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.

Fantasy Golf Results: Match Play and Mayakoba

Most of my players did not do well this week but the one heartbreak was when Rory McIlroy lost in the final round of match play against Hunter Mahan.  Mahan is an excellent golfer, but up until now he is probably better known as one of the “golf boys,” so it was fun to see him win.

WGC Accenture Match Play Championship

(1) Luke Donald — Number one player in the world taken out in the first day by Ernie Els (a player that only got into the tournament because Phil Mickelson went on vacation with his family).

(2) Ben Crane — So much for being the number one putter on tour (based on PGA Stats.)  He was taken out by Bubba Watson on day one.

(3) Rory McIlroy — My favorite European player.  If he had won in the final match he would have been the new number one player in the world but it did not happen.

(4) Tiger Woods –Tiger did not have his “A-game” this weekend and lost in the second round to Nick Watney.

Mayakoba Golf Classic

You have to love the name of the winner of the Mayakoba — John Huh.  Fans are already wearing T-shirts with Huh? on the back.  Not only is his name a good “story” but his year so far is a good story.  He qualified for the tour via Q-School and he has made every cut in the 5 tournaments he has played — culminating with a win this weekend.  It was not an easy win — he won in an eight-hole playoff against Robert Allenby.  My picks, on the other hand, ended the weekend very far down on the leaderboard.

(1) Johnson Wagner  — Tied for 30th with a final of four under par.

(2) Brian Gay – Tied for 54th place with one over par.

(3) Jerrod Lyle — Tied for 37th with two under par.

(4) Cameron Beckman  — Tied for 63rd place shooting a 4 over par.

These are awful scores given the leader was at thirteen under par.   I had good reasons for these picks but you never can tell how players will perform from week to week.

Fantasy Golf: Match Play and Mayakoba

There are two PGA tournaments going on this week.  The Mayakoba Golf Classic in Cancun Mexico and the World Golf Championships (WGC) Accenture Match Play Championship.

This is an interesting week because of the WGC Accenture Match Play.  Basically the top 65 players in the world play in head to head matches.  If a player loses his match, he goes home.  So day one —  65 players in the field, day two — 32 players, etc. Until it is down to the final two players on Sunday.  Match play is exciting to watch because anything can happen but it is really hard to pick for fantasy golf.  But, here it goes.

WGC Accenture Match Play Championship

(1) Luke Donald — He is the number one player in the world.

(2) Ben Crane — He is the number one putter on tour (based on PGA Stats.)  Match play is supposed to be “won or lost” in the putting game so that is why I pick Crane.

(3) Rory McIlroy — My favorite European player.  He did not do that well last year but I think he has what it takes to win it all.

(4) Tiger Woods — He loves match play and did well at the Presidents Cup.

Update on match play — the first round is over and Luke Donald and Ben Crane are out.  I can’t believe the number one player in the world is out.

Mayakoba Golf Classic

So none of the top players in the world are in this tournament so it gives other players a chance to make their name. 

(1) Johnson Wagner  — He is the defending champion and is playing well this year so I am hoping for back to back wins.

(2) Brian Gay – Won Mayakoba in 2008 and was tied for 5th last year.

(3) Jerrod Lyle — Tied for 5th last year at Mayakoba.

(4) Cameron Beckman  — Tied for 12 last year at Mayakoba.  He is my “What the heck” pick this week.

Fantasy Golf: Northern Trust Open

There are a lot of big names playing, from both the PGA tour and the European tour, at the Northern Trust Open this week.  And some notable players making their season debut (like Adam Scott and Jim Furyk).  I have not picked any of the notable players this week because I want to see how they play before adding them to my roster.  So here are my picks:
(1) Jason Day — He was been a bit up and down in his performance in Dhabi and Qatar but Day is ranked 7th in the world and so I am hoping he does well in the USA this week.

(2) Kevin Na — He was a fantasy golf pick in the first event (the Hyundai) and he ranked 16th — not great.  But the last two events (in Phoenix and at Pebble Beach) he was tied for 5th.  Na has said he likes the Northern Trust Open so I am putting him back in to the mix.

(3) Jimmy Walker — My “what the heck” pick.  He was in the top 10 last week and last year he tied for 4th at the Northern Trust Open.

(4) Jeff Maggert  — I picked Maggert for fantasy golf in week two (the Sony Open) and he only tied for 18th.  Again, not great but for some reason I just felt like picking him. It might be the last time depending on how he performs.

Those are my picks this week and I’ll have my eye on Adam Scott and Jim Furyk.

Fantasy Golf Results: Pebble Beach Pro-Am and Dubai Desert Classic

The big news from the Pebble Beach Pro-Am is that Phil Mickelson, my favorite player, won.  It was a big deal for Mickelson because it marks his 40th win. Only eight other PGA players have won 40 or more times in their careers.  Plus this was the 4th time he won at this tournament.  And he won “in style” with a great come from behind victory (i.e. he was eight shots behind the leader when he started his day.)

