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: My picks may suck, but I do think through the factors that may weigh in.
Apologies for not posting the column at the usual time, but I was too busy icing my ankle. I did make my picks before the deadline. With hindsight, they’re not the best, except my Group C players are lighting it up. Pebble Beach is one of my favorite places in the world and I’ve actually played all three of the courses in the rotation. Don’t ask me to pick a favorite, though! I wish I were in beautiful Monterey instead of nursing my ankle in icy NYC (which is a terrible place to navigate in crutches — I keep worrying I’m going to slip and hurt my good foot).
Well, through two rounds of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, Steve Marino holds a commanding four-shot lead over D.A. Points. Marino fired a six-under 66 at Pebble Beach on Friday after opening with a seven-under 65 at Spyglass Hill, which is probably his favorite. “This tournament is kind of strange,” said Marino. “You play a different course every day. You’re playing with amateur partners. It’s a little more low key and laid back.”
Points, who is paired with entertainer extraordinaire Bill Murray, followed his seven-under 63 at MPCC on Thursday with a two-under 70 at Spyglass. “We had some fun today,” said Points. “As a matter of fact, when we were joking around today, I was playing pretty well. Maybe I’ve got to instigate that a little more.”
Keegan Bradley, who loves playing in pro-ams, posted scores of 65-69. His aunt, LPGA legend and Hall of Famer Pat Bradley, was in the gallery watching her newphew at Spyglass on Friday. “Pat taught me a lot,” said Keegan in his first career post-round press conference. “I was born in 1986, which was her year where she won three out of the four majors and won a bunch of times. So my whole life I always remember Pat as a star and great player.
“Pat’s always helped me through my career. Even the other day, she’s giving my hand signals and nodding her head. She’s always there for me. She knows exactly what I’m going through out there.”
Guess who I picked in Group C? Well, let’s take a gander.
Nick Watney: He’s off to a good start this season, placing T5 and T6 at the Phoenix Open and the Farmers Insurance Open, respectively. Watney got married last Fall in Carmel to Amber Uresti, PGA Tour player Omar Uresti’s niece. Watney is continuing to play well, firing 68-67 through two rounds.
GROUP A BENCHER
Dustin Johnson: DJ won this event two years in a row, so how could you not pick him as the favorite? Of course, he had his epic choke in the final round of the US Open last June, but he got over that unusually quick. So far, he’s struggling, posting 71-71 at MPCC and Spyglass. Currently, he’s outside the cutline at T75, but he’s playing his favorite — Pebble Beach — on Saturday, so hopefully he gets hot quick and goes real low for a chance to defend his title.
Vijay Singh: Apparently his knee is feeling better this year. He placed third at Scottsdale last week. Through two rounds, he’s five-under and T18 — good position going into the weekend.
Alex Prugh: He played really well on the West Coast last year as a rookie. He’s not enjoying the same success as he experienced last year, but to be honest, the pickings were slim in Group B and this was my “I-don’t-like-anyone-else” pick. Prugh shot 68 at MPCC and struggled a bit with a one-over 73 on Friday. He’s T62 at the halfway mark.
GROUP B BENCHERS
Tim Clark: Hey, Timmy, thanks for withdrawing on Thursday morning after the deadline passed for submitting rosters!
Brendon de Jonge: He had some success at the US Open at Pebble Beach last June when he fired 69 for a share of the first-round lead with Shaun Micheel and Paul Casey. De Jonge ended up finishing T33. He’s kicked off 2011 with three top-25 finishes. This week, he’s carded 72-68, which puts him at T43 at the moment.
Keegan Bradley: I’m familiar with Keegan’s success in pro-am format tournaments — he shot 61 in two different events last year on the Nationwide Tour, and last month he notched his first-career top-ten on the PGA Tour at the Bob Hope Classic. The 24-year-old rookie has been playing well, so I figured I’d throw him in the starting lineup and then yell at him if disappointed. (Kidding!) So far, so good. Keegan fired 65 at MPCC and followed with a 69 at Spyglass for a two-day total of eight-under. Currently, he’s alone in third place. Keep it up, Keegs!
GROUP C BENCHER
J.B. Holmes: The long-hitting Holmes placed T5 at the frost-delayed Phoenix Open. He placed T2 at this event last year. He seemed like a decent bet. He opened with a 71 at Pebble on Thursday and shot six-under 64 at MPCC on Friday. Holmes is one of ten players at seven-under at the halfway mark.
Alright, your turn. Who did you pick in your Fantasy lineup? Did you bench anyone for the weekend? Also, if I owe you a prize, please let me know. I’m having some problems keeping track of things with all the travel. My apologies! Thanks for your support.
(AP Photo/Ben Margot)