Articles by Steve Emmert

A listing of all the articles written by Steve Emmert for the RotoWire Blog.

US Ryder Cup Roster: Sifting the Grizzlies and the Teddy Bears

Here’s one man’s quick reaction to the qualifiers for the United States Ryder Cup team.

Already clinched a spot in the locker room:

9. Zach Johnson – A lot of USA fans are quietly heaving a sigh of relief that Johnson qualified on points. He’s a great battler, a grinder who can beat an adversary in match play even when he isn’t playing his best. As Tiger Woods learned at Thousand Oaks in December, Johnson has a wonderful wedge game. If he hadn’t made it on points, he would have been well worth a captain’s pick, based on experience and guts.

8. Patrick Reed – He staked a claim to a position on the team with two early-2014 wins, and then limped along in the points standings to hang on to a top-nine position. Those wins seem like a long time ago now; a T4 at the WGC Bridgestone is the only thing separating him from a thoroughly pedestrian spring and summer. But more fundamentally, who will agree to play with him in foursomes and four-balls? After his brash comments in the winter series, he isn’t likely to make the Tour’s Top Five in peer popularity.

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Questions and Answers at the PGA Tour’s Halfway Mark

Halfway? Already? Didn’t we just get over the Masters buzz? Well, it’s true; with the shift in the PGA Tour’s schedule this season, there are only 38 weekly events (leaving out things like the midweek Tavistock Cup and The Presidents Cup at the end of the season), and The Players was No. 19. As usual, there are lots of questions, some of which even have definitive answers. For the rest of them, we’ll attempt to scry through the trusty crystal ball.
 
Who’s stepped up so far? This one’s easy. Tiger Woods has won four times already; no other player has won more than once. He’s comfortably ahead in the Official World Golf Rankings and in FedEx Cup points. Last year, golf experts were asking in not-so-hushed tones whether Tiger would ever win another major, or would be able to regain his form enough to challenge Sam Snead’s record of 82 wins. The Players is the 78th win of Woods’ career; and as for talk of the next three majors, who else would you name as the favorite at this point? Woods has already banked almost $6 million, and we haven’t reached the middle of May yet. It’s too early to award the Player of the Year, but if they had a Player of the Half-Year, there wouldn’t be another serious contender.
 
Okay; who other than the obvious answer? Brandt Snedeker absolutely rocked the early-season events (a win, two seconds, and a third in five starts) until a rib injury sidelined him for six weeks. He missed his first two cuts after returning, but then posted solid results at The Masters (T6) and The Players (T8). He’s only entered 10 events this year, but leads the Tour in Top-10 finishes with six.
 
Does that portend a solid second half by Snedeker? Maybe; but there are precedents for a midseason fold by players who dominated the early going. In 2009, Geoff Ogivly won twice in his first five events and posted a T6 the week before the Masters. He was miles ahead on the money list, and looked for all the world like he was about to enjoy a massive season. Instead, he went away and hid; his best finish after that was a 7th at the Deutsche Bank in September. Snedeker has the skills, of course – everyone at this level does – but if he falters, he won’t be the first to do so.
 
Who stepped in it? Has there been a Jason Dufner sighting lately? After a breakout performance in 2012, he’s faltered noticeably this season. Oh, he’s making cuts – eight of the 10 stroke-play events he’s entered thus far – but when they hand out paychecks at the end, most of his have been in the low-five-figure range. He’s only had two finishes better than 20th place, and one of those was a T18 at the reduced-field Hyundai Tournament of Champions (only 30 entries). At last weekend’s Players, he was actually in the hunt at the beginning of the final round. But he closed with an 80 that dropped him from T13 all the way to T62. He’s No. 83 on the money list and has a ton of work to do if he wants to approach his $4.8 million in winnings from last year.
 
Who’s likeliest to break through and win a first career major the rest of this year? Let’s break this into US players and international players. For the US, Steve Stricker is worth considering, because of the layout at Merion for the US Open. It’ll be a far shorter course (under 7,000 yards, and on some days, maybe close to 6,800) than the tracks the pros are facing weekly these days. Stricker is one of the best wedge players anywhere. If he’s driving the ball even reasonably well, he might get to use that wedge seven, eight, maybe nine times a round on par-4 approaches. He announced at the beginning of the season that he would play a reduced schedule, but you can’t tell it from his bank account; he’s six-for-six in cuts made and has posted four Top-25 finishes, including three Top-10s. Yes, he would be among the oldest major winners, but that maturity will only help him under Open pressure. You can probably get good betting odds on Rickie Fowler and Bill Haas, too.
 
