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

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

OHL Classic at Mayakoba - One-and-done

While it's about 12 hours later than expected, here is the OHL Classic at Mayakoba one-and-done edition.

Diving right in, I quickly narrowed the OAD options down to two. They are Robert Streb and Rory Sabbatini.

I eliminated Jason Bohn (2nd in my power ranking) because it just feels like there is too much pressure on him coming off a T2 last week given his course history here. He hasn't proven to be the type of elite player to take success and run with it for a long period of time.

I'm not big on burning defending champions (Harris English), and English isn't playing all that well or consistently right now anyway. He has just one top 10 since the WGC-Accenture Match Play in February.

I like Spencer Levin and Charles Howell III this week, but they weren't my brand of bourbon. Traditionally, I hold off on CH3 for the Sony Open and he almost always rewards me. Levin's been off for a few weeks, but he does have the course history and somewhat recent form that is worth some excitement.

It's not a secret that I love Robert Streb. I've drooled over his par-4 scoring average numbers for weeks and we've watched him finished inside the top 18 in six of his last eight PGA TOUR events dating back to last season. There is no guarantee that he can keep this up after the holiday break, so there is certainly a strong argument to be made for burning his OAD this week. There are two knocks. The first is that he's never played this event, and the second is that he could be headed the wrong way on his trend. And yes, the second is nitpicking.

As for Rory Sabbatini, the trend is undeniable. He went MC (Shriners), T22 (McGladrey) and T8 (CIMB) leading into this event. The CIMB Classic is played on paspalum greens, as is the OHL Classic. Sabo has played this event on three occasions and twice cracked the top five.

I'm plugging in Sabbatini and hoping it doesn't burn me. Full disclosure, I'm pretty well hedged with Streb in a full-season league, so I reap benefits if he plays well either way.

Best of luck!

Monday, November 10, 2014

OHL Classic at Mayakoba - Power Ranking

The OHL Classic at Mayakoba represents the seventh tournament of the 2014-15 PGA TOUR season, and we have crunched the numbers to come up with this week’s power ranking. Please feel free to refer to yesterday’s preview for information on past winners and further details on El Camaleon.

Here’s how they shake out.
  1. Robert Streb – His win at The McGladrey Classic was surrounded by top-10 finishes, including an eighth-place finish in Mississippi last week. While he’s never played in this event, his stats and form offer an enticing combination. Don’t forget, Harris English won here last year in his first visit as did John Huh the year before.
  2. Jason Bohn – He’s a guy that should get plenty of attention coming off a T2 at the Sanderson Farms Championship last week and a tie for third in this event last year. The biggest question will likely come down to his ability to play as a favorite as opposed to lurking in the shadows of anonymity as he does most weeks.
  3. Rory Sabbatini – A name that hasn't gotten much mention over the last few months, Sabo tied for eighth at the CIMB Classic two weeks ago and has two top-five finishes in three trips to El Camaleon. While Bohn will likely steal the headlines, Sabbatini’s trends are almost just as good. He’s also a healthy seventh in par-4 scoring average.
  4. Spencer Levin – Appears to have tailored his schedule to include the tournaments where he has the best chance of making the biggest impact. He is a playoff loser at this venue (2011) and has T21 and a T10 in his first two starts of the new season. He’s sixth in driving accuracy and third in par-4 scoring average, which should play well anywhere.
  5. Charles Howell III – We mentioned yesterday that this leaderboard shares similarities to that of the Sony Open, and CH3 regularly nabs top fives in that event. He isn’t bad here either, tying for sixth last year to go with three other top 20s in five total trips. He tied for 14th in Mississippi last week.
  6. William McGirt – There is some precedent for this ranking. He tied for fifth in Mississippi in 2012 only to finish runner-up at the RBC Canadian Open a week later. While the schedule has shifted, it’s a nice vibe none the less. His T7 last week came in the heart of contention, as he was in the final threesome on Sunday afternoon.
  7. Fabian Gomez – Has a strong trend brewing, tying for eighth and 14th at The McGladrey Classic and Sanderson Farms Championship respectively. Only knock is a T50 here in 2011, but that was a long time ago. Stats are solid, as his only two finishes of the season would suggest.
  8. Brian Stuard – Course history buffs would know without looking that he tied for second here in 2010 and returned to finish alone in second last season. He was off to a terrible start in 2014-15 before a well-timed T13 at the CIMB Classic.
  9. Chris Stroud – Similar to Stroud, his course history is unbelievable. In his last three starts at El Camaleon, he finished fourth, T5 and T3. The problem is, his T39 at the CIMB Classic is his best return of the young season. Penciling him in would be putting complete trust in course history.
  10. John Huh – Tied for 23rd in his title defense last year and enters off a T25 at the Sanderson Farms Championship. Known for his accuracy off the tee, this season he’s tended to get stronger as he closes in on the hole. Scrambling and SGP numbers are a go, but some of the other key metrics are questionable. 
  11. Harris English – The defending champ hasn’t played all that well the last few months, with his T16 at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open representing his only payday in three attempts. Currently 128th in par breakers.
  12. Ben Martin – Worth of the last slot, but it should be noted that he’s on a slight fade since winning in Vegas. Backed that title up with a T17 at McGladrey and faded to a T29 in Mississippi. He tied for 31st in this event last year, and it should be noted that all four of his rounds were under par.

Next 5 (alphabetical): Robert Allenby, David Hearn, Will MacKenzie, Kevin Stadler and Justin Thomas

I will throw out the caveat that Stadler W/D from the WGC-HSBC Champions last week, so keep a close eye out for any news involving him over the next few days before investing.

Tomorrow will feature the one-and-done pick, and there are a number of solid options and angles. Until then, best of luck to all!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

OHL Classic at Mayakoba - Preview

The last tournament of the 2014 portion of the 2014-15 PGA TOUR season is set to take place at the OHL Classic at Mayakoba this week, and here is a preview to get the week kicked off.

The layout remains the El Camaleon Golf Golf Club at Mayakoba Resort (El Camaleon), which is a 6,987-yard layout that plays to a par of 71. It has three par 5s, four par 3s and 11 par 4s. Below is a list of winners and runners-up since the event's inception in 2007.

  • 2007 - Winner: Fred Funk (266) over Jose Coceres (266) in a playoff.
  • 2008 - Winner: Brian Gay (264) over Steve Marino (266)
  • 2009 - Winner: Mark Wilson (267) over J.J. Henry (269)
  • 2010 - Winner: Cameron Beckman (269) over Joe Durant and Brian Stuard (271)
  • 2011 - Winner: Johnson Wagner (267) over Spencer Levin (267) in a playoff
  • 2012 - Winner: John Huh (271) over Robert Allenby (271) in a playoff
  • 2013 (2013-14 season) - Winner: Harris English (263) over Brian Stuard (267)
Several things stand out from this list of players. The most obvious is that many of those that have experienced success are very accurate off the tee. They also lack length. There is also a strong correlation between success at El Camaleon and success in the Sony Open and / or RBC Heritage. 

That means I will focus on stats like driving accuracy and par-4 scoring average this week. If you find a player lacking course history at El Camaleon, but having played the Heritage of Sony Open in the past, those should serve as a decent indicator.

We will be back tomorrow with a power ranking. Until then, best of luck to all!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Sanderson Farms Championship - Power Ranking and One and Done

The Sanderson Farms Championship is set to break in the Country Club of Jackson as the host venue this week, and here is a power ranking of players that should enjoy the layout.
  1. Kevin Kisner – Coming off a T4 at The McGladrey Classic, the South Carolina boy with a University of Georgia education should feel right at home in Mississippi. He’s moved himself onto the short list of players that should be the conversation for a breakthrough win, and a weak field like this one is the perfect place to realize that potential. Ranks inside the top 50 in both par 4- and par-5 scoring average.
  2. Hudson Swafford – In his rookie season of 2013-14, he proved to be a solid ball-striker but a poor putter. If the first three tournaments of the new season are any indication, he may have found something with the flat stick. He went T8-T18-T12 in his first three events and ranks 20th in GIR, 10th in ball-striking, 32nd in Proximity, 33rd in par-4 scoring average and 30th in par-5 scoring average. Spent essentially his entire life in Florida and Georgia (UGA), so the climate and turf in Mississippi should be quite comfortable.
  3. Andrew Svoboda – Offers a nice trend, going MC-T18-T8 in the first three events of the season before missing the CIMB Classic. He’s also 26th in par-4 scoring average. If you’ve been reading me for any length of time, you know that’s a stat in which I place a ton of emphasis.
  4. Ben Martin – The off week (didn’t go to CIMB) came at a great time. On the heels of his first win (Shriners), he posted a solid T17 at The McGladrey Classic. He should be an excellent fit for this course and one of the classier players in a weak field. We shall see quickly enough if he’s in hangover mode or ready to compete. My hunch is that he gives it a solid go at CCofJ.
  5. Tony Finau – Perhaps one of the more pleasant surprises of the Fall, Finau started hot with a T12-T7-T14 run. It’s no secret that his game in predicated on power, and ranks fourth in par-5 scoring average, but he’s converted that power into ranking a very solid 34th in GIR.
  6. Robert Streb – Speaking of par-4 scoring average, he’s a dream. He tied for sixth in that category in 2013-14 and had me drooling when he fell to me in the ninth round of my season-long draft a little over a month ago. He has improved to fifth this season and is fresh off his breakthrough win. Like Martin, last week was a good time for a break and he should be ready to go in Jackson this week.
  7. Cameron Smith – If he had only tied for fifth in the CIMB Classic last week, with no other green flags, he would have been easy to overlook. Digging deeper, he’s finished inside the top 10 in his last seven worldwide starts. Granted, most of those have come in weak events, but this isn’t exactly a top-tier group gathered in Jackson this week. If you’re looking for a favorite for this year’s Jordan Spieth (2013) or Brooks Koepka (2013-14), he may be your guy.
  8. Peter Uihlein – Like the aforementioned Spieth and Koepka, Uihlein was tabbed to be one of the guys that played his way onto the PGA TOUR at some point. While it didn’t happen in either of the last two years, he enters this event off a T9 in his last start and has made eight consecutive cuts overseas with a bunch of them resulting in top 30.
  9. Scott Piercy – Classy player in a field without much, followed up a missed cut at the Frys.com Open with a T7 at the Shriners and a T17 at McGladrey.
  10. Andrew Putnam – Was the 36-hole leader at the Shriners before fading into a share of 33rd. He proved to be a quick study, rebounding to share 12th in Sea Island the very next week. That’s a lot of moxie for a rookie.
  11. Fabian Gomez – Tied for fifth in par-4 scoring average, which is part of the reason he was able to share eighth at The McGladrey Classic.
  12. Nick Watney – Two years ago, he wouldn’t have even considered playing in an event like this. Heck, he would have been in the field at the WGC-HSBC Champions. His T16 to start his season in Vegas was a positive start, but his MDF in Sea Island a week later was a reminder that he’s still sorting things out.
Next 5: (Alphabetical): Paul Brown, Ken Duke, John Peterson, Brendon Steele and David Toms

As for the one-and-done, the small purse ($4M with $720k to the winner) dictates swinging for the fences. A tie for 23rd by a player barely moves the needle. So, if you want to take a risk, this is the tournament for it.

