PGA Championship Preview and Prediction

PGA Championship

Quail Hollow, Charlotte, NC

Past Champion: Jimmy Walker

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Sadly, the PGA Tour season is on its final leg of the Major Championship series, finishing with the PGA Championship at Quail Hollows. We have seen Sergio claim his first Major victory at The Masters, Brooks Koepka bomb it around Erin Hills to capture the U.S. Open, and recently watched Jordan Spieth dominate down the stretch to win the 3rd leg of the career Grand Slam at the Open Championship. Who will take down the final major of the year?

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Quail Hollow, which has been the site for the Wells Fargo Championship, is hosting a major championship for the first time. However, this is not a Quail Hollow track we are used to seeing. With renovations made throughout the entire course, with a few completely different holes, as well as new Bermuda grass installed on every green. Not only will the renovations make Quail Hollow play differently than in the past, but the rain that has fallen and will fall throughout the week has changed the way the course plays as well. Not only will are the greens faster, but the rough is thicker, and with the addition of the rain, it is even more important to hit fairways this week at Quail Hollow.

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FORE PGA Championship Storylines

Grand Slam Dreams

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Go Get That Grand Slam

Jordan Spieth has the chance to become the youngest golfer ever to complete the career Grand Slam beating Tiger by about 4 months. After his heroic Open Championship victory a couple weeks ago, Spieth is in as good of form as ever to complete the career Grand Slam in his first opportunity. A victory at Quail Hollows will cement Spieth legacy as one of the greatest young talents the game has ever seen.

All Eyes on Rory

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Many golf experts and analysts are calling this years PGA Championship Rorys to lose, and rightfully so. With two victories under his belt at Quail Hollows, along with 6 Top 10’s, Rory is without a doubt the favorite heading into this week. After struggling through the middle of the PGA Tour season, Rory has picked it up with Top 10 finishes in his last 2 starts (The Open and Bridgestone). If Rory can attack this golf course as he is accustomed to doing here, this tournament could be over before it even starts.

 

SHORTS! SHORTS! SHORTS!

If you haven’t noticed yet, the PGA of America gave golfers the permission to wear shorts during practice rounds this week, and the golf media went wild. I wouldn’t be doing my job (this isn’t my job) if I didn’t have a take on shorts being allowed on the course during practice rounds, but in the words of newly unretired Jay Cutler…DONT CARE! God forbid players not have to sweat their asses off week in and week out during the PGA Tour season.

 The Green Mile

One of the more exciting and challenging finishing stretches in golf belong to Quail Hollow and “The Green Mile”. If you can walk out even par over the final three holes you will most likely gain at least one stroke on the field as all three tend to play over par. Come Sunday, you are going to want to tune into the final groups as they make their way through The Green Mile because anything can happen.

PGA Championship Prediction

Dustin Johnson (+1200)

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Similar to Erin Hills, I believe the weather is going to effect Quail Hollow and it is going to be a bombers paradise. What better player to pick than the No.1 Player in the World, and the best driver of the golf ball on Tour. After winning three starts in a row, DJ experienced quite a slip up (pun intended), and hasn’t been the dominant force we saw earlier in the year. You can’t pass up 12-1 odds on the No.1 player on a course that plays to his strengths (Great DK Value too). Dustin picks up his 2nd Major this week at Quail Hollow.

Darkhorse Pick of the Week

Gary Woodland (+10000)

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Long hitter.

Greens in Reg.

5 Top 10’s.

Due for a W.

Draftkings Team of the Week

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Enjoy the final Major of the year!

FORE Open Championship Prop Bet WINNERS

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Another major, another week of prop bets. I live for golf props and it just adds that extra flavor to the gambling weekend between your To-Win bets, Draftkings, and Pools…no just me? I found a few props I liked and my reasoning behind it. And by reasoning I mean instant gut reaction.

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Yes +300

Mother Nature is a Royal B**** and bad weather means packed leaderboards. Love the value in yes here! Lets one up the 2015 Open Championship and have a 4 man playoff.

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USA! USA! USA! 

