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Golf Barometer: The Northwestern Mafia's Favorite

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

Luke Donald:
He's long been one of our favorites (the Northwestern Mafia is strong at RotoWire), and he was in fine form stampeding to six straight victories at the Accenture, but will this carry over to stroke-play success? Donald's always had the chops for match play, dating back to his Ryder Cup history. His iron play and decision making was sublime in the desert. Now let's see something in a traditional event.

Martin Kaymer:
He's the new world No. 1 after his loss to Donald in the finals, and Kaymer has the complete game to stay there. There's no obvious weaknesses on the course, he's in impeccable shape, there's a fine work ethic here, and most of all, he's got the mix of confidence and composure that's absolutely essential at the top levels (think of everything you don't like about Sergio Garcia, then flip it around).

Bubba Watson:
He's become must-see TV anytime he's in a match or near the lead. He hits it a ton, we all know that. He loves shaping shots. He's a total feel player and unafraid to show some color to the cameras (this separates him from 90 percent of the field). We need more like you, lefty. There's room at the top of the American pecking order; the big-name chaps aren't doing much.

Johnson Wagner:
Congratulations, you won your second PGA Tour event, and victories that come in playoffs usually are good for an extra bounce of confidence. The check still cashes, no matter that the win came in a minor tournament opposite the glare of a WGC event. The world, in this case, was not watching.

Spencer Levin:
He fell to Wagner in the Mayakoba playoff, but let's tip the cap to the Working Class Hero of the PGA Tour. Levin has played for seven straight weeks - he'll make it eight at the Honda Classic - and he's cashed in six events, including three six-figure checks in a row. Volume and production, that's a dandy combination in fantasy.

Terry Gannon, Announcer:
He's probably the most underrated play-by-play man in the sport today, a smart-but-understated traffic cop who constantly adds to the production but never gets in the way of the flow of the broadcast. If it were easy to do this, we wouldn't appreciate Gannon's fine work so much. More, please.

DOWNGRADES

Tiger Woods:
We've learned over the years not to overrate the value of any single match-play result - fluky things happen in this format - but obviously we have to downgrade Woods at least a little for his first-round loss to journeyman Thomas Bjorn. Tiger's short game was a mess the entire match - I've never seen him chip so poorly - and you have to wonder if the Woods intimidation factor is gone for good. Back in the day, players would trip all over themselves to lose to Tiger. That's not the case any more.

Speaking of Bjorn, give him some props for taking Tiger out in the first round, and add another dap on the shoulder for the extended post-match discussion Bjorn had with his friend after the match was over. Bjorn understands something that Woods hasn't for a while - it's OK to be human.

Jason Day:
What's with making Paul Casey finish up on an 18-inch putt? There's an etiquette and a gentleman's history to match play, something that apparently Day knows nothing about. Day thinks he's playing mind games with his opponents out there, but all he's doing is creating enemies and building up bad karma.

Camilo Villegas:
There's no positive spin to be made here. He's been a mess in four stroke-play events, then he goes to the match play dance and loses to a jet-lagged replacement player (J.B. Holmes) who didn't know the course and barely had any time to sleep. Wake up, Gator, the season is passing you by.

Chad Campbell:
He opened the year at the Sony with a snappy T13, but since then he's given us one paltry check (T48 at the Bob Hope) and four straight trunk slams in a row. The mid-30s are supposed to be a prime time for a golfer, but Campbell looks lost on the course.