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

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

WGC-Bridgestone Invitational - Fantasy

Action is about to ramp up at Firestone Country Club for the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and it's time to set the Yahoo! lineup.

Weather looks steady across the board in the first round, so my advice would be to save any starts on the bench that you would like in round one, but if all things are equal play the AM wave.

I'm starting Adam Scott (PM) over Rickie Fowler (PM) in the A-List, Rory McIlroy (AM) and Keegan Bradley (AM) starting over Jim Furyk (PM) and Steve Stricker (PM) in the B-List, and Sergio Garcia (AM) starting over Harris English (AM) in the C-List.

I pulled ahead 2-1 in the O v. Glass (Rotoworld colleague Mike Glasscott) Challenge with a win in the RBC Canadian Open last week. This week Glass has Scott, Henrik Stenson, McIlroy, Bradley, Furyk, Justin Rose, Garcia and Graeme McDowell.

That means we have five matches and the battle is between Rickie Fowler, Steve Stricker and Harris English on Team O vs. Henrik Stenson, Justin Rose and G-Mac for Team Glass. Let the games begin!

I will update the O v. Glass and my Yahoo! starters for the last three round via Twitter.

Best of luck to all!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

WGC-Bridgestone Championship - One-and-Done

Before I dive into the WGC-Bridgestone and Barracuda Championship one-and-done picks, I need to first address the topic of research for the Barracuda Championship. While it was my intention to post a Preview and Power Ranking for the Barracuda Championship, it just didn't happen due to my schedule. I encourage all of you to check out Rob Bolton's work on PGATOUR.com and Mike Glasscott's on Rotoworld.com. I know for a fact that both Rob and Glass have put in way more time than I have in regards to that tournament and I'm leaning on their research for my one-and-done this week.

On to the business at hand.

As can be the case this time of year, some of my better options for the WGC-Bridgestone have already been burned. In fact, a quick count revealed that my top 10 are all off the table. Eleventh in the Power Ranking is Angel Cabrera and 12th is Tiger Woods. Both are available.

Cabrera's form and the fact that he has three top-four finishes at Firestone CC are enough for me to pull the trigger.

For the Barracuda Championship, which uses the Modified Stableford scoring system BTW, I'm a big fan of finding a guy who is hot and can roll off some birdies and hopefully an eagle or two. Michael Putnam checks that box for me. He's making tons of cuts and enters off a career-best T4 last week in Canada. Done.

We will return tomorrow with the Yahoo! starters and any final notes.

Best of luck to all!

Monday, July 28, 2014

WGC-Bridgestone Invitational - Power Ranking

As the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational is creeping closer by the minute and it's time to explore this week's Power Ranking.

Feel free to refer back to the Preview published yesterday evening for additional notes on Firestone and the history of the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, as well as the statistical categories that should come into play this week.

Perhaps it's a case of writer's block, but I have little else to add. Here we go!

  1. Jim Furyk - There are several guys who could occupy this spot, but I've chosen to take the route of the most consistent player at this given time who also possesses excellent course history at Firestone. He lost out on winning the RBC Canadian Open by a stroke last week and has nine top 10s in 14 starts at this event, including two runners-up and a third-place finish.
  2. Rory McIlroy - If Rory is on with his driver, he has a chance to bring Firestone to its knees much like Tiger has numerous times. What else is there to add?
  3. Keegan Bradley - Limited, but excellent, history here with a win, a T2 and a T15 in his three starts here. Enters off a solid T19 at The Open Championship. At 12th in Total Driving and 24th in Par 4 Scoring Average, it's easy to see why this course is a fit.
  4. Adam Scott - Try this on for size. He's second in Total Driving, third in Par 4 Scoring Average, 13th in GIR and 14th in SGP. Perhaps the only real surprise is that he only has two other top 10s to go with his win in 11 starts. Went T4-T9-T5 in his last three starts. 
  5. Henrik Stenson - A bit of a drop off after the top four, the Swede gets the nod off a T2 here last year and an excellent reputation for ball-striking. Ranks fifth in Total Driving.
  6. Rickie Fowler - Last two starts are T2s and both came in majors. Also happens to own a T2 at Firestone, but no other top 20s in four starts. Throw stats out the window, as he is playing out of his mind right now. It would stand to reason that he could take the next step in his career with a WGC win.
  7. Matt Kuchar - Much like Bo Van Pelt two years ago, there is never an argument to be made about ranking Kuchar seventh anytime or anywhere. He tied for fourth in Canada last week and owns a couple of top 10s at Firestone.
  8. Justin Rose - Has three top fives in this event and is playing world-class golf of late. His win at Congressional should serve as an excellent preview as to what he could do.
  9. Sergio Garcia - From a statistical standpoint, one would think that Firestone is an excellent fit for the Spaniard but it hasn't been. Back-to-back T2s in his last two PGA TOUR starts is enticing, but take notice that he hasn't had a top 20 here since 2005. Perhaps he struggles with an Open Championship hangover?
  10. Steve Stricker - Last five finishes at Firestone went T6-T9-14-T2-13. Tied for 11th at the John Deere Classic in his last start.
  11. Angel Cabrera - The duck is pretty hot right now, on a T11-T24-Win-T19 roll. He's also finished inside the top four three times in 10 starts at Firestone. That's a really good combination. When he's driving the ball with confidence, he's as deadly as anyone not named McIlroy.
  12. Tiger Woods - This IS NOT a bone that I'm throwing. This is absolutely his best chance to make a Ryder Cup statement to Tom Watson and it is essential that he plays well this week if he has any hopes of making the FedExCup Playoffs. Oh, and he's won here EIGHT times. He can play this course in his sleep.
Next 5 (alphabetical): Graham DeLaet, Bill Haas, Zach Johnson, Ryan Moore and Webb Simpson

