Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Fantasy Golf: The Barclays Preview

I had planned to put most of my effort into a global thermonuclear FedEx Cup Playoffs Preview this week so the Barclays was going to get short shrifted anyway but then I dislocated the pinky finger on my left hand playing basketball on Monday night so that every time I go for the "shift" key, I get a really sweet stabbing pain in my knuckle . . . like right there when I did the quotation marks (SON OF A BITCH that takes writer's block to a whole new level).*

So far, I'm not getting a lot of positive karmic feedback from the summer where I was going to play less golf in the interest of devoting more time to fitness oriented pursuits that would involve less Bud Light and less Russian Gatorade under the theory that I would emerge in a better state of mental, physical and spiritual health. As of August 19th, all I have to show for it is plantar fasciitis, a busted finger and a fantasy golf season with more carnage than a Game of Thrones** wedding. Do you have any idea how brutal it is to write something called the Fantasy Golf Report and be so utterly pathetic at picking golfers for the better part of eight months? Of course you don't because you just sit there with that smug look on your face as I go down in flames week after week after week after week and I'll tell you what you can do with that smug look . . . you can take it and shove . . . sorry. Let's just move on and get these final four weeks over with.    

Nick Watney in the picks means
it's time for some Lucy Pinder . . .
The Barclays Odds

1. Rory McIlroy - 4 to 1
2. Adam Scott - 14 to 1
3. Henrik Stenson - 16 to 1
4. Justin Rose - 18 to 1
5. Sergio Garcia - 20 to 1

The FGR One and Done Picks

1. Nick Watney***
2. Henrik Stenson
3. Rory McIlroy
4. Rickie Fowler
5. Jim Furyk

Last Week's Report Card: C-

1. Brian Harman - M/C
2. Hideki Matsuyama - M/C
3. Brandt Snedeker - T5th
4. Nick Watney - T5th
. . . A/K/A "Not Amber Watney."


5. Billy Hurley, III - M/C

The Screw You Guys I'm Going Home Report

Hyundai: Gary Woodland - $130,000
Sony: Chris Kirk - $604,800
Humana: Charles Howell, III - $12,198
Farmers: Bill Haas - $20,740
WM Phoenix: Billy Horschel - M/C

Pebble Beach: Russell Knox - $46,860
Northern Trust: Dustin Johnson - $723,600
Match Play: Hunter Mahan - $148,000
Honda Classic: Graeme McDowell - $15,600
WGC-Cadillac: Rory McIlroy - $76,000
Valspar: Harris English - $23,940
Palmer: Justin Rose - M/C

Texas Open: Kevin Chappell - M/C
Houston Open: Keegan Bradley - $18,374
Masters: Matt Kuchar - $342,000
Heritage: Jim Furyk - $187,050
Zurich: Graham DeLaet - $44,200
Wells Fargo: Webb Simpson - $28,980
The Players: Adam Scott - $38,000
Byron Nelson: Jason Dufner - $17,327
And while you're at it, screw
this fantasy golf season.

Colonial: Zach Johnson - $12,416
Memorial: Charl Schwartzel - $167,400

FedEx St. Jude: Lee Westwood - M/C 
U.S. Open: Jason Day - $326,310
Travelers: Bubba Watson - $32,296
Quicken Loans: Brendon Todd - $237,250
Greenbrier: Jimmy Walker - M/C
John Deere: Steve Stricker - $112,800
British Open: Henrik Stenson - $36,253
Canadian Open: Charley Hoffman - M/C
Bridgestone: Tiger Woods - W/D
PGA Championship: Rickie Fowler - $580,000
Wyndham: Brian Harman - M/C

Season Total: $3,982,694

Email the Fantasy Golf Report at fgr@fantasygolfreport.com

Footnote

* I am seriously considering changing the name of this site to the Fantasy Excuse Report.

** Just finished binge watching seasons 1-4 and I don't know where GOT is going to rank among the all-time television greats when it's done but it's going to command a good sized exhibit in the hall of fame along with The Sopranos, The Wire, Breaking Bad and T.J. Hooker.  

*** Remember that (a) I never pick the same player twice and (b) "Nick Watney" means "desperate measure" in Swahili. 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Fantasy Golf: The Wyndham Preview

We need to take a breather after last Sunday and hopefully carve-out a little time to write about something other than straight-up golf forecasts so this week's preview is purely by the numbers. But I would be remiss if I didn't say something about what we were treated to over the last 36 holes at Valhalla which had to rank among the greatest weekends in the history of the game. Last week I wrote that there were four players who could move the needle with a win: Rory McIlroy, Phil Mickelson, Rickie Fowler and Jordan Spieth so the only way that could have turned out better from my perspective would have been if it had been Spieth in that bizarre foursome playing the 72nd hole instead of Bernd Historicalfootnotesberger. (By the middle of the back nine, that guy looked like he had been conked on the head and woke-up back in time in the middle of a Roman chariot race).

