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

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

WGC-Bridgestone Invitational / Reno-Tahoe Open - One and Done

For the first time all season, I've looked to the end of the road when formulating my one-and-done picks for the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and the Reno-Tahoe Open. That's forced me to shelf Adam Scott and Lee Westwood, while Rory McIlroy needs to show some form before a play.

My choice for the Bridgestone came down to a tight race between Angel Cabrera and Henrik Stenson. Stenson doesn't have the history that Cabrera has, but is playing excellent golf. When I look down the road, the best place to possibly use Cabrera other than this week is TPC Boston, where McIlroy and Scott are in play. I could see myself biting on Stenson a few other places if needed.

Cabrera has also finished fourth in this tournament three times, and he's playing the most consistent golf of his career. The closest comparison for full-season form was his 2009 year (won the Masters) and he tied for fourth at Firestone. On that note, Cabrera is my one-and-done for this week.

For my two-and-done, I'm rolling with Adam Scott.

In the Reno-Tahoe, I'm going for the Argentinian double with Andres Romero!

Since I brought it up, here is how I have my OAD penciled in for the rest of the year. It is very much subject to change, but I have to have a plan at this point and you should too.

PGA Championship - Hunter Mahan (this could change)
Wyndham - Jason Dufner or Nicolas Colsaerts are the early leaders
Barclays - Stenson
Deutsche Bank - Rory McIlroy
BMW Championship - Lee Westwood
TOUR Championship - Adam Scott.

The only thing that is certain is that this will change.

Best of luck this week.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Reno-Tahoe Open - Preview and Power Rankings

The Reno-Tahoe Open represents the only PGA TOUR event of the year that uses a Modified Stableford scoring system, which matters. Montreux G&CC measures 7,472 yards and plays to a par of 72. The distance is a little misleading, as altitude makes it play a little shorter.

Historically, Montreux will give up its share of birdies and eagles, which is important in the Modified Stableford. For those that don't know, the scoring system awards points for birdies and eagles (or better) and subtracts points for bogeys and doubles.

A birdie gets 2 points, an eagle 5 and an albatross 8, whereas a bogey is -1 and a double or worse is -3. So, 18 pars in a round =0 points, but nine birdies and nine bogeys (even on the card) = 9 points.

On that thought, when looking at statistical categories I factored in par breakers, birdie or better percentage and total eagles.

Here we go with the Reno-Tahoe dandy dozen:

  1. Andres Romero - He's the perfect blend of form, course history and stats. He tied for third here last year, has made each of his last five cuts this year, three going for top 25s, and is inside the top 20 in par breakers and birdie or better. He will likely be my one-and-done for this tournament.
  2. John Rollins - One thing I noticed when looking back at the list of winners in this tournament's recent past is the ability for Montreux to identify stable TOUR players on a tournament with a bad draw on the schedule. Rollins fits that profile and also boasts a T2 in 2008 and a win in 2009 here. 
  3. J.J. Henry - The defending champ is 7/8 here with two other top-four finishes to go with his 2012 win.
  4. Aaron Baddeley - Finally flashed some form in Canada last week and can get away with some balky driving on these forgiving fairways. He's third in SGP and sixth in birdie or better. Stableford plays into his hands because he will make bogeys. He's only played here three times, but tied for fourth in 2005.
  5. Kevin Stadler - Baby Stads is 6/7 with two top fives and an 11th in 2012 at Montreux. Ranks fifth on TOUR in eagles. 
  6. Peter Uihlein - A great candidate for a OAD, he's won in Europe this year and made noise in Puerto Rico with a top 10. There is ZERO reason why he couldn't pull a Jordan Spieth and earn a spot on TOUR after beginning the year on TOUR With zero status. 
  7. Gary Woodland - This is a nice course for a bomber. Plenty of birdies await on par 5s. He's 48th in par breakers and fifth in eagles. He's never played here.
  8. Rory Sabbatini - Sabo is playing close to his top form of late, but has very limited history here. He missed the cut in 2002 after a T63 in '99. 
  9. Josh Teater - Trending, with a 54, T10 and a seventh in his three starts here. He played very well on the West Coast early in the year, so this represents a chance to re-capture that flame. 
  10. Richard Lee - Tied for 12th in his first start here last year and is having a nice sophomore season. His par breaker and birdie or better numbers aren't all that good, but at 16th in SGP he has the potential to run the tables.
  11. Ben Crane - A nod to class more than anything, Crane is in danger of missing the FedExCup Playoffs and needs a boost. He's 3/3 with a T6 here way back in 2002. 
  12. David Toms - Like Crane and Sabo, his record here is limited. But, it's really good. He tied for second in '99 and was T7 in '00. A combo of class and course history.
No next five for this one. 

Best of luck and we'll wrap it all up tomorrow.

WGC-Bridgestone Invitational - Fantasy

After a nice week at the RBC Canadian Open, we'll try and load up to do it again in our fantasy games for the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.

Diving right in.....

Yahoo!

It was a nice week in Yahoo! last week, moving up to 4,720 points, 3,440 ranking (97th percentile). For the Summer, we rank 1,687 with 822 points

  • A-List - Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson. Tiger has the early Thursday time and Phil the late, but I may roll with Tiger for all four rounds and the win.
  • B-List - Dustin Johnson, Keegan Bradley, Steve Stricker and Justin Rose. DJ has the early/late, while the other three are late early.
  • C-List - Adam Scott and Angel Cabrera

Golf Channel

Check out Glass' article http://www.rotoworld.com/articles/gol/43773/297/bridging-the-gap?pg=3 for all of our Rotoworld staff picks. We nailed Snekeder last week!

PGA TOUR standings

Season Standings
  1. O'Sullivan's Tribe - 9521
  2. Pure Spin - 9048
  3. Woltz - 8017
  4. KyRoadz - 7681
  5. Case of Biershenks - 7498
Weekly Standings (RBC Canadian Open)
  • T1 - Pure Spin - 868
  • T1 - Stink Eye - 868
  • 3 - Case of Biershenks - 731
  • 4 - Rubio2016 - 728
  • T5 - Boots With The Fur - 726
  • T5 - Off the Tjaarts - 726
We will be back later tonight with the Preview / Power Rankings for the Reno-Tahoe Open, then bring home the one-and-done and solidify the Yahoo! starters on Wednesday.

Monday, July 29, 2013

WGC-Bridgestone Invitational - Power Rankings

For the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational power rankings, I've dug down deep in an effort to identify the 2013 champion. My research led my down an avenue I didn't necessarily expect when I penned yesterday’s preview, and that was the correlation of trends of the recent winners at Firestone CC (South).

I looked at each winner all the way back to Stewart Cink in 2004, with the exception of just looking at the Tiger Woods 2009 win and not the one’s prior. I found the following trends:
  • Each winner has finished first or second in a PGA TOUR/major/WGC tournament leading up to his win at Firestone.
  • Each winner except Keegan Bradley missed the cut in either the U.S. Open or the Open Championship that year. Bradley was T68 in the U.S. Open. The point isn't necessarily to latch onto guys who failed at Merion or Muirfield, rather not to discount a guy just because he missed the cut in one.
  • Each made the cut in that year’s Masters, and all but Bradley (T27) finished inside the top 20.
  • Each had a top 10 at Doral except Mahan (T30) and Cink (T17).

That perspective added some clarity to the criteria already established.

When it was all said and done, here’s what we this week’s power rankings look like:
  1. Tiger Woods – He scored well in my statistical analysis and has won seven of his 13 starts in this event. He won at Doral and was fourth at the Masters, and my nugget on the U.S. and British Opens has me a little more confidant in el Tigre.
  2. Adam Scott – The reverse of Tiger, he was third at Doral and won the Masters. He’s also a past champ at Firestone CC (2011). He’s had a great year and scored well in my statistical breakdown as well.
  3. Phil Mickelson – I cringe a little having Lefty this high, and I don’t like his T54 at the Masters, but he’s earned this spot since he won his last two starts. He’s nabbed five top 10s in this event, but never won it. I wouldn't go one-and-done on him here by any means, but he deserves consideration in other formats.
  4. Justin Rose – Eighth at Doral, 25th at the Masters and a winner at the U.S. Open is a solid resume. He has three top 10s in eight starts at Firestone, including a T5 last year and a T2 in 2007. First in total driving and fourth in ball-striking, this should be a green light.
  5. Matt Kuchar – He’s creeping his way up my radar this week, and it has very little to do with his T2 at the RBC Canadian Open. It has more to do with his two wins this season, two top 10s in his last three starts at Firestone and a T8 at the Masters. Not a perfect fit, but not bad either.
  6. Brandt Snedeker – When Sneds gets hot, he often stays hot for a while so it’s a good time to buy some B.S. stock in general. The caution is his record at Firestone. In three starts, he’s never cracked the top 30. My assessment would be that this course demands more from the driver than he can offer. Finished 6th at the Masters.
  7. Steve Stricker – Tied for second here last year and has three top 10s in six starts. Also was second to Tiger at Doral and 20th at the Masters. His form/lack of play make him a risk, but everything else is in place.
  8. Angel Cabrera – The big guy has finished fourth here three times, the most recent being 2009. And in 2009, he won the Masters. This year he finished second at the Masters and has been amazingly consistent. Stats and form are also good.
  9. Keegan Bradley – The defending champ makes his third start at Firestone, with a T15 in 2011 the other return. Seventh at Doral lines up nicely for this week, but his T54 at Augusta National does not.
  10. Dustin Johnson – DJ was another of those guys that kept getting better the longer I looked at him. He has a win and finished inside the top 15 at both the Masters and Doral. He also was tied for the lead last week before making a triple on the 71st hole.  He peaked for the Playoffs last year and may do the same again.  BUT, he doesn't have a top 10 at Firestone in four starts despite three top 25s. Feels like he’ll finish about 12th.
  11. Henrik Stenson – The Swede’s record in this event only shows two top 25s in six starts, but his form and statistical fit are undeniable. He was 18th at the Masters and has a couple of runner-ups this year.
  12. Bill Haas – Not exactly a site of great success for Haas, but with wins at Riviera and Colonial in the last two years, there are few limits to where he will show up.

