The Honda Classic: Preview and Predictions

Rory McIlroy kicks off his 2015 PGA campaign at a track where he feels all too comfortable. Photo courtesy of Zimbio.com

Rory McIlroy kicks off his 2015 PGA campaign at a track where he feels all too comfortable. Photo courtesy of Zimbio.com

Okay first and foremost, I apologize for not getting this posted until the day of the tournament. Here in South Carolina where I am writing, we typically use snow as the perfect excuse to not do something, and this week we’ve more than we are accustomed to (1 inch on Tuesday and 6 more last night). But I have no excuse, I made our picks on Tuesday and just never got around to posting them.

So we’ll get straight to it – here is who we’re going with, repetition be damned, the deepest field of 2015. Granted, I really wanted to come up with some new material than “this is the strongest field yet,” but honestly there is not much drop off this week than the lineup for next week’s WGC event – which of course is no coincidence, a lot of the marquee international players want to get warmed up before they fall to the mercy of Trump National at Doral next week. Say hello to Charl Schwartzel, Louis Oosthuizen, Victor Dubuisson, Martin Kaymer, and of course, world number 1 Rory McIlroy. We’ll also see returns from Rickie Fowler, Jason Dufner, and Patrick Reed, among others.

PGATour.com

Rory McIlroyOur first available Rory use, and you better believe we are taking it. Like Tiger in the good old days, Rory heading into this season, with a runner up and a win already under his belt on the European Tour, is simply a must-take. Especially in a tournament where he won, had a tooth-ache that we will now forgive him for, and then lost in a playoff last year. He is money in the bank, and even in the event that he busts, he will bust probably about 95% of the fantasy teams this week.

Keegan BradleySomehow, despite the attention that Keegan typically gathers, he completely flew under the radar last week to land a T4 finish. It’s his second top 20 in this calendar year, and we fully expect Keegs to keep hanging with the big dogs as the season starts to heat up. A good challenge awaits him at PGA National, and we’ll just see if he can keep the non-anchor putter under control.

Charl SchwartzelA bit of a horse for the course pick here, Schwartzel missed the cut last year, but prior to that had 3 top 15s in three years between 2011-2013 (T14, T5, T9). Mostly, though, we’re going with Charl because there are enough big names out there that we think the South African will be forgotten by many, ergo, he’s a good value pick.

Billy HorschelAnother value pick. Horschel had a stand-out year in 2013, then disappeared last year… until he woke up in the Fed Ex Cup playoffs and finished 2, 1, 1 in the last three tournaments. We don’t expect the trend to continue in which Billy only plays well at the end of the season. He’s never posted good finishes on the Florida swing, which is shocking, because he is such a proud Florida Gator himself. Maybe this is the year to change that. Oh and side note: We noticed after making these picks that Schwartzel and Horschel kind of rhymes, so… we’ve got that going for us.

Golf Channel

Sergio GarciaObviously Rory is the popular choice in this top tier, but we are hedging our bets and putting our trust in the Spaniard to follow up his disappointing T4 (disappointing in that he had a great chance to win) with another strong finish. As always, you are not betting on Sergio to win, but betting on his consistency in terms of making cuts and getting into contention.

Keegan Bradley. Well starting off with hedging, we’re following up with a repeated pick in Bradley. Like we said, we’ve got big expectations for this guy.

Russell KnoxOkay, out of the 4 who made it into the playoff last year (Henley, McIlroy, Palmer, and Knox), Knox is probably the biggest long shot to get into contention this year. But we like his steady game, and in the third tier, he is a rational pick who also hasn’t been picked by many.

Mark WilsonAnother pick made purely to go against the grain. Wilson is one of those guys who you just see his name pop up every once in a while. He has no impressive finishes in this tournament in recent memory, but he has made 4/4 cuts in his last 4 attempts. That’s really all you’re hoping for with this pick, that they make the cut, then who knows what could happen.

