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

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Waste Management Phoenix Open - Final Thoughts

The research for the Waste Management Phoenix Open is complete. Now it's time to sit back and hopefully reap the rewards of a steady week. Before I get to the one-and-done and two-and-done picks this week, I have a quick housekeeping note.

My original Yahoo! starting linuep of Dufner, Watney, Mahan and Fowler will remain for the first round. Of those, only Watney has an afternoon tee time. I mentioned earlier that I didn't see the morning wave as having quite as big of an advantage this week due to chilly temps in the morning. If the first round proves otherwise, we are in position to still adjust for the second.

This week's two-and-done pick was an easy one for me. I'm taking Rickie Fowler. You may remember he was our one-and-done last week, and after finishing the first round in dead last he rebounded to finish tied for sixth. That's back-to-back T6's to start the year ahead of a venue where he owns a runner-up finish. You don't have to look too far back to see a streaky-good string of tournaments last year where he went T10, win, T2 and T5 in a four-week span. This week could be the peak of a nice run.

For my one-and done, I basically labored over Hunter Mahan, Jason Dufner, Scott Piercy and Nick Watney.

I eliminated Dufner because there are too many other great options for him this year. He will contend for my attention at Colonial, HP Byron Nelson, New Orleans and the U.S. Open at Merion. I doubt he'll still be available for the PGA Championship, but that would be a thought as well. I love him this week, but I love him more in some of those.

Mahan's record in WGC's is great. I realize that he's a past champ at TPC Scottsdale, but ultimately I see myself burning him in a WGC....maybe Bridgestone.

Piercy missed the cut at the Farmers last week, but that really doesn't scare me given he had top 15s at the HTOC and Sony. It actually reminds me of 2009, when he had two top 20s ahead of this tournament and tied for sixth, with a missed cut at Torrey Pines the week following. (The tournament had a different spot in the lineup that year.) I almost pulled the trigger on him, but settled on Watney.

I almost held out Watney in favor of Piercy for some of the same reasons as Mahan. Watney is excellent at Doral (WGC-Cadillac Championship), but so are others including Matt Kuchar. He is also very good at Congressional. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if he was my two-and-done both of those weeks. I just can't pass on a guy that's first two starts of the year were a T13 and a T4 on a course where he tied for fifth the last time he played (2011) the week after a T6 at the Farmers. I have to believe that he's got a real shot to win it this week.

I should also mention that I'm saving Snedeker for a likely major. Probably the Masters or U.S. Open.

There are still a few spots left in our BuzzDraft game, so hop in if you're feeling lucky.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Waste Management Phoenix Open - BuzzDraft and other thoughts

We hit most of the meat and potatoes in regards to the Waste Management Phoenix Open with our power rankings, Yahoo! and Golf Channel fantasy preview. For today, that leaves BuzzDraft and any other thoughts.

We filled out two games last week, with Tiger's Wood returning to the winner's circle with a massive 908-point haul in the first game while Ghin and Juice took second. In the second game, my RotoRyan2 team hopped in the winner's circle with 736 points followed by the Chili Dippers, RotoRyan, Tom Selleck Chest Hair, Corphey and KYech.

I don't know the details of the first game that filled up, but I know the game I was in (twice) was ravaged by the very late W/D of Bubba Watson. Two things worth mentioning. First, is once the game is locked, changes can't be made. This is the first time I can remember a significant W/D very close to the deadline, so it is highly rare. Second, you have the option to put multiple teams in a game or play multiple games. I put in a second team about five minutes before the deadline just so the game wouldn't be canceled and thankfully it was the winner.

Unfortunately I didn't notice any of our players cashing in the feature game. Basically if you didn't have Tiger in the feature, you had an uphill battle. 

If you want to hop in the BuzzDraft game with us, shoot me and email thegolfaficionado@gmail.com and I'll help you get set up.

I took a look at the weather for the first two rounds as it would relate to the Yahoo! format. It's going to be very cold early in the morning. So much so that there could be a frost delay on Thursday. The winds are expected to be light and variable all four rounds. I'm not sure that the early morning tee times hold their normal advantage due to the chilly temps. I'm going to sit tight and let my team play out as is.

I'll be back tomorrow to discuss one-and-done options. Until then, best of luck!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Waste Management Phoenix Open - Power Rankings and Fantasy

I don't know about you, but I'm getting more than a little tired of Monday (or Tuesday) finishes. With Tiger Woods rocking the Farmers Insurance Open to sleep despite his best attempts to cough it up down the stretch, we now begin to shift our attention to the Waste Management Phoenix Open. Before we do, there are a couple of lessons to learn from Torrey Pines.

  1. Tiger's form doesn't matter leading into certain courses. If we've learned anything from this week, it's not to let form talk us out of playing him at Bay Hill, Muirfield Village and Congressional no matter what.
  2. I tweeted this Sunday, but a handful of guys that I had "yellow flagged" internally are now good to go. Steve Marino and Lucas Glover are fine coming off their injuries and are good to play when course and form match. I'm no longer worried about Nick Watney's switch to Nike. I'm also warming up to Bill Haas and Hunter Mahan again. 
  3. Woods aside, Snedeker is the other must play at Torrey. In retrospect my two biggest mistakes of the week were being over concerned about Snedeker's schedule and Woods' play at Abu Dhabi. I ignored the obvious, thus breaking rule #1.
Wounds licked. 

Here we go with this week's power ranks:

  1. Nick Watney - He's 6/7 in this event with three top 25s and a T5 in 2011. Subsequently, that T5 came after a T6 at the Farmers. Last week's T4 comes after a T13 to start the year at the HTOC, so the form is solid. There are others with a a better record at TPC Scottsdale and others with a little better form coming in, but none that combine the two as well as Watney.
  2. Jason Dufner - If Watney is 1, then Dufner is 1A. Dufner has a runner-up in 2011 and a T8 in 2012. Though he's been globetrotting, he's finished inside the top 20 in his last eight starts worldwide. I'm concerned about his travel, but I'm learning my lesson from last week. He's the obvious. I'm not ignoring him.
  3. Rickie Fowler - After starting the week tied for last with a 77 at the Farmers, Fowler battled all the way back to a tie for sixth. With respect to Woods, that may have been the most impressive feat of the week. He's 4/4 in this event with a runner-up in 2010 and 11 of his last 12 rounds below par.
  4. Hunter Mahan - After a concerning T26 at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions to start the year, he looked better with a T16 at the Farmers. It should have been a little better, but he's starting to trend. He's 5/6 at TPC Scottsdale with a win and a T9 included.
  5. Bubba Watson - Anyone else bitten hard by Bubba's late W/D last week? Well, assuming he plays this week, he's never shot a round over par in six starts here. He's missed the cut just once, and owns two top 10s. He also fits the mold of a J.B. Holmes and Kyle Stanley, where overpowering the golf course helps.
  6. Brandt Snedeker - He's not nearly the obvious pick that he was last week, but check this out. In 15 rounds, his second worst round is 3-under. He's playing out of his mind, with a third and a T2. The only thing left for him to do is win. Spoiler alert, but I'm probably saving my one-and-done for Sneds for a major. Virtually identical to Bubba, he's 5/6 with three top 25s and two top 10s.
  7. Phil Mickelson - Like we learned with Tiger last week, you can't necessarily count Phil out based on form. He has two wins, a runner-up and nine top 10s here, and the Arizona State product will have the crowd on his side.
  8. Charles Howell III - I think he's beginning to run out of gas, but three top 10s and two top threes in three starts deserves our attention. He's 9/11 here with five top 25s and a T4 in 2010. He's screaming let down, but those that have continued to ride him thus far have been rewarded.
  9. J.B. Holmes - This is a horses for courses pick. He's won here twice and also has a T5. Ironically, he's missed the cut just twice and both of those were in his title defenses. He missed the cut last week, but that wasn't a huge surprise at Torrey Pines given his course history.
  10. Vijay Singh - He might have the best course history here with two wins, six top 10s and 11 top 25s in 14 starts. He's missed just one cut. He also tied for 20th at the Sony, making him a solid candidate for a top 25 this week, with a shot at a top 10.
  11. Keegan Bradley - I'd rate his form as good, but not great. That said, he was T15 in his only start here last year. I prefer him on tougher courses, but he's not at all a bad play this week. Either way, we will learn a lot about him and his fit on TPC Scottsdale this week.
  12. Brian Gay - He won in his last start and has cashed in 9/11 starts with four top 25s and a top 10. I like that he's coming off a brief break, and expect a fifth top 25 this week.
The next 5 - John Rollins, Aaron Baddeley, Mark Wilson, Scott Piercy and Bo Van Pelt.

Off to Fantasy Land!

I won't bore you with too many details of my team last week because, let's face it, you care about yours. Not mine. Last week was about as big of a whiff as I could suffer, dropping to the 82nd percentile. Here we go with this week's team.
  • A-List - Jason Dufner likely starting with Brandt Snedeker likely on the bench. We're going safe this week.
  • B-List - Mahan and Watney likely starting with Keegan Bradley and Baddeley on the bench. 
  • C-List - Fowler likely starting with Gay on the bench.
I may switch things up if AM/PM tee times give another obvious choice. I'll check the wind forecasts before I pull the trigger on any changes. There are years where the wind is more of a factor than others.

Golf Channel:
  • Group 1 - Jason Dufner
  • Group 2 - Marc Leishman
  • Group 3 - Charles Howell III 
  • Group 4 - Brian Gay
In the Golf Channel game, we also have to make selections for the Omega Dubai Desert Classic. Normal disclaimer, I don't claim to follow the European Tour with nearly the vigor of the PGA TOUR, so follow my advice here at your own peril.
  • Group 1 - Lee Westwood
  • Group 2 - Rafael Cabrera-Bello
  • Group 3 - Peter Lawrie
  • Group 4 - Johan Edfors
We'll be back tomorrow to check in on BuzzDraft and tie up other loose ends.

