What better time is there to make my return than 11 official PGA tournaments into the 2014-2015 season? Well, 11 tournaments ago would have been a good spot, but my father always told me, "Son, clean up your room." No. Wait. Maybe it was something closer to "the best time to plant a tree is 30 years ago. The next best time is now." That sounds more like it, even if he stole if from a placemat at some Chinese restaurant. Like that old Chinese restaurant, I had to close up shop to improve my inspection grades in order to continue to deliver morsels of good fantasy fortune.
Speaking of fortune, Tiger Woods could use some of the good stuff right about now. He's making a homecoming of sorts this week at the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines in San Diego, California, and maybe, just maybe, he'll find his magic again at a place where he's won eight times. Chances of that happening this week? About the same odds as me ever breaking par on my local municipal course. Which is never.
At 7,698 yards, Torrey Pines South is a monster of a par 72 course. It stands as the longest course on the current TOUR rotation and the longest course ever to hold a major championship. It is safe to reason that extra length off the tee will benefit players, but the Poa Annua greens will cause putting fits for some, as they tend to get a little bumpy as the day wears on.
For those of you not familiar with my Power Rankings, I'll be listing the Top-15 with their Total Aggregate (TA), a number that combines recent performance with course history and some select other metrics, and the change (CHG) from the last tournament they participated in. Total Aggregate is out of 100, with a lower number indicating a better ranking.
- Jason Day - TA: 6.91, CHG: (-3) - Excepting the T17 in his last start, and a withdrawal at the BMW Championship in last year's FedEx Cup playoffs, you'd have to go all the way back to his T15 at the PGA Championship to find his last finish outside the top 10. That was in the second week of August in 2014. His change of (-3) means that his total aggregate would have been an absurd 3.91. Add a second place finish last year and a T9 in 2013, and its hard to put him anywhere but on the top of the list.
- Jordan Spieth - TA: 17.75, CHG: (+4) - Got back on the horse in between PGA Tour events with wins at the HERO World Challenge and the Australian Open. He book-ended those victories with a T3 at the Dunlop Phoenix Open and a T7 last week at the Waste Management Open. T19 here last year makes him a solid play and his excellent short game should help him manage the tricky greens.
- Jimmy Walker - TA: 18.17, CHG: (+12.4) - Jimmy Walker finds himself in a familiar position after his win at the Sony Open as he sits first in the FedEx Cup Standings. He's yet to miss a cut this year, in fact, his last MC was at The Barclays in August. He doesn't hit a lot of fairways, but he's up about 5% over last year thus far, and Torrey can be fairly forgiving for a sprayer. Just ask Tiger.
- Shane Lowry - TA: 18.2, CHG: (-0.4) - Hard to say he's somewhat of a sleeper at 44th in the world, but I doubt he'll be mentioned much elsewhere. Hasn't missed a cut worldwide since the Irish Open in June of last year. He's had 15 starts since then. No wins, but he's collected 11 Top 25s in that stretch, six of which were Top 10s. It might be early in the season, but its never too early to take a flyer on someone your opponents might miss.
- Justin Rose - TA: 18.33, CHG: (-1.8) - As is usually the case with Rose, this one's a no-brainer. Five Top 15s in his last six starts worldwide, two of which were Top 5s. His mix of length and ball-striking should serve him well. T33 and T25 in his last two starts at the Farmers Insurance Open.
- Hideki Matsuyama - TA: 18.83, CHG: (+7.8) - Kicked away a victory with a balky putter last week at the Waste Management Open where he settled for second. He placed T16 here last year, so it's hard to bet against him when he's playing as well as he has been, but play him with a note of caution - His putter may be a bit shaky this week.
- Justin Thomas - TA: 20.16, CHG: (+18.6) - I've seen nothing to show that this kid isn't for real. He's dropped a Top 25, two Top 10s, and a Top 5 in his last four starts. I can't say I'm not a little bit jealous, he's about the same build as I am, but drives the ball some 50 yards past where I do. Not that I'll ever be that good. Placed T10 here last year.
- Charley Hoffman - TA: 20.91, CHG: (+9.4) - Hasn't missed a cut here in his last three tries, which includes a T7 last year. Hoffman has a win, a second place finish, and a Top 15 in his last four starts. His T53 last week would be more worrisome if he hadn't had a T2 the week prior.
- Brooks Koepka - TA: 22.2, CHG: (+0.6) - As if he needs any more cred after his first PGA Tour victory. If he wasn't already on your radar, I'd like to buy the rock you've been living under, because this is his second victory in four starts worldwide. Hasn't finished worse that 15th in a PGA Tour start since a T67 at The Open Championship. Seriously, I want that rock, I burn too easily.
- Ian Poulter - TA: 24.5, CHG: (+15.8) - I don't know about you, but I'd written him off through the end of last year, especially after his weak (for him) performance at the Ryder Cup. Since then, he's a T6, a solo second, and a T21. Like his compatriot Lee Westwood, he always seems to find a way to be heard when he's been counted out.
- Rory Sabbatini - TA: 24.91, CHG: (0) - Love him or hate him, he's playing some excellent golf right now. He's got two Top 25s and two Top 10s in his last five starts. Mr. Sabbatini hasn't missed a cut since his opener at the Shriners back in October. In fact, he's halfway to matching his winnings from last season, and he's done it in 19 less starts. Couple his sharp form with his T23 here last year, and he could surprise with a solid finish.
- Fabian Gomez - TA: 25.6, CHG: (-3.2) - A serious sleeper, though his length off the tee should be noted, as he's much nearer to David Toms than David Lingmerth. And David Lingmerth isn't even close to the longest guy on TOUR. Still, he makes up for it be hitting tons of fairways and playing a great short game. He's got two Top 30s, a Top 15, and a Top 10 so far this season, with his only blemish being an MDF at the Sony Open.
- John Peterson - TA: 27.6, CHG: (+11) - Much as hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, Peterson is playing like the TOUR spent a few too many nights with his best friend. After a dismal season last year where he made just seven cuts, he's made as many already with his first seven starts, though he MDF'd at the Shriners. Still, he's already surpassed he winnings from last season and has three Top 25s in his last five starts.
- Rickie Fowler - TA: 30.33, CHG: (-8.4) - My Power Rankings care not for pedigree, and Rickie is proof of that. His last two starts have been far off the form he carried through much of last year. Despite starting his season with a T3 and a T6, he's finished outside the Top 45 in his last two starts. He's been putting well this season, but tee-to-green game has been severely lacking. That T3 and T6 carried him to 14th on this list, but he'll need to play better than he has been to stay here.
- Chris Kirk - TA: 30.58, CHG: (-1.6) - His T56 at the Humana Challenge might seem like a poor finish, but given that it didn't include a blow-up round like the previous four tournaments, it might actually be a step in the right direction. Those previous four finishes included two Top 15s and two Top 25s, though, so despite the inconsistency, he's been finding his way toward the top of the leaderboard more often than not.