For 63 holes, my prediction looked solid that the field was just too strong to let Rory pull-off the ridiculous three game winning streak of British Open - Bridgestone - PGA. And then Rory hit a 286 yard 3-wood on the tenth hole to about eight feet for eagle that sparked a nearly flawless back nine 32 while everyone he was chasing could do no better than 35. How good was that 32? Mickelson, Fowler and Henrik Stenson could have played best ball and only shot 32 as none of them could convert the kind of clutch putt that Rory made on 10, 13 and 17. THAT putt* is the difference between the guys who collect majors like beer koozies and those who are lucky to get one and maybe two (see Greg Norman, Johnny Miller, Adam Scott, et al).  

So now we move on to the Tour's version of a bye week except for those trying to make the FedEx Cup playoffs and those trying to pick-up some cash and points against a pretty mediocre field. If you want to get creative and pick a guy who is playing for his 2014 season and beyond, here is the link to a list of players sitting on various bubbles. I'm going to stick with the theory that there's a good reason they're on that list to begin with and look elsewhere.

The Wyndham Favorites
No particular theme this week . . .

1. Brandt Snedeker - 12 to 1
2. Webb Simpson - 16 to 1
3. Hideki Matsuyama - 18 to 1
4. Patrick Reed - 22 to 1
5. Bill Haas - 28 to 1

The FGR One and Done Picks

1. Brian Harman
2. Hideki Matsuyama
3. Brandt Snedeker
4. Nick Watney
5. Billy Hurley, III

Last Week's Report Card: A-

1. Rickie Fowler - T3rd
2. Justin Rose - T24th
3. Sergio Garcia - T36th
4. Rory McIlroy - 1st
5. Matt Kuchar - W/D
. . . you know . . .
6. Ryan Moore - T41st
7. Adam Scott - T15th
8. Victor Dubuisson - T7th
9. Jim Furyk - T5th
10. Marc Leishman - T47th

The Salvage Operation Report

Hyundai: Gary Woodland - $130,000
Sony: Chris Kirk - $604,800
Humana: Charles Howell, III - $12,198
Farmers: Bill Haas - $20,740
WM Phoenix: Billy Horschel - M/C
Pebble Beach: Russell Knox - $46,860
Northern Trust: Dustin Johnson - $723,600
Match Play: Hunter Mahan - $148,000
Honda Classic: Graeme McDowell - $15,600
WGC-Cadillac: Rory McIlroy - $76,000
Valspar: Harris English - $23,940
Palmer: Justin Rose - M/C
Texas Open: Kevin Chappell - M/C
Houston Open: Keegan Bradley - $18,374
. . . other than the obvious one.

Masters: Matt Kuchar - $342,000
Heritage: Jim Furyk - $187,050
Zurich: Graham DeLaet - $44,200
Wells Fargo: Webb Simpson - $28,980
The Players: Adam Scott - $38,000
Byron Nelson: Jason Dufner - $17,327
Colonial: Zach Johnson - $12,416
Memorial: Charl Schwartzel - $167,400
FedEx St. Jude: Lee Westwood - M/C
U.S. Open: Jason Day - $326,310
Travelers: Bubba Watson - $32,296
Quicken Loans: Brendon Todd - $237,250
Greenbrier: Jimmy Walker - M/C
John Deere: Steve Stricker - $112,800
British Open: Henrik Stenson - $36,253
Canadian Open: Charley Hoffman - M/C
Bridgestone: Tiger Woods - W/D
PGA Championship: Rickie Fowler - $580,000

Season Total: $3,982,694

Email the Fantasy Golf Report at fgr@fantasygolfreport.com

Footnote

* I know Phil made a clutch 30 footer for par but it was the missed putt on 16 that cost him. Great tweet by all-time golf writer Dan Jenkins: "Phil has lost eight majors missing that putt." Maybe not eight, but certainly more than a few.


Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Fantasy Golf: The PGA Championship Preview

You know the crazy thing about what now appears to be the prolonged but inevitable demise of Tiger Woods? It's happening at what could be the start of one of the greatest runs the game of golf has ever had and, by great runs, I mean a stretch when the best players in the game distinguish themselves by dominating the majors. I'm talking about a stretch like the one from the 1971 U.S. Open through the 1975 PGA Championship when 14 of the 19 majors were won by Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Lee Trevino and Tom Watson (those four would ultimately combine to win 41 majors). I'm not saying we're going to see that kind of concentrated dominance over the next five years because there is too much depth but, before we start lamenting the onset of golf's post-Tiger Dark Ages, let's consider the following:

(1) We have not had an outlier win a major since Keegan Bradley won the 2011 PGA Championship and it turned-out that he was Ryder Cup material unlike Rich Beem, Todd Hamilton and Shaun Micheel. Since Bradley, your major winners have been: Rory McIlroy (2), Bubba Watson (2), Adam Scott, Justin Rose, Phil Mickelson, Jason Dufner, Martin Kaymer, Ernie Els and Webb Simpson. Everyone of those guys has won multiple majors, played on a Ryder Cup team or both. I know Simpson has fallen off the radar but when he won the 2012 U.S. Open, no one was asking "where did that guy come from? In fact, we'd be more likely to ask that question if he won a major now (as the guys who drafted Simpson early in season long leagues ruefully nod their heads).

(2) We actually have a decent battle for best player in the world between Rory McIlroy and Adam Scott though we need Scott to win his second major before McIlroy wins his fourth to legitimize it. On the other hand, Scott could also be the Fred Couples "Nice Guy/Sweet Swing/One Major" of his generation but he still has some time to exceed that label and he appears to be more focused than Freddie. Then again, I've seen tuna sandwiches that have appeared more focused than Freddie.

If you're heading to Valhalla this week,
don't forget to pick-up something for
the Mrs. (Wings not included). 
(3) We have what could be an epic mano e mano battle brewing on the horizon in McIlroy v. Jordan Spieth. Remember that before he found his footing in the majors, McIlroy took his lumps with a disappointing final round performance at Augusta just like Spieth did this year. If Spieth can find a way to win one before the end of 2015 to get ahead of expectations, then we may get the rivalry that Tiger and Phil were never quite able to deliver. Rory is only 25 and Spieth is 21. And don't look now but here comes 25 year old Rickie Fowler who actually gets my kids' attention which is saying something considering he's not a South American soccer player. Rickie has three top fives in the last three majors. (Holy shite, did I actually just start a sentence with "and don't look now . . .? Hack alert).

With that current state of the game in mind, let's take a closer look at the Tiger era which we will define as the period from his first major win at Augusta in 1997 through his last at the 2008 U.S. Open. The only players who won more than two majors during that forty-two major stretch were Phil Mickelson and Vijay Singh with three each. Your other multiple major winners during that eleven and a half years were Retief Goosen, Mark O'Meara and Ernie Els. The next best player to win one was Jim Furyk. If we're playing word association with those last four guys, I'm coming-up with "bland", "mayonnaise" and "J.C. Penney." (Yeah . . . so what's your point?) My point is that as far as all-star casts go, the Tiger era wasn't exactly A Bridge Too Far* so maybe what we're in the process of losing with a comet that's about to flameout, we can regain in the form of a brightly lit night sky (yup, we're in full hack mode now).

So this week the question before us is whether or not this trend of quality major winners will continue. I've given up on the notion that we're going to have a nail-biter anytime soon after Rory's British Open win was the sixth in a row to be decided by two or more strokes so I'm left to root for a worthy champion. There are four players who could really move the needle with a win at Valhalla (not including Tiger who would blow the needle off the dial but that ain't happening). Rory could do it by winning his fourth. Phil Mickelson could do it by winning his sixth. And Jordan Spieth or Rickie Fowler could do it by winning their first. Then you have the players who could make the needle tremble like Justin Rose and Adam Scott who could re-enter the best player in the world discussion with a second major, Sergio Garcia who could deliver the "monkey off the back" story by winning his first or Bubba Watson** who could enter the Vijay Singh, Nick Price Hale Irwin historically respectable zone by winning his third. (Martin Kaymer and Angel Cabrera could also win a third but no one outside of the people who set their TV's to automatically turn-on to the Golf Channel would care if they did).

I think we're going to see a needle mover or at least a needle shaker and for the love of Harry Vardon's freakin' ghost I hope we get some late Sunday drama this time. (I've been watching Tiger's 2000 PGA Championship playoff win over Bob May one hole at a time for about a week and I feel like it's the most exciting golf I've watched in over a year . . . probably because it is). I do not, however, think it's going to be Rory. I had to get all the way to the 31st player on the odds list who was Shane Lowry at 100 to 1 before I saw a name that made me say, "no way" and there are players with longer odds who I could see winning like Chris Kirk and Brendan Steele. Someone who drives it a bit straighter than Rory does this week is going to edge him out but he will be in the mix. He's playing too well not to be. So Rickie Fowler gets the top spot in the rankings because he's the best option I have left. After that, it's the usual suspects with my standard three potential longer shots mixed into the second five.  