Best of luck to all!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Waste Management Phoenix Open - Preview

You remember the Waste Management Phoenix Open. Or, at least you remember the iconic 16th hole. The par 3 is surrounded by sky boxes and turns into the only true stadium in golf. Players are cheered or jeered based on the outcome of a 9-iron. The later in the day after more the spirits are consumed, the stronger the reaction.

When I'm reminded of TPC Scottsdale, I think of the final four holes as a unique sprint to the finish in what has become one of the most memorable tournaments on the schedule. The 15th is a par 5 that is reachable by many with an accurate drive, but the approach is essentially to an island green. We've hit on the 16th. The 17th is a driveable par 4 that features water left and long, but multiple other bail out opportunities. The 18th is a long finishing par 4 with water left, but recent winner's and bombers J.B. Holmes and Kyle Stanley have just flew it over the water and taken it out of play all together.

All of that to point out that it isn't out of the question for a chaser to play the final four holes in 4-under, considering two eagle opportunities, to come from behind and steal a win. Though the course plays to a par 71 (7,216 yards) and offers three par 5s, the 17th essentially acts as a fourth scoring opportunity along the lines of a par 5. Knowing all of this, maybe it's not surprising that lengthy players fare well on this track, but there are also numerous examples of precision specialists bringing home the hardware. Here is a list of winners and their scores since 2000.

  • 2000 - Tom Lehman (14-under 270)
  • 2001 - Mark Calcavecchia (28-under 256) Wow.
  • 2002 - Chris DiMarco (17-under 267)
  • 2003 - Vijay Singh (23-under 261)
  • 2004 - Jonathan Kaye (18-under 266)
  • 2005 - Phil Mickelson (17-under 267)
  • 2006 - J.B. Holmes (21-under 263)
  • 2007 - Aaron Baddeley (21-under 263)
  • 2008 - J.B. Holmes (14-under 270)
  • 2009 - Kenny Perry (14-under 270)
  • 2010 - Hunter Mahan (16-under 268)
  • 2011 - Mark Wilson (18-under 266)
  • 2012 - Kyle Stanley (15-under 269)
As we research, we will take a close look at players with a strong history at this event, as well as those with a solid trend. Looking at this list of past champions, not many of them are actually trending all that well. That could make this a bit of a crap shoot.

We will be back with our power rankings tomorrow.

Best of luck to all! 

Waste Management Phoenix Open - Monday Qualifier

The Monday Qualifier for the Waste Management Phoenix Open will be one of the strongest of the season. With almost none of the Web.com Tour and Q School grads gaining entry into the field by their number, the strength of the field in the qualifier rivals that of an opposite-field event and exceeds that of a Web.com Tour event.

While this one's a little tough to link up directly, here's a link to the section that hosts the qualifier http://southwest.pga.com/home/. The tee times are already up.

Worth noting, a number of players will attempt to finish their final round of the Farmers Insurance Open and then try and make it in time to play a qualifier later that afternoon. While W/D's are imminent, expect several to pull double duty.

Best of luck to all!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Farmers Insurance Open - Round 1

Round 1 of the Farmers Insurance Open is in the books, and it was a busy day at Torrey Pines. It started with the surprising withdrawal of Bubba Watson due to flu-like symptoms. If that presented a problem for your fantasy plans, you weren't alone. Maybe I missed it, but as much as Bubba tweets it would have been nice for a Wednesday night heads up that he was struggling!

I always take a first round, and even a 36-hole, leaderboard with a grain of salt. This isn't unique to me, but I subscribe to the theory that a tournament can't be won in the first round. It can be lost. It's also common to refer to the third round of a tournament as "moving day," but I have my own name for each day. It's a little corny, but on days like today I remind myself of those days. Today was "don't shoot yourself out of the tournament day." The second round is "positioning day" and the final day is "money day." At least in my book.

I go into that tangent on what each day means because it's particularly relevant when you have a split-venue tournament. Eight of the top 10 played the North Course. You don't learn much from a guy who shot a 4-under-par 68 on the North today, other than he kept pace with his wave of players. You also can't panic about a guy that shot a 73 on the South Course today, because tomorrow could bring a 64 on the North.

That's a verbose way of saying that we don't know all that much about this tournament yet. Here's what we think we know:

  • It's about to become a trend that Rickie Fowler can't play with Tiger Woods. He was one of three 77s today (all on the South) and is tied for dead last. Today's round forces you to go back and take another look at his 2012. Case in point, he entered the final round of the Memorial in the penultimate group paired with Tiger Woods after going T10, win, T2, T5 in his previous four tournaments and posted an 84. In retrospect, it may not have been the weight of the Ryder Cup that spoiled the second half of his season, but the haunting of that round. He would probably need a 65 to make the cut tomorrow, but he really has to shoot at least a 68 just to prove to himself that he belongs on the same course as TW. This also means we may have to start looking at Fowler's first and second round pairings before making a decision on his usage each week.
  • Mike Weir is a story to watch. His 66 was on the North Course, but he's playing the best he has in years of late. That's not saying much.
  • Charles Howell III and Scott Stallings both seem to be recovering nicely from their missed opportunity at Humana, opening one off the lead at 6-under.
  • Tiger (4-under) proved once again that he is a must-play on courses where he has some serious history, regardless of what his form the week before tells you. 
  • There is a quietly strong group of players who posted 3-under 69s on the South Course. A couple of these guys will probably fire 66s tomorrow and find themselves with a late tee time on Saturday. They include Lucas Glover, Nick Watney, Hunter Mahan, Bill Haas and John Senden. Joining Woods at 4-under on the South is Luke Guthrie. 
  • Play your guys on the North in the Yahoo! format.
  • Scott Langley had the highest round on the North Course with a 76. That's a good lesson in not making too big of a deal about one great week.
  • Not a great 72 for Lefty on the North.

The weather has proven unpredictable, so it's hard to pinpoint what a good score will be tomorrow. That said, I'd love anyone who gets to 8-under's chances on the weekend. I envision the lead being around 10 or 11-under and the cut hovering between 2 and 3-under. 

That's all for now.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Farmers Insurance Open - Final Thoughts

Decisions, decisions. Like I mentioned in my Monday Farmers Insurance Open power rankings post, there are a handful of really good options this week with very little separating them. Here are some final thoughts ahead of the tournament.

I’ve alluded to it before, but there really are some very strong correlations between players that perform well at the Farmers and players that perform well at Quail Hollow. It’s not just the top-tier players either. Trivia question; who was the third member of last year’s Rory McIlroy/Rickie Fowler playoff at Quail Hollow won by Fowler? D.A. Points. He’s a top-10 machine at Torrey Pines.

My one-and-done and two-and-done picks essentially came down to four people. Phil Mickelson, Scott Piercy, Bubba Watson and Rickie Fowler. I eliminated Tiger Woods because his form is still in question coming out of Abu Dhabi and there are other great spots to use him. I’m staying away from Snedeker because he didn’t perform to expectations last week, and he tends to do better when he’s sneaking up on people. As a defending champ, that won’t be the case this week. Both of these guys have excellent records and could easily prove me wrong.

My gut screams Mickelson this week. My gut often gets me in trouble. Lefty is very good on the par 5s at Torrey Pines, as you would expect, but he makes his share of bogeys. He’s had a little more press this week on matters other than golf for my liking, but he’s a pro. He can handle and compartmentalize that. He’s just not a safe pick. He had a similar result at the Humana in 2012 as he did this year and followed it up with a missed cut. Bottom line, I’m not taking him in the one or two-and-done. I’m probably going to be throwing something on Sunday afternoon if he wins for not listening to my gut.

Piercy has been captain consistent the past six months, and he is solid at Torrey. This makes sense, given his skill set. He’s long enough to attack the par 5s. He’s a great option.

Bubba is more than a little like Mickelson, but I’m a tad more comfortable with his form and recent history at Torrey. They have a similar top end this week, but Bubba feels just a little less risky on the bottom end. I’m not burning Bubba’s one-and-done yet, but I am going to play him in my two-and-done.

That leaves Rickie. He’s never been outside the top 20 here in three tries. He’s started his season here twice, and the one time he didn’t and played at least one event before, he tied for fifth. He’s already played an event this year. He’s a So-Cal guy. He’s won at Quail Hollow. He doesn’t make that many bogeys on the South Course, but I wish he made a few more birdies on the par 5s. Rickie’s my one-and-done this week. His history here is very similar to his Quail Hollow history before that win.

Best of luck!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Farmers Insurance Open - Fantasy

With our preview and power rankings already filed, here we go with the games for the Farmers Insurance Open.

Golf Channel:

Once again, we have to select for the European Tour as well as the PGA TOUR this week. I'll throw out the same disclaimer as last week. I don't claim to be a student of the European Tour, so follow me at your peril. I will say that all four of my picks made the cut last week, and two were in the top 10.

