Not too long ago it was a bad thing to be considered the “anti-Tiger,” and nobody played that role better than Vijay Singh. While Tiger Woods was animated and explosive on the course, Singh was dull and methodical. Woods threw out fist pumps and curses. Singh would occasionally nod to the crowd or discreetly grit his teeth. Woods is physically built like a strong safety. Singh trains exceptionally hard but still has the body of a beer vendor. Yet, believe it or not, Singh is the only player other than Woods to hold the World Number One ranking in the past decade.
After missing the cut at the Texas Open, Singh dropped out of the Top 50 for the first time in 18 years. He’s currently ranked No. 51 in the world, and unless he improves that ranking this week he will have to qualify for the U.S. Open.
Vijay Singh won the Byron Nelson Championship in 2003. PHOTO CREDIT: Siyi Chen
The one-time Woods nemesis headlines the field at this week’s Byron Nelson Championship, a tournament that he won in 2003. Joining Singh is a cast of journeyman and up-and-comers, some of which make extremely attractive starters for fantasy owners.
HP Byron Nelson Championship
Purse – $6,500,000.00
Winner Share – $1,170,000.00
FedEx Cup Points – 500 to the winner
Course – TPC Four Seasons Resort Las Colinas, Irving, Texas
Las Colinas is an open, par-70 course with plenty of birdie opportunities. In 2007 and 2008 the course underwent major renovations, and it now features enormous, inviting greens. Players nailing the greens in regulation will have an excellent opportunity to shoot low scores. Last year’s winner, Rory Sabbatini, fired a 19-under par, and the Top 12 all finished at 10 under par or better. As current Dallas resident Greg Kinzer pointed out in last year’s preview, the resort is known as an upscale party destination, and the eye candy is legendary.
Weekly Picks -
Singh desperately needs a good result, and he has an impressive track record at the Byron Nelson. Along with his victory in 2003, he finished tied 16th last year, tied 13th in 2007 (didn’t appear in 2008), tied third in 2005, and has only missed the cut one time. The biggest question mark for Singh this week is his play on par 4s. Singh ranks a paltry 142nd in Par 4 Birdie or Better Percentage (13.67 percent) this year. On the other hand he has been remarkable on par-3s and 5s, ranking in the Top 20 in Birdie or Better Percentage on both. His previous results at the Byron Nelson Championship show that he can overcome his par-4 woes and deliver a much-needed Top 10.
Coming off of a tied-fourth finish at The Players, Slocum has two Top 10s and three Top 20s in his last four events. Slocum has made 11 of 12 possible cuts in 2010, and in a week with so few quality “A” list fantasy options, he’s a safe choice. He also has a good amount of upside this week. He leads the Tour in Driving Accuracy, is 12th in Greens in Regulation, and 44th in Par 4 Birdie or Better. With his accuracy statistics and the course layout at Las Colinas, Slocum should be able to improve his par 4 birdie stat and take home at least a Top 25 finish.
Johnson shot 68 or lower in all four rounds of the 2009 Byron Nelson on his way to a tied-fourth result. The 25-year-old has cooled off significantly since winning the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am in February, but his birdie or better stats point to another good result at Las Colinas. Johnson is first on Tour in Eagles, fifth in Birdie Percentage, sixth in Par 3 Birdie or Better, 22nd on par 4s, and 18th on par 5s.
So he’s only made five out of 15 cuts in 2010, but if you want a sleeper to hitch your wagon to this week, go with McCarron. McCarron cruised to a tied fourth last year with four rounds in the 60s, including a final round 62. The year before he finished tied 13th. He’s 20th in Total Driving thanks to a 67.0 Driving Accuracy percentage.
The 28-year-old Mahan is becoming a RotoExperts’ favorite. He followed up his Masters Top 10 with back-to-back tied 17ths (Quail Hollow and The Players). Although he hasn’t had much success at the Byron Nelson, an opening-round 71 last year derailed what ended up being a pretty good tournament (combined 5-under in rounds 2-4). He’s first in Total Driving, sixth in GIR, and 30th in scoring average. There’s no reason to think Mahan won’t pick up a fourth consecutive Top 20.
Unlike Mahan, Hoffman has had plenty of success at the Four Seasons. In four attempts, Hoffman as posted two Top 10s and a Top 25. In 2010, Hoffman shot 66 on Friday and 65 on Saturday with 71s in the first and final rounds. Those scores are noteworthy, because this season Hoffman is 30th in Scoring Average before the cut and 28th in Third Round Scoring Average. He’s 168th in the final round, which definitely needs to be improved. Fantasy owners using Hoffman should be aware of his final round struggles.
If you’re like me, you like to start golfers who that are ninth in Driving Accuracy Percentage, 10th in GIR, 24th in Birdie Average, second in Par 4 Birdie or Better, and ninth in All-Around Ranking. Crane is red hot this season, and is coming off of a tied fourth at the Players. Crane should be started in all fantasy formats this week.
Fowler is a “C” list player that fantasy owners in tiered leagues will want to stash on the bench behind Crane. This is his first shot at the Byron Nelson Championship. He’s been up and down this year, but the ups have been pretty impressive. He has four Top 10s, including a second place finish at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. The PGA Rookie of the Year candidate missed the cut at The Players, but had back-to-back Top 10s in his two prior tournaments.
Salary Cap Options
Salary cap managers shouldn’t have too much trouble managing this week’s field, but those running short on cash should check out these options.
Ken Duke – Duke does most of his work on the Nationwide Tour, but he tied for 23rd at the Four Seasons last year and tied for seventh in 2007.
John Mallinger - Mallinger has made one cut in 12 tries this season, but the Byron Nelson has been a friendly site to him in the past. He fired a 13-under last year to take home a solo sixth and finished tied 31st in 2008.
Nate’s News Notes
Woods has announced that he will play in the 2010 British Open at St. Andrews regardless of his neck injury. The tournament runs July 15-18. … Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo did not take part in qualifying for the HP Byron Nelson Championship this week due to conflict with organized team activities. … Adam Scott’s win at the Texas Open was his first PGA Tour victory in two years.
*All stats up-to-date as of 05/17/10.