Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Fantasy Golf: The Zurich Classic Preview

You have to hand it to the folks at the Zurich Classic for coming-up with a way to make one of the Tour's most ignorable events interesting by turning it into a two-man affair. It went from an event with a couple of headliners that I might watch twenty minutes of on Sunday to one with twelve of the best players in the world that will now grab my attention for parts of four days. Well played gentlemen. Treat yourself to an extra beignet this weekend. 

So who's gonna win? Well the obvious pick would be the team of Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson especially considering that Rose is one of the "A" list players who actually has a strong track record at TPC Louisiana with a win in 2015, a tie for 8th in 2014 along with two other top 20's. Right behind them would be the team of Jason Day and Rickie Fowler with Day finishing 5th last year and 4th in 2014. 

Her name is Tori Slater and
you should google that.
I am, however, reluctant to use a top tier player in a somewhat gimmicky format on a gimmicky course so instead, I'm hedging a bit and going with Daniel Berger for three reasons: (1) He likes the course having finished T20th last year and T6th in 2014; (2) he's partnered with Ryder Cup stud Thomas Pieters and (3) so I have an excuse to post a picture of his girlfriend (didn't see that coming). 

If you're looking for a team that might excel sheerly by getting under everyone else's skin, then look no further than the combo of Bryson DeChambeau and Rory Sabbatini (think Marmalard and Niedermeyer). And if you're looking for a darkhorse pick, check-out Jason Dufner and Patton Kizzire. Dufner won the damn thing in 2012 and Kizzire finished T8th last year.

But that's not the real reason I brought-up Dufner. It was really just a cheap segue into a brief commentary on what he did at the RBC Heritage the week before last.  During the final round, he missed about a four foot putt by a mile, made the next one and then proceeded to drop his putter in disgust on the spot and leave it there for his caddie to retrieve. If you haven't seen the video, here you go:
Somehow a debate ensued on-line (of course it did) over whether this was a dick move or not. Those who said it was not pointed-out that Dufner's caddie had to put the flagstick back anyway so he was going to be right there and that's what he gets paid for. Others speculated that maybe he gave Dufner a bad read on the first putt. 

Allow me to offer the perspective of someone who has had the occasional issue with caddies and has spent many a back nine looking over his shoulder to make sure he's not about to get a freshly cleaned sand wedge buried in the back of his skull. What Dufner did was a serious dick move and, if you don't think it was a dick move, then there's a good chance that you're a dick.

You can give a caddie the stink eye, openly question his read or even take your club over and slam it down on your bag but don't embarrass him by just nonchalantly dropping it in the middle of the green and walking away. That would be like sitting in a meeting full of people, throwing an apple core at the trash can, missing and then telling your assistant to go pick it up. That's some degrading fraternity pledge level shit right there. Next thing you know Dufner's going to tell his caddie he's got to guzzle a bottle of Mad Dog 20/20 and then fuck a goat which really isn't as bad as . . . hmmm nevermind.     

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

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Fantasy Golf: The Valero Texas Open Preview

Wesley Bryan was the third semi-random winner we've had in our top ten over the past few weeks (along with Russell Henley and Adam Hadwin) meaning that all you needed to turn a profit with the FGR advice was to link them up with some schlubs who made the cut. Unfortunately, that's about all I've been able to do as the big DraftKings whale continues to elude me. Well you know what they say. If you want to fish for whale, head on down to Texas. (Ignoring the fact that whales are not fish, that was a stupid non-sequitur. Get your shit together).  

This week is almost as predictable as last week when our top ten included Bryan (1st), Luke Donald (2nd), William McGirt (3rd), Matt Kuchar (11th), Branden Grace (11th), Russell Knox (11th) and Kevin Kisner (11th). Based on past performance in San Antonio, Charley Hoffman, Brendan Steele, Ryan Palmer and Daniel Summerhays are no brainers. You could throw Matt Kuchar into that mix as well but he feels like this week's Lincoln MKZ, way overpriced when you can buy the same quality or better at a 20% discount. 

The obvious one and done pick is Hoffman who is the defending champ and a virtual lock to finish top ten or better. However, I've decided to go off the beaten path this week as I need to make-up some ground on the field so for me it came down to Brendan Steele or Branden Grace. Hmmm Brendan or Branden? I feel like a Palm Beach orthodontist and his wife trying to pick a name for their second son. Screw it, I'm going with Brendan. Also feel free to pick that fuck face Patrick Reed. He came in 2nd here last year and he's lurking which is not something anyone wants to hear about Patrick Reed. Especially if it's followed by "outside in you bushes." 

