FANTASY GOLF (WEEKEND AT RSM’S)
By James Dalthorp
BEAST DOME NATION.
I’m taking notes after these first two rounds at the RSM – because things certainly went a different way than I could have imagined. And if anyone had the top 5 players on the leaderboard in their lineup, you will find some gold. In my past experience, I would suspect they watched the guys play in their practice rounds – because those were the biggest long shots on the board.
Not just that, the most remarkable event was Kevin Kisner missing the cut. I saw him in just about every lineup I saw. To recap my picks, there are 2 players still in good shape: Zach Johnson (T59) and Brendon Todd (T7 after 66-66). Kisner missed the cut. Kuchar missed the cut. Lanto Griffin shot a 65 and still missed the cut by a shot today after a 74 to open. Boo Weekley missed the cut after a very tough finish in his second round that included 4 bogeys in his last 7 holes.
So, for me personally, this was a great learning experience. Judging by the leaderboard, some things stand out to me that might suggest why the scoring is so skewed: for one, the greens at this course are much easier to hit than they might seem. Something that shocked me – a number of players hit more than 80% of the greens in regulation. Something else of note: you don’t need to hit the ball especially close to pin high in order to have good looks at birdies. That tells me the greens must be a bit flatter and easier to putt on than it might seem – and the low scoring attests that.
With this knowledge in my bank, I’ll have a much better sense for how these new changes to the course have effected the overall play and how the scoring will continue in the final rounds.
I will be looking this weekend at the rounds to see a few key things: one, does the low scoring continue? This course has yielded some very low rounds thus far. As suspected, driving accuracy is not very important here. There are some poor drivers of the ball in great shape.
Here’s some picks and notes about why they will keep it going:
1. Brendon Todd (T7, 4 back)
Has to be the guy to beat. It’s uncanny to think he can win 3 in a row but the way he’s going along, it wouldn’t surprise me. He’s fully in control and his 66-66 opener proves that.
2. Kyle Stanley (currently T11, 5 shots back)
Kyle Stanley is the most experienced player on the front page of the leaderboard. He may not seem like the favorite at the moment, but some of his statistics speak LOUD volumes to me. First off, he hit 100% of his greens today. That’s right. On a course that had 2 courses in rotation during rounds 1 and 2 which can force guys to adapt, and playing a renovated Seaside course, he didn’t miss a green. His average is over 90% for the week. He’s not hot with the putter, but he doesn’t need to be. Kyle can win by playing within himself, and I think that makes him the favorite.
3. Brian Harman (currently T11, 5 shots back)
Harman has not been playing great of late but this is a home game for him. I think there’s some extra motivation for Harman knowing that his college teammate, Brendon Todd, is having the streak of his life looking for a third straight win. Harman was a standout junior golfer and his pedigree suggests he is more than capable of being the all-time best Georgia bulldog. We’ll have to wait and see. His talent does suit this course. I expect him to win again soon. He has a chance.
4. Tyler Duncan – Leader at -14
I am always hesitant to pick a first time winner if I don’t know enough about his game. That being said, Duncan is bogey-free (which the other guys behind him are not) going into round three. He’s also coming off a 61. So I would expect his patience to be tested tomorrow – however, he did shoot 61 on the main course for the weekend. We won’t be playing the Plantation course again. So that bodes well for his chances. Notable: Duncan is 3rd on Tour in Driving Accuracy. He has no professional wins. His background is an Indiana Amateur champion. His uncle won on the Korn Ferry Tour in 2005. I think he has the makings of a future winner and solid veteran. Not a fluke, he just hasn’t been in this position before. I’m mainly picking him because I see his name at events with strong fields somewhere on the leaderboard. He is in the learning phase on Tour and capable, hungry.
5. Denny McCarthy –
McCarthy made me a believer – at least for this weekend, with his performance at the Bermuda Championship. This is a course that is more forgiving off the tee and that’s where Denny has been fortunate so far this season. He has had good performances and finishes in spite of the fact he has been a little wild. You can see from his past scorecards that he makes a ton of birdies – but there are many bogeys as well. He’s been more consistent at this event and his T14 putting stat will help. But I’m counting on a big weekend because he must know this may be his best opportunity. In 24 rounds this year, he is 64 under par. That means if he plays to his average, he’ll at least finish at -15. That won’t win, but he’ll be in the top 5.
6. DJ Trahan – 2 back, -12
There are some real underdogs lurking within distance of grabbing a win here and I’m confident in this Georgia native for a few reasons. I’ve seen him knocking on the door for a while. He has 2 wins and a few runner-up finishes on Tour. He does well on courses with water and trouble. He drives the ball very long. In the last 12 months, he’s been quiet with just a T6 this summer at the Barbasol to boast about. However, his top 25 finish at the Bermuda Championship, his last event, should leave him with the confidence to take this one home. He’s playing steady. DJ’s game tends to get hot when he’s in a position like this. He’s the type of horse that comes out of nowhere for the win. Even if he’s missing cuts, he’s not shooting high scores. That will make him a worthy selection over the weekend with so many young players in range.