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

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Shell Houston Open - Wrap Up

D.A. Point captured his second PGA TOUR victory, holing a 13-foot par putt on the 18th hole to avoid a playoff with Billy Horschel and Henrik Stenson to skip what looked to be a likely playoff after a below-average pitch.So what did we learn this week?

  • Henrik Stenson might actually be back for the first time since 2009. His week completed an upward trend and earned him a spot in the Masters.
  • Billy Horschel showed guts down the stretch, nearly picking off his first win from back in the pack. That's likely how his first win will come.....chasing.
  • Perhaps the most accurate thing I said in my power rankings was to buy Dustin Johnson stock. He's fine and he's in form for the majors.
  • Several players that we would expect to contend at the Masters in two weeks ended their prep giving us plenty or reason to be optimistic. Among them, Phil Mickelson, Louis Oosthuizen and Lee Westwood looked particularly convincing at times.
  • I have no idea what to make of D.A. Points' week yet. Let's see how he backs it up.
That's enough for the past.....now on to the Valero Texas Open.

Valero Texas Open - Preview

While the conclusion of the Shell Houston Open normally means it's time to turn our attention to Augusta National, a schedule quirk has the Valero Texas Open as next on the docket. Because of that, the entire dynamic of the VTO has changed. The top of the field is much stronger than we are used to seeing. How they factor remains to be seen, but we can't ignore that the cream could rise to the top. 

This will be the fourth year this event is contested at TPC San Antonio. The course is a par 72, expected to play 7,522 yards.  While the course isn't even close to being one of the more memorable ones on TOUR, perhaps the most lasting memory is the 16 Kevin Na took on the par-4 ninth hole in 2011. It brings to light the native areas in play. In addition to that, it sports rather tight fairways and deep bunkers. 

When looking at the stats from 2012, despite the length of the course driving distance has very little to do with the outcome of the tournament. When Ben Curtis won in 2012, he led the week in GIR, was second in driving accuracy and third in strokes gained-putting. If there is a statistical lean to be found, and it's not clear-cut at all, it is to favor accuracy and putting. 

Here's a look at the winners and runner-ups from the last three VTOs (only ones at TPC San Antonio)
  • 2010 - Adam Scott (14-under), Fredrik Jacobson (13-under)
  • 2011 - Brendan Steele (8-under), Kevin Chappell and Charley Hoffman (7-under)
  • 2012 - Ben Curtis (9-under), Matt Every and John Huh (7-under)
In just this brief list, several things stand out.
  • Fredrik Jacobson is a perfect example of someone who can be statistically hard to pin down. We know he's a scrambler, and a potentially strong putter.
  • Adam Scott is an elite player. That puts us on notice that we can't ignore the elite players teeing it up this week for the sole purpose of Masters prep.
  • John Huh screams accuracy.
  • Kevin Chappell and Matt Every are under-30 collegiate stars that showed up here, as was Brendan Steele. Cameron Tringale is in excellent form and has a great record here as well.
The decisions this week will come down to weighing guys with great course history and solid form like Steele and Tringale versus elite players who are making their first starts at TPC San Antonio with very obvious ulterior motives like Jim Furyk and Charl Schwartzel. 

We will weigh the options and break it down in our power rankings tomorrow.

Happy research!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Valero Texas Open - Monday Qualifier

Here is the information for the Valero Texas Open Monday qualifier. Field is a little less intimidating than last week's four spotter.

Best of luck to all!

Shell Houston Open - Round 3

With 54-holes of the Shell Houston Open in the books, here are a few thoughts:

  • Tomorrow will be unpredictable. There is plenty of star power at the top, with Bill Haas and Stewart Cink leading, Ben Crane among those one back and Keegan Bradley, Louis Oosthuizen, Lee Westwood and Angel Cabrera in the group trailing by two.
  • When you have a shootout like this brewing, it's the perfect time for a guy like Bud Cauley or Billy Horschel to post a number and get their first win. It will be hard for Haas and Cink to hold off a group so tightly bunched, and Horschel and Cauley can both make tons of birdies.Add Cameron Tringale to the list as well.
  • Rory McIlroy was close to posting a nice score today, but faded late. His decision to play next week is probably wise. I can't believe he was previously slated to travel 89 hours for a charity trip. Good for him, but that's no way to prepare for a major.
  • Phil Mickelson is close to locking up my one-and-done selection for the Masters, but Louis Oosthuizen is coming on strong as well. King Louis is one of those guys that plays well in concentrated spurts, and this bodes well for Augusta.
  • Hard to forget about a guy like Dustin Johnson since he's T17, but in reality he's only four back.
  • Jimmy Walker fell hard today. Given his course history, it's not an indictment of his play as much as a terrible course fit.
Yahoo! lineup tomorrow is Kirk, D Johnson, K Bradley and Henley.

Best of luck!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Shell Houston Open - Round 2

Round 2 thoughts from the Shell Houston Open:

  • Steve Wheatcroft leads by one at 10-under after Monday Qualifying to start the week. 
  • Following Wheatcroft, DA Points and Jasons Kokrak at 9-under followed by Brian Davis and Stewart Cink at 7-under lead me to expect a volatile moving day at Redstone on Saturday.
  • Bill Haas (-6), Dustin Johnson (-5), Keegan Bradley (-4) and Steve Stricker (-3) all feel like they are one hot Saturday round away from inserting themselves into this story.
  • Rory McIlroy shot a 2-under on the day to make the cut by two. The bigger news is that he will play the Valero Texas Open next week.
  • Hunter Mahan missed the cut in his title defense.
  • Bud Cauley had it going and was 7-under at one point, but suffered a double bogey-double bogey-bogey run that featured multiple water balls to drop to 2-under. That very well could be an indicator of things to come this weekend, especially given the lack of wins on the front page of the leaderboard.
  • Other guys like Lee Westwood and Louis Oosthuizen basically just treaded water.
Keeping the Yahoo! lineup same again.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Shell Houston Open - Round 1

One thing I did regularly last season was a wrap up after each round. I discontinued the practice in 2013, largely because I thought it was a little redundant to the mainstream coverage available. I also have a pet peeve that I don't want to post just to chase page hits. This season I've been contacted several times regarding posting Yahoo! lineup changes and also received a pretty convincing email from a frequent reader that enjoyed the coverage during the tournament last season, so I've reconsidered.

The point made was that the mainstream coverage generally didn't focus on things gamers find valuable, and he's actually right. We don't just watch the front page of the leaderboard, we follow larger trends and look for signs of returns to form or fades. If anything, and I've said this before, I'm convinced that those of you who frequent this blog are generally among the most knowledgeable and avid golf fans. That's what makes this fun. I've played BuzzDraft and PGATOUR.com fantasy with you, and you know your stuff.

With all of that as a backdrop, here we go with first round thoughts from the Shell Houston Open.

