Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Fantasy Golf: The PGA Championship Preview

The PGA Championship returns to Bellerive Country Club where twenty-six years ago Nick Price played four solid rounds of golf to hold-off a leaderboard stocked with other major winners like Nick Faldo and . . . um . . . (well Corey Pavin and Jeff Sluman finished in a tie for 12th). The rest of the top ten was comprised of very solid, nice, competent players like John Cook, Jim Gallagher, Jr. and Jeff Maggert. For modern parallels, think Webb Simpson, Charley Hoffman and Steve Stricker or you could look at it as a Golden Corral buffet with nothing but meatloaf, carrot cake and lemonade. Sure that sounds amazing but you were really hoping for the chicken gizzards and fried okra that was promised when you agreed to go.* 

So why are we back at Bellerive in 2018? Sounds like a legitimate question considering the greens are apparently in shit shape from the heat (who knew it got hot outside of St. Louis in the summer? Everyone? OK) and the course has now been soaked with rain to the point where prognosticators have narrowed the list of potential winners down to the elite long drive class of Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Rory McIroy, Tony Finau and a perpetually stoned club pro from Galveston, Texas named Dickerson McSmashberger, Jr. who people affectionately call "Long Dick Bong".

"That joke was a bit of a reach."
Suffice it to say, we don't have a lot to go on from a course history standpoint but let's try to break it all down anyway. We've got a very long wet par 71 golf course with wide fairways and crappy greens so driving distance should be rewarded while sketchy putting will get off with a very light sentence if there is any penalty at all. Good putters hate big slow greens because the reason they're good putters in the first place is that they are so adept at matching line and speed. If you negate their ability to determine the latter, poof goes much of their advantage.

Based on that analysis, the list below is somewhat predictable. You've got to put D.J. on there because he's the best in the world when he's playing well and he's definitely playing well. Rory is on the verge of putting four phenomenal rounds together and the set-up of this track seems ideally suited for that. And Justin Thomas is a steal at $9,700. The only reason I can fathom for Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler and Tiger Woods being priced higher is the Dallas Cowboys/Notre Dame factor which causes people to drive down the odds out of a sense of blind loyalty and, in the case of the Cowboys, moral turpitude. 

Then I'm taking the next best three players from the top ten in driving distance - Tony Finau, Luke List and Gary Woodland (I'm excluding Bubba who appears to have slipped into a bit of a funkola). Aaron Wise and Thorbjorn Olesen were both solid last week so we'll throw them in the mix along with Keegan Bradley who fits the profile and has been sprinkling in top tens this year. 

Finally we need a villain and who better than Bryson DeChambeau who brings the added value of being right on the edge of an automatic Ryder Cup spot. Some have suggested he'd be a good fit with Tiger because they apparently talked at a tournament once and there is still a small contingent who thinks anyone would be a good fit for Tiger at the Ryder Cup. Maybe it's just a process of elimination situation because the Spieth-Patrick Reed duo is already locked down and I'm not sure who else would gel with Bryson unless they brought Mac O'Grady out of retirement. And on that obscure note, we're done here.

"No one can botch a major course like us." - USGA
"Hold my wine spritzer." - PGA of America
One and Done Pick: Rory McIlroy

Other Guy I'd Pick: Justin Thomas

Sleeper Pick: Luke List


The DraftKings Top Ten Values


Dustin Johnson
$11,400
Rory McIlroy
$11,000
Justin Thomas
$9,700
Tony Finau
$8,100
B. DeChambeau
$7,900
Keegan Bradley
$7,500
Luke List
$7,100
Gary Woodland
$7,000
Aaron Wise
$6,800
Thor Olesen
$6,700

Footnote

* You're goddamn right I went online and culled the Golden Corral menu for those references. 

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Fantasy Golf: The WGC-Bridgestone Invitational Preview

So here's a fun fact. During one nine year stretch from 1999 through 2007, the complete list of players who beat Tiger Woods at Firestone C.C. was as follows: Stewart Cink (2004), Darren Clarke (2003), Jonathan Kaye (2003) and Davis Love, III (2003). Tiger won the tournament six times during that run, finished T2 once and T4 the other time (they played a different course in 2002). Then he went ahead and won it again in 2009 and 2013 for good measure. Suffice it to say that he likes the layout so I'm pulling the trigger on him this week and hoping for a miracle finish over the next seven weeks to salvage a season that has worn-out the clutch trying to find second gear. 

Zima . . . when there's nothing left
to drink except for peach schnapps.
A Tiger win would be a fitting farewell to Firestone C.C. which will be replaced as the host of this event by TPC Southwind because Bridgestone no longer wants to shell-out the sponsorship dough. I get it (sort of) but trading Firestone for Southwind is like trading a bottle of Macallan for a six pack of Zima. A defining characteristic of great golf courses is that great players are consistently successful on them (which is why TPC courses suck). But hey, anytime you get to move one of the most prestigious tournaments in the world to the sixth best course in Tennessee . . . you gotta do it right?

As for the rest of this week's picks, it gets a bit top heavy but that's the nature of this event. Going back to when Tiger started his run in 1999, the only real outlier to win it was Shane Lowry in 2016 and even he was playing decent golf at the time. Even as the game's talent pool has grown ridiculously deep in recent years, you still see the best players in the world logging repeat top tens including Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Justin Rose and Rickie Fowler along with slightly worn major winners like Zach Johnson, Adam Scott and Charl Schwartzel (no offense you old coots). With that history of stacked leaderboards, I feel compelled to include Rory and Rickie along with Dustin Johnson in my top ten based on current form combined with past success.

