What I learned from the finishers in the top 10 this week
Keegan Bradley: Well, it wasn’t the victory that gamers were craving but it was a performance in absolutely the right direction. He should have been on the rosters of most gamers in the Yahoo! game and was an excellent choice in Group 2 in the GolfChannel.com game as Rob Bolton showed us. Rob had first and second this week, the bast@rd! Gamers didn’t like that Bradley leaked oil as he began three over through three but it’s the rally I point to looking back. These guys have so much money, etc. that it NEVER surprises me when they don’t fire on Sunday after some adversity. Bradley showed why he’s on the roster most every week he’s playing because he’ll grind until the last putt. That’s why I’m on board. He birdied two of the last three to claim second alone, his best finish since T2 at WGC-BI last August. He’ll need a few more of these (or wins) to move up the Ryder Cup list as well. He entered the week at No. 31. Bradley backed up his T3 last year with solo second this year.
Adam Scott: I get it, OK. He’s awesome. He’s a fantastic ball-striker. He’s got the best caddy in the game. As gamers, we have to remember that he could care LESS about winning golf tournaments that are not majors. He said as much in an interview aired during the round. He said that this “victory” would have no bearing on anything in his game moving forward except for being a “nice bonus” as he gears up for Augusta. Maybe I’m just upset because I left him off my rosters this week. I’m not nearly as mad as the folks who had him though. His seven shot lead turned into three and that was gone halfway through Sunday. It’s not surprising that his putter was the issue. We learned that Scott is trending to fire at the majors. I believe him.
Jason Kokrak: The Coat Rack was looking for his first win as well as a pro but a birdie-less inward 38 saw him settle for solo fourth instead. Kokrak also racked up 21 birdies, same as Every, but he carded one more bogey and a double and that turned out to be the difference. He’s rewarding season-long investors with his consistency as he’s made eight of 11 weekends and seven of those have been in the top 25. This is his best finish since T3 at Tiger’s Tournament last July. He must like difficult courses. I’m writing that down. He’s trending in the right direction as well as his last three weeks have seen him finish T41 at Honda, T14 at Valspar and solo fourth this week. Let’s see, Valero is a tough, long track where par is a good score…
Henrik Stenson: I wrote in the preview that he was my “Louisville/Michigan State” seed this week and he proved he was “under-seeded” with his T5 finish. As long as his wrist remains static, I’ll endorse him because of performances like this. This is the second Sunday (WGC-CC) in a row where he’s posted one of the lowest rounds of the day. He moved up 10 spots into the top five after his sizzling 68. In his last three starts at Bay Hill, he’s finished T15, T8 and now T5. Time to get back on board!
Erik Compton: Coming down the stretch, he’d like to have a couple shots back but his T5 is his second best finish on TOUR since his T4 at Honda in 2013. He’s a fantastic story but he hasn’t, for me, rang the bell enough to have him on the radar week in and week out. For gamers playing deep roster weekly games, he has made the cut in seven straight and he was only one of six this week to play all four round at par or better. #trending
Francesco Molinari: He racked up 15 pars, two bogeys and a birdie on Sunday to fire 73 and remain in a tie for fifth. The Italian is a wonderful ball-striker and can grind out pars. His 54 pars this week were T2. The harder the golf, the more I would lean to inserting him into my lineups. He doesn’t play enough events to warrant a full-time position in shallow leagues but he’s a solid fill for deep, seasonal games and weekly fliers on tough tracks.
Brandt Snedeker: Welcome back, Opie! For the first time in 12 events (T8, BMW last September), Sneds has returned to the top 10 with his T8 at API. Gamers, raise your hand if you thought after his 74 on Saturday that he would have made this column after Sunday. Now, keep your hands up if you are lying! Snedeker’s annual early-season injury ritual included a knee problem after he fell off a Segway in China in November. He fired 64 at Humana to provide some false hope and then found another 64 in Phoenix just to taunt gamers even more. Saturday, he missed every putt he looked at, no matter the distance. Sunday was exactly the opposite. He’s heading to Sea Island to work with Todd Anderson to sharpen up the short game for Augusta. I’m still in a holding pattern moving forward, especially if his next start is the Masters.
Ryo Ishikawa: Ah, the youth. They’ve been driving gamers crazy since the beginning of Rotisserie leagues began and Ishikawa is no exception. For the third time in three starts, he’s cracked the top 25. In eight cuts made this season, seven have found the top 25. I learned that he’s no longer pushing himself in off-the-course activities and focusing more on his well-being on the golf course. His body was always aching with niggling injuries that just wouldn’t heal. Now that he’s addressed that and corrected it, the 22-year old Japanese is trying to develop more consistency. I’m not completely sold, YET, as he MC the three events before this streak, plus the streak happened on courses where he’s had plenty of experience and successes. He’ll interest me more in “off-week” events.
