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

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Memorial Tournament - Fantasy

With hours to go before balls are in the air in the Memorial Tournament, it's time to cement the Yahoo! lineup.

Per normal, a default to the AM wave of tee time seems to make the most sense when possible. I'm going Luke Donald (A List / AM), Justin Rose (B-List / AM), Dustin Johnson (B-List / PM) and Charl Schwartzel (C-List / AM) starting with Matt Kuchar (A-List / AM), Bill Haas (B-List / PM), Rory McIlroy (B-List / PM) and Brendon Todd (C-List / PM) on the bench.

I will tweet out my starters the remainder of the week. Best of luck to all!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Memorial Tournament - One-and-done

For the Memorial Tournament one-and-done, I quickly came to realize that many of the options I would prefer to have at my disposal are unavailable. Of yesterday's top 12, only three are still in play. They are Jordan Spieth, Brendon Todd and Bill Haas.

While Todd makes sense in some formats this week, OAD isn't one of them. His T5 at Colonial last week following his breakthrough win was a mild surprise, as he avoided a hangover. Still, he can't ride this wave forever. While he makes plenty of sense as a Yahoo! play alongside Charl Schwartzel, a hangover this week is absolutely in play.

Jordan Spieth almost got the call, and likely would have if not for a combination of a T63 here in his only start and a relatively poor performance in the Presidents Cup at Muirfield Village last year. It would be easy to write the Presidents Cup off as nerves were it not for the T63 and his performance in his first Masters. It would also be easy to write off his T63 without the follow up at Muirfield Village in the PC. Laying two eggs has me questioning if this course fits his eye. I'll pass.

And then there's Bill Haas. He has wins at Congressional and Riviera CC, showing he can play difficult courses and top-tier PGA TOUR events. His T21 last week came without any real fanfare, so he should be flying under the radar relative to some of the star power in the field. His T4 last year in this event is nice, but not the biggest factor. If not here, then where? I'm taking Haas.

Check out Rotoworld.com http://www.rotoworld.com/articles/gol/47304/393/our-picks-memorial for my Yahoo! and Golf Channel picks, as well as those of Bolton, Glass and Ned.

I will return tomorrow to wrap up first-round starters and address any other looming issues. Until then, best of luck to all!

Monday, May 26, 2014

Memorial Tournament - Power Ranking

Big names take center stage in our power ranking for the Memorial Tournament, but there is plenty of depth in the field and a number of players to cover as we prepare to bounce back in our fantasy formats this week.
 
Here we go:
  1. Justin Rose – The 2010 winner has posted back-to-back eighth-place finishes in this event and has finished T8 or better in his last three PGA TOUR starts. Splits were great across the board and was an impressive eighth in sand save percentage.
  2. Rory McIlroy – Newly single, McIlroy seems in the correct frame of mind for winning golf tournaments as he proved at Wentworth last week. He’s been a top-10 machine on the PGA TOUR, but the word of caution is his recent record in this event. After T10 and a fifth in his first two Memorials, he missed the cut in 2012 and tied for 57th last year.
  3. Matt Kuchar – A complete shocker of a missed cut last week at Colonial, Kuchar returns to defend his 2013 title at Muirfield Village. Considering he’s finished inside the top five here in three of his last four starts with a runner-up in 2012 complimenting the win, he can’t drop past this spot.
  4. Adam Scott – Reversed a poor history at Colonial to cement his stay at World No. 1 with his win last week and now turns his attention towards the Memorial. At fourth in par 4 scoring average and first in par 5 scoring average, a layout with 10 par 4s and four par 5s is a green light.  His T13 here last year was his best start since a T5 in 2007.
  5. Luke Donald – Met expectations with a T3 at Wentworth last week and did similarly with a runner-up at Harbour Town in the RBC Heritage. He had four consecutive top 15s in this event before a T21 at Muirfield a year ago.
  6. Jim Furyk – Was an unpleasant surprise tying for 51st last week after back-to-back runner-up finishes, but he’s back on the short list this week having gone 17/18 with 13 top 25s, 6 top 10s a win and two runners-up at Muirfield Village.
  7. Jordan Spieth – Tough call, as he tied for 63rd here last year in his first trip and then didn't perform all that well in the Presidents Cup. T4, T37, T14 in his last three PGA TOUR starts. A bad showing this week likely means that this course doesn’t fit his eye.
  8. Brendon Todd – With a win and a T5 in his last two PGA TOUR starts, his first trip to Muirfield Village comes on the wings of an unbelievable run. Ranks inside the top 20 in SGP, Sand Save %, Scrambling, Par 3 and Par 4 Scoring average.
  9. Dustin Johnson – Were it not for a bad third round at Colonial, he may have emerged as the surprise winner last week. Knowing that he contended on a layout that wouldn’t normally suit is eye is a big boost of confidence for his current form. He’s 5/6 with 3 top 25s including a 4th in 2011 at Muirfield, so he’s absolutely a contender. Finished T7 and T14 in his last two PGA TOUR starts.
  10. Gary Woodland – I can’t fade a guy any further than this when he’s finished no worse than T26 (Masters) since the Match Play and carries a T18, T11, T7 streak into this week. He’s two for three with a sixth and a T16 at Muirfield Village, meaning all signs point to a top-20 finish at worst.
  11. Charl Schwartzel – He’s improved every trip year-over-year to the Memorial with the last three going for a T22, T19 and a T8. Has a pair of top-12s in his last three PGA TOUR starts, so this is a play on converging trends.
  12. Bill Haas – Seems like he scores a top 25 every week, but hasn’t contended much this year. He tied for fourth here last year in what was easily his best of eight trips (no other top 40s) and enters off a T21 at Colonial where he didn’t make any noise. Ranks inside the top 30 in par 3 and par 5 scoring average.

