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

Sunday, June 30, 2013

The Greenbrier Classic - Preview

The Old White TPC will host The Greebrier Classic for the fourth time in as many years, and if we've learned anything from the first three editions it is to expect the unexpected. The winner of the inaugural Greenbrier was Stuart Appleby, closing with a 59 and posting 22-under 258. He was followed by Scott Stallings (10-under) in 2011 and Ted Potter Jr. (16-under) in 2012. Note that the course was lengthened following the 2010 tournament.

The course plays to a par of 70 at 7274 yards, boasting two par 5s (both on the back nine) and four par 3s. Perhaps the most memorable hole on the course is the finishing hole. It is a rather short par 3 with steep ridges dividing the green. The par-3 third is memorable in that there is a massive low point dividing the green in three segments.

Standing out about the first three events is the unexpected champions. While it's easy to say that Appleby, with six prior PGA TOUR wins, wasn't a surprise champion, the truth is it remains his only win on the PGA TOUR since 2006. The 2010 Greenbrier win was only possible with a final-round 59.

Scott Stallings picked up his first win in this event in 2011. Since then, he's gone from obscurity to a legitimate TOUR players who contends on a fairly regular basis.

Ted Potter Jr. outlasted Troy Kelly and Charlie Beljan for his first (and only) TOUR win in 2012. While Beljan has notable popped up with a win a Disney in 2012 and a nice run at Riviera in 2013, the other two have largely struggled.

In short, the history of this tournament more closely resembles a mini-tour event than that of a PGA TOUR mainstay. With that, expect birdies to be the order of the week and a hot putter to eventually raise the hardware. If you want to take a look at some stats, I would suggest scoring stats like par breakers and par-4 scoring.

We can begin to hope that with three tournaments in the books, some course history trends can become relevant. When we return tomorrow, we will dive deep into the field and come up with the weekly power rankings.

Until then, happy research!

Saturday, June 29, 2013

AT&T National - Round 3

We have a four-way tie atop the AT&T National at Congressional with 18 holes left to settle it. As I stepped away and thought about it, the thought occurred that this tournament really hasn't followed the typical Congressional script of identifying a thoroughbred champion. But it still could happen.

Here are a few thoughts:
  • Bill Haas, James Driscoll, Andres Romero and Roberto Castro share the lead at 7-under. These are all solid players with many strong years ahead of them, but this is more of the leaderboard we expect to see at next week's Greenbrier.
  • Congressional identified Ernie Els in the 1997 U.S. Open and Rory McIlroy in 2011. It's seen Tiger Woods, K.J. Choi and Anthony Kim hoist the hardware. If you go back to the Kemper Open, we see names like Freddie Couples, Greg Normal, Craig Stadler and Sergio Garcia win.
  • When you consider that history, we should expect to see Bill Haas seperate himself and win for the fifth time on TOUR, or Brandt Snedeker come from three back to win. Maybe 2012 European Ryder Cupper Nicolas Colsaerts go low and steal it. McIlroy won his first major at Congressional, so maybe Jordan Spieth wins his first of many here?
  • Except I get the feeling we may be headed for something different. Of the four in the lead, Driscoll may have been the least nervy. Jason Kokrak seems like a legitimate threat. It's hard to see Tom Gillis and Charlie Wi going low two days in a row. 
  • I'm sticking with Snedeker, Hoffman, DeLaet and Day. The only real decision to make here was Sneds or Haas, and Sneds seems much more likely to go low in a finale trying to come from behind.

Best of luck!

Friday, June 28, 2013

AT&T National - Round 2

My apologies for not posting yesterday. I tweeted out my Yahoo! lineup for the second round of AT&T National, but failed to update on this space.

Half of the players haven't posted their 36-hole scores due to a mid-afternoon thunderstorm at Congressional that just wouldn't go away. That makes Yahoo! a bit of a challenge four round three. My guess is they will open up the window for third round lineup changes.

I'm keeping the exact same lineup for right now. (Snedeker, Hoffman, DeLaet and Day). Haas is in the midst of a nice second round but he sports a lengthy history of fading on the weekends in 2013. The one change I could make is Horschel for Day if Horschel finishes strong when play resumes Saturday morning.

As has been the case in 2013, non-winners are flooding the top of the leaderboard. Five of the top six on the current leaderboard are without a win, including Jordan Spieth and Roberto Castro at the top.It will be worth watching how they handle the pressure of the final tee time on Saturday should it hold up. Expect split-tee threesomes from 10:50 a.m. ET to 12:50 p.m ET on Saturday morning/afternoon.

We'll check back in Saturday night with a much clearer picture.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

AT&T National - Final Thoughts

As is the case more weeks than we would like, the final thoughts before tees are in the ground at AT&T National centers around the weather. 

It looks very likely that a thunderstorm will impact play at some point on Thursday. That makes a Yahoo! call on round 1 very tough. If the afternoon turns out to be a wash, then the PM/AM wave may have an advantage. 

Yahoo! starters are Bill Haas, Graham DeLaet, Hunter Mahan and Jason Day with Brandt Snedeker, Bo Van Pelt, Charley Hoffman and Billy Horschel on the bench. My strategy was a combination of playing the best player regardless of wave and saving a Snedeker start if possible. I don't feel comfortable enough in a weather prediction to allow it to impact strategy.

I said it yesterday, but in case it needs clarifying I'm taking Billy Horschel as my one-and-done and hoping Billy Ho doesn't fall victim to the quickly-becoming-famous Mike Glasscott curse. If you don't know what I'm talking about, check out Rotoworld's live chat replay or Glass' article. 

In my two-and-done, I'm using my second (final) Jason Day burn. If I had Day in the one-and-done I would have used him.

Best of luck this week!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

AT&T National - Fantasy

Similar to last week, for the AT&T National fantasy post we will take a look at some options and strategies for several of the games. We will also update the PGA TOUR game standings.

Yahoo!

A-List offers some good options, but lacks an elite player. You could make an argument that Brandt Snedeker is elite, and he's likely the safe pick, but guys like Charles Howell III, Bill Haas, Chris Kirk and Martin Laird all offer some risk/reward propositions. Because of how spread out the picks will be in A-List this week, it's doubtful that everyone in your league will be on the same guys. Sneds will be popular but there won't be a consensus on the other one.

B-List is similar to the A, in that there aren't a bevy of great options. Like the A, expect plenty of guys to be chosen over. I like BVP, Charley Hoffman, Graham DeLaet and Hunter Mahan, but I don't necessarily love any of them. You could talk me into Nick Watney or Freddie Jacobson or maybe Jim Furyk, but nobody really excites me.

C-List is where it's at this week. Adam Scott, Jason Day and Billy Horschel all demand a look and would all be starters if spread across the other tiers. Scott and Day play together in the PM/AM wave, so I'll likely pick one of them and then stagger with Horschel in the AM/PM wave. I can't think of a good reason to go down any further than these three on the list unless you're really trying to out-think the room.

Golf Channel Game:

Check out my picks on the Rotoworld article http://www.rotoworld.com/articles/gol/43546/297/capitol-punishment.

PGA TOUR game:

Season Standings:

  1. O'Sullivan's Tribe - 7586
  2. Pure Spin - 6799
  3. Woltz - 6359
  4. Boots With The Fur - 6333
  5. Subliminal Magic - 6065
Travelers Standings:
  1. KyRoadz - 310
  2. Subliminal Magic - 307
  3. Bird Dogs - 303
  4. Rubio2016 - 269
  5. Off the Tjaarts - 268
One-and-Done:

To be frank, I don't see a ton of "great" options this week. Adam Scott and Jason Day are the elite options, with guys like Billy Horschel, Hunter Mahan and Bo Van Pelt making strong cases. I could see a real case for Graham DeLaet as well. 

So here's the question. Have you burned Jason Day? Have you burned Adam Scott? If you haven't burned Day (which I have), use him this week. If you haven't burned Scott, you have a longer-term question to answer? If not here, then where? I'm likely saving Scott for TPC Boston or East Lake. If you are way behind, there isn't much logic in saving him for then if you are already out of it when you get there. That's the long way of saying I would endorse Scott under a number of circumstances, but you have to decide for yourself.

If you aren't going Day or Scott, then it gets interesting. I'm playing Billy Horschel due to his current form and his statistical fit. I'll take a top 10 this week and smile all the way to the bank, but Horschel gives me the best chance at something a little bigger. Mahan and BVP feel like top-25 options, with a shot at a top 10. 

If you want to get a little riskier without being stupid, look at Ryan Palmer. He's another top-25 machine. Feeling friskier? Kevin Chappell or Martin Laird are interesting fliers. I'd hold off on Snedeker if you still have him (I do).

I'll check back tomorrow to tie up any loose ends and give my final selections for those interested.

Best of luck!

Monday, June 24, 2013

AT&T National - Power Rankings

As our attention turns to the greater Washington, D.C. area for AT&T National at Congressional, the contenders in this week's power rankings have a decidedly Australian flair. Per usual, we'll take into account the usual metrics of course history, current form and relevant statistical prowess, with the total driving stat and ball-striking carrying the most weight.

I'll refer you to yesterday's preview for more information on Congressional.