The PGA Championship Favorites
Hey there Miss Kentucky.
How you doin'?

1. Rory McIlroy - 5 to 1
2. Adam Scott - 12 to 1
3. Sergio Garcia - 18 to 1
4. Justin Rose - 18 to 1
5. Rickie Fowler - 22 to 1
6. Henrik Stenson - 25 to 1
7. Phil Mickelson - 25 to 1
8. Keegan Bradley - 28 to 1
9. Matt Kuchar - 30 to 1
10. Bubba Watson - 33 to 1

The FGR One and Done Picks

1. Rickie Fowler
2. Justin Rose
3. Sergio Garcia
4. Rory McIlroy
5. Matt Kuchar
6. Ryan Moore
7. Adam Scott
8. Victor Dubuisson
9. Jim Furyk
10. Marc Leishman

Hopefully you read between the lines last week and recognized that putting Tiger at the top of the list was a Hail Mary thrown by a desperate man while standing on his last leg with nothing left to lose but the shirt on his back. (That would be me). The operative words in my analysis were meant to be "I could easily see Rory McIlroy tear-off three wins from now through the Tour Championship, he's got three top 10's in five starts at the Bridgestone and I already wasted him at Doral. Sounds like a winning formula to me." And it was. I'm not sure how I left Sergio, arguably the second best golfer on the planet at this moment, off the list but I did. In hindsight, I should have put an APB out on Jason Dufner's 2014 season before giving him a spot. Apparently someone is still nursing the hangover from their first major title last year. Not that I blame him. If I had won a major last year and felt comfortable about my Ryder Cup spot, I would have devoted 2014 to discovering the world's most delicious taco and drinking out of the new Heineken fountain I had installed in my living room.

Last Week's Report Card: B+
Yup. The grimacing one handed follow
through pretty much sums-up my season.

1. Tiger Woods - W/D
2. Rory McIlroy - 1st
3. Adam Scott - T8th
4. Rickie Fowler - T8th
5. Steve Stricker - T63rd
6. Jim Furyk - T15th
7. Jordan Spieth - 49th
8. Jason Dufner - T66th
9. Justin Rose - T4th
10. Henrik Stenson - T19th

Footnotes

* Yeah I could have taken the easy way out there and gone with something obvious like Ocean's Eleven or The Avengers but the FGR mission statement dictates that we skew old whenever and wherever possible. Not to mention, I'd put A Bridge Too Far up against any all-star cast competition. Check-out this lineup: Robert Redford, Gene Hackman, Anthony Hopkins, Laurence Olivier, James Caan, Michael Caine, Sean Connery, Elliott Gould and Ryan O'Neal. Not to mention John Ratzenberger who would later go on to greater fame in a little role we like to call "Cliff from Cheers." On the A Bridge Too Far Dream Team, however, he was basically Christian Laetner.

** Bubba has two things working against him from a boosting the game standpoint that I don't think most casual golf fans realize. First, he's 35 years old so he's not as young as lot of people have been led to believe by all of his "look at me" hyjinx like driving the General Lee and doing the Golf Boys videos. Second, and I'm going to tread lightly here because by all accounts he's a good dude when it comes to the things we say we want in our athletes (family first, charitable, etc.) but there is a large segment of the die hard golf audience who would rather see just about anyone else win. I can't tell you why but I assure you that it's out there.

Email the Fantasy Golf Report at fgr@fantasygolfreport.com.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Fantasy Golf: The Bridgestone Preview

Let me start by laying-out my approach for this week so you can make an educated decision as to whether you want to follow my advice: (1) my 2014 fantasy golf season has pretty much gone the way of Val Kilmer's career after Heat, (2) I have nothing left to lose, and (3) I haven't used Tiger yet. It's basically the equivalent of Taylor Kitsch and his new Japanese friend dragging the U.S.S. Missouri out of retirement to save the world in Battleship (and we thought Peter Berg had maxed-out his unreality scale by having smoking hot Connie Britton play the wife of an itinerant high school football coach).

The one thing we know about Firestone CC where the Bridgstone is played every year is that certain guys play it really well on a regular basis and one of the things we know about golf is that, when your game is looking a little ragged, sometimes the best medicine is to return to a course where you feel all warm and fuzzy. (This is where I subtly note that I had five birdies at Kinloch Golf Club* in Richmond, Virginia last week and was -3 walking off the 15th green before finishing . . . but I digress). Tiger has played this tournament fourteen times on this course. He has won EIGHT of them (including last year), finished second once and fourth twice.  That means his winning percentage is .571 and his top five percentage is .786. I'll take those odds (said the dead man walking).