Next 5: Jason Day, Jason Dufner, Bill Haas, Rory McIlroy, Bubba Watson and Lee Westwood

Feeling Risky?

I’ll give you one this week.
  • Martin Laird – He’s finished T16, T11 and T29 in his three starts at Firestone CC, generally seems to be in good form and is a really good driver of the golf ball. The missed cut at the Masters is a red flag, but he’s found his game since then.


I will return tomorrow with a look at some games, as well as coverage for the Reno-Tahoe Open. 

Best of luck!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

WGC-Bridgestone Invitational - Preview

The game's elite will descend on Firestone Country Club (South) for the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. The par 70 measures 7,400 yards and is among the most complete tests of golf on the schedule every year. While some of the more recent tournaments in 2013 seem to favor 3-woods and irons off the tee for precision, that won't be the case at Firestone.

Does this track favor bombers? Accurate drivers? Good iron players? Good scramblers? Putters? In short, yes.

Ball-striking is imperative, with a tilt towards GIR. Length is very helpful, and guys that show up on courses that demand control of the driver are rewarded. As with most weeks, putting can cover a multitude of sins.

Here's what's happened at Firestone in the recent past:

  • 2012 - Keegan Bradley (-13) winner; Steve Stricker and Jim Furyk (-12)
  • 2011 - Adam Scott (-17) winner, Rickie Fowler and Luke Donald (-13)
  • 2010 - Hunter Mahan (-12) winner, Ryan Palmer (-10)
  • 2009 - Tiger Woods (-12) winner, Robert Allenby and Padraig Harrington (-8)
  • 2008 - Vijay Singh (-10) winner, Stuart Appleby and Lee Westwood (-9)
  • 2007 - Tiger Woods (-8) winner, Justin Rose and Rory Sabbatini (E)
  • 2006 - Tiger Woods (-10) winner, Stewart Cink (-10)
  • 2005 - Tiger Woods (-6) winner, Chris DiMarco (-5)
  • 2004 - Stewart Cink (-11) winner, Rory Sabbatini and Tiger Woods (-7)
It's a bit redundant to suggest that the winner's of this event are all world-class players, since this is a WGC, but there aren't any flukes up there. In fact, all of those winners with the exception of Mahan are major championship winners. They are also all in the prime of their careers for the most part (Singh peaked late). 

When considering stats, I'd take a look at ball-striking and GIR for starters. As a general rule, I would avoid shorter hitters because every other part of their game will be tested.

Woods will certainly warrant a hard look, but his success in this event largely mirrors his success in majors. Reconciling that correctly will be paramount. 

We will return tomorrow with power rankings. Our delve into the Reno-Tahoe Open will occur a little later in the week.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

RBC Canadian Open - One-and-done

With hours to go before the RBC Canadian Open tees off, it's time to finalize the one-and-done and Yahoo! starters.

I'm chasing in both my one-and-done and two-and-done leagues, so I'm zeroed in on guys who can win. I've settled on the same guy for both formats, and that is Brandt Snedeker. I'm doing this in hopes that he won't be a popular play, as many have already used him and those that haven't may be holding off for an event with a bigger purse. We still have a major, a WGC and four Playoff events. I need to swing for the fences and peg a winner. Top 15s just won't get it done for me, and holding a guy for later only matters if I'm alive later.

As for the Yahoo! starters, I'm going with all AM wavers (my team has six in the AM and two in the PM), but weather is supposed to be excellent for the first two rounds from the first tee shot until the final putt. My starters are John Rollins, Matt Kuchar, Hunter Mahan and Brandt Snedeker.

Best of luck this week!


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

RBC Canadian Open - Fantasy

Let's jump right in and take a look at our regular lineup of fantasy games for the RBC Canadian Open.

Yahoo!:

Full Season: 4,528 points, 4,584 ranking (96th percentile)

  • A-List - Brandt Snedeker and Chris Kirk
  • B-List - Hunter Mahan, Bob Estes, Matt Kuchar and Daniel Summerhays
  • C-List - John Rollins and Charl Schwartzel

Golf Channel:

As always, check out Glass' article at Rotoworld.com for my picks and all of our staff picks http://www.rotoworld.com/articles/gol/43725/297/whoa-canada. By the way, I'm convinced my man Glass has the best  headlines week in and week out. 

PGA TOUR:

Overall Standings
  1. O'Sullivan's Tribe - 8837
  2. Pure Spin - 8180
  3. Woltz - 7473
  4. KyRoadz - 7453
  5. Bird Dogs - 6878
Open Championship Standings
  1. Harrington Harriers - 964
  2. Swinging for Sixties - 909
  3. Putter's Paradise - 861
  4. Bird Dogs - 861
  5. RotoRyan - 835

We'll be back tomorrow with one-and-done picks and any other updates.

Best of luck!



Monday, July 22, 2013

RBC Canadian Open - Power Rankings

Now that we've had a little time to process Phil Mickelson's epic win at Muirfield, it’s time to shift our attention to the RBC Canadian Open and the power rankings of likely contenders. Refer back to yesterday’s preview if you need a refresher, but there are several things from that I will reemphasize.

As always, I haven’t read any other previews or rankings of this tournament ahead of penning my own opinions, and I’m taking into account the RBC-sponsored players' motives for teeing it up this week. That is to say I don’t know that guys like Brandt Snedeker, Luke Donald, Matt Kuchar would be playing this week if it weren't for their ties to the Royal Bank of Canada. The complete list of RBC staffers also includes Mike Weir, David Hearn, Graham DeLaet, Hunter Mahan, Stephen Ames, Graham McDowell, Ernie Els and Jim Furyk. A number of these guys have their eyes on bigger prizes in the coming weeks, like the WGC-Bridgestone next week at the PGA Championship in two weeks. That’s not saying I expect them to tank it, but Phil Mickelson missed the cut at The Greenbrier before winning in back-to-back weeks. 

Glen Abbey wasn't fresh in my mind, so I took the time to take a virtual tour of the course online. I came away with the following impressions:
  • The course would seem to fit the eye of a left-to-right ball flight. That said, I took into account fairways misses to try and get a feel for those that err to the right or left side. It’s the best I metric at our disposal.
  • The par 4s don’t seem to be an especially long or challenging group of holes, likely allowing some woods off the tees and short and mid-iron approaches.
  • Par 3 play could be important (Par 3 Performance). Water is in play and some of the greens appear shallow, forcing scrambling. Shaping approaches could come into play.
  • The par 5s are reachable (Par 5 birdie or better), so it’s important to cash in.

I did look back at the 2008 and 2009 results at Glen Abbey, but as I assumed, the transient nature of this tournament field doesn't allow for many of my considerations to have a resume. Further, I’m putting form ahead of that this week anyway.

