Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Fantasy Golf: The Dean & Deluca Invitational Preview

Before we get to this week's tournament preview, let's take a minute to talk about choking. And more specifically, choking away a 4 up lead with 5 holes to play. And even more specifically, choking away that lead in a tournament that you really give a crap about. And very specifically, choking away that kind of lead when all you (as a 6 handicap) and your partner (as a 9 handicap) had to do was make one par on the last four holes to win. And quite specifically . . . FUCK!!! 

Okay. Now that I didn't even begin to get that out of my fucking system, let's get to this week's event which used to be called the Crowne Plaza Invitational and before that was just called the Colonial but is now sponsored by Dean & Deluca . . . "purveyors of fine food" (because they don't just "sell" fine food, they "purvey" it). Remember when these second tier events used to have badass names like the Buick-Goodwrench Open, the Anheiser-Busch Golf Classic and the Michelob-Houston Open. Now we have a tournament sponsored by a company that sells a $75 "French Cheese Plate" . . . and it's being played in Texas! I expect fixing that shit to be near the top of President Trump's to do list.     

Anyway, here's the only advice you need this week. Pick a player who hits it straight. Zach Johnson won here in 2010 and 2012. Jason Dufner was runner-up in 2012 and 2014. Those two guys should top your list of candidates along with the assortment of slap hitters I have listed below. And now, if you'll excuse me, I feel another bogey flashback coming-on so I'm going to stick a butter knife in a toaster.
   
Thanks for another 
great year Texas.
THE DEAN & DELUCA INVITATIONAL ODDS

Jordan Spieth - 6/1
Adam Scott - 11/1
Matt Kuchar - 14/1
Zach Johnson - 22/1
Charley Hoffman - 25/1
Kevin Chappell - 28/1
Patrick Reed - 33/1
Jim Furyk - 33/1
Kevin Na - 33/1
Louis Oosthuizen - 33/1
Charl Schwartzel - 35/1
Chris Kirk - 35/1
Jason Dufner - 40/1
Brandt Snedeker - 40/1
Jimmy Walker - 40/1
Colt Knost - 40/1
Danny Lee - 40/1

One and Done Pick: Jason Dufner
Love the hats.

Sleeper Pick: Scott Piercy

FIFTEEN GUYS WE LIKE

Jordan Spieth - $12,800
Matt Kuchar - $11,000
Zach Johnson - $10,700
Chris Kirk - $9,700
Kevin Chappell - $9,600
Jason Dufner - $8,400
Colt Knost - $8,300
Patton Kizzire - $7,600
Smylie Kaufman - $7,600
Jerry Kelly - $7,200
Freddie Jacobson - $7,100
Bryce Molder - $7,100
Kyle Reifers - $7,000
Scott Piercy - $6,800
Adam Hadwin - $6,600

ONE AND DONE PICKS TO DATE

Hyundai:
Dustin Johnson
$148,000
Sony:
Matt Kuchar
$77,604
CareerBuilder:
Ryan Palmer
$75,897
Farmers:
Brandt Snedeker
$1,170,000
Phoenix:
Hideki Matsuyama
$1,170,000
Pebble Beach:
Jimmy Walker
$143,500
Northern Trust:
Sergio Garcia
$0
Honda:
Patrick Reed
$0
Cadillac:
Rickie Fowler
$197,500
Valspar
Ryan Moore
$414,800
Palmer:
Henrik Stenson
$365,400
Match Play:
Branden Grace
$90,900
Houston Open:
Phil Mickelson
$160,760
Masters:
Adam Scott
$37,000
Heritage:
Kevin Kisner
$11,859
Texas Open:
Charley Hoffman
$1,116,000
Zurich:
Billy Horschel
$28,029
Wells Fargo:
Kevin Chappell
$22,642
Players:
Rory McIlroy
$212,625
Nelson:
Marc Leishman
$0
Total
$5,442,516

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


Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Fantasy Golf: The AT&T Byron Nelson Preview

Let's begin with a quick follow-up note to self on last week's Players Championship Power Rankings. Note to self: When doing power rankings, always include the best player in the world. From this point forward (until further notice), whether it is written here or not, always include Jason Day on at least one entry of any multi-player contest that you might engage in so you don't feel like an idiot when he wins. (I actually followed this strategy last week . . . just failed to mention it in the preview. Whoops).

