Sunday, July 5, 2015

Partnership With VAVEL

As you all have likely noticed, I have not been updating as regularly as I had in the past. I have a very exciting reason as to why - I have been picked up as a writer for the international news website VAVEL. I am their main golf writer at the moment, and you can find my articles here.

This does not mean I am dropping this blog all together. There will be some down time as I manage my time over at VAVEL, but when things settle down, this blog will contain my opinion on certain topics and some fantasy preview - things I can not write about on a more professional web site. So stay tuned! Thanks to everyone who has supported me to this point. This would not have been possible if it weren't for everyone checking out my blog.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Thursday Preview - Walmart NW Arkansas Championship

There is only one tournament that separates the Women's PGA Championship with the Women's US Open. That tournament is the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship Presented By P&G With Association With The Dunmore Foundation And Viewers Like You...or something like that.

Course: Pinnacle Country Club, measuring at about 6,300 yards. The winning score has been twelve under par for the past four editions of this tournament, and I am not about to go against the grain on that one.

Strength Of Field: A. Another packed field. Pretty much everyone is trying to get some warm up in for the US Women's Open.

Extra Tidbits: This is another three day event, starting on Friday and ending on Sunday...This was the site of Stacy Lewis' first LPGA victory in 2007. She was an amateur at the time and the tournament was reduced to one round thanks to terrible weather...Lewis also returns as the defending champion at a place where a majority of the crowd will be pulling for her. Lewis attended the University of Arkansas...This will be the first event in Inbee Park's new reign as world number one. It is also the first event since Lydia Ko missed her first cut on the LPGA Tour. She will be attempting to start a new streak after her previous was broken at 53 starts.

Fantasy Four: 

Inbee Park - Only player with three victories in 2015. Hasn't finished worse than T18 all season. Inbee is the best player on Tour, and it might not be that close right now.

Sei Young Kim - Incredibly impressive, having finished in the top 5 in her first two majors of her career. Struggles sometimes with consistency, but she hasn't missed a cut since the first event of the season, so even her lows aren't that bad.  

Morgan Pressel - Four straight top 5 finishes. Her next victory seems incredibly close, but when that will happen is a big question mark at this point. This tournament could be a great place for that breakout.

Stacy Lewis - Two time champion of this event, defending champion, and coming off a strong performance at the Women's PGA Championship. There are certain tournaments where Lewis is an automatic contender, and this is one of them.

(SLEEPER) Wei-Ling Hsu - Finished in 21st place at the Women's PGA Championship. Has been making cuts frequently, and creeping up the leaderboard early. Is searching for that breakout week, and I think it comes here.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Wednesday Preview - Travelers Championship

Alright, everyone exhale. The US Open is over, and while we are still reeling from Jordan Spieth winning the first two majors, Dustin Johnson's heartbreak, and the mixed reviews of Chambers Bay, the show much go on.

Course: TPC River Highlands, a 6,800 yard track. This will be a soft landing for any players who played the US Open last week. One of the shortest courses on Tour with some of the nicest greens. Expect high teens under par as the winner.

Strength Of Field: B+. It is surprising how good this field is, coming off the marathon that was the US Open. Jason Day withdrew from the tournament, or else this might have been an A field.

Extra Tidbits: A lot of fresh faces in this field. Cameron Smith, fresh off his T4 finish at the US Open, will be playing, as will recently turned professional Cheng Tsung Pan, who also made the cut at the US Open. Amateur John Rahm, the number one amateur who finished in the top 5 at the Phoenix Open, will also be playing. Relatively unknown Montreal golfer Jean-Phillip Cornellier is one of the Monday qualifiers...returning to competition are Ryan Armour and Stuart Appleby, who have been out with injuries since the early part of the season...Former US Amateur champion and European Tour pro Peter Uihlein will be teeing it up...Four of the last five winners of the Travelers did not play on Sunday at the Open prior. Three of the five weren't even in the field.

Fantasy Four:

Bubba Watson - Former winner who contends here every year. His length is a huge asset on such a short course. Did not perform well at the US Open, but certain courses do not fit his style. This one does.

Sergio Garcia - Finished T2 last year. Seems due for a win, but this is golf, and "due" rarely ever works out. 

Vijay Singh - Sleeper pick. Three top 25s this season. Is in the middle of a career revitalization, and his lack of length won't be a concern at this course. 

Louis Oosthuizen - Oh, Louis. Injuries are always a concern, as he has a ton of withdraws this season, but he also came within a stoke of a playoff at the US Open. If he is healthy, he should be able to content. An ultimate question mark, though.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Jordan Spieth's Ride Into History

- In a couple of months, Jordan Spieth has gone from being the future of the game to possible to doing something that has never been done before. Spieth is the youngest player to win two majors in a season and the first since Tiger Woods in 2002 to win the first two majors in a season. Spieth now has the opportunity to win all four majors in a calendar year, something that hasn't been done since Bobby Jones in 1930 and hasn't been done ever since the founding of The Masters. This is now the story of the PGA season without a doubt. St. Andrews can't come here soon enough.

- In full disclosure, I am not really a Dustin Johnson. I don't hate the man, but he just doesn't do anything for me. Down the stretch, I was rooting for Spieth to win the tournament. Still, I am absolutely devastated for how this tournament ended. While what Spieth did was historic, you don't want to win a golf tournament by having an opponent miss a three foot putt. DJ is no stranger to disappointments in majors, but this is completely different. I hope he can rebound.

- This golf course was terrible. I am not going to brush this issue under the rug just because we ended up having a great tournament. The spectators were an afterthought, the greens were made of two completely different greens, and the course itself had no character. People are going to forget about the issues Chambers Bay had because Jordan Spieth won in such a spectacular fashion, but I will not. I hope the USGA returns to the Seattle area, but they find a much better course to do so.

- I get frustrated with Louis Oosthuizen. He seems like someone who should win a bunch of golf tournaments, and yet he only has that Open Championship to his name. Perhaps he is our generations Angel Cabrera - only showing up when the spotlight is on him.

- Apparently hiring Stevie Williams was exactly what the doctor ordered for Adam Scott. After a season of struggling and being left behind by this new generation of golfers, Scott found something on Sunday, firing a record tying final round 64 to finish T4. The issue with the putter is still looming over the horizon, but for now, it's good to see Scott back into contention again. Let's see if that translates into other tournaments this season.

- The most surprising name in the Top 10? That would be 21 year old Cameron Smith, the Australian who was playing in his very first major. A lot of people have been touting the skills of Smith, but to show up in a big way on this stage takes something special. His finish gets him special temporary membership, allowing him unlimited sponsor exemptions in 2015 (which is handy, since he just used up all he was allocated this season). He also gets a tee time at Augusta National next year, and an invite back to the US Open next year. Great playing, Cameron!

- Will Phil Mickelson ever win the career grand slam? At this point, I seriously have my doubts. It's hard to say, but I think Lefty blew the best chances he had. These courses are only getting longer and harder, and Phil isn't getting any younger.

- Speaking of never winning again, what does the future hold for Tiger Woods? I gave him the benefit of the doubt before, but it's hard to see him coming back after watching him be completely baffled by Chambers Bay. Tiger only beat three players this week. I have a hard time seeing him holding another trophy.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Previewing And Predicting The 2015 US Open

The most anticipated US Open in a long time is finally upon us as the players descend upon Chambers Bay in the Pacific Northwest for the second major of the year. Chambers Bay, in comparison to other golf courses around the world, is brand new, and this will be the first time most of these players will be seeing this course.

The course is officially listed at a record 7,900 yards, but there is no way they will be playing from the tips all week long. Most of these holes will fluctuate in length throughout the week. The bookend holes will play as both a par 4 and a par 5 at various points throughout the week. With how baked out as this course is, there will be a ton of roll in the fairway, meaning the smaller hitters will still be able to get the ball out there a decent way. This won't be like a typical US Open, in that driving accuracy isn't going to sink somebody. It's the short game that will be tested, as the greens have a ton of slope and will run off into the back of greens and into bunkers.

Before I get into who will win the tournament, I'm going to list a few players I will be watching and some storylines that will be prevalent.

Jordan Spieth - Spieth is going for the calendar year grand slam, something that has not been done since Bobby Jones in 1930. With so many players who can win this tournament, I had to leave someone out of my list, and Spieth got cut. This isn't to say Spieth CAN'T win - in fact, he has to be among the favorites, but I don't see it happening. The list of players who have won the US Open after winning the Masters is incredibly short - in fact, that number is five (Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Craig Wood, and Ben Hogan, who did it twice.) You're asking me to predict something historic, and I'm not willing to do that.

Tiger Woods - I predicted that he would make the cut at The Masters, and he did. I'm not willing to make that same prediction at the US Open. There are just too many places to get in trouble at Chambers Bay, and bad shots can be punished with a double or worse. Tiger can turn it on in majors, but that's usually at Augusta or another golf course that he has had success on. This is too new to him, and I don't expect to see him on Saturday.

Martin Kaymer - Has there ever been a defending champion that has been talked about less than Kaymer? It's with good reason, however - Kaymer has not followed up on that success he experienced last season. A victory by Kaymer would make him the first player since Curtis Strange in 1988-89 to defend the US Open. I don't see it happening, but Kaymer has shocked us before.

Ok, with that out of the way, I will go into my list of contenders. I'll give you one dark horse player, four contenders, and the ultimate champion.

Dark Horse:

Wen-Chong Liang - I've been teasing it all week, and here I am, putting my words where my mouth is (?). I believe Chambers Bay will be good for the Asian players, as most of them had a weeks worth of practice at the grounds. The Seattle area will be a lot easier to get acclimated to, both in terms of the culture of the area and the time zone differences. The course is baked out, which will allow for a lot of roll, and the rough is not as thick as it could be. The course sets up a bit like Whistling Straits, where Liang finished T8 in 2010. He is also peaking, as he won his most previous start. Experience in majors, coupled with form and the set up of the golf course gives me the inclination that Liang will be one of those "unknown" players who crash the party by weeks end.