Let's dive in:

  1. Jason Day - He's coming off a T2 at the U.S. Open two weeks ago and finished runner-up in the U.S. Open at Congressional to Rory McIlroy in 2011. He tied for eighth here last season and ranks 26th in total driving. Quite frankly, all lights are green.
  2. Adam Scott - If Day is (1), then Scott is (1A). Scott was third at Congressional last season and his form this year has been impeccable. He's 13th in total driving and 19th in ball striking. If his putter and short game cooperate at all, he could easily be in for another big week.
  3. Billy Horschel - He missed the cut here in 2009, but that was a different golfer. He's coming off an impressive T4 at Merion and has shown an unquenchable thirst for success in 2013. Ranks eighth in total driving and 11th in ball-striking. 
  4. Bo Van Pelt - Don't think of this so much as me pegging BVP to finish fourth in the tournament as pointing out that he has plenty of value as a safe pick. He's made his last eight cuts this year and was runner-up to Tiger Woods in this tournament a year ago. He also tied for 14th in the 2011 U.S. Open at Congressional. 
  5. Hunter Mahan - After opening with a 62 last week at the Travelers he failed to break par in the subsequent three rounds. I honestly don't know what to make of that. What I do know is that he's fifth in total driving, 15th in ball-striking and has four finishes of T12 or better on this course, including a runner-up.
  6. Graham DeLaet - While he tied for 49th here last year, one could make a similar argument to DeLaet as we did with Horchel's MC in 2009. With DeLaet, we have the number one ball-striker and number two driver on TOUR coming off an impressive third-place finish at TPC River Highlands. Congressional demands near perfection tee-to-green, so we'll see if his strengths are rewarded.
  7. Brandt Snedeker - Questions still loom about his health and form, but at 23rd in ball-striking, T5 here in '09 and a T11 in the '11 U.S. Open he garners consideration. I would not advise him as a one-and-done selection.
  8. Charley Hoffman - He's always been good to make the cut in this event, and has finishes inside the top 25 twice. Given that he spent plenty of time on television over the weekend in Connecticut and played in the final pairing on Sunday, we know that form is good. He's 55th in ball-striking and 44th in total driving with a tilt towards distance. 
  9. Kevin Chappell - Finished T3 at the 2011 U.S. Open and tends to show up on tough tracks. He ranks 15th in total driving, which could explain his inclusion on some big leaderboards.
  10. Ryan Palmer - He's finished between T15 and T22 each of the last three times he's teed it up at Congressional (including the 2011 U.S. Open). Finished fourth at the FedEx St. Jude Classic before missing the cut at Merion. Congressional is nothing like Merion. Checks out inside the top 50 in ball-striking and driving.
  11. Bill Haas - He's messed around in the 20-40 range in most of his outings at Congressional but his pedigree and skills make him too good to drop any further. Disappointed down the stretch at the Memorial and failed to make the cut at Merion, but I see the U.S. Open MC as more of a testament to a bad course fit than a lapse in form.
  12. Martin Laird - He tied for 11th here last year and is sneaking around some big leaderboards with a T5 at THE PLAYERS and a T21 at the U.S. Open. He's 17th in total driving and plenty long enough to compete at Congressional.
Next 5: Robert Garrigus, Brendon de Jonge, John Rollins, Scott Stallings and Nick Watney

Feeling Risky?
  • Matt Jones - Tied for 79th here in his only start in 2008, but at 11th in total driving and 42nd in ball-striking could be a dark horse candidate. 
  • David Lingmerth - This guy keeps showing up when you least expect it. He was T2 at THE PLAYERS and T17 at the U.S. Open.
  • Seung-yul Noh - Given his form (awful), this is completely out of left field. He finished T4 last year in this event, so he could catch lightening in a bottle this week.
We'll be back tomorrow to look at some games.Until then, best of luck!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Travelers Championship - Wrap Up

Ken Duke waited 44 years for his first PGA TOUR title, and it came at the Travelers Championship in a playoff over Chris Stroud. Duke likely thought he had sealed the deal with a par on the 72nd hole, but Stroud chipped in for birdie from over 50 feet away to force sudden death.

Here are some thoughts from the final round:

  • Duke and Stroud both played really well. Duke won for the first time on the PGA TOUR and Stroud established a new career-best.
  • I was having a conversation with a colleague during the final round of the tournament and we got off on the topic of golfers we didn't like. For me, the list is incredibly small. It may have gotten a little bit longer after watching Bubba Watson's antics on the 16th and 17th holes. I'm sorry Bubba, but you're a professional golfer. You've played TPC River Highlands plenty of times. Nobody wants to hear you blame your caddy when you come up 10 to 15 yards short of your intended target on a par 3 and splashed it in the water. You agreed to the club. You hit the shot. You didn't execute. Be a big boy about it and stop acting like an 8-year-old. 
  • On that note, Bubba seemed ticked at his caddy on his tee shot on 16, his second shot into 16 and his approach on 17. Did he ever stop to think maybe, and I know this is a long shot, his caddy didn't screw up three yardages in a row. Maybe he can't factor in his own adrenaline. I didn't see Ken Duke blaming anyone when he shanked his tee shot on 18 in regulation. He got over it and saved par.
  • Graham DeLaet is really good.
  • The opening round saw Charley Hoffman, Bubba Watson and Hunter Mahan all shoot 63 or better. Over the remaining three rounds they were collectively 2-over. Raise your hand if you saw that coming?

One final thing:

For those of you who have been with me from the beginning, you know that the early days of this blog focused on more than just the PGA TOUR. We also dove into some of the smaller tours. I want to publicly congratulation my friend, Matt Hendrix, on his first NGA Tour win today in North Carolina. With the win, he earned an exemption into the Utah Championship on the Web.com Tour in July. 

AT&T National - Preview

Next stop for the traveling carnival that is the PGA TOUR is the AT&T National at Congressional Country Club. This is the seventh edition of this tournament, with four of the previous six held at Congressional. Since the 2011 U.S. Open was also held at Congressional, the AT&T National was displaced for two years (2010 and 2011).

Congressional will play to a par of 71, strung out over 7,569 yards and featuring three par 5s, four par 3s and 11 par 4s. Length is a factor this week, and one stat that should be heavily considered is total driving with a tilt towards distance. One must get off the tee to have a chance on this beast.

I mentioned the U.S. Open. Make sure you take a look at the results of the 2011 U.S. Open when conducting your research. I've given a hard look to the 2009 and 2012 AT&T National results as well.

Here is a list of all the winners/runner-ups since 2007 at Congressional:

  • 2007 - K.J. Choi (winner 9-under), Steve Stricker (runner-up 6-under)
  • 2008 - Anthony Kim (12-under), Freddie Jacobson (10-under)
  • 2009 - Tiger Woods (13-under), Hunter Mahan (12-under)
  • 2011 - (U.S. Open) Rory McIlry (16-under), Jason Day (8-under)
  • 2012 - Tiger Woods (8-under), Bo Van Pelt (6-under)
With few exceptions, every name above is known by even the most casual golf fan. The lesson there is not to look too deeply down the list of usual suspects if you are trying to identify a winner. I suppose a first-timer could win, but the chances aren't as great as most weeks. 

We will be back tomorrow with our usual power rankings. Until then, happy research!


Saturday, June 22, 2013

Travelers Championship - Round 3

The Travelers Championship was headed for a Bubba Watson coronation ceremony until a 3-over back nine threw this tournament wide open. Rather than a four or five stroke lead, Watson shares the lead with Charley Hoffman and Graham DeLaet at 10-under.

Third round / final round thoughts:

  • It's not necessarily a surprise to see someone in the lead of a tournament make three bogeys on a back nine to fall back towards the field, but when you consider Watson's first bogey was on a reachable par 5 and his second was on a driveable par 4 which saw his tee shot come to rest in the fairway 16 yards from the cup. I had already written him down for birdies on both. That's a four-stroke swing.
  • The course played firmer/faster/tougher in the afternoon for the first time all week. That partially explains why the leaderboard is bunched.
  • My guess is 14-under wins this, but I could see it ranging from 12 to 16. 
  • I don't like Charley Hoffman as a front-runner. Never have. He's the kind of guy that fires a 6-under from three back to win. Case in point, his 2010 Deutsche Bank win featured a final round 62 and his 2007 Bob Hope win was on a very windy day that saw a volatile leaderboard.
  • I don't know what to expect from Graham DeLaet, but my hunch is the winner doesn't come out of that final pairing. I'd like DeLaet's chances better than Hoffman's.
  • I like both the guys in the penultimate group. Bubba Watson could easily shoot a 65 or 66 and win, while Chris Stroud is very much in play without the pressure of leading. 
  • A very interesting pairing a little further down the tee sheet is Justin Rose and Hunter Mahan. While I thing Rose is a little too fried to win it, Mahan definitely has the flair to fire a 63 and steal the show. Keep in mind he fired a 61 in last year's finale.
Final round Yahoo! lineup will be Watson, Mahan, Hoffman and subbing in Rickie Fowler for Rollins (missed 54-hole cut). 

Best of luck!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Top 125 Update

For those interested, my updated top 125 feature published at Rotoworld today. Here's a link http://www.rotoworld.com/articles/gol/43520/350/ryans-top-125-fifth-edition.

Enjoy!

Travelers Championship - Round 1

The Travelers Championship leaderboard is only 18 holes in, yet it boasts many of the names on the front page of the leaderboard that we've come to expect at TPC River Highlands. Each of the top three players sit inside the top seven of our Dandy Dozen Power Rankings, so the stage is set for a big fantasy weekend. 

