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Zurich Classic Preview: Ready for Take-Off?

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.

Matt Kuchar, Luke Donald, Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus. No this isn't a game of which one doesn't belong. There's a reason these four names are grouped together, and, to be honest, I could also put golf fans and the media on that list as well. Let me explain.

As Matt Kuchar and Luke Donald battled down the stretch of the RBC Heritage on Sunday the thought occurred to me that either would be a worthy champ. After all, Kuchar has been a top-10 player in the world for years, and Donald was actually the top-ranked player in the world not too long ago. Yet, neither is revered as one of the greats of this generation because neither has a major victory.

Now we get back to Tiger and Jack. Arguably the two best golfers of all time, both of whom famously emphasized majors above all else, Tiger and Jack, and indirectly the viewing public, are responsible for this view of professional golfers. Without Tiger and Jack, players such as Luke Donald and Matt Kuchar might get even more respect than they have, but as it is, those guys will just have to settle for making millions of dollars and gobbling up wins here and there. Oh, and they get mentioned with Tiger and Jack every now and then. Not a bad place to be.

This week:
Zurich Classic - TPC Louisiana, Avondale, La.

Last Year:
Billy Horschel shot a final-round 64 on his way to a one-stroke victory over D.A. Points.

Players to Consider:

Rickie Fowler

Is Fowler really starting to figure it out? He looked pretty good at the Masters two weeks ago after never having much success at Augusta. He returns to TPC Louisiana having never finished worse than T32 here. Perhaps he takes off this week and doesn't look back.

Justin Rose

The field is pretty thin this week, so if you can find a top-notch player with a decent history here, then it's probably wise to jump on him. Rose fits the bill as he finished in the top 15 in his last two starts here.

Billy Horschel

With the limited star power this week, you have to look for other options. And while Horschel was a big name last year, he's struggled to reach those heights this year. That said, he's the defending champ and maybe returning to Avondale will kick-start his season.

Jerry Kelly

Kelly's had a bit of resurgence in 2014, and that trend should continue this week as he returns to the site of his most recent win in 2009. Kelly is not the player he used to be, but if there's anything left in the tank, we'll see it this week.

Greg Chalmers

Those looking for a deep sleeper this week take note. Chalmers has a track record of showing up in odd spots, and over the years this has been one of those spots. Prior to a T65 last year, Chalmers posted four consecutive top-30s at this event.

Players to Avoid:

Boo Weekley

Weekley has a pretty solid track record at this event, but that's been the case numerous times this season and he hasn't panned out. Weekley is simply in a rut, and it doesn't look like he's going to pull out of it anytime soon.

Patrick Reed

Just a few weeks ago, Reed was a top-5 player in the world, well self-proclaimed anyway. Since that ill-fated statement, Reed has failed to look like a top-50 player in the world, let alone top 5. Reed certainly has the talent to play well any given week, but it looks like his mind and mouth may be giving him a little too much trouble.

Keegan Bradley

Remember this guy? Once upon a time, not so long ago, Bradley was the new up-and-comer. Since then, a few golfers have taken his place, most notably Jordan Spieth. Bradley, however, has been lost in the shuffle the last couple years, and if he doesn't get it figured out soon, we just might forget about him altogether.

David Toms

I bring it up every year, because those of us who are old school remember the LSU chants as Toms walked up the final fairway at this event in 2001, but that was a different time and, more important, a different place as the event was held on a different course.

Ben Crane

Crane has played this event eight times and has yet to finish in the top 10. Although some of those results came at the previous venue, the last five attempts have taken place at the current venue, and he's missed the cut in four of those five tries.


Last week:
Luke Donald (2nd) - $626,400; Season - $2,616,284

This week:
Jerry Kelly - I can say with 100 percent certainty that I did not plan on using Kelly this season, but this looks like a pretty good spot. Don't get me wrong, there are better options, but I don't feel like burning Fowler or Rose this week.


Rank: 16,917

This Week:

Group A:
Rickie Fowler, Kevin Stadler

Group B:
Jerry Kelly, Justin Rose, Graham Delaet, Billy Horschel

Group C:
John Senden, Greg Chalmers


Last week:
Luke Donald; Streak - 7

This week:
Rickie Fowler - As much as I like Kelly this week, he's still a risky pick and you should never take a risk in a survivor format. Rose is my top option, but I used him a while back, so Fowler is the next man up this week.

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