5) Byeong-Hun An - Many will argue that he is as unknown as Liang and should be considered a dark horse, but I actually think An could be in this to win it. An won the BMW Championship, the flagship on the European Tour, going away. He has been having a great season, seemingly notching top 10s every week, and has experience in majors already - former US Amateur that played in a US Open and finished in the top 25 at the Open Championship. This will be the world's introduction to An, who will be an excellent player going forward.

4) Phil Mickelson - Yes, I'm getting wrapped up in it again, but this is less about sentimental value than it is current form. Lefty has finished T2 in his last two majors, which were pretty much warm ups for this event. The fairways are wider, so Phil doesn't have to worry about getting into too much trouble. He will likely be using less than driver on most holes and let the ball run out. His short game is still superb. It would be a little bit of a surprise if he won, but don't completely count him out.

3) Justin Rose - He's peaking, and he's entering the tournament where he has had the most success. This course couldn't be any more different than Merion, but Rose's game translates to almost any course. He is another player who seems to show up at majors despite his form, but his form is good right now. Excellent around the green.

2) Rory McIlroy - People are taking too much stock in his two missed cuts on the European Tour. This was a player that was mentally and physically gassed. He's a big hitter, so he will shorten these holes considerably. More than that, he's the best player in the world, and it doesn't really matter what course he is playing on. He has won on both links style and US Open style courses. He's the man to beat, but I know who is going to beat him.


Hideki Matsuyama - Yes, I picked Matsuyama at Pinehurst and that didn't pan out, but I feel like everything is setting up for Matsuyama to win this week. Great ball striker that will stay out of trouble. Notched a whopping ten top 10s this season, including at The Masters, where he didn't have the greatest success going in. No expectations for him going in means he's under the radar, and he has seen this course the same amount of times as everyone else, so his inexperience is cancelled out. His weakness is his putting, which will be neutralized this week. Matsuyama wins Japan's first major this week.

Winner: Hideki Matsuyama
Winning Score: -5
Margin Of Victory: One Stroke

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Queen Bee Returns To Her Throne

- There have been other contenders that have challenged her over the past couple of seasons, but make no mistake about it - Inbee Park is the best ladies golfer in the world, and it might not even be close. Her success is almost boring in a way, as it has become incredibly predictable and she wins without a lot of flair. She is incredibly consistent and wins majors while all others struggle to close on the weekend. This is Inbee's Tour. Good luck to anyone trying to chase her.

- A birdie on the 18th stood between me and an almost perfect prediction. I expect a written apology, Inbee.

- With this victory, Inbee now has six LPGA major championships, which is one more than Hall of Famer Se Ri Pak. It may now be time to start wondering if Inbee is the best Korean golfer of all time. The argument against her would be that Pak was able to stretch out her career and win for a longer period of time. On the flip side, Pak was never as dominant of a player as Inbee is right now. The argument can go either way, but the one thing Inbee has on her side is time. As long as she keeps playing well, she could surpass Pak's number of victories and end the conversation herself.

- When Lydia Ko took over as the number one player in the Rolex Rankings, I predicted that she would hold that position for a very long time, and that Ko would begin to dominate the Tour. I was wrong, and it was foolish of me to expect such a dominance at such a young age. The reality is, Ko has never dealt with the hardships of struggling, as she dominated the amateur ranks pretty quickly and took over the LPGA Tour at the age of 17. Inbee, on the other hand, quickly won the US Open, but then struggled for several years before emerging as Queen Bee. Lydia will have her struggles, but anyone who writes her off would be insane. After all, this was only her first missed cut...ever.

- People will look at Sei Young Kim as someone who missed an opportunity to win two majors, but not all second place finishes are alike. At the ANA Inspiration, Kim could not handle the pressure and folded on Sunday, while at the Women's PGA Championship, Kim had a front row seat to Inbee's victory lap. Sure, there were a few shaky moments for Kim, but there were shaky moments on Sunday for everyone not named Inbee, and yet she held her ground and finished in second place. She will be a major champion very soon. Her skills are off the charts good.

- Lexi Thompson and Brittany Lincicome are incredibly similar. Both are big hitters from the United States that only show up during major championships. Since winning the ANA Inspiration, both players have been pretty quiet, only showing up with the brights of lights are shining on them. That's impressive, but I would like to see both of them win a couple more regular events.

- All of the conversation this week will likely be about Brooke Henderson, and I can't say I blame her. A young kid with no status on Tour playing incredibly well with the exemptions they are given to eventually earn a spot on Tour and be declared the future of the sport? Sounds like a certain Texan who put on a green jacket back in April.

- Fabian Gomez may have just now accepted the mantle of the most anonymous winner on the PGA Tour this season. At 288 in the world, Gomez isn't the highest ranked of all the winners, but there is very little knowledge about the man from Argentina. Even writing about him his difficult. He isn't a player that has been around for a long time and was finally able to notch his first victory, nor is he a young up and coming superstar in his early 20's looking to take over the Tour. Gomez is just kind of around, though now he'll just kind of be around the ground of Augusta National next year, and he doesn't have to apologize to anyone for that.

- Phil Mickelson's final round 65 and T3 finish in Memphis is just enough to get all the attention turned back onto Lefty heading into the US Open as he tries to complete the career grand slam. Personally, I don't think he has much of a chance to win, but he is Phil - the moment you think he's out, he surprises you.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

"Slaying The Tiger", And Transparency On Tour

A book came out this week that will likely be the most important book detailing this generation of professional golfers. It is called "Slaying The Tiger", written by Shane Ryan, and it details Ryan's life covering the PGA Tour and some of his experiences and opinions on the big names on the PGA Tour.

In full disclosure, it will be some time before I get my hands on the book, so I may or may not do a full review of the actual contents Many others who know more about golf (and writing) have given their opinions, which you should seek out at your own leisure. For the most part, golf writers seem to love it, and golfers seem to hate it, mainly for the content.

What I am discussing is a recent discussion about Ryan's book, mainly by former LPGA golfer and current Golf Channel analyst Paige MacKenzie. MacKenzie says that she is "disgusted" by the book and says that no one should come to the conclusions Ryan does just based on inside the ropes experiences. You can find her full argument on Morning Drive in this video.

MacKenzie is speaking from the eyes of a former touring professional, and I can respect her opinion; however, it speaks to a terrible trend in professional golf, and that is protecting the golfers from the "evil media" and outside criticism. In all professional sports, we demand transparency among all athletes. It is why most sports have mandatory press conferences and fine players if they do not speak. If a player does not wish to open up, as is the case for Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch, he is usually made the topic of a joke. Right or wrong, the NFL, NBA, and all other major professional sports leagues require a certain amount of insight into a player. It's what makes them marketable, and what keeps them in check - things like domestic violence or drug use are put out to the public and a player loses their job, as they should.

This is not the case with the PGA Tour. It is shrouded in secrecy, where players only have to give up as much of their lives as they wish, suspensions are not made public, and players are not required to speak to the media (except for very specific occasions). This means we get a side of the golfer that they WISH to portray, and perhaps not the honest truth about them.

Golfers like to look as if they are just like "the rest of us", and that they are above all this criticism and the tabloid era that has become professional sports. Here is a little secret, however - they're NOT like the rest of us. The rest of us do not receive million dollar endorsements and play for million dollar purses every week. They may be human, yes, but their lives and their experiences are drastically different than those who struggle each and every day. This does not make them bad people, nor does it make them ungrateful. I'm sure most professional golfers will tell you how thrilled they are to live the life they do. After all, it takes a lot of hard work and dedication to make it to the highest level. So many never get that opportunity; however, there are so many others who will pay for a ticket for a golf tournament, or will purchase golf equipment based on the endorsement of a particular golfer, and it would be nice to know the kind of person we are supporting. After all, no fans, no ratings, no revenue, no endorsement.

I'm not saying we should have camera inside the homes of every professional golfer, but I do think books like these are important to get to know those who play the game of golf. Not everyone is an angel. In fact, some pro golfers are down right jerks. If this book requires golfers to be just a little more hospitable to those at PGA Tour events, then it would have done a positive deed for the sport.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Predicting The KPMG Women's PGA Championship (Poorly)

The second major of the LPGA season takes place this week, and much like the first major of the year, there are plenty of chances this year. Not only is it a brand new name (The PGA of America have taken over the tournament), but we're at a new course. It's going to be interesting to see if this leads to more or less interest in this tournament.

I will do as I normally do - pick some dark horse candidates, some contenders, and ultimately a champion, but I feel as if it is important to list a few big name players and talk about their chances to win the Women's PGA Championship.

Stacy Lewis - Has gotten progressively worse since her second place finish at the ANA Inspiration, including a T51 a couple weeks ago and a missed cut last week.  Everyone goes through rough patches, including the current number one in the world, but I have a suspicion that all those near misses took a toll on Lewis. Besides, this is not a place to drive it erratically, and that has been Lewis' issue lately. She'll get back to her winning ways, but she's going to go through a bit of a slump before that happens.

Lydia Ko - Speaking of the World Number One, she's finished outside the top 10 in four of the last five events, with two of them being very low finishes. The fifth event, however, was a victory at the Swinging Skirts. This isn't to say that Lydia has NO shot, but I feel her best shot to win her first major isn't going to be coming in with consistency issues. She'll get back on track very soon, but for right now, I don't like her chances this week.

Michelle Wie - Looked to be on track to be the next best American, but injuries and a fade from form have made her US Open victory look like a distant memory. She needs to start stringing four rounds together before she can be considered a contender again.

Alright, with those out of the way, let's take a look at who I'm looking out for this week.

Dark Horse:
Charley Hull - Just seems to arrive in clutch moments, and seeing as she's currently on the outside looking in on the Solheim Cup team, this would be a perfect moment for her to show up. She is coming off a T11 last week, so it's not like she has been performing terribly this season. She isn't lengthy off the tee, but she can make up for it with her short game, and won't be intimidated by the stage.

5) Minjee Lee - Starting to turn over great results on a week to week basis, much as we expected from the former top amateur. T4 two tournaments after picking up her maiden victory on the LPGA Tour. Seeing as this is the first time anyone is seeing this course, she doesn't have to worry about being taken over by more experienced players. Her talent should put her in contention coming down the stretch.

