Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Fantasy Golf: The RBC Heritage Preview


So let's go ahead and dispense with the pleasantries. That Masters sucked. I watched almost every televised shot* and, other than a stretch of holes on the front nine of the last round where Bubba Watson and Jordan Spieth looked like they might be getting ready to go Thunderdome** on us, there was almost no drama. Consider that the six players who finished tied for 5th or better and had a realistic chance to win when they made the turn played the 13th and 15th holes a combined two under with ten pars and two birdies. No eagles, no doubles . . . no fun. It was almost as painfully boring as watching a baseball game from start to finish . . . almost. (And yes, I went there).

The only bright spot was that the FGR finally produced a top five pick after an almost two month long drought. But man it could have been so much better. After making birdie on the 2nd hole and then chipping in for another one on the 3rd, Matt Kuchar was tied for the lead at -6. He then proceeded to four-putt the 4th for a momentum killing double. That mess must have had a lingering effect because Kuch's only birdie the rest of the way was from about two feet on 11 despite having great chances on 12 and 16. The bogeys on 17 and 18 were just gentle kick to the shin reminders that this is not my year.


"Do you think I'm cute Mr. Kuchar?
Do you think I'm funny?!?"
I have always said that I will draft Kuch for my season long team because I find him so easy to root for but there were some dark points on that back nine (like when he pulled his tee shot on 13) when I wished that Sgt. Hartman would storm onto the fairway and start screaming, "I'm gonna give you three seconds, exactly three fucking seconds to wipe that stupid looking grin off your face or I will . . ." (you can Google the rest if you don't know it but I can't cross that line with my boy as we still have a major to win this season).

In an ongoing effort to keep the FGR fresh, I've moved Last Week's Report Card up and dropped this week's picks down. In related stories, I am wearing brown socks today, I had an Asian Cashew Chicken Salad from Wendy's*** for lunch and Speedos were 25% off at Sports Authority so I bought two.**** Now I alll I need is a Groupon for manscaping and I'm ready for Memorial Day weekend at the club.

Last Week's FGR Report Card: C-

1. Matt Kuchar - T5th
By now we all know that Angie Watson
is very tall. But do you know who else is
tall? Rianne Ten Haken. So there you go. 
2. Phil Mickelson - M/C
3. Adam Scott - T14th
4. Sergio Garcia - M/C
5. Jason Day - T21st
6. Nick Watney - T44th
7. Dustin Johnson - M/C
8. Ernie Els - M/C
9. Rory McIlroy - T8th
10. Branden Grace - M/C

The Ray of Hope 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

Season Total - $2,162,112

Let's look ahead to arguably the biggest letdown event in all of sports, especially now that they don't play the Pro Bowl the week after the Super Bowl. Even with it's B+ field, respectable roster of past winners and picturesque setting, the RBC Heritage is always going to feel like watching a cover band. Anyway, the guy who usually wins is the one who hits the most fairways and Jim Furyk is really good at that and he's playing well and he won this thing in 2010 and you know the drill by now.   

This Week's Favorites

Oh yeah, apparently Michelle
Buswell is also very tall.
1. Jordan Spieth - 18 to 1
2. Matt Kuchar - 18 to 1
3. Jason Day - 18 to 1
4. Luke Donald - 22 to 1
5. Jim Furyk - 22 to 1

The FGR One and Done Picks

1. Jim Furyk
2. Will Mackenzie
3. Kevin Na
4. Russell Knox
5. Billy Horschel

Footnotes

* I missed all of Friday for a really cool golf related reason that I will cover at some point soon. Let's just say that it more than made-up for the crappy Masters

** Yet another dated reference to a movie of my youth, Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome which produced the classic line, "two men enter . . . one man leaves." I felt compelled to identify it because it's from that bygone era when people still liked Mel Gibson.   

*** And it was delicious. You better watch your ass Chick-fil-A. I warned that you would rue the day when you stopped serving the Southwestern Chargrilled Salad. My advice . . . lose the Grilled Market Salad. You're not fooling anybody with all of that fruit.     


**** This is funny because it's true. I actually go through about one Speedo a month because I leave them hanging in the locker room and I assume the cleaning people treat them as they would a used diaper. Before you get too repulsed, I should add that they are the long kind that stretch to the top of your knee but I don't think that was any consolation to the nice young lady at the counter who probably now has to fight-off the image of a guy with a hairy neck who looked sixty years old to her squeezing into one of those things. ("Honey . . . you haven't even touched your dinner.")

