PGA Fantasy Golf: Previewing WGC Bridgestone Invitational and Reno-Tahoe Open
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We've got two events going on this week. So without further ado, onto our regularly scheduled programming.
The World Golf Championships (WGC) - Bridgestone Invitational will be held at Firestone Country Club on the South Course. Firestone Country Club is located in Akron, Ohio. The winner will take home $1,400,000 and 550 FedEx Cup Points. Adam Scott is the defending champion.
Firestone Country Club is not a particularly easy track, but it is not one of the most difficult either. It ranked 18th in difficulty out of 51 courses last season on the PGA Tour. The course will play at 7,400 yards for this event.
There are 82 bunkers and only three water hazards. The tees, fairways and greens are Pencross Bentgrass and Poa Annua. The rough is Kentucky Bluegrass and Perennial Ryegrass. The greens are running at 13 feet on the Stimpmeter.
At 7,400 yards, Firestone is the longest course on the PGA Tour. The fairways are tight in spots, so driving accuracy is at just as much of a premium as distance. The greens are large and will be running very fast. The field in this event is extremely deep (and top-heavy) so we're looking for the cream of the crop here. Recent strong play is nice, but I am also looking for some past experience (and hopefully success) here.
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Adam Scott (Starting)
Even if he did blow up at the end, Adam Scott played excellent golf and finished 2nd at The Open Championship. In the start before that he finished 3rd at the AT&T National. Before that, he finished T15 at the U.S. Open. Scott has been playing outstanding golf lately. Not to mention he's the defending champion here.
Scott has been great off of the tee in 2012, ranking 18th on the PGA Tour in Driving Distance and 18th in Total Driving. He also ranks 26th in GIR (Greens in Regulation Percentage), he is 23rd in All-Around Ranking and 17th in Ball Striking.
Luke Donald (Bench)
Donald flies below the radar a bit because he doesn't play a ton of events. He finished T5 at The Open Championship. But prior to that, he hadn't made a start on the PGA Tour since the U.S. Open over a month earlier. Other than missing the cut at The U.S. Open, Donald has been excellent all season long. He finished T2 in this event last season.
While Donald is not a long hitter off of the tee, he's very accurate, ranking 11th on the PGA Tour in Driving Accuracy (Percentage). He is also an outstanding fourth in Strokes Gained - Putting, 21st in the All-Around Ranking and 3rd in Scrambling.
Also worth using: Matt Kuchar, Zach Johnson, Steve Stricker, Nick Watney and K.J. Choi
Tiger Woods (Starting)
Some full disclosure before I begin. Whenever I start Tiger he tanks, whenever I bench him, he rolls. But I'm not letting superstitions get in the way of making the correct move. Woods is a 7-time defending champion here at Firestone. Not to mention he played very well at The Open Championship in his last appearance, finishing T3.
Tiger has been one of most well-rounded golfers on Tour this season. He ranks 30th in Driving Accuracy, 19th in GIR, 21st in Strokes Gained - Putting, fourth in Total Driving, 10th in the All-Around Ranking and he ranks sixth in Ball Striking. There's a lot to like there.
Bo Van Pelt (Starting)
Van Pelt has been playing very well as of late, capped off by a T7 finish last weekend at the RBC Canadian Open. Two events before that he finished T2 at the AT&T National. He's finished T23 and T3 here the last two years.
He has also been excellent in multiple areas this season. Van Pelt ranks 40th in Driving Distance, 31st in GIR, ninth in Strokes Gained - Putting, eighth in Total Driving, fourth in the All-Around Ranking and 14th in Ball Striking.
Rickie Fowler (Bench)
Fowler has cooled off a bit since racking up three straight top five finishes back in May. But he's still played well and he finished second here last season. That makes him an excellent bench option, but a risky start.
Statistically, Fowler is solid in many areas but spectacular in few. He ranks 29th in Scoring Average, 11th in Total Driving, 26th in Ball Striking and 15th in the All-Around Ranking.
Hunter Mahan (Bench)
Trust me, I wanted to start Mahan again this week. But you are limited to 10 starts per golfer and Mahan has been more "solid" than "great" recently. He won this event back in 2010, so there's plenty of reason to think that he could be a solid start. Instead of leaving him off of my roster, I'm keeping him on the bench in case the stars do align perfectly for him this weekend.
Mahan remains one of the most accurate golfers on the PGA Tour, ranking eighth in Driving Accuracy and third in GIR. He also ranks third in Total Driving, first in Ball Striking and 41st in Total Putting.
