ROAD TO THE FINAL FOUR:
Martin Kaymer: Kaymer gets a relatively average draw for a one seed and the easiest bracket by my rankings. Seung Yul-Noh is not great for a 16 in this tournament, so Kaymer will have a relatively good chance of advancing. Rose and Johnson are both solid (ZJ is better) but nothing out of the norms for 8s and 9s. The 8s actually have a better ranking than any other seed outside the top four so look for some No. 1s to drop early (I wonder if this has been the case in years past too.) The nines are almost as strong and the sixth best seed by average rank, so while Kaymer’s potential matches are hard, they aren’t out of the ordinary. Robert Karlsson is actually by far the worst No. 4 this week, so it’s more likely that Mahan will advance to the round of 16, should Kaymer get there and he will be as tough as a four seed should be. On the bottom, Jim Furyk is the best player in this bracket and has a great draw.
Rory McIlroy: McIlroy would be better off matched up against the 12, 13 or 14 seed in this bracket in the first round. Instead, he gets Jonathan Byrd a solid PGA Tour proven player that can probably give him a match then choke it away at the end like Kevin Na did last year. Adam Scott and Ben Crane are both pretty good, though Scott’s ranking is lower because of 2009. Both of those players can challenge McIlroy. After that, Furyk and Kaymer looming balance each other out, as Furyk is a strong 2 and Kaymer is a weak 1. Still, both of those players should be favored over McIlroy.
Jim Furyk: No doubt, Furyk is underrated by the OWGR’s, but he makes up for it with the draw he got. This is by far the easiest pod for all similar seeds. Ryan Palmer has won a few times on the PGA Tour, but remains stunningly average. After that it’s a matchup with Yuta Ikeda or Miguel Angel Jimenez. MAJ is still dangerous, but not near the top of his game anymore. Ikeda has taken advantage of the Japanese racket, and has a few good rounds in PGA Tour events, but for the most part remains an average player from what I can see. If Furyk gets out of the pod, McIlroy and Kaymer are as easy ones and twos as he can hope for. This is a great draw for Furyk to make a run if he has a good week.
Robert Karlsson: Karlsson is by far the worst No. 4, but lucks out by getting Hiroyuki Fujita in the first round. Sean O’Hair and Hunter Mahan will have an intriguing match on the other side of the pod to see who is favored over the winner of the Karlsson/Fujita match. Expect one of the Americans to advance out of here to potentially face Kaymer.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH:
Zach Johnson (+115) vs. Justin Rose (-135): It seems that the wrong person is favored here, although both players have had pretty up and down careers so It’s hard to project.
Hiroyuki Fujita (+200) vs. Robert Karlsson (-240): I don’t know much about the Japanese Tour, but Fujita must not be very good.
Sean O’Hair (+145) vs. Hunter Mahan (-165): I’d agree that Mahan is better. I don’t think it is this much better unless you are putting way too much stock into the few rounds that have been played this season.
Jonathan Byrd (+175) vs. Rory McIlroy (-200): This reminds me a lot of Kevin Na vs. McIlroy last year with the added benefit that he has a proven record of actually winning, whatever that is worth.
Jim Furyk (-140) vs. Ryan Palmer (+120): I can’t see how this is that much different from the matchup above.
FAVORITE: Absolutely Jim Furyk in this bracket. Furyk is arguably the best player and has a great draw.
SLEEPER: I would say either Hunter Mahan or Sean O’Hair. Whoever wins that has a favorable draw of 1,2 and 4, although they would likely be underdogs to Kaymer and McIlroy.