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Northern Trust Open: Recap

James Hahn kept his cool on Sunday, and enters the ranks of a PGA winner after an impressive playoff performance. Photo courtesy of skysports.com

James Hahn kept his cool on Sunday, and enters the ranks of a PGA winner after an impressive playoff performance. Photo courtesy of skysports.com

Whenever the eventual winner of a tournament ends two strokes higher than the leader going into Sunday, you can bet there was some excitement along the way. Sunday at Riviera Country Club certainly provided that excitement. Several players, including Sergio Garcia in his first tournament back (much like Furyk last week), had a share or the outright lead at some point through out the day. Sang-Moon Bae, another one of our picks, was right in the thick of it despite the mental distraction over a looming military service requirement in Korea.

But at the end of the day, it came down to a three-way playoff between Paul Casey, Dustin Johnson, and eventual winner James Hahn. Hahn earned his first PGA Tour victory by outperforming Casey on the second playoff hole, and outlasting Dustin Johnson on the third. As is often the case, it was Hahn’s short game that kept him standing at the end. After putting well throughout the day, Hahn sank an incredible birdie putt on the par 3 14th hole, which was one better than DJ could manage.

Both Hahn and Johnson were in trouble on the 10th, their second playoff hole, but both consecutively hit clutch flop shots from the deep rough to both get inside Casey’s ball and knock the Englishman out of the running. The poise and competitiveness demonstrated by Hahn may have been expected more out of Johnson than the 297th ranked golfer in the world, but it is Hahn who came up clutch and ultimately hoisted the trophy.

After the most exciting playoff of the season so far, let’s look at how our picks held up:

PGATour.com: Jimmy Walker (T41/28 points), Bill Haas (Cut/0 points), Sergio Garcia (T4/108 points), Sang-Moon Bae (T8/77 points). Overall Grade – B-

3/4 made the cut, two top 10s = not bad. Enough to keep you relevant, we like to think. Especially when the winner, James Hahn, was probably picked by next to nobody. Because Walker and Haas let us down with our two safest picks, we consider this a B- instead of a B, but we will certainly take 50% top 10s each week.

Golf Channel: Jim Furyk (T14), Harris English (T30), Brian Harman (Cut), Charlie Beljan (T69). Total Earnings: $162,066. Overall Grade – C-

We are now on a 3 week trend of our Golf Channel grade being a full letter grade or more lower than our PGATour team. Perhaps it is time to adjust our strategy, or put a little more thought into this 4-tier format. Especially when you consider Hahn was there for the taking in the bottom tier. Still, 3/4 making the cut, and a respectable T14 from Furyk saved us from a D.

Northern Trust Open: Preview and Predictions

Riviera

Riviera CC has one of the best amphitheater-style closing holes in PGA Golf. Photo courtesy of arnieskingdom.com

Well I’ve said it before, and am perhaps bordering on “broken record” status, but this week’s field appears to be the most solid one yet. They just keep getting better and better, what am I to do!? I guess just wait for the Valspar Championship. Okay I’m sorry, that was harsh (I kid because it’s true).

Perhaps most excitingly, this will be the first week to see Sergio Garcia tee it up on U.S. soil. Love the guy or hate the guy, he’s always one of those highly anticipated players (thanks to often being in the hunt, yet rarely winning). He did not come to Riviera last year, but finished T13 and T4 in his last two appearances.

The obvious storylines include Bubba defending his incredible 64-64 finish to win last year’s tournament, Dustin Johnson entering his third week back at a second-straight place he’s had past success, and coming off T4 last week, and perhaps a great chance to see the first two-time winner of the season (11/14 eligible players: Sang-Moon Bae, Ben Martin, Robert Streb, Ryan Moore, Bubba Watson, Nick Taylor, Charley Hoffman, Jordan Spieth, Jimmy Walker, Bill Haas, and Brandt Snedeker). If you are a man who likes patterns, DJ would not be a good pick as his past 5 results are as follows in reverse order: 2, MC, T4, MC, T3. Sure, he’s a horse for the course, but oddly seems to only do it in even numbered years? We don’t tend to factor in those random stats, but thought it was curious enough to share, especially given that DJ is still “working his way back” to competitive golf.

sergio

Can Sergio Garcia get back to where he left things in 2014? We are betting on the Spaniard to get right back into contention in his 2015 PGA debut. Photo courtesy of sportycious.com