She could lurk in my bushes anytime.
(Oh no, dad's being creepy again).
The One and Done Pick: Brendan Steele

The DraftKings Ten

Charley Hoffman
Branden Grace
Brendan Steele
Patrick Reed
Ryan Palmer
J.J. Spaun
Sung Kang
Danny Lee
D. Summerhays
Billy Hurley, III

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

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Fantasy Golf: The RBC Heritage Preview

The preview is going to be a tad thin this week as we're still emotionally hungover from Masters Sunday and we expended 92% of our creative energy writing about The Most Idiotic Golf Article I've Read this Week (see below). Besides, the RBC Heritage is typically one of the more predictable events on tour so just stick with Matt Kuchar, Luke Donald, William McGirt and the other straight knockers who finish top ten every year and you'll be fine.  

Speaking of the Masters, I don't have much to add to an awesome event that basically spoke for itself. I'm sure other writers are droning-on about Sergio's journey, Rose's sportsmanship and the new best player without a major. Yada yada yada. Here is my only comment. Starting with his fourth shot on the 13th hole that led to him saving that crucial par, Sergio may have put-on the greatest twelve shot ball striking display in the history of golf. Think about it.

14th Hole: Perfect drive . . . approach to six feet . . . birdie.

15th Hole: Huge drive . . . 7-iron to twelve feet . . . eagle.

16th Hole: Tee shot to six feet . . . gack . . . par.

17th Hole: Perfect drive . . . second shot under the hole . . . two putt par.

18th Hole: Perfect drive . . . second shot to three feet . . . OH NO!!! . . . par.

Playoff: ANOTHER perfect drive . . . approach to twelve feet . . . birdie . . . ballgame.

That's a fucking clinic and all of those swings had a little "I got your choking dog right HERE!!!" in them. Good for him.
I think they could've found
a more subtle way to get
that guy out of his seat.

On to the RBC Heritage picks.

The One and Done Pick: Matt Kuchar

The DraftKings Ten

Matt Kuchar
Branden Grace
Kevin Kisner
Russell Knox
William McGirt
Jim Furyk
Luke Donald
Wesley Bryan
Aaron Baddeley
Brian Stuard

Email the Fantasy Golf Report at fgr@fantasygolfreport.com and follow us on Twitter @FantasyGolfRep.

Monday, April 10, 2017

The Most Idiotic Golf Article I've Read This Week

Nate Scott at FoxSports.com just reminded me why the world needs the Fantasy Golf Report now more than ever thanks to his post Masters list of the "the 9 golfers we most want to see win a major." Now in Nate's defense, he's not really a golf writer (which will become painfully obvious in a minute). A look at Nate's writing credits shows that he likes to dabble in everything from the NFL to the NBA to the MLS (the MLS?). I don't know if he's more qualified to write about any of those and I never will because, after perusing this piece of crap, I will now avoid him like I try to avoid the crazy cashier at my dry cleaner who always mumbles about wanting to kill the asshole son of a bitch customer she had before me.

Here's Nate's list of golfers "we" most "want" to see win a major with selected quotes and FGR commentary (remember . . . THIS IS NOT MY STUPID FUCKING LIST!):

9. Branden Grace 

Most golf fans wouldn't even
recognize this as Branden Grace.
Primarily because it's Andy Sullivan.
We're off to a rocky start. While I'd give Grace a slightly better than 50/50 chance of one day winning a major, I have no burning desire to see him do so. And unless I'm missing some very subtle and subdued underground movement in support of a South African player that most American golf fans couldn't pick out of a lineup that included Alex Noren, Tyrrell Hatton, Bernd Wiesberger and their kid's orthodontist, then I don't think anyone really gives a shit if Branden Grace wins a major. 

8. Brooks Koepka

Apparently the thinking is that, based on his storied three plus year career, Koepka has won over the hearts of fans who now long to see him take his place in golf history alongside other players like Darren Clarke, Jim Furyk and Henrik Stenson, who performed at the highest level for years before finally earning golf's top honor. After seeing Koepka on the list, I assumed the next guy was going to be Jon Rahm or possibly a guy I'd never heard of before. And how about this line on Koepka's inevitable major win . . . "it's coming, and when it does, Koepka may become a lot more well known beyond die hard golf fans." No shit Grantland Rice. That's why they call them "majors."

