Fantasy preview: Northern Trust Open

February 14, 2012
Rob Bolton, PGATOUR.COM Fantasy Columnist

The Northern Trust Open marks the seventh tournament of the year but some fantasy leagues are just starting now or won't begin until the Florida Swing or even with the Masters.

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Power Rankings
Rob Bolton breaks down the field in this week's Power Rankings.

Look out for my Fantasy Mailbag in TOUR Report Wednesday. I focus on a relevant factor or two as it relates to the tournament or a seasonal benchmark for fantasy games. I also include at least one email or tweet. So, if you've reached out privately, take a peek at the Mailbag as you just might find yourself in it!

Meanwhile, I stumbled out of the blocks in PGA TOUR Matchups on Facebook last week. Went 2-3-0 for four points in the first tournament in the game, a disappointing effort after a successful run in 2011. Congratulations to the 20 gamers that enjoyed a perfect start.

My picks for the Northern Trust Open:

Phil Mickelson over Bubba WatsonLuke Donald over Keegan Bradley • Sergio Garcia over Fred Couples • Dustin Johnson over Gary Woodland • Rickie Fowler over Ryo Ishikawa

Power Rankings Distribution for Yahoo! (rank)

Group A ... Luke Donald (1); Phil Mickelson (3); Adam Scott (5); Kevin Na (6); Sergio Garcia (9); K.J. Choi (10); Spencer Levin (11)

Group B ... Dustin Johnson (4); Jason Day (7); Mark Wilson (8); Jimmy Walker (12); Geoff Ogilvy (13)

Group C ... Aaron Baddeley (2); Vijay Singh (14); Ricky Barnes (15)

Sleepers Distribution for Yahoo! (rank)

Group A ... George McNeill; Rory Sabbatini

Group B ... Ryan Moore

Group C ... Kevin Stadler

On a Roll (Yahoo! Group)

Keegan Bradley (A) ... Four starts in 2012, four top 25s. In his first appearance at Riviera last year, he hit 23 greens but still needed 64 putts. Quite a bit has changed as it relates to his career since, and he owns the tee-to-green proficiency required to contend this week. He's currently 33rd on TOUR in total driving and 10th in greens in regulation.

Bubba Watson (B) ... Has a string of six consecutive top 20s worldwide since the Australian Open. The best of the lot was a share of fifth in his last start at TPC Scottsdale two weeks ago. He's posted two top 20s in five starts at Riviera (2008, 2009).

Bill Haas (B) ... Three top 20s in four starts this year including a T4 at the Farmers. Ranks 30th on TOUR in total driving and eighth in greens in regulation. Led the field at Riviera last year with three eagles en route to a share of 12th place.

Rob's Yahoo! lineup
Group A: Luke Donald; Phil Mickelson
Group B: Jason Day; Dustin Johnson; Jimmy Walker; Mark Wilson
Group C: Aaron Baddeley; Vijay Singh
YAHOO! STATS: 718 points; 48,595th place
ONE-AND-DONE: Kevin Na ... 2012 EARNINGS: $210,950.00
DUFFER: Stephen Gangluff ... 2012 EARNINGS: $103,600.00
2012 PROJECTIONS (All 246 players)
1-50 | 51-100 | 101-150 | 151-200 | 201-246

John Rollins (B) ... Off to a blazing start with three top 10s in four events. Ranks second in total driving, 36th in greens hit, 32nd in Strokes Gained-Putting and sixth in the all-around. Four top 20s in nine starts at Riviera although none in his last three appearances.

Padraig Harrington (C) ... Tied for seventh at Pebble Beach last week, ranking seventh in putting and T2 in birdies. It was his third top 10 in his last five starts worldwide. Posted top 10s at Riviera in 2007 and 2008.

John Senden (C) ... Paring his schedule to focus on the biggest events. Dating back to his T21 at Riviera last year, he's recorded seven top 10s worldwide and another 13 top 25s, including in his last seven starts.

Horses for Courses (Yahoo! Group)

Brandt Snedeker (B) ... While he's 1-for-4 at Riviera (T20, 2010), he's enjoyed a bit of a renaissance in the past year. When he won at the RBC Heritage last April, a track where he had a similarly forgettable record, he cited a newfound balance in his life as a result of the birth of his first child a month prior. No doubt it helped lay the foundation for his career year. With that in mind, he's a sleeper this week even though he has two top 10s this year including a win at the Farmers. Leads the PGA TOUR in the all-around ranking, too.

Bo Van Pelt (B) ... Three top 15s in his last seven appearances at Riviera, and he's a more improved and consistent touring pro these days. Took last week off following a T8 at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. Ranks fifth in total driving and 15th in greens in regulation.

