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

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Ryder Cup Wrap Up

Wow, what a Ryder Cup. To my European friends who check in weekly, I offer my congratulations! I'll do my best to put emotion and bias aside to offer some thoughts on the 39th Ryder Cup.

  • Ian Poulter was clearly born for the Ryder Cup. What he did on Saturday afternoon in the four-ball was amazing. The Euros don't win the Cup if he doesn't win that point Saturday afternoon. While his stroke-play record isn't on par with his match play and Ryder Cup prowess, I can't see a scenario where he isn't on every European team for the next 10 years. He is as good at match play as Tiger Woods was at closing out golf tournaments in his prime.
  • The American youth played very well. Dufner was 3-1-0, Dustin Johnson was 3-0-0, Keegan Bradley was 3-1-0, Webb Simpson was 2-2-0, Bubba Watson was 2-2-0 and Brandt Snedeker was 1-2-0. Add to that, Phil Mickelson paired beautifully with Keegan Bradley to go 3-1-0 for the week and Zach Johnson was solid. That's the core for team USA going forward.
  • It was the experience of the U.S. that lost the Cup. Jim Furyk was 1-2-0 and was the weak link in his pairing with Snedeker. Add to that, blowing a 1-up lead with two to play against Sergio Garcia was on par with his collapses at the U.S. Open and WGC-Bridgestone, and what I believe ultimately cost America the Cup. He has likely played his last Ryder Cup, and probably President's Cup as well. His Ryder Cup record was horrid entering the week and it only got worse. DL3 was right to play him just three times. Going forward, I'll take my chances with new blood over Furyk. I tentatively signed off on the idea of Furyk as the final pick, but clearly it should have gone to Hunter Mahan or Rickie Fowler or John Daly.
  • The team of Stricker and Woods is officially over; or should be. It actually should have been over after an 0-2 start. Why not send Snedeker out with Stricker or Dufner out with Woods on Saturday afternoon? They both played respectably on Sunday, but going against Kaymer and Molinari was essentially the European "B" team.
  • How does Rory McIlroy almost miss his tee time? With the entourages these guys travel with and the captain's and co-captains of the European team, that seems inexcusable. It obviously had little effect on his game.
  • Justin Rose's effort on Sunday was probably the best of the day for the Euro's, and was even more impressive given he was one of only two people to play in all five sessions - McIlroy the other. Mickelson didn't lose that match; Rose won it.
  • Lee Westwood and Luke Donald feel like they put up very quiet 2-2-0 records.
That's all for now. I'll have a preview up sometime in the next 24 hours for the Justin Timberlake. Congrats to the Euros!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Ryder Cup Preview

Rather than do a full-blown Ryder Cup preview, I'll refer you to the comprehensive Rotoworld article I penned on just that topic on Tuesday http://www.rotoworld.com/articles/gol/41503/315/ryder-cup-preview.

In this article, I have broken down all 24 players as well as point projections and possible partners. I took it a step further and took a stab at what the Friday foursomes and four-ball pairings should be.

I would also check out BuzzDraft if you are looking to get in on a Ryder Cup game this week.

Feel free to let me know how far off I was on my projections when the final putt drops at Medinah!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Web.com Tour thoughts

With just four full-field tournaments remaining on the Web.com Tour, I decided to check in and see how things were shaping up. There are some big things on the line the next four weeks that will shape the careers of numerous players. Here's what's at stake:
  • The 61-100 players on the final Web.com Tour money list earn conditional stauts on the 2013 Web.com Tour. This is increasingly important this year, as all PGA TOUR cards will be handed out by virtue of the Web.com Tour in 2013. Something else of note, most of these players only receive endorsments entering the 2013 year if they have some type of status on the Web.com Tour.
  • Currently, Erik Flores is the 100th man on the list with $43,493 in earnings over 21 starts. The 100th man in 2011 was Dawie van der Walt at $43,293, so that bar is already raised. It would take $50k for me to feel safe, and the last man on the list with at least that much money is Charles Warren in 91st with $50,480.
  • The 60th spot is huge. Everyone in the top 60 earns, at worst, full status on the 2013 Web.com Tour and is exempt from reshuffles. That means no Monday Qualifiers and no waiting to see if you are in an event. While finishing 26th and missing out on a TOUR card would sting, anyone 26th-60th has a solid place to play for 2012 assuming they don't improve their position in Q School. Also of note, finishing inside the top 60 earns an exemption into the second stage of Q School, which is huge. Avoiding the first stage means having one less bullet to dodge in an effort to earn an PGA TOUR card.
  • The 60th man entering the week is Derek Fathauer with $76,794. Last year, the 60th man was Travis Hampshire, with just over $100k (but that included the Nationwide Tour Championship.) My best guess is that it will take around $90k to earn a tee time in the Web.com Tour Championship this season. Currently, Woody Austin ranks 50th with $90,073, and the former Presidents Cup team member is the first guy who should feel safe in booking his fight to TPC Craig Ranch.
  • The final numbers that matter won't be on the line until the final event, but in addition to the top 25 earning PGA TOUR cards, those 26th - 40th in the final Web.com Tour money list are exempt into the Q School finale.
  • My best guess as to what it will take to secure a TOUR card this year is $190k, making Shawn Stefani with $195, 311 in 14th position the last man currently "safe." Keep in mind, the last event is a no-cut event, so everyone will add to their total.
Keep these numbers in mind when you tune in for a Web.com event this month, or see the scores scrolling across the bottom of the Golf Channel.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