Here we go:
  1. Daniel Summerhays – Not the best statistical fit for a course where he has no prior record, but his T9, T4, P2 run in his last three starts absolutely demands your attention. His form isn't all that different from a hot Scott Piercy last year when he finished T12 and third before his win.
  2. Brandt Snedeker – I’m leaning heavily on his form (T17, T8, T11 in last three starts) to go with a T5 in 2009 at Glen Abbey. That tells me he can show up on Wednesday for the Pro-Am and play the course once and be ready to go. Despite not being known for length, his par 5 numbers are very solid.
  3. Chez Reavie – That he won here in 2008 and missed the cut in his 2009 defense isn't a red flag at all. In fact, that’s probably the norm for a middle-of-the-pack TOUR player. I love his form entering the week. He’s made eight cuts in-a-row with four going for top 25s.
  4. Chris Kirk – He hasn't played Glen Abbey, but he tied for fourth last year in this event coming off a T10 in Mississippi. Well, he tied for ninth in Mississippi last week. Stats also indicate that he’s very strong on the par 3s and tends to avoid missing fairways to the left (left-to-right ball flight?).
  5. Charl Schwartzel – I kept expecting his entry into the field to be a typo, but it’s not. He’s racked up a couple of top 15s in the Opens, so I’ll give that an “A” for form. He’s a really good par 5 player and among the class of the field.
  6. Nicholas Thompson – A very good mixture of form meets history. He’s played Glen Abbey in 2008 (T5) and 2009 (T53) and enters this week off a fourth-place finish in Mississippi after a T12 at the Deere.
  7. John Rollins – He missed the cut at the John Deere before taking last week off, but form doesn't necessarily tell the story with him all that often. He also did not play Glen Abbey in 2008 or 2009. So, where am I coming from on this? When I ran a statistical analysis on my “short list” of 41 players he ranked second. And while he’s not in the top echelon of class in this field, he’s in that next tier.
  8. Hunter Mahan – After losing Merion in somewhat heartbreaking fashion, he fired a hot opening round at TPC River Highlands before fading over the weekend. Very good par 5 player and doesn't miss left off the tee all that much, so this course could fit his eye. The risk with him is that he’s one of the guys that might not cry too hard if he gets a long weekend off ahead of the WGC-Bridgestone.
  9. Rory Sabbatini – It’s coming together for Sabo. He’s T9, MC, T17 in his last three starts and he’s sixth in Par 5 Birdie or Better %. Picking him isn't without risk, but it also isn't without the potential for a nice reward.
  10. Luke Donald – Similar to some other RBC guys, it all depends on how he starts. He’s near the top of the heap in field class and he doesn't have a win on TOUR in 2013, so if he opens with a nice round and finds himself inside the top 10 headed into the weekend this tournament will have his full attention. He’s fifth on TOUR in Par 3 Performance.
  11. Morgan Hoffmann – He’s got top 25s in each of his last four starts including a pair of top 10s to lock up his TOUR card for next year. I could see us looking back on him in a few weeks as a Graham DeLaet or Billy Horschel type if he keeps this up.
  12. Pat Perez – He had top eights in two of his three starts before missing the cut at the John Deere Classic. I can live with that. He tied for 24th at Glen Abbey in 2009 and ranks inside the top 75 in Par 5 Birdie or Better, Par 3 Performance and Left Rough Tendency. I’m not saying let’s go and burn a one-and-done on him, but he’s a serviceable option in the right format.

Next 6: Ernie Els, Bob Estes, Jim Furyk, Billy Horschel, Matt Kuchar and Graeme McDowell

Feeling Risky?
  • Joe Affrunti – Back from injury, he’s playing really well. He lost to Ben Martin in a playoff at the United Leasing Championship a few weeks back on the Web.com Tour and finished T33 at the John Deere Classic a week later. The sample size of his stats are small relative to others, but line up well for this course.
  • Graham DeLaet – My next two picks are Canucks, and a Canadian hasn't won here since Pat Fletcher in 1954. That is to say the pressure on DeLaet is enormous. If he were anything but a Canadian, he would likely be inside my top five this week.
  • David Hearn – Another guy playing great golf that would crack the top 12 if he were not a Canadian. Showed a lot in his playoff loss at the John Deere.


We will return tomorrow to examine various games. Until then, best of luck and happy research.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

The Open Championship - Final Wrap Up

Phil Mickelson went back-to-back in Scotland, picking up a Claret Jug to go with his Scottish Open title last week. Lee Westwood has to be questioning if it will ever be his time. Adam Scott could have locked up his spot in the Hall of Fame if not for a poorly timed four-hole stretch. Oh, and Tiger fell apart.

Here are some impressions from Muirfield:

  • I look at Mickelson differently after this win. Augusta National is built for Phil and he's become a bit of a course horse there. That's not taking away from his three green jackets, but he's had plenty of time to get familiar and game plan. Plenty of guys have won the PGA. Rich Beem, Shaun Micheel, Y.E. Yang...... But winning The Open Championship somehow makes his career feel complete with or without a U.S. Open. It represents that Phil's game travels, he can be patient, and he won on a course that produces the game's legendary champions.
  • Adam Scott fell apart over the last four holes last year, and it was somewhat similar this time around except a bit earlier. The difference was that he he didn't sport a four-stroke lead this time and the collapse happened slightly earlier in the round (13-16).
  • I'd hate to be inside Lee Westwood's head tonight. Perhaps he bounces back and wins the PGA in August much like Phil did this week after his Merion letdown, but I somehow doubt it.
  • Henrik Stenson has three top 3s in The Open Championship. WOW.
  • Ian Poulter likely showed today what he will need to do to win a major. Get hot while nobody is paying attention then hold on once they are onto you and post a number. The weather was just too benign for it to hold up.
  • I'm searching for what Hunter Mahan's back-to-back final-round 75s in the heat of battle in the last two majors reminds me of, but coming up short. Merion was similar to Adam Scott at Royal Lytham actually. 
  • If memory serves, this is the second time Mickelson has won a major after winning the week before. So much for people that say a guy can't go back-to-back. The book is out the window with Lefty anyway.
  • Tiger can't figure the majors out. Today was so predictable, but I still can't bring myself to just write him off when he's that close to the lead. I would imagine his internal clock is feeling about the same pressure guys like Westwood are dealing with. 
  • Mickelson seems so satisfied I wouldn't be surprised if he disappeared from contention the rest of the year. He may not, but I'm not sure where his focus will be. .
That's it for tonight. 


RBC Canadian Open - Preview

The RBC Canadian Open returns to Glen Abbey Golf Course, the most played venue in the rotation. We can use the term rotation a bit loosely, since Glen Abbey hosted every year from 1977 to 2000, with only two exceptions. The most recent two trips to Gen Abbey were in 2008 and 2009. In '08, Chez Reavie hoisted the hardware and Nathan Green followed suit in 2009.

While this is one of the oldest tournaments in the world, it's a tournament that has lost some luster over the years. Some of it is due to the spot on the schedule, played the week after The Open Championship and the week before the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. It's the perfect time to for elite players to take a break. That is, unless you wear the RBC logo on your sleeve; in which case you'll show up for at least two rounds.

If you look back at the winners at Glen Abbey over time, there are some big names. Lee Trevino won here in 1977 and '79, Greg Norman in '84 and '92, Curtis Strange in '87, Nick Price in '91 and '94, Mark O'Meara in '95, Hal Sutton in '99, Tiger Woods famously in 2000 and Vijay Singh in 2004.

Perhaps more telling are the wins of Reavie and Green. Both of these guys were probably a step below the rank-and-file when they won. That's due in large part to the strength of the field.

Since a high percentage of players teeing it up this week have never played Glen Abbey, my vote would be to factor form heavily. I'll make one exception. As tempting as David Hearn will be this week, back off. This is a major for him, with plenty of pressure on winning this event as his national championship. A Canadian hasn't won here since 1954, and you can bet Mike Weir really wanted it.

In my preparation I will see if there are correlations between guys who are hot right now and guys who showed up on the 2008 and 2009 leaderboards. If so, I would expect that you will know about it in tomorrow's power rankings.

Until then, happy research!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

The Open Championship - Round 3

The Open Championship has come into focus with Lee Westwood carrying a two-stroke lead over Tiger Woods and Hunter Mahan, while Adam Scott trails by only three.

It's rare that I look back, especially during the course of a tournament, but this one has largely followed the script set out in our early-week previews as well as the season's trend.


  • We said in our preview that there were two players that fit the historic and perfect mold of a champion for The Open at Muirfield. They were Adam Scott and Geoff Ogilvy. Ogilvy didn't warrant much attention due to form, but Scott surely did.
  • We also have a trend of elite players finally picking off their first majors this season, with Scott and Justin Rose turning the trick. Westy and Mahan fit very neatly into that group. In fact, it wouldn't be a stretch for either of those guys to eventually wind up in the Hall of Fame (another must for Muirfield) with a win this week. 
  • And then there's Woods. He's in the argument for GOAT (Greatest Of All Time), so that works at Muirfield. 
  • Scott, Woods and Westwood all cracked our top 10, with Scott ranking first.
  • Mahan was mentioned in the group of others I really liked.


So what does that mean for the final round?

  • We know Woods has never won a major when trailing, but that doesn't seem to make his chances all that much smaller tomorrow.
  • We haven't mentioned this yet, but how about the crowded threesome of Woods, Scott and Stevie Williams?
  • Mahan played terribly down the stretch at Merion with a chance to win. You get the feeling that will mean he either credits that "learning experience" in his victory speech tomorrow or he falls apart again. Good luck guessing which is the case. 
  • If you are like me, you have a tough call in Yahoo! tomorrow about rather to burn one of your last starts on Woods in the final round tomorrow. I still haven't decided what I'm going to do. What I do know is that Dustin Johnson and Ernie Els are in the lineup. I'm also going Adam Scott over Lee Westwood, but if you haven't already burned both of them, make sure you do. Bonus point will go to a guy on the bench as long as you've played him once during the week.
Should be a fun final round!

