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Fantasy Golf

Curse you, DJ! How this guy at home was a couple of Masters miscues away from winning $1 million

Like many people last week, Jim Picarella heard about DraftKings' Masters contest offering a top prize of $1 million and decided to start an account with the online fantasy sports website so he could enter. Sure, the odds were long, but all he needed was $20 and a dream.

And a great team.

Picarella, a self-described golf fanatic who is "always watching the Golf Channel" had no problem fielding just that. DraftKings gives participants a budget of $50,000 in imaginary cash and you choose six players who earn points based on their scores and position. In addition to big names like Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson and Zach Johnson, Picarella's lineup also included lesser-known -- but in form -- players like Hideki Matsuyama, Russell Henley and Charley Hoffman.

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Picarella was glued to his TV throughout the tournament, but not to his computer screen. Once it got to be Saturday afternoon and everyone on his team was playing well, though, the 27-year-old Manhattan resident checked the DraftKings site and saw his name high on a leader board of 125,900 entrants.

Related: 15 revealing moments from the Masters

"From that point on, I literally couldn't move from the couch," said a superstitious Picarella. "There was no looking at the phone, no talking to anybody. Nothing."

Well, except for his girlfriend, who actually helped him pick Spieth and who went out to get food. Picarella didn't want to keep monitoring his status on DraftKings because he knew it would be a "rollercoaster" and he didn't want to get his "hopes up." Late during the final round, however, he checked. And this is what he saw:

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Currently Winning: $1,000,000.00.

"I started freaking out and all the nerves kicked in," Picarella said. "The whole thing was too surreal. I was just sitting there trying not to get too caught up in it. I didn't know how to comprehend winning that much money."

Unfortunately, he never had to. Despite Spieth hanging on for the victory and Matsuyama matching the low round of the day, there was a painful bogey by Zach Johnson on the final hole and a devastating double bogey by Dustin Johnson on No. 16.

"When that ball went into the water, it was a punch to the gut," Picarella said.

After the tournament concluded, Picarella was too nervous to check how his entry had ended up until 8:30 p.m. When he finally got the nerve? Third place. $50,000.

"To be honest, it was a little disheartening, but obviously, I'm very happy to win $50,000," he said.

"The whole thing was grueling. On birdies and eagles, we were getting more pumped up than the players."

The Grind: Jordan Spieth's kiss seen around the world

An entry of Spieth, Hoffman, Henley, Phil Mickelson, Justin Rose, and Kevin Na won the top payout of $1 million -- more than what any player not named Jordan Spieth won in the actual tournament. And a team of Spieth, DJ, Matsuyama, Hoffman, Na, and Ian Poulter edged Picarella for second to earn $100K. (Both of those participants declined our interview requests.)

Still, 50 Gs isn't bad for watching golf from your couch all weekend. Picarella says he plans to enter similar big contests, but he "won't go crazy." He's happy with his Masters haul -- and he's a big fan of the golfers who helped him earn it.

"The six of them are all literally my favorite players now," he said.

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Fantasy Golf

Fantasy Fix: Why we're NOT picking Jordan Spieth (gasp!) at Hilton Head

Despite the universe all but telling me to pick Jordan Spieth at the Masters, I ignored it. What a stupid I am. And while the "Young Master" is back in action this week at the RBC Heritage, I'm staying away again. No one is hotter than Spieth, but no golfer is going to be as drained as he will be when he steps to the tee at Harbour Town on Thursday after a wild few days of toting the green jacket around NYC. Frankly, it's just impressive that Spieth kept his commitment to the event after winning the year's first major. If he keeps his streak of four consecutive top-two finishes up this week, it might be even more impressive than his record-tying performance at Augusta National. In any event, here's a look at who we're playing in our Yahoo! weekly lineup instead:

The Grind: Jordan Spieth's kiss seen around the world and a new ping-pong master

Starters -- (A-List): Jim Furyk. We boldly predicted he'd end his winless drought in San Antonio. . . and he let us down. But here's another week where we could see the streak coming to an end. In the last 10 years, Furyk has a win, two runner-ups, a solo fourth and two other top 10s at Harbour Town.