  • I'm not buying D.A. Points (leader/8-under) yet. It's important to see if he can put three or four good rounds together, as he hasn't all year.
  • I am a believer in Cameron Tringale and John Rollins this week. Tringale was seventh in our power rankings and I mentioned that he should be considered for a one-and-done this week. Rollins is always a possibility in Texas, and he's having a solid year.
  • Angel Cabrera switches back to old irons this week and shoots a 6-under. Masters dark horse anyone?
  • Brian Davis' 67 was his lowest of the year. He's been showing signs of snapping a cold-spell lately, but like Points needs to put more than one hot round together.
  • Bud Cauley's 4-under was refreshing. He's struggled this year.
  • Others at 4-under of note include the red-hot Jimmy Walker train, Bill Haas bouncing back from a rough weekend at Bay Hill and Lee Westwood showing up just in time for some Masters buzz.
  • I like Dustin Johnson's afternoon 3-under. I mentioned that he was some stock to buy in the 8th spot in this week's power rankings. Wonder what his odds at Augusta are?
  • Keep an eye on Louis Oosthuizen tomorrow after a 70 today.
  • Brendan Steele shot a 70 as well, and his best tournament is the Valero Texas Open. Form looking good ahead of that.
  • Keegan Bradley shot a 70 in the afternoon. I like him to improve his position tomorrow.
  • Jonathan Byrd opened his year with an even-par 72 that included several short birdie misses. Irons looked dialed in. I'd like to see him play the weekend to see how he holds up over 72 holes, but the early returns aren't bad.
  • Mickelson looked like he was going to lead the tournament early, but fell to a 72. Remember, a mediocre finish this week is probably a good sign for the Masters.
  • Rory shot a 73, but made some birdies on the back nine. He opened with the same score at Doral before reeling in a top 10. Tomorrow morning's round will be a big deal. At worst, he needs to make the cut for two more round of live bullets over the weekend.
  • Stricker's 73 was a surprise and Mahan's morning 74 was as well.
  • Snedeker's 74 tells us the rust remains.
  • Raise your hand if you had Thorbjorn Olesen shooting an 82. Headscratcher. Could be a really bad sign for Augusta. I didn't look at his round to know, but it makes me wonder if he struggled on the slick greens.

Yahoo! lineup for Friday is Kirk, D Johnson, K Bradley and Spieth.

I don't know that these will always be this lengthy, but let me know what you think.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Shell Houston Open - Late Change

I made a late change to Yahoo! that I wanted to pass along. I subbed out Mickelson for McIlroy in my A-List bench. I did so for two reasons. First, McIlroy's tee times run opposite of Kirk's (am/pm) while Mickelson's don't. Second, my gut is begging me to throw McIlroy in to cover if he wins.

Thursday starters are Kirk, Stricker, Mahan and Henley.

Best of luck.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Shell Houston Open - Fantasy

Power rankings and previews are behind us, and it's full speed ahead with our Shell Houston Open fantasy games. Before we dive in, I want to address a recent development. BuzzDraft has been purchased by another fantasy-for-money site. It's my understanding that everyone with a BuzzDraft account will receive an email shortly with information for their account with the new site. It's also my understanding that golf is not yet part of the new site, but that could change in time. According to the banner on BuzzDraft,, if you want to go ahead and cash out you will have that option.

While we're on the topic, the final BuzzDraft private game was won by A340Spotter Inc. It's only fitting that Spotter gets his first win and the entire site goes out in a flame of glory! The fine final-round play of Bubba Watson bumped me from first to second.

Onto the rest......


It was a good week last week. We continued our climb up the leaderboard, rising to 12,356 with 1,768 and in the 88th percentile. Here's how we're looking this week:
  • A-List - Chris Kirk and Phil Mickelson (It was tough leaving McIlroy off the bench.)
  • B-List - Steve Stricker, Hunter Mahan, Keegan Bradley and Dustin Johnson. (Jimmy Walker was the odd man out).
  • C-List - Russell Henley and Jordan Spieth - Going young!

Golf Channel:

As always, my picks are published in the Rotoworld weekly article by my man Glass.

  • Group 1 - Steve Stricker 
  • Group 2 - Cameron Tringale
  • Group 3 - David Hearn (not Mathis as originally published at Rotoworld)
  • Group 4 - Jordan Spieth
PGA TOUR game:

Top five from Bay Hill
  • Stink Eye (881)
  • Super Molinari Bros (856)
  • Bustouts, Team Tiger I, II and III, Case of the Biershenks and Indiana Intimidation (all 824)
Overall top 5
  1. O'Sullivan's Tribe (2892)
  2. Case of the Biershenks (2845)
  3. GHIN & Juice (2660)
  4. Swinging for the Sixties (2614)
  5. Pure Spin (2597)
Due to a schedule conflict tomorrow, I will go ahead and announce my one-and-done and two-and-done picks tonight.

For the one-and-done, I narrowed it down to Keegan Bradley and Chris Kirk. Both are in good form, with Bradley's slightly better. Both are strong statistical fits, with Kirk possibly a little better. Kirk's got the higher finish at this venue, with a T2 in his only start in 2011. I may kick myself for this later, but I'm going with Bradley.

In my two-and-done, I'm going with Mr Top 5, Steve Stricker. He's solid here and his form goes without saying right now. In a way, I'm glad I already used him at Kapalua in the one-and-done or this would have been a really tough call.

Best of luck this week!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Shell Houston Open - Power Rankings

The Monday finish at Bay Hill leaves us with a quick turnaround for the Shell Houston Open. Tiger Woods winning the event should come as a surprise to no one. Now that he's back to world No. 1, he must hope that Rory McIlroy doesn't return to form quickly enough to win this week and take it right back. With that as sour backdrop, we’ll cut right to the chase. Feel free to check out yesterday’s Preview if you need a refresher on the SHO and/or Redstone GC. 

