2013 Golf fun includes the Golf Channel’s Fantasy Golf Challenge

Last year I participated in a fantasy golf league for the very first time.  I chose the Golf Channel Fantasy Golf Challenge because I am a huge fan of the golf channel (especially the Morning Drive show).  Each week, Winn McMurry, would join the morning show to give her picks.  In the early stages I wrote posts each week about my players but found that to be a bit repetitive and I had other topics I wanted to share with my readers.

In all honesty, I had set goals for 2012 for myself and failed miserably.  I was very optimistic and didn’t realize how hard it would be to win just one week (which I thought was an achievable “stretch” goal).  My best week was when I ranked 1,551  (I finished the year ranked in the mid-5,000 range).  On a bright note, I did beat my friend who was playing but not by much (and she missed a few weeks) so this year I really have to be on my toes.

The one thing that I did not like about the league was that the leader-board only showed the ranks for the top 100 and did not show the total number of players.  So you could compare yourself to the top 100, the people in your own league, and the Golf Channel experts but that was it.  Therefore, knowing my final rank was mid-5,000 really did not mean anything since I had no basis for it expect that I clearly was not in the top 100.  But I would have liked to know where I was against all players. I actually wrote the golf channel fantasy team an email at the end of the season and suggested they add the total number of players.  Now, they may have been planning it all along but the new player profile includes your overall rank against everyone.

Screen shot Fantasty Profile

Click to see a large image of the screen shot of the fantasy profile layout.

This makes it a bit more fun for those of us that may never be in the top 100.  If the number (48,638) in the screen shot is indicative of the number of players last year, then being in the 5,000 range was pretty good for a beginner.  Of course, lots of room for improvement.

The Golf Channel has also added the LPGA majors to the fantasy golf game and that makes me very happy.  I think it promotes the women’s game and hopefully will expand the fan base for the LPGA.

The other new twist is a Mulligan!  You get to drop your lowest score each segment (three segments this year and I’m guessing the segments will be Spring, Summer, Fall).  I’m not sure of the date breaks for the three segments because of the shortened PGA tour schedule.  In 2013 the PGA will play only 40 tournaments between January and September. Then the 2013/2014 season begins in October which is the tour’s new wrap-around season.

Also, in the spirit of social sharing, the Golf Channel has added Twitter, Facebook and other social sharing tools to the site.  I’m not sure it will be meaningful to tweet about my picks but I setup a Pinterest board to follow my fantasy picks.  A Pinterest board will allow me to add images and write recaps. I participated in the CME Titleholders LPGA Pinterest contest last year and I had the winning board.

I have set goals for the 2013 fantasy golf season.  Obviously I want to win because that is the reason we all play games.  I will also be very happy to better my 2012 end of season position and I have set two more goals. First, to win one week (same stretch goal as last year) and second, be in the top 1,000 at the end of the year.

Finally, I never understood the guys at work that did the fantasy football or baseball teams but now I get it.  Fantasy games draw you into the action. I have always loved watching golf but the fantasy game makes watching the tournaments even more fun.  The result of playing the fantasy game that I did not expect is that I discovered new golfers to watch.  Players that may or may not be the next “break out star” but I am now interested in watching them play.

Fantasy Golf Results: Shell Houston Open

Hunter Mahan won the Shell Houston Open.  If you have been reading my posts you know that Mahan is one of the Golf Boys.  This is Mahan’s second win this year so maybe I need to think about him in my fantasy picks more often.  My picks were not horrible this week but I was disappointed that one player missed the cut.

Here are my picks for this week:

(1)  Keegan Bradley — Keegan played well with a tie for 4th.  He shot the same score as the winner on Sunday (71) but his other rounds of 67, 69, and 69 were just not low enough to help him on the last day.

(2)  Kevin Steelman — Steelman missed the cut. This surprised me because I thought he would player better but it was not his week.

(3)  Henrik Stenson — My “what the heck” pick this week had a respectable showing with a tied for 21st place.  I’m happy with this pick.

(4)  James Driscoll — When I picked Driscoll, I stated that I hoped he had learning something from 2011 when he played the Houston Open and missed the cut.  Well, he certainly did learn from his past.  Driscoll played really well in round one and two (67 and 66) but on the weekend he shot 71 and 73.

Fantasy Golf: Shell Houston Open

It is the week before the first and most exciting major of the season — The Masters — but first the players contend at the Shell Houston Open.  A lot of people hope that Ernie Els will win this week because the winner earns a place at The Masters.  I think it would be great if Ernie does win but I’m voting on other guys this week.