Yet, did I have him as a pick this week?  No, because he was playing so poorly.  But I don’t care if my fantasy results suffered because it was so much fun to see Lefty playing great shots.  I’m just hoping he plays as well at the Masters (which is when I planned to consider him again for fantasy golf).  I’m now hoping “four” is Lefty’s lucky number (at least this year) because he has won the Masters three times. If he wins this year, it would be his 4th Masters.

How did my picks do?  Well, Tiger Woods did not have a good Sunday shooting a 75 (which was a shame since he was under par for the rest of the tournament).  It was a double whammy for Tiger because he was playing with Mickelson who shot a 64 (11 shots better than Tiger).   Tiger ended tied for 15th which was better than D. A. Points (tied for 67).  Both Bud Cauley and James Driscoll missed the cut and did not play on the weekend.

My Omega Dubai Desert Classic picks did much better.  Stephen Gallacher tied for 2nd (which surprised me), Rory McIlroy tied for 5th at 14 under par (a disappointment since I was sure he would win), Branden Grace tied for 51st, and Ricardo Gonzalez tied for 66th (at least Grace and Gonzalez made the cut).

Not a great week for my predictions but watching the “Phil and Tiger” show was great!

Fantasy Golf: Pebble Beach Pro-Am and Dubai Desert Classic

This will be the last week that I have to pick players for two tournaments during the winter segment of Fantasy Golf.

Starting with the PGA tour event, the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.  My Picks are:

(1) Tiger Woods — I just feel he is going to do well this week.  He had three great rounds in Abu Dhabi but in the final round Robert Rock beat him.  I’m guessing Tiger is very motivated to win.

(2) D. A. Points — I had Points as a pick at the Farmers and I’m still going to go with him now. Plus he won this tournament last year.  I don’t expect Points to win because it is difficult for defending champions to win the next year. Even thought I do not expect him to win, I am betting he will do well.

(3) Bud Cauley — He was my first rookie pick this year and the only reason I did not pick him last week was because he was in the same group as D.A. Points.  So, I’m going back to Cauley.  I will keep my eye on Harris English (the rookie that did well for me last week).

(4) James Driscoll — I picked Driscoll because he tied for 13th place last year at Pebble Beach.  He is my “what the heck” pick this week. I’m also hoping the fact he has played the course before will help him.

Now for the European tour — The Omega Dubai Desert Classic.

(1) Rory McIlroy — He is my favorite European player and he has done well so far this year. I expect him to win this weekend.

(2) Branden Grace — He won the first two events of the 2012 European tour so that is why I picked him.  I’m giving him another chance even though he did not do well in Abu Dhabi.

(3) Stephen Gallacher — New to my roster.  Again, it is hard to pick players in group 3 and 4 because the majority of players in these groups are not known entities (at least not for me.)  Gallacher was 10th last year in Dubai so that is why I picked him.  I’m hoping he will have another top 10 this year.

(4) Ricardo Gonzalez — New to my roster.  He was tied for fifth place last week in Qatar and he was tied for 20th at Dubai last year. These are fair scores for a player in group 4 and that is why I picked him.

Honestly, I’m glad this is the last week for picking players in a European event because the ladies tour starts and I’d like to focus more on the LPGA in the next few weeks.

Fantasy Golf Results: Phoenix Open and Qatar Masters

One of my main goals last week was to not have any of my picks miss the cut.  I am happy to report that all of them played the weekend.  This strategy did well for me because even though none of my picks won, they all contributed to the money points so I maintained my rank overall.  Here are the results.

Waste Management Phoenix Open

(1) Web Simpson — Tied for 8 with 10 under par.  He was doing well until Sunday and then he shot a 72 which took him out of the running.

(2) Brandt Snedeker — Tied for 50 with 2 under par.  Not a great week for Snedeker. His first three rounds were bad but he did recover with a 68 on Sunday.

(3) D. A. Points — Tied for 45 with 3 under par.  He had an up and down tournament.  One round under 70 and the next round over 70 — inconsistency will get you every time.

(4) Harris English — Tied for 15 with 8 under par.  This is great because I took a chance on him as my rookie pick for the week.

Commercial Bank Qatar Masters

(1) Graeme McDowell — Tied for 59 at one under par.  Really?  I’m a bit disgusted with G-Mac because I had high expectations (I guess we always have high expectations for our favorite).

(2) Francesco Molinari – Tied for 69 at one over par.  This was a big surprise to me because I picked him due to the fact he won in Dubai in 2010.

(3) Felipe Aguilar — Tied for 47 at two under par.  This is my “what the heck” pick so it is funny that he did better than the big name picks of McDowell and Molinari.

(4) David Drysdale — Tied for 47 at two under par.  What can I say.  My educated guess that his third place finish in the Joburg Open last month would translate into doing well in Qatar did not pan out.

Expectations: A Journey from Failing to Exceeding in One Week

Last week at Tory Pines Kyle Stanley was expected to win the Farmers Insurance Open because he had a three shot lead on the last hole.  The tournament officials were so sure he was going to win that they wrote his name on the huge (fake) check they give the winner to hold during the award ceremony.  But Stanley had a humiliating collapse on the 18th hole forcing a playoff which he lost.