If you're not on board with my Tiger pick and/or you're not as desperate as I am, there are plenty of other players with great track records at Firestone including Keegan Bradley (won in 2012, T2nd in 2013), Jim Furyk (nine top 10's in fourteen starts), Jason Dufner (7th in 2012 and T4th in 2013) or you could just go with the best golfer in the world right now (no, not Adam Scott . . . get those ridiculous World Golf Rankings out of here). I could easily see Rory McIlroy tear-off three wins from now through the Tour Championship, he's got three top 10's in five starts at the Bridgestone and I already wasted him at Doral. Sounds like a winning formula to me.  

The Bridgestone Favorites
Mid-major college coach's wife at worst.
Texas high school football . . . no way.

1. Rory McIlroy - 13 to 2
2. Adam Scott - 11 to 1
3. Tiger Woods - 12 to 1
4. Justin Rose - 18 to 1
5. Jim Furyk - 20 to 1
6. Keegan Bradley - 22 to 1
7. Rickie Fowler - 22 to 1
8. Henrik Stenson - 22 to 1
9. Sergio Garcia - 25 to 1
10. Matt Kuchar - 28 to 1

The FGR's One and Done Picks

1. Tiger Woods
2. Rory McIlroy
3. Adam Scott
4. Rickie Fowler
5. Steve Stricker
6. Jim Furyk
7. Jordan Spieth
8. Jason Dufner
9. Justin Rose
10. Henrik Stenson

Another week, another calamitous first round pick as the Golden Mullet (why didn't someone tell me he cut his air?) whiffed on the cut by a stroke . . . only his second missed cut of the year I might add. At least if you read between the lines in last week's preview, you would have known that I only went with Hoffman over Furyk because I had to. The bottom line, however is that Hoffman was my sixth missed cut this year. You almost have to be trying to accomplish the level of futility. Almost.  

Last Week's Report Card: C-
Nice try but that picture is not helping my mood . . .

1. Charley Hoffman - M/C
2. Jim Furyk - 2nd
3. Charl Schwartzel - T43rd
4. Hunter Mahan - M/C
5. Russell Knox - T29th

The Damage Report

Hyundai: Gary Woodland - $130,000
Sony: Chris Kirk - $604,800
Humana: Charles Howell, III - $12,198
Farmers: Bill Haas - $20,740
WM Phoenix: Billy Horschel - M/C
Pebble Beach: Russell Knox - $46,860
Northern Trust: Dustin Johnson - $723,600
Match Play: Hunter Mahan - $148,000
Honda Classic: Graeme McDowell - $15,600
WGC-Cadillac: Rory McIlroy - $76,000
Valspar: Harris English - $23,940
Palmer: Justin Rose - M/C
Texas Open: Kevin Chappell - M/C
. . . but that one is.**

Houston Open: Keegan Bradley - $18,374
Masters: Matt Kuchar - $342,000
Heritage: Jim Furyk - $187,050
Zurich: Graham DeLaet - $44,200
Wells Fargo: Webb Simpson - $28,980
The Players: Adam Scott - $38,000
Byron Nelson: Jason Dufner - $17,327
Colonial: Zach Johnson - $12,416
Memorial: Charl Schwartzel - $167,400
FedEx St. Jude: Lee Westwood - M/C
U.S. Open: Jason Day - $326,310
Travelers: Bubba Watson - $32,296
Quicken Loans: Brendon Todd - $237,250
Greenbrier: Jimmy Walker - M/C
John Deere: Steve Stricker - $112,800
British Open: Henrik Stenson - $36,253
Canadian Open: Charley Hoffman - M/C

Season Total: $3,402,694

Footnotes

* Going to Kinloch is what I will from now on call a "JSY" experience as in, if someone asks you to play there, just say yes and then figure-out the rest later. At this point, there is a long list of family functions I would blow-off just to drive down for the steak sandwich.    

** I received a specific request for Lucy Pinder this weekend. As always, send your requests along with your comments, questions and recipes to the Fantasy Golf Report at fgr@fantasygolfreport.com.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Fantasy Golf: The Canadian Open Preview

To quote Phil Mickelson, "I'm such an idiot." On the one hand, we had a major where all indications were that birdies and eagles would abound based on a favorable weather forecast AND the fact that the winning score the last time they played this year's course was 18 under (second lowest major score ever). On the other hand, we had a player who has something of a history of dominating majors played on easy tracks and who had been showing recent signs of a return to ball-striking greatness with an opening 63 at the Memorial and an opening 64 at the Scottish Open last week. Maybe I was spooked about the second round debacles (78's at both of the aforementioned events) or maybe the memories of 2013 (Cut) and 2012 (T60th) were still fresh in my mind but for whatever reason, I didn't even put Rory McIlroy in a top ten where I found room for the likes of Danny Freakin Willett (and yes, that is his real full name).

