It could seem logical to some that I would just go with Billy Horschel since he's first on my rankings and available to me, but there's a little more strategy to it than that. Plenty of factors come into play in the one-and-done including purse size, opportunity cost of not having a player available for another tournament where he may be an even better fit and risk versus reward.
I'll go down the line in explaining why I didn't take each player in order of my ranking, and then why I did settle on Bryce Molder.
- Billy Horschel - It's just not the right time. I'll wait until he heats up and ride a wave with him. While he's a seemingly very good fit, it's too risky to use him in an event with a light purse and not coming off an immediate top 10.
- Jimmy Walker - His T4 last year included two eagles, which is hard to expect this time around. The bigger reason is that he should be a really good fit at Pebble Beach and Torrey Pines. Add to that, he missed a bunch of cuts in the back half of 2013 despite some strong results mixed in. A very good option, but I'm waiting to see if he trends into either the Farmers or AT&T Pebble Beach.
- Gary Woodland - He was the second choice. When I really studied his best season (2011), he tends to put together top 10s and top 25s in bunches. He also has a great history at the Waste Management Phoenix Open and the Memorial, so I'm going to wait and see if I catch him trending into one of those.
- Charles Howell III - A great option for the Sony Open.
- Jason Kokrak - Like Walker, he had two eagles here last year in his trek to a T2, but unlike Walker his were both on the par-4 17th. While that hole is reachable with a 3-wood for a player as long as Kokrak, I can't count on that again.
- Bryce Molder - This week's OAD pick, Molder won in 2011 and shared 11th in 2012. What stood out, is that he has just 12 bogeys (and nothing worse) in his 144 holes during that span and only one 3-putt in that same run. He also gained more than two strokes with the putter in each of those two weeks. I get that he isn't flashy and several of the guys above offer a better chance at a win, but he feels like a very save top 15 with the possibility of a top five. He also had two top 25s in his last four starts on TOUR and at least seven in each of his last four PGA TOUR seasons.
Simply put, if Molder can give me a top 15 or 20 and allow me to save the top four names on the list above him for tournaments where the fit is better, then I'll count that as a "par" and move on with a comfortable smile to start the season. If he can give me a top 10, then it's a "birdie." A top five or better.....you get the picture.
Whatever your strategy, best of luck!