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2011 Golf Sleepers: Golfers to Target

Greg Vara

Greg Vara

Vara is the lead golf writer at RotoWire. He was named the 2013 FSWA Golf Writer of the Year. In addition to producing the weekly preview and the bulk of the draft kit content, Vara participates in Yahoo!'s "Experts Picks" where he routinely dominates. He also picks college football games against the spread in his "College Capper" article.

Here's a look at the top Sleepers for the 2011 golf season. Sleeper grades are based on a player's projected improvement from 2010 to 2011 and his draft value. Improvement percentage is calculated by comparing the 2011 projected earnings vs. the 2010 earnings. Anything positive is a good score, though a slight positive score might just reflect inflation in the prize money. Golfers listed below are ranked by sleeper grade.

1. Chris Baryla
Sleeper Grade: A
2010 Rank: 231
2010 Earnings: $24,254
2011 Proj. Earnings: $500,000
Improvement Pct: 1,961.5
2011 Outlook: Baryla has his card for 2011, and it would be nearly impossible not to improve on his miniscule 2010 number. Baryla is only 28, so this could just be the beginning. Whatever the case, he's going to be a great value at this number.

2. Mike Weir
Sleeper Grade: A
2010 Rank: 151
2010 Earnings: $559,092
2011 Proj. Earnings: $1,750,000
Improvement Pct: 213.0
2011 Outlook: Weir was limited due to an injury last season. When healthy, he's an obvious pick at this price. There's no way to tell if he's fully healthy, but even if he's not, he still has value for 2011. Unless there's news about Weir being out for a large chunk of the season, he's a must-have at this price. Weir was scheduled to play some in December 2010, keep a close eye on how he performs, better yet, make sure he finishes the events. That should be all you need to pull the trigger. Weir struggles to get to the green, but once there, he's one of the better putters on the PGA TOUR.

3. Trevor Immelman
Sleeper Grade: A
2010 Rank: 163
2010 Earnings: $422,171
2011 Proj. Earnings: $1,000,000
Improvement Pct: 136.9
2011 Outlook: Immelman has spent much of the last two seasons trying to play through a wrist injury, and the results have not been good. Who would have thought that his game would go in the tank after he won the Masters? There's still time for Immelman, though, and once he's fully healthy, he should find himself safely inside the top 125. Predictably, Immelman's stats the last two years have been poor, but that's normal for him. You have to go back to 2006 to find the last time he ranked in the top 20 in any of the four core stats categories. That year he finished 14th in GIR.

4. Henrik Stenson
Sleeper Grade: A
2010 Rank: 134
2010 Earnings: $683,070
2011 Proj. Earnings: $1,500,000
Improvement Pct: 119.6
2011 Outlook: Fortunately, Stenson is a PGA TOUR member, which means his below average number from last season is all you'll have to spend to get him on your team - and make no mistake, you must find room for Stenson. He'll likely play the minimum 15 events again this season, but considering the purses at those events, he has opportunity to make two or three times what he did last season. Stenson is an accurate driver and last year he ranked 13th in eagles per hole.

5. Nathan Green
Sleeper Grade: A
2010 Rank: 144
2010 Earnings: $636,180
2011 Proj. Earnings: $1,250,000
Improvement Pct: 96.5
2011 Outlook: Green did not handle prosperity well as his first season after his 2009 win was a disaster. OK, so it could have been worse, but considering his age, Green was expected to go upward after breaking through for his first victory on the PGA TOUR; not the opposite way. That said, Green is back to fighting for his card in 2011, and as such, his play will have to improve. Expect Green to be back in the $1-million range again this season. When he first started on the PGA TOUR, Green was a fantastic putter, the past two years, however, his skills on the green have diminished.

6. Jarrod Lyle
Sleeper Grade: B
2010 Rank: 162
2010 Earnings: $422,760
2011 Proj. Earnings: $750,000
Improvement Pct: 77.4
2011 Outlook: Lyle hasn't showed much in his brief time on the PGA TOUR, but at this number, he could really make an impact on your roster. Lyle earned his 2011 card through Q-School and will have plenty of chances to improve on his disappointing number from 2010. Lyle has captured a couple titles on the Nationwide Tour, so hopefully some of that success will translate to the PGA TOUR at some point.

7. Troy Matteson
Sleeper Grade: B
2010 Rank: 128
2010 Earnings: $736,060
2011 Proj. Earnings: $1,250,000
Improvement Pct: 69.8
2011 Outlook: Matteson is exempt for the 2011 season because of a victory in 2009. Matteson has been on the PGA TOUR since 2006, and before last season his lowest earnings total was $1.2 million in 2008. Matteson won during his rookie season and earned more than $1.7 million. He's battled injuries ever since, but he appears healthy now. The question is whether he can play well enough this season to retain his card for 2012. Considering he's spent 80 percent of his time above $1 million on the PGA TOUR, it looks like last year was just an off year. Matteson is long off the tee and accurate toward the green. A very nice combination to have in rotisserie leagues.