Anywho, enough random knowledge… time to get to our picks. Coming off a successful week with an A- and a B-, it’s hard to not get over confident, well, until you remember how much of a crapshoot it is to pick fantasy golfers! We will of course make some wise, “safe” picks, but also hope to continue to find some sleepers to keep things interesting. Here we go:

PGATour.com:

Jimmy WalkerWe are burning our 4th out of 10 picks with Walker this week, for two reasons. 1. The man is straight money this time of year. 2. Because of a disappointing finish, we expect people to wane off Jimmy this week, even though we think the likelihood of a bounce back week is high (keep in mind, we’re talking about a bounce back from a T21, that’s how high his expectations are).

Bill HaasHaas, with a win under his belt and great history on the course (beat Keegan Bradley and Phil Mickelson in a playoff in 2012, returned for a T3 in 2013), is the main “defensive” pick for us this week.

Sergio GarciaThere, we are just going to do it. The recent results here are promising, as is the notion that Garcia is well-rested and coming off one of his best PGA seasons ever, despite no wins. Garcia could be the ultimate Furyk of this week, getting right into contention after a long break from the PGA.

Sang-Moon Bae. Our concerns over Bae continue as he continues to deal with the cloud of uncertainty regarding his Visa status. But he’s a true professional, and as long as he’s cleared to be in the field, we’re clearing our doubt that he’ll do anything other than play as well as he’s capable of playing. The man also happens to have a T12 and a T8 in his last two starts here.

Golf Channel:

Jim FurykThere were only six options in the first tier (including Walker and Garcia from above), so you have to think about what the field is likely to do. Many will pick defending champ Bubba Watson, and Hideki Matsuyama was intriguing, but we’re going with the Fury, who’s shown time after time that he can shake off an unfortunate week where he’s in contention, but can’t win. Not only do we think he can get back into contention, we know that any given week he can break that curse and get back in the winner’s circle.

Harris EnglishAfter a break and hopefully some home remedies to forget about a tough playoff loss, English seems like a good bet to get back into the mix. His swing is one of the smoothest on Tour, and his stock is high for this season.

Brian HarmanThe third tier was surprisingly stacked, which is bound to happen in a deep field. But we mainly narrowed down the selection to Matt Every and Brian Harman, both first-time winners last year, who got their seasons started on the right foot with top 10 finishes here. Out of the two, we’re going with Harman (who we also picked at the Waste Management) because he’s rested, and has proven to be a gritty player.

Charlie Beljan. We wasted the ideal opportunity to pick him last week, so we are going with Beljan and asking for forgiveness. He also has a stronger-than-average pedigree in this tournament for someone in the lowest tier – as he lost in a playoff in 2013 and followed it up with a T12 last year.

AT&T Pro Am: Recap

Sneds

Brandt Snedeker, one of our picks in both leagues, won for the second time at Pebble Beach in three years. Photo courtesy of PGATour.com

The AT&T Pro Am at Pebble Beach was about as enjoyable as the near-record-breaking weather we saw all week on the Monterrey Peninsula. I mean, we’re used to watching the pros swinging it in some of the nicest weather around the globe each wintery week, but did we really need San Francisco at sunny and 70s four days in a row?? Not fair, said us, the average viewer from a cold and gray land.

The level of play was stepped up with the perfect conditions, as Brandt Snedeker ultimately broke the record-low (set by himself in 2013) and the record-low to par (set by Mark Calcavecchia and Phil Mickelson). And there were chasers around all weekend, too, keeping the action interesting until Sneds broke off from the pack on the back 9 on Sunday.