The result was another disastrous week that has me one step closer to standing in front of Dean Wormer's desk as he reads off my putrid grade point average for the season. In my two one and done leagues, I sit 41st out of 74 teams in one and 31st out of 45 teams in the other. In the first league, I am fittingly right behind a team called "Shank." In the other league, I am even more fittingly behind a team called "Frazier" which calls to mind the Cheers episode when Frasier Crane returns from Italy and describes the fallout from Diane leaving him at the altar . . . "now in Italy when a soccer player attempts to kick the ball, misses and falls down, it's called a 'Frasier' . . . if that player then loses consciousness, it's called a 'Frasier Crane.'" My season is therefore a "Frasier" and well on its way to becoming a "Frasier Crane." Here's the damage report:

Last Week's Report Card: D
"And now, 25 years later I've got some wise-ass
reminding me of it on something called a blog."

1. Henrik Stenson - T39th
2. Adam Scott - T5th
3. Sergio Garcia - T2nd
4. Justin Rose - T23rd
5. Martin Kaymer - T70th
6. Victor Dubuisson - T9th
7. Brandt Snedeker - T58th
8. Danny Willett - M/C
9. Matt Kuchar - T54th
10. Francesco Molinari - T15th

The Frasier Crane Report

Hyundai: Gary Woodland - $130,000
Sony: Chris Kirk - $604,800
Humana: Charles Howell, III - $12,198
Farmers: Bill Haas - $20,740
WM Phoenix: Billy Horschel - M/C

Pebble Beach: Russell Knox - $46,860
Sticking with with the Miss Universe theme from
last week . . . meet Miss Canada of 2006. Nothing
says Canada quite like a bamboo backdrop.
Northern Trust: Dustin Johnson - $723,600
Match Play: Hunter Mahan - $148,000
Honda Classic: Graeme McDowell - $15,600
WGC-Cadillac: Rory McIlroy - $76,000
Valspar: Harris English - $23,940
Palmer: Justin Rose - M/C
Texas Open: Kevin Chappell - M/C
Houston Open: Keegan Bradley - $18,374
Masters: Matt Kuchar - $342,000

Heritage: Jim Furyk - $187,050
Zurich: Graham DeLaet - $44,200
Wells Fargo: Webb Simpson - $28,980
The Players: Adam Scott - $38,000
Byron Nelson: Jason Dufner - $17,327
Colonial: Zach Johnson - $12,416
Memorial: Charl Schwartzel - $167,400
FedEx St. Jude: Lee Westwood - M/C

U.S. Open: Jason Day - $326,310
Travelers: Bubba Watson - $32,296
Quicken Loans: Brendon Todd - $237,250
Greenbrier: Jimmy Walker - M/C
John Deere: Steve Stricker - $112,800
British Open: Henrik Stenson - $36,253

Season Total: $3,402,694

Now we head north for the Canadian Open which is a tricky one to call because they're always moving it around and this year they're playing a course they haven't seen since Scott Verplank won it in 2001 (Scott Verplank?!?). Add to that the fact that I've already used all of the guys I really want to pick this week (Furyk, Schwartzel, Mahan, etc.) and I'm left in a little bit of a pickle that has me going with the Golden Mullet (that's my new nickname for Charley Hoffman). Then again, picking the guys I've wanted to pick hasn't gotten me nowhere so maybe this is a blessing in disguise . . . but somehow I doubt it so what do you say we just look at another hot chick from Canada because even I can't screw that up.

The Canadian Open Favorites
"Ohhhhh Canada, our home and native
smoking hot babe . . . wait, that's not it."

1. Dustin Johnson - 12 to 1
2. Matt Kuchar - 12 to 1
3. Jim Furyk - 12 to 1
4. Graeme McDowell - 16 to 1
5. Charl Schwartzel - 20 to 1

The FGR One and Done Picks

1. Charley Hoffman
2. Jim Furyk
3. Charl Schwartzel
4. Hunter Mahan*
5. Russell Knox

Email the Fantasy Golf Report at fgr@fantasygolfreport.com.

Footnote

* Remember that the Canadian Open is where Hunter Mahan withdrew last year with the 36 hole lead to go home and be with his wife who was about to give birth. So if you want to score some points this weekend, tell your wife that story and then say that you would have absolutely done the same thing. Then call Tiger a jerk. That should at least get you to Monday. 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Fantasy Golf: The British Open Preview

Fact: The last major to be decided by less than two strokes happened over a year ago and the drama involved a chain smoking fat guy from Argentina who's nickname is "The Duck" and a Burbury model from Australia with a caddie who lacks an appreciation for the art of photography.

