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Power Rankings - Valspar Championship

Question of the Day: Does the Apple Watch display golf scores? I was at a wedding this weekend for one of my good friends, wearing a white suit like l hid a few kilos in the door panels of my car, and I ran into a social faux pas that I'm sure many fantasy gamers have struggled with. Cell phones, the wonders that they are, stick out like a turnip on a wedding cake. Break one out to check the scores and suddenly everyone that was too busy discussing how cute the flower girls were wants to stare at you like you've summoned Beelzebub in the middle of the dance floor. Being an Apple product, I'm sure the Apple Watch comes in white, so it'd go great with my best John Travolta suit and still be perfect camouflage for my latent fantasy needs. Food for thought if you purchase one and need an excuse to buy or wear a white suit - it'll match your watch and make you look like the service staff in a room full of conservative blue and black.

For the record, if you're planning on taking fashion tips from me, don't. Really. I'm the kind of person that the Today Show writes 5-minute fashion segments about so they can highlight what not to do. Fortunately, this isn't a fashion column, its a fantasy golf article, so let us get right to it. The Copperhead course at Innisbrook Resort is a difficult 7,340 yard test near the coast in eastern Florida. As a change over the asphalt flat Blue Monster at Doral, Innisbrook features some of the most hilly and tree-crowded fairways on the Florida Swing.

Shot placement is at a premium at Innisbrook and a look back at the past winners demonstrates this point. Luke Donald, K.J. Choi, Jim Furyk, and John Senden are among the standout names, and though there are a few bombers on the list, these names demonstrate the advantage of getting the ball in the right spot when there are double doglegs and tight fairways abound. 

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. I've re-weighted course history some to try to find a better balance.

  1. Jim Furyk - TA: 8.5, CHG: (+2.2) - What better a place for Furyk to bury the gorilla on his back that the place where he kicked of his FedEx Cup championship season in 2010. He had three wins that season, with one of them being here. Given that he battled to a T12 at Doral despite it being a bombers paradise, he clearly is fighting to win every time he goes out there. Since that win, he's placed no worse that T20 with a playoff loss and a T7. I'll switch from coffee to 5-hour energy if he doesn't at least Top-15 this week.
  2. Matt Kuchar - TA: 17.13, CHG: (-3) - When a T23 is a bad finish, its pretty obvious when someone is having a good season. That finish is his second worst on the season, with a T30 at the Waste Management Open being the bottom of the barrel. His 38th place last year was his worst finish since missing the cut in 2007, a stretch that includes four Top 15s. I can't even show up on time at work as reliably as this guy grabs high finishes.
  3. Adam Scott - TA: 22.88, CHG: (+6.8) - Mock the broomstick at your own peril. I questioned his putting prowess last week and then he proceeded to switch to a non-anchored putter and laughed in my face. His tie for fourth at The Cadillac Championship came on the back of a week where he ranked 13th in the field in strokes-gained putting. Not bad considering the caliber of the players on the course. Two Top-30s in the last two years here.
  4. Jordan Spieth - TA: 23.14, CHG: (-3.2) - When he plays, he usually finds himself somewhere on this list. He's not quite as legendarily reliable of Kuchar, but he's approaching that level. He's shown that he can play well here, with a T20 and a T7 in his only two starts here, and given that he's added some length and accuracy off the tee, he could steal the show at a tight and demanding course.
  5. Lee Westwood - TA: 25.25, CHG: (+0.8) - Westy became the first player to play in fifty WGC events last week, beating even Tiger Woods to that mark. He used that 50th attempt to log a 12th place finish before turning toward the Valspar Championship for the first time. He hasn't finished worse that 25th in his last six starts, so he's definitely on form.
  6. Brandt Snedeker - TA: 26.5, CHG: (+16.6) - Threatened to nuke thousands of lineups last week by opening 74-73 on the par-72 Blue Monster before settling down and moving back toward Even. His 74th place finish at the Northern Trust Open is an aberration, likely attributable to a post-win hangover. He's played here every year but 2013 since joining the Tour in 2007, missing only one cut and logging two Top 10s.
  7. Louis Oosthuizen - TA: 31.875, CHG: (0) - I ignored him last week while waiting to see if he would actually play since withdrawing from The Honda Classic. He did and proved why he can be worth the gamble with his solo-sixth place finish. So long as he doesn't WD, he should finish well in spite of his missed cuts in his last two starts on the Copperhead course. If he's actually healthy, he's always a threat to play well.
  8. Jamie Donaldson - TA: 34.25, CHG: (+11.2) - He hovered with in distant reach until the weekend at Doral, shooting 2-under through the first 36 holes. Then, as he looked poised to make another run at contention, he forgot about the second 36 and phoned it in with at 75-76 finish. He's never played here before, but one doesn't rise to 25th in the world without being able to handle a course he's never seen before.
  9. Nick Watney - TA: 34.875, CHG: (-5.4) - I have a feeling he'll be off most radars since his T41 at the stormy Honda Classic. I'd take that finish with a grain of salt (not to discount the solid finishes from that week) since it seemed out of line with his form at the time. He's coming back rested to a course he knows well and at which he has never once missed a cut. They've not all been great finishes, but he's got a fourth place finish and two Top 15s here.
  10. Henrik Stenson - TA: 35.25, CHG: (-0.6) - The big-hitting Swede came off a five week break and still put down a fourth place finish. He's missed a total of five cuts in his last 60 starts, finishing a mere 11 times outside of the Top 30 after heading for a paycheck. He's never played here before, but he's made more than 90 percent of his cuts since 2012 and finished in the Top 30 in 80 percent of those finishes. If that doesn't convince you to at least consider him, you might go try baking or gardening.
  11. Shawn Stefani - TA: 35.67, CHG: (-19.6) - Here largely for how he kicked off his season and for his T7 here last year. I've beat this horse plenty, so a few more swings won't hurt. Besides, for salary games, he should be a steal as well, making him a relatively safe choice to fill out your lineup.
  12. Daniel Berger - TA: 37, CHG: (+2.2) - The Bergermeister has demonstrated thus far that he isn't settled until he's the Berger King. This kid has a big game and, with his recent foray into a playoff loss, he's quickly building the experience needed to win. He's never play the Valspar before, but like I said at The Honda Classic, he's shown that such things aren't anything to worry about. He'll be coming in rested after a week off and he's made the cut after each layoff so far this season.
  13. Patrick Reed - TA: 37.17, CHG: (-4.4) - Probably going to catch a lot of heat for this one, but he's only ever played here once and he missed the cut, so course history doesn't point in his favor. He added another Top 25 to his already impressive season last week, which is what puts him here. I'm hoping he'll surprise, but he's not Top 5 yet, so condiments aren't quite currency. If you understood that, bravo for remembering my ramblings, but you really should go see a shrink.
  14. George McNeill - TA: 38.75, CHG: (+17.8) - Like that jackpot your grandmother has spent your inheritance trying to win, McNeill has been getting progressively better at Innisbrook over the last five years: Cut in 2010, T63 in 2011, 46th in 2012, 30th in 2013, and finally 7th last year. He got off to a slow start this year, but seems to be righting his ship with five consecutive made cuts and a T11 in his last start at the Honda Classic.
  15. Jason Dufner - TA: 39.75, CHG: (-7.8) - I thought I had him pinned down last week, but like his good friend Keegan Bradley, he always seems to evade predictability and finished with a dismal 49th. Even with the spotty current form, his track record at the Valspar Championship is hard to ignore. Placed 14th last year, 21st in 2013, and 10th in 2012. His weaker finish last week should take him off some radars and lower his salary in DFS games.
Thanks for Reading!

Kyle Donovan