Nine Lives

Mike Glasscott
Top 125: 2016-17 on the Clock
Tiger Woods is set to return to action after a year off. Where will he land in the 2016-17 top 125?

World Golf Championship-Bridgestone Invitational

Firestone Country Club

South Course

Akron, Ohio

Firestone Country Club

South Course

Yards: 7,400 via the scorecard

Par: 70 (35-35)

Greens: Pencross Bentgrass, Poa annua; 7,619 square feet on average.

Stimpmeter: 13+’

Rough: Kentucky bluegrass and perennial ryegrass from 2.5 to 4”

Bunkers: 82

Water Hazards: 3

Course Architect: Bert Way (1928); Robert Trent Jones (1960)

Purse: $9,000,000

Winner’s Share: $1,530,000

FexExCup Points: 550 to the winner

Defending Champion: Tiger Woods blasted Henrik Stenson and Keegan Bradley by seven shots to win for the eighth time in 14 starts in this event. This was his fifth and final victory of 2013. He has not won since.

Dates:  July 31 – Aug 3

Notes: There will be 76 players who will play 72 holes without a cut.

Recent History Lessons

After winning 31 of 40 tournaments in 2013, the USA has now won 24 of 37 events in 2013-14 but none in the last two weeks. Harris English, Jimmy Walker (THREE), Webb Simpson, Ryan Moore, Dustin Johnson, Chris Kirk, Zach Johnson, Patrick Reed (TWO), Scott Stallings, Kevin Stadler, Bubba Watson (TWO), Russell Henley, Chesson Hadley, Matt Every, Matt Kuchar, J.B. Holmes, Brendon Todd, Ben Crane, Kevin Streelman and Brian Harman have won for the USA.

Adam Scott, Matt Jones, Steven Bowditch, John Senden and Jason Day, all Australians, have cashed five victories. Hideki Matsuyama and Seung-yul Noh are the Asian representatives and Martin Kaymer, Justin Rose and Rory McIlroy are the European chalk that has won two of the three majors. Angel Cabrera flies the flag for South America; Tim Clark flies it for South Africa.

S.Y. Noh, Steven Bowditch, Matt Every, Jimmy Walker, Kevin Stadler, Chesson Hadley Matt Jones, Brendon Todd, Hideki Matsuyama and Brian Harman are the first-time winners this season. There were 12, first-timers in 40 events last year and we’ve had 10 in 37 events in 2014. 

Young Guns Versus Prime Time Versus Old Guys

Jimmy Walker (34) started the season out on the right foot for the Prime Time guys and has since added two more wins to lead the way in Ws. Ryan Moore (30), Zach Johnson (37), Kevin Stadler (33) and Bubba Watson (35), Matt Every (30), Steven Bowditch (30), Matt Jones (33), all were victorious before Watson picked up victory No. 2 of the year at Augusta. Matt Kuchar (37), J.B. Holmes (32), Adam Scott (33), Ben Crane (38), Kevin Streelman (35), Justin Rose (33) and Tim Clark, 38, have added to the prime-timers trophy case as the season moves along.

Scott Stallings (28), Patrick Reed TWICE (23), Chris Kirk (28), Webb Simpson (28), Dustin Johnson (29), Harris English (24), Jason Day (26) and Russell Henley (24) Seung-Yul Noh (22), Martin Kaymer TWICE (29), Brendon Todd (28) and Hideki Matsuyama (22), Brian Harman (27) and Rory McIlroy (25), are the twenty-somethings who have made large noise this year.

Australian John Senden (42) FINALLY has some company in the winner’s circle this year for the old folks as Angel Cabrera won at Greenbrier. Jim Furyk continues his excellent 2014, minus a victory, as he finished second for the third time in seven events.

Turn Back the Clock

At this point in the season last year there were 11, first-time winners and just four players with multiple victories Woods, Mickelson, Kuchar and Snedeker. Only Kuchar has cracked the winner’s circle this year and all that took was a hole-out from a bunker on the 72nd hole at RBC Heritage!

