Fantasy preview: the Memorial

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May 29, 2012
Rob Bolton, PGATOUR.COM Fantasy Columnist

I make it a rule not to invest in golfers resurfacing from extended layoffs due to injury. While that seems to fall into the category of common sense, it deserves an explanation.

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Power Rankings
Rob Bolton breaks down the Memorial field in this week's Power Rankings and provides five players who could surprise.

Fantasy studs Dustin Johnson and Steve Marino return to action at this week's Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide Insurance. (They are included below in "Medic!") While we must trust that both are healthy, there is the matter of reestablishing consistency on tournament-speed greens that may be running upwards of 13 on the Stimpmeter.

Furthermore, Yahoo! gamers need not rush them back into their lineups. The format rewards low scoring, which is unlikely for either DJ or Marino given the inherent requirement to experience a strong week with the putter. Additionally, Johnson has made only seven starts and Marino just three, meaning you'll have ample opportunities to burn at will later. It's simple wise to ease them back in when they dust off the rust.

I went a disappointing 2-3-0 for the third straight week in PGA TOUR Matchups on Facebook. I now have 90 points with a record of 42-36-2. Overall leader Chris Stolle also went 2-3-0 but maintains a two-point margin over Frank (3-2-0), 118-116. GrayOne (5-0-0) and BamBam7620 (4-1-0) share third place with 112 points.

My picks for the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide Insurance:

Steve Stricker over Tiger WoodsBubba Watson over Dustin JohnsonPhil Mickelson over Vijay Singh • Justin Rose over Rickie Fowler • Jim Furyk over Ben Curtis

Power Rankings Distribution for Yahoo! (rank)

Group A ... Luke Donald (2); Jim Furyk (3); Phil Mickelson (5); Steve Stricker (6); Webb Simpson (9)

Group B ... Justin Rose (1); Rickie Fowler (4); Tiger Woods (7); Rory McIlroy (8); Ernie Els (10); Bo Van Pelt (11); Jason Day (13); Nicolas Colsaerts (15)

Group C ... Jonathan Byrd (12); Ben Curtis (14)

Sleepers Distribution for Yahoo! (rank)

Group A ... none

Group B ... D.A. Points

Group C ... Ricky Barnes; David Hearn; Scott Piercy

n/a ... Branden Grace

On a Roll (Yahoo! Group)

Kevin Na (A) ... Capped off a T13 at Colonial with a bogey-free 66, his eighth top 15 of the year. And this amid the hubbub of deliberate play and his ensuing adjustments to eliminate the concern. Sketchy record at Muirfield Village but that doesn't matter right now.

Jonas Blixt (B) ... With a T10 at Colonial, he became the first rookie to record top 10s in three consecutive starts since Rory McIlroy in 2010. Blixt prefaced his run with a T13 in New Orleans. In his last four starts, he's risen 44 spots to a season-best 114th in greens in regulation.

Harris English (C) ... Didn't relent at Colonial following his four-stroke romp at the International Final Qualifying-America on May 21, finishing in a tie for fifth place, his first top five on the PGA TOUR. Making his first appearance at Muirfield Village where he's a superb fit. Ranks 13th in distance off the tee, 32nd in greens hit and 31st in Strokes Gained-Putting.

Geoff Ogilvy (B) ... Top 25s in his last three starts. He posted top 10s at the Memorial in 2007, 2008 and 2009.

Horses for Courses (Yahoo! Group)

Ryan Moore (B) ... The last cut from my Power Rankings. He was omitted when he closed at Colonial with a 4-over 74 during which he hit 12 greens in regulation and still needed a whopping 34 putts. Otherwise, a carryover from his form that resulted in three top 10s in four starts ending with a T5 at Quail Hollow four weeks ago is welcome. He's 5-for-6 at Muirfield Village with three top 10s, the most recent of which a T5 in 2010.

Carl Pettersson (C) ... The 2006 champion has just one other top 10 in eight appearances (T10, 2008), but he's put four rounds together repeatedly in the last two months, headlined by a solo second in Houston and five-stroke win at Harbour Town.

