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Golf Barometer: Pick Up the Pace, Kid

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

Patrick Reed:
His first two tournaments were a total flop, but he made some good strokes at the Farmers Insurance Open, then cashed a T7 check at Pebble Beach. Reed initially wasn't expected to be in this week's Northern Trust Open field, but Jhonny Vegas's withdrawal opens a spot for the youngster. Reed showed plenty of game at Augusta State and at Q-School; let's keep an eye on him.

James Hahn:
He's bagged five checks (two of them sizable) through the opening six weeks, darting and dancing his way into our consciousness and our rosters. But Hahn's deliberate pace of play was difficult to sit through Sunday, and it was poor form for him not to finish in advance of Brandt Snedeker on the finishing hole. It's less than a three-footer, kid - make your putt out of order, give the stage to the winner. But the balance sheet does not worry about such things, it only focuses on the $690K.

Kevin Stadler:
Is the Baby Walrus finally coming into his own at age 33? He's run T27, T11 and T3 the last three weeks, parlaying a beautiful balance of stats: 33rd in driving distance, sixth in tee accuracy, 19th in GIR, fourth in all around. Don't forget he cashed in his last six events of 2012, including a couple of Top-10s during the FedEx Cup.

Sergio Garcia:
He's bagged a win and three other big checks overseas, showing he's more than ready for his close up back in the U.S. I'm still expecting Garcia to win multiple majors someday, just a matter of him pushing the door open at some point. Once again, age 33 is a lucrative pocket for many a golfer.

Fred Couples:
We don't see him on the Big Boy Tour as often as we'd like, but he can play Riviera in his sleep. Look for another Top-25 check here, and maybe something sneaky at the Masters in April.

DOWNGRADE

Dustin Johnson:
Maybe he's out having too much fun in his real life, the Adam Scott problem from a few seasons ago? No doubt, everything is all smiles between D.J. and Paulina Gretzky, Girl 99. But Johnson hasn't been sharp since coming down with a flu bug in Hawaii, and it was shocking to see him miss the cut at Pebble Beach last week, a track that's tailor-made for the two-time Clambake champ.

Bubba Watson:
Another player off the flu bug and struggling to find form, and Watson's game isn't an ideal fit for the challenges of Riviera. Mind you, when Watson is right he can pull off recovery shots from any spot in the world, and he did grab a T13 check at the Northern Trust last time around. But let's wait for a time where the horse is a better fit for the course.

CBS Sports:
It was an uninspired telecast over Holy Grounds, in part because the celeb list keeps tapering off, in part because the commercial breaks are too constant, and in part because the crew can't stop falling all over itself to celebrate the course. Where's Vin Scully when you need him - let the picture tell the story, mates. And then there's the bit of tournament honcho Clint Eastwood in the booth for extended periods of time. Eastwood had little to contribute to the golf discussion, and his awkward Kate Upton reference (slightly veiled) to Justin Verlander was the lowest point of the weekend. We don't need another Brent Musberger moment anytime soon.

HOLDING STEADY

Brandt Snedeker:
Generally you'd never have a bad thing to say about someone as sizzling-hot as Snedeker, but a sore rib muscle will keep him out of the Match Play event next week and might be a 3-4 week injury. You can't doubt Snedeker's angelic putter, scrambling ability or current wave of confidence, but it might take a while for him to get his irons back in gear when he returns. Either way, Snedeker is clearly a Top-10 commodity, and you could conceivably take him Top 5 if you were redrafting today. Snedeker also earns plus points for his speedy pace of play.

Luke Donald:
He's back in play after an extended layoff, so be patient with your expectations. There's no way I'd use Donald in any sort of one-and-done format until we have some 2013 form to analyze.

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