I’m going with Hudson Swafford this week. If he putts well, he’ll be dangerous. His form is as good as it has ever been and he is clearly in a great frame of mind. Kevin Kisner was a close second, but his 100th ranking in GIR was enough to miss the final cut. I could easily endorse almost anyone in my top 12 and next 5 this week.

Best of luck to all this week!

Monday, November 3, 2014

WGC-HSBC Champions - Power Ranking / One and Done

It’s a little hard to believe we have two tournaments to cover in November, but such is the case with the WGC-HSBC Champions and the Sanderson Farms Championship this week. Today we will release the power ranking for the WGC-HSBC Champions and the one-and-done selection.  Tomorrow we will return to release the power ranking and OAD for the Sanderson Farms Championship.

At Sheshan International GC this week, there are players arriving from both the BMW Masters and the CIMB Classic. We have taken a look at the current form of all players in the field, as well as several key statistical categories and course history. Here’s what we came up with.
  1. Sergio Garcia – Met his lofty expectations at the CIMB last week with a T2 and returns to the site of his solo fourth a year ago. Anyone who has watched golf in 2014 realizes that Sergio is playing the best golf of his life, so this is the perfect storm of form and course history emerging at a WGC.
  2. Justin Rose – He’s played Sheshan twice and hasn't finished worse than a T7 in 2011 (5th last year). He enters off a T4 at the BMW Masters last week. Much like Sergio, form and history are in top condition.
  3. Adam Scott – Posted a career-best T11 at Sheshan back in 2011. Per usual, his schedule has been light of late. He tied for 38th at the Japan Open a few weeks ago, but one has to question his true motivation and preparation for that event. This is a nod to his elite class in a field that lacks Rory McIlroy.
  4. Graeme McDowell – He’s finished third in his last two trips to Sheshan, so he gets a big “check” in the box beside course history. He’s been solid since the Ryder Cup, scoring a T9 at the Volvo World Match Play and a T16 at the BMW Masters last week.
  5. Martin Kaymer – While his form isn’t pristine, he is the course horse in the field. He has three top-eight finishes at Sheshan International including a win in 2011.
  6. Jamie Donaldson – One of the  hottest players on the globe, he kicked off an impressive run with a win at the D+D Real Czech Masters and followed that up with a Ryder Cup win and 7-T4-T13-T4 run, with the last T4 coming at the BMW Masters last week.
  7. Victor Dubuisson – The Frenchman has yet to play this event, but has gone T5-2-T21 in his last three worldwide starts. A win on a big stage is coming.
  8. Charl Schwartzel – A safe option this week, as he has a T16 and a T4 in his last two trips to Sheshan and went T15 and T19 in his last two starts leading into this week. It would seem that a top 20 is a lock in the no-cut event and a top 10 is quite possible.
  9. Ryan Palmer – I was beginning to think an American wouldn’t crack the list. While this is Palmer’s first PGA TOUR event of the 2014-15 season, he hasn’t been sleeping through the offseason. He tied for 14th at the Alfred Dunhill and shared 8th at the BMW Masters last week. He’s quietly moved to 39th in the world. One shouldn’t be too concerned with his T46 in 2010 at Sheshan, as he is a much more confident and complete player than he was four years ago.
  10. Jimmy Walker – Answered his disappointing 63rd at the Frys.com Open with a T4 at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open and has been off the last two weeks. Statistically, he’s a solid fit for this (or most any) course. He tied for 46th here last year.
  11. Rickie Fowler – Fowler makes his post-Ryder Cup debut this week. His record at Sheshan is lacking (T25 / T55), but he took a big step up in class over the last six months and should be a factor if he gets the rust knocked off.
  12. Bubba Watson – In the spirit of Halloween, he’s a complete bag of Skittles this week. You never know what flavor you might pull out. This is his first action since the Ryder Cup, but a T8 at Sheshan last year and the visual of a bomber (Dustin Johnson) winning the trophy offers plenty of reason for optimism.

Instead of the next 5, I’ve decided to complete the top 25 this week. There were too many guys worthy of a mention even if we don’t dive into the details.
  • 13 - Henrik Stenson
  • 14 - Mikko Illonen
  • 15 - Joost Luiten
  • 16 - Gary Woodland
  • 17 - Hideki Matsuyama
  • 18 - Hunter Mahan
  • 19 - John Senden
  • 20 - Lee Westwood
  • 21 - Bill Haas
  • 22 - Keegan Bradley
  • 23 - Ian Poulter
  • 24 - Jordan Spieth
  • 25 - Billy Horschel

As for the one-and-done, this is a WGC. That means the purse is big ($1.4M to the winner) and there is absolutely no reason to hold back. I will roll the dice with Sergio Garcia this week, but could make a compelling case for Martin Kaymer or Jamie Donaldson for those not wanting to blow a pick on Garcia.

As mentioned earlier, we will return with the Sanderson Farms Championship power ranking and OAD. Until then, best of luck to all!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Sanderson Farms Championship - Preview

The Sanderson Farms Championship will be contested in Jackson, Mississippi, opposite the WGC-HSBC Champions. This tournament was played at Annandale CC since 1994, but will break in the Country Club of Jackson as the host venue this time around. Of note, this tournament has recently played second fiddle to the Open Championship, but was off the schedule all together in 2013-14. It was also rained out in 2009.

Before I continue, I would like to thank Country Club of Jackson member, McWillie, and the First Assistant Golf Professional, Taylor, for the assist in my research this week. Here's hoping a little local knowledge will go a long way this week!

Country Club of Jackson is a par-72 layout that stretches out to 7,354 yards and features a quartet of par 3s and 5s to go with 10 par 4s. All of the par 5s are listed at 554 yards or longer, with the par-5 fifth weighing in at 612 yards.

My friends in Jackson offered me the following, which I will dutifully pass along to you. The greens are currently extremely firm and fast and of the Champions Bermuda variety. They are relatively difficult to read, and don't feature a common break (ex: in Vegas, everything breaks towards the strip etc). Missing greens could prove penal, as there are some severe falloffs just off the putting surfaces. The higher a player's ball flight, the better the chances of holding the putting surface. The course plays a little shorter than the yardage, and is fairly open off the tee. Longer players should enjoy an advantage.

So what does all of that mean?

Typically, when a new course enters the rotation, ball-striking wins out over putting. I would expect that to be the case this week. Difficult greens to read tends to equalize the field. It brings elite putters back to the average and puts the onus on hitting it close and avoiding three putts.

Driving accuracy probably won't be quite as big of a deal, but length will likely be rewarded. Obviously, being in the fairway would allow for more spin to hold the firm greens, but a wedge out of the rough isn't much worse than an 8-iron from the fairway.

My preference this week will be to find a group of solid ball-strikers who happen to be average to above-average putters and decent scramblers. In terms of ball-striking, I would rank GIR > Driving Distance > Driving Accuracy.

I will return with Power Rankings on Tuesday. Until then, happy research!

WGC-HSBC Champions - Preview

The WGC-HSBC Champions returns to Sheshan International GC for the fifth time in six years later this week. Here is a preview to get you off and running.

Sheshan International plays to a par of 72 and is expected to stretch out to 7,266 yards. It has the expected blend of four par 5s, four par 3s and 10 par 4s. Two of the par 5s measure over 590 yards, which could explain why bombers have performed well here in the past. Similarly, half of the par 4s measure 450 yards or longer, and all of the par 3s measure 200 yards or longer. Several short par 4s make the total yardage of the layout deceptively short.

Here is a look at the winners and runners-up for each of the previous four season Sheshan was utilized in the rotation.

  • 2009 - Phil Mickelson (17-under 271) over Ernie Els (272)
  • 2010 - Francesco Molinari (269) over Lee Westwood (270)
  • 2011 - Martin Kaymer (268) over Freddie Jacobson (271)
  • 2013 - Dustin Johnson (264) over Ian Poulter (267)

In terms of research, this could be a good week to throw in par-5 scoring average. It also might be worth a glimpse at a boutique stat like GIR from 200+ yards. While Driving Distance is normally overrated, this is a week where it may not be. The usual suspects of par-4 scoring average, SGP and GIR are never a bad thing.

We will return tomorrow with a power ranking. Until then, happy research! 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

CIMB Classic - Power Ranking & One and Done

With the CIMB Classic about 24 hours from teeing off, it is time to put to bed this week's power ranking and one-and-done selection. For more details on Kuala Lumpur G&CC, please refer to yesterday's preview.

Here we go:

  1. Sergio Garcia - In addition to being the class of the field on paper, he posted a solid T11 in this event last season. He ranked second in both strokes gained: tee-to-green and par-4 scoring average last season. Both should be solid predictors of success this week.
  2. Hideki Matsuyama - With a pair of top 10s to start the PGA TOUR season and solid strokes gained: tee-to-green numbers and par 4 scoring stats, he's an obvious choice for the top of any list. I will throw out one big asterisk. There has been some noise that he may experiment with equipment this week. If that proves true, he may not be the best option in formats such as the OAD (one and done).
  3. Charl Schwartzel - He does a high percentage of his heavy lifting when the clock turns to winter in the northern hemisphere. With the field being light at the top, he's an obvious candidate to stand out. He tied for 15th in Perth last week and was eighth in strokes gained: tee-to-green last season.
  4. Lee Westwood - Started his 2014-15 PGA TOUR season by making some noise with a T12 at the Frys.com Open. While 2013-14 was a far cry from his best effort, Kuala Lumpur sets up well for his game. He's traditionally an elite ball-striker and that is what is typically rewarded on this layout.
  5. Ryan Moore - A big tilt towards course history, Moore won this event last year when it called Kuala Lumpur home for the first time. It was a pretty big surprise that he missed the cut in Las Vegas two weeks ago when one considers that he is a past champion there and it was a hometown event.
  6. Kevin Chappell - We've seen Ben Martin and Robert Streb each break through the last two weeks, and Chappell is a name that is near the top of the list of those expected to earn his first win in the near future. Tied for eighth in his last start leading up to this week and ranks high in SG: tee-to-green and par-4 scoring average. Add to that, it's a limited and fairly weak field. Big opportunity for Chappell.
  7. Paul Casey - Tied for ninth in the Volvo World Match Play a few weeks back. Seems close to returning to a top-flight player, and an event like this one provides him with the perfect opportunity. 
  8. Gary Woodland - Last year's runner-up (playoff) is making his 2014-15 debut in Malaysia this week. Was 14th in both SG: tee-to-green and par-4 scoring average last season.
  9. Graham DeLaet - Much like Chappell, he's expected to enter the winner's circle for the first time sooner rather than later. That he tied for seventh here last year, which only heightens expectations. That could be a good or a bad thing.
  10. John Senden - I feel like I'm a broken record, but yet another solid ball-striker who posted a solid T18 at the Shriners two weeks ago. 
  11. Will MacKenzie - His playoff loss in Sea Island last week was reminiscent of the way he played in the first half of the 2013-14 season. This week should serve as a barometer. If last week was a fluke, then taking this week to watch and learn will be the smart play. If he stays hot this week, then you'll likely have several more opportunities to ride his wave at some point this season.
  12. Ryo Ishikawa - While this isn't a home game for him, it's certainly more comfortable for the young Japanese player than for most. He's posted respectable T19s and T28s in his last two PGA TOUR starts and ranked inside the top 15 in SG: tee-to-green and par-4 scoring average.
Next 5: Stewart Cink, Brendon de Jonge, Jason Dufner, Billy Horschel and Marc Leishman.

