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Wells Fargo Preview: Bucking a Trend

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.

A cynic could look at the rules of golf and find a problem with six out of 10. I, on the other hand, only have a problem with about one of every 10, and, you guessed it, the rule that snagged Webb Simpson last week is one I just can't get behind.

Many rules seem a little over the top. Take, for instance, the bunker rule that Dustin Johnson fell victim to last year at the PGA Championship. It seemed a little ridiculous, and in that instance it probably was, but there is a reason for that rule, and if that rule did not exist, a player could potentially take advantage of the situation. The rule that Simpson broke, however, is hard to defend.

Less than a foot from the hole on 15, Simpson's ball moved while he addressed it on on the green. That cost Simpson, who was leading by one shot, a one-stroke penalty. I can't for the life of me understand why this rule is in place. Don't get me wrong, it's not an obscure rule like many in the game of golf - every player on the PGA Tour is fully aware of this one - but I am not sure many, if any, of those same players could explain the genesis of the rule or, more importantly, what a player could possibly gain from it.

Changing golf rules is like making a change to the game of baseball, though. It's a slow process, and it's going to take several injustices to move the rules committee to consider a change. Until then, it's simple, just don't ground your club in a bunker, move anything around your ball that could cause it to move, take longer than 10 seconds to tap-in, kneel on a towel so your pants don't get dirty, use a bent club, carry too many clubs ...

What the Zurich Classic of New Orleans means:

Lee Westwood: Westwood skipped New Orleans to play in South Korea where he shot a final-round 67 to win for the second consecutive week. Yes, he's still No. 1. And just in case you were wondering, no, he hasn't won a major yet. Is it possible that being No. 1 in the world will prove detrimental to his attempts at winning a major?

Bubba Watson: Unlike Westwood, Watson is too young to be judged on major wins. He's going about his business the right way. Win smaller events, build confidence and compete at majors. There's no pressure on Watson, and he's playing like it.

Webb Simpson: Simpson is where Watson was a couple years ago. He has loads of talent, but he hasn't figured it all out yet. As you can see, though, he's not far off, and it won't be long until we are talking about Simpson in a fashion similar to Watson.

This week:
Wells Fargo Championship

Last Year:
Rory McIlroy shot a final-round 62 on his way to a four-stroke victory over Phil Mickelson.

Players to Consider:

1. Rory McIlroy

Nobody on the planet wants a win more right now than McIlroy. It won't make anyone forget about his Master's collapse, but it will ease the pain. He's played well enough to win his last few starts, but he hasn't been able to close. Perhaps a return to a place where he closed in style will help him turn that around.

2. Phil Mickelson

It's nearly impossible to have a better track record without a win. Mickelson has finished everywhere from runner-up last year, to third in 2007 and fifth in 2009. You get the point. He might not win this week, but he'll be in contention the entire way.

3. Bubba Watson

This guy is becoming a machine. He seems to contend nearly every week, and wouldn't you know it, he has a pretty good track record here, so don't be surprised to see him late Sunday again this week.

4. Geoff Ogilvy

Ogilvy is bucking his trend of the last few years and has played well after March this year. His track record here isn't great, but it's good enough to consider a look.

5. Matt Jones

Jones enters the week off a nice showing at the Barclays, and he finished T7 here last year. Perhaps he shocks everyone and picks up a victory.

Players to Avoid:

1. Zach Johnson

Johnson made his first seven cuts this season, but he failed to get much done on the weekend. Lately, he's failed to get much done on the weekdays. Johnson has missed his last two cuts, and his track record here indicates that a third missed cut might be on the horizon.

2. Sean O'Hair

I'm not sure "train wreck" sufficiently describes O'Hair's season to date. I need something a little more disastrous. O'Hair won this event in 2009, so it's possible that the good vibes help pull him out of this extended funk. But he's coming off a 78-75, so I can only assume a turn-around is still weeks away.

3. Jeff Overton

It's not often a player gets the opportunity to shoot 73 or higher three times in one week, but that's what Overton did last week. He mixed in a 70 to make it to the weekend, but once there he shot 73-77. Add to that his brutal track record here, and it could be a short week for Overton.

4. Ryan Moore

Who would have thought that a T75 in 2007 would be the high-water mark for Moore at this event? He's missed the cut three consecutive years since.

5. Webb Simpson

Simpson has his work cut out for him this week. Not only does he need to forget what happened late last week, and fast, but he's got to do it at an event where he's never made the cut.

Yahoo! Fantasy Golf:

This week:
Wells Fargo Championship

Group A

1. Phil Mickelson
2. Geoff Ogilvy

My two clear-cut choices from Group A last week did not pan out so well, and this week I feel much the same, so what does that tell you? Unlike last week, though, Phil Mickelson is in the mix.

Group B

1. Bubba Watson
2. Hunter Mahan
3. Matt Jones
4. Rickie Fowler

Did I really put Webb Simpson on the Avoid list this week? I had no problem with his placement there, until I realized he tops Group B this week. Oh well, I don't get paid to put Josh Teater and Derek Lamely on the Avoid list; I need to put players of value on that list. Anyhow, two clear-cut picks for me are Jones and Watson. The other two are hunches. Neither Mahan nor Fowler has long and successful track records here, but they both can contend any week.

Group C

1. Rory McIlroy
2. J.B. Holmes

The first selection was easy enough this week in Rory McIlroy, the second, however, was not as easy. As is usually the case when the picks don't flow as I'd like, the decision came down to course history vs. recent history. On one side I had Anthony Kim, who won here three years ago but hasn't resembled that player at all this year. On the other side was J.B. Holmes, who's having a fine year but doesn't have much to show for his time at this event. In a departure from my normal routine, I decided to go with the player who's playing well entering the week - J.B. Holmes.

Starters Round One

1. Phil Mickelson
2. Bubba Watson
3. Matt Jones
4. Rory McIlroy

The starting four this week is comprised of the four golfers who were "easy" selections. Now, this train of thought has backfired many times, but considering the fire power listed above, I'll take my chances. Mickelson's track record here suggests he'll play well out of the gate. Watson is on a roll right now, as is Jones who finished in the top-10 last week. McIlroy was lights-out here last year, and although he melted down at Augusta a few weeks back, his game is still in pretty good shape.

Round Two and Going Forward:

Mickelson will start in Group A this week and has a chance to hold the spot all week if he shows the classic Mickelson form. However, Ogilvy is capable of winning this week as well, so the plan is to lean toward Mickelson each round unless Ogilvy forces my hand. Watson has a strong hold on a starting spot in Group B and will have to play his way out. Jones, on the other hand, will have to play well to keep his spot. First one in off the bench is likely going to be Mahan, but you never know about Fowler. Some weeks he looks like the next big thing, others he's just a guy in a goofy orange outfit. Group C is McIlroy's until he falters, I mean, unless he falters. As mentioned, I wasn't really high on anyone outside McIlroy from Group C this week, so Holmes will have to play really well early on to earn a start.