Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Fantasy Golf: The Zurich Classic Preview

The Zurich Classic Favorites
This week's FGR jinx . . . er . . . pick is
dating "bikini model" Alexis Randock.

1. Jason Day - 7/1
2. Dustin Johnson - 8/1
3. Justin Rose - 9/1
4. Rickie Fowler - 14/1
5. Keegan Bradley - 18/1
6. Harris English - 25/1
7. Billy Horschel - 25/1
8. Steve Stricker - 33/1
9. Brendan Steele - 35/1
10. Jamie Donaldson - 35/1

The FGR Zurich Classic Picks

1. Dustin Johnson
2. Rickie Fowler
3. Sean O'Hair
4. Steve Stricker
5. Brendan Steele

The One and Done Pick: Rickie Fowler

The Sleeper Pick: Troy Merritt

Just when I thought this year couldn't get any worse, last week happened. But the failure really dates back to early January because before each season starts, I generally do a quick run through the tournaments and slot as many players as possible based on repeated success at certain events. The primary purpose of this is to make sure I don't get to the Tour Championship with Jordan Spieth, Jason Day and Dustin Johnson all sitting on my bench because the fact that I have the attention span of a four year old means I forgot to play them. 

The other purpose is to link players and events without getting swayed by current form because we know from experience how quickly that can change. It sounds good in theory until you get off to a bad start and then lose your composure by making rash decisions like yanking Jim Furyk out of the RBC Heritage slot and putting him in the Valspar slot. Turns-out that was a $1M mistake give or take a few thousand but hey, who's counting? (Other than the people to whom I will be handing money in October). Combine that with the kick in the man zone I got when the guy I actually did pick missed his first cut since last year's British Open, and you have the rock bottom point of the Fantasy Golf Report's 2015 (I hope). 

"I ain't feeling so good
about the picks this week."
My current state of mind combined with the fact that we have one of the tour's less anticipated events on deck enticed me to take this week off and get my head right but then I remembered the inspiring pep talk that Opal Fleener gave to coach Norman Dale in Hoosiers* . . . "the sun don't shine on the same dog's ass every day but mister, you ain't seen a ray of light since you got here." And then I remembered how Coach persevered, how he helped get Shooter clean and how his fortunes changed by sticking to what he knew was the righteous path. I'm going to do the same. 

If only I'd come up with this idea sooner, I would have gotten myself thrown out of the game for a week and then found an old shaky drunk guy to put on a suit and write the preview but I didn't so I guess I'll just have to play the part of the old shaky drunk guy too. (I know it's a stretch but work with me). We're going with Rickie Fowler because (a) he found something at the Masters, (b) he's entered the Zurich Classic the last five years so he must like the course even if he doesn't play it that well and (c) the guy I picked back in January, Graham DeLaet, isn't playing. I guess he doesn't want to miss five cuts in two months (and yes I'm bitter about making him my fourth round pick over J.B. Holmes). So there's your fantasy golf version of running the old picket fence at them.      

Last Week's Report Card: D-
Apparently Alexis also dabbles as a
"sweater model." Well you know what the
Australians like to say . . . vive la difference.

1. Patrick Reed - M/C
2. Webb Simpson - T51st
3. Ben Martin - T37th
4. Matt Kuchar - 5th
5. Brandt Snedeker - T26th

One and Done Picks to Date

Hyundai: Kevin Streelman - $70,667
Sony: Chris Kirk - $42,280
Humana: Russell Knox - M/C
Phoenix: Hunter Mahan - $36,729
Farmers: Hideki Matsuyama - M/C

AT&T: Dustin Johnson - $281,067
Northern Trust: Jimmy Walker - $24,120
Honda: Keegan Bradley - M/C
WGC-Cadillac: Bubba Watson - $540,000
Valspar: Jim Furyk - $23,600
Palmer: Brooks Koepka – W/D
Texas Open: Matt Kuchar - $99,200
Houston Open: Louis Oosthuizen - M/C
Masters: Rory McIlroy - $480,000
Heritage: Patrick Reed - M/C

Season Total: $1,597,663

Footnote

* Speaking of Hoosiers, in a case of rare political commentary by the FGR that is certain to offend some (and I don't care), I would like to express the following sentiment to Indiana Governor Mike Pence and those of his constituents who supported the original version of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act: "fuck you." We now return to the inanity of our regular subject matter.

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

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Fantasy Golf: The Heritage Preview/Masters Hangover

The RBC Heritage Favorites
"Excuse me stewardess . . . is this
the RBC Heritage Preview?"

