Inside the Ropes
Children's Miracle Network Hospitals Classic
Magnolia Course (Host) and Palm Course
Lake Buena Vista, Florida
Magnolia Course (Host Course)
Par: 72 (36-36)
Water Hazard: In-play on 11 holes
Course Architect: Joe Lee (1971)
Palm Course (Thursday and Friday Only)
Par: 72 (36-36)
Water Hazard: In-play on nine holes
Course Architect: Joe Lee (1971)
Winner’s Share: $846,000
Defending Champion: Luke Donald fired a final round 64 to win by two shots over Justin Leonard. Donald is not defending his championship this year due to one of his children having a scheduled medical procedure.
Date: November 8-11
Format: 128 players. Pro-Am Thursday and Friday as the players will play each course once. Top 70 and ties advance to the weekend (no amateurs).
Notes: This is it. This is the final official event to hit the top 125 in the money list to earn TOUR cards for 2013 if not already exempt. Also, the top 30 on the money list will gain exemption into the 2013 Masters if not already qualified.
“Young” Guns versus “Middle” Guns versus “Old” Guns
In 46 events on TOUR in 2012 the “Young” guns have it all locked up at the top as they now lead 25-18-3. The 37-year old Poulter makes the list for the first time since 2010.
For the “Young”, age during their victory in ( ), Johnson Wagner (31), Brandt Snedeker TWICE (31), Kyle Stanley (24), Bill Haas (29), John Huh (21), Hunter Mahan TWICE (29) Rory McIlroy FOUR times (22), Justin Rose (31), Rickie Fowler (23), Dustin Johnson (27), Webb Simpson (26), Marc Leishman (29), Ted Potter, Jr. (28), Scott Stallings (27), Keegan Bradley (26), Sergio Garcia (32), Nick Watney TWICE (31),Ryan Moore (29) and Jonas Blixt (28) are your winners.
The “Middle” guys are Mark Wilson (37), George McNeill (36), Luke Donald (34), Tiger Woods THRICE (36), Bubba Watson (33), Carl Pettersson (34), Ben Curtis (34), Matt Kuchar (33), Jason Dufner TWICE (35), Zach Johnson TWICE (36), Scott Piercy (33) J.J. Henry (37), Tommy Gainey (37) and now Ian Poulter (37) have been victorious.
Steve Stricker (44), Phil Mickelson (41) and Ernie Els (42) are the only “Old” guys to hit the board in 2012. At least 33% of their wins are majors!
So What? So Let’s Dance!
The happiest place on Earth will be that for the guys who finish this week at No. 125 or better on the money list! There are plenty of factors in play this week as the TOUR wraps up the 2012 season at Disney World. First, each player will have to play both the Palm and Magnolia courses on Thursday and Friday before playing the weekend at the Magnolia. Also, Thursday and Friday will be played in a pro-am format before the amateurs are ditched on the weekend. Kids and families will be running around. Mickey Mouse will be everywhere, including on No. 6 “The Mouse Trap” will be in play. There’s plenty to be serious about and there is plenty to enjoy in this part of the world as well.
The Magnolia Course has played in the top third of easiest courses in 2011. We’ve seen what the pros do to these resort courses and this weekend shouldn’t be much different. Players will have wide landing areas and healthy-sized greens to aim for so the players who hit the most greens or hole the most putts will be holding the trophy on the weekend. The Palm Course is constantly in the top 10 of easiest courses played on TOUR so players must take advantage on their one round on that track.
The last five years has seen on average of 19-under-par as being the winning score. Luke Donald and Stephen Ames had the highest winning score at 17-under and Davis Love had the lowest at 25-under. Luke Donald led the field in birdies last year with 24 as he also led the field in putts per GIR. That’s one way to do it! We’ll also look for guys who constantly pound GIR who give themselves multiple chances at birdie. The pressure of making the top 125 will no doubt affect those hovering around that number.
Brendon de Jonge: You need birdies to win this week and there is nobody on TOUR who makes more than this guy. de Jonge is seeking his first-career victory and his recent form suggests it’s right around the corner. In his last three events, his WORST finish is T4 twice. He’s 54-under in those three tournaments and his highest round is 69. His trend at Disney is heading in the right direction as well as he’s finished T63 (2007), T47 (2009) and T30 (2010) in his only three appearances. He’s shown in the last three events, Las Vegas, Sea Island and China that his game travels and goes low everywhere.
Robert Garrigus: The only thing that worries me about the 2010 champion is that he might be too stretched after two weeks of golf in China. He was T2 at the CIMB and had bookends of 76 and 75 last week at the HSBC to finish T51. In six events here, he’s been cut four times but he’s won and finished T10 in the other two.
Jonas Blixt: Blixt started the Fall Series with a third-place finish at the Timberlake and he followed that up with his first-career victory at the Frys.com. Blixt MDF the following week at the McGladrey to wrap up that stretch. The Florida State grad should be well rested and ready to make a run at the top 30 for a chance to play at the Masters next year. The way he putts, there’s no way to leave him out this week!
Chris Kirk: He’s now made 10 cuts on the bounce and his last time out he finished T4 at the CIMB. He destroys courses where birdies are the rule as he’s 24th in birdie average in 2012. This is his first time at Disney.
Tommy Gainey: This tournament kind of explains “Two Gloves” in fantasy terms: All or nothing. He was second here to DL III in 2008 and MC last year. This season, he has hit the top ten twice, once with solo third at Colonial and once with a win his last time out at The McGladrey. He could win again this week or finish last. I’m going with a big finish as for the first time in his life he’ll be playing without any pressure. Plus, it’s hard to go against a guy who won firing a 60 on Sunday.