Commercialbank Qatar Masters

  • Group 1 - Louis Oosthuizen
  • Group 2 - Victor Dubuisson
  • Group 3 - Keith Horne
  • Group 4 - David Horsey
Farmers Insurance Open
  • Group 1 - Phil Mickelson
  • Group 2 - Charles Howell III
  • Group 3 - John Rollins
  • Group 4 - Lucas Glover
The Golf Channel picks also publish weekly in Mike Glasscott's Rotoworld article. Check it out at Rotoworld.com


All of the starters represent who I will start in the first round. As you will see, it features players in the North Course at Torrey Pines heavily. Expect plenty of subs between the first and second rounds.
  • A-List - Bubba Watson starting with Phil on the bench. These are both North Course guys, but the meat was on the North on Thursday with the exception of Tiger. As a general rule, I like having Tiger on the bench in case he wins, but I'm not certain enough of his form to burn him for what could be just a Friday round. Also consider Snedeker.
  • B-List - Keegan Bradley and Dustin Johnson starting with Nick Watney and Lucas Glover on the bench. Johnson and Bradley are both playing the North on Thursday and the opposite is true of Glover and Watney. Glover is a bit of a throw in because I don't mind burning a start on him for just one round if that's how it works out. He's also got a decent history here and showed some signs of life at the Humana in his first tournament since August. The other three are obvious.
  • C-List - Stewart Cink starting with Scott Piercy on the bench. Also consider John Rollins and D.A. Points.
I want to stress that the Yahoo! group is not necessarily the best players in each group this week, but a utilization of the North Course when it makes sense. Glover and Cink both played well enough on the easy courses at the Humana and have enough history to warrant the move, even if it's just a round. I'm relying on Piercy to carry the C for three rounds and a combination of Watney, Bradley and Johnson to do the same in the B Group. 

Check back tomorrow for our one-and-done and two-and-done picks, as well as any other final thoughts.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Farmers Insurance Open - Power Ranks and BuzzDraft

Coming off a wild weekend at the Humana Challenge, we’ll see if things settle down a bit at the Farmers Insurance Open. As we previewed yesterday, there is no shortage of high-profile winners beginning with Tiger Woods and scrolling down to Phil Mickelson. Both heavyweights are in the field this week, though coming off of very different weeks.

More than any power rankings so far this year, you can take this week’s top six and put them in a bottle, shake them up and roll them out to a different result every time. There are about 10 reasons to be high on each of the top six, but a reason or two to proceed with caution. With that disclaimer, here we go.

  1. Charles Howell III – Of all the big names and hefty resumes in the field, why Chucky? Simply put, he’s coming off of two events where he was supposed to have performed very well, and in both cases he met or exceeded expectation. His resume at Torrey Pines is eerily similar to that at the Sony Open. He has made each of his 10 cuts and owns two runner-ups to go with two other top 10s and a total of six top 25s. On the flip side, he’s contended so much the last two weeks that it would be easy to see a fall off.
  2. Brandt Snedeker – Even more than CH3, I’m worried about the defending champ’s heavy schedule to date. You can’t argue with his record. He’s made 5/6 cuts with a first, second and third-place finish to go with a fourth top 10. He may be out of gas, but he deserves this spot based on recent resume and course fit.
  3. Phil Mickelson – I can’t tell you without looking where Mickelson finished the Humana Challenge, but I can tell you that he was 17-under in his last three rounds with each round the same or better than the day before. Lefty loves the West Coast Swing. He’s a two-time winner and past runner-up at Torry Pines. He passed the eye and ear test at Humana. More than almost any player, you can tell a lot by what he’s saying and how he’s saying it after a round. He sounds and looks “close,” and that’s about the best indicator you’re going to get in terms of his form.
  4. Tiger Woods – He’s only won this event six times, and if you count his U.S. Open win at Torrey Pines in 2008, then make it seven. He’s 12/12 with 11 top 10s. Ironically, his only non-top 10 was in his last start here. Everyone knows what happened to him at Abu Dhabi, so proceed with some degree of caution, but don’t let anything surprise you. He’s not a one-and-done pick, but he may be worth sitting on you Yahoo! bench to see if he’s a factor late.
  5. Rickie Fowler – Started the year with a top 10 in his first trip to Kapalua and returns after a layoff to an event where he boasts top 20s in each of his three stops.  Ten of his 12 rounds have been par or better. When you study the South Course at Torrey Pines and look at the past leaderboards, one could draw a very strong parallel to Quail Hollow on both fronts, which is the site of Fowler’s only win.
  6. Bubba Watson – The 2011 champ should certainly factor this week as well. Overall, he’s 6/7 with three top 10s and four top 25s. He could be a sneaky one-and-done option.
  7. Dustin Johnson – Why do I feel like he’s about to turn into Rory McIlroy off the course with his new squeeze? He tweeted out Saturday night a picture of himself with Paulina Gretzky (yes, Wayne’s daughter). He’s one of the five best players in the world at his best, but I do worry some about his focus. He’s 4/5 with one top 10 and two top 25s in this event, so don’t get too excited but don’t ignore totally.
  8. Scott Piercy – He feels like this year’s Bo Van Pelt to me, in a good way. He’s prone to be a factor most weeks, as evident by his two top 15s to start this season. He’s also played this event three times with back-to-back top 20s after missing the cut in his first try. Everything about this looks like another top 20 at worst.
  9. Keegan Bradley – He’ll have his Ryder Cup BFF Lefty with him in the field this week, so he may go 2012 Riviera and spend the week trying to 1-up his mentor with clutch birdies and find himself in contention. He’s 2/2 for at this event, with a T22 and a T25, and didn’t perform all that well at the Sony Open ahead of his off week but that really shouldn't matter much. He’s not your best option this week, but far from your worst.
  10. Stewart Cink – Is this jumping on the bandwagon too quickly? Maybe. He expected a big week at the Sony Open and it didn’t happen. He was a week late. But after a miserable 2012, he found himself with a chance to win on the back nine on Sunday in his second start of 2013. He’s 9/10 with two top 10s and five top 25s at Torrey Pines, so he may just stick around the leaderboard for another week.
  11. John Rollins – Always scary to put too much confidence in Rollins, but when you consider his record at Torrey and his form you have to plug him into the top 12. He’s 2-for-2, both top 20s to start the season. He’s boom or bust in this event, with five missed cuts and three top four’s in 12 starts. Given his form, you have to think the odds are that this is a good week.
  12. Nick Watney – The final spot was quite a debate. I’m leaving out perennial powers like Hunter Mahan and Bill Haas, while also ignoring last year’s 71-hole star Kyle Stanley. Watney had a good, but not great, week at Kapalua. We haven’t seen him since, but he’s a past champion with four top 10s in eight starts.

Next 5: Bill Haas, Marc Leishman, Hunter Mahan, Pat Perez and D.A. Points. (Yes, that is alphabetical, and yes that is in order.)

Rather than jump into the games, I’m going to wait until Tuesday for one big reason. The first two rounds of this event are played on two courses. One is easy and one is hard. I want to try and get as many people spread across both courses in the Yahoo! game, so I’m holding off until the tee times and pairings are announced.

Let’s get Buzzed!

Another week in the BuzzDraft private games and another set of winners!

The Sony Open winners, Tiger’s Wood and RotoRyan, each dropped down to runner-up in their games and Zanarkand Abes and Ghin & Juice ascended to the top spot. That’s four different winners in four games!

Ghin and Juice’s lineup boasted Kuchar, Garrigus, Laird, Overton, Charles Howell III, Molder, Immelman, Glover Driscoll and Marino.

Zanarkand Abes had Kuchar, Haas, Laird, Overton, Kirk, Rollins, DeLaet, Streelman, Horschel and Marino

The overall standings if the games were combined would have looked like this (thanks to Tiger's Wood for keeping me filled in):
  1. Ghin & Juice - 621
  2. Tiger's Wood - 569
  3. A340 Spotter - 557
  4. Zanarkand Abes - 565
  5. RotoRyan - 546.52
  6. Kyech - 518
  7. Bill Clinton - 478
  8. The Chilli Dippers - 468
  9. sexytex - 367
  10. buff my wrenches - 348
  11. TSCH - 220
  12. JMacLSU - 212.91

We also had three players, Zanarkand Abes, The Chilli Dippers and @dkateeb place inside the top six in the feature game to cash.

Nice week guys!

At last glance, we have already filled up one of our 6-man games and are on the way to filling a second. You guys were so quick to sign up that I even got shut out of the first game!

If anyone new would like to jump in and play with us, shoot me and email (thegolfaficionado@gmail.com) and I’ll help you get set up.

More to come tomorrow……

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Farmers Insurance Open - Preview

The PGA TOUR returns to one of the oldest stops on the schedule for this week's Farmers Insurance Open. The tournament is contested at Torry Pines, and utilizes both the North and South Courses for the first two days before closing out the tournament exclusively on the South Course for the weekend.

Of the two, the North Course is much easier and contenders must go low on that 18-hole stretch. In 2012, it played as a 7,045 yard par 72 with four par 5s. Think of it like the Nicklaus Private Course at PGA West in the Humana rotation. The South Course is the exact opposite. You will remember that it hosted the 2008 U.S. Open, which stands as the last major win for Tiger Woods. It played as a mammoth 7,698 par 72, also with four par 5s. 

The names of every winner since 1996 are listed below and read as a "who's who" of Major Championships and International teams.
  • Davis Love III
  • Mark O'Meara
  • Scott Simpson
  • Tiger Woods (6 times in this event plus 1 U.S. Open here in 2008)
  • Phil Mickelson (2 times)
  • Jose Maria Olazabal
  • John Daly
  • Nick Watney
  • Ben Crane
  • Bubba Watson
  • Brandt Snedeker
As you begin your research for this year's tournament, here's what you need to know.
  • Look for pedigree. Even the most casual golf fans recognize the name of every winner on this list. 
  • When setting up your fantasy roster, you may want to wait until Tuesday when the tee times come out to make sure you have someone playing the North Course every round. 
  • Length is good.
  • This is typically not the tournament to take a risk on an unknown. 
We will check back in tomorrow with our power rankings and fantasy preview.

