Punch Shot: Buying and selling for 2015

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As the start of the 2015 season approaches, it's time for the GolfChannel.com writers to adjust their portfolios. Here's who and what they're buying and selling for 2015.

By JASON SOBEL

Buying: Graham DeLaet. On the heels of his strong 2013 campaign, I was uncontrollably bullish on DeLaet entering last year. So much that it almost seemed to be too easy to pick him to win his first PGA Tour title; instead, I picked him to win two.

It didn’t happen, but I’m not jumping off that bandwagon yet. In fact, like any good stockbroker will insist, if you think a company is about to take off, keep loading up until it does. And so I’m still buying up as much DeLaet stock as I can, knowing his ball-striking skills will equate to a win soon enough. On second thought, maybe two of 'em.

Selling: Phil Mickelson. Those same stockbrokers would probably advise that it isn’t smart to sell a stock when it’s at an all-time low, but I can’t help it. For the sake of this exercise, I’m selling Mickelson.

This is despite his continued insistence that the next five years will be the best of his career; that he’ll not just win one U.S. Open, but multiple titles; that he finished T-2 in the most recent major championship.

And yet, I can’t help but think that as he continues on the back nine of his illustrious career, it will become more and more difficult for Mickelson to continue contending on a regular basis. I don’t think he’s done winning; I don’t think we’ll never hear from him again. But if I’ve got to sell a player’s stock, in the year he’ll turn 45 he’s the guy.


By RYAN LAVNER

Buying: Jordan Spieth. Perhaps it’s because his late-season surge is so fresh in our minds, but 2015 seems like a massive year for the 21-year-old. With three pro titles under his belt and at No. 9 in the world rankings, he has already established himself as one of the elite players. Now seems like the time that he’ll take his game to the next level, to contend for another big-time title after his close calls at the Masters and Players. Statistically speaking, he doesn’t do anything on the course exceptionally well, but the kid is a gamer who knows how to get the ball in the hole. If he can steal a major, he’ll be one of the brightest stars in American sports, not just golf.

Selling: Jim Furyk. Any way you look at it, 2014 was one of the best years of Furyk’s career. He had four runner-up finishes, 11 top 10s and 18 top 25s in 21 events, amassing nearly $6 million in earnings. A great year by any measure, but he remained winless since 2010 and he’s accumulating scar tissue at a troubling rate. You can’t help but sense that a market correction is coming. He hasn’t been able to convert any of his last eight 54-hole leads, and those events won’t get easier to win as he approaches his age-45 season.


By REX HOGGARD

Buying: Jordan Spieth. A bandwagon pick by any definition, Spieth is easily the game’s must-buy stock. At 21 years old, the potential reward is virtually unlimited while the risk is minimal.

Largely injury-free in his young career, Spieth has already won on the PGA Tour (2013 John Deere Classic) and closed last year with walk-off victories at the Australian Open and Hero World Challenge by a combined 16 strokes.

Perhaps more important, however, is Spieth’s play at the biggest events, most notably his runner-up showing last year at Augusta National and his inspired pairing with Patrick Reed at the Ryder Cup.

Selling: Ian Poulter. Conversely, if every week were a team match-play event, Poulter would enjoy “blue chip” status just behind Spieth, but professional golf is largely decided by 72 holes of stroke play and that doesn’t seem to be the Englishman’s forte.

Poulter, who turns 39 this week, has just a single stroke-play victory on the Tour (2012 WGC-HSBC Champions) after a decade in the United States and he’s been trending down for some time.

After a career-high 31st-place finish on the FedEx Cup points list in 2009, Poulter has consistently moved in the wrong direction (he finished 81st last year in the season-long race) and has just a single top-10 finish at a major over the last two years.


By RANDALL MELL

Buying: Fred Couples.

This is like investing in Pfizer or Johnson & Johnson. Couples is becoming a human pharmaceutical in international team golf, the magic pill that just might cure what ails the American Ryder Cup team. Couples is looking like a frontrunner to be named the next American Ryder Cup captain.

Contacting Couples appeared to be atop the new Ryder Cup task force’s order of business after it first met in December. He is 3-0 as the American Presidents Cup captain and will imbue prospective American Ryder Cup team members with hope and excitement as the anti-Tom Watson, if Couples is actually named. Everybody wants to play for Freddie, it seems.

Selling: West Coast swing. With the WGC-Cadillac Match Play Championship moving to San Francisco in May, you can’t really call it a part of the “swing” anymore. The strength of the West Coast swing near the start of the PGA Tour schedule has been weakening for some time now, and now it’s even weaker.

Even if Tiger Woods adds the Waste Management Phoenix Open or the Northern Trust Open to his schedule, that’s still likely to be just two West Coast swing appearances in January/February for Woods, which is pretty much what he’s been playing the last nine years. He hasn’t played three times on the West Coast swing since 2006, when he played Torrey Pines, Riviera and the Match Play at La Costa.

Of course, he if were to play three again this year, he would singlehandedly revive the swing.


By WILL GRAY

Buying: Brandt Snedeker. It’s hard to believe that the former FedEx Cup champ will begin 2015 without a Masters invite, but such is the case for Snedeker, now 58th in the world and coming off a disappointing 2014 season that saw him miss out on a Ryder Cup spot. This is the time to buy low, though, because Snedeker remains one of the game’s best on the greens and now has had several months to adjust to a new swing coach in Butch Harmon. Expect a bounce-back in 2015.

Selling: Billy Horschel. As Henrik Stenson showed in 2014, sometimes defending a FedEx Cup title isn’t easy. Horschel peaked at the right time last season, winning back-to-back events to capture the season-long crown and now begins the new year 13th in the OWGR. But we’ve seen bursts like that before from him, and Horschel has had some difficulty maintaining consistency thus far in his career. As he adjusts to a new spot among the game’s elite, there could be some growing pains in 2015 for the PGA Tour’s latest $10 million man.