Here are a few thoughts from the opening round:
  • While the top three of Charley Hoffman (-9), Hunter Mahan (-8) and Bubba Watson (-7) were all on our Yahoo! team, we only had the foresight to start Mahan with the morning tee time. While I'm generally a little scared of a guy that goes super-low on one day, I'm breaking my own rule and going with Hoffman, Mahan, Watson and John Rollins in round 2.
  • If things keep up like this, there will be people making big one-and-done moves this week.
  • Justin Rose's 3-under-par 67 was solid given the circumstances. He opened slowly, but rebounded nicely. 
Let's sit back and watch the fireworks in round 2!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Travelers Championship - Final Thoughts

Hope you enjoyed the strategy session from yesterday regarding the various games for the Travelers Championship. I'll give you my picks for Yahoo! and one-and-done just so you can come back and make fun of me later this week or early next week.

Quick weather note, I don't see there being a large advantage for one wave over the other. Both mornings look very calm and the afternoons see a little bit of wind but not enough to dictate any real strategy shifts.

My Yahoo! Starters are Brendon de Jonge (A), Freddie Jacobson (B), Hunter Mahan (B) and John Rollins (C) with Bubba Watson (A), Justin Rose (B), Charley Hoffman (B) and Rickie Fowler (C) on the bench.

I stayed chalky and took Bubba Watson in my one-and-done and Hunter Mahan in my two-and-done, although there are a handful of other guys I would readily sign off on as we mentioned yesterday.

Best of luck to all!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Travelers Championship - Fantasy

For our fantasy segment of the Travelers Championship, we are going to switch things up a little. Namely, we are going to talk a little more strategy and not just list the picks for the week. The one-and-done discussion will also move to Tuesday, but rather than give a pick I’ll give scenarios of who you should consider given your standing.

Full-season gamers now know where they stand, and that should impact strategy going forward. For example, if you are leading or in the money for a game you should make your selections differently than if you are pretty far on the outside looking in. You are essentially trying to bleed the clock out.

If you are way behind, it’s time for some calculated risks. You have the luxury of not worrying about a mistake and can essentially fire at the proverbial flags. Think of it like Phil’s shot on 18 on Sunday night. It needed to go in and it didn't matter if he ran it 15 feet by. He just couldn't leave it short.

The toughest call is if you are just barely outside the money. If you have until the TOUR Championship, you could still continue to make safe plays and hope those above you get careless, but you may want to think about going against the grain on occasion.

Yahoo!
  • A-List breakdown – Regardless of your standing, put Bubba Watson on your team. If you are leading, I would consider complimenting him with Brendon de Jonge or Jason Dufner. Both seem like a safe backup should Bubba shock the world and miss the cut. Brian Davis is a good “tweener.” There’s some risk, but he’s almost as safe as Dufner and de Jonge. If you want to take a big swing, look at Nicolas Colsaerts. He’s never played here, but this course has been good to first time winners who hit the ball a long way. James Driscoll also makes sense as a risk.
  • B-List breakdown – There are plenty of safe picks this week when it comes to having three of four guys playing the weekend. Justin Rose, Freddie Jacobson, Hunter Mahan, Webb Simpson and Bo Van Pelt all jump to mind. Keegan Bradley’s been a little inconsistent of late, but is a good risk for a tweener. If you are looking to go against the chalk, I’d think about Charley Hoffman, Graham DeLaet, Cameron Tringale or the defending champ Marc Leishman. There are enough good options here that you don’t need to reach past that.
  • C-List breakdown – I think you’re looking at five names here. Lee Westwood, Rickie Fowler, John Rollins, Harris English and Ryan Moore. Because Moore is listed so far down the roster, he’s likely to be overlooked by many if you are looking to make a riskier play. He’s missed his share of cuts lately, but is twice a runner-up here and was T13 at Memorial. The safest picks are the first three I listed.

For Golf Channel picks I’m going to refer you to the weekly Rotoworld article by Mike Glasscott http://www.rotoworld.com/articles/gol/43503/297/leishman-standing. In it are my picks, as well as those of Mike, Rob Bolton and Ned Brown. We can be fairly “chalky” from time-to-time, but that’s also telling. If you see all four of us agree on a pick, then it’s a pretty good sign that your choice for the week is to either go with the grain or against it. If you see three or four different picks in a group, pick your favorite or email/tweet someone and ask them why they chose golfer “X” in Group 3.

One-and-done:

Where things get really interesting right now is the one-and-done. I’m centering my focus this week on nine players. I am not considering Justin Rose, Lee Westwood or Jason Dufner. Some of you have used them anyway, but for those that haven’t there are better spots down the road.

If I’m leading a league right now, I’m picking between Hunter Mahan and Bubba Watson. Mahan’s concern is how he handles his finish at Merion. Watson doesn't have a top 10 since the Match Play, but TPC River Highlands has been a bit of a personal playground for him.

Because of the number of viable options this week, it actually makes sense for anyone in any position to roll with Mahan or Watson.

Fowler is an interesting option if you still have him (I don’t). He’s one for two here with a T13 in ’10, which was his last start. His problem this year has been double bogeys. TPC River Highlands generally rewards aggression and isn't all that penal. If he manages his game on the few holes where he can make a number, he should have at least 12 “green lights” per round and can make birdies.

As we mentioned yesterday, John Rollins is the perfect blend of form and course history. One thing I've picked up on this year, it seems the obvious guy has missed more than he’s hit. You don’t have to look back any further than Graeme McDowell last week. I could easily sign off on a Rollins endorsement, but I’d still be a little worried if I had him going up against Bubba or Mahan.

Course history buffs will be all over Freddie Jacobson this week. His last two starts here are Win and T8. He just missed his first cut in forever at the FedEx St. Jude and doesn't have a top 10 in a stroke play event since a T3 at Riviera. I’m inclined to let others gobble him up and hope my pick works out better. Actually, I don’t have a choice. I've already burned him.

The risks worth evaluating are Charley Hoffman, Ryan Moore, Brendon de Jonge and Nicolas Colsaerts. Hoffman tied for second last year and recently tied for eighth at the Byron Nelson. His birdie or better numbers on par 4s and 5s are excellent, so he could light it up. Ryan Moore has missed plenty of cuts lately, but we mentioned earlier about his stout resume in this event in the power rankings and good week at the Memorial above. With de Jonge, you can have reasonable confidence that he will make the cut and you’re hoping for a lighting-in-a-bottle finish. He’s sixth in bogey avoidance, which means he will get to “keep” most of his birdies. Colsaerts is a complete roll of the dice. He’s never played here, but skills are similar to Bubba who has feasted here. If you use any of these four guys it’s because you are trying to make a dramatic move.

PGA TOUR Game Standings:

Overall
  1. O’Sullivan’s Tribe – 7399
  2. Pure Spin – 6562
  3. Woltz – 6177
  4. Boots With The Fur – 6096
  5. Subliminal Magic – 5758

Weekly
  1. Bird Dogs – 642
  2. Who’s the Caddy? – 425
  3. O’Sullivan’s Tribe – 407
  4. PelicansRule – 382
  5. Pure Spin - 347


Go get em this week!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Travelers Championship - Power Rankings

With Justin Rose’s win at the U.S. Open fresh in our minds, it’s time to take a look at who the best options are teeing it up at the Travelers Championship. One thing we know for sure about TPC River Highlands is that you better make birdies.

When I looked at stats this week, I focused on scoring stats and really didn't even look at other metrics because there are a number of ways to be successful on this short track. How a player makes birdies is a bit irrelevant, but that he does is a requirement. Avoiding bogeys is a priority, but an aggressive player can likely make enough birdies to erase a few blemishes along the way. In that sense, this is a completely opposite mindset of the U.S. Open.

With that as the backdrop, here are this week’s Dandy Dozen:
  1. Justin Rose – This is, of course, assuming he doesn't decide to withdraw. His history here is fine, 5/7 with four top 25s and a third-place finish to go with two other top 10s. His current form is well documented. How heavily you invest in Rose this week depends completely on what you need out of him. I’m not suggesting he’s going to go back-to-back, but there isn't a player in the field that feels less pressure this week. A relaxing top 10 is entirely likely.
  2. Hunter Mahan – Kind of threw up on himself when he had a chance to win the U.S. Open after 68 holes, but comes to his best historic spot on the PGA TOUR to try and get well. He’s twice been a runner-up and won his first TOUR title here in 2007 as well. If you detach the heartbreak of losing the U.S. Open, he’s trending nicely (T26, T16, 4). Probably the toughest question this week will be in regards to Mahan and the one-and-done if you have him available.
  3. Bubba Watson – Another stalwart at TPC River Highlands, and another guy who launched his career here with win number one in 2010, Watson hasn't cracked a top 10 on TOUR since the Match Play. He hasn't exactly been hacking it around, though.  He’s 5/6 here, and had a T2 last year to go with his 2010 win. He also ranks 5th in Birdie or Better and 1st in Par 4 Birdie or Better, which is important since there are 12 par 4s this week.
  4. Rickie Fowler – Fowler’s biggest challenge this year has been avoiding the big number. The layout of TPC River Highlands may reward his aggression without penalizing him too badly for blunders. He’s only played here twice, with a MC in 2009 and a T13 in 2010. Enters off a T10 at Merion.
  5. John Rollins – I could make a case for him to carry the top spot, entering off back-to-back top-six finishes. While those are his only two top 10s this year, they are among 10 top 25s. He’s only 4/9 at TPC River Highlands, but that includes T2 and T4 in his last two starts. Form is meeting recent course history in a big way this week.
  6. Harris English – Only one trip here in the past, and that resulted in a mediocre T64 last year. He’s only eight days removed from his first PGA TOUR win, so we’ll see what happens now that the lid has been lifted.
  7. Charley Hoffman – Not unlike Rollins, Hoffman enters in good form after making his last five cuts. He spent some time on the leaderboard at Merion before a final-round 79 dropped him out of contention. In four starts at TPC River Highlands, he’s 3 of 4 with a T2 last year.
  8. Freddie Jacobson – Course history buffs will be all over Freddie Jac this week, winning in ’11 and sharing 8th in 2012, and for good reason. I’m a tad chilly on his form, as he’s missed the cut in his last two starts and doesn't have a top 10 since the Match Play. He’s good at avoiding bogeys, but isn't always a birdie machine.
  9. Ryan Moore – He’s also a very tough call this week. History includes two runner-ups and a T4, having missed just one of seven cuts. He’s been very inconsistent recently, missing three of his last four cuts with a T13 at Memorial the bright spot.
  10. Brendon de Jonge – He’s going to win one day, isn't he? He’s made four of his last five cuts including a T15 at THE PLAYERS. He’s also 3/5 here, with two top 10s. We’re going to spend a little more time talking strategy later in the week, but if you’re chasing in a league he’s not a bad pick.
  11. Webb Simpson – He’s 5/5 here, with one top 25. Of note, he lost in a playoff at the RBC Heritage the week after the Masters. Perhaps he likes coming down from the majors by playing. I see his value this week potentially in the Yahoo! format, but he’s a reach in most other games.
  12. Bo Van Pelt – He’s lurking just outside the obvious right now. He’s made his last seven cuts, with four top 25s (including a T6) among them and finished T21 at the U.S. Open. Similarly, he’s 7/10 with six top 25s and two top 10s in this event.

