Friday, April 4, 2014

Fantasy Golf: The Pre-Masters Redraft Part 1

I get the impression that there are a lot of fantasy golfers* who delay the start of their season until the week before the Masters and, while I don't agree with that approach because it means a wasted opportunity to have a stake in almost twenty relatively meaningless tournaments, I understand it. At the FGR, we try to cater to all fans, even the non-purists, so for those types who pick all of the salted almonds out of the nut dish, we present Part 1 of the 2014 PGA Tour Top 30 Redraft (for the original top 30, click here).** I don't know how many parts there are going to be as it depends on my laziness factor this weekend. We are currently at LAZCON 3 so I'm envisioning a two parter with some really thin commentary towards the end.

1. Matt Kuchar (2): We only had Kuch ranked behind Tiger at the start of the season and he has done nothing to change our minds with four top tens in seven events to start 2014. He is currently 11/1 to win a major behind guys like Jordan Spieth and Sergio Garcia which is outrageous considering that he is by far the most proven player over the last two years who has not won one (winner of the 2012 Players, 2013 Match Play and the 2013 Memorial). On top of that, he said "jeepers" today after hitting a bad shot. How can you not want this guy on your squad?

"You'll putt it again Adam and
you'll keep putting it until I um
. . . I mean we are ready."
2. Adam Scott (3): With Tiger out indefinitely, we can stop arguing about the best player in the world for a while. From 2011-2013, Scott had seven top ten finishes in majors including three last year with his win at the Masters being one of them. His putting issues at the Arnold Palmer were a little disconcerting but he'll work those out or Stevie Williams will beat him with a live stingray.

3. Dustin Johnson (7): Since the start of 2014, Johnson has played in four stroke play events and has finished T6th, T2nd, 2nd and T4th. He also won the WGC-HSBC Championship. In the original preview we said he couldn't be trusted. Well now I trust him. (Note that I wrote that before he shot 80 on Thursday but he did play his last twelve holes one under so it was a good 80?)

4. Jason Day (15): I'm not quite sure what we were thinking by ranking Day that low in January. After finishing second at the Masters and U.S. Open in 2011, he basically took 2012 off when his wife had their first baby (golfers with kids on the way are about as productive as I am on Fridays after 2:00 p.m. which is not very). Then he stormed back in 2013 with a 3rd at the Masters, a T2nd at the U.S. Open and a T8th at the PGA. So far this year he's already dominated at the Match Play and finished T2nd at the Farmers. The thumb injury is a bit concerning but at least it's not up his ass like it apparently was in 2012.

5. Hunter Mahan (5): We're sticking to our guns with Mahan who has shown enough solid play so far this year to back-up the expectations he created with strong showings at the U.S. Open and British Open last year. The cool thing about Mahan is that he has the ability to be great in every phase of the game so when he puts it together, look out! (No seriously, LOOK OUT there's someone coming-up behind you and he appears to be holding one of those things things from the old movies that they used to knock guys out with - what in the hell were those things anyway?)

6. Phil Mickelson: I really struggled with this spot because all I could see in the next tier of players was flaws but then I put myself in draft mode and asked myself "self, who would you take with this pick if those other five were gone?" and the answer was Mickelson. His potential to win another major this year with the U.S. Open being played at Pinehurst offsets the troubling back situation. If he had struggled in the first two rounds this week, I may have thought differently but he's been solid. Also, if he wins next week and you passed-up the opportunity to take him with the 6th pick, your Masters viewing experience will suck and you absolutely need to remove that from the equation.

7. Rory McIlroy (10): I bumped Rory up a few spots from the original list because so far it appears that he has his head screwed-on straight again. We know that means he could go on a ridiculous tear at anytime because he has more natural ability than anyone currently playing who also has significant major championship experience (which rules-out Jordan Spieth). He would currently be ranked 105th in strokes gained putting if he had played enough rounds so if he puts the time in on the putting green ZZZZZZzzzzzzzz (let's move on).

8. Zach Johnson (14): This is part safety pick and part belief that I think Zach Johnson is going to win the British Open before he's done. It seems like he never misses a fairway (for good reason) and his last three finishes across the pond (as we like to say) were T16th, T9th and T6th. In the fantasy golf business, we call that "trending" (feel free to use that).

Mrs. Dufner has eclipsed
Mrs. Day and shows no
signs of letting-up.
9. Jason Dufner (11): Dufner tends to check-out for weeks at a time but I still vividly remember the lasers he was shooting at the PGA Championship last year and if he dials that swing up at Pinehurst, I like his chances. Also, his wife is currently at the top of the golf WAG power rankings so that gets him a bit of a bump.

10. Sergio Garcia (NR): I've always contended that Sergio was eventually going to reach a point where we grow tired of disliking him and, when that time comes, he's going to reach his potential. I'm starting to feel like that time is now. The fact that Tiger won't be around to unhinge him every time he's in contention can only help.  

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* How great is it that we get our own name? People who play fantasy football, baseball and basketball (all seventeen of them) don't get to call themselves fantasy footballers, baseballers or basketballers because that would sound make them sound like dorks whereas if you tell someone you're a fantasy golfer . . . never mind. (Sometimes when I write this stuff I feel like I'm about to get a wedgie and stuffed in a locker).

** Note that this is not how we see the overall season ending because then we would have to account for the wins guys like Jimmy Walker and Patrick Reed already have. This is how we see the season going from here with a little extra love given to the players we think will win a major. ("We" of course would be me and my constantly evolving posse of imaginary friends. Right now it consists of a guy who walks around quoting Top Gun all day, two members of a Journey cover band called "Separate Ways" and an angry chain-smoking podiatrist named Steve).

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