4) Suzann Pettersen - Gets the number four spot only because she could finish anywhere on the leaderboard. If she plays like the Suzann of most of 2015, she won't be a factor. If she plays like she did last week, she could very well win this. Long and straight off the tee will be a huge benefit, so if Pettersen keeps the ball in play this week, she will be one of the players to chase.

3) Anna Nordqvist - Made me a believer two weeks ago and made me even more of a believer when I found out her birthday is this week. Extra motivation seems to suit Nordqvist, who has a major already on her resume. She can hit it out there a ways, so her test will be keeping it in play. She does that, and her name will be near to top of the leaderboard on Sunday.

2) Hyo-Joo Kim - The only knock I have on HJK is her inability to close on Sunday. Were she to gain just a little more confidence coming down the stretch, she may be unstoppable. From a purely statistically standpoint, she doesn't seem to have many weaknesses, and if she doesn't finish in the top 10, she's a shot or two outside that number each and every week. May be the most under rated superstar on the LPGA Tour right now, and that could change if she starts raking in majors.

Inbee Park - Lydia Ko may be number one in the rankings, but Inbee Park is the best women's golfer on the planet right now. Two wins this season, contends every week, and has back to back LPGA Championships entering into this week. Somehow, despite this pedigree, the spotlight remains off of Inbee, so she doesn't not have to worry about pressure. This is a perfect position for Inbee, and not only do I think she walks away with this tournament, I don't think there's much drama coming down the stretch.

Winner: Inbee Park
Final Score: -8
Margin Of Victory: Four Strokes

Wednesday Preview - FedEx St. Jude Classic

We are one week away from the US Open, so you're going to have to forgive me (and the rest of the golfing world) if we don't sound too excited about this week's PGA Tour event. The event benefits the St. Jude Hospital, an incredibly worthy cause, and has been going strong for many years despite being put in a terrible part of the schedule. I'll still be watching, even if my thoughts are elsewhere.

Course: TPC Southwind, measuring at 7,200 yards. This is not an easy golf course, and if the wind picks up, it can be a complete bear. If someone cracks ten under, they will likely win.

Strength Of Field: D-. Sorry, Lefty, but you're not enough to keep this from being a pretty weak field. Can't be too surprised - most are gearing up for the US Open next week or are gassed from playing in a qualifier on Monday.

Extra Tidbits: Among those playing this week who also completed 36 holes and qualified for the US Open on Monday are Luke Donald and Retief Goosen...No player has ever won the week before the US Open and gone on to win the major the following week. Phil Mickelson, however, has won the week prior to The Masters and The Open Championship and gone on to win those majors...only six of the first 22 winners in 2015 have come from outside the top 70 in the OWGR. This includes Alex Cejka, who won an opposite field event, and Padraig Harrington, a former major champion...Last year, Ben Crane held on to win despite not carding a birdie in the final round...In the last 10 years, only one player was younger than 27 when they won the FedEx St. Jude Classic (Harris English). Dustin Johnson was the only other 20-something to win.

Fantasy Four:

Phil Mickelson - Weak field, the week before a major, on a track he's played before. Anyone who knows the game of golf will tell you that recent form means nothing to Lefty, as he will contend seemingly out of nowhere. I expect this to be one of those weeks.

Jason Bohn - Having a great season but is desperately looking for career win number 3. Has played well at this event before, and the course sets up to his skill sets. Last week broke a string of top 10's for Bohn, and he's only missed four cuts all season.

Rod Pampling - Sleeper pick. I felt better about this before he blew a chance to play in the US Open by fading down the stretch. Regardless, he has played well all over the world, including a T22 at the Byron Nelson a couple weeks ago. 

Retief Goosen - Really hit and miss with Goosen this season, but he is playing at an event and a course where he has had success. Qualified for the US Open on Monday, so he may be a combination of tired and excited. This course rewards experience.

Last Weeks Team:
Kevin Na: T13
Rickie Fowler: CUT
Tiger Woods: 71
Matt Kuchar: T26

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Top Five Open Qualifiers Who Could Contend At Chambers Bay

Sectional qualifying for the US Open wrapped up yesterday, and the field is now complete, baring a late exemption by the USGA. Sometimes, the sectional qualifiers for the US Open are filled with complete nobodies who are just happy to be participating, and sometimes they are filled with big names who can make a run at the tournament. Below, I have listed to top 5 players I think could make a run at the tournament come the end of the week.

5) Alex Noren:
- Was probably not going to make this list had it not been for his victory last week. There are a few guys I am keeping an eye out for from that England qualifier, but Noren is peeking at the moment. He hasn't missed a cut all season, and his victory last week was his third straight top 25 finish. He is also one of the most experienced in the field having played in majors before, and even finishing in the top 10 at the Open Championship three years ago. He's healthy and playing well, so don't be surprised to see his name pop up on the leaderboard.

4) Danny Lee:
- The Columbus sectional is filled with players that could play well into the weekend, but I don't think any of them will be as prepared as Danny Lee, who has played an enormous amount of golf this season. Luckily, he is taking the week off in Memphis to rest up for the US Open, but he will be ready to go. Last week's missed cut was his first since The Players Championship, and he has seven top 25 finishes this season, including two top 10's in the past four weeks. Danny will be looking to excite people in his first US Open, and I think he'll do it.

3) Retief Goosen:
- Hit and miss season for Goosen, but he is arguably the most experienced player to qualify for this event. He won the US Open twice, and is healthy again after a few seasons battling injuries. Unlike a lot of qualifiers, Goosen won't just be happy being in the field - his goal is to contend.

2) Wen Chong Liang:
- SPOILER ALERT: He may make my complete rundown of the event next week. Liang won the qualifier in Japan and proceeded to win on the Japan Tour two weeks later. I think Chambers Bay is going to be good for the Asian participants, and Liang will not be intimidated by the stage, as he has competed in majors before. He is one of the biggest hitters in Asia, so the course should set up for his game. I am really bullish on Liang's chances.

1) Luke Donald:
- Has to be. While Donald has not performed well in the past two seasons, he is the biggest name of those who qualified. The concern will be the length of the course, as Donald is not a big hitter, but his ball striking should more than make up for it. Never count out Luke Donald, even if he isn't having a good season.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Pettersen Returns To Her Winning Ways

- It's been almost two years, but Suzann Pettersen is back as a champion on the LPGA Tour. This was one that Pettersen was really pushing for, as she was once a member of a "Big Three" before injuries dropped her all the way to 10th in the world. Pettersen is the first European not named Anna Nordqvist to win on the LPGA Tour in two years, and is just in time for the season's second major and, perhaps most importantly for her, the Solheim Cup.

- Dear LPGA - find harder courses. When ten under par is only good enough for a tie for 27th place, the course is too easy. Birdie or bust tournaments take me right out of it, because I feel as if there is no drama. The leader will likely birdie the 18th. If you want a great ending, make it so someone has to scramble for par.

- The Manulife LPGA Classic was an interesting event, but honestly, it's going to get lost in the shuffle as the Women's PGA Championship is this week. Some players, such as Minjee Lee and Hyo Joo Kim, have established themselves as great rookies that could be major contenders, while Brittany Lang and So Yeon Ryu are among some veterans that popped back up this week that we can not forget about entering the major. So, we move on.

- This has been one of the best PGA Tour seasons in a long time, thanks to the finishes to tournaments and the champions that have been crowned. The Memorial was a great tournament with a fantastic ending, but the champion is a complete unknown. The only thing I knew about David Lingmerth was that he came in second place to Tiger Woods a couple years ago at The Players as a rookie. Other than that, he is an unknown to me and most people in the world. Perhaps this was the first of many victories he notches on his way to a great career, or perhaps he will be forgotten about as a one victory golfer. Only time will tell.

- I'm sure Justin Rose is disappointed he did not win, but he also has to feel good that his game is back to a level where he is competing on an almost weekly basis. Entering this season, Rose was completely lost. Now he seems to be peaking right in time for the US Open. He'll bounce back, and probably in a huge way.

- Jordan Spieth continues to be Jordan Spieth. Consider him among the list of favorites to win his second consecutive major. The player that I really want to see win soon is Hideki Matsuyama. The man is notching top 10's almost every week, but he seems stuck on one victory. It has only been a year, and he is really young, but I hope he doesn't have a drought where his second win is harder and harder to notch. He is such a great player who could be one of the best if he finds a way to close.

- I honestly can't add anything more to the Tiger Woods discussion. His third round 85 was atrocious, but I don't know if that means his career is over or not. I don't think anyone truly knows that answer. It looks REALLY bad, though.

- Two weeks, two invitations into major championships. One week after being a medalist for the US Open qualifier in Japan, Wen-Chong Liang won the JGT Championship Shishido Hills by five strokes. His victory, coupled with a top 10 last week, boosted him into first place on the Japan Golf Tour and earned him an invitation to the Open Championship. His win at this event also earned him an invitation to the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in Akron. He is absolutely peaking right now, and he is one of the few players on this Tour that has experience playing in majors, so perhaps he could be a dark horse candidate for one of the two majors. If he holds on to his position on the money list, he will also receive an invite into the PGA Championship. Not a bad two weeks of golf.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Wednesday Preview - Manulife LPGA Classic

Canada, eh? The LPGA heads north of the border to participate in the Manulife LPGA Classic for the final event before the second major of the season.

Course: Whistle Bear Golf Club. This is a brand new track, and so who knows what the winning score will be. Grey Silo, the previous host, was among the easiest courses on Tour, and the winning score exceeded twenty under par. This year, it should be a lot more difficult.

Strength Of Field: A. Everyone's here, all getting a tune up before the Women's LPGA Championship.

Extra Tidbits: This is one of the newer events on the LPGA schedule, as this is only the fourth time this event has been played...In the last two years, the eventual champion shot 61 in one of the weekend rounds. That was at the much easier Grey Silo course, however...10 Canadian players have received an exemption into this event. All eyes will be on teenager Brooke Henderson...this week, we should expect to see some of the best crowds of the year. Canada really supports their athletes.

Fantasy Four:

Brooke Henderson - I'm calling it now! The teenager dazzles in front of her home crowd and becomes a superstar by winning her first LPGA tournament. She has played incredibly well since turning professional, and playing in front of a home crowd can either add too much pressure or energize you. I think it will energize Brooke.

