Thursday, October 10, 2013

Fantasy Golf: The 2013 PGA Tour Wrap-Up

It seems to me that the only thing more ridiculous than trying to stage meaningful games in a sports season after all of the really meaningful games have been played would be to play your most meaningful game the first week of the season.* The PGA has apparently come to the same conclusion so, instead of staging the "Fall Finish" which sounds more like a Sherwin Williams product than a series of golf tournaments, they've decided to start the 2014 season on October 10, 2013 and in the process they have conceded any shred of an argument that they are concerned for player safety. Just when Angel Cabrera was preparing to dial it back to two packs a day after the Presidents' Cup, he's got to open up the chimney flume that is his windpipe and play in the Fryes.com Open. They're running El Pato** into the ground and no one seems to care!

"So far, reading this column reminds
me of another recent experience."
With that pointless rant out of the way, let's gain some closure on the 2013 season and start looking ahead to 2013-14. The Fantasy Golf Report began this year by boldly*** attempting to project what the final FedEx Cup rankings would look like while also picking the winners of each major, WGC event and The Players Championship. Because we are all about accountability, let's take a look back and see how we did starting with a review of our preseason top ten alongside our pre-playoffs top ten and the final top ten. After that, we will do a three page dissertation on the salad spinner . . . where did it come from and for the love of all that is holy where did it go?

Preseason                 Pre-Playoffs                Final Results

1.  Rory McIlroy Adam Scott Henrik Stenson
2.  Tiger Woods Matt Kuchar Tiger Woods
3.  Jason Dufner Tiger Woods Steve Stricker
4.  Keegan Bradley Henrik Stenson Adam Scott
5.  Justin Rose Zach Johnson Zach Johnson
6.  Bubba Watson Brandt Snedeker Matt Kuchar
7.  Matt Kuchar Lee Westwood Jordan Spieth
8.  Dustin Johnson Phil Mickelson Graham DeLaet
9.  Lee Westwood Bill Haas Phil Mickelson
10. Phil Mickelson Rory McIlroy Justin Rose

That was a huge swing and a miss on McIlroy but I was not alone. When it was announced that he was changing to Nike clubs, I don't think any of us envisioned a nine month adjustment period. Wait a minute, there's no chance the following scene occurred sometime back in late 2012 is there?

INT. SECRET CONFERENCE ROOM AT NIKE CAMPUS

Phil Knight: Tiger, we need you back on top. If there's anything Nike can do to make that happen, you let us know.

Tiger: Well you could sign Rory to a huge contract and then fit him with crap equipment.

(The room bursts into good natured laughter and, as it dies down, one maniacal laugh can still be heard).

Phil Knight: Make it happen.

END OF SCENE

"Use your open eye Jason."
Speaking of misses, I'm still trying to figure-out exactly what Dufner was doing from January through July when it looked like he was playing with his eyes closed before showing-up at the PGA Championship shooting lasers. Bubba Watson apparently came down with Post-Greenjacketitis, Lee Westwood was a bit more Westwoodian than usual and Dustin Johnson found something he liked to do more than playing golf. We probably should have seen all three coming.

On the positive side, I pegged Tiger's finish and was one spot off on Kuch and Mickelson. The only other correct top ten pick was Justin Rose. Stenson's comeback came out of nowhere when you consider that he started the season by getting bounced in the first round of the Matchplay, missing the cut at the Honda Classic and then finishing 39th at the borderline Web.com Tour event in Puerto Rico. And I certainly didn't see Steve Stricker averaging almost $350,000 per start on his limited schedule and capping-off the season by finishing 2nd, 4th and 2nd in three playoff events though he did confirm one of my fundamental beliefs in life which is that when it comes to working, less is more.

So how about the big tournament winners, did we hit on any of those? You're goddamn right we did! Let's start with the good as we picked Adam Scott to win the Masters and Tiger Woods to win the Bridgestone. We also had a couple close calls with Dufner at the U.S. Open and Ian Poulter at the Matchplay (they both finished 4th). On the flip side, we went with Luke Donald (19th) and Bo Van Pelt (62nd) at the Players but, in our defense, we didn't get the memo that Van Pelt was taking the year off until it was too late (one top ten Bo?!? One?!?). Usually good players only experience drop-offs like that when their wives are having babies or smashing the windows of their cars while screaming, "the stuffing was dry?!? . . . THE STUFFING WAS DRY?!? . . . YOU MUTHER . . ."

The FGR Rankings

"I'm telling you that if Bones wasn't
a black belt in jiu-jitsu, we never
would've made it out alive."
We have one FGR qualifying event left in the season with the HSBC  sporting a loaded field which includes Mickelson, Stenson, Rose, Dufner and probably Tiger. Under the FGR formula, a win is worth 25 points so any player all the way down to McIlroy at no. 6 could take over the top spot and claim the prestigious FGR Player of the Last Two Years award (that I just made-up). It couldn't have worked-out much better in 2013 as the top five is comprised of the four major winners plus Tiger. Let's just hope that Rory doesn't win and make my whole contrived ranking system look like a sabermetric representation of his hair.