The Next 5 (alphabetical):
  • Jason Day – Hard to know what to make of Day, but what we do know is that this is his first start since a T20 at the Masters. He’s been fighting an injury.
  • Chris Kirk – Enters riding a nice wave of momentum With top 30s in each of his last four starts and top 15s in his last two. He’s only 1/3 at Muirfield Village, with his T25 in 2012 the only payday.
  • Ryan Moore – Having a great season and has made some noise here in the past, with three top 10s in eight starts including a runner-up. Finished a steady T13 last year. Recent form doesn’t stand out, but isn’t a red flag either.
  • Steve Stricker – He’s 12/13, with his win in 2012 serving as his only top 10 in this event. Tied for 13th at THE PLAYERS a few weeks back, so his form checks out.
  • Bubba Watson – While this has never been a sweet spot for Bubba, he does has two top 25s to just two missed cuts in eight trips.

Don’t forget us!

The new kids on the block:
  • Carlos Ortiz – If you haven’t been paying attention, this guy has been lighting up the Web.com Tour. He has two wins and has come close to a battlefield promotion with a third victory on two other occasions. Season-long gamers will want to pay close attention to this for next season.
  • Justin Thomas – I had the opportunity to watch him in person for 36 holes at the BMW Charity-Pro Am, as he played with a friend of mine, and I was very impressed with the 21-year-old’s game (he turned 21 the week before the BMW). He can run a little hot, especially after a mistake, but is an impressive iron player and is very good with the wedges. Keep an eye on how he handles / bounces back from the bad holes. He will earn a PGA TOUR card for 2014-15 via the Web.com Tour.
  • Russell Knox – We touted him last week as a solid option and he didn’t disappoint, scoring a T21 at Colonial. While this is his first trip to Colonial, his form and stat sheet checks out favorably.
  • Ben Martin – Made his last four cuts, including a T21 last week. After a bumpy start to the season, he’s settled into a very consistent groove. With his 2014-15 status secure, he can relax and get after it.

Our trends converge too:
  • Charles Howell III - He’s 7/11 with B2B top 25s here and tied for third in his last PGA TOUR start (Byron Nelson).
  • Chris Stroud – After missing two cuts, he tied for 53rd here last year. Broke a dry spell on TOUR with a solid T14 at Colonial last week and is a solid scrambler/scorer.
  • Freddie Jacobson – 3/5 with a T5 in 2007 and tied for third last week at Colonial.
  • Michael Thompson – Followed a missed cut in his first trip to Muirfield Village with a T8 last year. T11-MC-T10 in last three TOUR starts.
  • David Hearn – Top 25s in each of his two Memorials with a T6-T21 run in his last two TOUR starts plays well.
  • Kevin Chappell – Last year’s runner-up enters off a T11-T26-T10 run on TOUR.
  • Brian Davis – Top 25s in last three Memorial starts including a T8 LY and top 15s in two of last three PGA TOUR starts (T14 LW).
  • K.J. Choi – At 13/14 (including a win) and top 25s here in each of his last three trips, he would have been gobbled up in our Course History section were it not for a T13 at THE PLAYERS rendering him in play here.
  • Bo Van Pelt – Welcome back Bo! T25-MC-T26-T14 in his last four PGA TOUR starts and four consecutive top 25s at Memorial.

Course History Crowd:
  • Will MacKenzie – Hasn't played here since 2009, but has a T11 and a T10 in his two trips. Recent form is a concern.
  • Matt Every – Tied for sixth here in 2012, but another guy struggling of late.
  • Hunter Mahan – T13-T19-T16 in his last three Memorials but can’t crack a top 50 lately.
  • J.B. Holmes – 4/7 with two top 10s and a T13 LY, but missed the cut at THE PLAYERS following Quail Hollow win.