C’mon is this even a question? Oh so I can have Spieth, DJ, Rickie, Phil, Koepka, JT……Daly! Give me the +160 and God Bless America!

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These guys are good (Under 275.5 -5) 

I know the weather is going to be atypical for an Open Championship, and the last winner at Royal Birkdale (Padraig Harrington) won with a score of +3. But these are the best players in the world and there hasn’t been a course to tame these guys in a while so I’m rolling with the under.

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Make Cut -300

This is so easy. All the headlines are how Rory hasn’t performed as of late due to his rib injury, his recent engagement, his club change, blah blah blah. Rory shows up this week and makes the cut with ease.

 

 

The Open Championship Preview and Prediction (Bonus DraftKings Team)

146th Open Championship

Royal Birkdale, Southport, United Kingdom

Past Champion: Henrik Stenson

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We hop across the pond for the third major of the year to Royal Birkdale for the playing of the 146th Open Championship. This will mark the 7th time The Open has been played at Royal Birkdale, and first since 2008 when Padraig Harrington took home the Claret Jug.Screen Shot 2017-07-18 at 10.43.59 PM.png

There is nothing quite like links golf, but Royal Birkdale presents a different type of links layout. Unlike Erin Hills for the U.S. Open, Royal Birkdale is not a bombers paradise, in fact quite the opposite. Just look at Phil Mickelsons bag this week, going without a driver, instead adding two 3 irons to the bag. While not long, only 7,156 yards, the course demands accuracy and strategy off the tee, as it is being touted as a ‘target golf course’. While driving accuracy is important this week, most golfers will not be using driver off most tees so driving accuracy stats should be higher than average. The stat I am most interested in this week is ball striking, as Royal Birkdale biggest challenge is approach shots into these atypical links style greens just begging to trickle off into a pot bunker or heavy fescue. Since we didn’t get a brutal U.S. Open like we are accustomed, I believe Royal Birkdale will fill that void as the major to provide carnage on the course. Although I don’t believe the winner will finish +3 like Harrington in 2008, I do think the course will give golfers fits, especially if the winds are gusting like normal. While we may not see a final round that rivals last years duel between Stenson and Mickelson, Royal Birkdale should provide a different challenge for golfers this year and is a great venue for the 146th Open Championship.

Sidenote: Justin Thomas will also be rocking a tie and cardigan on Thursday to commemorate the classic Open look. So to commemorate JT I will be putting him in my DK lineup this week. Check out below my picks for The Open Championship!

 Round 1 and 2 Featured Tee Times

This is the week for real golf nuts to show their faces because you’ll need to be up pretttty early to catch all the coverage. Nothing better than waking up to major championship golf. There is no shortage of storylines heading into the third major of the year, so it is definitely worth the early mornings!

FORE Open Championship Storylines

Duel Part 2? 

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“You may have won the duel, but you will not win the war” – Phil probably

Stenson and Mickelson had an all time showdown during the final round of the Open Championship at Royal Troon, with Stenson firing a 63 to beat Phils 65. It would be naive to think we will have another final round duel like last year, but with the firepower of this field, mixed with a track like Royal Birkdale which allows all different types of players to succeed we should see a packed leaderboard on Sunday.

 

Come out, come out wherever you are!

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Bring Back Fat Rory!!!

Erin Hills, and Brooks Koepka didn’t disappoint, but the weekend was missing a few of the games top names. DJ, Rory, and Day all missing the cut at the U.S. Open probably did not help Fox in the ratings. Rory especially has been in poor form after another missed cut at The Scottish Open last week. All golfers gear their games toward the majors, and while players like Spieth, Rahm, and Sergio are in great form heading into The Open, we just have not seen that play from the likes of Rory or Day. While Fox couldn’t get that Top 5 boost, NBC and The Open Championship is praying the best in the game are in fact at their best this week at Royal Birkdale.

Will the First Timer streak continue? 