Davis Love III: The 2008 champion took it low here at 25-under in his victory, his last on TOUR. He also has a T5 and a T19 in five starts. He began the Fall Series T66, T35 and T4 at the tournament he hosted, The McGladrey. He’s trending in the right direction.
Ryan Palmer: The 2004 champion, needless to say, likes it here. In eight starts, he’s finished in the top 20 five times, including T20 and T19 in the last two years. Palmer finished T37 at the CIMB with four rounds of 70 or better so he’s getting back on track after a quiet finish to the Playoffs.
Charles Howell III: Last year was the first event in six that CH III missed the cut at Disney. In the previous five events, CH III has finished T15, T9, T25, T29 and T9 in 2010. He has played 33 rounds (of 40) under par at Disney. His recent form combines well with his history at this event as he’s finished T11 (Frys.com) and T7 (The McGladrey) in his last two starts.
Justin Leonard: He currently sits No. 138 on the money list and is on the outside looking in for the first time since his rookie year (1994). Luckily for Leonard, he loves this event and it’s evidenced in his recent results here. In his last four outings, he’s finished T6, T2, MC and T2 last year. Based on his recent form, this is a stretch but you cannot overlook those results.
David Mathis: The Fall Series has been good to Mathis over these last two years and this year has been no different. After T46 at Timberlake, he posted T22 at Frys.com and was T10 in his last outing at The McGladrey.
Gary Woodland, Henrik Stenson, Brian Harman, Russell Knox and Harris English
On The Edges
120: James Driscoll’s T27 at The McGladrey was his best finish in his last 10 events. He fired three rounds of four in the 60’s to move in the right direction. He’s 23rd in strokes gained-putting and was T12 here last year.
121: Boo Weekley missed four cuts in a row before also posting T27 at The McGladrey. His accuracy off the tee will not be an asset this week but his No. 4 ranking in GIR will. His best finish in three starts at Disney is T52 (2008) and he MC last year.
122: Jeff Maggert’s only top 25 since January was his T16 at the Frys.com in the middle of October. The good news is Maggert has made five cuts in a row here. The bad news is his best finish is T24.
123: Kevin Chappell finished T14 at Reno-Tahoe and has backed that up with a WD and three-straight MC’s before his T43 at The McGladrey. Chappell will be glad to see the Magic Kingdom this week as he finished T3 here last year.
124: Rod Pampling has made eight of his last nine cuts stretching back to July yet doesn’t have a top 25 in that stretch. He’s played here the last two years and missed the cut both times. His best finish here was 17-under in 2002. Gulp.
125: Billy Mayfair finished T6 here last year and that $147,000 and change pushed him to No. 119 on the final money list. He’s been here, done that. He’ll have to perform again with the money on the table or he’ll have to win Q school again!
126: Trevor Immelman doesn’t care because his Masters exemption lasts throughout 2013. He also finished T6 here last year and was T14 in 2006.
127: Gary Christian’s Fall Series has put him in this spot as he’s finished T68, MC and T72. He’s an excellent ball striker but he’ll need help from his putter this week if he wants to make the jump. First time here.
128: Alexandre Rocha has powered up the money list late this season with P2 at Reno-Tahoe and T4 at the Frys.com. He was T20 here last year.
129: Bill Lunde is 0-1 with his MC in 2011 at Disney but his last three outings in the Fall Series he’s finished fifth, T35 and T20. He’s hitting form at the right time.
130: D.J. Trahan was T4 at The McGladrey to put him into position to have a chance to make the top 125. His only other top 25 was T4 in the first week of February. He’s made the cut in the last three years here but his best finish is T45.
Horses for Courses:
Nick O’Hern: Since his T3 in Memphis in early June, O’Hern has played 10 events. He’s been cut six times and his best finish is T22 (Frys.com) where he opened with 62. He hasn’t broke 70 since in five rounds but he loves the large mouse! He was T4 here in 2009 and T6 last year so he’s the definition this week of “Horse for Course”.
John Rollins: After taking four weeks off after the Deustche Bank Championship, Rollins returned with a T35 finish at the Frys.com, which included a 64, and MDF at The McGladrey. Last year, he missed the cut at the McGladrey and finished T6 here. He now has four top 25’s in six events played at Disney.
Troy Matteson: In three starts he has a T2 (2006), T6 (2008) and T45 (2010) at Disney. His best finish this year is P2 at another birdie fest, the John Deere Classic.
Tom Pernice, Jr.:In 16 starts, he’s made 11 cuts with six of those being T21 or better. He was third here last year. He’s missed three cuts in a row on TOUR so be careful but this wily veteran has 41 rounds (of 56) under par on these courses.
Heath Slocum: Slocum has four top 20’s in his last seven trips to the Magic Kingdom. His best finish in that stretch was back-to-back T9’s in 2006 and 2007.
Golf Channel Fantasy Challenge: CMNHC (Glass Picks)
Group 1: Brendon de Jonge
Group 2: Davis Love III
Group 3: Justin Leonard
Group 4: Tom Pernice, Jr.
Ned said, “…
Ned Brown is a long-time contributor for Rotoworld Golf. He’s had documented success in Yahoo!’s game for years. Even if you’re confident in your selections for that game, give his insight a read. Now, Ned also provides us with his Golf Channel fantasy game selections as well!
Full Disclosure: I am NOT Ned! He’s smarter and better looking!
Golf Channel Fantasy Challenge: CMNHC (Ned’s Picks)
Group 1: Robert Garrigus
Group 2: Henrik Stenson
Group 3: Russell Knox
Group 4: Arjun Atwal
Coming Sunday: CMNHC Wrap Up