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

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Fantasy Golf: The Masters Preview

One of the best things about being your own editor is that you can write about whatever the hell you want and that is a nice luxury to have this week because it means that I can write about arguably the greatest sporting event in the world instead of the current health of a player who appears to be hitting the downside of his career like Franz Klammer. You see I'm not old (per se), but I have been around long enough to remember Larry Mize's chip-in, Freddie's ball stopping on 12, Greg Norman's meltdown, Ben Crenshaw breaking down on the 18th green and Tom Watson coming back from dunking his ball on 12 to eagle 13 and 15 in 1991 only to double 18 and lose by two shots to Ian Woosnam (the most underrated Masters of my lifetime). And then there was the 1986 Masters which came along before I even liked the sport but it sucked me in because even a non-fan could appreciate that something pretty damn cool was happening. All of those Masters were played before 1997, the year it became about one guy.

And how about the recent tournaments? We had Charl Schwartzel reeling-off four straight birdies to close it out in 2011 followed by Bubba Watson surviving an early albatross from Louis Oostuizen to win in a playoff in 2012 (if you want to relive that one, check-out the FGR's timeline of the final round here). And then last year Adam Scott and Angel Cabrera traded haymakers until dusk when Scott finally put it away with one of the most clutch putts in Masters history. At no point during the back nine of those three Masters did I find myself wanting for anything that the event was not already delivering. Especially last year when I eschewed the final round timeline to watch it in a bar with a bunch of dudes. That took the viewing experience to a whole new level now known as the "Masters Playoff Irish Car Bombathon" (you know, in honor of Angel Carbrera's Irish heritage).

So let's see if you can
guess this week's theme. 
I'm pretty sure I'm preaching to the choir because if you're reading the Fantasy Golf Report, then chances are that you either (a) feel similarly about the Masters or (b) just visit the site for the pictures. Either way, you don't really care who is in the mix on Sunday because you know it's all about the setting and the drama. And now that we have the genuflecting out of the way, let's get down to who we have winning this thing.

Rule No. 1 for handicapping the Masters is that the winner rarely comes from nowhere a la Ben Curtis or Shaun Micheel. The closest thing we've had to that guy lately is Trevor Immelman in 2008 but he had finished tied for 6th at the 2007 PGA Championship and 5th at the 2005 Masters. A Russell Henley or John Senden may stop in to say hello like Marc Leishman did last year but they won't be drinking with the bartenders when the lights go on and the bouncers are driving the riff raff towards the door.

What that means is that the Masters tends to be very chalky. Last year the top three were Scott, Cabrera and Jason Day. The year before that it was Bubba, Louis, Matt Kuchar, Lee Westwood and Phil Mickelson. In 2011 it was Schwartzel, Day and Scott so the bottom line is that you don't want to get too cute or you'll find yourself sitting there with your thumb up your ass on Sunday hoping a guy like Harris English or Gary Woodland can get hot and eek out a top ten finish while the smart money is on guys like Scott, Mickelson, Kuchar, Day and Rory McIlroy . . . at least two of whom will probably have a shot at the green jacket come the back nine on Sunday.

Until yesterday, I had been locked-in on Kuchar with this pick for almost a year. He's got all of the credentials with a tie for 8th in 2013 and a tie for 3rd in 2012. He has also been winning tournaments over the last two years that would seem to be logical stepping stones on the way to his first major (The Players, The Memorial and the Match Play). But I'm not quite sure what to make of those squirrely shots he hit down the stretch on Sunday when all he had to do was put the ball in the middle of the green on either 16 or 18 to win. The one on 18 is especially troubling because he plays a fade but he hit it left into the water. Then in the playoff he compensated and hit it right into the bunker. Maybe it's good he didn't win because he learned something from the experience? I'm just not sure I buy that.

The problem is that I see glaring flaws when it comes to the next six or seven guys.* Scott and McIlroy are very shaky putters and, with regard to Scott, I think it is highly unlikely that anyone is going back to back at Augusta with the depth of the current field. Mickelson and Day both have injury issues the severity of which are not really clear. And if you're nervous about Kuchar's ability to closeout his first major, then the prospect of Dustin Johnson or Sergio Garcia protecting a one shot lead with three to play should terrify you.

So that leads me back to Kuch. I can't help but thinking that it just feels like his time. As for the rest of the top ten, I went chalk for the next four and then I alternated in some guys who are in the 100 to 1 range** because you know at least one long shot is going to find his way into the top five with a backdoor 67 on Sunday. My favorite for that guy is Nick Watney who plays well at Augusta even when he's not playing well anywhere else (T13th last year). I could also see Ernie making a semi-sentimental run and I have Branden Grace as my random guy who makes the top ten.

