Fantasy Insider: Summer preview

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June 22, 2011
Rob Bolton, PGATOUR.COM Fantasy Columnist

If you've ever wondered what kind of run you need to contend in Yahoo!'s fantasy golf game, tape the numbers of Dead Solid Perfect on your bedroom wall.

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Managed by "nuffantuit," the squad named after Dan Jenkins' 1974 novel totaled 2,017 points to win the Spring Segment and the Nike DQ Machspeed Black driver that goes with it. Dead Solid Perfect rode Rory McIlroy's wire-to-wire victory at the U.S. Open (worth 88 points, including the bonus 20) to a 196-point week. McIlroy was one of six winners nuffantuit started during the 12-tournament segment. He also landed three seconds and a third for additional bonus points.

Spring's runner-up was "chapel hill," which scored 1,984 points. Managed by Dwayne Fassnacht, he found five winners, three seconds and two thirds. Meanwhile, with 3,804 points, chapel hill is currently 50th in the full-season chase for the grand prize (transportation, lodging and week-long passes for any PGA TOUR sanctioned event in 2012). Dead Solid Perfect sits well outside the top 50 with 3,664, but Winter Segment champ, Hemroid, sits tied for 22nd overall with 3,832. And Demon Deacons, which shared runner-up honors to Hemroid, is in third place with 3,897. But everyone is looking up at thebigok4 at 3,936 points. That sum included 1,976 during the Spring Segment, good for seventh for the period.

Yahoo!'s Summer Segment begins with this week's Travelers Championship and culminates with THE TOUR Championship in September. It includes 13 tournaments and a series of dynamics that will keep all gamers on their toes.

For starters, next week's AT&T National will be making its second stop at Aronimink Golf Club, where Tiger Woods may or may not be healthy enough to return to competition. We are going to learn by Friday, June 25 at the latest when the entry deadline falls. However, save a back-door top 10 at Doral and a spirited run at Augusta National, Woods has been a non-factor, and has made just six starts, the last of which (THE PLAYERS) he ended after only nine holes. He is irrelevant as it relates to this primer but we will buckle up accordingly when he returns.

Moving on, the first of four new courses in the segment will host the British Open. Royal St. George's last appeared on the rotation in 2003 when Ben Curtis emerged in what was his first career start in a major. (There was only one new course in the first two Yahoo! segments combined -- Congressional Country Club for the U.S. Open).

Immediately after the British, Shaughnessy Golf & Country Club will host the RBC Canadian Open for the first time since 2005. After the two week sprint outside the United States, the TOUR returns for The Greenbrier Classic at a beefed-up Old White Course, where Stuart Appleby nipped Jeff Overton by one stroke with a closing 59 last year. There were four rounds of 62 and lower at the inaugural edition, but head professional Jamie Hamilton has already said he's expecting scores to rise.

Hamilton is so confident, in fact, that he predicted the following: "You may see a round of 63 or 64. These guys are so good almost on any course someone can do it, but you won't see nearly as many or nearly as low [as 59]."

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  • Consider the challenge declared on a track that can extend another 200 yards if necessary. Oh, and Tom Watson has already committed verbally. Look for a more detailed breakdown of the changes in my Power Rankings and Fantasy Insider as usual.

    Once The Greenbrier is in the books, a limited field will grapple with the familiar Firestone Country Club for the first of three no-cut events over the final seven weeks. Along with the British, it will be an excellent opportunity to burn non-members like Rory McIlroy, Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer. Same goes for the PGA Championship at the Atlantic Athletic Club, where Kaymer will be defending his title on a 7,467-yard behemoth of a par 70 that should reward fairways hit among other variables.

    Two weeks after the PGA, the FedExCup Playoffs will commence at Plainfield Country Club in Edison, New Jersey (about 20 miles southwest of Newark). It's the first time that the PGA TOUR is visiting the Donald Ross design (circa 1916). John Cook defeated Scott Hoch to win the U.S. Amateur there in 1978.

