Fantasy Insider: The Barclays

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August 23, 2011
Rob Bolton, PGATOUR.COM Fantasy Columnist

The introduction of a new course, such as at Plainfield Country Club, usually allows for some natural selection among fantasy gamers. Without much to lean on from the touring pros themselves until a few practice rounds are logged, it's difficult to wrap one's head around the layout. How will it play? What factors project success? Most of all, what's going to happen on the greens?

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When I first started researching this week's host site, I immediately picked up on similarities at The Old White TPC (home of The Greenbrier Classic). Both are classics, nearly 100 years old, and play short on the card. And as you'd expect in the North, the greens at both feature Bentgrass, although Plainfield has a mix of Bent and Poa annua.

Expanding the profile, at a par 71, Plainfield CC is a bit shorter than the par-70 Old White TPC and appears as if it's a more wide-open track. Given the soft turf due to recent deluges, scoring could get awfully low at Plainfield even if it might play a little longer. So, until what's left of Hurricane Irene threatens the area on the weekend, the only logical defense will be the greens and hole locations.

Monday's Power Rankings included quite a bit of chalk, and I cited Donald Ross' design trait of turtleback green complexes at Plainfield, but closely-mown chipping areas are a prominent feature as well, so short-game wizards should flourish. I still like guys that hit greens in regulation, and I expect the full-field split to check in above average, but there's no telling what the weather on the weekend could do to the field that survives the cut. Timing will be everything. Meanwhile, Yahoo! gamers are advised just to get there, which means that investing in the chalk is, indeed, the wisest play.

I took the collar with an 0-5-0 at the Wyndham Championship in the Matchups game on Facebook. That gives me an overall record of 22-16-3 with 51 points. It's still six points clear of GarrySmits of The Florida Times-Union for the lead among the notables, so I'll latch onto bragging rights where possible. For those eligible for prizes, kschwab14 returned to the top spot with an eight-point week in Greensboro. He owns a one-point margin over Big Daddy Smith in the overall ranking. Last week's leader, Gooby, shares third with glfhcp10 at 63 points.

My picks for the The Barclays: • Steve Stricker over Nick Watney • Phil Mickelson over Keegan Bradley • Matt Kuchar over K.J. Choi • Rickie Fowler over Cameron Tringale • Anthony Kim over Graeme McDowell

The PGATOUR.COM staff also publishes its picks, which you can review here. Producer Chris Dunham has the edge on fellow producer John Schwarb for the lead, 59-57.

Power Rankings Plus

11. David Toms ... The 44-year-old refuses to relent. He's been a gem in Yahoo!'s Group B and figures to remains a primary investment in the postseason. Hasn't shot higher than 67 in his last five final rounds. Inside the top five on TOUR in fairways hit, greens in regulation, the all-around and birdies or better on par 3s and par 4s.

12. Nick Watney ... Saved face in the majors with a T12 at the PGA two weeks ago, but he's been nails otherwise for the better portion of the year. Enters in the catbird's seat in FedExCup points. Also ranks third in both strokes gained-putting and adjusted scoring. Fifth in the all-around.

13. Jason Day ... Generous landing areas at Plainfield will help -- he's 171st on TOUR in fairways hit -- but improves drastically as he nears the hole. The Aussie ranks 83rd in greens in regulation, fifth in scrambling and 29th in strokes gained-putting. Second-highest in the FedExCup points standings (14th overall) without a victory this season.

14. Gary Woodland ... Impressive season continued at the PGA Championship, where he shared 12th place. Placed T4 at The Greenbrier to prove that he's not all brawn. However, sitting fifth in distance off the tee and ninth in greens in regulation creates ample opportunities to float above the majority. Also 17th in adjusted scoring and 20th in the all-around.

