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Fantasy Golf

Fantasy Fix: Who will take home the plaid jacket?

By Alex Myers

Believe it or not, there's another PGA Tour event this week. The Masters has come and gone, but the tour moves on. This week, it stops at one of players' favorite courses: Harbour Town GL. Another jacket is up for grabs, but it's plaid instead of green. In other words, the Masters may be tougher to win than the RBC Heritage, but winners in Hilton Head always have a trickier time matching their shirts to their new sport coat. Here are our thoughts on who will face that dilemma come Sunday:

The Grind: Why Bubba Watson really went to the Waffle House after winning the Masters

Starters -- (A-List): Luke Donald. Other than last week's missed cut at Augusta National, Donald has been in the top 25 in all four stroke-play starts in 2014. It's hard not to see that streak continuing at an event where he's finished in the top three four of the past five years.

(B-List): Zach Johnson. Another guy who missed the cut at the Masters, Johnson doesn't have as strong of a record at Harbour Town as Donald, although he did finish runner-up in 2012. We're more banking on the fact ZJ won't have two bad weeks in a row.

Related: 15 signs you watch too much golf on TV

(B-List): Jim Furyk. The Grinder has been in the top 20 in four of his last five starts, including a T-14 at Augusta National. Furyk has a win and two runner-ups at Harbour Town.

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(C-List): Harris English. A missed cut at the Masters was his the first of the season for a man who trails only Matt Kuchar in top 10s on the PGA Tour this season.

Bench/Backups: Brandt Snedeker, Bill Haas, Stewart Cink, and Kevin Na.

Related: 11 sleepers to watch in 2014

Knockout/One-and-done pick: Jim Furyk. We're going with our lone starter who played the weekend at Augusta National last week. Furyk has quietly (and slowly) played some solid golf this year. We hope he's wearing something on Sunday that looks good with plaid -- preferably, something different than what's shown above. . .

Previously used: Keegan Bradley (Doral), Tim Clark (Sony), Graham DeLaet (Phoenix), Luke Donald (Valspar), Rickie Fowler (Honda Classic), Bill Haas (Farmers), Charles Howell III (Humana), Freddie Jacobson (Valero), Dustin Johnson (Northern Trust), Martin Laird (Kapalua), Graeme McDowell (Bay Hill), Adam Scott (Masters), Jordan Spieth (Houston), Jimmy Walker (Pebble -- winner!).

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Fantasy Fix: Jordan Spieth heads our Houston Open picks

By Alex Myers

We're a week away from the Masters, but this week's Shell Houston Open has a major-like field with 22 major winners teeing it up at the Golf Club of Houston. Who do we like to win this final tuneup in Texas? Here's the lineup:

Starters -- (A-List): Henrik Stenson. Arguably the best player without a major, Stenson is coming off a T-5 and he finished runner-up at this tournament last year.

The Grind: Is the golf world ready for a Tiger-less Masters

(B-List): Jordan Spieth. The Dallas kid has lived on leader boards all year, but hasn't won. We think that changes this week.

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Related: 15 signs you watch too much golf on TV

(B-List): Dustin Johnson. If it seems like we play him every week, it's because we do. We're going to eventually have to start conserving his starts, but for now, we'll play the man who has made nearly $600,000 per start in 2013-14.

(C-List): Carl Pettersson. A runner-up at this event in 2012, Pettersson has quietly turned his game around with three consecutive top-20 finishes.

Bench/Backups: Lee Westwood, Rory McIlroy, Graham DeLaet, and Sergio Garcia.

Related: 11 sleepers to watch in 2014

Knockout/One-and-done pick: Jordan Spieth. There are plenty of big names in this field, but with such a huge event looming next week, few have the motivation to go all out for a win that this 20-year-old does. Think anyone in the gallery will be rooting for him if he's wearing that burnt orange shirt?

Previously used: Keegan Bradley (Doral), Tim Clark (Sony), Graham DeLaet (Phoenix), Luke Donald (Valspar), Rickie Fowler (Honda Classic), Bill Haas (Farmers), Charles Howell III (Humana), Freddie Jacobson (Valero), Dustin Johnson (Northern Trust), Martin Laird (Kapalua), Graeme McDowell (Bay Hill), Jimmy Walker (Pebble -- winner!).

