Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Fantasy Golf: The WGC-Cadillac Preview

The WGC-Cadillac Odds
I don't really have a theme this week so
let's class it up a bit with an Oscars tribute.

1. Rory McIlroy - 9/2
2. Bubba Watson - 16/1
3. Jason Day - 18/1
4. Dustin Johnson - 20/1
5. Jordan Spieth - 20/1
6. Adam Scott - 20/1
7. Phil Mickelson - 25/1
8. Patrick Reed - 25/1
9. Jimmy Walker - 28/1
10. Justin Rose - 28/1

The FGR WGC-Cadillac Top Five

1. Bubba Watson
2. Dustin Johnson
3. Rory McIlroy
4. Jason Day
5. Jamie Donaldson 

The One and Done Pick: Bubba Watson

The Sleeper Pick: Thongchai Jaidee

Some tournaments have a history of producing winners that just make you go "meh" and the Honda Classic is one of them. Padraig Harrington is just the latest such "that's nice" champion to go along with Michael Thompson in 2013, Rory Sabbatini in 2011, Camilo Villegas in 2010 and Y.E. Yang in 2009. The culprit is most likely the golf course but no one would ever say that because the Champion Course at PGA National was redesigned by Jack Nicklaus and, just to make sure you knew it was redesigned by Jack Nicklaus, they named a three hole stretch the "Bear Trap" in his honor. The unfortunate byproduct of this is that every year we got an excruciating amount of air time devoted to Nicklaus in the booth with Johnny Miller and Dan Hicks* and this year a significant portion of that suck-up fest was spent with Jack acting as a shill for his new Jack Nicklaus Ice Cream (sometimes these topics just land in your lap). God love the greatest golfer of all-time but, if his lips are moving, he's probably either describing his greatness in a faux self-deprecating way or he's trying to sell you something.

Now we should give Jack Nicklaus some credit because we are led to believe that some proceeds from the sale of Jack Nicklaus Ice Cream will benefit the Nicklaus Children's Health Care Foundation (I'm detecting a trend) which is great but you know Jack Nicklaus is getting a taste (see what I did there) before the foundation sees a dime so let's not go so far as to say that Jack Nicklaus is to philanthropy what Jack Nicklaus is to golf. And not to suggest that Jack Nicklaus and the Nicklaus Companies are a bit tone deaf, but doesn't selling ice cream to raise money for children's health seem a bit like raffling-off a Cadillac Escalade to raise money for the Rainforest Alliance? One positive according to the Nicklaus website, however, is that the ice cream is "loaded with real ingredients" (as opposed to "fake" ingredients?) which is good because I'd hate to think that those 1,000 calories per pint were coming from a cow with fake teats. (Disclaimer: I have no idea how many calories Jack Nicklaus Ice Cream will have but Ben & Jerry's has about a 1,000 calories and 60 grams per pint which the FDA officially classifies as a "shit load").

This feels quite sophisticated.
But I wildly digress. This week we move from a course designed and partly owned by one world class shill to a course partly designed and owned by THE world class shill. (Warning: it's about to get very golfy). The difference is that Donald Trump's course has been hosting arguably the best golf tournament on the planet for the past eight years when you consider that the only dud to finish in the top two during that time was Brett Wetterich (2nd in 2007).** Tiger has won it twice at Doral along with a win each for Geoff Ogilvy (when he was good), Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els, Nick Watney (pre-slump), Justin Rose and Patrick Reed. Runner-ups have included Bubba Watson (twice), Dustin Johnson and Charl Schwartzel. The event benefits from having a limited field but it still sports about 70 players and has avoided having a Hennie Otto or Juvic Pagunsan sneak into the top two. 

This year's loaded line-up should provide another shiny leaderboard. You need look no further than the leaders of the World Golf Rankings*** to find the 2015 favorites because about half the players in the top twenty have had major success at Doral. We already noted Bubba's two recent second place finishes and then you have the following studs: (a) Rory McIlroy who went T10, 3rd, T8 from 2011-13, (b) Adam Scott with a T6 in 2011 and a T3 in 2013, (c) Justin Rose who won it in 2012 and backed that up with a T8 in 2013, (d) Matt Kuchar with a run of T3, 5th and T8 from 2010-12 and (e) Patrick Reed who happens to be the defending champ. I could go on but you get the picture. The winner is probably going to come from that group or it's going to be another guy who at some point on Sunday will make you say to yourself, "man I knew I should have picked him" even though you never really considered him (Martin Kaymer, Jason Day, Jordan Spieth, etc.).

So who's it going to be? Well we've already used D.J. (2nd in 2011 and T4 last year) and we're thinking this could be Rory's year at Augusta so the next logical choice is Bubba and he makes a lot of sense based on his past success, how well he's played this season and the fact that he can bomb it on a course that's going to play over 7,500 yards long. As for a sleeper, we'll go deep down the odds list for Thongchai Jaidee at 100/1. He finished 2nd in the Thai One On Classic a couple of weeks ago and tied for 6th at Doral last year. And it just dawned on me that "Thong"chai could have been this week's theme but we're getting ready to roll the presses on this edition so we'll have to save that one for the WGC-Matchplay.

Last Week's Report Card: D

Yes . . . dignified even.

1. Rory McIlroy - M/C
2. Keegan Bradley - M/C
3. Justin Rose - M/C
4. Brooks Koepka - T51
5. Russell Knox - T3

One and Done Picks to Date

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

AT&T Pro-Am: Dustin Johnson - $281,067
Northern Trust: Jimmy Walker - $24,120
Honda Classic: Keegan Bradley - M/C

Season Total: $454,863


* Congratulations if you bet the over on the 41.5 times that Dan Hicks would say "Bear Trap." The playoff made that a slam dunk.

The Griswold's personalized
berets weren't this embarrassing.
** Wetterich wasn't really a dud at the time as he had just played in the 2006 Ryder Cup. Then again, that probably explains why the U.S. team got strafed in Ireland 18.5 to 9.5 with the murderer's row of Chad Campbell, Chris DiMarco, J.J. Henry, Vaughn Taylor, David Toms and Wetterich going a combined 0-10-8. Throw-in Phil Mickelson's 0-4-1 along with the traveling garb that made the players look like UPS drivers from 1937, and you had a complete recipe for disaster.  

*** I have made peace with the World Golf Rankings now that we've put some distance between us and the ludicrousness of Luke Donald and Lee Westwood being ranked No. 1 without ever winning a major. Now you drop all the way to 12th (Kuchar) before you find a player who hasn't won one or at least finished second. This has left the FGR with one less thing to bitch about creating quite a void so feel free to send me some new ideas. 

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