All in all, the tournament was great for reasons in addition to Bill Murray telling jokes to the crowd, Larry the Cable Guy hacking it around in a cutoff, and Chis Berman’s entertaining-in-itself swing. And the strength of some of the names up there on the leaderboard this week (mentioned below) added optimism for the season moving forward. Let’s take a look at how we did in perhaps our best week of predictions to date:

PGATour.com: Jimmy Walker (T21/47 points), Brandt Snedeker (Won/500 points), Hunter Mahan (T54/16 points), William McGirt (T21/47 points). Overall Grade – A-

Our first A of the season! It comes thanks in large part to Sneds, who carried both teams on his back. But thanks also to all of our picks playing on Sunday, and especially to William McGirt, as our “sleeper” pick, climbing up to nearly a top 20 – with the T21 finish being his best yet in 2015. Jimmy Walker under performed by his standards, but also earned a decent chunk of points with a T21 finish. Hunter Mahan was the only true disappointment, especially given the quality of names inside the top 10 (Nick Watney, Jason Day, Dustin Johnson, Pat Perez, Jordan Spieth, Jim Furyk, and Brendon Todd).

Golf Channel: Jimmy Walker (T21), Brandt Snedeker (Won), Michael Thompson (Cut), D.A. Points (MDF). Total Earnings: $1,301,367. Overall Grade – B-

A full letter grade below our PGATour.com picks, we were at least saved by once again picking the winner in Brandt Snedeker. Again, Walker was a disappointment, but at least he disappointed many (48% picked him on Golf Channel, and he was listed as the number one pick on the PGATour.com power rankings). Though neither Thompson nor Points got to play on Sunday, there is a difference between missing the cut, and being marked as a “MDF” at Pebble Beach – mainly meaning that Points actually earned a paycheck and FedEx points for his -6 finish. Not a huge difference, but we’ll take it. The unfortunate thing is (at the risk of being “those guys” who point out pointless circumstances) one of our top 3 considerations for the fourth tier was Charlie Beljan, who went on to finish in solo third. We first noticed Beljan when he went to a playoff and lost against John Merrick in 2013 at the Northern Trust Open – which is this week – proving that he can show up on the California swing. Maybe a name to consider moving forward…

AT&T Pebble Beach Pro Am: Preview and Predictions

The AT&T Pro Am adds an entertaining dynamic - entertainers teeing it up and trying to look like scratch golfers. Photo courtesy of PGATour.com

The AT&T Pro Am adds an entertaining dynamic – entertainers teeing it up and trying to look like scratch golfers. Photo courtesy of PGATour.com

The AT&T is a tournament known for matching the pros with world renowned celebrities like Bill Murray, Wayne Gretsky, Andy Garcia, Tom Brady, and Ray Romano. What I didn’t realize until I got into this fantasy golf thing, though, is that several tournaments throughout the year include a Pro/Am event, they just aren’t typically going on during the competitive part of the tournament, and perhaps none have such a wide-array of celebrities teeing it up.

The tournament’s location plays a big part of that. On the Montgomery Peninsula, pros and amateurs alike get to enjoy some of the best golf known to the world, headlined by the infamous Pebble Beach Golf Links. I certainly do not need to provide a history lesson on this golf course, nor am I the right person to do so (I will get to Pebble Beach one of these days, though!). Let’s just skip straight to the storylines.

From a fantasy perspective, this is a tough tournament to predict because of the changing field. A lot of golfers who have played all or most weeks since the Sony Open will take a week off, while some others circle this as their first week back (see: Jim Furyk).

Yes, the Fury will start his 2015 campaign, though at age 44, we’d like to wait and see what his form looks like before adding him to our list of picks. Dustin Johnson will make his second start after a missed cut at Torrey Pines (despite some good shots). At Pebble, though, DJ enters as the second all-time money earner for this tournament. He will be a favorite, and certainly could play his way back into contention.

Many eyes will be on last week’s winner Jason Day, as he enters a great opportunity to keep climbing toward world number 1. Already risen to number 5, Day could make a big statement by going back-to-back at two of the toughest courses on tour. But defending champion, Jimmy Walker, will have something to say about that. Walker is one of the three hottest players in golf right now, with out a doubt. With three starts in 2015, Jimmy has lost in a playoff to Patrick Reed, defended his title at the Sony Open, and finished in a T7 last week with a disappointing Sunday 73. Walker is a tough out this week, by no stretch of the imagination.

