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Golf Barometer: Tiger: The Legend is Dead?

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

Marc Leishman:
He's quietly rounding into form, cashing seven times in eight starts including a T3 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational last week. There's not a lot on the stat page that jumps out at you, except for two things - Leishman is ninth in scrambling (resourcefulness around the green always goes far) and fifth in scoring (you like to see golfers who can outperform their component stats, and Leishman can do that). Leishman didn't do much last year in his first go-round in the majors (cut, cut, T60, T48), but expect a significant step forward now that he's been through the experience once.

J.J. Henry:
Love a steady, consistent veteran player and Henry is exactly that - he's made nine cuts in a row, with five of those finishes coming in the Top 25. The game isn't elite around the green, but he's an underrated ball-striker, and perhaps he's in line for a career season in his mid-30s (he turns 36 in a couple of days). Henry has cashed three times in a row at Houston, so put him in your plans this week.

Fred Couples:
He won at Houston in 2003 and jumped into the Top 5 in 2008 and 2009, so if you need a wild card selection for this week, look no further. Couples hasn't played a lot in 2011 on either tour, but at his age that might not be a bad thing - keep the back rested, keep the body pliable. Look for a four-round story here, and maybe hold onto Couples through the Masters.

D.J. Trahan:
His game was a mess during the early swing, but a steady 72-71-72-71 at Arnie's tournament (en route to a T12 check) might be the jump start Trahan needed. His last two starts in Houston were good ones (T11, solo 8th).

DOWNGRADE

Jhonattan Vegas:
The splashy debut is old news now - he's having trouble simply making cuts at the moment, and he threw a messy 80-75 at the field last week. Standing 178th in driving accuracy and 132rd in putting, you can see why we can't treat Vegas as a sure thing.

Sergio Garcia:
The raw ability and the ball-striking are still there, but Garcia still makes too many mistakes when he allows himself to think (and feel persecuted). Putting misses inside of two feet simply shouldn't happen at this level, but it's always something with Sergio. The sports psychologist who can make a breakthrough with Garcia will never have to work again.

Tiger Woods:
He has no right to be the Masters favorite - chase Mickelson or one of the foreign stars. Woods got everyone in a tizzy with the 68 he flushed on Friday, but once again he has no kick on the weekend. The legend is dead, boys. No one is afraid of Tiger anymore; long gone are the days where the field would trip all over itself, getting out of his way.

HOLDING STEADY

J.B. Holmes:
Hard to say where his game is at right now - his iron play has improved, while his work around the greens is not as impressive. Unfortunately for the viewers, Holmes is still a deliberate man on the course. Keep it moving, son.

Steve Marino:
How many ways can we spin this? Do we applaud the gutsy way he played the 18th last week, giving him a shot at a playoff if Martin Laird lost his way, or do we shield our eyes and shake our heads at how Marino faltered on the previous hole (double bogey) or on the 15th (bogey)? It's comical that a player of Marino's talent hasn't broken through and won yet, and there comes a point where near-misses like this might be doing more mental harm than good. If he ever does break through, look for the second win to come inside of 12 months. The first victory is always the hardest.

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