Fantasy Insider: Shell Houston OpenMarch 26, 2013
By Rob Bolton, PGATOUR.COM fantasy columnist
If you play PGATOUR.COM's fantasy game, there are a couple of decisions that I would argue are no-brainers this week. The first concerns Rory McIlroy, who has been taking a pounding in fantasy circles due to a relatively slow start to the year. Getting right to my position, gamers needs to remain patient. In this ongoing era of short attention spans and what-have-you-done-for-me-lately, we must remember to take it slow sometimes and ride out the storm. When adversity strikes the game's elite, unless it's life-changing, we are unlikely to wait long before tapping into success again. This is to say that McIlroy should occupy one of your four spots for the Shell Houston Open. He is much closer to his next victory than critics are to their next complaint.
Steve Stricker is the other obvious selection this week. Not only is he off to an incredible start to 2013, but his track record at Redstone is sparkling. And since he's already announced that he's committed to a limited schedule this season, we're free to plug him in with little fear that we'll regret exhausting all 10 allotted starts, if we even burn that many on him.
My one-and-done selection, analysis and season totals will appear in The TOUR Report on Wednesday.
On a Roll
Graham DeLaet ... His string of consecutive top 25s ended at four with a T50 at Bay Hill, but it's hardly enough for gamers to scurry. Currently second on TOUR in total driving, fifth in greens in regulation and 27th in adjusted scoring. Tied for third at Redstone in his debut in 2010.
Thorbjorn Olesen ... Posted a PGA TOUR career-best solo seventh at Bay Hill where he ranked 11th in ball-striking and second in strokes gained-putting. Buried all 61 attempts from eight feet and in.
Scott Brown ... Taking to his renewed fully exempt status nicely. Since breaking through in Puerto Rico, he's finished T27 at Copperhead and 13th at Bay Hill. Led the field last week in par-3 scoring average and ranked 14th in strokes gained-putting. Currently first on TOUR in total driving, ninth in adjusted scoring and 15th in the all-around.
Ben Kohles ... After a share of seventh place at Copperhead where he led the field in fairways hit, ranked T18 in greens in regulation and 22nd in strokes gained-putting, he tied for 14th at Bay Hill where he placed third in fairways, first in GIR and 13th in strokes gained-putting.
Erik Compton ... Thrived on the Florida Swing, which makes sense given his ties to the state. Went 4-for-4 with a T4 at PGA National, a T24 in Puerto Rico and a T16 at Bay Hill. Top 25s in half of his eight starts this season and sits a lofty 40th in FedExCup points. Currently 19th on TOUR in adjusted scoring.
Jordan Spieth ... Wasted little time in qualifying for Special Temporary Membership, which affords him unlimited sponsor exemptions and starts for the remainder of the 2013 season. However, just like all non-members, until he wins, he remains ineligible for official earnings and FedExCup points. He's under par in 10 of his last 11 rounds on the PGA TOUR and ranks second in greens in regulation.
John Rollins ... Coming off a T16 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, his fifth top 25 on the year. Ranked T7 in greens in regulation at Bay Hill. Sits 26th on TOUR in GIR, 26th in adjusted scoring and fifth in the all-around.
Roberto Castro ... Ended a mini-slump of three straight missed cuts with consecutive top 25s in Puerto Rico and Tampa Bay. He connected top 25s just once in his rookie year of 2012.
Horses for Courses
Geoff Ogilvy ... Co-runner-up here in 2008 and placed T6 in 2009. Careful though, as he hasn't posted a top 45 since his solo second at The Honda Classic at the beginning of the month.
Boo Weekley ... Finally slowed down at Bay Hill last week (T69) following a sharp climb through March that culminated with a solo second at Copperhead. Ranks fifth on TOUR in ball-striking. En route to a T14 at Redstone last year, he finished second in ball-striking.
Ryan Palmer ... A Texan through and through, he's 3-for-6 at Redstone, all three cuts made going for a top 25 including last year's T21. After a pair of top 10s on the West Coast Swing this season, he concluded the segment with two missed cuts, but has since gone 2-for-2. Had last week off following a T30 at Copperhead where he ranked seventh in strokes gained-putting. Given his propensity to get streaky, he's the kind of talent that offers low-risk, high-reward potential this week.
