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

Monday, October 22, 2012

CIMB Classic - Note

I wanted to put out a quick note about the CIMB Classic. I do not plan on covering this event, or any "Silly Season" events to the degree I cover full-field events. I recognize that this is a PGA TOUR sanctioned event, but the real drama this time of year is the final PGA TOUR full-field event in Disney in a few weeks and the three stages of Q School.

If you are looking for power rankings, I'll readily refer to you my friend Rob Bolton's on the TOUR's website. http://www.pgatour.com/2012/tournaments/r494/10/22/power-rankings/index.html I have no doubt that Rob has hours of preparation leading up to his picks.

I've also fielded a few questions as to if I would be covering European Tour events from a power rankings and odds perspective. I am the first to admit that my knowledge of European Tour players and courses are only slightly better than average, and there are many other outlets that are much better equipped to prepare serious gamers and punters on all matters Euro Tour.

I enjoy following the European Tour and various Australian and South American tournaments via the Golf Channel during the coming months, but am not equipped to tip them.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

The McGladrey Classic - Wrap Up

If you skipped watching golf on Sunday for the NFL, or anything else, you missed Tommy Gainey throwing up a final-round 60 to win The McGladrey Classic. The tournament was supposed to be won by Sea Island elder Davis Love III or Jim Furyk, but Gainey stole the show. He had a putt of just inside 20 feet on the final green to post a 59.

Gainey is a character I've paid close attention to since his debut as a rookie on the PGA TOUR in 2008 for several reasons. The biggest is because we are from the same home state. As some of you may know, up until this blog took off and I became affiliated with Rotoworld, I also penned a blog specifically aimed at covering golfers with ties to the state of South Carolina. It's with that background that I'll share some thoughts on "Two Gloves" big win.
  • Let me start by saying that I'm very happy for Gainey and what he represents. I love a sport that allows for a guy to earn his way, as golf does. There are many players with greater skill sets, but he found a way to get it done and join an elite group of golfers that own a win on golf's biggest stage.
  • I don't care that he participated in The Big Break. I've never watched any of the episodes from either season in which he participated.
  • If he didn't already, he now carries the banner for the journeymen and grinders on the PGA TOUR. While he received many tweets of congratulations, most of them were from guys in similar career situations. Granted, there is the Rickie Fowler congrats out there, but you see more from guys like Tommy Biershenk, William McGirt and Kyle Thompson. That leads me to the next point.
  • I wonder if some of the "blue bloods" take issue with a guy like Gainey? Is their a faction of players who grew up playing junior golf with the perfect swings, country club lifestyles and high profile resumes that aren't happy to see Two Gloves with a two year exemption on the biggest stage in golf? I hope not, but I wouldn't necessarily bet against it.
  • It's not a surprise that his first win came by posting a score early. In fact, that's the easiest way for most people to get their first win. That's not a knock on Gainey. At this point, I don't see Jim Furyk winning in a fashion other than posting a score several groups ahead of the lead, as he clearly can't do it from the final pairing. He's proven that in four stroke-play events and a Ryder Cup this year.
  • For you gamers and punters, Gainey's a streaky player, but if the stars look like they may align and the price is right he's worth a solid look. He now owns a win, a runner up and five third-place finishes in 105 starts. That means about 6% of his starts have left him in the top 3, despite making less than 50% of his cuts. He's especially dangerous in fields that aren't the strongest where low numbers are required.
So raise a glass to Two Gloves, and let's see what the final event of 2012 will bring. Heck, he might go back-to-back. He was runner-up to DL3 out of nowhere at the Children's Miracle Network Classic in 2008.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The McGladrey Classic - Odds and Games

With the McGladrey Classic growing nearer by the minute, it's time to take a look at the odds and other games.

