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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!

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