TOUR Championship - Final Wrap Up

Brandt Snedeker captured the payday of his career when he turned a win at the TOUR Championship into a FedExCup title, and earned and combined $11.44 million in a days work. Here are some things that stood out over the week at East Lake:
  • This is a big deal for Snedeker beyond the obvious reasons, and it carries some weight into next season. This is the first time Snedeker's converted a lead into a win. Traditionally, he's a weekend fader who does his best work when chasing.
  • The FedExCup is a little bit of a joke when Rory McIlroy could have finished second at East Lake (I realize he didn't) to go along with two playoff wins and still wouldn't have won the "season-long" FedExCup Championship.That's not a knock on Sneds, as he had a great Playoff. But, still.
  • Luke Donald wasn't necessarily in the best of form entering the week, but still walked out of East Lake with his third consecutive top-3 finish in this event. Note to self; always play Donald at East Lake.
  • Ryan Moore almost made our 50/1 tip on him earlier in the week look brilliant. He walked off the 15th green tied for the lead and stood in the fairway on the 16th before throwing up on himself coming in. His three bogeys in the final three holes erased his chances. Still, I like Moore over the long run. He posted a number of top 10s this year and could be a value next year.
  • Count me as impressed by Hunter Mahan's 4-under 66 in the final round to steal a tie for eighth with Tiger Woods after finishing dead last at the BMW. I thought he was left for dead, but he bounced back after a nightmare week of being left off the Ryder Cup team and finishing last at Crooked Stick. Good for him.
  • Five of the top nine at East Lake are on the U.S. Ryder Cup team, while two of the top nine are on team Europe. Granted, those two were second and tied for third (Rose and Donald).
  • How about Lee Westwood finishing dead last this week. Wonder if that means anything for next week's Ryder Cup?
Speaking of the Ryder Cup, I will have a full preview publishing on the Rotoworld website (www.rotoworld.com) in the Golf section on Tuesday. Check it out! While I'm not 100% finished, it should include thoughts on all 24 players as well as possible pairings for each player, predicted record for each player and who the captains should send out in each session of the first day (2 sessions).

If any of that doesn't make the Rotoworld article, I'll make sure to post the information here.

Chiquita Classic - Monday Qualifier

As the Web.com Tour season inches closer to the end, the Chiquita Classic Monday Qualifier represents one of the precious few opportunities remaining for those to earn a spot in a field and capture some status on the Web.com Tour. Morgan Hoffman MQ'd last week and parlayed that into a sixth-place finish.

Here is the info for this week's event:

http://carpga.bluegolf.com/bluegolf/carpga12/event/carpga1241/index.htm

Best of luck to all!