15. Robert Karlsson ... Three top fives in his last seven starts, including a T4 at the PGA, where he closed 67-67.

Power Rankings Distribution for Yahoo! (rank)

Group A ... Dustin Johnson (3); Luke Donald (4); Matt Kuchar (8); Phil Mickelson (10); Nick Watney (12)

Group B ... Steve Stricker (1); Webb Simpson (5); David Toms (11)

Group C ... Adam Scott (2); Zach Johnson (6); Sergio Garcia (7); Charles Howell III (9); Jason Day (13); Gary Woodland (14); Robert Karlsson (15)

Dark Horse (Yahoo! Group)

Bubba Watson (B) ... Since winning in New Orleans, he's grinded out eight consecutive cuts made without a top 20. However, in a limited field on a short track, ranking second in distance off the tee in distance and first in greens in regulation deserves attention. He's also 10th in birdie average.

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Rob's Yahoo! lineup
STARTERS(In alphbetical order)
Group A: Luke Donald; Matt Kuchar
Group B: Webb Simpson; Steve Stricker; David Toms; Bubba Watson
Group C: Zach Johnson; Adam Scott
Yahoo! Stats
SEASON: 4,898 points (7,309th)
SUMMER: 1,324 points (29,986th)
ONE-AND-DONE:Charles Howell III
2011 earnings:$4,803,359.98
DUFFER: Matt Bettencourt
2011 earnings:$1,195,137.00

Scott Verplank (C) ... Gritty season what with his ongoing battle with a sore left wrist. Coming off a tie for fourth at the PGA. Absence of length off the tee is irrelevant this week. Ranks 15th in the all-around and 12th in scrambling.

Fredrik Jacobson (C) ... Prior to an ignorable missed cut at the PGA, he strung together four straight top 20s including his first victory on the PGA TOUR. Ranks fifth in strokes gained-putting and 10th in adjusted scoring.

Brian Davis (A) ... Fairways-and-greens specialist playing well of late with three straight top 25s entering, the last of which was at the PGA Championship. Ranks 29th in birdie average.

Robert Garrigus (C) ... A sore back and withdrawal at the John Deere prevented a continuation of superb form, but he's recovered and made the cut in his last two starts. Ranks third off the tee in distance and 64th in greens hit.

Danger (Yahoo! Group)

Ryan Moore (C) ... An avid fan of classic tracks and winner at Donald Ross-designed Sedgefield in 2009 (although he didn't play last week's Wyndham Championship), he's failed to put four rounds together since coming home in 64-63 at the Travelers Championship for a share of runner-up honors two months ago. His slide included a T68 at the Ross' Aronimink the week after the Travelers. Really no reason to invest in Yahoo!'s deep Group C.

J.J. Henry (B) ... A strong first half is the reason why he starts the postseason ranked 72nd in FedExCup points, but he's missed his last three cuts.

D.J. Trahan (B) ... Since sharing ninth at the Viking Classic, he's gone 0-for-4 with only one round under par. Ranks 25th in greens hit but 190th in strokes gained-putting.

Jonathan Byrd (A) ... Only cut made in his last six starts was a T59 at the 76-man WGC-Bridgestone. Has just one round in the 60s in his last 15.

Marc Leishman (A) ... Under par in every round and had only six bogeys at Sedgefield, but could only manage a T30. While a step in the right direction, that's his only top 40 in his last 14 starts, eight of which resulted in a missed cut.

Rory Sabbatini (A) ... Zero top 25s over his last five starts. Ranks 154th in strokes gained-putting.

Medic! (Yahoo! Group)

Matt Bettencourt (C) ... Managed just eight holes of his title defense at the Reno-Tahoe Open before withdrawing due to a rib injury. It's his third WD of the year -- Arnold Palmer Invitational (tendinitis in his right elbow); Wells Fargo Championship (allergy-related headaches). Since sharing sixth at The Honda Classic, he's 6-for-17 with no top 25s.

Hunter Haas (C) ... Withdrew after teeing off on his 63rd hole of the Wyndham Championship. It's the first time in 295 PGA TOUR-sanctioned events that he's had to call it quits during a tournament. Wrote on Twitter: "My back locked up during warm up." Had two top 10s in three starts entering the week.

Notable WDs (Yahoo! Group)

Charl Schwartzel (B) ... Uninjured. Merely choosing to sit out the opener. Starts 21st in FedExCup points.

J.B. Holmes (C) ... Will undergo "low-risk surgery" on his brain on Sept. 1 and return to competition in 2012. For the complete story on this at PGATOUR.com, click here.

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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