3.      Rory McIlroy – He almost edged Bubba out. He was T10 here in 2009, and rather than tell you all the reasons to like Rors, I’ll give you the reasons to be a tad skeptical. When he won at Congressional in the 2011 U.S. Open, he suffered a hangover. After he had a hot start to 2012, he had another hangover. He has yet to show the Tiger killer instinct to roll off 4 wins in 5 tournaments. This one comes down to a question of motivation. I have no idea what he’s done in the eight days since winning the PGA. He may come out and win by eight this week, or he may take a week or two to regain his focus. I like him…….I like him a bunch, but I don’t 100% love him.
4.      Keegan Bradley – We learned our lesson on Bradley’s ability to contend after he followed up his win at Firestone with a great week at Kiawah. Now that he’s on the Ryder Cup team, he can play loose and fast.  While he didn’t max out his points on my spreadsheet in many categories, he amassed some points in every statistical category. The only other players to do that were Tiger and Rory. Unlike the first three on this list, he’s never played Bethpage.
5.       Justin Rose – This is a Justin Rose-type event. It’s not a major, but it’s a big event. He’s a very good driver and ball striker on a course that demands it. If he has a good week with the putter he should be a factor.
6.      Steve Stricker – He doesn’t jump to mind when you think Bethpage, but he was T16 in 2002 and T23 in 2009. That feels safe. He’s an excellent scrambler and a highly underrated long-iron player.
7.      Bo Van Pelt – It’s that time again! Ball striking, putting and driving numbers are all excellent, though BVP isn’t much of a scrambler. You have to think Bo will be Bo. Either inside the top 5 entering the final round and falling backwards or outside the top 15 and sneaking into the top 10.
8.      Harris English – He’s long and ranks inside the top 25 in both driving distance and total driving. He’s a good ball striker, decent putter, above-average long-iron player and in great form coming out of the Wyndham. Actually, he sounds like the 2009 version of Lucas Glover who won the U.S. Open at Bethpage.
9.      Robert Garrigus – A poor man’s Bubba Watson, he’s long off the tee, hits plenty of greens and is one of the best on TOUR outside of 175 yards.  I worry he might be outclassed in this field, but a great value in the right format depending on odds and options.
10.   Phil Mickelson – He looked pretty good at the PGA and has an excellent record here (two runner-ups in two events).  Per usual with Phil, it will come down to how excellent the good shots are and how spectacularly bad the poor ones turn out. Course set up could have something to do with how he handles this big ballpark. If he strikes his ball this week, he has a shot. His scrambling and putting number are great.
11.  Sergio Garcia – The spreadsheet didn’t like him this week, but I had to give El Nino a boost. It would be dumb to ignore his form and his 2002 success at Bethpage despite what the stats say. Much like Mickelson, Garcia is a streaky player anyway. With his Ryder Cup position likely locked up, who’s to say he won’t be a factor this week as well?
12.   Hunter Mahan – Speaking of Ryder Cup positions, Mahan is a guy that could use a good week. He’s likely in line for a captain’s pick barring the unusual anyway, but he could do a lot to seal his fate this week. This course should set up well for him, as he’s a solid driver and ball striker.
Next 5: Carl Pettersson, Graham DeLaet, Scott Piercy, John Senden and Graeme McDowell

Let’s play some games!
Yahoo! Format:
  • A-List - I'm starting Keegan Bradley and taking a flier on Mickelson as my bench player.
  • B-List - Starting McIlroy and Watson with Woods and Rose on the bench. While I'm not too concerned about starts, I want to make sure Woods at least has his B game with him at Bethpage before I burn one on him.
  • C-List - Starting English with Pettersson on the bench.
Golf Channel:
  • Group 1 - Sticking with Woods
  • Group 2 - Even though I've got BVP slightly higher, I like the risk/reward nature of Mickelson, and I'm rolling the dice.
  • Group 3 - English over Garrigus
  • Group 4 - Graham DeLaet in the final spot. His stats stack up really well for Bethpage.
Check back tomorrow for our odds post and BuzzDraft Preview. The guys at BuzzDraft have a new format for the FedExCup they are introducing.

