June 28, 2010

Fantasy Fix

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

Tiger Woods seems to be headed in the right direction after a T-4 at the U.S. Open.

Tiger Woods seems to be headed in the right direction after a T-4 at the U.S. Open.

Welcome to another edition of Fantasy Fix, where we hope people are taking notice of the apparent benefits that come from being a caddie at the Golf Digest U.S. Open Challenge.

All four players who agreed to carry the bags of three celebrities and a contest winner at this year's event found success at the Travelers Championship, most notably Bubba Watson, who picked up his first win less than two weeks after helping Super Bowl MVP quarterback Drew Brees navigate Pebble Beach. Corey Pavin nearly pulled off the surprise win of the year before losing in the three-man playoff with Watson and Scott Verplank, Ricky Barnes finished T-5 and Rickie Fowler finished T-13. I guess they are all better at reading putts when they've got money on the line.

Next up on the PGA Tour is the AT&T National. After being hosted by Congressional Country Club for its first three years, the tournament is moving to the classic Aronimink Golf Club in Newtown Square, Penn. It's a relatively small, but strong field with 120 players competing, meaning owners should double check to make sure their golfers are actually teeing it up.

So rev up the grill, sit back and enjoy a holiday weekend good golf. Here are some thoughts on how the tournament will play out.

STUDS

Tiger Woods: We're back on the bandwagon after his down-but-mostly-up performance at Pebble Beach. Glimpses of the old Tiger certainly reappeared during that scintillating 31 on the back nine Saturday, but he was unable to keep the momentum going into Sunday. Still, there are plenty of guys on tour who would be having a career year with two T-4s at major championships in one year, which is what a rusty Woods has already done.

Tiger is no longer the official host of this event anymore following his self-inflicted layoff, which caused AT&T to lay him off as their top pitchman. However, he still has plenty of good vibes at a tournament he won last year. Plus, with Phil Mickelson not in the field, it's a good opportunity for him to pad his slimming lead in the World Ranking.

We've been burned two events in a row by Hunter Mahan, but you know what they say about the third time. Last year, Mahan nearly spoiled the excitement of the Woods-Anthony Kim final pairing by posting a ridiculous 62 well ahead of the leaders and watching from the clubhouse as players failed to catch his 12-under total until Tiger did with a birdie on No. 16 to take the title. Mahan also finished T-12 and T-8 in the first two years of this event.

Fantasy Fix has not been a big fan of__Vijay Singh__ this season and rightfully so. However, the big Fijian is showed signs of starting to play better by making the cut at the U.S. Open after receiving a special exemption to play by the USGA and then finishing T-13 at the Travelers. That finish would have been much higher if not for a 73 on Saturday, despite the fact that he shot 65, 66 and 66 in his other three rounds.

And finally, there can't be many in the field happier about the move to Aronimink than Pennsylvania native Jim Furyk. The short, tight, par-70 layout sets up well for the Grinder, who already has two wins this year and is No. 3 on the FedEx Cup points list.

DUDS

Ryuji Imada: After failing to capitalize on a chance to win early in the season at Torrey Pines with a final-round 75, there hasn't been much to celebrate about. Imada has missed three of his last four cuts and is in danger of failing to crack the $1 million mark in earnings for a second straight year after collecting more than $3 million during a fantastic 2008 campaign.

The golf gods were supposed to be in Brian Davis' corner following his honest actions in a playoff at the Verizon Heritage. Davis alerted officials of a possible rules violation that wound up handing the tournament to Jim Furyk, but since then, he's made the cut in just five of eight events.

SLEEPERS

Bryce Molder: The Georgia-Tech product was the first-round leader here last year when he posted a 64 and wound up finishing fourth. He's also enjoying his most consistent season yet with five top 10s. Molder is still looking for his first win on tour after a rough Sunday at Colonial left him T-5, but he's certainly got the potential to break through this week.

And it's time to give some love Brendon de Jonge. It's been a great run for the native of Zimbabwe who held a two-shot lead at one point during the second round of the U.S. Open before finishing T-33. He followed that up with a T-9 last week at Hartford, but even more impressively had finished T-12 at the Memorial and solo fourth at the Wachovia previously.

Another guy coming off a T-9 at the Travelers is__Kris Blanks__. The second-year PGA Tour pro has already made more than three times as much money as his rookie season, thanks in large part to a runner-up in Puerto Rico.

And we'll wrap up with__Scott Verplank__. The 45-year-old is coming off an impressive showing in Hartford where he showed he can still do more than just hang with the young guys. Verplank got into a playoff with two eagles on his back nine Sunday and then drained a clutch eight footer for birdie on the first playoff hole to stay alive before falling to Watson on the next hole. The steady and accurate Verplank, who also had a pair of recent T-5s at the Colonial and the Nelson, should be a good fit at Aronimink.

-- Alex Myers is a contributing editor for GolfDigest.com.