Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Fantasy Golf: The Shell Houston Open Preview

In an effort to create some cheap space filler over the past few weeks we've posted a couple of brackets that included the following final fours: Kansas, Texas A&M, Kentucky, Virginia . . . Patrick Reed, Rickie Fowler, Branden Grace and Danny Willett. What do all eight of those teams/players have in common other than the fact that none of them have ever been in my kitchen? (Cliff Clavin reference). You guessed it. None of them made it to a final four which means it's time to get back to what we're good at (sulking like a five year old when you bogey the first two holes?). No the other thing. Picking stroke play tournaments.

Case in point. Last week, we boasted that our hastily compiled Puerto Rico Open list would produce three of the top five finishers. And while we didn't quite pull that off, we did get three of the top eight including the winner (Tony Finau (1st), Scott Brown (T5th) and Will Mackenzie T8th). To the extent that we can call that momentum, we're going to ride it like Gene Wilder on a mechanical bull into Houston and then hopefully onto the tradition unlike any other (ooh don't tease me). 

This week you could make a pretty good case for any of the top ten guys on the odds list, especially Louis Oosthuizen who was clearly the second best player at the Match Play. However, Louis can be very enigmatic and, just when you think he's grooving it, he'll get distracted and check-out like a 12 year old soccer team or the 2015-16 Maryland Terrapins basketball team (still a tad bitter). That could absolutely happen coming off seven matches in five days and looking ahead to Augusta so I'm avoiding Louis.

Instead, here is the scenario I envision and we have to take a trip down memory lane for this one to make sense. Back in 2006, Phil Mickelson got off to a very solid start to the season with a bunch of top tens and everyone started chattering about how he was going to win his second green jacket. It seemed like if you put the quality of his game on a graph, it was going to peak at Augusta but it ended-up peaking a week earlier at the BellSouth Classic where he shot 28 under (yeah, 28 under) and blistered the field by 13 strokes. He went on to win the Masters the following week.

This season has the same feel to it. He already has three top five finishes and, if he hadn't gotten buzz sawed by Patrick Reed in his third match in Austin, he easily could've gone deep into the weekend. Now he's headed to a course where he has a great track record including a win in 2011 and many of the favorites may be looking ahead. If I thought he had a shot at Augusta, I'd consider saving him but those are going to be shark infested waters this year with so many studs playing at the tops of their games. This is Phil's week. I gotta feelin'. 

The Houston Open Odds

1. Jordan Spieth - 13/2
Nothing like a Texas tourney to
help get the FGR back on track.
2. Rickie Fowler - 12/1
3. Henrik Stenson - 12/1
4. Dustin Johnson - 14/1
5. Phil Mickelson - 18/1
6. Louis Oosthuizen - 20/1
7. Patrick Reed - 22/1
8. J.B. Holmes - 25/1
9. Charl Schwartzel - 25/1
10. Sergio Garcia - 25/1

Ten Guys We Like

Jordan Spieth - 13/2
Phil Mickelson - 18/1
Patrick Reed - 22/1
Charl Schwartzel - 25/1
Charles Howell - 60/1
Bernd Wiesberger - 66/1
Cameron Tringale - 80/1
Matt Jones - 80/1
Freddie Jacobson - 90/1
Derek Fathauer - 150/1

One and Done Pick: Phil Mickelson

Sleeper Pick: Cameron Tringale

Picks to Date

Hyundai:Dustin Johnson $148,000
Sony:Matt Kuchar $77,604
CareerBuilder:Ryan Palmer $75,897
FarmersBrandt Snedeker$1,170,000
PhoenixHideki Matsuyama$1,170,000
Pebble Beach:Jimmy Walker$143,500
Northern Trust:Sergio Garcia$0
Honda:Patrick Reed$0
Cadillac:Rickie Fowler$197,500
ValsparRyan Moore$414,800
Palmer:Henrik Stenson$365,400
Match Play:Branden Grace$90,900
Total$3,853,601

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