This year, Walker, Reed, Watson and Kaymer have won multiple times and there are 10, first-time winners.

Pay Attention: It’s FREE!

There will be 49 of the 50 players in the OWGR teeing it up this week as Dustin Johnson withdrew Monday for personal reasons. #strongfield

Amazingly, Tiger Woods has won this event eight times in the 14 times he’s teed it up. He also has four other T8 or better. #Landlord

Woods also holds the course (61 in 2000 and 2013) and tournament (259 in 2000) record to absolutely no one’s surprise.

More the half the championships, eight of 15, have been decided by two or more shots.

In the last 15 WGC-BI at Akron, 13 events have been won by major champions.

Yet, 11 of the last 18 WGC winners have NOT been major champions, including four of the last six. Matt Kuchar (2013 Match Play), Dustin Johnson (2013 HSBC Champions), Jason Day (2014 Match Play) and Patrick Reed (Cadillac Championship) are the non-major winners. Tiger Woods won the other two events in that run.

The last three winners of WGC events are non-major winners.

There are only 13 players to win a major and a WGC title:

Tiger Woods

Darren Clarke

Mike Weir

Ernie Els

Stewart Cink

David Toms

Geoff Ogilvy

Vijay Singh

Phil Mickelson

Adam Scott

Martin Kaymer

Keegan Bradley

Justin Rose

Tiger Woods (23), Patrick Reed (24) and Keegan Bradley (26) are the three youngest to win a WGC event.

This Will Win You a Bar Bet

Hunter Mahan and Craig Parry are the only winners of this event in 15 editions that have not won a major championship.

Inside the Ropes

Playing at 7,400 yards and par-70, Firestone South is one of the annual tough guy tracks on TOUR. In the last five seasons this course has ranked in the top 18 of most difficult on TOUR and checked in last year at No. 9. There were two flights last year as Woods 265 won by seven shots. Stenson and Bradley were on 272 and that would have brought the 15-year average down if Woods had not gone nuts. The average winning score here is right around 13-under par but, as I mentioned above, there have been more times than not when “blowouts” have occurred to inflate that average.

In 15 WGC-BI, here are the winners, winning total and the margins of victory:

2013: Tiger Woods 265       7

2012: Keegan Bradley 267   1

2011: Adam Scott 263         4

2010: Hunter Mahan 268     2

2009: Tiger Woods 268       4

2008: Vijay Singh 270         1

2007: Tiger Woods 272       8

2006: Tiger Woods 270      PO

2005: Tiger Woods 274       1

2004: Stewart Cink 269       4

2003: Darren Clarke 268     4

2002: Craig Parry 268         4

2001: Tiger Woods 268      PO

2000: Tiger Woods 259      11

1999: Tiger Woods 270       1

With only two par fives and 7,400 yards in front of them, “the monster” as Arnold Palmer dubbed it, is ready to eat. With only two par fives that means meaty par fours and meaty par threes are needed to rack up that many yards on the scorecard. One of the par fives can be played all the way back at 667 yards, hardly a guaranteed birdie! Power players have excelled here over the years but so have finesse players such as Mahan, Luke Donald and Jim Furyk.

The weather will also play a factor this week. If rain is in the cards, this course will play much, much longer but could be easier/slower on the greens. If the forecast is dry, the average player can be rewarded off the tee but will have to navigate slick Bentgrass greens.

This isn’t the course to spray it because the pitch out recoveries will still leave plenty of club into these large, raised green complexes. The tight fairways do open into, on-average, large greens so players will have to hit them tight or hole putts. Last year, Tiger Woods and Henrik Stenson each made only five bogeys yet Woods won by seven strokes because he made a tournament-best 19 birdies. Birdies are there for the hot putters and those who avoid bogeys by getting up and down will also be in the mix.

One final thing to remember: look at the stats above on who wins the WGC titles. Patrick Reed and Nick Watney are the “worst” players to win one of these in the last five years. Think about that for a minute. I’m looking for one of the world’s premium players to lift this trophy on Sunday and there is no reason at all to dig deep into a field of this caliber. It will get you in the right mindset for Valhalla and the PGA Championship next week!