Wyndham Championship - Final Round

It took two days, but the final round of the Wyndham Championship ended with Sergio Garcia hoisting the Sam Snead Cup. Sergio was plodding along for the first 12 holes until he caught fire and birdied four of his next five, before surrendering a bogey on the par-4 18th. Entering the 18th with a three-stroke lead, his bogey was inconsequential.
Here are some thoughts on the final round of the Wyndham Championship:
·         Sergio seized the day with his ball striking. He hit his approach on the 13th and 16th holes inside of two feet for kick-in birdies. He almost holed a sand shot on the 15th for eagle. His longest putt in his five hole run was a 6 footer on the par-4 17th. Hitting the ball close enough so even I could make it is not a bad formula for a guy who tends to lose it with his putter.
·         It seemed like it took everyone a few holes to get going on Monday. Bud Cauley finished up his fifth hole with a predictable bogey (spent the night with the ball laying three in a bunker) and followed it up with another one on the sixth following a poor tee shot. Jason Dufner doubled the 7th when his tee shot found the water on the par 3. That was his only blemish, but it took him a few holes to get the distance of his irons dialed in and he had to scramble hard.
·         Chad Campbell rolled off birdies on 15, 16 and 17, but gave one back at 18. If he could have birdied the 18th he would have put some pressure on the leaders.

How we did this week:
·         It was a banner week in BuzzDraft. I placed third in the feature game and won my head-to-head salary game. I did lay an egg with my “hedge” team in the $5 six-man, but in all cleared about $120 after buy in. Congrats to Tim for winning the six-man I participated in. Who would have thought, Will Claxton cost me the win. If he played the back nine on Monday in 1-over I would have won, but instead he played it in 4-over and dropped me all the way to third.
·         Our winner pick of Carl Pettersson nabbed a T4 and our dark horse, Bud Cauley, finished third. I’ll take that!
·         Sergio was accounted for in the Dandy Dozen, ranking 8th. In all, 8 of the Dandy Dozen made the cut (8 of the first 9) and Jimmy Walker was listed as one of the “Next 5.”
·         In the Yahoo! Game, we had Sergio coming off the bench if Webb Simpson struggled, so that worked out. We also had Dufner and Pettersson in our C-List.
All in all, a good week. We’ll try and do it again for this week’s Barclays!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

CamCaddy

I want to take a couple of minutes to tell everyone about a new product I recently received called CamCaddy. It's a device that allows you to attach a phone (iPhone, Droid, etc) with video capabilities to it to record your golf swing. Here's a little history on the product, and why I'm spending some time telling you about it. (I'm not being paid to do this and won't receive any commissions on the sales of any of these.)

The timing of these hitting the market is ironic for me on a personal level because I've played golf more in the past 12 months than any other period of my life and have never seen a video of my golf swing. I know how it feels and I sometimes have an idea about what I've done right or wrong on any given swing, but not always. The assistant pro I take lessons from recently bought an iPad for the purpose of video taping and using that in lessons, and I had considered taking another lesson just to see my swing. (If you are reading this, sorry Shawn....this might have cost you a lesson!)

I was contacted by one of the CamCaddy creators, Michael Maness, about the product last week. For frequent readers of this blog, that name might ring a bell. Maness Monday Qualified for The Greenbrier Classic, and plays frequently on the Egolf Professional Tour. He has also looped for Bill Haas on the PGA TOUR. I had recently met Michael on the driving range at our club and was surprised to find that he and his wife are readers of this blog!

There are plenty of products that I use that never make this space. The two that have are BuzzDraft and now CamCaddy. With the exception of the Google Ads that I have little control over, the litmus for me to promote a product or service are as follows.
  • I have to personally use and like the product. Much like I play BuzzDraft each week, I have a CamCaddy and I think it's cool and helpful. It fills a void for me, and I liked it conceptually before I even put my hands on it.
  • I have to believe that the product or service is relevant to the readers. BuzzDraft makes sense because many of you either gamble on golf or play fantasy games. BuzzDraft combines the two. CamCaddy is relevant because many of you play golf, and if you're like me, you don't have a way to video your swing without some measure of hassle. Now you do.
If you want to know more about CamCaddy, go to www.camcaddypro.com and/or follow them on Twitter @Camcaddypro . You'll notice on the site that they already have an impressive list of touring pros touting the product. They were also visible all week at the Wyndham Championship.

One final note, I'm pulling for this product to succeed because it fits the spirit in which this blog was created. When I started this site in November of 2011, it was intended to highlight some of the lesser known sides of golf including mini tours and things outside the mainstream. Demand eventually dictated that the focus be on fantasy sports and betting, but I have a personal interest in the less publicized side of golf. Maness is a mini-tour grinder with an idea and a product, and I hope it takes off for him. The idea and the product are both solid; now it just needs some exposure. If you choose to try it, shoot me an email (thegolfaficionado@gmail.com) or tweet @RyanGolfBlogger and let me know how you like it.