Farmers Insurance Open - Monday Qualifier

After a week off from Monday Qualifiers, the Farmers Insurance Open is next up in allowing four open qualifiers a spot in the field. (The Humana is a Challenge, and not an "Open" so there was no qualifier available.) Below is a link to the MQ for the Farmers Insurance Open.


Best of luck to all!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Humana Challenge - Round 2

Here's a quick fantasy update for those that follow during the tournament for Yahoo! purposes. While our first round wasn't great, the second round was a tournament saver.

  • A-List - We made the right call in sticking with Clark (6-under) over Snedeker (4-under). Do it again, as his scoring average on the Palmer Course is solid. Snedeker's is too, but Clark's is better.
  • B-List - Matt Kuchar's 8-under on the Nicklaus Course was well timed. Senden's 6-under was a nice surprise. Tomorrow let's stick with Senden and plug in Toms for Kuchar. Toms and Senden each play the Nicklaus and Toms has never missed a cut here with the exception of a W/D, but needs to take it deep tomorrow. He'll flag hunt. Be ready to plug Kuchar back in for Toms in the final round.
  • C-List - This is the toughest call. Henley came back to earth and shot a 69, but English only matched it on the same course. I'm sticking with Henley, but an argument could be made either way.
Best of luck!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Humana Challenge - Round 1

While many of the names and faces were a little different than many predicted, the first round of the Humana Challenge produced the results we expected. Low numbers. Here are a few thoughts on the first round.

  • Three non-winners are tied and 9-under 63 through the first round. Jason Kokrak (La Quinta), James Hahn (Palmer) and Roberto Castro (Nicklaus) proved that low numbers were there for the taking on all courses.
  • 16 players shot 7-under or better. Of those, 11 of those came at the Nicklaus Course, three at the Palmer and two at La Quinta. Simply put, play your Yahoo! players on the Nicklaus Course when possible.
  • Russell Henley continues to impress. His PGA TOUR scoring average through five rounds is an eye-popping 64. A letdown would not have been a surprise, and I still expect a weak round to happen, but it's becoming harder to bet against the kid.
So what does all this mean for our second-round Yahoo! moves?
  • I had Tim Clark starting and Brandt Snedeker on the bench in my A-List. Clark went bogey-free, but only found one birdie to go with his 17 pars. Snedeker posted a 5-under. Both move from La Quinta to the easier Nicklaus Course in the second round. I'm going against the grain and sticking with Clark for another round. There's plenty of reason to trust Snedeker, but I got burned in musical chairs several times with Clark and CH3, so I'm going to just let this play out a bit longer. With 15 GIR, it was the putter that held Clark back and he can get that worked out.
  • The B-List was a disaster. If there is a silver lining, it's that we started the right two players in Kuchar (-2) and Senden (E). Kuchar heads to Nicklaus, so we'll leave him alone and hope for a better day. I don't think Webb Simpson will shoot another 1-over tomorrow, but at this point it's not worth burning a start on him so I'll keep with Senden for another day.
  • At least we got the C-List right. Russell Henley threw a 64 on the board, and English wasn't bad from the bench with a 4-under either. They both play the same course, and move from the easy Nicklaus to the tougher (if any of these courses are actually tough) La Quinta. There's plenty of conventional logic to sitting Henley after the hot round, but if we've learned anything about Henley it's that he defies conventional wisdom. I'll keep riding him until he proves me wrong.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Humana Challenge - Final Thoughts

With hours to go before tees are in the ground at the Humana Challenge, I'll leave you with a few final thoughts:

  • For starters, my one-and-done and two-and-done picks for the week are the same for the first time all year. I'm trusting in Tim "The Penguin" Clark. He was my two-and-done pick last week and that worked out very well. (My one-and-done of CH3 wasn't too shabby either.) Here's why I'm going with Clark:
    • Two runner-ups in this event.
    • Form is great.
    • The course rotation has changed several times over the years here, but his scoring average at the current three venues is stellar. He'll play PGA West Palmer Course twice and boasts a 66.14 scoring average in seven rounds. PGA West Nicklaus (68 in two rounds) and La Quinta (67 in three rounds) will each be played one time. Plenty of people have gone lower on the Nicklaus Course, but few can match his Palmer average.
    • In 2007, he posted back-to-back runner-ups at the John Deere and the U.S. Bank Championship in Milwaukee, so he is not in uncharted territory.
  • When looking at scoring averages at the three courses, one other name jumped off the page that is intriguing. Lucas Glover has lit up the desert. What's interesting, is that he's struggled on some of the courses that are no longer in the rotation, but demolished the current courses. Palmer (67.8), Nicklaus (68) and La Quinta (67.33) have served as his playground. We have no idea what to expect, as this is  his first start since knee surgery and he has moved from Nike to Taylor Made. I'm not saying invest, but I am saying watch closely. 
  • As I type this, there is one spot remaining in our BuzzDraft private game. Jump in! Last week, we had at least six of our players cash in various formats. Four in our feature game and two that I'm aware of in other formats on the site.
  • I can't remember if it was on Twitter or an email, but I had a reader ask me a question regarding exemptions in majors. Rob Bolton's list on PGATOUR.com is the best I can find http://www.pgatour.com/news/2013/01/01/major-qualifiers.html.
Best of luck to all this week!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Humana Challenge - More Fantasy and BuzzDraft

Before we dive into last week's BuzzDraft results, I want to point out one more thing when considering your Yahoo! lineups this week. Since this is a three-course rotation, consider the course your players are playing when deciding who to start. As a general rule, the Nicklaus Private Course at PGA West plays the easiest, with LaQuinta and the Palmer Private Course at PGA West playing a little more difficult. They will all average several strokes under par, but give your players a chance to throw up a deep number at Nicklaus Private.

For my team, it doesn't matter in the A-List because Snedeker and Clark are both on the same rotation. In the B-List, none of my four are playing Nicklaus in the first round so I'll let it ride as is. In the C-List, Henley is starting on Nicklaus Private, so that works out fine to leave the same as well.

Let's get Buzzed!

The first week of our private league on BuzzDraft is in the books. I’m sheepishly proud to admit that I won the first 6-man game that filled up, while team Tiger’s Wood by long-time reader Chris took home the gold medal in the second game.

RotoRyan’s winning lineup in first game was Keegan Bradley, Carl Pettersson, Brendon de Jonge, Tim Clark, Charles Howell III, Chad Campbell, David Hearn, Brian Gay, Steve Marino and Scott Langley. The perfect storm of factors for the win were Tim Clark and CH3 performing as expected, all 10 players making the cut, and hitting on Scott Langley with my final pick in the lowest-ranked pool.

Tiger’s Wood had a lineup of Zach Johnson, Carl Pettersson, Bud Cauley, Tim Clark, Charles Howell III, Harris English, Ricky Barnes, Brian Gay, Russell Knox and Patrick Reed. Chris credited his win on Twitter (@ctimmerman35) to the late charge of Harris English and Ricky Barnes. He was well outside of the lead at several points of the tournament, but pulled off the win late.

Here are the final combined standings for the first week:
  1. RotoRyan (Game 1) 737.7 points
  2. Tiger’s Wood 659.31
  3. Zanarkand Abes 642.5
  4. GHIN 636.31
  5. Tom Selleck’s Chest Hair 609.5
  6. RotoRyan (Game 2) 608.51
  7. JMacLSU 575.01
  8. Better then Most  533.2
  9. The Chili Dippers 515.31
  10. KYech 502.5 (Rumor has it he made some money in a BuzzDraft Salary 6-man game!)
  11. Buff my Wrenches 408.71
  12. A340Spotter 326.41 (Don’t cry too hard for Spotter, as this was probably a hedged bet for him. He had Charles Howell III in a private one-and-done league and sits second to JMacLSU through two tournaments in that 30-plus player league. I’m chasing both of them in third!)

It will be the same format again this week, with 6-man games at $5 buy in with the top two spots getting paid. I’m already registered in the first 6-man game which has already filled up. I'm also in the $20 feature game, as is KYech.. Feel free to join us. 

For those not registered with BuzzDraft, click on my BuzzDraft link on the side of the page and use Promo Code: RotoRyan. The password for the game is also Rotoryan, just like last week.

If I don’t have a team in your 6-man game (my team name is RotoRyan), then would someone from that group please reach out to me with the results from that group, as well as the point total for each of the teams so I can combine with the others for the week’s standings? Standings are usually finalized mid-morning on Monday, but it took until Tuesday morning this week.

I'd love to hear any feedback you have on the games if you've played them. As always, we welcome any new players to the fold. If you sign up for a 6-man game and it doesn't fill up, your money will be refunded. Two out of the six spots will pay out, so for any newcomers you have a 1/3 shot of turning a profit. If you're thinking about playing and have any questions, shoot me an email at thegolfaficionado@gmail.com

We will be back tomorrow with more, including our final one-and-done and two-and-done picks. If you aren't in a one-and-done league and want to try one out, check out Golfmanna.com for their short season offering while there is still time.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Humana Challenge - Power Ranks and Fantasy

Before we turn our full attention to the Humana Challenge, let me first celebrate the obvious and mention the week Russell Henley put together. Rookies aren’t supposed to that, but if you look back the signs were there. He won three times in 31 starts on the Web.com Tour, including twice in three weeks late in 2012. If you add it up, he’s knocked off three wins and nothing worse than a tie for sixth in his last five tournaments and has been under par in every one of those rounds.

Also of note was the week Scott Langley and Brian Stuard had. Both are subject to the reshuffle, but should be set for the season with their top five’s. Langley putted brilliantly through 54 holes, but missed too many from short range in the final round. Stuard snuck up the leaderboard with a late run to crack the top five.

So what does that mean for this week?