Call to Order

Here they are, ranked for your pleasure.

Yahoo! group in ( )

Adam Scott (A): Since his win at Colonial he’s finished T4 at Memorial, T9 at Pinehurst and T5 at Hoylake. He’s the most consistent player on TOUR and it doesn’t hurt that he’s won here (2011). This will be his 12th start in a row and his last four finishes on this track have been T9, WIN, T45 and T14 last year.

Rory McIlroy (B): Last year he ended a three year run of top 10 finishes as he was tinkering with his equipment and finished T27. He’s played 14 of his last 16 rounds here at 70 or better. His last time out he destroyed the field to win the third leg of the career grand slam.

Henrik Stenson (A): After a two year hiatus he returned to Firestone on fire last summer and posted four rounds at par or better to finish T2. His T39 at The Open broke a streak of three consecutive events inside the top five worldwide, including T4 at Pinehurst, so I’m not going anywhere. I love him on a course where par is a good score.

Jim Furyk (B): It seems like every week at every stop on TOUR we can find a skeleton in Furyk’s closet. He blew a big lead here to Keegan Bradley in 2012 to finish second but he’s hit the top 10 in three of the last four years. If that’s not enough he has nine top 10s in 14 starts. He’s been on this crusade for four years so I doubt last week’s disappointment is going to keep him down for long. He’s a grinder and a pro so he’s right back into the fire this week.

Justin Rose (B): His quest for back-to-back-to-back wins worldwide crashed with T23 at The Open. This should have been a shock to nobody in fantasy land as winning three in a row ANYWHERE is next to impossible. Rose will dust off his solid ball-striking and improved short game to try and rack up his fourth top 10 at Firestone in 10 career starts. He was T5 in 2012 and T17 last year so his recent successes here don’t hurt.

Keegan Bradley (B): Too bad this guy isn’t in Group C because he’s the horse for the course not named Woods. In his first effort here in 2011 he was 10-under heading into Sunday but laid an egg with 74 to finish T15. The next year he fired 64 on Sunday and beat Jim Furyk on the 72nd hole. Last year he T2 with Stenson to win the B flight as Woods ran away with the trophy. In 12 rounds on a very difficult course Bradley has 10 rounds of 14 in the 60s. He’s long, accurate and can get the putter going but it’s obvious this track catches his eye. It also catches my eye that he finished 69-69 on the weekend his last time out at Hoylake.

Graeme McDowell (C): This week’s “course form v current form” dilemma is GMAC. The French Open champion in early July backed up that performance with a pair of T9s at Royal Liverpool and Royal Montreal in his next two outings. Here’s the tough part to swallow: he has three of his last 24 rounds here in the 60s. Gulp. Screw it, I’m in! I’ll take the man who’s seventh in adjusted scoring and fourth in total putting on top of splitting almost every fairway he looks at.

Sergio Garcia (C): Speaking of “course form v current form” Garcia, also in Group C in Yahoo!, begs the same question. He hasn’t had a tournament here with two rounds in the 60s since 2008. This will be his 14th jaunt around Firestone South and he has only one top 10 to show for his efforts. But, in his last six tournaments on TOUR he’s finished third, MC, third, T35, T2 and T2. His weekend of 69-66 at Hoylake tells me all I need to know. I might have to pair ONE of these guys with a steadying influence in Group C. Stay tuned.

Zach Johnson (B): With T6 in 2011 and T4 last year, Johnson has proven that straight and steady, along with a great short game, can contend around these parts. In four of the last six years he’s finished T16 or better so this is hardly flukey. During that streak he’s only posted five rounds of 24 over par. Sure, he’s only had two top 10s this spring and summer but this is a track that he should be excited to see this week.