Batting leadoff in the betting is Jim Furyk at 12/1. Anyone else see the problem with Furyk standing on the 16th tee with anything less than a two-stroke lead? Immediately following Furyk are Zach Johnson (14/1) and Jason Day (16/1). While one can debate who's a better value between Johnson and Day, they are both better than Furyk. (Here's a link to the current odds http://sports.ladbrokes.com/en-gb/Golf/McGladrey-ClassicGolf/McGladrey-Classic-t210005670)

Here are three solid values and a long shot:
  • 33/1 - Jeff Overton - He had a top 10 in last year's McGladrey Classic and is coming off a top 10 in the Frys.com Open. Day's never played this event, but Furyk and Johnson both have and neither own a top 10. Overton does.
  • 50/1 - Ben Curtis - Curtis is two-for-two in cashing paychecks in this event and coming off a T22 at the Frys.com Open. He also has strong stat sheet for this event, ranking inside the top 20 in GIR, Strokes Gained-Putting and Driving Accuracy. His statistical weakness is driving distance (184th) and his worst scoring holes are par 5s (148th in par 5 birdie or better), which is fine on Sea Island because distance is secondary and there are only two par 5s.
  • 80/1 - Ken Duke - This almost feels like a sucker bet. He's 16th in par 4 birdie or better, which is huge given there are 12 of them. He's accurate off the tee (46th in DA) and solid with the flat stick (30th in SGP). He played this event in 2010 and tied for 15th.
  • 125/1 - David Mathis - He tied for 15th here last year and is 54th in par 4 birdie or better leaders, while ranking outside the top 180 in par 3 and par 5 birdie average. He's made the cut in just 11 of 27 events, but seven of those ended in top 25s. That said, when he's comfortable on a course he performs very well.
Golf Channel game:
  • Group 1 - Jason Day
  • Group 2 - Ken Duke
  • Group 3 - Billy Horschel
  • Group 4 - Nathan Green
I'd encourage anyone to take a look at the BuzzDraft games this week, as there are solid opportunities to cash in the feature game. If you have questions on the game, feel free to shoot me an email at thegolfaficionado@gmail.com. If you sign up, use Promo Code: RotoRyan or TGAGolf20.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Q School - First Stage Pre-Tournament Notes

Starting tomorrow morning, the first stage of PGA TOUR Q School will get underway in five venues across the United States. An additional eight other sites will take place next week. I would be remiss not to offer some insight into the start of thousands of professional’s quest for one of 25 PGA TOUR cards. (Technically, the first stage of Q School was actually a pre-qualifier that has already taken place across eight sites about a month ago.)
While I doubt many of you know, or remember, I began this blog almost a year ago at the outset of the Final State of Q School in November. This is a journey I enjoy following very much. In what I consider to be unfortunate, this is the last time the multi-stage journey of Q School will result in a trip to the PGA TOUR, as next year’s Q School will serve as a path to the Web.com Tour.
The first stage of Q School will offer names familiar to the avid golf fan. While there are numerous categories for exemptions into the second or third stage, almost everyone who has played the PGA TOUR prior to this year and made less than 50 cuts will be relegated to first stage. Also, all those on the Web.com Tour who fail to finish inside the top 60 on the money list will tee it up in one of the eight venues next week in the continuation of the first stage.
Point being, those playing in the first stage of Q School are really good. Some have played alongside Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson on the PGA TOUR, but have failed to find the consistency needed to maintain that standing. I would compare Q School’s first stage to a Hooters Tour or Gateway Tour event, where the top 20 (give or take) challengers will move on to the second stage. Think about that for a minute. All the time a guy wins a mini-tour event one week and finishes 32nd the next week. If that 32nd came at Q School; he’s back to the mini tours.
Tomorrow’s tee times are comprised primarily of mini-tour players, since the final full-field Web.com Tour event of the season takes place this week and offers a chance for those outside the top 60 on the money list to move inside, thus exempting themselves from the first stage.
A few names you may recognize:
Grasslands G&CC –David Branshaw and Sal Spallone
Irish Creek – Mike Van Sickle (golf writer Gary Van Sickle’s son)
Lantana GC – David Lutterus, Will Strickler and Brian Vranesh
Dayton Valley GC – Wil Collins and Tony Finau
Classic Club – Nick Dougherty, Won Joon Lee and Dave Schultz
Lake Caroline – Angel Cabrera (the son I assume), Brock Mulder and Anthony Rodriguez

Expect to see many more recognizable names than this in next week’s fields.
The interesting thing about the first stage of Q School is that there is no tangible reward for advancing. A tee time in second stage doesn’t gain any status on any tour. So, while the pressure is massive in the first stage, it doesn’t match what will be on the line in the second stage.
For some of those that fail to advance from the first stage, it will be time to give up the dream and find a “real” job. For others, it will be back to their home club to begin putting the pieces back together to prepare for various winter tours.
Too bad it’s not on television. That would be true reality T.V.

