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Golf Barometer: Tiger's on the Prowl

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

Brandt Snedeker:
OK, Kyle Stanley lost the event in San Diego more than Snedeker won it. No one disputes that. But give Snedeker major props for getting back into character for the surprise playoff, and then handling the play around the green skillfully after a couple of wayward tee shots. Next up is challenging in a major, something I think we'll see from Snedeker in the summer months. He has the iron play and the putter to win most places, and he's figured out how to handle those Sunday nerves.

Robert Rock:
It's a heck of a pull to win the Abu Dhabi Championship with Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods on your tail, and that makes it two victories for Rock in seven months. He tied for seventh at the British Open in 2010 and made the cut in both of his majors last year, so be ready for a point-and-click in deeper, European-based pools. He's also slotted 55th on the World Rankings, which means we should see him at some WGC events.

Mark Wilson:
He's already got a victory under his belt, and now he heads to the Phoenix party as the defending champion. Something inside the Top 25 looks like a lock, and I won't be surprised if he pushes inside the Top 10 again. The late 30s are a terrific time for career years, and Wilson turned 37 last Halloween.

Tiger Woods:
He couldn't close the deal at Abu Dhabi, but it's encouraging to see him finish tied for third after a final round in which his driving was beyond dreadful. The ball striking will come around eventually; what should scare the rest of the golf world is how Woods scrambled and competed in this event. He's getting close to going on a run, and he seems to know it.

Martin Laird:
For some reason, he's a Group C player in the Yahoo! game, which means everyone and his sister will be using Laird in Phoenix. He's already cashed two handsome checks in his 2012 starts (sole second at the TOC, then a T14 at Humana), and he was T3 at the Waste Management Open last year.

DOWNGRADE

Phil Mickelson:
He's got more important things on his mind right now - the health of his daughter, first and foremost. We'll have plenty of weeks to dial up Lefty, but let's not use those starts now.

Ernie Els:
He's working with two eye specialists, with an aim toward getting the putter working again. Maybe the eye docs can do something to help Els with his driver, which was erratic in San Diego. Els was 162nd in total driving last season.

HOLDING STEADY

Kyle Stanley:
If you told him before San Diego that he'd finish second, losing in a playoff, he surely would have taken it. But to lose in the ugly fashion that Stanley did - a triple-bogey on the last, including a spinning wedge that wound up wet - surely leaves a mark on his psyche. Stanley appeared to be near tears in the post-playoff interviews, and no one could blame him. But he's still just a 24-year-old pup on tour and has always had the pedigree of a future star; so long as he gets back on the horse quickly and reaffirms his ability to himself, there shouldn't be a long-term effect here. I'm not going to use him in Phoenix (give him some time to collect himself), but I'm not concerned for the long haul.

Geoff Ogilvy:
I still think he's going to have a big comeback year, but that Sunday 75 at San Diego (clinching a T50 finish) didn't inspire a lot of confidence. The iron game and the play around the green remains solid, but Ogilvy's driving was short and wayward for the majority of the week. So long as his mid irons remain solid, I'll bet on the driver coming around sooner or later. He's still just 34; there's plenty of good golf left here.

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