Matt Kuchar (A): As with most on this list, Kuchar is an automatic choice any time he tees it up. It’s impossible to leave off a player that hits as many fairways as he does plus his short game is impeccable. It also NEVER hurts to have the guy who leads the TOUR in par four performance on a par 70 layout. In his last four trips to Firestone he’s pegged nothing worse than T27 including a pair of top 10s.

Rickie Fowler (A): He’s rattled off T13, T2 and T2 in his last three starts on this side of the pond and when you add in his T8 at the Scottish Open, his summer looks even more impressive. His T2s were in the last two major championships. He also was solo third at the WGC-Match Play back in February. Not bad for a guy who’s been working on changing his swing with Butch Harmon. Fowler finished a distant T2 to Adam Scott here in 2011, his best finish in his four starts.

Luke Donald (A): He’s bagged a top 10 finish five times in nine career starts on “the monster” including the last three seasons. Since his heartbreaking loss to Kuchar on Hilton Head, Donald has nothing better than T38 in four starts on this side of the pond. In three starts across the Atlantic he finished third at Wentworth, T16 at the Scottish Open and T64 at Hoylake. His strengths are found around the green and his eye obviously fits the setup. My concern is lack of recent form but he’s not going to be my lead dog this week.

Jordan Spieth (B): Every time I think “well, this is the first time he’s played ________________” I remember that he finished T2 at Augusta and T2 at TPC Sawgrass earlier this year in his first starts on those tracks. He’s obviously a quick study and an immense talent. He’s 30th in total putting, ninth in par four performance and seventh in total putting.

Jason Dufner (B): Born in Cleveland Dufner feels at home in this part of Ohio as he has bagged two top 10s in his only two starts the last two years. He improved on his solo seventh with T4 last summer as he’s posted six of eight career rounds in the 60s, including a trio of 67s. It was here last season that he rounded his game into shape and the momentum he created lead to his first major, the PGA at Oak Hill the following week. He racked up four of his five top 10s last year beginning with a six-event streak that started with the WGC-BI.

Martin Kaymer (B): This will be his seventh consecutive trip to Firestone and he seems to figure it out more and more each time he tees it up. His first two outings saw him finish T60 or worse; his next three were T22, T29 and T29 before cracking the top 10 (T9) last year with a 74 to open on Thursday. Nobody was catching Woods last year but his eight-under Friday-Sunday would have been good enough for T2. I’m not leaving out the guy who has won THE PLAYERS and U.S. Open in the span of 30-something days just because he’s finished 77 and 79 in his last two Sunday rounds but I’m not rushing him to the top of the list either.

Jimmy Walker (C): I should start calling him the “old” Jordan Spieth because like his fellow Texan, Walker is showing up at events he’s never played before and walking away with very nice paydays as well. His T8 at Augusta plus T9 at Pinehurst told me all I needed to know about what frame of mind Walker was in after posting three wins on the season. He was also hanging around at The Open before playing his last 30 holes in three over. He destroys par threes and fours and is 10th in total putting. 

Victor Dubuisson (C): His last 18 months have been an impressive coming out party for the 24-year-old Frenchman as he’s racked up 11 top 10s worldwide including a dramatic playoff loss to Jason Day at the WGC-Match Play. After a shoulder injury sidelined him after the Masters, he returned to action to lose a three-way playoff to Thongchai Jaidee at the Nordea Masters in June. His T28 at Pinehurst was followed up with T9 at Hoylake so he’s shown, when healthy, that no stage is too big in 2014.

Tiger Woods (A): This will be a very interesting week to say the least. Woods is under the gun to make the FEC Playoffs let alone the Ryder Cup team but has the perfect backdrop to announce his intentions for the rest of the season. After winning at Firestone eight times, his confidence should be sky-high. After playing the QLN and Open Championship without any significant soreness, tightness or debility, he should believe that this will be the week he breaks through. This was the site of his last victory on TOUR last year but it was his fifth of the 2013 season. He’s played six rounds on TOUR since early March. I won’t talk gamers out of him this week but I can’t think of any other time in his career he was under the gun like this. He usually is pointing the gun and aiming at the competition. This will separate some folks this week across all formats if they decide to buy-in on course form over current form. I’ll go on the record saying that it will be business as usual for him but sadly, 2014 business. I’ve seen nothing from his driver or putter than jumps out and says FAVORITE for this week, course history be damned.