Aaron Baddeley ... With two top 15s in his last five appearances at Redstone, he qualifies for this section, but he's survived only one of his last three cuts this season and hasn't broken 70 in eight rounds. Still, consider him a relative sleeper since he recorded a pair of top-15 finishes on the West Coast Swing and sits 69th in FedExCup points.
Marc Leishman ... Hasn't missed a cut in three appearances at Redstone. En route to a personal-best T21 last year, ranked third in strokes gained-putting.
Ricky Barnes ... After opening the season with a pair of top 20s, he's missed six consecutive cuts.
Jonas Blixt ... Zero top 30s among just two cuts made in his last seven starts.
Tommy Gainey ... Finally got off the schneid at Bay Hill but settled for a tie for 57th and hasn't broken 70 in his last 21 rounds covering nine tournaments at 14 courses.
D.A. Points ... He's gone 11 consecutive starts without earning any Official World Golf Ranking points. In 2013, he's 2-for-9 with zero top 60s.
Robert Allenby ... Recorded his first cut made in eight starts last week at Bay Hill but finished T72 (of 76). His actual scoring average of his last 13 rounds is 73.38.
Ryo Ishikawa ... He's 3-for-8 with no top 35s on the season. Broken 70 just four times in 23 rounds.
Kevin Chappell ... Started the year with top 25s in two of his first three starts but has since missed five straight cuts and hasn't broken 70 in 11 rounds.
Jason Kokrak ... Since a T8 at the Humana Challenge, he's missed four cuts, withdrawn once and finished alone in 79th place (MDF) at Riviera.
Will Claxton ... In eight starts, he's survived two cuts, neither of which going for a top 35.
Alistair Presnell ... The rookie turned 34 years of age on Tuesday. He's made only one of his last six cuts (T30, Pebble Beach).
Bud Cauley, James Hahn and Scott Gardiner ... All are riding 0-for-4 skids.
Seung-yul Noh, David Mathis and Jin Park ... Each has missed his last three cuts.
Not So Fast
Bill Haas ... On form alone, he was on the short list to be this week's Power Rankings Wildcard, but he's 0-for-4 at Redstone (2006-2009) with an actual scoring average of 73.375 in eight rounds.
Dustin Johnson ... Arrives following a two-week respite, but he's missed the cut in both appearances at Redstone and hasn't played the course competitively since 2009.
Louis Oosthuizen ... Veteran gamers know that I've always leaned consistently toward recent play over course history (and other variables). He sets up as a trap for course history buffs that see only a T16 at Redstone in 2011 and a solo third last year when he held the outright lead after 54 holes. However, he goes as his putter goes, and that's been below average of late. Currently 123rd in strokes gained-putting (if he logged enough rounds to qualify). Since a 1-1 record at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, he's missed two cuts and finished T33 at the no-cut, 65-man WGC-Cadillac Championship.
Back in the Saddle
Jonathan Byrd ... After originally circling the Tampa Bay Championship to return to competition, he rescheduled for this week. Underwent surgery on his left wrist on Oct. 29 and hasn't competed since the FedExCup Playoffs.
Arron Oberholser ... Making his second start of the season after missing the cut at the Northern Trust Open. Still has 11 starts on his Major Medical Extension but he's made it clear that he's taking his career literally one shot at a time.
Hunter Haas ... Given five starts on a Major Medical Extension on the PGA TOUR after having hip surgery last August. Making his first start on the circuit since. Went 3-for-4 in a rehab stint on the Web.com Tour this season.
Vijay Singh ... Closed out the Arnold Palmer Invitational 75-78 to finish T57. He was only four strokes off the lead at the midpoint.
Fredrik Jacobson ... Withdrew on Monday. Not yet eligible for the Masters, but the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking after this weekend earn an exemption. The Swede is currently 46th.
Mike Weir ... Withdrew during his third round at Bay Hill last week, and then pulled out of the field at Redstone. Announced on his website on Monday that he may have torn cartilage. He won't return until the Masters at the earliest.