This may be the most wide-open Masters ever as I just counted twenty three players in the field who I would not be surprised to see in a green jacket on Sunday. The last three to do that have been first-time major winners and I think that trend is going to continue this week. Either way, I feel like we're in for another epic Sunday and I can practically hear the shot of Baileys and Jameson clinking the bottom of the pint glass right now.          

The Favorites
No, it's not women who look like
they just dropped their keys.

1. Rory McIlroy - 9 to 1
2. Adam Scott - 10 to 1
3. Phil Mickelson - 12 to 1
4. Jason Day - 16 to 1
5. Matt Kuchar - 18 to 1
6. Henrik Stenson - 22 to 1
7. Dustin Johnson - 22 to 1
8. Sergio Garcia - 22 to 1
9. Bubba Watson - 25 to 1
10. Justin Rose - 25 to 1

The FGR Top Ten

1. Matt Kuchar
2. Phil Mickelson
3. Adam Scott
4. Sergio Garcia
5. Jason Day
6. Nick Watney
7. Dustin Johnson
8. Ernie Els
9. Rory McIlroy
10. Branden Grace

Last Week's FGR Report Card: D
It's "green" baby. Bring it!!!

1. Keegan Bradley - T43rd
2. Jordan Spieth - M/C
3. Graham DeLaet - T19th
4. Jimmy Walker - T24th
5. Louis Oostuizen - M/C

The Damage to Date 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

Season Total - $1,820,112

Footnotes

* To simplify this process, I had to remove some guys from the equation because I don't think their games as currently constructed suit Augusta. That list includes Henrik Stenson, Justin Rose and Jason Dufner. I just don't see those three contending and I also don't see Bubba getting back into the mix quite yet though he will be a threat down the road.

"When I'm wrong . . .
I say I'm wrong." 

** This is also due in part to an email from a reader who correctly pointed-out that I've gotten way too chalky in my picks and that he can go to any website to find-out who the favorites are. What do we always say in these situations Dr. Houseman?


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

Monday, April 7, 2014

Fantasy Golf: The Pre-Masters Redraft Part 2

I feel ya Steve.
Let us continue with 11-30* (click here for Part 1 and note that I feel like my head is in vice** which makes it very hard to have a sense of humor about anything so bear with me):

11. Justin Rose (8): We know two things, (1) Rose is capable of winning any of the majors and (2) if he's still available in this spot, you're taking him.

12. Graham DeLaet (18): DeLaet hits a lot of greens (currently 4th in GIR) and he's an above-average putter. Other than the fact that he probably had the Canadian flag stitched to his backpack when he travelled through Europe,*** there are not many flaws and he is probably the best player in the world without a tour PGA Tour win.

13. Henrik Stenson (4): Stenson has not looked sharp at all so far this season and that was before his lackluster performance in Houston where he finished tied for 54th. His incredible ball-striking has always covered-up his weak putting and that was the case last year when he was absurdly 1st in greens in regulation and 7th in driving accuracy. You could putt using an oblong apparatus with a name that rhymes with "wildo"**** and win golf tournaments if you hit the ball like that.

14. Bubba Watson (NR): Not only did we not have Bubba in our top 30 at the start of the season, we went so far as to include him on our bust potential list with Billy Horschel and Hideki Matsuyama. Oops. Bubba seems to have finally absorbed his Masters win and is back to being a threat every time he tees it up.

Bubba's not the only Watson
we've been underrating.
15. Harris English (21): I almost overlooked English because he skipped the Texas tournaments to presumably get ready for his first Masters (which is what you're supposed to do if you're on the verge of a breakout season). The fact that he's only played in three career majors (two PGA's and one British) has me a little nervous but he may be the best overall ball-striker right now ranking 2nd in GIR and 20th in driving distance. Unfortunately, he's another lousy putter. (Why can't any of these guys putt?)

16. Graeme McDowell (23): Time to insert a player who is currently in the top ten in strokes gained putting. It came down to McDowell, Webb Simpson and Jimmy Walker. Simpson is showing all of the signs of a player who's wife is about to have a baby (erratic play and his last one was almost two years ago which means he's in range) so I'm avoiding him and we'll get to Jimmy Walker in a couple spots.

17. Jordan Spieth (19): He probably won't last this long because someone in your draft is going think Spieth can win a major this year. I don't but if you do, bump him up ten spots and go for it.