Stewart Cink (B) ... For as money as he would have been at Colonial last week before withdrawing to attend his son's high school graduation, he's similarly reliable this week. He's survived 14 consecutive cuts at the Memorial, posting six top 10s during the span, including T8s in both 2009 and 2010.

Mark Wilson (B) ... Sets up as a trap for course-history buffs. He's posted top 10s in two of the last three editions of the Memorial, but he's chalked up just one top 25 in his last 10 stroke-play starts this season (T24, RBC Heritage).

Brandt Jobe (C) ... Careful here, Yahoo! gamers. His pair of top fives in his last two visits are tantalizing, but he's six years older than the first (T4, 2006) and he hasn't validated the kind of season he enjoyed a year ago (T2). Upon arrival in 2011, he had already logged five top 20s including two top 10s. This year, he's 7-for-15 with two top 25s, just one of which was a top 10. And he hasn't cracked a top 35 in his last eight starts. His birdie-or-better clip on par 5s is down 8.83 percent over a year ago; he's currently 154th on TOUR in the stat at 36.91 percent.

Leaking Oil (Yahoo! Group)

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Rob's Yahoo! lineup
Group A: Luke Donald; Steve Stricker
Group B: Fowler; Rory McIlroy; Justin Rose; Tiger Woods
Group C: Jonathan Byrd; Harris English
YAHOO! STATS: 2,912 points; 27,067th place
SPRING: 1,105 points (33,624th)
ONE-AND-DONE: Jonathan Byrd
2012 EARNINGS: $3,611,720.00
DUFFER: Billy Hurley III
2012 EARNINGS: $280,003.50

Johnson Wagner (C) ... After missing the cut at Colonial, he's now 3-for-7 with no top 25s since a T4 at Bay Hill. He hasn't missed any of three cuts at Muirfield Village, but he hasn't posted a top 25 either.

Bud Cauley (C) ... Since polishing off a strong six-week stretch with a T18 at the Valero Texas Open, the first-timer at Muirfield Village has missed three straight cuts.

Matt Every (C) ... Making his debut at Muirfield Village. He's missed three consecutive cuts and hasn't broken par in any of his last six rounds.

Jeff Overton (C) ... He's missed his last three cuts, a drought he hasn't experienced since an 0-for-3 in October 2009.

Kyle Stanley (A) ... Zero top 50s among three cuts made in his last eight starts. He's missed four of his last five cuts, including the last three.

Colt Knost (C) ... After a solo third at the RBC Heritage, he's 1-for-6 with a T24 in New Orleans. Hasn't broken 72 in his last eight rounds.

Lucas Glover (B) ... Still searching for positive results. No top 65s among three cuts made in eight starts. Hasn't broken par in his last seven rounds, and he's gone sub-70 just once in 21 rounds all year.

Robert Allenby (B) ... Since losing in the epic playoff at the Mayakoba Golf Classic, he's 5-for-8 with zero top 35s. His only top 30 in his last nine trips to Muirfield Village was a T10 in 2008.

Scott Stallings (B) ... Six consecutive missed cuts. Hasn't broken par in his last 13 rounds.

Danger (Yahoo! Group)

Bubba Watson (B) ... With top 20s in all nine of his starts this year, including a Masters' victory and three other top fives, our expectations are at an all-time high. Therefore, his inclusion in his category must be processed differently than the rest. Naturally, the concern is how he performs after a self-imposed mini-sabbatical of four weeks to spend time with family. He leads the PGA TOUR in distance off the tee, greens in regulation, greens in regulation from lies off the fairways, birdies or better on par 5s and actual scoring average. He's yet to log a top 20 among five cuts made in six starts at the Memorial, but the way he's playing this year, that should easily change this week.

Hunter Mahan (B) ... Working on a career-high greens-in-regulation split of 70.03 percent. However, the expected inverse ratio as it relates to converting birdies or better is startlingly disappointing. His birdie-or-better percentage is 27.97, good for 123rd-highest on TOUR. Contrast that to his 2011 numbers: 68.79 percent of greens hit (1.24 percent lower) and a birdie-or-better mark of 32.36 percent (4.39 higher). Digging a little deeper, he's breaking par on par 5s 11.13 percent less this year than last season. Obviously, there's no denying his overall record in 2012, but he's not as automatic a short-term option as that record projects. If you're investing in Yahoo!'s Group B, it's primarily for defensive purposes.

