A couple weeks back I wondered aloud the direction this PGA TOUR season would take in the second half. Up to mid-season it was a hodgepodge of players visiting the winner's circle. Since then we've seen what could be the next big thing in Rory McIlroy win the U.S. Open and a journeyman in Fredrik Jacobson win the Travelers Championship. The only thing these two have in common is the fact that they aren't from the United States, which brings me to the question at hand. How long will the American drought last? Just a few years ago, it was thought this new crop of young players that included Dustin Johnson, Bubba Watson and J.B. Holmes would soon take over the golf world. To be fair, the players listed, as well as a few other young Americans, have had plenty of success, but not a single player from the bunch has taken the next step. This normally wouldn't be such a big deal, but considering that McIlroy made the leap two weeks ago, the clock is ticking. Don't get me wrong, there's plenty of time to win multiple majors, but the window to legendary status is closing quickly. Win a few majors and you might enter the hall of fame; win seven, eight or more and you go down as one of the all-time greats. To do that, you need to get started early, and at this pace, the greats of the next generation will all be from overseas.
What the Travelers Championship means:
Fredrik Jacobson: It was a long time coming for Jacobson, but he finally captured his first PGA TOUR win last week. Jacobson is on a roll, and it started before he teed it up at the Travelers. Jacobson entered last week with three top-10s this season and a top-15 at the U.S. Open.
Ryan Moore: Moore is quietly having a very solid season. Through last week, he's captured three top-fives and has missed only one cut this season. Look for Moore to possibly pick up a win in the next month or so.
Jim Furyk: I refuse to believe that Furyk suddenly forgot how to play the game or that his age is just now catching up with him, but I'm running out of excuses. Something is not right, and this season is looking more and more like a complete bust.
This week: AT&T National
Last Year: Justin Rose shot a final-round 70 on his way to a one-stroke victory over Ryan Moore.
Players to Consider:
1. Ryan Moore
Well, there goes any chance of Moore being under the radar this week. He finished runner-up here last year, and coming off a runner-up showing last week as well, he's going to be a popular choice this week.
2. Nick Watney
Watney struggled in his first two starts at this event, but after the change of venue, he turned it around. In his only start at Aronimink, Watney finished T7.
3. J.B. Holmes
Holmes has been quiet lately, but this looks like the perfect spot for another win. He finished fifth here last year, and Holmes is one of the few who can take full advantage of the lengthy course.
4. Robert Garrigus
When we last saw Garrigus, he was in that group trailing Rory McIlroy - not the group way-way behind him, but the group just way behind him. Anyhow, his T3 at the U.S. Open might have been a fluke, but then again, it could be a sign of things to come. Considering the relative lack of course history this week, Garrigus looks like a solid sleeper.
5. Bryce Molder
Molder is the perfect sleeper this week. He's had a poor season, but his best showing came last week at the Travelers where he finished T6, and he played pretty well here last year on this way to a top-25 finish.
Players to Avoid:
1. Anthony Kim
Some might look for a bounce-back this week from Kim, but forget about his track record here, those numbers were posted at the former venue. And considering the state of his game, the venue wouldn't matter anyway.
2. Vijay Singh
Great track record here, but his game is in no shape to handle the beast that is Aronimink this week. Only one top-10 in the last four months.
3. Justin Leonard
Even if his game were in top shape, he'd likely struggle here. Considering his game is nowhere near top shape, there's no reason to use him.
4. Jim Furyk
This list is becoming quite static, but I-call-'em-as-I-sees-'em. Furyk has a great track record at this event, but not this venue. In his only start at Aronimink, he finished T33.
5. Sean O'Hair
O'Hair managed to make the cut last week at the Travelers, and that's about all we can say about his performance. While everyone else in the field was in the midst of a birdie-fest, O'Hair posted a 75 on Sunday.
Yahoo! Fantasy Golf:
This week: AT&T National
1. Nick Watney
2. K.J. Choi
It's not often I cringe when making my Group A selections, but that was the case this week. After Watney, there just isn't much to like from this group. Sure, there are a few big names, but none that looked appealing to me.
1. Jeff Overton
2. Bryce Molder
3. Webb Simpson
4. Justin Rose
I imagine that nearly everyone will have Mahan this week, but I left him off the roster. It wasn't an easy choice, but I just haven't seen enough from him lately. As for the players I did include, Simpson continues to play at a high-level, and a win is not too far away. Molder is a solid sleeper this week. Overton finished third here last year, and his length will help this week. Rose is the defending champ, and considering that there isn't much course history in the field this week, I'll take the guy who conquered the course last year.
1. Ryan Moore
2. J.B. Holmes
Unfortunately, I had to leave one of my top-five off the roster this week because three were in Group C. The odd man out was Robert Garrigus. I simply couldn't take him over Holmes or Moore this week. Both Holmes and Moore played well here last year, and I expect the same this year.
Starters Round One
1. Nick Watney
2. Justin Rose
3. Webb Simpson
4. Ryan Moore
Watney gets the start in Group A, which shouldn't be a surprise to anyone who read my write-up on that group. I'm going with Rose and Simpson in Group B. One player is on a roll, and the other is the defending champ. Sounds like a solid combination to me. The Group C choice was a little more difficult in that I really like both players, but I decided to go with Moore, who's coming off a nice showing last week at the Travelers.
Round Two and Going Forward:
Last week was one of those where I just couldn't get the right starters into my line-up. I must have missed out on about 30-40 points because I started the wrong player. Of course, there's no way to know in advance who is going to play well on which day, the best you can do is put the right players on your team and hope your intuition pays off. As for my intuition this week, I see it like this: Watney all the way in Group A. He didn't finish well last week, but I think he turns that around this week. Simpson is in line for about three starts this week. He continues to play well no matter the venue, so there's no reason to think that changes this week. Two sleepers in the group, Overton and Molder, will have to show some game before they get a start. I have a good feeling about each this week, but the odds say that only one will emerge as a contender. Group C will be in the air all week. Both Moore and Holmes are capable of winning, so my first thought is to stick with the hot hand. Moore starts Thursday, but whoever posts a better round on day one will start Friday.