Yes, I know I left out Patrick Reed. If I went with a "Next 6" instead of "5", he probably would have been the one.

One and Done:

I'll keep it short and sweet. This is the perfect spot for Lee Westwood. There's not another start he will make on the PGA TOUR in a field as weak at the top as this one and where his game is as good of a fit. Maybe he performs and maybe he doesn't, but this is the right play.

Best of luck to all!

Monday, October 27, 2014

CIMB Classic - Preview

The PGA TOUR moves east to Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, for the CIMB Classic. Better late than never, here is a preview to help out with your research.

Kuala Lumpur G&CC is a measly 6,985 yards and plays as a par 72. To say that is short by PGA TOUR standards is a massive understatement. This is only the second time this has served as the host venue, as The MINES Resort & Golf Club hosted the first three editions.

Ryan Moore (14-under) topped Gary Woodland in a playoff last year in Kuala Lumpur's debut. Of the 78 players in the field, 39 broke par for the week and 17 had at least three sub-par rounds. Those 17 were Ryan Moore, Gary Woodland, Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Chris Stroud, Aaron Baddeley, Jimmy Walker, Harris English, Charles Howell III, Graham DeLaet, Stewart Cink, Sergio Garcia, K.J. Choi, Shiv Kapur, Jerry Kelly, Phil Mickelson, Kevin Stadler and Siddikur Rahman.

Several things about that list of 17 players stand out. For starters, Aphibarnrat, Kapur and Rahman tell us not to count out non-PGA TOUR players. There are also numerous players on that list noted for ball-striking over putting. Only Baddeley's putter is noted to far outweigh his tee-to-green game, so perhaps a close look at strokes gained: tee-to-green will be a valuable metric.

We will work to put together a solid power ranking and post it on Tuesday, as well as this week's one-and-done selection.

Until then, happy research!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The McGladrey Classic - One and done

With The McGladrey Classic less than 36 hours from teeing off, it's time to declare this week's one-and-done selection.

Some weeks a guy just jumps off the page for all the right reasons, and this week there were two when it comes to the OAD. Webb Simpson and Scott Brown each offer a different strategic option, and both are smart plays in their own way.

Simpson is a guy that will crack the short list of contenders multiple times in 2014-15. For example, the Wyndham Championship is always a strong place to play him. The thing is...why wait? His course history at the Seaside Course is excellent and he tied for fourth last week. He easily checks both boxes of course history and current form.

Brown improved from a T20 to a T4 in his second trip to McGladrey last year, and enters off back-to-back top-12 finishes to start the new season. Just like Simpson, Brown checks the two major boxes. Another star in his corner is that there isn't an obvious place to play him down the road.

There is one difference.

Simpson is of a different class than Brown.

In addition, I see no reason to save Simpson. It's hard to imagine a time when he enters a tournament with his history as strong as it is on Sea Island and form as solid as a T4 last week.

Let's go Webb!

Monday, October 20, 2014

The McGladrey Classic - Power Ranking

The McGladrey Classic is just around the corner and here is a power ranking to establish the chalk and hopefully identify some value. For more details on the Seaside Course, I'd encourage you to check yesterday's Preview.

Here we go:

  1. Webb Simpson - The theory that he's a horse-for-course player gained additional traction with a T4 at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open last week, which bodes well for his trip to Sea Island this week. Simpson has gone T12-2-T7 in his first three trips to the Seaside Course, with 11 of his 12 rounds under par. 
  2. Matt Kuchar - Improved steadily in this event, going T25-T20-T7 in his three ventures to Sea Island. Started the new season with a respectable T21 at the Frys.com Open. Essentially, he's about as close to a lock as their is to a top-25 finish with plenty of upside.
  3. Bill Haas - Only played once here, but it went for a solo second in 2010. The Greenville, SC native may be a week too late, as his father, Jay, and neighbor, Ben Martin, both won last week. Considering that Bill didn't have a win in 2013-14, the addition to this event back in schedule could signify that he's determined to rectify that as quickly as possible this season.
  4. Scott Brown - I mentioned in yesterday's preview that players from the Southeast have a great record in this event, and the South Carolinian fits that bill. His two starts on Sea Island have gone T20/T4 and he's hot right now after a T12 in the Frys.com Open and a T10 at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open. Tends to do his best work against weaker fields, and this week would probably qualify.
  5. Chris Kirk - The defending champ kicks off his 2014-15 season at a course where he also tied for 15th in 2010. Ranked well in most of the significant statistical categories last season. 
  6. Harris English - The top five seemed obvious, and I'm letting English carry the banner of the next wave. While he has been very quiet the last few months, he tied for 16th last week in Vegas and has a T15 at the Seaside Course. Oh, and I could totally see a UGA grad winning this week. 
  7. David Toms - A bit of a course history pick here, with Toms owning a pair of top-three finishes in four editions. He's very accurate and measures well in Par-4 metrics. It's hard to see him winning, but he's a great investment if a top 10 or 15 carries value in your format.
  8. Zach Johnson - He's 3/4 with two top 20s, but this pick is more about class in an otherwise weak field. Simply put, there is just no wisdom in dropping him any lower than this.
  9. Russell Knox - Knocked hard on the door last week and eventually settled for a third-place finish. Has a couple of middle-of-the-pack finishes at the Seaside Course, but his form and elevating class make him a much more intriguing option than his course history would suggest. 
  10. Robert Streb - If the David Toms formula of past success is any indicator, Streb's first trip could be quite profitable. He's one of the best par 4 players on the PGA TOUR (6th in 2014 in par-4 scoring average and 3rd through two events this season) and enters off a T10 at TPC Summerlin. 
  11. Ben Martin - Well, he's finished almost DFL and winner in his first two starts of the year, so chances are he'll be somewhere in between. Course history is poor, but he'll have a load of confidence. 
  12. Hudson Swafford - Florida born and UGA trained, Swafford is hot (T8 and T18 this season) and playing in a very comfortable part of the country. Was 139th in SGP last season but has already improved to 33rd this season. If he keeps that going, he will win in 2014-15 and this wouldn't be an unlikely spot for him to breakthrough. 
Instead of just a "next 5" in no particular order, I've continued the rankings through 20. 

They are:
  • 13 - Nick Watney
  • 14 - Charles Howell III
  • 15 - Scott Langley
  • 16 - Brian Harman
  • 17 - Michael Thompson
  • 18 - Martin Laird
  • 19 - Adam Hadwin
  • 20 - Tony Finau

We will return tomorrow with our one-and-done pick. Until then, best of luck to all!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

The McGladrey Classic - Preview

The McGladrey Classic returns to Sea Island Golf Club - Seaside Course this week, with Chris Kirk as the defending champion. This is the fifth edition of this tournament, with each of the previous four taking place at the current venue.

The Seaside Course is a par-70 layout, stretching out to a mere 7,005 yards and featuring two par 5s, four par 3s and 12 par 4s. Here is a list of the winners and runners-up.

  • 2010 - Winner - Heath Slocum (14-under 266) over Bill Haas (267)
  • 2011 - Winner - Ben Crane (15-under 265) over Webb Simpson in a playoff
  • 2012 - Winner - Tommy Gainey (16-under 264) over David Toms (265)
  • 2013 - Winner - Chris Kirk (14-under 266) over Briny Baird and Tim Clark (267)
Several things stand out. For starters, any list this short that includes David Toms, Briny Baird, Tim Clark and Heath Slocum suggests that length is irrelevant. This list is full of players that can be streaky with the putter, and those with ties to the Southeast (Berumuda greens). Bill Haas (SC), Webb Simpson (NC), Tommy Gainey (SC), Chris Kirk (GA), Heath Slocum (FL), Briny Baird (FL), David Toms (LA) and Tim Clark (NC ties) suggest that geography might matter. 

From a statistical standpoint, this week is more about what doesn't matter than what does. The leaderboard certainly includes those with solid SGP weeks, but that isn't exclusive. There are cases where GIR and fairways are high and SGP is just average. Someone described the new measure, strokes gained: tee-to-green as a metric of the best putters among the best ball-strikers, and I see where he's coming from on that. It could be that the new metric will have some value this week.

I will take a hard look at current form, course history and par-4 scoring average to be sure. I will also consider SGP, GIR, Proximity, Par 4 birdie or better, as well as SG: tee-to-green. 

We will return tomorrow with this week's power ranking. Until then, happy research!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Shriners Hospitals for Children Open - One and done

With the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open representing just the second tournament of the PGA TOUR marathon, the one-and-done selection for the week becomes pretty simple.

The top name on the power ranking this week was Martin Laird. He has the course history, current form and statistical clout to contend this week. Plus, there is absolutely no reason to save him for anywhere down the road.

He will likely be a popular pick this week. If you want to go in another direction, perhaps a guy like Ryan Moore makes a lot of sense.

Best of luck this week!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Shriners Hospitals for Children Open - Power Ranking

The 2013-14 FedExCup champion, Billy Horschel, is set for his 2014-15 debut at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open and also makes his first appearance of the season in the Power Ranking.

The usual cocktail of current form (when available), course history and relevant statistics have been stirred together in an attempt to accurately assign value to those expected to contend at TPC Summerlin, and here are the results.