7. Ian Poulter

According to Nate, "even the craziest USA fan would admit it would be pretty cool for the 41 year-old to finally find his first major." I guess as an American who chooses to passionately root for my home country to win the Ryder Cup, I would fall into that class of "craziest USA fan" so I will speak for the rest of the "crazies" when I say fuck Ian Poulter.

6. Hunter Mahan

There was always really only one
reason to root for Hunter Mahan.
This is the one that inspired me to start spewing venom. Hunter Mahan? Hunter Fucking Mahan?!? Are you shitting me?!? Here's Nate's unique take. "If he could re-find that focus and make a late charge at a major, it would be one of the better stories in golf." Ummm no it wouldn't. If Hunter Mahan won a major, it would immediately plummet into the dark realm of wins by the likes of Stewart Cink, Ben Curtis and Graeme McDowell that we wish had never happened. If Mahan was leading the PGA Championship by two strokes on Sunday, the ratings would be lower than ten minutes of QVC selling glow in the dark frisbees. 

5. Luke Donald

When I saw this one I reacted like Bluto at the sight of Kent Dorman on the screen. Nate apparently thinks that Donald would be a popular winner because in 2011 a/k/a the year that golf forgot, he won the Match Play and the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals Classic which propelled him to #1 in the world despite the fact that everyone knew Rory McIlroy could've beaten him by ten shots using Harry Vardon's clubs. If Donald won the U.S. Open, the lead story on the Golf Channel the next day would be the CVS Health Charity Classic preview.         

4. Steve Stricker

I can't argue with Nate here. I'd love to see Steve Stricker win a major. You know who else I'd like to see win a major? Boris Becker. Why not? He's year younger than Stricker and probably has about the same chance. Nate sites Stricker's tie for 16th at this year's Masters as evidence that this could happen. Sure he only lost by nine shots and finished behind fifteen other players and he had to pull a final round 68 out of his ass to do that but if he had just made one or two more putts . . .          

3. Lee Westwood

Relatively minor beef with Nate on this one considering the overall stupidity of his list but the fact is that Westwood should be #1. He is by all accounts a great guy and clearly has the most worthy resume of any non-major winner considering he's finished top five in eleven of them. So who did Nate the Great place ahead of Westwood?

2. Rickie Fowler

Of course he did. Ooohhh look, shiny. At this point Nate decides to show-off his golf chops by describing Rickie as "the best golfer alive to not have a major" which would be pretty accurate if it wasn't completely wrong. Hideki Matsuyama is ranked higher and kicked Fowler's ass straight-up in a playoff at the 2016 Waste Management Phoenix Open. Or maybe Nate was using the old reliable eye test. Fine. I'll take Jon Rahm and you can have Rickie. First one to win a major. How much you wanna bet? 

1. Matt Kuchar

Can't argue with Nate on putting Kuch #1 but he describes him as "so underrated that he's ceased to be underrated." What in the fuck does that mean? Kuch has won The Players and the Match Play. He's been on four Ryder Cup teams and has eight top ten finishes in majors. If he's not currently considered the best active player never to have won a major, then he's in the top five. Nothing has been more accurately rated since someone described the Honda Accord as the best midsize family sedan for the money.

So here's my advice to Nate. Do some actual research. Write words that make sense. Dump 5-9 on your list and replace them with Matsuyama, Brandt Snedeker, Jon Rahm, Bill Haas and Andrew Johnston (Beef). And leave golf writing to the experts.

Email the Fantasy Golf Report at fgr@fantasygolfreport.com and follow us on Twitter at fgr@fantasygolfrep.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

The Masters Round Four Look Ahead

In the words of Keith Jackson "OH NELLY!" Five of the top six players on the leaderboard played in the last Ryder Cup and three of them are gunning for their first major. The two other players with an outside shot are the green jacket sporting Adam Scott and Charl Schwartzel. Lurking six shots back and probably needing to shoot at least a 64 is the one guy who could actually do it in Rory. Damn D.J. is missing a great freakin' party.

Before round three, I predicted the following finish today:

That's green right?
1. Rickie Fowler
2. Jon Rahm
3. Jordan Spieth
4. Justin Rose
5. Sergio Garcia
6. William McGirt
7. Brandt Snedeker
8. Soren Kjeldsen
9. Rory McIlroy
10. Matt Kuchar

That is still completely viable with two exceptions: (1) Jon Rahm isn't going to make it up to 2nd so drop him to 6th and move everyone else up a spot and (2) replace William McGirt with Charley Hoffman. I backed the wrong journeyman horse. Other that that, I'm going with Jerkstore, Jerkstore is the line . . . JERKSTORE!!! 

