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 my if my picks suck. There’s no mathematical formula to my attempt at predicting something as random as golf scores.
Shake off that US Open fatigue and get excited for the Travelers Championship. Okay, so I know it’s tough, but try your best. After all, I’m looking forward to it, and I’ll be on site starting on Friday (traveling cross country takes up all day on Thursday).
I hope I’ll catch Nathan Green at some point and ask him if he watched any of the Open — in between World Cup matches — and if he stands by his decision to skip the qualifier. For some reason, I don’t think his opinion will have changed.
Here we go, my picks for the week.
Bill Haas: He’ll be well rested unlike some others who spent last week breaking their backs at Pebble Beach. The Bob Hope Classic champion has two top-10s and five top-25s this season.
GROUP A BENCHER
Ryan Moore: Admittedly, Moore is hating golf right now, but nothing to get him back on track like the Travelers Championship. I’m thinking he’ll like the setup better than the one he felt was “unreasonable” at Pebble Beach. Last year he finished T4 after T10 at the US Open at Bethpage Black.
Bo Van Pelt: The dude has been close to a victory all year. Despite an 82 in the third round at Pebble, he bounced back with a 68 to fire the low round on Sunday. He finished T9 at the Travelers last season. Could the big W come this week? With his record of five top-tens and eight top-25s, it’s not a bad bet.
Hunter Mahan: Word on Twitter is he got engaged last week. Perhaps that explains the MC at Pebble? Haven’t been able to confirm on either front yet, but one thing’s for sure — Mahan sure likes the TPC at River Highlands. In his last four starts, his record looks like this: T4, T2, Win and T2.
GROUP B BENCHERS
Retief Goosen: Lately, it seems like we can rely on the Goose showing up for these lower-profile stops. With a T58 at Pebble last week, he’s not overtired from dealing with the stress of grinding it out in contention — just grinding. He has four top-ten finishes this season. THE GOOSE.
Padraig Harrington: T22 at the Open last week. He’s been pretty quiet this season, but he remains a spirited player. I’m kind of surprised he’s playing in Hartford after a long week at Pebble Beach, but it must be on his way home to the other side of the pond.
Justin Rose: After arguably getting screwed for not making it in the US Open field when he won The Memorial only a week earlier, he’ll be rested and ready to make a(nother) statement. Although he missed the cut last year at the Travelers, he has a pretty good record at TPC River Highlands with his best finish being third in 2005. And I know how delightful it would be to hear Jim Nantz recite Bette Midler’s The Rose on Sunday.
GROUP C BENCHER
Ricky Barnes: Bro, I don’t know what it is, but Barnes has been playing well lately. I sucked up the pain of watching his swing for at least five holes last Friday, which was also his worst round at Pebble. The bro ended up finishing T27 at the US Open. Meanwhile, in his two starts prior, he finished T3 and T7.
Alright. Who you got? See you in Hartford, folks!