Bill Haas (B) ... Certainly owns the game to tame Muirfield Village but he hasn't finished the top 25 of five cuts made in six trips. More recently, he's had trouble scoring since winning the Northern Trust Open. His only top 25 in his last seven stroke-play starts was a T25 at THE PLAYERS.

Adam Scott (A) ... Shocked his owners with a missed cut at the HP Byron Nelson Championship two weeks ago. Ninth on TOUR in greens hit but sits 168th in putting inside five feet and 154th from 5-10 feet. Two top fives at Muirfield Village but the more recent occurred five years ago.

Nick Watney (A) ... Even if he owned an impressive track record at Muirfield Village, it wouldn't matter. In fact, with just one top 25 in four appearances (T14, 2009), it supports a continuation to avoid him. He's posted just one top 25 in 10 full-field stroke-play events this season (eighth, Wells Fargo). Furthermore, as cited in this space previously, he continues to struggle on the greens, currently ranking 146th in Strokes Gained-Putting.

Brandt Snedeker (B) ... He hasn't broken par in eight competitive rounds at Muirfield Village and hasn't survived a cut in four tries.

John Huh (C) ... It's not in my best interest as it relates to long-term survival in my profession to fade him regularly, and I must admit that it's uncomfortable leaning against the rookie since he's shattered so many stereotypes with his incredible play, but newcomers to Muirfield Village, particularly those that don't mash it off the tee, tend to get lost in the shuffle. He's a tee-to-green specialist and doesn't pretend to be anything but. Although he's coming off a T5 at Colonial, this is a smart week to lay off.

Medic! (Yahoo! Group)

Dustin Johnson (B) ... Took 11 weeks off to allow a back injury to heal. Vowed not to return until he was "100 percent." He returns to comfortable surroundings in that he's recorded top 15s in two of his last three appearances at Muirfield Village, including a solo fourth a year ago when he shared the low round of the week with a closing 65. Yahoo! gamers that are compelled to plug him in should surrounded him with more quantifiable talent, since DJ enters as a question mark.

Steve Marino (B) ... First start since the Farmers Insurance Open in late January. It was his third straight start following surgery on his right knee in October. He took the long break to rehab the joint which regressed a bit after he returned too soon. He's 3-for-5 at the Memorial with a pair of top 25s. From a fantasy standpoint, this is a superb week to remains hands-off given the depth in Yahoo!'s Group B.

Brian Davis (B) ... Withdrew from last week's Colonial after one round due to personal reasons. Posted five top 25s in an eight-week period ending with a T25 at THE PLAYERS. He placed T18 at last year's Memorial, but his closing 68 is his only sub-70 round of 10 in competition at Muirfield Village.

Angel Cabrera (C) ... Cited personal reasons as his explanation for withdrawing from THE PLAYERS after one round. No top 20s among just three cuts made in 10 starts this year and no top 20s in two appearances at the Memorial.

Notable WDs (Yahoo! Group)

Sean O'Hair (A) ... Second consecutive early withdrawal. He pulled out just before his tee time at Colonial last week with a neck injury.

Dicky Pride (B) ... Taking a break to rest for the U.S. Open sectional qualifier in Memphis, Tenn. on Monday, June 4.

Y.E. Yang (A) ... Withdrew on Monday shortly after posting the following on Twitter: "Injured myself yesterday at Colonial and now have to WD from Memorial. Yikes." No details have been reported. His last known malady was a sore shoulder that caused him to walk off after only four holes of the Dubai World Championship in December.

Briny Baird (B) ... Gained entry on Monday as the first alternate, but withdrew on Tuesday due to continuing soreness in his left shoulder. It's the same injury that forced him out of THE PLAYERS after 23 holes.

John Mallinger (C) ... Gearing up for the U.S. Open sectional qualifier in Columbus, Ohio on Monday, June 4.

Paul Casey (C) ... Returned to competition at last week's BMW PGA Championship but missed the cut by nine shots. Previously withdrew during THE PLAYERS and early from the Volvo World Match Play Championship with a recurrence of discomfort in his right shoulder.

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