This week’s Power Ranking:
  1. Martin Laird – Number one and it wasn't even close. Not only did he tie for third at the Frys.com Open last week, he’s a past champion in this event and also has a P2 (playoff loss). Add to that, he was ninth in strokes gained-putting, 16th in par breakers and seventh in par-4 scoring average last week. Course history is elite, current form is superb and stats are more than respectable.
  2. Billy Horschel – Jimmy Walker proved last week that a monster 2013-14 season doesn’t necessarily carry over to the new year, so we’ll find out quickly how in form Horschel is. That said, it stands to reason he wouldn’t play this week unless he felt like he was ready to jump in and contend. While I’m not sure I would recommend a one-and-done play this week, he should be gold in most formats.
  3. Webb Simpson – If we’ve learned anything about Simpson over the last 12 months, it is that he can be counted on in events where he has been traditional strong. That’s a fancy way of saying he’s a course horse. TPC Summerlin is one of his courses. Not only did he win here last season, he also tied for fourth in 2010, which was his most recent start before the 2013 win.
  4. Ryan Moore – Moore is a Vegas guy (UNLV), so this is a home game. While some people can’t handle that, he’s proven to be quite capable. He makes his 2014-15 debut at a track where he won in 2012 and tied for ninth in his defense last year. If the putter heats up (91st in SGP last year), he’ll be a factor.
  5. Jimmy Walker – I’ll issue him a free pass for his 63rd finish last week at the Frys.com, mainly because that course wasn’t all that forgiving off the tee and Walker’s never been one to hit a bunch of fairways. TPC Summerlin is much more forgiving, and he has back-to-back top-12 finishes in this event.
  6. Retief Goosen – Not only has Goosen secured his last 15 cuts (fifth best on TOUR), he tied for third last week and ranked first in strokes gained-putting. He was also second in par breakers and ninth in par-4 scoring average.  Considering TPC Summerlin is often a birdie fest and a putting contest, that works.
  7. Hideki Matsuyama – Finished third last week at the Frys.com Open and ranked third in GIR. Among the class of the field, if he gets the flat stick working then he has a solid chance at another top-five finish this week. Ranked a very average 61st in SGP last week, so that’s the real concern.
  8. Brooks Koepka – Much like Matsuyama, Koepka’s chances hinge on his ability to get hot with the putter. He threatened to score his first win last week, but just couldn’t mount a charge on Sunday. Missed the cut here last year in his only trip, but that isn’t enough history to write him off on this layout entirely.
  9. Brendan Steele – If you’re looking for consistency, he might be your guy. He tied for 21st last week, and Steele offers a pair of top-16 finishes at TPC Summerlin. In addition to that, he ranked inside the top 25 in GIR, SGP and par-4 scoring average last week. Simply put, he’s a top 25 waiting to happen this week with the upside to crack the top 10.
  10. Charley Hoffman – Sort of limped to the finish line last season, but returns to one of his better stops on TOUR. He tied for fourth at TPC Summerlin last season and has three top-15 finishes in his last six trips. Ranked 12th in par-4 scoring average and 14th in par breakers on the PGA TOUR in 2013-14.
  11. Sang-moon Bae – While it seems highly unlikely that he will back up his win last week with another one, especially since he won without making a putt longer than 15 feet, his current form demands this level of respect.
  12. Hudson Swafford – Last week we found out what can happen if Swafford putts well. It was the flat stick that held him back in his rookie campaign, but he ranked fifth in SGP and par breakers last week on his way to a T8. If he keeps that up, he will be a force to be reckoned with.

Next 5 (alphabetical): Steven Bowditch, Scott Brown, Derek Fathauer, Max Homa and Nick Watney

Wildcard: Jason Bohn – Despite not having the stats or current form (MC last week) to make one feel good about a pick, he’s finished runner-up and T8 in his last two trips to TPC Summerlin.

We will return soon with our one-and-done selection. Until then, happy research and best of luck to all!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Shriners Hospital's for Children Open - Preview

With Sang-moon Bae kicking off the 2014-15 season with a win at the Frys.com Open in our immediate past, it's time to dive into the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open with a preview to kick off the research for this week.

TPC Summerlin is once again the host venue, and will play to a par of 71 at 7,255 yards. It has served as the lone host dating back to 2008, but had a part in the previous rotation dating back to 1992. TPC Summerlin features just a trio of par 5s to go with four par 3s and 11 par 4s. Expect those par 5s to yield numerous birdie opportunities and to be reachable by the majority of the field.

Looking back at the winners and second-place finishers since 2008, we have the following:

  • 2008 - Winner: Marc Turnesa (25-under 263) over Matt Kuchar (264) (played as a par 72 that year)
  • 2009 - Winner: Martin Laird (19-under 265) over Chad Campbell and George McNeill in a playoff
  • 2010 - Winner: Jonathan Byrd (21-under 263) over Cameron Percy and Martin Laird in a playoff
  • 2011 - Winner: Kevin Na (23-under 261) over Nick Watney (263)
  • 2012 - Winner: Ryan Moore (24-under 260) over Brendon de Jonge (261)
  • 2013 - Winner: Webb Simpson (24-under 260) over Jason Bohn and Ryo Ishikawa (266)

I'm not sure that this list of players screams anything in particular. When diving into the course history for these players, they have just as many misses as they do hits. Perhaps that means this is a tournament where the hot putter, when combined with decent ball-striking, will emerge with the win. 

Further supporting the putting theory, Webb Simpson was first in SGP last season, while Jason Bohn was second (T2 in the tournament). Ryan Moore was 2nd in SGP in his 2012 win, while Jonas Blixt was first in SGP and finished alone in third place. 

Greens in Regulation tend to be a close second to SGP in the stats category. 

In addition to course history, I will go back and take a look at who putted well in Napa last week. I will also consider GIR, SGP, Par 4 scoring average and Par Breakers. 

We will be back on Monday with this week's Power Ranking. Until then, happy research!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Frys.com Open - One and done

Strategy is the key to any one-and-done game, and that begins with selecting the right player for the Frys.com Open.

While I'm not a big believer in "saving" players for later if the right time to use a guy presents itself, this is a week to ease into the season. There is some temptation to take a Matt Kuchar, Jimmy Walker or maybe even a Brandt Snedeker since the field lacks strength at the top, but it's probably best to restrain yourself. It's a better move to burn a start on a top-tier player when there is more in the way of current form and course history to go on.

Though I could endorse quite a few players this week, I narrowed my focus to two guys coming off top-10 finishes in the Alfred Dunhill Championship last week. Namely, Brooks Koepka and Richard Sterne. Both of those options have scored other top 10s in recent weeks across the globe, so their play over in Scotland wasn't a fluke.

It may sound a bit crazy, but I'm going with Sterne over Koepka just because Koepka is beginning to become a popular play this week. He tied for third in this event last year, although it was at a different venue, and is quickly becoming a trendy player. That's a lot of expectations for a player who has never won on the PGA TOUR.

I'll take my chances with Sterne, who is quietly lurking in the shadows. Plus, I doubt I'll be dying to burn him later in the year. A top-25 finish would be an acceptable result this week, and a top 10 would be outstanding. Either way, we'll have much more to go on at TPC Summerlin next week!

Best of luck to all!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Frys.com Open - Power Ranking

As the Frys.com Open inches closer, and with it the start of the 2014-15 PGA TOUR season, let’s take a look at this week’s power ranking.

Covered in yesterday’s preview, the introduction of a new venue, new players fresh off the Web.com Tour and the layoff between when many of those in the field last competed and now offers quite the trifecta for handicapping this field. We've pieced it together to the best of our abilities and have the following to offer.
  1. Jimmy Walker – While the thought of Walker successfully defending in his first PGA TOUR title seems a bit daunting, he’s likely the most stable investment in the field. With 19 top-25 finishes in 27 starts last season, it’s impossible to argue his consistency. Played better than his record in the Ryder Cup.
  2. Matt Kuchar – A reflection of his stature in the game, he has the style of play that should adapt just about anywhere. His form hasn’t been the best over the last six weeks, but it isn’t bad either. Ranked third in par-4 scoring average and 15th in strokes gained-putting last season.
  3. Brooks Koepka – He’s been busy overseas, cranking out a T3/T11/T9 in his last three starts. While this tournament was at a different venue last year, he tied for seventh in the Frys.com Open in 2013. If there is a minor concern, it could be due to travel. He was playing in Scotland at St. Andrews on Sunday.
  4. Brandt Snedeker – Ended the 2013-14 season a bit chilly, but I’m anxious to see if he’s made any offseason progress working with Butch Harmon.
  5. Cameron Tringale – I half expect the winner of this event to be a player similar to Jimmy Walker last season. A non-winner who has been trending towards a breakthrough. Tringale absolutely fits that bill after a solid T2 at The Barclays in 2014. He’s also a California kid, which can’t hurt.
  6. Richard Sterne – Showed some grit with a runner-up finish in the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship to earn his full status for 2014-15, and then tied for sixth at the Alfred Dunhill Links last week. Like Koepka, Sterne is one of the few players in the field that touts some reliable form.
  7. Graham DeLaet – Finished out 2013-14 with three top-15 finishes in his last six starts. He also ranked third in GIR for the season. Because of his ball-striking prowess, he is a safe option to make a cut and record a solid finish on many occasions. With everyone unfamiliar with the greens this week, expect marginal putters to stand a better-than-average chance of breaking through.
  8. Chris Stroud – Similar to Tringale, and Jimmy Walker a year ago, Stroud has developed into a very consistent player who is knocking on the door of a maiden PGA TOUR victory. He made 10 of his last 11 cuts last season and was 18th in par breakers.
  9. Robert Streb – Made a deep run in the FedExCup Playoffs last year despite beginning the year with only conditional status. Perhaps most impressive, he was tied for sixth in par-4 scoring average. Streb cracked the top 20 in three of his last four PGA TOUR starts.
  10. Daniel Summerhays – Another steady Eddie primed for a breakthrough, he ended 2013-14 by making 11 of his last 12 putts and was ninth in strokes gained-putting.
  11. Justin Thomas – He’s this year’s “can’t miss” rookie, and is just two tournaments removed from a Web.com Tour win at the Nationwide Hospital’s Children Championship. He will find his way to the front page of a leaderboard soon.  Was first on the Web.com Tour in multiple statistical categories last season.
  12. Derek Fathauer – Perhaps nobody had a better Web.com Tour Finals than Fathauer, capped off with a win in the Web.com Tour Championship on the heels of a T9-T16-T8 run. Ranked second in putting average, fourth in par-4 scoring average and sixth in par breakers on the Web.com Tour.

Next 5 (alphabetical): Blayne Barber, Jason Gore, Scott Langley, Hunter Mahan and Lee Westwood

We will return tomorrow to discuss not only who my one-and-done pick is this week, but also the strategy that goes into a pick on a week with so many variables.

Until then, best of luck to all!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Frys.com Open - Preview

The Frys.com Open is set to introduce Jimmy Walker as the defending champion at a new venue. The tournament has moved to Silverado Resort and Spa (North Course). While the course is not a stranger to hosting PGA TOUR events, this will be the first time it’s back in any sort of rotation since 1980.