1. Jordan Spieth - 11/2
2. Zach Johnson - 16/1
3. Jim Furyk - 18/1
4. Matt Kuchar - 20/1
5. Patrick Reed - 20/1
6. Ian Poulter - 22/1
7. Webb Simpson - 28/1
8. Louis Oosthuizen - 28/1
9. Luke Donald - 28/1
10. Brandt Snedeker - 30/1

The FGR RBC Heritage Picks

1. Patrick Reed
2. Webb Simpson
3. Ben Martin
4. Matt Kuchar
5. Brandt Snedeker

The One and Done Pick: Patrick Reed

The Sleeper Pick: Boo Weekley

Stripes is to the funniest movie ever debate what The Who are to the greatest rock band of all-time debate. No one would argue with any great conviction that either of them is number one but, at the same time, no one is going to scoff at you for throwing Stripes into the discussion with Caddyshack, Animal House, Airplane and Blazing Saddles in the same way that no one would laugh at you for recognizing The Who as being within range of The Rolling Stones, The Beatles and Led Zeppelin.* There may not be a more subjective debate than funniest movie of all-time but those I just listed would be my top five in some order followed by a second five that would include This Is Spinal TapStep BrothersThere's Something About MaryTrading Places and The Blues Brothers.** 

At some point, this needs to be it's own FGR piece where we lay down some ground rules. For example, movies made before 1964 (when Dr. Strangelove was released) do not count. I really tried to watch Some Like it Hot which is regarded as one of the greatest comedies of all-time but couldn't even sit through it much less laugh at it. Charlie Chaplin and the Marx Brothers were geniuses but please don't look at me with a straight face and tell me you laughed more watching The Gold Rush than you did watching Blazing Saddles. And if you did, please God let me get eaten by a shark before spending more than twenty minutes alone with you in a lifeboat. 


"Well that hurts reader and I don't think I want
to take your abuse. And I know that I don't
want to write about your golf tournament."
(Speaking of lifeboats, will the tides be carrying us anywhere near the freakin' game of golf before this is over?) Well as you know, the plot of Stripes revolves around Bill Murray's character, John Winger, joining the Army as an act of total desperation because he got fired from his job and his girlfriend just dumped him. Now watch this scene and tell me that the point when he slumps to the floor after getting the door slammed in his face doesn't perfectly capture how felt when the Masters coverage ended ("and then depression set in").

If you want to stretch the analogy a bit further, then the moment Winger desperately looks into his girlfriend's eyes and says "I need you" (1:35 mark) is the movie's painful equivalent of the Butler Cabin lobotomy we sit through every year because we're not yet ready to accept the fact that we won't get to see a real live meaningful shot on the 12th hole for what seems like an eternal 360 days. We just can't let go so every year we voluntarily watch Jim Nantz conduct interviews so awkward that they make Frost/Nixon look like Fallon/Timberlake.*** 

And then it's over. All of the international players split along with Phil, Tiger and Bubba like they have jobs and families while we have nothing better to do but drink until dawn and then (riding this Stripes theme into the ground) go join the Army to turn our lives around. That's what the RBC Heritage feels like. It's a fine golf tournament and there is no shame in watching it just as there is certainly no shame in serving your country but, when it's your last resort, it kind of takes a bit of the patriotism out of it. We just need to remember that good things are on the horizon because, in just a couple of months, we'll be razzle dazzling them on the parade ground (U.S. Open), rescuing our platoon from a Czechoslovakian military base (British Open) and then returning to a hero's welcome with a martini in our hand (PGA Championship). 

And then, before we know it, we'll be bathing in the splendor of the Par 3 Contest again with past champions chunking shots into the ponds and five year old kids dragging putters across greens that we'd give one of our cojones to play. Hey you know what? I'm feeling better already. Thanks sarcasm. You're always there when I need you. Oh yeah, we're picking Patrick Reed because he's the best player in the field not named "Jordan Spieth" and unfortunately that's all the time we have this week.             

Last Week's Report Card: B+
Grown Ups 2 serves two vital functions for the FGR:
(1) It is the gold standard for awful sell-out movies
and (2) Selma Hayek was one of the sell-outs.

1. Rory McIlroy - 4th
2. Jordan Spieth - 1st
3. Bubba Watson - T38th
4. Jason Day - T28th
5. Jimmy Walker - T38th
6. Victor Dubuisson - M/C
7. Brandt Snedeker - M/C
8. Phil Mickelson - T2nd
9. Matt Kuchar - T46th

10. Dustin Johnson - T6th

One and Done Picks to Date

Hyundai: Kevin Streelman - $70,667
Sony: Chris Kirk - $42,280
Humana: Russell Knox - M/C
Phoenix: Hunter Mahan - $36,729
Farmers: Hideki Matsuyama - M/C

AT&T: Dustin Johnson - $281,067
Northern Trust: Jimmy Walker - $24,120
Honda: Keegan Bradley - M/C
WGC-Cadillac: Bubba Watson - $540,000
Valspar: Jim Furyk - $23,600
Palmer: Brooks Koepka – W/D
Texas Open: Matt Kuchar - $99,200
Houston Open: Louis Oosthuizen - M/C
Masters: Rory McIlroy - $480,000

Season Total: $1,597,663

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

Footnotes


* Considering the thoroughly self-serving nature of the Fantasy Golf Report, it should come as no surprise that Stripes is my favorite comedy and The Who is my favorite band. If you don't like it, go watch the Golf Channel. I think Brandel Chamblee's favorites are Grown Ups 2 and Nickelback.