Here we go with the power rankings.
  1. Hunter Mahan – It’s always a bit of a cop out to go with the defending champion, but you can’t ignore five top-11 finishes at Redstone in seven tries. The only hesitation here is his two missed cuts in 2008 and 2010. He’s third in all-time earnings, with $1,736,060. Similar to recent years where he’s been successful here, he had a solid Match Play and is collecting plenty of top-25 finishes. In short, all signs point to another top-10 finish and not a missed cut.
  2. Phil Mickelson – He wouldn't have been this high had I not read the Equipment Insider on PGATOUR.com, which detailed that he experimented with a new putter at Bay Hill and will shelf it this week in favor of the one he used to win the WMPO earlier in the year. You may have noticed that he took a four-putt at the API that was really a five-putt, given he used the flat stick from the fringe to start the process. There’s no doubt he’s going to be tinkering again this week, but he tinkered his way to a fourth in 2012 and a win in 2011. If he’s average this week, then he’ll probably win the Masters. That’s Phil.
  3. Steve Stricker – I’m shocked Strick is playing this week. This tells me that he may get his 15 starts in this season. He’s played two stroke-play events this year and was runner-up in each. We don’t have to look too far back to find a recipe for success at Redstone, finishing T4 in ’11 and sporting four top-11 finishes since 2006. Playing mind reader for a minute, with two runner-ups in a light schedule, deep down I’m betting that he thinks he can win the Masters and this is a sign of him doing everything he can to get ready for Augusta National.
  4. Keegan Bradley – He tied for fourth here last year and is in form coming into the week off a T3 at Bay Hill. He’s turning into a bit of the 2012 version of Bo Van Pelt, making cuts and cracking top 10s and top 25s, but not exactly contending for the W. I do expect that to change, but pegging the week will be tough.
  5. Chris Kirk – He’s only played here once, and it was a T2 in 2011. He’s already notched a runner-up this year and is coming off a nice week at Bay Hill. When you consider his driving and putting stats, he’s not all that different from Hunter Mahan. He will be heavily in the mix for a one-and-done this week.
  6. Rory McIlroy – A final-round 65 to crack a top 10 at Doral in his last start was huge. He finished ahead of a bunch of really good golfers whose form wasn't in question that week. He tied for 19th here in 2009, but missed the cut in 2010. I would not be surprised if this was his “welcome to 2013” moment. Expectations won’t be through the roof, but he may be the most dangerous man in the field. Check that, he is the most dangerous man in the field.
  7. Cameron Tringale – Similar to last year around this time, he’s running hot. He was third in Tampa Bay and comes off a T27 at the Arnold Palmer. He finished T8 here last year after a T73 in his first trip in 2011. Like Chris Kirk, he’s a guy you have to consider in one-and-done formats this week.
  8. Dustin Johnson – If you could buy some long-term DJ stock right now, I’d probably advise you to do so. The fact is, he had his second best week in his last start at Doral, finishing T12 with three rounds under par, but has never made the cut at Redstone in two trips. He also hasn't played here since 2009. When you consider everything, the entire West Coast Swing was one big distraction for DJ. If he wasn't playing in a Pro-Am with his girlfriend’s dad, Wayne Gretzky, he had the first family of hockey strolling the fairways watching his every shot. I don’t know Dustin, but he doesn't strike me as the type that needs a lot of help distracting himself. That he’s playing this week on a course he hasn't been successful on in an event he’s left off the schedule since 2009 tells me he’s getting pretty serious about golf right now. His skills should line up for this course. This could be the last week of the season that he’s under the radar, which will come as welcomed news for season-long DJ owners.
  9. Jordan Spieth – With special temporary status unlocked, he’s playing in his home state with very little to lose. We can’t be sure how Redstone GC will line up for him, since he’s never played it, but his form is excellent. It will be interesting to see if a week off did him well, or cooled him off.
  10. Lee Westwood – Tenth is about right for him in this event, if not a little high. He’s never missed the cut here, but never done better than T8. Typically for Westy, that means either the greens or the short-game shots exploit his weakness. His year is remarkably similar to his history in this event. He’s made all of his cuts, with a T9 at The Honda Classic his best result.
  11. Brandt Snedeker – The Arnold Palmer was a bit of a disaster, as is his record of having never made a cut in this event in three tries. Still, I just can’t bring myself to ignore him either. This is likely an emergency start to get ready for Augusta, so it’s more about looking for signs of form this week than investing too much in him.
  12. Louis Oosthuizen – We’re about to find out what’s going on with King Louis. He was T16 in ’11 in this event and tied for third last year, so we know Redstone suits his eye. It hasn't been a good start to the season, missing the cut in his two starts where there actually was a cut and not contending in the WGCs. His driving stats are noticeably bad, which is a surprise given it’s normally the strength of his game.

Next 5: Graham DeLaet, Bob Estes, Luke Guthrie, Billy Horschel and John Huh

We will be back tomorrow to check out the games. Best of luck!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Shell Houston Open - Preview

With the Florida Swing coming to an end, the PGA TOUR heads to the Lone Star State for the next two weeks before driving down Magnolia Lane for the Masters. The Shell Houston Open is the first of the two stops in Texas, and Redstone Golf Club will continue in their recent tradition of trying to prepare the field for Augusta National with slick greens.

Redstone is also similar to Augusta National in that it's a par 72, featuring four par 5s, and plays to a lengthy 7,441 yards. The Shell Houston Open began using Redstone Golf Club's Tournament in 2006, after a brief stint at Redston's Fall Creek and a lengthy run at TPC Woodlands.

Since 2006, here's a look at the winners and runner-ups:

  • 2006 - Stuart Appleby (19-under), then Bob Estes (13-under)
  • 2007 - Adam Scott (17-under), then Appleby and Bubba Watson (14-under)
  • 2008 - Johnson Wagner (16-under), then Chad Campbell and Geoff Ogilvy (14-under)
  • 2009 - Paul Casey (11-under), then J.B. Holmes (11-under)
  • 2010 - Anthony Kim (12-under), then Vaughn Taylor (12-under)
  • 2011 - Phil Mickelson (20-under), then Chris Kirk and Scott Verplank (17-under)
  • 2012 - Hunter Mahan (16-under), then Carl Pettersson (15-under)
When I look at that list, three things stand out.
  1. There are plenty of fearless drivers of the golf ball on that list. Scott, Watson, Holmes, Mickelson and Mahan all jump off the page for that reason.
  2. There are a number of guys that were in the midst of great seasons on this list. In the case of Kirk and Pettersson, they each picked up wins later in the year. Appleby was still a force on TOUR in 2006. Campbell and Ogilvy were very much in their prime in 2008. Paul Casey in 2009....Anthony Kim in 2010....
  3. While putters aren't featured on this list, Taylor and Wagner could probably thank the flat stick for their success.
If you are looking to unlock the formula for this week's tournament, I would recommend starting with guys who are driving the ball long and without much fear. (Another example is third-place finisher Louis Oosthuizen last year.) Maybe check out total driving with a lean on distance over accuracy. Due to the length of the course and the par 5s, one has to attack off the tee. As always, form and course history will play an important role. The perfect combination for Redstone would be a guy who's in good form, has a steady course history, is long off the tee and a decent putter to boot.

We will see if we can uncover a few of those guys in tomorrow's power rankings.

Happy research!

Shell Houston Open - Monday Qualifier

With the Web.com Tour just finishing up in Louisiana and entering an off week, many of those guys will make the drive to Houston for the Shell Houston Open Monday Qualifier. It will be a strong field competing for the final four spots in the field.

Here's your link to the open qualifier.

Best of luck to all!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Arnold Palmer Invitational - One-and-Done

Hours away from balls in the air at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, it's time to finalize the one-and-done and two-and-done for the week.

Any week Tiger Woods is as big of a favorite as he is this week, there are certain pros and cons to burning a one-and-done on him. For starters, it's likely a high percentage of players in your league are doing the same thing. So depending on where you are in your standings, you may want to jump on the bandwagon or go against the grain.

I'm a believer that Bay Hill is the best course on TOUR for Tiger, period. The API is not a "full-field" event, which always favors Tiger. On top of a smaller field than most TOUR stops, it's not really that strong of a field in comparison to WGCs and FEC events.

At the end of the day, in a one-and-done you need to put Tiger on a winner. That means I'm burning him in both my one-and-done and two-and done.

Best of luck this week!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Arnold Palmer Invitational - Fantasy

With the Arnold Palmer Invitational preview and power rankings behind us, let's dive into some games!


We're creeping closer to respectability, now with 1,570 points to rank in the 87th percentile at 13,184. The one MUST this week is to play Tiger Woods.

  • A-List - Tiger Woods and Graeme McDowell
  • B-List - Justin Rose, Jim Furyk, Jimmy Walker and Webb Simpson
  • C-List - Ian Poulter and Jason Day
It's looking like a windy week at Bay Hill, so I like mixing in a grinder like Furyk. Poulter can also do ugly well when needed. The hardest decision was whether to back up Woods with G-Mac or Garcia. 

Golf Channel:

As always, my picks have already been published in the weekly Rotoworld preview. I'm trying to make up some ground in that game, so I went with a little more risk in group's three and four.
  • Group 1 - Tiger
  • Group 2 - Furyk
  • Group 3 - Graham DeLaet
  • Group 4 - Brian Davis

In our private game, Traj went back-to-back. He collected 753.67 points, while Tiger's Embedded Balls placed in second with 658.17. Of note, Traj had Kevin Streelman in Group 8 which was the difference in the game.

