Fantasy Insider: WGC-Bridgestone Invitational

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July 30, 2013
By Rob Bolton, Fantasy Insider

It's time to address some confusion as it relates to the top 125 that qualify for the FedExCup Playoffs and fully exempt status for the 2013-14 season.

Quite self-explanatorily, the top 125 in FedExCup points at the conclusion of the Wyndham Championship earn a spot in the Playoffs. The same 125 will earn fully exempt status for next season.

The top 125 in official earnings through the Wyndham also are fully exempt for 2013-14. A high percentage of this group will qualify for the FedExCup Playoffs, but golfers are, in actuality, chasing the top 125 in both lists as a means to return next season.

As an example, David Mathis ranked 122nd on the 2012 money list following the Wyndham Championship, but he was 133rd in the FedExCup standings. If the imminent provision was in place entering 2013, he would have been fully exempt via the top 125 in earnings even though he didn't qualify for the Playoffs.

Look for my four choices for the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational in PGATOUR.com's fantasy game in Expert Picks. My one-and-done selection, analysis and season totals will appear in the TOUR Report on Wednesday.

On a Roll

Richard Sterne ... Returns after a three-year hiatus at Firestone. Since his last appearance in 2009, he fell to as low as 1,031st in the Official World Golf Ranking. That was primarily due to a back injury from which it took considerable time for the South African to recover. More recently, he's recorded five top 10s worldwide in 2013, including a solo second in France four weeks ago.

Jamie Donaldson ... Peppered in between T32s at the U.S. Open and Open Championship are top-11 finishes in Sweden, Ireland and France. En route to a T36 in his debut at Firestone last year, ranked 13th in total driving and 11th in strokes gained-putting.

Horses for Courses

Jim Furyk ... Reemerged with a T9 in Canada on Sunday. It's his third top 10 of the season but first since early April. He ranked T5 in proximity to hole at Glen Abbey, second in scrambling and co-led the field in par-3 scoring. If it was a harbinger, then it comes at a great time. He's logged seven top 10s at Firestone, including a co-runner-up last year after holding the outright lead after every round.

Rickie Fowler ... His only notable finish at Firestone was a co-runner-up in 2011, but one is better than none. Prior to an ignorable missed cut at Muirfield two weeks ago, he had posted top 25s in his three straight starts. Four top 10s on the year.

Bo Van Pelt ... Continues to battle a mediocre season by his standards. Just one top 10 and another five top 25s. However, he's placed a respective T3, T23 and T8 in the last three editions of this event. The silver lining is that you probably have ample starts remaining for him in PGATOUR.com's fantasy game. If you're chasing and need a jolt, plug him in.

Jason Dufner ... A T4 at the U.S. Open remains his only top 10 in North America in the last 11 months, but he finished alone in seventh place at Firestone in his first appearance last year. He's lost nearly half of one stroke per round in strokes gained-putting as compared to 2012. He shouldn't be a flier, but that's what he is.

Nicolas Colsaerts ... You couldn't pick a better site for him to showcase his talent. Ranking third on the PGA TOUR in distance off the tee and 19th in greens in regulation, the Belgian should enjoy his return trip to Firestone (T45, 2012). Top 25s in three of his last five starts entering the week.

Not So Fast

Graeme McDowell ... You know his M.O. by now. To update, in his last 10 starts worldwide, he's won thrice, missed five cuts and finished T58 (The Open) and 74th/MDF (Canada). No cut this week, of course, but no top 20s in seven appearances at Firestone.

Luke Donald ... Played to the fade in Canada and missed his second straight cut for the first time in over three years. His accuracy off the tee is slightly down from a year ago, but what was an improved approach game has regressed. With a T2 at Firestone in 2011 and a T8 last year, that sets him up as a classic trap for course history buffs.

Sergio Garcia ... Ranks 36th on the PGA TOUR in greens in regulation and leads the circuit in strokes gained-putting, but his best finish in his last seven trips to Firestone is a T20 in 2007.

Ernie Els ... Zero top 20s in his last eight appearances at Firestone.

Leaking Oil

Nick Watney ... When he missed the cut at The Open Championship, it extended a stretch without a top 20 to seven starts, his longest drought in five years.

Scott Piercy ... Ended his 0-for-3 skid during his title defense in Canada, but finished T52. However, he's been a beast in the World Golf Championships, racking up four top 25s in as many appearances. This included a T2 at the 2012 WGC-HSBC Champions.

Carl Pettersson ... While he's survived 10 of his last 11 cuts, none went for a top 25. Contrary to potential perception, his putting hasn't tailed off amid the clamor of the USGA's anchoring ban. Since he finished T21 at Bay Hill, his strokes gained-putting has improved by a value of 0.092. If you need a clincher, he hasn't cracked the top 25 at Firestone in four tries.

Back in the Saddle

Peter Hanson ... Walked off Muirfield after five holes due to a recurring back injury. At 129th on the money list and 140th in FedExCup points, he's motivated to gut through 72 holes at Firestone for the guaranteed payday.

Jonathan Byrd ... Back inside the ropes at the Reno-Tahoe Open. Gamers exhaled when he tweeted that a fever -- and not an aggravated injury to his left wrist on which he had surgery last fall -- knocked him out of the Sanderson Farms Championship after 16 holes. Only top 30 among four cuts made in 14 starts this season is a T10 at the FedEx St. Jude Classic.

Brad Fritsch ... Survived the cut in his native Canada last week, but couldn't tee off in the third round due to a back injury. The rookie has been a machine in going 17-for-22, but he has just one top 25. Ranks 130th in FedExCup points and 142nd in earnings.

Shawn Stefani ... Scheduled to compete in Reno. Withdrew after nine holes in Mississippi two weeks ago, and then withdrew early from last week's RBC Canadian Open. No explanation has surfaced for his decisions.

Arjun Atwal ... An illness forced him to withdraw after one round of the Sanderson Farms Championship. He's 1-for-6 with a T66 (St. Jude) this season.

Notable WDs

Hunter Mahan ... Taking the week off in the wake of the birth of his first child. Plans on returning at next week's PGA Championship.

Jordan Spieth ... Enjoying his first two-week break since mid-January. Will play next week's PGA Championship.

Louis Oosthuizen ... Out two months to allow neck and hip injuries to heal. Hopes to return at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship on the European Tour in late September.

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