** A long honorable mention list would include Old School, Sixteen Candles, Little Miss Sunshine, The Jerk, Planes, Trains and Automobiles, History of the World: Part 1, Get Him to the Greek, Napolean Dynamite, The Other Guys, I Love You Man, The Naked Gun, Austin Powers - The Spy Who Shagged Me, Office Space and Superbad. This list by collegehumor.com isn't bad if you just look at it as a compilation and ignore the order because putting Animal House and Caddyshack behind Zoolander and Happy Gilmore is a travesty of comedic justice.

*** I originally had Johnny Carson and Steve Martin in that spot but then it occurred to me that I might want to drag this column out of 1978 and into the 21st century.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Fantasy Golf: The Masters Preview - Part 2

The Masters Favorites

Rory McIlroy - 5/1
We kind of got away from our
roots in Part 1 so let's re-center
and work the green jacket theme.
Jordan Spieth - 10/1
Bubba Watson - 10/1
Jason Day - 12/1
Dustin Johnson - 16/1
Adam Scott - 18/1
Henrik Stenson - 22/1
Phil Mickelson - 22/1
Jimmy Walker - 25/1
Rickie Fowler - 30/1

The FGR Masters Picks

1. Rory McIlroy
2. Jordan Spieth
3. Bubba Watson
4. Jason Day
5. Jimmy Walker
6. Victor Dubuisson
7. Brandt Snedeker
8. Phil Mickelson
9. Matt Kuchar
10. Dustin Johnson

The One and Done Pick: Rory McIlroy

The Sleeper Pick: Russell Henley

I have been accused on more than one occasion of over-thinking things so let's try not to fall into that trap on this, the most important day on the Fantasy Golf Report calendar. I'm picking Rory McIlroy this week and here's why:

1. He's the best player in the world and it's not even close. I have no idea how they compute the World Golf Rankings but if you compare the numbers they use, Rory has 11.07 and the next three guys have 7.66, 7.45 and 7.32. Between no other players do you find a disparity of more than 1.0 much less the 3.41 that currently separates McIlroy from Henrik Stenson, Bubba Watson and Jordan Spieth;

2. He won the last two majors of 2014;

3. He played two tournaments before coming to the U.S. this season and he finished first and second beating fields that included the likes of Henrik Stenson, Martin Kaymer and Sergio Garcia;

4. He was 12 under through three rounds of the 2011 Masters. Sure he had an epic meltdown with an 80 on Sunday but let's cut him some slack considering he was only 21 and it was the first time he had contended at Augusta. Last year he shot -3 with a 77 on Friday and lost by five so he's basically been one decent round from winning twice in four years;

5. This year he's coming in as no bigger than the third or fourth biggest story behind (1) Tiger's return, (2) Bubba's repeat and possibly (3) Spieth trying to win his first major. Rory's a pretty laid back dude but he's also a competitive SOB so I bet he grits his teeth on a few backswings and hisses "I won the last two majors mutherf-ckers" and then uncorks 350 yard drives around the corners on holes like 9 and 13.   

Keep in mind that I already picked Bubba this year so he was not available but I wouldn't have gone with him anyway because I don't see him going back to back (we covered this in Part 1 yesterday). The other players I was most tempted by were Jordan Spieth for obvious reasons, Jason Day because, next to Rory, he's probably the player most due to win a green jacket and Phil Mickelson because if he actually pulled it off, how great would it be for an egotistical prick like me to be able to say, "I had that"? . . . (pretty great). I also like Victor Dubuisson because well, I like Victor Dubuisson. He has that Seve like ability to will the ball into the hole and that quality is going to win him at least one major. Just not this one.   

I've had Rory pegged for this Masters since he shot 71-69 on the weekend last year. It felt like he exercised some demons in those two rounds and he appeared to enjoy playing the course for the first time since it ate him alive in 2011. The fact that he'll be paired with Phil and Ryan Moore the first two days means that he'll get to play in a relaxed group even if they have to stop between holes and put a mirror under Moore's nose to make sure he's still alive. So many times this year the correct pick has stared me right in the face but I've decided to hide behind the chain saws instead of jumping into the running car. Not this week.  
     