Next 5 (alphabetical): Brian Davis, James Driscoll, Jason Dufner, Cameron Tringale and Lee Westwood

Feeling risky?
  • Nicolas Colsaerts – He’s never played here, but it’s a course where Bubba Watson has thrived and their strengths are similar to say the least. Enters off a T10 at the U.S. Open that would have been much better were it not for a triple bogey on the 18th in the third round. There aren't too many triples lurking at TPC River Highlands. 
  • Ben Curtis – A nod to course history, 6/7 with 5 top 25s and two T4s, he hasn't done much this year to warrant inclusion in any category other than a calculated flier.
  • Patrick Reed – This was one of the events he got into last year, tying for 47th. He’s also coming in off a fifth-place finish at the St. Jude.
  • Kyle Stanley – I’m not sure this is even that risky. He’s got three top-six finishes in his last six starts on TOUR and a moderately good record in this event.

We’ll be back tomorrow to check out some games and dive a little deeper into strategy than we have in the past. We will offer a few scenarios based on where you stand in your games.


Until then, best of luck!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Travelers Championship - Monday Qualifier

For those keeping up with it, the Travelers Championship will decide the final four spots in the field through an open qualifier on Monday. Here is the link to the leaderboard http://ctpga.bluegolf.com/bluegolf/ctpga13/event/ctpga139/contest/1/leaderboard.htm.

Best of luck to all!

Travelers Championship - Preview

Following the conclusion of the U.S. Open, the PGA TOUR's attention will turn to Hartford, Connecticut for the Travelers Championship at TPC River Highlands. For the second consecutive week, the world's best will face a course of under 7,000 yards, but this one is guaranteed to be much easier than Merion. 

TPC River Highlands comes in at 6,841 yards, and as you would assume plays to a par of 70. It features two par 5s, both under 575 yards, and the full bevy of par 3s. 

Marc Leishman won last year at 14-under-par, and that was the highest winning score since Woody Austin won at 10-under in 2004. Kenny Perry's 22-under in 2009 is the tournament scoring record. 

This has been the sight of several recent breakthrough wins, including Hunter Mahan's first TOUR win in 2007 and Bubba Watson's first in 2010. Knowing that, it's not out of the question for a rising star to pick up a breakthrough win this week. It was also Leishman's first (and only) PGA TOUR win. Bud Cauley anyone?

Since this is the third consecutive week we've seen a par-70 layout dating back to TPC Southwind in Memphis, some of the same research still applies. Perhaps what's different is the need to take it really low this week. That means it is essential that a player rip apart the par 5s and avoid bogeys. While we've seen shorter players contend and win here over the years, it's much more likely that a lengthy player will be identified. Nicolas Colsaerts anyone?

The stats don't suggest a heavy lean for the leading pack last season, reaffirming that there are a number of ways to navigate a low score at TPC Highlands.

The final dynamic to consider is the different paths players are taking to Connecticut. Those who played at Merion last week may feel like they are playing the easiest course in the world. Despite a grueling week, the ease of the course will overcome some of the fatigue of the U.S. Open. Everyone else will come in well rested and ready to go low.

We'll be back tomorrow with the power rankings. Until then, sit back and enjoy the final round of the U.S. Open! Oh, and Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

U.S. Open - Round 3

Phil Mickelson has a chance to finally breakthrough and win his first U.S. Open at Merion in Sunday's final round, but he'll need to make sure he learned from Charl Schwartzel and Luke Donald's third-round mishaps if he hopes to do so. Here are a few thoughts from the third round.

  • The last five holes at Merion are a completely different golf course than the first 13. It's hard to gather that during the first two rounds when play is going off both tees, but much easier to pick up on the differences when all the leaders are going through them at the same time.
  • Whoever wins the U.S. Open will likely have to hold on for pars over the last stretch. Luke Donald played his final two holes at 3-over. Had he played them even, he would hold a one-stroke lead over Phil Mickelson. Charl Schwartzel played his final two holes in 2-over. Had he played them in even, he would be one up on Phil. But, Phil played them in even par.
  • Mickelson's been around the top of the leaderboard from Thursday morning on. It would be a shame if he didn't win his first U.S. Open, and likely would mean he never will. The 18th at Merion reminds me of the 18th at Winged Foot, in that both holes offer plenty of chances for bogeys or worse. It provides the theater for an epic Phil collapse. 
  • I really liked the way Luke Donald and Charl Schwartzel played for most of the day, and I think Schwartzel might have the best chance to take down Lefty in the finale. I worry that Luke's length could be a factor on the closing holes.
  • Hunter Mahan may have caught a bad break by ending up in the final pairing much like Billy Horschel did today.
  • Speaking of Horschel, he played the final four holes in bogey-free even par. I get the feeling he isn't exactly toast yet, but I worry he might try and force it like a young Mickelson. 
  • And then there's Justin Rose. Can he make a few putts?
  • And who haven't we mentioned? Oh yeah. Steve Stricker's tied for second. He's got the right demeanor and the skills to pull this off.
  • I have no idea how this will shake out, but I wouldn't mind being a guy like Jason Day (currently 2-over and three back) and post a 2-under while the leaders still have a few holes to go. Could be one of those situations. 
  • Yahoo! lineup (Woods, Stricker, Donald, Schwartzel) stays the same.
I get the feeling (which means run for the hills, I'll be wrong) that a long-time wrong will be made right on Sunday. Phil may get his first U.S. Open. Stricker, or Donald or Mahan or Rose may finally get their first major. Either way, there will be a box beside a prominent player's name that will receive a check mark tomorrow evening. Unless of course, there is an 18-hole playoff on Monday.

Friday, June 14, 2013

U.S. Open - Round 2

The scene is set for a fantastic final two rounds at the U.S. Open. As ESPN was signing off, they brought up a fantastic point. None of the first 16 players on the leaderboard have ever won a U.S. Open. Inserting my own math, only two (Phil Mickelson and Charl Schwartzel) of those have won any major.


  • Think about the names and story lines in play. Phil's first U.S. Open after all these years. Stricker or Rose or Poulter could win their first major. Tiger and Rory and Els are all four back, and just so happen to be the first guys in line with U.S. Open wins.
  • I'm almost scared to see how many people make the cut. 
  • Yahoo! lineup for round three will be Tiger Woods, Luke Donald, Steve Stricker and Charl Schwartzel. 
I can't wait to sit back and watch the third round unfold! One of the weeks where it's more fun to be a fan than anything else.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

U.S. Open - Round 1

Well, we got to see more golf on the first day of the U.S. Open than we ever could have anticipated. I happened to listen to Matt Adams on PGA TOUR radio on my morning commute and from the sound of things at 7 a.m., it was assumed we would get about four to five hours of golf in the books and might see someone actually post a score.

To get one thing out of the way early, I'm sticking with my original Yahoo! lineup of Donald, Westwood, Simpson and McDowell. While I'm not sure that it will be an advantage or disadvantage for them to play more than 18 holes on Friday, I do believe the course will continue to play tougher as the week wears on. By Saturday morning, when I expect the second round to conclude, it could be playing pretty firm and fast. If that happens, the late/early wins the draw.

I was surprised by:

  • Nicolas Colsaerts (69) - He was a miss on all of my statistical categories. Given he hung around for a while at the 2012 U.S. Open at Olympic, it's possible his issue has more to do with focus in regular events and he dials it in for the majors.
  • Graeme McDowell's slow start. He rebounded to birdie nine and 10 to get it to 1-over, but then doubled 11 and is 3-over with six to play. He also doubled the par-5 second. 
  • The amount of golf that was played.
That's really it. I'll never be surprised by Phil Mickelson. He could shoot a 59 or a 79 tomorrow and I would not be phased. 

I'm interested to see:
  • While I'm neither a Phil fan or hater, I'm extremely interested to see what he does in the second round. 
  • Could this be Luke Donald's time? He's been relatively terrible in majors, but he's off and running in this one. 
  • Lee Westwood caught Mickelson briefly, then fell back to 1-under. One of the usual bridesmaids could actually be the bride this year. 
Let's hope for clear skies and entertaining golf on Friday!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

U.S. Open - One-and-Done and Weather

The 2013 U.S. Open is scheduled to begin in about 10 hours, but everyone's eyes are on the weather. Without a doubt, the top question I've received today is, "Which wave will benefit more from the weather?"