Monday, September 17, 2012

TOUR Championship - Power Rankings / Odds / BuzzDraft / Fantasy

For the first time since the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, the entire field at the TOUR Championship is coming off of a break, if only for a week. Will that douse some water on Rory McIlroy’s hot streak, or will the break allow for the batteries to be even better recharged? Here’s our best guesses.
This week’s Dandy Dozen power rankings:
1.       Tiger Woods – McIlroy can’t actually win three-in-a-row can he? If not, then Woods is the next best guess. His average finish in his five starts since 2003 is 6.6. His four most recent include a win and three runner-ups. Though he’s 26th in Strokes Gained-Putting, he is first in scoring average and seventh in birdie average. I get the feeling this week could turn into a putting contest between Woods and McIlroy.
2.       Rory McIlroy – The knock on him isn’t necessarily a fair one, but he has yet to play East Lake. Add to that, he’s 76th in Strokes Gained-Putting, but fifth in all-around, first in birdie average and par breakers and second in scoring average. Rory will be there in the end, and it will be interesting to see if he’s able to pull away again like he did at Crooked Stick.
3.       Phil Mickelson – Phil won at East Lake in 2009, but hasn’t surrounded that with too many high finishes. Still, he’s playing some of his best golf in the last few years and seems to have the new claw grip working with the flat stick. He ranks in the top six in par breakers, birdie average and Strokes Gained-Putting.
4.       Luke Donald – This is a bit of a scary pick, but the Englishman is nothing if not an elite putter, and his history here is favorable. He finished tied for third in last year’s edition and ranks second in Strokes Gained-Putting. In five starts since 2005, he has three top-five finishes.
5.       Zach Johnson – Zach attack has always played well in the state of Georgia and the TOUR Championship is no different. In five starts since 2004, his average finish is 11.4 and includes a runner up in 2007.
6.       Jim Furyk – His history at East Lake is rivaled only by Woods, as he has averaged a 6.86 finish in seven attempts since 2003. This includes a win (2010) and four other top 10s with no finish worse than 13th.  While some of his other splits don’t line up, he’s 19th in Strokes Gained-Putting.
7.       Jason Dufner – He’s played here twice before, with last year’s 13th the high-water mark. Still, the Dufner of 2012 is unlike any other we’ve seen before with two wins and a runner up. He is second in the all-around and inside the top five in birdie average, scoring average and par breakers. His only blemish is a 64th ranking in Strokes Gained-Putting.
8.       Louis Oosthuizen – King Louis is an East Lake rookie, but seems to be on form with his game entering the TOUR Championship. His splits are similar to Dufner, coming in 65th in Strokes Gained-Putting, but doing well in other categories I am considering.
9.       Brandt Snedeker – Placing as much emphasis as I am on putting, the only shock could be that I don’t have the leader in Strokes Gained a little higher on the list. Still, his history doesn’t allow for any better as he was 16th in 2011 and 29th in 2007. Ranking fifth in birdie average and ninth in par breakers goes a long way towards making him a fit on paper, and his current form is spectacular.
10.   Keegan Bradley – He tied for 11th in his maiden voyage at East Lake last year, and while his form has been spotty throughout the Playoffs, you never know when he’ll pop up. It’s an unfortunate learning curve when projecting a young star. He is first in the all-around category and top 35 in every category in which I placed emphasis this week.
11.   Bo Van Pelt – How did I not slide BVP into a back-door top 10? After all, he was ninth last year (but 24th in 2010). On my statistical analysis, he ranked the highest in the field; finishing no worse than 13th in any stat in which I placed emphasis. Still, we know Bo.
12.   Ryan Moore – He’s playing well of late and was ninth in his only trip to East Lake in 2010. If you’re looking for a wild card, he could be your guy. He ranks 35th in Strokes Gained-Putting and represents himself well in many key categories.
To drive home the point of putting, I didn’t put anyone in the Dandy Dozen who wasn’t inside the top 65 in Strokes Gained (Oosthuizen). A guy like Adam Scott (136) or Lee Westwood (142) could jump into the fray, but that would mean their ball-striking would have to be that much better than the rest of the field or they would have to  have a hot week with the putter.
I’m not going to do a “next 5” this week. If I did, I may as well rank the whole field.
Now onto the games!
Yahoo!:
·         A-List – Starting Phil with Luke on the bench.
·         B-List – Starting Woods (that’s called good budgeting) and McIlroy with Snedeker and Van Pelt on the bench.
·         C-List – Flip a coin between Oosthuizen and Dufner. I’ll go Louis.
Golf Channel:
·         Group 1 – Woods
·         Group 2 – Mickelson
·         Group 3 – Snedeker
·         Group 4 – Furyk
BuzzDraft:
With only 30 players in the field, there are a number of match play situations in group play. The first five groups include just two choices. The final five groups are made up of four players. Here are how the groups look:
Group 1 – Rory v Tiger. They are the top two in my power ranks, so flip a coin.
Group 2 – Donald v Westwood = Putting versus ball-striking
Group 3 – Adam Scott v Webb Simpson = I’m not wild about either option.
Group 4 – Dufner v Watson – East Lake hasn’t been kind to bombers only, so I’d lean Dufner
Group 5 – Justin Rose v Oosthuizen – Rose is one of the hardest to predict and Oosthuizen feels like a safe enough bet.
Group 6 – Stricker/D. Johnson/Bradley/Kuchar – You’ve got a steady Stricker, Johnson with poor history at East Lake, Bradley leads in all-around ranking and Kuchar who’s done no better than a 20th here.
Group 7 – Mickelson/Z. Johnson/Sergio Garcia/ Snedeker – Strong options here. Could easily argue for Mickelson and Z. Johnson over most of the field an Snedeker is a true dark horse.
Group 8 – Mahan/Watney/Els/Van Pelt – We’ll be lucky to see a top 10 out of this group, but the most likely is Van Pelt.
Group 9 – Fowler/Furyk/Petterson/Senden – Hard to deny Furyk’s record here.
Group 10 – Garrigus/Piercy/Moore/Huh – Moore finished ninth in 2010, the others are first timers.