Hideki Matsuyama (B): The Japanese Jordan Spieth was T21 in his debut here last year. Remember, Spieth decided to rest this week last year instead of play. Matsuyama is looking for his second consecutive win in the state of Ohio after he defeated Kevin Na at the Memorial on June 1st for his first win on TOUR. He showed he could handle tough greens at Memorial so he should be ready to go for this week as well.

Brendon Todd (C): Closing with 67 on Sunday at the Open Championship should be the exact reinforcement that Todd needed after three consecutive rounds over par in his first Open. His T39 at Hoylake was by far his worst finish since his victory at Byron Nelson in mid-May as four of the other six results have landed him in the top 10. He’s steady from tee-to-green and even steadier around the shortest grass as he’s fifth in scrambling and second in total putting.

Course Horses

Steve Stricker: His last five starts at Firestone have been T14 or better so he’s also proof that power is not the only way to crack the code here. He falls onto this list this week because he’s not been able to close the door like he has in the old days his last two times out. He fired a miserable 74 from the final group at Greenbrier to drop to T35. He also fired 72 from the final group his next time out at the JDC, a course he OWNS, and finished T11. He’ll enjoy that putting will be a factor this week on very slick greens and that should make him a valuable asset in most formats.

Hunter Mahan: With three top 10s in six starts, including a victory in 2010, Mahan is one of the very few who have multiple WGC victories (Match Play 2012). He falls into this category because there is nothing in his recent play that suggests he should be any higher. Here’s a great intersection of course form meeting current form from a player who just hasn’t been the same since a hip injury at Bay Hill.

Louis Oosthuizen: Oosthuizen showed up at the Scottish Open with a new caddy and a back that wasn’t bothering him. I wouldn’t be surprised if BOTH of these areas saw a change between now and the end of August but I do know that he plays the South course quite well. He was T9 in 2010 and fourth in 2012 with six of those eight rounds in the 60s. He’s worth a look in deeper drafts but he hasn’t posted anything better than T36 since his T11 in Dallas in mid-May.

Miguel Angel Jimenez: He’s hit the top 10 in three of his last five trips over six years. He’s won on the Senior Tour, the European Tour and was T8 last week at the Senior Open Championship. He hits it really straight all the time but I wonder how much Rioja is in the tank after back-to-back Opens.

Off the Radar

Ryan Moore: Starting with his T19 at Memorial, he’s now made five on the bounce to flash excellent form this summer. His T48 at the U.S. Open was backed by T5 at the Travelers, T7 at the JDC and more impressively T12 at The Open Championship with a closing 68 his last time out. He’s ranked No. 39 in the world so that’s “off the radar” in a field like this.

Russell Henley: In his first trip here last season he fired 66 on Sunday and 69 on Friday. He’s a.) made it back and b.) can get hot as anyone with the putter. He also as a penchant for the big number so don’t build the empire around him!

Tim Clark: If he continues to split fairways and hole everything he looks at, why not?

Brian Harman: He used his win at the JDC to hop a plane to Hoylake where he posted a very respectable T26 as he played the weekend five-under. #momentum

Thongchai Jaidee: He’s posted three top fives in his last six starts worldwide. #hotgolf

Chris Kirk: Might as well just list everyone from Georgia on this list! Kirk has zigged when gamers thought he should zag as evidenced by his egg at the JDC followed by T19 at The Open. It’s his first time here so he’ll have zero pressure to perform and nothing is expected of him in a field like this. #zig

Wait Until Next Week

Firestone is not their cup of tea…

Phil Mickelson: His last top 10 here was six years ago. His last top 10 on TOUR was the Barclays last August. In his last 12 rounds, nine of them have been over par. Omit.