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

Sunday, July 27, 2014

WGC-Bridgestone Invitational - Preview

The World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational is set to return to Firestone CC. As history would have it, this has been one of Tiger Woods' personal playgrounds over the years, and he won on the South Course for the eighth time since 1999 last year.

For course history buffs, Firestone CC (South) is a 7400 yard par-70 layout that features just two par 5s, and only one is reachable in two by anyone not named Dustin Johnson and Bubba Watson. The South Course has hosted this event without disruption since 2003, and here's how the winners and runners-up look.

  • 2003 - Winner: Darren Clarke (12-under 268) over Jonathan Kaye (272)
  • 2004 - Winner: Stewart Cink (269) over Rory Sabbatini and Tiger Woods (273)
  • 2005 - Winner: Tiger Woods (274) over Chris DiMarco (275)
  • 2006 - Winner: Tiger Woods (270) over Stewart Cink in a playoff
  • 2007 - Winner: Tiger Woods (272) over Justin Rose and Rory Sabbatini (280)
  • 2008 - Winner: Vijay Singh (270) over Stewart Appleby and Lee Westwood (271)
  • 2009 - Winner: Tiger Woods (268) over Robert Allenby and Padraig Harrington (272)
  • 2010 - Winner: Hunter Mahan (268) over Ryan Palmer (270)
  • 2011 - Winner: Adam Scott (263) over Luke Donald and Rickie Fowler (267)
  • 2012 - Winner: Keegan Bradley (267) over Jim Furyk and Steve Stricker (268)
  • 2013 - Winner: Tiger Woods (265) over Keegan Bradley and Henrik Stenson (272)
So what stands out?

Other than the Tiger Woods show, there are numerous ball-strikers populating this list. It's also interesting that so many players have been able to pull away for their wins. 

Breaking it down further, length is important but not paramount. Since one of the two par 5s is reachable by the entire field and the other isn't reachable, distance off the tee is somewhat marginalized. That said, Total Driving matters in that if a player isn't long, he better find fairways. If he is long, then he can miss a few more. If a player is long and accurate, then that's a real advantage. 

Perhaps more important than off-the-tee metrics is GIR. TW, Scottie, Bradley and Mahan can all light up the greens. The biggest reason for separation likely occurs when the guy that is peppering the greens gets hot with the flat stick, which we've seen. 

As always, current form and course history will play a major factor. Statistically, I plan on deep-diving Total Driving, GIR, SGP, Par 4 Scoring Average and perhaps one or two other categories. 

We will return tomorrow with the Power Ranking for the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. On a related item, we will offer a Preview and Power Ranking in a combined post for the Barracuda Championship (formerly Reno-Tahoe Open) later in the week. 

Until then, happy research!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

RBC Canadian Open - Fantasy

Getting back on track with our RBC Canadian Open coverage, we will lock in our One-and-Done pick and set the starters for the Yahoo! lineup.

Starting with the OAD, I’m a big believer in nabbing one of the elite options this week if you have one available. Brandt Snedeker (and Hunter Mahan) proved that to be a correct theory last season. Since the course rotates and we know very little about course fit for the players this year, I like the NFL Draft analogy of taking the “best available player” and hoping that it works out.

In doing so, I went straight down my power ranking to pick a OAD. I did not have Jim Furyk or Dustin Johnson available, but I was quite happy to see that I had holstered Graeme McDowell up until now. I am plugging him in with confidence and hoping for the best. If I didn't have GMAc laying around, I would have needed to go all the way down to Hunter Mahan in ninth or Jerry Kelly in 10th to find a pick, which would not have thrilled me.

As for the Yahoo!, my first-round starters are predicated a bit on remaining starts. Again, due to the weak field, I didn't feel like guys like Dustin Johnson and Matt Kuchar could afford to be left off the roster (bonus points). That said, I don’t want to burn my ninth DJ or seventh Kuchar start this week unless I really need to.

Weather looks fairly calm across the board on Thursday, so I’m ignoring tee times and playing the best available player while taking into account starts. That leaves me with Brandt Snedeker, Jerry Kelly, Jim Furyk and Graeme McDowell starting with Kuchar, DJ, Graham DeLaet and Charl Schwartzel on the bench. Really the only tough call was who to start between GMac and Schwartzel.

