Not only is Bubba Watson coming off of a victory at the Masters, he's also the defending champion this week at the Zurich Classic.
This week we are in New Orleans for the Zurich Classic. The tournament will take place on the TPC Louisiana in Avondale, Louisiana. Bubba Watson is the defending champion. The prize purse is $6,400,000 with the winner taking home $1,152,000 and 500 FedEx points.
The TPC Louisiana ranked as the 20th most difficult course on the PGA Tour in 2011 (out of 51 courses). The course is expected to play 7,425 yards, aiding players with above-average driving distance. The difficult rough and greens are anything but flat. Once again, accuracy and putting will be at a premium.
After a smaller (weaker) field last week at the Valero Texas Open (to be expected post-Masters), there is a much deeper field for the Zurich Classic this week. Consequently, we will have more options to choose from. Although if you called the Ben Curtis victory last week, please feel free to let me know your weekly picks sometime before Thursday.
Yahoo! Weekly Lineup Game
Steve Stricker (Starting)—Stricker has tailed off a bit since a hot start to 2012, but that's expected when you win the first tournament you enter. He has a rock-solid history here with a T13 and a T7 his last two appearances here. Stricker doesn't have the distance off of the tee you would like, but he ranks 27th on the PGA Tour in driving accuracy and 12th in greens in regulation percentage.
Luke Donald (Bench)—Donald has disappointed a bit as he has posted a T32 in his two appearances since his victory at the Transitions Championship. He played very well here last year and finished T8. Donald also lacks elite driving distance, but he's extremely accurate off of the tee, ranking 20th on the PGA Tour in driving accuracy. He also ranks second on Tour in strokes gained—putting, which will again be an excellent asset this weekend.
Also worth using: Keegan Bradley, Webb Simpson and Charles Howell III
Bubba Watson (Starting)—About as much of a no-brainer as you will get these days. Watson is making his first appearance since his victory at the Masters, and he happens to be the defending champion here. His last three finishes before the Masters: second, T2 and T4. He hasn't finished worse than T18 in any appearance in 2012.
Justin Rose (Starting)—Rose is another player who has been playing outstanding golf all season. Rose is coming off of a strong Masters himself with a T8 finish. His track record here is decidedly mediocre, but Rose's game sets up well here. Rose currently ranks 48th on the PGA Tour in driving distance and fifth in greens in regulation percentage.
Rickie Fowler (Bench)—Fowler struggled last week missing the cut. But he has an excellent, balanced game, and he finished T26 here last year. Fowler ranks 39th on Tour in driving distance, 45th in driving accuracy percentage and 66th in greens in regulation percentage.
Ernie Els (Bench)—Els is another player who struggled last week at the RBC Heritage. But his previous four finishes were excellent: T5, T4, T4 and T12. Els ranks 40th on Tour in driving distance and 16th in greens in regulation percentage.
Also worth using: Bryce Molder, Retief Goosen and Brian Davis
Graeme McDowell (Starting)—McDowell rebounded from a disappointing T63 at the Shell Houston Open with a T12 finish at the Masters. He ranks second on the PGA Tour in driving accuracy percentage, 21st in greens in regulation percentage and 40th in strokes gained—putting. He missed the cut here last year, but McDowell is playing much, much better golf now.
Jason Dufner (Bench)—Not only has Dufner strung together four Top 25 finishes in a row, he finished T3 here last season. He ranks 65th on Tour in driving distance, 13th in driving accuracy percentage and 32nd in greens in regulation percentage.
Also worth using: Carl Pettersson, Peter Hanson, Bud Cauley and Ben Crane
Who to choose in your Weekly Survivor/Eliminator/Earnings League?
Due to the weak field last week, this pick was pretty straightforward. With many more quality golfers in action this week, its not nearly as easy.
You couldn't go wrong with taking Bubba Watson here. He could very well repeat as champion. But my instinct is to save him for one of the biggest purses, given how well he is playing.
I also wouldn't mind going with Graeme McDowell, but I've also fired that bullet already. The same goes for Luke Donald.
I like all of the rest of my Group A options: Stricker, Bradley, Simpson and Howell III. I also wouldn't mind using Justin Rose or Carl Pettersson.
Stricker and Rose are probably worth saving. Both will be useful later on in the season. Simpson hasn't been on top of his game lately, so I'm throwing him out.
That leaves me with Bradley, Howell III and Pettersson.
Bradley has been so impressive that he is probably worth saving at this point. That leaves Howell III and Pettersson. After much deliberation, I'm going with Howell III. Pettersson has been white-hot lately, but he could also miss the cut here. Howell III has been more consistent, and he has a decent history here.
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, Lee Westwood, Henrik Stenson, Charl Schwartzel, John Senden, Bubba Watson, Graeme McDowell, Luke Donald, Bo Van Pelt and Fredrik Jacobson.
Picks for The Golf Channel Fantasy Challenge
GROUP 1: Bubba Watson
GROUP 2: Charles Howell III
GROUP 3: Bud Cauley
GROUP 4: Josh Teater
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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