Welcome to Balls in the Air, where I size up my Fantasy Golf picks of the week, featuring guys to watch (or not) and interesting story lines. Disclaimer: Don’t yell at me if my picks suck.
First of all, I’d like to take a second to give myself a big-freaking-high-five for posting this before the tournament started. (I know, finally.)
Okay, I feel so much better about myself after that. Hoo-ray. Because you all care, I’m sure. Moving on to the picks!
Phil Mickelson: The defending champ needs to step up after a crappy showing on the West Coast swing. You gotta figure he’s found a new putting stroke by now (though not sure what was wrong with the one from the end of last season). It’s time to get hot, Phil — apparently Tiger is coming back soon, so the time is winding down to move closer to that number-one spot.
Group A Bencher
Steve Stricker: Safe pick…for every week. He’s a fantastic alternate to fill in for a potential no-show Phil. Hell, it would probably be smarter to have Phil on the bench. Stricks surpassed him as the number two in the world rankings after he won the Northern Trust Open. He’s placed in the top-10 in three for three starts.
Camilo Villegas: Uh, heard he’s playing pretty well on the course in between his job as the ambassador of Colombia. Apparently he has a lot of fans out in Miami (se habla Espanol). I’m told when he came second to Tiger in 2006, he overshadowed him (yes, seriously!). But he’s had more rest and not sleeping in his own bed this week, so might be a gamble.
Jim Furyk: My friend Kevin reminded me that Furyk has an excellent record at Doral (T2 in ‘08 and 3 in ‘09). He also advised me to take Furyk over Rory McIlroy, so if Furyk shoots, like, 76 every day, then I’m taking a hit out on him.
Group B Benchers
Rory McIlroy: The 20-year-old from Northern Ireland will be the first to share cover time with Tiger on Tiger Woods PGA Tour ‘11. He picked up some tips from Jack Nicklaus at lunch last week because he’s eager to learn. And he’s been playing Doral since he was, like, nine.
Geoff Ogilvy: He hasn’t done anything spectacular since he won the season-opening SBS Championship. (Maybe the new baby is keeping him up?) But he sure loves World Golf Championship events with three wins tucked away.
Paul Casey: Three top-10s in three starts. When asked what he’d say to Tiger on the first tee, he replied, “Nike 1, blue dot. I don’t know, what do you say?” Exactly.
Group C Bencher
Ian Poulter: He won the WGC Match Play Championship. Enough said.
Well, that’s all. Great field this week. For the record, I wanted to pick Alvaros Quiros to shake things up — the dude is fun to watch and hits the ball so far he almost makes J.B. Holmes look like Tim Clark. But I guess I’m laying up while wearing orange pants.