Also worth using: Lee Westwood, Rory McIlroy, Bubba Watson, Ernie Els, Justin Rose and Dustin Johnson
Jason Dufner (Starting)
As with most WGC events, Group C isn't very deep. Dufner is most definitely the best of the bunch this week. Since the end of April, Dufner has won two events, finished second at an event and finished fourth at the U.S. Open. In his last event, Dufner finished a very respectable T31 at The Open Championship.
On the PGA Tour, Dufner ranks 20th in Driving Accuracy, sixth in GIR, ninth in Total Driving, third in Ball Striking, 12th in Scrambling and third in the All-Around Ranking.
Graeme McDowell (Bench)
McDowell went off of the tracks a bit not too long ago with two consecutive missed cuts. Since then he's finished T2 at the U.S. Open and T5 at The Open Championship. Not to shabby, right? He also finished T22 here in 2010.
He's not very long off the tee, but McDowell does rank second in Driving Accuracy on the PGA Tour. He also ranks 38th in the All-Around Ranking and 16th in Scoring Average.
Also worth using: Scott Piercy, Peter Hanson and Francesco Molinari
The Reno-Tahoe Open will be played at Montreux Golf and Country Club in Reno, Nevada. The winner will take home $540,000 and 250 FedEx Cup Points. Scott Piercy is the defending champion.
Despite being a "secondary" event this week, the Montreux G&CC is not an easy golf course. It ranked 26th in difficulty out of 51 courses last season on the PGA Tour. The course will play at 7,472 yards for this event.
There are 62 bunkers and six water hazards on the course. The tees, fairways and greens are Bentgrass & Poa Annua. The rough is Kentucky Bluegrass, Perennial Ryegrass and Fescue. The greens are running at 11.5 feet on the Stimpmeter.
Please note, the Reno-Tahoe Open will be played using a Modified Stableford scoring format. In this format, points are assigned based on the number of strokes needed to complete each hole.
- Double Eagle: 8 Points
- Eagle: 5 Points
- Birdie: 2 Points
- Par: 0 Points
- Bogey: -1 Point
- Double Bogey or Worse: -3 Points
For more on the Modified Stableford scoring format check out PGATour.com
Picks for The Golf Channel Fantasy Challenge
EVENT ONE - World Golf Championships - Bridgestone Invitational
Group One: Tiger Woods
Group Two: Bo Van Pelt
Group Three: Nick Watney
Group Four: Retief Goosen
EVENT TWO - Reno-Tahoe Open
Group One: John Rollins
Group Two: Josh Teater
Group Three: Vaughn Taylor
Group Four: Steven Bowditch
Weekly Survivor/Eliminator/Earnings Leagues (Full Season)
WGC - Bridgestone Invitational
I've decided that this is the spot. I'm not sure how many events we will get from him going forward, so I'm using Tiger Woods this week. He's won this event seven times and he's playing as well as anybody else out there right now. The only drawback is I would expect everybody who has Tiger left to use him this week.
This one is a bit tougher. The nature of the course and the scoring format could reward the boom/bust or risk/reward golfers. The format caps the damage at a double bogey, so you can be very aggressive in seeking out scoring opportunities.
There are a few good options here and none are really worth saving. In no particular order J.B. Holmes, John Rollins, Josh Teater, Chris Kirk and Billy Horschel are all worthy selections this week.
I'm going to eliminate Horschel. He's an accurate golfer, but he's ranked 95th in Birdie Average and he's not quite the right fit for this format.
Josh Teater is the next man out. His putting (ranked 160th in Strokes Gained - Putting) and overall scoring (118th) seem to indicate that he won't be able to post the low scores needed in this format.
Holmes, Rollins and Chris Kirk are about as equal as possible here. So I'm just looking for the golfer with the greatest upside. So Chris Kirk and 158th ranked Strokes Gained - Putting, are out.
That leaves John Rollins and J.B. Holmes, two very similar "boom or bust" golfers. After much deliberation, I'm going to go with J.B. Holmes. He has been more successful lately and is a good fit here statistically. Holmes ranks 5th in Driving Distance, 63rd in Strokes Gained - Putting, 30th in Eagles (Holes Per), 37th in Birdie Average and 39th in the All-Around Ranking.
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, Fredrik Jacobson, Charles Howell III, Jim Furyk, Justin Rose, Jason Dufner, Zach Johnson, Ben Curtis, Dustin Johnson, Matt Kuchar, Ryan Moore, Ryan Palmer, Brendon de Jonge, Sean O'Hair, Padraig Harrington, Blake Adams & Brandt Snedeker.
Weekly Survivor/Eliminator/Earnings Leagues (Season 2)
This almost never works out this way, but I'm going with the exact same picks as above this week, despite having many more options available to me.
WGC - Bridgestone Invitational
Already Used: Jim Furyk, Webb Simpson, Steve Stricker, Lee Westwood, Brendon de Jonge & Bo Van Pelt.
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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