He doesn’t always win tournaments, but when he does, he prefers to win tier threes. Matt Kuchar certainly isn’t the most interesting man in golf, and he may not win as much as the Tigers and Rorys of the world, but it’s hard to argue that anyone is more consistent than the constantly cheery Kuchar. With 31 top tens since the league began in 2010, Kuchar is the leader in that category, and has finished in the top ten in eight of Spreadsheet Fantasy’s ten World Golf Championship tournaments. All three of Kuchar’s Spreadsheet Fantasy wins have come in tier three events, and he is the single biggest reason why Beast found the podium in 2010 and 2011. Match play is the perfect format for the ‘Smiling Assassin’, as evidenced by his career record of 15-3 at the Accenture Match Play Championship. Kuchar trailed for just four holes over his six matches this week, and his conservative approach to the game means he very rarely gives a whole away, something that will quickly end your week in a one-on-one format. Before running out of gas against Kuchar, Hunter Mahan had gone a ridiculous 169 holes without trailing dating back to the first round of last year’s tournament. The Accenture Match Play Championship is often one of Spreadsheet Fantasy’s highest scoring tournaments, so lets take a look at how each team did.
Despite scoring a respectable 95 points, Brent still found himself bringing up the rear this week. The first round exits of Adam Scott, Rickie Fowler and Charl Schwartzel were disappointing, especially since Scott and Schwartzel were a two and three seed respectively. Luke Donald managed to scrape past Marcel Siem in the first round by winning the 18th hole, but got absolutely dismantled 7 and 6 in the second round by a red-hot Scott Piercy. Brent’s lone top ten came from Match Play specialist Ian Poulter, who won the Accenture in 2010. Both James and Brent had Poulter coming out of the Sam Snead bracket, and he didn’t disappoint. However it seemed as though Poulter was emotionally drained by the time Sunday came around, losing 4 and 3 to Hunter Mahan in the Semis and then falling to Jason Day in the third place match. Despite having the lowest score of the week, Brent dropped just one place in the standings and still sits less than 100 back of podium position.
Tied for the second lowest points this week was James, who started the week with high hopes, but quickly found himself disappointed by the quick exits of Rory McIlroy and Jason Dufner. Both were huge upsets, as they fell to 16th seed Shane Lowry and 14th seed Richard Sterne. King Louis Oosthuizen joined them after the second round, when he ran into eventual quarter-finalist Robert Garrigus. Martin Kaymer and Scott Piercy managed to make it one round further before exiting thanks to Hunter Mahan and Steve Stricker. Piercy was ahead for much of his match before Stricker birdied the final two holes to take it 1 up. Kaymer never led and his match ended after just 14 holes. Beast’s surge up the leaderboard drops James out of the top three, but he sits just 20 points back of Bryce going into next week’s Honda Classic.
Dave had just four players teeing it up this week, so to manage 115 points was quite an accomplishment. After benching all four starts from Bubba Watson and Lee Westwood so far, they finally got their chance to prove themselves this week. Westwood came out flat and was handed a disappointing loss by Rafael Cabrera Bello, but Bubba Watson snuck by Chris Wood and Jim Furyk, before falling to eventual semifinalist Jason Day. Jason Rose made his first start of the season and took down K.J. Choi before losing 4 and 2 to Nicolas Colsaerts. Dave’s best performer of the week was Robert Garrigus, who was certainly questioned by many after being selected first overall in this year’s draft. The Scottsdale Community College graduate has yet to finish outside the top 25 this season and is averaging almost 25 points a start. Garrigus took out Branden Grace, Louis Oosthuizen and Fredrik Jacobson, before eventual champion Matt Kuchar knocked him out 3 and 2. If Dave can get his roster’s in, he certainly has a chance to turn his team around, trailing third place by just 200 points less than a quarter of the way through the season.