If you want some rationale, here you go. Rickie didn't strike it that great yesterday and still shot 71 thanks to his sweet putting stroke. If he's just a hair sharper with the irons today, I see a 68 and either a playoff with Spieth and/or Rose or a one shot win. Sergio is going to make two stupid mistakes on the front and find himself three or four shots back at the turn which will make him start pressing. It's a shame really because I've come to like and appreciate Sergio as the tortured empathy seeking soul who makes millions of dollars playing golf. He's actually kind of pulling it off.    

Saturday, April 8, 2017

The Masters Round Two Recap

Over half the bets I have in play this week are linked to Jordan Spieth in some way, shape or form so that back nine 33 to put him in contention was a welcome sight. However, I can't help but think that his Thursday quad on fifteen is going to haunt him on Sunday when he's still playing catch-up to the guys in front of him who go low today (namely Fowler and Rahm). On the other hand, there are only nine players in front of him and you've got to figure that at least half of those are going to go backwards (sorry Freddie) so who knows? 

A few other thoughts (that was a "thought"?).
  • The British are leaving. So much for that round one theory I pitched yesterday as the Limeys were practically stepping over each other trying to fade from contention. Justin Rose held it together with a 72 but from there you've got Rory (73), Casey (75), Westwood (77), Fitzpatrick (78) and Sullivan (78). Not to mention defending champ and burgeoning historical footnote Danny Willett who missed the cut and dark horse Tyrrell Hatton who shot 80-78. Blimey!  
  • Someone forgot to give Fred Couples the memo that golf on a windy day is supposed to be a grueling and soul crushing death march. Seriously, I'll have what he's having.  
For those in attendance, Daniel 
Berger made the cut so Tori 
Slater may be on the property.
  • If I had to re-pick going into the third round, I'd probably take Rickie Fowler. When the greens get firmer and faster this weekend, chipping and putting are going to be key and Rickie is doing both exceptionally well at this point. 
  • There's always one guy who comes out of nowhere on the weekend to crash the top ten. I like Brandt Snedeker. Again, chipping and putting.  
  • If I had to project the final top ten right now because if I didn't, you'd make me watch Scott Van Pelt and Curtis Strange sit in a little cabin in front of a bunch of stupid looking plants and state obvious things about golf, I'd go with: 1. Fowler, 2. Rahm, 3. Spieth, 4. Rose, 5. Garcia, 6. McGirt, 7. Snedeker, 8. Kjeldesen, 9. McIlroy, 10. Kuchar. How freakin' awesome would that be?

Email the Fantasy Golf Report at fgr@fantasygolfreport.com and follow us on Twitter at fgr@fantasygolfrep

Friday, April 7, 2017

The Masters Round One Recap

So after watching about ten hours of Masters coverage at "work," I found myself watching it again on Thursday night and thought, "don't just sit here, write something dickhead." So here we go with a spiffy little recap of Round 1. 
  • Charley Hoffman basically lapped the field with his 65 which is cool because I picked him as one of my DraftKings value plays. You know what isn't cool. The fact that I then failed to insert him into any of my many line-ups. I blame the gummy bear I ate on Saturday that tasted like mosquito repellent.  
  • The guy I actually did pick to win the whole thing, Jordan Spieth, hit five consecutive shots on the 15th hole, each one of which would've made me throw my club in the creek. If you're the one golf fan who didn't see it, he made a terrible decision to hit a high lofted wedge for his third shot, mis-hit and spun it back into the creek. Then for his fifth shot, he had 78 yards and announced that he was going to play an 88 yard shot due to the wind but then smoked a low bullet over the green. Then he hit a sad chip that almost went back into the creek. Then he hit an even sadder putt that bounced over a leaf and stopped eight feet from the hole. Then he lagged his triple bogey putt and made his second quad in the last twenty-two holes at Augusta.  
We're checking the archives
but this may be Ms. Massey's
Fantasy Golf Report debut.
  • The British are coming. No that's not the name of Gemma Massey's next movie. It's a fact and one I almost nailed in the preview with Justin Rose, Paul Casey, Rory McIlroy, Tyrell Hatton and Lee Westwood in my top fifteen. Was it just a product of the Britishy conditions on Thursday or are these guys going to be in the mix on Sunday? I'm going with the latter and I'd look for Rose, Casey, McIlroy and either Matthew Fitzpatrick or Andy Sullivan to finish top ten with two of them contending.
  • William McGirt is already one under through nine holes on Friday. This is important because when they write the Masters script, they generally only have one journeyman role available and right now that's McGirt or Charley Hoffman. Chuck better be ready to nail his Friday audition if he wants to stay in the show because Bill is going full Marlon Brando.
Email the Fantasy Golf Report at fgr@fantasygolfreport.com and follow us on Twitter @FantasyGolfRep.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Fantasy Golf: The Masters Preview