Last Week's Report Card: B+

1. Jordan Spieth - T2nd
Come on Rory. It's ass kicking time.
2. Matt Kuchar - 70th
3. Louis Oosthuizen - M/C
4. J.B. Holmes - 1st
5. Sergio Garcia - T37th

One and Done Picks to Date

Hyundai: Kevin Streelman - $70,667
Sony: Chris Kirk - $42,280
Humana: Russell Knox - M/C
Phoenix: Hunter Mahan - $36,729

Farmers: Hideki Matsuyama - M/C
AT&T: Dustin Johnson - $281,067
Northern: Jimmy Walker - $24,120
Honda: Keegan Bradley - M/C
WGC: Bubba Watson - $540,000
Valspar: Jim Furyk - $23,600
Palmer: Brooks Koepka – W/D
Texas Open: Matt Kuchar - $99,200
Houston Open: Louis Oosthuizen - M/C

Season Total - $1,117,663

Email the Fantasy Golf Report at fgr@fantasygolfreport.com

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Fantasy Golf: The Masters Preview - Part 1

You're damn right we're doing a two part preview for the Masters. We'll kick it off with a brief introduction followed by a lazy writing gimmick. Then we'll follow-up on Wednesday with the odds, rankings and of course, a pick. Maybe by then some of the scars from my J.B. Holmes v. Louis Oosthuizen decision from last week will have healed and I'll be able to think straight. At this point, however, there is just a lot of self-loathing occasionally interrupted by muffled sobs. The good news is that this has happened to me so often over the past two years that the recovery time is down to about 24 hours at which point I'm ready to make another ill-fated choice and repeat the cycle (assuming Duke doesn't win another damn title in the interim prolonging the agony).  

Let's start the healing process by turning our attention to the Masters which continues to give me that warm and fuzzy Christmas Eve/last day of school feeling every year unlike any other sporting event. Maybe it's because I'm a middle aged white guy and that's just the way many of us are wired but I think it goes beyond that and actually has more to do with the fact that the Masters is the perfect sports viewing product and those who run it and televise it have been smart enough not to mess with it by let's say building in enough dead time to make it last 50% longer than it should. Put another way, if the NCAA ran the Masters, the leaders would arbitrarily go sit on a bench for five minutes prior to teeing off on 17 and 18. Then they'd do it again before their approach shots and their putts because you know, that's how the game was meant to be played. But I digress.

The other thing that puts the Masters above events from other sports is that it doesn't just happen over a few hours like the Super Bowl and it's not broken-up over two weeks like the World Series or the NBA Finals. The Masters unfolds over four consecutive days which makes it the sports version of binge watching the Sopranos or Game of Thrones. Thursday and Friday are like the first five or six episodes with different characters each doing their thing and we have no idea how it's going to end but we do know two things with absolute certainty: (1) someone is going to get whacked - either by getting suffocated by his boss, getting shot with a crossbow (MAJOR SPOILER ALERTS ON BOTH OF THESE CLIPS) or hitting his second shot into Rae's Creek on 15; and (2) we're going to be riveted to the screen for every minute of it.  

So with that in mind, let's kick-off our two part Masters Preview by answering eight burning questions. Why eight? Because that's all we could come up with by our deadline (which we missed anyway). Why are they burning? I don't know. Jock itch?

1. Can Bubba Watson Become the Fourth Player to Win Two in a Row?

Well if he does, he'll be in pretty good company with three guys I like to call Tiger Woods, Nick Faldo and Jack Nicklaus. Arnold Palmer won four in seven years and came within a stroke of taking three green jackets in a row from 1960-62 but Jack, Nick and Tiger are the only three players who have gone back to back. Bubba may not be on the same level as those hall of famers overall but he's a freak at Augusta which he turns into a par 68. He won't go back to back this year because his mental circuitry was installed by your uncle who swore "I know what I'm doing dammit!" but he will almost surely win another one down the road meaning this won't be his last shot to try and, by next time, maybe he'll get some of those wires uncrossed.  

2. Is a European Ever Going to Win this Freakin' Thing Again?

The last one to do it was Jose Maria Olazabol in 1999 when he capped a run of eleven European winners over a twenty year span but things got really squirrelly after that when a Fijian won it the next year and then all hell broke loose when a Canuck of all people won it in 2003. Since then, we've had seven American winners, two different South Africans (not named Ernie Els or Retief Goosen I might add), an Australian (finally) and a chain smoking duck from Argentina. The only Euros to come close in the last fifteen tries are Lee Westwood in 2010 and Jonas Blixt last year. They both lost by three shots so "close" is a relative term.   

