Live From Augusta

Matt Cassista

Matt Cassista

 

Loyal listeners I let you down last night. You were expecting your golf guru to fulfill all your questions and answers about the Masters and do to personal reasons I wasn’t even there. Have no fear though. I got what you need right here.
​For many such as myself, summer starts today as golf’s first major starts today (and baseball really starts to take swing.) I’m not going to waste your time dwelling on Tiger Woods either, as much as I love the guy….he can’t win it, there’s absolutely no need to talk about it. I’m going to tell you some guys who I think have the best shot though after watching golf every Thursday-Sunday for the past two months.
​A guy I’ve commented on a few times is youngster Jordan Spieth. He’s got the talent to definitely be a contender but he continues to lack focus when its crunch time. His name may not be in the forefront of this leaderboard but don’t seem surprised if he’s a top 10 finisher. When he is on, he is leagues above the field.


“​Hopefully your favorite to win was in that list and I crushed your spirits to some degree with those predictions.” 


​Another guy who has the talent and has got a lot of attention lately is Matt Kuchar, however I just don’t think the man has got what it takes to win the green jacket. As much as I hate to agree with Phil, Mickelson is right when you have to take chances and put yourself in winning situations. Matt doesn’t do that, he plays just fundamentally solid golf through and through. Two weeks in a row now he went into Sunday with a stroke lead and he has no 1st place finishes to show for it. He doesn’t close. I don’t want to be as harsh and say he’s a choke artist (nothing you can do when Matt Jones chips in for birdie in sudden death) but he’s not winning a major anytime soon if his attitude stays the same.

​Speaking of that left handed golfer I cannot come to terms with liking…Phil Mickelson is unfortunately do for another victory in the Masters. I’m not saying he is my winner or for that matter a heavy favorite….but he is coming off of a strong week in Houston and every 3 or 4 years he seems to put another major on his resume.
​Hopefully your favorite to win was in that list and I crushed your spirits to some degree with those predictions. It is time for my favorites now. I’ll start off with Jason Dufner who is real primed to win a tournament such as the Masters. People like Dufner win this all the time. Dufner is the type of player who is poised with soooooo much talent but his name never appears as fancy as Dustin Johnson who drives it 350, or Kuchar who shoots -12 every tourney, or even Rory who just flashes a fancy Nike sign on his shirt and hat. That was the story of Charl Schwartzel three years ago and Bubba Watson two years ago. These are guys who had the talent to lead the pack but completely blind-sided everyone when they came out the victor. Dufner is one of those guys. He’s 16th in the world ranking right now, he averaging under par with a 70.6, and he already has three top 10 finishes this year.
​The other guy who I have my sights on for winning the Masters this year is Patrick Reed. The cocky SOB is second in the FedEx Cup standings right now, his drive avg is hovering around 300 (though the man can split the fairway with 330yd bombs) and he has two tour wins already this season. In my eyes he is the strongest golfer on the field right now. Jimmy Walker may have more wins then him this season but he also does a lot more tournaments then everyone else and Jimmy’s flame has died down a bit in recent weeks. If Reed can get on a roll early and play with confidence, he’ll be locked in and hard to compete with.

These Guys are Good

Matt Cassista

Matt Cassista

Yes, let us just get passed me using a slogan that is very popular on the golf channel right now and get into the truth that these current players in the World Golf Championship are indeed very good. Half way through Golf’s March Madness equivalent, the elite 8 has surfaced after yesterday’s performances and I am just overwhelmed by the names still out there. Of the 8 remaining, 5 of the players are under the age of 26. This should come as no surprise that I dislike most of them because of this.

            Where I will start off is with one of my current favorite golfers though, Rickie Fowler. Initially slotted in the 14th seed, Fowler knocked off (3)Poultier, (7)Haas, and most recently (2)Garcia. His win against Garcia is the most talked about thing in Golf currently. Winning 1UP in the matter, golf analyst still seem to be scratching their heads on the “Good-Good” Garcia and Fowler exchanged in on hole 7. Despite only needing to drop a 6ft putt to put the pressure on Fowler’s 17 footer, the two men agreed to pick up their balls and just move on to the next hole. A win on the hole would have put the Spainard 3UP and could have potentially sealed Fowler’s fate right then and there but instead it comes back to bite him in the ass as he falls to Fowler after his late push. Now here’s where I am not going to discredit Fowler’s performance, at about the turn Fowler must have felt the sense of urgency he needed to get the job done. He dropped a 15ft put on 9 for birdie and a 12ft putt for birdie on 10 to bring it within one. Fowler goes on to close the door on Garcia with another 15 footer on 16 for birdie and a chip in for birdie on 18. Seen as one of the heavier favorites for the Masters and most tournaments nowadays, it was surely a devastating blow for Sergio.

