For many of you, this is the end of a fantasy golf year that began at Bay Hill. First off, all of us here at golfmanna want to thank you for choosing to do it here. We've got a lot of things in store for the coming weeks and months, and we hope you've enjoyed what we offer, or will consider bringing your league to our site in 2013. If you have suggestions on what we can do better or any other comments, please email me directly (cschmidt at golfmanna dot com).
Secondly and somewhat related, we've tried to get really good players who happen to be good writers to the courses these guys play as many weeks as we can. These are guys who can provide a lot of insight into course layout and who is favored. James Dalthorp
and Eric Evans
have done much of that heavy lifting for us this year and I hope you've enjoyed it. This week is no exception; Randy Guyton,
a former Vanderbilt University golfer who lives in Atlanta and has played East Lake numerous times, will be on the grounds for golfmanna. He will post articles over the next several days in this space.
Lastly, this means we're down to one big tournament and fantasy leagues and big money are on the line. If you're lucky enough to have stashed away a Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods
or Adam Scott
for the finale, congratulations -- you have the patience of the Pope.
But for the rest of us mere mortals, it's a tough choice this week. The cupboard is pretty bare. The guys have had a week off and we all know what can happen to a guy's game when R&R is the top item on the agenda. The Ryder Cup is around the corner and the top players are focused on it like a three-year-old eyes the last cupcake. But there's still that little piece of meat on the bone, that last event when everything's at stake. Let's get onto business, but with a little explanation first.
From the One and Done perspective, I'm assuming no one has Tiger or Rory available. If you do, either of them is your play. If you somehow have both of them available, you messed up somewhere along the way and I can't imagine your pick this week matters too much for your league. But Rory is bulletproof at this point and no sane analyst would pick another player over him right now.
On another note, while East Lake isn't an overly long course (a 7,100-yard par-70), the last three holes are two long par-4's and a 230-yard par-3 to close. If your guy needs a birdie at the end, that's a tough road to hoe. And there aren't too many courses in the world that were REDESIGNED by Donald Ross… This is a 108-years-young Tom Bendelow design that is old school in every sense in its layout, not to mention it's the home to Bobby Jones (although several courses in Georgia lay claim to that). It's a ballstriker's track.
And if you're wondering how Scott Piercy
or John Huh
can possibly win the FedEx Cup, I recommend this PGATour.com page.
Let's just say those guys have just a slightly better chance of winning it than I do (barely). Now, onto the picks:
10. Ernie Els.
The Big Easy has been a top-10 lock the last three times he's qualified for the field at East Lake (2008-10). He's cooled down some since his British Open win, but that's not uncharacteristic for him this time of year.
9. Phil Mickelson.
A past winner at East Lake (2009), he's playing his most consistent golf of the year. I'm always a little leery of playing Lefty, but he seems to have everything going in the right direction with his new putting grip.
8. Dustin Johnson.
This will probably buck some trends from fantasy prognosticators because of his recent play, but he hasn't performed well as East Lake. His best finish is a T22 (in a 30-man field) in 2010, and he shot 66 in the final round to get there. He only has one other under-par round at East Lake -- a 69 in the first round in 2009. He's playing too well not to put in these rankings, but that history gives me pause.
7. Nick Watney.
He finished T4 here in 2010 with 63-67 on the weekend. He's third in the FEC standing and probably has a chip on his shoulder for playing so poorly for most of the year and missing out on the Ryder Cup. He hasn't done anything special the last two events, but he should have some good vibes on East Lake.
6. Brandt Snedeker.
Just seems like a course he should play well, and with a good chance to win the FEC he should have all the inspiration he needs. He finished T16 here last year with three rounds under par. A solid bet for a top-10, and a good chance he finishes better than that. With the way he putts, if you're trying to protect a lead in your league you could do a lot worse.
5. Jason Dufner.
He can play well in Atlanta, as he proved last year in the PGA Championship. There's no way he's been taking it easy with his first Ryder Cup on the horizon, so I expect that he will be near the lead -- as he has been all year. He also plays well in big events when he's had some time off: a T4 in the US Open after his honeymoon this summer and a 7th at the WGC Bridgestone after an absence.
4. Luke Donald.
I can't imagine that too many One and Done players have him available still, but he's a great pick if you do. He finished one shot out of the playoff last year, 2nd in 2010, and is like clockwork with his top-10 finishes. A boring pick, but that gets it done.
3. Louis Oosthuizen.
This will be his first trip to East Lake, but it's hard to ignore his recent play: he hasn't finished worse than T21 in an event since before the British Open, and has two top-5's in his last three events. Louis is getting ready for the silly season, when he makes a ton of money in his native South Africa, Asia and Australia. He has a legitimate chance to claim the FEC crown and $10 million stateside this year.
2. Zach Johnson.
He got his first Tour win at the BellSouth in Atlanta in 2004, finished T2 at East Lake in 2007, and absent Rory McIlroy has a legitimate claim to the player of the year in 2012. He's been very steady and the Georgia resident will have plenty of supporters in the gallery… just like in Iowa earlier this summer, where he won in a playoff. Hasn't been playing great recently, but showed improved form at Crooked Stick two weeks ago (T12).
1. Adam Scott.
He won here in 2006, the year before the current FEC format took hold… the poor guy only won $1.17 million that year. More importantly, he's finished T7 and 6th his last two events, has five top-11's in his last seven events and two top-7's at East Lake the last four years. He's playing well, and is one of the top players in the world. If you've still got him, use him this week.
Player to avoid: Hunter Mahan.
Yes, he lost in a playoff here to Bill Haas
last year and was robbed of the FedEx Cup because BH's ball somehow stayed on the edge of the water instead of going into the depths of the greenside lake, and he won twice earlier in the year… but that must seem like a million years ago to Mahan. The week off might have helped the Ryder Cupper, but his best finish since late July is a T39. I don't want to hang my fantasy season on him this week.
Others in consideration: Look, anyone in this field can win, and guys Sergio, Westwood, Stricker, Bradley and Rose are solid picks. Always have to draw the line somewhere.
The good and the bad (last) last week: There wasn't a cut at the BMW, but I had Rory, Lefty, DJ and Tiger as my top-4. Not going to pat myself on the back too much for that, but they each finished in the top-6. Indiana boy Jeff Overton was the big disappointment.
As I mentioned, Randy Guyton will be reporting live on the Tour Championship scene for golfmanna this week. Randy has played East Lake multiple times and is a former college golfer, so be sure to look for his preview and notebook columns.
Photo: US Presswire