Robert Allenby (B) ... You can't think about the Aussie without reminiscing over his 3-wood to five feet in the rainy six-man playoff at Riviera in 2001. That victory was the first of his five top 10s in this tournament, the most recent of which was a T4 just last year.

Fred Couples (C) ... Making his 30th appearance. You can never rule out Boom Boom at Riviera. Not only does he has a love affair with the track, but he has a history to prove it. Among his 14 top 10s are two wins and three seconds. Led by two at the midpoint last year before fading to finish in a share of seventh place.

Ernie Els (B) ... The 1999 champ is making his eighth start at Riviera. He shared 10th in 2010 and posted a T3 in 2007. He was a co-runner-up at the Volvo Golf Champions last month.

Andres Romero (B) ... Of all non-majors, there are only two sites at which he's posted as many as two top 10s. One is TPC Louisiana, the other is Riviera. He finished T3 here in 2009 and T5 in 2010.

Leaking Oil (Yahoo! Group)

Nick Watney (A) ... Everything is relative but with a T60 at the Farmers and a T40 at Pebble Beach, he's now gone consecutive starts without a top 25 for the first time since the first two legs of the 2010 FedExCup Playoffs. His lone top-55 finish in five starts at Riviera occurred in 2006 (T19).

Scott Stallings (B) ... He's missed both cuts since returning from his rib muscle injury. Overall, he's just 1-for-5 this year. First-timer at Riviera.

Tommy Gainey (B) ... Since his MDF at the Sony Open, he's missed three cuts and withdrawn once. Shared 35th here in his debut last year.

Troy Matteson (B)... He's started 2012 with five missed cuts in as many starts. His record at Riviera isn't much better: 1-for-6 with a T37 in 2010.

J.J. Henry (B) ... He's missed seven consecutive cuts dating back to the Dunhill Links on the European Tour last fall. Also has a string of 13 straight starts running without a top 50.

Briny Baird (B) and Brandt Jobe (C) ... Both have missed all three of their cuts this year.

Danger (Yahoo! Group)

Kyle Stanley (A) ... While he's finished P2 and first in his last two starts, he's a first-timer at Riviera so respect the learning curve.

Hunter Mahan (B) ... He has one top 30 in six starts at the Northern Trust (T17, 2009). Moreover, too much hinges on him hitting greens in regulation at Riviera due to his below average work getting up and down for pars. Therefore, it's a smart week to look elsewhere in the extremely deep field.

Gary Woodland (B) ... Capped off a T26 at TPC Scottsdale two weeks ago with a 66 that included two eagles. Ranked T4 in greens hit for the week. However, he's a first-timer at Riviera, which will either embrace or expose the modifications he's making with Butch Harmon.

Charles Howell III (A) ... While he won this event in 2007 and has two other top 10s, he's also finished outside the top 45 seven times, including in his last four trips. He's also failed to post a top 30 in his last three starts this year.

Anthony Kim (B) ... He hasn't parlayed his strong finish in 2011 into a single cut made in three starts this year. After sharing ninth here in 2007, he's gone 1-for-3 with a T52 in 2010.

Medic! (Yahoo! Group)

Tim Clark (B) ... Scheduled to make his first appearance since last year's PLAYERS in May. Had surgery on his right elbow on Aug. 10. Has been working on his game in Arizona recently. Ranked 30th in the world when he withdrew from the PLAYERS. He's now 129th.

Fredrik Jacobson (B) ... Latest of three attempts to return to the PGA TOUR this season following a fall at his home in November that resulted in torn ligaments in his left thumb. Hasn't played anywhere since a runner-up finish at the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions in early November.

Jeff Overton (C) ... Withdrew with one hole to play in his second round at TPC Scottsdale two weeks ago due to a wrist injury. He's 3-for-4 at the Northern Trust but hasn't cracked a top 35.

Sunghoon Kang (C) ... Withdrew after two rounds of last week's AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am with an ankle injury. Assuming he's able, he's making his debut at Riviera this week.

Michael Sim (C) ... Scheduled to compete in the Nationwide Tour season opener in Colombia. Last saw live action at the season finale on the PGA TOUR last fall when he withdrew halfway through the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals Classic with the flu. Then didn't give the second stage of q-school a go as planned.

Notable WDs (Yahoo! Group)

Arron Oberholser (C) ... Withdrew on Monday along with Alex Cejka and Kevin Sutherland. All on are medical extensions in 2012. Oberholser withdrew nine holes into his third round at Pebble Beach last week. Wrote the following on Twitter on Sunday, Feb 12: "Appreciate everyone's concern. The hand did OK but not as well as I would have liked. Back to the drawing board."