News Sentinel Open Presented by Pilot - Monday Qualifier

The Web.com Tour heads east to Tennessee for the News Sentinel Open Presented by Pilot, and as is usually the cast there will be a Monday Qualifier for the final spots in the field. Below is a link to the information for the field, tee times and results.

http://tnpga.bluegolf.com/bluegolf/tnpga12/event/tnpga1219/index.htm

Best of luck to all!

The Barclays - Preview

The FedExCup Playoffs kicks off at Bethpage State Park in Farmingdale, New York with the playing of The Barclays. When preparing to handicap the event, it's useless to look back at past results in The Barclays, as the course skips around to different venues. Instead, take a look at the 2002 and 2009 U.S. Open results to get a read on how Bethpage Black will play and who it will favor.

Here's what we know:
  • Bethpage Black is a 7,468 par 71 whale of a golf course. You may remember that it played as a par 70 in the U.S. Open. For this week, the 7th hole will play as a par 5.
  • Bethpage is the site of Sergio Garcia's regrip issues as he stood over the ball in 2002. A New York golf fan somewhat famously yelled "hit the damn ball, Sergio" as he struggled with some sort of inner demon. Garcia is in the field this week.
  • The two winners of the U.S. Opens at Bethpage are Tiger Woods and Lucas Glover. Tiger in 2002 was one of the best, if not the best driver on TOUR. In 2009, Glover put on a driving clinic for the first 54 holes and held on in the final round. Glover is not in the field.
  • Length is a factor.
  • Phil Mickelson was runner up in 2002 and 2009. What do we know about Lefty? He's long and has a great short game. That might not be a bad place to start looking when profiling a potential winner.
Here's what we don't know:
  • The biggest question I'm waiting to hear the players weigh in on early in the week is the rough. Since we've only seen this course under USGA set up, I'm interested to hear how the rough and green speeds are projected to play. Manageable rough will favor the bombers. Penal rough puts a little more emphasis on finding fairways.
  • A guy like Hunter Mahan could make plenty of sense this week, but he's one of a handful of guys likely sweating out a captain's pick for the Ryder Cup. Other bombers on the short list include Dustin Johnson and Robert Garrigus. It will be interesting to see how they deal with the additional pressure of that, along with the playoffs in general.
  • Most of the field didn't compete in the 2002 U.S. Open. A few more played the 2009 U.S. Open, but there are still plenty of players who have never teed it up at Bethpage. Add to that, the 2009 edition was impacted heavily by the rain.
When compiling stats to consider for this week's tournament, I will likely consider driving distance, total driving, GIR or proximity from outside of 150 yards (maybe even 175 yards) and scrambling when trying to zero in on a winner. Past performance in the U.S. Open's played at Bethpage will be a factor, as will current form.

Per normal, we will have our Dandy Dozen power rankings and Fantasy advice in tomorrow's edition.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Wyndham Championship - Round 3

It struck me watching the third round of the Wyndham Championship that this is a tournament that's following the script. Sergio Garcia leads by one, and given his history in this event (4th in 2009) that isn't a big surprise. Other guys with a successful history at Sedgefield are hanging around the top and include Tim Clark, Carl Pettersson and Webb Simpson. Throw in Jason Dufner, the only player in the field with 2 wins this year, and you've got all the angles covered.

Here are a few more thoughts leading into the finale:
  • We've mentioned Sergio but our dark horse, Bud Cauley, is a shot back. If the final twosome of Cauley and Garcia slip at all, then Dufner and Clark will be ready to pounce.
  • I feel like Pettersson's got another low one in him. After opening with a 62, he's posted back-to-back 68s and finds himself two off the lead. It would not surprise me to see him put up a 64 or 65 in the finale to post a number.
  • I love Will Claxton and Richard H. Lee at T10. Claxton is on all three of my BuzzDraft teams this week and Lee is on my salary cap team. Speaking of BuzzDraft, I wish the tournament was over now, as my $45 investment in three games would have cashed about $165.
  • Looks like the year is over for Lucas Glover. He withdrew after completing 10 holes and an 11th tee shot with a knee injury. It looks like it's the opposite knee of the one he injured paddleboarding at the beginning of the year. This was a lost year for the 2009 U.S. Open champion. He could pop up in a "rehab start" in the Fall Series, but he was nowhere close to making the playoffs.
  • Here's a thought I had during the third round. Bill Haas stood on the 15th tee (reachable par 5) a stroke off the lead in real time. If he would have birdied that hole (he parred) then he would have been tied for the lead. He then bogeyed the 16th to end the day tied for 10th. The thought I had at the time was, "I wonder what happens if he wins?" That would put he and Hunter Mahan as guys with two wins on the PGA TOUR that would each need a captain's pick. It seems like DL3 has his mind set on Mahan, Furyk and Stricker; and I agree with two of those three right now. That said, you would have to think that Haas winning at Riviera and Sedgefield would earn him the fourth spot over the likes of Rickie Fowler and Dustin Johnson.
We'll see what happens tomorrow!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Wyndham Championship - Round 2