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News & Tours

Fantasy Fix: Our "upset special" pick for the Valero Texas Open

By Alex Myers

Think your NCAA bracket is ugly? You should have seen our fantasy golf picks last week. We picked Tiger Woods. Then he pulled out. We turned to Bubba Watson. Then he shot an 83 and withdrew. But like in basketball, where good shooters keep on shooting, we will not be deterred with our predictions -- especially since we had the winner, Matt Every, as one of our four starters. Yeah, baby! Who makes our Final Four this week for the Valero Texas Open? Here's the lineup:

The Grind: Fun with Matt Every's name and Kate Upton's return to Bay Hill

Starters -- (A-List): Matt Kuchar. Outside of Kuchar and Phil Mickelson, it's pretty slim pickings in this group. Kuchar seems the safest bet.

(B-List): Freddie Jacobson. This guy either misses cuts (five times in 2013-14) or finishes in the top 20 (five times this season). We're banking on the latter happening at a course where he's finished in the top 20 in all four tries, including a solo second in 2010.

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Related: 15 signs you watch too much golf on TV

(B-List): Jim Furyk. Is Furyk the slowest player on the PGA Tour? Debatable. Not debatable? He finished T-3 last year in his only time teeing it up at TPC San Antonio.

(C-List): Jimmy Walker. Remember this guy? Yeah, it's been a few weeks since he won so it's probably time to plug him back into the lineup.

Bench/Backups: Phil Mickelson, Jordan Spieth, Billy Horschel, and Ryan Palmer.

Related: 11 sleepers to watch in 2014

Knockout/One-and-done pick: Freddie Jacobson. In the spirit of March Madness, we'll go with a bit of an underdog. How do you say "Final Four" in Swedish?

Previously used: Keegan Bradley (Doral), Tim Clark (Sony), Graham DeLaet (Phoenix), Luke Donald (Valspar), Rickie Fowler (Honda Classic), Bill Haas (Farmers), Charles Howell III (Humana), Dustin Johnson (Northern Trust), Martin Laird (Kapalua), Graeme McDowell (Bay Hill), Jimmy Walker (Pebble -- winner!).

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Fantasy Fix: If not Tiger Woods, then who at Bay Hill?

By Alex Myers

OK, Bay Hill, you've got next. Can the Orlando course keep the longest streak of single digits under par winners (not counting majors or opposite-field events) the PGA Tour has seen since 1990 going at this week's Arnold Palmer Invitational? Probably not considering single digits under par has earned a victory hug from tournament host just three times in the past 20 years. Then again, those three times all occured in the past seven years. In any event, here's our lineup for the last big event before the Masters.

The Grind: Na's slow play, Daly's meltdown, and Bay Hill's new scary nickname

Starters -- (A-List): Tiger Woods. Call us suckers, but Woods has won this event eight times, including four of his last five tries. Sure, he's limped around the course with a bad back on back-to-back Sundays, but we think him wanting (needing?) to have a good full week under his belt before next month's trip to Augusta will drive him to a solid finish. Actually, this might be one of the only times Woods is undervalued in fantasy golf. Yep. Call us suckers. . .

UPDATE: Turns out, we were suckers. Shortly after posting this, Woods pulled out of the event with lingering back pain. Lucky for fantasy owners, he gave us plenty of time to adjust our lineup (how considerate of him!). We'll move a red-hot Bubba Watson, who has a win and two runner-ups in his past three stroke-play events, into the starting lineup.

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Woods won't be joining Palmer on the 18th green this year.

(B-List): Justin Rose. Faltered in the final round at the Valspar Championship, but the T-8 was a good sign for someone coming back from a shoulder injury. Last year's runner-up here looks healthy and ready for another run in an event where he's finished in the top 15 four of his last six attempts.

Related: 15 signs you watch too much golf on TV

(B-List): Matt Every. With four top 10s already in 2013-2014, Every is easily on pace for his best season ever. His best finish at Bay Hill is only a T-24, but he seems to have good vibes at The King's place. Check out the shot he pulled off here last year! Oh, and his middle name just happens to be King. . .

(C-List): Graeme McDowell. He's been all over the map with two runner-ups (2012 and 2005), two T-40ish performances and two missed cuts in his six career starts at Bay Hill. Based on his four top 10s in five PGA Tour starts this season, we're inclined to expect one of his good weeks.

Bench/Backups: Henrik Stenson, Keegan Bradley, Zach Johnson, and Harris English.

Related: 11 sleepers to watch in 2014

Knockout/One-and-done pick: Graeme McDowell. Doesn't it feel like this guy should win more? We're predicting PGA Tour title No. 3 for this grinder -- especially if the winning score remains in the single digits.

Previously used: Keegan Bradley (Doral), Tim Clark (Sony), Graham DeLaet (Phoenix), Luke Donald (Valspar), Rickie Fowler (Honda Classic), Bill Haas (Farmers), Charles Howell III (Humana), Dustin Johnson (Northern Trust), Martin Laird (Kapalua), Jimmy Walker (Pebble -- winner!).