As always, I’ll update future lineup changes on Twitter.

The O v. Glass challenge took a bad turn in jolly old England, with Glass winning thanks to Rory McIlroy’s efforts. He evened the score 1-1.

My lineup of Snedeker, Kuchar, Furyk, Kelly, DJ, GDL, GMac and Schwartzel will take on his squad of Kuchar, Snedeker, DJ, Furyk, Kelly, David Hearn,  GMac and Schwartel. So essentially we have DeLaet and Hearn going head-to-head. I’ll update the status of that on Twitter as well.

Best of luck to all this week!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

RBC Canadian Open - Power Ranking

The RBC Canadian Open Power Ranking is not a one-size-fits-all affair. Given that Royal Montreal (Blue Course) hasn't hosted  PGA TOUR event since 2001 unless you count the 2007 Presidents Cup, course history is out the window.

I've taken the "safe" route with the Power Ranking this week, favoring class above all else with a tilt towards current form. Most of the elite players in the field are RBC brand ambassadors, meaning they essentially have to play. The other top-tier players on TOUR use this as a week off between The Open Championship and the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and PGA Championship. That creates a pretty large gap between the top of the field and the rest.

Here's how it all shakes out:

  1. Jim Furyk - While there have been plenty of can't-miss players at certain events that have missed this season, Furyk lines up as the ultimate "safe" option. Not only did Furyk get a taste of Royal Montreal in 2007, he's in spectacular form entering this week off his fourth-place finish at Hoylake and has three other top-five finishes on the season. With him in your lineup, you have a shot.
  2. Dustin Johnson - Contended all week at The Open Championship before eventually settling into a T12. The biggest question is probably how he comes down from the high of a major championship. As an example, he followed his T4 at the U.S. Open with a T31 at the Travelers. 
  3. Graeme McDowell - When you factor in his form on the European Tour of late, he's on fire. His T9 at The Open Championship last week was tasty, and he was also spared the pressure of any final-group tee times on the weekend. Leads the PGA TOUR in SGP.
  4. Matt Kuchar - While he certainly isn't as hot as he was back in the late Spring, he's among the class of this field and is similar to Furyk in that it's hard to see him striking out this week. It's hard to imagine that his last top 10 was a T7 at the HP Byron Nelson back in May.
  5. Charl Schwartzel - The South African is hard to figure out on a week-to-week basis, but he's in good enough form to crack the top five. He tied for seventh at Hoylake with a pair of 5-under-par 67s. 
  6. Brandt Snedeker - It's always a risk to invest in a defending champion, but that the event is at a different venue adds all sorts of complexities. Will he feel a little bit like he isn't defending since the venue is different? While Sneds hasn't had a great season, he was on a decent run until a disappointing T58 at The Open last week. It seems like his putter is coming around after a rocky run early in the season.
  7. Luke Donald - Tends to play well when "RBC" is in the title of an event, but he isn't in top form. That said, he followed up a missed cut at the Masters with a runner-up in the RBC Heritage confirming that his class demands this level of respect. It is a concern that he's 140th in Par 4 Scoring Average.
  8. Charley Hoffman - He might be a little too low, tying for third at Congressional before a little break and a T67 at Hoylake. Ranks inside the top 10 in GIR, Par Breakers and Par 4 Scoring Average. 
  9. Hunter Mahan - Famously withdrew just before the third round of last year's RBC Canadian to fly home for the birth of his first child. With the lead! His last top 10 on TOUR was a T9 at Doral, and he ranks a mere 68th in the FedExCup standings. Perhaps most alarming, he missed the cut at the Travelers Championship last month in an event he has traditionally owned. Still, he has the potential and the firepower to contend if he plays to his ability.
  10. Jerry Kelly - Coming in off a T3 at the John Deere Classic where he has traditionally been strong over the years. Ranks inside the top 60 in Driving Accuracy, GIR, SGP and Par Breakers, setting him up well for almost any course. 
  11. William McGirt - I get that his T2s in each of the last two RBC Canadian Opens came at different courses, but there's something to be said for this event ranking as a fit. It could be that the field is weaker, the time of year is right, or numerous other reasons. His last three PGA TOUR starts went T31-MC-T23, so his form is good enough to think the third time could be the charm.
  12. Graham DeLaet - This one scares me. Everyone else in the top 12 has their PGA TOUR status for 2014-15 in the bag, as does DeLaet, but none of them are competing in their national championship. That means all of the other top players will play with much less pressure on their shoulders. On paper, he is one of the better players in the field so we won't deny him his due. 
Next 5 (alphabetical): Scott Brown, Tim Clark, Ben Crane, David Hearn and Troy Merritt

Continuing to shake up the schedule this week, we will tackle the one-and-done and the Yahoo! starters on Wednesday. This is not meant to be a permanent schedule, as travel forced the change. 