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Rickie waiting for that first major like

For the last SEVEN major championships, a golfer was hoisting that coveted major trophy for the first time in their career. With such a widespread of amazing talent throughout the tour it isn’t a huge surprise that these players are winning for the first time, but it also makes me miss Tiger and his years of dominating the Tour. We have seen great talents like DJ, Day, Sergio, and Stenson hoist a major trophy in the last year or two, but the list of great golfers who have yet to win one is still long including names like Fowler, Matsuyama, and Justin Thomas just to name a few. You will have to keep reading to see if you think another first timer will hoist the Claret Jug this week, or a familiar face will win yet again.

Mother Nature is a Royal B****

I could put my weatherman hat on and predict the weather for this week, but I think Men in Blazers put it best in this video. As the great PFT Commenter says “If you don’t like the weather just wait 5 minutes”, and that could not be more true than it is for The Open Championship. The only thing I do know is that rain and wind will create a deeper leaderboard and allow all different types of players to potentially win this tournament.

146th Open Championship Prediction

Hideki Matsuyama (20/1)

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Chalk another one up for the First Timers. Hideki coming off a T-2 and T-14 (U.S. Open and Scottish Open) is in prime form to make a run at his first major victory. Was lights out to start the year notching 3 wins (HSBC Champions, Hero World Challenge, Phoenix Open) Matsuyama cooled down for a little, while still only missing one cut (Genesis Open). Back in a good groove, you have to feel like this course suits Matsuyamas game as a phenomenal ball striker with the ability to score ranked 3rd and 1st in Par 4 and Par 5 scoring. I would say if there would be anyone in the field to win by double digits a la Vintage Tiger, it would be Matsuyama.

Darkhorse of the Week

Francesco Molinari (100/1)

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If he can make a putt or two to stay in the mix I don’t see a reason he can’t win. Worth the odds in my opinion. Also love him in DraftKings this week at a cheap price of $7,300, along with a few others. Check out my team and other players I like this week below.

Fore Right DraftKings Team of the Week 

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Big Tournament Value Picks: Emiliano Grillo ($7,100), Steve Stricker ($7,000), Ian Poulter ($7,500)

Big Tournament Fades: Tommy Fleetwood ($9,800), Sergio Garcia ($10,600), Henrik Stenson ($9,600)

 

U.S. Open Preview and Prediction

U.S. Open

Erin Hills

Past Champion: Dustin Johnson

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The toughest test in golf is upon us this week at Erin Hills in Wisconsin. The U.S. Open is known for its difficult layouts and USGA setups, and this week at Erin Hills will be no different. Playing a brutal 7,741 yards with fescue that has been deemed “dead” surrounding the entire course, this will be a test not many are prepared for. While some PGA Tournaments finish double digit under par, the U.S. Open is a different animal, with some winners finishing over par! Erin Hills will challenge all parts of your game, demanding not only a long tee shot, but an accurate one. Similar to other U.S. Open venues, Erin Hills will make players use their imagination when managing their way around this golf course. There are no short of storylines heading into this week between Phil flying across the country to try and make his tee time to some players already voicing their displeasure with the USGA (no surprise there), U.S. Open week is one of the best golf weeks of the year.

Erin Hills Hole by Hole Preview 

FORE U.S. Open Storylines

Family Man Phil

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Phil Mickelson is a US Open Championship away from completing the career Grand Slam, which has only be done by 5 other golfers ever (Sarazen, Hogan, Player, Nicklaus, and Woods). Not that he hasn’t come close either, finishing runner up SIX times, Phil is in major limbo whether or not he will be able to compete in this years competition. As the news quickly circulated last week, Phil will be attending his daughter Amandas high school graduation ceremony, which she is giving her valedictorian speech the same day the tournament kicks off. HOWEVER, Phil is on the record saying he will be in the air immediately following the ceremony and on his way to Erins Hills in hopes of making his late Thursday tee time. Mickelson has also said the only way he believes he will make his tee time would be if there was roughly a 4 hour delay Thursday morning, but barring a miracle it looks like Phil will not make his Grand Slam run this year. Although a live stream of Phil making his way across the country would be electric content for Fox to fire up on Thursday.

