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Weekly Preview: The Memorial Preview

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.

The trend of big-name winners on the PGA TOUR continued last week as former Masters champion Zach Johnson added his name to the already impressive list of winners this season. While that trend has been evident the last few months, another trend is emerging as well. This trend makes life very difficult for me and others in my position. This trend involves players pulling out a victory after showing no signs of the impending victory before it happened. In other words, these wins have come out of nowhere. Zach Johnson was just the latest example, but it's been happening most of the season. Jason Day missed the cut in the event leading up to his win and hadn't carded a top-10 all season prior to his victory. Adam Scott spent the better part of two years playing like he belonged on the Nationwide Tour before breaking through in Texas. Rory McIlroy failed to find the top-25 in a stroke-play setting before his win in early May. Even Phil Mickelson's win at Augusta was somewhat of a surprise. I could keep going, but I think you get the point. Golf has always been the most difficult sport to predict on a weekly basis, and if this trend continues, it's not going to get any easier. Say, that reminds me, how's Tiger Woods been playing lately?

What the Colonial means:

Zach Johnson: Johnson carried an impressive track record heading into the Colonial last week, but his play leading up to the event made him a long shot for another victory. That said, this could be the spark he needed to kick-start his season.

Phil Mickelson: It appears as though Mickelson is not going to help us fantasy golfers in anyway this season. Just when you expect a good effort, he lays an egg. Don't get down on him yet, though. We all witnessed his bounce-back ability at Augusta.

Brian Davis: Davis is becoming the new Tim Clark, which means he won't break through anytime soon. That said, he'll still be a productive golfer until he finally gets win No. 1.
This week: The Memorial

Last Year: Tiger Woods shot a final-round 65 on his way to a one-stroke victory over Jim Furyk.
Players to Consider:

1. Tiger Woods

One thing has held true over the course of Woods' career, the slumps come and go, but they never last too long. Woods returns to a very familiar track this week, and I'd be shocked if he doesn't find a way to compete this week.
2. K.J. Choi

When Choi is on his game, he plays well at this event. Sounds easy enough, but Choi has been hard to peg the past few years. This year, however, he's playing well, which means he'll be a factor this week.
3. Matt Kuchar

Kuchar looks like a good candidate to pull out a win this week. His track record here is very solid, and he's played well for most of this season.
4. Ryan Moore

Moore nearly pulled out a win here in 2007, and though he's not shown much the past couple months, he's more than capable of putting it together this week. I'll call him the "out of nowhere" candidate this week.
5. Jim Furyk

Furyk hasn't won here since 2002, but he's played well from time to time during that span, including a top-10 in 2005 and a runner-up finish last year.

Players to Avoid:

1. Nick Watney

Watney is not playing poorly this season, but he's lacking that extra gear that we saw in 2009. Until we see that gear again, it might be wise to pass on him.
2. Carl Pettersson

Pettersson won this event in 2006, which makes him a logical choice this week, but much like Watney, he's lacking that something that made him the multiple winner on the PGA TOUR.
3. Zach Johnson

Johnson may be back on track after his win last week, but his track record here is sketchy, and odds are he'll fall back to Earth this week.
4. Brian Davis

Davis enters this event off another strong performance, but he's facing a much tougher field this week, and his track record here would indicate he might not be around for the weekend.
5. Aaron Baddeley

Baddeley has shown signs of a recovery this season, but most often, those signs have been at places where he's had a good track record, which isn't the case this week.

Yahoo! Fantasy Golf:
This week: The Memorial
Group A

1. Tiger Woods
2. Ryan Moore

I could take the easy way out this week and put Mickelson and Els on the roster, but what fun would that be? Both Moore and Woods carry some risk this week, but I have faith that Woods will rebound and Moore has high upside.
Group B

1. Rory McIlroy
2. Jim Furyk
3. K.J. Choi
4. Geoff Ogilvy

McIlroy has a knack for coming up big when the spotlight is bright, and this week the spotlight will be bright as it's Jack's event and Tiger is back in the fold. Furyk is the most reliable pick from Group B this week. Choi has high upside along with a consistent track record at this event, and Ogilvy enters the week off of consecutive top-10s here.
Group C

1. Matt Kuchar
2. Mike Weir

Kuchar and Weir have solid track records here, and though neither has won, Weir has three top-4 finishes, and Kuchar has finished no worse than 13th the last three years here.
Starters Round One

1. Tiger Woods
2. Jim Furyk
3. K.J. Choi
4. Matt Kuchar

For the first time in memory, I might actually be in the minority this week if I start Tiger Woods in Group A. That's a nice spot to be in as we all know about the upside. Furyk and Choi have been very solid at this event over the years, and it makes sense that they get the two starting spots in Group B on Thursday. The Group C pick was a little more difficult, but like the Woods pick in Group A, I've got a really strong opinion on Kuchar this week, so I might as well start him in round one.
Round Two and Going Forward:

Even though Woods has not looked like himself the past couple months, he still controls the fate of Group A this week. A good start and he's likely locked into the starting spot all week. A poor start and I'll likely give him one more shot on Friday. That said, it will take a poor result from Woods for Moore to find a spot in the starting line-up. Choi and Furyk have strong holds on the starting spots in Group B, and it's going to take something special from Ogilvy or McIlroy to find a start this week. Of course, both Ogilvy and McIlroy are capable of forcing my hand, so I'll keep a close eye on that situation. Group C is the only one that's up in the air. Weir has shown the ability to play really well here, so I can't blindly stick with Kuchar. If Weir starts well, he'll likely get the start on Friday.