Jason Day and Jimmy Walker are clear favorites this week, as two of the hottest players in the game right now. Photo courtesy of bleacherreport.net

Jason Day and Jimmy Walker are clear favorites this week, as two of the hottest players in the game right now. Photo courtesy of bleacherreport.net

This tournament, like last week, will favor the grinder. Another tough, major-caliber track in Pebble Beach will challenge the field even in the perfect weather conditions that are projected. Played on three courses of varying difficulty, though, scoring is still quite manageable, as winning scores have ranged from -11 to -19 over the past 5 years. So, without further ado, here are our picks:

PGATour.com: 

Jimmy WalkerWe simply cannot ignore both Walker’s current form and recent history (see above). This is a defensive pick to top all defensive picks, but we’ve got to take it.

Brandt SnedekerAnother chalky pick, the 2013 champion is sneaking his way right back into the conversation, thanks to the revamped Butch Harmon swing. After a top 10 in Scottsdale, Snedeker didn’t fall off too much with a T19 at Torrey Pines. A familiar track and improving scoring bodes well for the Nashville resident.

Hunter MahanChalk pick #3. Though Hunter is coming off the birth of his second child, causing him to miss Torrey Pines, he knew well ahead of time that he’d be resting last week. He should be mentally focused to return to competition, oh and by the way, this is a tournament where Mahan hasn’t finished worse than T16 in the past 4 tries, including a runner up and a T6.

William McGirt. Okay, now we’re talking! No chalk here! McGirt is a flier worthy of balancing out three “safe” picks. But a closer look would tell you that McGirt isn’t too crazy of a pick. A journeyman and grinder who is on the rise, McGirt finished 2013 with 14/24 made cuts, and 2 top tens, and followed up with 19/29 made cuts and 4 top tens last year. He finished with a T16 here in 2013, and although he missed the cut last year, he followed it up by holding the sole 54-hole lead at the Northern Trust Open, before losing to a surging Bubba Watson. McGirt is looking for his first PGA win, and although we’re not projecting him to get it here, we think he will make the cut and earn himself a nice paycheck.

Golf Channel:

Jimmy Walker. See above. Twice. We can’t bring ourselves to not maximize on this guy’s form and ability.

Brandt Snedeker. Also see above. There were a ton of good golfers that we like in the second tier (see: Dustin Johnson, Hunter Mahan, Chris Kirk, Brendon Todd, Kevin Na, Nick Watney, and Graham Delaet, to name a great many), but we are going to try and put our eggs in one basket this week, as much as possible. Maybe on Monday we will be reminding all the kindergarten readers why you should never put your eggs in one basket, but we’re fairly confident here. Note: William McGirt was also in the second tier, which is a good sign that Golf Channel values him that heavily, but it meant we couldn’t double up on him too.

Michael ThompsonNo trickery here – Thompson climbed into contention last week, finishing with a T11, and finished in the top 20 here last year, which was one of his few tries in this tournament. Thompson’s last win came at the Honda Classic in 2013, so he tends to do better early in the season, too.

D.A. PointsAnother gutless pick from your fearless fantasy experts. D.A. Points is one of few highlights in the bottom tier, as he did win this tournament in 2011. Points has been nowhere to be found recently, so a course where he’s had past success should be just what the doctor ordered. *Note: we badly wanted to take David Duval here, who is putting down the announcing microphone and teeing it up this week, just for S**** and giggles.

Farmers Insurance Open: Recap

Jason Day rose to number 4 in the world after his gutsy playoff win in Torrey Pines. Photo courtesy of foxsports.com

Jason Day rose to number 4 in the world after his gutsy playoff win in Torrey Pines. Photo courtesy of foxsports.com

Sunday marked the first playoff of the year, and it was a pretty darn good one. Four men finished at nine under par, thanks to a questionable decision to lay up from one of the league’s biggest hitters. J.B. Holmes played it safe on 18, but could not hit the approach he needed to make a birdie that would have sealed off a victory. And to that, we say thank you J.B. Holmes! I mean, sorry you are only 470K richer instead of a million, but the playoff created a way better ending for us viewers.