Class is permanent:
  • Keegan Bradley – Two missed cuts preceded last year’s T50 in this event and last three TOUR starts have yielded an unpredictable T8-MC-T29.
  • Phil Mickelson – Was terrible here last year and has been wildly unpredictable this season. He’s Phil.
  • Jason Dufner – Last week’s playoff loser is 0/2 at Muirfield Village and didn’t show well on my stat sheet for this week. Still, class is permanent!
We will return with a look at some games tomorrow. Until then, best of luck to all!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Memorial Tournament - Preview

With what proved to be one of our worst efforts of the year at Colonial behind us, it's time to focus our efforts squarely on Muirfield Village Golf Club for the Memorial Tournament presented by by Nationwide Insurance (Memorial).

Muirfield Village is the familiar host to this event, and has been for every edition of this tournament (1976). The expectation is that it will play as a 7,352-yard par 72, featuring the regular amount of par 3s/4s/5s. When looking at the stat sheet from the last few tournaments, there isn't just one way to be successful at Muirfiled Village. What's clear is that driving accuracy has very little to do with success, so strike that. Regular favorites like GIR and SGP should be a factor. Scoring metrics have importance this week, as does bogey avoidance and scrambling. Maybe throw in bunker play, as Muirfield Village is notorious for having some of the most difficult bunkers on the PGA TOUR.

It's to be expected in an invitational, but the class of the field often performs very well here. Here is a list of winners and runners-up since 2005.

  • 2005 - Bart Bryant (272 / 16-under) over Fred Couples (273)
  • 2006 - Carl Pettersson (276) over Zach Johnson and Brett Wetterich (278)
  • 2007 - K.J. Choi (271) over Ryan Moore (272)
  • 2008 - Kenny Perry (280) over Mathew Goggin, Jerry Kelly, Justin Rose and Mike Weir (282)
  • 2009 - Tiger Woods (276) over Jim Furyk (277)
  • 2010 - Justin Rose (270) over Rickie Fowler (273)
  • 2011 - Steve Stricker (272) over Brandt Jobe and Matt Kuchar (273)
  • 2012 - Tiger Woods (279) over Andres Romero and Rory Sabbatini (281)
  • 2013 - Matt Kuchar (276) over Kevin Chappell (278)
A fun fact, there hasn't been a playoff in this event since 1992 when David Edwards beat Rick Fehr. 

It should also be pointed out that this course hosted the Presidents Cup last year. 

We will put together our usual formula of course history, current form and relevant stats and spit out some version of a power ranking tomorrow.

On that note, it seems the general consensus is that everyone liked the new form last week, but some wanted a ranking. I will keep the format as it was last Monday, but add a top-12 ranking in name only as I have in the past. 

Happy research!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial - Fantasy

Putting a bow on our coverage for the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial, we will be going big in the first round of the Yahoo! game.

It just so happens that the AM wave of Thursday tee times include the three premiere players this week. Thus, Matt Kuchar, Zach Johnson, Jim Furyk and Russell Knox will bat leadoff in the Yahoo! game. The bench includes Daniel Summerhays, Chris Kirk, Jordan Spieth and Paul Casey.

We will update the remainder of our lineup changes this week on Twitter (@RyanGolfBlogger).

One additional note, check out Rotoworld.com (probably on Friday) for an article I've penned regarding Yahoo! strategy for my recent hot run in that format. I enter this week inside the top 20 in both the Spring Segment and the Overall game.

Best of luck to all!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial - One-and-Done

The Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial one-and-done begs one big question this week. Do you have Zach Johnson available? If you do, it's time to burn him. He has won two of the last four years at Colonial and finished inside the top four in the other two.

I don't have ZJ. I burned him at THE PLAYERS in the biggest pot of the year in hopes of cashing in big by going a little against the grain.

Having used Furyk in his runner-up at Quail Hollow, I narrowed my focus to Matt Kuchar and Jordan Spieth. When I consider Kuchar's current form / trend and that he was the 54-hole leader and eventual runner-up at Colonial last year, that was all I needed to see. Kuchar is my one-and-done.

From a strategic standpoint, it also works out very well. With probably half of my competition using ZJ this week, I need to put a worthy adversary up against him. I can't think of a better rival than Kuchar.

Several other items of business:

  • Check out Rotoworld.com for my Yahoo! and Golf Channel lineups, and I will return tomorrow to solidify Yahoo! starters for round one.
  • Thanks to all of you for the feedback via comment, tweet, and email as to power ranking format preferences. It seems like the format yesterday was a big hit, so we'll try and keep it up. There were also a few comments that asked for a ranking, and I will probably evolve to end that post with a top 10, 12 or 15 names to add some closer to the players listed above. 
We'll be back tomorrow. Until then, best of luck to all!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial - Power Ranking

For the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial Power Ranking we are going to switch up the format a little bit. As long-time readers of this blog know, I’ll occasionally switch up the format if I determine a more relevant way of doing things. Maybe I’ll stick with it, maybe not. Feel free to offer your feedback.

