Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Fantasy Golf: The WGC Dell Match Play Preview

One thing I have learned from my own match play experience is that, while you can be successful as the scrappy scrambler who gets up and down from everywhere, it is mentally exhausting playing that role against a guy who can bomb it past you off the tee. What you learn in a hurry is that it ain't the drive that kills you (though that gets pretty fucking demoralizing), it's the huge advantage on the second shot. 

Let's say you hit it 270 yards off the tee (#failingdriver #sad) and you're playing a guy who hits it 300. So on a 450 yard par 4 you've got 180 yards in for your second shot while he's only got 150. That sucks but it's not even the worst of it. For you, that's probably a two club difference - maybe your 5-iron to your 7-iron but remember that the guy you're playing kills it so from 150 yards he's only hitting a 9-iron. Now keep doing that over and over again for four hours and see how your psyche holds-up. By the 15th hole, you're thinking "I've got to do something big here . . . holy fucking shit I just shanked it into the face of the fairway bunker." (Of course that's just a hypothetical).    


As with all theories I pitch on the Fantasy Golf Report, I've already done three minutes worth of research to prove that this one applies to golf at the highest level. Five of your last six WGC Match Play finalists have been mashers. Jason Day won in 2014 and 2016 with Rory McIlroy taking the 2015 title. The last two runner-up were Louis Oosthuizen and Gary Woodland which means that we haven't had a true grinder make it to the final since Victor Dubuisson in 2014 and he had to get up and down from everywhere (and I mean everywhere) to pull that off. 


You can't fully appreciate the tight turning radius
of the new Escalade until you're trying to go 90
degrees off the side of the road into a tree. 
So prodigious length will be one of our guiding principles this week along with the other well known fact about match play which is that Americans suck at it. Forget the most recent Ryder Cup as that was only the third time we've won the damn thing in the last eleven tries despite having arguably the greatest player of all-time and getting to pick and set-up the course half the time. The results in this event have been similarly bad with only four out of the last sixteen finalists coming from the U.S. since you know who tried to film the worst Escalade commercial ever.* 

So that's how we're playing it. Heavy on the Euros along with a couple of American long ball hitters and a couple others with Ryder Cup pedigree like Snedeker and Zach Johnson. If anything, the new group play format which they stole from soccer (more Euro bullshit - why not just make them play with their feet and give them the king? Just give them the king!!!) only benefits the long hitters even more because it reduces the chances of them getting blitzed out of the first round by a hot putting slap hitter like Russell Knox. 

Rory's our pick as of right now but oh golly does he have a tough road with Gary Woodland and Emiliano Grillo in his group and then potential match-ups that could include Brandt Snedeker in the Round of 16 and Jon Rahm, Tyrrell Hatton or Rafa Cabrera Bello in the quarterfinals.** Compare that to Group 11 with Danny Willett, Knox, Bill Haas and K.T. Kim who are about as intimidating as four dudes rolling into an Applebee's parking lot with Tupac blasting out of their Kia Soul. (With those two cracks, I've absolutely guaranteed Knox's place in the final four). 

For some inexplicable reason, DraftKings didn't produce a game for the Match Play so, as far as I can tell, we're just left with PGATour.com's lame bracket challenge (#failingPGATour.com #sad) and whatever you can generate out of that with your own crew (ugh so much work . . . thanks DraftKings. A-holes). Anyway, to the extent you're looking for some guidance, here's what I have to offer:  

The One and Done Pick: Rory McIlroy
A search for "Hot Euro" led
us to Michelle Lewin who
is of course Venezuelan. 


The Group Winners

1. Dustin Johnson
2. Rory McIlroy
3. Jason Day
4. Ross Fisher
5. Jordan Spieth
6. Chris Wood
7. Jon Rahm
8. Francesco Molinari
9. Kevin Kisner
10. Rafa Cabrera Bello
11. Bill Haas
12. Paul Casey
13. Thomas Pieters
14. J.B. Holmes
15. Brandt Snedeker
16. Zach Johnson

From there, here's how I see it shaking-out (my apologies for the shoddy graphics but I'm just a caveman).


Round of 16
Quarters
Semis
Final
Winner





D. Johnson





D. Johnson



Z. Johnson






Molinari


Kisner





Molinari



Molinari







Pieters

Spieth





Casey



Casey






Pieters


Pieters





Pieters



Fisher








McIlroy
McIlroy





McIlroy



Snedeker






McIlroy


Cabrera Bello





Rahm



Rahm







McIlroy

C. Wood





Wood



Haas






Holmes


Holmes





Holmes



Day






Footnotes

And two of those finalists were Hunter Mahan in 2012 and 2013 when they used to treat this event like an infomercial for The Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain by playing that stupid resort course that only he, Luke Donald and Paul Casey liked (enough said). 

** That Rory pick is probably going to change. Not just due to the tough road he has but more so because my picks have been awful this year and I need a dark horse winner to help me catch-up to the field (#failingFGR #sad).  

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