Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Fantasy Golf: The Humana Preview

At 4:30 p.m. on Sunday, the NFL had completed three playoff games and the PGA Tour had completed three rounds of the Sony Open. At that point, the Fantasy Golf Report was 3-0 on its NFL picks and its projected winner of the Sony Open, Chris Kirk, was in first place. Two hours later, things were looking even better as both Kirk and the Denver Broncos had positioned themselves to win/cover. We all know what happened next but, just for "fun," let's examine just how much a perfect gambling weekend and a greased pig at the county fair have in common.

"If this asshole says 'Omaha' one
more time, I'm snapping the
ball straight through his man
zone and out his butthole."
At approximately 6:30 p.m. on Sunday, the Broncos led 17-0 and had the ball 3rd and 2 at the Chargers' 28 yard line. Despite the fact that many people claim that the big goofy guy flapping his arms for the Broncos is the greatest quarterback of all-time,* they decided to run the ball and lost a yard. (I think the play was called "Omaha"). Matt Prater then stepped-in and promptly missed only his second field goal of the year. The Chargers took over and marched down the field for a touchdown so instead of it being 20-0, it was 17-7 and the 9.5 point cover was very much in jeopardy.

At roughly the same time 3,341 miles to the west of Denver, Chris Kirk found himself in one of those PGA Tour logjams that occurs a couple times a year when six or seven players ranging from good (Kirk, Harris English and Jimmy Walker) to used to be good (Jerry Kelly and Jeff Overton) to who in the fuck is that guy? (Brian Stuard) find themselves within a stroke of each other heading into the back nine. What usually happens in these situations is that one guy out-birdies the field for the win and this case would be no different. I just hoped that guy would be Kirk.**

Back in Denver, the Broncos were cruising down the field on a smart little ten play drive to put themselves back up by 17 with just 8:12 left on the clock. Surely Phillip Rivers and the heretofore anemic Chargers' offense would not score more than a touchdown the rest of the way and wreck my quest for perfection. Cue the Broncos' defense which was clearly not getting paid by the hour at that point as it let the Chargers score another touchdown in a little over two minutes. OK. No Problem. No one has run more 5+ minute clock killing drives to closeout games in his career than Peyton Manning. Time for a steady dose of draw plays and over the middle dink and dunks to Wes Welker but, in the words of Lee Corso, not so fast my friend.

Apparently the Broncos' special teams had been working on a sequel to their overtime showcase in New England earlier in the season called "Botching the Onside Kick Coverage and the Art of the Blown Cover." (Though I must admit that this was one of the best onside kicks I've ever seen by Nick Novak - Phil Mickelson couldn't have done much better with a lob wedge). Bing bang boom and a Chargers field goal cut the margin to 7 points and THEN Manning decided to engineer the soul crushing drive that inevitably culminated with him taking a knee for the win and ruining the FGR's perfect playoff weekend. Thanks a lot Peyton. Enjoy your sleep this week with the nightmare of all nightmares coming to Denver on Sunday in the form of Brady, Belichik and a running game.

Back to Honolulu where the birdie barrage was on only it was being unleashed by Jimmy Walker and not Chris Kirk. Oh darn! [Attempting to exhibit real dismay]. Kirk would have needed to make eagle on 18 to force a playoff and, when that didn't happen, it meant that I only left $604,800 on the table with my Tim Clark pick (yaaaaayyyyyy . . . isn't gambling fun?). And that's how close I was to perfection - one well executed onside kick and a couple of missed putts. So close yet . . . well actually pretty freakin' close. Let's see if we can keep the momentum going this week at the Humana Challenge. ("Humana" of course being the Nepalese word for a toxic room-clearing fart as in: Question: "Hey, where'd everybody go?" . . . Answer: "Humana").

Last Week's FGR Grade: A-
I can't believe Sofia Vergera got passed-over for a
Golden Globe! (Actually, I have no idea if she was
even nominated. You know how this works by now).

1. Chris Kirk - 2nd
2. Harris English - 4th
3. Charles Howell, III - T8th
4. Tim Clark - W/D
5. Brian Stuard - 6th

The Humana Favorites

1. Zach Johnson - 12 to 1
2. Webb Simpson - 14 to 1
3. Keegan Bradley - 18 to 1
3. Harris English - 18 to 1
3. Brandt Snedeker - 18 to 1

The FGR One and Done Picks

1. Charles Howell, III
2. Brian Stuard
3. Kevin Chappell
4. Gary Woodland
5. Brendon Todd

Like I said, a very strong week all around for the FGR picks as we nailed four of the top ten. This week we head to La Quinta, California for another crapshoot event that has only been won once in the last eight years by a guy who you would put anywhere near the elite level (Bill Haas in 2010). The other seven winners during that period were Brian Gay, Jhonattan Vegas, Mark Wilson, Pat Perez, D.J. Trahan, Chad Campbell and Charley Hoffman also known as "the Sunday leaderboard that will have the Humana marketing department hiding-out in the luxury port o potties while the CEO downs his sixth Rob Roy and starts looking for scapegoats to fire."

So based on the notion that the above average tends to rise to the top at this event, we're going with Charles Howell, III who (a) never wins), (b) came in 2nd here last year and (c) closed-out the Sony Open with rounds of 67-66-66. If you want to get frisky with this one, I'd take a good hard look at the guys in the FGR's 2nd, 3rd and 5th spots. Oh, and if you feel the need to give your team a boost by using a top tier player, Webb Simpson and is 5.5+ birdies per round and his 82% greens in regulation so far this year is your guy because this tournament is a birdie-fest.

We're going to add a new wrinkle to this year's accountability system by keeping a running total of the FGR's weekly #1 picks. Expect this to continue until (a) I forget that I installed it as a new gimmick or (b) my picks start heading south and I have to find a new way to con people into reading this crap. But until one of those things happen, here is the FGR's Picks up to Date Report or P.U.D. Report (wait a minute).

I needed a picture of something
really small for this space.
PUD Report

Hyundai: Gary Woodland - $130,000
Sony: Chris Kirk - $604,800

Total: $734,800

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

Endnotes

* I would prefer that my "greatest quarterback of all-time" have a Super Bowl record of something like 4-0 (Montana) or 3-2 (Brady) or even 2-3 (Elway) over something like 1-1 (Manning). And let's not forget that in two Super Bowls, the Colts' offense led by Manning generated a whopping four touchdowns with only two coming on touchdown passes (to go with his two interceptions). Meanwhile, Montana threw five touchdown passes in Super Bowl XXIV alone and has eleven total to go along with his (hold on, let me do the math here . . . carry the two, divide by three and . . . oh yeah) zero interceptions.

Joe Montana not Ashley
Montana you rube but hey,
love the cowgirl theme.***
** Actually I didn't because, of the five players I put in my rankings, I'll give you two guesses as to which ones I picked for my own teams . . . yup, Charles Howell, III and Tim Clark. The Clark pick really stung because I sat at my desk on Thursday morning having one of those classic fantasy sports moments that had me digging for anything that would tell me how he'd been playing lately. Trust me, when you get as far as the Australian Tour's website, it's time to step away from the computer. The reason I ultimately settled on Clark? Because I had picked him first and, if I changed it and then he played better than Kirk, I would have been an a-hole all weekend for a reason too embarrassing to explain to anyone. As it was, watching the last few holes on Sunday with Kirk in contention and Clark probably passed-out on a beach surrounded by empty coconuts and little paper drink umbrellas felt like flying to Detroit in February with a little kid kicking the back of your seat the whole way.

*** For more on Ashley Montana and a great example of why the early days of MTV could be magical, check-out this mesmerizing John Mellencamp video.