18. Jimmy Walker (30): This feels about right for the guy who is displaying quite the all-around game this season. But before we get ahead of ourselves, let's remember that Walker has only played in four majors since 2002 and the only time he cashed a check was a tie for 21st at the 2012 PGA Championship. The road to bad fantasy golf teams is littered with players who made their reputations by one great stretch between October and February. 

19. Keegan Bradley (16): Bradley is a bit of a poor man's Rory McIlroy in that he has the ability to ignite at any time but his ceiling is not quite as high. This is a pick based on potential and the fact that Bradley tends to be a big game player. His game is ideal for Augusta and one of these years he's going to figure it out and make a run at the green jacket.

20. Bill Haas (13): We had a three way battle for the last spot in the top 20 among Haas, Brandt Snedeker and Webb Simpson a/k/a the guys who've kind of overslept this year. The most concerning is Snedeker because he usually shines during the California and Arizona tournaments (in the last two seasons he has wins at Pebble and the Farmers along with 2nd place finishes at the Farmers and Waste Management) but the best he could muster this year was a tie for 58th at the Humana. That leaves Haas and Simpson and Haas feels more reliable right now.

21. Webb Simpson (9): If he's available here, you're taking him so let's move on.

22. Patrick Reed (NR): I know HE thinks he's one of the top five players in the world but those spots are usually reserved for players who have at least competed in a major. I honestly don't know if he's a steal at this spot or a reach but this is about where I would start looking at him.

23. Charl Schwartzel (20): I might not be the best person to ask about Charl because I got burned when I took him in the second round of my 2013 season long draft. (I took Bubba in the first round - it was not my finest hour). Everyone keeps telling us what a solid all-around player he is but, other than his Masters win in 2011, all of that skill has not translated to jack squat in the States over the last two years so this is a bit of a gamble with a lot of upside.

24. Rickie Fowler (24): He hasn't done anything this year that would encourage us to move him up or down so here he is right where we had him in January.

25. Jim Furyk (NR): Furyk has been the forgotten man since he won the 2010 FedEx Cup but he's still ranked 23rd in the world and he almost won the PGA Championship last year proving that he could still sneak another major title onto his resume.

SHOOTER!!!
26. Steve Stricker (17): I really just included Stricker because he's from Wisconsin and I wanted an opportunity to ask this question again - how do you let the guy who appears to be the second coming of Reggie Miller touch the ball much less get a shot off under those circumstances? With the game on the line, shooters like Aaron Harrison honestly believe that they will make anything from inside half-court and he's proven his mettle enough times during the tournament that you have to make someone else beat you. I lost sleep over this.

27. Ian Poulter (NR): Remember, we're giving extra love to guys who are threats in the majors and Poulter has four top tens in the last two years. He's also a fun guy to have for those random hours of coverage when he goes on his inevitable birdie binges.

28. Chris Kirk (27): Another guy we think we had pegged correctly in January.

29. Lee Westwood (26): A few weeks ago I dropped Westwood from my season-long squad. I have been the kiss of death this year with the latest being the gag job by Matt Kuchar in Houston (my first round pick). Put it all together and you're probably looking at Westwood's first major title.

30. Gary Woodland (NR): Woodland has not missed a cut this year and he's currently qualified for all of the majors except for the PGA Championship (and he almost definitely will be for that one too when the time comes).

Notable omissions: Tiger Woods, Brandt Snedeker and Louis Oostuizen. Injuries are nothing to be trifled with in fantasy golf and we either know those guys are dealing with them (Woods and Oostuizen) or we suspect they are (Snedeker). Someone in your draft is going to jump too early on these three. Don't be that guy.

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

Footnotes

* The only requirement for every player in this top 30 is that they must be currently entered in the Masters. If you're drafting a team at this stage of the season and you pick a player this early who is not going to Augusta, then I can't help you.

** About five weeks ago I started eating better, working-out six days a week and I cut my drinking back to a level that can barely even be called drinking anymore. During that time, I've been smacked with the flu twice. What's your take on that Bishop Pickering?

"There is no God." 
*** Young Canadians traveling through Europe go to great lengths to make it clear that they are not Americans because of our well-earned reputation of being crass tourists. You'd think after all of these years of being mocked for it, we'd stop raising our voice so that people who don't speak English would understand us better. Nope.