Now we head back to Texas for a little Byron Nelson - Colonial two step (see what I did there?) and we've got a decently stacked little field working with Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson, Matt Kuchar and the suddenly borderline "A" lister Charley Hoffman. From a one and done standpoint, D.J. has to be the prohibitive favorite because Spieth's game may still be shirtless in the Bahamas trying too hard to prove that it's moved on from the 12th hole at Augusta. Unfortunately, I've already used D.J. along with Kuch, Hoffman and local favorite Ryan Palmer who would have been my second, third and fourth choices so we need to identify the next best dog with the fewest flees.*


Well Sonja Henie's out so it looks like our options are Louis Oosthuizen, Brooks Koepka, Charl Schwartzel and Zach Johnson (there are others but that's how I see it). Louis' level of commitment always scares me, especially coming off the four day grind at The Players. Koepka still looks to be a swing tweak away from his 2015 form and Z.J. is a better option at other venues. That leaves Schwartzel who always seems to disengage the week I pick him as he is about as reliable as $5 umbrella. You know what? Screw Schwartzel and the rest of 'em. I'm picking Marc Leishman.


AUSSIE AUSSIE AUSSIE!!!
THE BYRON NELSON ODDS

Jordan Spieth - 13/2
Dustin Johnson - 8/1
Charley Hoffman - 20/1
Matt Kuchar - 20/1
Sergio Garcia - 22/1
Brooks Koepka - 25/1
Louis Oosthuizen - 25/1
Zach Johnson - 25/1
Charl Schwartzel - 25/1
Marc Leishman - 30/1 
Brandt Snedeker - 30/1
Jimmy Walker - 33/1

One and Done Pick: Marc Leishman

Sleeper Pick: Bryce Molder

FIFTEEN GUYS WE LIKE
OI OI OI!!!

Dustin Johnson - $11,900
Charley Hoffman - $10,800
Matt Kuchar - $10,500
Brooks Koepka - $9.600
Marc Leishman - $9,500
Ryan Palmer - $8,900
Charles Howell, III - $8,200
Keegan Bradley - $7,900
Graham DeLaet - $7,900
Colt Knost - $7,800
Freddie Jacobson - $7,300
Jon Curran - $6,900
Bryce Molder - $6,800
Ricky Barnes - $6,700
Jerry Kelly - $6,700

ONE AND DONE PICKS TO DATE


Hyundai:
Dustin Johnson
$148,000
Sony:
Matt Kuchar
$77,604
CareerBuilder:
Ryan Palmer
$75,897
Farmers:
Brandt Snedeker
$1,170,000
Phoenix:
Hideki Matsuyama
$1,170,000
Pebble Beach:
Jimmy Walker
$143,500
Northern Trust:
Sergio Garcia
$0
Honda:
Patrick Reed
$0
Cadillac:
Rickie Fowler
$197,500
Valspar
Ryan Moore
$414,800
Palmer:
Henrik Stenson
$365,400
Match Play:
Branden Grace
$90,900
Houston Open:
Phil Mickelson
$160,760
Masters:
Adam Scott
$37,000
Heritage:
Kevin Kisner
$11,859
Texas Open:
Charley Hoffman
$1,116,000
Zurich:
Billy Horschel
$28,029
Wells Fargo:
Kevin Chappell
$22,642
Players:
Rory McIlroy
$212,625
Total
$5,442,516

Footnote

* I always wondered what Gordon Gekko's dog rating criteria was beyond flea population. It probably wasn't based on breeding because he scoffed at Ivy League diplomas so maybe he favored speed, strength or raw killing power. Then again, he does tell Bud that if he wants a friend, he should get a dog so maybe he's just a sucker for a good old man's best friend mutt. Actually, I never wondered about this until just now. Not sure why I premised this footnote on a lie. Maybe it's a symptom of desperation from living in a place that's had so much rain over the past three weeks that I've actually Googled "how to build an ark." (That was also a lie . . . I've never Googled that . . . I clearly need some time away from election coverage).    

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Fantasy Golf: Players Championship Preview Remix

When I laid-out my master plan for winning my one and done league this year, the strategy included saving two big guns for the BMW Championship and the Tour Championship so that, if I was in striking distance, I could drop the hammer in the last two events and blow by anyone in front of me. It would be the stuff of legend. 

Then the hamster that powers my brain started running like he stole something (never a good sign) and a couple of things dawned on me: 

(1) The winner of the Players Championship gets $1,890,000 which I believe is the largest payday on tour by a couple hundred grand, and 

Hey, I think I see an opening.
I'm going to play it from here.
(2) I was not planning to start the guy who I thought was most likely to win the tournament (Rory McIlroy) but was instead going to use a guy (Kevin Na) whose only PGA Tour win was the 2011 Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open and whose two primary claims to golf fame are that (a) he once went through a stretch where he was so yippy that he couldn't pull the club back, and (b) he holds the record for worst score ever on a par 4 with a 16 on the ninth hole of the 2011 Valero Texas Open

The fact that this is only dawned on me after I spent hours writing a full Players preview indicates that the brain hamster must have been completely logy and house drunk on red wine and thick crust pizza when this original pick was hatched.

