Golf Barometer: Aphibarnrat's Ascent

Golf Barometer: Aphibarnrat's Ascent

This article is part of our Golf Barometer series.

Following Bubba Watson's second win in just over a month at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, we are now just one week away from the majestic sight of Azaleas and the distinct taste of pimento cheese sandwiches. But before we get too giddy about Augusta, the Houston Open will provide the chance for one last entrant to pull a heroic move and make the Masters field. We'll take a look at several trends and a couple injury updates on Tour from a fantasy perspective with the season's first major approaching in the near future.

VALUE RISING

Kiradech Aphibarnrat

A T5 result at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play in the form of a quarterfinals loss to eventual champion Bubba Watson was good enough to push Aphibarnrat inside of the top-30 in the Official World Golf Ranking for the first time in his career. He's won three tournaments around the globe since December, with the most impressive victory of the trio coming at the European Tour's ISPS Handa World Super 6 Perth. The Thailand native has also now finished top-five in each of the first two WGC events on the 2018 calendar.

Kyle Stanley

Stanley is one of only two players on Tour who currently rank in the top five in terms of both driving accuracy and GIR percentage. He'll enter the Masters coming off a 2 & 1 loss in the quarterfinals to Justin Thomas at the Match Play, which marked Stanley's third consecutive top-25 finish after a pair of MCs at the WMPO and Genesis Open. If Stanley can figure out how to get dialed in with his wedges, the 2017 Quicken Loans National champion could find the winner's circle again in 2018.

Kelly Kraft

Consistency issues resulted in four straight missed cuts for Kraft to begin his 2018 campaign, but he's now up to a career-best 157th in the OWGR after top-10s in two of his last three starts at the Corales Championship and Honda Classic. The flat stick has been his weapon of choice, ranking 43rd in SG: Putting and cashing in on nearly 90 percent of his putts from inside 10 feet.

VALUE FALLING

Nick Taylor

Taylor, who's missed three cuts in his past four starts, has failed to break 71 in all but one of his last eight tournament rounds. He's hit just over 66 percent of his greens in regulation this season, while the flat stick has treated him even worse as he ranks 174th in SG: Putting. The Canadian is also on pace to miss the cut at this week's Houston Open after a first-round 73.

Luke Donald

Eight starts into his 2017-18 PGA Tour campaign, Donald ranks just 185th in the FedExCup standings thanks to five missed cuts and zero top-30 finishes. He's always been short off the tee, but the Englishman is also hitting only 51 percent of his fairways in regulation. Donald is even 26th on Tour in SG: Putting, but still hasn't been able to produce due to such poor ball striking.

INJURY UPDATE

Kevin Chappell

Chappell experienced back pain during his second round at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play and was eventually forced to withdraw last Friday, but the issue doesn't appear to be serious as he'll make an effort to be back at full health by the Masters next week. He ranks an impressive third on Tour in SG: Off-the-Tee and eighth in SG: Tee-to-Green, while he finished T7 at Augusta in 2017 during just his second career appearance at the historic venue.

Martin Kaymer

Kaymer will be back in action this week at the Golf Club of Houston following about a five-week absence from competition due to a right wrist injury. He's appeared in just two events stateside throughout the 2017-18 season, having slid outside of the top-80 in the OWGR thanks to a stretch of mediocrity on the European Tour.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Bryce Danielson
Bryce covers the PGA for RotoWire and provides input on the golf cheat sheet. He also contributes to the coverage for NFL, NBA and other sports.
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