Let's start with the forecast. Weather.com's most recent update for Thursday shows a 60% chance of thunderstorms from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m., dropping to 50% at 11 a.m. and progressively down to 30% until the really severe weather is predicted to arrive between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. It is then basically no less than a 70% chance of rain from 5 p.m. Thursday until 5 a.m. Friday morning.

Overall Friday looks better, but there is a possibility that it will take some time to get the course ready to play depending on how much rain falls on Merion on Thursday evening/Friday morning.

I'm not sure there will be a preferred draw, but if there is I'm leaning towards the late/early. It's quite possible that they won't even set foot on the course Thursday, and I don't like the idea of the Thursday morning wave possibly waiting through delays from the first moment on.

My Yahoo! starters are all late wavers, featuring GMac, Westwood, Donald and Webb Simpson.

For my one-and-done, I'm taking a guy I've had in mind for this tournament since his win at the RBC Heritage. That is, of course, Graeme McDowell.

My two-and-done is Lee Westwood. I considered Adam Scott here, but ultimately feel like Westy might have a little bigger week.

Both McDowell and Westwood are in the late/early draw, but that had very little (if any) to do with my selections.

Best of luck and lets cross our fingers for a good bit of golf tomorrow!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

U.S. Open - Fantasy

While I fully understand and appreciate there are many specialty games surrounding the U.S. Open, and all of the majors, we will continue on with our regular games in this space. I've already heard from a number of you debating scenarios in specialty games, and it’s always fun to see what games are out there.

A quick note before we move on, it seems the general sentiment from the Tuesday practice rounds was that Merion played long today. Charl Schwartzel tweeted as much and Bill Haas commented about the number of woods he had to hit into par 3s and 4s on the Golf Channel. Neither of these players are short. 

There were also reports that the greens were rolling out increasingly fast as the day went on. This is a good sign for those wanting a tougher test. 

The best chance of rain for the rest of the week is Thursday, and it looks likely that Merion will get hit with a thunderstorm at some point in the afternoon. How little or much water hits the fairways of Ardmore, PA could go a long way in deciding the champion. It also means the course could favor longer hitters on Thursday and Friday, but evolve into a more traditional firmer/faster Open as the weekend comes to pass.

That would mean the opportunity for wild swings on the leaderboard Saturday and Sunday.

Now for the masses….

Yahoo!:

Full Season Rank: 5,313 (95th percentile) – 3638 points
Spring Rank: 5,464 – 1716 points

  • A-List – Graeme McDowell starting with Tiger Woods on the bench unless he’s likely to win.
  • B-List – Steve Stricker, Matt Kuchar, Luke Donald and Webb Simpson (I have not determined starters.)
  • C-List – Lee Westwood and Charl Schwartzel (Was going to go Scott and Westy, but decided to stagger waves.)

Golf Channel:
  • Group 1 – Tiger Woods
  • Group 2 – Lee Westwood
  • Group 3 – Billy Horschel
  • Group 4 – Nicholas Thompson


PGA TOUR

Season Standings:
  1. O’Sullivan’s Tribe – 6992
  2. Pure Spin – 6215
  3. Woltz – 5997
  4. Boots with the Fur – 5749
  5. Subliminal Magic – 5625


Weekly Standings:
  1. Bushleaguers – 552
  2. Putter’s Paradise – 547
  3. PelicansRule – 398
  4. Woltz – 381
  5. Tiger’s Embedded Ball - 380



We’ll be back tomorrow with the one-and-done pick. For additional advice, I invite you to join Rob Bolton and Glass for the Rotoworld.com chat at noon. If you can’t make it, you can always read the archived chat at your convenience. 

Monday, June 10, 2013

U.S. Open - Power Rankings

As we break out the power rankings for the 2013 U.S. Open, the week ahead is coming into focus on multiple fronts. We know that Merion will not play firm and fast. Rain dumped on the course on Monday morning, delaying the practice round multiple times throughout the day and chances for rain remain through the week. Included in that is a strong chance during the opening round on Thursday. The weekend should be relatively dry, but don’t discount the course already being at its saturation point.

While I tend to isolate myself to a degree from the mainstream media while doing my own research, one comment I’ve seen multiple times on Twitter is that this will be Bethpage all over again. (For those that don’t know, Bethpage Black hosted the 2009 U.S. Open and numerous rain delays forced a Monday finish won by Lucas Glover.) I think the difference is – fingers crossed – we won’t have the amount of rain during the actual tournament that Bethpage faced. Merion also isn’t nearly as long at Bethpage.

Knowing this, I’ve made the following adjustments:
  • I’m putting a little bit less of a premium on driving accuracy and allowing for “bomber” consideration. Guys that can hit a 3-iron 250 yards are dangerous.
  • I’ve heard plenty about the lack of length of the par 4s, but not as much about how long three of the four par 3s are. Par 3 Performance and GIR over 200 yards could be underrated stats this week.
  • Patience is probably going to be a big deal, as it usually is in the U.S. Open. Managing a mud ball or an especially thick lie in the fertilized rough may prove to be part of it. I’d prefer for my plays to have some past U.S. Open success and moderate dealings with poor weather. If you want an example of the combination of each, look at the 2009 U.S. Open final leaderboard http://espn.go.com/golf/leaderboard?tournamentId=545. Congressional in 2011 also comes to mind. Both of those winners (Glover and Rory McIlroy) were excellent off the tee those weeks.

A combination of art and science leads us to this week’s power rankings (16 in all):

  1. Tiger Woods – Yes, I watched Muirfield Village. And yes, I watched Tiger miss the cut at Abu Dhabi and win at Torrey Pines the very next week earlier this year too. Seriously though, I ran a statistical analysis of seven categories I’ve deemed relevant and he tied Steve Stricker for first in that exercise. His patience and mental toughness are unmatched. This marks his five-year anniversary of winning the ’08 Open at Torrey Pines and he tied for sixth at the aforementioned Bethpage Black.
  2. Graeme McDowell – He hits on a number of key areas. He’s a past U.S. Open winner at Pebble Beach. He contended for the title again last year, as well as the Open Championship. He won at Harbour Town earlier this year, and it’s a tight track with small greens that bears similarities to Merion. He’s first in driving accuracy and scrambling. He’s an excellent mix of the tangible and intangible. Not that it matters given all of the above success, but he was a respectable T18 at Bethpage in ’09.
  3. Matt Kuchar – If you’ve watched golf lately, this doesn’t need an explanation. He’s been runner-up/Win in his last two starts and is the hottest player on the planet. His U.S. Open record isn’t that strong historically, but if you focus on his last three years (T6 ’10, T14 ’11, T27 ’12) then it looks much better. At 10th in scrambling and 39th in Par 4 Birdie or Better %, he can overcome many deficiencies he may otherwise fight.
  4. Lee Westwood – This could be on the one for Westy. The stats check out reasonably well, although I wish he wasn’t 151st in putting from 5’-10’. He’s twice finished third in the U.S. Open, most recently at 2011 (Congressional), and owns five top 10s and eight top 25s. Perhaps his gigantic leap all the way up to third in scrambling will yield huge dividends this week. While he lives in sunny Florida now, the Brit’s dealt with his share of poor weather.
  5. Steve Stricker – He’s made 15/17 cuts in U.S. Opens, so he’s seen it all. His last of three top 10s was a T6 at Winged Foot in 2006, but he’s seen the weekend in every U.S. Open since then, with top 20s in the last two editions. While he does not have enough rounds to qualify for statistical categories, if he did he would rank inside the top 25 on TOUR in driving accuracy (13), GIR from over 200 (8), Approaches 100-125 (15), Scrambling (25), Par 4 Birdie or Better (17) and Par 3 Performance (16).
  6. Justin Rose – If only he could putt. If you've followed Rosie closely over the past few months, it’s been about the only thing holding him back. Other than the putter, my hesitations rest in his scoring mainly being centered on par 5s and a hit-or-miss U.S. Open record that includes two top 10s, but four missed cuts in seven starts. What I really like about him is that, if he has an above-average week with the putter, he could win.
  7. Charl Schwartzel – There aren't that many people in the world that have performed better over the last 12 months than the South African. What he did in December of 2012 may not matter much this week, but it shows he’s been building towards a second major title for a while. A third at the Byron Nelson and T8 at Memorial surround a MC at Colonial in terms of current form. He’s T16, T9 and T38 in his last three Opens. Hey…that looks a lot like Kuchar. Two biggest chinks in his statistical armor this week are driving accuracy (which we've already addressed as being a little less important with the weather) and scrambling.
  8. Adam Scott – Only played twice since the Masters, with both going for top 20s. His stats don’t particularly wow you given the expected demands of Merion, but given that he hasn't finished outside the top 15 in a major since the 2011 Open Championship, he demands the benefit of the doubt. I would prefer him be in a lower profile group than Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy the first two rounds, but oh well.
  9. Brandt Snedeker – This one is complex. Since his hiatus with an injury following his win at Pebble Beach, his two best finishes have come at the Masters (T6) and THE PLAYERS (T8), but he’s also missed two cuts and tied for 59th at the Heritage in that span. The good seems to be that he’s peaking for the big events. Given all we know, I worry about his health. Stats are mostly a green light, but I pause because he hit a season-low 50% of his fairways last week in Memphis. That was over 10% less than his second-worst event.
  10. Webb Simpson – He’s one of the few guys in the field that has played this course under tournament conditions, shooting a 72 in his stroke-play round at the 2005 U.S. Amateur and making it to the second round of the match play. Obviously, he’s also the defending champion this week. He’s trending perfectly this week. That’s to say he missed the cut at the Memorial, which is exactly what he did before winning last year. If there’s anything we've learned about Webb, it’s not to discount him because of stats or current form.
  11. Rory McIlroy – I don’t know, do you? Typically he trends into his wins, which he is not doing right now. Much like a Phil Mickelson, it seems unwise to fade him much further than this given his ability to reverse course and fix his game at any point. Confidence will be the key.
  12. Phil Mickelson – Speaking of Phil…I’m never sure what to make of Lefty week-to-week anymore. I’ll say this. After his three previous top 10s this year, he’s missed the cut in his next start twice and T60 at Pebble Beach in the other (Win at WMPO, T60 Pebble; T3 at Doral, MC Bay Hill; 3rd at Wells Fargo, MC PLAYERS). Ultimate wildcard.
  13. Billy Horschel – He took some time off following his win at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans and came back a little slow. A T10 at the FedEx St. Jude Classic last week seems to have him back on track. We've all learned what can happen when Billy Ho gets the mojo going. His only prior U.S. Open was as an amateur in 2006, missing the cut at Winged Foot. Nobody’s holding that against him. His notable weakness is scrambling (132), but I guess that only comes into play if he misses the green, right?
  14. Keegan Bradley – Keegs is a big-game player with a very solid statistical sheet for Merion, minus his lack of prowess on par 3s in 2013. Runner-up at the Byron Nelson before a T50 at Memorial, but past U.S. Open experience is limited to a T68 at Olympic last year. It’ll be interesting to see if he can get away with his aggressive play here.
  15. Bill Haas – Perhaps he should try and join dad on the Champions Tour, given he’s been excellent through 36 and 54 holes and most of their tournaments stop after three rounds. He’s got six top 10s and nine top 25s this year, including a T4 at the Memorial in his last start where he led at the half-way point. I was surprised to find he is 11th in scrambling. After not playing in a U.S. Open since 2004 (not sure if he was pro or am then), he tied for 23rd at Congressional at missed the cut at Olympic.
  16. Scott Stallings – It would be a pretty big ask for him to carry his form of T4-T4-T2 in his last three starts to Merion, but he may be ready for that step. His splits are steady across the board and he’s playing with a ton of confidence. I’m pretty sure if he were in the lead late on Sunday he’d probably choke it away, but Webb Simpson didn’t exactly have the lead in 2012 until he posted either. Maybe he starts the final round T9, posts a number and wins.