Friday, July 19, 2013

The Open Championship - Round 2

I love it. Miguel Angel Jimenez leads The Open Championship. He won't after tomorrow, but it's fun for now. The biggest story line for Saturday will be if Tiger Woods (T2 at 2-under) will find a way to nab the 54-hole lead and turn the lights out at Muirfield.

This also leads to quite the quandary in the Yahoo! format for those with Woods on the bench "just in case." Because of his play on the weekends in majors since 2008, I'm going to leave him on the bench one more day and give GMac the start.

On that note, I'm going GMac, D. Johnson Els and Westwood in round 3. This will be my first play for Westy, and it's arguable if he will do any better than Adam Scott but I need to go ahead and get the start in for the purpose of possible bonus points with a win etc.

Best of luck the remainder of the weekend.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Open Championship - Round 1

The first round of The Open Championship is in the books with Zach Johnson in the lead at 5-under. Perhaps the biggest surprise of the day was the exaggerated and decided advantage the morning wave had on the afternoon tee times.

As with most tournaments, it's a little premature to see the entire picture after just one round, but guys like Zach and Dustin Johnson and Brandt Snedeker are sitting well as is Tiger Woods (three back).

Yahoo! changes are minimal, and I'm intentionally giving myself two guys in each wave tomorrow. Dustin Johnson subs in for Justin Rose, while GMac, Els and Scottie stay the same.

Best of luck in round 2.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Open Championship - One-and-done

While I'm not calling a complete audible on The Open Championship, I'm narrowing the focus and suggesting another measuring stick. Judging from the interviews I'm hearing and the forecasted weather, this will be a very firm and fast Open. The best comp is probably Hoylake in 2006 which Tiger famously won by essentially taking driver out of his bag.

This will be a test of strategy. Play it safe off the tee and try and be aggressive with the second shot. Firm and fast greens could make three-putt avoidance a key.

While some would suggest the lack of wind may bring everyone into the mix, I would submit that experience is still as important (if not more) than ever. A 3-iron rolling out 280 yards won't be easy for some to get used to.

Want to talk about who some strategic players are? Take a look at the top four from Hoylake in 2006.

  1. Tiger Woods
  2. Chris DiMarco
  3. Ernie Els 
  4. Jim Furyk
On that note, I'm making two adjustments to my Yahoo! lineup and settling on starters. For now. I think.
  • A-List - Graeme McDowell starting with Tiger on the bench.
  • B-List - Ernie Els and Justin Rose starting with Jim Furyk and Dustin Johnson on the bench.
  • C-List - Adam Scott starts with Westy on the bench.
One-and-done: Ernie Els
Two-and-done: Graeme McDowell (his interview sold me)

Sanderson Farms Championship - Preview & Power Rankings

We will combine all of our efforts for the Sanderson Farms Championship into one post, including power rankings, preview and one-and-done. It's not a slight on the tournament, rather a byproduct of what two tournaments (one being a major) does to my schedule.

A couple of things about the dynamics of the Sanderson Farms Championship. While it's not always been opposite The Open Championship, it's never enjoyed a particularly good spot on the schedule. Due to that, the fields are generally weak top-to-bottom, but good players have found ways to win at Annandale GC. Notably, Luke Donald and Chris Kirk each picked up their first trophy here and Bill Haas won his second tournament here.

Annandale is a relatively short 7,202 par 72, so expect low numbers. The weather looks to feature a chance of thunderstorms each day with temps in the low 90s. A typical summer day in the South.

Here's your top 12 this week:

  1. Chris Kirk - He won here in 2011 and posted a very respectable T10 last year. He's right at the top of the class of the field.
  2. Heath Slocum - Depends on what you are looking for, but Slocum is about as safe of a pick to see the weekend as you will find. He's 10/11 with a win in 2005. 
  3. Jonathan Byrd - This is a stop he tends to make more out of necessity than anything, but a 4/4 record with three top 10s and two top 5s and coming off a decent week at TPC Deere Run make him a solid choice.
  4. William McGirt - He's trending here, with a T27 in his first trip in 2011 and a T5 in 2012.
  5. Brendon de Jonge - Another guy likely to at least see the weekend, he's 4/4 with a T3 on the resume.
  6. Chad Campbell - His 2013 season hasn't been his best (in fact, it may be his worst), but he's feasted in Mississippi with a win, a runner-up and a fourth. The win was in 2007.
  7. Matt Every - He has no history here, but he's a guy that can take it low when he gets it rolling. A risky pick, but worth a look.
  8. Charles Howell III - More of a nod to class than form or history, he's made each of his three cuts here but never cracked a top 20.
  9. Chris Stroud - He's 4/5 here with a T5 in 2010. Given his run at the Travelers a few weeks back, it's entirely possible that he has a big week this time around.
  10. David Toms - He's 6/7 here with one top 10 and three top 25s. Easy to trust his pedigree near his home state of Louisiana.
  11. D.J. Trahan - A course horse, he's won here and added a pair of other top 10s including a third. Only missed one cut in six trips.
  12. Martin Flores - In his only start, he tied for 20th in 2010. He's been playing well of late.
For my one-and-done, I'm going chalky with Chris Kirk.

If I can help you further here, feel free to email. I'm going to assume most of the attention isn't here.

Best of luck!

Monday, July 15, 2013

The Open Championship - Fantasy

With the power rankings for The Open Championship freshly posted, we're going back-to-back with the fantasy post. There are two reasons for this. First, The Open Championship essentially tees off Wednesday night my time, so I need to pump the information out a little quicker to allow for moves. Second, I need to devote some time to the Sanderson Farms Championship.

While I'll dig into it deeper as the tee times near, it looks like a relatively dry and mild week at Muirfield. I'll still stick to staggering tee times when it makes sense just in case, but it may not be a big deal.

Game time!

Yahoo!:

Last week was a good one in the Yahoo! format, with two of the three in the Playoff including Jordan Spieth cracking our lineup. We improved to 4,392 points for the year, 3,990 ranking (96th percentile) and 1,498th for the Summer with 494 points. 
  • A-List - Phil Mickelson starting and Graeme McDowell on the bench. I have to save Woods.
  • B-List - Justin Rose, Dustin Johnson, Ernie Els and Louis Oosthuizen. I have not decided starters.
  • C-List - Adam Scott and Lee Westwood. Ditto on not knowing starters.
Golf Channel:

For the Golf Channel picks, check out Mike Glasscott's article at Rotoworld.com tomorrow.

PGA TOUR Game:

Season Standings
  1. O'Sullivan's Tribe - 8013
  2. Pure Spin - 7445
  3. Woltz - 6996
  4. KyRoadz - 6643
  5. Subliminal Magic - 6445
Weekly Standings
  1. Woltz - 379
  2. Indiana Intimidation - 372
  3. Swinging for the Sixties - 360
  4. KyRoads - 358
  5. Pure Spin - 339

I'll try to have and one-and-done ready tomorrow.

Until then, best of luck!

The Open Championship - Power Rankings

It’s time to assign some value to the field at Muirfield and compile our power rankings for The Open Championship (British Open). As is the case with all majors, I’ll veer off the course of the regular 12/next5/Feeling Risky to try and cover a larger portion of the field. I realize that there are many specialty games surrounding the majors, which is the biggest reason for expanding this section. Nothing in the power rankings is representative of any expected weather or lack thereof. When it comes to games, I do highly recommend staggering waves in case one proves more advantageous.

We set the table with our parameters for success in yesterday’s preview. Muirfield sets up to be a venue that will produce a thoroughbred, and past Open success in general is highly recommended.