And finally the odds:
Here are the three best values I see as listed http://sports.ladbrokes.com/en-gb/Golf-c110000008:
Luke Donald 20/1 – With just two par 5s and a course that demands putting, his ability to roll the rock and scramble could be huge. He has three top-five finishes at East Lake including a second and a third in his last two years.
Zach Johnson 33/1 – A poor man’s Donald, Johnson is straight off the tee and a sharp putter. He tied for second in 2007 at East Lake.
Ryan Moore 50/1 – It’s not uncommon to see a big jump from someone between their first and second trip to East Lake, and Moore was ninth in 2010.
Best of luck to all!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

TOUR Championship - Preview

With a much needed week off behind us, let's look forward to the TOUR Championship at East Lake Golf Club. East Lake is a 7,154 par 70 that has just two par 5s. There are several holes (the fifth and 10th) that are converted par 5s which will make for challenging pars. Also an interesting twist, the closing hole is a difficult 235 yard par 3 that could cause someone quite the ulcer with millions of dollars on the line Sunday. Unless of course McIlroy only needs a six to claim both trophies!

As you likely remember, Bill Haas came from out of the blue to capture not just the tournament, but the FedExCup title in a dramatic playoff over Hunter Mahan. That win also catapulted him to the final captain's pick for the 2011 Presidents Cup.

While he's not known as an elite putter, Haas led the field for the week at East Lake in putting. Looking back at those with past success in Atlanta, putting is a common factor. Here is a list of winners and runner ups since 2000.

WinnerScoreRunner UpsScore
2011Haas272Mahan272
2010Furyk272Donald273
2009Mickelson271Woods274
2008Villegas273Garcia273
2007Woods257Z Johnson/Calcavecchia265
2006Scott269Furyk272
2005Bryant263Woods269
2004Goosen269Woods273
2003Campbell268Howell271
2002Singh268Howell270
2001Weir270Els/Garcia/Toms270
2000Mickelson267Woods269



Also of note, the likes of Bubba Watson and Dustin Johnson don't have particularly good records at East Lake, so there's no real reason to think bombers with faulty putters (Robert Garrigus) will fare all that well.

Of those in the field that have multiple starts at East Lake, the highest averages over the past decade are Tiger Woods, Jim Furyk and Luke Donald followed closely by Sergio Garcia and Zach Johnson. These guys are all accurate and are either elite iron players or elite putters or both.

We will dive into this further with a power rankings / fantasy / BuzzDraft and odds post on Tuesday, but hopefully this should get you off and running with your research.

WNB Golf Classic - Open Qualifier

The final spots in the WNB Golf Classic on the Web.com Tour will be decided in an open qualifier on Monday, September 17th. Below is a link to the leaderboard and other information.

http://ntpga.bluegolf.com/bluegolf/ntpga12/event/ntpga1229/contest/1/leaderboard.htm

Best of luck to all!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Albertsons Boise Open - Monday Qualifier

The Web.com Tour heads to Idaho for the Albertson's Boise Open in what will be the largest remaining purse before the Tour Championship. It's an important week to make a move, and a Monday qualifier will decide the final spots in the field.

