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Risk and Reward - Farmers Insurance Open

There's something of a catharsis in coming home from work, nearly setting the house on fire trying to make hot dogs, and sitting down to blather on about fantasy golf. The click of the keyboard distracts just enough from the piercing shrill of the smoke alarm that I can just about hear myself think. I should turn the stove off. Certainly, a more rounded individual would be able to balance a couple of "almost-meat" dogs and typing, but that would require assuming that I'm a well-rounded individual. I'm not, at least, that's what my therapist tells me.

Instead of listening to my shrink when he's mumbling on about the importance of keeping my shirt on when in public, I'm thinking about whether Bubba Watson's home-built swing my actually be the source of the earth's jet stream. And if so, whether the velocity off his high cut would linger long enough to effect the roll on Graham DeLaet's par breaker on the back nine for his second straight Top 10. Sanity is boring.

Speaking of sanity, these first two rounds at the Farmers Insurance Open has a split personality, as they divided between the much easier and shorter North Course and the monstrous South Course. In Yahoo! leagues and others where you can move around your picks, it'll be possible to game some extra points by setting up your players to be those that play the North course when available. Historically, the North course scores about four strokes better than the South course, so mind those Thursday and Friday tee times for an edge.

My Power Rankings draw on statistics only, while Risk and Reward draws more on gut feel and intuition about players who missed my Top 15. In this column, you'll find "Lay-Up", "Going For It", and "Hazard". Look for more subjective analysis here, as opposed to the Power Rankings, where I rely strictly on data. If the idea of Lay-Up may contain players who, barring a Great Flood, will bank you some points. Going For It is where I'll have players that may have missed the Power Rankings or who I feel present an excellent opportunity to pick up a win, but carry some considerable risk. Lastly, Hazards, where I often find myself on any given Sunday, should be avoided.


Marc Leishman - TA: 32.17, CHG: (+3.2) - I'll start with the bad news for him first. He's hitting just 46.67% of his fairways so far this year. To put that in perspective, that's worse than John Daly and only slightly better than the possibility of me finding my car keys where I thought I left them. The good news is that he hasn't missed a cut this year, finishing no worse that T45, with a Top 10 and a Top 15 in four starts. Finished T2 here last year to kick-start a career-best season.

Brandt Snedeker - TA: 39.67, CHG: (+18) - You'd be hard pressed to find anyone that would tell you Snedeker had a great year last year. After harming his knee in a freak Segway accident (as freak as those can be), the always fragile Snedeker struggled to find form and fell from 14th in the world at the start of the year all the way down to 44th to kick of this year. He's since down to 63rd, but he's posted three T10s in his last four starts and he's won here in 2012 and posted a T2 in 2013.


Tony Finau - TA: 57.6, CHG: (-1.6) - I can't help but feel that if he's going to win this year as a rookie, it is going to be here. His exceptional length off the tee should help him though a tough, late-morning draw on the South course and set him up for his earlier morning round on the much more scoreable North course on Friday. He's got two Top 10s, two Top 15s, and a Top 25 in eight starts this season. Not too shabby for a rookie.

K.J Choi - TA: 34.91, CHG: (+2.6) - His last four starts here, beginning with the most recent, look a like this: T2, T9, T22, T15. Say what you will about his age, or that he hasn't had a Top 10 on TOUR since a T2 last June at the Travelers Championship, he clearly understands this course and can find his way around. His last start at the Waste Management Open, a T22, gives some hint at potential as well.

Gary Woodland - TA: 31.41, CHG: (-15.4) - A missed cut last week at the WMPO dragged him out of a certain placement in the Power Rankings. I don't buy that he's out of form, since his last four starts prior included three Top 5s. Likely, it was due to a combination of course changes and difficult conditions, but he finds himself here since I've said something about it now and he'll miss the cut this week as a result. If you're superstitious, that really is the only down side for him. T2 last year after a snap-hook lead to a double-bogey coming down the stretch.


Tiger Woods - TA: 71.08, CHG: (-15) - But he's the GOAT! How dare you! Some phrase expressing vitriol! Whatever you have to say about his chances to perform well here, you're wrong. Torrey South requires an excellent short game with top-level scrambling to get it done. Breaking out a 4-iron to play bump-and-runs instead of stock chip shots shows that Tiger's short game is somewhere between Narnia and Hogwarts. It simply doesn't exist and it won't in a week's time.

Luke Donald - TA: 39.91, CHG: (-11.8) - He's averaging under 280 yards a drive and hitting less than 52% of fairways. Simply not a winning combination, even if he's never been a very long driver to begin with. Until he flashes some sort of consistent form, there are plenty of better players to start. Avoid until further notice.

Keegan Bradley - TA: 34.33, CHG: (7.2) - Just when it seems that Keegan Bradley is a known quantity, he ceases to be, a sort of Schrodinger's Cat with peculiar swing routine habits. He hasn't missed a cut this year, and hasn't posted an exceptional finish yet either, but on a course that favors both long and accurate drivers, both of which he excels at, it seems almost too easy a fit. He's got three Top 25s in four tries, the fourth attempt being a missed cut, so he's somewhat of a toss-up historically. Do yourself a favor, start a safer bet, I think he's due for an MC, something he hasn't done since the PGA Championship last year.

My Picks 

PGA Tour 

  • Jimmy Walker 
  • Jason Day 
  • Jordan Spieth 
  • Justin Rose 


  • Brooks Koepka (S)
  • Harris English 
  • Jordan Spieth (S)
  • Kevin Chappell (S)
  • Jason Day
  • Jimmy Walker
  • Justin Thomas (S)
  • Charley Hoffman 

Golf Channel 

  • Jason Day 
  • Brooks Koepka 
  • Kevin Chappell 
  • Aaron Baddeley

Kyle Donovan
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