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Golf Barometer: Analyzing the Staff League Auction

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.

The annual RotoWire staff golf auction took place last weekend, and it's my job to offer some picks and pans. At least I know 10-13 other people who might read (or skim) this article.

This is a 14-owner golf auction, where each team can start up to five golfers in every event from the Sony Open to the Tour Championship (other than the secondary events that come opposite the big ones). Sorry, PGA Tour, we don't validate your absurd and silly golf season, or your off-brand tournaments. The four majors bring extra cachet and fantasy cash, but otherwise, the goal is simply to earn as much as you can. Last year's medal winners were Len Hochberg, Daryl Shevin and James Ybiernas.

To the Calcutta:


Phil Mickelson - 38
Lee Westwood - 16
Billy Horschel - 23
Tim Clark - 5
Rory Sabbatini - 3
David Lingmerth - 4
Patrick Reed - 9
Cameron Tringale - 1
Jonathan Byrd - 1

Like It: Clark was quietly steady in 2013 and still has time to use that old, lengthy putter of his. And I'm always going to say thanks to Sabbatini for playing so quickly. Tringale and Byrd are solid singletons.

Spike It: If Westwood were going to win a major, we probably would have seen it by now. I'm not betting on him (though he does show up and play more than most Euros). I'd like to see it one more year from Horschel before completely buying in.


Keegan Bradley - 35
Justin Rose - 35
Harris English - 19
James Driscoll - 3
Richard Lee - 2
Sang-Moon Bae - 3
David Hearn - 1
Fran Molinari - 1
Brian Davis - 1

Like It: It's the perfect time to go after Bradley, after a good season without a win. Davis has no special qualities, but he'll make a lot of starts, important as we switched from 10-man rosters to nine clubs in the bag for 2014. English didn't strike me as a bargain by any means, but I expect him to justify that cost.

Spike It: It's nitpicking, but I don't consider Driscoll one of the Top 100 players. Bae is so underrated, he's overrated.


Zach Johnson - 34
Luke Donald - 25
Rickie Fowler - 23
David Lynn - 6
Luke Guthrie - 3
John Senden - 1
Peter Uihlein - 3
Casey Wittenberg - 1
Justin Hicks - 1

Like It: Fowler has a lot of room for profit at that price (regretfully, I had the last losing bid there), and Johnson combines ability with volume. Senden's iron play should lead to a twilight spike season, sooner or later. I still figure Donald for a major at some point.

Spike It: Wittenburg was a trunk-slamming machine in 2013 (eight checks in 27 events), and I've missed whatever the Hicks case is. Granted, lottery tickets are lottery tickets.


Jim Furyk - 17
Jason Dufner - 35
Hideki Matsuyama - 20
Martin Laird - 9
Gonzalo Fern.-Castano - 5
Daniel Summerhays - 3
Matt Every - 6
Charley Hoffman - 4
Kevin Na - 1

Like It: Summerhays still intrigues me with his pedigree and quiet growth. Dufner's ball striking will keep him in contention for a long time, and his equanimity should help him in the year-after season. Nothing rattles him. And while everything seems to rattle Na, for a buck, he's worth a shot.

Spike It: I wrote Furyk off after his choking 2012 season.


Jason Day - 39
Ryan Moore - 17
Sergio Garcia - 14
Chesson Hadley - 5
Brendon de Jonge - 12
Sean O'Hair - 1
Seung-Yul Noh - 4
Paul Casey - 7
Retief Goosen - 1

Like It: I've become a mild Garcia sympathizer in recent years; I'm the reason it chased this high. Day's floor is high and upside is unlimited.

Spike It: Whatever O'Hair had, I think he's lost it for good. Hadley seems a little cute at five - that's an expectant price.


Hunter Mahan - 32
Bill Haas - 24
Ernie Els - 7
Nick Watney - 24
Ian Poulter - 9
J.J. Henry - 1
Camilo Villegas - 1
Aaron Baddeley - 1
John Merrick - 1

Like It: Three solid players up front, and it's the right time to buy Watney. Villegas's comeback season was an underreported story.

Spike It: Poulter has been more name than game lately, and Els probably isn't worth seven at this stage of his career. Henry was the first player cut in our league - say hello to Ken Duke off the waiver wire.


Henrik Stenson - 31
Graeme McDowell - 15
David Toms - 1
Carl Pettersson - 5
Kevin Streelman - 12
Marc Leishman - 6
Ryo Ishikawa - 14
Mark Wilson - 3
Freddie Jacobson - 13

Like It: A short memory is needed on McDowell - go look at his major resume from 2008-2012. That's a steal at 15. Pettersson always seems to exceed what he costs on draft day.