Best of luck to all!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

RBC Canadian Open - Preview

The RBC Canadian Open returns to Royal Montreal (Blue) for the first time since Scott Verplank's 2001 victory. That in and of itself would suggest that course history can be thrown out the window. Add to that, the course was touched up by Rees Jones in 2004 and 2005. The only action we've seen at Royal Montreal since was the 2007 Presidents Cup.

So what do we know about the course? It's a 7,153 yard par-70 layout with a pair of par 5s and four par 3s. Simple math means there are 12 par 4s, thus heightening the importance of par 4 scoring average. While there are some photos on the course's website from each hole, there is not a flyover tour that I've seen. The greens are Bentgrass, and the rough is Kentucky bluegrass.

In terms of research, my approach is to keep it simple this week. I will focus on standard stats such as Greens In Regulation, Strokes Gained-Putting, Par Breakers and Par 4 Scoring average, but will put the most weight on current form.

An interesting dynamic in play this week, there are many players on TOUR currently on the bubble of the top 125 or well outside of the magic number for full status in 2014-15. Those players are now down to three starts, and in some cases two, to keep a card. That's added pressure on at least half the field this week.

A little change of schedule, this week's Power Ranking will publish on Tuesday evening rather than Monday due to a personal schedule conflict.

Until then, happy research!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Open Championship - Fantasy

The Open Championship is hours away from kicking off and it's time to solidify the Yahoo! starters. It's hard to get a reliable weather forecast, but all signs point to a rather calm opening round. Weather could get a little suspect on Friday morning, so it's possible that the early starters on Thursday will draw the best end of the stick.

While I don't think it's critical for Thursday, I'm going with players in the morning. Henrik Stenson, Angel Cabrera, Dustin Johnson and Sergio Garcia will kick things off, with Adam Scott, Justin Rose, Martin Kaymer and Graeme McDowell on the bench.

As for the O v. Glass challenge, we have six of the same players this week. The outliers are all in the B-List, with Glass having Zach Johnson and Rory McIlroy to my Dustin Johnson and Angel Cabrera. Rather than score the entire tournament, I'll update our challenge as it relates to these four players. We share Stenson, Garcia, Scott, Rose, Kaymer and G-Mac.

Best of luck this week, and I can't wait to get up early in the morning to watch some golf!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Open Championship - One-and-done

There are certain weeks where there is an agonizing debate about who to select as the one-and-done, but The Open Championship this week isn't one of them. Some of that is because we've reached the point in the season where options are few.

The real reason is because there are two elite options that are a perfect fit for Royal Liverpool (Hoylake) in the form of Adam Scott and Henrik Stenson. Since only one of them is available, Stenson is the pick.

I happen to be comfortably "in the money" in my OAD, making the selection that much more of a no-brainier. Which brings up a good point. If you are chasing, you may decide to go against the grain.

If you decide to play a riskier game at The Open, consider Angel Cabrera. Everybody knows he's a big-game player, and his form is as good as it has been since his P2 at the Masters in 2013. Rickie Fowler is also a nice idea.

We will return tomorrow to discuss Yahoo! starters. I encourage you to check out Rotoworld for my Yahoo! and Golf Channel lineup, as well as those of Glass, Ned and Rob.

Until then, best of luck to all!

Monday, July 14, 2014

The Open Championship - Power Ranking

As we continue our coverage leading up to the Open Championship, it's time to sort out some of the top contenders in this week's Power Ranking. Some of the names atop the list are the usual suspects, while other hot players have faded due to lack of experience or poor past history in links golf. As mentioned in yesterday's preview, event history probably matters as much or more here than it does in any other stop. Simply put, some players just can't handle the variables of links golf. 