USGA vs. The Field

The USGA pissing off players leading up to the U.S. Open (and during for DJ last year) has become a tale as old as time. This year the main discussion is the brutality of the fescue that starts just a few steps off the fairway.  Kevin Na was the first to hit social media with a video trying to hit out the nasty fescue, which seems to be pretty impossible. Adam Scott also complained about the USGA and how they go about setting up the course for the U.S. Open year in and year out. It seems as though the USGA heard the rumblings and had the fescue actually cut down some on a few holes. On the other hand, Rory McIlroy came out on Tuesday and made it pretty clear that if you are worrying about the fescue then you should just pack your bags and go home. I agree with Rory, being that the fairways are some of the widest in US Open history, players should focus less on complaining to the USGA, and more just hitting it in the fairway. The U.S. Open is known to be one of the toughest challenges in golf and I don’t mind it one bit.

 Daddy DJ Repeat? 

Screen Shot 2017-06-14 at 12.26.48 PM.pngWith the birth of his second child coming just days before the U.S. Open kicks off and Fathers Day, Dustin Johnson is in a great place mentally and physically to repeat. Other than the good karma that comes with the joy of having another child (farrrr away from having that feeling), DJs game places perfectly for Erin Hills. A track that favors long hitters will give Johnson much shorter approach shots than the rest of the field. As the odds on favorite (+750), DJ has everything going in his favor heading into this week and would not be surprised to see him dominate the field similar to what Tiger did at the 2000 U.S. Open when he won by 15 strokes at Pebble Beach. The only disappoint if DJ does finish on top this week, is we will not get to see Paulina in her white dress from last years win.

Far and Wide

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Stricker getting a little help on the greens from Bucky Badger

Not only are the fairways at Erin Hills far and wide, but the field is as well. An awesome part of the U.S. Open is the fact that anybody with a USGA handicap can enter into qualifiers for a chance to make their dreams come true and compete on golfs biggest stage. A few familiar faces made it into the field this week thanks to a qualifier, but none more special than Wisconsin native, Steve Stricker. Other notable names that made the field through qualifiers are Stewart Hagestad (Low Am at Masters), Stephan Jaeger (#1 on Web.com Tour), Harris English, and Jamie Lovemark just to name a few. These qualifiers have already went through the gamut to get to this point, so no reason somebody can’t make an amazing story that much more improbable.

U.S. Open Prediction

Jordan Spieth (+1200)

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First Major of the year, The Masters, I chose Spieth to win, and he finished T-11. Second Major of the year, The U.S. Open, and I am picking Jordan Spieth again, but for a few different reasons this time around. While I, and every other golf writer, have talked about the length of Erin Hills at nauseum, I believe Spieth will take advantage of the other aspects of his game that may not exactly be talked about as much. The three reasons why I think Erin Hills will play to his advantage this week are the width of the fairways, the difficult approach shots, and the tame greens. If Jordan can keep those sprays off the tee to a minimum and set himself up in the fairway at a higher clip this week, there is no one better in the world Approach to Green and since switching back to his old putter, has been rolling the rock like 2015 Jordan. Coming in a little under the radar this week, as I talked about in Right in the Fairway DK U.S. Open Picks, Jordan is in some of the best form of his career and is poised to win his second U.S. Open in the last 3 years.

Darkhorse of the Week

Graeme McDowell (+125000)

A golfer who has won the U.S. Open before in great form and the ability to hit fairways and make putts. I would throw a few bucks on him this week at Erin Hills, cause why not.

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Enjoy the beauty and brutality that Erin Hills will provide this week. One of the best golf weeks of the year is a must watch come the weekend. Continue to follow along on Twitter for updates throughout the weekend.

Right in the Fairway DK U.S. Open Picks

U.S. Open Picks 

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U.S. Open week is one of the best weeks of the year for any golf fan, but what would make it even better? Not only watching the best players in the world compete on a quite difficult track at Erin Hills, but winnings some money on DraftKings! Major Championships means huge possible paydays, and we have just that with the $33 entry into the $3.5 Fantasy Golf Millionaire paying out $1 MILLION to the winner.