Related: The top 25 viral golf videos of 2014

(B-List): Zach Johnson. It's surprising ZJ hasn't had more success at this Pete Dye/Jack Nicklaus track that's much more about precision than power. Johnson was a runner-up in 2012, but only has one other top 10 in his 10 trips to Hilton Head. We'll ride him based on his pair of recent T-9s at the Masters and Bay Hill.

(B-List): Matt Kuchar. The PGA Tour ATM machine is on as cold of a two-week stretch as we can remember, with a 70th-place finish in Houston and a T-46 at the Masters. We always say Kuchar never has two bad weeks in a row so certainly, he can't have three, right?

(C-List): Charley Hoffman. It wasn't a great Sunday at Augusta National for Hoffman, but he still picked up his best finish ever at a major with a T-9. That came on the heels of back-to-back T-11 performances in Texas, which just added to a terrific season that also includes a win and a runner-up. No reason to not like his chances this week at an event where he has two top 10s in the past three years.

Bench/Backups: Webb Simpson, Brandt Snedeker, Graeme McDowell, Brendon de Jonge.

Related: 15 signs you watch too much golf on TV

Knockout/One-and-done pick: Matt Kuchar. At the start of the year, we figured we'd save Kuchar for a bigger event, but after not using him at the Masters, it's tough to envision taking him at a major. Plus, he won this event last year (remember that clutch bunker shot?) and there have already been three players defend titles this season. Let's make it a foursome, Matt! And Jordan, please go easy on the rest of the guys this week.

Previously used: Keegan Bradley (Bay Hill), Paul Casey (Honda), Jason Day (Famers -- WINNER!), Luke Donald (Valspar), Jamie Donaldson (Doral), Jim Furyk (Valero), Bill Haas (Riviera), Charles Howell III (Sony), Dustin Johnson (Pebble), Geoff Ogilvy (Hyundai), Louis Oosthuizen (Houston), Ryan Palmer (Humana), Brendan Steele (Phoenix).

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Fantasy Golf

Why Ryan Palmer could be the key to me winning $1 million this week

You may have heard, but DraftKings is offering a Masters fantasy golf contest with a first-place prize of $1 million. And since I'm a total sucker, I decided to plunk $20 down for an entry. Hey, with only 67,000 entries as of Tuesday evening, my odds are much better of winning this than the lottery!

Related: These 12 players can win the Masters

Anyway, here's the lineup of six golfers I selected based off the "$50,000" budget and player prices set by DraftKings:

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As you can see, I broke up my entry into two categories of studs (Henrik Stenson, Jimmy Walker and Patrick Reed) and sleepers (Louis Oosthuizen, Paul Casey and Ryan Palmer). I'm hoping those sleepers hold the key to me getting rich.

Oosthuizen, of course, nearly won a green jacket in 2012. I particularly remember that close call because I had a 90/1 bet on him. Thanks, Bubba. And both he and Paul Casey have quietly been playing well this season.

The Grind: Hello Tiger, goodbye Dufners

Then there's Palmer, who I believe provides the best value of the entire contest. The long-hitting Texan loves shaping it right-to-left off the tee and has finished in the top 25 in seven of his eight events on the PGA Tour this season. He hasn't played in the past two Masters, but he finished 10th in 2011.

A Palmer slipping on a green jacket has a nice ring to it, no? And a million bucks sounds pretty good, too. So don't copy me!

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Fantasy Golf

Fantasy Fix: Matt Kuchar looks to bounce back from his Houston heartbreak

Fantasy golf participants everywhere should thank Jimmy Walker for being the most dependable player on the PGA Tour the past couple years. This week, though, it's his fellow tour pros that should be thanking him. Following his fifth win in 37 starts, Walker withdrew from this week's Shell Houston Open, which means everyone else has a much better chance of winning now. Who are we tabbing to step up in the FedEx Cup leader's absence? Here's a look at our Yahoo! weekly lineup:

The Grind: Jimmy Walker vs. Chuck Norris and Rickie beaches with the Randock sisters

Starters -- (A-List): Sergio Garcia. The Spaniard stumbled a bit over the weekend here last year, but finished solo third. He's coming off a pair of T-31s in his two Florida starts, but at No. 8 in the Official World Golf Ranking, he's still the second-best player in the field this week.

