Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Fantasy Golf: The Match Play Preview

When you look at the results of the Accenture Match Play Championship since it moved to its current home at the Golf Club at Dove Mountain, there are certain names that keep surfacing in the final four. Some, like Paul Casey and Geoff Ogilvy, you'd never consider picking this year (primarily because they didn't qualify for the field of 64). Others, like Luke Donald and Martin Kaymer, make you say "huh, maybe?" And then you have the firm of Poulter, Kuchar and Mahan who have owned this event over the last four years winning one each and combining for a total of seven top five finishes since 2010.

We've been a bit remiss with our
Olympic coverage so let's start
with a look at ice hockey.
Hunter Mahan and Matt Kuchar are always there because they have the kind of consistent games where they're not going to give away a match and their opponents are aware of that. If you've played match play, you know that it's very demoralizing to face a guy who simply refuses to give you a few holes. And if Mahan and Kuchar are players you don't want to see on your side of the bracket, then Ian Poulter is the player you have nightmares about seeing on your side of the bracket. Unlike the other two, Poulter will throw a few sloppy bogeys your way but, just when you think you have him on the ropes, he'll rip your heart out with five consecutive birdies.* And he'll do it with a prickly arrogance that will make you want to bury a sand wedge in his forehead.

So Mahan and Poulter are the plays this week because Kuch seems to be in a bit of a slump and I'm going to hang onto him for bigger things down the road. (Scroll down for the full FGR bracket . . . if you enlarge it, you might actually be able to read it). In light of the unpredictable nature of this event, I would be very reluctant to use Rory McIlroy, Henrik Stenson or another big gun but if you want to go heavy on the favorites, I ran another bracket for the Golf Channel game and you can see how that final four came out over in the right hand margin. My theory is this. If you use a guy like Poulter or Ryan Moore and he plays well . . . great. On the other hand, if he bombs-out in the first or second round, you're not going to cry over wasting either one of those guys (unless you're the kind of person who cries over such things in which case I might be the last person from whom you should be seeking advice . . . about anything).

Now let's swing over to Adler Arena
for an update on speed skating.
The Match Play Favorites

1. Rory McIlroy - 12 to 1
2. Dustin Johnson - 18 to 1
3. Henrik Stenson - 20 to 1
4. Jason Day - 20 to 1
5. Sergio Garcia - 22 to 1
6. Hunter Mahan - 25 to 1
7. Webb Simpson - 25 to 1
8. Bubba Watson - 25 to 1
9. Jordan Spieth - 25 to 1
10. Matt Kuchar - 25 to 1

The One and Done Picks

1. Hunter Mahan
2. Ian Poulter
3. Jason Day
4. Ryan Moore
5. Rory McIlroy

Sometimes it's better to be lucky than good and that was the case last week when the Dustin Johnson pick was a product of having already used Bill Haas. The result was a little credibility for the FGR predictions but, more importantly, it raised my total in the Golf Channel's fantasy game to $5,133,359 which is $14,959 more than Rex Hoggard who currently tops the "Expert" Leaderboard. I got your "expert" right here Golf Channel.

And finally, we take you out to Rosa Khutor 
Extreme Park for some freestyle skiing.**
Last Week's FGR Report Card: A-

1. Dustin Johnson - 2nd
2. Bill Haas - T23rd
3. Keegan Bradley - T20th
4. Graham DeLaet - T70th
5. Hunter Mahan - T52nd

The FGR PUD Report

Hyundai: Gary Woodland - $130,000
Sony: Chris Kirk - $604,800
Humana: Charles Howell, III - $12,198
Farmers: Bill Haas - $20,740
WM Phoenix: Billy Horschel - M/C
Pebble Beach: Russell Knox - $46,860
Northern Trust: Dustin Johnson - $723,600

Season Total: $1,538,198

Email the Fantasy Golf Report at fgr@fantasygolfreport.com (I promise it will not subject you to any promotional emails because I don't have any real sponsors).

Footnotes

* This is not a case of Fantasy Golf Report hyperbole as in 2012, Poulter birdied the last five holes to win a Ryder Cup fourball match with Rory McIlroy against Jason Dufner and Zach Johnson. He went on to win all four matches he played as the Euros took the Cup by a point. (For the FGR's contemporaneous thoughts on that debacle, check-out The Ryder Cup Post Mortem). So for the record, you never get involved in a land war in Asia, you never play cards against a guy who has the same first name as a city and you never bet against Ian Poulter in match play.

** I want to point-out that these are actual photos of Russian Olympic athletes so you don't think I'm using random images for the sole purpose of driving traffic to my website. I take your opinion of me very seriously.