Inbee Park - Has the opportunity to pass Lydia Ko this week if she has another high finish. Inbee already has seven top 10's this season with two victories, so it appears as if she remains to be the player to beat most weeks.

Minjee Lee - Backed up her victory a few weeks ago with a top 10 last week, so consider me a complete believer. The hardest thing for someone to do is to back up their first victory with a top finish, so with that out of the way, Minjee should be on her way to being a top player.

Lydia Ko - Gets this spot just based on her success in Canada in the past, but to be honest, I am not feeling great about Ko's game right now. Since her victory in San Francisco, she has finished T41 and T16. Still has the game to win on any course she plays, but is not playing like the best player on Tour at the moment.

(SLEEPER) Maria McBride - The 41 year old is enjoying a career revitalization, with a T4, T20, and T10 in her last three starts. She has been named a co-captain of the European Solheim Cup team, so I doubt she's playing to make the team, but I'm sure she'd like another victory.

Wednesday Preview - The Memorial Tournament

There are some tournaments that you want to win because of who hosts them, and this is one of those tournaments. Jack Nicklaus presides over The Memorial as the PGA Tour players head to Ohio.

Course: Muirfield Village, some of the best 7,400 yards on Earth. Weather conditions drastically change the way this course plays - the winning score can be anywhere from eight to nineteen under par.

Strength Of Field: B+. It hurts not to have Rory McIlroy in the field, but there are no complaints about those who are here. This is likely the best field we will see until the US Open.

Extra Tidbits: Tiger Woods tees it up this week. This is one of his final two tuneups prior to Chambers Bay...The Memorial honors someone who has contributed to the game of golf every year. This year, the award will go to Sir Nick Faldo...Tiger Woods has won this event five times, which is the record. Kenny Perry has three victories...Ernie Els will make his 22nd consecutive start at The Memorial...Hideki Matsuyama became the first player since the inaugural tournament to win in his first start at The Memorial. It was his first victory outside of Japan.

Fantasy Four:

Kevin Na - Came incredibly close last year, losing in a playoff to Matsuyama. Has had a great season so far. Seems to have overcome insecurity issues that plagued him a few seasons ago. His next victory should be around the corner.

Rickie Fowler - Fowler is hit and miss, but can put together several good tournaments in a row. This is his first start since The Players, so if he's going to go on a run, it only makes sense that he will have a good tournament this week.

Tiger Woods - Sleeper pick. I have been burned by players with a far less pedigree, and this may be my only opportunity to take Tiger as a sleeper, so I'm doing it. Could contend, could miss the cut. We really have no idea where his game is at the moment. He does have a great record at this event.

Matt Kuchar - Great player that hasn't lived up to his potential this season. Has a good record at this event. This would be the perfect place for him to turn it around.

Last Weeks Team:
Brendon Todd: CUT
Charley Hoffman: T2
Danny Lee: T34
Keegan Bradley: T22

Monday, June 1, 2015

Former Champions Return To Their Winning Ways

- It was a weekend of victories by former champions all over the world. On the LPGA Tour, former LPGA Champion Anna Nordqvist was the last woman standing following a final round 69 in New Jersey. Nordqvist, who won twice last year after going through a five year winless stretch, didn't look great at times, but she seemed to be the most at ease of all the contenders down the stretch. Her victory all but locks up a spot in the Solheim Cup for Nordqvist. In what may be the strangest stat of them all, this win, coupled with Nordqvist's two victories last season, are the only three victories by a European in the last two seasons.

- I don't know what the take away will be from Christel Boeljon's performance this weekend. I would like to believe that Boeljon will take this week and begin a string of strong tournaments, but it is way too early to predict what kind of success she will have. Keep in mind, Boeljon won three times on the Ladies European Tour, so she is no stranger to winning.

- Players looking for their first victories seem to be calmer coming down the stretch than players who have won in the past, but haven't won in a while. The perfect example this week is Kelly Shon and Morgan Pressel. Shon seemed to be playing with nothing to lose, and was able to notch her best finish as an LPGA pro despite playing in the final group with the eventual champion. Meanwhile, Pressel, who hasn't won in seven years, seems to be chasing it too much, and her short game suffered because of it. I still think Pressel will win this year, but that prediction is looking a little shakier after she gave away the best opportunity she's had in a long time. Hopefully her final round was a splash of cold water on the face and she's able to turn right around and finish the deal next time.

- You could be forgiven if you though Steven Bowditch's victory last season was a fluke. After all, he played terrible the rest of the season, and has missed 10 cuts this season. Bowditch, however, played better than everyone in Irving by a pretty wide margin, walking away with a four stroke victory and his second PGA Tour win. I always hear that the second victory may be harder to get than the first, so perhaps this is the beginning of good things for Bowditch.

- You have to think Charley Hoffman's next victory will occur really soon. He has been so close in so many events this season that it would be a shame if he didn't walk away with another victory. Keep in mind, he did win in Mexico at the end of 2014, which counts for this season, but he has been playing better golf now than he was when he won. Another win should be right around the corner.

- Jimmy Walker's performance is going to end up being lost in the storylines this week, mainly because his top finishes in PGA Tour events are no longer a surprise. He has reached that same level of golfer that I discussed in the same regards as Chris Kirk - yes, you're really good, now go win a major.

- I am once again a believer in Zach Johnson. His putting was difficult to watch at times, but he seems to have gotten that turned around. If he is running all cylinders, he can win a bunch of tournaments. He is one of the best ball strikers on Tour, so if the putter is working, watch out.

- What a great time to pick up your first victory in six years. Once one of the sneaky good players in Europe who seemed destined for great things, Soren Kjeldsen started struggling with his game. He was once ranked as high as 35th in the world back in 2009, but fell all the way to 353rd. Despite struggling in the final round, however, Soren was able to do enough in Ireland to pick up his first victory since 2009, and in doing so, he punched a ticket to St. Andrews and the Open Championship. The other players who grabbed invitations to St. Andrews were Eddie Pepperell, whose final round 69 was almost good enough to pick up his first European Tour victory, and Tyrrell Hatton, who has played in the Open Championship the last two years but is still seeking his first victory.

- 46 is the new 26, or at least that's what Taichi Teshima might tell you. Teshima was once one of the best players on the Japan Tour, having won six times between 1999 and 2007. He found his way inside the top 100 in the World Rankings, and earned his European Tour card. That didn't last, as he lost his card and returned to Japan. He didn't win again for seven years, until last year's Japan PGA Championship. He didn't wait that long this time, as he played brilliant golf all week on his way to a victory at the Mizuno Open and a spot in the Open Championship. Teshima played in the Open Championship twice, but never made a cut and hasn't been back since 2002. Now that he is playing much better golf, however, perhaps he can pick up his first ever major paycheck. Joining Teshima at St. Andrews are Scott Strange, the Australian who was once a member of the European Tour and won twice on that Tour and played in the Open Championship in 2008, Tadahiro Takayama, who played in the Open Championship at St. Andrews in 2005 and finished inside the top 25, and Shinji Tomimura, a complete unknown who only has conditional status on the Japan Tour and has played only three times this season, missing two cuts. Tomimura's third place finish shot him from 1382nd in the world up to 722nd, but I wonder if he will be the highest ranked player in the field once the tournament begins in July.

- It was a heavyweight battle on the JLPGA Tour, as Teresa Lu, former LPGA player who has been raking in victories on the JLPGA lately, defeated former World Number One Jiyai Shin. Both of these players are in great form, and both will be playing in the US Women's Open, so perhaps we might see them spoil the leaderboard.

Friday, May 29, 2015

News Grab-Bag: 5/29/2015

- 16 players punched their tickets to the US Open via sectional qualifying overseas on Monday. In Japan, Wenchong Liang was the medalist, followed by Masahairo Kawamura, Seuk Hyun Baek, Kurt Barnes, and Hiroyuki Fujita. Liang and Fujita are the experienced ones of the group, having played in majors and won overseas in the past. Fujita won three times last season, and made the cut in the US Open in 2012. Liang was the first Chinese golfer to play in the PGA Championship, and was the first from his country to make the cut in a major championship. Kawamura is an up and coming Japanese player who has played decently well in Asia this season. The Aussie Kurt Barnes has played in two Open Championships, but will be making his US Open debut. Baek is a complete unknown who has never won and has a bunch of missed cuts in Asia and Japan this year.

- The other eleven qualifiers played in England, and the medalist was Alexander Levy, who was the biggest name and highest ranked player among the qualifiers. Other qualifiers include Marcel Siem, 74th ranked player in the world who narrowly missed out on qualifying two years ago. Also qualifying were former PGA Tour pros Garth Mulroy and Tjaart Van Der Walt, two South Africans who play on the European and Sunshine Tours. Van Der Walt is 40, lost his PGA Tour card in '07 and his Tour card in '10, and has only played in one major in his career. This will be a huge moment in his life, for sure.

- The European Solheim Cup team is being lead by an all star cast of Swedes, as captain Carin Koch and vice captain Annika Sorenstam named Maria McBride and Sophie Gustafson as vice-captains. The strategy worked two years ago, as the captain and vice-captains were all Swedes. The Solheim Cup will take place in Europe, where Team Europe is the two time defending champions, but all of their big name stars have struggled in 2015. There is a long time between then and now, however.

- Anthony Kim is golfing again!...just not on the PGA Tour. The former future number one player in the world was recently an auction item for the Toby Keith Charity Auction. Someone paid $24,500 to play a round of golf with Kim. There is no word yet on whether or not that person was a member of the Ryder Cup Task Force.

- Will Tiger Woods ever pass Jack Nicklaus in career major titles? Not only does Ernie Els not think so, but he thinks Tiger's number will be eclipsed sooner rather than later. Speaking in the pre-tournament press conference in Ireland, Els believes that Rory McIlroy will win at least one major every two years, which puts him right around the 14 mark for his career. Seeing as Rory has already proven to be able to win more than one in a season, I think Els' prediction isn't too crazy.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Wednesday Preview - Shoprite LPGA Classic

After a week off, the LPGA returns as the ladies head to New Jersey for the Shoprite LPGA Classic. I remember the Shoprite papers that would sit in the lobby of my local BiLo. My grandmother would use them to wrap presents him them. This has nothing to do with golf.