For the international set, I’d say pick one of three Brits: Luke Donald is vastly overdue; Lee Westwood has a dramatically improved short game; and Justin Rose is scary-good on those days when he can find the fairways. If you like backing longer shots, look at Carl Pettersson and Nicolas Colsaerts; Thorbjorn Oleson has tremendous ability but probably isn’t ready yet.
 
Who’s likeliest to pad a resume that already includes a major? You mean other than Woods? Tiger may or may not win another major this year, but if you absolutely must back only one player only for any given week, Woods is the only pick for any event he enters. Louis Oosthuizen deserves serious consideration, as does Graeme McDowell.
 
You left out Rory McIlroy. Why, yes, I did! Here’s why: When he crushed the field at Congressional in 2011 at age 22, pundits broke plenty of ulnas trying to elbow each other aside to proclaim him The Next Tiger. Guess what? He didn’t win an event the rest of that season. He repeated the dominant performance in the 2012 season, winning the PGA and two FedEx Cup playoff events on the way to Player-of-the-Year honors, but after taking some time off, he started the 2013 season seemingly unable to find any level of comfort on the course. To his credit, he’s played fairly well recently (three Top-10s in his last four starts), but with only one exception – a solo second at the Valero Texas Open – his weekend play has taken him out of contention. It might be the new swooshed sticks; it might be something else; but he hasn’t shown anything like the consistency it takes to be on a list of likeliest major winners this year.
 
How about Adam Scott? Is there a chance for a Grand Slam? Next question . . .
 
Will Sergio Garcia recover from his monumental collapse at The Players? In order to be a successful pro, you have to have a dependable reservoir of Golfer’s Amnesia. Yes, it will bother him to think about it. But when it counts, when he’s standing over a 187-yard approach shot from light rough on the back nine on Sunday at Muirfield or Oak Hill, he isn’t going to be thinking about Sawgrass. He’ll be okay.
 
But don’t expect him to win any majors.

Improved Prospects For Habs’ Road Trip

The schedule makers seemed to be giving the Canadiens a hard time of it this week, calling for five games in eight days, all on the road. But Les Bleu, Blanc et Rouge answered the call Sunday night with a 4-3, come-from-behind win in Beantown. Suddenly, the rest of the week looks quite a bit brighter.
 
Of the remaining four games, only one is against a team with a winning record. That would be Thursday night’s trip to Raleigh to face the Hurricanes. But two factors make that game significantly easier for the Canadiens: The ‘Canes are a so-so team at home (5-4-0, compared with 7-4-1 on the road), and Carolina’s starting goalie, Cam Ward, is out for at least a month and a half with an MCL sprain. Backup Dan Ellis has played well (3-2-0, 2.53, .923), but beyond question, the Carolina coaching staff would much rather have Ward between the pipes.
 
The other games on the slate are against sub-.500 teams: the Islanders (9-11-2) on Tuesday; the Bolts (9-11-1) on Saturday; and the Panthers (6-11-5, last in the Eastern Conference) on Sunday. Tampa Bay is better than its record would indicate, but there’s a good chance that the Habs could come out of this five-game swing with something like eight points, counting the two that they already have in their pocket, courtesy of the Bruins.
 

A couple of final points: Montreal doesn’t feature any elite-level scorers, except perhaps Max Pacioretty. But you may want to give an edge to the team’s skaters this week. The Panthers, Islanders, and Lightning are among the worst four teams in the NHL in goals allowed per game. Tampa Bay and Carolina are #1 and #6, respectively, in goals scored per game, so you might ponder sitting Carey Price on those nights, particularly if you have a strong alternative in the crease.