Obvious Pick of the Week: Jordan Spieth ($11,500)

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For some reason I think Jordan has gone sorta under the radar coming into this week, and even though he is the second most expensive golfer (behind DJ), I do not believe he will be very highly owned. Even though Erin Hills is playing a daunting 7,740 yards, and sporting some brutal fescue just steps off the fairway, I think this course actually suits Spieth well. Although Spieth ranks 86th and 123rd on the PGA Tour in Driving Distance and Accuracy, Jordan will be able to take advantage of the 40-50 yard wide fairways. As one of the best players approaching the green AND arguably the best putter on Tour, I think if Spieth can keep it in the fairway this week he not only can be in the mix on the weekend, but win his second U.S. Open Championship.

Gut Guy of the Week: Jon Rahm ($10,300)

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To be successful at the U.S. Open you need to have guts, and boy does the 22 year old Spaniard Jon Rahm have guts (holy shit I still can’t believe he is only 22)! One of the longest hitters on Tour, paired with one of the best Greens in Regulation %, Rahm is going to attack this golf course in a way that maybe only DJ can. I love the fire that Rahm plays with, however that same fire has gotten him into trouble during stretches of rounds where he gets so frustrated that he lets it effect his play. If Rahm can channel that fire into a positive energy, and continues to play the golf he has so amazingly shown in this last year, I expect nothing less   than a Top 10 finish this week.

Value Pick of the Week: Graeme McDowell ($6,600)

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The 2010 U.S. Open Winner Graeme McDowell is my Value Pick of the Week for three reasons. The first reason has already been stated, success at the U.S. Open, and I would say a win in 2010 and runner up in 2012 would constitute as successful at golfs toughest test. The second reason I like McDowell this week is his driving accuracy, which ranks 9th on Tour. Oh, but he ranks 183rd in Driving Distance and you already said Erin Hills is playing 7,740 yards why would you want McDowell? The answer to that comes with the third reason I like McDowell this week and that his uncanny ability to make putts. Getting a former champion, who can not only put it in the fairway with danger all around, but gain strokes on the field while on the green, McDowell is a great value play this week.

Fade of the Week: Rickie Fowler ($10,500)

I have no other reason than that he is cheaper than I would have expected and in lieu of that, will most likely be one of the highest % owned players this week. I am banking on Fowler playing a little below his value and I will consider that a win because just as the PGA Tour keeps Strokes Gained against the field as a stat, in big daily fantasy tournaments you are trying to gain as many points on the field (per value) as you can.

Good Form+Value+Cuts Made+Tour Sauce-Players I can’t root for =

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NOTE: Notice my team consists of 4 former U.S. Open Champions (Spieth, Kaymer, McDowell, and Glover)

2017 Cape Cod Classic Preview

Cape Cod Classic 

East Dennis, Massachusetts 

Past Champion: Scott Bauer (Myrtle Masters)

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Coming off a little layover from the Players Championship, we have a tournament of a different beast this week, and that is the Cape Cod Classic. A Ryder Cup style format, including an individual championship, will take place this Memorial Day Weekend in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. The field consists of some of the most average golfers in Rockland County, but will not disappoint when it comes to the action. A part of the Rockland Major circuit, the CCC field has been split up into two teams (Team Tiger and Team Fowler) who will competing not only for the Individual Championship, but the elusive Cape Cod Classic Cup for the team that compiles the most points throughout the weekend.

Team Format

Saturday Morning Fore Ball (2 points)

Saturday Afternoon Scramble (1 point)

Sunday Singles Match Play (4 points)

Sunday Team Mini Golf (1 point)

Monday Morning Singles Stroke Play (4 points)

12 Total Points Available

6.5 Points to Clinch the CCC Cup

Meet the Teams

Team Tiger

 Matt Marks (10 Handicap) *Captain*Screen Shot 2017-02-21 at 10.24.26 PM.png

Holding the lowest handicap of the tournament, Marks is poised as the favorite to take home the title. The real question will be whether or not Marks has found the clutch gene between now and last years Myrtle Masters. After regaining the lead heading into the final round, Marks choked down the stretch and all but handed the trophy to rival Bauer. Being touted as the Sergio of Rockland County, it will be interesting to see if Marks can follow in the Spaniards footsteps and claim his first major victory at this years Cape Cod Classic. Marks is also battling a wrist injury that he fears will ruin his chances of competing at a high level this week.