Torrey Pines played like a true major-caliber course, nearly as difficult as it played when Tiger won his most recent major, the U.S. Open in 2008 (playing one round on the far-easier South course skews the scores for this tournament, too). Then, Tiger scored just one under par, and outlasted Rocco Mediate in impressive playoff fashion (even in that tournament he struggled through injury). But flash forward 7 years, and we saw another player who has struggled with injury emerge as victor (was that comparison too much of a stretch? Well sorry – deal with it). Jason Day outplayed Scott Stallings and Harris English on 18, who both parred, and then hit a career tee shot on the difficult par 3 16th to outlast J.B. Holmes.

Holmes will be criticized for laying up on 18. If he had walked away with the win he may have been commended, but at the end of the day he didn’t. Still, Holmes played incredible golf. He was steady, and his 68 on Saturday, a tie for the low round of the day, proved why he is a three-time winner on tour and a winner last year at the Wells Fargo (another track known for yielding high-caliber winners). One takeaway from this week is that everyone who climbed up the leader board should be noted, and considered threats in all of the more difficult tournaments this year. There are tournaments that favor the birdie-busters, and tournaments that require a grinder. Torrey Pines is the latter. Obviously the play of Day and Holmes will be noted, but so too should be that of Scott Stallings, Harris English, Charles Howell III, and Martin Laird, who has now done it two weeks in a row (minus Sunday at the WMPO). We are also taking note of the rise of rookie Carlos Ortiz (T11), Zac Blair (T11), Daniel Berger (T24), and Tony Finau (T24); and perhaps the reemergence of Jhonny Vegas (T11) and Spencer Levin (T11). Oh, and remember that guy who is leading the FedEx Cup, Jimmy Walker I think is his name? Yeah, that guy isn’t going anywhere, after logging another top 10.

As for our picks, let’s call it the tale of two leagues. Though we got a donut from Jordan Spieth in both, we actually did significantly better in one league than the other, which seems to happen given the formats. Here’s a look at our weekly grade:

PGATour.com: Jordan Spieth (Cut/0 points), Jason Day (Won/500 points), Marc Leishman (T27/42 points), Nick Watney (T7, 83 points). Overall Grade – B+

Well it’s always good to tack 500 points onto your team by picking the winner. Let’s not understate the difficulty in doing that; however, we do understand that Jason Day happened to be one of the most heavily favored players this week. Overall, aside from the whiff on Jordan Spieth, this was a solid group – the winner, another top 10, and Leishman staying in the top 3o (Leishman could have actually turned this grade into an A- if he hadn’t turned in a 4-over 76 on Sunday). All things considered, we are noticing a trend in “chalk” or “smart” picks paying off this season. Winners have included a defending champ in Jimmy Walker, Bill Haas in a tournament where he was already the third-all-time money earner, and Jason Day, who was the second highest ranked golfer (behind Justin Rose) in the OWGR entering the week. Then, you’ve got defending champ Scott Stallings making it into the playoff on Sunday, and two weeks ago, a bunch of horses for the course contended in Scottsdale – Bubba Watson and Ryan Palmer both with runner-up finishes, and Graham DeLaet and Brandt Snedeker getting back into the top 10. So, what does that mean? Well we still encourage going against the grain with picks from time to time, but make sure you have some chalky picks for safety, too.

Golf Channel: Jordan Spieth (Cut), Brandt Snedeker (T19), Nick Watney (T7), Aaron Baddeley (Cut). Total Earnings: $266,144. Overall Grade – C

Direct quote from our predictions, “In the top tier, it basically came down to doubling up on either Spieth or Day. Based on consistency and momentum, we decided to stick with Spieth.” Whoops. Well, you can’t win ’em all, and the rest of our picks in this league actually followed suit in terms of suckiness. Watney with the top 10 saved the grade, and Sneds with a second-straight top 20 is a good sign for his future use, but 2 missed cuts and only $266,144 is average at best. It didn’t even deserve a +.

Farmers Insurance Open: Preview and Predictions

The 18th on Torrey Pines South is a dynamic finishing par 5. Photo courtesy of PGA.com.

The 18th on Torrey Pines South is a dynamic finishing par 5. Photo courtesy of PGA.com.

This year, the Waste Management Phoenix Open and the Farmers Insurance Open flip-flopped on the calendar, which creates a different buzz than usual – as the Farmers is usually the first marquee field of the year. But because of the move back in the calendar, it actually seems to have a stronger field than usual.