Sean O’Hair: He took advantage of making the cut on the number by firing 69-67, which included playing his final 14 holes in SEVEN-under! This was his ninth time at Bay Hill and this is his third top 10 (T10) to go along with his solo second (2009) and T3 (2008). In six previous events in 2014, O’Hair MC three times and his best finish was T49. #blindsquirrelsandacornsandallthat
Graeme McDowell: His T10 sees him hit the top 10 for the third time in seven tries. The only blemish this week was his second round 77. Via Twitter, he told us that his driver on Friday was responsible for one OB, one water, one bunker, three rough and four fairways. He had 11 driver swings on Saturday and found 11 fairways. That’s how you turn 77 into 67. He was pushing even further up the leaderboard on Sunday before a bogey on No. 15 and a double on No. 17. He has four top 10s in five starts in 2014. #buybuybuy
J.B. Holmes: His T10 was his best TOUR finish since T8 at SHO in 2012. His medical issues have been well documented and almost never-ending but his has shown signs of his “old self” this season has he’s made the weekend in six of seven events. I’m glad he’s recovered from brain surgery and ankle issues but until he starts racking, I’m staying away. To be brutally honest, I can’t get emotional about a top 10 on track where he’s now eight-for-eight in his career.
Freddie Jacobson: As I wrote in the preview, The Junk Man had finishes of T12 at Honda and T20 at Valspar with rounds OVER par on Sunday. Any guesses on what he shot this Sunday? Yeah, over-par again. This included three bogeys on the last five holes to take him from T5 to T10. He’s is trending in the right direction and has a massive, massive history at TPC San Antonio. Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.
What happened to my pre-tournament favorites?
Justin Rose: The ONLY positive I can find about Rose this week is that I did NOT pull the trigger on him in my OAD. He played great last time out. He loves Bay Hill. It just didn’t happen. Well, it did, actually, 79 times on Friday to MC.
Bubba Watson: Rory McIlroy had “wisdom teeth” problems in Florida. Watson has “allergy problems” in Florida. Remember this: Gamers will NEVER care if pros WD BEFORE the round. We’re a fickle bunch, I know…
Adam Scott: Solo third, see above.
Gary Woodland: He moved up 16 places on Sunday with a 70 that included 16 pars and two bogeys. He’s now finished T16, T8 and T20 this week in his Florida Swing. Like Bradley, it’s only a matter of time before he kicks down the door.
Graeme McDowell: T10, see above.
Zach Johnson: T43 as he never got it going as he left his putter at home. There were 76 players. Johnson finished 73rd in strokes gained-putting. #anomaly
Patrick Reed: His 77 on Sunday killed any chances on a backdoor anything but the one thing I’ll take from this week was his ability to laugh at himself. NBC did a “who’s the best five players in the world” vignette on “Jake’s Takes” and Reed continued to say “me” every time he was asked who should be ranked in the top five. He could have told NBC that he’s not doing it. He did. He had a laugh. #lightenupFrancis
Harris English: Talking about backdooring it on Sunday, English moved up 28 spots with his final round 68. The most impressive part of his round was the ball he hit OB on a par three. He hit the next one from the tee to nine feet. He missed the putt for a double. He surrounded that with four other bogeys to shoot 75 on Saturday. Read the first sentence of this paragraph to see why English is on my radar every week.
Kevin Na: Wow, how sad is it that he was HECKLED by golf “fans” at Arnold Palmer’s Club and Lodge? Read that sentence over and over again. Real golf fans had his back the next day with “Worth The Wait” t-shirts supporting Na. It was also great to read about his playing partners supporting Na and his pace of play. Social media sucks sometimes. He was one of six players to play all four rounds at par or better. His T15 isn’t ideal in the OAD but it’s a hell of a lot better than MC.
Hunter Mahan: WD after a handful of holes on Sunday morning with a hip injury. Keep your eyes on the golf section at Rotoworld.com for updates.
Keegan Bradley: Solo second, see above.
Will MacKenzie: His T43 included three rounds at par or better so the bloom is still on this flower for me.
George McNeill: Another great finish from Mr. Florida as the Naples resident posted T12 at Honda, seventh last week at Valspar and T14 this week at API. His last five starts on TOUR have registered T19 or better. I hope you have enjoyed this ride. I’ll be more surprised if it continues. Who does he think he is, Will MacKenzie?
Matt Every: Winner, winner, chicken dinner!
John Senden: Too much respect given for a guy who won last week for the first time in over 200 events. His worst finish at API in nine starts. Normal service resumed.
And the analysis doesn't end here. Rotoworld's Rob Bolton and I will be co-hosting a one-hour live chat Wednesday at NOON ET. We will be breaking down the field at the Valero Texas Open and answering your questions. Simply return to the golf home page to join in on the chatter. Don’t forget to follow Rob (http://twitter.com/RobBoltonGolf) and Glass (http://twitter.com/mikeglasscott) on Twitter.