Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Fantasy Golf: The British Open Preview

If you were to call golf's four majors before a committee of historians, writers and all-time great players and have each of them makes its case for why it's the best, the presentations would go something like this:

Masters: (a) Our tournament is played at Augusta National every year; (b) Here is the list of players with the most green jackets . . . Jack Nicklaus (6), Tiger Woods (4), Arnold Palmer (4), Gary Player (3), Sam Snead (3), Nick Faldo (3) and Jimmy Demaret (3); and (c) Our tournament is played at Augusta National every year. Eat it.

U.S. Open: (a) We are the national championship; (b) Our tournament is contested every year (except this one) on one of the most highly regarded courses in the country including Pebble Beach, Shinnecock, Winged Foot, Pinehurst No. 2, Oakmont and Baltusrol; (c) Our list of top winners ain't too shabby either with Jack Nicklaus (4), Bobby Jones (4), Ben Hogan (4) Willie Anderson (4), Tiger Woods (3) and Hale Irwin (3); and (d) We were the setting for The Greatest Game Ever Played.

British Open: (a) We've been around since before the U.S. Open could wipe itself; (b) The guy who's won our title the most, Harry Vardon (6), would have won twenty majors if two of them had existed when he played; (c) We play at St. Andrews once every five years and (d) Peter Alliss.

PGA Championship: (a) We got nothin'; (b) Wait, once Rich Beem did this dance and . . . (c) Forget it, we'll take fourth place and sit down.

Players Championship: (a) We give a ton of money to our winner and . . . hey, let go of my arm. Ok ok I'm going . . . easy on the suit.

From my perspective, it's a toss-up between the top three because they can all make a compelling case and anyone who says that one is clearly better than the others lacks objectivity (objectively speaking). This year, however, the British Open has the opportunity to distinguish itself because it's being played at St. Andrews, the U.S. Open was just played on the parking lot of an abandoned warehouse and we have a potentially epic sports rivalry brewing between Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth (cue the record scratch). 

They made it so damn convincing
that we just had to believe.
And that's my reward for getting a two week jump on the British Open Preview. I was ready to blame myself for jinxing us out of the greatest sports grudge match since Danny Larusso improbably (and I mean really improbably) made it to the finals of the All Valley Karate Championships to face his nemesis, Johnny Lawrence.* But then I remembered that when I just received my weekly email asking whether I was "in or out" for basketball, I responded "out" because I'm scheduled to play in two events that I really don't want to miss with a tweaked ankle or a jammed finger and neither one of them is called the BRITISH FUCKING OPEN.

Seriously Rory. You were less than two weeks out. You've got to go into cocoon mode at that point and emerge on July 16th as the resplendent jewfro rocking golf ball crushing butterfly that you are. Not for you but for us. This new golden era of golf was just emerging from the Tiger wreckage and now you've indefinitely hit the pause button because you couldn't just pull-up a lawn chair and say, "I'm going to sit-out for a couple weeks mates because, you know, I'm the best golfer on the planet and I need to keep playing to keep it that way." I think they would have understood.  

Now our best potential storyline scenarios are the following:

1. Tiger wins. If your initial reaction was to mutter an expletive, then you just proved my point. No one in the history of sports elicits a wider range of emotions than Tiger and I can guarantee you that, if he's in contention on Sunday, the roars at St. Andrews are going to make the '86 Masters sound like a junior swim meet (wait, bad example . . . swimming parents are nuts**). You get the point. If you don't acknowledge that Tiger winning at St. Andrews would be the biggest story in golf since at least 1986, then your view is being obstructed by your agenda.   

2. Spieth wins and keeps his Grand Slam hopes alive but he needs to do it in dramatic fashion and preferably in a playoff over one or two top contenders. The Grand Slam chase is cool but the British Open is only going to be great if the British Open itself is great (does that make sense?). 

3. Some combination of at least three of Sergio Garcia, Dustin Johnson, Rickie Fowler, Jason Day and Henrik Stenson find themselves in a playoff/cage match to see who can drop out of the best player never to win a major conversation first.  