He Did WHAT?! McIlroy Withdraws From Honda Classic

As Friday’s second round of the Honda Classic began, defending champion Rory McIlroy had reason for optimism. Despite struggling in his first two events of the season, he looked forward to one of his favorite events of the year: “I really felt like I was rounding a corner” on an uninspiring start to the 2013 campaign. A first-round 70 (E) left him several strokes behind the leaders, but still well within striking range at such an early point.
Six holes into his second round, he stood three over par, having carded a bogey and a double bogey. He proceeded to post a triple-bogey 7, followed by a bogey 4, on the next two holes. Now he’s seven over par and can’t see the cut line with a telescope. On his ninth hole, a par 5, he plopped his second shot into a water hazard. At this point, with further pursuit of weekend play rendered meaningless, he shook hands with his fellow competitors and walked off the course.
A mid-round withdrawal is nothing new; injured players do it in order to prevent career-threatening aggravation of serious conditions. But when members of the press followed him to his car and asked if there was anything physically wrong, he repeatedly said no, adding, “I’m just in a bad place mentally."
An hour later, his handlers had a different spin on the astonishing turn of events, claiming in a prepared statement that McIlroy was suffering from a painful wisdom tooth that hampered his concentration. The statement didn’t come clipped to a note from his dentist.
Fantasy owners now join the rest of the golf world in posing plenty of unanswered questions:
  • If the tooth was an issue, why didn’t he tell the reporters that? Waiting until later makes it look like prepared spin by handlers, based on plausible deniability.
  • Is McIlroy fully comfortable with his new Nike clubs? The Swoosh gave him 200 million reasons to be happy, but his game doesn’t reflect that.
  • When will the prodigy return? The Masters is less than six weeks away, and McIlroy hasn’t answered the alarm clock yet.
  • Absent a real, urgent medical problem (as contrasted with just playing awfully), is there any good excuse for quitting a round after eight holes? There are plenty of 15-handicappers who can answer that question, at least.
Through three events, McIlroy has completed four rounds plus eight holes. He posted back-to-back 75s in Abu Dhabi to finish +6 and miss the cut. Last week at the WGC Accenture Match Play, he played the #64 seed, Shane Lowry, who managed to squeeze into the event because Phil Mickelson and Brandt Snedeker didn’t enter. McIlroy lost to the lowest-ranked player in the event, posting a round that could charitably be called another 75 (he picked up on the crucial 15th hole, conceding it to Lowry to go 2-down). And this week, he managed to post an even-par round Thursday, before Friday’s self-immolation.
Thus, after 4½ rounds this season, McIlroy has yet to break par; he’s 16-over for the year. We don’t have a meaningful sample to consider his performance stats. And obviously, he isn’t anywhere near the leaders in FedEx Cup points, the Race to Dubai, or money lists on either side of the pond.
I’m not about to marginalize the effect of a sore wisdom tooth; if that was really bothering him, it can be a real distraction. That circumstance isn’t likely to affect him in the long-term, assuming he gets it treated as he says he will. The switch of clubs is more problematic, although he insists that it’s his swing, not the sticks. As noted above, he has 200 million reasons to state publicly that his golf clubs are fine – great, even – regardless of how he really feels about them. If they become a real problem, he might find a way to ditch them, as he did with the Nike putter, which lasted only one round in Abu Dhabi before he switched back to another manufacturer’s flat stick.
The greatest danger, as Steve Blass could tell him, is in the six inches between his ears. Most likely, McIlroy will snap out of this and return to being a serious threat to win any event he enters. He’ll try again next week at the WGC Cadillac at Doral. 
At least for now, I advise skepticism. Let’s see him make a cut before you go investing in his success over the course of this season.

Consider Games-Played Variances in Trade Evaluations

If you’re pondering a trade in your fantasy hockey league, be sure to pay attention to any significant disparity in games played by the NHL teams involved. As of February 22, the Flyers have played the most games at 19, while Toronto, Ottawa, and Buffalo have laced ‘em up 18 times each. In contrast, five teams (Hurricanes, Avalanche, Ducks, Sharks, and Kings) have played only 15 games, and the Bruins have taken the ice an NHL-low 14 times.

This means that each player on the Boston roster is 17|PERCENT| more valuable than is an identical player in Philadelphia, because he’ll have five more chances to log points for you. The Bruins have 34 games left, while the Flyers have only 29. If you consider two hypothetical players who each average a point per game, the Bruin can be expected to post 34 more points over the course of the regular season, while his counterpart in Philly will get just 29.

With marginal players, the difference diminishes rapidly; if you’re considering swapping rearguards who register in the vicinity of 0.4 PPG, the anticipated difference is two points, a variation that can be swallowed by a single big night. But if you’re weighing a trade that includes star forwards, be sure to account for the number of games left on each player’s schedule.

By the way, as the season unfolds, the magnitude of a five-game difference in the schedule grows significantly. If you have a player on a team with 21 games left, and you’re getting him in exchange for a player whose team has just 16 games remaining, that same five-game difference in expected value is 31|PERCENT|. A five-point difference over five weeks is more profound than a five-point difference that’s spread over nine weeks, especially in head-to-head leagues. Of course, if you can grab several players with a comparative wealth of games left to play, you’re magnifying your trade advantage.

