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Golf Barometer: Golf Cinema

The Travelers Championship wasn't an easy watch on Sunday - the quality of play wasn't particularly good from the final groups and the heavy commercial time was obtrusive. But at the end of the day we got three likable players into a playoff, and any trip to the Nutmeg State brings Brass Bonanza into our ears, so it wasn't a lost weekend. Let's add up the winners and losers.

UPGRADE

Bubba Watson:
Everyone knows him for the prodigious driving distance but keep in mind he's an excellent iron player (8th in GIR) and solid on the greens as well (24th in putting average). A player with this much ability was due to win sometime, and after hearing Watson's heartfelt and moving victory speech, I wish him extended success. We need more guys like this out on the circuit. Watson will have trouble contending in a stateside major given his playing approach (150th in tee accuracy), but he's got a skill set to win double-digit events over his career.

Ricky Barnes:
Five of his last seven cashes have landed in the Top 10, including a T5 at The Travelers (69-67-64-68). It took Barnes a while to get out of his own way mentally and trust his swing and ability, but now that he's got a little confidence going there's no stopping this post-hype sleeper. He's going to be a double-digit purchase in next year's RotoWire Staff Golf Auction.

DOWNGRADE

Hunter Mahan:
He's now missed four cuts in a row and hasn't even broken 70 since the final week of May. What happened to Mahan's nerve and smooth stroke on the greens? It looked like a big year for Mahan after his Arizona victory in late February, but he's looked out of it since a T17 at Sawgrass.

Charles Howell III:
The joys and responsibilities of family life might be affecting his play of late - Howell had a forgettable T44 check at the St. Jude Classic and wasn't a factor in Connecticut (71-71, slam the trunk). He's on my bench for the AT&T National - I need a show of good faith first.

David Toms:
He's made the cut in 10-of-15 events but only one check was over six digits, and we're not seeing much of Toms on the weekend (he's really struggling on Saturday, where he ranks 113th in scoring). Toms has been adequate but not great with his irons this year, a dip that really hurts him given his mediocre distance off the tee. He's just another guy for 2010, nothing special and nothing to chase.

HOLDING STEADY

Ben Curtis:
He lost his nerve down the stretch in Connecticut when the event was there for the taking, but I still like what I've seen from this guy over the last few months. Get him on your deep sleeper list for the British Open - he's going to surprise everyone and land in the Top 25 - with a weekend run not out of the question.

Justin Rose:
Let's not kill him too much for the 75 out the door at The Travelers - Rose showed he could close by winning the Memorial, and he'a already bagged five six-figure checks on our side of the pond this year. Provided he has the requisite short memory, he can be a factor at St. Andrews.

"Tin Cup," Golf Cinema:
It had been a few years, so I settled in for a rewatch of the 1996 sleeper. The problem with "Tin Cup" is that there's too much romantic and not enough comedy - the movie works better when it's centered on the conflict between Cup and Dave Simms (Don Johnson makes an eagle as the all-world jerk), or Cup hanging with his fan club at the down-and-out driving range. Rene Russo isn't hard to look at, but there's no spark between her and Kevin Costner, and their scenes are very poorly constructed. I'll re-evaluate in 2012.

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