Expert Picks for AT&T National
We are halfway through the season and the grind is well on it's way for fantasy owners. Those in Yahoo leagues have finally moved to the "Summer" portion of the schedule; we only have two majors left to be played, and more than a few of you are still in striking distance of respectable finishes in your fantasy leagues. It's already been a grind and we still have a long way to go, but we come off a strong performance at the Travelers with one of the best non-major tourneys laying in wait to greet us to a new week.
The AT&T National has a very shallow history in terms of time on the PGA Tour, but the fans here have been blessed to watch many of the game's elite doing battle against the man that was working his way toward rank as the best ever. Tiger Woods has fallen off that pace (as well as the list of competitors for this week's trip to Pennsylvania). His frustration continues as the former AT&T National champ battles persistent knee injury; while all of us to continue to battle without one of the top fantasy commodities we would normally target, especially in this particular week. This tends to be one of the definitive spots for Tiger to roar and without him taking part, we are left with a field that is still strong but that is also missing one of it's best and most reliable performers.
Still, with that said, we face some respectable choices and believe this course will serve us well. Aronimink has served as host for other prestigious events in the past, including the 1962 PGA Championship, the 1977 US Amateur, the 1997 US Junior Amateur, and the 2003 Senior PGA Championship. However, it has not been in the regular PGA rotation at all. Nearly 300 yards have been added to the layout to bring it to PGA standards (from 6,955 yards to 7,237). Designed by Donald Ross, Aronimink has been constructed with obvious influence from links-style golf where Ross hails from. The course is known for dangerous hazards (particularly around the greens) and a noteworthy lack of vegetation (at least that will likely play a role in action this week). The greens are forgiving, but they tend to contain difficult rolls and topography.
Restoration in 2003 put emphasis on length (normally added via tee box replacement) and, if the scores from the '03 Senior PGA Championship are any indication (won by John Jacobs with an overall score of four stroke under par), it may be difficult to find low round this week.
Nick Watney [Yahoo Class C] - World Ranking: #193
We'll go out on a limb this week and give a kid a shot at the title, though those who follow golf know Watney is far from a gamble. He's one of the best young American golfers on the Tour and he has showcased some of his best work at this particular tourney. We love his chances to do so again in 2011 and (without Tiger there to challenge and with our #2 in the midst of struggles) we think it's Watney's time to shine.
Jim Furyk [Yahoo Class B] - World Ranking: #19
Furyk continues to grind through what has been a horrific stretch, coming off another missed cut at the Travelers. Still, this is one event that tends to play in Furyk's favor. He's played very well here in the past, but with this year's woes (and more than a few disappointments sitting in easy view in your rear view mirror), we are tempering our enthusiasm and warning of potential downfall.
We had Jacobson on the roster last week as he emerged victorious at the AT&T National, but we had him in a backup role expecting he would actually surge THIS week. If he doesn't withdraw in favor of rest and Jacobson plays at Aronimink, we would readily suggest it is the best opportunity we've seen this season for back-to-back wins. He loves this track and is currently at the top of his game.
Ryan Moore [Yahoo Class A] - World Ranking: #57
Moore was the man we started over Jacobson last week and he nearly made us rich, going ballistic on Sunday to fall just one stroke short of Jacobson for the win at the Travelers. This week he'll be cracking it off and chasing the top of the leaderboard again as Aronimink has been one of Moore's favorite courses to go low over recent seasons. This week we hope he's not in the same tier as the man we listed above.
Allenby has been one of our top targets for Aronimink for years; and like Furyk, he has a ton of history to support optimism and hope. However, also like Furyk, Allenby has left us wanting more on several occasions this season. With Moore and Jacobson fresh off strong weeks at the Travelers, we don't hesitate to lean their way. But in the past, Allenby has been a solid pick for fantasy value at the AT&T.
Rickie Fowler [Yahoo Class A] - World Ranking: #7
Fowler was one of our starters at this event last season based off just one start at the Aronimink prior. Fowler is young, but so is the history of the PGA Tour on this particular track. Review their connections thus far and you'll find it hard to keep Fowler off the roster this week. He's more than capable of challenging for a win on this course.
Justin Rose [Yahoo Class B] - World Ranking: #11
Rose is the defending AT&T National champ and as such it seems wise to expect he could be right back in the mix as the field gets just a bit thinner. The time to rise and compete couldn't be more ripe. Rose lacks the momentum we see in several of the candidates listed above, but he certainly has history on his side at Aronimink.
We've been waiting for Ogilvy's ticket to pay for weeks and have wagered in his direction with disappointing results on several occasions already, but this particular track seems to favor other golfers that have struggled in similar fashion. If you can go long and you aren't afraid to fire at pins, you can compete on this Pennsylvania track. Ogilvy has those skills and his talent should rank regardless.
Van Pelt, like many of the guys we listed higher, comes fresh off a strong performance at the Travelers (see Watney, Jacobson, Moore) towards an Aronimink track he has enjoyed to similar results in the past. This could be a premium spot to start BVP as his momentum, history and talent all seem to be getting in line.
Hunter Mahan [Yahoo Class A] - World Ranking: #170
If talent can overcome then Mahan needs to be on the list. He lacks stout history at this event, though he finished well here last season. His overall history at this course is lacking and he has left us looking for answers before when used over recent weeks. If Mahan continues to struggle with putts, he'll be troublesome.
K.J. Choi [Yahoo Class C] - World Ranking: #114
Choi is one of the former champions of this event, and with some of the play we've seen from the veteran out of Korea this year, it's fair to suggest he could be ranked higher than eleventh. He has been a bit shaky of late, but K.J. often goes up and down based on comfort with the course. This week, he's comfortable with the environment and he should serve you well.
J.B. Holmes [Yahoo Class B] - World Ranking: #20
In the past we have swayed away from Holmes at this event, and over recent weeks we've been leaning away from his bag as well. This week we might suggest is a time to reverse those trends and to start warming up to the hard-swinging talent. He played well here last season and he could certainly be looking for better returns in 2011.