The McGladrey Classic - Preview and Power Ranking

The Fall Series departs the West Coast and heads to Sea Island, Georgia for The McGladrey Classic to be contested on the Seaside Course at Sea Island Golf Club. United States Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III is the dean of Sea Island and will be part of the field. This marks the third time in as many years the TOUR has headed to Georgia late in the Fall Series, with Heath Slocum and Ben Crane winning the first two events.
Here’s what you need to know about the course:
·         It’s a par 70 layout with two par 5s and 12 par 4s. One of the par 5s in particular yields a high number of birdies, so identifying a guy that gets his scoring done by feasting on par 5s isn’t the best strategy, as there will only be one par 5 where he can stand out relative to the field. Stick to guys that score well on the par 4s.
·         The course is close enough to the water that wind can be a factor. In the first two editions of this tournament, we saw calm winds one week and gusts in the mid 20s the other. This week, winds are predicted to hang around the 8-12 MPH range.
·         There is an interesting mix of traditionally good ball-strikers and solid putters atop the previous two leaderboards. When looking at the past statistics of this course, what doesn’t seem to matter is distance off the tee.

Additional information:
·         With just two trips to the Seaside Course, it’s still hard to peg a “type” for the course. What does seem to hold true, is the crème of the field rising near the top. While this isn’t a strong field, in the past names like Webb Simpson and Bill Haas have joined Slocum and Crane high on the board.
·         That said, keep an eye on a guy like Jim Furyk or Zach Johnson this week. Both are solid in the putting and driving accuracy categories and will benefit from the lack of importance of length. Furyk enters the week a “wounded” golfer coming off of a disappointing Ryder Cup performance, and likely has something to prove.
·         We hope to duplicate our success of last week’s Power Rankings this week. While we missed on Bud Cauley in the first position, we had Jonas Blixt in the second spot. As you likely know, he went on to hoist his first trophy. The third and fourth members of our rankings (Jimmy Walker and Jeff Overton) each finished inside the top 10.