This could have been a very disappointing week for Bryce, but he avoided the disappointment by placing a mulligan on 47th overall pick Tim Clark, who finds himself already eclipsing the 100 point barrier after losing in the third round. One of the biggest upsets of the week was 1 seed Tiger Woods’ first round loss to Charles Howell III. Woods made just two birdies and never led against the resurgent Howell. Dustin Johnson managed to score his first points of the season, but not for lack of trying. The struggling bomber fell 6 and 4 to Alexander Noren. After winning at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions before the start of the season, Johnson failed to crack the top fifty in four starts before his T33 this week. Johnson still has just 10 points on the season and Bryce has to be wondering what’s going on. After losing the 54 hole lead last week at the Northern Trust Open, Bill Haas bogeyed five of the fourteen holes he played in the first round, losing 5 and 4 to Nicolas Colsaerts. After failing to score last week, Graeme McDowell made it to the Semifinals before losing 1 down to Jason Day. Bryce fell back to third place after being passed by Beast, and is one of four league members with at least seven top tens and a win.
After failing to break 50 in any of the first six tournaments, Lawrence was guaranteed to at least hit that mark this week. Perhaps weighed down by the proposed ban on anchoring, Keegan Bradley’s play has been less than stellar so far this season, and he was shown the door by Marcus Fraser in the first round this week. Carl Pettersson also anchors his putter, and just like Bradley has had disappointing results so far this year. After sneaking past Rickie Fowler, Pettersson was dismantled 6 and 5 by Shane Lowry in the second round. Coming into this week’s Accenture Match Play Championship, Nick Watney had never lost before the third round. This week Steve Stricker was just too much for him to handle as he lost in a 21 hole second round match. After a zero point Mulligan on Nicolas Colsaerts last week, expectations were certainly low. However, the Belgian Bomber exceeded expectations, besting Bill Haas and Justin Rose before losing 4 and 3 to champion Matt Kuchar. This was just Webb Simpson’s second time playing in the Accenture, but already he appears to have developed an affinity for match play. After exiting in the first round last year, he improved his career record to 3-2 by making it all the way to the quarterfinals before losing in 18 holes to Hunter Mahan. Lawrence hasn’t gotten much help from his back end so far this year, and he may need to cut some of his later picks loose if he wants to contend for a podium spot.
After getting off to a hot start last year, Fuchs has followed it up with an even better seven week start to this season. Brandt Snedeker, Hunter Mahan and Jimmy Walker have contributed more than 75% of Fuchs’ points through the first seven weeks, and with neither Snedeker or Walker playing this week, it was up to Mahan to carry the load. The defending champion was certainly up for the challenge, as he followed last year’s win with a valiant runner up finish at this year’s event. First round pick Steve Stricker has severely cut his playing schedule, which many thought would affect his performance, but his quarterfinal appearance this week would certainly say otherwise. Even though he may only play ten times this year, Stricker is still capable of a multiple win season, which would make Fuchs the team to beat in the 2013 season. As good as Fuchs’ week was, it could have been better still, with Ryan Moore and John Senden both losing in the first round.
Finally we arrive at Beast. After six ho-hum weeks to start the season, Beast busted out in week seven, more than doubling his score for the season. After managing just one win last year, and waiting until week 19 to get it, Beast got on the board early in 2013. Matt Kuchar’s win this week was the third of his Spreadsheet Fantasy career, each of which have come in tier 3 tournaments. Kuchar has been by far the most consistent performer of SSF’s first three seasons, and with such a solid swing and game, it’s hard to imagine him slowing down any time soon. It was a full team effort for Beast this week, with all five of his golfers making it to the second round. Jim Furyk, Bo Van Pelt, and Sergio Garcia all won their first round matches, with Van Pelt and Furyk’s wins coming by sizable margins against tough opponents. Many eyebrows were raised earlier this year when Beast selected Jason Day with the fourth overall pick in the draft. It seems to be paying off now, as Day has re-dedicated himself to his game and it’s showing. After top tens at TPC Scottsdale and Pebble Beach, Day made it all the way to the semi finals before falling to fellow Beaster Matt Kuchar. In the consolation match, Day fell behind early to Poulter, but came back and sealed it with a clutch par on the 18th hole. Beast’s chances are looking better than ever this year, with a strong front five and a win under his belt early in the season.
That’s the wrap up, folks. Next week is the Honda Classic!