The biggest reason for the change up is that most weeks there are more golfers that need to be covered (due to many different formats) than just a top 12 / next 5. Also, a Power Ranking isn't exactly one size fits all because some people want to go with course history whereas others want to know who’s hot, etc.

So here we go.

The Chalk Says (Great Play in any format):
  • Matt Kuchar – Everything points towards a big week for Kooch. He was the runner-up here to Boo Weekley last year and is rebounding nicely from his win at the RBC Heritage (also a great course to use as a comp this week). He backed up a T17 at THE PLAYERS with a T7 at the Heritage.
  • Zach Johnson – ZJ comes in a little chillier than in some years past, but considering he hasn’t finished worse than fourth here in his last four stops (with two wins), he’s a must for your lineup. He ranked inside the top 35 on TOUR in each of the five key metrics I studied this week (Driving Accuracy, GIR, SGP, Proximity and Par 4 Scoring Average).
  • Jim Furyk – Enters off back-to-back runner-up finishes and is a two-time runner-up at Colonial. Tenth in driving accuracy and seventh in proximity plays very well on this tight layout.

A step below Chalk (Strong blend of form / history / stats):
  • Jordan Spieth – He’s struggled at the HP Byron Nelson the last few years, so his T37 last week isn't a pause for concern. Before that he had top fives at the Masters and THE PLAYERS with a very relevant T12 at the Heritage mixed in. He finished T7 at Colonial this year.
  • Paul Casey – The Brit has cracked the top 20 in his last three PGA TOUR starts and has a fifth and a T13 to show for his two previous trips to Colonial. Seems like a good blend for another top 20.
  • John Senden – Been on a big run of late, making his last nine cuts on TOUR, including a T11 last week.  He’s 8/11 in this event with two top 10s and four top 25s.
  • Bill Haas – He’s 4/5 here with a pair of top-15 finishes and is making plenty of cuts in 2013-14. Seems a little off this year, but nothing alarming.
  • Chris Kirk – If he doesn't make the cut it will be news. He’s made each of his four cuts in this event including a T5 in 2012 and has made all 16 of his cuts on TOUR this year. The pro: he was runner-up at a tight Sony Open. The con: that was his last top 10.
  • John Huh – A lot to like here. After his T3 at the Heritage, he’s gone T72 and T16 in his last two starts. He tied for 5th here in 2012 before slipping to T11 last year. It makes sense that he would be successful here given his strength of accuracy.
  • Rory Sabbatini – A past winner here (10/14 including two other top 10s), he has two top 10s in his last four starts entering this week.
  • Louis Oozthuizen – A number of top 25s when you combine course history with current form
  • Graham DeLaet - Contended with a T7 last week and tied for 22nd at Colonial last year. 

History Majors (those with excellent course history who are relevant):
  • Charley Hoffman – He’s made each of his five cuts here, with top 20s in his last two trips.
  • Ryan Palmer – 8/10 with a T5 and a T14 in his last two starts.
  • Kevin Na – 7/7 with 5 top 25s and 2 top 10s
  • David Toms – 12/15 with a win, a 2nd and a 3rd, but missed his last two cuts here.
  • Bo Van Pelt – Never missed a cut in 10 tries and his form is showing signs of improvement of late.
  • Tim Clark – Tied for seventh last year and is twice a runner-up here, but form is a big ????

I’m on fire (Current Form far outweighs course history and statistical fit)!:
  • Marc Leishman – Tied for third last week, but offers weak course history at Colonial.
  • James Hahn – Tied fifth last week, but missed the cut here in his only start last year.

Breakthrough candidates (potential to nab first TOUR victory):
  • Russell Knox – Though he’s never played here, he is a statistical heavyweight ranked first in Proximity and 16th in driving accuracy. Recent form is solid.
  • Daniel Summerhays – Bounced back from missed cuts in his first two stops here to share 35th last year. Two of his last three TOUR starts have gone for top 25s.
  • Ben Martin – While he’s never played here, a T3 at the Heritage bodes well for this layout suiting his eye.
  • David Hearn – A T6 last week mixed with a T13 in this event back in 2012 allow him a punchers chance.
  • Kevin Kisner – T6 and T16 in last two TOUR starts.
  • Brian Stuard – T5 at the RBC Heritage immediately grabs attention and he tied for 22nd here last year.

The Winner’s Circle (Last week's winner and the defending champ):
  • Brendon Todd – Came in at third on my “spreadsheet” this week but offers the possibility of a hangover after a win last week.
  • Boo Weekley – Tried to defend his title this week after a T5 last week at the HPBNC. Could he really go back-to-back again like he did at Harbour Town?

