This will be part 1 of my two week plus look, ranking the field for next week’s Tour Championship.
30. Y.E. Yang
How he got here: Yang followed up a below mediocre 2008 campaign that left him anonymous to pretty much all golf fans, with a pretty solid 2009 season that included a nice Sunday beatdown of the world’s number one and a win at Honda. He went from below tour average in 2008 to probably top-50 in the world this season.
East Lake Prediction: Hard to say he doesn’t belong to be at East Lake based on his season this year, but that doesn’t mean he has the overall quality of some of the other players in the field. Yang is 37 years old and appears to be finishing up a career year. I can’t see any upside with Yang and I’d say a finish in the bottom third of this field is likely.
Line to win: 400-1.
29. Marc Leishman
How he got here: Leishman is the Tour’s office dream story as he caught fire during the FedEx Cup eagling the final hole in Boston then finishing second in Chicago to and made it all the way to the Tour Championship. He even had Johnny Miller saying that he should replace Scott on the President’s cup team, which is probably true.
East Lake Prediction: Leishman is much like Yang(sans major) in that he has played much better this season than last, although he probably doesn’t deserve a spot in the 30 best players based on play this year. Leishman unlike Yang, is still young and recent performances as well some decent play on the Nationwide Tour last year suggest he could be on the rise. That would be nice if he was playing in the Reno-Tahoe Open, but the Tour Championship is a pretty talented field.
Line to win: 400-1.
28. Jason Dufner
How he got here: Numbers-wise Dufner is almost the identical story to Yang(again sans major). Round for round he has actually been slightly better than Yang this season. Still, Dufner is here basically only because of the 2nd place finish in Boston. There is no reason to otherwise think that he is among the 30 best on Tour.
East Lake Prediction: His age suggests that Dufner is having the best year he will ever have. Luckily for him his best result of the season came when it could make him the most possible money. Dufner’s stats this season are pretty good(except he didn’t play in a lot of marquee events), but I have a hard time putting him among the game’s elite. Lower third is a more realistic expectation for Dufner.
Line to win: 250-1.
27. Heath Slocum
How he got here: Won the Barclays. Simple as that. Slocum was 125 entering into that week and it was fairly justified. I will say, though, as much of a joke as it is that Slocum stands with Woods, Stricker, Furyk and Johnson as players that can win the Cup with a win, he did have some injury troubles last year that may make his actual scores lower than they should be.
East Lake Prediction: I’m not saying a playoff win shouldn’t be enough to get Slocum to the Tour Championship, but to gaurantee him $10 million with another win is a joke. Luckily for sane people everywhere it’s doubtful he can repeat against a strong field.
Line to win: 250-1
26. Jerry Kelly
How he got here: To be honest, I’m not quite sure. He had one high finish in the playoffs at the Deutsche Bank, a win in New Orleans(Damnit Steve!) and some other decent results. Actually, a pretty good year for Kelly, although he is not one of the 30 best golfers on Tour.
East Lake Prediction: Like the rest of this group, Kelly really can’t be expected to consistently contend for the title against this group of elite players. As a middle aged white guy, who by all accounts is very nice I don’t see any reason to back Kelly.
Line to win: 200-1