Here we go:
  1. Adam Scott – In his 13 appearances in The Open Championship he owns two top 10s and four top 25s. He’s in the heart of the prime of his career at 33. He now owns a major. He was runner-up at Royal Lytham last year and, that he didn't blame everyone short of the Easter Bunny ala Sergio Garcia at Carnoustie, karma may be on his side to lift the Claret Jug. Recent form is a bit of a question mark, but I’m not sure how much that really matters given his light schedule.
  2. Justin Rose – I know. This is already boring, as I've listed the first two major winners this year in my first two spots. But really, do you disagree? Rosie obviously won the U.S. Open and then went T13 at the Travelers before wisely taking a break. His record in The Open includes one top 10 and four top 25s in 11 starts. He was also T22 the last time Muirfield hosted in 2002. Going back to the formula in our Preview, he’s got a major win (sure, I wish it wasn't the most recent one) and he is 32 years of age and in the sweet spot of his career.
  3. Ernie Els – He’s the dual defender. He won at Muirfield in 2002 and then at Royal Lytham in 2012. He’s a great links player, with his name twice inscribed on the Claret Jug to go with 12 total top 10s and 16 top 25s. At 43, he’s a tad older than we would like but I much prefer experience to youth in this event. The Big Easy tied for fourth at the U.S. Open and has a recent win on the European Tour at the BMW International Open before missing the cut at the Scottish Open last week.
  4. Tiger Woods – Famously tied for 28th at Muirfield in 2002 after catching the bad end of a weather draw for a third-round 81. We don’t know for sure if he’s 100% healthy, but he says he is for whatever that’s worth. Count me as a little surprised if he’s in the hunt through 63 holes, but he fits the traditional mold of Muirfield champions perfectly.
  5. Graeme McDowell – If recent form is any indicator, he’ll either win or miss the cut (3 wins and 5 missed cuts in last 8 starts). He was my favorite going into Merion (and I wasn't alone), but laid a major egg. Figure this one out. He missed the cut in the Irish Open, but won the Open de France. When all else fails, I refer to the formula. He’s won a major. He’s seventh in the world. He’s 33 years old with four top 25s and a top 10 in past Opens.
  6. Phil Mickelson – I’m not sure if it’s good or bad that he won the Scottish Open, so we’ll call it a wash. He’s played better than he’s often given credit across the pond, with two top 10s and six top 25s in past Opens. He’s a four-time major winner, and we've highlighted how Muirfield smiles on those with a hefty resume. I’ll go out on a limb and say that if Lefty’s ever going to win this tournament, it will be this week.
  7. Brandt Snedeker – He may actually come in a bit under the radar this week. I expect the Tiger/Phil/Rory/Scottie/Rosie/Kuchar/Els buzz to render him somewhat anonymous. He’s been a bit inconsistent since returning from injury following his win at Pebble Beach earlier this year, but he’s sneaking into form with a T17 at the U.S. Open and a T8 at the AT&T National. Put together a remarkable showing through 36 holes last year before fading in just his fourth Open, and is another one of those guys in their early 30s peaking (32).
  8. Henrik Stenson – He’s back to 30th in the world. His trend is excellent (T21 U.S. Open, T10 BMW and T3 at Scottish Open). He’s got two top 10s and three top 25s in eight previous appearances. His ball-striking has been good all year and he’s back to the player he was four or five years ago. If you can buy low, do it.
  9. Rickie Fowler – I want to be very clear that I’m not making an across-the-board comparison, but Fowler’s record and age entering Muirfield are reminiscent to Gary Player when he won in his fourth Open at Murfield at the tender age of 23 years of age after two previous Open top 10s in his first three starts. Fowler is 24 with one top 10 and two top 25s in three starts. He also has commented as recently as a few days ago on Twitter that he really enjoys links golf. He’s got top 25s in his last three starts this season, including a T10 at the U.S. Open. Not a bad pick in my book.
  10. Lee Westwood – What’s to say that hasn't already been said? He’s played very well in the majors this year (T8 Masters, T15 U.S. Open) and he’s been solid in The Open Championship (4 top 10s, 5 top 25s in 18 starts). At 40, he’s running out of time fast but this may be the one tournament that still offers him a 3-5 year window.
  11. Matt Kuchar – I may have him lower than most (I don’t know yet), but his history at The Open isn't particularly sterling. In eight trips, he has just one top 10 and that is his only top 25. He missed the cut at this venue in 2002, but that was a different player so it’s borderline irrelevant. He was T28 at the U.S. Open and T49 in France. He’ll likely find his second top 25 here, but I’m not entirely optimistic it will be all that much better. Maybe a back-door top 10?
  12. Thomas Bjorn – Well, there’s his form. He was runner-up at the Lyoness Open and the BMW International Open before “cooling” to a T18 at the Irish Open and a T8 in France. He also has five top 10s in The Open Championship, including a T8 at Muirfield in 2002. It always seems like a surprise (especially to Americans) when guys like this pops up on a leaderboard, but it would almost be a surprise if he didn't.

The following players are others that I really like this week, but have some drawback that didn't allow them to make the cut for my top 12. It is in alphabetical order. For instance, Sergio Garcia was the last guy not to make my top 12, but won’t be the first on the list below.
  • Angel Cabrera – May be the most consistent he has been in his entire career, missing just one cut since the Shell Houston Open and finishing T9 at the Travelers and T13 at AT&T National. Owns two top 10s and four top 25s in past Opens. A two-time major champion.
  • Nicolas Colsaerts – Just doesn't have enough of a track record to boost any higher (1 top 10, 1 top 25), but a T10 at the U.S. Open and a T9 at the Scottish Open render him very dangerous.
  • Fred Couples – There’s always one of the over-50 crowd to make a run it seems, and this year Couples has the best chance. He finishes second about every week on the Champions Tour and was T13 at the Masters. His Open record includes nine top 10s and 10 top 25s.
  • Jason Day – Having a great year in the U.S., he was T2 at the U.S. Open and T21 at AT&T National. The drawback is that he doesn’t have a top 25 in this tournament.
  • Luke Donald – He’s been a top-25 machine in the U.S., with eight in nine starts. His record across the pond is decent, with a pair of top 10s and a third top 25.
  • Sergio Garcia – The Spaniard has been strong at The Open over the years, with seven top 10s and an eighth top 25. Who knows what’s going on between the ears.
  • Lucas Glover – He was T15 at the John Deere Classic last week, and check this stat out. After a hot round with the putter in round two, he shared the 36-hole lead. He then missed five putts inside six feet over the last two rounds (including four in the final round) to miss out on a playoff by…..you guessed it….five strokes. Guys like this are dangerous in majors because you never know when their putting might come close to matching their ball-striking.
  • Branden Grace - I've been a little down on him in 2013, but his playoff loss to Mickelson at the Scottish Open last week demands a look. No top 25s at The Open.
  • Bill Haas – Only one top 25 in past Opens, but he’s been on fire all of 2013 including a win at Congressional.
  • Padraig Harrington – Another late cut for the top 12 ranking, I just couldn't pull the trigger due to shaky form. A T21 at the U.S. Open had me excited until I saw a T73 at the Irish Open and a missed cut at the Scottish. He obviously owns two Claret Jugs and a PGA, so I may regret this.
  • Mikko Ilonen – He has two top 25s and one top 10 in four Open starts to go with a T50 at Muirfield in 2002. He won the Nordea Masters and has a couple of top 35s at the Irish and Scottish Opens.
  • Dustin Johnson – Two top 10s and three top 25s in four Open starts. He’s 29 and a frequent major contender over the years. Plus, the British tabloids will love his girlfriend.
  • Martin Kaymer – Good form with a T4 at the BMW and a T13 in France. Owns a major championship to go with a pair of top 25s and a top 10 in Opens. At 28, he hits many of the key points on the chart for a winner at Muirfield.
  • Shane Lowry – Rory’s buddy is in better form entering this week, with a T5 at the Irish Open and a T31 at the Scottish.
  • Hunter Mahan – He’s got a couple of top 25s and a top 10 in past Open Championships and tied for fourth at the U.S. Open.
  • Matteo Manassero – He won the BMW PGA in May and already has a top 25 in his two Open tries. Several recent top 25s.
  • Rory McIlroy – What’s there to say, really?
  • Francesco Molinari – After missing the cut at the U.S. Open, he’s at least played the weekend at the Irish, French and Scottish Opens leading into this week. Hefty schedule.
  • Louis Oosthuizen – Missed the cut at the John Deere after a promising week at The Greenbrier. Putter seems to really be holding him back, but ball-striking has shown promise.
  • Ian Poulter – A T21 at the U.S. Open and a T25 in France have led him to Twitter in search of a new putter. He’s a decent Open player with a pair of top 10s and four top 25s. Feels like he’s not quite clicking on all cylinders but may not be far off.
  • Charl Schwartzel – His only knock is the lack of a top 10 in eight previous Open Championships. His form has been very good all year.
  • Webb Simpson – He’s only played The Open Championship once, but it went for a top 25. He’s a major winner and is in acceptable form.
  • Bubba Watson – One top 25 across the pond and a recent T4 at the Travelers.
  • Chris Wood – He made some noise early in his young career at Opens and owns two top 10s and three top 25s. Form is good enough to warrant consideration with a fifth at the Volvo and a made cut at the Scottish Open.


We will dive into the normal games tomorrow. In the mean time, feel free to tweet (@RyanGolfBlogger) or email (thegolfaficionado@gmail.com) if you need to bounce an idea in a specialty game.

Best of luck to all!


Sunday, July 14, 2013

The Open Championship - Preview

Up next on the global golf schedule is The Open Championship! While all golf fans have their favorite tournaments and memories surrounding their consumption of those events, I suspect everyone who has followed golf for any length of time holds the season's third major championship in high regard. I know when I think of The Open, the first thing that jumps to mind is waking up on Thursday morning and immediately finding a computer or smart phone to check the early scores.

I love watching links golf. The fact is, players either get it or they don't. While the rotation of courses change, the skills needed to navigate a links course is largely the same.
  • Keep the ball in play
  • Miss as many bunkers as possible
  • Be creative around the greens
  • Hole some putts
  • Catch the right side of the draw
  • Be patient
Some players are born with links golf in their blood and others grow accustomed to it with years of experience.Either way, more so than most weeks it's important to understand a player's history in past Open Championships. Somewhat like the U.S. Open, it's also very important to understand the past champions at the current course.