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News & Tours

Fantasy Fix: Isn't it about time for Luke Donald to win again?

By Alex Myers

Sometimes, you need a little extra inspiration to come out of a mini-slump. Our strategy this week? Make our picks for this week's Valspar Championship by watching a rerun of last year's final round. OK, so that happened by accident, but we'll give it a shot. Here's the lineup we're going with:

The Grind: Reed's big win, Woods' bad back, and Ivanka Trump

Starters -- (A-List): Luke Donald. A winner at Innisbrook in 2012, Donald also has a T-4 and a T-6 since 2010. We just hope he doesn't go with the all-blue outfit he went with on Sunday last year:

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(B-List): Jason Dufner. The Duf is coming off back-to-back T-9s at World Golf Championships, but both should have been higher. During Sunday's final round at Doral, he missed several putts from close range to fall out of contention.

Related: 15 signs you watch too much golf on TV

(B-List): Jordan Spieth. Speaking of missing short putts, Spieth just yanked one from about two feet on No. 9. Ouch. That miss kept him from finishing higher from T-7. He'll return to Innisbrook as a 20-year-old this time and a guy who has been circling a win all year.

(C-List): Boo Weekley. Last year's runner-up finished his final round hours ahead of the leaders. Unfortunately, his Sunday 63 wasn't enough, and him having to stick around to see if he'd be in a playoff ruined his plan of getting some bass fishing in. What a great post-round interview.

Bench/Backups: Matt Kuchar, Webb Simpson, Jim Furyk, and Harris English.

Related: 11 sleepers to watch in 2014

Knockout/One-and-done pick: Luke Donald. It's been two years since his last win on the PGA Tour, but that victory came at this tournament. His T-4 last year matched his second-best result of 2013. Hmm. On second thought, Luke, why don't you stick with the blue again.

Previously used: Keegan Bradley (Doral), Tim Clark (Sony), Graham DeLaet (Phoenix), Rickie Fowler (Honda Classic), Bill Haas (Farmers), Charles Howell III (Humana), Dustin Johnson (Northern Trust), Martin Laird (Kapalua), Jimmy Walker (Pebble -- winner!).

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News & Tours

Fantasy Fix: Should you plug Tiger Woods back into your lineup at Doral?

By Alex Myers

After a few days of speculation, Tiger Woods will play this week's WGC-Cadillac despite withdrawing from the Honda Classic with a bad back. As you'll probably hear a million times this week, the last time he withdrew during a final round (the 2012 edition of this event), he won his next start the next week. So, we're plugging him into the lineup, right? Not so fast. Woods will certainly find the form that won him five titles last year again, but for now, we're holding off until he proves he can play four rounds in a PGA Tour event. Instead, here's a look at who we're playing this week at the revamped Trump National Doral:

The Grind: Rory's back-nine meltdown, Tiger's back, and Natalie's abs

Starters -- (A-List): Adam Scott. The Aussie has a chance to take the No. 1 spot in the Official World Golf Ranking from Tiger this week. As if winning a WGC and $1.5 million wasn't enough motivation.

(B-List): Rory McIlroy. How did he not win last week at the Honda Classic? While we're still trying to figure that out, we know he's finished no worse that T-9 in his last five worldwide stroke-play events.

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Related: Why Rory will see more of Tiger than usual this week

(B-List): Keegan Bradley. A rough Sunday at PGA National dropped him to 10th, but it was still his sixth top 20 in seven stroke-play starts this season. Bradley has top 10s in his only two appearances in this event.

(C-List): Sergio Garcia. After a rough opening round at PGA National, Garica ripped off rounds of 68-68-67 to finish T-8. He finished T-3 here last year.

Bench/Backups: Luke Donald, Dustin Johnson, Jason Dufner, and Graeme McDowell.

Related: 11 sleepers to watch in 2014

Knockout/One-and-done pick: Keegan Bradley. One of the most consistent players on tour, it just feels like he's really ready to break out. We hope it's this week.

Previously used: Tim Clark (Sony), Graham DeLaet (Phoenix), Rickie Fowler (Honda Classic), Bill Haas (Farmers), Charles Howell III (Humana), Dustin Johnson (Northern Trust), Martin Laird (Kapalua), Jimmy Walker (Pebble -- winner!).

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News & Tours

Fantasy Fix: Tiger, Rory, or... Rickie at the Honda Classic?

By Alex Myers

After a rare week off in fantasy golf (let's just say we were all winners!), we're back. And so are most of the world's best players. Like with real estate, location is key to a golf tournament's success. And with PGA National just a quick trip away for many top pros in the Palm Beach area, the Honda Classic has grown in stature in recent years. Who do we like to drive off with the trophy at the first event of the Florida Swing? Here's a look at our lineup.