Not quite sure why Sergio
can't putt. It couldn't be
his body language.
Why the drought? I'll tell you why. Putting. Europe's best shots this year by the odds are Rory McIlroy, Henrik Stenson, Justin Rose, Sergio Garcia and Lee Westwood also known as five guys you'd feature in a training video called Don't Putt Like Me. Rose is the only one who doesn't immediately call to mind the image of a pushed three footer and he hasn't finished in the top 100 in strokes gained putting since 2011 when he ranked 96th. One of these years Rory is going to compensate by simply out ball-striking everyone but he hasn't shown signs that this will be that year. On the other hand, we've tried to bury Rory after mini-slumps before and he's come back and shoved a major or two right up our wazoo so who knows? We'll ruminate on that one a bit and revisit it in Part 2.      

3. Do You Have to Hit it 300+ Yards to Win?

Let's take a look at the winners since 2008 when Trevor Immelman won the Masters (that never actually happened), along with their average driving distance that season:

2014 - Bubba Watson (314.3) 
2013 - Adam Scott (297.8) 
2012 - Bubba Watson (315.5)
2011 - Charl Schwartzel ( 297) 
2010 - Phil Mickelson (299.1) 
2009 - Angel Cabrera (304.1)

So the answer is a definitive "NO." You do not need to drive it 300+ yards to win. You only need to drive it 297. So does that rule-out Jordan Spieth who is only averaging 294 yards off the tee this year? I don't know. You tell me. (Seriously, please tell me because he's on my short list and I thought he hit it further than that).  

4. How is Tiger Going to Play?

Terribly. Remember back in 2010 after the troubles started and he began playing again but his personal life was still a wreck? Many speculated that the golf course would be a refuge where he could escape from the distractions which was ridiculous because you can't hide from your conscience on a golf course like you can on a basketball court or a football field. (Running full speed and/or having people smash into you is the best mental medicine). There's just too much time for your mind to betray you between shots and once that happens, you're screwed. It took Tiger over two years to win again (the 2012 Arnold Palmer Invitational) and now it looks like he's worse off than he ever was during that stretch.

To play golf well, you need to be either supremely confident (Nicklaus, Palmer, pre-2010 Tiger, etc.) or just not give a rat's ass (Fred Couples). Tiger has always cared deeply about what people think of him which is dangerous in golf where you are judged on every shot. That didn't used to matter, however, because he always knew his next shot was going to be great. Not anymore. Now after he hits a bad shot he looks embarrassed instead of pissed-off and taking that mindset to Augusta is very risky. We're looking at a two day long train wreck. I hope I'm wrong because I don't want to see him go out like that but I doubt it.

5. Does Phil Have Another Green Jacket in Him?

I know we're never topping 1986
but man would this come close.
It doesn't seem that far-fetched until you consider that he's 44 and his last two results were a tie for 54th and a missed cut which ended a majestic fourteen year run that saw him win three times and never go two years without finishing 6th or better. Considering the high level that he can still reach with his game (see the 2013 British Open), he's probably got four or five good Masters runs left in him but even with that he might still need a down year from guys like Bubba, Rory and Spieth to win. I've always been a sucker for Phil so I'd love to see it happen but, at this point, his odds can't be much better than 20 to 1. However, the odds that he has at least one more Sunday charge in him that gets Augusta rocking like 1986 are even money. (I just got a chill). 

6. Who Are This Year's Legit Sleepers?

Let's start by defining a "sleeper" as any player with odds of 100 to 1 or longer. The prominent names right at that mark are Ryan Palmer, Gary Woodland and Jason Dufner* but, other than Ryan Palmer's tie for 10th in 2011, they have showed no signs of figuring-out Augusta so let's keep looking. At 125 to 1 you have Jonas Blixt who finished tied for 2nd last year and Marc Leishman who finished tied for 4th in 2013 but those results are anomalies. 

We need to find the next Blixt or Leishman and it's probably a guy who's played Augusta just enough to be familiar but not scarred which rules-out the likes of Webb Simpson and Ernie Els. He's also got to be able to bust it off the tee so let's make our formula Long Driver + Second or Third Year Player which yields Charley Hoffman (T27 in 2011), Russell Henley (T31 in 2014), Branden Grace (T18 in 2013, MC in 2014) and Stephen Gallacher (T34 in 2014). If I'm picking from from those four, I'm leaning towards Henley because he seems like he has the onions to contend at a major. Hoffman and Grace have already played in a bunch without ever scaring a top ten. It doesn't make them bad people. It just means that they're more suited to win tournaments sponsored by booze, banks and tractors.   