Without further delay, here’s this week’s Dandy Dozen Power Rankings:
  1. Zach Johnson – It’s a home game for the Sea Island resident, and he has the correct splits to put together a solid week. He also tied for 12th in 2010, though he missed the cut in 2011. Johnson returns to action for the first time since the Ryder Cup, but his penchant for splitting fairways, smooth putting and scoring well on par 4s all set up well for him.
  2. Jeff Overton – He notched his fourth top 10 of the season last week and returns to the site of last year’s tie for sixth. That means he earns a check mark for form and history.  He has a good iron game and putter, while scoring very well on par 4s.
  3. Jason Day – Day is an example of the crème of the field. He ranks very high in putting and par-4 stats, but his numbers tee-to-green aren’t quite as good. He finished fourth at the Justin Timberlake just eight days ago. He could be a guy to watch if the weather gets a little challenging.
  4. Billy Horschel – Horschel had a chance to win at the Frys.com through 36 holes, but had a very disappointing weekend. It probably had as much to do with nerves as form, and he posted a T20 in last year’s trip to the Seaside Course after contending for parts of the week. He just has to put four rounds together instead of two or three.  Ball-striking splits look good for the week, but the flat stick will be the question.
  5. Ken Duke – Duke’s had a very nice year and found a T36 at the Justin Timberlake a little over a week ago after a semi-long layoff.  He tied for 15th in 2010 before skipping last year, and has a game that should suit this layout well.
  6. Jim Furyk – Furyk wouldn’t be playing this week if he didn’t think he had something to prove.  He tied for 11th last season, proving that this layout is to his liking. Put the stats aside on this one (which are favorable, by the way), this is a human psychology experiment. We saw Vijay almost pull it off last week, so why not another veteran this week? If he’s got a two-stroke lead on the 16th tee, expect drama.
  7. Jerry Kelly – Kelly reminds me of a safer version of last week’s Tim Petrovic. (Petrovic had made two middle-of-the-pack finishes at CordeValle before tying for second this season.)  He improved on a T33 in 2010 with a T20 in 2011 in last year’s trip to Sea Island. He tied for 29th at last week’s Frys.com Open, closing with a 1-over-par 72 after three rounds in the 60s. He is very straight off the tee and is an average iron player. If he has any success with the putter, he could be the story.
  8. Jonas Blixt – His stats warrant him a little higher than this, as does his current form. Let’s be real. Did you see his entourage partying with him on the 18th green yesterday evening? He probably won’t be fully rested and prepared for his first trip to Sea Island if you get my drift. If for some reason he is, he’s a very good fit again this week.
  9. Charles Howell III – If there’s anything more scary that pegging Overton second, it’s putting CH3 anywhere in rankings not named the Sony Open. He played pretty well last week, but faded down the stretch as a member of the final threesome. His history here is solid, with a T6 in 2010 backed up by a T33 last season.
  10. Ben Curtis – Curtis messed around and grabbed a top 25 at the Frys.com Open last week. He also has a T15 and a T48 in two trips to Sea Island, but is playing much better golf than he did in either of the past two seasons. He is excellent in driving accuracy, GIR and SGP. We’ll see if he can put it all together.
  11. Ben Crane – He is the defending champ, but his health is a question after pulling out of the Frys.com Open citing a back injury just before his tee time. He’s a great putter, but an average ball-striker. This one might come down to his health. (Bad-beat story……I took Crane over Singh in my BuzzDraft feature game last week in a virtual coin-flip and didn’t have time to account for the Crane W/D, as it happened after the first group had already teed off. Had I taken Singh, I would have won first prize, as I also had Blixt and Petrovic. Needless to say, I probably won’t be taking Crane this week in my BuzzDraft game.)
  12. David Toms – Short, but down the middle. A little hard to call, as he tied for third in 2010, but missed the cut last year. I would assume that could have been weather related. He’s a decent putter and decent scrambler as well.
Next 5: de Jonge, English, Rocha, R.H. Lee, B. Harman
Check back tomorrow for a peek at the odds and various gaming formats.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Frys.com Open - Odds and Games

On the heels of our Frys.com preview and power rankings, we will take a peek at the odds and several of the games still being played. Leading off the bets at 14/1 are Ernie Els and Vijay Singh http://sports.ladbrokes.com/en-gb/Golf/Frys.com-OpenGolf/Frys.com-Open-t210003890.

Here are three values and a long shot worth your attention:
  • 20/1 - Bud Cauley - He was third here last year and has about as good of a course history as anyone, considering there are just two events as a litmus at CordeValle Golf Club. It will likely come down to his putter and his ability to score on the par 5s.
  • 33/1 - Jeff Overton = He would make for a first-time winner, but his form has been steady of late and he scores well in both par 4 and par 5 birdie average. He also has a nice mix of GIR and Strokes Gained-Putting.
  • 66/1 - Richard H. Lee - Lee has been racking up high finishes of late, with his first top 10 falling last week. He's solid in many major statistical categories, and is reported to have played a college tournament at CordeValle. He also used one of his off weeks during the Playoffs to tie for second in a Web.com Tour event.
  • Long shot - 150/1 - Scott Brown - The rookie has done very well in opposite-field events, and while this is technically a full field it isn't a strong field.
Golf Channel Game:
  • Group 1 - Bud Cauley
  • Group 2 - Jonas Blixt
  • Group 3 - Richard H. Lee
  • Group 4 - Vaughn Taylor
This week's BuzzDraft feature is a 29 player Group play event with a $500 pot. If you have specific questions, shoot me an email and I'll be glad to fill you in.

