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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Zurich Classic of New Orleans - Power Ranking & One-and-done

Our research is coming together nicely for what could be a wild week at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans. Before we dive into the power rankings, I want to highlight a point I made in the preview on Sunday. That is, this has been a nice spot for breakthrough winners. While there are several elite options at the top of the power ranking due to their relative value, don't be surprised if a budding star a little further down the list picks up a win.

Here we go:

  1. Dustin Johnson - Statistically, he's as perfect of a fit as you are going to find on any course at any tournament, when it comes to his projection for TPC Louisiana. He's first in strokes gained; tee-to-green, second in approaches from over 200 yards and third in par 5 scoring average. He missed the cut here in 2008, but who really cares about that in 2015. Form is excellent.
  2. Justin Rose - Cracked the top 15 here in each of his last three trips and is fresh off a T2 at the Masters. 
  3. Jason Day - It will be easy to fade him due to his mediocre result at a Masters where much was expected, but don't overlook his class in a weak field when expectations may be tempered a bit.
  4. Harris English - Another stud in terms of the stat sheet this week, English is playing average or slightly above of late and has a T6 to his name at TPC Louisiana. He tends to tease more than he delivers, but this could be his week.
  5. Billy Horschel - Probably not quite hot enough to consider for a one-and-done, but he is a past winner here (2013) and appears to be dangerously close to putting together a run in the near future.
  6. Rickie Fowler - Delivered to the tune of a T12 at the Masters and offers steady course history in this event. 
  7. Keegan Bradley - A T5 and a T22 in his last two starts this season have him quietly trending in a good direction. While he's missed half of his four cuts at this venue, he did have a T8 last year. As with Horschel, it would be idea to wait for a little longer sustained run before a OAD play, but he's valuable in most formats.
  8. Justin Thomas - Fits the category of a budding star due to break through sooner rather than later and enters off a T11 at Harbour Town. That he is fourth in par 5 scoring average should play well at this ballpark.
  9. Morgan Hoffmann - Mediocre history here with a T21 and a T32, but don't miss the fact that six of his eight rounds have been under par. Has a pair of top 10s in his last three starts, which surrounds a solid T28 in his first Masters. I wish the stat line was a little better, but he fits the mold of a potential winner in most other ways.
  10. John Peterson - The LSU product will enjoy this week for many reasons, and his T8 in 2013 could be one of those. He's cracked the top 20 in his last two starts this season and been remarkably steady at making cuts. Not sure he has the firepower to pull off the win this week, but he could very well be in the conversation deep into the weekend.
  11. Lucas Glover 
  12. Daniel Berger
  13. Brendan Steele
  14. Charles Howell III
  15. Kyle Reifers
  16. Sean O'Hair
  17. Steve Stricker
  18. Brendon de Jonge
  19. Nick Watney
  20. Kevin Kisner

I've done a pretty good job of stealing my own thunder in terms of the direction I'm looking for my OAD this week. Justin Thomas would have been in the conversation, but I've already burned him (T17 at WMPO). 

My attention is focused on Harris English, Morgan Hoffmann and maybe John Peterson. Because I said "maybe" John Peterson, that pretty well leaves English and Hoffmann. 

I really want to take Hoffmann this week, so I'm going to. It's not so much a "feel" pick, as I don't believe in those in the purest sense. Rather, it's a combination of "A-" form, "B" history and "C+" stats to go with the trend of first-time winners at this event. He fits that final "trend" to an "A", which is good enough for me. 

I will throw out one final caveat that I will make a check as to the weather about this time tomorrow. There are thunderstorms expected on Thursday, and should I find that Hoffmann is on the obvious bad end of a draw, I might make a swap. I doubt it, but I might.

If I do, I will update here and on Twitter.

Best of luck to all!

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