I also like (in no particular order):
  • Kevin Streelman – Missed his last two cuts after three consecutive top sixes, but stats are awesome.  Just not sure he’s quite ready for this stage.
  • K.J. Choi – If his previous U.S. Open record were a bit stronger, I could make a case for him to be included in the top 16. Nothing better than a 6th this year either. Stats line up.
  • Luke Donald – Most people will have him higher than this, but he always seems to enter the U.S. Open among the favorites and fails to meet expectations. He’s 6/9 in U.S. Opens, but with just two top 25s and zero top 10s.
  • Tim Clark – He’ll be one of the guys that will wish the course was playing firm and fast. I was very high on him before his second-round 79 in Memphis last week that led to a MC. Maybe he read that Webb Simpson missed the cut before winning last year?
  • John Huh – This one’s all about how the stats line up. He’s inside the top 100 in six of the seven categories I weighed and flashed form with a T8 at the Byron Nelson and T11 at Colonial recently.
  • David Lingmerth – Showed up big at THE PLAYERS and lost in a playoff at the Humana. Kind of player that misses his share of cuts, but hits big when he shows up. He was ahead of guys like Matt Kuchar, Phil Mickelson, Webb Simpson and Billy Horschel in my stats breakdown.
  • Ryan Palmer – He was one of the last men in the field, but comes in off a top five in Memphis. I can’t picture him holding the trophy, but can see him cashing a large check.
  • David Toms – Another guy that probably would have preferred this course play a little firm/faster.
  • Russell Henley – Salvaged a decent week (T28) in Memphis last week with a hot final round.
  • Jim Furyk – Thought of as a grinder, but not making the putts. He’s 170th in putting between five and ten feet.
  • Ernie Els – The Big Easy may not mind if things are a little nasty.
  • Freddie Jacobson – Any man called the Junkman on a soggy U.S. Open course playing under 7,000 yards deserves a look.
  • Boo Weekley – Calmed down a little at TPC Southwind last week, but his overall form is as good as it’s been in years.
  • Kevin Chappell – He plays hard courses well, period. He tied for third in his first U.S. Open in 2011, then shared 10th a year ago at Olympic. He enters off a runner-up at Memorial.
  • Francesco Molinari – Going for the family slam, his brother Eduardo won the 2005 U.S. Amateur at Merion. He’s played on occasion in the U.S. this year and has a couple of top 30s in four previous Open starts.
  • Matteo Mannasero – A winner at the BMW PGA Championship, he followed that up with a T4 at the Nordea Masters in his most recent start.
  • Angel Cabrera – I love this guy. Everyone remembers his runner-up to Scottie at the Masters but he’s also a past U.S. Open champion (Oakmont ’07) and has made 11/13 cuts in this championship. Much stranger things have happened for a guy that understands pressure from an entirely different spectrum than most pro golfers.

Dark horses:
  • Scott Langley – While he’s a rookie on the PGA TOUR, he managed a T16 at the 2010 U.S. Open and a T29 at the 2012 edition. Showed up at the Sony Open to start the year, and walked away with a T3 on the par-70 layout. Also shared 24th at the Heritage on a course that could resemble Merion.
  • David Hearn – Back-to-back top 25s usher him into his third U.S. Open, and the stat sheet seems to be a fit.
  • Brian Stuard – Not far removed from a T22 at Colonial, he opened the year with a T5 at the Sony much like Langley. This could be a solid course fit.



As always, we’ll be back to look at the popular games tomorrow evening. In the mean time, feel free to email (thegolfaficionado@gmail.com) if you have a specialty gaming question.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

U.S. Open - Preview

The U.S. Open is finally here! The season’s second major will take place at Merion GC in Ardmore, Pennsylvania. The 6,996 yard par 70 has hosted four previous U.S. Opens, with the last in 1981.

Winners of those events include Olin Dutra (1934), Ben Hogan (1950), Lee Travino over Jack Nicklaus in a playoff (1971), and David Graham (1981).

As any savvy golf fan will immediately notice, a layout of less than 7,000 yards is tiny. We are going to preview this tournament from several angles and the distance of the course comes into play.

The course has just two par 5s, and both come in the first four holes. Really only the 556-yard second hole is reachable. The fourth plays 628 yards and has a small creek just before the green that prevents running an approach up to the green.

The par 3s could be the biggest defense the course offers. The third hole is 256 yards, the ninth is 236, the 13th is a measly 115, but the 17th is 246. This could offer an advantage to longer hitters or expert scramblers.

Seven of the 12 par 4s are 411 yards or less, but two are over 500 yards. Most players who have played the course say they expect to hit driver about six times. That means the par-5 second and fourth holes and the par-4 fifth, sixth, 14th and 18th.

As you can imagine, because the course plays as short as it does, the USGA has squeezed the fairways as tight as possible and hoped for firm and fast conditions. This can only happen if the course is dry. The bad news is, almost four inches of rain were dumped on Merion Friday due to the remnants of a tropical storm. If that was it, the course may have time to recover. The worse news is, there is a chance of thunderstorms several days between now and the start of the tournament, including during the tournament proper.

The unpredictable nature of the weather coupled with the USGA seemingly losing, at least partially, control of the setup could lead to a number of scenarios on the leaderboard.

A firm and fast Merion would have put an extremely high priority on finding fairways. Drives that were too aggressive would have run through the tight fairways into the dense rough and made it nearly impossible for approach shots to have held small and firm greens. Even approaches from the fairway would have required laser precision. As it would go, scrambling around the green would have also been huge. Putting would only matter if approaches were in the proper places.

A softer Merion will be easier to navigate, both off the tee and on the greens. I read “Learn to Win a Major,” by Morris Pickens recently. In it, he detailed Lucas Glover’s win at Bethpage Black. (Pickens is Glover’s mental/strategic coach.) You may remember the first few rounds of that U.S. Open were a soggy mess. Pickens highlights that Glover had total confidence with his driver that week because he knew his drives wouldn't release into the rough if he hit his lines. He credits this as a big reason to why Glover was able to win. A soggy Merion will be much the same, except that players won’t have to hit drivers off the tee nearly as often as Glover did at Bethpage. They’ll be throwing darts with long irons and fairway woods. They’ll also find soft greens, which will hold and even spin. This could lead to a birdie binge and a winning score deep into the red.

So what type of player will win at Merion? Now you understand why the answer to that question is weather-dependent.

If the course plays as the USGA hopes, then guys like Graeme McDowell or Zach Johnson or Tim Clark jump to mind. Very accurate players tee-to-green and decent putter/scramblers. McDowell leads the PGA TOUR in both driving accuracy and scrambling, which should play well. It would also put a premium on strategy. Knowing where to take a driver and where to hit an iron. Knowing when to play for the fat part of the green and where to miss.