Fact: Three of the last four British Opens have been decided by three or more strokes including snoozers in 2010 (Louis Oosthuizen by 7) and 2011 (Darren Clarke by 3).

So we have converging trends indicating that we are freakin' due for some excitement on Sunday. (I'm going to keep predicting it until it happens dammit). The question before us now is therefore who will provide it? I'll be forthright with you mate, I don't feel particularly good about any of the favorites. This golf season has been so random. Every time you think a player is getting hot and coming to a course where he has had success in the past, he falls on his face and a guy like Brendon Todd, Steven Bowditch or Matt Every walks over him to collect the trophy. Why would we think this week will be any different? Especially considering that it's the British Open where Todd Hamilton, Ben Curtis and past their primes Ernie Els and Tom Watson happen. On the other hand, we have been on a decent run of quality major winners dating back to Keegan Bradley's PGA Championship win in 2011 (remember, he was just a relative unknown at that point with a really annoying pre-shot routine as opposed to the credentialed player with the really annoying pre-shot routine that he is now).

It's still too soon isn't it?
So what to do? Well, with that run of quality major winners and all of the high caliber players floating around, you'd be kind of foolish not to pick one so I'm sticking with the FGR strategy of stocking the top five and then sprinkling 6-10 with some longer shots. Remember that I don't put the same player at the top twice so Rory McIlroy, Adam Scott and Justin Rose aren't available but even if they were, I'd go with Henrik Stenson who has found his form coming off a string of three straight top fives. He also has a 2nd and two 3rds in his last six British Opens.

As for the alternatives, it appears that Adam Scott will be a consistent threat at every major for the foreseeable future. Justin Rose has been on fire the past few weeks though his British Open track record is very spotty, a fact often overlooked because (a) he is British and (b) he had that amazing run as an amateur . . . 16 years ago. Martin Kaymer has been the best player in the world since he won The Players in May and backed that up with a blowout at the U.S. Open. They would all be shrewd picks that would have you bubbling with optimism at 4:00 a.m. EST on Thursday to the extent that you can be bubbling with anything at that hour other than the symptoms of a Red Lobster all you can eat shrimp dinner gone horribly wrong.

The Brits appear to have stepped-
up their Miss Universe game.
And then there is Sergio Garcia, the guy we all dislike but now can barely remember why. Here is all you need to know about how generally disregarded Sergio has been for the last five years. He is rarely mentioned anymore in the "best player never to win a major" discussion that currently includes Stenson, Matt Kuchar, Jason Day, Jordan, Spieth, Dustin Johnson, etc. despite the fact that he has a whopping eighteen top tens in those events including a run of six in the British Open from 2001 through 2007. And remember, the British Open is also the Redemption Open as it's the only one Greg Norman ever won, it's where Darren Clarke finally got his and it's where Phil Mickelson was able to partially recover from the Merion fiasco. Sergio is also playing great this year with a tie for 2nd at the Travelers, a 3rd at The Players and a 3rd at the Houston Open. In his last event, he shot 65 in the final round to finish three shots off the lead at the BMW International. After that rundown, I've almost talked myself into picking him but if I'm going to risk having my weekend ruined, it's not going to be by Sergio taking the lead into Sunday and then tanking with a 75.

If you're looking for some slightly longer shots, I like Victor Dubuisson because he has the kind of scrappy game that is going to score him some top tens in majors over his career. For the part of the inevitable young European upstart, I'd go with Danny Willett who is on a nice run of T3, T8 and T11 over his last three events and he finished tied for 15th at the British last year so it's not his first rodeo. I also have a hunch about Francesco Molinari this year. Maybe it's because I just spent the past week molesting the Italian language while trying to order dinner and buy bus tickets so I've got a lot of "ini" and "ari" on the brain.*

OK, it's getting punchy. Let's move on to this week's picks and the requisite photo montage that causes half of you to skip this inspired writing anyway . . . you horny sons a bitches.         

Well played Britain. 
The British Open Favorites

1. Justin Rose - 14 to 1
2. Adam Scott - 16 to 1
2. Rory McIlroy - 16 to 1
2. Henrik Stenson - 16 to 1
5. Tiger Woods - 22 to 1
5. Martin Kaymer - 22 to 1
7. Sergio Garcia - 25 to 1
7. Phil Mickelson - 25 to 1
9. Graeme McDowell - 28 to 1
10. Dustin Johnson - 33 to 1
10. Jordan Spieth - 33
12. Jason Day - 35 to 1
13. Matt Kuchar - 40 to 1
14. Bubba Watson - 40 to 1
15. Rickie Fowler - 40 to 1

The FGR British Open Picks
Well played indeed.