Spike It: It was a wonderful comeback year for Stenson, but what happened the previous two years? Wilson is a buck player, not that a two-dollar overpay is anything major. I'd like to see a more consistent year from Streelman.


Adam Scott - 46
Jimmy Walker - 13
Charl Schwartzel - 11
Jonas Blixt - 10
Chris Stroud - 7
Scott Piercy - 10
Scott Brown - 1
Greg Chalmers - 1
Jamie Donaldson - 1

Like It: I was flabbergasted to see Schwartzel stop at 11 - he's been very consistent in majors for four years. I projected Piercy as a Top-40 player, but for some reason I didn't defend this reasonable price (I hope I was out of bullets at that time).

Spike It: I'm lukewarm on the singletons, but that's nitpicking. This is the most I've liked any Sheehan roster before our season begins.


Tiger Woods - 85
K.J. Choi - 3
Charlie Wi - 1
Ben Crane - 1
Patrick Cantlay - 2
Russell Henley - 5
Brian Gay - 1
Brooks Koepka - 1
Matteo Manassero - 1

Like It: Woods is still the favorite in any event he shows up at, and he seems overdue for a major. Cantlay offers a lot of upside at just two bucks. Is Choi really just 43? I lost that over-under bet at the neighborhood bar.

Spike It: Other than Crane, these aren't the lottery tickets I would have targeted - but hey, it's a game of opinions.


D.A. Points - 7
Matt Kuchar - 47
Boo Weekley - 10
Matt Jones - 7
Chris Kirk - 13
Pat Perez - 2
Michael Thompson - 3
Peter Hanson - 4
Geoff Ogilvy - 7

Like It: Hanson has the game to contend in majors, and Points is a working-class hero for this format. I refuse to believe Ogilvy completely forgot how to play golf; I like him at this cost.

Spike It: Kuchar brings a very high floor to any season, but the entire room seemed to be waiting for him, which inflated the price a bit. I'm suspicious of Weekley after last year's comeback, and that's coming from the guy who owned him most of the year.


Rory McIlroy - 48
Gary Woodland - 20
Roberto Castro - 8
Kevin Stadler - 1
Louis Oosthuizen - 12
Kevin Chappell - 7
Brian Stuard - 1
John Rollins - 1
Jim Herman - 2

Like It: Everyone was so careful not to overpay for Castro's breakout, he turned into a value. Oosthuizen was a nice value after last year's wipeout - look at his record in the majors from 2010-2012. I was surprised Stadler stopped at one.

Spike It: Not that seven bucks is exorbitant, but I felt you could get safer plays than Chappel at that cost. He's still a bit inconsistent for my taste, and remember he was outside the Top 120 back in 2012.


Dustin Johnson - 36
Webb Simpson - 30
Graham DeLaet - 11
Bud Cauley - 5
Morgan Hoffmann - 4
Jason Bohn - 1
Nicolas Colsaerts - 8
Jeff Overton - 2
Thorbjorn Olesen - 1

Like It: I still expect great things from Colsaerts eventually (the 2012 Ryder Cup left an indelible mark), and Overton is a high-upside play for a mere two bucks.

Spike It: How badly does Johnson want to be great? Is anyone else scarred from Cauley's 2013?


Brandt Snedeker - 34
Bubba Watson - 21
Martin Kaymer - 11
John Peterson - 7
Charles Howell III - 9
Lucas Glover - 2
Brendan Steele - 2
Angel Cabrera - 3
Kyle Stanley - 11

Like It: Snedeker is a lot like Zach Johnson, a meeting of talent and volume. Kaymer has room to grow after last year's mild disappointment with the added PGA slate. Cabrera always has a chance in a big event.

Spike It: I didn't find anything I strongly disliked here. Enjoy the curse of the favorite, Andrew.


Jordan Spieth - 34
Steve Stricker - 22
Bo Van Pelt - 8
Robert Garrigus - 8
John Huh - 8
Josh Teater - 3
Scott Stallings - 5
Jason Kokrak - 4
Ryan Palmer - 2

Like It: Van Pelt is one of the most obvious bounce-back plays on the card. I'm shocked he stopped at eight (and wish I had leverage at the time). The working class of Huh, Teater, Stallings and Kokrak looks respectable.

Spike It: I try to stay away from the shiny new toy and buzzy sophomores, which takes Spieth off my clipboard. The kid is 20; a lot can go awry. I'm also not paying 22 dollars for a limited-schedule player like Stricker - remember he turns 47 next month and he's still without a major. Last year's less-is-more schedule worked well, but no way I'm paying the freight on a repeat. Justin also left six bucks on the table; the Palmer play could have been someone better.