Here we go:
  1. Adam Scott - This spot came down to two men, and the Aussie edged out Henrik Stenson. Scott has finished second and third in his last two Open Championships and finished eighth at this week's venue back in 2006. This marks his first start since a T9 at the U.S. Open. He's in complete control of both his game and his schedule. His ability to strike long irons off the tee and into the greens should prove to be a good thing.
  2. Henrik Stenson - The Swede is trendy, with a T7, 5th, T4 (U.S. Open), and T2 in his last four worldwide starts. He's also 7/9 with three top-three finishes in this championship. He finished 48th in the 2006 Open at Hoylake. Like Scott, I love his precision with the irons. 
  3. Justin Rose - While he's won his last two starts (Quicken Loans National and Scottish Open), be careful about going all in with him due to an average record in this event. His only top 10 came when he was an amateur back in 1998, so it's not a given that he will stand atop the leaderboard on Sunday. 
  4. Sergio Garcia - The Open Championship has arguably been Garcia's closest calls in the majors throughout the years, and the 2006 Open at Hoylake went for a fifth-place finish. He's made 13/17 cuts with six top 10s over the years, and tied for second at the Travelers Championship immediately after the U.S. Open. Can he post a high finish here? Absolutely. The problem with Sergio is that the answer is often between the ears. 
  5. Dustin Johnson - He loves links golf, which is half the battle. He's 4/5 with two top 10s including a runner-up in his relatively short Open career, and is entering what would be considered his prime in this event. His T4 at the U.S. Open shows he can focus when it counts.
  6. Martin Kaymer - Has a believable trend after winning the U.S. Open, missing the cut in his "hangover" start before sharing 12th in France. That's a sign that he's going through the proper emotions after the win and preparations leading up to another big one. He has a top 10 in this championship (7th in '10) and has only missed one of six cuts. It's hard to predict that a guy will go back-to-back in the majors, but there is a lot to like.
  7. Jim Furyk - He's 11/18 with four top-five finishes in the Open Championship including a fourth-place finish at Hoylake in 2006. He's been steady all of 2014, including a T12 at the U.S. Open in his last start. 
  8. Phil Mickelson - Anyone's guess, but his T11 at the Scottish Open is a great precursor to his trip to Hoylake as the defending champion. He cracked a top 25 at this venue in 2006 and has missed just four of 20 cuts in the Open. It's extremely likely that he'll be around for the weekend, but how far he goes is a fair question.
  9. Rickie Fowler - He's the answer to the trivia question as to who finished runner-up (T2) to Martin Kaymer at the 2014 U.S. Open, and he also tied for eighth in the Scottish Open last week. Add to that, he's 3/4 in the Open with a top five in 2011. While Fowler has been fairly inconsistent in 2014, he's proving to be a bit of a big-game player.
  10. Rory McIlroy - His only top 10 in the Open came at St. Andrews in 2010, which tends to be a bombers paradise. Seeing that Tiger Woods only hit driver once here when he won in 2006, McIlroy will have to rely on something other than bringing a course to its knees like he did at Congressional in 2010 and Kiawah Island in 2011. He tied for 14th in the Scottish Open and that feels like about where he will finish this week.
  11. Ian Poulter - Tough call, but have to give the nod to Poulter's tenacity in majors. He finished third last year. He pulled his game together for a respectable T17 at the U.S. Open, so he fills a nice value in this slot. That he missed the cut in Hoylake in 2006 complicates matters a bit. 
  12. Matt Kuchar - He's three out of four in this event with two top-15 finishes and tied for 12th at the U.S. Open. Slotting him somewhere between 10 and 15 is about right.
  13. Jordan Spieth - A tough kid to handicap, he has consistently proven that he can play his best golf on some of the biggest stages. He was 44th here last year and tied for 17th at the U.S. Open. Once again played well at TPC Deere Run with a T7 last week. 
  14. Angel Cabrera - I have this vision of him working 3-irons all over this course exactly as he intends and completing the third leg of the grand slam this week. Not only did he win at the Greenbrier in his last start, he preceded that with a pair of top 25s. He has two top 10s in the Open Championship, including a 7th at Hoylake and a T11 last year. Don't sleep on him.
  15. Keegan Bradley - Only played the Open twice, but his T15 last year showed steady progress. Has a couple of fourth-place finishes lately, including at the U.S. Open, and has his eye on making the Ryder Cup team. It shouldn't surprise anyone if he continues to show improvement in links golf.
  16. Brandt Snedeker - Finished 3rd and 11th in his last two Open Championships and seems to be coming back to life on the PGA TOUR with a T9 at the U.S .Open and a couple of other top 25s.
  17. Webb Simpson - Has been a bit feast-or-famine lately, but a couple of top-three finishes offer optimism. He's 2-for-2 in the Open, with a T16 in 2011. 
  18. Hideki Matsuyama - T6 in his Open debut last year and a recent PGA TOUR winner at Memorial.
  19. Ernie Els - He and Tom Watson are the reigning kings of links golf. Despite below-average form, he's a potential steal at 19.
  20. Graeme McDowell - Won in his last start leading up to this in France, but has just one top 10 in the Open.
  21. Zach Johnson - Offers back-to-back top 10s at the Open and snapped a recent dry spell with a runner-up at the John Deere.
  22. Mikko Ilonen - Finished 16th in both the Scottish Open and the 2006 Open at Hoylake, and has missed just one cut in five tries at the Open Championship. Recently won the Irish Open, which can't hurt.
  23. Danny Willett - A really nice dark-horse candidate, Willett is 1/2 with a T15 in last year's Open and enters off a T3-T8-T11 run with the T3 coming in the Irish Open and the T11 at the Scottish last week. 
  24. Luke Donald - Not as strong as one would think in the Open, making just six of 13 cuts, but he owns two top fives. Tied for 16th in the Scottish Open but missed cut at the U.S. Open. Plenty of mixed signals here.
  25. Tiger Woods - You don't need me to lay this one out for you.
We will return tomorrow with a look at one-and-done options.

Best of luck to all!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

The Open Championship - Preview

The Open Championship returns to Royal Liverpool (Hoylake) for the first time since Tiger Woods captured his third Claret Jug in 2006 over Chris DiMarco, and here is a preview to kick off the week. On a personal note, this is one of the two weeks I most look forward to on the golf calendar each year, with the other being the Masters. Hopefully my passion for the Open will lead to some solid picks later in the week.

