Fantasy Aces: Super selections

Welcome to’s Fantasy Aces, your weekly source for winning fantasy golf leagues and arguments with the starter. Such information is less likely to help you win the Super Bowl MVP award or a trip to Disney World, but that’s hopefully not the reason you’re here.

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This week’s event: FBR Open
Course: TPC Scottsdale (7,216 yards, par 71).
Purse: $6 million. Winner’s share: $1.08 million.
Last year: Aaron Baddeley birdied three of the final four holes for his second consecutive 7-under 64 and a one-stroke victory over John Rollins. It was his second PGA Tour victory.

• See below for Golfweek’s FBR Open rankings

Last week’s recap: As expected, Tiger Woods won by 1,000. But since the Aces weren’t allowed to pick him, none of them picked the winner. Rex Hoggard picked the highest finisher (Justin Leonard, T-5).

Eric Soderstrom’s best bet: Phil Mickelson.

I’m sick of letting the fantasy golf gods make me feel bad for picking a superstar this early in the season. I’m going with Lefty, because I’m right.

Mickelson is as comfortable as anyone in Arizona State country. He’s a two-time champion and leading money-winner in the desert, and despite his missed cut a year ago, is coming off a strong finish at the Buick, where he hit a lot of fairways. Historically, the FBR Open is a birdiefest, but usually only for the guys who can keep it in the short grass. I’m also going to guess that he’s sick of all this Grand Slam Tiger talk, and with the Best Ever 8,000 miles away this week, there’s no better time for Mickelson to squash at least some of the hype.

And get this: The last time the Super Bowl was in Phoenix, Lefty took home the title.

Ace up Soderstrom’s sleeve: Camilo Villegas.

Considering the hype surrounding Villegas seems to have already dried up, the desert seems like a perfect place for him to jump back into the picture. It makes the most sense, at least. Villegas’ best finish (T-2) on the PGA Tour came two years ago at Phoenix, a place that often crowns an early-season contender. Villegas finished tied for 13th last week in his first PGA Tour start of the year, and just has to be thinking, “If not this year, then when?”

Rex Hoggard’s best bet: Fredrik Jacobson.

Picking an FBR Open winner is more a question of where than who. TPC Scottsdale ranked 46th out of 55 courses last year in scoring average (69.845) and the layout yielded 1,561 birdies for the week, the fifth highest total in ’07.

The nod goes to the most proficient birdie machine and this week that honor belongs to Fredrik Jacobson. The Swede ranked second on Tour in ’07, behind Tiger Woods, in birdie average (4.01) and he has a little history at the TPC with his tie for ninth in 2004.

Ace up Hoggard’s sleeve: Fred Couples.

OK, pulling “Boom Boom” as your ace is akin to taking the New York Giants in Sunday’s big game at even money. But Couples tied for eighth last week at the Buick Invitational, his first top 10 in an official event since the 2006 Masters, hits it long enough to still contend and undoubtedly likes the “Silly Season” feel the crowds bring to Scottsdale’s circus 16th hole.

Lance Ringler’s best bet: Rory Sabbatini.

If Rory Sabbatini is not an ace this week, I don’t know who is. But before I throw out some numbers, let me toss out the key reason Rory could win this week: Tiger Woods is a Par 500,000 away in Dubai.

Sabbatini opened himself up to some banter by saying Woods was “as beatable as ever” last year, and even though Rory failed to finish ahead of Woods (0-14-1) in 2007, the South African native has put up some almost-Tiger-like numbers (minus the victories of course).

Sabbatini has posted eight consecutive top 20 finishes and a pair of top-3 showings to start 2008 (2nd at the Sony Open, T-3 at the Buick Invitational). He’s also capable of going really low, which has become a trend at TPC Scottsdale.

Ace up Ringler’s sleeve: Stuart Appleby.

Only because you have probably not heard his name mentioned much lately. Stuart Appleby enters the FBR Open this week well under the radar, after quietly finishing in the top 10 last week at the Buick Invitational, his first start of the season.

Posted field in order of Golfweek/Sagarin Ranking (which is based on performance over the last 52 weeks):

3. Vijay Singh
5. Steve Stricker
7. Phil Mickelson
8. Arron Oberholser
9. David Toms
10. Rory Sabbatini
11. Aaron Baddeley
14. K.J. Choi
15. Mike Weir
17. Stewart Cink
20. Carl Pettersson
21. Rod Pampling
22. Geoff Ogilvy
23. Sean O'Hair
24. Anthony Kim
28. Jerry Kelly
30. Camilo Villegas
31. Heath Slocum
34. Lucas Glover
35. Boo Weekley
36. Briny Baird
37. Brandt Snedeker
38. Hunter Mahan
40. Fredrik Jacobson
41. Ken Duke
42. Tim Herron
45. Tom Pernice, Jr.
47. Kenny Perry
48. John Rollins
50. Bo Van Pelt
52. Jason Bohn
53. Brian Davis
55. John Senden
56. Woody Austin
57. Justin Leonard
58. Steve Elkington
59. Nathan Green
61. Charles Howell III
62. Vaughn Taylor
64. Pat Perez
67. Trevor Immelman
68. Stuart Appleby
72. Mathew Goggin
73. Ben Crane
75. Kevin Stadler
75. Kevin Sutherland
76. Dean Wilson
77. Cliff Kresge
78. Charles Warren
79. J.J. Henry
80. Charlie Wi
81. Jason Gore
82. Jason Day
83. Jesper Parnevik
84. Fred Funk
86. Nick O'Hern
87. Billy Mayfair
88. Steve Marino
89. Rich Beem
90. Mark Calcavecchia
91. Ryan Moore
93. Jonathan Byrd
94. Steve Allan
96. Ryuji Imada
98. Daniel Chopra
102. Robert Allenby
103. Kevin Na
105. Mark Wilson
109. Peter Lonard
110. Frank Lickliter II
111. Chad Campbell
112. Chris DiMarco
114. Tom Lehman
115. Alex Cejka
118. Brett Wetterich
121. David Berganio, Jr.
121. Shaun Micheel
122. John Mallinger
126. Joe Ogilvie
127. Nick Watney
128. Stephen Leaney
129. Tim Petrovic
133. Troy Matteson
134. Joe Durant
135. D.J. Trahan
136. Jay Williamson
137. Will MacKenzie
138. Ben Curtis
141. Rocco Mediate
142. Brian Gay
145. Cameron Beckman
147. Bubba Watson
149. Craig Barlow
150. J.P. Hayes
152. Steve Flesch
154. Andres Romero
155. Ryan Armour
157. Bill Haas
162. J.B. Holmes
163. Robert Garrigus
165. Michael Allen
167. Tommy Armour III
169. Roland Thatcher
175. Brett Quigley
180. Jeff Quinney
182. Bob Estes
183. Shigeki Maruyama
187. Charley Hoffman
191. Brett Rumford
194. Jeff Overton
195. Mark Hensby
201. Mathias Gronberg
211. Ted Purdy
214. Doug LaBelle II
215. Nick Flanagan
229. Paul Goydos
261. Richard Johnson
264. Olin Browne
265. Chez Reavie
272. Paul Azinger
278. Todd Demsey
307. Johnson Wagner
334. Eric Axley
460. Harrison Frazar
545. Todd Hamilton
N/R. Shane Bertsch
N/R. Fred Couples
N/R. Dudley Hart
N/R. Brandt Jobe
N/R. Jonathan Kaye
N/R. Scott McCarron
N/R. Paul Trittler

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