Here's the link to the Monday Qualifer http://rmspga.bluegolf.com/bluegolf/rmspga12/event/rmspga1212/index.htm

BMW Championship - Final Wrap Up

Rory McIlroy claimed the BMW Championship by two strokes over Phil Mickelson and Lee Westwood on Sunday, marking his third win in his last four events. He's in a zone equal to only one other golfer I've ever watched, and he has that feeling about him that he's going to have a chance to win any time he tees it up right now. Here are some thoughts from the week at Crooked Stick:
  • Rory aside, Phil's playing some really good golf right now. If he shoots a 67 on Sunday he wins. That said, a T4 and T2 in his last two starts show he's back just in time for the TOUR Championship and the Ryder Cup. I wouldn't sleep on him walking out of Atlanta as the FedExCup Champion, which would be a disgrace to Rory McIlroy.
  • For so many years in the prime of Tiger Woods, we often thought about players playing for second. If that's the case with Rory, Tiger was a shot out of second.
  • Dustin Johnson tied for sixth and remains a factor in every tournament he plays.
  • Bo Van Pelt held onto a top 10 despite playing the weekend 2-under.
  • Sergio Garcia is beginning to fade; this week to a T24. Typically he plays well in very short, concentrated spurts, so there was a risk to rating him second this week and I knew it going in.
As for how we did:
  • It's hard to brag about nailing the McIlroy pick, as who didn't? He led off the power rankings, was a starter in the Yahoo! game and the Golf Channel game and was tipped as one of five in our odds post despite his 6/1 odds. Hey, a winner is a winner no matter the odds.
  • Phil and Westy each made their way into the Dandy Dozen Power Rankings.
  • Tiger was fourth in my power ranks and finished fourth.

It will be light week on the blog, with a week off to prepare for the TOUR Championship. I'll try to put up some type of fun feature in the middle of the week. The pre qualifiers for Q School get under way this week, and there's a big event on the Web.com Tour, so I may spend some time on those.

Friday, September 7, 2012

BMW Championship - Round 2

The BMW reached the half-way point a little earlier than expected in an effort to dodge afternoon showers and Vijay Singh holds the lead at 13-under-par. Singh has been playing well in tournaments leading into this event, but so far has been unable to put four rounds together. The difference through two round this week is his putter. He ranks fifth in Strokes Gained-Putting and third in putting.

Here are a few other thoughts:
  • I love the Tiger / Rory heavyweight fight that's taking place. Neither of them is blinking and you have to think that Woods really wants this one.
  • While Rory is tied for sixth in putting, he's 36th in Strokes Gained. That tells me he's getting his birdies by hitting it close on some par 3s and 4s and two putting par 5s for birdies, while not scrambling all that well. Tiger is 10th in both putting categories. Rory might need to improve that SGP stat to at least the top 20 to hold off TW.
  • The round of the day belonged to Bill Haas, who fired a 64 (8-under). While 12 (of 14) fairways and 14 GIR were solid, his 24 putts and over 4 strokes gained with the putter were the real reason why he went low.
  • Ryan Moore is a stroke off the lead, but ranks 129th in third-round scoring and 174th in final-round scoring. Expect him, Singh and possibly Van Pelt to start a retreat tomorrow. Add Seung-yul Noh to that list as well.
  • Bill Haas is 17th in third-round scoring. While it's hard to see him following up his 64 with another low round, there is reason to think he could.
  • I wouldn't sleep on Dustin Johnson either.

That's if for tonight!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

BMW Championship - Round 1

It looks like we may be in for the Rory v Tiger show for the second week in a row at the BMW Championship. Low scores were the order of the day with preferred lies in place. In the end, Bo Van Pelt, Rory McIlroy, Graham DeLaet and Webb Simpson share the lead at 8-under 64.
  • Woods seems to be up for the challenge of taking McIlroy down this week. If he doesn't, he may develop some scar tissue soon similar to what Ernie Els had to deal with in regards to Tiger.
  • Seeing as how McIlroy led off my power rankings this week, it's nice to see him leading the tournament.
  • Perhaps the biggest call of the week was Graham DeLaet as a tip at 200/1!
  • None of my three to avoid are inside the top 10, but Oosthuizen and Stricker did fire 4-under rounds and are T16.
  • With the possibility of storms on Friday, there is a chance of preferred lies on Friday as well.
  • Bo Van Pelt responded in the first round in his home state of Indiana. Of course, the first round is rarely the problem for BVP.
  • Kyle Stanley entered the week as the bubble boy and after the first round is still projected at number 30. He posted a 4-under 68 early in the afternoon. At the time he posted, he was inside the top 10 but kept falling.
That's it for tonight!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