Drama on a Desert Stage

The difference between a good book and a great book is that you’re crestfallen when you get to the last page of a great book. In that vein, the greatest tragedy of Thursday’s play at the WGC Match Play was that darkness halted play on a scintillating day that saw far more drama than what you’ll get on the first full day of a “normal” golf tournament. 

Thursday’s magic went well beyond the novelty of match play, though that factor emphatically contributed to the spectacle. When one of the world’s greatest players has a so-so day on Thursday in a stroke-play event, he can make it up on Friday. But in this event, a stumble at the wrong moment could lead to an early trunk slam, and many of the greatest players on Earth suffered that fate today. 

Think of this event as a version of March Madness. You’ve got 64 entrants in four separate brackets, and it’s single elimination. Except that in this event, the #16 seed has a meaningful chance of knocking off a #1, something that’s never happened in the history of the NCAA Basketball Tournament. 

Today, that exact fate befell two of the event’s top seeds. And these victims were hardly nameless faces; the two best players in the world, Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods, saw their weeks end early with stunning losses to Shane Lowry and Charles Howell III, respectively. Howell had never beaten Woods in a match before today, ever. Woods lost despite a bogey-free round in which he hit 14 of 17 greens in regulation. Raise your hand if you’ve ever heard of Lowry. (Hint: He’s from the Republic of Ireland, and is not related to Paul Lawrie.) 

The other #1 seeds didn’t exactly waltz into the second round. Louis Oosthuizen beat Richie Ramsay (it’s okay if you need to look him up, too) 2 and 1, and Luke Donald finished with a birdie to come from behind to beat alternate entrant Marcel Siem 1-up, the golf equivalent of the #1 seed’s winning its first-round game with a buzzer-beating tip-in. 

The snow-delayed first round still isn’t over; there are two matches that were still on the course when it became too dark to continue. Those matches will conclude early Friday, after which the Round of 32 will begin. In the meantime, here are a few more bracket-busters from the concluded matches: 

Two #2 seeds fell at the earliest possible point. Lee Westwood and Adam Scott (who was probably over-seeded) lost to Rafael Cabrera-Bello and Tim Clark, respectively. Cabrera-Bello’s win was particularly impressive as he came back from 3-down at the turn, finally catching Westwood with a par on the 18th hole to force extra play. 

Two #3 seeds also dropped out early: Charl Schwartzel lost to Russell Henley, and Jason Dufner dropped his match to Richard Sterne, with both matches going the full 18 holes. The same fate befell half of the #4 seeds, as Keegan Bradley and Dustin Johnson both lost; Johnson got bludgeoned by #13 seed Alexander Noren, 6 and 4. That means that fully half of the players seeded #1-4 lost on the first day of play. Show me a March Madness like that. Needless to say, a great many brackets got destroyed today. 

One player who has to be liking his prospects right now is defending champion Hunter Mahan. He’s in what was once Woods’ bracket. If he gets by #14 seed Sterne tomorrow, he’ll face the winner of the Martin Kaymer/Cabrera-Bello match; Mahan would likely be favored against either man. The highest seed left in the top half of that bracket is Webb Simpson, and Mahan is a better match-play competitor than Simpson is. The Bracket of Death right now has got to be the lower half of the Hogan Division, which features Justin Rose, Nicolas Colsaerts, Sergio Garcia, and Matt Kuchar, any of whom is capable of winning the entire event. It says here that Kuchar makes it out of that gauntlet to face Oosthuizen in the quarterfinals.

Finally, one other former winner of this event deserves mention. Ian Poulter won Thursday and faces Bo Van Pelt on Friday. If he wins that match, he’ll face a double-digit seed (either #15 Clark or #10 Thorbjorn Oleson), with the winner of that match getting a date in the quarters against a player who may well prove to be #1 seed Donald. Keep this in mind as this thrilling event unfolds: No one ever got rich betting against Ian Poulter in a match-play format.