Silverado’s North Course will play to a par of 72, and stretches out to a relatively short 7,203 yards. It features the expected lineup of four par 5s, four par 3s and 10 par 4s. I would recommend going to http://www.silveradoresort.com/golf/course-fly-over.asp for a flyover to get a better feel for the layout.

My impression of the course is that it could turn into a putting contest. Many of the par 4s will likely only require a long iron or fairway metal off the tee, and the greens appear relatively large. At least two of the par 5s will be reachable by virtually everyone in the field. One of the other par 5s is short on the card, but is a double dog leg. I’m not certain if any of those doglegs can be flown.

This will be a tough tournament to handicap for a myriad of reasons. Perhaps the largest reason is that we don’t have any recent course history from which to pull information. Next in line would be the absence of current form. With few exceptions, players who competed in the Ryder Cup and those that made it all the way to East Lake for the TOUR Championship tend to keep things light in the Fall Series. The other contributing factor is the influx of Web.com Tour grads, and how to account for them in any sort of statistical analysis.

As I put together my spreadsheet for this week’s power ranking, expect things to be relatively chalky for the reasons mentioned above. The hope and expectation is that class will win out, but I have very little doubt that there will be a couple of surprise names atop the leaderboard well into the weekend.

Since there is no Yahoo! game this week, I will return on Tuesday with the power ranking and on Wednesday with the one-and-done selection. We will try and get back on a regular schedule of a Sunday preview and Monday power ranking next week.

Until then, happy research!

2014-15 Preseason

I know the majority of you follow me on Twitter and / or at Rotoworld. For those that do not, I want to draw your attention to my preseason top 125 preseason top 125 at Rotoworld that was published last week.

Best of luck, and I'll be back soon with a Frys.com Preview and Power Ranking.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Ryder Cup - Day One Wrap Up

With two sessions of the 2014 Ryder Cup in the books, let’s take a look back and a look ahead. There isn't much of a reason to spend time on the Euros, as everything seems to be going relatively according to plan. There is much to debate regarding Team USA.

Webb Simpson

There is plenty of chatter regarding the inclusion of Simpson on the Ryder Cup team as the final captain’s pick by Tom Watson, especially when it came out that he was lobbying hard into the wee hours of the morning the night before the picks were made. I don’t have a problem with the pick for several reasons, and I don’t mind Simpson trying to talk his way onto the squad.

For starters, he was on the very short list of candidates anyway. The other names being considered were guys like Bill Haas and Brendon Todd. Notice I didn’t say Billy Horschel. Horschel was fresh off hitting a fat approach into the water at the par-5 18th at TPC Boston, choking away his chance to win the Deutsche Bank Championship hours before the picks were due. Watson had no way of knowing that he would catch fire and win the next two tournaments, as well as the FedExCup.  

The other reason I support the pick was due to his past record while partnered with Bubba Watson.

All that said, with his performance on Friday morning being as poor as it was, Tom Watson should keep him on the bench all day Saturday.

Spieth / Reed

This was exactly what the U.S. team needed. The veterans on the team are quite experienced at losing Ryder Cups, but Spieth and Reed are not. When they went out and won 5&4 in the morning fourball, Tom Watson had one job. Stay the hell out of their way. In his interview following the second session, Watson would not elaborate as to why he benched them. Perhaps it’s because he figured out (a little too late) that there really isn’t an acceptable answer.

Spieth and Reed may have very well gone out and lost 5&4 in the afternoon foursomes, but you have to give them that chance and live with the result.

New blood

Piggybacking on the Spieth / Reed comments, Ryder Cup rookie, Jimmy Walker, and emerged star, Rickie Fowler, battled as hard as any twosome on either team for two very important halves.

When I looked at the scoreboard as the foursomes matches were coming to an end, I couldn’t help but shake my head. Ryder Cup veterans Jim Furyk (don’t get me started), Matt Kuchar, Zach Johnson and Hunter Mahan had lost the first two matches, while Fowler and Walker were battling their butts off and Mickelson and Bradley were in the process of dropping their first points as a team.


Looking ahead

I absolutely hate what I see from Team USA for Saturday morning. Jim Furyk is 1-8-1 in fourball. WHY IS HE IN THE LINEUP?!?!?! He and Mahan have already lost to Donaldson and Westwood and they haven’t even been announced on the first tee yet.  Terrible call. Even if they somehow win or halve the match, it's still the wrong call given Furyk's body of work.

I don’t mind the Bubba Watson / Matt Kuchar pairing, but I would have preferred for Keegan Bradley to have taken Furyk’s place with some combination of Watson, Kuchar, Mahan and Bradley in the fourball. Mickelson is clearly gassed.

I would have lost my mind if Spieth / Reed and Walker / Fowler weren’t heading out in the morning.
I prefer to see Mickelson sit out the whole day and be ready to try and win a point in singles.  Simpson needs to stay on the bench as well, and I’m always a proponent for benching Furyk and his lousy record in any Ryder Cup formant. (He is 5-15-3 in Ryder Cup team formats and 9-18-4 overall.)

Anybody that looks like they are about to win a point before Tom Watson hands in the lineup card for Saturday afternoon should be on the course in foursomes in the fourth session.  Of the players on the bench Saturday morning (ZJ, Mickelson, Bradley and Simpson), only ZJ and Bradley need to be on the course in the afternoon. Actually, “need” might be too strong of a word.

If Tom Watson isn't comfortable with Spieth and Reed as a foursomes tandem, then he could still split them up while keeping them in the lineup tomorrow afternoon. I would prefer Spieth playing with Kuchar and Reed playing with ZJ or Mahan as opposed to having them both on the bench.

Before we go, here’s a look at the fourball matches set for Saturday morning.
  • Justin Rose / Henrik Stenson v. Matt Kuchar / Bubba Watson (Advantage Europe)
  • Jamie Donaldson / Lee Westwood v. Jim Furyk / Hunter Mahan (Advantage Europe)
  • Thomas Bjorn / Martin Kaymer v. Patrick Reed / Jordan Spieth (push)
  • Rory McIlroy / Ian Poulter v. Rickie Fowler / Jimmy Walker (It will all come down to which Poulter shows up)

I don’t see a likely scenario where the U.S. does any better than a 2-2 tie in the morning. In fact, I could easily see a 3-1 or 3-1/2-1/2 blowout in play for the Euros.

As an American, this does not look good on paper or feel good in my gut.

I hope I’m wrong!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

TOUR Championship - Fantasy

The TOUR Championship is upon us, and it's time to tie up the remaining loose end of the Yahoo! game. I'll keep it short and sweet. I'm starting Adam Scott (A), Bill Haas (B), Jordan Spieth (B) and Sergio Garcia (C), with Rickie Fowler (A), Billy Horschel (B), Webb Simpson (B) and Jimmy Walker (C) on the bench.

I want to point out that I am out of starts for both Jim Furyk and Rory McIlroy, or both would be in my B-List.

Best of luck this week, and I'll update future lineup changes via Twitter.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

TOUR Championship - One and done

With the TOUR Championship edging closer, it's time to put the finishing touches on our final one-and-done pick. This week it's all about the situation. Are you in the money, or out? Do you need a win, or a top 10 to accomplish your goal?

The way my game plays out, I'm about $800k outside of the money. I need a win, and it would help if it would come from a player that is not one of the more popular plays this week. I have 10 (of 29) players available. They are: Billy Horschel, Morgan Hoffmann, Hunter Mahan, Chris Kirk, Patrick Reed, John Senden, Cameron Tringale, Russell Henley, Geoff Ogilvy and Gary Woodland.

If you'll remember, Hunter Mahan was my last cut at The Barclays and Billy Horschel was the final cut at the BMW last week. If I'd have gotten just one of those right.....

Maybe that means I should change my mind after the pick and go with my alternate?

Here we go.

  • I'm eliminating Billy Horschel. While Rory McIlroy can go back-to-back, Billy Ho cannot. If I needed a top 10, he's my guy.
  • I love Hoffmann's 62-63 finish last week. He's still alive.
  • Mahan has not played well since the win at The Barclays and the added pressure of a win clinching the FEC title doesn't help. I'll pass.
  • Kirk surrounded his win with very average tournaments on both sides, so I'll let him go even though I do like his putter.
  • As I said yesterday. Reed could finish first or last. This week, if I ain't first, I'm last. Reed's alive.
  • Senden has fairly poor history and his two wins are spread across the board. I'll pass.
  • Tringale is an interesting thought, but I don't know that I like him as much as Reed or Hoffmann. He just misses the first cut.
  • Henley fits the mold. He can get really hot with the putter and has been a decent closer in his short career. He makes the short list.
  • Ogilvy is playing some of his best golf in years, but I'm not feeling it. Course history doesn't suggest anything better than a low top 10.
  • I can't trust Woodland's putter enough this week.
That leaves me with a short list of Hoffmann, Reed and Henley. My first elimination is Patrick Reed. I can't make sense of his third-round 82 at TPC Boston and his opening-round 77 at Cherry Hills in his last two starts. I can't afford a round like that. 

With it coming down to Russell Henley and Morgan Hoffmann, I'm rolling with Henley. Both are aggressive players and really good putters. Both have finished inside the top three in the last two weeks. 

So what's the tiebreaker? Two things.
  1. It would be really hard to think Hoffmann could close the door on his first PGA TOUR win at the TOUR Championship with the FEC title potentially on the line.
  2. This is the bigger one. Look at Henley's history. He's a Georgia boy, born and bred. He won The Honda Classic in the state of Florida. He tied for sixth in the 2013 RBC Heritage in South Carolina. He won the Winn Dixie Jacksonville Open on the Web.com Tour in 2012 (Florida). He won the 2011 Stadion Classic at UGA in Athens, GA. BERMUDA ANYONE?!?!?! 
Henley is at home in the Southeast, and he's the pick. Let's go!!!

Monday, September 8, 2014

TOUR Championship - Preview and Power Ranking

The 2013-14 PGA TOUR season comes to a climactic end at the TOUR Championship. The field of 29 players turn their attention to East Lake GC with the FedExCup title at stake.

East Lake is a par 70 that can stretch out to 7,307 yards. It featured a pair of par 5s, four par 3s and a dozen par 4s. Beginning in 2005, the winners of the TOUR Championship are Bart Bryant ('05), Adam Scott ('06), Tiger Woods ('07), Camilo Villegas ('08), Phil Mickelson ('09), Jim Furyk ('10), Bill Haas ('11), Brandt Snedeker ('12) and Henrik Stenson.

That list of champions is primarily comprised of elite ball-strikers, with Snedeker the glaring exception. Conventional wisdom would say that, typically, a great ball-striker having a hot week with the putter is the type of player that will come out on top.