Here we go with the Dandy Dozen:

  1. Tim Clark – Clark gave Henley all he could handle at the Sony. It’s not often that a leader can withstand a 63 by someone in his own group and hoist the trophy, but that’s what happened. The South African birdied seven of his last 11 holes, including the last four, but it wasn’t enough. He now heads to PGA West, where he’s only played four times but owns two runner-up finishes and a third top 10. Add to that, 19 of his 20 rounds have been under par at PGA West. Simply put; play him.
  2. Brandt Snedeker – You can’t ignore the class of the field in weaker events, and that’s what Sneds has become. He took last week off after a third-place finish at the HTOC. He owns two top 10s and has made three (of four) cuts in this event including a tie for eighth last year. Don’t count on this being just a tune up for his defense of the Farmers Insurance Open next week. He merits consideration in all formats including one-and-done.
  3. Matt Kuchar – Kuch has two top 10s to start the year, but has never really been in contention. After a tie for ninth at the HTOC, he secured a T5 at the Sony. He has four top 25s and two top 10s, including a runner-up in six tries at Humana. He should be a fixture in your Yahoo! lineup this week, and warrants a close look in other formats.
  4. Chris Kirk – Kirk tied for fifth at the Sony and it easily should have been better. Everyone was destroying the par-5 ninth except Kirk. If he birdies that hole in his last two rounds rather than play it in 3-over, he ties Clark for second. He’s 2-for-2 at the Humana, including a tie for seventh. He’s not a “must play,” but he’s not far from it.
  5. Russell Henley – There are conflicting history lessons in play here. Typically after a guy wins on TOUR, you fade him the next week if his last name isn’t Woods or McIlroy. (Remember how Dustin Johnson was going to win every tournament this year after the first week, but W/D mid-tournament at the Sony?) I’m not sure that Henley’s typical, and his recent five-tournament run dating back to last season supports playing him while hot. He might go Kyle Stanley 2012 and factor in back-to-back weeks. He’s worth at least having on your bench in Yahoo!, and may be a prudent play in other formats as well. He’s actually tempting as a dark horse in a one-and-done, but I’m not sure I’m ready to go there.
  6. Webb Simpson – Tied for 20th with four rounds in the 60s at Sony, but never had a shot to win. Reminds me a little of Kuchar coming out of Kapalua, and that worked out for a top five for Kuch at the Sony. He’s made all three of his cuts here, with two top 25s and a top 10. His current form is above average for most, but just average by his lofty standards. Don’t reach, but don’t ignore.
  7. Robert Garrigus – The bomber was Mr. Runner-Up on the PGA TOUR in 2012, and the Humana was one of them. He owns three top 20s in four trips to the desert, so assume that he will be a factor even though it is his first event.
  8. Pat Perez – Always a hard call, Perez had a nice week at Sony (T9) and returns to the site of his only PGA TOUR win. He’s made the cut 7/9 times here, but looking at the history deeper he has only one other top 10 to go with the win. There is risk attached, but the reward could be good this week given his form.
  9. Harris English – English made the cut on the number at Sony, but woke up to play the weekend in 12-under with 14 birdies to nab a top 10. This is the opposite of his 2012 trend, where he would frequently stumble down the leaderboard late in the week. That said, he never contended for the win, so he was freewheeling. Tied for 19th in his only other start at the Humana.
  10. Bill Haas – He’s 8/8 in making the cut in this event, with a win and a runner-up. It could be argued that he should be higher, but he putted terribly at Kapalua to start the year. I just can’t endorse him any higher than this until he figures out the flat stick.
  11. Phil Mickelson – Good luck at guessing where his head’s at to start the year. He’s twice won this event in his first start of the season, but also managed only a T49 here last year. Nothing would surprise me.
  12. Jeff Overton – He’s got to win sometime, right? His history isn’t great here, but is coming off an eighth at the Sony Open where he looked very good at times.
Next 5: David Toms, Bo Van Pelt, John Senden, Stephen Ames and Martin Laird

Let the games begin!

Yahoo! format:
  • I fielded a number of good questions via Twitter and email last week, and want to share a couple of general rules for Yahoo! While by no means does this work out every time and there are exceptions, these rules work out over the long haul.
  • Unless you are burning a start on an elite guy that you will likely use 10 times (Woods/McIlroy etc), it’s not a bad idea to play as many morning tee times as possible on Thursday/Friday. The greens are pure (no/less spike marks and ball marks), and typically wind is stronger in the afternoons.
  • Henley would have been an exception this week, but normally if a guy fires a really low round one day there is a tendency for him to back off the next. A 63 normally is followed by something like a 71 and not another 63.
  • If you have a guy within shouting distance of the lead entering the final round, play him. You get bonus points for a win.
For those interested, my team moved up from 5,081 to 2,779 and from the 93rd to 96th percentile. It didn’t feel like that great of a week, but illustrates the point that the Yahoo! format is a marathon and not a sprint.

Here we go with this week’s picks:
  • A-List – Starting Clark with Snedeker on the bench, but I hate leaving Kirk off this team.
  • B-List – Kuchar and Simpson starting, with Senden and Toms on the bench.
  • C-List – Going straight UGA, with Henley starting and English on the bench.
I may flip some of the starters/sitters based on Thursday tee times.

Golf Channel:

(Follow along with my rankings in the weekly Rotoworld column that Mike Glasscott publishes on Tuesday.)

Humana Challenge
  • Group 1 – Brandt Snedeker
  • Group 2 – Tim Clark
  • Group 3 – John Mallinger
  • Group 4 – Matt Jones
There is a second tournament in the Golf Channel rotation this week.

Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship

(I do not claim to be an expert on the European Tour, so follow me at your own peril on this one.)
  • Group 1 – Martin Kaymer
  • Group 2 – Branden Grace
  • Group 3 – Paul Casey
  • Group 4 – Michael Campbell
BuzzDraft Update:

It looks like the winners are locked in, but they haven't finalized the results as of the typing of this post. They generally have that finalized by late morning or early afternoon on Monday, but the latest communication I got was that there were a few glitches that delayed this. 

I should be able to give the complete update tomorrow. Thanks for your patience!


I wanted to let everyone who is interested know that my friends at Golfmanna.com are putting together a one-and-done short-season game that will begin this week. They have public leagues, so if you want to give it a try then hop in with them. Because it is a short season, the strategy may be different than full-season games, so feel free to email or Tweet me with questions. They may not follow my normal one-and-done pick strategy.

Best of luck, and we will have more tomorrow!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Humana Challenge - Preview

With the PGA TOUR turning it's attention to the Humana Challenge, the action has left the Hawaiian islands and returned to the mainland to continue the more traditional version of the West Coast swing. It also means the field better be ready to take it deep, as red numbers are typically the order of the week unless a cold snap or windy spell throw things off kilter.

For decades the former Bob Hope Classic was a five round, 90-hole affair spread across PGA West, but in 2012 it dropped back to a 72-hole tournament over three courses. The most likely reason was to try and attract a stronger field. Note that this is a Pro-Am, so for the first three days each pro will be paired with an amateur. Prepare for lengthy rounds.

Since it is a Pro-Am, that means the course set up usually isn't that difficult, further explaining the barrage of birdies. Don't be surprised to see several 62s thrown up this week. Also worth pointing out, rookies have to learn three courses instead of just one. Some, if not all, likely stopped off at PGA West before making the trip to Waialae for the Sony Open.

The stats on the courses are as follows:
  • PGA West - Palmer Private 6,930 yard par 72 will sever as the host course and final-round competition will take place here.
  • PGA West - Nicklaus Private 6,951 yard par 72 will be one of three courses utilized in the first three rounds.
  • La Quinta Country Club 7,060 par 72 will be the third course, and will host action during the first three rounds.
It doesn't take an expert to notice that these are three very short courses considering they are all par 72s. While you might be tempted to jump on bombers, consider that the length means the par 5s are reachable by many players in the field. Don't forget about moderate-length players with a penchant for holing putts and scrambling.

Here's a list of the winners since 2000. I will omit the scores with the exception of 2012 because the others were over 90 holes.
  • 2000 - Winner: Jesper Parnevik; Runner up: Rory Sabbatini
  • 2001 - Winner: Joe Durant; Runner up: Paul Stankowski
  • 2002 - Winner: Phil Mickelson; Runner up: David Berganio Jr.
  • 2003 - Winner: Mike Weir; Runner up: Jay Haas
  • 2004 - Winner: Phil Mickelson; Runner up: Skip Kendall
  • 2005 - Winner: Justin Leonard; Runner up: Tim Clark / Joe Ogilvie
  • 2006 - Winner: Chad Campbell; Runner up: Jesper Parnevik / Scott Verplank
  • 2007 - Winner: Charley Hoffman; Runner up; John Rollins
  • 2008 - Winner: D.J. Trahan; Runner up: Justin Leonard
  • 2009 - Winner: Pat Perez; Runner up: John Merrick
  • 2010 - Winner: Bill Haas; Runner up: Matt Kuchar, Tim Clark and Bubba Watson
  • 2011 - Winner: Jhonattan Vegas; Runner up: Bill Haas/Gary Woodland
  • 2012 - Winner: Mark Wilson (264/ 24-under); Runner up: John Mallinger, Robert Garrigus and Johnson Wagner (266)
An interesting note, Phil Mickelson is back in the field for the second time in as many years after a dry spell dating back until 2007. In 2002 and 2004 when he won, it was his first event of the season. That signals that he doesn't necessarily need to have played earlier in the year to pick off a win in the desert.

Perfect attendance: At a quick count, Tommy Gainey, Zach Johnson, Matt Kuchar and Webb Simpson will be the only one's making it three starts in as many weeks this week. Gainey is used to playing a ton, and I have to trust that Johnson, Kuchar and Simpson know themselves well enough to assume this is a good idea.