If the USGA loses the course to the elements, then a worst-case scenario means any number of things. For example:

  • Bombers could be back in business.
  • A guy you’ve never heard of could be in the mix on Sunday. Think Jason Gore at Pinehurst in 2005 when Michael Campbell won.
  • Strategy could mean less. I’m not sure Phil Mickelson or Dustin Johnson are patient enough and focused enough to win on a firm/fast Merion, but they could be in play if elements come into play that allow them to be more aggressive.
  • It could turn into a putting contest. Keep in mind, most U.S. Opens are more about ball-striking and less about putting. If everyone is in the fairway 240 yards off the tee and hitting a wedge into a green 130 yards away, it becomes a putt off 15 feet at a time.

When preparing for various games this week, control what you can control. It’s impossible to predict a Jason Gore or Michael Campbell without a massive amount of luck. Don’t try.

You can keep up to date with the weather and various news outlets reporting on how players say the course is playing. You can be aware of who has a history of success in USGA events. You can look back and see who played in the 2005 U.S. Amateur at Merion and the 2009 Walker Cup at Merino.  You can understand who is trending well coming into the event. You can keep an eye on if certain tee times on Thursday or Friday appear to be better than others.

But you can’t account for everything.


Tomorrow we’ll return with our power rankings for the U.S. Open. I’m not sure if it will be the usual Dandy Dozen, or if we’ll go a little further. 

Saturday, June 8, 2013

FedEx St. Jude Classic - Round 3

Shawn Stefani enters the final round of the FedEx St. Jude Classic with a one-stroke lead over Harris English at 12-under-par. He entered the day trailing English by a stroke, but erased that lead with eight birdies. Perhaps most impressive, when Stefani stood on the 11th tee with a two-stroke lead, he promptly made a quadruple bogey and left the hole trailing by two. He fought back to circle four birdies on his final five holes to reclaim the lead.

What else do you need to know?

  • The only person in the top five with a PGA TOUR win is Scott Stallings (T3 and four back). 
  • Patrick Reed is in that three-way tie for third at 8-under, and given his propensity to go low in Monday Qualifiers last year he could be a guy to fire a low one.
  • Phil Mickelson and Padraig Harrington are both in the bottom half of the top 10. While they may not get it done this week, it makes for an interesting footnote in the U.S. Open research.
  • Jonathan Byrd did several things he hasn't done this year in the third round. He fired a season-low 66 and posted rounds under par in consecutive days for the first time all season. Remember that he missed all of the winter and part of the spring recovering from wrist surgery. He may finally be all systems go.
  • Dustin Johnson and Ian Poulter are both T11. I'm not sure you could talk me into backing DJ in many scenarios at Merion, but it goes to show the defending champ is certainly a course horse at TPC Southwind. Poulter becomes a more interesting prospect for next week.
  • Winds in the Memphis area will be the worst they've been all week and fairly steady throughout the day on Sunday. There is a chance of afternoon showers. I'm sticking with my Yahoo! lineup of CH3, DJ, Stallings and Karlsson. 
Best of luck tomorrow!

Friday, June 7, 2013

FedEx St. Jude Classic - Round 2

With 36 holes in the books a the FedEx St. Jude Classic, Harris English leads by two at 10-under-par and will try and convert his first PGA TOUR win this weekend. He's got some padding between himself and the most qualified chasers, as Scott Stallings (T3, 5-under) is the closest TOUR winner.
  • English has flirted with wins a couple of times in the past but has really let the pressure get to him down the stretch. With Shawn Stefani the only guy within five shots of him, he really has a chance to run away and hide on Saturday.
  • There are some guys like Ian Poulter and Boo Weekley playing well this week. They will be part of the U.S. Open hype if they can finish off a decent tournament.
  • Perhaps the bigger story is the guys who missed the cut. Tiger Woods drew plenty of attention by MAKING the cut but playing poorly on the weekend at Muirfield Village last week. I doubt everyone will be taking about Tim Clark's second-round 9-over 79 (T135) or Brandt Snedeker's second-round 73 (T97). On that note, anyone who "ranks" Clark or Snedeker ahead of Woods for the U.S. Open and uses Woods' form as an excuse is nuts. A Woods 79 would make SportsCenter. A Clark 79 probably isn't even a footnote on Golf Central.
  • Seems like every way we went on the Yahoo! game in the second round was the wrong one. We'll adjust and go CHIII, Karlsson, DJ and Stallings in the third round.
Best of luck!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

FedEx St. Jude Classic - Round 1

The first round of the FedEx St. Jude Classic ended with a six-way tie for the lead at 4-under. Those in the logjam include Nathan Green, Martin Flores, Davis Love III, Stuart Appleby, Glen Day and Harris English.

  • There are 56 players within three shots of the lead and 101 within five. Absolutely nothing has been resolved in this tournament.
  • Friday's weather offers no more than a 30% chance of rain at any point with winds fairly similar throughout the day. I'm going to go ahead and flip my Yahoo! lineup to play the early wave again. That means Russell Henley, Dustin Johnson, John Merrick and Brandt Snedeker get the start in round 2. 
That's really it. As of right now, this tournament needs more time to play out. 

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

FedEx St. Jude Classic - One-and-done

The clock is ticking down to the start of the FedEx St. Jude Classic and it's time to tie up our loose ends.

In terms of the one-and-done this week, it may be a good week to go against the chalk depending on your situation. If you are leading and want to play it safe, I would look towards guys like Charles Howell III or Freddie Jacobson if you have them available. I don't think you'll miss them later. If you are chasing, feel free to take some calculated risks this week.

I'm going with Russell Henley. Given he's never played TPC Southwind, there's plenty of risk involved. Still, he's got a win and another top 15 on par 70 courses and he's coming off a T6 at the Memorial. He plays well on hard courses and shows up on the par 4s.

In my two-and-done, I'm going chalky with Brandt Snedeker. I haven't used him yet and this could be a time to pick up some ground if he gets it going.

I have Snedeker available in my OAD, but have several other spots in mind for that burn including a little tournament across the pond in July.

One final note, I'm sticking with the early tee times on Thursday. I don't think it will be a major advantage because the winds look mild in the afternoon. That means the Yahoo! starters are Charles Howell III, Freddie Jacobson, Scott Stallings and Robert Karlsson.

Best of luck this week!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

FedEx St. Jude Classic - Fantasy

Before we dive into the games for this week's FedEx St. Jude Classic, take a close look at the field. Since yesterday's post there have been a handful of WDs due to successful U.S. Open qualifiers and other factors.

I also want to point your attention to the weather. There is a significant chance of thunderstorms on Thursday, possibly lingering into Friday. I don't yet know which wave that may favor, but my advice is to balance your rosters with waves of players from both ends. That, or wait until late Wednesday to make a final call.

With those matters of business behind us, here we go!

Yahoo!

Last week we started with Matt Kuchar on the bench in the B group "just in case," and we're glad we did. We improved our Full Season rank from 5,072 to 4,323 (96th percentile) with 3,482 points and how have 1,560 points for the segment.

To my point about the weather above, I have my lineup adjusted so I can go all morning wave or afternoon wave if needed. I will tweet out my final starters Wednesday night (@RyanGolfBlogger).

  • A-List - Brandt Snedeker and Charles Howell III
  • B-List - Freddie Jacobson, Dustin Johnson, Scott Stallings and John Merrick
  • C-List - Russell Henley and Robert Karlsson
Golf Channel

  • Group 1 - Russell Henley
  • Group 2 - Scott Stallings
  • Group 3 - Robert Karlsson
  • Group 4 - Robert Allenby
PGA TOUR 

Season Standings
  1. O'Sullivan's Tribe - 6618
  2. Pure Spin - 5879
  3. Brett Woltz - 5616
  4. Boots With The Fur - 5414
  5. Subliminal Magic - 5401
Weekly Standings
  • 1 - Case of the Biershenks - 638
  • 2 - O'Sullivan's Tribe - 613
  • 3 - Indiana Intimidation - 610
  • T4 - Pure Spin - 592
  • T4 - RotoRyan - 592
As I'm about to post this, I noticed that Scott Stallings tweeted "Merion.....Here I come!!!" Stallings was an alternate for the U.S. Open after Monday's qualifier. I don't know if that means he's pulling out of this week's tournament and heading to Merion right now, or if this is just a notice to his fans that he's in the tournament. Keep an eye on this if you plug him into a game.

Best of luck!

Monday, June 3, 2013

FedEx St. Jude Classic - Power Ranking

With some time to mull over the options for the FedEx St. Jude Classic under our belt, it’s time for our weekly look at the Power Rankings. Normal metrics of course history, current form and a smattering of relevant stats were considered. In fact, this week’s Power Rankings took on a little more mathematical/scientific approach.

The findings indicate that there isn't a perfect answer this week. I could make a case for about six guys leading off the rankings.

