A fantasy sports geek, I’ve pretty much proven I’ll do fantasy anything. Baseball, football, basketball, hockey, NASCAR, and yes, even soccer, both English Premier League and MLS.
It’s an infectious disease.
This year, I was invited to participate in a weekly golf pool where you pick one golfer a week with standings based on accrued prize money. You can only pick a golfer once a year.
It took me a few weeks to find my sea legs, being a casual (very casual) golf fan. But alas, 18 weeks into the season I’m sitting in third place and seem to have hit a purple patch of form. In fact, I’ve targeted the tournament winner in four of the last six PGA Tour events.
That’s right, I’ve identified the winner in four of the last six PGA Tour events. And if you’re patient enough to bear with me, I’ll give you a pair of long shots you may want to think about playing for this week’s PLAYERS Championship.
My formula is rather simple – past results on the course and current form.
My good run coincided with my degenerate gambling friend’s decision to tail my action with a bet on my pick for the Shell Houston Open (March 29-April 1). I told him I was going with Hunter Mahan (the only one of 30 in my weekly pool to do so). Mahan had 24-to-1 odds to win the tournament. And thanks to a Louis Oosthuizen final round choke job, Mahan won. My buddy pocketed more than $800 on a $50 bet. The bets get split 50-50 for win and to top-5. If you make a $50 bet, $25 of that goes to the win and the other $25 goes to top-5 finish at reduced odds. If he wins, you obviously win both bets. But the hedge is a nice safety net.
That was just the start.
April 5-8 – Masters Tournament: My buddy asked me to pick him another winner. I suggested Bubba Watson at 30-to-1. And then became adamant about the pick when my buddy said he was leaning Jason Day at 33-to-1. Despite making him bank the week before, he went rogue and picked Day instead. Bubba battled it out with my new favorite golfer, Oosthuizen, and wins the tournament. Jason Day pulled out after Round 1 with an injury.
April 12-15 – RBC Heritage Classic: I picked Jim Furyk in my pool, but decide not to make an additional wager on him because at 8/1 there’s no real value. I target Brian Davis (30-to-1) as a worthy risk for my additional wager. Furyk finished T8 and Davis, T13, three strokes shy of cracking the top-5.
April 19-22 – Valero Texas Open: I picked Charley Hoffman (30-to-1) in both my pool and made an additional bet with my e-Bookie. Hoffman finished tied for 13, and again I’m just three shots shy of getting paid.
April 26-29 – Zurich Classic of New Orleans: I picked Jason Dufner in my pool. My buddy asked if I want to throw down on an additional side bet, but I decided to take a week off after back-to-back near misses. But I instructed him that if he so desires, my pick was Dufner and at 25-to-1 to win, it would be a great play. Dufner, who had never won a PGA Tour event, wins the tournament. Oops. Opportunity missed.
May 3-6 – Wells Fargo Championship: Two names stuck out to me in my pre-tournament research: Rickie Fowler and Jonathan Byrd. Byrd was the runner-up at Quail Hallow a year ago, and had another top-5 there in 2009. Fowler had a 16th and a sixth place finish in his last two starts in the event, but I actually chicken out in my pool, and go with Phil Mickelson (three straight top-10s at the course). I come dangerously close to betting on both Fowler (40-to-1) and Byrd (66-to-1) as value plays and informed my roommate to do so. He balked. Fowler, who had previously not won a Tour event on American soil, WINS the tournament and Byrd finished T9.
So that’s four winners in six weeks (if you count Fowler, and I do because I had his name circled six times on my cheat sheet last week – ARGH!)
And my two misses (Hoffman and Davis) each finished tied for 13th and were three strokes shy of cracking the top-5. Meaning they were at least in contention and worth the risk.
I’m hot right now, so I’m going to ride it. And I suggest you do the same. In fact, at least five of my friends are making bets on this week’s PLAYERS Championship based on my suggestions.
So who do I like this week?
Well for my pool, I’m going safe with Lee Westwood. But as far as an additional wager, two names – two long shots – seem worth the risk.
J.B. Holmes at 80-to-1 and David Toms at 70-to-1.
I’m real big on Holmes. And apparently I’m the only one. His odds currently range from 110-to-1 to 80-to-1 depending on which site you use. Holmes finished tied for sixth last year at TPC Sawgrass, tied for 13th in 2010 and tied for 10th in 2008. Suffice it to say, he’s comfortable on the course. I would have liked to see him finish stronger last week at Quail Hallow (a final round 77 cost him some money), but he finished tied for 13th the week earlier in New Orleans and finished eighth at the Shell Houston Open (March 29-April 1).
Toms placed 15th last week at Quail Hallow, his best result since January, and has enjoyed previous success at TPC Sawgrass. He lost in playoff last year to K.J. Choi and tied for ninth at the course in 2009.
Now, of course at those odds, neither are really on anyone’s radar in what is a star-studded PLAYERS field. But, like I said, I’m feeling pretty good about my golf-picking game.
So come along with me for the ride. You’ll be glad you did.
(And if you’re so inclined follow me on Twitter at @CakesTakes.)