Course: Stockton Seaview Country Club, a 6,100 yard track. This track can be tricky, seen by Karrie Webb's four under par victory in 2013, but for the most part, winning score has been in the low double digits. Stacy Lewis won with -16 last year, but she also won by six shots. Keep in mind, however, that this is over three days, so birdies are a necessity when conditions are ideal.

Strength Of Field: B-. Lydia Ko missing is a huge negative, but she's pretty much the only major player that will not be teeing it up this week.

Extra Tidbits: This is the 27th year of this event, but not consecutive - the tournament was not held from 2007 to 2009. Stockton Seaview has host the event 16 times...Only two players, Betsy King and Annika Sorenstam, have won this event three times. Stacy Lewis is looking to add her name to that list...This is one of the few remaining 54 hole events on the LPGA Tour, and to my knowledge, the last that boasts a full field.

Fantasy Four:

Hyo Joo Kim - She always seems to play three great rounds with one mediocre round, so having only to play three rounds might be an advantage for Kim. She has yet to miss a cut in her LPGA career. Ball strikers course, which is Kim's strength.

Stacy Lewis - Has not played well as of late, but she owns this course. If she can't perform well here, she's in major trouble.

Mika Miyazato - Last week, the favorites didn't show up, so it was up to the mid-level golfers to pick up the slack. The same may happen this week. Mika-chan is just coming off of qualifying for the US Women's Open, and will be looking to carry that momentum into this week. I predict a big week by both Miyazato's, but Mika-chan has the opportunity to win.

Inbee Park - Because it would just be foolish not to add her.

(SLEEPER) Kelly Tan - Coming off a T25 two weeks ago. It has been an up and down season for Tan, but she has shown flashes all season. I bet this week she shows more than just flashes, and we see her name towards the top of the leaderboard.

Wednesday Preview - Around The World

While there are two big tournaments taking place in the US, there is also plenty of action taking place around the world, with big time implications for majors and world rankings. Have clubs, will travel.

European Tour: Irish Open
- The Irish Open will likely be worth more World Rankings points than the AT&T Byron Nelson, as Rory McIlroy and Rickie Fowler headline a pretty stellar field. Padraig Harrington barely missed out on qualifying for the US Open this week, so a victory will put him in great position based on his world ranking. Byeong Hun An is coming off of his victory at the BMW PGA, the signature event on the European Tour. He has locked up invitations to the US and British Opens, so this week will be a test to see how he backs up his victory. Miguel Angel Jimemez has had a great season, with the only thing he is missing being a victory.

Japan Tour: Mizuno Open
- The Open Championship Series heads to Japan this week, as the top four finishers not already qualified will receive invitations to the Open Championship. We are five events into the season, and a player from Japan picked up their first victory just last week. In fact, it has been an odd season so far, with players such as Koumei Oda, Hiroshi Iwata, and Shingo Katayama, all coming off of a great 2014 season, having a rough start. Masahiro Kawamura is having a good season on both the Japan and Asian Tours, and he is coming off a successful qualification for the US Open. So, too, are veterans Hiroyuki Fujita and Wenchong Liang. Former PGA Champion YE Yang, who is having a pretty good 2015 thus far, will be playing in his first Japan Tour event of the season in hopes to making it back to the Open. Chinese golfer Ashun Wu has a victory on the European Tour, but has not had a good Japan Tour season thus far. 68 year old Masashi Ozaki shot his age in his most recent Japan Tour event.

KLPGA: E1 Charity Open
- Two big returns happening this week, as Shin Ae Ahn, who is considered the most fashionable golfer on Tour, and Ha Neul Kim are playing this week. Ahn is a Korean tabloid sensation thanks to her relatiosnhip (?) with K-Pop singer Yoo Chun Park. Ahn had four top 10's last season. Kim has had a pretty bad season on the JLPGA Tour, so her return to Korea is seen as a possible permanent move to some. Kim at one point was the best player on the KLPGA.

JLPGA: Resort Trust Ladies
- The story has been Erika Kikuchi, who has a win and six top 10 finishes this season. Her missed in her last event was her first of the season. Kikuchi could get herself in position to qualify for some majors with another victory. Teresa Lu is qualified for the US Women's Open, so any starts she makes between now and then will be a warm up for her.

Wednesday Preview - AT&T Byron Nelson

I've been out of commission for the past week, but I'm back to give a full preview of the two events this week, plus a preview of some of the other events with major implications around the world. This week, the PGA Tour players bust out the scuba gear and row boats as they head to soggy Irving.

Course: TPC Four Seasons, measuring at 7,100 yards. Wet conditions will cause the course to play longer, and the long rough will likely be longer because of all the rain. Still, player will probably be playing lift, clean and place, and the greens will be soft, so the final tally could be anyone from mid single digits all the way up to twenty under. Complete unknown at the moment.

Strength Of Field: D. It was much higher until today, as Ian Poulter and Jason Day lead a group of late withdraws thanks to the weather injuries. Jordan Spieth and Dustin Johnson lead the field, but this will be a battle of mid level professionals.

Extra Tidbits: The rain has caused flooding in the outlining areas, and many parts of the course were said to be under water as of Monday. Who knows condition the course will be in, but the bigger concern are the people living in the area...Christopher Brown, Austin Cook, Creighton Honeck, and Troy Matteson are the sponsor's exemptions. Cook made waves in Austin, holding a share of the lead entering the final round before falling to 11th. Matteson is a two time winner on Tour, his last in 2009, and has been playing out of past champion status. He made one cut in four starts this season, with a T22 in Puerto Rico...Jordan Spieth's first start on the PGA Tour took place at this tournament in 2010, when he was 16. He made the cut and finished inside the top 25...Four of the last five winners of this event made this their maiden victory on the PGA Tour.

Fantasy Four:

Brandon Todd - Jason Day occupied this space until his late withdraw, so I'm going with the defending champion. Four straight made cuts, with three top 10's this season. Has been mostly quiet, but should get a spark returning to the site of his first Tour victory.

Charley Hoffman - Seven straight paydays, with five top 25s in that stretch. His next PGA Tour victory seems close, and he has a good history in this event. 

Danny Lee - Sleeper pick. He plays pretty much every week, and fatigue should be a factor, but his putting his solid, he is coming off his second straight top 25 with a top 10 last week, and it is a short course that shouldn't be an issue for him. I bet a victory would get him to take some time off, and this is a good spot for him to pick up that first win.

Keegan Bradley - Gets here only because of past history - he has a win and a second, and has never missed the cut at Four Seasons. He has been very quiet the past two seasons, but always tends to find one or two tournaments where he is contending on Sunday. Keegan needs this week if he hopes to make the President's Cup team at the end of the year.

Last Weeks Team:
Jimmy Walker: T65
Zach Johnson: T19
Chad Campbell: CUT
John Senden: CUT

Monday, May 25, 2015

Kirk Enters A New Level Of Players

Happy Memorial Day! I apologize for the lateness of this post. I had Memorial Day obligations all weekend. May we remember the sacrifices of our men and women in the armed forces today and every day.

- Unfortunately for Chris Kirk, he has now entered a new class of professional golfers where victories are no longer celebrated and praised like they used to be. Kirk has now proven to be a very good, if not elite player, and the next thing for him to do is to contend at the highest level. Kirk has three chances this year to improve on his major record, which has seen him notch zero top 10's in his major career, as well as a chance to play for Team USA in a team competition. Right now he is forth in the Presidents Cup standings and looks to be a lock for Korea. The plus side of Kirk's major record is that last year was his first time playing all four majors in a year, so perhaps experience will guide him going forward.

- It is a shame that Jason Bohn's will likely be forgotten about when his golfing career ends, because he is a really good player that has come incredibly close to winning a bunch of tournaments. Somehow Bohn has only won twice on the PGA Tour. He now has two straight top 10's, so I hope win number three comes incredibly soon.

- News flash: Jordan Spieth is very good. A few missed opportunities kept Spieth from winning the Colonial, but his game still looks as sharp as ever. It will be interesting to see how Spieth plays at Byron Nelson's tournament, the same place he made his introduction to the world as a 16 year old.

- It's been an up and down rookie season, but it looks like Adam Hadwin has finally settled in. I had Hadwin as my favorite to win the Rookie Of The Year Award, and he has some work ahead of him, but he is now inside the top 100 in the FedEx Cup standings after a string of four missed cuts put him on the outside looking in. I still believe Hadwin will be a big time player on Tour - it has just taken him longer to adjust to Tour life.

- Danny Lee has played a lot of golf this season, but it seems like he is playing better as the season goes on. Lee has already played in 22 events this season, but is coming off of a T13 and a T10 in his last two events. You would think all this golf would make him tired, but it looks like it is inspiring him to play better.

- If you ever wanted more evidence that golf in Asia is starting to explode, look no further than 23 year old Byeong-Hun An. An, who won the US Amateur title in 2009, has been having a pretty good season on the European Tour, but his victory in the European Tour's flagship event has put An on the map. There is now a chance for An to play on the President's Cup team in his native Europe, and his victory get him an exemption into the US Open, Open Championship, and Bridgestone Invitational. Asian golf is starting to spike. Do not be surprised if a player from Asia walks away with a major championship this year.

- Thongchai Jaidee finishing T2 at the BMW PGA Championship at the age of 45 would be impressive had it not been for Miguel Angel Jimenez finishing in the same spot at 52 years old. The world's most interesting golfer refuses to age, and is starting to look as good now as he did 10 years ago. It is a shame that more people in the US do not know who Jaidee is, and that he never had had success in the majors, but with these two classics still running as strong as ever, there still appears to be time to change that.

- There is a story I am keeping a close eye on, and that story is Y.E. Yang. The 2009 PGA Champion has seen his career falter to the point where he has lost his PGA Tour card, so Yang is attempting to revitalize his career on the European Tour. So far, so good, as he has made the cut in his last six events both on the PGA Tour and European Tour, with his worse finish on the European Tour being a T28. He has risen 300 spots in the World Golf Rankings and is inside the top 100 in the Race To Dubai standings. Here's hoping he keeps up his improved playing.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Abbreviated Wednesday Preview - Crowne Plaza Colonial

I spent all day yesterday working as a Judge of Elections, and today has been spent sleeping, so this won't be a complete preview. Instead, you just get my Fantasy Four.