From 2012 to 2013 on the PGA Tour

Best fantasy golfer of 2012 – The presumptive choice is Rory McIlroy. He duplicated Luke Donald’s amazing 2011 feat of winning the money titles in both the US and European Tours. McIlroy won a major in dominating fashion for the second year in a row, something that Donald has yet to do by any margin. And he led the PGA Tour in scoring average with a figure of 68.873, just a hair ahead of Tiger Woods. And yet, it’s possible to make a case for Woods, who recorded three wins to McIlroy’s four, if only because Woods played more often. After all, fantasy value in most formats comes from how often you card a score better than the field; not how many big events you win, and not how many European events you win (unless you play in a Euro league, of course). Woods played in 19 PGA events, missing just two cuts. McIlroy entered 16 events, missing three cuts. Tiger thus contributed to your fantasy team’s fortunes on the weekend 17 times, to Rory’s 13. (The wart on this stat is that Woods’s weekend scoring average was a stroke higher than in the first two rounds.) Also by that measure, Jason Dufner deserves serious consideration; while his scoring average was half a stroke higher than McIlroy’s or Woods’s, he made 21 straight cuts and carded 83 rounds in 2012, giving him many more opportunities to help your team than McIlroy (60) or Woods (69). McIlroy still gets the vote here, but it’s not the runaway that a surface view would indicate.
 
Shot of the year – It’s telling when a Tour pro hits the shot of his life, and not only is it not the Shot of the Year, it isn’t even the Shot of the Day. On Sunday at The Masters, Louis Oosthuizen, playing the par-5 second hole, played his second shot from 260 yards with a 4-iron. Channeling Gene Sarazen, the South African with the enviable swing played it perfectly; the ball landed in the front fringe, then rolled lazily across the green and into the cup for an albatross, the rarest gem in golf. But that wasn’t good enough. By the end of the round, he was tied with Bubba Watson for the championship. Bubba unwisely hit his drive on the second sudden-death playoff hole well right, into a forest that could well have hidden trolls and elves. His second shot was miraculous: a hard hook with a gap wedge from 154 yards that seemed to signal for a right turn while in mid-flight. The ball bounded up onto the green and into position for Watson to make a two-putt par to take the championship.
 
Collapse of the year – So many contenders here. Jim Furyk gagged his way through the late season, including his late fumble at the Bridgestone and an awful Ryder Cup performance. Adam Scott’s name was already half-engraved on the claret jug before he posted a bogey-bogey-bogey-bogey finish on Sunday to give Ernie Els the Open Championship. Kyle Stanley had a seven-stroke lead on Sunday at the Farmers, and still led by three as he stood safely in the 18th fairway. His “safe” wedge shot landed in the middle of the green, but then zinged all the way back into a water hazard. He ended up with a triple-bogey that put him in a playoff that – naturally – he lost by three-putting. Stanley at least came back to win the next week, unlike Furyk and Scott, but the magnitude of his fold gives him the edge in this ignoble category.
 
Best single moment of the 2012 season – The story goes that once someone asked Peggy Lee who the greatest jazz singer was; she answered, “You mean other than Ella?” In that sense, it isn’t fair to include the Ryder Cup with the other contenders in this category; most of the best golf moments of the year came in a single weekend at Medinah. So we’ll choose from among the mere-mortal events, and from that group, the second-best moment was Brandt Snedeker’s chip-in birdie on the 71st hole of the Tour Championship, basically assuring him of an $11 million payday. The top of the list is Tiger’s preposterous flop shot, hitting from dense rough toward a water hazard behind the 16th green on Sunday at The Memorial, for the enormous explosion it inspired from the gallery – not to mention the courage that it took to hit that shot from that place. His victory two holes later tied him with host Jack Nicklaus with 73 career wins.
 
Step-up players of 2013 – Plenty of players have the game to turn it on in the upcoming year, but the money here is on Oosthuizen, whose game blossomed throughout 2012. He led the European Tour in stroke average and scrambling and finished second in greens-in-regulation. A few other candidates: Charl Schwartzel finished 2012 on a strong note after losing time early due to an injury, and Nicolas Colsaerts indicated that he’d play a full season on the PGA Tour for the first time. If Colsaerts can be purloined in salary-based leagues for his 2012 earnings of $677K, then there is no excuse for not taking him. (Ditto Martin Kaymer.) Keep an eye on Nick Watney, whose results just haven’t kept up with his game over the past year and a half, and Harris English, who looks overwhelmingly likely to produce better results than 2012; just don’t expect a Rory-like year from him.
 