BMW Championship - Preview / Power Ranks / Fantasy / Odds / BuzzDraft

With the 2012 BMW Championship set for Crooked Stick Golf Course, expect anything. I realize that’s not what many of you gamers and punters want to hear, but how else to you peg a tournament that saw John Daly burst on to the scene and bomb his way to the 1991 PGA Championship and Fred Funk win the 2009 Senior U.S. Open 18 years later? You have essentially the longest and shortest players in golf winning at the same venue in the only two tournaments we have as any sort of litmus test.
While there’s plenty we don’t know about Crooked Stick, here’s what we do know:
·         It’s a Pete Dye design.
·         It’s a 7,497 par 72 and includes four par 5s; two of which are 595 yards or longer.
·         The most recent redesign happened last fall and included five new tee boxes, additional bunkering and tightening of some fairways.
That’s really it.
When going about my research, I’ve spent the majority of my time focusing on current form, players with a penchant for going low and making birdies, total driving with an advantage to the length side of things and all-around ranking.
Daly won at Crooked Stick by overpowering the course and taking angles that nobody else would even think about taking on. There are bombers in this week’s field who could do the same thing had the course not have been redesigned and lengthened, but the course has been modified since 1991, so it’s likely that has been addressed. By virtue of Fred Funk’s win, you could draw the conclusion that there is a premium to being in the fairway, as Funk is short and straight. He also shot 20-under, so making some birdie putts will be crucial.
With that and more in mind, here is this week’s Dandy Dozen:
1.       Rory McIlroy – There’s nobody playing better and he won on Pete Dye’s Ocean Course just a few weeks ago. If anyone has a chance to overpower the course, he’d be on the short list. For Rory, it will come down to the putter.  If he has a top 10 putting week, he’ll be right there.
2.       Sergio Garcia – It will be interesting to see if he picks up where he left off after a scheduled off week, but it’s likely his head will be in the game as he gears up for Medinah.
3.       Dustin Johnson – It could be an advantage for DJ that he isn’t alone with never having played the course. He acquainted himself nicely to Dye’s Whistling Straits, also a long course. With back-to-back top-4 finishes in the FedExCup Playoffs already under his belt and the relief of the Ryder Cup captain’s pick no longer on his shoulders, he could free up and put on a show similar to John Daly in 1991.
4.       Tiger Woods – In Tiger’s favor is the way he played at TPC Boston. He had four rounds in the 60s and closed with a 66. Not so much on his favor is the way he’s really relied on course familiarity for his successes this year. I have doubts as to his ability to adjust to a course in which he’s never competed.
5.       Brandt Snedeker – Similar to Johnson, now that he’s got the Ryder Cup in his back pocket, he can play carefree. Of course, with back-to-back top-6 finishes it looks like the pressure didn’t cook him too badly. Fred Funk won on the Senior Tour here a few years back, and Sneds is the kind of putter that could replicate his blueprint for success.
6.       Louis Oosthuizen – King Louis would be a touch higher if I wasn’t just a little worried about his shoulder/upper chest flare up over the weekend at TPC Boston. It wasn’t long after his magical front-nine 29 that he made his first wince on Saturday afternoon, and made the biggest outward showing of pain when he hooked his tee shot on the fifth, leading to a final round double bogey that dropped him from the lead.
7.       Phil Mickelson – If you think about it, his skill set is eerily similar to John Daly. He’s long, yet wild, off the tee. He has a great short game and a streaky putter. I was off a week, as I thought The Barclays would be Phil’s breakthrough, but it turned out to be a week later at TPC Boston. I would not at all be surprised if he nabbed another top five at Crooked Stick.
8.       Bubba Watson – This has plenty to do with his length. Bubba has shown an ability to play at a high level for much of the season, so there’s no reason not the think he couldn’t shine in a big ballpark like Crooked Stick. He’ll need to be steady with the putter and the short game.
9.       Steve Stricker – I don’t think it’s an accident that we have now hit on three of the U.S. Ryder Cup captain’s picks in the first nine. It goes to show that DL3 was paying attention to form. Stricker has been a top-10 machine the past few years and is coming off a T13 at the Deutsche Bank.
10.   Keegan Bradley – Bradley scares me a bit, but this is the kind of course where he could get hot and post some low rounds. I said the same thing about Bethpage and he missed the cut. That’s part of the learning curve with the young star.
11.   Carl Pettersson – He’s got a solid history on Dye tracks and isn’t too far removed from some nice finishes. My fear is that he tends to be really good in short spurts and then falls into mediocrity for a while. It would seem he’s on a mediocre spell at the moment, though a tough Dye test could lead him to the top.
12.   Lee Westwood – This is a bit of a shot in the dark, but Westy is due for a big week. His current form is steady and he was tied for 8th on my personal attributes chart this week.
Next 5:  Nick Watney, Justin Rose, Bud Cauley, Bo Van Pelt and Jason Dufner
Odds
The link to the odds can be found here http://sports.ladbrokes.com/en-gb/Golf-c110000008 and are current as of the typing of this post.
Five I like:
·         6/1 – Rory McIlroy – Crazy? Possibly. Here’s what I know. He putted lights out last week at TPC Boston, but otherwise had his “B” game.  The only other guy we have seen shoot 20-under rounds and win with a “B” game would be Tiger Woods. Woods, who is 7/1, can’t keep up with McIlroy unless McIlroy is sporting a “B” game and Woods has his “A.” That tells me at the very least, McIlroy at 6/1 is a better value than Woods at 7/1.
·         25/1 – Sergio Garcia – No reason to think Sergio lost all of his form on his off week. He seems to play best when his mind is in the right place. Having made the Ryder Cup team on merit and playing some of the best golf of his last few years qualifies as a “good place.”
·         33/1 – Steve Stricker – On the one hand, this course may be too long for him. On the other, he’s longer than he’s often given credit for and playing well of late; Barclay’s withstanding.
·         33/1 – Nick Watney – This could go either way. Watney doesn’t strike me as the guy to play with an axe to grind, but it would be fitting for him to show Davis Love III that his win at the monstrous Bethpage Black wasn’t a fluke by backing it up on another long track. It’s at least equally likely that his win marks the apex of a bell curve and his T20 at TPC Boston is a return to normalcy. Still, might be worth the risk.
·         200/1 – Graham DeLaet – Super sleeper was a tip of ours at The Barclays and had a very nice week. He’s long enough to take advantage of the layout and could make some noise if the putter cooperates.

