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Golf Barometer: Tiger Not the Masters Favorite

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.


Tiger Woods:
Hey, he won again, finally. And yes, the putting looked a lot better. But I think it's a mistake to immediately push Woods back to the top of the Masters list, considering how challenging the greens are at Augusta (Johnny Miller once referred to the Masters as "The Annual Spring Putting Contest"). The other elite players are no longer afraid of Woods; he's not going to win events simply by showing up and getting a lead at some point. And heck, he hasn't won the Masters since 2005 - it's not like he's automatic at this place. If you don't see Rory McIlroy as the favorite next week, you're fooling yourself. And I'd pick Phil Mickelson over Tiger, too.

John Rollins:
His brief slump appears over, as Rollins checked in with a T20 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. It hasn't been a banner putting season for Rollins, but he's second in total driving and 21st in greens in regulation, and that's a good head start into any event. Don't forget that he cashed three six-figure checks in his first four starts this season.

Ian Poulter:
The 74 was disappointing at Arnold's Place on Sunday, but at least we saw Poulter back in form the two previous days, playing quickly and confidently, putting with the nerve of a burglar. Poulter's fallen off the radar in the minds of some, but I have a feeling he'll be in the thick of it in one of the middle majors, probably the British Open. He relishes the underdog role, anyway.

Zach Johnson:
Last year was an injury-ruined season, but the consistent Johnson game is back in play: 7-for-8 in cuts made, $580,000 in the bank. He's going to give up distance to just about everyone on the circuit, but he's strong in every other area (ninth in tee accuracy, 50th in putting, 15th in all-around ranking). I won't have Johnson on my Masters sheet (his win in 2007 goes into the fluke file), but he sets up well for the U.S. Open and PGA Championship, where accuracy trumps power.


Jhonny Vegas:
Last year's early run is a distant memory, as Vegas has fallen off the map completely. He's only 3-for-8 in cuts made over the last two months, and he hasn't banked more than $15K since the opening Tournament of Champions. Vegas still hits the ball a formidable distance, but he's absolutely buried in every other key component stat: 119th in greens in regulation, 120th in strokes gained putting, 169th in tee accuracy, 173rd in scrambling. You can't compete like that.

Anthony Kim:
When you have a consistent iron game, you have a profile that can win anywhere. Kim stands 176th in greens in regulation, perhaps the most important ball-striking stat in golf (and he's just as bad when it comes to tee accuracy). No wonder he's made just two cuts this year, and a paltry $34K. Maybe Kim is having too much fun being a celebrity to take golf seriously right now.

Chad Campbell:
He's made just three cuts in eight starts, in part because of a balky putter (182nd in putts per round). Campbell turns 38 in a couple months, but in golf years, he might be 6-8 years older. There's not much left here.


Gary Woodland:
It's a little disappointing to see him 86th on the money list, but at least he hasn't missed a cut all year, making it 21 straight events overall where he's lasted to the weekend. Woodland's play from off the green needs to tighten up, but he's still a consistent iron player and a long bomber off the tee. He'll be back in the hunt soon enough.