FGR Top 20 WGR Top 20
1. Scott, A. 122 Woods 12.84
2. Woods 121 Scott 9.27
3. Rose 112 Mickelson 8.51
4. Mickelson 110 Stenson 8.15
5. Dufner 105 Rose 7.54
6. McIlroy 97 McIlroy 7.31
7. Kuchar 79 Stricker 6.72
8. Poulter 75 Kuchar 6.58
9. Els 74 Snedeker 6.20
10. McDowell 65 Dufner 5.93
11. Stenson 64 Johnson, Z. 5.40
12. Westwood 63 McDowell 5.33
13. Bradley, K. 58 Furyk 5.09
14. Mahan 57 Donald 5.08
15. Day, J. 55 Bradley 4.97
16. Stricker 55 Day 4.89
17. Watson, B. 53 Garcia 4.49
18. Hanson, P. 49 Westwood 4.44
19. Furyk 49 Schwartzel 4.43
20. Simpson, W. 47 Spieth 4.34

Looking Ahead

It just feels too early to start forecasting 2014**** when the paint isn't even dry on Henrik Stenson's giant $10M check yet but if you find yourself needing some guidance at this point, here are ten predictions, four of which I am guaranteeing (just not sure which four).

1. Tiger will continue to win on courses he likes. I picked him to win the 2014 Masters when I was previewing the 2013 Masters so I will stick with that. The U.S. Open is at Pinehurst where he has finished second and tied for third in 2005 and 1999 respectively. The British Open is at Royal Liverpool where Tiger won in 2006 and the PGA Championship is at Valhalla where Tiger won in a 2000 playoff. (Holy crap, looks like Tiger is getting barred from my season long league again this year).

2. Adam Scott will solidify his position as the second best player in the world. It's just a matter of time before Tiger overtakes him in the FGR Rankings but Scott has finished top ten in six of the last twelve majors so he's not going to give it up without a fight . . . even if he has to send Stevie Williams to do the actual fighting.

3. The guy who is not in the FGR top 10 now who will be at this time next year is Hunter Mahan. The guy who will drop all the way from the top 10 out of the top 20 is Ernie Els and if you saw him trying to putt at the Presidents' Cup you know why. I kept yipping my beer and spilling it all over myself just watching him.
Actually, it'll probably suck but
I needed to spice things up a bit.

4. Megan Fox's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles will be a summer blockbuster.

5. We've seen the last of Luke Donald. He really blew a golden opportunity at Merion where he shot 6 over on the front nine in the final round and lost by 5. He's not going to find many more major courses that set-up for his game that well until he starts "playing it forward" in 15 years.

6. I have no idea which direction Rory McIlroy's game is heading. I know this isn't a prediction but I am at a total loss. If you can make a good case for why he will be better or worse in 2014, email it to me and I'll print it.

7. Rickie Fowler is this generation's Fred Couples. Everyone likes Rickie and agrees that he has plenty of talent to win a major but he just doesn't put himself in contention to do it often enough. Look for him to come out of nowhere and take down the 2019 British Open.

8. Nick Watney is the guy we thought was going to be good who inexplicably fell-off the map but is actually really good. Look for a big 2014 from him.

9. Billy Horschel will have a serious sophomore slump, Jordan Spieth will not and we may never hear from Russell Henley again.

10. The debate as to whether Sergio Garcia or Colin Montgomerie is the greatest Ryder Cup player never to win a major will be settled when Sergio dominates at Gleneagles next year after making another failed run at a major.

Endnotes

* That would be a not so veiled shot at NASCAR but what would you expect from a sport where one competitor crashes on purpose so another competitor can get into the playoffs but then the commissioner's office steps in and decides that that's not fair so they throw-out the guy who benefited from the crash but not the guy who crashed on purpose and then they decide that one of the biggest names in the sport got screwed in the deal so they add an "extra" playoff spot and let him in. Confused? Well just imagine if the NFL shut-off the power to the Super Bowl to avoid a blowout. It's kind of like that (you're Goddamn right I went there!).

** Just one of the greatest nicknames in sports - "The Duck." Short and to the point. By the way, if you don't think the Duck is going to live to 100 while shooting his age at Augusta deep into his 70's, then I'm afraid that your thinking is incorrect. I said GOOD DAY SIR!

"You put an extra pack in the bag in
case we go to a playoff right?"
*** Yes I said "boldly." I'm latching-on to this new notion that everyone from athletes to stand-up comedians can be "courageous," "brave" and "bold." You know who are "courageous," "brave" and bold? Men and women who fight wars, fires and bad guys, people battling life-threatening illnesses and doctors who put their lives at risk to save others. Other than a few more examples that I'm sure I missed, that's it . . . that's the list. "Oh he's so courageous for playing with cracked ribs." Stop it.

**** Maybe it feels too early because (a) the World Series hasn't started, (b) I haven't seen any ads with people giving luxury sedans as Christmas gifts like they're toaster ovens and (c) the Jags haven't been mathematically eliminated from the playoffs yet.

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