Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Masters Postmortem

I'm not going to devote a lot of time to forecasting the RBC Heritage because frankly it's always a let down after the Masters (especially after that Masters) and a postmortem on my dreadful picks from last week is going to be a lot more entertaining (and hopefully cathartic).  The Heritage actually sports a pretty strong field and usually provides a fairly high caliber winner (Snedeker and Furyk have won the last two). The fairways are tight and the greens are small but I've given up trying to associate course types with certain skill sets because the top 50 players in the world can all do everything well now (except for Westwood and Harrington who inexplicably can't putt). There is some value in being familiar with a course like Harbor Town so we'll factor that in along with who is currently playing well.

The Overall Top Five
Just a reminder that stretching is an integral
part of any successful pre-round routine.

1. Matt Kuchar
2. Bo Van Pelt
3. Jim Furyk
4. Luke Donald
5. Jason Dufner

The One and Done Top Five

1. Bo Van Pelt
2. Jim Furyk
3. Jason Dufner
4. Brandt Snedeker
5. Ernie Els

Last Week's Report Card: D+

When I compared the golfers coming to Augusta to the gangs converging on Van Cortlandt Park in The Warriors, I never imagined that Tiger and Rory would play the roles of the Furies and the Orphans respectively (at least Tiger put up a fight while Rory just let the field stroll right through his turf on Saturday and Sunday). I'm most disappointed in myself for making chalk picks at 1-9. That will never happen at a major again because, as I asked when I started making these picks, what's the point of just regurgitating the Vegas odds?  The FGR needs to be better than that. Let's go pick by pick and see where I went wrong:

1. Rory McIlroy - T40:  I became so enamored with his game after watching him bomb 300 yard 3-woods and stick wedges at the Match Play and the Honda that I ignored the fact that he's only won twice since the U.S. Open and didn't contend at the British or the PGA last year. The reason I ranked him 5th coming into the season (http://www.fantasygolfreport.com/2012/01/2012-pga-tour-preview.html) was that I thought he had some petulant punk in him, especially after he whined about the weather at the British Open. I still think there is a 50/50 chance he could sour like Sergio and the U.S. Open win just postponed it.

Tiger as a Yankee.  It was all
right there on the screen.
2. Tiger Woods - T40:  Who knew he was going to take all of the progress he had made with his swing that led to his win at the Palmer and spend two weeks undoing it? I knew it was over on Friday when he had to push a 9-iron into the bunker on the right on 16 because the swing he had working that day brought the water on the left into play. He didn't kick his club because he was mad about the result, he kicked it because his swing was such a mess that he had to intentionally bail-out on a 140 yard shot. (I've been there, kicked club and all). I'm still miffed at how you regress that much from a win two weeks earlier. I'm guessing there were a few awkward moments throughout the weekend with swing coach Sean Foley. I mean someone has to take the fall.

3. Phil Mickelson - T3:  My only mistake with Phil was not ranking him #1. He'll be at or near that spot on this list until he's hitting the ceremonial opening tee shot with Tiger and Jose Maria Olazabal in 2035.

4. Justin Rose - T8: I had him about right. If he had done anything the first three days, he would have been in the mix. Apparently the swing that Sean Foley taught him is working.

5. Luke Donald - T32: I'm kicking myself for this pick as Donald shouldn't even have been on the list. With his lack of distance and his inability to take charge of a tournament, he has no shot of winning a Masters.

6. Keegan Bradley - T27: I would give Bradley a better than 50/50 chance to win a green jacket one day but his lack of experience cost him in 2012. His second round scorecard says it all with 4 birdies, 5 pars and 9 bogeys . . . and he still managed to finish +2 for the tournament.

7. Hunter Mahan - T12: I had him pretty well slotted but, like I said in the Masters Update yesterday, he's just too fat and happy right now. Maybe all of the love and attention Bubba is getting will make him jealous and inspire him for the U.S. Open.  By the way, he's another one of Sean Foley's students. Just sayin'.

8. Lee Westwood - T3: Considering he finishes 3rd in about half the majors he plays, I'm not sure what I was thinking here. He's already locked-up the bronze medal when they add golf to the Olympics in 2016.

9. Charl Schwartzel - T50: As far as I can tell, the only player who has backed-up his first Masters win with a second one was Nick Faldo in '89 and '90. There is just too much that goes along with being the defending champion from the sponsor obligations to the autograph seekers to hosting the champions' dinner.  Faldo was of course unfazed by all of that because he was a prick.

Darn it!  It even looks like
The Golf Boys video. 
10. Charles, Howell, III - T19: Not a bad call for a sleeper pick.  I did consider Oostuizen but he'd never made the cut at the Masters before.  I also considered Gary Woodland who shot 85 on Saturday and withdrew so there you go.

As for whiffing completely on Bubba, all I can say is that I wrote the following the week before the Masters, "[w]e occasionally wonder why Bubba Watson is not more competitive at Augusta (at least golf geeks like I do) considering he can work the ball both ways, hits it high and bombs it off the tee. Then we watch him play rounds like he did on Saturday (at the Arnold Palmer) and think 'oh yeah, right.'" That pretty much sums up my forecasting ability. Lay out the case for why a player should win a particular tournament and then disregard it based on one round. It's all part of the learning process. Let's just hope my picks don't flatline at any more majors before I figure it out.