Here are my picks for this week:

(1)  Keegan Bradley — Keegan did not play last week and he fell apart during the final round of the Transitions tournament so I’m banking on the fact that he will have a “fire in his belly” to do really well.  He has 2 top 10 finishes and has been in the top 25 in all 8 tournaments he has played in this year.

(2)  Kevin Steelman — Steelman is another player that did not play last week at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.  He did well at the Transitions (tied for 10th) and he has had two top 10 finishes this year.

(3)  Henrik Stenson — I have not picked Stenson before but he looks like a good bet so he is my “what the heck” pick this week.  In his three PGA tournaments in 2012 he has finished in the top 25 and finished third in Puerto Rico.

(4)  James Driscoll — I have picked Driscoll before and decided to go with him again.  He did not make the cut last year at the Shell Houston Open but I am hoping he learned something in 2011 and will know the course better and make the cut this year.

So, you may have noticed I did not pick Phil Mickelson (the defending champion).  Well, I just don’t want to pick him since I feel like every time I do pick him he doesn’t play well — silly, I know, but this is just for fun so “silly logic” makes sense to me!

Fantasy Golf: Transitions Championship

Here we go with the third tournament in the “Florida leg” of the PGA Tour.  The Transitions Championship is being played at Innisbrook Resort – Copperhead · Palm Harbor, Florida.  It is a PAR 71 course and looks more like a course in North Carolina than Florida.

Here are my picks for this week:

(1) Charl Schwartzel  — Schwartzel is from South Africa and won the Masters last year.  He tied for 4th last week at the Cadillac and tied for 5th at the Honda Classic.  I’m hoping he will have a good week and win the Transitions Championship.

(2) John Senden — Senden is from Australia and also playing well this year. In the five events he has played, he has 3 top 10 finishes (including a tie for 6th place last week).

(3) Padraig Harrington — I have been a fan of Harrington for years and I’m hoping that picking a player from Ireland is a good strategy; after all, Saturday is St. Patty’s day!  Yes, I would have picked Rory McIlroy but he is taking the next three weeks off to get his “rest” before the Masters.

(4) J. J. Henry — My “what the heck pick this week.”  Henry has not played well this year but last year he tied for 20th at the Transitions Championship. I am hoping for another top 20 position this year.

Fantasy Golf Results: WGC Cadillac at Doral and Puerto Rico Open

This week I decided to show the results for all four rounds for each player because I wanted to point out that one bad (or good) round can really make a difference.

WGC Cadillac Championship at Doral

Image of My Leaderboard for Fantasy Golf

(1)  Rory McIlroy — They say you cannot lose the tournament in the first day but I think Rory McIlroy’s results show you can lose the first day.  He shot a 73 (or one over par) in the first round.  In round one, the leaders shot 66 (or 6 under par).  The overall winner, Justin Rose, did not shoot a 66 in round one but he stayed close to the leaders with a 69 and when the leaders fell apart in round four (R4), Justin Rose was close enough to only needed a 70 (on the final day) to win.

The good news is that McIlroy is still the number one player in the world and the pay for third place is not too shabby (at $516,000.)

(2)  Keegan Bradley — Bradley started round 4 in great shape (with 69, 67, and 66 in the first three rounds) but fell apart on the 17th and 18th holes (bogey and double bogey) for a painful 75 by the end of the day.  This means he started round four in 2nd place and dropped to a tie for 8th place.  His take home pay was $165,000 (compared to the 2nd place payout of $845,000).  Don’t feel too bad for Bradley, he has already won $1,316,642 in the eight tournaments he has played in 2012.

(3) Rickie Fowler — Well, Fowler tied for 45th along with 4 other players and each player took home $52,000.

(4)  Charles Howell III — At least “Chucky Three Sticks” finished with a top 20.  He tied for 17th with three other players and took home $92,000.

Given what my picks earned this week, I wondered what the person in last place won.  The player was Simon Dyson and his check was for $37,500.  Wow, I know a lot of folks that would like that kind of pay for a week of work.

Puerto Rico Open

The prize money was much less for the players at the Puerto Rico Open.  The winner was George McNeil and he won $630,000.  I’m sure he is very happy with the win and the compensation.

Here is the round by round for my fantasy picks this week.