Three I don’t:
·         20/1 – Louis Oosthuizen – I’m not convinced the wincing shoulder pain doesn’t represent a bigger problem, and I’m not willing to risk it. He did not play well over his last 26 holes at TPC Boston, which is around the time that pain popped up.
·         50/1 – Jim Furyk – I’m not sure he can make enough birdies on a long test like Crooked Stick to post any sort of number. Could be a problem he’ll face at Medinah as well.
·         50/1 – Charl Schwartzel – Like Oosthuizen, I’m not 100% sure of his health. Soon after his final round at TPC Boston, it was reported on the TOUR Report on PGATOUR.com that he was experiencing issues with the rib injury similar to the one that kept him out. Even healthy, I’m not sure his form dictates a risk. http://tourreport.pgatour.com/2012/09/03/schwartzel-might-not-play-bmw/


Yahoo! Game

·         A-List – Sergio Garcia starting with Mickelson on the bench.
·         B-List – Woods (yes I still have 2 starts left) and McIlroy starting with Snedeker and D. Johnson on the bench.
·         C-List – Pettersson starting and crossing our fingers that Oosthuizen is healthy on the bench.

Golf Channel Game:
·         Group 1 – Rory
·         Group 2 – Sergio
·         Group 3 – John Senden
·         Group 4 – Kevin Stadler
BuzzDraft:
The Group format is up and running as of Tuesday morning. The usual $1,000 game with a $20 buy is featured, with other salary cap and 6-man formats available as well. Here are some tips on each group.
·         Group 1 – It’s all about Rory vs Tiger. The other options don’t fit this course as well or have an equal form.
·         Group 2 – I don’t see much separation in this group this week. They contain Bubba, Scott, Rose, Dufner and Stricker
·         Group 3 – Sergio and Keegan Bradley highlight the options.
·         Group 4 – Snedeker, D. Johnson, Watney and Oosthuizen
·         Group 5 – Mickelson, Poulter and Fowler – Keep in mind, Poulter played well on the Ocean Course which is a long Pete Dye design
·         Group 6 – Pettersson, Van Pelt and Senden – Much like Poulter, Pettersson is a strong “Dye” player.
·         Group 7 – Bud Cauley, Robert Garrigus and Greg Chalmers catch my attention.
·         Group 8 – Tim Clark, Ryan Moore and John Huh are the best of a weak crop.
·         Group 9 – Jimmy Walker, Seung-yul Noh and Jeff Overton highlight the group. Each have shown flashes lately, with Noh fading on the weekends often.
·         Group 10 – Graham DeLaet, Brian Harman and Pat Perez all make about as much sense as anyone from group 7 down.
Three Salary format values:
-          William McGirt ($5,200), Graham DeLaet ($5,600) and Kevin Stadler ($6,000)
Three that cost a little too much:
-          Luke Donald ($24,000), Webb Simpson ($21,000), Zach Johnson ($14,500)
As I mentioned yesterday, let me know if you like the format of having everything in one post, or prefer it in daily updates leading up to Thursday!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Deutsche Bank Championship - Wrap up