Who have we missed?:
  • Jimmy Walker – Decent form meets poor course history for the top guy in the FEC points. Probably too tight of a course for him to contend (200th in driving accuracy).
  • Dustin Johnson – This course requires finesse and that isn't exactly DJ’s game.
  • Adam Scott – Never cracked the top 60 here in two tries. This feels like a typical Phil Mickelson tune up for an event down the road. A few live-action reps to prepare for the future.
  • Matt Every – Tied for fourth here last year but isn’t breaking 75 of late. Shouldn’t write him off, but just be careful and hedge appropriately.
  • Geoff Ogilvy – Hard to put too much stock in him, but he did finished inside the top 20 here in three of his last four starts and has some encouraging starts of late.


We will be back tomorrow to look at the one-and-done. Until then, best of luck to all!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial - Preview

The Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial returns to Colonial Country Club with Boo Weekley as the defending champion. By reputation, Colonial is a course that demands positioning off the tee and sports tree-lined fairways that identify solid ball-strikers.

Colonial should play to a par of 70, stretching out to a mere 7,204 yards. Thus, length isn't a big deal. While not applicable across all scopes, the leaderboards and past champions here bear a remarkable resemblance to the RBC Heritage at Harbour Town. That course is very tight off the tee and requires accuracy.

Here's a look at the past winners and runners-up since 2005:

  • 2005 - Kenny Perry (19-under 261) over Billy Mayfair (268)
  • 2006 - Tim Herron (268) over Richard S. Johnson in a playoff
  • 2007 - Rory Sabbatini (266) over Jim Furyk and Bernhard Langer in a playoff
  • 2008 - Phil Mickelson (266) over Rod Pampling and Tim Clark (267)
  • 2009 - Steve Stricker (263) over Tim Clark and Steve Marino in a playoff
  • 2010 - Zach Johnson (259) over Brian Davis (262) 
  • 2011 - David Toms (265) over Charlie Wi (266)
  • 2012 - Zach Johnson (268) over Jason Dufner (269)
  • 2013 - Boo Weekley (266) over Matt Kuchar (267)
When considering the statistical strengths of that group of players, driving accuracy, GIR (possibly proximity), SGP and Par 4 scoring all seem relevant. 

I don't have to even begin my research to tell you that Matt Kuchar and Zach Johnson will be inside the top five on my list, and likely will bat first and second. Throw Jim Furyk on that short list as well. These are three guys with solid records at Colonial and entering with great form. 

We will return tomorrow night to figure out the nine names that will join them in the Power Ranking and identify other names to consider. Until then, happy research!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

HP Byron Nelson Championship - Fantasy

With the HP Byron Nelson Championship just hours away from teeing off, it's time to put the finishing touches on the Yahoo! game.

One thing worth mentioning here, I actually didn't save the final changes on my first-round lineup for last week's game. It essentially cost me 14 points, because I accidentally had J.B. Holmes in over Sergio Garcia and there was one other less costly mistake. I quickly made fun of myself on Twitter (@RyanGolfBlogger) very early in the first round as soon as I figured out what I had (or hadn't) done, but that hasn't been addressed in this space.

My current ranking is 12th in the Spring Segment (1006 points) and 18th Overall (3040).

A-List - Starting Gary Woodland with Matt Kuchar on the bench. Kuchar is an insurance policy. The hope is that I can either avoid using him all together or that he wins for big bonus points. My worst-case scenario would be Woodland missing the cut and Kuchar making it and not contending, thus forcing me to burn a Kuchar start with no hope of bonus points.

B-List - Starting Jason Dufner and Jordan Spieth, with Dustin Johnson and Keegan Bradley on the bench. Went AM tee times for the purpose of calmer wind.

C-List - Harris English starting with Jimmy Walker on the bench. Again, AM tee times.

I will continue to update my rankings throughout the tournament on Twitter.

Best of luck to all!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

HP Byron Nelson Championship - One and Done

When considering the one-and-done options for the HP Byron Nelson Championship, I find myself torn in several directions. For some perspective, I currently rank fourth in a league of over 40 players and am safely inside the money (for now).

Typically, that's a recipe for staying chalky and collecting as many top 10s as possible, while others hopefully reach and make mistakes. I have Matt Kuchar and Keegan Bradley available, and both are tempting for that reason.

I also really like Martin Kaymer this week, and would absolutely have gone with him if he had tied for 7th last week instead of won.

There's a big part of me that wants to roll the dice with a Paul Casey, Justin Hicks (yeah, really) or Brooks Koepka. But....that's usually a move reserved for someone needing to make a move; not maintain.

So what do I do?

I'm taking Kaymer. Some may remember, he backed up his only other PGA TOUR win (specifically, the 2010 PGA Championship) with back-to-back wins on the European Tour. Granted, none of those wins were in back-to-back calendar weeks. The other reason is that the HP Byron Nelson was his best finish in a 2013 PGA TOUR event.

Best of luck this week!

We will return tomorrow with a look at the Yahoo! format.

Monday, May 12, 2014

HP Byron Nelson Championship - Power Ranking

As the players make their way to Irving, Texas for the HP Byron Nelson Championship, let's focus our attention on this week's power rankings. Feel free to refer to yesterday's preview for additional info on TPC Four Seasons.