Jimmy Walker finds himself in the unfamiliar position of leading the Wyndham Championship at the half-way point with a bogey-free 12-under-par 128. Nipping at his heels is defending champion Webb Simpson, who gathered up plenty of birdies in his second-round 63. While Sedgefield CC doesn't host what most consider to be a premier event, plenty of cream has risen to the top. Here are some thoughts headed into the weekend.

  • When I broke down the field entering the week, Jimmy Walker ranked 9th on my spreadsheet, but I faded him further down due to his past history in this event. Add to that, he's never finished higher than third on the PGA TOUR, so all signs point to him backing up over the weekend. With Webb Simpson one back and Carl Pettersson, Tim Clark and Sergio Garcia in the mix two strokes behind him, he'll need to be pretty close to perfect to pull this off.
  • Simpson is doing what a major champion should do. Show up in a lower-tier event and take care of business. Given that he is the defending champion, his performance should not be a big surprise.
  • Pettersson struggled through his first eight holes, but bounced back nicely. It started with long birdie putts on the ninth and 10th holes and concluded with an eagle putt from short range on the 15th. It's hard to back up a 62, so his mediocre 68 shouldn't be a huge shock.
  • My "dark horse" pick, Bud Cauley, is T7 at 9-under. He backed up a 66 on Thursday with a Friday 65. Could be a big week for the second-year pro.
  • Sergio Garcia is quietly two strokes back. He last played here in 2009 when he finished fourth. He's currently T3, so he's proving to be a horse at Sedgefield.
  • Jason Dufner is T22 (5-under) and probably just a little too far back to be a deciding factor in terms of a winner. He is in prime position for a Bo Van Pelt back door top 10!
  • A quick BuzzDraft update......I want to give a shout out to a blog reader who is currently giving me a beat down in a 6-man group play game. Nice job Tim! While Tim is waxing the floor with me in that game, I'm happy to currently reside inside the money with a different cast of characters in the feature game, while also leading my salary cap head to head. Good thing for me, Tim doesn't have a team (at least I don't think he does) in the feature game.
We'll check back in tomorrow to see how moving day played out.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Wyndham Championship - Round 1

It comes as a surprise to no one that Carl Pettersson fired an 8-under-par 62 to claim the 18-hole lead in the Wyndham Championship. He entered the week with the perfect combination of course history and form. He took care of business.

Here are a few thoughts regarding the first round:
  • Pettersson and Webb Simpson (-4) took care of business in the morning wave, but the afternoon favorite, Jason Dufner, posted a modest 2-under.
  • I really like Pettersson as a front runner. Someone is going to have to take this one away from him because he isn't going to give it away.
  • David Mathis popped back up in his home state with a 7-under 63. After a nice run in the late spring / early summer, he had cooled off a bit. Tim Clark joined him, which was much less of a surprise.
  • The unpleasant surprise belonged to David Toms. His 4-over 74 was among the worst of the day.
  • I don't know if every day will provide the scoring opportunities Thursday did, but you have to think that anything worse than a 68 on Thursday will be difficult to overcome.
Let's see wat happens in the second round.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Wyndham Championship - Final Predictions

You know the drill......hours before tees are in the ground, we go on record with a final dark horse, contender and winner prediction. The Wyndham Championship is no different.

Generally, by Monday I have a pretty firm idea on what I like and don't about the tournament. This one has taken a little longer to gel. The biggest reason is the unknown in regards to the new greens. Will they hold a shot from the rough? Driving accuracy has never been the premium here, but it might be now. At the very least, ball striking is more important than in most years.