Fantasy Four:

Jimmy Walker - Quietly having a great season. Always done incredibly well when the pressure to perform isn't on him. A Texas guy with ties to the area.

Zach Johnson - Terrific history. Putter has quickly turned around. 

Chad Campbell - Sleeper pick. Looks to be on track to regain full Tour privileges next season.

John Senden - Terrific putter. Shorter course should play well into his game.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Rory Stands Alone

- If there was any doubt as to who the best player in the world is, Rory McIlroy put an end to that doubt. Rory's course record 61 shot on Saturday was as brilliant a round of golf as has been played this season, and Sunday was nothing more than a victory lap for the World Number One. Rory is peeking, again, right before the US Open. Remember when we were asking if the Rory Era was over? That seems like lightyears ago.

- The feel good story of the week might be Patrick Rodgers, who cashed in on his last sponsors exemption to get within inches of a PGA Tour card. Rodgers will have plenty of opportunities to play over the next several weeks, including Colonial and Memorial, so if he's able to have one more good week, he will wrap up special temporary membership for the year and a PGA Tour card for 2016. The future of golf is looking brighter and brighter every week.

- Lefty done? Not quite yet. Phil Mickelson showed the world something this week with his T4 finish at Quail Hollow. To be completely fair, Quail Hollow is a course where Phil has had plenty of success in the past, so it should be no surprise to see him play well here again. That being said, that's two top 10's this season after only one in all of 2014. There is life still left in the Hall of Famer, and Chambers Bay is right around the corner.

- Every time I'm ready to throw dirt on Geoff Ogilvy's career, he seems to come back when least expected. After failing to do very little all season, Ogilvy finished T7 at Quail Hollow. The days of Ogilvy being one of the top players on Tour are over, but the former US Open champion can still contend from time to time, and another trophy may be in his future.

- Did I mention that this year's rookie class on the LPGA Tour is really good? This time it's Minjee Lee who gets a victory on the LPGA Tour after an excellent final round 65 put her over the edge. Lee was expected to be a contender for Rookie Of The Year honors, but has had a less than spectacular season, at least compared to her fellow rookies. Lee has a great amateur background and victories are expected for her, so perhaps this was her coming out party on the LPGA Tour.

- Another week, another opportunity for So Yeon Ryu that went by the wayside. To be fair, Minjee Lee didn't give her much to work with, but there were still plenty of opportunities for Ryu to make birdies that she was unable to convert. Still, it was a good week for Ryu, who has not had a very good season this year. Normally I walk away with negatives whenever Ryu contends but does not win, but I am feeling more optimistic this time around.

- Alison Lee was unable to close out the tournament, but to her credit, she didn't completely shoot herself out of it. On the contrary, she shot a final round 69 when all the pressure was on her to pick up her first victory. These experiences do a lot to build a player into a contender, and this was Alison's first opportunity. The next time she gets into this position, she will be better prepared to handle the pressure. 

- Rod Pampling looks to be well on his way to retaining his PGA Tour card. The 45 year old former champion has been playing out of past champions status for the past several years, but a top 10 in Puerto Rico and a win this week on the Tour had Pampling in the driver seat for a return to the Tour. Pampling's strong finish in Australia at the beginning of 2015 has him exempt into the Open Championship, and he currently sits 8th on the Tour money list. Great playing, Rod!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Min Young Lee Battles Back From Cancer

In a story that fell under the radar, KLPGA superstar Min Young Lee, who won a few times last season, is playing in her first KLPGA event of 2015. This is because of a mysterious ailment that caused her severe abdominal pain. After some tests, the doctors found a form of kidney cancer in Lee, and she immediately underwent surgery. Luckily for Lee, it appears that they caught the cancer before it spread any further into Lee's body.

This story in itself would be impressive - person fights cancer and wins, but it is not over yet. Lee is teeing it up this week in her first event, less than two months after her surgery, and amazingly, she shot a three under par 69, and is only one shot back of seven leaders. Props to Lee for battling back. I will be keeping an eye on her for the rest of the season. Hopefully she can keep up this fantastic performance.

EDIT: Shout out to HappyFan over at for the heads up on the story. If you can read Korean, you can find the reported story here.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Wednesday Preview - Kingsmill Championship

After taking a week off, the ladies of the LPGA Tour head to the east coast for the Kingsmill Championship in Williamsburg, Virginia. The countdown to the US Women's Open begins this week.

Course: Kingsmill Resort, River Course, a 6,400 yard track. It's not terribly lengthy but it can be tricky in certain parts. The scores generally hover around twelve under par. Annika Sorenstam owns the scoring record at -19, but she also won by seven strokes that year. Look for eleven or twelve to take it.

Strength Of Field: B+. A few players here and there, like Shanshan Feng, prevent this event from being another A class field. Expect another top heavy leaderboard this weekend.

Extra Tidbits: Following the North Texas Shootout, a reshuffle occurred in the priority rankings. Charley Hull and Stephanie Meadow get into the field thanks to their new priority ranking. Expect them to play a ton leading up to the US Open...Brooke Henderson is once again in the field this week. Expect her to receive membership next year after commission Mike Whan accepts her special exemption...This used to be the site of the Michelob ULTRA Open, which always attracted the best fields. The tournament took two years off in 2010 and 2011, and is now back as the re-branded Kingsmill Championship...Lizette Salas won her first LPGA Title last year by four strokes...Only one play has won more than once in Kingsmill. That player is Cristie Kerr, who has won three times.

Fantasy Four:

Inbee Park - Won once again in Texas after finishing runner up in Hawaii. She's Lydia Ko's closest challenger and has been playing incredible golf, again, in 2015. 

Lydia Ko - It will take a lot to be bumped out of the Fantasy Four for Ko, but I do not consider her the favorite this week, thanks to Inbee's stunning play as of late. That means Ko will enter this week under the radar...a dangerous position for the world's top player.

Lexi Thompson - Has been quickly improving and appears to be knocking on the door of her first victory since her major triumph last season. The course should set up for her game, and she could overpower a few holes on this course.

Hyo Joo Kim - After winning a month ago, she has finished either inside the top 10 or just outside in every event. 

(SLEEPER) Stephanie Meadow - Will be looking to take advantage of her new status on Tour. Her only start this season was a T20 at the ANA Inspiration. A lot of people seem to have forgotten about Meadow, who finished inside the top 5 at the US Open, and she will remind some people this week.
EDIT: Stephanie Meadow has withdrawn from the event. My Sleeper replacement will be Brooke Henderson.

Wednesday Preview - Wells Fargo Championship

We are now into the meat of the PGA Tour schedule, as every event should have a decent field on good golf courses. This week, the players head to North Carolina for the Wells Fargo Championship.

Course: Quail Hollow Club, a 7,500 yard track. Quail Hollow is one of the top ranked courses on Tour and a staple of the PGA Tour season. Conditions could make individual rounds difficult, but the winning score has finished between -10 and -15 all but twice in this tournament's history. Expect the same this year.

Strength Of Field: B+. Pretty darn good considering we're just coming off two big golf tournaments. Rory, Jason Day, and Jim Furyk are among the big name players, with players like Phil Mickelson, Patrick Reed, and Hideki Matsuyama also part of the field.

Extra Tidbits: Scott Gutschewski, Travis Howe, Matt Thompson, and Andres Echavarria are the Monday Qualifiers. Gutschewski is a former PGA Tour player but hasn't played in an event since 2011. He is overcoming injuries and expects to play on the Tour this year...Corey Conners, who was the runner-up at the US Amateur last year, will make his third start on the PGA Tour...Quail Hollow was the site of both Rory McIlroy's and Rickie Fowler's first PGA Tour victory.

Fantasy Four:

Phil Mickelson - A superb record here, which includes a T11 last year during his roughest stretch of golf. Missed the cut last week while flying under the radar, so there are still questions about his game, but showed at Augusta that he can play well in certain venues. Lefty has never missed a cut at Quail Hollow.

Jim Furyk - All time money leader at this event enters with a boost of confidence after winning in South Carolina. Winner in '06 and came up just short last year. Furyk is comfortable here, and should have another monster week.

Ryo Ishikawa - Sleeper pick. I know, he's driven me off the bridge before, but I feel really confident after his T8 last week. Cashed in on six paydays in eight weeks. He seems to be turning things around, but struggles with consistency. Quail Hollow has been known to be the break out event for many young players.

Kevin Kisner - Two playoff losses to two superstars have quickly put Kisner on everyone's radar. While he has no experience in this event, he does not seem to be afraid of the stage in any event. Another one that fits the "young player" mold that Quail Hollow loves to reward.

Last Weeks Team:
Jordan Spieth: CUT
Hideki Matsuyama: T17
Danny Willett: CUT
Rory McIlroy: T8 

Monday, May 11, 2015

Rickie. Friggin. Fowler

- They said he was over rated. They said he couldn't win. They said he was done, and that a new batch of young superstars was about to jump him. The world had buried Rickie Fowler, but he did all he could and then some to silence those critics and win for the first time in three years. Fowler's win is impressive, not for everything surround him entering the tournament, but HOW he was able to pull it off - going birdie-eagle-birdie-birdie during one of the toughest stretches of holes on Tour, waiting over an hour for other groups to finish, and then birding the 17th hole twice in a playoff. He wasn't going to let this one get away from him.

- Now that Rickie has his second win on the PGA Tour, will the trophies start to flood to him? It's possible. Sometimes, you chase that next victory so much that it gets further out of your reach. Rickie has proven to people how great he is, so he should be able to relax a little more and just let it come to him.

- When Kevin Kisner lost to Jim Furyk at the Heritage, I didn't write anything about him. After all, I thought he might have been a flash in the pan - someone who contends for one week at a golf courses that suits his game only to turn around and never contend again. Kisner really proved me wrong, as the stage was not too big for him and he found himself right in the middle of the action all the way until the end. Kisner may, in fact, be a superstar in the making. The shots he hit down the stretch and in the playoff show that he's not afraid of anything.

