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Golf Barometer: The Everyman of the Tour

David Ferris

David Ferris

Ferris covers the PGA Tour for RotoWire. He is an award-winning sports writer and a veteran fantasy columnist. He also is a scratch golfer.


UPGRADE


Mark Wilson:
In a lot of ways he's the Everyman of the tour, a short-but-true ball striker who makes a lot of cuts and occasionally forces his way into the weekend story. Wilson's win at the Sony was the third of his career, however, so maybe there's a little more upside to the player than we might have initially thought. He doesn't turn 40 for another three-and-a-half years, and the second wave of the 30s is generally a very productive time for a touring pro. Wilson's 2010 earnings were a disappointment, but keep in mind he banked between $1.5 and $1.7 million in each of the three prior seasons. If you swooped in on the "last year's bum" principle, you've done well.

Chris Riley:
He couldn't do a thing in the final quarter of 2010, and we don't blame you if you had Riley completely off your radar entering the new year. He got the season off to a solid push, booking four rounds in the 60s en route to a snappy T9 finish. He's always going to concede distance off the tee, but Riley is an underrated iron player and has lots of nerve on the greens. Keep him on your possible sleeper list.

Matt Kuchar:
I was worried about a dip season after last year's emphatic breakthrough, but Kuchar didn't get the memo apparently. He's already banked a pair of Top-10 checks to open the year, looking just as smooth and confident as we saw at the end of last year.

Rory Sabbatini:
He didn't break the bank with a T13 check, but we liked seeing all four rounds in the 60s, we liked the confident gait down the fairway and we liked the creativity on the greens. A decisive golfer is a dangerous golfer.

Bill Haas:
Don't let the burden of defending steer you away from Haas at the Bob Hope this week. He was sharp at Kapalua (T8), and his outstanding iron play will serve him well at this week's birdie fest. Anything outside of the Top 25 would be surprising, and a Top-10 grab would not come as a surprise. He's likely to be one of the breakout starts of 2011.

DOWNGRADE


Zach Johnson:
The toe problem doesn't seem to be going away easily - Johnson did nothing in the opener and finished T57 last week. Maybe a few weeks on the sidelines would be the best thing here.

Camilo Villegas:
A DQ pushed him out of the TOC, and at the Sony it was a front-door trunk slam - he didn't make enough birdies in his first round and couldn't rally sufficiently in Round 2. Everyone remembers his hot start last year, but it didn't begin until February - let's revisit the Gator in a couple of weeks.

Vijay Singh:
He gave us a 70-68 to open the year, good enough for a tiny check in the MDF parade but not good enough to advance to Round 3. Singh's reliability through his 40s didn't really get its fair due, but you have to wonder if he's done being a check-grabbing force at age 48. You never can be sure of his putting, so the ball striking has to be letter-perfect for Singh to contend.

HOLDING STEADY


Steve Marino:
Another near-miss for the sublime ball striker, and normally you want to credit players when they put themselves in contention. But until Marino shows he can close and secure a trophy - he's still winless on tour despite 19 Top-10 checks - we have to wonder if he's ever going to shake the underachiever tag. He should have broken through with a victory by now, and deep down inside, he probably knows that as well as anyone.

Tim Clark:
He made a run at the Sony, and he has an outstanding track record at the Bob Hope, but blister problems on Clark's feet eventually had their say. He was forced to withdraw Tuesday, probably a good idea with five rounds on tap. At least he can put last week's result in his confidence bank.

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