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FANTASY GOLF PICKS: Avoid Zach Johnson & Jordan Spieth at Valero Texas Open

Patrick Mayo Staff Writer March 25, 2014 9:00AM EDT
Valero Texas Open
Defending Champ: Martin Laird

If the Yahoo! game is your brand of Fantasy Golf then – hopefully – you’re aware the PGA’s pit stop in San Antonio is the final event in the Winter session. What does this mean? Well, you have two choices. Since I’m in the business of winning, if there’s a legitimate chance of claiming a seasonal title, I’m going for it. Only cowards play for second – FACT. So, you may have to swerve a little bit with your roster this week.

Only four of the world’s Top 20 players are in the field: Phil Mickelson, Matt Kuchar, Jordan Spieth & Zach Johnson; which will make all four the most commonly rostered players at the Valero. As they should be. But attempting to make a leap up the standings requires a bit of gamesmanship. You have to pick contrarian. And the “A-Pool” was primed for picks against the grain. Fading Phil and Kuchar was the plan, until…



If you don’t play on Yahoo!, then you likely have no clue what I’m talking about. Don’t worry; the picks are legit either way. But, losing Ryan Moore, Patrick Reed & Charles Howell III creates a problem in dodging those big names. The distance in quality between Kuch, Phil and those three isn’t all that large. However the gap between Kuch, Phil and the likes of Brian Davis, Josh Teater and Kyle Stanley is gigantic, bigger than Michael Strahan’s even. So you have to plug them in your lineup.

Double Sh*t.

Wait, no. Actually, looking elsewhere to fade the public opened my eyes to misinformation we take for granted. Most will be slotting Zach Johnson on to their rosters. Now, ZJ just misses my lineup, but hearing “Two-time Valero Texas Open champion” basically makes him an auto selection. Not so fast, though. Hearing about Johnson’s past success at this event fine, kudos to you Zach, yet everywhere I read/experience-through-night-terrors fails to mention his wins came pre-2010, before the tournament moved to TPC San Antonio. Since, Johnson’s played just once, missing the cut in 2010. So maybe he wasn’t the best pick anyway. Same goes with Spieth, one try, one missed cut. Not saying two of the most clearly skilled player can’t win, that sort of speak would be cray, but there are other options I’m equally comfortable with, with the bonus of choosing against the competition at the same time.


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Phil Mickelson & Matt Kuchar – If you’re really desperate to fade your competitor’s picks, I’ll throw out the combo of Kuch and Daniel Summerhays. Since Summerhays is an absolute gamble (although… he did come seventh last year) it’s best to pair him with Kuchar. Simply, he’s safer. Kuch has five Top 15s in seven starts this season; Phil’s best finish is 14th in 2014, and he’s never played Oaks Course in competitive play.

Jason Kokrak – You’d think the guy with the sixth-longest average drive on Tour would annihilate Par-5s, right? But, that’s just not the case for The Coat Rack. He is also sixth in scoring average for the season, but 54th in Par-5 scoring. Attribute that to his propensity to “go for it”. Kokrak’s fourth in Tin Cups – Going for the green percentage. He does it 71.2% of the time and fails miserably at it. Still, it’ll just take a lucky week of breaks bouncing in his favor to push him over the hump, because his Par-3 & Par-4 (18th & 12th) have been consistent all year. Beware of his Sunday output, though. Kokrak’s a miserable 128th in Sunday scoring.

Martin Laird – Like Kokrak, the defending champ takes the day of rest very seriously. Lance Storm seriously. Laird’s 150th in weekend scoring. Still, it’s hard to overlook some of his positive attributes; the Scotsman’s 21st in GIR% and 9th in ball striking. What always sinks him is his putrid putting. But, as we learned last year, Laird has no issues reading these particular greens, and the course hasn’t been changed in the past 12 months. So even four rounds of just average flat stick play should have him in contention.

Freddie Jacobson & Jim Furyk – Much like using Tinder, you’re gonna need some protection. Safety first kids. Freddie Yaks has played this event every year since the course switch and hasn’t come any worse than T18, with a pair of Top 5s to his credit. And, honestly, is there anyone safer than Furyk? He’s made all 11 consecutive cuts overall, and earned a bronze medal on this site last year.

Ryan Palmer & Charlie Hoffman – Round out your squad with some recognizable, but underselected names. You may not think of Palmer and his 5’11”, 175 lbs frame as someone with lot of length off the tee. But, leading the Tour in SMASH FACTOR has him sitting 16th in driving distance, compounding itself into an elite third best in Par-5 scoring and first in eagles per hole. With four reachable Par-5s on the card, Palmer will be lingering late-Sunday. Ditto for Hoffman. He just dominates this site, finishing T3, 13 & T2 the past three years.



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