When putting together the research, I was very impressed with the list of potential dark-horse candidates. While there is some strength at the top, the gap between the top five players and the guys in the 15-20 range isn't as big as some week.

Here we go:

  1. Matt Kuchar - Came back from the two-week layoff following his Heritage win to post a solid T17 at THE PLAYERS. He's got two top 15s in his last three starts in this event, highlighted by a T6 in 2011, and he is the class of this field. The fantasy research in all formats should start with Kooch.
  2. Keegan Bradley - After his breakthrough win in 2011, he posted a T24 in 2012 then rebounded for a runner-up last year. Form hasn't been quite as good this season as it has been the last few years, but still good enough to put him near the top of the heap in a field that lacks depth.
  3. Jimmy Walker - Considering he's yet to find a top 20 here, it would be reasonable to fade him a bit further. That said, he's playing at a consistently higher level than at any other point in his life this year, so there's ample reason to expect a career-best finish at this venue. Had a T8 at the Masters and a T6 at THE PLAYERS. Leads the PGA TOUR in strokes gained and is fourth in par 4 scoring average.
  4. Martin Kaymer - Forgetting that he won THE PLAYERS last week, he finished T5 here last year and was on the short list before last week's triumph. Doubtful that he goes back-to-back, but he trended nicely into last week with a T23-T18 run, so a top 10 is certainly possible.
  5. Jordan Spieth - Lots of converging factors make this a confusing call. I'm inclined to lay off in many formats just to see how he bounces back from THE PLAYERS, and I don't love the added pressure of a home game. Still, his T12 at Hilton Head after the Masters letdown is a nice indicator of what could happen. Trend on this course is surprisingly poor, going T16, T32, T68. 
  6. Paul Casey - While he's never played this event, he seems to have found something much like Martin Kaymer has in the last few weeks. Last two starts are a T18 at the Heritage and a T11 in New Orleans. Those courses are not all that similar, and that is a testament to his form. Of note, he had never even played a practice round in NOLA before his Thursday tee time. On my short list for a OAD.
  7. Charl Schwartzel - Finished third here last year in his only attempt, but current form leaves something to be desired. A top 10 this week would put him in the course horse category going forward, but it's just as possible that he fades. Just not enough to go on. 
  8. Justin Hicks - I'm in love with him this week from a value point of view. He's finished T17 at THE PLAYERS last week, moving his made cut streak to eight. Has a T14 and a T21 in his two trips to this week's event, meaning form is meeting history. Add to that, ranks fourth in GIR, 10th in ball-striking, 44th in SGP and 46th in par 4 scoring average. 
  9. Harris English - While he's struggled in premiere events, missing the cut at the Masters and THE PLAYERS, he's still doing well in second-tier stops. His T17 here last year sets the expectation of a top 25, option top 10, this time around.
  10. Ryan Moore - Last two weeks have produced a T18 and a T26 in that order, and he surrounded a runner-up finish at TPC Four Seasons with a pair of missed cuts. Given his form and the way his year has gone, it's likely he has a nice tournament.
  11. Jason Dufner - Hard to believe, but Dufner's only two PGA TOUR starts since the Valspar Championship were a missed cut at the Masters and a T48 at THE PLAYERS. He won here in 2012 after a T8 in 2011, then slipped to a T33 in his title defense. A top 25 feels likely but it would be nice if he increased his action in the U.S.
  12. Brooks Koepka - Following the Jordan Spieth road to success on the PGA TOUR very nicely, making his first stop at TPC Four Seasons. Did enough to earn STM, so get used to seeing him for a while. 
Next 5 (alphabetical): Erik Compton, Graham DeLaet, Dustin Johnson, Brendon Todd and Gary Woodland

Other names that just missed: Ryan Palmer, Andrew Svoboda, Charles Howell III, John Senden, Martin Flores, Ryo Ishikawa, J.J. Henry, Robert Garrigus and Freddie Jacobson

We will return with more tomorrow night. Until then, best of luck to all!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

HP Byron Nelson Championship - Preview

With THE PLAYERS dramatically in our past, it's time to turn our attention to the HP Byron Nelson Championship for a preview of what's to come at TPC Four Seasons Resort.

TPC Four Seasons Resort is a par-70 layout of 7,166 yards and has served as the lone host of the Nelson since 2008. It was part of a two-course rotation dating back to 1995, but there should be enough relevant history to where there's no real reason to dig any deeper than 2008 when researching course history. As expected on a par-70, there are just two par 5s.