I'll be back tomorrow with power rankings and we will start to take a look at various gaming formats for the week.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Sony Open - Odds / Final Thoughts

Creeping up on the start of the PGA TOUR season's first full-field event, it's time to look for some value at the Sony Open. Along with that, I'll also hit on my one-and-done and two-and-done picks.

My one-and-done this week is Charles Howell III. He's never missed a cut in 11 tries and owns two runner-ups and a third.

For a two-and-done, I'm taking Tim Clark. His history here is just three events, but all went for top 25s and he was a runner-up in 2011.

I wanted to find a place for Brendon de Jonge, but CH3 and Clark were just slightly better options. Also, I'm not burning Dustin Johnson coming off a win at the HTOC because it's so rare that a guy goes back-to-back, especially given the short turn around. There will be safer spots for the bomber down the road.

As for the odds, here are some values I see on the Ladbrokes site:
  • Carl Pettersson at 20/1 jumps out as a good value. The 2012 RBC Heritage champ has been all-or-nothing in this event, making four of eight cuts but has top 25s in all four paydays including three top 10s and a T2 last year.
  • Matt Every at 50/1 also seems strong. He was the 36-hole leader and 54-hole co-leader last season before sharing sixth. When he's good, he's really good.
  • George McNeill is 100/1, but surprisingly has four top 20s in five starts at Waialae.
  • If you want a deep sleeper, how about Web.com Tour Championship winner Justin Bolli at 250/1? His game gets better the closer to the hole he gets, with scrambling and putting a strength.
Best of luck to all!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Sony Open - Fantasy

My head is still spinning after the Hyundai Tournament of Champions finished just hours ago, less than two days before the Sony Open kicks off. Not so much because Dustin Johnson won, but because this has totally wrecked the normal schedule of this space. For those who have recently landed here, normally the Fantasy post is incorporated with the Monday power rankings, but I wanted to be reasonably sure who would actually play this week. As of now, I don't see any W/Ds coming out of the HTOC.

So, here we go with a little bit of everything......

Golf Channel game:
  • Last week we gave you the picks of Matt Kuchar (T9), Steve Stricker (2), Ian Poulter (T9) and Tommy Gainey (T6). Wish I had DJ in the lineup, but I'll take it.
  • As for this week......
  • Group 1 - I'm taking Keegan Bradley for a couple of reasons. He finished very high last week, errrr, today and his youth should help him overcome the short turn around. The only member of Group 1 that did not play in the HTOC was K.J. Choi, and though he has a good record at Waialae I trust Bradley more right now. Dustin Johnson is in this group, but do you really think he goes back-to-back? (If he does it's great for my salary cap league!) If Bradley were to back out, I'll likely replace him with Carl Pettersson.
  • Group 2 - There are a bunch of good options in this group, but I'm going with Charles Howell III over Brendon de Jonge and Tim Clark. Any of these three would make great picks. John Huh is a tempting thought as well, but I'd rather stay clear of HTOC players due to the very short recovery time they face. If that tournament ends on Monday and was 18 holes per day, the whole strategy could have shifted.
  • Group 3 - I'm playing with fire a little, but taking Rory Sabbatini. John Rollins is worth a thought, as well as DL3, Graham DeLaet, George McNeil, Brian Gay and Chad Campbell. There's a reason to take, and as good or better reason to fade any of these guys including Sabo.
  • Group 4 - I'm pegging in Richard H. Lee. He missed the cut here last year, but has come a long way as a PGA TOUR golfer in the last 12 months. Steve Marino is a gamble given his great record, but we have no idea regarding his form coming off an injury. Doug LaBelle II is another option.
Yahoo! Game:
  • Because I have those that are curious, I racked up 207 points and rank 5,081 after the first tournament. That's good for 93rd percentile.
  • Due to the crazy schedule of the HTOC, I did not post my changes to the blog, but posted all but one on Twitter. I moved Brandt Snedeker in for Bubba Watson in the A-List for all four rounds. I also moved out Kuchar and in Webb Simpson for the first two round of the HTOC, and then inserted Dustin Johnson in for him in the final round to collect the 20 bonus points for winning.
  • A-List - Starting Charles Howell III and having Tim Clark ready on the bench.
  • B-List - I grinded hard on this one and ended up with Zach Johnson, Keegan Bradley, David Hearn and Chad Campbell. The first two starting and the last two sitting. I wanted to pick Carl Pettersson, but noticed that he has missed the last three times he played the Sony following an HTOC appearance. In the last two times where he didn't play the HTOC he was top five.
  • C-List - Start Matt Every with John Rollins on the bench.
  • Not so coincidentally, each of my starters has an early tee time in the first round.
Tomorrow I will publish my one-and-done and two-and-done picks. I will also make any necessary adjustments if their are field changes.

I would encourage anyone who is interested in joining our private BuzzDraft game to do so. If you scroll down the blog, there are instructions on how to do so. The short version is to click on the link to BuzzDraft on the side of this page and register with Promo Code: RotoRyan. Rotoryan is also the password to the private game we are playing. There are currently two spots remaining in a game before a new one rolls over.

Best of luck!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Sony Open - Power Rankings

What a bizarre way to start the year! While there are any number of discussions that can be had in regards to the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, we will limit our focus to just how it pertains to the Sony Open. Before we dive into the power rankings, here’s what jumps to the forefront of my mind.
  • I would not at all be surprised with numerous withdrawals from those competing at Kapalua who are in the published field at the Sony Open. With this tournament finishing Tuesday, it will be all they can do logistically to make it to the Wednesday Pro-Am. If they get a pass on that, it will mean that the first time they play the course will be in Thursday’s actual round.
  • One way of looking at that, is that those who play the Sony Open really want to be there.
  • It’s a complete guess as to how those guys will perform, given what they went through both mentally and adjusting swing mechanics for the wind.
  • Oh yeah, and that will mean 126 holes of competitive golf in seven days. Q School’s final stage is 108 holes in six days, to give it some perspective.
When researching my picks for the Sony Open, there are several trends worth noting. As with any event, there are several players with very strong records that must be considered. Also of note, there is a recent trend of players making the cut but not being all that successful in their first trip, but having a very nice sophomore voyage to Hawaii. While these guys don’t crack my dandy dozen, Roberto Castro, Bud Cauley, Will Claxton, Harris English, Brian Harman and John Huh all fit that description. And when you think about them statistically, they would all make sense at Waialae CC.
Here we go with the year’s second Dandy Dozen:
  1. Charles Howell III – You can’t do much better than “three sticks” without winning. He’s got $1.862 million in career earnings at the Sony, including two runner-ups and a third. He’s made each of his 11 cuts and owns six top 10s and seven top 25s.
  2. Dustin Johnson – Risky due to HTOC, and a prime candidate to W/D, but in his previous two trips he has a T10 and a T16 and is the class of the field.
  3. Keegan Bradley – Similar concerns to DJ, but followed the pattern I mentioned above of a T68 in his first trip and a dramatic improvement to T13 last year.
  4. Tim Clark – He’s three-for-three here, all top 25s including a tie for second in 2011. A course where length is diluted is the perfect formula for the South African.
  5. Brendon de Jonge – In what will be his first test of 2013, he ended 2012 looking like he’d figured out his weekend woes. After missing the cut in his first three trips to Hawaii, he improved to a T20 in 2011 and a T10 last year.  To nobody’s surprise, he was over par in each of those final rounds
  6. Zach Johnson – He’s made six of his seven cuts with a win and a T12, but other than those mentioned he doesn’t have any other high finishes. He may be the most likely of the Kapalua crew to make the trip due to his success at Waialae.
  7. Matt Kuchar – I’ll admit this is a very dangerous pick. I almost faded him outside of the top 12. He has two top five’s in this event, but he’s also missed six of nine cuts. Stay posted, as he could be a W/D.
  8. Chad Campbell – I feel like I need to put out disclaimers on most of this week’s Dandy Dozen, and Campbell is no exception. He’s coming off a terrible (by his standards) 2012, but he’s made nine of 10 cuts in this event with seven top 25s, so he can’t be overlooked. This may be a very good indicator as to what type of season the former Ryder Cupper will have.
  9. Matt Every – He almost won in his first trip to Waialae in 2012 before settling for a share of sixth. He falls into the category of players that have yet to win on TOUR, but certainly wouldn’t surprise anyone if 2013 were the year.
  10. Brian Gay – Like CH3 and Campbell, Gay touts a solid record at the Sony. He’s made 11 of 13 cuts, including every cut since 2002. That includes three top 10s and six top 25s. Also like Campbell, he isn’t coming off of the best 2012 but can’t be ignored.
  11. David Hearn – Trending properly, he was T68 in his first trip and T10 in his follow-up venture last year. He will try and continue to ride the wave to the top of the leaderboard in 2013.
  12. George McNeill – I was surprised to see that he’d made four of five cuts with all four paychecks coming in the form of top 20s. One wouldn’t think of McNeill as a great fit for Waialae, but clearly something works for him.
Rather than list the next five alphabetically, I’ll list them in order under the assumption that some of these will elevate due to pending withdrawals.
  • Mark Wilson – Past winner who is also playing Kapalua, he’s made four of six cuts in this event with three top 25s. He tends to struggle in the first round, which may be accentuated after playing 54 holes in about 30 hours before he tees it up.
  • Steve Marino – His record is stellar, with four out of five cuts and three top-seven finishes between 2008 and 2011. The concern comes from this being his first start after a lengthy injury hiatus.
  • Marc Leishman – Three-for-three and all top 30s.
  • Rory Sabbatini – 10 of 13 and eight in-a-row with two runner-ups.
  • Kevin Na –Five of seven with two top five’s.
Web.com Grad to watch this week: Doug Labelle II – He’s three-for-four with a T4 and a T10 in 2007 and 2008 respectively. He also needs a big week early, as he was 24th on the Web.com Tour money list, meaning he will have limited opportunities on the West Coast before the reshuffle.
Q School Grad to watch this week: Richard H. Lee – He ended 2012 hot and, despite missing the cut here in his rookie year, should be a good fit for the course now that he has a year of seasoning. He could do something similar to what Michael Thompson did in his second tour of Waialae, finishing tied for sixth after missing the cut in his first foray.
I'm going to wait one more day before publishing my fantasy picks to see if any W/Ds are announced.
If you haven't checked it out already, scroll down the blog and see how to get into a private fantasy golf game for a little $ just for our blog readers on BuzzDraft.http://thegolfaficionado.blogspot.com/2013/01/buzzdraft-private-game-is-up-and-running.html  
Email or Tweet me with questions. 