With more thoughts than I need bouncing around in my head, here we go:
  • For my dark horse, I'm not going with Josh Teater because everyone is. How about Bud Cauley? He was fourth at the True South and T4 the next week in Canada. If memory serves, I believe the True South greens were also Champion Bermuda.
  • My contender is David Toms. When in doubt, go with a straight hitter that can also putt.
  • I'm going to stick with the number one man in my power rankings to win, and that is Carl Pettersson. I love that he went from a runner-up at the Shell Houston Open to a win at the RBC Heritage in his very next start (two weeks later). He'll try and do something similar here.

Best of luck!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Wyndham Championship - Odds and BuzzDraft

With plenty of subplots in this week’s Wyndham Championship, it is time to explore the odds and get ready for BuzzDraft. Here are some factors to consider if you want to look past the data and try and play psychologist:
·         The Ryder Cup automatic eight are in the books, but Brandt Snedeker is firmly in the mix for a captain’s pick. Will that alter his play positively or negatively?
·         This is the last tournament before the FedEx Cup. There are some big-named veterans still on the outside. Will they press, or rise to the occasion?
·         With the bent greens replaced with champion bermuda, will that alter the formula for success. Normally, the greens have been among the easiest on TOUR to hit and the premium has been on putting. Will the new greens play firmer and swing the pendulum to ball striking? If so, are smooth putters out the window all together?
·         How will players bounce back from major success (Carl Pettersson) and failure (Webb Simpson) at last week’s PGA? Simpson missed the cut in the 2011 PGA and then capture the Sam Snead Cup in last year’s Wyndham Championship.
I'm pulling today's odds from Ladbrokes, and as always there are current as of the writing of this post http://sports.ladbrokes.com/en-gb/golf/wyndham-championship/2012-wyndham-championship-e216270349. We will look at everyone 33/1 and better, as well as any other value down the line. Let’s dive into the odds.
  • 12/1 - Jason Dufner - If the premium moves from putting to ball striking, as some are expecting with the new greens, then this makes some sense. I would be a little cautions, as he's played here the last four years and doesn't own a top 25.
  • 14/1 - Webb Simpson - The defending champ missed the cut at the PGA, but he did the same in 2011 leading up to his first win on TOUR. He'll likely give himself a shot to win, but it seemed on Twitter like he may have just been getting to Sedgefield late Tuesday. I hope he's had time to adjust to the new greens. Worthy pick, but not sure the value is right.
  • 16/1 - Carl Pettersson - Feels like the stars are aligning a little too well. Still, his form is excellent coming out of Kiawah Island and he won the 2008 edition. Also nabbed a T4 here last year. Deserving of the spot, but not the best value.
  • 25/1 - Charl Schwartzel, Brandt Snedeker, Bill Haas and Tim Clark - Snedeker and Clark each have a solid course history and Haas has been just outside of contending in his last few tournaments. Schwartzel seems off right now. Snedeker is probably the best value of this bunch, but Haas is a close second.
  • 33/1 - Sergio Garcia, Nick Watney and David Toms - I like this group. Garcia and Toms may be the first two players where the price is worth the investment. Watney is trending well, but I'm not sure he's worth endorsing quite yet. Ironically, Sergio's putting stats are much better than his ball striking this year.
  • 40/1 - Josh Teater is worth a comment because he's popping up on everyone's radar. He was on mine last night, as well as Rob Bolton's and he's showed up on numerous others. I had a comment on Twitter from GolfManna suggesting that everyone was on him and it was the kiss of death. He's probably right. Even though he's racked up three top 10s in a row, his price has jumped too high for his track record. If he was 100/1 or even 66/1, then I'd say bite.
  • I like the John's at 66/1 - Specifically, Mallinger, Daly and Rollins - Mallinger was T3 in 2010 and T12 last year. Daly is playing his best golf in a decade, and do not underestimate his putter and short game. Who knows what Rollins will do, but he was T3 in 2010. He's a feast or famine kind of guy and might be worth a look at 66/1.
  • Add John Huh at 80/1 to the group of John's.
  • If you want a super-sleeper, take a glance at Boo Weekley at 150/1. Ball-striking machine.