Here's a look at the winners and runners-up dating back to 2008:

  • 2008 - Adam Scott (273) over Ryan Moore (273) in a playoff
  • 2009 - Rory Sabbatini (261) over Brian Davis (263)
  • 2010 - Jason Day (270) over Blake Adams, Brian Gay and Jeff Overton (272)
  • 2011 - Keegan Bradley (277) over Ryan Palmer (277) in a playoff
  • 2012 - Jason Dufner (269) over Dicky Pride (270)
  • 2013 - Sang-moon Bae (267) over Keegan Bradley (269)

Among the things that stand out the loudest is the quality of winners and runners-up relative to the field. Due to the spot on the schedule and the fact that Byron Nelson is no longer living, the majority of the players take this week off. For the elite (or soon-to-be elite) that show up, they are rewarded with a real opportunity for a win. Jason Day and Keegan Bradley each picked up their first win here, and Jason Dufner grabbed his second. Adam Scott's pedigree speaks for itself. In my mind, a trait of a solid course is that it identifies great champions, which TPC Four Seasons Resort tends to do. 

There's certainly an element of overall ball-striking in play at this course, with a tilt towards accuracy over power. As is the case most weeks, SGP is an important stat. With 12 (as opposed to 10 or 11) par 4s on the course, par 4 scoring average takes on an even more important role. 

It's also worth noting that wind can play a factor in the Dallas area, and TPC Four Seasons is not exempt from that. 

We will spend some time researching all of this and return tomorrow with our weekly power ranking.

Until then, happy research!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

THE PLAYERS Championship - Fantasy

With just hours to go until THE PLAYERS Championship tees off, it's time to tie up any loose ends. Namely, our Yahoo! lineup.

Thursday's weather looks great throughout the day, but what wind there is will pick up in the afternoon. For that reason, I'd recommend favoring AM tee times when able.

A-:List - Starting Adam Scott (PM), with Matt Kuchar (PM) on the bench
B-List - Starting Zach Johnson (AM) and Rory McIlroy (AM), with Jordan Spieth (AM) and Jim Furyk (PM ) on the bench.
C-List - Starting Sergio Garcia (AM), with J.B. Holmes (AM) on the bench.

Current Yahoo! standings - Season points - 2861 and Season Ranking - 19th, Spring Segment points - 827 and Spring Segment Ranking - 13th. The bad news is, there's really only one direction to go from here, and it ain't up.

Best of luck to all!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

THE PLAYERS Championship- One-and-done

It's fantasy time for THE PLAYERS Championship, and we've been on a roll of late. Here's hoping we can keep the streak going in an event with the biggest purse of the year.

Check out Glass' weekly article at Rotoworld for the Golf Channel and Yahoo! picks of myself and all of the Rotoworld staffers. My Spring Segment Yahoo! totals have me in 13th place and the season total is 19th, so there's nowhere to go but down I suppose.

As for the one-and-done, there are certain weeks where you get someone stuck in your head for a long time and you just can't talk yourself out of it. That was the case with Bubba at the Masters and it worked out beautifully. There are plenty of weeks where it doesn't work out. That said, I would have been irate with myself if I didn't take Bubba at the Masters when he won.

Same goes for this week.

While it's prudent to hold off on Zach Johnson until Colonial in a few weeks, I'm in love with him at TPC Sawgrass this week. His T14 at Quail Hollow last week sealed the deal, but his stats fit well and his course history is very good. Considering this is the biggest purse of the year, I can't talk myself out of him.

My other viable options included Matt Kuchar, Henrik Stenson and J.B. Holmes (no, I'm not kidding and yes, I know he won last week). I've burned many of the other favorites like Luke Donald, Sergio Garcia, Adam Scott, etc.

So, here's hoping Zach attack lights it up at Sawgrass while everyone else is waiting him out for Colonial in a couple of weeks!

We will return with Yahoo! starters tomorrow. Until then, best of luck to all!

Monday, May 5, 2014

THE PLAYERS Championship - Power Rankings

THE PLAYERS Championship is here, and with that comes our weekly power rankings. Last week's winner, J.B. Holmes, cracked the Wells Fargo Championship rankings in the eighth spot and paid large dividends for us in both the Yahoo! and Golf Channel formats. Here's hoping we identify another winner on our short list this week.

Diving right in...