Also of note, The Chili Dippers finished in the money in sixth in the feature game. 


There was a three-way tie for first last week. Here are the top five from the Tampa Bay Championship:
  • T1 - Subliminal Magic (318)
  • T1 - KyRoadz (318)
  • T1 - Super Molinari Bros. (318)
  • 4 - Pelican's Rule (313)
  • 5 - GHIN & Juice (303)
Our overall standings look like this:
  • 1 - GHIN & Juice (2136)
  • 2 - O'Sullivan's Tribe (2087)
  • 3 - Pure Spin (2073)
  • 4 - Swinging for the Sixties (2042)
  • 5 - the horsethieves (2035)
We will finalize our one-and-done tomorrow. Best of luck to all!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Arnold Palmer Invitational - Power Rankings

Sticking to the Monday night script, below are the power rankings for the Arnold Palmer Invitational. A little different than normal is what comes after the power rankings. What I've noticed the last few weeks are a number of players that deserve some attention. In some cases they are trending very well. In others, they have an excellent course history. Either way, they could prove valuable in deeper gaming formats.

Let's get started.
  1. Tiger Woods - Need I say more this week?
  2. Graeme McDowell - Runner-up last year in this event, he's also finished inside the top 10 in each of his last three starts leading into this week.
  3. Jim Furyk - I was skeptical about Furyk starting the year, but a season-best T7 last week and nothing worse than a T35 in five starts has him trending well. He's also finished inside the top 11 in each of his last three starts at Bay Hill.
  4. Sergio Garcia - He's one of about five guys that could have easily walked out of Tampa Bay with a win had his putter cooperated. With a T3 and a T7 in his last two starts, this could go either way. There's a big part of me that wants to jump off the bandwagon, but his form is just too good. He's only missed one cut in 11 tries at Bay Hill, with six top 10s to show for his efforts.
  5. Justin Rose - He tied for third here in 2011 and was T15 last year. He's coming off a T4 and a T8 in his last two starts, so his form is solid. Should be a safe top 10.
  6. Brandt Snedeker - Won in his last start, but coming off an injury. If we've learned anything this year, it's not to count him out of anything. As important as the majors are to him now, he wouldn't play this week if he wasn't 100 percent.
  7. Bubba Watson - The bomber has been about a half-step behind his 2012 pace all year, but has finished inside the top 20 four times already this year. His T4 last year makes him a dangerous man at Bay Hill this week.
  8. Keegan Bradley - Bradley missed the cut badly here in his only start last year, but at ninth in par 5 birdie or better average this course should serve him well. He's coming off a T4 and a 7th in his last two starts entering the week.
  9. Phil Mickelson - Lefty has a first, a second and a third here in 13 starts. His T3 at Doral shows his form is fine after his winter vacation. The only question is if he is using this to tinker for Augusta National or if he's actually trying to win.
  10. Charles Howell III - He's finished inside the top 25 at Bay Hill in three of the last four seasons. He's also coming off a T12 at Doral in what has been a stellar 2013 campaign. Add to that, he's playing for his Masters life.
  11. Hunter Mahan - Other than the Match Play, he hasn't been able to wrangle a top five, but does have four top-16 finishes. He's never done better than a tie for sixth at Bay Hill, but seems close to putting it all together entering the meat of the schedule.
  12. Webb Simpson - Add him to the list with Sergio Garcia of guys that couldn't buy short to mid-range putts at Copperhead last week. He buried a couple of bombs to make his SGP stat look better than it was. Still, his form is very good despite not having a top 10 at Bay Hill.
Others that caught my eye in no particular order:
  • Ernie Els - Two-time winner here that tied for fourth last year, but is off to an average start to 2013.
  • Brian Davis - Form is awful, but trended up at Bay Hill each of the last three years. He was 24th in '10, T12 in '11 and T4 last year.
  • Ryan Moore - Another guy battling form, but also T12 and T4 in his last two trips to Bay Hill.
  • Kevin Streelman - Not just because he won last week, but a T7 in 2010 make him attractive.
  • Lucas Glover - Putted terribly last week and still managed to T38. If he works the putter out......
  • Nick Watney - T4 in '09, but not much else going here. Sort of like this year, a couple of nice weeks but a whole lot of average.
  • Pat Perez - T7 last week and three top 10s in 10 trips to Bay Hill make him a legitimate dark horse.
  • Marc Leishman - Form is everywhere, but a T3 here in 2011 make him worth a look in a deep format.
  • Greg Chalmers - T4 last week.
  • K.J. Choi - Keeps flirting with a return to form, but fell apart on the weekend last week. OK history at Bay Hill.
  • Erik Compton - Top 30s in each of his last three starts since the TOUR headed east.
  • Jason Day - Slowed down since third-place finish at the Match Play.
  • Graham DeLaet - Top 21s in each of his last four starts and is 10th in GIR. Very sneaky play this week.
  • James Driscoll - Top 40s in each of his last three starts.
  • Jason Dufner - Slowly returning to 2012 form, but hasn't cracked a top 10 yet.
  • Harris English - T7 last week and looked good with Jimmy Johnson (Stricker's normal looper) on the bag.
  • Bob Estes - Already four top 30s on the 2013 ledger.
  • Rickie Fowler - You never know.
  • Peter Hanson - Trendy, with a T17, T13 and and 8th working towards something big.
  • Brian Harman - Top 20s in last two starts.
  • Russell Henley - Top 30s in his last three starts after briefly losing form following win. Looks like the hangover has passed.
  • Ben Kohles - Not sure what to make of career-best T7 last week quite yet.
  • Dicky Pride - T11 and T21 in last two starts.
  • Ian Poulter - Could easily have been in the top 12 given his third-place finish last year.
  • Kyle Stanley - T18 in his last start begins to show a return to form and he's made some noise at Bay Hill dating back to his amateur days.
  • Brian Stuard - Still hasn't missed a cut, but his T43 last week was a season-worst.
  • Cameron Tringale - Third place last week makes him very dangerous. Showed last spring that he can ride a wave of top 10s.
  • Jimmy Walker - Picked up where he left off before the baby with a T30 last week.
  • Boo Weekley - Talk about trendy, T25 to T8 to runner-up.
  • Lee Westwood - Plenty of top 25s to start the year, but not really contending yet.
We will be back tomorrow to look at various games. Let me know if you liked today's format. 

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Arnold Palmer Invitational - Preview

All eyes will be on Tiger Woods at the 2013 Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard as he looks to win this event for the eighth time. Already with two wins on his 2013 ledger, Woods is a massive favorite to bring home his third title of the season at Bay Hill.

Bay Hill Club and Lodge is a 7,419 yard par 72 featuring the expected four par 5s, four par 3s and 10 par 4s. Elements of Bay Hill will remind many of Doral, where Woods won two weeks ago. Water is a factor on many holes including several par 5s and the par-4 18th, just like Doral's Blue Monster.

Looking at how Woods got it done in 2012, one thing jumps off the page. It's important to hit GIR. There were three men tied for the tournament lead with 79.2 percent GIR. Woods, Graeme McDowell (runner-up) and Ryan Moore (T4). The tie breaker for Woods was his putter, finishing fourth in strokes gained-putting.

The elephant in the room this week is Tiger Woods. He will lead off tomorrow's power rankings, he will be in every gaming format and I will likely burn my one-and-done on him this week. This week's big question is who else to play.

