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The Memorial Preview: Is Kuchar a Cautionary Tale?

Greg Vara

Greg Vara

Vara is the lead golf writer at RotoWire. He was named the 2013 FSWA Golf Writer of the Year. In addition to producing the weekly preview and the bulk of the draft kit content, Vara participates in Yahoo!'s "Experts Picks" where he routinely dominates. He also picks college football games against the spread in his "College Capper" article.

There are weeks on the PGA Tour that go by without much fanfare. You know, it's the following Monday and someone says, "who the heck won on the PGA Tour last week?" It's not that no one witnessed what happened the prior weekend, it's just that the events were less than memorable.

Although we've had a handful of less than memorable events on the PGA Tour this season, the 2014 Crowne Plaza Invitational certainly did not fall into that category. In fact, the Crowne Plaza Invitational might go down as one of the best events of the entire season. Everyone has his own criteria for determining the quality of an event, but by just about anyone's standards, the Crown Plaza Invitational was an instant classic. Even prior to the fabulous finish, there was a tremendous build-up due to the shear number of golfers within a couple strokes of the lead entering Sunday's final round. Not just any golfers mind you, FedEx Points leader Jimmy Walker was right there along with a slew of major champions and a two of the best young players on the planet to boot.

Often there is a letdown after such a build-up, but there would be no disappointing the fans on Sunday at the Crown Plaza. The epic finish included two recent major champions going low in the final round, but not quite low enough to win outright. A playoff ensued in which Adam Scott drilled a bomb to stay alive and eventually capture the title on the next hole. No, this was no typical week on the PGA Tour. The stars aligned at a most unassuming place last week, which just goes to show, you never know when something special is going to happen on the PGA Tour.

This week:
The Memorial Tournament - Muifield Village GC, Dublin, Ohio

Last Year:
Matt Kuchar shot a final-round 68 on his way to a two-stroke victory over Kevin Chappell.

Players to Consider:

Matt Kuchar

A quick cautionary note first: when everything seems to be aligning perfectly, it's usually time to go the opposite way. I'll now proceed to ignore that piece of advice and place Kuchar atop the list because, well, everything points to it. See, it's difficult in practice to follow such advice, no matter how sound.

K.J. Choi

Choi's game has been all over the place over the past few seasons, but he's usually reliable at this event. Choi won here in 2007 and has posted top-25s in four of his six tries since that victory.

Luke Donald

I've generally cooled on Luke, ahem, over the past few months, but if there is one event where he looks like a good bet, it's this one. Donald hasn't finished outside the top 25 in any of his past five starts here.

Justin Rose

Rose has been hit or miss at this event, but when he hits, he hits for size. Rose has missed the cut here twice in the last six years, but of the four times he played the weekend, he has two top-10s, a runner-up and a victory.

Rory McIlroy

Although his life may be hectic outside the course, McIlory seems right at home between the ropes. He won the BMW Championship on the European Tour last weekend, and it looks like he might be ready to regain his old form. Whether that can be directly attributed to his recent split from Caroline Wozniacki is up for debate. What isn't, is the state of his game.

Players to Avoid:

Rickie Fowler

Fowler finished runner-up here in 2010, but his results since then have been a mixed bag. As far as the state of his game, well, he did shoot 15-over during his two rounds last week and while I'm sure he's determined to put that embarrassment behind him, it's tough to think about using a guy who just shot 15-strokes over par.

Ernie Els

Els won this event in 2004, which by the calendar was 10 years ago, but it might as well have been a lifetime ago. Els' is simply not the player he was a decade ago, and for that matter, the player he was a few years ago. His record here has also tailed off over the decade as well.

Bubba Watson

Watson is getting close to the point where you don't want to burn him at just any event. He's not quite there yet, but looking ahead, there appear to be many quality spots to use him down the road, spots that certainly look better than this one where his best finish is T23.

Jason Day

Is he fully healthy? Maybe, maybe not. Is his track record here any good? Not really. While the stars are aligned for Kuchar this week, there is no such alignment for Day. It would be wise to take a wait and see approach with Day.

Jordan Spieth

You won't see Spieth on this list often, but it's appropriate this week. Spieth, while managing to hang in there just about every week, looks as though he might be hitting the wall a bit. Granted, there's a big difference between Spieth hitting the wall and just about everybody else, but if you haven't used him yet, it's probably wise to wait until he takes a breather.


Last week:
Zach Johnson (73) - $12,416; Season - $2,835,957

This week:
Justin Rose - The game is there as well as the track record, what more could you ask for? OK, so it would be nice if say Kuchar and Rory weren't in the field, but you can't have everything.


Rank: 23,970

This Week:

Group A:
Matt Kuchar, Luke Donald

Group B:
Justin Rose, Rory McIlroy, Bill Haas, Jim Furyk

Group C:
K.J. Choi, Brendon Todd


Last week:
Zach Johnson; Streak - 3

This week:
K.J. Choi - Doubling up worked yet again last week, but after the close call with Zach, I think I'm going to try a different route. Choi would have to be categorized as a risky pick in this format, but he's generally solid here, so I'm comfortable with the selection.