- I'm glad to see Kevin Na getting rid of the demons of a few years ago and contending once again at The Players. Na is another one of those young players, like Fowler was and like Jason Day was a few years ago, that just needs another victory to really start achieving up to his potential. I think he is really close, and it may come sooner rather than later.

- Speaking of beginning to achieve to their potential, Ryo Ishikawa's top 10 finish is leaving this super fan incredibly optimistic. This was Ishikawa's first time playing TPC Sawgrass and he was able to maneuver the course with four under par rounds. The thing holding back Ishikawa the last couple of weeks is the fact that he has had a tough time putting together four solid rounds. If he is able to start playing more consistently, he could finally become the player people expected him to be.

- I'm going to have to start taking John Senden more seriously. A week after making it to the quarterfinals of the Match Play, Senden played well on the weekend in Sawgrass to put him into the top 10. Senden remains one of the best putters on Tour, so if his iron play and his driving are at least decent, he is a threat to win.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Calvin Peete And Pete Brown Pass Away

Last week, the golf world said goodbye to two more influential players, as Calvin Peete and Pete Brown both passed away.

Calvin Peete took an unusual path to the PGA Tour. While other players were excelling at the game as kids and playing among their peers as amateurs, Peete didn't start playing golf until his 20's. Peete grew up incredibly poor, and made money peddling goods to migrant workers in the Rochester area. As a kid, he suffered a severely broken arm that was never properly set. This didn't hurt Peete's chances at success, however, as he joined the PGA Tour in 1975 and immediately became one of the most accurate drivers of the golf ball. Peete lead the Tour in driving accuracy for ten straight years in the 80's. 

Peete won twelve times, all between 1979 and 1986, when he was picking apart golf courses with his brilliant accuracy. His greatest victory came at TPC Sawgrass when he won the Players Championship in 1985. Peete played on two Ryder Cup teams, and while he never won a major, he made a run at the PGA Championship in 1982 and 1984, finishing T3 and 4, respectfully. Peete won the Vardon Trophy for lowest scoring average in 1984. Peete was the most successful African American to play on the PGA Tour prior to Tiger Woods, and is considered a borderline Hall of Famer by many.

Pete Brown grew up in Mississippi in the 40's and 50's during a time of racial tension in that state. He worked as a caddie as a child until taking up the game competitively. His career was halted in the late-50's when he suffered from polio, but recovered and came back stronger than ever. In 1963, Brown was the second African American to receive his PGA Tour card after Charlie Sifford, and in 1964, he became the first African American to win on the PGA Tour. He would win again in 1970 for his last of two PGA Tour victories over a 17 year career. He also served as the head golf pro at Madden Golf Course in Dayton, Ohio for over 20 years.

Coupled with the loss of Sifford earlier this year, the African American community has lost three of their most influential members within the sport of golf. They left behind a legacy of tearing down barriers and opening the game of golf to everyone, something the sport still tries to do but struggles with from time to time. The game of golf is better because we had these men competing in the game, and they will be missed.

2015 has not been kind to us.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Wednesday Preview - The Players Championship

From one high quality event to another, the players go from a World Golf Chanpionship to the Player Championship, otherwise known as the PLAYERS CHAMPIONSHIP. Actually, I think it's stylized as just THE PLAYERS, but whatever.

Course: TPC Sawgrass. Probably the most well known golf course outside of Augusta, Georgia. While the course as a whole can play pretty easy, the final three holes can absolutely sink someone's tournament. 17 isn't a hard hole, but the stadium nature can cause a lot of pressure. The 18th is an absolute bear, and par is a good score on that hole. I expect the winning score to hit ten under.

Strength Of Field: A+. No complaints here. Everyone who's anyone is here. This actually might have a better field than the majors, because it's a full field that doesn't have a bunch of open qualifiers.

Extra Tidbits: Tiger Woods is playing this week. His world ranking is at 120, the worst in his professional career...Victor Dubuisson has withdrawn from the tournament for the second straight year with no explanation. The explanation is likely that Dubuisson just doesn't want to play this tournament...The Seniors Players Champion receives an exemption into this tournament. This year, that distinction belongs to Bernhard Langer, who could actually contend considering how well he has played the last couple of seasons.

Fantasy Four:

Jordan Spieth - Got eliminated from the Match Play after cruising through his first two matches. Hasn't finished worse than 11th in his last five stroke play events, a streak that includes two victories.

Hideki Matsuyama - Might be the best ball striker on the Tour right now. Finished inside the top 10 at The Masters, and looked good at the Match Play until he ran into Rory. He's never intimidated by the golf course. 

Danny Willett - Sleeper pick. Finished a surprising third place at the Match Play after playing well at The Masters. He is proving to be a better commodity than just someone who plays well in Europe. 

Rory McIlroy - The number one player in the world is playing like it. When he gets on a run, he is unstoppable. Has taken over for Jordan as the favorite in every tournament he tees it up in.

Monday, May 4, 2015

King Rory And Queen Bee Rule On Sunday

- Only Rory McIlroy could be the number one player in the world and be completely overlooked in a tournament. Entering this week, a lot of people were talking about Jordan Spieth and how far he can go, as well as some of the other players in the field and whether or not they are great for Match Play. In the end, though, talent will win out over anything else, and Rory McIlroy has more talent than anyone else in the world. The Age Of Jordan? I think Rory has a few things to say about that.

- The PGA Tour changed the format to try and add more intrigue to the Match Play. The result, however, was more of a detriment than it was helpful. Instead of one incredibly exciting day for the opening round, we were treated to three relatively boring days until someone moved on. Unfortunately for the Match Play, the tournament fell in the middle of the NBA playoffs, the Mayweather fight, and the Kentucky Derby, so it was going to be difficult to attract attention in the first place. Still, they need to do more tinkering to make this the excitement they expect it to be, because even with the World Number One playing all the way until the final match, it was hard to really keep my focus on this event the entire time.

- Is this tournament the beginning of Danny Willett as a world class player, or is he just good at this format? We will find out more next week when he plays in his first Players Championship, but he looked good this week, and he was not intimidated by Augusta National a few weeks ago. Between Willett and Tommy Fleetwood, I'm sure David Love III is not happy to see so many young Europeans excel this format.

- Earlier this season, I may have declared that the Lydia Ko Era on the LPGA Tour would last for a very long time. I still think Ko is the player to beat, but Inbee Park seems to be counter punching any time Ko makes a statement. One week after Ko defended her title at the Swinging Skirts, Queen Bee won the North Texas Shootout by three strokes, and honestly it didn't seem that close. While other players got within shouting distance, none of them played as solidly as Inbee did all week. If a few more putts would have dropped, Inbee would have won this tournament on Saturday. When Inbee plays well, she is scary good. The US Women's Open is going to be incredibly exciting.

- The Big Four is quickly turning into the Big Three. Hyo Joo Kim notched yet another top 25 finish with her T11 in Texas, but she doesn't seem to have the ability to finish like Inbee or Lydia have, and she has the tendency to struggle with her putter from time to time. Stacy Lewis finished in the top 10 for the 400th time in the past two seasons, but she hasn't been able to put four rounds together and is always forced to make a charge on Sunday. Lewis and Kim are both incredible players and the best of the next group, bur right now, Lydia and Inbee are sprinting away from them right now.

- What was the most impressive "comeback" performance of the week? Was it Maria McBride, formally Maria Hjorth, who won five times on the LPGA Tour and played on five Solheim Cup teams, but hasn't has a top 10 in years, or was it Juli Inkster, the Hall of Famer and Solheim Cup captain that turned the clock back and gave her Solheim Cup players an inspirational performance? Take your pick - they're both amazing stories. This is the second week this season that Inkster has played well, this a year after she thought she was going to step away from the game completely. There's still a lot of life left in the legend.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Stephanie Wie Gets Credentials Revoked For Modernizing Golf

In the strangest news of the week, blogger and media personality Stephanie Wei, operator of Wei Under Par, got her media credentials from the PGA Tour removed for using the mobile app Periscope during a Monday practice round. Periscope, for those of you unaware, is an app that allows a user to live stream directly from their phone. Anyone who downloads Periscope can watch video taken from another Periscope user's cell phone. Essentially, it allows users to see the world through the eyes of other users. By activating the app, Wei was allowing users to see on the course coverage of the Monday practice round.

Allow me to say, off the top, that if this were to happen during an official round of a tournament, then media credentials should absolutely be taken away. Television companies and sponsors pay a lot of money for coverage of a golf tournament, and one member of the media allowing viewers to bypass that coverage would be incredibly detrimental to the Tour. It would give those particular media members all the power, and would cut into the profits of the Tour. It's similar to the issues internet live streaming causes for television programs.

This is not the issue at hand, however. Wei was using the app during a practice round, which are not televised. The only way for someone to watch a practice round would be to purchase a ticket and watch it in person. That's great for a couple thousand people in the area, but for someone like me, who lives in Northeast Pennsylvania, it would be pretty difficult to attend a practice round in San Francisco, California.

Stephanie Wei didn't do anything to the detriment of the Tour. If anything, she unlocked a new way to open golf up to a large mass of individuals who do not normally watch, and to be able to view events and watch parts of the tournament that are normally invisible to the general audience.

This speaks to an underlining issue within the PGA Tour and the world of golf in general, and that is the inability of anyone to modernize and to reach out to a younger audience. Tour executives only know what they are used to - TV ratings and contracts. It's this same "blinders on" mentality that lead to no one being able to watch the dramatic finish of the RBC Heritage, as the final round was moved up to avoid incoming weather and the TV coverage was already set for 3 PM, long after the tournament ended. If the PGA Tour would have allowed itself some room in their contract, or if they embraced the new internet age, people would have been able to actually witness Jim Furyk winning his first tournament in five years, instead of having to watch it live blogged over Twitter.

The problem with the PGA Tour and the other Tours and agencies within golf is simple - they lack young leadership to keep them in the know about current trends. If you're constantly trying to play catch up with the rest of the world, the world will eventually leave you behind. Removing Wei's credentials sends a really bad signal that the PGA Tour is tone deaf.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Wednesday Preview - North Texas Shootout

While the Match Play is happening on the men's side, a less than spectacular event is taking place on the LPGA Tour, as the ladies head to Irving, Texas for the North Texas Shootout. Hey, they can't all be home runs.