Related: The top 25 viral golf videos of 2014

(B-List): Jordan Spieth. Speaking of the OWGR, the 21-year-old Texan is No. 4 and rising fast. Spieth backed up his Valspar win with a runner up at the Valero.

(B-List): Matt Kuchar. The victim of a sudden-death pitch-in by Matt Jones last year continued his run of good play in Texas. He finished T-8 in each of his prior two trips and he's coming off a T-15 in San Antonio.

(C-List): Louis Oosthuizen. Nearly a Masters champ three years ago, his game also sets up well at the Golf Club of Houston, which will once again have an Augusta-like setup. Oosthuizen has a third, a T-10 and a T-16 in his last four starts here.

Bench/Backups: Bill Haas, Rickie Fowler, Danny Willett, and Patrick Reed.

Related: 15 signs you watch too much golf on TV

Knockout/One-and-done pick: Louis Oosthuizen. Aside from his strong play in this event, the South African has a solo sixth, a T-9 and a T-14 in his four PGA Tour starts this season.

Previously used: Keegan Bradley (Bay Hill), Paul Casey (Honda), Jason Day (Famers -- WINNER!), Luke Donald (Valspar), Jamie Donaldson (Doral), Jim Furyk (Valero), Bill Haas (Riviera), Charles Howell III (Sony), Dustin Johnson (Pebble), Geoff Ogilvy (Hyundai), Ryan Palmer (Humana), Brendan Steele (Phoenix).

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Fantasy Golf

Fantasy Fix: Why Jim Furyk's winless drought will end in Texas

What an odd season it's been on the PGA Tour. Through 19 events, we've seen 19 different winners, yet three golfers have already repeated in tournaments they won last year. In other words, if you've been picking defending champs, you've probably been doing pretty well. Maybe we should start using that strategy this week with the Valero Texas Open. Last year's edition was won by. . . let's see here. . . Steven Bowditch. Hmm. Maybe we'll start next week. Sorry Steven, but here's who we're going with in our Yahoo! weekly lineup instead:

The Grind: Golf's March Madness and the PGA Tour's new "it" couple

Starters -- (A-List): Jim Furyk. The Grinder is coming off a rare bad performance (T-40 at Innisbrook), but he's fared well in his two trips to the difficult TPC San Antonio. Furyk has shot under par in seven of his eight rounds to finish T-3 and T-6 the past two years on what he described last year as a "tough, grueling golf course." Does anyone enjoy those more than Furyk?

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(B-List): Jimmy Walker. Perhaps, playing in front of a home crowd will lift Walker out of his recent lull. The San Antonio resident hasn't finished in the top 20 in three straight events. More telling of how he's played this season, though, is he still sits atop the FedEx Cup standings.

Related: The top 25 viral golf videos of 2014

(B-List): Jordan Spieth. The 21-year-old Texan looked great in picking up his second PGA Tour title at the Valspar Championship two weeks ago. Even more impressive? He did it while in the process of buying his first house.

(C-List): Brendan Steele. A winner at TPC San Antonio, Steele also backed up that lone PGA Tour title with a T-4 the following year. Now, Steele is playing the most consistent golf of his career with 14 straight made cuts, including a runner-up at the Humana Challenge.

Bench/Backups: Jim Furyk, Matt Kuchar, Zach Johnson, and Justin Thomas.

Related: 15 signs you watch too much golf on TV

Knockout/One-and-done pick: Jim Furyk. This is the week! We can feel it! The long winless streak stops here! Hey, if we're going to continue to have a different winner on tour every week, the seventh-ranked player in the world has to win eventually. . . right?

Previously used: Keegan Bradley (Bay Hill), Paul Casey (Honda), Jason Day (Famers -- WINNER!), Luke Donald (Valspar), Jamie Donaldson (Doral), Bill Haas (Riviera), Charles Howell III (Sony), Dustin Johnson (Pebble), Geoff Ogilvy (Hyundai), Ryan Palmer (Humana), Brendan Steele (Phoenix).

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Fantasy Golf

Fantasy Fix: Can Keegan Bradley end his drought at Bay Hill?