7. Who is the Best Bet from Outside the WGR** Top Twenty?

Keegan Bradley always seems like an obvious choice because he can bomb it with Bubba but he's never finished better than a tie for 27th. This is not based on any statistical analysis but I'd bet his short game and putting don't hold-up over 72 holes. Charl Schwartel obviously has the game but I'm just not picturing him as a two time champ. The same goes for Zach Johnson.

The Euro quartet of Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood, Jamie Donaldson and Graeme McDowell are all intriguing yet flawed. You can say the same thing about Hunter Mahan and Brandt Snedeker who have contended but couldn't hold-up on Sunday. That pretty much leaves the upper middle class American players like Bill Haas, Chris Kirk, Kevin Na and Palmer who have combined for exactly two top tens in majors. Their 2015 Masters prospects can be described in one word. Nope.

If you want to get creative, pick Louis Oosthuizen. We know he can compete at Augusta because he lost to Bubba in a playoff three years ago but, more importantly, he was the FGR pick last week and he missed the cut which makes him primed for a bounce back.  

8. So Who is Going to Win?

You'll have to check back tomorrow on that one because I still have no idea who I'm picking. I'm counting on one of the players to appear in my dreams tonight and show me the light. With my luck lately, it'll be Tiger.  
   
Footnotes

According to divorce papers, the 
Dufner marriage was pretty much 
an extended ice bucket challenge. 
* We're sad to report that the Dufner's two+ year marriage is apparently ending in divorce striking yet another blow to the dreams of every goofy looking kid who thinks the path to a model wife is through the driving range.

** WGR stands for World Golf Rankings, a system that the FGR started recognizing as legitimate the day it replaced the likes of Luke Donald and Lee Westwood in the top spot with Rory McIlroy.

You can email the Fantasy Golf Report at fgr@fantasygolfreport.com.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Fantasy Golf: Shell Houston Open Preview

The Houston Open Favorites
Houston, we have a  . . . Never
mind Houston. We're good.

1. Jordan Spieth - 9/1
2. Jimmy Walker - 14/1
3. Patrick Reed - 16/1
4. Matt Kuchar - 16/1
5. Sergio Garcia - 25/1
6. J.B. Holmes - 25/1
7. Rickie Fowler - 25/1
8. Louis Oostuizen - 28/1
9. Phil Mickelson - 28/1
10. Lee Westwood - 30/1

The FGR Houston Open Picks

1. Jordan Spieth
2. Matt Kuchar
3. Louis Oosthuizen
4. J.B. Holmes
5. Sergio Garcia

The FGR One and Don Pick: Louis Oostuizen

The FGR Sleeper Pick: Brian Harman

It's tough to write about a tournament when 99% of your attention is looking ahead to the next one so I'm barely going to try (kind of like your picks huh?). If you pull-up the list of past Houston Open winners and runner-ups, what you see are a whole bunch of guys who can drive the piss out of the ball (technical term). Adam Scott, Phil Mickelson, Stuart Appleby and Paul Casey have won there fairly recently while Bubba Watson, J.B. Holmes and Henrik Stenson have all come close. Combine that trend with the fact that they set-up the course to play like a Masters preview and we start to get a picture of what our winner is supposed to look like - a bomber with past success at Augusta. (You mean like D.A. Points in 2013? . . . forget it, he's rolling).

Matt Kuchar finished second here last year and always plays well at Augusta but we unfortunately wasted him last week. Jordan Spieth would also make sense and frankly, we might panic pull the trigger on him at the last minute but this just doesn't feel like a big enough stage. Sergio isn't playing well and we have him penciled in at the Open. Jimmy Walker just won and going back to back seems really unrealistic (and we wasted him earlier in the season). Patrick Reed is intriguing but we're just not feeling him this week. And besides, all of those guys seem a bit obvious when this situation absolutely requires a really futile and stupid gesture be done on somebody's part.             

So with that ill-fated mission statement in mind, let's pick a guy who is almost sure to disappoint. A guy who flashes brilliance for weeks in a row only to be derailed by phantom injuries that appear out of nowhere and then disappear just as quickly. Sure Louis Oosthuizen only played one really memorable Masters but who can forget that double eagle back in 2012? And check-out his track record in Houston . . . T10th in 2013, 3rd in 2012 and T16th in 2011 (conveniently ignoring his missed cut last year). At best he's a desperate pick with a low percentage upside. Yup. That's our man.  

Last Week's Report Card: B-
"And we're just the guys to do it."