    The top 100 in the FedExCup points following The Barclays will advance to the Deutsche Bank Championship and its traditional conclusion on Labor Day, after which only the top 70 will continue. In a direct response to the demand to eliminate the short turnaround following the scheduled Monday finish, the TOUR will break for a week before the BMW Championship southwest of Chicago.

    The BMW and TOUR Championship do not have a cut; therefore, you'll want to save at least two starts for at least two studs in Groups A and C, and two starts for four guys in Group B. When the current format of the FedExCup was established in 2009, 23 golfers that started the Playoffs inside the top 30 advanced to its finale. Last year, 22 made it all the way.

    Of the top 30 in the current FedExCup points standings, 10 are in Group A (including five of the top seven), 11 are in Group B (but only three in the top 15) and the remaining nine are in Group C. Here's a short list of contenders that deserve saving if at all possible:

    GROUP A

    Luke Donald (1st in FedExCup Points; runner-up in both the Deutsche Bank and TOUR Championship last year)

    Matt Kuchar (4th; best records are at Deutsche Bank and BMW; won The Barclays at Ridgewood Country Club)

    Phil Mickelson (5th; depending on form, you might be able to get by with one start reserved for East Lake)

    • K.J. Choi (7th; T3 at last year's BMW; top 10s in last two appearances in the TOUR Championship)

    Dustin Johnson (21st; defending the BMW; T4 at the 2009 Deutsche Bank)

    Yahoo! lineup: Travelers
    STARTERS
    Group A: Padraig Harrington
    Group B: Hunter Mahan; Webb Simpson
    Group C: Ryan Moore
    BENCH
    Group A: Nick Watney
    Group B: Bo Van Pelt; Bubba Watson
    Group C: Brandt Snedeker
    Yahoo! Stats
    SEASON: 3,574 points (4,953rd) ... SPRING: 1,678 points (22,223rd)
    ONE-AND-DONE: Hunter Mahan
    2011 earnings: $2,931,275.84
    DUFFER: Craig Bowden
    2011 earnings: $782,733.00

    • Wild card: Charley Hoffman (38th; would need to get hot, but he's defending the Deutsche Bank; also placed sixth at East Lake)

    GROUP B

    Steve Stricker (10th; what you saved by not starting him in the majors pays off here; solid record at the BMW; never finished lower than T13 in five starts at the Deutsche Bank)

    Charl Schwartzel (19th; the rookie could be a difference-maker and help spell the likes of Bubba Watson, David Toms and Hunter Mahan that you might not miss anyway)

    • Wild card: Justin Rose (34th; assuming he locks in again with his putter, would fit nicely in the final two events)

    • Wild card: Retief Goosen (89th; probably a safe bet that you have plenty of starts remaining anyway, but worth noting that he has one top 10 in the last two years in each of the last three playoff events)

    GROUP C

    Brandt Snedeker (12th; top 10s at the 2009 BMW and 2010 Deutsche Bank)

    Jason Day (13th; the stand-out of the bunch; co-runner-up at last year's Deutsche Bank)

    Aaron Baddeley (17th; enjoying Comeback of the Year-type season; top fives in both the Deutsche Bank and BMW in 2007)

    • Wild card: Zach Johnson (47th; top-16 finishes in each of the last two BMWs and TOUR Championships)

    • Wild card: Ryan Moore (55th; look for him to appear regularly in the Power Rankings in coming weeks; top 10s at last year's BMW and TOUR Championship)

    One final observation that might surprise you: 11 of the 24 winners in tournaments counting towards the Yahoo! game through the U.S. Open are in Group C (this includes five of the 12 wins in the Spring Segment). Granted, it's the deepest pool by far, but it's also considered colloquially as a catch-all for the rank and file. And that speaks directly to the parity we've witnessed all year. For the record, Group A can boast seven winners (three in the Spring); Group B has six (four in the Spring).

    Rob Bolton is the freelance fantasy columnist for PGATOUR.COM. His views do not necessarily reflect the views of the PGA TOUR.

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