As always, we will take a hard look at course history and current form. When we dive into stats, we will look closely at guys hitting plenty of GIR and scoring well on the par 5s. An additional factor will consider guys with a propensity for playing well in Florida, as this is a course very typical to the rest of the Florid Swing.

Best of luck with your research!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Tampa Bay Championship - Final Thoughts

About all that's left for our Tampa Bay Championship coverage is the one-and-done and two-and-done picks. From what little bit I've read on the topic, and by little bit I mean my two Rotoworld colleagues Rob and Glass, there seems to be a pull towards Jim Furyk. That makes plenty of sense, but I'm moving in a different direction.

My one-and-done is Webb Simpson for two reasons. First, is that I believe that he and Sergio Garcia are the two best bets to win this week. Second, is that everywhere else I could think of where I might play them, I have someone else in mind that I like a little better.

My two-and-done is Sergio Garcia. If you haven't figured it out by now, I'm a hedger. Sergio is on form and this is a course for ball-strikers.

We will kick of Bay Hill coverage on Sunday unless something sparks a return before then.

Best of luck to all!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Tampa Bay Championship - Fantasy Games

With the preview and the power rankings for the Tampa Bay Championship behind us, let’s jump into some games!

We’ll start with Yahoo!

Hopefully you had Tiger Woods at least plugged in on your bench in the event he did what he did. I would say that was the case with most given the minimal gain in the standings I experienced when I plugged him in on Saturday and Sunday.

This week, we are going with these guys. I’ve already adjusted for first-round tee times):

  • A-List – Sergio Garcia (Thursday AM) starting and Jason Dufner (Thursday PM) on the bench
  • B-List – Webb Simpson (Thursday AM), Jim Furyk (Thursday AM), Matt Kuchar (Thursday PM) and Luke Donald (Thursday AM)
  • C-List – Adam Scott (Thursday PM) and Jason Day (Thursday PM)

I realize that I don’t have equal coverage for morning tee times each of the first two rounds. Feel free to check the tee times and sub in should you feel the need to do so. I did notice that the wind looks higher on Thursday, meaning the Thursday AM tee times are likely a premium.

Current stats: 1436 points, ranking 14,401 and 86th percentile.

Golf Channel picks this week (also found at Rotoworld http://www.rotoworld.com/articles/gol/42749/297/florida-swingin):

Group 1 – Webb Simpson
Group 2 – Scott Piercy
Group 3 – Lucas Glover
Group 4 – Jerry Kelly


Congrats to Traj for taking it home with 953.5 points over KYech in second with 923.35. I can’t say for sure, but I don’t remember Traj playing with us before and I certainly don’t remember a win. Welcome and congrats!

Looks like our players got skunked in the feature game. We’ll have to do better this week!

If any new players would like to join, leave a comment below and I’ll help you get set up.


Top five in the season-long standings are:
  1. O’Sullivan’s Tribe (1846)
  2. GHIN & Juice (1833)
  3. Pure Spin (1832)
  4. Swinging for the Sixties (1828)
  5. The horsethieves (1782)

In the weekly standings:
  1. Case of the Biershenks (1086) (He had Woods, Stricker (2), Scott (T3) and Rose (T8). Good grief.
  2. PelicansRule (1011)
  3. Define Statutory (911)
  4. Churbanboy (788)
  5. The horsethieves (788)

I’ll wrap up the week tomorrow with one-and-done and two-and-done picks. Until then, best of luck!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Tampa Bay Championship - Power Rankings

With star-studded fields of WGC’s and The Honda Classic behind us, it’s time to tackle The Snake Pit at this week’s Tampa Bay Championship. While this field lacks the headliners of Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, it offers plenty of depth with the likes of defending-champ Luke Donald, Louis Ooosthuizen, Matt Kuchar, Jason Dufner, Adam Scott and Sergio Garcia.

Feel free to check back and reference yesterday’s preview of the Copperhead Course and learn a little about the past history of this event if you need a refresher. The short version is that this course doesn't necessarily favor anyone statistically. We've seen short and strait, long and crooked, good and bad putters and everything in between win. There are also plenty of non-U.S. winners dotting the list. The PGA TOUR has seen an American win every week this year, but that could come to an end this week.

I’m happy to report that both of last week’s winners, Tiger Woods and Scott Brown, were prominently featured in last week’s power rankings for their respective events. Hopefully that will be the case again this week.

Here we go:

  1. Webb Simpson – With Paul Tesori back to riding shotgun, Simpson put together a nice week at Doral. Tesori commented on Twitter that the dynamic duo is feeling very good headed into this week given they managed a T20 with a balky putter last week. That fact is, in 2010 Tampa Bay was Simpson’s fourth best event of the year. In 2011 it was tied for his third best (behind two wins). In 2012 it was his seventh best, but still a top 10. I’ll buy what his caddy is selling.
  2. Sergio Garcia – If there is anything we know about Sergio Garcia, it’s that he tends to have buckets of success in highly-concentrated spurts. Having tied for third last week, this is a good week to jump on the Spaniard’s bandwagon. Just remember to jump off quickly enough too. He’s made each of his four cuts in this event with a T15 and a T16 in his last two trips.
  3. Adam Scott – The first two were easy, but here’s where it gets tricky. Scott lit up Doral for a final-round 64, stealing a share of third. I looked back at his history on the PGA TOUR. I counted seven occasions where he fired a 66 or better in the final round of the tournament and teed it up the very next week. In all seven occasions, he finished inside the top 30, but only twice was in the top 10 and never sniffed a top five. He’s never made a top 25 here, missing two of his four cuts. All things add up to him having his best finish here, but how good remains to be seen. *Note, I saw that my friend Ben Coley (@BenColeyGolf on Twitter) looked at similar trends this week involving Scott’s final-round trend. Check him out on Twitter and read through his history for his opinion as well!
  4. Jim Furyk – His current form isn't anything to set off fire alarms, but his course history here is as solid as anyone in the field. Starting with last year and working backwards, his last three starts here are P2, T13 and Winner. He tied for 35th last week. That may not be a bad thing since he tied for 37th at Doral the week before he won in 2010. I wouldn't be surprised with any finish inside the top 25 for Furyk, first to T25.
  5. Luke Donald – In his last two starts here, he’s tied for sixth and won in a playoff last year. My disclaimer is that his form isntt as good leading into this week as it was when he posted those finishes. That said, he’s never missed a cut here in four chances. My head tells me this is a top 20 week for the Englishman, but not a top 10. His history demands a little more respect than that.
  6. Jason Dufner – For the first time this year, Dufner started to look like his 2012 version last week. While this has never been a “must play” for Duf investors, it’s always been a pretty solid tournament for him. He tied for 10th last year in what was his best start, and he’s finished inside the top 30 here in each of his last four starts. I’m marking this down as an important week for him, and a pretty accurate measuring stick of where his game is headed into some tournaments later in the spring where he tends to feast.
  7. Matt Kuchar – Kuch shocked me (in a bad way) with a T35 at Doral last week. He was more hung over than I thought from his Match Play win on a course where he’d never finished worse than eighth. I don’t think it will last too long, but I’m not 100% comfortable that this will be the week he gets it all the way back. He’s finished a modest (by his standards) T10 and T12 here in his last two starts. That’s on par with where I potentially see him falling in line this week.
  8. Robert Garrigus – Admittedly, this is a stab in the dark. I loved his mojo headed into Doral last week , but he found more double bogeys and others than I thought were possible. He tied for second here last year, but his history before that was awful. Add to that, he accomplished his 2012 finish with a really hot final round. Were it not for that, he may not have cracked the top 15. Of course, had he not played last week I might have ranked him much higher. He is the highest risk/reward option this week.
  9. Scott Piercy – Piercy had a decent first trip to Doral last week (T25) to keep a steady year on the tracks. Much like Garrigus, he didn't have a great history here until his tie for fifth last season. Unlike Garrigus, he didn’t give us a huge pause for concern last week.
  10. Jason Day – His best finish here is a T20 last year. In fact, his history is bad. His season is off to a solid start, so this is a week where he should at least notch his best finish in this tournament. Invest carefully though. Your format will dictate how prudent of a play the Aussie is this week.
  11. Michael Thompson – He tied for 16th in this event last year, and after winning The Honda Classic and adding a top 10 in his first WGC event, we must show him the respect he’s due. My gut tells me he’s on a downward run, and a top 20 would be optimistic. His form and history say that he’s a solid top-10 option.
  12. Lucas Glover – I've been waiting to see my fellow Clemson grad play this event since he made a couple of early cuts on the West Coast. Now that he has a T4 at The Honda Classic in his back pocket, I’m even more curious to see how he does. Sort of like Dufner, this is going to be a very good barometer of where he is right now. He’s made the cut 6/9 times with three top 25s and a T4 in 2007. Considering one of those three missed cuts was last year, it’s more like 6/8. I expect a top 25 out of him, with a realistic chance for a top 10. If you want an off the board one-and-done option, you could do worse than him.

