Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Fantasy Golf: The Sony Open Preview

OK so I may have underrated Jordan Spieth a bit in my preseason rankings but I think the announcers last weekend were getting a little carried away about his potential. At some point in the second round, one of them described Spieth as "fearless." "Fearless"? In an early round of a marginally meaningful event like the Tournament of Champions? Really? Look, if you want to call Phil Mickelson fearless for ripping a 4-iron off the pine straw at Augusta with the tournament hanging-in the balance, fine, but don't give me "fearless" on January 4th in Hawaii unless Spieth is paddling a surfboard out to save a kid being circled by dorsal fins or showing-off by hitting range balls with a tarantula on his head to prove how steady he can keep it.

Besides, "fearless" isn't even the right word to describe Spieth. He's "relentless." I swear as I was intermittently watching him play over the weekend that every time I saw him make a bogey, the next time I would check-in he would have followed it up by making two or three birdies. It was almost like he wanted to make that bogey pay for defacing his scorecard by giving it a swirlie in toilet full of birdies (that came out a little more graphically than I had intended). Anyway, Spieth has officially entered the holy realm of players I will save for a major or at least a WGC event* and, if I ever finish the third part of the preseason preview, you'll get to find out which one.

Let's get down to business and grade-out the Fantasy Golf Report's performance from last week and then make some picks for the Sony Open.

Last Week's FGR Grade: B

1. Gary Woodland - T13th
I'm really going to miss Hawaii.
2. Martin Laird - 20th
3. Jimmy Walker - T21st
4. Boo Weekley - 26th
5. Chris Kirk - T16th

The Sony Favorites

1. Adam Scott - 8 to 1
2. Zach Johnson - 10 to 1
3. Matt Kuchar - 14 to 1
4. Jordan Spieth - 16 to 1
5. Charles Howell, III - 20 to 1
5. Jason Dufner - 20 to 1

The FGR One and Done Picks

1. Chris Kirk
2. Harris English
3. Charles Howell, III
4. Tim Clark
5. Brian Stuard

I know that grade for last week's picks might seem a bit high but what would have been a better result at the TOC: (1) making $198,750 with Adam Scott, Matt Kuchar or Dustin Johnson; or (2) making $130,000 with Gary Woodland and having those other three still available? (The answer is No. 2). I'm in two leagues with a total of 116 teams and only 2 of those 116 picked Zach Johnson or Jordan Spieth so less than 2% got what I see as a reasonable return on a major caliber talent at a tournament that doesn't seem to favor a particular style of play much less any particular two or three players.** So I can live with Gary Woodland because the only two players who finished ahead of him who I am not saving for later were Kevin Streeman (who I never considered picking) and Ryan Moore (who I can't stand watching so I wasn't going to let him ruin the soothing viewing experience that is the first weekend at Kapalua).

In contrast to Kapalua, Waialae where this week's Sony Open will be played does seem to favor a certain group of somewhat random players including Charles Howell, III (four top 5's in the last five years) and Tim Clark (two 2nd place finishes in the last three years). Either one of those guys has a really good chance of getting you a top ten finish, however, they both have something else in common which is that they very rarely win PGA Tour events as the two of them have only combined for three victories over the last eleven years.

So instead I'm going with Harris English in one league and Chris Kirk in the other because they have both recently proven that they can win and they both shot a 62 at Waialae last year. With that being said, I can almost assure you that a player on no one's radar like Cameron Tringale or David Lingmerth will breakthrough for their first win because, as the recent list of winners (Russell Henley, Johnson Wagner, Mark Wilson, Ryan Palmer, etc.) shows us, we're basically betting on a race with about a hundred horses. Good luck with that.        

Email your queries, complaints and profound thoughts to the Fantasy Golf Report at fgr@fantasygolfreport.com.

Endnotes

"I haven't given it a
second thought. I swear."
* Assuming the one league I'm in doesn't screw me again by surreptitiously removing the payout for the WGC events despite the fact that I saved Tiger for the whole 2013 season just so I could take down the WGC-Bridgestone and at least win my entry fee back - which I did. But that's ok . . . I'm over it. Some people just run more ethical leagues than others but really, I'm good . . . sonsabitches.  

** The exception would be Steve Stricker who dominates at Kapalua but did not play this year which made things a bit more interesting because half of fantasy golfing America would have picked him. Hey, Fantasy Golf America . . . that would have been a great name for this website . . . crap.