Sep 22, 2011; Atlanta, GA, USA; Aaron Baddeley plays from the fairway of the 17th during the first round of the TOUR Championship at East Lake Golf Club. Mandatory Credit: Allan Henry-US PRESSWIRE

Shell Houston Open-Fantasy Golf Picks

Tiger Woods won’t be the most recent winner playing in the Masters, but he did add plenty of drama to next week’s tournament at Augusta National as he took the Arnold Palmer Invitational fairly easily on Sunday. There’s still one tournament left before the Masters, and it’s the final week of the first segment in the PGATour’s official fantasy game hosted by Yahoo.

Steve Stricker is one of my picks for the week. He's shown during the third round of the 2011 PGA Championship at Atlanta Athletic Club. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-US PRESSWIRE

The Shell Houston Open is seem by many as a “tune-up” for Augusta, but it’s also a compelling tournament in it’s own right as well. The course is the Tournament Course at Redstone Golf Club which is modeled to play similarly to Augusta. Statistical data bears that fact out and points to hitting greens as even more key at Redstone than normal since the course has ranked as the hardest course in scrambling from the rough in each of the last three years. I’m scrambling myself a little after not rostering Tiger last week…

In the FantasyCPR group things stayed tight headed into the last week of the Winter scoring period. Tin Cup won the week topping 200 with his team of Woods, Furyk, Rose, and McDowell. At the top Squatney Leather pulled 40 points ahead and looks good to claim the first segment victory barring a disaster this week. MT Cupp and Tie Webb remained 2 and 3 over 100 points clear of the pack at 4-9. Coming into last week, my entry was at the front of the 5 man group but not having Tiger sunk me back to #9 as 4th-9th are just 9 points apart. It should be a frantic finish as we come to the end of the first “segment” just before the Masters kicks things off for the Spring portion.

Anything could happen in our group this week as the top 3 fight it out for the win and the chase pack fight it out for 4th. Here’s who I’ll be rostering.

Feb 19, 2012; Pacific Palisades, CA, USA; Keegan Bradley pumps his fist after making his birdie putt on the 18th hole during the final round of the Northern Trust Open at the Riviera Country Club. Phil Mickelson (not pictured) also birdied the hole which put Mickelson into a playoff with Bradley and Bill Haas (not pictured). Haas would eventually win on the second playoff hole. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-US PRESSWIRE

A Group

Keegan Bradley-Bradley is one of my favorites on the tour (New England roots showing through) and  it seems a matter of time before he pulls out a victory. He had a top 10 in his last start and the Cadillac and has top 25s in all 8 of his tournaments this year. Even if this isn’t the week he hoists a trophy, he should be around the leaderboard once again come Sunday. He had a T51 last year in his only previous appearance here.

Steve Stricker-It’s either Stricker or Phil Mickelson in this spot. I’ve already used 3 Mick starts and will use one at Augusta so I’m going with the cheese on this one. Stricker tied with Bradley for eighth at the Cadillac. He’s played five times at Redstone and finished in the top 11 4 times including a T4 last year. Mickelson won last year and torched the course Saturday and Sunday so I’d go with whichever you have more starts of as your second A-list option.

B Group

Feb 21, 2012; Marana, AZ, USA; Rickie Fowler in the fairway of the seventh during the practice round of the WGC Accenture Match Play Championship at Ritz-Carlton GC. Mandatory Credit: Allan Henry-US PRESSWIRE

Rickie Fowler-About the only thing that could make the Masters more compelling would be an orange-clad Fowler injecting himself into the mix by winning this week in Houston. I don’t think there’s a lot of depth in pool B so I’ll gamble a little with Fowler who made the cut in 2010 in his only appearance here and is coming off 3 consecutive made cuts and 5 of 6 on the year.

Ernie Els-Els is playing extremely well coming off of 2 top fives the last 2 weeks. His only tournament here he finished T14 in ’09.

Lee Westwood-Feels like this week’s version of Tiger from last week. He’s playing decent, but I’m not completely sold. If I don’t have him though and he wins I could be in trouble since many will roster him. He’ll start on my bench, but if he’s near the top I’ll activate him.

Ryan Moore-Moore hasn’t played here since ’09 when he tied for 11th. He’s coming off a t4 at Bay Hill and if he gets in a groove can hit greens and win. I struggled with this pick more than any other on the board considering Bryce Molder, Harrison Frazar, Chris Kirk, and Jimmy Walker before deciding to go with Moore.

C Group

Aaron Baddeley-Badds has 3 consecutive top 15s and T4 here last year. He’s another one of my personal favorites that I’ve used a lot but am rostering since I could easily see him winning this week.

Padraig Harrington-Although Graeme Mcdowell played well last week, he hasn’t played in this even since 2006 so I’ll give Harrington the nod just barely over Graeme. He’s a “safe” pick since in the 6 times the tournament has been held at this course he’s the only player to make the cut all 6 times.Personal-best T8 here last year.

Tags: Aaron Baddeley Ernie Els Fantasy Golf Fantasy Golf Picks Padraig Harrington Rickie Fowler Shell Houston Open Steve Stricker

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