Predictions are going to be a challenge with notables like Jason Day, Justin Rose, Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler, and Phil Mickelson all teeing it up at Torrey Pines. We are losing Matt Kuchar, Bubba Watson, and Patrick Reed for the week, but getting the first start from Jimmy Walker since he defended his title in Hawaii, and the first start from Dustin Johnson since he allegedly did not leave the tour because of a cocaine problem…

But Torrey Pines is best known as the course(s) that Tiger has repeatedly slayed throughout his career (this tournament is actually played on two courses – Torrey Pines North and South, but it was just the South course when Tiger won the U.S. Open here). Now, Torrey Pines will welcome a Tiger Woods coming off a Friday 82, a missed cut, and who is dealing with the biggest uncertainty his game has ever had. Once again, we are not ready to pencil Tiger into our picks.

Some of the “course favorites” in this tournament include Jason Day and Marc Leishman, two Aussies who have combined for 5 top 10s in the past 5 years here; Brandt Snedeker, who followed up a playoff win in 2012 with a runner up to Tiger in 2013; Nick Watney, who won in 2009 and has posted three top 10s since; and Rickie Fowler, who has a pair of top 10s in the past 5 years, and aside from missing the cut last year, never finished worse than T20 in that span. Once again, Pat Perez seems to be an automatic made-cut in this tournament, and finished last year in a tie for runner-up. And finally, an interesting storyline could develop around Justin Thomas, who actually finished in the top 10 last year as an amateur, and now returns a midst a red-hot rookie campaign.

When in doubt about making picks, it’s best to just dive right in and go with your gut, so here we go:

PGATour.com:

Spieth is a household name at the age of 21, and is close to being considered a favorite every time he tees it up. Photo courtesy of Golfweek.com.

Spieth is a household name at the age of 21, and is our favorite to get the win at Torrey Pines. Photo courtesy of Golfweek.com.

Jordan SpiethSpieth is definitely in the category of guys worth multiple picks in a season, because of his ability to get into contention seemingly more times than not. He’s turned into a consistent performer early in his career – you already know this – and he is riding the momentum of a 65 last Sunday before attending the Super Bowl. Nothing but positive vibes are radiating off this guy.

Jason Day. This will be Day’s first start since Hawaii, which included a T3 at the Tournament of Champions. That is a good enough indicator to us that he is fully healthy. A fully healthy Day is a Day that you want to pick early and often.

Marc Leishman. We are going with multiple Australian golfers this week – if only Adam Scott was joining the party! Seriously though, we mentioned above that Leishman is a borderline horse for the course pick. His consistency has been on point at Torrey Pines, and there’s no reason that should change when the rested Aussie makes his first PGA start since the Sony Open.

Nick Watney. Watney rounds out a group of very chalky picks. Watney has been in the top 10 three times, with no missed cuts in the past five years here, and won the thing in 2009. He has underwhelmed fans and fantasy players throughout his career, but undoubtedly has the skill to break through at any moment.

Golf Channel: 

Jordan Spieth. In the top tier, it basically came down to doubling up on either Spieth or Day. Based on consistency and momentum, we decided to stick with Spieth.

Brandt SnedekerLeishman was available to make our lineups virtually identical, but we decided to stray and go with Sneds, another horse for the course pick, and a guy we think should be on track to rise again to the greatness that saw him earn four wins in two years between 2012-13. Coming off a top 10 in Scottsdale supports our theory that he is capable.

Nick Watney. Watney in the third tier was too tempting to pass up. Sure, he could doubly burn us, but with his record on these tracks, and his skill, we’re willing to risk it.

Aaron BaddeleyAs always, the fourth tier gives you the option to try and be “clever,” or to take a complete flier. Baddeley falls somewhere in the middle, we think. D.A. Points may have been the cleverest pick – he’s making his first PGA start of the year, but had three top 10s in a row between 2010-12. Baddeley, on the other hand, does not have much history here outside of a T6 finish in 2013, but like we said, we like our chances with Australian golfers this week as there always seem to be at least two Aussies in contention here.