That means I need to balance-out with some cheaper options so, as much as I'd like to include mid-priced players like Brooks Koepka, Alex Noren and Paul Casey, I can't. Not that anyone in that range really excites me anyway though Patrick Fucking Reed is always a threat to crash the weekend leaderboard, spill a beer on the couch, double-dip the salsa and then be the thing that wouldn't leave at 2:00 a.m. (Hey Pat we've got kind of an early day tomorrow . . .).  

I'm looking for value below the $8,000 mark and the first bargain there is Xander Schauffele. Let's take a moment to appreciate the big game run he's had since arriving on the scene with a T5 at last year's U.S. Open. He then went T20 at the British Open, T17 at the Bridgestone, won the Tour Championship, finished T18 at the WGC-Mexico, T2 at The Players, T6 at the U.S. Open and T2 at the British Open. Among players yet to win a major, I'm not sure there is more of a lock because clearly he ain't scared. It would shock no one to see him win this week (except for maybe the guys in my fantasy golf league because it would be the third guy from my team to win in as many weeks but who's counting?).

From there I'm going with three guys who played well at the British Open in Thorbjorn Olesen, Kevin Chappell and Kevin Kisner plus Kevin Na who can grind his way around Firestone and has the added benefit of giving me three guys named "Kevin." Throw-in Adam Hadwin because I need an inexpensive option who has demonstrated some level of success here. Put a few of those guys in the mix with a couple of the heavy hitters and pour yourself a couple fingers of McCallan on the rocks. Then just sit back and imagine how much Zima you can buy with your $8 in winnings.    

One and Done Pick: Tiger Woods
Rickie is due to bolster his "Player Who May
Never Win a Major" resume this week before
he weds FGR favorite Allison Stokke.


Other Guy I'd Pick: Rory McIlroy


Sleeper Pick: Kevin Chappell


The DraftKings Top Ten Values


Dustin Johnson
$11,700
Rory McIlroy
$11,300
Tiger Woods
$10,800
Rickie Fowler
$10,000
X. Schauffele
$7,900
Thor Oleson
$7,500
Kevin Chappell
$7,300
Kevin Kisner
$7,200
Kevin Na
$7,200
Adam Hadwin
$6,900

The most noteworthy bit of information from the five year chart below is how awful Phil Mickelson is on a course where he finished in the top ten the first three times he played it from 1999 to 2001. Then he stunk for five years before going T4 in 2008. Since then, his best finish is a T15 in 2014. In a tournament that usually only has about fifty good players in the field, he's finished T39 or worse ten out of the last fifteen times so don't be surprised if he gets frustrated on Saturday and hits a couple mulligans on the 15th hole or decides to play the hybrid tees so he can reach the par five 16th green in two.  



DK Price
2017
2016
2015
2014
2013
Dustin Johnson
$11,700
T17
1st
T53
DNP
T33
Rory McIlroy
$11,300
T5
DNP
DNP
1st
T27
Tiger Woods
$10,800
DNP
DNP
DNP
W/D
1st
Justin Rose
$10,700
T63
T46
T3
T4
T17
Jordan Spieth
$10,400
T13
T3
T10
T49
DNP
Rickie Fowler
$10,000
9th
T10
T10
T8
T21
Jason Day
$9,800
T24
T3
T12
W/D
T53
Jon Rahm
$9,600
T28
DNP
DNP
DNP
DNP
F. Molinari
$9,400
T24
DNP
T61
T31
T44
T. Fleetwood
$9,200
T28
DNP
DNP
DNP
DNP
Henrik Stenson
$9,000
T17
DNP
T6
T19
T2
Brooks Koepka
$8,900
T17
W/D
T6
DNP
DNP
Justin Thomas
$8,800
T28
T33
DNP
DNP
DNP
Alex Noren
$8,700
T28
DNP
DNP
DNP
DNP
Paul Casey
$8,600
T5
T16
T17
DNP
T27
Bubba Watson
$8,500
T17
T14
2nd
T37
T27
H. Matsuyama
$8,400
1st
T42
T37
T12
T21
Patrick Reed
$8,300
T36
52nd
T15
T4
DNP
Patrick Cantlay
$8,200
DNP
DNP
DNP
DNP
DNP
Zach Johnson
$8,100
2nd
T10
T33
T23
T44
Tony Finau
$8,000
DNP
DNP
DNP
DNP
DNP
Marc Leishman
$7,900
T41
55th
T33
3rd
DNP
X. Schauffele
$7,900
T17
DNP
DNP
DNP
DNP
B. DeChambeau
$7,800
T60
DNP
DNP
DNP
DNP
Matt Kuchar
$7,700
T17
T3
T25
T12
T27
Branden Grace
$7,600
T28
T10
T17
T23
T65
Webb Simpson
$7,600
DNP
DNP
T25
T31
T14
Adam Scott
$7,500
T13
T10
T45
T8
T14
Charley Hoffman
$7,500
3rd
T33
T31
DNP
DNP
Thor Oleson
$7,500
T10
DNP
DNP
DNP
T48
Sergio Garcia
$7,400
T39
DNP
T37
2nd
T40
Phil Mickelson
$7,400
T39
T27
T63
T15
T21
Ian Poulter
$7,300
DNP
DNP
T17
T52
T19
Kevin Chappell
$7,300
T13
T3
DNP
DNP
DNP
Kevin Kisner
$7,200
T28
T16
T37
DNP
DNP
Kevin Na
$7,200
DNP
T27
T15
T23
DNP
Charl Schwartzel
$7,200
T24
T7
T31
T4
T21
Brandan Steele
$6,900
T24
DNP
DNP
DNP
DNP
Adam Hadwin
$6,900
T5
DNP
DNP
DNP
DNP
Johnny Vegas
$6,800
T17
DNP
DNP
DNP
DNP

Email the Fantasy Golf Report at fgr@fantasygolfreport.com.