**** You have no idea how badly I wanted to use the real word there but the FGR is not ready to cross that line . . . yet.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Fantasy Golf: The Pre-Masters Redraft Part 1

I get the impression that there are a lot of fantasy golfers* who delay the start of their season until the week before the Masters and, while I don't agree with that approach because it means a wasted opportunity to have a stake in almost twenty relatively meaningless tournaments, I understand it. At the FGR, we try to cater to all fans, even the non-purists, so for those types who pick all of the salted almonds out of the nut dish, we present Part 1 of the 2014 PGA Tour Top 30 Redraft (for the original top 30, click here).** I don't know how many parts there are going to be as it depends on my laziness factor this weekend. We are currently at LAZCON 3 so I'm envisioning a two parter with some really thin commentary towards the end.

1. Matt Kuchar (2): We only had Kuch ranked behind Tiger at the start of the season and he has done nothing to change our minds with four top tens in seven events to start 2014. He is currently 11/1 to win a major behind guys like Jordan Spieth and Sergio Garcia which is outrageous considering that he is by far the most proven player over the last two years who has not won one (winner of the 2012 Players, 2013 Match Play and the 2013 Memorial). On top of that, he said "jeepers" today after hitting a bad shot. How can you not want this guy on your squad?

"You'll putt it again Adam and
you'll keep putting it until I um
. . . I mean we are ready."
2. Adam Scott (3): With Tiger out indefinitely, we can stop arguing about the best player in the world for a while. From 2011-2013, Scott had seven top ten finishes in majors including three last year with his win at the Masters being one of them. His putting issues at the Arnold Palmer were a little disconcerting but he'll work those out or Stevie Williams will beat him with a live stingray.

3. Dustin Johnson (7): Since the start of 2014, Johnson has played in four stroke play events and has finished T6th, T2nd, 2nd and T4th. He also won the WGC-HSBC Championship. In the original preview we said he couldn't be trusted. Well now I trust him. (Note that I wrote that before he shot 80 on Thursday but he did play his last twelve holes one under so it was a good 80?)

4. Jason Day (15): I'm not quite sure what we were thinking by ranking Day that low in January. After finishing second at the Masters and U.S. Open in 2011, he basically took 2012 off when his wife had their first baby (golfers with kids on the way are about as productive as I am on Fridays after 2:00 p.m. which is not very). Then he stormed back in 2013 with a 3rd at the Masters, a T2nd at the U.S. Open and a T8th at the PGA. So far this year he's already dominated at the Match Play and finished T2nd at the Farmers. The thumb injury is a bit concerning but at least it's not up his ass like it apparently was in 2012.

5. Hunter Mahan (5): We're sticking to our guns with Mahan who has shown enough solid play so far this year to back-up the expectations he created with strong showings at the U.S. Open and British Open last year. The cool thing about Mahan is that he has the ability to be great in every phase of the game so when he puts it together, look out! (No seriously, LOOK OUT there's someone coming-up behind you and he appears to be holding one of those things things from the old movies that they used to knock guys out with - what in the hell were those things anyway?)

6. Phil Mickelson: I really struggled with this spot because all I could see in the next tier of players was flaws but then I put myself in draft mode and asked myself "self, who would you take with this pick if those other five were gone?" and the answer was Mickelson. His potential to win another major this year with the U.S. Open being played at Pinehurst offsets the troubling back situation. If he had struggled in the first two rounds this week, I may have thought differently but he's been solid. Also, if he wins next week and you passed-up the opportunity to take him with the 6th pick, your Masters viewing experience will suck and you absolutely need to remove that from the equation.

7. Rory McIlroy (10): I bumped Rory up a few spots from the original list because so far it appears that he has his head screwed-on straight again. We know that means he could go on a ridiculous tear at anytime because he has more natural ability than anyone currently playing who also has significant major championship experience (which rules-out Jordan Spieth). He would currently be ranked 105th in strokes gained putting if he had played enough rounds so if he puts the time in on the putting green ZZZZZZzzzzzzzz (let's move on).

8. Zach Johnson (14): This is part safety pick and part belief that I think Zach Johnson is going to win the British Open before he's done. It seems like he never misses a fairway (for good reason) and his last three finishes across the pond (as we like to say) were T16th, T9th and T6th. In the fantasy golf business, we call that "trending" (feel free to use that).

Mrs. Dufner has eclipsed
Mrs. Day and shows no
signs of letting-up.
9. Jason Dufner (11): Dufner tends to check-out for weeks at a time but I still vividly remember the lasers he was shooting at the PGA Championship last year and if he dials that swing up at Pinehurst, I like his chances. Also, his wife is currently at the top of the golf WAG power rankings so that gets him a bit of a bump.