Course: Las Colinas Country Club, a 6,400 yard course. This is not a difficult course, and the length is the only thing that could cause some issue. Expecting the winning score to push twenty under.

Strength Of Field: C-. There is no depth to this field. A lot of middle of the rankings players are skipping out in favor of better events elsewhere. The top names are still here, but they hardly ever skip a tournament.

Extra Tidbits: Coming off her third place finish last week, Brooke Henderson received a spot in the field through the Monday qualifier. Veteran Heather Bowie Young is the other Monday qualifier...This is the last event before the first reshuffle of the season, so players looking to play a full time schedule on Tour need to have a big week this week.

Fantasy Four:

Stacy Lewis - Defending champion that plays better in certain areas. While she may contend all over the world, she will always be the player to beat in Texas and Arkansas. Still looking for her first win in 2015.

Lydia Ko - Just keeps winning.

Sei Young Kim - Six top 10's in nine starts this season, and does not appear to be slowing down. Almost all of these courses she will be seeing for the first time, but Las Colinas does not require a lot of past experience to navigate. 

Na Yeon Choi - The model of inconsistency, as she has a win and one other top 10 to go with two missed cuts and a lot of finished in between. Her T11 last week showed she's entering the right direction, however, and her skills should be great for this course.

(SLEEPER) Ai Miyazato - Has made every cut this season, and appears to be clawing her way back to being a contender on the LPGA Tour. 
EDIT: It's been a Hell of a week. Ai Miyazato isn't in the field. My sleeper this week will be Sakura Yokomine.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

WGC-Match Play Breakdown

One of the most exciting and different events on the schedule, the Match Play, takes place in San Francisco this week. This is not the usual Match Play tournament - instead of a one and done format like normal, players are put into different groups, and everyone plays three matches before the eliminations take place. The bracket can be seen here. Follow along as I predict each bracket, the final match, and the eventual champion.

Group 1:
Rory McIlroy
Billy Horschel
Brandt Snedeker
Jason Dufner

During the Golf Channel reveal of the groups, there was a lot of talk of the "Group Of Death". We will get to that later, but this could easily be a contender. The draw did no favors for the World Number One, as he has to face last year's FedEx Cup champion Horschel, a PGA Champion in Dufner, and a multiple PGA Tour winner in Snedeker. All three of McIlroy's opponents have been struggling as of late, but their talent could keep them in there. I still think McIlroy wins the bracket, but I think every match is a fight for him. McIlroy

Group 2:
Jordan Spieth
Lee Westwood
Matt Every
Mikko Ilonen

Whether or not Spieth's game translates well into Match Play will get an immediate test, as he faces the man who won the European Tour's version of this event, Mikko Ilonen, in his first match. Lee Westwood brings in a bunch of experience in both this event and the Ryder Cup. Every will be a little out of his comfort zone. Spieth should still win group, but I'm sure he would have liked to have it a little easier. Spieth

Group 3:

Henrik Stenson
Bill Haas
Brendan Todd
John Senden

A lot of people are saying Stenson could be in trouble here, but I don't see it. Haas and Senden are both very talented, but they've also been struggling as of late. Todd is going to be thrown into the fire here, and I have a tough time thinking he could go toe to toe with someone of the caliber of Stenson. He should walk through this group. Stenson

Group 4:

Bubba Watson
Louis Oosthuizen
Keegan Bradley
Miguel Angel Jimenez

Watson flat out does not have the game for match play, so this is the perfect opportunity for an upset. Oosthuizen has been playing incredibly well as of late. Bradley is always a danger whenever he plays. And Jimenez won't be intimidated by anyone. That Watson/Jimenez match Wednesday will be very interesting. If Jimenez can beat Watson, he has the opportunity to win this bracket. I'm going with a flyer here. Jimenez

Group 5:

Jim Furyk
Martin Kaymer
Thongchai Jaidee
George Coetzee

Furyk is up against three talented players, but none of them should strike fear in his heart. Coetzee is consistent, but hasn't proven anything on the biggest stage. Jaidee has played a ton of match play, but hasn't played well in this tournament lately, nor has he been a contender in any of his US starts. Kaymer is wickedly talented, but has really struggled this season. Furyk lucked out, as he is getting three really good players who aren't coming in with a lot of confidence. Furyk

Group 6:

Justin Rose
Ryan Palmer
Anirban Lahiri
Marc Leishman

Lahiri and Leishman are happy to be here, and are currently thinking of ways to spend their checks for just showing up. Rose's only competition is Palmer. Palmer has played well this season, but he's untested in this environment, and against a man as red hot as Rose, I don't have much faith in him. Rose easily moves on. Rose

Group 7:

Jason Day
Zach Johnson
Brenden Grace
Charley Hoffman

Zach Johnson could make some noise, but his putter has betrayed him for the past season and a half. Grace and Hoffman are good, but they're not to the quality of Day, who should have no problems winning this group, and could be in a good position to defend his title. Day

Group 8:

Dustin Johnson
Victor Dubuisson
Charl Schwartzel
Matt Jones

DJ got lucky that Matt Jones was drawn into this group, because that should get him a victory and some early confidence. The rest of his path is brutal, as he has to go through last year's runner up Dubuisson and former Masters champion Schwartzel, who is inconsistent but can be on fire when his game is on. I know Dubuisson has not played well lately, but I think this format will serve him well and he will get back to the caliber of player he can be. The DJ/Dubuisson match on Friday will determine the winner, and Dubuisson will pull the upset. Dubuisson

Group 9:

Adam Scott
Chris Kirk
Paul Casey
Francisco Molinari

None of the top seeds wanted to see Paul Casey in their group, as he has been playing very well lately and has a ton of match play experience. The top seed that drew him is Adam Scott, who is already wishing 2015 could just pass him by, as he has struggled finding a putter and can not gain any traction. Kirk is a good player, but may be a little overwhelmed in this environment. Molinari was the last man in the field, and should be excited to be receiving a paycheck this week. Casey will look like a world beater as he walks out of this group with relative ease. Casey

Group 10:

Sergio Garcia
Jamie Donaldson
Bernd Weisberger
Tommy Fleetwood

An all European group. Fleetwood will be a little out of his element, and should just take in the experience. Weisberger is a good player that could be trouble, and Donaldson has the talent to scare Garcia, but Garcia should be able to win this group. Honestly, though, none of these players should be intimidated with each other, and an upset is possible. I just think it's unlikely. Garcia

Group 11:

Jimmy Walker
Ian Poulter
Webb Simpson
Gary Woodland

This has been what Golf Channel dubbed the "Group of Death". In golf, any of these groups could be the group of death depending on how each player is playing, but this is clearly the most wide open group on the board. The favorite is Ian Poulter, as he is a match play specialist, but Jimmy Walker has been on fire this season, and both Simpson and Woodland are talented enough to not be overlooked. I'm still going with Poulter, though. I consider him the favorite in every match play event he's in. Poulter

Group 12: 
J.B. Holmes
Brooks Koepka
Russell Henley
Marc Warren

Not a whole lot of fireworks in this group, as it is missing a big name. J.B. Holmes has had a great career resurgence in the past two years, but he is untested in this environment. Brooks Koepka won in Phoenix but hasn't played well since. Russell Henley is struggling with consistency. Marc Warren is a complete unknown to most. This is a crap shoot, but I like Henley's upside, and I think he can sneak out of this group. Henley

Group 13: 
Rickie Fowler
Graeme McDowell
Shane Lowry
Harris English

This is a rare instance when the top seed actually looks outmatched compared to the rest of his group. Fowler has really struggled this season, and he goes against McDowell, with a ton of Ryder Cup experience behind him, Lowry, who knocked off McIlroy in the first round last year, and English, a tough competitor and one of the best young Americans in golf. I think the McDowell/Lowry match on Wednesday will ultimately be the deciding factor, and I just don't see McDowell losing. McDowell

Group 14: 
Matt Kuchar
Hunter Mahan
Stephen Gallacher
Ben Martin

Kuchar is in a rough spot here, as he has a match play specialist in Mahan and a former Ryder Cupper in Gallacher in his group. He gets a lucky draw with Ben Martin, an up and coming player, but probably won't be able to hang in there with the rest of his group. Mahan has not played well lately, but there is something about this format that brings the spark of life back in him. I think he pulls off the upset here. Mahan

Group 15: 
Patrick Reed
Ryan Moore
Danny Willett
Andy Sullivan

Reed loves match play, and he's going to revel in the opportunity to show off in front of the San Francisco crowd. He also got lucky with the draw, as he has three opponents that he should easily defeat. Ryan Moore is a good player, but his consistency is an issue, and he doesn't have the firepower that Reed has. Willett and Sullivan are lambs being lead to slaughter. Reed coasts in this group. Reed

Group 16:
Hideki Matsuyama
Kevin Na
Joost Luiten
Alexander Levy

The last top seed in the tournament got a heck of a draw. Kevin Na has played well, but Hideki has beaten him before. Joost Luiten and Alexander Levy are just now starting to come into their own as top golfers. Matsuyama is the kind of player who should love match play, and he has been playing extraordinary golf this season. He should walk handily in this group. Matsuyama

Semifinal Number One:
Paul Casey Vs Graeme McDowell

Due to some upsets, Casey should have an easier time in the elimination round then he will in the group stage. Matsuyama will give him a battle, but Casey should move on to face McDowell, who will need all he has to topple Furyk. McDowell will be slightly gassed, and Casey will be on a tear, and Casey moves on. Casey 3&2

Semifinal Number Two: 
Jason Day Vs Ian Poulter

The match everyone will be watching as the defending champion takes on the match play expert. Poulter will have an inspired run throughout the tournament, coming back in several of his matches and demoralizing his opponents on the final hole. He will attempt the same against Day, but Day will be too much, and Day will move on to the finals for the second year in a row. Day 1 Up

Championship Match:
Paul Casey Vs Jason Day

Paul Casey will come out inspired, looking for his first PGA Tour victory in six years. A lot of birdies will fall in this group, but after falling behind quickly, Day is unable to recover as his birdies are matched by Casey's tremendous play. Day makes a match of it late, but it's too little, too late.

Champion: Paul Casey
Winning Margin: 2&1