If we go all the way back to 1995 when John Daly won at St. Andrews, here's what we know about Open Champions. (Daly '95, Lehman '96, Leonard '97, O'Meara '98, Lawrie '99, Woods '00, Duval '01, Els '02, Curtis '03, Hamilton '04, Woods '05, Woods '06, Harrington '07, Harrington '08, Cink '09, Oosthuizen '10, Clarke '11 and Els '12)
  • They average playing 8.222 Opens before the year of their win. 
  • Their average age at the time of their victory is 32.61
  • They average 2.66 top 10s at The Open before their win.
  • They average 1.66 major championship wins before their Open win (Tiger skews this number).
  • They average .277 Open Championship wins before their win that year.
Similarly, if we look back at the winners at Muirfield dating back to Henry Cotton in 1948, we see the following. (Els '02, Faldo '92, Faldo '87, Watson '80, Trevino '72, Nicklaus '66, Player '59 and Cotton '48)
  • They average playing 8.5 Opens before the year of their win.
  • Their average age at the time of their win was 30.875.
  • They average 4.875 top 10s at The Open before their win.
  • They average 2.375 major championship wins before their Open win.
  • They average .875 Open Championship wins before their win that year.
  • They average 7.5 career majors at the end of their career.
So what stands out?
  • The winners at Muirfield are elite. Hall of Famers. This isn't going to be your Ben Curtis or Todd Hamilton Open. When you are researching this tournament and trying to identify a winner, ask yourself if you can see the guy finish his career with multiple majors and in the Hall of Fame. (Remember, they join a lineage that averages 7.5 career majors since '48.)
  • The youngest winner at Muirfield of that group was Player. He was 23, but had already played three Opens with two top 10s. A similar comp could be Rickie Fowler (24 with three starts, 1 top 10 and 2 top 25s).
  • The oldest winner at Muirfield of that group was Cotton at 41. It was his third of three British Opens. In that vein, don't rule out Padraig Harrington (41). 
  • Don't fall in love with the Graham DeLaet's and Billy Horschel's of the world just yet. They need some seasoning in this event and especially at this course.
So what's the perfect formula?
  • On paper it looks like a guy between 27 and 35 with at least a couple of top 10s in an Open Championship and a major championship title. That limits us to Geoff Ogivly and Adam Scott.
  • Expect my power rankings tomorrow to look very chalky, with a lean towards experience in majors and Open Championships.
  • Just don't get too trendy this week. 
We will return tomorrow with our power rankings. Until then, best of luck with your research!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

John Deere Classic - Fantasy

Before we dive into the different fantasy formats for the John Deere Classic, I want to take care of one item of business. Because there are two tournaments next week, including The Open Championship, I will begin my research for Muirfield sooner than normal. With that, I may not post in this space between now and Sunday. My expectation is that I will post heavily towards The Open Championship early next week (Sunday/Monday) and move my attention more towards the Sanderson Farms Championship in the Tuesday/Wednesday range.

As always, feel free to tweet (@RyanGolfBlogger) or email thegolfaficionado@gmail.com with questions on this week's tournament and the two coming up next week. I will update my Yahoo! lineup on Twitter for the John Deere Classic.

Weather this week is calling for ZERO percent chance of rain all week. That's almost impossible to believe on the PGA TOUR the way this season has gone. Wind looks light as well, meaning scoring could be really low. The only defense TPC Deere Run can hope for is firm/fast fairways and greens. My guess is that the morning waves on Thursday and Friday will each see some really low numbers (a 62 and a handful of 63s), so I'm likely going to stagger waves in the Yahoo!

Now to the games.

Yahoo!

Last week: 148 points
Season: 4200 points and 4,811 ranking (95th percentile)
Summer: 302 points, 3038 ranking

Lineup:

  • A-List - Brendon de Jonge starting with Kyle Stanley on the bench.
  • B-List - Steve Stricker and Zach Johnson starting with Louis Oosthuizen and Nick Watney on the bench.
  • C-List - Jordan Spieth starting and Matt Jones on the bench.
Golf Channel - As always, check out my man Glass' article on Rotoworld for all of our staff picks http://www.rotoworld.com/articles/gol/43642/297/quad-cities-zj?pg=3.

PGA TOUR:

Season
  1. O'Sullivan's Tribe - 7919
  2. Pure Spin - 7106
  3. Woltz - 6617
  4. Boots With The Fur - 6333
  5. KyRoadz - 6285
The Greenbrier

We have a four-way tie for first at 172 with Pure Spin and Team Tiger I, II and III
We also have a three-way tie for fifth at 165 with O'Sullivan's Tribe, Rubio2016 and Woltz.

One-and-Done:

If you got Stricker, I think you have to play him. I don't have him available as a one-and-done, but he's my two-and-done. 

Zach Johnson's a tough call. I have him available but don't love his form and I'm not especially in love with him as a defender. 

What I am convinced of, is that I want someone who can shoot a low number on Sunday. When I tell you that Brendon de Jonge is my pick, your immediate reaction may be to email and tell me that he's not a closer. Point noted, but he is 18th in final-round scoring average. They say the stats don't lie, but sometimes they can.

Here are de Jonge's splits since 2010.

2010 - T7 - 67-65-68-69 = 15-under
2011 - T7 - 66-66-63-74 = 15-under
2012 - T19 - 68-68-67-69 = 12-under

Now, I'm not a big math guy but I can see that over his last 12 rounds on the par-71 layout, he's broken par 11 times. It is concerning that the lone over-par round was 3-over in the 2011 finale. BUT, his final round scoring average in 2011 was outside the top 100 (not 18th). When you add those 12 rounds up, his average is 3.5-under (or 67.5). For giggles, if you throw out his best (63) and worst (73) rounds, the ten rounds average 67.3.

That's good enough for me.

Best of luck this week. I'll be back in this space Sunday, if not sooner.

Monday, July 8, 2013

John Deere Classic - Power Rankings

It’s time for the John Deere Classic power rankings, and history suggests this should be a little easier to peg than last week’s venture into West Virginia. TPC Deere Run has a steady track record dating back to 2000, and has also been kind to some young guns over the years. Kyle Stanley’s narrow loss to Steve Stricker in 2011 and Luke Guthrie’s T5 last year spring to mind.

While we threw a power ranking together last week to see what may stick, the overwhelming theme/motto/advice in both the preview and power ranking was to expect the unexpected. I doubt very seriously that Jonas Blixt or Johnson Wagner or Steven Bowditch were inside the top 80 in anyone’s power rankings, which is exactly what The Old White TPC tends to spit out every year.

This week’s question is much different, yet obvious. Are you with Stricker, or against him?

In Stricker's last four starts here he has three wins and a T5. He will be the heavy chalk. If you've saved him up until this point in your one-and-done, it’s likely for this week. He is a MUST in Yahoo! and PGA TOUR games and a virtual MUST in the Golf Channel game no matter if you are in first or last place. If he bombs out, you are in excellent company. What you can’t afford to do in most games is to sit him out when 80 to 90 percent of your league will play him and then watch him to crack a top five.

He might be rusty. He might miss the cut. But you can’t bet on it.

