Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Fantasy Golf: WGC-Cadillac Match Play Preview

The Match Play Favorites

1. Rory McIlroy - 9/1
2. Jordan Spieth - 9/1
We're looking at a mostly European
final four. (Trust me, she's French).
3. Jason Day - 16/1
4. Henrik Stenson - 16/1
5. Justin Rose - 20/1
6. Dustin Johnson - 20/1
7. Adam Scott - 22/1
8. Bubba Watson - 25/1
9. Patrick Reed - 25/1
10. Jim Furyk - 25/1

The FGR Match Play Picks

1. Graeme McDowell
2. Sergio Garcia
3. Brandt Snedeker
4. Ian Poulter
5. Jordan Spieth
6. Paul Casey
7. Jim Furyk
8. Brendon Todd
9. Jason Day
10. Louis Oosthuizen

The One and Done Pick: Graeme McDowell

The Sleeper Pick: Brendon Todd

Match play events are hard enough to handicap even when you're not mired in a miserable life sucking slump that is genuinely affecting your mood on the weekends. Even with the new format that gives the higher ranked players a better chance of reaching the sweet sixteen by allowing them to exploit their talent edge over three matches instead of just one, it's still match play so it's still a crapshoot. (As for the new format, to paraphrase Colonel Jessup, I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain it here but I will sum it up in one word: better. Click on the link provided if you want to check it out or just sit ten feet from me at a country club bar and wildly speculate about it until my fucking head explodes . . . I don't give a damn).
"No you ignorant ass clown they are
not playing nine hole matches and they
are most certainly not using those big
cups that you saw in Golf Digest!!!"

Let's start trying to figure this thing out by looking at the golf course. Here is what we know about Harding Park which hosted the 2005 WGC-American Express Championship and the 2009 Presidents Cup. Good players play well there (that was helpful). Tiger Woods won in 2005 with Sergio Garcia, Henrik Stenson, Graeme McDowell and Vijay Singh all landing in the top six. At the Presidents Cup, the leading point winners were Woods and Phil Mickelson for the Americans along with Singh and Ernie Els for the Internationals. (The Americans won 19.5 to 14.5 which made everyone happy because Greg Norman's team lost).  

Ok so the course is a bit of a dead end . . . what else do we know? Well we know that certain players excel at match play and those that do tend to fall into at least one of three categories: (1) they're passionate (Ian Poulter, Jordan Spieth, Sergio Garcia and Patrick Reed), (2) they're cool (Jason Day, Henrik Stenson, Graeme McDowell and Victor Dubuisson); and (3) they're European (see five of the eight previously listed players along with Rory McIlroy and Justin Rose). Therefore, chances are that our winner this year is going to be a fiery or cool European.

Now that we have our winner's profile and some confidence that the course isn't going to quirk-out the good players, we can look at the bracket and determine who is going to go deep and have a shot to win it all. (It does not look like they named the brackets this year so we'll just refer to each one by its top seed). The first thing that jumps-out is that the Spieth Bracket is the bracket of death with the Masters champ, Jason Day, Sergio Garcia, Patrick Reed and Zach Johnson. Good luck running that gauntlet and we're going with Sergio purely on a hunch and to stick with our European profile.

At the other end of the spectrum we have the Watson Bracket which seems a little light at the top once you get past Bubba as Jim Furyk, J.B. Holmes and Rickie Fowler are the next three highest seeds. Fowler is slumping, Furyk is Furyk and the two mad bombers probably don't have the attention span it's going to take to advance so we're going for a grinder in Graeme McDowell.

"Where's the rest of this moose?"
The McIlroy and Stenson Brackets are both solid and McIlroy is going to have to get past Brandt Snedeker and Billy Horschel while Stenson will have to deal with Bill Haas and Brendon Todd. My gut tells me that Spieth is the only top seed who will advance out of the Group Stage so we're going with Snedeker to clip McIlroy and advance to the final four while Todd takes-out Stenson before losing to Ian Poulter in the greatest contrast of personalities since Arthur met with his future father in-law.

From there, McDowell stares down Snedeker and Sergio simply ball strikes his way past Poulter setting-up a final between two European Ryder Cup studs that no one on this side of the Atlantic other than the geekiest golf geeks will watch (and I'll be one of them). It will be all smiles and backslaps on the first tee before McDowell stops chatting somewhere around the 5th hole as Sergio wonders why they're not friends anymore. The next thing he knows, McDowell will be offering to buy the first round when they shake hands on the 16th green as Sergio cashes another second place check and wonders why he didn't win . . . again.           

Last Week's Report Card: D

1. Dustin Johnson - T43rd
Did someone say 
"fiery European?"
2. Rickie Fowler - M/C
3. Sean O'Hair - T12th
4. Steve Stricker - M/C
5. Brendan Steele - M/C

One and Done Picks to Date

Hyundai: Kevin Streelman - $70,667
Sony: Chris Kirk - $42,280
Humana: Russell Knox - M/C
Phoenix: Hunter Mahan - $36,729
Farmers: Hideki Matsuyama - M/C

AT&T: Dustin Johnson - $281,067
Northern Trust: Jimmy Walker - $24,120
Honda: Keegan Bradley - M/C
WGC-Cadillac: Bubba Watson - $540,000
Valspar: Jim Furyk - $23,600
Palmer: Brooks Koepka – W/D
Texas Open: Matt Kuchar - $99,200
Houston Open: Louis Oosthuizen - M/C
Masters: Rory McIlroy - $480,000
Heritage: Patrick Reed - M/C
Zurich: Rickie Fowler - M/C

Season Total: $1,597,663

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