  1. Zach Johnson - Snapped out of a slight slump with a T14 last week at Quail Hollow on a course that doesn't necessarily fit his game. Turns his attention to TPC Sawgrass where he's made 8/9 cuts with six top 25s and a pair of top 10s. 
  2. Matt Kuchar - He returns to action after two weeks off following his RBC Heritage win and will enjoy a week on a course where he is a past winner (2012). The only problem is, that '12 win stands as his lone top 10 in nine starts. He's made six cuts with four top 25s.
  3. Adam Scott - The highest ranked player in the most elite field of the year, Scott is a past winner here to go with two other top 10s and a total of six top 25s. Though he's logged just six PGA TOUR starts this year, all have gone for top 25s. 
  4. Luke Donald - His accuracy off the tee and ability to avoid bogeys plays well here, as supported by his five top 20s and three top-six finishes. Recent form is strong, finishing solo second at the Heritage in his last start. Stat sheets lines up well for this venue as well. All systems are a go.
  5. Sergio Garcia - Before his missed cut at the Masters, he had six consecutive top-16 finishes on the PGA TOUR with a solo third at the Shell Houston Open immediately preceding it. He's made 12/14 cuts at TPC Sawgrass with a win, a runner-up and a T8 last year. His elite ball-striking comes in handy here.
  6. Jim Furyk - Said he found something in his alignment prior to his final round of the Wells Fargo Championship that resulted in a solo second. With eight top 25s here over the years to go with three top 10s, there's no reason he won't hang around the leaderboard again this week. 
  7. Henrik Stenson - A true course horse here, with three top 5s and a win, he's struggled a bit in 2013-14 after winning the FedExCup last season. He could actually benefit from the poor shape of the greens at TPC Sawgrass, since they could prove to be an equalizer.
  8. Rory McIlroy - Finally got of the ground with a T8 here last year (missed all of his previous cuts) and enters off a top 10 at the Wells Fargo Championship. 
  9. Jordan Spieth - No history here, but that hasn't stopped him from big things in the past...like a T2 in the Masters just before his T12 at the Heritage. 
  10. Justin Rose - Course history here isn't impressive at all, but his recent play (T14 Masters, T8 Zurich, 5th at Wells Fargo) makes him impossible to ignore. Another guy that could benefit from iffy greens.
  11. J.B. Holmes - His win last week at Quail Hollow came after a string of top-20 finishes, and could suggest that it's time for hangover. That said, his play at Quail Hollow has always served as an excellent litmus for TPC Sawgrass, so a top 10 isn't out of the question by any stretch.
  12. Chris Stroud - In a season of first-time winners, Stroud is one of those knocking the loudest that has yet to break through. History suggests this could be a potential spot for a win, cracking the top 12 at TPC Sawgrass in two of his four starts. At third in bogey avoidance and ranking inside the top 15 in par 3 and par 5 scoring average, the stars could align. 
Next 5: Graham DeLaet, Harris English, Daniel Summerhays, Bubba Watson and Lee Westwood

Others I like: Webb Simpson, Keegan Bradley, Charley Hoffman, Russell Knox, Matt Every, Jimmy Walker, Kevin Na, Matt Jones, Kevin Stadler, Ryan Palmer, Hunter Mahan, Phil Mickelson, David Hearn, Martin Flores, Martin Laird and Jason Dufner. Hey....it's a strong field.

We will return tomorrow with a look at some fantasy games.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

THE PLAYERS Championship - Preview

The PGA TOUR now heads to the familiar setting of TPC Sawgrass for THE PLAYERS Championship, and we'll kick of the week with our regular preview.

The biggest thing about TPC Sawgrass, which should play to a 7,215-yard par 72, is that a player can't fake his way around that course tee to green. As with numerous Pete Dye courses, it can also be a very visually intimidating course. That lends itself to "target golf" in some spots, as fairways can run at some odd angles from tee boxes. Of note, water is in play at various stages of the round, culminating with the par-3 17th hole, featuring an island green.

It's worth noting that the early reports out of Sawgrass are that the greens are in rough shape after a harsh winter. The only picture I've seen is of the par-4 12th, and it looked pretty bad.

Before we delve into the winners and runners-up since 2005, I want to also point out the top 10 in all-time money at this event. They are Tiger Woods, Sergio Garcia, Henrik Stenson, Phil Mickelson, Stephen Ames, Davis Love III, Adam Scott, Matt Kuchar, Fred Funk and Tom Lehman. Of those, only Stenson and Kuchar have played the event less than 12 times; Stenson with eight and Kuchar with nine.

Now to the champs:

  • 2005 - Fred Funk (279) over Luke Donald, Tom Lehman and Scott Verplank (280)
  • 2006 - Stephen Ames (274) over Retief Goosen (280)
  • 2007 - Phil Mickelson (277) over Sergio Garcia (279)
  • 2008 - Sergio Garcia (283) over Paul Goydos (283)
  • 2009 - Henrik Stenson (276) over Ian Poulter (280)
  • 2010 - Tim Clark (272) over Robert Allenby (273)
  • 2011 - K.J. Choi (275) over David Toms (275 Playoff)
  • 2012 - Matt Kuchar (275) over Ben Curtis, Rickie Fowler, Zach Johnson and Martin Laird (277)
  • 2013 - Tiger Woods (275) over David Lingmerth, Jeff Maggert and Kevin Streelman (277)
While this list makes up a lot of different types of players, what is noticeable absent is the bomb-and-gauge players. Stats I will rely on in handicapping this ordeal are Ball-Striking, Strokes Gained-Putting, Par 3 Scoring Average, Par 5 Scoring Average and Bogey Avoidance; as well as the normal dose of course history and current form.

We will return tomorrow with the power rankings. Until then, happy research!