As is the case with the Masters, experience matters at the Open Championship. While venues rotate, overall success in links golf is very valuable. It's one of the very few tournaments where course history may actually be more important than current form. 

Hoylake will play to a par of 72, featuring the full bevy of par 5s and par 3s, with 10 par 4s rounding out the scorecard. The yardage is 7,312, which is relatively average by modern standards, but numerous doglegs will force mid and long irons into numerous greens unless a player gets aggressive and tries to fly the doglegs. 

While finding fairways should be a priority for the players, Driving Accuracy as a stat isn't all that useful this week. That's because many players will hit numerous irons and fairway metals off the tee and keep the driver in the bag. If there was a stat that told driving accuracy from 250-270 yards, I would be all over it. Similarly, I would also love some way of understanding from a stat sheet which players are the most successful at working their long irons both directions, but I'll have to rely on past observations. 

My method of breaking down the field to try and determine the contenders will be a little different this week than it is for most tournaments. I will rely heavily on Open Championship history first, and then use current form as a secondary consideration. Rather than rely on specific stats to complete the trifecta, I will take a much more subjective approach when considering course fit. Sort of a question of if a player passes the "eye" or "smell" test. 

We will be back tomorrow to introduce the Power Ranking. Until then, happy research!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

O v. Glass Challenge

The bet has been made in the O (me) v. Glass (Mike Glasscott) challenge. We will run this experiment of the Yahoo! game with a different twist through the TOUR Championship, with the loser having to take a picture of themselves decked out in the gear of their rival college. They will then use that picture as their Twitter avatar between the TOUR Championship and the Ryder Cup.

So I'm hoping upon hope that Glass has to procure some Purdue Boilermaker gear in a few months, or else I'll have to wear the dreaded garnet and black of the South Carolina Gamecocks. 

As a refresher, points for all eight players count for every round, along with bonus points.

Match one goes to the good guys!!!

Team O (good guys)                                        Team Glass (bad guys)
Moore               14 + 12 + 8 +12 = 46            Moore            14 + 12 + 8 +12 = 46
Summerhays        8 + 10 + 12 + 12 = 42         CH3               14 + 10 + 8 + 4 = 36
ZJ                      20 + 12 + 4 + 20 (10) = 66   Stricker          10 +16 +14 + 4 = 44
de Jonge            16 + 0 + 12 + 6 = 34             ZJ                   20 + 12 + 4 + 20 (10) = 66
Spieth                  4 + 18 + 8 + 16 = 46           Spieth               4 +18 + 8 + 16 = 46
Stricker              10 + 16 + 14 + 4 = 44           Kirk                 4 + 4 = 8 (MC)
Hurley III             4 + 4 = 8 (MC)                    Stroud              8 + 4 + 2 + 12 = 26 
Senden               10 +8 + 0 + 12 = 30              English            12 + 0 + 0 + 10 = 22

Total                  86 + 80 + 58 + 82 + 10 = 316 Total              86 + 76 +44 + 78 + 10  = 294

I'll carry a 1-0 lead into the Open Championship.

Glass and I decided off line that we wouldn't carry over points, just wins and losses.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

John Deere Classic - Fantasy

With hours to go until the John Deere Classic tees off at TPC Deere Run, it's time to write down the Yahoo! starters in ink. We will also do our best to confuse you by introducing a new little twist that myself and Mike Glasscott are trying out in this space this week.

First things first, the weather for the first round of the JDC looks absolutely perfect. Temperatures are moderate for this time of year and the winds are low. That means I'll lean on my stock AM players.

Starters are Ryan Moore, Zach Johnson, Brendon de Jonge and Billy Hurley III. The bench is Daniel Summerays (I didn't learn anything from last week), Steve Stricker, Jordan Spieth and John Senden.

Now for the twist.

For those that don't know and love the guy that made #Spiethboner a hash tag on Twitter, let me introduce my Rotoworld colleague and lead columnist (or something like that), Mike Glasscott. If I know Glass, and I think I do, he's sitting at Yogi's Bar and Grill in Indiana having a pint of something rather tasty as I punch a keyboard.

Glass, and others of you that frequent the Rotoworld Wednesday chat, have expressed some "constructive criticism" that the Yahoo! game might be better suited if all of the players scores count for all rounds. With that, Glass and I made the decision way too late one night that we would pilot the idea of awarding each of our eight Yahoo! players full points (and bonus points) for every round and play each other head-to-head.

Rather than just send each other emails with results, Glass had the idea that this blog was the perfect spot to post the results of this little experiment. So, for those that care to follow along, I'll post the points earned by each player on both of our our lineups after each round.

So my lineup of Moore, Summerhays, ZJ, BdJ, Spieth, Stricker, BH3 and Sendo against Glass' squad of Ryan Moore, Chucky Three Sticks, Stricker, ZJ, #Spiethboner, Kirk, Stroud and English.