With such a small field, I've diverted from my regular research methods and have placed a higher emphasis on my gut instinct as it relates to a player's current form and course history. Billy Horschel's win last week is a great example as to why I've done this. While he did not rank high statistically last week, I reached to include him in the Power Ranking and it paid off.

Here is a ranking of the entire field:

  1. Billy Horschel - He's hot, with a T2 and a win in his last two starts, and that works at a course like East Lake. He's only played here once, and that resulted in a T7 last year. He's clearly found something with the putter of late.
  2. Rory McIlroy - Only prior TOUR Championship went for a T10 in 2012. It's not hard to envision him winning the tournament and the FedExCup title this week. 
  3. Jim Furyk - Not only is he one of the elder statesmen in this event, but his history is excellent. He has a win to go with three other top-three finishes and nine top 10s in 15 tries. Tied for fourth last week at the BMW.
  4. Sergio Garcia - His season has been full of close calls, with the latest coming in the form of a T4 last week. He has four top 10s in eight tries at East Lake. 
  5. Rickie Fowler - A lot has changed for the better since his T23 in 2012, and he enters this week off a T4 at the BMW.
  6. Adam Scott - Past Champion. Elite ball-striker. Enters off a T8. Class player. Next.
  7. Bill Haas - Has been the king of above-average finishes without contending this season. Famously won the playoff over Hunter Mahan back in 2011 to win the FEC.
  8. Jordan Spieth - Converging trends, with a T2 at last year's TOUR Championship meeting T8 at last week's BMW.
  9. Bubba Watson - Was floundering late in the season until a runner-up at the BMW has put the train back on the tracks. Owns a T5 at East Lake back in 2012.
  10. Matt Kuchar - While he's almost always a safe play, East Lake hasn't been his sweet spot. His best finish in four starts was a T10 in 2012. Trending in the wrong direction (T5-T29-T46 in last three starts).
  11. Morgan Hoffmann - Similar to Billy Horschel last week, Hoffmann is on fire at the right time. While he's never won on the PGA TOUR or played in the TOUR Championship, a 62-63 weekend at Cherry Hills has to have been a big boost for his confidence.
  12. Justin Rose - His form is not the best considering his class, but he's never finished outside of the top 20 in this event including a runner-up finish.
  13. Webb Simpson - He's been extremely good on courses where his history is strong this season, which bodes well for East Lake. His last two trips have gone T5 and 4. A bit feast or famine this year, which is why he isn't higher.
  14. Jimmy Walker - No history at East Lake. Has the game and form to contend.
  15. Hunter Mahan - Fallen off the map since his Barclays win, but has a P2 here back in 2011.
  16. Chris Kirk - Predictably experienced a fall off (T36) last week after his win at TPC Boston. Hard to imagine him contending this week with the additional pressure of winning the entire FEC.
  17. Zach Johnson - A value at this spot with three top 10s in seven East Lake visits. The big finishes have dwindled as the season closed.
  18. Ryan Palmer - His 28th (out of 30) in 2012 was too hard to ignore even with his nice performance at Cherry Hills last week.
  19. Martin Kaymer - Seems to have found his form of late with a T7 and a T16 in his last two starts. No history at East Lake.
  20. Patrick Reed - One of two or three guys that I could see finishing first or last this week. 
  21. Jason Day - Would be inside the top five if not for his back injury and WD last week. Hard to know what to make of that.
  22. John Senden - Has experienced a great year on TOUR this season, but two finishes of 25th or worst in three starts at East Lake are alarming.
  23. Russell Henley - See Patrick Reed. Henley has a knack for par-70 and par-71 layouts and is known as a good putter. 
  24. Cameron Tringale - First trip to East Lake. 
  25. Hideki Matsuyama - His T20 last week was nice, but hardly noteworthy for the East Lake first-timer.
  26. Geoff Ogilvy - Hasn't finished worse than 19th or better than 11th in five TOUR Championships. There isn't much value for anything other than top 10s this week.
  27. Gary Woodland - Decent form. Decent course history. Yawn.
  28. Brendon Todd - Has fallen off of late. 
  29. Kevin Na - Well, he finished 30th in one of his two trips here, and someone has to be last in the ranking.
We will return tomorrow to talk one-and-done. Until then, best of luck to all!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

BMW Championship - One-and-done

With the BMW Championship drawing closer by the minute, it's time to cement our one-and-done selection and name the Yahoo! starters.

While I should have probably called his number last week, I still have Jason Day available in the OAD. I considered riding Billy Horschel and hoping he stayed hot for 72 more holes, which is very possible, but Day's class is too much to ignore. I'm going with Day this week, and likely Hunter Mahan at East Lake next week.

As for the Yahoo! starters, tee times are irrelevant this week since there is only one wave. I"m going Stenson (A), Zach Johnson (B), Jason Day (B) and Sergio Garcia (C) as the starters and Adam Scott (A), Rory McIlroy (B), Bill Haas (B) and Jimmy Walker (C) as the backups. 

I am down to my last starts for Scott and McIlroy. I will monitor their play in the first round and make a decision on Thursday night in terms of how to proceed. I certainly wouldn't mind having them available for East Lake next week, where I would have the possibility of their bonus points in a field of 30, but won't leave them out this week if it looks promising for them early.

The O v. Glass Challenge is over, with me securing a 5-2 win with just two starts remaining. In the spirit of the Ryder Cup, I won 3&2. 

I will update my Yahoo! roster the rest of the week on Twitter. Best of luck to all! 

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

BMW Championship - Power Rankings

With the BMW Championship closing in on us, let's take a look at the Power Ranking. Since course history is out the window and statistical trends are a guess at best, I relied heavily on current form and class. After all, class is permanent.

Forgive me if this comes off as a bit chalky, but better safe than sorry.

Here we go:

  1. Rory McIlroy - I know it's getting old, but let's be serious.
  2. Adam Scott - A nod to class and elite ball-striking (seventh), par 4 scoring average (third) and all-around ranking (first). Form is a string of top-15 finishes, so he's a safe play in almost any format.
  3. Jason Day - He's on fire of late, with a T2 and a T7 in his two Playoff starts. He's trending towards picking up a win on one of the last two events. Why not here?
  4. Jim Furyk - He's been so consistent and his ball-striking has been a big reason as to why. Ranks second in proximity and fifth in par 4 scoring average.
  5. Bill Haas - Could make Tom Watson regret his decision to leave him off the Ryder Cup team. Last three starts went T2-T15-T9 and it's hard to find a true weakness in his game.
  6. Sergio Garcia - Interesting call this week after taking last week off to rest up for the Ryder Cup. He's been excellent this year, so no reason to believe he won't be a factor this week. 
  7. Henrik Stenson - Needs to make a move if he is to defend his title at East Lake next week, so expect the top-ranked ball-striker on the PGA TOUR to come out firing. 
  8. Rickie Fowler - While he's cooled a bit with a T23 at TPC Boston, he's still long overdue for a win and it could happen this week.
  9. Billy Horschel - Billy Ho runs hot, and his T2 last week could have him primed for a big week in Colorado. Kept his cool down the stretch at TPC Boston last week better than in the past.
  10. Keegan Bradley - Throw everything else out the window. Now that he's received the call and is on the Ryder Cup team, he can free himself up to play some great golf the next two weeks.
  11. Zach Johnson - This has nothing to do with him being the defending champion. He's quietly gone T22 and T16 in his last two starts and has a solid makeup for most courses when he's on. Ranks inside the top 25 in the all-around ranking, proximity and par 4 scoring average, which are all relevant this week.
  12. Jimmy Walker - With top-10 finishes in two of his last three outings, it would be borderline reckless to leave him out. 
Next 5 (alphabetical): Matt Kuchar, Hunter Mahan, Graeme McDowell, Phil Mickelson and John Senden

We will return tomorrow to name the Yahoo! starters and the one-and-done.  Until then, best of luck to all!

Monday, September 1, 2014

BMW Championship - Preview

The third leg of the FedExCup Championship is set to go down at Cherry Hills Country Club, and here is a preview of the BMW Championship to get you off and running.While Cherry Hills isn't a known commodity on the PGA TOUR, it does have a long history of hosting USGA events.

Cherry Hills CC was the site of Arnold Palmer's only U.S. Open title back in 1960. Phil Mickelson won the 1990 U.S. Amateur at this venue and Jack Nicklaus claimed the 1993 Senior U.S. Open title. That's a lot of class.

I would encourage you to take a tour of Cherry Hills on their website (chcc.com) to get a feel for the layout. The scorecard lists it as a par 70, stretching out to 7,352 yards. Keep in mind that this venue is in Colorado, so altitude will dictate that it plays shorter than the yardage. The tour seems to favor accuracy and precise approaches over length, but the list of winners includes some long and aggressive players. Ultimately, this course seems to dictate that the cream rises to the top, so perhaps a combination of class and form should trump everything else.

I will return tomorrow with a Power Ranking. Until then, happy research!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Deutsche Bank Championship - Fantasy

With hours to go before the second leg of the FedExCup Playoffs is underway at the Deutsche Bank Championship, it's time to put the finishing touches on our Yahoo! lineup.

As published at Rotoworld.com on Tuesday in Playing the Tips, my A-list consisted of Adam Scott and Matt Kuchar. That was before the tragic news regarding the death of Kuchar's caddie's wife. I've fielded several questions in regards to Kuchar since then, and my thoughts are that he will be top 10 or bust. He will come out and try to play inspired for his man, but if he is too distracted it could turn into one of his more forgettable performances.

That said, pairing Kuchar with Scott is pretty safe in the sense that Scott won't miss the cut. I'm leaning AM tee times when it makes sense, so that means Scott starts and Kuchar is on the bench as we watch to see how he responds to the tragedy.

B-List - All of my players have AM tee times, which I normally will not allow to happen. I'm starting Hunter Mahan and Jason Day, with Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy on the bench. I'm down to my last Rory start and want to make sure he doesn't lay an egg in the first round at TPC Boston like he did last week.

C-List - Charl Schwartzel starting with John Senden on the bench.

In the O v. Glass, I narrowly eeked out a two-point victory last week to improve my record to 4-2. I win this week and I will close out Glass. We have four matches this week (Scott, Mahan, Day and Schwartzel), meaning I have Kuchar, Spieth, McIlroy and Senden going up against his crew of Patrick Reed, Keegan Bradley, Graham DeLaet and Jimmy Walker.

I will update future lineup changes and the O v. Glass on Twitter as the tournament plays out.

Best of luck to all!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Deutsche Bank Championship - One-and-done

Let's hope the Deutsche Bank Championship goes better than The Barclays. It wasn't that Paul Casey's T22 was all that bad, rather it was the opportunity cost. As mentioned in the article last week, I was down to Casey and Hunter Mahan. Obviously I chose incorrectly.

