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

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.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Wyndham Championship - Preview

As the PGA TOUR departs the major championship season and approaches the FedExCup Playoffs, only the Wyndham Championship remains as a "last call" for players to secure their 2014-15 PGA TOUR cards and we are here with a preview to get you off and running. Thankfully for the field, Rory McIlroy is going to give someone else a chance to win a tournament.

It was one year ago that Patrick Reed one his first of what is now three PGA TOUR titles at Sedgefield Country Club, topping Jordan Spieth in a playoff. Who would have known that 12 months later, both would be preparing to head to Gleneagles as members of the U.S. Ryder Cup team.

Sedgefield CC is a 7,126 yard par-70 layout, and has played host to this event each of the last six years following a run at Forest Oaks CC that ended in 2007. For course history buffs, narrow your focus to everything that happened from 2008 and beyond.

On that note, here is a list of winners and runners-up since 2008.

  • 2008 - Carl Pettersson (21-under 259) over Scott McCarron (261)
  • 2009 - Ryan Moore (264) over Jason Bohn and Kevin Stadler in a playoff
  • 2010 - Arjun Atwal (260) over David Toms (261)
  • 2011 - Webb Simpson (262) over George McNeill (265)
  • 2012 - Sergio Garcia (262) over Tim Clark (264)
  • 2013 - Patrick Reed (266) over Jordan Spieth in a playoff
Considering the modest fields, five of those six players are extremely solid PGA TOUR players. In fact, Simpson is a major champion and Garcia is an elite player by almost any measure. From a statistical standpoint, it's hard to get a read on what really matters at Sedgefield. The numbers don't imply that driving accuracy matters all that much. GIR don't show well all that well, but Proximity could come into play. With 12 par 4s, Par 4 Scoring Average is a must. 

We will return tomorrow with a look at this week's Power Ranking. Until then, happy research! 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

PGA Championship - Fantasy

The first round of the PGA Championship is hours away, and it's time to fill out the lineup card for the Yahoo!

There are several factors that should be considered in terms of first-round starters. It looks like the AM tee times could land the better end of the draw at Valhalla on Thursday, as thunderstorms become a possibility in the afternoon. If starts aren't a factor, there is some logic to playing just those players in the morning wave.

Remaining starts is the elephant in the room. If you are down to one or two starts, it's not a bad strategy to trot out another guy in the first round just to make sure your stud doesn't turn in a dud round early. Here's how it all shook out for me.

I'm starting Rickie Fowler (A / AM), Justin Rose (B / AM), Keegan Bradley (B / PM) and Charl Schwartzel (C / AM), with Adam Scott (A / AM), Jim Furyk (B / AM / 2 starts remaining), Rory McIlroy (B / PM / 2 starts remaining), and Sergio Garcia (C / PM) on the bench.

In the O v. Glass Challenge, Glass evened the record at 2-2 at Firestone CC last week. He complained that I didn't do the math, but let's face it. He blew me out badly. IT'S A COMPLIMENT TO YOU THAT I DIDN'T DO THE MATH, GLASS!

We have five matches this week, so ultimately this comes down to Rickie Fowler, Jim Furyk and Charl Schwartzel for Team O against Phil Mickelson, Hideki Matsuyama and Graeme McDowell.

I will update further lineup changes and the O v. Glass on Twitter as the week unfolds.

Sit back and enjoy the season's final major!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

PGA Championship - One-and-done

This is the time of year where one-and-done picks can become quite simple, due to lack of options, and that is the case at the PGA Championship this week. 

I'm under no illusions that many/any of you are following my advice to the letter for the OAD game, but if for some reason you have on many occasions, you might be facing a similar circumstance. That is, I had exactly one player in the my top 16 available.

Coming in at number six in my Power Ranking and making his way into my OAD lineup is Marc Leishman. 

It's this time of the year where my strategy of very rarely "saving" a player for a start is becoming a bit uncomfortable. My hope was that I would still always have a viable OAD option as hot players emerged, and that was the case with Leishman this week. Barely. 

That strategy is also why I'm currently in the money in my OAD game, but I'm definitely trying to just hold on. 

If you are one of those guys that have saved a Keegan Bradley or Rory McIlroy for a time such as this, please do yourself a favor and burn them without hesitation. Give guys like me something to sweat about. 

I've gathered an undercurrent about the ability, or lack thereof, of Rory McIlroy to win three consecutive golf tournaments (he didn't play the RBC Canadian Open). If you find yourself asking that question; stop it. For all of the world, it looks like the ability to bomb it and find the fairways off the tee will be big this week. Hmmmmm. Congressional in 2011. Kiawah Island in '12. Hoylake three weeks ago. WGC-Bridgestone last week. 

