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Golf Barometer: Young and Bulletproof

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:
Wanting to be great is half the battle, and three quick trophy grabs provide a monstrous confidence boost. Reed's tee game is a little wayward at times, but strong iron play (46th in GIR) and flat-stick wizardly (22nd in strokes gained putting) bail him out regularly. Ah, to be young and bulletproof.

Dustin Johnson:
Usually we're talking about a power player who can't get out of his own way around the greens, but DJ is 13th in putting strokes gained and 62nd in scrambling. Perhaps marrying into the Great Family has its advantages. Johnson's already bagged six top-10 finishes in majors (one in five straight seasons), but he's overdue to win one. The timing feels right this season.

Harris English:
You see awful tee accuracy (100th) and putting numbers (133rd in strokes gained) and you want to dismiss English out of hand, but some guys are able to score without logical component stats. The 37th in scrambling serves the Bulldog well, in addition to a positive bounce-back grade (19th). It's all about staying balanced, making sure one messy hole doesn't lead to a round-killing run of big numbers. English made the cut in the final two majors of 2013 (including a T15 at the British) and should be a full-season factor this time around.

Kevin Stadler:
The 30s are a prime time for golfer production; maybe Stadler has a breakthrough coming at age 34. He's still a little jabby with the putter at times, but his ball striking has been terrific all season (35th in distance, 49th in accuracy, 36th in GIR). The victory in Phoenix gets the most attention, but don't overlook nine straight cuts made, including four top-20s.

DOWNGRADE

Tiger Woods:
The back. The inconsistent driver. The episodic putter. The nonstop excuses when things don't go right. Sleep soundly, Jack Nicklaus - your 18 major championships are safely tucked away for good.

Jason Day:
The run through the Accenture Match Play had everyone excited - the overdue breakthrough season is finally here, right? Alas, a thumb problem has Day on the shelf until the Masters, and you don't mess with the thumb (injure me there and I can't tie my own shoes). We'll evaluate Day come summer, but don't expect a run at Augusta.

Camilo Villegas:
Did last year's feel-good comeback lie to us? While Villegas has missed just two cuts in 10, nothing deep is happening on the weekend - he's yet to finish higher than T26. Moving day in particular has been a nightmare - he ranks 133rd in Saturday scoring. Maybe he's not watching the right cartoons.

HOLDING STEADY

John Senden: Even during his overdue victory at Copperhead last week, you saw the agony and ecstasy with Senden - exquisite ball striking (he's been a GIR overlord for years) mixed with erratic chipping and putting. There's a reason this guy didn't win from 2007 through 2013. We doubt anyone in your league is naive enough to upgrade Senden simply off one victory, but try to sell him at a peak anyway.