Drop-off players of 2013 – Steve Stricker has announced that he’ll play a significantly reduced schedule in the coming year. He plans to enter no more than 10 events, down from his 19-event calendar last season. He still has a masterful wedge game, and he made 18 cuts in 2012. But he’ll be 46 in February, and he’s decided to ease into semi-retirement. If you follow the Euros, remember that the ageless Miguel Angel Jimenez is on the shelf until late spring due to a fractured tibia, sustained in a late-December skiing accident. Jonathan Byrd is recovering from wrist surgery in October; he expects to be back in March, but you should be skeptical of the recovery from something as delicate as a wrist. Finally, Jim Furyk is showing signs that the fat lady is warming up. He can still put the ball in the short grass (#4 in fairways hit); he just can’t put it out there very far (#170 in driving distance). His monumental collapse at the Bridgestone, where he double-bogeyed the 72nd hole to finish second by a stroke, is just one prominent example of his recent woes. He still scored well last year, but he shows signs of eroding skills.
 
Money in the bank – Of the players you can buy for their 2012 earnings, take a hard look at Ian Poulter (if he indeed plays a full season on this side of the pond) and Kaymer (ditto), who should easily out-earn last year’s purses ($1.7M and $566K, respectively). You should even pick up Dustin Johnson at $3.4 million; I foresee multiple wins for him this season. Also, get players on the rise, but who didn’t have monster years in 2012 like Rory’s. The names on this list include Adam Scott (under $3M), Oosthuizen ($3.5M), and Jason Day ($1.1M). Keegan Bradley is a close call here at $3.9M, but given his youth, I’d pick him up and have fun watching him when the chips are down. (Of course, if salary is no object, and you can just pick any six golfers you like, then none of these considerations will matter much; you just load your lineup with Rory and Tiger and Dustin and Keegan, etc. Unfortunately, so will everyone else in your league.)
 
Too expensive – This category comes with a caveat, inspired by the classic fantasy-baseball advice of John Benson: You must get your fair share of talent with your budget. If you have a spending limit and buy a bunch of low-priced players who are overwhelmingly likely to out-earn last year, that’s great; but if you only spend half your money doing so, you’re going to lose. Benson was right; you need to wrap up some of the higher-priced talent, as outlined in the immediately preceding note. That being said, I think McIlroy will have a tough time out-pacing his phenomenal 2012 earnings (over $8M). Same for Woods at $6.1M, Snedeker at $5M, and Dufner at almost $4.9M; even Carl Pettersson at $3.5M.
 
Low-priced sleepers and late-round thefts – You can get Frederik Jacobson, Gary Woodland, and K. J. Choi for under $1M in salary-based leagues. Seung-Yul Noh made a plausible case for Rookie of the Year, making an amazing 24 cuts in 28 starts, and may go undrafted. Keep English in mind, as noted above.
 
I decided to take a look back at last year’s predictions, to see how I did the last time I posted this essay:
 
Bounce-back player of 2012: I picked Woods, and he came through after a dismal 2011. I give myself only an A-, though, because that one was too easy to forecast.
Out-of-nowhere player: I stuck my neck out with Patrick Cantlay, who played so steadily in the 2011 U.S. Open as an amateur. He entered four events as an amateur in early 2012, then six more after turning pro in June, making the cut each time. But he never cashed a big paycheck or made a major splash. After finishing well down the field at Q-School, he’ll start 2013 in the Web.com Tour and hope for an early promotion to the big show. I should cheat and give myself an incomplete here, especially since I warned you that he was a long-term project; I still like his prospects once he arrives on Tour.
Out-of-somewhere player: Designed to be a little more conservative than Cantlay, I went with John Senden, who then posted a middle-of-the-road season. His top finish was a fourth at the John Deere. He continued to shine in GIR, but fell back to earth in strokes gained-putting, where he had shown such promise in 2011. My GPA is slipping here . . .
Blue-chippers: I listed Matt Kuchar, Hunter Mahan, and Jason Day. Kuchar won The Players and Mahan won the WGC Match Play, so I feel a bit vindicated there; Day had a pedestrian year that was largely engendered by wildness off the tee (#183 in driving accuracy) that led to poor approaches (#167 in GIR).
Most likely to plummet: Furyk got the nod, and despite some good numbers and a healthy bank balance, his late-season collapses foreshadow a dim future.
 

Finally, I advised sticking a fork in John Daly. He played in 15 events on this side of the pond and 12 more in Europe. His PGA Tour winnings amounted to less than half a million dollars. Even for the desperate, there are far better paces to stake your fantasy golf fortunes.