There isn't a player in the game that can dominate a course off the tee the way Rory can. Not DJ. Not Bubba. Not Phil. Tiger used to be able to, but that ended almost a decade ago. 

It's certainly possible that Rory won't win this week, but if he doesn't win it will be because he didn't bring his A-game and he let someone else win it. Rory is the only player in the world today that will always win with his A-game. If he brings the A-game to Valhalla, it's over. Adam Scott can't beat him. Sergio can't beat him. Phil and Tiger can't beat him. And Rory probably wins with his B-plus game unless someone else goes Martin Kaymer at Pinehurst on him. 

Rory absolutely can win three consecutive starts because he's cut from the cloth of some of the greatest of all time. No offense to these great players, but he's not Graeme McDowell or Justin Rose or Keegan Bradley. His name is in the same modern category as Woods and Mickelson, and that's it. 

I will return tomorrow to solidify Yahoo! starters and will do my best to pull back ahead of Glass in the O v. Glass Challenge.

Until then, best of luck to all!

Monday, August 4, 2014

PGA Championship - Power Ranking

As I compiled my Power Ranking for the PGA Championship this week, I found myself really studying current form. While the Masters and The Open Championship are all about course history, the PGA is typically captured by a player who is in the midst of a hot streak. As it relates to Valhalla Golf Club, it would help if that person was fairly lengthy off the tee and a solid ball-striker overall.

Since there are so many formats in play for the PGA Championship and many games are winding down, I've expanded my Power Ranking from 12 to a larger number. I realize that many players in many formats may have already been utilized, thus the depth.

When I mention statistical categories below, I scrutinized driving distance, SGP, total driving, par breakers, ball-striking, proximity and par-4 scoring average.

We are playing blackjack tonight, and taking it 21 deep!

  1. Rory McIlroy - Nuff Said.
  2. Adam Scott - There was a tight battle for the top spot, and the Aussie edges out the other two under consideration. Statistically, he has everything necessary for success at Valhalla. He oozes class and his form has been that of a top-10 machine of late. He enters off top 10s in each of his last five PGA TOUR starts including a T8 at Firestone CC last week.
  3. Keegan Bradley - This is his time of year, and he picked up a third consecutive top-five finish in the WGC-Bridgestone last week. The PGA setups tend to favor him, and he checks out all of the major statistical categories. 
  4. Sergio Garcia - He's finished runner-up in each of his last three PGA TOUR starts including last week at Firestone. If you dig deep enough, he is on the record as not being a big fan of Valhalla. He tied for 34th at this venue in 2000 and scored just 1 point in four Ryder Cup matches back in 2008. That said, his stats and form are both off the charts. Hey, Jim Furyk said he didn't like the RBC Canadian Open layout and then finished runner-up, so players can be liars.
  5. Rickie Fowler - All anyone really needs to know is that he's finished runner-up in each of the last two majors and has played well down the stretch in both. It doesn't hurt that he tied for eighth at Firestone CC last week.
  6. Marc Leishman - When it's all said and done, I wouldn't be surprised if he's ranked higher here than anywhere else, but it is with merit. Dating back to the 2012 Masters, he's showed a penchant for showing up in some big events, while losing interest in some smaller one; not unlike Fowler. He enters off a T5 at The Open Championship and a T3 at the WGC-Bridgestone last week. He's also long enough to be a factor at Valhalla. 
  7. Jim Furyk - While I certainly worry about his length off the tee, he's been extremely consistent of late. Fourth at the Open, second at the RBC Canadian and T15 at the WGC-Bridgestone in his last three. Length wasn't a major issue in the first two, but the wet conditions in the final round at Firestone CC could somewhat mimic the challenge that Furyk faces in terms of distance later this week.
  8. Justin Rose - Trending very well with a Win, T23, T4 in his last three PGA TOUR starts and is known as an elite ball-striker even if the stats aren't backing that up this season. 
  9. Ryan Moore - Absolutely on the bubble for a Ryder Cup berth, He's finished inside the top 12 in each of his last four PGA TOUR starts and enters off a T8 at Firestone last week. Ranks inside the top 20 in par breakers, ball-striking, proximity and par-4 scoring average.
  10. Matt Kuchar - Sort of like McIlroy at the top, it's hard not to slide Kuchar inside the top 10 in any tournament. It helps that he tied for fourth in the RBC Canadian Open and shared 12th last week. 
  11. Graeme McDowell - It's as easy as noticing his last five starts went T6-1-T9-T9-T8 at the Irish Open, Alstom Open de France, The Open Championship, RBC Canadian and WGC-Bridgestone. He's not an excellent statistical fit this week, but the last 20 rounds of golf can't be ignored.
  12. Henrik Stenson - Has been a bit of a disappointment in his last few starts but has the tee-to-green game to be a big factor at Valhalla if he puts four rounds together.
  13. Phil Mickelson - Stock rose with a final-round 62 at Firestone CC on Sunday to secure a T15. He's one of the few players with any real experience at Valhalla in the PGA, cracking the top 10 in 1996 and 2000. 
  14. Charl Schwartzel - The T43 in the RBC Canadian Open can be overlooked since it's sandwiched between a T7 at The Open Championship and a T4 at the WGC-Bridgestone. The South African winning this week doesn't exactly pass the smell test, but his recent performance doesn't lie. 
  15. Bubba Watson - Seems a bit off lately, failing to seriously contend since his third-place finish at the Memorial in early June. While the stats look good, a lot of the heavy lifting was done earlier in the season.
  16. Zach Johnson - Simply put, I'm a little worried about his length. He tied for 47th at The Open Championship and was T23 last week at Firestone, so the form is just average. 
  17. Hunter Mahan - Showed signs of life with a T15 at Firestone last week and went 2-0-3 in the 2008 Ryder Cup at Valhalla. It's not out of the question for things to come together for him this week.
  18. Martin Kaymer - Finishing 70th at the Open and T56 at Firestone last week. Normally that knocks him all the way off the page, but his dominating win at Pinehurst wasn't that long ago. 
  19. Jimmy Walker - A couple of T26s in his last two starts have him on a slow fade. This isn't a surprise, as his traditional strengths were early in the season and he struck while the iron was hot. It's possible that he's a little worn down.
  20. Gary Woodland - A realistic dark horse, Woodland certainly has the power to blast his way around Valhalla and tied for 19th at Firestone last week. 
  21. Nick Watney - At his best, he is an elite driver of the golf ball and has a good enough overall game to capitalize on that. While he has not been at his best this season, his T12-T8 run in his last two starts offer hints that he may be on to something. 
There's always someone I regret leaving off, even at 21 deep, and the name I'm already kicking myself on is Patrick Reed. We know he runs hot and he tied for fourth last week.