Even with all of that sound reasoning in play, I was still afraid to pull the trigger because of the whole "if I ditch Kevin Na and then he wins, I'll hate myself" power of positive thinking that guides most of my key life decisions like this one. Fortunately (I hope), I happen to be reading The Martian by Andy Weir which, if you haven't read it or seen the movie (and I highly recommend both),* is about a Mars astronaut named Mark Watney who gets stranded and NASA's efforts to bring him home. In one pivotal scene (don't worry, this is not a spoiler), the head of NASA (Teddy Sanders) decides on a more conservative approach and is told by his communications director (Annie Montrose): "You are a fucking coward. If you had balls, we might be able to save Watney." Thanks for stopping by today Teddy and please leave your man card at the front desk when you go.

Suffice it to say that Annie's line spoke to me and it was that little bit of inspiration that finally caused me to grow a pair and switch to Rory. If Kevin Na ends-up winning, please pray for my family, my dog and anyone else who wanders into the destructive path of my irrational anguish on Sunday night.    

Footnote

* For most of the story, Weir uses the first person narrative and rarely misses an opportunity to insert a snarky comment from his protagonist who is a sarcastic wise ass. Still can't quite put my finger on why the book resonates with me so much. Must be the science.    

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

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Fantasy Golf: The Players Championship Preview

We've taken a few shots at the Players Championship (a few?) for everything from its spotty list of champions to the suspect caliber of the golf course on which it's played. Maybe we were too harsh but it's not our fault that from 1997-2012, Tim Clark, Fred Funk, Stephen Ames, Craig Perks and Tiger Woods all had the same number of wins or that Phil Mickelson walked-off the course after missing the cut last year and announced to the assembled press that "I can't believe I've actually won here" not meaning it in the least bit as a compliment.*   

Over the last four years, however, the Players has started to redeem itself with quality winners (Rickie Fowler, Martin Kaymer, Tiger and Matt Kuchar) and some drama on the closing holes which, if nothing else, are designed to manufacture action like a Hunger Games arena. So in the spirit of goodwill, we're going to give it the full major treatment with a power rankings preview. No need to thank us. Just let our pick win. And by "our pick" we mean Kevin Na because we've already used/wasted most of the players at the top of the rankings. As of this moment, we're resisting the urge to use Rory . . . though the temptation is growing and that is subject to change.     

Remember that these are value rankings which means that we're looking at sticker prices before we buy so high priced players with no positive vibes like Dustin Johnson and Bubba Watson don't even draw the slightest consideration and we might check-out the smooth Corinthian leather interior on a Jason Day but he probably won't even warrant a test drive. Despite the seemingly perfect fit of his game on this course, something ain't right because all he has to show for his past efforts is a T19th in 2013 and a T6th in 2011 to go with three missed cuts and a couple of "thanks but no thanks" non-entries. If you don't save Day for a major this year, you should have your head examined . . . by a doctor . . . for defects.  
   
THE PLAYERS CHAMPIONSHIP POWER RANKINGS

1. Sergio Garcia (Odds: 28/1 . . . $9,900**)  

It seems kind of fitting that Sergio would enjoy a course that no one else likes because Sergio has always been something of a contrarian. (How's that for a positive spin on Sergio?) He won here in 2008, finished 2nd last year and has another runner-up along with a 3rd, 4th and 8th. Forget how he might be playing now. He almost always finds his game in Ponte Vedra. 

No, not that Swede. Nice try though.
2. Henrik Stenson (Odds: 28/1 . . . $9,500)

Stenson is another guy who has displayed some love for TPC Sawgrass with a win in 2009 and three other top tens. It's hard to pinpoint the exact traits required for success on a course that has produced winners ranging from Tiger to Tim Clark but all-around driving would be near the top of the list and look which Swede is at No. 3 in that category this year.

3. Rory McIlroy (Odds: 8/1 . . . $11,700)

With four reachable par fives, Rory will have some places to make-up for the inevitable doubles and he's got a decent trend going at Sawgrass with a T8th, T6th and a T8th in his last three starts. There is at least a 10% chance he annihilates the field this week with one of his fireworks displays so if you're feeling that . . .  

4. Rickie Fowler (Odds: 18/1 . . . $10,600)   

The only reason Rickie isn't at least two spots higher is that he won last year and this is the kind of quirky tournament that no one wins back to back (as evidenced by the fact that no one has ever won it back to back). In addition to last year's title, he finished T2nd in 2012 so the win wasn't a fluke. It doesn't hurt that he's really good at the two things you need to be really good at here - total driving (11th) and putting (23rd).  