10. Sergio Garcia (NR): I've always contended that Sergio was eventually going to reach a point where we grow tired of disliking him and, when that time comes, he's going to reach his potential. I'm starting to feel like that time is now. The fact that Tiger won't be around to unhinge him every time he's in contention can only help.  

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

Footnotes

* How great is it that we get our own name? People who play fantasy football, baseball and basketball (all seventeen of them) don't get to call themselves fantasy footballers, baseballers or basketballers because that would sound make them sound like dorks whereas if you tell someone you're a fantasy golfer . . . never mind. (Sometimes when I write this stuff I feel like I'm about to get a wedgie and stuffed in a locker).

** Note that this is not how we see the overall season ending because then we would have to account for the wins guys like Jimmy Walker and Patrick Reed already have. This is how we see the season going from here with a little extra love given to the players we think will win a major. ("We" of course would be me and my constantly evolving posse of imaginary friends. Right now it consists of a guy who walks around quoting Top Gun all day, two members of a Journey cover band called "Separate Ways" and an angry chain-smoking podiatrist named Steve).

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Fantasy Golf: Shell Houston Open Preview

Well if it wasn't official before, it is now. I suck. Two missed cuts in a row and I haven't cracked $100,000 in a full field event with my top pick since mid-February. It's enough to make a man want to stash his golf clubs in the basement, sell his football season tickets and take-up swimming (you already did that) . . . CRAP!!!! You know what this calls for, only the greatest rock bottom scene ever . . .  "I GOT NOWHERE ELSE TO GO!!!"*  

OK. Take a breath. The season doesn't officially start until the Masters. Last year kicked-off in much the same fashion and then I called Adam Scott at the Masters, Matt Kuchar at The Memorial and Tiger at the Bridgestone to get right back in the game (yeah but then five guys in your league picked Dufner at the PGA and passed you for the final money spot . . . DOUBLE CRAP!!!!) I actually feel really good about this week's pick. Keegan Bradley has been showing signs of life lately and plays this course well. Sooner or later that kind of fortune cookie logic is going to pay-off.        

The Favorites
Time to start pushing the
envelope on the Texas thing.


1. Rory McIlroy - 10 to1
2. Dustin Johnson - 14 to 1
3. Henrik Stenson - 16 to 1
4. Keegan Bradley - 22 to 1
5. Phil Mickelson - 25 to 1
6. Matt Kuchar - 25 to 1
7. Sergio Garcia - 25 to 1
8. Jordan Spieth - 25 to 1
9. Hunter Mahan - 28 to 1
10. Charl Schwartzel - 33 to 1

The FGR One and Done Picks

1. Keegan Bradley
2. Jordan Spieth
3. Graham DeLaet
4. Jimmy Walker
5. Louis Oostuizen

I'm not even going to dignify last week's picks with a comment. (If I did, that comment would probably start with an "F" bomb). Instead, how about an impromptu review of White House Down which blew through Starz or Encore or one of those channels between 340 and 390 on Fios last month. If you haven't seen it, here is how to decide if you should. If you loved Die Hard and Air Force One, you will like White House Down. If you just liked those first two movies, you may want to breath on a mirror to make sure you're not dead inside and you can probably skip White House Down

If you're still with me, I will tell you the positive are that (a) the bad guys are played by James Woods and Jason Clarke, (b) Richard Jenkins** is in it and (c) the White House makes a pretty good backdrop for an action movie. If they would have just cast Don Cheadle instead of Jamie Foxx and a girl with some onions like Jessica Chastain or Keri Russell instead of acting's answer to cereal that sat in the milk too long Maggie Gyllenhaal, they may have had themselves a legit badass action movie. Instead, they ended-up with Magic Mike and Willie Beamen blowing shit up on Pennsylvania Avenue. Call it an entertaining opportunity wasted.

Last Week's Report Card: F
 . . . I mean really start
pushing the envelope.***

1. Kevin Chappell - M/C
2. Billy Horschel - M/C
3. Jason Kokrak - T31st
4. Brendan Steele - M/C
5. Chris Stroud - DNS

The I Suck 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

Season Total: $1,801,738

Footnotes

* For you kids at home seeing this scene for the first time, "D.O.R." stands for "Discharge on Request" and this movie has arguably the greatest simmering bad blood settling fight of all-time.