Next 5 – Brendon de Jonge, Sang-moon Bae, Luke Guthrie, Nick Watney, Geoff Ogilvy

We will be back tomorrow to check in on a number of various gaming formats.

Best of luck!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Tampa Bay Championship - Preview

The Tampa Bay Championship is set to take place on the Copperhead Course at Innisbrook Resort and Golf Club. Everyone has an opinion as to which tournament on the Florida Swing is the best, and this is my favorite. It takes place on a tough but fair course. Length is rewarded but not required. In general, the best player is often identified.

The Copperhead course also has many traits similar to other courses on the Florida Swing. If you like the opening par 5 at Doral, the Copperhead course starts with a 560 yard par 5. If you like the watery par 3s on  The Bear Trap at The Honda Classic, check out the 13th this week. In all, the 7,341 yard par 71 boasts four par 5s, five par 3s and nine par 4s.

What is a shame, is that this course could stand to lose this tournament if a sponsor isn't inked soon. We went through the same thing recently with the RBC Heritage. Thankfully, RBC stepped in to save one of the best stops on TOUR.

This tournament has been on the schedule since 2000, but moved from the fall to the spring in 2007. It was not contested in 2001. While I don't recall why it took a year off, an educated guess based on the dates of the tournament the year prior and after would be that it ran close to the 9/11 attacks in the U.S.

Here is a list of the winner's and runner-ups:

  • 2000 - Winner: John Huston (13-under); Runner-up: Carl Paulson (10-under)
  • 2002 - Winner: K.J. Choi (17-under); Runner-up: Glen Day (10-under)
  • 2003 - Winner: Retief Goosen (12-under); Runner-up: Vijay Singh (9-under)
  • 2004 - Winner: Vijay Singh (18-under); Runner-up: Tommy Armour III and Jesper Parnevik (13-under)
  • 2005 - Winner: Carl Pettersson (9-under); Runner-up: Chad Campbell (8-under)
  • 2006 - Winner: K.J. Choi (13-under); Runner-up: Brett Wetterich and Paul Goydos (9-under)
  • 2007 - Winner: Mark Calcavecchia (10-under); Runner-up: John Senden and Heath Slocum (9-under)
  • 2008 - Winner: Sean O'Hair (4-under); Runner-up: Stewart Cink, Ryuji Imada, Troy Matteson, Billy Mayfair, George McNeill and John Senden (2-under)
  • 2009 - Winner: Retief Goosen (8-under); Runner-up: Charles Howell III and Brett Quigley (7-under)
  • 2010 - Winner: Jim Furyk (13-under); Runner-up: K.J. Choi (12-under)
  • 2011 - Winner: Gary Woodland (15-under); Runner-up: Webb Simpson (14-under)
  • 2012 - Winner: Luke Donald (13-under); Runner-up: Sang-moon Bae, Jim Furyk, Robert Garrigus (13-under / playoff)
The list above is sort of all over the place. There is a very strong International presence on this list, including Goosen, Choi, Singh, Pettersson and Donald. There are also some less polished players known mainly for their length who crack this list, and they are Wetterich, Matteson, McNeill, Woodland and Garrigus. 

If you're trying to figure this one out based on which stats are important, look no further than the four players in last year's playoff to see that the stats may not favor anyone.

Donald: T9 in Driving Accuracy (DA), T43 GIR, 1st in strokes gained-putting (SGP), T27 in Sand Saves (SS), 76th in Driving Distance (DD), 22nd in Proximity, and T5 in distance of putts made.
Furyk: T14 (DA), 4th (GIR), 30th (SGP), T1 (SS), 74th (DD), 2nd (proximity), 25th distance of putts made
Bae: T24 (DA), T59 (GIR), 2nd (SGP), T11 (SS), 19th (DD), 14th (proximity), 2nd distance of putts made
Garrigus: T64 (DA), T5 (GIR), 60 (SGP), 55 (SS), 2nd (DD), 27 (proximity), 13 distance of putts made

So what we can decipher from this is that you better be really good at something (each guy ranked first or second in something), but it doesn't really favor one thing over another. 

We will lean on course history, current form and a little bit of good fortune to try and handicap this field. 

Check back tomorrow for our Power Rankings.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Tampa Bay Championship - Monday Qualifier

Next up on the PGA TOUR schedule is the Tampa Bay Championship, with the final spots in the field to be decided by a Monday qualifier. For those interested in following the action of the Monday qualifier, click here for the link. 

Best of luck to all!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

WGC-Cadillac & Puerto Rico - One-and-done

With the hours counting down before the first tees are in the ground at the WGC-Cadillac Championship and  the Puerto Rico Open, we will nail down our final picks.

For the WGC-Cadillac one-and-done I'm going with Charl Schwartzel. The decision not to play him last week made this week a virtual lock unless he really laid an egg at PGA National. With a T9 on a tough track last week, he did nothing to cause me to erase his name.

My WGC-Cadillac two-and-done pick is Matt Kuchar. Kuch has never finished worse than T8 here in three starts and his form is obvious after a win at the Match Play. I'm a hedger at heart, and I don't feel like either of these guys will miss. Much less both of them.

In Puerto Rico, I'm going a little against what seems to be the popular grain and tabbing Matt Jones as my one-and-done. Jones had the low round in the Honda finale and tied for fifth in Puerto Rico last week. He's also off to a good start. There's plenty of love for Luke Guthrie, Kevin Stadler, Bryce Molder, Patrick Cantlay and others out there. I wouldn't talk you out of any of those, but I like Jones. (There is not a two-and-done in my league for Puerto Rico, but if there was I'd probably go Graham DeLaet.)

Best of luck this week!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

WGC-Cadillac Championship and Puerto Rico Open - Games

The WGC-Cadillac Championship and Puerto Rico Open provide us with a double dose of tournament action, and in some cases twice the amount of games. Here’s how it all shakes out.