                                                       Ethan Silverman (23 Handicap)IMG_1148.PNG

As the 1st Overall pick in the CCC Draft, Silverman is on the hot seat heading into the weekend. While Silverman has the ability of a No.1 pick, he has the clutch gene of Mr.Irrelevant. Well known for his solid all around play, Silverman may be most well known around Rockland for falling apart on the last few holes of weekend matches. If Silverman is able to put it together all weekend, there is no doubt he will be towards the top of the leaderboard come the final round on Monday.

Daniel Graviano (36 Handicap)IMG_8186.PNG-1.png

One of two Rockland Major rookies in the field this week, Graviano may be more interested in the booze than the golf. With the highest handicap of the bunch Graviano may not be in the mix for the individual trophy, but with the amount of strokes he is getting, can play a huge role in the team competition. The real question of the weekend for Graviano will be if his total beers consumed will be higher than his handicap (Hammer the Over). Let’s hope Graviano is spending less time in the trees and more time on the greens this weekend, but no matter what you know he is going to enjoy himself.

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Famous for his play in last years scramble round, Babat has ice in his veins when on the greens in competition. Rolling in over 100 feet of putts last year propelled his team to victory on that Sunday afternoon. As captain, I made it a priority to have the Ice Man on my team this year, in hopes he can repeat his clutch putting in this years competition. While his handicap may not show it, Babat came in 3rd place in the Myrtle Masters and can make some noise come the weekend.

Team Fowler

Scott Bauer (19 Handicap) *Captain* FullSizeRender.jpg

The winner of the Myrtle Masters, Bauer is coming into the CCC with all the confidence in the world, and rightfully so. With a new 3 wood in the bag, and a driver he is semi-confident with, Bauer has gotten longer (not taller) off the tee since last years tournament. While Bauer has a great chance to repeat this week as individual champion, he has a new task on his hands as the captain of Team Fowler. Can Bauer handle the newfound responsibility and keep his focus throughout the entire weekend?

Brandon Pochter (23 Handicap)IMG_1151.PNG

Word on the street is Pochter has reeled back his anger that he was so famous for in past years. If this is true, a clear headed Pochter can be a force to be reckoned with this weekend. However, if these rumors turn out to be false, a hot tempered Pochter could potentially bring down Team Fowler, and his CCC chances in the process. With his Matsuyama-esque pause at the top of his swing, Pochter has proven to be a streaky ball striker, but when in rhythm, he can strike the ball with the best of them. Could a clear headed Pochter take over the CCC?

  Greg Baron (23 Handicap) 

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Live Look at Baron and Pochter during the Scramble Round

 

The other rookie in the field this week, Baron is an up and comer in the Rockland Major circuit. While Baron has the skill level to compete, he has never played in a tournament of this magnitude, and we may seem him try to press too early. As the longest hitter on Team Fowler, the rumors are his new 3 wood will be used more than his driver, which will bring the average distance off the tee wayyyy behind that of Team Tiger. Team Fowler has a history of bickering, so it will be interesting to see how Baron inserts himself into the mix. It all comes back to captain Bauer, and how he will run his team.

Tommy Cooper (24 Handicap)img_4972.png

If Fore Right doesn’t provide score updates it is because we are still waiting for Cooper to finish his round. One can only imagine what is going on in Coopers head during his pre shot routine, but 2 minutes later, he is able to put the ball out there, which could make up for the lack of driving distance on the Fowler team. The inevitable lefty vs. lefty pairing between Cooper and Graviano could be one of the most important matchups of the tournament.

 

CCC Individual Champion Odds

Marks +175

Bauer +225

Silverman +400

Pochter +550

Baron +600

Cooper +800

Babat +1000

Graviano +2000

Cape Cod Classic Cup Prediction

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Be sure to follow the action on my Twitter @mattmarks19, as well as the blog for Round by Round updates. May not be PGA Tour type action, but when you get a bunch of average golfers fighting for the CCC Cup, it may get a little interesting.