Best of luck!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Frys.com Open - Preview and Power Ranking

The Frys.com Open is set to be contested at CordeValle Golf Club San Martin, California this week, and it’s shaping up to be a tough one to handicap.

While the tournament has been in existence since Mike Weir’s win in 2007, this is just the third trip to CordeValle. The course seems to lean towards putting over ball-striking, but there are examples of solid strikers populating the leaderboard. The 2012 Official Scorecard shows the course as playing to 7,368 par 71, including three par 5s.

This is one of the weaker fields we’ve seen in an event that isn’t opposite field. In fact, other than 2010 champion Rocco Mediate, only two other players from the 2010 top 12 are even in the field (Tim Clark and Ryuji Imada were both T6). Ernie Els is the class of the field, and finished T4 in 2011.

Here are some observations I’ve come across while doing my research:

  • Solid ball-strikers who perform well here tend to feast on the par 5s.
  • Guys who are known for putting do better on the par 4s.
  • The pivotal hole for the tournament is the par-4 17th, which routinely sees eagles. Briny Baird eagled the hole in the last two rounds in 2011 before falling short to Bryce Molder in a playoff.
  • Most guys in the field tend to hit at least 12 to 13 GIR in a round. To stand out, a guy needs to hit 15 in a round. That means an average iron player could still have 13 putts at birdie.
  • Bryce Molder won here in 2011 after missing the cut in 2010. Rocco Mediate won in 2010 and then T67 in his defense. Good luck at using past records as a predictor of success.
In short, this is what you get in the Fall Series. With very few exceptions, most of the players in these fields are playing to improve their spot on the money list (top 150, top 125, top 70, and top 30). If they had the kind of success that would easily translate to solid choices for games or bets, they wouldn’t need to play these events.

Don’t be surprised to see a repeat of The Greenbrier this week, where Ted Potter Jr., Troy Kelly and Charlie Beljan battled it out down the stretch.

That said, here is this week’s Dandy Dozen:

  1. Bud Cauley – While he only recorded one top 10 in three Playoff starts and missed the cut in the PGA, he’s done extremely well in his last three events with less than stellar fields. He finished fourth at the True South Classic, T4 at the RBC Canadian Open and third at the Wyndham Championship.  Add to that, he was third here in 2011. I don’t see a better all-around option.
  2. Jonas Blixt – When in doubt, go with form. Blixt finished third at last week’s JT Shriners and is an excellent putter, ranking third in Strokes Gained behind Brandt Snedeker and Luke Donald. I wish he were better than 134th in GIR but, as I said above, he should still likely see 12 to 13 birdie putts on CordeValle.
  3. Jeff Overton – This is what I mean about a field lacking depth. Overton is scary this high up the board, and I’ve had gamers comment before that he’s burned them too many times to be trusted. True. Find me a better fit. He’s coming off a T13 at the JT Shriners and has one of the better combinations of GIR and Strokes Gained-Putting in the field. He’s also 37th in the all-around. While I haven’t done the math, I doubt there are many more in the field that are higher in that category.
  4. Jimmy Walker – Walker missed the cut at CordeValle in his only attempt in 2010, but he also had a terrible record at TPC Summerlin before grabbing a T10 their despite a final-round 73. He’s a smooth putter (22nd SGP) and an average iron player (106th in GIR), and if I had my choice I’d prefer that mix to the opposite.
  5. Bryce Molder – He’s the defending champ, and while they rarely win in any tournament, he has as decent of a chance as any. He’s not trending well, following up a 67th at the BMW Championship with a surprising missed cut at last week’s stop.  That said, he’s the level of player that wins these Fall Series events and can’t be written off.
  6. Ernie Els  - The Big Easy has been on an extended British Open hangover, and who can blame him. He is the class of the field, so if he plays his “B” game he’ll have a chance. The key for Els will be taking advantage of the par 5s and avoiding careless bogeys, including 3-putts. He finished T4 here last year.
  7. Ben Crane – I hate his form and he missed the cut here in his only attempt (at this course) last year. So why Crane? He is a perfect fit from a statistical standpoint this week. Keep in mind, last year’s winner missed the cut in 2010.
  8. David Hearn – The Canadian has been an ATM most of the season, making the cut in 14 of his last 16 starts, including a boring T30 last week.  He reminds me a little of Brendon de Jonge, in that he makes some birdies early in the week but tends to fade on the weekends, as evident by his 121st ranking in third-round scoring average.  At 49th in GIR and 52nd in SGP, he’s a perfect blend if he can put it together.
  9. Josh Teater – He’s been playing some sneaky-solid golf lately. His T22 at the JT Shriners marked his fifth top 25 in his last seven starts with no missed cuts in that stretch.  I’m scared about his 145th SGP number, but his form is too good to pass up in this field.
  10. Billy Horschel – Horschel tied for seventh last year and is in good form headed into the week. He’s made 12 of 14 cuts on the PGA TOUR this year, including a third in the True South Classic. He dropped down to the Web.com Tour for the Boise Open, where he tied for seventh in September. At 18th in GIR and 95th in SGP, he could be poised for a break-out week.
  11. Richard H. Lee – He’s been hot lately. He’s made his last four cuts and finished inside the top 14 in his last three, culminating with his first top 10 last week. He’s 19th in GIR and 68th in SGP, so look out! He also dropped down to play the Boise Open on the Web.com Tour and tied for second.
  12. Luke Guthrie – The guy is winning everything on the Web.com Tour. He’s also three-for-three in PGA TOUR cuts. He’s similar to Bud Cauley last year, in that he began the 2012 season still in college at Illinois, much like Cauley was at Alabama to start 2011.