Yahoo! is going with the WGC-Cadillac this week. Remember that there isn’t a morning and an afternoon wave due to the size of the field. Just a late morning/early afternoon group.

A-List – Bubba Watson starting with Tiger on the bench. We’ve got last year’s runner-up paired with a guy who has never finished outside the top 10 in this event at this venue.
B-List – Justin Rose and Matt Kuchar starting with Nick Watney and Keegan Bradley on the bench.
C-List – Charl Schwartzel starting with Robert Garrigus on the bench.

Total points – 1,228 for a ranking of 15,171 and 85th percentile.

The Golf Channel game is taking advantage of both tournaments. As published in Rotoworld’s weekly article, here are my picks.


Group 1 – Matt Kuchar
Group 2 – Charl Schwartzel
Group 3 – Robert Garrigus
Group 4 – Padraig Harrington

Puerto Rico Open

Group 1 – Graham DeLaet
Group 2 – George McNeill
Group 3 – Matt Jones
Group 4 – Vaughn Taylor

PGA TOUR game update:

Top 5 overall standings:
  1. GHIN & Juice (1185)
  2. Texas Clowns (1182)
  3. O’Sullivan’s Tribe (1153)
  4. Rubio 2016 (1138)
  5. Stink Eye (1113)

The top 5 last week at The Honda Classic were:
  1. Woltz (326)
  2. Rubio 2016 (323)
  3. Rotoworld Rob (295)
  4. Pure Spin (283)
  5. O’Sullivan’s Tribe (283)
  6. Case of the Biershenks (283)
  7. Harrington Harriers (283)
  8. Texas Clowns (283)
  9. Adub (283)

I can’t believe none of you had Michael Thompson in your top four! (j/k)


It was a volatile week in the BuzzDraft format. I know I got a tweet from one reader who had Camillo Villegas in our Private game and went from the penthouse to the outhouse quickly. I can sympathize, as I was winning the 34-man feature after round one with Villegas on the roster and ended up not even cashing.

Our private game saw Zanarkand Abes take the top prize with 585.63 points and A340Spotter find a second-place finish for the second week in a row at 498.9. RotoRyan, @DKateeb, KYech and Tiger’s Wood rounded out the action in that order.

Zanarkand Abes also cashed to the tune of $95 in the feature game via a third-place finish, as the KYech finishing fifth and Ghin and Juice took the last spot in the money in seventh.

Nice work guys!

We will return tomorrow with one-and-done’s and two-and-done’s tomorrow, as well as any other relevant updates you may need.

Best of luck this week!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Puerto Rico Open - Power Rankings

When we compile the power rankings for the Puerto Rico Open, we can't forget that there is a reason these guys are playing this week. For starters, they aren't in the WGC-Cadillac field. Next, most feel like they have to make this start or found in the past when they did have to make this start that they really like the golf course. For some, it’s big for the reshuffle for those impacted.

All that said, there really isn’t “chalk” per say this week. There is only the class of an opposite-field event. So, proceed with caution, but try and find that diamond in the rough that can make a difference in your one-and-done game, or other full-season game you may play.

If you have a hunch, this is the time to ride it. Think this could be the week that Brendon de Jonge or Geoff Ogilvy breaks through? Give it a whirl. Here’s who I like when I throw in my gut, current form, course history and anything else that comes to mind.

I almost always do a top 12 and a next five. My list consisted of 14 this week, so rather than sift through it I’m going with a top 14 and no next five.

  1. Graham DeLaet – He fell apart late at The Honda Classic, but he’s already got one top 10 this year and has progressed from a T24 in his first start in Puerto Rico to a T9 last year.
  2. Kevin Stadler – He’s one of those guys that probably should have won by now, and this is a good place for him to break though. He tied for seventh here last year and has only missed one cut on TOUR this year. He falls into the category of a guy that probably doesn't have to play this year, but the course suits him.
  3. George McNeill – Last year’s winner captured the title in his second start. His only prior start was a solo-fifth the year before. That’s a pretty good average finish.
  4. Jeff Overton – He’s 4/4 here with three top-15 finishes. He has to win somewhere.
  5. Brendon de Jonge – He’s 3/3 here with a T3 in 2010 the highlight. I would like for him to have gotten off to a little better start, but he’s pretty close to the class of the field.
  6. Luke Guthrie – A rookie who will quickly learn from his disappointment at The Honda Classic.
  7. James Hahn – It will be his first stop at the Puerto Rico Classic, but expect him to be a factor.
  8. Matt Jones – He tied for fifth last year and is off to a nice start to 2013. A final-round 68 on a brutal day at PGA National snuck him inside the top 25. That could be the momentum he needs to walk out of Puerto Rico with a win.
  9. Michael Bradley – Likely the only time this year he will crack this power ranking, he’s won this event twice and never missed the cut. Sort of like Nick Watney at the WGC, his wins have come in odd-numbered years.
  10. Patrick Cantlay – It’s very possible that his win at the Colombia Championship in last week’s Web.com Tour event will free him up. My observation of Cantlay since he’s turned pro is that he hasn't played with the reckless abandon that made him so dangerous as an amateur. With a date in the four-tournament race for a 2013-2014 PGA TOUR card already locked up thanks to that win, he’s free to go for broke.
  11. Scott Brown – He showed up in the weeks where the fields were the worst on the PGA TOUR last year, and that at least kept him inside the top 150 and gave him conditional status. That success started with a T5 in this event last year. Add to that, he started the year with a third in Panama and a T7 in Colombia to kick off the Web.com Tour year.
  12. Bryce Molder  - You have to go back a few years, but he has a T7 and a T13 to go with a missed cut in this event. Another guy that stands out as one of the more established players in the field.
  13. Brandt Jobe – He’s 2/2 with two top 10s in this event. As good a flier as any.
  14. Nicholas Thompson – He’s had mixed results in this event, but does own two top 25s. His form in 2013 has also been impressive, so he’s worth a look.

We will check back tomorrow with gaming formats.