That puts Mahan back in play as an option this week.

If my goal was a top-25 finish, or even a top 15, I'd probably ride Mahan and hope he has enough left in the tank to check that box. Other options in play include Patrick Reed and Jordan Spieth.

After missing out on all of Spieth's top-10 finishes earlier this year, I had penciled him in for East Lake (TOUR Championship). He tied for second there a year ago and seemed a very likely candidate to make it back in 2014.

Reed is a wild card. Though he didn't play well at TPC Boston last year (T70), he is known for making bunches of birdies.

I'm playing for a win or a top five this week, and I've landed on Jordan Spieth. His final-round 67 at Ridgewood CC last week was his first sub-70 round since the third round of The Open Championship, so perhaps he snapping out of a mini-slump. The final nail in the coffin was his T4 in this event last year.

As well as Mahan is playing, the odds are against him scoring a top five this week. That means I've slotted him in for East Lake, where he nearly beat Bill Haas in a playoff in 2011.

So, let's go Spieth!

Since the tournament doesn't start until Friday, we will be back Thursday to tab the Yahoo! starters and take a look at the O v. Glass.

Until then, best of luck to all!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Deutsche Bank Championship - Power Ranking

As we dive deeper into our preparation for the Deutsche Bank Championship, let's take a gander at this week's Power Ranking. I encourage you to flip back to yesterday's Preview for more information on the history of this tournament, as well as the lay of the land at TPC Boston.

It's worth mentioning, PGATOUR.com rolled out two new metrics this week. They are Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green and Strokes Gained: Total.Rather than try and explain it all, I recommend going to PGATOUR.com and reading the article on the new measurements. I took a look at Strokes Gained: Total for this week.

Here we go!

  1. Rory McIlroy - Was due for a letdown after three consecutive wins, settling for a T22 at The Barclays last week. Returns to TPC Boston, where he was the winner in 2012. Expect him to begin another big run leading up to the Ryder Cup.
  2. Adam Scott - He's made each of his nine cuts, with five top 10s, and owns a win and a runner-up at TPC Boston. Enters this week off back-to-back T15s at the PGA Championship and The Barclays. Ranked 1st in Par 5 Scoring Average, 2nd in Par Breakers, 3rd in Par 4 Scoring Average, 4th in Strokes Gained: Total (SGT) and 10th in Ball-Striking.
  3. Jim Furyk - Arguably the most consistent player on the PGA TOUR the last few months, went T15-T5-8 in his last three starts and hasn't missed a cut at TPC Boston. Has five top 25s and three top 10s in the DBC.
  4. Matt Kuchar - A T4-T12-T5 run in his last three PGA TOUR starts trend well into this event, as does his T4 at TPC Boston last year. He's first in Par 4 Scoring average on the PGA TOUR and 3rd in SGT.
  5. Hunter Mahan - Tough to see him going back-to-back, but his T15-T7-Win trend is impossible to overlook. He's 8/11 at TPC Boston, with a T8-T39-T13 in his last three trips. He's been hot with the irons lately, which generally is a lead indicator for success in his case. 
  6. Rickie Fowler - His course history isn't great, but I don't think he's finished outside the top 10 since Tiger and Sean Foley last had a beer together. 
  7. Henrik Stenson - The defending champ enters the week 66th in the FedExCup standings, so he can't afford to lay an egg if he hopes to advance to the BMW Championship and ultimately defend his FEC crown. Tied for 38th at The Barclays last week after a near miss (T3) at the PGA Championship. Expect a top 25, if not a top 10.
  8. Jason Day - His health is continually a concern, but his T15 at the PGA and T2 last week are about as good of a trend as you will find. Had a nice run at TPC Boston with a T2 in '10 and a T3 in '11. 
  9. Bill Haas - If the putter behaves, he will make a run this week. Has a T2 and a T15 in his last two starts at the Wyndham Championship and The Barclays. Has one top 10 and three other top 25s in four trips to the DBC.
  10. Jordan Spieth - While he's been quiet the last month, he ended The Barclays with a final-round 67 to steal a T22 and returns to TPC Boston where he tied for fourth a year ago. Just like Mahan snapped his winless streak last week, it's very possible Spieth could do the same this week.
  11. Patrick Reed - His T70 at last year's DBC aside, he's been trending well (T58-T24-T9) leading up to this week. Considering it will likely take something in the neighborhood of 20-under to win, he's the type of player that could get really hot and throw up that type of number.
  12. Brandt Snedeker - Plenty of pressure on his shoulders this week to make a final impression on Tom Watson, he buckled with a missed cut last week following his T13-T5 run leading up to The Barclays. Has recent success at TPC Boston, with a T5-T3-6-T47 in his last three ventures to TPB Boston.
Next 5 (alphabetical): Keegan Bradley, Graham DeLaet, Phil Mickelson, Charl Schwartzel and Bubba Watson.

We will be back to discuss the OAD tomorrow. Until then, best of luck!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Deutsche Bank Championship - Preview

The second leg of the FedExCup Playoffs winds to the familiar venue of TPC Boston for the Deutsche Bank Championship, as 100 players remain in contention for the FEC title.

While variety is fun for fans, tournaments that rotate venues can be a nightmare for serious gamers. Needless to say, the ability to project results for this week's tournament should be a little easier to pin down than Ridgewood CC. Seriously, raise your hand if you had Stuart Appleby and Cameron Tringale tying for second?

So, what do we know about TPC Boston?

It's a par-71 layout, stretching to 7,216 yards and featuring three par 5s and a par 4 that can be reached with driver, and in some cases 3-wood. While this tournament only dates back to 2003, it's taken at least 20-under to win on five occasions, with 22-under serving as the winning mark in three of the last five years. A player better take care of the par 5s and make some birdies.

Here's the history since 2005.

  • 2005 - Winner: Olin Browne (14-under, 270) over Jason Bohn (271)
  • 2006 - Winner: Tiger Woods (268) over Vijay Singh (270)
  • 2007 - Winner: Phil Mickelson (268) over Arron Oberholser, Brett Wetterich and Woods (270)
  • 2008 - Winner: Vijay Singh (262) over Mike Weir (267)
  • 2009 - Winner: Steve Stricker (267) over Jason Dufner and Scott Verplank (268)
  • 2010 - Winner: Charley Hoffman (262) over Jason Day, Luke Donald and Geoff Ogilvy (267)
  • 2011 - Winner: Webb Simpson (269) over Chez Reavie (playoff)
  • 2012 - Winner: Rory McIlroy (264) over Louis Oosthuizen (265)
  • 2013 - Winner: Henrik Stenson (262) over Steve Stricker (264)
What does that list tell us? Any time I see a list of winners that includes Vijay, Tiger and Rory, I immediately gravitate towards the class of the field. All three of these players, especially in their respective primes, were also extremely long off the tee and could overpower par 5s. Stenson fits that mold, and guys like Oosthuizen, Hoffman and Wetterich are/were players that could dominate par 5s and posses the length to be deadly when everything else falls into place.

It would be a mistake to not at least acknowledge that there are guys that do not fit that mold on the list. Webb Simpson is a good par 4 player and solid putter, not all that unlike Stricker. There are others that are steady putters, etc.

In terms of stats to study, this is probably a good week to lead on some of the major statistical categories. Ball-striking jumps off the page, as does SGP, Par 5 and Par 4 Scoring average and Par Breakers immediately come to mind.

We will get to work on our power rankings and pump something out tomorrow night. Until then, happy research!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Barclays - One-and-Done / Fantasy

With The Barclays ready to kick off, it's time to finalize our one-and-done and list the starters in the Yahoo! format.

To be frank, my OAD options are extremely limited. This week, my attention narrowed to Hunter Mahan and Paul Casey. (I've essentially saved Jordan Spieth for East Lake.)

Mahan represents the better current form, with a T15-T7 run at the WGC-Bridgestone and PGA Championship, but has finished a very modest T31 in both of his trips to Ridgewood CC.

Casey has decent form, coming off a T18 at the Wyndham, but has solid course history at Ridgewood CC. He owns a T7 in 2008 and a T12 in 2010. 

I've decided to roll with Casey. Mahan allows me some flexibility over the next three weeks, so I'll keep that option open.

As for the Yahoo!, I've put two players in my lineup this week (Jim Furyk and Rory McIlroy) that are down to their last start. While I prefer AM tee time for Thursday when possible, I'm much more about managing starts. 

Starters are Adam Scott (A), Justin Rose (B), Bill Haas (B), Charl Schwartzel (C), with Henrik Stenson (A), Jim Furyk (B), Rory McIlroy (B) and Sergio Garcia (C) on the bench.

As for the O v. Glass Challenge, I maintain a 3-2 advantage with four weeks (including this one) to play. Unlike last week, where we matched all eight picks, we have numerous difference this week. I essentially have Adam Scott, Jim Furyk, Rory McIlroy and Charl Schwartzel against Glass' Matt Kuchar, Hunter Mahan, Keegan Bradley and Nick Watney. Should be a fun week.

Best of luck to all this week!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Barclays - Power Ranking

With the FedExCup Playoffs upon us, it's time to take a deep dive into The Barclays Power Ranking. Hopefully you had a chance to visit Rotoworld.com and see my updated top 125 Power Ranking for all of the players competing in the Playoffs. As mentioned on Sunday, that's the reason for the delay in the Power Ranking.

For your patience, rather than a top 12 we doubled it to include 24 this week. One reminder, Ridgewood CC has only hosted The Barclays twice (2008 & 2010). When I refer specifically to results in those years; that's why. 