Bubba Watson: His best finish in four tries is T19. His worst finish in four tries is T27. His ranking on TOUR and in the world won’t allow me to slip him in later so I’ll leave him out THIS week.

Jason Day: After finishing fourth here in 2011, he’s played just one of his last eight rounds here in the 60s. It’s probably because he’s always dinged up at this time of year or is saving himself for the PGA the following week. His thumb was a problem the last time out at Hoylake so no thanks.

Ernie Els: His last top 20 here was in 2003. I wouldn’t let his nice bounce back last week influence anything as he just doesn’t play well here.

Graham DeLaet: It’s his first trip around a joint with greens pushing 14’ on the Stimpmeter. Bad combo.

Barracuda Championship

Montreux Golf and Country Club

Reno, Nevada


Yards: 7,472 via the scorecard

Par: 72 (36-36)

Greens: Bentgrass, Poa annua; 5,500 square feet on average.

Stimpmeter: 11.5’

Rough: Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass and fescue from 3.5”

Bunkers: 62

Water Hazards: 6

Course Architect: Jack Nicklaus (1995; 2002)

Purse: $3,000,000

Winner’s Share: $540,000

FexExCup Points: 300 to the winner

Defending Champion: Gary Woodland smoked the field by nine points as Jonathan Byrd and Andres Romero shared second place.

Dates:  July 31 – Aug 3

Notes: Points?!?!?!? Welcome to the only stop on TOUR where the Modified Stableford scoring system is in play. Woodland set the tournament record, only in its second year, with 44 points. Players receive the following points for each score:

Double eagle: 8 pts

Eagle: 5 pts (wait, shouldn’t a DOUBLE eagle be TWICE the amount of an eagle? Math again…)

Birdie: 2 pts

Par: 0 pts

Bogey: -1 pts

Double bogey or worse: -3 pts (wait, shouldn’t a DOUBLE bogey be DOUBLE the amount of a regular bogey?)

Modified > math or Modified = the reason math is bad

History Lessons

In 2012 the Barracuda Championship switched to the modified Stableford scoring system to shake it up on TOUR. The year before they also changed the routing of Montreux back to its original 18-hole track as they had played with the nines flipped in previous years. The finishing holes require, as Jack Nicklaus would enjoy, shot making opportunities to pile on late points.

At 7,472 gamers immediately start thinking bombers off the tee but remember this course sits between 5,000 and 6,000 feet above sea level so everyone will be “long” this week. The fairways are mostly tree-lined but have large landing areas, as is the case with most Nicklaus design courses. The money will be made this week from the iron players and the birdie makers.

Oh, and only Americans win on this track. In 15 events, the USA held the trophy every Sunday at the conclusion of play.

This isn’t a bad place to take a flier on first-timers as well as seven of the 15 winners have broken their maiden on this track.

Vaughan Taylor is the only person to defend the Barracuda Open (2004-2005).

Scott Piercy shot 61 here in 2011.

Gary Woodland’s 44 points are the most in two editions using the modified Stableford system.

This week, I’m looking for the birdie-or-better makers, par-breakers and guys who aren’t afraid to get low. Let’s try some math to see if I “get it” this week.

Q: Would you rather have player one who makes 10 birdies and seven bogeys or player two with 5 birdies and zero bogeys?

A: Well, 10 birdies at two points per bird equals 20 points. Subtract seven bogeys at minus one point per bogey and that equals 13 points. Right? Player two makes five birdies at two points each for 10 points. He subtracts zero points because pars, all of them, are worth zero points. Player two scores 10 points.

The moral of the story is making a ton of birdies and avoiding doubles or worse is the key to victory. Pars aren’t bad but players know that they need to be aggressive because scoring, not the absence of, wins this week. Nothing like handicapping an old fashion shoot out in the wild, wild west!

Players to Watch

Nick Watney: For me he’s the class of the field as the California kid heads near his home Sacramento. He was sharp last week with three rounds in the 60s on a new venue.