            Another impressive match was Spieth defeating reigning champ Kuchar 2 in 1. Kuchar should consider it a good day to only lose by two holes to the youngster Jordan Spieth. At 20 years old, the 1 year pro showed utter dominance from start to finish leading in 14 of the 18 holes Friday. I couldn’t help but marvel as Spieth found shot after shot hovering around the pin. This kid doesn’t seem like a flash in the pan, he’s going to be a name you are going to hear a lot of in the coming years. 

            Last key match to note was Jim Furyk defeating Harry English. English was riding high after winning in extra holes the day before to Rory McLLroy and jumping out to a 3UP lead on Furyk through the first six holes. All signs pointed to English having the hot hand. However, as seasoned as Mr Furyk may be, I repeatedly heard “98 yards out, this should be right in Furyk’s wheelhouse with the wedge….Oh will you look at that? That can’t be but 4ft from the hole.” Furyk shot a -4 on the back 9 and it proved to be too much for English to keep up with. Furyk advances to the 4th round for the first time in his prolonged career.

 

Quick Predictions:

(8)Oosthuizen def (2)Day: Day still seen as one of the best golfers in the world but struggled mightily yesterday and Oosthuizen bombed Henson and Simpson of the water winning those matches 4 in 3 and 5 in 4.

 

(14)Fowler def (5)Furyk: Fowler found his groove late and playing with a lot of confidence right now. Furyk has been at least 2DN in every match so far. It’s finally going to catch up to him.

 

(3)Spieth def (8)Els: Els looks like he’s not in tune with his new set of Adams clubs yet and I can’t stop talking great things about Jordan Spieth.

 

(7)Dubuisson def (4)McDowell: The Frenchman may be really bad at interviews but he’s really good at striking the ball. McDowell is just lucky everyone he has played so far has had their worst round in years. I’m not impressed with McDowell on any level right now. Expect Dubuisson to do another 1,000 shoulder shrugs in his victory interview.

I Have the Power!

           

Matt Cassista

Matt Cassista

Normally talking about offensive/defensive coordinators is not worth my time but here’s a second case now I’m doing it. I feel obligated too; this story has a chance of actually meaning something. I’m talking about Kyle Shanahan becoming new OFC in Cleveland and what sort of role he should have. I’m intrigued which direction he’ll go with a stagnate offensive and for once, a place where his opinion may be heard. He may have had six years of being an offensive coordinator under his belt but two years were under Gary Kubiak and four under Papa Shanahan; guys known for being in control of the play calling and overseeing all decisions made on both sides of the ball. He’s got wiggle room with Mike Pettine.

            Now I don’t want to jump the gun and say something ridiculous like “Prepare for Manziel and the Spread offense!” That just doesn’t seem likely from Shanahan. His offenses haven’t wandered to far away from his dad. I do however want to mention some things you might be surprised to hear about Kyle and his style. I feel we have a good scope on it now that he’s been around football for a half a dozen years.

            Under Kyle’s offenses, his number one wide receiver has averaged 1,197.5 yards in a season and the number two guy has averaged 622.3 yards. #2 is right around 55% of the yards #1 gets. This should bode well for 2013 breakout star Josh Gordon because it means Kyle is going to give the rock to his main man often. It’s also encouraging to know this because Josh is going to have a lot of question marks around his name with a lot of new players and coaches around him this offseason. You have to assume they’ll snag a QB as fast as they can from the NFL draft come April, one of their mid-round picks or offseason moves will be to grab a starting RB, and like I said, newly appointed Mike Pettine will have his say here and there. Seems to overwhelming to think Gordon can repeat his phenomenal season. However, as long as Shanahan stays in charge of the offense, we could see a modern day “Marshall in Denver” kind of scenario. (Insert monster-like references to Marshall’s 23 catch game here.) I also mentioned that the second wide out got right around 625 yards a season, this may keep Greg Little on the depth chart because of this, and even though Shanahan isn’t accustom to using a TE as often, he may recognize that Jordan Cameron has more potential than Little and may make him that unofficial #2 wide out.

            Also noticeable in Shanahan’s offense is a pretty stout running game. In his six seasons as OFC, Kyle’s worse rushing yds/game season average was 92, and his best was 169 (where that year, he was ranked #1 in the NFL.) Surely a key note to remember for your fantasy sleeper picks next season. As a Cleveland fan, you have to be excited that Kyle can run a good offensive clipboard, especially if you were indeed disappointed in the selection of Mike Pettine in the first place. Even more so if he ruins your 973 picks he has in this years coming draft. The Browns may have a chance to climb the AFC North ladder with a declining Pittsburg Steelers team and a suddenly suspect Cincinnati Bengals team. Don’t go crowning them division leaders just yet though…they’re still the Browns at the end of the day, but shockingly the best acquisition they may make this offseason was signing a talented OFC coordinator. Ain’t that the damndest thing…