Here is what I think is going to happen. Spieth will play valiantly but get tripped-up by St. Andrews somewhere along the way - probably by the weather as he appears to be on the bad side of the draw (more on that below). That will clear the way for one of our potential first time major winners to make his move and I'm banking that it's either Sergio who has eight top tens at the Open since 2001 and two runner-ups, Stenson who finished 2nd the last time he teed it up and tied for 3rd the last time the Open was at St. Andrews in 2010 or D.J. who is playing out of his mind and should have won it back in 2011.*** In the end I'm going with Sergio as my one and done pick but it's only because I've had him in this spot since January and every other mid-season change I've made has come back to haunt me. 

Remember, however, that I'm limited by the players I've already wasted . . . um used this season so I do not have D.J., Stenson or Fowler at my disposal. If I did, I'd take Stenson based on his recent form and the fact that it looks like he's getting the favorable weather draw by playing Thursday afternoon and Friday morning. Sergio on the other hand will be playing Thursday morning and Friday afternoon (when the weather is supposed to get really dicey) and that scares the crap out of me because no one has ever accused him of "rolling with the punches" or "making the best of a bad situation." Then again, no one has ever accused me of those things either so maybe this is meant to be. The bottom line is that I am not leaving my wingman . . . even if it's Sergio.  

The British Open Odds
Looks like our favorite Brit Rosie
Jones is up to her old tricks again.

1. Jordan Spieth - 6/1
2. Dustin Johnson - 12/1
3. Justin Rose - 18/1
4. Adam Scott - 20/1
5, Rickie Fowler - 20/1
6. Henrik Stenson - 20/1
7. Louis Oostuizen - 22/1
8. Tiger Woods - 30/1
9. Jason Day - 30/1
10. Paul Casey - 30/1

The FGR British Open Picks

1. Henrik Stenson
2. Dustin Johnson
3. Sergio Garcia
4. Jordan Spieth
5. Paul Casey
6. Adam Scott
7. Shane Lowry
8. Tommy Fleetwood
9. Brandt Snedeker
That little minx.
10. Rickie Fowler

The One and Done Pick: Sergio Garcia

The Sleeper Pick: Francesco Molinari

Last Week's Report Card: A-

1. Jordan Spieth - 1st
2. Kevin Kisner - T35th
3. Zach Johnson - T3rd
4. Robert Streb - T14th
5. Jerry Kelly - 17th

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
Not sure what we'd do without her.
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
Match Play: Graeme McDowell - $49,385
Players: Henrik Stenson - $130,857
Wells Fargo: Webb Simpson - $624,800
Colonial: Zach Johnson - $78,780
Byron Nelson: Gary Woodland - $15,407
Memorial: Justin Rose - $669,600
FedEx St. Jude: Billy Horschel - $168,000
U.S. Open: Phil Mickelson - $23,822
Travelers: Brandt Snedeker - $147,200
Greenbrier: Kevin Kisner - $500,267
John Deere: Robert Streb - $84,600

Season Total: $4,090,381


* By the way, if you discover that your son's friends have taken to calling him "Johnny," you might have a problem. See Johnny Lawrence (bully), Johnny Manziel (bust) and Johnny Cade (tragic hero). 

Anytime you can work two Ralph
Macchio references into a British
preview, it's been a good day.
** Forget that they run up and down the side of the pool like hyperactive Labrador retrievers, how about the fact that their kids are underwater and consequently "CAN'T HEAR YOU..." 

*** Paul Casey is another intriguing choice. He has six top tens on the PGA Tour this season including a tie for 6th at the Masters and he tied for third at the Open in 2010. The problem with Casey is that it's nearly impossible to envision him winning a major because he gives off that air of just being happy to contend. He's a pretty good value in a salary cap game like Draft Kings though because he's been happy to contend so often this year.  

Email the Fantasy Golf Report at fgr@fantasygolfreport.com

No comments: