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