BuzzDraft Time! 
In last week’s BuzzDraft feature game, I had a payday within my grasp and Bo Van Pelt and Vijay Singh let it slip away with just four holes left. My cardinal sin was falling on the wrong side of the Tiger/Rory coin flip. Needless to say, with Tiger and Vijay on my feature team I was floating in and out of the top 10 late in the second and early in the third round and was already counting my chips, but the fades of Woods/Singh/Van Pelt ultimately cost me.
The other game I played, which I loved, was the $20 head to head salary cap game. My $20 turned into $36 and change and it was fun to follow one other person’s picks versus mine, instead of not knowing how each shot down the stretch would play out for my team.
In all, Bert and the guys at BuzzDraft got me for about $3 last week, but the hours of entertainment were worth it!
This week’s feature is a $20 buy in 55 main event with $1,000 in the pot, and is a Group Play event per usual. Here are a few thoughts on each of the 10 groups.
Group 1 – This one comes down to Dufner, Simpson and Snedeker. I’m not sure yet who I’m picking. Simpson may be the safest pick because he’s a blend of putting and ball striking. Normally, putters are favored here which leans Snedeker, but as mentioned above the new greens could shift the favor to ball striking, and thus Dufner. Gun to my head today, I take Simpson, but I’m not at all settled on this one yet.
Group 2 – Garcia, Haas, Watney, Colsaerts and Toms make up this group. Garcia last played here in 2009 and finished fourth. Haas is gaining some buzz, but his history here isn’t any better than okay. That said, he benefits the more ball striking comes into play. Watney feels close to doing something pretty good, so pegging him may be against the grain but could prove a good move. Colsaerts power will be wasted at Sedgefield and he’s cooled a bit. Toms is a past runner up here, and is down the middle off the tee and a good putter.
Group 3 – I would focus on Pettersson, Huh and Moore here, and if I had to guess 80% of the picks will be for Pettersson and with good reason. He’s won here before (2008) and had a stellar PGA Championship. Huh could be a really sneaky pick and Moore is a past winner that’s nabbed his share of top 10s this year.
Group 4 – Look at CH3 (Charles Howell III), Overton, Wi, Rollins and Brian Davis. This feels like the group that is going to cause some heartburn and some joy. None of them are coming off of anything impressive at Kiawah Island. Wi might not make sense, as he’s a putter first and foremost. Overton and Rollins feel like they have the biggest upside, but it’s always a little scary investing in either of them.
Group 5 – This is another scary group. Someone in this group will post a top 10, and maybe a top 5. About  half of them will miss the cut, and on paper there is very little separating them. Molder, Gainey, Walker, DL3, Duke, Kirk, Hoffman, McNeill, Stallings, Holmes and Reavie all deserve a look. I don’t know how I’m going to sort this one out yet. I want to go with Walker after his run at The Ocean Course on the weekend, but his course history is terrible at Sedgefield. Duke feels like a guy you can pencil in for a top 30, but I don’t see a top 10 out of him. McNeill was runner up last year. A mess…..
Group 6 – Engilsh, Stadler, Glover, Mallinger and Adams all make sense for various reasons. Looking at the entire body of work, I’d narrow the focus to Stadler, Mallinger and Adams.
Group 7 – Summerhays, Clark, Owen, McGirt, Teater and Hearn are all worthy of consideration. Tim Clark is tempting as a dependable pick ,but Teater is on a run of late as well.
Group 8 – John Daly, Martin Flores or Will Claxton? I’m having fun on the Daly train and staying on it until the inevitable crash, but Flores and Claxton are each sneaky-good picks this week.
Group 9 – Herron, Couch, Maggert, Taylor R.H. Lee and Cantlay are the options. I’ve been following Lee closely starting in Canada and  he’s been solid for a pick this far down the line. If you think ball-striking is significantly more important than putting, look at Couch. If you favor the putters, Taylor’s your guy. If you want to roll the dice, try the kid (Cantlay).
Group 10 – I went with Daly in group 10 last week and loved it! If I can find someone half as good this week I’ll be thrilled. Arjun Atwal is in the group and won in 2010. Kevin Kisner might make sense and Matt Bettencourt is good for a random birdie binge. Todd and Green maybe? You’re not looking for the winner here, just someone to make the cut and maybe run into a top 30.

Salary Cap:
Last week’s salary cap advice was pretty solid overall. Noh and Singh were solid value picks, and four of the five I named as overpriced proved correct. The miss was naming Ian Poulter as a bit too pricey.
This week’s 5 that are overpriced are:  Gary Woodland ($16,800), Robert Allenby ($15,200), Charl Schwartzel ($24,000), D.A. Points ($16,200) and Robert Karlsson ($18,500)
The five best bang for your buck are likely: Josh Teater ($9,800), James Driscoll ($8,200), John Daly ($9,500), Martin Flores ($9,600) and Roberto Castro ($8,100).
If you’re spending bunches of money on high-end players and need a few looks at the $5k guys, take a look at Richard H. Lee and Nathan Green.