The Grind: Jason's win, Victor's magic, and Rory's... wedding plans?

Starters -- (A-List): Rickie Fowler. Watching him play at the WGC-Match Play, it was hard to imagine this was a guy coming off three consecutive missed cuts. Fowler's swing changes with Butch Harmon are paying off with a proximity to the hole of 31 feet, 3 inches, which ranks him No. 2 on the PGA Tour. He's also finished T-7 and T-13 here the past two years.

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(B-List): Rory McIlroy. Yes, this was the site of McIlroy withdrawing on the ninth hole of the first round last year, but it was also the site of one of his high points. The year before, he held off Tiger Woods (and Tom Gillis) to win and reach No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking for the first time. Plus, he's coming off four straight top 10s on the European Tour, and a win at the Australian Open.

Related: The best and worst of the West Coast Swing

(B-List): Keegan Bradley. Like Rory and Rickie, another local with plenty of practice and success at PGA National. Bradley has a T-4 and a T-12 in this event the past two years. He's been in the top 20 in 11 of his past 13 events, and he should be particularly raring to go after being ousted in the first round of the Match Play by Jonas Blixt last week.

(C-List): Graeme McDowell. Fresh off a quarterfinal run at the Match Play, G-Mac returns to a comfortable site where he's finished in the top 10 each of the past three years.

Bench/Backups: Tiger Woods, Zach Johnson, Hideki Matsuyama, and Charl Schwartzel.

Related: 11 sleepers to watch in 2014

Knockout/One-and-done pick: Rickie Fowler. Wind usually plays a factor at PGA National, something that clearly doesn't bother the 25-year-old. It also doesn't make as much of a difference when you're hitting the ball as solidly as he has been. Fowler's putting has been unusually cold (174th in strokes gained/putting) this year, but those stats don't include his week of work at the Match Play, where he finished third. Jason Day won that event to earn a long-awaited second PGA Tour title. Perhaps it's Fowler's time to do the same this week. And no pressure, Rickie, our last three picks have all finished in the top two . . .

Previously used: Tim Clark (Sony), Graham DeLaet (Phoenix), Bill Haas (Farmers) Charles Howell III (Humana), Dustin Johnson (Northern Trust), Martin Laird (Kapalua), Jimmy Walker (Pebble -- winner!).

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News & Tours

Fantasy Fix: Can anyone stop Jimmy Walker at Riviera?

By Alex Myers

We told you we were hot. After our good Graham DeLaet pick in Phoenix and an even better Super Bowl prediction, we rode Jimmy Walker to a weekly victory in our 45-person fantasy league. Thanks, Jimmy! The suddenly dominant player is teeing it up again this week as the PGA Tour heads to Riviera for the Northern Trust Open. Obviously, we're leaving him in the lineup, but who else are we playing? Here's a look:

The Grind: Jimmy Walker earns a well-deserved nickname

Starters -- (A-List): Matt Kuchar. This is a tough one. Kuchar has never finished better than T-14 at Riviera in eight tries, but it's Matt Kuchar! The guy finishes in the top 10 every week.

(B-List): Dustin Johnson. DJ is coming off a T-2 at Pebble Beach, where he also helped future father-in-law Wayne Gretzky make the pro-am cut. That will earn him a LOT of brownie points with his new family in the coming years.

Related: Photos of Dustin Johnson and Paulina Gretzky

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(B-List): Hunter Mahan. Another holdover from last week's lineup, Mahan finished sixth one week after a T-4 in Phoenix. He doesn't have a great track record here, but he finished T-8 last year. With his recent play, we'll give him a slight edge over Bill Haas.

(C-List): Jimmy Walker. You gotta keep riding the gravy train, right?

Bench/Backups: Charles Howell III, Bill Haas, Graham DeLaet, Pat Perez.

Related: 11 sleepers to watch in 2014

Knockout/One-and-done pick: Dustin Johnson. We hate to use such a big name so early in the season, but Vegas has Johnson as the heavy favorite (12-to-1 odds) and for good reason. He has a weird history at Riviera with two missed cuts in his last five appearances, but those other three trips to L.A. produced a T-3, T-4 and T-10. Oh yeah, he's already made more than $2 million in just three starts this season. Even Jimmy Walker is impressed.

Previously used: Tim Clark (Sony), Graham DeLaet (Phoenix), Bill Haas (Farmers) Charles Howell III (Humana), Martin Laird (Kapalua), Jimmy Walker (Pebble -- winner!).