WGC-Cadillac Championship - Power Ranking

It’s a busy week with two tournaments, so I’m going to cut right to the chase with our WGC-Cadillac Championship Power Rankings. The quick review from yesterday is to go with elite players in good form and an established course history, and it helps if he’s a solid driver. Stay away from taking too many fliers.
Here we go:
  1. Charl Schwartzel – He’s one of a couple of guys I've had my eye on for Doral since I first looked ahead to this tournament a few weeks back. As expected, he walked out of PGA National with a top 10 last week and finished inside the top four in two if his last three starts at the WGC-Cadillac. There is a high probability he will be my one-and-done later this week.
  2. Matt Kuchar – Kuch was going to be my under-the-radar guy this week, but he spoiled that with his win at the Match Play. Simply put, he’s played this event three times and never finished worse than eighth. He’s elite. He’s obviously in form.  If I don’t go Schwartzel, I’m going Kuchar for the one-and-done.
  3. Tiger Woods – Honda wasn't great, but it could have been worse. He hung in there for three rounds before getting a little loose on Sunday. His record at Doral is excellent, in that he’s never finished outside the top 10 in the WGC-Cadillac when it has been held at Doral, and he won it in 2007. His history here doesn't rival Torrey Pines, Bay Hill, Muirfield Village or Congressional, but it’s in that next tier of courses where you should never be surprised if he pops up and wins. The week you quit on him is the week he’ll bite you. In the Yahoo! Game, this is an excellent week to keep him on the bench and see what happens.
  4. Justin Rose  - He’s the defending champ and he’s coming off a very steady week at PGA National. It’s a boring and predictable pick, but he fits the profile I keep hammering home.
  5. Keegan Bradley – Tied for fourth at The Honda Classic and tied for eighth in his only start at Doral last season. Sure, I’d like a little more history to go on, but what we've got is good.
  6. Nick Watney – A fun fact, he’s got a win and a runner-up in odd-numbered years in this event. He’s also never finished worse than T26. He’s the epitome of a solid driver of the ball who is borderline elite. I’d prefer for his form to be a little better, but everything else is in place.
  7. Luke Donald – He’s finished in a tie for sixth in each of his last two trips to Doral, but only average finishes to show for it before that. He hasn't gotten off to the fastest start possible, but he hasn't limped out the gates either.
  8. Bubba Watson – He’s a huge wildcard. I noticed on Twitter that he was celebrating Caleb’s first birthday last weekend, so I’m not sure if that puts him in a good place or a distracted one. I guess you could argue that he’s always in a distracted place. Either way, he was last year’s runner-up and has the firepower to be a factor on the par 5s.
  9. Jason Day – Raise your hand if you knew that Jason Day has already cracked $1M this year in just four events. He has. His best finish here is a T20, but nothing would surprise me given his recent return to form.
  10. Adam Scott – What do we do with Scotty? He’s got a T6 and a T13 in his last two trips here, so going off of course history this is about right. His form is okay, but not clicking on all cylinders just yet. While he’s certainly not my first choice to win this week, I feel confident that he nabs a top 25, and a top 10 is certainly possible.
  11. Robert Garrigus – Did you see the confidence he had at Dove Mountain? There was no learning curve in his adjustment to playing with the big boys in the Match Play, knocking off Louis Oozthuizen among others. It took eventual winner Matt Kuchar to cool him off. There is a big part of me that wants to take a giant leap of faith and burn in him in a one-and-done or two-and-done this week to try and go against the grain, but I’m too conservative.
  12. Scott Piercy – Here’s another guy that has zero Doral experience, but he’s hot. Like Garrigus, the WGC-Match Play stage was not too big for him either. Last year this tournament identified future major success for Bubba Watson and I wouldn't be surprised if Garrigus or Piercy put their name in that hat this week.

Next 5: Phil Mickelson, Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Bill Haas and Hunter Mahan

Even I’m not sure how I didn't find a spot for Graeme McDowell.

WGC-Cadillac games will be coming at you tomorrow, and the power rankings for Puerto Rico will post shortly (tonight). 

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Puerto Rico Open - Preview

Tournaments like this week's Puerto Rico Open can often be the difference in a full-season league championship for a savvy gamer, so we will do our best to make sure we take advantage of the opposite-field event while the casual golf fans in your league focus all of their attention on Tiger and Phil in Doral. 

In truth, this tournament is the opposite of the WGC-Cadillac Championship in almost every way. Doral is all about going with the strength of the field, whereas Trump International GC has rewarded a string of winner's that are mostly TOUR afterthoughts. Puzzling is that it isn't exactly a birdie fest, but rather a 7500+ yard course that should require some skill to navigate. 

Here is a list of winners and runner-ups since the inception of this tournament in 2008:
  • 2008 - Winner - Greg Kraft (14-under) ; Runner-up - Jerry Kelly and Bo Van Pelt (13-under)
  • 2009 - Winner - Michael Bradley (14-under); Runner-up - Jason Day and Brett Quigley (13-under)
  • 2010 - Winner - Derek Lamely (19-under); Runner-up - Kris Blanks (17-under)
  • 2011 - Winner - Michael Bradley (16-under); Runner-up - Troy Matteson (16-under)
  • 2012 - Winner - George McNeill (16-under); Runner-up - Ryo Ishikawa (14-under)
I guess there's some logic to tipping Michael Bradley, given he's won the tournament in every odd-numbered year, but I can't do that in good faith. Troy Matteson and George McNeill strike me as similar players. Both pretty long and both show up in a handful of events every year, but never with much consistency. 

The outlook isn't totally bleak. There are a handful of players with a nice course history here who warrant strong consideration given their current form. Matt Jones jumps to mind, as does Kevin Stadler. After some time to research, we will be back tomorrow with a power ranking to try and make sense of a tournament that's always been tough to peg. 

Until then, happy research!

WGC-Cadillac Championship - Preview

With two tournaments to cover this week, it's time to buckle in, hold on tight and hope for the best. We will begin our preview with the WGC-Cadillac Championship, then cover the Puerto Rico Open in a post to follow.

Doral's TPC Blue Monster Course will serve as the backdrop for the second WGC event of the 2013 season. It's a 7,334 par 72 boasting four par 5s, four par 3s and 10 par 4s. There are opportunities to score on this course, especially for the longer hitters. Doral has hosted this event since 2007, and has a list of winners that include Tiger Woods, Geoff Ogilvy, Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els, Nick Watney and Justin Rose.

It's a little bit redundant to look at the list of winners and immediately notice that the list is an elite one, given it's a WGC, but that's the truth. I also look at that list as including pretty strong drivers of the golf ball. Tiger's win came in 2007, if that adds some perspective. You could argue that the driving theory may not apply to Ogilvy, but history will likely show that Ogilvy was in the prime of his career when that win occurred  less than two years after his win at Winged Foot.

My biggest advice for Doral this week is to understand the class of the field. I'm going to list the top 10 from last year's Cadillac Championship, and I believe that you will agree that most - maybe all - of these guys were in the midst of a season that supports their finish rather than renders it a fluke.

1 - Justin Rose - He's one of the world's elite entering the prime of his career. He played in the Ryder Cup last year.
2 - Bubba Watson - This win precipitated his Masters win.
3 - Rory McIlroy - Came just after he became World No. 1 with a win at The Honda Classic the week prior and precipitated a season where he scored his second major.
T4 - Peter Hanson - Scored a Ryder Cup berth and earned enough cash as a non-member to nab a 2013 PGA TOUR card.
T4 - Charl Schwartzel - May be on of the few in this group that didn't experience immediate success before or after, but enters this year's tournament with several wins and solid form dating back to late 2012.
T6 - Luke Donald - Is anyone ever surprised when Luke's in the top 10 anywhere?
T6- John Senden - Great ball-striker gives him a chance when the putter cooperates, but he was not in the class of this field last year.
T8 - Keegan Bradley - Won the most recent major prior to this event last year and won a WGC later in 2012.
T8 - Matt Kuchar - See Luke Donald's comment.
T8 - Steve Stricker - Winner in 2012 and Ryder Cup member.
T8 - Bo Van Pelt - Didn't he finish T8 every week in 2012?

Not to beat a dead horse, but the point is that when you consider the results of a world-class field on a fair course that allows for some low numbers, you get an equally impressive leaderboard. Oh, and you may want to bookmark the results for the point of a Masters preview in a little over a month. Watson won in 2012. Hanson played in the final pairing if memory severs. Schwartzel is a Masters winner. If Rose contended at Augusta, I don't think anyone would be surprised. Woods and Mickelson are past champs.

We will get the power rankings ready for tomorrow and also return with a Puerto Rico Open preview sooner rather than later.

Happy research!