Here we go:
  1. Rory McIlroy - Next.
  2. Adam Scott - Though he is 15th in the FedExCup standings, he is a top-10 machine any time he tees it up. Tied for ninth at Ridgewood CC in 2010. 
  3. Jim Furyk - Continues to scare the top of leaderboards across the PGA TOUR on an almost weekly basis. Tied for 12th at Ridgewood in 2008 and DNP in 2010. 
  4. Sergio Garcia - It seems there is a developing theme in the Power Rankings of the last few big tournaments. Garcia, and the names above him are always near the top of the list and for good reason. Oh, and Sergio tied for second at Ridgewood CC in 2008.
  5. Henrik Stenson - The trend is looking up. Has gone T39, T19 and T3 in his last three starts. Though he's never played Ridgewood CC, this was the time last year when he got hot and stayed hot.
  6. Rickie Fowler - Finished inside the top three in three of his last four starts. The other...a T8. He's a solid play anywhere, regardless of course history, until he proves otherwise.
  7. Matt Kuchar - While Adam Scott is technically the defending champion, Kuchar won the last Barclays played at Ridgewood CC in 2010. Forced to WD from the PGA Championship with back pain, but has declared himself 100% for this week.
  8. Phil Mickelson - Finally broke through with his first top 10 of 2014 on the PGA TOUR with a runner-up at the PGA Championship, and there is little reason why he couldn't be a legitimate threat this week. Mixed bag, with a T19 and MC in two trips to Ridgewood.
  9. Justin Rose - Borderline-elite player in above-average form. He tied for 15th at Ridgewood in 2010, so the course doesn't scare him.
  10. Charl Schwartzel - Finding form of late, with a T43-T4-T15 in his last three starts. Ranks fifth in Par Breakers, so it stands to reason that he can make enough birdies to contend. 
  11. Hunter Mahan - Largely irrelevant the last few months until a T15-T7 run at the WGC-Bridgestone and PGA Championship. Considered to be on the short list for a Ryder Cup pick, so there is plenty of motivation, if not pressure, to nab another top 10 this week.
  12. Kevin Streelman - Form is horrible, but he has a T3 and a T4 in his first two trips to Ridgewood CC. Go figure.
  13. Webb Simpson
  14. Paul Casey
  15. Brandt Snedeker
  16. Keegan Bradley
  17. Nick Watney
  18. Lee Westwood
  19. Jason Day
  20. Bill Haas
  21. Ryan Palmer
  22. Jimmy Walker
  23. Bubba Watson
  24. Graham DeLaet
We will return tomorrow with our one-and-done selection and the Yahoo! starters. Best of luck to all!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

The Barclays - Preview

With the PGA TOUR regular season now in the books, the FedExCup Playoffs kicks off at The Barclays. This week's venue is Ridgewood CC, and it hosted The Barclays in 2008 and 2010. 

Ridgewood CC is a 7,319-yard course, stretching out to a par of 71. As one would expect, there are three par 5s, four par 3s and 11 par 4s.

Quick math says 2010 was four years ago, so while course history is important, it certainly isn't the only thing. For some perspective of the type of player that has performed well at Ridgewood, below are the top 10s from 2008 and 2010. 

2008 - Winner - Vijay Singh (-8) Playoff; P2 - Sergio Garcia and Kevin Sutherland; T4 (-7) Ben Curtis, Mathew Goggin and Kevin Streelman; T7 (-6) Paul Casey, Martin Laird, Justin Leonard, Nicholas Thompson and Mike Weir.

2010 - Winner - Matt Kuchar (-12) Playoff; P2 Martin Laird; T3 (-10) Steve Stricker and Kevin Streelman; T5 (-9) Jason Day, Ryan Palmer, Rory Sabbatini and Vaughn Taylor; T9 (-8) Dustin Johnson, Adam Scott, Heath Slocum.

When I study those lists, ball-striking stands out as a key for several reasons. For starters, there are numerous players on those lists known much more for their tee-to-green prowess than other aspects of their game. (As a disclaimer, I realize that Curtis and Taylor don't fit that bill.) Also, the score relative to par isn't all that low, telling me that this isn't a putting contest. 

An interesting side note, Heath Slocum nearly played his way into the Playoffs last week, while Nicholas Thompson was the only man to fall out of the top 125 at the Wyndham. Both have top 10s at Ridgewood. 

My ideal players this week will be above average or elite ball-strikers who are at least serviceable putters. As is the case anytime there are more than 10 par 4s, an emphasis on Par 4 scoring average is wise.

*****Please note a slight change to the schedule of the blog this week.*******

I am currently working on a top 125 player value ranking for the entire FedExCup Playoffs for Rotoworld, to be published on Monday afternoon or evening at Rotoworld.com. Because of that, I will not be ready to release my Power Ranking for The Barclays until Tuesday.

Check out Rotoworld tomorrow evening for that feature, and I will be back Tuesday with my weekly Power Ranking.

Happy Research!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Wyndham Championship - Fantasy

With hours to go until the balls are in the air at the Wyndham Championship, it's time to solidify the Yahoo! starter and bench.

I will note that there is one change to my Yahoo! lineup since it published in Playing the Tips on Rotoworld yesterday. It came out in the Rotoworld chat today that both Rob Bolton and I missed that Tim Clark was in the Yahoo! C-List. Shame on us both, but he was buried so far down the list that we both overlooked him.

As a result, my team is Brandt Snedeker and Patrick Reed in the A-List, Bill Haas, Hideki Matsuyama, Brian Harman and Webb Simpson in the B-List, and Tim Clark and Brooks Koepka in the C-List.

The weather looks perfect for Thursday, but I'm leaning on AM tee times when possible. I'm staring Snedeker, Haas, Matsuyama and Clark.

As for the O v. Glass Challenge this week, it turns out my move to Clark over Nick Watney means that Glass and I match on all eight players. That means this week is a tie, which is a good thing. Our contest was set to take place across an even number of tournaments, and this guarantees there will be a winner. Unless, of course, we match all eight another week.

Best of luck to all!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Wyndham Championship - One-and-done

The Wyndham Championship one-and-done features few blue-chip prospects and gives gamers several angels from which to play. If you have Brandt Snedeker or Webb Simpson, this would be a great time to plug them in and go with the chalk. If not, this is a good week to have a little fun and roll the dice (within reason).

I'd like to take this opportunity to address a player that was not in my Power Ranking yesterday to explain the omission, since I've received numerous questions, because I think it applies to a OAD. I did not include Ernie Els fresh off his T7 at the PGA Championship. While he is playing reasonably well, with a T12 in Canada and a T26 at Firestone CC, I'm not ready to buy just yet. Why? Since winning the 2012 Open Championship, he has not recorded a top-10 finish in an event on the PGA TOUR that wasn't a major or WGC. That tells me that he can still get up for the big events, but struggles to peak for the lesser events. Perhaps he proves me wrong this week, but that's the reasoning.

While I've had five top 10s since correctly plugging Bubba Watson into the lineup at Augusta National, only one of those have come over the course of the last five tournaments (T9 w/ GMac at RBC Canada). Because of this dry spell, I've slipped from safely inside the money to the outside looking in over the last few weeks. I'm ready to have some fun and take a bit of a risk, so I'm playing Brooks Koepka.

Koepka tied for 15th last week at the PGA and also tied for fourth at the U.S. Open in Pinehurst, NC, back in June. He offers some of the same lure of a Patrick Reed and a Jordan Spieth (who finished 1 and P2 last year), in that he is a rising star who has essentially played his way onto the PGA TOUR without any status. He has already done enough heavy lifting for a 2014-15 PGA TOUR card, and should be free to go chase a win this week.

We will return tomorrow with the Yahoo! starters and this week's O v. Glass Challenge.

Best of luck!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Wyndham Championship - Power Ranking

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder at the Wyndham Championship, and that is reflected in this week's Power Ranking. With few exceptions, the elite on the PGA TOUR use this as a week off between playing two majors and a WGC in a four-week span and the looming FedExCup. While recent weeks have given us layups like Rory McIlroy, Adam Scott and Jim Furyk, there isn't a clear number one this week.

With that in mind, here we go!
  1. Brandt Snedeker - While he is a past champion at this event, please note that it was not at Sedgefield CC, rather Forest Oaks. His inclusion is based on the fact that he's finally heated up with the putter and snared top-25 finishes in his last three starts and in six of his last seven. He is not a perfect option, as he's missed two out of his last three cuts in this event. 
  2. Tim Clark - His lack of length renders certain layouts out of reach, explaining his T50 at the WGC-Bridgestone and MC at the PGA Championship. Before that he tied for fifth at the John Deere Classic and won the RBC Canadian Open. That should be the focus. He was the runner-up to Sergio Garcia here in 2012.
  3. Hideki Matsuyama - Finished 15th here last year in his only start and has demonstrated decent form the last few weeks. He spun a 65 and a 66 last year, showing he can shoot a low score at the par-70 Sedgefield. He hasn't missed a cut since the RBC Heritage and tied for 12th at Firestone CC two weeks ago.
  4. Webb Simpson - His form has been very hard to understand this year, and his MC-T31-MC run in the last three events is problematic to say the least. His last four starts in this event have gone T8-Win-T22-T11 and he is a resident and native of North Carolina. If you are comfortable with a course horse, he's your guy. 
  5. Brooks Koepka - Starting to become a hot name of late, and he enters this week off a T15 at the PGA Championship. He will have a 2014-15 PGA TOUR card via his non-member FEC points (and earnings) and looks to duplicate what Jordan Spieth did a year ago by earning a win. Ranks 21st on TOUR in Par Breakers, 30th in Proximity and 34th in Par 4 Scoring Average. Works for me.
  6. Bill Haas - The one thing we know for certain is that the Wake Forest product will make the cut. With the exception of a WD at the RBC Heritage, he hasn't missed a weekend all year. Relative to his talent, he has under performed this year. Among the class of the field this week, it's very possible he peaks to steal a win. 
  7. David Toms - While he wasn't the first name to come to mind when sitting down to do this week's research, he quickly raised his hand and demanded attention. Ranks inside the top 30 in GIR, Scrambling, Proximity and is fifth in Par 4 Scoring Average. He has top 25s in four of his last five starts at Sedgefield and had a T26 at The Greenbrier Classic and a T13 at the John Deere Classic before his WD at the Barracuda Championship.
  8. Patrick Reed - The defending champ is hot on the heels of earning an automatic spot onto the Ryder Cup team, and now we will get a chance to learn how he handles a title defense on the PGA TOUR. Given the upcoming FEC Playoffs and the Ryder Cup on the horizon, it's fair to question if he can focus on the task at hand this week. If he can, I've ranked him too low.
  9. Nick Watney - He's trying to right the ship on what has been an abysmal 2013-14, going T12 (RBC), T8 (Barracuda) and T33 (PGA) in his last three starts. While that T8 is his only top 10 of the season and it came in an opposite-field event, it's entirely possible that he can replicate that in a light field this week. His course history here isn't great, as it is highlighted by a T31 in 2012. 
  10. John Huh - Similar to Tim Clark in that we will have to display selective amnesia in terms of recent form.Huh suffered three missed cuts before a T3 at the Barracuda before missing the cut at the PGA last week. Offers course-history buffs a T19 and a T3 in his two trips to Sedgefield CC. 
  11. Carl Pettersson - The Swede has a win and two T4s at this venue, but has missed the mark with two missed cuts and a T67 on his other three occasions. Has a T55-T35-MC in his last three TOUR starts.
  12. Brian Harman - After missing his first two cuts at Sedgefield, he tied for third last year. He is without a top 25 in his three starts since breaking through at the John Deere Classic, but it's worth noting that two of those were majors and the other was a WGC. This field more closely mirrors the strength of the JDC.
Next 5: Chad Campbell, Joe Durant, Billy Horschel, Charles Howell III and Freddie Jacobson

We will return tomorrow with a look at the one-and-done.