When we ran the numbers, here’s what the magic box spit out. This week’s Dandy Dozen:

  1. Freddie Jacobson – In his 10 starts at TPC Southwind, he’s missed just one cut and finished inside the top 25 on half of his attempts. He also owns three top 10s. The knock on him would be that he doesn't have a top 10 since the Match Play, but he does own five top 25s in that span. This would be the perfect example of Power Rankings not necessarily being used to “predict” a winner, rather identifying a guy that plays well across many fantasy formats as a “safe” play.
  2. Scott Stallings – Arguably the hottest guy in the field this week, Stallings enters off back-to-back T4s. He’s only played here twice, missing the cut and sharing 25th, but at 52nd in Par 4 Birdie or Better Percentage there’s every indication that he could be a factor for a third week. In short, if you are a believer in form over everything else; he’s your guy.
  3. Dustin Johnson – Who really knows, right? Last year was his first stop in this event and he won, but he enters off a missed cut last week. What pushed me over the edge in favor of bumping him this high up were several key stats. He’s fourth in Par 4 Birdie or Better and a respectable 37th in SGP.
  4. Russell Henley – Last year we had a first-timer win here and if there is to be a repeat of that feat, my money’s on Henley. (Spoiler….I actually love him at the U.S. Open next week too!) While Henley doesn't have any course history, his play on tracks of less than a par 72 is stellar. He won at the Sony Open (par 70) and tied for sixth at the RBC Heritage(par 71, but let’s be honest...the par-5 second there is basically a par 4). He also was T13 at The Honda (Par 70). Form is solid, entering off a T6 at the Memorial. He’s fourth (tied with DJ) in Par 4 Birdie or Better, 10th in SGP and 31st in Proximity. If I had any positive history at all to pull from, he might top the rankings.
  5. Brandt Snedeker – He’s 5/6 here, including a T15 in 2011 and a T5 way back in ’07. He missed the cut at the Memorial, but secured top eights in two of his three starts before that dating back to the Masters. I can live with that form. His stats are perfect, but must be tempered to reflect how front-end heavy they are to the start of the season.
  6. Robert Karlsson – There’s no way he’s this high without two runner-ups in his three trips to TPC Southwind, but his form is also pretty good. He tied for fourth at the Wells Fargo about a month ago, then opened with a 3-under 69 at the Memorial before a third-round 76 eventually dropped him down to a share of 34th. I could think of much worse one-and-done options.
  7. Boo Weekley – Boo’s the kind of guy that has me a little cautions immediately following a win. His history here is respectable (5/7, 1 top 10, 2 top 25s), and his 17th ranking in Proximity and 26th in Par 4 Birdie or Better play really well here. Be a little careful with your expectations. If you need a top 25 out of him, I’d say invest. Top 10 or better? Not so sure.
  8. Phil Mickelson – He’s only played here twice with no real success, and it’s obvious that this is a tune up for the U.S. Open. Still, he’s “accidentally” won the week before a major on multiple occasions and his par-4 prowess is surprisingly strong. He ranks 10th in Par 4 Birdie or Better and eighth in SGP. He’s a lot like Dustin Johnson this week (minus the win). I wouldn't be surprised by a win or a debacle. He’s the perfect example of a guy that might be worth a Yahoo! bench spot just in case.
  9. Charles Howell III – He’s entering the week under the radar, but could be a steal. He’s 4/6 here , with a T3 in ’11 serving as one of his two top 10s. His current form is sneaky-good. If you subtract a T66 at THE PLAYERS, he was T10 at the Wells Fargo, T17 at the Byron Nelson and T21 at the Memorial. He gained strokes putting in each of those four events, including more than 1.5 strokes in each of his last two starts.
  10. Bob Estes – Here’s the skinny….20/24 with a win, a second and a third among seven top 10s and 12 top 25s. If you’ve been paying attention, he’s had his share of respectable weeks on TOUR this season highlighted by a T7 at the Valero Texas Open and is coming of a T42 at Colonial. Ranking 10th in Proximity should also play well this week.
  11. Tim Clark – Uninspiring course history drops him to this spot (4/5 but with just one top 25), but ranking inside the top 50 in SGP, Proximity and Par 4 Birdie or Better is enough to make a case. He also tied for seventh at Colonial in his last start.
  12. Ryan Palmer – He’s been risk/reward here, making two of five cuts with both going for top 10s (T3 and T10). Ranking 16th in Par 4 Birdie or Better and making each of his last six cuts with three top 15s, he’s worthy of this spot.


Next 5: Brian Davis, John Rollins, Billy Horschel, Jimmy Walker and David Toms

Feeling Risky?

(Remember, this is for gamers looking for a flier or a deep sleeper. These guys have major flaws, but could produce big if things come together.)

  • Camilo Villegas – He tied for third here in ’11 and has made 6/7 cuts. He ranks third in Proximity this year. Remember from yesterday’s power rankings that they guy who led the field in Proximity the last two trips to TPC Southwind also won the tournament.
  • Tim Herron – 13/15 with a second and two thirds. That’s enough of a reason for a flier.
  • Brendon Todd – Tied for 12th here in ’09 and missed the cut in ’12. He’s made some noise lately with a Web.com Tour win and a T17 at the Byron Nelson.
  • Stephen Ames – 7/11 with 1 top 10 and 4 top 25s here. Ranks third in SGP and 23 in Par 4 Birdie or Better, but play is declining with age.



We’ll check back tomorrow with a roundup of the various gaming formats.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

FedEx St. Jude Classic - Open Qualifier

Due to the U.S. Open qualifiers going on around the U.S on Monday, the FedEx St. Jude Classic Open Qualifier took place on Sunday rather than Monday.

Here's a link to the results http://tnpga.bluegolf.com/bluegolf/tnpga13/event/tnpga137/contest/4/leaderboard.htm.

Congrats to Charlie Holland, Trent Whitekiller, Chip Deason and Vince Covello!


FedEx St. Jude Championship - Preview

The final stop on the PGA TOUR schedule before the U.S. Open is the FedEx St. Jude Classic. It takes place on the par 70, 7,239 yard TPC Southwind in Memphis, Tennessee and features Dustin Johnson as the defending champion.

Despite Johnson's win, this isn't exactly known as a bombers paradise given the 12 par 4s to just two par 5s, but that didn't stop DJ from winning in his second tournament back from a brief stint on the disabled list in 2012. While it may not be a built only for bombers, it's tough to figure out who it favors.

Looking back at the stats, DJ got it done with the irons. He was T4 in GIR and led the tournament in Approach Shot Proximity to the Hole. Of note, when Harrison Frazar won it in 2011 he also led in Proximity and was T8 in GIR.

Let's pause for a minute to look at the past winners and second-place finishers since 2000.

  • 2000 - Notah Begay III (271), Chris DiMarco & Bob May (272)
  • 2001 - Bob Estes (267), Bernhard Langer (268)
  • 2002 - Len Mattiace (266), Tim Petrovic (267)
  • 2003 - David Toms (264), Nick Price (267)
  • 2004 - David Toms (268), Bob Estes (274)
  • 2005 - Justin Leonard (266), David Toms (267)
  • 2006 - Jeff Maggert (271), Tom Pernice Jr (274)
  • 2007 - Woody Austin (267), Brian Davis (272)
  • 2008 - Justin Leonard P (276) over Robert Allenby and Trevor Immelman
  • 2009 - Brian Gay (262), David Toms and Bryce Molder (267)
  • 2010 - Lee Westwood P (270) over Robert Garrigus and Robert Karlsson
  • 2011 - Harrison Frazar P (267) over Robert Karlsson
  • 2012 - Dustin Johnson (271) over John Merrick (272)
If we erased the last three years of history, we may have a pattern to go on. Justin Leonard, David Toms, Bob Estes, Jeff Maggert and Brian Gay are players with some similarities. They are generally accurate players and know how to handle the putter. It's not until 2010 when we see Lee Westwood, Robert Garrigus and Dustin Johnson dot the headlines that the status quo changes. 

In the case of Westy and DJ, those are both elite players. When they are at their best they are going to be better than anyone in the field most of the time.

When I'm looking at stats this week, I'm going to pay particular interest to par 4 scoring, proximity and some combination of putting/scrambling. More than anything, I may lean the heaviest on current form.

After I lay all the puzzle pieces out and put something together, I'll be back with a power ranking that will hopefully provide some insight.

Happy research!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Memorial Tournament - Round 3

Raise your hand if you've heard this before. Matt Kuchar holds the 54-hole lead at the Memorial by two strokes over Kyle Stanley and Kevin Chappell. It it sounds familiar it's because Kuchar was the leader with one round to go at Colonial last weekend. Here are a few thoughts.
  • Kuchar playing well is not a surprise, but this is a big-time leaderboard for Kyle Stanley to be popping up on. I was looking back at his season stats by event, and since the Zurich Classic his SGP stat has gotten much better. I'd love to know what clicked, but instead of losing two to three strokes per round with the putter, he's actually been breaking even or gaining. That's around a 10-stroke swing per tournament from where he was in January.
  • For those that haven't caught on to this yet, Kevin Chappell plays hard courses well. While Merion doesn't seem to be a perfect fit, he can certainly show up when the conditions are tough and par has some value.
  • Bill Haas is backing up on the weekend. He only managed one birdie in the third round and it was a little six-footer on the par-5 11th. He was in good company, as Charl Schwartzel went from leading to a back-nine 41 in a hurry.
  • Speaking of guys that had a little trouble on Muirfield Village's back nine, Tiger Woods' 44 was the worst nine of his PGA TOUR career. I mentioned on Twitter today that someone needs to check and make sure his girlfriend didn't dump him after the first round. Other theories involve him wanting to bet on himself at Merion, but preferring a little longer odds. Might also be worth checking to make sure all fire hydrants in the greater Dublin (OH) area are standing. Nothing else makes sense as to why he'd have this bad of a week after winning THE PLAYERS.
  • Yahoo! lineup. I'm keeping Woods in. After all, it's not like McIlroy's doing any better. Joining Tiger will be Justin Rose, Matt Kuchar and Adam Scott.
  • My one-and-done pick for the week, Jim Furyk, went from 5-over through his first 10 holes and looking like it was going to be a trunk slam to T14 with 18 to play. I'll take it.What's ironic is that he made a birdie putt and two par putts outside 11 feet today, but missed three birdies inside nine feet. 

Is anyone else thinking "let's see how Kuchar's going to lose this tomorrow?" I don't know why, but I just have that feeling. Justin Rose could be the one lurking that's the biggest threat (T4 and three back). 

That's it.....