Stanley, only 25 years old, was so heartbroken that he cried in the press room and just said he was “in shock.”  All the golf pundits said he would eventually recover, because he is very talented; but it could take him a long time to get over this loss.  In fact, the analysts were saying some pros never get over a loss of this magnitude.

During the days that followed it was reported that Stanley was getting a great deal of support from other golf professionals and kind words from fans.  Stanley, himself, said he picked up about 4,000 new followers on Twitter — all wishing him well.  And perhaps it is this wealth of support that helped him get over the loss.

He not only got over the loss but he won the Waste Management Phoenix Open just seven days later.  On Sunday, he was eight shots behind the leader of the Phoenix Open.  Stanley shot a final round of 65 to win the tournament by one stroke.  He did have some help because the leader on Sunday had his own collapse by letting the six stroke lead he had at the beginning of the day fall by the wayside.  But Stanley still had to put himself in position to win.

If you think about a time in your life when you failed miserably and the impact it had on you emotionally; just imagine the mental and emotional impact of the public failure Stanley experienced at Tory Pines. Then just days later, to have the mental fortitude to put the loss behind you and go out and play again; and put yourself in a position to win. And then win! Amazing!  When Stanley realized he had won the Phoenix Open, he cried again but this time it was tears of joy.

So what does that mean to his career — everything.  Some people might say it benefits his career because he is now a marketer’s dream with his amazing come back.  And, I’m sure it will have a huge impact on his image.  Personally,  I think the bigger benefit to his career is the confidence he gains in himself as a player.  If golf is truly a game of mental toughness then he has a lot of experience to draw from when he faces his next unforeseen challenge.  After all, I’m sure he wants to win again and not be just a “one-hit wonder.”

And by the way, the payday was pretty sweet too.  Along with the trophy, he took home a check for $1,098,000 and landed a spot in April’s Masters tournament.

Fantasy Golf: Phoenix Open and Qatar Masters

Once again I have to pick four players in both the PGA Tour and the European Tour.  This time it is for the Waste Management Phoenix Open and the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters.  I thought I would be nice and give the sponsor names.  Does anyone really care? Yes, sponsors do.  Actually, sponsors are important but that is a topic for another day.  On to my predictions…

Picks for the Waste Management Phoenix Open

(1) Web Simpson — I had him as a pick for Sony and he didn’t do as well as I had hoped but I am giving him another chance.  Why, because he is talented.  He is ranked 6th in the world, 2nd in the USA, and last year in Phoenix he was in the top 10.

(2) Brandt Snedeker — He did well last week so I am keeping him on my roster.

(3) D. A. Points — This was a tough pick because he and Bud Cauley are in the same group and both did well last week. I went with Points because he tied for 8th last week and Cauley tied for 13th.

(4) Harris English — Like, Bud Cauley, English is a rookie.  I did well with picking a rookie last week so I am going with one again.  English has played in three tournaments and made all three cuts; so I am hoping to minimize the number of my picks that miss the cut.

Picks for Commercial Bank Qatar Masters

(1) Graeme McDowell — His nickname is G-Mac and I watched him win the US Open in 2010 so I know a bit about him.  I debated between G-Mac and Sergio Garcia because they both played well last week. In fact, they both got holes-in-one on the 12th hole in Abu Dhabi.  I went with G-Mac because he is ranked 5th in the European rankings (Sergio is ranked 6th).

(2) Francesco Molinari – Won in Dubai in 2010 so I thought he was a good guess.

(3) Felipe Aguilar — This is my “what the heck” pick this week.

(4) David Drysdale — He came in 3rd in the Joburg Open last month so I’m hoping for another good showing. However, this is another big guess for me.

I’m keeping my fingers crossed that my picks do well this week.

Sang-Moon Bae is not a Luxury Resort

When I say the name Sang-Moon Bae I think of a luxury resort.  In my mind, I picture myself on a beach, lounging in a chair, sipping a drink with an umbrella, and staring at the ocean.  But it is not the name of a resort.  It is the name of a PGA Player.  Sang-Moon Bae is a rookie on the PGA tour.

Given I don’t follow the Asia tour, it doesn’t surprise me that I don’t know about him.  He is from South Korea, has been a pro golfer since 2004 and according the World Golf Rankings he is 34 in the world and ranked 3 in Asia.

Today, I saw him playing in the third round of the Farmers Insurance Open. I tuned into the telecast just as he missed a putt and was very upset.  Turns out it was his third bogey after posting a double bogey on the first hole.  Basically he dropped 5 strokes in the first four holes. It was not looking good.  But he regrouped and shot 5 birdies overall and he ended his round at even par; and for the tournament, stands at twelve under par (tied for fourth.)

I don’t think he will win because the leader is at 18 under par.  But now that I have seen him play, I think I will pay a bit more attention to the rookie with the great name.