This week's Arnold Palmer Invitational is the last leg of the Florida Swing and it marks the last marquee event -- our apologies to the two Texas tournaments -- before the Masters. Who will be shaking hands with The King at Bay Hill on Sunday evening? A look at our weekly Yahoo! fantasy golf lineup:

The Grind: A tale of two Jordans and Rickie & Alexis go "beachin"

Starters -- (A-List): Adam Scott. He's finished third at Bay Hill two of the past five times he's played (once anchoring and once not). He's also missed the cut twice in those five appearances. Considering he didn't make it to the weekend at the Valspar -- ending a tour-best streak of 45 cuts -- we're betting he's more likely to do the former.

(B-List): Rickie Fowler. Fowler finally showed signs of life in 2015 with a T-12 at Doral. We know he's well rested having gone "beachin" with girlfriend Alexis Randock and he returns to a course where he finished T-3 two years ago. Can you imagine the millennial hysteria if Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler won back-to-back weeks?

Related: The top 25 viral golf videos of 2014

(B-List): Ian Poulter. He gave the Honda away and resurfaced on the lead board at the Valspar before fading. At Bay Hill, he's also been a fixture having finished T-21 or better in his last four starts, including a solo third in 2012.

(C-List): Keegan Bradley. Keegan's last PGA Tour win was the 2012 Bridgestone Invitational, but two of his closest calls since have come at Bay Hill with a runner-up last year and a T-3 in 2013.

Bench/Backups: Henrik Stenson, Jason Day, Graeme McDowell, and Kevin Na.

Related: 15 signs you watch too much golf on TV

Knockout/One-and-done pick: Keegan Bradley. Much like we were wondering a week ago how Jordan Spieth only had one PGA Tour title, we're still wondering how it's been more than two and a half years since Bradley last won. He's trending in the right direction at Bay Hill, though, and this will the last time he's allowed to anchor in front of Arnie. So long live The King, and let's hope for one last hurrah from Bradley's long putter.

Previously used: Paul Casey (Honda), Jason Day (Famers -- WINNER!), Luke Donald (Valspar), Jamie Donaldson (Doral), Bill Haas (Riviera), Charles Howell III (Sony), Dustin Johnson (Pebble), Geoff Ogilvy (Hyundai), Ryan Palmer (Humana), Brendan Steele (Phoenix).

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Fantasy Golf

Fantasy Fix: Luke Donald -- and his love of Tampa -- leads our weekly picks

With a win, a T-2 and a T-4 in his last four starts, Dustin Johnson has become the most startable player in fantasy golf. But he's taking a much-deserved break this week to celebrate with his braggart baby son, meaning we'll have to turn elsewhere for this week's Valspar Championship at Innisbrook's Copperhead Course. Who do we think will make it out of "The Snake Pit" the least scathed? A look at our weekly Yahoo! fantasy golf lineup:

The Grind: Rory's club toss inspires and a captain's daughter signs a modeling contract

Starters -- (A-List): Luke Donald. No one has a better recent track record at this event. In his last four trips to Tampa, Donald has gone T-6, win, T-4, T-4. How do you not play him?

(B-List): Jordan Spieth. The 2013 playing of this event was arguably the most important tournament of Spieth's pro career. The 19-year-old Texan finished T-7 to earn enough money to grant him temporary PGA Tour membership and earn him unlimited sponsor exemptions for the rest of the year. After finishing T-20 last year, the grizzled vet returns as a top-10 player in the world.

Related: The top 25 viral golf videos of 2014

(B-List): Brandt Snedeker. More than the two top 10s he has in this event, we just like how Snedeker is playing. He's cooled off in two starts since his win at Pebble Beach, but the Copperhead Course sets up a lot better for him than Riviera and Doral.

(C-List): Boo Weekley. Our favorite hydroblaster finished runner-up here in 2013 and we're hoping for similar success in avoiding Innisbrook's water hazards. He wasn't in the field at Doral, but finished T-6 last week in Puerto Rico.

Bench/Backups: Jim Furyk, Matt Kuchar, Gary Woodland, and Sang-Moon Bae.

