Snedeker Tees Off In Our ICG Fantasy Five For Bay Hill

bsnedeker_swings2.jpgThere's no doubt that certain events on the PGA TOUR resonate a bit more with the fans than others. This is one of those events.

The Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill has become famous not only for it's legendary namesake and host but also for the stellar field "The King" and the event organizers are able to attract. Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els and Vijay Singh all count themselves as past champions and all are again scheduled to compete in the 2012 version of the tournament.

Add to the formula a challenging and perfectly manicured golf course at Bay Hill Country Club as well as some typically stellar weather and the result makes for great TV AND great fantasy golf.

This week's ICG Fantasy Five is full of big names looking to continue the "sharpening of the spear" that is pointed directly toward Augusta National in three weeks. Let's discuss.

The "Of Course" Picks (those players that you will obviously pick if available): Webb Simpson (2nd in Birdie Average and 16th in Scoring; continues to play well every week), Phil Mickelson (past champion, 26th in Scoring and has the putter rolling right now) and, of course, Tiger Woods (he's ready to go this week and has won here six times!).

Brandt Snedeker:
Brandt has already won this year (Farmers Insurance Open) and hasn't missed a cut in seven events. It's obvious that he has shaken off the rust after surgery on his hip in November. It's also obvious that "Sneds" is one of the guys on the TOUR that has to be reckoned with every week. He's currently #13 on our ICG Index list and trending in the right direction. Look for Snedeker to avenge the missed cut here last year and get back to the top-30 finishes he's experienced at Bay Hill over the past five seasons.

Hunter Mahan:
Like Snedeker, Mahan has already notched a victory this season (at the WGC-Accenture Match Play). He also hasn't missed a cut in five tries with a T24 being the highest he's finished all year. He's 2nd in Total Driving, 13th in Birdie Average and 22nd in Scoring this year. He's also been firmly planted inside the top-15 of our ICG Index for the past two months. Mahan is newly married (to a former Dallas Cowboys cheerleader, by the way), comfortable and motivated in 2012. That's a lethal combination for someone as talented as Hunter AND for your fantasy golf roster.

Bill Haas:
Haas has snuck up on the American golf consciousness just like he snuck up on Webb Simpson to win the FedExCup title last season. He's quietly won four times on TOUR including prevailing in a playoff over Keegan Bradley and Phil Mickelson at Riviera a month ago. Haas isn't spectacular in any one area of his game but he isn't bad at anything, either. He's 19th in GIR, 21st in Birdie Average and 31st in the All-Around Ranking. He's also on the list of guys that nobody talks about but could win at any time. Look for another good finish this week in Orlando.

Jim Furyk:
Anyone who knows Jim knows he's a "bulldog". After a lackluster season in 2011, Furyk has made some adjustments to his equipment and his mental approach and is now back on track. As evidenced by his runner-up finish last week at the Transitions Championship, Jim is ready to compete in 2012. He's 3rd in Driving Accuracy, 5th in Scoring Average and, most importantly, has the putter working again. He finished T9 at Bay Hill last year and T11 the year before that. Expect another top-15 this week.

Harris English:
In fantasy golf (like fantasy football) competitors are always looking for the "diamond in the rough". This week, for this category, we submit Harris English. The University of Georgia grad is a rookie on TOUR this year but doesn't play like one. He's 7th in Driving Distance, 8th in GIR and 44th in Strokes Gained - Putting. Until last week he hadn't missed a cut this year in six previous tries and, he already has three top-20 finishes this season. If he can limit the damage from that one bad round per event (which has been his tendency), expect English to sneak onto the first two pages of the leaderboard this week.

Coverage of the tournament begins on Thursday at 3:00pm EDT/2:00pm CDT on the Golf Channel.

By Michael Weigand, ICG


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