1. Matt Kuchar - T15th
2. Zach Johnson - T20th
3. Jim Furyk - T58th
4. Jordan Spieth - 2nd
5. Jimmy Walker - 1st

One and Done Picks to Date

Hyundai: Kevin Streelman - $70,667
Sony: Chris Kirk - $42,280
Humana: Russell Knox - M/C
Phoenix Open: Hunter Mahan - $36,729
Farmers Open: Hideki Matsuyama - M/C

AT&T Pro-Am: Dustin Johnson - $281,067
Northern Trust: Jimmy Walker - $24,120
Honda Classic: Keegan Bradley - M/C
WGC-Cadillac: Bubba Watson - $540,000
Valspar Championship: Jim Furyk - $23,600
Arnold Palmer: Brooks Koepka – W/D
Texas Open: Matt Kuchar - $99,200

Season Total: $1,117,663

Email the Fantasy Golf Report at fgr@fantasygolfreport.com

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Fantasy Golf: The Valero Texas Open Preview

The Texas Open Favorites
We're going with an LPGA tribute
this week. Please refer to the
footnote for further explanation.

1. Jordan Spieth - 8/1
2. Dustin Johnson - 9/1
3. Jimmy Walker - 20/1
4. Jim Furyk - 20/1
5. Matt Kuchar - 22/1
6. Martin Kaymer - 25/1
7. Phil Mickelson - 28/1
8. Zach Johnson - 28/1
9. Ryan Palmer - 30/1
10. Kevin Na - 33/1

The FGR Texas Open Picks

1. Matt Kuchar
2. Zach Johnson
3. Jim Furyk
4. Jordan Spieth
5. Jimmy Walker

The One and Done Pick: Matt Kuchar

The Sleeper Pick:  Daniel Summerhays

"Do as I say, not as I do." It's the primary directive of every parent, chain-smoking doctor and well over half the members of Congress and you can now add the Fantasy Golf Report to that list as the ability to stay out of my own way has completely escaped me. Last week I ranked Henrik Stenson #1 but justified not picking him because I thought he was going to win a tournament that won't be played for another eight weeks. Instead I decided to go a bit rogue and pick Brooks "Ooh my rib, it's broken" Koepka who promptly withdrew after eleven holes on Sunday while Stenson pocketed a fat second place check (which would have been a winner's check if he hadn't putted like an over-caffeinated lumberjack).

Apparently I was the only one who didn't get the memo that Stenson was a lock as half of the forty-seven players in my one and done league picked him along with 42% of the players in the Golf Channel's fantasy golf game.* And again it should be noted that I'M THE ONE WHO WROTE THE DAMN MEMO TELLING EVERYONE TO PICK HIM!!! To quote Bill Murray from Stripes, "what the hell's the matter with you?!? Stoooopid!" But I can't dwell on that. I have to move forward and, continuing with the theme, be the great American golf forecaster that is inside of me. 


"Who cried when Tom Watson
lost the British Open?"
Of course that's not going to be easy this week as we head to a TPC course which means that any random Ben Curtis, Martin Laird or Steven Bowditch can win it (seriously, those are the last three winners). To make matters even more difficult, this tournament has only been played at TPC San Antonio since 2010 so any intel that preceded that (like Zach Johnson's back to back wins in 2008-09) is suspect. With those excuses now part of the record, I feel completely confident in advising you to pick Matt Kuchar for the following three reasons: 

(1) His last three finishes at the Texas Open are T4th, T22nd and T13th and that is about as solid and consistent a track record as you're going to find on this random result producing course; 

(2) He is a mortal lock to win at least one tournament a year and he hasn't put one on the board since the RBC Heritage last April so he's due; and 

(3) It feels like he's not quite keeping his head above water in the steadily rising talent pool of guys like Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy, Bubba Watson, Henrik Stenson, Jason Day, Jimmy Walker, Patrick Reed (you get the picture) so you might as well take a shot with him at a tournament where those guys either aren't in the field or might not be giving it their undivided attention.   

For our sleeper pick this week we're going with Daniel Summerhays because we love guys with names that make them sound like an evil rich kid from a John Hughes movie. If only his first name was "Blane." Beyond the name thing, Summerhays was a runner-up in San Antonio last year and recently finished T10th at the Valspar and T17th at the Honda Classic which is good enough for us. 


Now do what I do . . . and pick who I pick . . . and make me proud.     

Last Week's Report Card: B
I said refer to the footnote dammit!
(Sorry. Still have my vacation hangover 
and I'm a tad more ornery than normal).