Related: 15 signs you watch too much golf on TV

Knockout/One-and-done pick: Luke Donald. Aside from his terrific track record here, Donald showed good form with a T-7 at the Honda two weeks ago. It's been three years since his last PGA Tour victory, but returning to the site of that probably gives him his best chance of ending that drought. C'mon, Luke. We want to see your daughters wearing "My daddy golfs better than your daddy" t-shirts come Monday.

Previously used: Paul Casey (Honda), Jason Day (Famers -- WINNER!), Jamie Donaldson (Doral), Bill Haas (Riviera), Charles Howell III (Sony), Dustin Johnson (Pebble), Geoff Ogilvy (Hyundai), Ryan Palmer (Humana), Brendan Steele (Phoenix).

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Fantasy Golf

Fantasy Fix: Should we expect another "top five" moment from Patrick Reed at Doral?

Did your fantasy team survive "The Bear Trap"? Probably not, if you rolled with chalk. It was a tough week for the big guns at PGA National, but they'll get another chance this week with the first World Golf Championship of the year. Everyone in the top 50 of the Official World Golf Ranking is teeing it up at Trump National Doral -- the first time that's happened since the 2012 PGA Championship. Who do we like to shake hands with the Donald (and Ivanka) on Sunday evening? A look at our weekly Yahoo! fantasy golf lineup:

The Grind: Paddy's frugal victory feast and more models take up golf

Starters -- (A-List): Bubba Watson. Didn't seem to really feel comfortable with the changes to Doral until last year's final round, but a Sunday 68 vaulted him to T-2. Watson also finished runner-up here in 2012 before the alterations.

(B-List): Dustin Johnson. DJ is coming off a rough week, but then again, you could say that about most of the big names who teed it up at PGA National. He finished T-4 at Doral last year and was solo second in 2011.

Related: The top 25 viral golf videos of 2014

(B-List): Graeme McDowell. Managed a T-9 last year despite not posting anything better than 71. The new Doral is much more about surviving than going low, though, making it a good track for this U.S. Open champ.

(C-List): Patrick Reed. The defending champ nearly won for a second time in 2015 at the Honda. It was here last year where he famously made his "top five" statement. Another win this week and that might actually become a reality.

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Patrick Reed and Donald Trump. Two guys with no confidence issues.

Bench/Backups: Rory McIlroy, Jason Day, Justin Rose, and Jamie Donaldson.

Related: 15 signs you watch too much golf on TV

Knockout/One-and-done pick: Jamie Donaldson. Long before -- well, months before -- he became a Ryder Cup hero, Donaldson finished T-2 to Reed. He's also coming off a fifth-place finish at the Honda Classic. In other words, he's really good. Maybe not "top five" in the world good, but you get the point.

Previously used: Paul Casey (Honda), Jason Day (Famers -- WINNER!), Bill Haas (Riviera), Charles Howell III (Sony), Dustin Johnson (Pebble), Geoff Ogilvy (Hyundai), Ryan Palmer (Humana), Brendan Steele (Phoenix).

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News & Tours

Fantasy Fix: Will Rory roar again at the Bear Trap?

Well, we learned two important lessons last week. 1.) James Hahn is as good of a golfer as he is a dancer. 2.) Do NOT pick Bill Haas to win a tournament the week before his wife is expecting to give birth. With those things in mind, we'll try to bounce back at the Honda Classic at PGA National. It's somewhat of a home game for many of the pros who live in the Jupiter area and that fact contributes to this tournament sporting the best field of 2015 so far, even with the absence of a certain 14-time major champion. Who do we like to survive "the Bear Trap" the best? A look at our weekly Yahoo! fantasy golf lineup:

The Grind: Sneds' frugal win and Rickie gets romantic for Valentine's Day

Starters -- (A-List): Rory McIlroy. The World No. 1 is back. At an event where he's gone Win-Wisdom Tooth WD-runner-up the past three years. Don't overthink this.

(B-List): Graeme McDowell. We'll go with another Northern Irelander making his first start of 2015. G-Mac only finished T-46 here last year, but he went T-6, T-9, T-9 the previous three.