Rory McIlroy held off Louis Oosthuizen over the closing holes of the Deutsche Bank Championship to claim his third victory of the year. Add to that, Brandt Snedeker and Dustin Johnson continued their recent trends of success to give U.S. Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III plenty of reasons to select them on Tuesday. Here are a few thoughts:
  • We may look back on this as the year of Rory. He looked destined for a great year when he knocked off The Honda Classic early, but got off track during the late Spring and early Summer. Winning his second major at the PGA and now winning a FedExCup Playoff event to take over the number one ranking in those standings (not to mention world #1) says plenty. Hard not to imagine him being PGA TOUR player of the year.
  • I'm not convinced Louis Oosthuizen wasn't injured in the finale. It showed with his quick hook on the par-4 fifth leading to a double bogey, but his driving accuracy and GIR stats were by far the worst of the week on Monday.
  • Tiger finished third with a really nice final-round 66. He went bogey free and should be a factor in the remaining two tournaments.
  • Phil Mickelson finished in a tie for fourth, and I get the feeling that he's going to do at least that well in one of the next two events.
Let's talk Ryder Cup:
  • It took every week up until this point, but the four captain's picks for the U.S. Ryder Cup seem clear. There are several ways to look at what the criteria should be for a selection, but all pretty much involve a mix of current form and season accomplishments. Three of the four picks get check marks in both categories.
  • DL3 has to take Steve Stricker, Dustin Johnson and Brandt Snedeker. Each have a win this year. Johnson and Snedeker are both coming off of back-to-back top six finishes. Stricker has been in the top 13 in three of his last four starts. Stricker is a natural partner for Tiger Woods. Johnson's length should set up well for Medinah and Snedeker's putter should be useful anywhere.
  • The final pick comes down to Jim Furyk and Hunter Mahan, and although Mahan has two wins to Furyk's zero this year, Furyk edges him out on form. Mahan's had plenty of chances to show something over the last few months and hasn't been able to. I get the argument of Furyk not having a win, and it's one I wrestle with. There is some precedent for a Mahan snub, as Brian Gay missed out on the President's Cup in 2009 when he had two wins.
  • Watney's entire body of work would have only been good enough to bump Furyk if he had a top 5 or 10 where he actually contended this week. His T20 this week makes it look like he hit the top of the bell curve at Bethpage and is trending back towards normalcy.
  • Rickie Fowler may be in the worst form of those under consideration. I thought he and Mahan would easily be locks when Fowler nabbed the win at Quail Hollow, but he's done little since the calendar turned to June.
  • Bo Van Pelt would have only been a real consideration if he had won. He's done it once in something like a decade on TOUR. If he did what Watney did and won at Bethpage and T20 this week, then I'd say yes. Otherwise, he's a back-door top-10 machine.
If Davis Love III does not call the names of Stricker, Johnson and Snedeker tomorrow, it will be a snub. I can live with either Furyk or Mahan as the final pick, but nothing past that.

Schedule Update

For those that check in for updates at the end of each tournament round, please accept my apology for not posting the last two nights. I was wrapping up a vacation and traveling.

With a Monday finish this week on the PGA TOUR, it will alter this week's schedule for the BMW Championship. I am essentially planning on having one large post on Tuesday night to incorporate the preview, power rankings, fantasy advice, odds and BuzzDraft. Once posted, I would welcome feedback on if you like everything wrapped together in one large post, or prefer the daily build up to the tournament we normally provide.

Later this evening I will post a brief wrap up of the Deutsche Bank Championship that will largely focus on the impending Ryder Cup captain's picks to be announced Tuesday morning.