5. Kevin Na (Odds: 70/1 . . . $7,800)

This could be a case of me stretching to justify my pick but he does have a T6th last year, a T7th in 2012 and T3rd in 2009. As I sit here imagining what it will be like to root for him on Sunday, however, I find myself longing for other options (like Rory?!?!?).   

6. Jordan Spieth (Odds: 10/1 . . . $11,400) 

It wouldn't be a surprise to see him contend this week and maybe even win because you know he's burning to show everyone that he's shaken the demons from Augusta. However, the fun thing about golf is that effort can often be your enemy, especially when you combine it with a desire to prove something. You gotta let it flow baby and I doubt that Spieth is back to that mindset yet.


Nope. Wrong again.
7. Marc Leishman (Odds: 100/1 . . . $7,300)

We're going all-in on this total driving theory with the guy at the top of the list. And looky here, Leishman is another guy who doesn't hate the golf course with top 25's the last two years and a T8th in 2013.

8. Zach Johnson (Odds: 55/1 . . . $8,300)

Based on the composition of his game (straight driver + great wedge player + good putter), you'd think his resume would include more than just a T2nd in 2012 and five other top twenty finishes. Maybe that just means he's due.

9. Daniel Berger (Odds: 60/1 . . . $8,000)

Berger looks like he could be the solid young gun who makes a run like Kevin Kisner did last year. That's all I got on him. 

10. Billy Horschel (Odds: 60/1 . . . $8,200)

He let us down in New Orleans a couple weeks ago when he opened with a promising 68 before going into the mediocre tank but we'll blame some of that on the rain delays. Decent track record at Sawgrass with a T26th in 2014 and a T13th last year. 

11. Matt Kuchar (Odds: 66/1 . . . $8,100)

Kuch won here in 2012 and has a bunch of other top twenty finishes and I refuse to believe he's done despite the fact that he hasn't had a top five at a PGA event since the RBC Heritage . . . of 2015. What can I say? He even makes his goofy charm work when he's butchering those Skechers commercials. Speaking of which, I played against a guy wearing Skechers the other day. Of course he was from another club and fortunately he left the cargo shorts at home or it would've been really awkward. The lesson as always is that I'm a douche. 


12. Luke Donald (Odds: 100/1 . . . $6,900)

Back when he was good, he was good at Sawgrass with a 6th in 2012 and a T4th in 2011. He's been pretty good lately with a T2nd at the Heritage and a T13th in Texas. Ignore the T71st last week. He had no business being on a course that long against guys like Rory, Justin Rose and James Hahn? (Best line regarding Hahn's missed cut streak came from Jim Nantz . . . "the last time Hahn played on Sunday was on Super Bowl Sunday"). 

13. Kevin Chappell (Odds: 80/1 . . . $7,600)

We're going to double down on Chappell who we picked last week only to watch him blow a fast start by stumbling through the weekend to finish T41st. Not because he plays Sawgrass well but because we can't admit when we're wrong.

Man you suck at this.
14. Martin Kaymer (Odds: 100/1 . . . $7,200)

If you think he's playing badly now, you should have seen him before he won here in 2014. Oh yeah, he also hasn't missed the cut in seven tries. (Not that he tries to miss the cut). 

15. Rafa Cabrera-Bello (Odds: 125/1 . . . $7,100)

He's never played the tournament before but that can be a good thing and he's got four top four finishes in his last seven events around the world plus a T17th at the Masters and a T11th at the WGC-Cadillac so he's got a game that appears to be working everywhere right now.

Footnote

* In classic Players Championship tone deaf self-promotional fashion, they included the clip of Mickelson saying this in one of their ads for the 2016 tournament. Either they didn't get that he was bashing the course or they just figured they'd use it out of context to show what? How proud Mickelson is of his random 2007 Players win? Phil's won five majors including three green jackets to go along with thirty seven other PGA Tour wins, a U.S. Amateur title and three NCAA titles. I'm pretty the Players win isn't the one that causes him to randomly stop in his tracks, smile and say "wow." Remember, this is the tournament that tried way too hard to get itself called the "5th major" like a guy trying to force his own nickname. (Hi my name's Phil but everyone calls me "Razor"). 

** These are DraftKings dollars in case you just woke-up from a seven year coma. If that's the case, welcome back and be sure to check-out Game of Thrones, The Americans and Veep. And oh yeah, Donald Trump is the Republican nominee for president and we were a few delegates away from him running against a self-avowed socialist. Things got weird.