Related: The top 25 viral golf videos of 2014

(B-List): Justin Rose. Missed last year with a bad shoulder, but finished in the top five in his three previous trips to the Bear Trap. Missed the cut at his only other 2015 PGA Tour start at Torrey Pines, but he's still Justin Rose.

(C-List): Keegan Bradley. We gave Bradley some love last week and he rewarded us by rallying on Sunday to finish T-4. The final round has actually been his problem at PGA National, but he's still managed two T-12s and a T-4 in his last three starts there.

Bench/Backups: Brooks Koepka, Paul Casey, Rickie Fowler, Russell Henley.

Related: 15 signs you watch too much golf on TV

Knockout/One-and-done pick: Paul Casey. Rory and Rose are the safer picks, but we'd rather save those big guns for major season. Instead, we'll go with Casey, who lost in that playoff at Riviera, but still picked up his first top 10 on the PGA Tour since 2011. The former third-ranked player in the world has been on a steady rise back (he won the KLM Open on the European Tour in September) after a few injury-plagued seasons, and he also has a solid track record at the Honda with a T-12 last year and a T-4 in 2010. Plus, Casey and his fiancee, Pollyanna Woodward, just had their first son in September, so we should be safe on that front.

Previously used: Jason Day (Famers -- WINNER!), Bill Haas (Riviera), Charles Howell III (Sony), Dustin Johnson (Pebble), Geoff Ogilvy (Hyundai), Ryan Palmer (Humana), Brendan Steele (Phoenix).

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News & Tours

Fantasy Fix: Why Bill Haas' wife might be the key to his week at Riviera

First off, our apologies for not tabbing jewelry mogul Michael Lund in the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. We didn't realize eight-handicappers were capable of shooting even par in tournament conditions at Monterey Peninsula. We do realize what tour pros are capable of, though, so we're glad the focus shifts back to them this week at the Northern Trust Open. Who do we like at Riviera? A look at our weekly Yahoo! fantasy golf lineup:

The Grind: Sneds' frugal win and Rickie gets romantic for Valentine's Day

Starters -- (A-List): Bill Haas. We'll take the 2012 champ here over last year's winner, Bubba Watson, due to Haas' more consistent play at Riviera. In addition to that playoff victory over Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley, Haas has a T-3, a T-12 and a T-23 in the last four years. Haas' wife, Julie, is expecting the couple's second child, but her due date is next Friday and she encouraged Bill to play this week. He'll be checking the phone, but we're going to count on her timing being as good as her husband's track record here.

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(B-List): Jimmy Walker. Does this guy ever have a bad week? His T-21 at Pebble Beach was by far his worst start of 2015. Walker has two T-4s at Riviera, a course he's professed his love for in the past. No reason not to like him this week.

Related: 11 PGA Tour sleepers to watch in 2014-15

(B-List): Dustin Johnson. We rolled the dice with DJ at Pebble last week and he came through with a T-4 despite a shaky first day. Johnson has oddly gone back and forth with success and failure in this event (T-3, MC, T-4, MC, and a solo 2nd last year), but there's too much good to overlook -- provided his caddie gives him the right tee time.

(C-List): Keegan Bradley. Has it really been two and a half years since he won on the PGA Tour? Perhaps Riviera is the place to end that drought. In the past three years, Bradley has finished no worse than T-20 in this event while shooting just one over-par score (72) on the difficult track.

Bench/Backups: Bubba Watson, Nick Watney, Hideki Matsuyama, and Justin Thomas.

Related: 15 signs you watch too much golf on TV

Knockout/One-and-done pick: Bill Haas. I know you don't want to hear it, but we were agonizingly close to predicting a win for Haas at the Humana and to going with Snedeker in this spot last week. We'll go with Haas here instead and hope he's got more than his usual one win per year planned for this season. His sub-standard strokes gained/tee to green and his woeful strokes gained/putting thus far suggest he has yet to really start playing well. Ben Hogan famously said "Golf is not a game of good shots. It's a game of bad shots." Perhaps, that's what makes Haas the perfect pick at Hogan's Alley.

Previously used: Jason Day (Famers -- WINNER!), Charles Howell III (Sony), Dustin Johnson (Pebble), Geoff Ogilvy (Hyundai), Ryan Palmer (Humana), Brendan Steele (Phoenix).

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