No “next 5” this week. It was all I could do to come up with 12.

Check back tomorrow and we’ll take a look at some games and odds.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Miccosukee Championship - Monday Qualifier

By now, you know the drill. Here is the Monday qualifier info for the Miccosukee Championship Monday qualifier for the next to last Web.com Tour full-field event.

http://www.sfpgagolf.com/tour-qualifiers/miccosukee-open-qualifier/

Best of luck to all!

Frys.com Open - Monday Qualifier

The final four spots for the Frys.com Open will be decided in a Monday qualifier at the Bayonet and Black Horse Course - Bayonet Course. Click below for a link to the info for the qualifier.

http://ncpga.bluegolf.com/bluegolf/ncpga12/event/ncpga1266/index.htm

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Justin Timberlake - Power Rankings / Odds / Fantasy Preview

With the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospital for Children Open sneaking up quickly, I've compiled the weekly power rankings, taken a look at the odds and prepared a strategy for the Golf Channel and BuzzDraft games.

There are a number of factors in play this week for which we don't usually have to account. For starters, it's hard to get a read for who's hot coming in because nobody in the field played last week, except for the few who competed on the Web.com Tour. I don't have to tell you that if they competed on the Web.com Tour, they are searching for their game and need to be avoided. Ryan Moore is the closest thing to hot, as he is coming off a T3 at the TOUR Championship two weeks ago.

A number of the higher profile names in the field like Nick Watney, Robert Garrigus and Kyle Stanley spent parts of their regular season chasing things like Ryder Cup berths and FedExCup championships. With less on the line, they could free up and play really well, or lose interest. While those guys may be free, there are others trying to hold on to their ranking inside the top 125 on the money list or sneak inside.

