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Zurich Classic Preview: Rolling into New Orleans

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.

When Tiger Woods came upon the scene in the late '90s, the game of golf changed forever. While there may never be another Tiger Woods, there are still game changers; but the most recent game changer is not a player, it's a website. Twitter has changed the way all sports news and information is disseminated, and golf is certainly in that mix, never more so than two Saturday's ago when the Tiger Woods rules situation came to light. Anyone who was on Twitter that Saturday morning knows how information can spread, be it credible or not. Beyond information, opinions run rampant on Twitter and those who play fantasy golf can easily find plenty of assistance on a daily/weekly basis - whether they want it or not. I bring that last point up because sometimes the opinions of people you follow get implanted in your head without even realizing it. For instance, there were more than a few comments last weekend regarding Graeme McDowell, not about his performance at the RBC, but his potential performance at the U.S. Open in June. While the points may have been valid, we should realize the Open is not for another six weeks or so, and while McDowell played well last week on a course that might resemble an Open layout, it's still way too early to make any assumptions on what will happen in June. But the seed has been planted, so when you are filling out your U.S. Open pool this June and you feel a strange pull toward Graeme McDowell, you'll know where that came from. This is the game of golf now, however. It's not going to change anytime soon, so it's best that we all get used to, and better yet, understand it.

This week:
Zurich Classic of New Orleans

Last Year:
Jason Dufner shot a final-round 70 on his way to a playoff victory over Ernie Els.

Players to Consider:

1. Jason Dufner

Defending champions aren't usually the best picks, but Dufner might be an exception this week. Prior to his win last year, Dufner finished third, seventh and ninth at the Zurich Classic. Dufner is not off to a great start this season, but his game has shown signs of coming around in recent weeks.

2. Rickie Fowler

Fowler is quietly having a pretty solid year, but he lacks the top-end finishes that many expect from him. Fowler has three top-10s this season, but nothing better than a T3. With a thin field this week, Fowler has a great chance to pick up a win or a runner-up finish.

3. Cameron Tringale

Tringale has only one top-10 this year, but he does have four top-25s in his last eight events, and his track record here is solid. In three starts here, Tringale has two top-25s and nothing worse than a T28. With most of the big names absent from the field this week, you'll need to look for some under-the-radar golfers, and Tringale fits the mold.

4. John Rollins

Rollins missed the cut last week at the RBC, but prior to that he posted back-to-back top-20s. Rollins' track record at this event has been solid since the move to the TPC Louisiana. He's missed the top 25 just once in his last five starts at this event.

5. Billy Horschel

Horschel's run continued last week when he picked up yet another top-10 at the RBC. Just like last week, he has little to no track record to speak of at the upcoming event, but that shouldn't matter much if he carries over his current form.

Players to Avoid:

1. Ben Crane

Crane's track record here is downright brutal. It's hard to imagine a player of his caliber having a record like this anywhere. Crane has missed the cut here in six of seven tries.

2. Robert Garrigus

Garrigus has really struggled lately, and although it looks like he might be coming out of his funk, he might head right back into the abyss this week as his history at this event is poor. Garrigus has made only one cut in four tries here.

3. Steve Marino

Marino is really struggling this season, and his troubles look to continue this week as his track record at this event is very weak. Marino has only one top-50 this season in eight starts.

4. Boo Weekley

Weekley's history at this event is actually decent, but if he were on this game at all, it would have showed last week at the RBC where he usually plays very well.

5. Stephen Ames

Prior to the venue change in 2007, Ames fared well at this event. Since the move, however, he's failed to make a cut at this event. Four tries at TPC Louisiana and no weekend play for Ames.


Group A

1. Jason Dufner
2. Bubba Watson

Dufner is an obvious pick this week, he should be on every team, but the second pick isn't so easy. There aren't a lot of big names that pop out in this group, so you might have to dig a little deeper. I chose Watson, because after digging a little deeper, I didn't find anything that I liked. Watson won here in 2011.

Group B

1. Justin Rose
2. Cameron Tringale
3. K.J. Choi
4. Keegan Bradley

There are a lot of decent choices in Group B this week, but there aren't a lot of great options. In other words, there is a group of about 10 players to choose from, and you could go in any number of directions. Based on his track record, Tringale seems like a one of the better options this week. Rose earned a top-10 here last year and as one of the bigger names in the field, he's certainly worth a look. Choi has a decent track record here and has played well the last month. Bradley doesn't have the track record here, but he's one of the bigger names in the field this week and is due for a really good finish.

Group C

1. Billy Horschel
2. Rickie Fowler

Unfortunately, three of my top 5 are in Group C this week, so I had to leave one on the sideline. I like the way Horschel is playing, so I had to have him this week. The decision came down to Fowler or Rollins. When all else fails, go with the big name, I guess. No real good reason outside that as both players look like good options this week.

Starters Round One

1. Jason Dufner
2. Justin Rose
3. Cameron Tringale
4. Billy Horschel

Dufner is an easy pick to start round one; he has a feel for this course and his game is coming around. Rose and Tringale get the nods in Group B. Rose is coming off a top-10 here last year, and Tringale has a very strong track record here. Choosing the starter in Group C was difficult, but I went with Horschel who's simply on a roll. Track record aside, Horschel is playing about as well as anyone over the last month, and there's no reason to think that roll ends this week.

Round Two and Going Forward:

Dufner has a pretty strong hold on the starting spot in Group A. If he starts well, it will be hard to pull him from the lineup. It may be a case this week where the backup, Watson, will have to be in bonus position come Sunday to get a start. Neither Rose nor Tringale are locked into a spot this week in Group B, but I'll stick with both if they start well. Choi is the first one in off the bench from this group, and considering the number of starts I have left with Bradley (four), I'll have to be conservative with him. If Bradley is in the top-10 come Saturday I'll probably pull the trigger; if not, I'll save him for another week. Group C is in the air after Thursday's round. Horschel hasn't closed too well lately, so if he and Fowler are near each other on the leaderboard come Sunday, I'll probably lean toward Fowler.

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