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June 13 2012

8:30 PM

Fantasy mailbag: Not doubting Donald

By Rob Bolton, PGATOUR.COM Fantasy columnist

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Sometimes, one emailer covers all the bases. Chris, a loyal reader, chimed in with the following set on Monday night.

Rob -- How do you think Lee Westwood spanning so many time zones to get to San Francisco will affect him?

Westwood won the European Tour's Nordea Masters in Stockholm, Sweden, by five strokes last week. The tournament ended on Saturday to give those en route to the U.S. Open an extra day to travel. He arrived in San Francisco early on Sunday afternoon, but gained eight hours on the clock. As of his presser on Tuesday, he was still feeling the effects of jet lag, but dismissed it moving forward, saying, "It doesn't take long, two or three days to get over it. By Thursday, you know, it will be fine. Certainly finishing on Saturday last week was a big advantage."

If he's not concerned, neither am I. Moreover, I'll always give the benefit of the doubt to the global golfers that travel west. And frankly, if you ever needed an extreme example that rebukes the theory that jet lag is too great of a challenge, consider Louis Oosthuizen's victory in Malaysia the week after losing in a playoff at the Masters. He admitted that he was on fumes, but he was the only golfer that carded four rounds in the 60s that week in Kuala Lumpur, winning by three shots.

You have Donald at the top of your Power Rankings but his U.S. Open track record isn't a good one. You now think he will overcome that? Why?

There's no disputing that Donald is one of the most consistent of the elite in the world right now. He's won twice in his last seven starts and has done enough in the last couple of years to prove that he can play anywhere. In its figurative sense, "track record" translates into tournament history. Obviously, the U.S. Open moves around so there isn't any course history on which to rely, but that's the case for the entire field. Even since guys like Colt Knost and Michael Thompson, who competed in the finale of the 2007 U.S. Amateur at Olympic Club -- the last notable competition on the course -- the grass on the greens has been changed from poa annua to bent, so those two are playing a different track in that sense, which in turn neutralizes their experience a bit.

To cite just two examples of why tournament history is largely irrelevant, Lucas Glover survived his first cut in four tries at the U.S. Open when he won in 2009, and Graeme McDowell recorded one top 25 in advance of his victory in 2010. Donald said his presser on Tuesday that he's not thinking of the past. Neither should we.

You use bogey avoidance a lot in your rankings. Why is that a stat you are putting a lot of weight on?

I've loved bogey avoidance ever since I discovered it. While scrambling measures only pars when golfers miss greens in regulation, bogey avoidance implies all scores of par and better. In conjunction with adjusted scoring, bogey avoidance can reveal who's getting the most out his round.

Unlike boutique stats like three-putt avoidance and sand saves, bogey avoidance not only serves as an all-encompassing snapshot of one's form but it also boasts a who's who on TOUR year after year. If you think about how the game's best are valued against each other, we usually lean on world ranking, FedExCup points, earnings, adjusted scoring and the all-around. Bogey avoidance features the same crowd, but with a specific angle at why they rank highly elsewhere.

At a U.S. Open, pars are embraced. Even par would have won four of the last seven editions. Bogey avoidance can assist in our analysis of who projects to keep his head above water when scoring is difficult.

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