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News & Tours

Fantasy Fix: Should Phil Mickelson be in your lineup at Pebble Beach?

By Alex Myers

How about that Graham DeLaet, huh? No, he didn't win at TPC Scottsdale as we predicted, but he came pretty darn close. Then our Super Bowl pick came through. In other words, we're on fire! How confident are we now? Bring on the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am! As in, the actual pro-am. Oh, Yahoo! doesn't let you pick a lineup of celebs? Too bad. We'll just stick with the pros then.

The Grind: Wires on golf courses and Lindsey's cuddly term for Tiger

Starters -- (A-List): Patrick Reed. This category is pretty thin this week if you're not confident in a struggling Brandt Snedeker (the defending champ) and an injured Phil Mickelson. We'll favor Reed, a winner last month who also finished T-7 in his first trip to Pebble last year. And if a certain lefty and four-time winner of this event gets rolling, well, we'll stash him on our bench.

(B-List): Dustin Johnson. Yes, he'll be playing with his future father-in-law, Wayne Gretzky, but it won't be for the first time. More importantly, DJ has won this event twice and should have won a U.S. Open here in 2010.

Related: Meet the PGA Tour's new top-10 machine

(B-List): Hunter Mahan. Our pick in this slot last week made a weekend run at TPC Scottsdale to finish T-4. We think he's just getting a big year started, and his great ball-striking should give him an edge with Pebble's small greens.

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(C-List): Jimmy Walker. Sure, he missed the cut in his last start at Torrey Pines, but Walker remains the only two-time winner thus far this season -- a reason we gave him his own theme song. He also happens to have three consecutive top 10s at Pebble, including a T-3 last year.

Bench/Backups: Phil Mickelson, Jason Day, Chris Kirk, and Graeme McDowell.

Related: 11 sleepers to watch in 2014

Knockout/One-and-done pick: Jimmy Walker. What are the odds a guy who hadn't won on the PGA Tour until four months ago gets a third win this season before anyone else gets two? Probably not very good. But while if we had to predict one guy to win, we'd say Hunter Mahan, we think we'll hold off on using him just yet. Well, one pro, that is. Kenny G seems like a lock in the celeb category.

Previously used: Tim Clark (Sony), Graham DeLaet (Phoenix), Bill Haas (Farmers) Charles Howell III (Humana), Martin Laird (Kapalua).

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News & Tours

Fantasy Fix: Can a Canadian conquer the desert in Phoenix?

By Alex Myers

Any discussion of this week's Waste Management Phoenix Open begins with Phil Mickelson. The local favorite, thanks to his Arizona State ties, is the defending champion, but he also returns with a bad back that caused him to withdraw after the second round at last week's Farmers Insurance Open. Mickelson has seen a back specialist and he's going to try to play, but can you trust him enough to put him in your fantasy lineup? Especially knowing that an early Sunday tee time -- or no tee time at all -- gives him more time to relax on his couch with a big plate of nachos and watch Super Bowl pre-game shows? Didn't think so. Here's who we'll go with instead.

The Grind: The best part of Scott Stallings' win and a Super Bowl prediction

Starters -- (A-List): Brandt Snedeker. Yes, we picked him last week, and yes, he missed the cut. But Snedeker can't have two bad weeks in a row, right? Oh, he finished T-58 the week before in Palm Springs? Well, then, he can't have three bad weeks in a row. Right?

(B-List): Graham DeLaet. Another guy we touted last week, but who actually did well, earning his second runner-up on the PGA Tour. DeLaet has had little success at TPC Scottsdale, but he's finished T-7 or better in his last three starts.

Related: Meet the PGA Tour's new top-10 machine

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Now that's a game face.

(B-List): Hunter Mahan. The 2010 Phoenix winner was rusty in his opening start of 2014 at Torrey Pines, but he's shot in the 60s in nine of his previous 10 rounds at TPC Scottsdale. 

(C-List): Ryan Palmer. How has golf's "other" Palmer fared in two events so far this year? Just a T-8 at the Sony Open and a runner-up at the Humana Challenge. He finished fifth at this event last year.

Bench/Backups: Patrick Reed, Keegan Bradley, Brian Stuard, and Charley Hoffman, aka Mr. Waste Management. 

Related: 11 sleepers to watch in 2014

Knockout/One-and-done pick: Graham DeLaet. What's the use in having prior success at a course? Scott Stallings won last week despite never previously making a cut at Torrey Pines before. No, we're riding recent form instead and picking this Canadian to conquer the desert for his first PGA Tour win.

Previously used: Tim Clark (Sony), Bill Haas (Farmers) Charles Howell III (Humana), Martin Laird (Kapalua).

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