Image of My Leaderboard for Fantasy Picks Puerto Rico Open

(1)  Ryo Ishikawa  — I thought Ishikawa would win but second place was a great showing. His take of the total prize money was $378,000.

(2)  Erik Compton – My sentimental pick did not fair as well.  Compton tied for 42nd which resulted in only $11,900 for his pocket-book.  Did I really just use the word “only” — OMG!

(3)  James Driscoll — He made the cut and that made me happy. He also did better than Compton (which surprised me).  Tied for 32nd (and $17,780.)

(4) Graham Delaet — My Canadian “what the heck” pick came through for me this week.  His tie for 9th and the $94,500 payout he banked certainly helped my fantasy rank.

Final Thoughts

In business you often set a “stretch goal” (something beyond what you really think you can do).  Little did I know how big a stretch goal I set for myself back in January.  I’m still nowhere near my goal to actually win one week of Fantasy golf or be in the top 10; but I am ranked 1,551 this week (after 10 weeks of play).  I’m still an optimist and will consider this a good sign — that I am trending in the right direction.

Fantasy Golf: WGC Cadillac at Doral and Puerto Rico Open

Another week of two PGA tournaments for Fantasy Golf.  The WGC Cadillac Championship at Dural and Puerto Rico Open.

The WGC Cadillac Championship is the one to watch.  All the big names are in the field this week.  It is really hard to pick with everyone shooting so low last Sunday at the Honda.  I’m sticking with players I have picked in previous weeks.

WGC Cadillac Championship at Doral

(1)  Rory McIlroy — He is the number one player in the world so how can I bet against him this week.

(2)  Keegan Bradley — Bradley has been very consistent and he is from New England so I felt it was time to put him on my roster again.

(3) Rickie Fowler — One of the “golf boys.”  Last time I picked a golf boy (Ben Crane) he played horribly.  Let’s hope Fowler does not do the same.

(4)  Charles Howell III — So he hasn’t been in the top ten since his second place finish at the Sony in January but I am hoping for a comeback into the top 10 this week.

Puerto Rico Open

The WGC events are exclusive and so it is nice that the PGA has an alternative event for all the other PGA players during the same week.   This week they are in Puerto Rico!   Here are my picks:

(1)  Ryo Ishikawa  — This player is from Japan and very popular.  He is playing well and just got a sponsors exemption to play The Masters.  He finished tied for 20th at The Masters in 2011.  So, I’m betting on him this week.

(2)  Erik Compton – This is a sentimental pick.  I have to cheer for the man with the amazing off-course story (double heart transplant recipient.)

(3)  James Driscoll — He has played six events and made three cuts so it is a 50/50 chance he will play the weekend.  I picked him based on the fact that last year he had two top ten finishes.  I’m thinking he might do well in a field that does not include the top players in the world.

(4) Graham Delaet — He missed the cut last week but again I’m going with the Canadian.  Hoping my “what the heck pick of the week” will do well in this field.

Fantasy Golf: The Honda Classic

This week marks the beginning of the “Florida leg” of the PGA tour which most folks get excited about for one reason — it means The Masters is only a few weeks away.

But today is all about The Honda Classic and the famous 3-hole stretch, The Bear Trap.”  The plaque at the 15th hole is engraved with these words from Jack Nicklaus “It should be won or lost right here.”   So let’s hope my picks can make it through the trap unscathed.

(1) Rory McIlroy — This pick is not a surprise if you have been following my blog.  I think Rory will win this week which would make him #1 in the world rankings.

(2) Sang-Moon Bae — I’m very impressed with his performance this year and yes, I love his name.  Bae has played in 5 events and has made every cut.  Last week at the Match Play he had his best showing with a tie for fifth.

(3) Jimmy Walker — Another player that I am impressed with this year.  He has 3 top ten finishes (tied for 4th at Northern Trust, tied for 8th at Farmers, and tied for 9th at the AT&T Pro-am.)

(4) Graham Delaet — My “what the heck pick this week.”  Purely based on the fact he is Canadian.  My favorite Canadian golfer is Mike Weir (he won The Masters in 2003) but he is not playing well. He has not made the cut in the two tournaments played in 2012.  So let’s see how this new Canadian does this week.

If you plan to watch the Honda Classic this week, check out the Golf Channel’s coverage of The Bear Trap on Saturday and Sunday.  The coverage starts at 3pm EST and will be on at the same time NBC is doing the full 18-hole coverage.