THE PLAYERS Championship Preview and Prediction

THE PLAYERS Championship

TPC Sawgrass

Defending Champion: Jason Day

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Touted as the 5th major of the year, THE PLAYERS Championship is the most star studded field of the season with 46 of the top 50 players in the world competing. THE PLAYERS Championship, similar to the Masters, is played at one course and one course only, and that course is TPC Sawgrass. Home of the iconic 17th Island Green, Sawgrass is said to be in the best condition it has ever been in according to the likes of Jordan Spieth and Florida native Billy Horschel. With a perfect course and a stellar field, this is a golf fans dream! Expect tons of drama come the weekend, especially once the final groups hit the home stretch of 16, 17, and 18.

FORE THE PLAYERS Championship Storylines

Day to Day

While there has never been a back to back winner at THE PLAYERS, defending champion Jason Day is in a great spot to do become the first. As my DK Obvious Pick of the Week, I believe Day will be in the mix on the weekend and with everything surrounding his mother and it being Mother’s Day on Sunday the good karma should be flowing for Day and his family.

Stars are out at Sawgrass

Boy Oh Boy do we have a deep field this week! With 24 of the top 25 players in the world playing this week this is the first tournament of the year we really get to see the best of the best competing against each other  (DJ included). We may finally get to see the real powerhouses of the sports such as DJ, Rory, Spieth, Rickie, and Day all at the top of the leaderboard on the weekend competing for one of the most elusive trophies in golf. Regardless of who takes home the beautiful crystal trophy.Screen Shot 2017-05-10 at 4.01.56 PM.png

Unlike the Masters coverage, the featured groups for Thursday and Friday on PGA Tour Live are AWESOME!

“Better Than Most”

The famous Island Green, Par 3 17th Hole, at TPC Sawgrass is just that, better than most. With the iconic “better than most” call during the 2001 PLAYERS Championship taking place on this green, there is no better way to describe this golf hole. One of the most iconic holes in the game of golf, will provide drama all week from possible hole in ones like Rickie in a Wednesday practice round to Sergio putting it in the drink TWICE on Sunday.

Luckily you can follow along with the action on the 17th all week on Twitter.

Go for Broke? Or Lay Up?

The newly renovated, now driveable, Par 4 12th hole will create some difficult choices for players whether to try to drive the green or lay up. If the tee boxes are moved up (whispers of Thursday and Saturday) the hole will be playing a measly 305 yards to the middle of the green, however as you can see the green is heavily guarded with a new pond down the left side of the green. It will be interesting to see how these players attack this hole.

THE PLAYERS Championship Prediction

Rory McIlroy (+1000)

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Between the new $100 million equipment deal with TaylorMade and his new marriage, everything is coming up (as if he needs more) Rory and I think in a star studded field, Rory takes the (wedding) cake this week. Not to mention when I heard he was carrying a 1 iron in the bag this week I got legit giddy. Not to mention McIlroy is on the record saying in all his years of testing clubs, “I’ve never been this excited about equipment as right now”, which seems like a pretty good indicator he feels comfortable with the switch coming into this week. Rory has finished in the top 10 four times this season in only 5 PGA Tour starts, which is pretty decent imo. In the right mindset and form to really attack this course Rory is my pick this week at THE PLAYERS.

Darkhorse of the Week

Brooks Koepka (+3500)

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Five Top 25 finishes, including two 2nd place finishes, Koepka is right on the doorstep of getting a W this year. With the definite firepower to compete with the big boys, I would not be shocked to see Koepka in the mix this weekend. Also, not only can Koepka win you some money, but if he gets a hole-in-one this week Michelob Ultra is giving away thousands of free beers (http://www.espn.com/golf/story/_/id/19350077/fans-win-2280-cans-beer-brooks-koepka-fires-ace).

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THE PLAYERS Championship is a Must Watch for any golf fan, especially with this star studded field. Enjoy the coverage and some serious weekend drama!

Follow me on Twitter (@mattmarks19) for live updates and highlights from THE PLAYERS.