With that and yesterday's preview painting the picture, here is this week's Dandy Dozen:
  1. Scott Piercy - Everything about Piercy feels right this week. For starters, he's played some really good golf this year, including a win at the Canadian Open. He also shot a 17-under to win that week after firing an 18-under in a third-place effort two weeks prior at TPC Deere Run. Taking it low is important this week, so it's good to know he can. He tied for 15th in the TOUR Championship two weeks ago, which is his best finish since his win. Add to all of that, he was T10 in this tourney last year and is a Las Vegas native and resident.
  2. Robert Garrigus - He's racked up some decent finishes here including a T3 in 2007 and a T16 last year. He's solid on the par breaker (9th) and birdie average (10th) stats, as well as all major ball-striking stats with the exception of driving accuracy; which we mentioned yesterday is irrelevant at TPC Summerlin.
  3. Ryan Moore - It's a surprise that he missed the cut here last year, but as we mentioned above his form is as good as anyone's. He finished tied for seventh in 2009, so he's had some success at the course. I'm not sure if it's good or bad, but this is a home game for the Las Vegas resident.
  4. Nick Watney - Watney should be all over everyone's radar this week, finishing runner up last year and posting a T6 in 2010. The putter is what tends to hold Watney back when he struggles, but he hasn't had problems making birdies at this course in the recent past. He figures to have been one of, if not the first man left off the Ryder Cup team. He's playing this week for one reason, and that is to win. Okay, maybe two reasons. He's our third Las Vegas resident in the top four, and frequently works with Butch Harmon in Vegas.
  5. Ryan Palmer - He scares me because he is predictably unpredictable. As evidence, he tied for eighth in 2010 after missing the cut the prior year. I love his stats for this course. He's long (16th in driving distance), a good putter (22nd in Strokes Gained) but is just average with the irons (99th in GIR). He's also crooked off the tee, which works out here.
  6. Kyle Stanley - I'm very interested in how he plays this week. We know the course fits him (T10 last year and T27 in 2009), but we don't know where his head is. He woke up the morning after his Phoenix Open win with the Ryder Cup points lead. It may have freaked him out. He's playing this week with next to nothing on the line, which is why I want to see how he plays without any real pressure. While I'm not sure if he's officially relocated, he's spending a bunch of time in Arizona, and desert golf seems to fit him. He's an excellent ball-striker that should feast on Summerlin's par 5s.
  7. Charley Hoffman - See Ryan Palmer in terms of being hard to predict. He finished sixth in 2009 and T15 in '08. Everything about his stats line up. Oh, and guess what....another Vegas resident.
  8. J.B. Holmes - His history is basically a missed cut in 2009, but when you look at some of the past winner's, he fits the bill. He's a better all-around player than the Troy Matteson's of the world with similar strengths.
  9. Kevin Na - The defending champion is one of the better players in a semi-weak field, but really doesn't make sense when you look at what is normally a successful fit. He's a driving accuracy guy with a decent putter and not much length. The win isn't the only decent finish, as he has two other top 20s. Maybe it has to do with him being another Vegas resident.
  10. Tommy Gainey - This is the kind of tournament Gainey could use as a break through. He tends to be comfortable in birdie fests and tied for third here last year. He also can be a course horse, so he's worth watching.
  11. George McNeill - He's longer than his stats suggest, leading me to believe he sometimes sacrifices length for an attempt at accuracy. He won't have to do that this week. On top of being a past winner, he tied for second in 2009 and 14th in 2010.
  12. Troy Matteson - He's a past winner here and popped up at the John Deere, which is another birdie binge.
Next 5 - Chris Kirk, Ken Duke, David Hearn, William McGirt, Cameron Tringale

Odds:

You know the drill. Odds are current as of the writing of this blog and can be found here http://sports.ladbrokes.com/en-gb/Golf/Justin-Timberlake-Shriners-Hospitals-for-Children-OpenGolf/Justin-Timberlake-Shriners-Hospitals-for-Children-Open-t210004789.

Ryan Moore and Nick Watney share the place of betting favorite at 14/1, and with good reason. It's a fairly steep price for each, but here are three values I see.
  • Scott Piercy - 25/1 - Read above if you need a refresher as to why I'm high on him.
  • Charley Hoffman - 66/1 - Again, see above.
  • Tommy Gainey - 80/1 - Above
If you want a deep sleeper, consider D.J. Trahan at 150/1. He is a past runner up and also owns a T7 in 2009. He's incredibly hard to peg, but he tends to show up in a big way two to three times per year. He's only hit it big once this year, at the Phoenix Open. Both of his wins have come in birdie fests (True South Classic and the old Bob Hope). His putter makes him very risky, but forgiving fairways and large greens should leave the normally reliable ball-striker with less chances to screw up on and around the greens.

