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Golf Barometer: Mahan's Confidence Boost

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

Hunter Mahan:
His ball striking was sublime at the Match Play and his putter was just as good - look out for this guy in the majors. He still needs to do some work with the wedge game and the scrambling game, but the putting confidence he's stashed in the back of his mind will go a long way. And speaking of confidence boosting, nothing does that better than a decisive victory over the world's best player in the final, Rory McIlroy. Mahan can finally bury the 2010 Ryder Cup nightmare for good; he's a different player now.

Rory McIlroy:
He got to the Match Play final without his best game - that shows how ridiculously talented this kid is. There's no fear in his game, no nerves, no hesitation. McIlroy hits the ball a mile high, he has nerves of steel on the greens. I'll be shocked if he doesn't have a gaggle of major championships on his mantle before his career is through. And take note that McIlroy is the Vegas favorite at this week's Honda Classic, not Tiger Woods.

Mark Wilson:
He's everyman, an accurate but short hitter off the tee that finds a way to beat you with smarts, risk control and a deft putter. Wilson's scoring average is consistent for all four rounds this year, but his best work has come Sunday (where he ranked 10th). The bright lights and the big moments don't sway the Midwesterner - he's the same guy whenever he tees it up. Looks can be very deceiving in this game.

Matt Every:
His first few years on the circuit were rocky ones, but the former Florida Gator appears to be growing up at age 29. He grabbed a T6 check at the Sony Open in mid-January and backed that up with a T3 down in Mexico last week at the secondary (and ignored) Mayakoba Golf Classic. Every's scoring average is better than the component stats suggest it should be; that sort of issue might worry you on the baseball diamond, but I like to see it in golf.

DOWNGRADE

Tiger Woods:
The putting nightmare in Round 2 against Nick Watney wasn't really a surprise to anyone - we've seen this movie before. Two weeks ago at Pebble Beach we saw the same show, with Phil Mickelson and Tony Romo looking on. Tiger's retooled swing is eventually going to come around, but you wonder about the flexibility of his knees and his nerve on the greens. Jack's 18 majors are looking pretty safe today.

Steve Marino:
He hasn't teed it up since late January and Is sitting out the Honda Classic despite the proximity to his Florida home. Sounds like Marino's knee might be bothering him a little more than he's letting on.

Jarrod Lyle:
They say you're not supposed to drink the water in Mexico, but in the case of Lyle, it was a bug bite down south that did him in. He's out for the Honda Classic, a shame because he's played well the last few weeks.

Vijay Singh:
He's been stripling the ball fairly well through the opening five events (four checks, a couple inside the Top 25), but a sore back has Singh out of the Honda Classic. You worry about physical problems from any athlete at age 49, and Singh's body composition and overzealous practice habits are additional matters of concern. I'll be surprised if he's healthy and competitive for the Masters in five weeks.

Dove Mountain:
Rumor has it the Match Play event won't be coming back for 2013, and if that's true, I'll offer an extended golf clap. The course lacks a true signature hole or consistent challenges from the tee, and the hump-laden greens are a downright joke.

HOLDING STEADY

John Mallinger:
He was first in the reshuffle and it gained him entry into the Honda Classic, but let's see this fast start for what it really is. Mallinger ran second at the Humana Challenge, bully for him, but since then he's checked out this way: missed cut, T58, T56. He's out there in my limited-transaction league - 140 golfers owned, one move a month - and still, I passed him up before the February window closed. Temper expectations until we see another big payday.