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

Sunday, August 3, 2014

PGA Championship - Preview

The PGA Championship returns to Valhalla Golf Club for the first time since 2000, and here is a preview to get the week off and running. In addition to the 2000 PGA, this venue also hosted the 1996 edition as well as the 2008 Ryder Cup. It just so happens, that was the last time the U.S. squad won the Ryder Cup.

Let's start with the course:

Valhalla is a 7,458 yard par-71 layout, featuring three par 5s, four par 3s and 11 par 4s. Of those 11 par 4s, three are 495 yards are longer, so length is a factor. The par 5s measure between 542 and 597  yards, so there are birdies to be found.

History Lesson:

Tiger Woods defeated Bob May in a playoff at the 2000 edition, but then again that was Tiger 2000. The rest of the leaderboard was not exactly a who's who of Hall of Fame golfers, but it is worth noting that both Phil Mickelson and Tom Watson tied for ninth.

In 1996, Mark Brooks topped Kenny Perry in a playoff. Mickelson's name pops up here as well, tying for eighth after holding a three stroke 36-hole lead.

Recent PGA Championships, especially the last four, have identified elite ball-strikers. It began with Martin Kaymer in 2010 and continued with Keegan Bradley in '11, Rory McIlroy in '12 and Jason Dufner a year ago.

What to expect:

Ball-striking, with a tilt towards length, should be a factor this week. with six of the holes playing longer the 495 yards, confidence with the driver is likely paramount.

Birdies will be necessary, which brings both proximity and putting prowess in play. It's more than fair to consider Par Breakers and Birdie or Better statistical categories.

Probably the biggest thing to consider is current form. The WGC-Bridgestone at Firestone CC seems to offer a pretty good indicator as to who will play well on PGA Championship course layouts, so that's an excellent starting point.

If all of this seems to point to Rory McIlroy, it's not an accident. If Rory drives the ball with the confidence he displayed at Hoylake and Firestone CC in his last two starts, this could look a lot like Kiawah Island in 2012 or Congressional in 2011.

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