Here we go:
  1. Steve Stricker – See above. The only question I can see in this debate is what to do in a one-and-done format. I used him at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions and got a solo second out of him, so I don’t have him as an option. I’m not even sure I’d get cute and go against him if I’m chasing. There will be other events like The Open Championship, WGC-Bridgestone, PGA and Playoffs where you can make up ground.
  2. Zach Johnson – He’s 8/11 here with a 1, a T2 and a T3, but his season has been a bit lackluster. Since his third at Colonial, he’s missed a cut and hasn't finished inside the top 55 in two other starts. He’s another sensible Yahoo! play, but I don’t see him as a “must” for anything else. Just a steady option.
  3. Brendon de Jonge – He’s the early leading candidate to be my one-and-done. (I’ll have to reconsider if Glass throws the hex on him at Rotoworld on Tuesday.) He had a really nice week at The Greenbrier and his last three starts here are T7, T7 and T19. At 105th in SGP, he would need an above average week with the flat stick but it could happen.
  4. Charley Hoffman – This is a good course for streaky players and Hoffman can fit that bill. He’s 4/5 here with a couple of recent top 15s and he fits the profile we talked about yesterday. Remember we pointed out that a guy either needs to run the table with the putter (SGP) or knock the flagstick out (Proximity) and make plenty of birdies (Par Breakers)? Hoffman ranks seventh in Par Breakers, 38th in SGP and 48th in Proximity. He’s a steady play.
  5. Jordan Spieth – He fits the Kyle Stanley / Luke Guthrie mold of the recent past. From what I've seen over the last two weekends, his putter has let him down in the final 36 holes of a tournament. He could have won either of the last two weeks if he got hot with the flat stick over the weekend, and that could be the case here as well. This is very reactive to that, but my early read on Spieth is similar to many other upper-crust TOUR players. He’ll probably win 8-15 times in his career and will likely pick off one or two majors. A U.S. Open or PGA seems most likely. I don’t think he’s the second coming of Phil Mickelson or Rory McIlroy, but he could have the career of a Davis Love III, Freddie Couples, Adam Scott……..
  6. Scott Stallings – Per usual, I haven’t read anything from any other media for this week’s tournament at this point in the week, but I suspect Stallings may be a bit of a forgotten man. He missed the cut here last year after a T22 in 2011 and finished a modest T23 at The Greenbrier. He has a good history on easy courses and both of his wins have come in July.
  7. Keegan Bradley – First trip to Silvis, Illinois for the John Deere Classic, so hard to know what to expect or why he’s here. My theory is that he didn't play the week immediately prior to the Masters and the U.S. Open and was T54 at Augusta National and MC a Merion, so he’s trying to mix it up. Another idea could be a quick grab at some Presidents Cup points, but at seventh in the standings and given his Ryder Cup play I don’t see him being left off the team in any scenario. He will be a tough call for many gamers this week in formats like Yahoo!
  8. Ryan Moore – He’s 4/4 here with a T8 last year and has sprinkled in a couple of top 10s lately. It’s not any more complicated than that.
  9. John Senden – In our hit it close or make everything formula, he’s a guy that will have to hit it close. He’s won here (’06) and was fourth last year. Current form is decent dating back to Merion. His putter scares everyone to death. It’s not Robert Allenby bad, but it can be close.
  10. Matt Jones – He’s missed the cut here three times and finished fifth in his other two starts. He enters off a T2 at The Greenbrier, so I’m leaning more towards the good weeks at TPC Deere Run. It would not be a fluke or out of the blue if he won.
  11. Rory Sabbatini – Say what? Yep. It’s time to pay Sabo some attention. He tied for 19th here last year and ranks 12th in Par Breakers and 11th in Proximity. He tied for ninth at The Greenbrier and shared seventh at the FedEx St. Jude Classic with two missed cuts sandwiched in between. One of them was Merion, so he gets a pass there. His personal life has likely been a disaster of late, as you would know if you follow his ex wife or soon-to-be ex wife (it’s hard to keep up) on Twitter, but he may be coming around.
  12. K.J. Choi – An intriguing option, he was T13 here last year and T23 last week in West Virginia. His stats seem to suggest a decent week as well.

Next 5: Luke Guthrie, Charles Howell III, Chris Kirk, Louis Oosthuizen and Nick Watney

Feeling risky?

  • Scott Brown – He’s been the king of opposite-field events and while the John Deere isn’t adjacent to another tournament, many of the elite have already headed to the British Isles. He was seventh here in 2012.
  • Jonathan Byrd – A ton of missed cuts and weak finishes are highlighted only by a T10 in Memphis, but he’s a past winner and runner-up here, with two other top 25s. Course horse?
  • Troy Matteson – Popped his head up at The Greenbrier with a T41 last week. Doesn’t sound like much, but it was his second-best finish of the year. He lost to Zach Johnson in a playoff here last year and owns a T3 and a T10 at TPC Deere Run.
  • Charlie Wi – Similar to Matt Jones, Wi’s made just 2/5 cuts but they went for a T4 and a T15. He’s an excellent putter and makes his share of birdies, so it could all come together.

We will return tomorrow to take a peek at the usual games. Until then, best of luck and happy research!


Sunday, July 7, 2013

John Deere Classic - Preview

The John Deere Classic (aka the Steve Stricker Invitational) is the next stop on the PGA TOUR schedule. Zach Johnson broke a streak of three consecutive wins by Steve Stricker to win what ZJ considers to be his personal "fifth major."

The course is TPC Deere run, a 7,268 par 71 that features three par 5s, four par 3s and 11 par 4s. Since the tournament moved to this venue in 2000, the winning score has ranged from 16-under to 26-under, meaning birdies are a must.

This tournament has preceded The Open Championship every years since 2004, limiting the number of top-tier players in the field. That hasn't diminished the pedigree of the winners. Beginning in 2004, the winners are Mark Hensby ('04), Sean O'Hair ('05), John Senden ('06), Jonathan Byrd ('07), Kenny Perry ('08), Stricker ('09/'10/'11) and Z. Johnson ('12).

Looking at the stats, those at the top of the leaderboard are either running the tables on the greens or at the top of the list for proximity. For example, Johnson and Troy Matteson were the top two in SGP last year and fought it out in a playoff. Others in the top 10 who were weak with the putter made up for it by hitting it very close. An example of that was Kyle Stanley finishing second in 2011 while leading in proximity.

I've also noticed that there doesn't seem to be a premium on fairways and greens. This suggests that it's easy enough to scramble around Deere Run.

While I still have plenty of research to go, I'm going to pay particular attention to the class of the field, with a further tilt to those than can get hot with the putter. ZJ can putt. Stricker can putt. Guys like Perry and Senden aren't known for their putters, but are elite ball-strikers. Byrd's a guy that can get hot with a putter. Those winners support the stats above. Hit it really close, or make everything.

Best of luck with your research this week!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

The Greenbrier Classic - Round 3

Johnson Wagner emerged with a two-stroke lead at the end of the third round of The Greenbrier Classic, with Jimmy Walker nipping at his heels. Will Wagner pick up his fourth win? Walker his first? Someone else?
  • Johnson Wagner is a great example of what makes golf so hard to predict. The guy hasn't made a cut in forever and his flirting with 80 more than 68 over the last two months and then this week happens. In listening to his post-round interview on CBS, he referenced his work with his coach after an embarrassing week at the Travelers. He said he was now equally confident to when he won the Sony Open in 2012. He was very vocal coming into that week about how confident he was. This seems similar.
  • The only word of caution in regards to Wagner is his second-round 70 after an opening 62. He wasn't able to back it up. If he shoots 67 tomorrow then he wins. If he shoots 69 or 70, then there are a lot of "what if's."
  • Jimmy Walker has a golden opportunity to break through. If he can shoot a 2-under on the front nine tomorrow it puts plenty of pressure on Wagner.
  • Looking a little further down, Jonas Blixt is an excellent putter and could shoot a low enough number to win if the ball-striking cooperates. He's four back. Five back are Steven Bowditch, Matt Jones and Jordan Spieth. Spieth looked like he was destined to win last week through three holes, then forgot how to putt. If he holes out for eagle from the first fairway this week, I quit. Of the three, I could see Jones being the biggest challenger of this group. He's sneaky long and can get streaky hot. Just usually not in final rounds. Bowditch would be a bigger story than any other first-time winner in a long time due to his history with battling depression. If you read down Jason Sobel's Twitter feed you'll see a link to an article he wrote on this topic several years ago for ESPN. 
  • Yahoo lineup remains the same as yesterday (I tweeted it out). Bubba Watson, DeLaet, Simpson and Horschel. I wouldn't argue if you wanted to put Stallings in for DeLaet or Simpson.

Best of luck!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

The Greenbrier Classic - Round 1

As expected, the unexpected happened in the first round of The Greenbrier Classic. Tommy Gainey and Johnson Wagner share the lead at 8-under-par, two clear of Webb Simpson and Jin Park.

Here are a few thoughts:

  • This is a Tommy Gainey kind of tournament. By that, I mean a course where guys can get hot and go really low absent of otherwise solid current form. He's a feel player and now he has confidence. If you heard his interview on Golf Channel during the telecast, he mentioned having a new driver and finding more fairways this week. He also said that if he was in the fairway, he knew he could score. While I wouldn't have predicted Gainey at the start of the week, I'm not surprised by this.
  • I am surprised by Johnson Wagner. This makes no sense. Same with Park (T3)
  • Webb Simpson his doing well for all of those going chalk.
  • Phil Mickelson is just showing up at The Greenbrier. His 74 (4-over) today proves that. He's about to go 0/3 in making the cut here and will get an early start to the Scottish Open.
  • Yahoo! starters in the morning wave fared decently well. For me, all but one of my morning wavers behaved better than their afternoon counter options, and that one just cost me 2 points. I'm switching three of my four for round two. Going with B. Watson, W. Simpson, S. Stallings and B. Horschel. 
Best of luck.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Greenbrier Classic - One-and-Done

Hours before the first tee balls are in the air, it's time to lock in the final picks for The Greenbrier Classic. Rain at The Old White TPC will render it a bit longer, favoring bombers the first two rounds. Given then history of lengthy players like Scott Stallings and Charlie Beljan, this isn't necessarily a major strategy change.

For my one-and-done, I've gone back and forth and back and forth and back again. Yesterday I was leaning towards David Hearn, but I worry he doesn't have the length and his par-5 history isn't that great. Of course, there are only two of them but they need to be birdie holes. This morning I thought it might be Jason Kokrak, but I'm having a hard time pulling the trigger. He missed the cut here last year, but shot a second-round 2-under-par. About an hour ago, it dawned on me that Kyle Stanley might be the guy. He's lengthy and he'd been trending up, but putted particularly poorly in his last start at TPC River Highlands. History shows he always putts poorly their though.

