It took quite a while, almost a whole year, for Phil Mickelson to get PGA Tour win number 39, but boy did he do it in style. Like Tiger, Lefty’s game has been all over the place in recent weeks, and although he had been making some good shots, he just wasn’t able to put it all together for a whole tournament. However, this weekend at The Shell Houston Open, that is exactly what he did. Phil lead the field in birdies, and put together rounds of 63 and 65 to shoot a staggering 16 under par on the weekend. In the end, Mickelson finished up at 20 under par, with Scott Verplank and Chris Kirk in a tie for second at 17 under. It was a good week for our league, with seven players finishing in the top ten, and another two cashing in top 15’s. Let’s take a look at how the individual teams did.
When you only start three golfers in a tier one tournament, you can expect to be losing ground to just about everyone else. But when you start three golfers and end up with a win a top five and a top ten, all you can do is cry deeply. Phil Mickelson looked stellar on the weekend, and got himself back in the winner’s circle, which has boosted James’ spirits substantially. Despite a top ten and top five, Harrington and Baddeley with likely both be riding the pine at The Masters, and having too many good players is a great problem to have. James has now opened up a gaping hole in between 1st and 2nd and the rest of the league is going to need some serious Masters magic to get back into it.
James wasn’t the only one who turned in a solid week though. Beast clocked in with a cool 80 points, thanks to his big three of Matt Kuchar, Steve Stricker and Anthony Kim. After five lackluster outings, Kim finally found his game at Redstone, registering a 64 on Friday and finishing in a tie for 13th. It was around this time last year that Kim got hot, winning this very tournament and then scoring a solo third at The Masters, so Beast should be able to roll out Kim with confidence for the time being. Beast will need a big week from his top 3 at Augusta or he could end up moving down the leaderboard instead of up.
Bryce had the third best week of our league members, with 65 points from four of his depth players. Allenby rolled to his third top ten of the season, and Woodland proved his use with a top fifteen. So far depth hasn’t been a problem for Brycemaster, but his elite talent has been somewhat stagnant/injured. Tiger and Dustin are struggling to find consistency, Casey has not teed it up nearly as much as Bryce would like, and Tim Clark’s injured finger has kept him off the course since week one. Having a golfer like Tiger at The Masters means you’re never out of it, but Bryce’s big guns have to start firing for him to stay in the race.
Fuchs’ team seems to have faded a bit since his 6-week hot streak in which he racked up 485 points, but the java prince shouldn’t start panicking yet. Not with a young stud like Hunter Mahan to build his team around. With his 8th place finish at The Shell Houston Open, Mahan has now wracked up a slick 5 top tens, which ties him with Matt Kuchar and Nick Watney for first in that category. The Big Easy’s game has been somewhat questionable so far this year, as the South African has failed to register a top ten. Despite Ernie’s struggles Fuchs still has one of the best sets of depth players in the league, with Moore, Cink, Snedeker, Holmes, and Singh all capable of putting top tens or even wins on the board each week they tee it up. Considering the team he took over, Fuchs should be very content with where he’s sitting right now, and look for him to have another 1-2 top ten week at The Masters.
Brent continued to struggle again this week, and his team’s play has gone from inconsistent to consistently bad. Luke Donald is now averaging more points per week than Brent’s team as a whole and team orange has topped 60 points just ONCE this year. There needs to be some major changes to make this team a contender, as almost all of Brent’s depth players are off their game. The only safe plays here seem to be Donald and Crane. The lack of decent American’s seems to be hurting Brent as he is on pace for just 18 top tens, which would be a new league record for futility, despite having four more tournaments added to the schedule for this year. Hopefully he can get his team back on track with some trades and smart pickups, but to do that he’ll either have to sacrifice for this year or next… which will it be?
Just days after I made the prediction that Dave’s team will have a huge week at The Masters, he goes and puts out a 20 point week from five golfers. Granted it wasn’t the cream of Dave’s crop playing this week, but it’s still concerning to only manage 20 points when you’re playing the world #2 ranked player AND The Iron Goose. Luckily for Dave, Brent and Bryce stayed fairly low as well, so he managed to hang onto fourth place. He should still be looking for a big week at Augusta National despite this setback, and third place is certainly a possibility come next Monday.
That’s the wrap-up for this week folks