If anyone out there can think of a fun wager for Glass and I to make with each other, let us know (@RyanGolfBlogger and @MikeGlasscott or just call Yogi's Bar and Grill in Indiana and ask to speak with Glass). If you think this is a great idea and fun to check in on, let us know. If you think this is a terrible idea and we've lost our minds more than we had before, you can tell us that too.

Either way, best of luck to all of you in your games this week!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

John Deere Classic - One and Done

The John Deere Classic one-and-done offers an interesting array of options. There is little doubt that many of you have saved Steve Stricker and/or Zach Johnson for this event, and who could blame you. While I don't have either of those kings of TPC Deere Run available, we'll start there.

In terms of course history, both Stricker and ZJ are elite. While ZJ has been a tad better over the last three years, Stricker is just two years removed from back-to-back-to-back wins. If I had both available, Stricker would get my pick due to current form.

For those that followed my lead with ZJ at THE PLAYERS and Stricker at the U.S. Open, I see three viable options. Jordan Spieth, Ryan Moore and Billy Hurley III.

I believe I'm correct in saying that Spieth is the highest-ranked player in the field and the highest-ranked player in the Official World Golf Ranking in the field this week. The only slight concern is that Spieth has failed to live up to lofty expectations at several other stops where his past history is good. While I'm very tempted to roll with Spieth, the pot is relatively low this week and I have my eye on him for the PGA Championship and several playoff events including the TOUR Championship.

Ryan Moore is an interesting option. He tied for 22nd here last year after a T8 in 2012 and tied for fifth in his last PGA TOUR event at the Travelers Championship. He has the pedigree to stand up to a Stricker or ZJ down the stretch and looks to be a nice alternative for those that don't have one of the elite at their disposal.

Billy Hurley III meets the criteria of both current form (T8 and T4 in his last two starts) as well as course history (T8 in '12). It remains to be seen how he bounces back from blowing the 54-hole lead at The Greenbrier Classic, but he remains another great option.

I'm rolling with Ryan Moore this week, although if I had Stricker or ZJ at my disposal I would probably go in that direction.

Best of luck to all this week!

Monday, July 7, 2014

John Deere Classic - Power Ranking

With the John Deere Classic inching closer by the minute, let's dive in and take a look at this week's Power Ranking. There is a nice mix of elite options, as well as some solid value a littler further down the list comprised of players fighting for a breakthrough victory. This also serves as the last chance to qualify for the Open Championship, as the highers finisher not already exempt earns a trip to Royal Liverpool.

Without further ado, here we go:

  1. Steve Stricker - He almost lost the top spot due to his trends headed in the wrong direction, but a win-win-win-T5-T10 record in his last five trips to TPC Deere Run keeps him atop the heap. A poor final round last week at The Greenbrier cost him a top 10, falling all the way to T35, but his recent form has still been just good enough to remain here. 
  2. Jordan Spieth - The defending champ continues to be a top-20 machine almost any time he plays and this course has a recent history of being extremely kind to defending champions as demonstrated by both Stricker and Zach Johnson. It helps that he is arguably the class of the field.
  3. Zach Johnson - Last three trips to this event have gone T3-1-P2 in his unofficial fifth major, but he's struggled of late. His last three TOUR starts have gone T53-T40-MC, thus dropping him to the third of the three elite options. His course history demands you play him in formats like Yahoo!
  4. Ryan Moore - If you're looking for a player of strong pedigree with the right mix of current form and course history just below the radar of the big three, Moore is  your guy. His last two trips to TPC Deere Run have resulted in a T8 and a T22 and his last PGA TOUR start was a tie for fifth at the Travelers Championship. If you followed my lead by going against the grain by burning both Stricker and ZJ earlier in the year (one-and-done gamers), then Moore should be on your very short list for that spot this week.
  5. Billy Hurley III - We will soon find out how he responds to a "disappointing" tie for fourth at The Greenbrier Classic following his T8 at Congressional. It just so happens that he tied for eighth in this event back in 2012, so he lines up nicely in most formats this week.
  6. Harris English - Broke out of a slump with his T7 at the Travelers and offers the familiarity of T15 in this event last year. Should be a solid option.
  7. Chris Stroud - Knocked on the door for a breakthrough win at the Greenbrier last week (T4). He's five-for-five in this event with a pair of top 25s, so it stands to reason that he could make some noise.
  8. Jason Bohn - Quietly tied for 11th at the Greenbrier last week and has made 6/8 cuts at the John Deere with four top 25s including a T22 last year. Was the third-highest player in my weekly statistical breakdown, so he checks all of the boxes.
  9. John Senden - The past champion in this event has putted out of his mind (12th in SGP) this season. While he's cooled off a bit of late, he also had a fourth-place finish at TPC Deere Run in 2012 proving the win wasn't a fluke.
  10. Michael Thompson - He's turned a corner in terms of consistency this season, meaning his T11 last week coupled with a T12 at the JDC back in 2011 could bode very well. He's 11th in SGP and has the reputation of a strong putter, which is a good trait in an event that annually yields a bunch of birdies.
  11. Ben Martin - Missed the cut last week after a T13-T3 run at the Travelers and Quicken Loans National. While a missed cut isn't ideal, a few days off could prove valuable. He tied for 38th here in 2011 and he's playing well above that season's curve this year. 
  12. Chris Kirk - I took some grief for leaving him out last week, and it looked like the crowd was right through 36 holes. In the end, he tied for 45th. His value this week lies in his consistency. He has a T22-T30-T22 record in his three trips to TPC Deere Run. That makes him a solid Yahoo! option if nothing else. 
Next 5 (alphabetical): David Hearn, Jerry Kelly, Scott Langley, Kevin Na, Kevin Streelman