BuzzDraft Private game is up and running!

Our BuzzDraft private game is up and running. If you haven't already registered, then click on the banner on the side of my page that says BuzzDraft. Register for you team using Promo Code: RotoRyan.

Once registered, log in and deposit the money you want to use in the game. Then click on the tab titled PGA and you will see the RotoRyan private game. It's a six-man game. Once you have clicked on this and selected your team, it will prompt you for a password. The password for the game is Rotoryan. You can edit your team up until just before the first tee times, so don't sweat the picks.

One thing to clarify from yesterday.....once a six-man game fills up, another one will immediately open up. If the tournament starts with a game unfilled, you will receive your deposit back and the game is off. If you are already in a game and want to enter a second game to "hedge," go for it.

Also notice that there is a $20 buy-in 29-man game with a guaranteed purse. For those wanting some higher stakes, this a good way to try and earn a little more cash.

Best of luck, let me know if you have questions!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Sony Open - Monday Qualifier

Here is a link to where you can find all of the latest info on the field, tee times and leaderboard for the Sony Open Monday Qualifier http://alohapga.bluegolf.com/bluegolf/alohapga13/event/alohapga132/index.htm.

Best of luck to all!

Sony Open - Preview

It's odd that I'm writing a preview of a tournament before the first round of the prior week's tournament is even in the books, but that's where we stand headed into the Sony Open. That said, there is so little in common with the Plantation Course (Hyundai Tournament of Champions) and Waialae Country Club that we can go ahead with the preview, absent the results of the HTOC.
The formula for success is accuracy over length. The formula shows that length doesn’t matter, driving accuracy does and greens in regulation do as well. Also, scrambling and making short-range putts are also important.  Case in point, here are your last 7 winners.
  • 2006 - David Toms
  • 2007 - Paul Goydos
  • 2008 - K.J. Choi
  • 2009 - Zach Johnson
  • 2010 - Ryan Palmer
  • 2011 - Mark Wilson
  • 2012 - Johnson Wagner
To add to that, Toms has a runner up, Rory Sabbatini and Charles Howell III have two, Adam Scott, Tim Clark, Chad Campbell, Luke Donald, and Carl Pettersson also hold second-place finishes. Other winners going back include Vijay Singh and Ernie Els.
Historically, rookies do not fare well in the season-opening event. I could only assume this is for a number of reasons including nerves, travel arrangements and lack of course familiarity. 

Waialae is a course with numerous doglegs and tight fairways. It only offers two par 5s and plays to a par 70 of 7044 yards, so consider guys that make hay on something other than par 5s. It's also in stark contrast from the Plantation Course in that it's much flatter.

We'll get the power rankings and other fantasy tidbits ready for tomorrow. Included will be a Web.com Tour and a Q School grad to watch.

Please check out the info below on our new BuzzDraft game exclusively for this blog and play if interested.

Best of luck with your research!

Friday, January 4, 2013

Private Fantasy Game Opportunity

As some of you know, and others may have assumed via the banner on the blog, I am an affiliate for a Fantasy gaming site called BuzzDraft. It's essentially fantasy sports for weekly money. I was approached today by the head of the golfing division, and we explored the idea of doing a private game specific to the readers of this blog.

While BuzzDraft offers other higher-stakes options, the game for our site would be a simple $5 buy in weekly game that would pay out multiple places based on number of players. It's legal, and you can play or not play any given week.

There are essentially three different types of games. The most popular is one where there are 10 pools of players and you pick who you feel is the best option for the tournament that week. The next is a salary cap game where you have X amount of dollars to buy six (I believe it's six) players, and the third is a match-play game where you pick which player will have the best week of two. Generally there are about 20 or 25 match-ups to choose.

I don't want to waste BuzzDraft's time with this if the interest isn't there, but if you think it's something you would like to try out, please shoot me an email (thegolfaficionado@gmail.com) or leave a comment below. You would essentially sign up with BuzzDraft using a promo code I provide you and sign into the private game with a password I would put up on this site as well. I'll be glad to walk anyone through it, and you receive additional benefits for signing in with my promo code.

If we do it, I would announce the winner (assuming you want to be known) or the user name that won on the blog the following week, and if it really takes off we can put together a standings of some sort on the blog. Obviously, I would be playing as well.

Bert with BuzzDraft is willing to allow us some creativity with the size and type of game. I just need to know how many people are interested in trying it out.

*************************  UPDATE ***************************************************

The game is going live on a small scale for the Sony Open! BuzzDraft's smallest game is a six-man $5 per person game that pays two spots. They want to start us out with one of these to ensure that we fill the seats. If a game of six is not filled, then the money will be refunded. Once we fill a game, a new one will start up immediately following.
I will be taking one of the six seats, and I've had more than five other people tell me they want to play, so sign up early. I have no doubt that if the game fills up as quickly as I anticipate and the feedback from the players is favorable, we will have a larger allotment of spaces the following week.

Here are the steps to sign up:
  • Click on the BuzzDraft banner on the right side of the page on this blog. You can also go directly to BuzzDraft.com.
  • Register a team and use the promo code RotoRyan so we can identify you as one of the players from our blog. (You can do this now.)
  • I will provide a password to get into our private game, likely on Sunday. I will tweet it out and put it on this blog. I will go ahead and register for the specific game first to make sure there are no issues and clarify any steps that need to be taken.
  • Once you are in, you are more than welcome to play in as many different games as you would like. It is not limited to just our private game.
If you get registered, but don't get into the private game because it is full please let me know (thegolfaficionado@gmail.com) and I'll make sure we account for that in our number for the Humana tournament. I would also encourage you to consider playing one of the public six-man games to get your feet wet.

There are some longer-range talks between myself and BuzzDraft for a partial season game-within-a-game that would include standings on the blog and additional winnings for the person that tops the year-end standings. It's very possible that this could happen this season. That all hinges on the turnout and consistency of players in some of the early tournaments of the year.

As always, feel free to contact me with questions.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

HTOC - Final Thoughts

With the research for the Hyundai Tournament of Champions done and less than a day remaining before balls are in the air, here are a few final thoughts.

  • Wind could be a factor, but at least it should be the trade winds. Rain could be a mild factor early in the week, but the clearer the skys the stronger the wind. The greens are said to be fast, leaving players concerned with balls staying in place on the undulating greens in the biggest gusts of wind.
  • My one-and-done pick is Steve Stricker. It's a safe pick with few ramifications later in the season given he will only play 10 events if he's true to his word.
  • I'm also playing a two-and-done, taking Matt Kuchar in that format. I really like Kuch this week, but didn't take him in the one-and-done because there could be another week that suits him later in the year where I can also lean more on form. Plus, it's a bit of a personal hedge.
  • Plenty of smoke has surrounded Ian Poulter's comments this week, but I've decided to hold firm with him in the Golf Channel Group 3 and the Yahoo! C List with Ryan Moore as the backup. I would have been more likely to have subbed him out if this was a full-field event with a cut, but as it stands it's not quite as big of a risk given the no-cut format.
A couple of other order's of business, I'd encourage you to check out the Rotoworld weekly chat with Rob Bolton and Mike Glasscott as another fantasy source. I was able to join them for the preseason chat, but my work schedule prevents me from being a regular co-host. You can find the replays of the HTOC chat here http://www.rotoworld.com/articles/gol/42252/286/live-chat-noon-et and the preseason chat here http://www.rotoworld.com/articles/gol/42191/286/live-chat-1000am-et.

As a final note, several readers have contacted me in regards to advice for the Yahoo! game. I had planned to keep my coverage light this season once the tournament starts because there are so many outlets for round recaps that mine seems a bit redundant. That said, there is a growing request that I share any changes I make in the Yahoo! formant. I would probably prefer to do this via Twitter (@RyanGolfBlogger), but if you aren't on Twitter and want the advice leave a comment below or shoot me an email at thegolfaficionado@gmail.com letting me know that and I can do a brief post of those in this space.

Thanks for all of the comments, emails and Tweets this week. Keep them coming and as always, best of luck!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

HTOC - Poulter, Equipment and more

Several noteworthy bits of information have broken since I last penned a post, and with the Hyundai Tournament of Champions starting on Friday I have an extra day to address them. Among them, Ian Poulter spent the better part of Wednesday morning trying to talk anyone who would listen out of betting on him or playing him in fantasy formats. Add to that, the equipment carousel seems to be spinning a little faster than in years prior with the Nike marketing giant front and center. The final bit of information is the extended weather forecast for Kapalua.

