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March 21 2012

10:02 PM

Fantasy mailbag: When Tiger’s a must

By Rob Bolton, PGATOUR.COM Fantasy columnist

FANTASY PREVIEW: Arnold Palmer Invitational | Sign up for fantasy

Once upon a time, not long ago, all forms of one-and-done leagues plugged Tiger Woods in at the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational. It was the only decision all year that didn't require analysis, debate and second-guessing.

Gamers that defied conventional wisdom were quickly reminded of their foolishness. In the 10 editions in which Woods competed from 1999-2009, he won seven. In the other three, a combined seven golfers scored lower, and none more than once.

As Woods gears up for this week's Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard, one-and-doners are tempted by his similarly impressive track record at Bay Hill. In 14 appearances as a professional, he's won six times and hasn't missed a cut.

I received the following email overnight Monday from a regular reader that has already enjoyed some success in his one-and-done this year thanks to Brandt Snedeker's playoff victory at the Farmers Insurance Open along with a pair of other top fives.

After reading your Power Rankings , I'm torn with what to do [in my one-and-done]. Is now the time for Tiger? Can he be trusted? I'm leaning towards no on both of those on a gut hunch. Thoughts? Thanks. -- Mike

Talk about a paradigm shift.

That Woods is even on any short lists at Bay Hill speaks to how gamers' strategies have evolved in the last two years. They're thirsty to invest anywhere it could make sense, not where it does make sense.

Indeed, Woods sits atop my Power Rankings. Like you, I was blown away by his bogey-free 62 to run through the tape and push Rory McIlroy at PGA National three weeks ago. And like you, I was concerned when he walked off TPC Blue Monster at Doral during his final round with an inflamed left Achilles' tendon just seven days later. But positioning in the Power Rankings must be held separate of fantasy philosophy and long-range planning.

This is where I turn to the Masters in two weeks.

It's the only tournament in which he hasn't failed to compete as a professional. He's won four times and posted 12 top 10s, including in each of the last seven years. (All but one of the last seven appearances has resulted in a top-four finish.)

Furthermore, Augusta National Golf Club was the site where he chose to emerge from his personal challenges outside the ropes in 2010. He finished in a tie for fourth place under unimaginable scrutiny.

After a substandard start to 2011, he shared the lead at the midpoint of his final round but would settle for another T4. Yet, it was his only top five in nine PGA TOUR starts.

The clinching factor takes us back to the WGC-Bridgestone, where he finished T78 and T37 the last two years, the same two years he went T4-T4 at the Masters.

Gone are the days free of speculation and doubt on when to burn him. However, while I love his chances at Bay Hill this week, Woods' confidence and skill set is of no greater value to one-and-doners than at the season's first major.

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