8. Cameron Tringale
Sleeper Grade: B
2010 Rank: 179
2010 Earnings: $302,618
2011 Proj. Earnings: $500,000
Improvement Pct: 65.2
2011 Outlook: Tringale made only five cuts as a rookie last season, but he did sneak into the top 25 three times. Tringale finished fourth at Q-School this season, which gives him playing privileges for the entire 2011 season. Considering his age, he should be on his way up rather than down, so expect an increase in earnings this season. Tringale is long off the tee and hit a large percentage of greens last season.

9. Billy Mayfair
Sleeper Grade: B
2010 Rank: 142
2010 Earnings: $642,231
2011 Proj. Earnings: $1,000,000
Improvement Pct: 55.7
2011 Outlook: Mayfair is back on the PGA TOUR after winning the Q-school event in December. Mayfair has been one of the most consistent players on the PGA TOUR the last decade, but a bout with cancer a couple years back may have taken a toll on his overall game. Mayfair is cancer free and after two down years is ready to resume his role as one of the more dependable players on the PGA TOUR. Mayfair has a lot of value in rotisserie leagues as he hits a lot of greens and is very accurate off the tee.

10. Matthew Goggin
Sleeper Grade: B
2010 Rank: 159
2010 Earnings: $483,537
2011 Proj. Earnings: $750,000
Improvement Pct: 55.1
2011 Outlook: Goggin is another player who's not exempt this season, but will find another way to earn his way onto the PGA TOUR in 2011. His number is low enough that even if his attempts don't pan out, he'll still be able to match his number from last season. Goggin averaged about $1.25 million a season from 2006 to 2009. Goggin excels at GIR percentage, but not much else statistically.

11. John Merrick
Sleeper Grade: B
2010 Rank: 140
2010 Earnings: $658,815
2011 Proj. Earnings: $1,000,000
Improvement Pct: 51.8
2011 Outlook: Merrick is too good to be outside the top 125. He made a whopping 23 cuts in 31 events last season, but obviously his game didn't cooperate on the weekends. Although he's not fully except this season, Merrick will find a way to make the most of sponsorsí exemptions and likely will earn his card during the season. Merrick is long off the tee, but he's inconsistent in the other core stats categories.

12. Paul Stankowski
Sleeper Grade: B
2010 Rank: 137
2010 Earnings: $666,591
2011 Proj. Earnings: $1,000,000
Improvement Pct: 50.0
2011 Outlook: Stankowski has struggled much of the last decade, but last year he finally showed some of his best form when he earned more than $660K in only 18 events. Stankowski hit that earnings number without the benefit of his card last season, so with his eligibility restored through Q-school, he should see a nice bump in earnings. Stankowski's stats have been off for most of the past 10 seasons, but when he's on, he specializes in hitting greens.

13. James Driscoll
Sleeper Grade: C
2010 Rank: 157
2010 Earnings: $500,625
2011 Proj. Earnings: $750,000
Improvement Pct: 49.8
2011 Outlook: It doesn't appear as though Driscoll is bound for greatness on the PGA TOUR, but at least he's got another shot this season. After a finish outside the top 125 last year, Driscoll went back to Q-School and regained his card for 2011. His ceiling is limited, however, so proceed with caution. Odds are, he'll improve upon his 2010 number this season, but don't expect a huge improvement. Driscoll is long off the tee, but fairly erratic in every other category.

14. Kent Jones
Sleeper Grade: C
2010 Rank: 190
2010 Earnings: $188,746
2011 Proj. Earnings: $250,000
Improvement Pct: 32.5
2011 Outlook: Jones' ceiling is probably $500K or so, but he does have his card for the 2011 season, so he might be worth a look. Jones' best season the last five years was in 2006 when he made more than $860K. Jones is accurate off the tee and fairly adept at hitting greens, though those skills will probably start to fade soon, along with the rest of his game.

15. Richard S. Johnson
Sleeper Grade: C
2010 Rank: 135
2010 Earnings: $678,515
2011 Proj. Earnings: $750,000
Improvement Pct: 10.5
2011 Outlook: Johnson isn't likely to break the bank anytime soon on the PGA TOUR, but he just earned his card through Q-School, so at the very least, he'll have plenty of chances to make money this season. Johnson won on the PGA TOUR in 2008, so we know he's capable, but he's been out here too long to think he'll have a major bump in earnings. Johnson is accurate off the tee, but beyond that, he doesn't offer much help in rotisserie leagues.