Then I doubled back and looked at Gary Woodland. That's when I decided to lock in. He tied for fourth here in 2011 and that was at a time when he was rolling off top-25 finishes like it was nothing. Minus a W/D at the Travelers, he's posted top 20s in his last three starts and gained strokes with the putter. I'm sold.

For my two-and-done, I have a Webb Simpson play and I'm using it.

Yahoo! Starters first round will be early wavers. I'm expecting lift/clean/place and, while there may be rain early, there is a chance for delays with lightening in the afternoon.

Going with Brian Davis, Graham DeLaet, Webb Simpson and Roberto Castro.

Best of luck this crazy week!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

The Greenbrier Classic - Fantasy

Alright gang, it's fantasy time for The Greenbrier Classic. We know what the chalk says. We know to expect the unexpected. Let's do this!

Before we go too far, the weather features chances for storms on Thursday and Friday, so I recommend staggering AM / PM until we know for sure if there is an advantage. I also would sign off on some calculated risks this week. Remember the theme from the Preview is to expect the unexpected.

I am not necessarily going chalk (ie following my power rankings) in all cases this week.

Yahoo!

It occurred to me that I haven't updated my stats of late, so here you go: 4,052 Full Season points 5,213 for the season (95th percentile) 154 points last week 4,574 Summer Rank.

A-List - Plenty of options here this week. I'm going with Bubba Watson and Brian Davis, but I could easily sign off on Phil Mickelson, Bill Haas, Brendon de Jonge, Kevin Chappell, Gary Woodland.....

B-List - A little more chalky here, going with Webb Simpson, Graham DeLaet, David Hearn and Scott Stallings. I really like Charlie Wi as a sneaky pick. Same with Bob Estes and Cameron Tringale.

C-List - I'm taking Billy Horschel and Roberto Castro, but Jordan Spieth, Ryan Palmer and several others could make sense.

Golf Channel:

As always, check out my picks and all of the Rotoworld staffer's picks in Mike Glasscott's weekly feature http://www.rotoworld.com/articles/gol/43599/297/white-before-our-eyes?pg=3.

Also for those of you that follow Glass regularly, you have probably caught onto his ability to make very solid, logical one-and-done selections only to experience the worst luck with those picks. This week's hex has been put on Graham DeLaet, so proceed with caution!

That's a good introduction into the One-and-Done:

I've been on board with several of Glass' picks, including a disappointing Billy Horschel third round last week. This may be a bit impatient, but I find myself trailing in some leagues and am considering taking some wild swings. Of course, they're kind of all wild swings this week. That is to say I have no idea who I'm picking yet. I might go Jason Kokrak or David Hearn or Brian Davis or even Graham DeLaet.

PGA TOUR game:

Season Standings:

  1. O'Sullivan's Tribe - 7754
  2. Pure Spin - 6934
  3. Woltz - 6452
  4. Boots With The Fur - 6333
  5. KyRoadz - 6185

AT&T Standings:

  • 1 - Who's The Caddy? - 631
  • 2 - Stink Eye - 560
  • 3 - Tigers Embedded Ball - 179
  • T4 - O'Sullivan's Tribe - 168
  • T4 - Bird Dogs - 168

I'll tie up any loose ends tomorrow night. Best of luck to all!

Monday, July 1, 2013

United Leasing Championship

I haven't spent too much time on covering the Web.com Tour in this space in 2013, but wanted to comment on the 2013 United Leasing Championship won by Ben Martin. With his win in a four-man playoff, Martin locks up his PGA TOUR card for 2013-14. My comments are geared more towards next year and how I will likely project him.

I had the opportunity to join Martin for four holes on our home course the week after his T11 at the WNB Golf Classic and just before his T11 at the South Georgia Classic. It was one of those random things where our twosome attached to his during a lengthy wait. It goes without saying that I was impressed with his game, but I enjoyed picking up on some of the intangibles in that setting.

When we were talking about his year, he commented that this was his second full season on the Web.com Tour and it was much more comfortable having played the courses and been to the cities before. Next year will be his second year on the PGA TOUR (he was a rookie in 2011), so the same could be the case there as well.

The other thing that really stood out to me was his demeanor. He was sincere. He smiled more than most people do. He carried himself confidently without being arrogant. I've been trying to put my finger on a good comparison in that department. The first name that popped to mind was Matt Kuchar, but that's not quite it. Then it hit me. Bill Haas.

With 10 top-30 finishes, seven top 25s, three top 10s and a win in the bank in 13 Web.com Tour starts while leading the Tour in GIR and ball-striking, there's plenty to like. We'll see how the remainder of the year plays out, but I would expect him to have a solid 2013-14 year on the PGA TOUR and retain his card.

Either way, I wish him well!




The Greenbrier Classic - Power Rankings

The Old White TPC awaits a full field of PGA TOUR players at The Greenbrier Classic this week, and we have the power rankings ready to roll. As a reminder, feel free to flip back to yesterday's preview for other information. It points out how far out of nowhere the first three winners of this tournament were. Consequently, I would wager they weren't on anyone's power rankings the weeks they won.

With that as the backdrop, here we go:
  1. Webb Simpson - Simply put, he's the chalk. After missing the cut here in 2010, he bounced back with a T9 in '11 and a T7 in '12. His form puts him coming off a T5 at the Travelers. If you're happy where you are in virtually any format, play him.
  2. Graham DeLaet - There's one of these every week, isn't there? A guy who's current form is trending beautifully into a week where he owns some past success. The stars line up perfectly until they actually have to tee it up and play. The Canadian's last two starts resulted in a third at the Travelers and a T8 at AT&T National. He's finished inside the top 25 in his last five starts and tied for 12th in his second trip to The Old White TPC last year. It all looks great on paper.
  3. Scott Stallings - One thing I'm catching on to as a trend in 2013 is players who did well in a 2012 event "skipping" a year. If that's the case, the 2011 winner of The Greenbrier Classic could be primed for a big week (consequently you won't see 2012 winner Ted Potter Jr. in this ranking). He's hit a rough patch since the U.S. Open, but finished inside the top four in his three starts prior to that. I will warn that he's streaky in both directions, so proceed with caution.
  4. Bubba Watson - His fourth at the Travelers was his best finish of the year, but this is his first trip to The Old White TPC. There are several reasons to be optimistic. He's fourth in par breakers and first in par 4 birdie or better on TOUR.
  5. Bill Haas - It's unreasonable to expect him to go back-to-back, but no reason to think he won't nab a top 20 given his form (last week's winner) and history (T2 '11, T33 LY). I don't know that I'd burn a one-and-done on him, but he's a solid Yahoo! play.
  6. Roberto Castro - Well this is interesting. He owns two career PGA TOUR top 10s. One was a runner-up last week and the other a T7 at Greenbrier last year. What was it my parents told me? If something feels too good to be true it probably is? In all seriousness, it's impressive that he hung around as well as he did last weekend given the pressure of the final threesome both days. He showed something.
  7. Billy Horschel - I'm beginning to pay more attention to how he's playing coming from off weeks. It feels like he plays better as he gets back into the swing of things, but the data needs to play out over a larger sampling. He had a poor week at Congressional last week, but improved from T66 to T33 in his two previous trips to The Old White TPC. Ranks third in par breakers and second in par 4 birdie or better.
  8. David Hearn - With plenty of attention focused on DeLaet, he could be the Canadian to steal the show this week. His last four starts on TOUR went T21, T18, T21, T44 and posted a T18 at The Greenbrier in '11 and a T12 in '12. 
  9. Charlie Wi - He enters off his first top 10 of the season and tied for third here last year. He's 20th in par breakers, fifth in par 4 birdie or better and ninth in one-putt percentage. You could probably do a lot worse than to roll the dice on him in this wild ride.
  10. Phil Mickelson - Lefty pops up after his big week at the U.S. Open, but he's 0/2 at The Greenbrier and hasn't cracked par. My guess is that he doesn't put a lot of stock into this event, so if he wins it might be a bit of an "accident." Leads the PGA TOUR in par breakers, which could come in handy. I'll say this. If he could shoot a 66 or 67 in the opening round he may fully engross himself and go on a run.
  11. Jordan Spieth - He reminded me of Charl Schwartzel at the Byron Nelson. That is, if Spieth putted at all last week he would have probably won the tournament. 
  12. Scott Piercy - He's under the radar after his missed cut in the U.S. Open, but his T5-T26-T16 run up until then was solid. He also owns a couple of top 20s in this event.
Next 5: Brian Davis, Ryan Palmer, Andres Romero, Jimmy Walker and Gary Woodland

Feeling Risky?
  • Martin Flores - Was sixth at The Greenbrier last year and enters off a T21 last week.
  • Chez Reavie - He's made his last five cuts with three top 25s, and was T18 here last year.
  • Richard H. Lee - Much like Reavie, he's made four in-a-row with a T16 last week and tied for 38th here in his rookie year of '12. 
We'll check back on some of our games tomorrow. Until then, best of luck and happy research.