1. Henrik Stenson - 2nd
2. Bubba Watson - W/D
3. Brooks Koepka - W/D
4. J.B. Holmes - M/C
5. Rory McIlroy - T11th

One and Done Picks to Date

Hyundai: Kevin Streelman - $70,667
Sony: Chris Kirk - $42,280
Humana: Russell Knox - M/C
Phoenix Open: Hunter Mahan - $36,729
Farmers Open: Hideki Matsuyama - M/C
AT&T Pro-Am: Dustin Johnson - $281,067
Northern Trust: Jimmy Walker - $24,120
Honda Classic: Keegan Bradley - M/C
WGC-Cadillac: Bubba Watson - $540,000
Valspar Championship: Jim Furyk - $23,600
Arnold Palmer: Brooks Koepka – W/D

Season Total: $1,018,463


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

Footnote

* Kudos to the Golf Channel for providing a free on-line game that actually makes sense (unlike Yahoo's) and requires at least a modicum of critical thinking (unlike PGATour.com's). My only issue is that they occasionally attach an LPGA event to it in an effort to prop-up viewership of the tournaments they show on the weekend when they get bumped-off the PGA coverage by the networks. That's fine but no one really has any clue about LPGA players so it's mostly a guessing game as opposed to the exact science proffered on this website. And that brings us to this week's FGR temptress - Sandra Gal from Dusseldorf, Germany who is currently the 48th ranked player in the world and our pick in Group 3 of the Golf Channel's game for the upcoming Kia Classic that I might actually tune in for now that I have a rooting interest. (I am such low-hanging fruit for TV marketing). 

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Fantasy Golf: The Arnold Palmer Preview

The Arnold Palmer Favorites
I love it when the picture
theme comes pre-made.

1. Rory McIlroy - 11/2
2. Henrik Stenson - 9/1
3. Bubba Watson - 12/1
4. Jason Day - 18/1
5. Adam Scott - 18/1
6. Rickie Fowler - 25/1
7. Hideki Matsuyama - 28/1
8. Harris English - 33/1
9. Brooks Koepka - 33/1
10. Keegan Bradley - 33/1

The FGR Top Five

1. Henrik Stenson
2. Bubba Watson
3. Brooks Koepka
4. J.B. Holmes
5. Rory McIlroy

The One and Done Pick: Brooks Koepka

The Sleeper Pick: Jason Kokrak

I promised in last week's edition of the FGR that this was going to be a weak effort as I am currently sitting in the middle of a Gulf Coast paradise on St. Patrick's Day so the distractions are many and the writing motivations are few (at least the fantasy golf writing motivations). Add in the fact that it's my half-mick wife's birthday and I am about as engaged in this process as the island maintenance guy seems to be in fixing our ice maker.*

So here it is in a nutshell. Last week's picks stunk and I even blew my sleeper pick desipte having Sean O'Hair on my radar (Jerry Kelly?). I was really tempted to get things back on track this week by going big with Henrik Stenson because he is striping it and there aren't many who stripe it more impressively than the big Swede but I have it in my head that he's going to take down another Players Championship so he has to sit. Bubba may actually be the best player in the world right now but I semi-wasted him at the WGC-Cadillac and yes, I'm still a little bitter about how he checked-out on the final nine. Jason Day and Rickie Fowler are enigmatic these days, Adam Scott seems a bit rusty, Rory is getting picked at a major and Sonja Henie's out so where does that leave us?

Well if this year's winners and list of guys who keep showing-up in the top five have taught us anything, it's that you don't necessarily have to bomb it but it sure doesn't hurt. Based on that logic, I came down to Brooks Koepka and J.B. Holmes with Koepka getting the nod based on his better all around game. Applying the same theory and running with the "K" theme, Jason Kokrak gets the sleeper spot even if he just barely qualifies for consideration (70 to 1 odds for a sleeper are somewhat borderline). And now if you'll excuse me, it's time to rev-up the golf cart and go grab one of the couple dozen Guinnesses I'm sure they imported for today's festivities before they're all gone. Sláinte!

Last Week's Report Card: C-
For her birthday, the FGW asked if I could
just include at least one picture that was
not of a hot model in a bikini. Fair enough.

1. Jim Furyk - T40th
2. Luke Donald - T53rd
3. Brandt Snedeker - T53rd
4. Kevin Na - T10th
5. Patrick Reed - T2nd

One and Done Picks to Date

Hyundai: Kevin Streelman - $70,667
Sony: Chris Kirk - $42,280
Humana: Russell Knox - M/C
Phoenix Open: Hunter Mahan - $36,729
Farmers Open: Hideki Matsuyama - M/C
AT&T Pro-Am: Dustin Johnson - $281,067
Northern Trust: Jimmy Walker - $24,120
Honda Classic: Keegan Bradley - M/C
WGC-Cadillac: Bubba Watson - $540,000
Valspar Championship: Jim Furyk - $23,600

Season Total: $1,018,463

Footnote

* Nothing inspires confidence like a guy showing-up on a golf cart packing nothing more than a Phillips head screwdriver to fix a major appliance and then telling you, "yup, looks like we're going to have to replace it." I didn't bother asking how long that would take though I did envision the two of us having a hearty back-slapping Bishop Pickering-Judge Smails style laugh at the notion that it would happen by the end of the week . . . "Yeah judge, that's a doozy!"

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