PGA Tour Fantasy Golf: The Arnold Palmer Invitational Preview
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If not for the Madness that is College Basketball in March, the world might notice that there is some pretty good golf being played right now. The PGA Tour is as healthy as it has been since the "fall" of Tiger Woods. Rory McIlroy and Luke Donald are constantly vying for the No. 1 world ranking. Tiger and Phil Mickelson have both shown flashes of their "old selves". Most tournaments are coming down to the last few holes, if not a playoff. Not too shabby, right?
For fantasy golfers, this just adds to the fun. Not only do you have newer and lesser-known golfers showing up on leaderboards, you have an excellent group of young golfers to choose from on a weekly basis. Fantasy golf is never going to match fantasy football when you're watching the Redzone Channel on Sunday afternoon. But that's okay. Fantasy golf is a marathon as much as fantasy football is a sprint. As Denzel once said in Training Day, "This is chess, it's ain't checkers."
This week we are on the East Coast in sunny Florida for the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard. The tournament will be held at Bay Hill Club & Lounge in Orlando. Martin Laird is the defending champion. The winner will take home $1,080,000.
Bay Hill is a unique and very difficult golf course. A strong putting game will be the most important strength to look for this week. There will also be a premium on players who are long and accurate off of the tee. This is not a course where you are going to want to roll out a golfer with no experience here if you can help it.
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Yahoo! Weekly Lineup Game
Sergio Garcia (Starting)—Garcia actually fits very well here. He ranks 23rd on Tour in Driving Distance and 5th in Strokes Gained - Putting. He's coming off of a T16 finish last week and he finished 8th here last season.
Jim Furyk (Bench)—Furyk has seemed to be a funk for quite some time now. He's actually been decent this year, but he really woke up last week finishing tied for second place after losing in a playoff. He's been excellent at this event, finishing T9 last year and T11 in 2010. Furyk is 5th on the PGA Tour in 3-Putt Avoidance which will be an asset at Bay Hill.
Also worth using: Phil Mickelson and Webb Simpson
Bubba Watson (Starting)—Watson has been outstanding so far in 2012. He ranks 1st on the PGA Tour in Driving Distance AND 1st in Greens in Regulation. Both will be huge assets here. He finished T24 here last year.
Hunter Mahan (Starting)—Mahan is another golfer who has been outstanding in 2012. He has had a bunch of solid finishes here, highlighted by a T6 back in 2008. His accuracy has been phenomenal as he ranks 4th in Driving Accuracy Percentage and 15th in Greens in Regulation.
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Tiger Woods (Bench)—I am well aware that this is one of Tiger's favorite spots. He has won this thing six times. But I cannot start Tiger in good faith until I'm comfortable that he's healthy and ready to play. If he looks dominant, I can always swap him into the starting lineup if somebody else struggles.
Justin Rose (Bench)—Rose has been excellent in 2012 and he finished T3 here last season. I would have no problem starting Rose here, but I feel these other options are equally good and I've already started Rose twice this year. But he could win this thing and the winner is always worth using.
Also worth using: Ernie Els, Bill Haas and Fredrik Jacobson
Jeff Overton (Starting)—Overton doesn't have a great history here, but he's been playing excellent golf recently and Group C is particularly weak for this event. He ranks 30th on Tour in Strokes Gained - Putting which will be a tremendous asset here.
Ben Crane (Bench)—Crane is almost the polar opposite of Overton. Crane started off 2012 scorching hot and has since cooled down. But he has a nice history here including a T25 in 2010 and a T11 in 2009.
Also worth using: Greg Chalmers, Sang-Moon Bae, Henrik Stenson and Jason Dufner
Who to choose in your Weekly Survivor/Eliminator/Earnings League?
I like all of my starting options from Groups A & B this week. That includes: Sergio Garcia, Bubba Watson and Hunter Mahan. I also like Jim Furyk, Justin Rose and Ernie Els.
Garcia and Els jump out at me because I'm not sure where else I will use them. Bubba Watson could have a huge advantage with his game off the tee. And Furyk could be dangerous to use elsewhere if he slips back into his previous funk.
All things considered, I am going to go with Bubba Watson. Out of all the players I was considering, I feel he has the best chance to win here. Plus Watson can be very erratic which makes him tough to use in some of the bigger events. He's playing great right now and Bay Hill sets up well for his game.
For the record, I've already used: Bryce Molder, Steve Marino, Bill Haas, D.A. Points, Martin Laird, Hunter Mahan, K.J. Choi, Rory McIlroy, Jarrod Lyle and Lee Westwood, Henrik Stenson, Charl Schwartzel and John Senden.
Picks for The Golf Channel Fantasy Challenge
GROUP 1: Bubba Watson
GROUP 2: Jim Furyk
GROUP 3: Sean O'Hair (Has a good history here)
GROUP 4: Henrik Stenson
Good luck to all this week. If you have any comments or questions, please use the comments feature or reach out to me on Twitter.
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