Hartford Dartboard Picks

Our ongoing little experiment to test the depth of the fields in PGA Tour events continues: how would a randomly selected slate of ten players match up against the ten experts at pgatour.com who attempt to pick the winner each week? Are the Tour players so good that any one of them could win any week?

Here are the results from last week’s U.S. Open at Congressional in Bethesda, Maryland.

Everybody’s favorite, Rory McIlroy, won going away in a performance that was “one for the ages.” But then they said the same thing about Tiger’s U.S. Open victory when he won by 18. In a U.S. Open, for crying out loud. And Rory obliterated all those records but that one. Lee Westwood did his best to chase him down, but Rory kept heading deep. Kuchar, Striker and Johnson all had nice top 25 finishes, while Luke Donald made a check but expected a much bigger one. And poor Phil geared everything towards the Open—he always does—and could only manage a 54th amidst a number of strategic 2 irons he couldn’t get in the fairway.

Rory McIlroy (1)

Lee Westwood (T3)

Matt Kuchar (T14)

Steve Stricker (T19)

Dustin Johnson (T23)

Luke Donald (T45)

Phil Mickelson (54)

Bubba Watson (T63)

Jonathan Byrd (MC)

Hunter Mahan (MC)

The Dartboard had four top 25s with long shot, sentimental choice, Davis Love III, racking up a very solid T11, proving our next Ryder Cup Captain can still get it done. And it was nice to see that unranked Alexandre Rocha managed to win some money last week too. You will recall that he was the fledgling Tour player from Brazil who finished T2 in an 83-man field at the Sectional Qualifier in Summit, New Jersey to get in.

You’ll also recall that for purposes of the Dartboard picks, I reduced the field from 156 to 144 to eliminate the possibility of one of the 12 amateurs being in the picks. The whole purpose of the Dartboard exercise is prove the depth of PGA Tour fields. And in fact, 9 of the amateurs missed the cut. But props to the 3 who made it: Patrick Cantlay (T21), Russell Henley (T42) and Brad Benjamin (72). Nice work men.

Lee Westwood (T3)

Davis Love III (T11)

Matt Kuchar (T14)

Ryan Palmer (T21)

Padraig Harrington (T45)

Brian Gay (T63)

Kenichi Kuboya (T68)

Alexandre Rocha (T68)

Francesco Molinari (MC)

Sam Saunders (MC)

This week the Tour moves on to the Travelers Championship at the TPC River Highlands in Cromwell (Hartford), Connecticut.

The Expert picks are led by Bubba Watson who’s probably looking for a little redemption from last week. He is the defending champion, so he will have extra motivation to win. And having won two more times after that, he should be able to play without a lot of doubt or guarding. Iconoclast Ryan Moore had a solid beginning of the year with a T4 at Riviera and a T5 at the Accenture Match Play, but he’s been middle-of-the-roadin’ it since then and missed the cut last week at the Open. Could this be his week? He’s due. Webb Simpson has been knocking on the winners’ door all year long, so he has the talent and it could be his time. Keegan Bradley won at Byron Nelson, so now he knows that he can. All interesting picks. Their World Rankings are in parentheses.

Bubba Watson (13)

Nick Watney (15)

Hunter Mahan (20)

David Toms (27)

Zach Johnson (34)

Brandt Snedeker (43)

Ryan Moore (46)

Padraig Harrington (52)

Webb Simpson (60)

Keegan Bradley (99)

And the Dartboard picks are interesting too. No. 51 in the rankings, Aaron Baddeley leads the pack. A 3-time winner, he had good recent finishes at Harbour Town (T14) and a (T6) at The Players (T6), but he missed the cut at the Open. Heath Slocum, on the other hand, broke out of the doldrums at the Open with a very nice T11. Kevin Streelman hasn’t won yet—a 3rd was his best so far—but he makes cuts and cash and finished T14 when he went to Q-School back in 2007; so he can play. Jason Bohn is having a tough year, but I followed him in a Phoenix practice round and he can play too. It makes you wonder what’s going on, especially since he won New Orleans last year. I wrote about Chris Riley when he shot an opening 66 to lead the Memorial (T30) and he also opened with a 66 at the Byron Nelson the week before. He’s due for a good week.

The rest of the Dartboard picks are low-ranked players just beginning their careers. It picked Brazilian, Alexandre Rocha, two weeks in a row, qualifier Bud Cauley out of the University of Alabama who has just turned pro and leading amateur at the Open, Patrick Cantlay out of UCLA. I left him in the field because he did so well in the Open and it will be interesting to see how he does here.

Aaron Baddeley (51)

Heath Slocum (85)

Kevin Streelman (119)

Jason Bohn (206)

Chris Riley (277)

Ben Martin (789)

Jerod Turner (868)

Alexandre Rocha (N/A)

Bud Cauley (Q)

Patrick Cantlay (a)

So, not a terribly strong field, but it has its share of name players and a lot of good stories. It’s always interesting to see how all this promise plays out. As usual, I’ll let you know what happened next Wednesday.

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