We will return with the one-and-done tomorrow. As a little teaser, my Rotoworld colleague, Mike Glasscott, and I are working up a little something different in terms of a head-to-head challenge between the two of us that I will reveal on Wednesday night. Glass came up with the idea due to his uncanny ability to always play the wrong guys in the Yahoo! lineup, so there's your hint. 

Until then, best of luck to all!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

John Deere Classic - Preview

The final PGA TOUR stop before the Open Championship is the John Deere Classic at TPC Deere Run. This stop is also commonly referred to as the Steve Stricker Invitational, as Stricker has three wins in the last five years and is a perennial favorite. Jordan Spieth returns to defend his only PGA TOUR win. Here is a little preview to get you off and running in your research.

TPC Deere Run is a 7,268 yard par-71 layout that features three par 5s, four par 3s and 11 par 4s. As a general rule, it will take something well under par to win, with at least 20-under needed in four of the last five years. Anytime numbers go that low, putting stats and Par Breakers deserve a hard look.

Here is a look at the winners and runners-up in this event dating back to 2005:

  • 2005 - Sean O'Hair (16-under 268) over Robert Damron and Hank Kuehne (269)
  • 2006 - John Senden (265) over J.P. Hayes (266)
  • 2007 - Jonathan Byrd (266) over Tim Clark (267)
  • 2008 - Kenny Perry (268) over Brad Adamonis and Jay Williamson in a playoff.
  • 2009 - Steve Stricker (264) over Zach Johnson, Brett Quigley and Brandt Snedeker (267)
  • 2010 - Steve Stricker (258) over Paul Goydos (260)
  • 2011 - Steve Stricker (262) over Kyle Stanley (263)
  • 2012 - Zach Johnson (264) over Troy Matteson in a playoff
  • 2013 - Jordan Spieth (265) over David Hearn and Zach Johnson in a playoff
There's a little bit of everything on that list of players above, but what stands out is the quality of the winners in what is normally a pretty weak field. With the exception of Spieth, all of the other winners have won multiple times on the PGA TOUR and many of them have played on various Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup teams. The list of second-place finishers isn't nearly as impressive, which demonstrates that a dark horse can certainly make a run. 

As I break down the stats, I expect to take a hard look at SGP, Par Breakers, Par 4 Scoring average and a few other metrics. The normal blend of course history and current form will also be examined. 

We will return tomorrow with the Power Ranking. Until then, happy research!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

The Greenbrier Classic - Fantasy

The first round of The Greenbrier Classic has the chance to be impacted by scattered thunderstorms, especially in the afternoon, so keep that in mind for your Yahoo! lineups.

With that, I'm leaning on the AM wave of players and starting Marc Leishman (A), Bill Haas (B), Steve Stricker (B) and Jimmy Walker (C), with Daniel Summerhays (A), Webb Simpson (B), Brendon de Jonge (B) and Brendon Todd (C) on the bench.

I will update future changes via Twitter (@RyanGolfBlogger).

Best of luck, and expect the unexpected!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The Greenbrier Classic - One-and-done

The Greenbrier one-and-done offers several strong options depending on your situation. For starters, if you have Jimmy Walker available, please play him now. There is not a better place for which to save him, and his three top-four finishes in four starts here and back-to-back top 10s entering this event are impossible to pass up.

With that out of the way, here's plan B. (I need plan B for having burned Walker in his Pebble Beach win). 

After Walker, there are two players in the next tier for this tournament. They are Brendon Todd and Kevin Na. I have both available. Todd seems to rate a little higher than Na in stats, while Na offers a little better course history. Both have excellent current form. Both of these players have played all of their rounds on The Old White TPC at par or better. 

With Todd, I'm torn about wanting to cash in on his hot run while not wanting to jump on the bandwagon too late. There aren't any yellow flags associate with Na. 

Ultimately, I've decided to go with Todd as my OAD and hope I haven't invested too late. As a side note, I do have Na as a hedge in another game I don't blog about, so I do feel very strongly about him as well. 

If you still have a Bill Haas start, he's worth a look. 

If you are looking to make a move, perhaps consider Ben Martin or Daniel Summerhays. 

We will return tomorrow with the Yahoo! starting lineup. My eight-man Yahoo team, as well as my Golf Channel lineup, will be up on Rotoworld in Playing the Tips at some point tonight. Until then, best of luck to all!