Zurich Classic of New Orleans
Defending Champ: Billy Horschel
Unlike the other sports I cover there are simply too many unquantifiable variables in golf to be incredibly accurate week-to-week. Now, there are certainly trends; be it recent play, location, experience or a style that matches a particular course. All that is heavily factored into any set of picks, at least ones that I make. Still, so much of a player’s performance is mental compared to every other sport, that it causes wild fluctuations in results week-to-week. In the NBA Playoffs there are essentially three teams that can legitimately win the NBA Championship (Don’t give me this Clippers crap). On the links, honestly, anyone in the field could win; 72-holes is an outrageously tiny sample to draw any concrete set of conclusions from. It’s how Patrick Reed can go from being one of the “Top 5 players in the World” to a tie for 113th seven (actually, five) days later. Remember when Jason Gore parlayed his three straight Nationwide wins, into some competitive play on the PGA Tour? Of course you don’t. Mainly, because Gore quickly vanished from leaderboards and currently resides at the Tour’s most popular alternate. Jason Dufner was having a very middling season in 2012 until he made the trek to the Bayou. After winning this event, he reeled off another win, a second and a T4 in three of his next four starts. That other result? A seven-over, T68. This sh*t’s all over the place. All you can really do is merge every bit of info available into a pick and hope your guy didn’t quit smoking that week and is too stressed to putt. It’s also why everyone should have had Matt Kuchar at the Heritage.
Too much of the focus placed on Kuchar was the recent sting of disappointing Sundays he’d strung together of the last month: T4 at the Valaro, 2nd in Houston & T5 at the Masters. And those results are after posting an aggregate of +5 in the final round of those events. The argument against him: He can’t close, therefore I don’t want him on my Fantasy team. My take: You’ve all LOST IT!!!
Sure, Kuchar didn’t play well enough to win in two of those events, but it took a ridiculously unlucky set of circumstances to unfold for him to lose the Shell. I’m very much on the record in opposition to a “winner’s mentality” in sports. While things like “clutch” and other abstract terms people like to use probably influence the outcome of games, no one has any way to determine how much that impact is, and how to contextualize its effect. No one can, except maybe Jennifer Lopez in The Cell. So, if you say you can, you’re a liar; one whose pants are constantly on fire.
Now, I’m definitely not above riding a golfer for week if he’s in the process of “feelin’ it,” “riding a heater,” or being the best thing a player can be, “LOCKED IN.” (or dialed in, for that matter). Since picking the winner of any PGA event is such an inherently low probability outcome, using something as arbitrary as being able to judge a player’s current state of mind isn’t really affecting the logic of your pick all that much. But, when these blanket statements are used in golf, people are really just looking at the player’s past few results, thus mitigating the impact of their faulty process in a roundabout way.
So, if anyone suggested not using Kuchar and accused him of suffering from the dreaded “loser’s mentality,” they don’t have a clue. Primarily because they’ve used erroneous information, but come on foolish prognosticators, we all know Kuchar only has one state of mind…
Now, if the advice was fade Kuchar for a week because he’ll be a popular pick in that particular tournament, and your strategy is to play contrarian, logically I understand that move. It’s low odds, but the dividends could be bountiful if you’re correct. It’s also a pick that could (and should) be influenced by where you currently sit in the standings.
Be careful not to be duped by a huckster in plaid pants.
No rough at the Pinehurst? Guess that means Michael Campbell won’t win again.
Do you like juvenile humor? How about sexual innuendo? Alex Myers does. I do too. So do you.
A 15-year-old won on the Japan LPGA tour.
2013’s TPC Louisiana Performance Stats.
Updated Ryder Cup Standings. Hopefully Tiger’s a captains pick.
The people demand 15-inch cups!
Who couldn’t use more sub-par golf jokes in their life?
Lee Westwood went wire-to-wire in Malaysia.
Kuchar’s up to number five in world rankings.
And finally, BEES!!!!! Not to be confused with BEEEEEEESSSSS!!!!!!!
Rickie Fowler & Charles Howell III – How about some real talk: It’s a weak field. One of the weakest you’ll see all season, which has turned the star driven Yahoo! A-List into a farce. And not one of those hilarious farces like Duck Soup, this field’s more like a Friedberg and Seltzer joint. The pool’s made even thinner by my fading of Patrick Reed. Because, get this, he’s going to be a near-universal choice and going contrarian is the play – Reed’s cracked 70 just once since his win at Doral in March. So, that leaves me with Rickie Fowler, his fancy new swing and a pair of Top 6 finishes his past two times on the links… and a coin flip between Kevin Stadler and CH3. And since the type of player that has experienced yearly success at TPC Louisiana is one with an inflated GIR Rate and low hole proximity on approaches, I’m leaning Howell. He’s 24th in driving distance, 8th in GIR% and has made five consecutive cuts on this site with a T13 (2011) & T2 (2009) in that span. Capable drivers and putters will very much be in contention.
Graham DeLaet & Justin Rose – I will somehow work both guys onto every DFS roster I construct this week. DeLaet’s been on the periphery for almost a year now, churning out a high percentage of quality results based on his combination of length (24th DDis) and GIR% (3rd), a formula that will have him in the mix to become the Zurich’s seventh first-time winner in the last 10 years. Imagine if your first time was in NOLA, there’s no way you’d remember it, which, in retrospect would probably be a net positive. And Rose, he’s the best player in the field, finally healthy again with two Top 15s the last two years. In a shallow week like this always take the overwhelming favorite, and remember to start them. Don’t lose ground fading a proven commodity.
Ernie Els & Matt Every – Since I’m so confident in DeLaet & Rose, I’m going to gamble a little. Every has a proven track record at TPC Louisiana; one of mediocrity (T32, MC, MC). Still, he’s the number one putter on Tour this season, a number fueled by the 16th ranked proximity to the hole for said putts. His distance will ultimately be an issue, but he’s about has safe as it gets for playing the weekend right now. And THE BIG EASY notched a T15 here last year to follow up his playoff loss in 2012. As long as his body holds up, he’ll be lingering come the weekend.
Russell Knox & Ryan Palmer – Knox is the most interesting name this week. Despite just a T30 in his only appearance here in 2012, his game sets up perfect for the layout. He’s first in proximity, and drives and putts just well enough to contend. Plus, he’s made five consecutive cuts, and with two Top 10s in those starts. And… can I interest you in a player that’s 17th in DDis, 15th in GIR%, made nine cuts in a row, claimed a Top 10 in 4 of his last 7, and 2 of the last 3? That’s Ryan Palmer. I almost totally glossed over his T4 here two years ago too. That would have been silly.