1. Henrik Stenson
2. Adam Scott
3. Sergio Garcia
4. Justin Rose
5. Martin Kaymer
6. Victor Dubuisson
7. Brandt Snedeker
8. Danny Willett
9. Matt Kuchar
10. Francesco Molinari

Email the Fantasy Golf Report at fgr@fantasygolfreport.com.

Footnote

* As an American, it is very difficult to order dinner in Italy without recalling the classic rant by Paul Dooley in Breaking Away (arguably the greatest movie dad of all-time):

"No I don't feel lucky to be alive . . . I feel
lucky I'm not dead. There's a difference." 
Dad: What is this?

Mom: It's sauteed zuchini.

Dad: It's "itey" food. I don't want no "itey" food.

Mom: It's not. I got it at the A&P. It's like squash.

Dad: I know "itey" food when I hear it. It's all of them "eenie" foods . . . zucchini and linguine and fettuccine. I want some American food dammit! I want French fries!


Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Fantasy Golf: The John Deere Classic Preview

Today my liver stepped back from center to call timeout partly because it looked over at my credit card which had just taken a knee. Clearly it's time to come home and, after one more day of traipsing through Venice trying to stay one step ahead of the throngs of cruise ship refugees being dumped into St. Mark's Square, that is exactly what I will do. (You can always tell the people who just jumped-off the cruise ship for a three hour power tour because they have a look in there eye that says, "is this what I'm supposed to be seeing at this stop before I return to my cubby?") 

I promise that this will be the last intentionally half-assed FGR post and I also promise that I've been writing some entertaining (at least to me) posts about my travels but I don't like doing final edits when I've been embibing which means there really hasn't been a final edit opportunity since June 19th. The good stuff will therefore have to wait. These golf prediction posts on the other hand are an exception because they kind of write themselves - especially when I plan to gloss over last week's debacle and this week's pick was made so obvious by Steve Stricker's decent showing last weekend on top of the fact that he owns the John Deere Classic (we're going to conveniently ignore the final round 74 which dropped him out of contention at The Greenbrier). The FGR will return to its usual erratic standards by next week because being erratic is at least better than being consistently bad.

Last Week's Report Card: D+
"Hey Bob, the Leaning Tower of Pisa is
behind you. You're videotaping a flagpole."

1. Jimmy Walker - M/C
2. Brendon Todd - T4th
3. Marc Leishman - M/C
4. Bill Haas - T23rd
5. Brendan Steele - MDF
6. Scott Langley - T26th

The Sweaty Traveler Report

Hyundai: Gary Woodland - $130,000
Sony: Chris Kirk - $604,800
Humana: Charles Howell, III - $12,198
Farmers: Bill Haas - $20,740
WM Phoenix: Billy Horschel - M/C
Pebble Beach: Russell Knox - $46,860
Suffice it to say that casting Angelina
Jolie in The Tourist was a stretch . . 
Northern Trust: Dustin Johnson - $723,600
Match Play: Hunter Mahan - $148,000
Honda Classic: Graeme McDowell - $15,600
WGC-Cadillac: Rory McIlroy - $76,000
Valspar: Harris English - $23,940
Palmer: Justin Rose - M/C
Texas Open: Kevin Chappell - M/C
Houston Open: Keegan Bradley - $18,374
Masters: Matt Kuchar - $342,000
Heritage: Jim Furyk - $187,050
Zurich: Graham DeLaet - $44,200
Wells Fargo: Webb Simpson - $28,980
The Players: Adam Scott - $38,000
Byron Nelson: Jason Dufner - $17,327
Colonial: Zach Johnson - $12,416
Memorial: Charl Schwartzel - $167,400
FedEx St. Jude: Lee Westwood - M/C
U.S. Open: Jason Day - $326,310
Travelers: Bubba Watson - $32,296
Quicken Loans: Brendon Todd - $237,250
. . . but we'll try to keep an open mind.
Greenbrier: Jimmy Walker - M/C

Season Total: $3,253,641

The John Deere Favorites

1. Jordan Spieth - 9 to 1
2. Zach Johnson - 10 to 1
3. Steve Stricker - 12 to 1
4. Ryan Moore - 20 to 1
5. Harris English - 20 to 1
6. Chris Kirk - 28 to 1

The FGR One and Done Picks

1. Steve Stricker
2. Zach Johnson
3. Jordan Spieth
4. Billy Hurley, III
5. Ryan Moore
6. Chris Kirk