Along with form, there are three factors I considered heavily:
- Players who are able to play on any kind of course. Since we don't truly know what will be the deciding factor(s) statistically this week, playing a guy who is able to navigate all flavors or courses is a prudent idea.
- Putting. Being a good putter is never a bad thing.
- Distance. I understand that this is a relatively short course on the card, but I can see where length can be a factor. For starters, the par 3s have some length to them, so hitting a 7-iron when most of the field is hitting a 5- or 6-iron is an advantage. Being able to try and drive a par 4 is an advantage. Taking aim at a par 5 in two with a 3-iron instead of a 3-wood or laying up is an advantage.
Here's my best guess at trying to provide some semblance of an order of value:
- Matt Kuchar - He has 14 top 25s in 21 events with a pair of wins and runner-up finishes. He can show up anywhere from a tight Colonial to a forgiving Memorial. If you are protecting a lead in a format, Kuchar is your friend this week.
- Adam Scott - A class player with plenty of power and overall game should be high on anyone's radar. Ask yourself this question. If you are trailing and the gamer you are chasing is playing Scott, are you nervous? Of course you are.
- Phil Mickelson - He's got six top 3s in 19 starts. That's a pretty good ratio. Ranks inside the top five in both par 3 and par 5 birdie or better percentage.
- Henrik Stenson - I really don't like picking a guy following a win, but I really can't ignore the Swede.
- Steve Stricker - He's in the Presidents Cup after a runner-up at the Deutsche Bank and is the epitome of a guy that can play any course.
- Luke Donald - A member at Conway Farms, he's an interesting watch this week. Expect course history buffs to gravitate towards him just because he's played the course more often than anyone else. That could be a huge advantage, but it certainly isn't a given. If you are chasing, go with someone who offers more risk/reward than Donald.
- Tiger Woods - He falls this far because he hasn't been dominant on courses where his history is lacking.
- Rory McIlroy - The defending champion (Crooked Stick) has kept many people buzzing of late about being "close." I fall into that category, but he's burned me all year. Still, you have to like his upside if he gets hot with the driver and/or putter.
- Lee Westwood - Class player with a solid game tee-to-green and improved scrambling certainly has the ability to factor. He's also the East Lake bubble boy at 30th in the FEC standings and needs a big week.
- Justin Rose - A T2 at The Barclays and a T16 at TPC Boston show the Merion hangover has passed. He's second in total driving, fourth in ball-sticking and sixth in all-around ranking.
- Jordan Spieth - I don't know how you leave him out.
- Jason Day - Still haven't figured out how he's only won one time on the PGA TOUR. He's made each of his 19 cuts with 10 top 25s this year, proving he can be counted on for consistency.
No next five this week.
We'll be back tomorrow to look at the usual slate of games. Until then, best of luck to all!