I’m starting it this week, so I have time to break down as many of the players as is worth talking about. We’ll start it out with last year’s top-15.
Tiger Woods: I talked about Tiger yesterday, go look that up. The bottom line, Tiger may or may not be overvalued, but I think he is a much better option than some of the other top-line favorites(Phil, Paddy, Els, Goosen) If you want to waste money on a guy who might actually win, do so on Tiger. P.S. Tiger fulfilled the criteria for 8 different automatic qualifying categories.
Rocco Mediate: Rocco turned his 15 minutes of fame into an 19 hole Monday playoff with Tiger. Unfortunately for him, he probably should have won and didn’t really do much before or after. Here’s how Rocco’s week will play out. He will shoot over 75 at least on either Thursday or Friday, but we will see 50% of his shots as Chris Berman comes up with a stupid nickname, and proclaims him a crowd favorite, even though no one gives a crap.
Robert Karlsson: Was anyone as surprised as me to see Robert Karlsson as the first person on the US Open DirectTV commercial. You may remember Karlsson as the guy who showed Tiger the line on 18 on Saturday when he made that second eagle putt last year. After winning the EPGA Order of Merit last season, Karlsson has had somewhat disappointing results this season, but remains a threat at an elite tournaments, despite being basically unknown.
D.J. Trahan: Remember when DJ was actually good at golf? He is definitely scuffling of late, but Bethpage with its flatter greens is basically a complete ballstrikers course that could suit Trahan well. If you want to go handicapping this event, his game definitely compares well to Jeff Maggert, Scott Hoch and Billy Mayfair who all placed in the top-ten last time at Bethpage.
Carl Petterson: Carl never gets any attention and for good reason. I doubt he is a player with a tremendous upside right now. I’m saying missed cut for Mr. Petterson.
Lee Westwood: Westwood gets somewhat lost in the excitement that was last year’s Open at Torrey Pines. Westwood had a putt on the 72 hole to make that playoff. Then he reminded us why he was Lee Westwood and not Tiger Woods. 80-1 is an okay price for Westwood based on the last year of play, but has no recent results to prove he is capable of winning. I also don’t know what kind of upside there is on Westwood as a 36 year-old-many-time-Ryder-Cupper.
John Merrick: On the face of it, Merrick is a guy that will be written off almost immediately because he isn’t overwhelmingly long. However, last time around Bethpage, even when playing long and slow, gave a shot to great ball strikers. Merrick is certainly a good ballstriker, so I’m not going to write him off quite as quickly. However, there are probably better looks.
Migeul Jimenez: I kid you not, that is how his name is spelled on the US Open’s website. MAJ is now 45 and is underrated based on his results, but in a world class field there is just no upside to taking him. There are other younger guys who are more likely to improve at their stage of the career, and equally unknown.
Heath Slocum: Pretty sure Heath was lucky to get into this one based on a solid finish last year. Slocum has had some injury problems in the past year, but hasn’t played all that much better than the PGA Tour golfer over the past year. Considering the field he will probably be +some number to make the cut next week.
Eric Axley: Axley is even worse over the past year than either Slocum or Petterson. His card could look a lot like 76-79-MC-MC when the week is done.
Camilo Villegas: Villegas played well in the Open, and the most recent Buick Open at Torrey Pines. You have to wonder how much liking that course played into his success last year in getting inside the top-15. Villegas definitely hits the ball high and far which will be key at Bethpage, but he also has a tendency to hit it all over the place which will be very detrimental.
Brandt Snedeker: Interesting how Brandt posted Top-10 finishes in the Masters and US Open last year, but has missed 10 of 19 cuts since then and not finished higher than 17th. That sounds like someone who is overrated and will be picked by someone in the media as a darkhorse candidate.
Geoff Ogilvy: Ogilvy is an interesting Candidate and a guy I loved coming into this season. His play, and the attention surrounding him has trailed off of late(except for last saturday), but he hits the ball far and high and is a solid US Open type player. All three of those will be huge keys shooting to some of the elevated greens of Bethpage. 20-1 is just too steep, though.
Stewart Cink: Cink is another good option if you are looking for a somewhat outside the box American. Personally I think there are better options at 65-1, but Stewart is getting little attention right now, unless you are following him on Twitter. He surfaced near the top of the leaderboard at Memorial, and has two top-15 finishes in his last 4 tries at the US Open. If you want more meaningless results he missed the cut with 72-80 last time around at Bethpage.
Retief Goosen: Goosen has reinvented himself at the beginning of the year, by finding his putting stroke earlier in this season. Unfortunately at 40 years old and going off at 30-1 that makes him pretty overrated. At this stage of his career, he is definitely not noticeably better than Karlsson, Westwood, Cink or Villegas, all of whom you can find a better price on. Two Open Championships will do that.
Ernie Els: Speaking of overrated South Africans. I don’t put Els quite in Retief’s category only because he has a had a better and longer career than Goosen. He also has not garnered nearly as much media attention as Goosen. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not backing Els in any form, but Els -125 is the right side of that match-up.
Rod Pampling: A solid underrated Aussie, who probably won’t have much chance of winning next week. He’s an okay look because he is better than the level of attention he gets, but I guarantee you can find better options at his price and he will be matched-up against someone you don’t need to fade.
I’m thinking of making top-15 from last year a category in the contest next week as well as Euro Ryder Cup 08(people were not happy they couldn’t pick Stenson) and First timers. Let me know if you have a suggestion for a group you would rather do.
Back with more of these periodically leading up to next week.