Starting with Poulter (and you can read the history on his Twitter page @IanJamesPoulter), the Brit decided to jump into the gaming and punting arena by suggesting that his current form (specifically ball-striking) wasn't worthy of consideration this week. While that's good enough to eliminate him from consideration in any one-and-done or two-and-done format, don't write him off entirely just yet in other games. I'm a believer that athletes of the highest level often perform the best when their expectations are the lowest.

If you want another reason not to give up on Poults, look at the weather forecast. The wind is supposed to blow a steady 20 MPH or more most of the time for all four rounds. That could mean that the deep numbers we usually see on the Plantation may dry up and grinding for par could have some additional value. That's Poulter's strength. The opposite argument is that if he's already not striking it well, he won't stand a chance in the wind. It's valid, but I can assure you there are worse players for the wind that the Englishman.

Keeping with the weather, poor weather could favor scramblers, putters and veterans over the sexy bombers and ball-striker extraordinaries.  There's more to it than just low ball flight this week. It's more about course management and knowing how to play the expected trade winds, which comes with experience.

The final bit for the day is the equipment changes. I had a reader email that was frustrated with the lack of information before January 1st on the equipment front. I agree that it's frustrating, and it would have likely impacted a few other players pre-season rankings had I known it. The only people I knew about ahead of time were McIlroy, Stanley and Watney headed to the Swoosh. McIlroy is still the worst-kept secret, and the other two were reported to be filming a Nike commercial which was an obvious tip.

I posted a couple of comments on Twitter yesterday on the topic that Nike Golf scares me right now. There were too many examples of golfers over the past two years that struggled while waving the Swoosh flag. Yes, some of them dealt with injuries and other off-the-course issues. My theory, and it's just a theory, is that something happened with the drivers after they went away from the Sumo series. Don't forget, Tiger mapped out strategies for courses to try and keep his driver in the bag as often as possible, and was most dangerous with 3-woods etc.  

They've introduced a new driver this season, and maybe that fixes everything and Nike goes back to 2008/2009 when Trevor Immelman, Tiger Woods, Lucas Glover and Stewart Cink all won majors and K.J. Choi and Anthony Kim were ATM machines. (Of those major winners, only TW is still in the stable.) I just need to see it before I convert. Now that I say that, Watney and Stanley will battle in a playoff Monday!

The purpose of this post is to tell you not to do anything too extreme this week. Play safe, proven, players with as many familiar variables in play as possible. Don't burn anyone in a one-and-done that you really have to have later. Don't overvalue Poulter, but don't automatically think he can't still get a top 10. 

Now that I've confused everyone, I'll call it a night. 

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Hyundai Tournament of Champions - Power Ranks and Fantasy

The best thing about a 30-man field at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions is that we can analyize every participant in great depth. The worst thing, as mentioned yesterday, is that every player is coming off of some sort of layoff and current form is out the window.

A format note, last season we did an odds post the day after our power rankings. This season I'm going to include the current odds with the power rankings as an effort to condense things without sacrificing the quality of the content. The odds do not impact my power rankings, but seeing them side to side may help you find some value.

Normally I do a "Dandy Dozen" power ranking, but with a field of 30 I will rank all players.
  1. Steve Stricker (12/1) - He's posted top 10s in each of the last three HTOC, culminating with a win in 2012. While it's hard to endorse someone winning back-to-back years, there is precedent for it in this tournament. Stuart Appleby won in '04/'05/'06 and Geoff Ogilvy repeated in 2010 after winning in'09. I don't know that he's my favorite to win, but due to his history in this event he is a must play in most game formats.
  2. Matt Kuchar (10/1) - The betting favorite didn't play in the 2012 edition, but in three trips to Kapalua his solo third and T6 in his last two trips show the island is to his liking. All signs point to a top 10 at worst, with a solid chance at contending should things go his way.
  3. Ian Poulter (12/1) - While Charl Schwartzel may have replaced Poulter as the hottest golfer in the world at the end of 2012, his stock is still very high and he finished sixth in his only previous trip to the Plantation Course.
  4. Webb Simpson (14/1) - It generally takes a little time to adjust to Kapalua, and first timers don't often fare that well but Simpson tied for third in his first attempt to tame the Plantation Course. That kind of effort makes him next to impossible to ignore in his second trip in as many seasons.
  5. Ryan Moore (16/1) - Much like Simpson, Moore had a solid T6 in his only trip to the HTOC and won in his last start on the PGA TOUR before shutting it down before the birth of his first child. You may remember, Jonathan Byrd won the Justin Timberlake and shut it down for the rest of 2010 before winning the 2011 HTOC, so this is a trend to watch.
  6. Scott Piercy (20/1) - Had a respectable tie for 12th in his first trip in 2012, and his length (12th in driving distance) and birdie average (13th) in 2012 make him a statistical fit.
  7. Dustin Johnson (14/1) - In three trips, his average finish is 12th and he was T9 in his last trip, skipping out on 2012. This is a course that he has the potential to fare very well on if his game is in form out the gates.
  8. Bubba Watson (14/1) - Like DJ, he should thrive on this course but he lacks the finishes to back up the seemingly good fit. In two starts, his best finish was a T18 last year. Having made the trip to Hawaii early and having his son with him should put him in a relaxed frame of mind.
  9. Brandt Snedeker (14/1) - His putter should give him plenty of chances, but it's reasonable to think he could start 2013 a little hungover from his 2012 success. Was 10th in his only start in this event.
  10. Hunter Mahan (20/1) - Finished fifth in his trip to Kapalua but backed up to a puzzling T25 in his second try making him a little bit of a wild card.
  11. Keegan Bradley (12/1) - Not great odds for a guy who was 16th in his first, and only, HTOC.
  12. Nick Watney (12/1) - Had a T5 in three starts at the HTOC, but I prefer to see how he does early in the year before jumping in at 12/1 or burning a one-and-done on him.
  13. Jason Dufer (12/1) - First rookie worth considering.
  14. Bill Haas (20/1) - Has an 8th and a 20th in two trips. Hard to predict how he'll start the year.
  15. Carl Pettersson (20/1) - With four prior appearances, he knows what he will face and was a career-best fourth in his last start on the Plantation Course. Worth considering in various games if he's available a little further down the list.
  16. Tommy Gainey (66/1) - I love a guy in this tournament that can make birdies in bunches, and Gainey can do that. He's a rookie, which means he's a risk but he won the Callaway event at Pebble Beach in the silly season after claiming The McGladrey on a course where wind is in play. Kapalua, Pebble Beach and Sea Island are all located directly on the water. Could be the value pick from a betting and gaming standpoint.
  17. Scott Stallings (80/1) - Similar to Gainey in his penchant for getting hot, and he at least has some experience here with a T22 last year.
  18. Rickie Fowler (20/1) - Terrible value at 20/1 for a Plantation Course rookie who's background doesn't hint at this being his type of course.
  19. Jonas Blixt (25/1) - A poor man's Brandt Snedeker, he'll likely have a learning curve but the putter could make him a candidate for a top 10.
  20. Johnson Wagner (66/1) - He's got a ninth and a 10th in two tries, despite form being off an skill set not being a greath match.
  21. Kyle Stanley (50/1) - Equipment switch to Nike is official, which concerns me, as does his record after winning last year. That said, his ability to bomb it will play well if he can catch lightening in a bottle with the putter.
  22. Zach Johnson (25/1) - Simply put, the Plantation Course hasn't been kind to ZJ. In five trips, his average finish is 18th with a T6 the best. His wedges and putting must be flawless if he's to contend.
  23. J.J. Henry (80/1) - It's been a while (2007), but Henry did finish T8 in his only trip to Kapalua.
  24. Charlie Beljan (50/1) - Like Ryan Moore, he's trying to win in back-to-back TOUR starts. His length should help, so if he relaxes and putts well then who knows.
  25. Marc Leishman (50/1) - Another Plantation Course rookie. Hard to know what to expect, but he hails from Australia and this tournament has been kind to his countrymen.
  26. George McNeil (80/1) - Tied for 25th in his only other trip here, and made just one top 10 in 2012.
  27. John Huh (40/1) - One would think his major strength of driving accuracy would be watered down here, so don't expect too much this week......the Sony Open, however......
  28. Mark Wilson (66/1) - Average finish of 24th and a best of 18th isn't surprising for this shorter hitter.
  29. Ted Potter Jr. (100/1) - What's there to say?
  30. Ben Curtis (66/1) - A terrible record here with a 30th and a 33rd in two trips. Avert your eyes.
Golf Channel Game:
  • Group 1 - Matt Kuchar
  • Group 2 - Steve Stricker
  • Group 3 - Ian Poulter
  • Group 4 - Tommy Gainey
Yahoo! Game:
  • Group A - Starting Bubba Watson with Brandt Snedeker on the bench.
  • Group B - Starting Stricker and Kuchar with Dustin Johnson and Webb Simpson on the bench.
  • Group C - Starting Poulter with Ryan Moore on the bench.

I will make a habit of publishing my final one-and-done picks on Twitter (@RyanGolfBlogger) closer to tournament time and possibly on this space as well. For this early-week post, I will narrow the list of who I am considering as well as the thought process used.

This week, the key is to not burn someone you're going to want later in the year, while finding someone that will provide a top ten at worst, but hopefully a top five. I've narrowed my focus to Steve Stricker, Ian Poulter, Matt Kuchar, Scott Piercy, Ryan Moore and Webb Simpson. Stricker is the leader in the clubhouse due to the expectation that he may only play 10 events this year. This will likely be the second weakest field he plays, assuming he plays the John Deere Classic. That means you either burn Stricker here or there. I have a little more research to do before I set this one in stone, but that's the thought process.

If there are any other game formats you want advice on, shoot me an email and I'll either respond directly or start including the format in this space.

Best of luck to all!