Match Play:
I didn’t play match play last week (even though I’m even-money for the season) because it just didn’t feel right to me. Had I gone with my published picks, I would have racked up 13 points (11 wins and 2 ties) which likely would have been on the border of at least picking up a 2nd place and getting money back.
This week’s picks (and I haven’t decided yet if I’m playing) would be:
Simpson over Dufner, Schwartzel over Day (Day W/D), Snedeker over Garcia, Haas over Watney, Toms over Colsaerts, Pettersson over Jacobson in the battle of Sweden, Karlsson over Garrigus (Garrigus w/d), Ishikawa over Thompson in a close one, Huh over Levin (Levin W/D), Moore over Yang, CH3 over Woodland, Cauley over Davis, Wi over Points, Rollins over Overton, Romero over Allenby, Stallings over Reavie, Holmes over Kirk, McNeil over Hoffman, Duke over Every.

Remember to use promo code: RotoRyan or TGAGolf20 when signing up and depositing money. It’s important to get the promo code correct, or it may give you an error code and not accept your deposit. Feel free to follow the link below to the BuzzDraft site.
Best of luck!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Wyndham Championship - Power Rankings and Fantasy

With Rory McIlroy's romp at the PGA Championship firmly in the rear-view mirror, we press on to the Wyndham Championship. When formulating this week's Dandy Dozen power rankings, I applied a broad stroke due to the uncertainty of new greens. While my initial formula was based heavily on putting, and was light on the ball-striking side, I made a late add of GIR.

Here's where it all left us. This week's Dandy Dozen:
  1. Carl Pettersson - Batting lead off, Pettersson won here in 2008 and tied for fourth in last year's edition. Everyone watched last week as he played in the final round of the PGA with McIlroy and Bo Van Pelt, and handled himself well. When he gets hot, he can stay hot for a while. He chased a runner up at the Shell Houston Open with a win at the RBC Heritage earlier this year. Were it now for a two-stroke penalty in the final round of the PGA, he would have been runner up there as well.
  2. Webb Simpson - Last year's champion makes a convincing case for this year's trophy as well. He's statistically solid across the board and his course history is obviously good. There is a yellow flag, in that he missed the cut last year after the birth of his child. He's first in birdie average and 7th in birdie or better percentage.
  3. Jason Dufner - Statistically, he's perfect for this course. The yellow flag is his course history. He has two missed cuts to go with two top 35s in his four trips to Sedgefield. It could be argued that he is a different player this year than any of those seasons, and he'll have virtually no pressure on him this week.
  4. Brandt Snedeker - He's a past winner of this event, but not at this course. That said, in the four years the Wyndham has stopped at Sedgefield, he owns two top 10 finishes. That's probably because the greens are relatively easy to hit, and he thrives in putting contests. He ranks 5th in SGP.
  5. Josh Teater - Is there a hotter man on TOUR right now? He's finished 9th, T4 and 7th in his last three starts and posted a T25 in last year's Wyndham Championship. He's also 14th in ball striking and 11th in par 5 birdie or better. The par 5s are important to capitalize on because there are only two and they are both easily reachable.
  6. John Huh - Though he's never competed here since this is his rookie season, he hit on each of my statistical categories to various degrees. He reminds me of how Webb Simpson entered this event last season, in that he's solid but not spectacular across the board.
  7. John Rollins - While he did miss the cut last week, he fired an even-par 72 in the opening round before suffering an 82 in the wind-swept disaster of a second round. That was not even close to the worst score of the day. It's not exactly a news flash that he's a streaky player, but he did tie for third here in 2010. He makes birdies and tackles par 5s, so while he's never a safe pick, he's not a dangerous one either.
  8. Sergio Garcia - Garcia isn't knocking it out of the park in the big events and he needs a Ryder Cup boost, as Ian Poulter just bumped him out of the safety zone. Believe it or not, he's 38th in SGP and his struggles have been related to ball striking. He could put it all together this week. He last played here in 2009 and finished fourth.
  9. Ryan Moore - Moore was a winner here in 2009 and has put together a solid 2012 including four top 10s. He missed the cut in his 2010 defense and didn't add this event to his schedule last season.
  10. Kevin Stadler - Much like Moore (who Stadler was runner up to in 2009), he notched his share of high finishes this year, but hasn't closed the deal. Here's hoping some good vibes will float his way at Sedgefield.
  11. John Daly - Much like the Reno-Tahoe power rankings, this isn't a joke. He's playing the best golf of his last 10 years right now and could seriously contend. He held up very well for four rounds at The Ocean Course last week. I also liked his interview after Friday's difficult round where he talked about setting his own par on difficult holes. I found it very strategic that he was disciplined enough to treat some par 4s as par 5s and even a par 5 as a par 6.
  12. David Toms - Accurate driver with a smooth putter and a T2 in 2010. Next case.
Next 5: Jimmy Walker, Blake Adams, James Driscoll, Jeff Overton and Ken Duke