Michael Putnam: He’s coming off his best start as a pro, T4, in his nine year career and has three top 24s in his last four. He’s made the cut in seven of his last eight on TOUR.

Andres Romero: After closing 67-67 last week in Canada and finishing third and T2 the last two years at Montreux, Romero is circled this week.

J.J. Henry: The man to win the first modified Stableford at Montreux, he was unable to back it up last year as he MC. In 2014 he’s played the weekend in eight of his last nine and his solid ball-striking will come in handy again this week.

Justin Hicks: Gamers who follow the stats were screaming “about time” after his career-best solo third last week at Royal Montreal. Now that we all expect something, let’s see if he can keep it going! It’s hard to turn a blind eye to a Sunday 64 so I won’t!

Brad Fritsch: Speaking of Sunday 64s, the Canadian also posted one last week to finish T9 on the back of a third round 63 at JDC that led to T13. That’s a streak folks. In a field like this, I don’t need much more convincing.

Dicky Pride: This will be his 15th time around Montreux. He was T5 last year and T7 last week. This will be the easiest pick of the week or a major crash-and-burn. There is NEVER any in-between on these!

Kevin Chappell: His 68-66 closing rounds north of the border led to his second T20 or better in four weekends played.

Scott Langley: He’s played the weekend eight of his last nine since the beginning of May. After T11, T26 and T27 in his last three events, don’t forget about him just because he’s been off for two weeks.

Brendan Steele: After a back-to-back T5s at the end of June put him in The Open, Steele fell asleep at the wheel as he was 88th at Greenbrier with a closing 77 and MC at Hoyalke after posting a second round 80. He’ll be excited to be on familiar soil as the last two years he’s racked up T8 and fourth in his only two trips to Montreux.

Stuart Appleby: Back-to-back T16s are better than his current back-to-back MCs but do note that his second round last week was 66.

Ben Curtis: With a field this light, it wouldn’t surprise me to see Curtis dial his game up a notch after his T12 last week. His closing 65 pushed him to No. 128 in the FEC Playoff race and another solid finish this week will push him into the top 125.

Will Wilcox: He’s quietly banged the top 25 in three of his last five and his career-best T4 at Greenbrier is included in that run.

Jamie Lovemark: He’s played the last four weekends on TOUR and has improved over his last three cumulating with T12 last week. This will be a true long shot as last Saturday was his first Saturday round of the season in the 60s. It took until the 12th try to accomplish that. He has zero rounds in the 60s on Sunday (nine tries).

Patrick Rodgers: The former Stanford player returns to northern California and this could jump start his pro career. He’s four out of five but nothing better than T45. I’m in for the long haul here. #IndianaKid

David Toms: He’s played seven of his last eight rounds in the 60s and was T16 here last year. His tee ball won’t find any trouble and if his putter gets going, look out.

Jordan Spieth of the Week Last Week

The column was taken over and thrashed by the kid from Texas last year. Out of respect, I’m not changing the title of it for 2013-14. It will remind me just how good Spieth was in the last three months of the season. This year, we’ll still identify an up-and-coming player and/or rookie that fantasy players should have on their radar. Hideki Matsuyama, T3; Brooks Koepka, T3; Max Homa, T9.

SHCO: Ryo Ishikawa is only 22, don’t forget, T2; Chesson Hadley, T5.

CIMB: Kiradech Aphibarnrat, 24, might have enough money after this week to earn Special Temporary Membership. Pay attention!

WGC-HSBC: Jordan Spieth was 17th. Tommy Fleetwood (T18) is only 22 and plays in Europe. Matsuyama WD with a bad back.

McGladrey: Scott Langley turned 24 last April and is in his second season on TOUR. He finished T22 last week and No. 124 last season. #slimpickinngsthisweek

OHL Mayakoba: Harris English turned 24 last July. He won.

HTOC:  Er, Jordan Spieth, solo second.

Sony: Hudson Swafford and Will Wilcox both finished T8. Both played on the Tour last year and are rookies on TOUR this season.