Golf Channel Game:
  • Group 1 - Piercy
  • Group 2 - Palmer
  • Group 3 - Hearn
  • Group 4 - Rolling the dice with Trahan
BuzzDraft:

I'll give you the three top names for each group. It doesn't look like the salary cap games are getting much play this week, so if you want a tip feel free to leave a comment or shoot me an email and I'll happily supply it.

Group 1 - Garrigus, Moore and Watney
Group 2 - Piercy, Stanley and V. Singh
Group 3 - Palmer, Jeff Overton and Johnson Wagner
Group 4 - Holmes, Hoffman and Jimmy Walker
Group 5 - Gainey, Matteson and Duke
Group 6 - McGirt, Hearn and Josh Teater
Group 7 - Greg Owen, Will Claxton and Daniel Summerhays
Group 8 - James Driscoll, Erik Compton and Richard H. Lee
Group 9 - Vaughn Taylor, Mark Anderson and Charlie Beljan
Group 10 - Nathan Green, Tommy Biershenk and Cameron Beckman

Best of luck this week!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospital for Children Open- Preview

While I'm still working on the power rankings for the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospital for Children Open (that's a really long tournament name), I thought I would offer a brief preview as to what I'm looking at when handicapping the field.

TPC Summerlin is a par 71, and is an easy course. The greens are large and missing the fairway generally doesn't prove to be that penal. Length is nice, but not a must. Point being, don't be scared off by a bomber who isn't all that accurate off the tee or a strong putter who struggles to find fairways.

When looking back to the first Las Vegas Invitational in 1983, there are some big names winning the event in the early days. Fuzzy Zoeller won the first one, and legends such as Greg Norman, Curtis Strange and Paul Azinger have all hoisted the trophy. More recently, Davis Love III, Tiger Woods and Jim Furyk joined the club.

As the calendar turned to the 2000's, the quality of champions has gone away from players with Hall of Fame resumes and more towards journeymen trying to make a name for themselves with some solid players mixed in. Billy Andrade (2000), Bob Estes (2001), Stuart Appleby (2003), Troy Matteson (2006), George McNeill (2007), Martin Laird (2009), Jonathan Byrd (2010) and Kevin Na (2011) are all winners that are established TOUR players with steady careers, but the casual golf fan may not recognize Phil Tataurangi (2002), Andre Stoltz (2004) and Wes Short Jr. (2005).

Matteson, McNeill, Laird and Byrd are all fairly similar players. They are all long enough off the tee, but in other tournaments may have to sacrifice length off the tee to find fairways. Without that as a worry at Summerlin, they could bomb it off the tee and play to the large greens. All are also streaky with the putter, with Byrd the best of the bunch over the long run.

Billy Andrade is one of the best putters to every play. Large greens mean more attempts for birdie with the flat stick. Stuart Appleby is a member of the elite 59 club (Greenbrier), so we know he can get hot and post low numbers.

This is the formula for the week:
  • Length is a good thing, and driving accuracy is fairly irrelevant.
  • A below-average ball-striker who is an excellent putter could pop up.
  • Favor a guy who can take it low.
  • Don't be surprised to see someone win this out of nowhere (think Ted Potter Jr. at Greenbrier). That could be even more likely being many of these guys haven't played on the PGA TOUR since the Wyndham Championship or The Barclays.
Check back tomorrow for the power rankings.


Neediest Kids Championship - Monday Qualifier

Below is a link to the results of the Neediest Kids Championship Monday qualifier for the final spots in this week's Web.com Tour event.

http://mapga.bluegolf.com/bluegolf/mapga12/event/mapga1210/index.htm

Congrats to the 14 qualifiers!

Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospital Open - Monday Qualifier

The Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospital for Children Open Monday qualifier is under way for the final four spots in this week's field. Below is a link to the results.

http://southwest.pga.com/index.cfm?menu=1580&openitem=1580&CFID=37446875&CFTOKEN=5ae3eb7a1f0bd9e2-D4046367-3048-769C-02EE59D4B58FEC1C

Best of luck to all!