Through the use of statistics, trends, course-matchups and sometimes a magic eight ball, we will do our best to help you set your fantasy golf lineup
Where: Miami, Fla.
Courses: TPC Blue Monster at Doral
Defending champion: Phil Mickelson captured his first win in a WGC event, defeating Nick Watney by one shot.
Welcome to another edition of Fantasy Fix, where we wish we could hear Johnny Miller announce every week. Favorite line from the weekend: "For some reason, Vijay (Singh) is making a lot of long putts this week." But maybe Johnny shouldn't have been so shocked. After all, Singh's return to prominence was predicted right here last week (who's to say Fantasy Fix isn't a weekly must-read for Miller?). Sleeper pick Charlie Wi didn't do so bad either with that T-8 finish, but don't worry, I'm not resting on my laurels. (Side note: Is there an easier job than predicting what will happen on the Couples, I mean, Champions Tour?)
This week, the PGA Tour splits up again as the big guns head to Miami for the WGC event, while everyone else will be in Puerto Rico for an event that will have relevance to fantasy owners and family members, but few else. Unlike during the week of the WGC match play, the CA Championship has a slightly larger field (68 players) and uses a more fantasy golf-friendly stroke-play format. Therefore, it's the default tournament this week in nearly all fantasy leagues. However, in taking a quick glance at the field in Puerto Rico, Alex Prugh and Rory Sabbatini jump out. So, too, does Fantasy Fix favorite Jeev Milkha Singh, who finished solo fourth at Doral last year, but who was banished after falling in the rankings at the end of 2009 due to a wrist injury.
But back to the CA Championship, which is more of a shootout than the other World Golf Championship events. This tournament moved to the TPC Blue Monster at Doral in 2007 and the past two years, the average winning score has been 18 under. We'll see how things shake out this year, but until then, here are some players to consider when setting your lineups.
Jim Furyk: With a third place in 2008 and a runner-up in 2007, Furyk has done plenty to warrant me picking him in my one-and-done pool this week. But his track record at Doral pre-WGC is just as impressive with four top-10s, including a win in 2000.
This season, he hasn't been stellar, but he is still a cut-making machine (three for three this year and 89 of his last 99). Players don't have to worry about a cut this week since there isn't one, but that just ensures a solid player like Furyk four rounds to try to rise above the pack.
A year ago, Phil Mickelson, finally broke through with his first win in a WGC event (In comparison, Tiger Woods has won 16). Phil has had other good performances at Doral, including a memorable duel with Woods in 2005 at the Ford Championship. He's finished in the top 25 each of his last three trips to Miami and despite a lackluster start to this season, his win at the Tour Championship and then at the HSBC Champions in Singapore to end 2009 prove he's been raising his level of play to match the competition.
Without question, the hottest player on the PGA Tour right now is Camilo Villegas. He leads the tour in scoring average, all-around ranking, money earned and he's just coming off his third career win. Add that to the fact that he's got a terrific record at Doral and there's absolutely no reason not to pick him in this spot.
Last year he finished T-5, but this was also the site where he nearly captured his first PGA Tour win in 2006. He finished at 19 under along with David Toms, but both were beaten by Isleworth's most famous resident.
And I'll go back to the well and point out Vijay Singh, who appears to be healthy and playing well again. Singh has never won here, but he has a T-2 in 2008, a T-11 in 2007 and five other top-5 finishes at Doral pre-WGC.
Finally, Ian Poulter has had solid finishes here the past two years plus he has even more confidence (not that he ever needed it) after winning this season's first WGC event. Geoff Ogilvy, the 2008 winner, has been taking it easy since his season-opening win at Kapalua, but he remains a dangerous force here, as does Zach Johnson, who had back-to-back T-9s in 2007 and 2008.
Stewart Cink: The reigning British Open champion doesn't have much to show for here, with a T-20 in 2008 being his best finish since Doral has been hosting this WGC event. He played plenty of times at Doral before that as well, managing just one top-10 that came in the previous millennium.
Then there's Martin Kaymer, who last month moved as high as No. 6 in the world and who garnered a No. 1 seed at the match play in the first WGC event of the year. I'm not saying he isn't a top-flight player, but I need to see some results before I back him in this column or in any pool I enter. And not of the T-35 and T-57 variety like he's displayed in Miami the past two years.