** Jenkins owns one of my ten favorite lines in movie history when he drills the tone of the moment in Step Brothers on Christmas Eve after his life has been ruined by the combined buffoonish efforts of his son and stepson. After reaching his breaking point, he simply stands-up from the couch and, with almost no emotion whatsoever, says "I'm gonna go down to the Cheesecake Factory . . . have a drink." If that movie had been made in 1983, I would have substituted Beefsteak Charlie's for the Cheesecake Factory and used that line every year from the time I was fifteen (Beefsteak Charlie's had a fairly liberal I.D. policy).

*** A meeting in my near future is going to begin with, "so let's start by you explaining why you Google the phrase 'sexy cowgirl' every week."

Email the Fantasy Golf Report at fgr@fantasygolfreport.com

Friday, March 28, 2014

The Fantasy Swimming Report: Introduction

Welcome to the FSR. As part of my ongoing effort to distract myself from my chosen fake profession* of fantasy golf writer (and inspired by the fact that it's been the shittiest spring for golf in the Mid-Atlantic since I began caring about playing golf in the spring in the Mid-Atlantic), I've decided to search-out something new to write about in the hopes that a change of subject scenery will help shake me out of this golf forecasting funk. So in addition to my weekly attempts to pick the winner of an event that has between 144 and 156 participants competing on a venue that can include wind, water, sand, rain and even extreme temperatures (it's kind of like The Hunger Games with douche bags yelling "Mashed Potatoes" every time a kid gets killed), I'm going to try to mix-in a few other recurring topics and this is going to be one of them.

I was looking for a sport where
you don't have to buy anything,
sell anything or process anything.
What exactly is the topic you ask? Well it's a sport that's sweeping the nation. No, not jousting**. . . it's open water swimming where you go find yourself a suitable body of water such as a river, a lake or even an ocean and then you either (a) swim from one side to the other or (b) swim around some buoys until you end-up right back where you started. It kind of falls into the Tough Mudder/Spartan race category where if you give it a name and make it sound like you're challenging people's manhood or womanhood, some of those people will be dumb enough to take the bait and do it. And I am one of those people.

My chosen event this year is the Great Chesapeake Bay Swim (a/k/a the GCBS). I assume that the founder decided to put the "Great" in front of the name for the same reason that F. Scott Fitzgerald and Charles Dickens did because no one would want to swim in something just called the Chesapeake Bay Swim just like no one would have read books called "Gatsby" or "Expectations." But you throw the word "Great" into the equation and BOOM . . . sign me up. (Or maybe the founder just really thinks the Chesapeake Bay itself is "great" and the word "great" is not meant to embellish the swim . . . but I digress). The GCBS is ten weeks from this Sunday and over that time I intend to drop-in a bit of writing here and there covering why I'm doing it and how I plan to do it. At this point, I'm not entirely convinced by my answer to either question so maybe writing about it will get me there. Then again, maybe it won't and I'll just spend three hours on June 8th trying not to drowned for no discernible reason. For now, let's start with the basics of the swim itself and why I decided to write about it.

I just shit myself a little.
The GCBS begins on a beach near one end of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, a dual-span bridge that connects Maryland's Eastern Shore (the redneck side) with its Western Shore (the snooty side). After entering the water, swimmers cut into the area between the two spans which form the boundaries for the 4.4 mile swim to the other side. If you're trying to get a sense of what a 4.4 mile swim is, go to a 25 yard lap pool and swim from one end to the other. OK, now do that about 309 more times and you're there. (God help me).***

I had no intention of writing about this before I attempted it but then I was talking to a friend of mine about the swim in between Irish Car Bombs**** while watching the NFC Championship Game in January and he suggested that I should because it would be a great motivator. My first reaction to the idea was that it was utterly preposterous because what if I fail miserably and have to be fished-out of the Bay and driven back to shore in what I would imagine is referred to as the "Vessel of Shame." But then I remembered one of the great lessons I learned during law school which is that there is no greater motivator than the fear of public humiliation. So at this point, my rallying cry is "Don't Fuck This Up or You'll Look Like Jerk!" It's a work in progress.

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

Footnotes

* I'm pretty sure that somewhere in the definition of the word "profession" there is a reference to payment. Yup, there it is right in the second word - "a paid occupation." So far, this is not that.

** Funny story (yeah, we'll see). In the early 90's I was in the store manager training program for Herman's Sporting Goods. (This was back in the days before the FGW made it clear that she was not going to marry a guy who ate at Sbarro everyday and worked in between the Jordan Kitts piano store and Chess King). During one part of the training, we had to do a presentation on a new product line that Herman's should start carrying and why. At the time, jousting was the official sport of the State of Maryland (that made the words "forward thinking" pop into your head didn't it?) so I thought it would be humorous to propose that we ride the jousting spirit (get it?) by carrying a full line of lances, armour, saddles, etc. Suffice it to say, it killed with my fellow trainees but not so much with the guy running the show. Fortunately, it was not exactly a bunch of cut-throat Fortune 500 executed wannabes I was up against so I don't think it impacted my standing with the company. Herman's would be run out of business by Dick's and Sports Authority two years later but I was safely in law school by then honing my wise-ass skills into revenue generating tools that would ultimately make me a worthy suitor.