Off to Fantasyland:

Yahoo! Game:
  • A-List - Give me Webb Simpson with Sergio waiting in the wings.
  • B-List - Snedeker and Rollins starting with Toms and Moore on the bench.
  • C-List - This is the loaded group with Pettersson starting and Dufner coming off the pine.
Golf Channel Game:
  • Group 1 - Pettersson
  • Group 2 - Huh
  • Group 3 - Teater over Daly
  • Group 4 - Brian Gay
Check back tomorrow for our Odds post and BuzzDraft Preview!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Midwest Classic - Monday Qualifier

The Web.com Tour heads to Kansas for the Midwest Classic Presented by Cadillac, and here is the link to all of the Monday Qualifier tee times and leaderboards.

http://midwest.pga.com/

All of the links to tee times are actually on the front page of the Section's website.

Best of luck to all!

Wyndham Championship - Monday Qualifier

With a normal week returning to the PGA TOUR, there will be a Monday qualifier for the final four spots in the Wyndham Championship field. Here is the link to the tee times and leaderboard.

http://carpga.bluegolf.com/bluegolf/carpga12/event/carpga1236/index.htm

Best of luck to all!

PGA Championship - Final Wrap Up

Rory McIlroy ran away with the PGA Championship at Kiawah Island on Sunday; winning his second major by eight strokes. There's plenty to learn from this performance, not the least of which is the end of the debate as to who is the best golfer on the planet.

Thoughts on Rory:
  • Many times you don't know you're in an era until the era is well under way. (Same thing with recessions too, actually.) I'm putting it out there that the "next Tiger" just won his second major the way the old Tiger used to do it. He stepped on the first tee with the lead and fired a bogey-free round to step on the throats of his competitors.
  • What will be lost in this is the footage of putts Rory had to hole in the finale to stay bogey-free. Seems like we've seen someone else do that, no?
  • While I don't think Rory hates losing quite as bad as Tiger does, he's every bit the prime-time player. He learned from a final-round debacle at the Masters in 2011, as well as the 80 in the British Open in 2010. Get them out of your mind, because you won't see them again for a very long time.
  • He probably won't have the focus to win as many times in a year as Tiger did, but don't be shocked if he has seven or eight majors to his name by his 30th birthday.
Other thoughts:
  • Who the hell is David Lynn? It's rare that a name sneaks onto a leaderboard that I can honestly say I don't know (much less at a major) but I couldn't tell you the first thing about that guy without digging through some data.
  • For all of those experts that say Bo Van Pelt should be on the Ryder Cup team; why? He may be good in a Thursday four ball, but heaven forbid you need a point out of him in a Sunday single.
  • Speaking of the Ryder Cup, Phil locked up the last spot. Good for him. Speaking of gamers, he's another one. I'm not really even a "Phil guy," but when the stage is the biggest he's bound to show up.
  • Not to harp on Rory, but I never got the feeling he was going to lose on Sunday. As good as Ian Poulter's charge was, I didn't see him wrestling away the title from McIlroy.
Rather than break down the scorecard of each game, I'm going to list my top 20 with where they finished beside them.
  1. Tiger Woods - T11
  2. Keegan Bradley - T3
  3. Louis Oosthuizen - T21
  4. Jason Dufner - T27
  5. Bubba Watson - T11
  6. Adam Scott - T11
  7. Rory McIlroy - Winner
  8. Bo Van Pelt - T18
  9. Robert Garrigus - T21
  10. Steve Stricker - T7
  11. Martin Laird - T42
  12. Kyle Stanley - MC
  13. Martin Kaymer - MC
  14. John Rollins - MC
  15. Dustin Johnson - T47
  16. Matt Kuchar - MC
  17. Jim Furyk - T42
  18. Vijay Singh - T36
  19. John Senden - T32
  20. Seung-yul Noh - T21
While I'm fairly satisfied that a course that had never been used in the PGA rotation yielded 16/20 made cuts and the winner, we'll do our best to get it even better for the Wyndham Championship this week!