Humana: Patrick Reed won. He’s 23. You need to pay attention.

FIO: Ryo Ishikawa, 22, bagged another top 10 finish. That’s his sixth in his last 10 events on TOUR or the Tour. He’s an alternate this week as of Monday afternoon.

WMPO: Hideki Matsuyama is 21. In 11 events the last two years, he’s hit the top 25 in NINE of them, including T4 last week. #ALLRIGHTYTHEN

Pebble Beach: Er, Jordan Spieth, T4. Patrick Reed, 23, finished T13 and he’s won twice since August. Golf is good hands, again.

Riviera: Harris English won’t be 25 until July. He was T10; Spieth was T12.

WGC-Match Play: Victor Dubuisson is 23 and was second. Jordan Spieth was T5. #youthmovement

Honda: Russell Henley is now the fourth player on TOUR under 25 with two wins. He joins Patrick Reed, Harris English and Rory McIlroy in this very elite club of pups.

WGC-CC: Patrick Reed is 23. He’s now won three times in eight months on TOUR.

Puerto Rico Open: Rookie Chesson Hadley, 26, took home his first title on the big boy circuit.

Valspar: Chesson Hadley backed up his first win with T14 on a tough, tough Copperhead Course. Scott Langley, a second year player from Illinois (see above) was third.

API: The young Japanese lad Ishikawa racked up another top 10 (T8) this week. Yep, he’s still just 22.

Valero: He’ll be remembered for all of the wrong reasons but Andrew Loupe, 25, finished T4 in only his eighth start on TOUR. #slowgolfclap

Shell Houston: Russell Henley’s T7 shows him heating up before heading back for another crack at Augusta.

Masters: That Jordan Spieth guy was T2.

RBC Heritage: John Huh, T3, is a TOUR winner but is only 23 years old. Remember?

Zurich: The winner was 22-year old Seung-Yul Noh. He fits this column to a T.

Wells Fargo: Defending champ Derek Ernst was T30. He’ll turn 24 on May 15.

THE PLAYERS: That pesky Spieth was tied for the 54-hole lead and finished T4.

HPBNC: T16 was the best the youth could muster with John Huh, who turns 24 on Wednesday.

Colonial: Second-year player David Lingmerth poked his head up again with T5 to lead the youngsters. Hideki Matsuyama, who co-led after 54-holes, finished T10.

Memorial: Matsuyama must be a quick study. He was the 54-hole leader at Colonial yet finished T10. He took it deep this week with his first victory on TOUR, in a playoff, nonetheless. #impressive

FESJC: Brooks Koepka continues to rack up non-Member points and his T19 this week added to that.

U.S. Open: For the second consecutive week Koepka has the spotlight and deservedly so after T4. With Matsuyama, Spieth and Koepka, the future looks quite bright for the TOUR.

Travelers: Bud Cauley (remember him?) and Scott Langley were T11. Langley held the 36-hole lead.

Quicken Loans: Spieth and Reed both were T11. John Huh was T19.

The Greenbrier: Even though it is his third year on TOUR, Cauley is just 24. No point forgetting about him now as he’s bagged T11 and T4 in two of his last three.

JDC: Er, that Spieth guy again, T7.

The Open: Frenchman Victor Dubuisson is having some 12-month run. He turned 24 in April. #payattention

RBC Canadian Open: Jamie Lovemark, 26, has battled multiple injuries over the years but he could be one to keep an eye on in off-week fields. T12.


Coming Later TUESDAY Afternoon

Playing the Tips will be up and running this and every Tuesday afternoon and will list all of the Rotoworld experts picks in the game, the Yahoo! Fantasy Golf game and my One-and-Done feature. Look for it around 6ET every Tuesday for the rest of the season.

Coming Wednesday

And the analysis doesn't end here. Rotoworld's Rob Bolton and I will be co-hosting a one-hour live chat Wednesday at NOON p.m. ET. We will be breaking down the field at the WGC-BI and Barracuda Open and answering your questions. Simply return to the golf home page to join in on the chatter.