Ok ok but I'm just doing one. Really.
*** I am taking the position that this would only constitute bragging if I had completed the swim already. If I do finish it, I will inevitably describe it in great detail at which point that will be bragging.

**** In a related story, my decision to give-up drinking while I train has given way to what I hope is a more realistic goal of giving-up Irish Car Bombs. The over/under on when I break that pact with myself is April 13th when the final round of the Masters will surely be my Waterloo.  

Monday, March 24, 2014

Fantasy Golf: The Valero Texas Open Preview

"We're so damned lost. Where the hell is Innsbruck, Austria?" - John Winger, Stripes

That about sums it up for the Fantasy Golf Report's season to date. Or maybe a more appropriate quote would be, "Do you know what's going on here? Can't you see what's happened? I've become George!" - Elaine Benes, Seinfeld. (This is where you're supposed to respond with "don't say that"). In the five tournaments since the Northern Trust, my picks have accumulated $263,540 in earnings. While you might say that's not THAT bad, you would be ignoring the fact that two of those tournaments were WGC events where everyone gets paid so, for those, you mathematically would have had a better chance at success had you just assigned a golfer to every tree in your backyard and then gone with the first two your dog pissed on.

The latest debacle was Justin Rose's missed cut last weekend when he backed-up a relatively solid opening 71 with a slap happy 79 on Friday. I should have know I was in trouble when Rose posted this video of himself on Instagram hitting balls on the range Thursday afternoon because there is no speedier route to a missed cut than releasing footage of yourself hitting range balls while your adoring fans scramble for the Jergens and Kleenex. I mean good lord look at some of those comments. "Such good balance and rhythm." "Going low tomorrow." And my personal favorite, "Wooow" from the most easily impressed man in the world - what does he do when Rose hits a great shot on the actual course . . . jump out of his Barcalounger and start singing You Are So Beautiful in his Joe Cocker voice? Get a life people (wrote the unpaid fantasy golf blogger).      

Now to make matters worse I have absolutely no feel for who to pick at Augusta in a few weeks. In the preseason I had Tiger (back), then switched to Jason Day (thumb), then I mulled Bubba (flake) and finally I figured I could go with the old standby of Adam Scott but he coughed-up a hairball of a round on Sunday with some very suspect putting and handed the Arnold Palmer Invitational to Matt Every. 
That leaves Rory (head), Phil (judgment) and Dustin Johnson (psycho fiancee) as the next best options. Yikes. I guess there's always Angel Cabrera.

To bust out of this funk I'm pulling a mild Costanza for the next two weeks. Instead of posting the previews on Tuesdays, I'm doing them on Mondays WITH NO PICKS FROM THE LIST OF FAVORITES!!!. And no analysis, footnotes or any of that other crap that's gotten me nowhere. Just a list of five players with names I can picture on the leaderboard when I close my eyes and almost fall backwards in my chair (now if I can just make that a visual of the Sunday leaderboard instead of the Thursday leaderboard). The only thing I'm not changing is the pictures. I mean, I'm not dead inside. Yet.      

The Texas Open Favorites
It's kind of a no-brainer
for the Texas Open.

1. Zach Johnson - 16 to 1
2. Phil Mickelson - 16 to 1
3. Matt Kuchar - 16 to 1
4. Jordan Spieth - 18 to 1
5. Jimmy Walker - 18 to 1
6. Ryan Palmer - 22 to 1 
7. Jim Furyk - 25 to 1
8. Fred Jacobson - 25 to 1

The FGR One and Done Picks

1. Kevin Chappell
2. Billy Horschel
3. Jason Kokrak
4. Brendan Steele
5. Chris Stroud 

Last Week's FGR Report Card: D

1. Justin Rose - M/C
2. Graeme McDowell - T10th
Right?
3. Hunter Mahan - W/D
4. Henrik Stenson - T5th
5. Zach Johnson - T43rd 

The FGR PUD 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

Season Total: $1,801,738

Email the Fantasy Golf Report at fgr@fantasygolfreport.com . . . or don't. Your call.