Let's get one thing out of the way before we move on to the solemn business of previewing the preeminent tournament of the year. I just turned-down Orioles opening day tickets so I'd have the time to write this thing which in Baltimore is almost the equivalent of claiming that you ate a better crabcake somewhere else (almost). I did this for two reasons: (1) You. My readership of dozens. (You're welcome). And (2) because I'm blowing pretty much all of Tuesday playing golf and gambling on this tournament with a couple hundred clueless country club denizens rocking blue blazers and happy colored pants who "really like Phil's chances this year." (And I still won't win any damn money). 

(Editor's Note: This is the esteemed Masters preview so we're toning-down the jokes and the pictures. And we're going to avoid using the word "fuck." Fuck I just did it. Well then fuck it on toning down the pictures. Fuck fuck fuckity fuck fuck).  

We're going to look at this from a couple different angles because the Masters is the one tournament that generates wagering interest beyond just picking one guy or trying to beat a bunch of computer models on DraftKings. So we're going to do both an overall ranking and a list of ten DraftKings value picks. But first, we actually did some RESEARCH!!! (I'm thrusting my index finger into the air as I say it) based on our hunch that Jordan Spieth has been fairly dominant at Augusta over the past few years. And as you might imagine, we were able to conjure-up and massage some data to support our hypothesis. (I really need to get into politics).

The following breakdown is fairly simple as it's just aggregate scoring over the past three seasons. There is one tweak, however, which is that, if a player missed the cut or did not play, we assigned him the score of a guy finishing around 40th so the data doesn't get distorted by what could have been one bad round.* The results are pretty convincing.

D. Johnson
B. Watson

If my third grade level math is right, Spieth's scoring average over the last twelve rounds at Augusta is more than one shot lower than the next best guy and two shots lower than everyone but five other guys. Suffice it to say that arguably the world's best putter is pretty comfortable playing on and around arguably the world's best greens. So he's the mortal lock right? Not so fast my friends.

Dustin Johnson has won three tournaments in a row and, after nothing but middling performances at the Masters in his first five trips, he proved in 2015 (T6th) and 2016 (T4th) that he has started to figure-out Augusta in the same way that he seems to have figured-out every other damn golf course he's played since the middle of last summer. Then again, golf courses tend to get easier when you're leading the tour in driving distance and greens in regulation. The fact that he's ranked 29th in strokes gained putting is just silly business when you realize it puts him ten spots higher than Spieth. Sure seems like D.J. is a slam dunk pick this week.      

And despite all of the evidence pointing to this being D.J.'s year, we're still going with Spieth. We here at the Fantasy Golf Report have a long history of making compelling cases for players to win tournaments and then going in a different direction only to see the guy we made the case for get the win. Sooner or later that strategy is going to payoff and we plan to stick with it until it does. Besides, I just can't get past how dominant Spieth has been over the last three years and hey, I don't want to think I wasted fifteen minutes doing all of that research for nothing.   

In addition to Spieth and D.J., you also have my blessing to pick Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler or Phil Mickelson. Especially Rory who is going to win at least one green jacket in his career or Phil because the only thing that would make this Sunday more fun than Phil winning would be if you picked him to do it. I'd avoid Hideki Matsuyama (slumping), Jon Rahm (rookie), Paul Casey (choker) and Jason Day who we last saw in a rocky emotional state at the Match Play. Look for him to win one between 2018 and 2020. If you're up against it and need a defensible reach, go with Bubba. He has a tendency to play great when he's the forgotten man. (Though that's essentially what I said when I picked him last year and he finished tied for 37th). Anyway, here are fifteen guys we see finishing in and near the top ten.

I'm not sure this is helping my
press credential application.
The Masters Top Fifteen

1. Jordan Spieth
2. Dustin Johnson
3. Rory McIlroy
4. Justin Rose
5. Rickie Fowler
6. Paul Casey
7. Jon Rahm
8. Jason Day
9. Phil Mickelson
10. Bubba Watson
11. Matt Kuchar
12. Adam Scott
13. Louis Oosthuizen
14. Russell Henley
15. Tyrrell Hatton

Now for the interesting part. Let's go find us some values and for that, it's back to the aggregate scoring. A simple cross check against the DraftKings salaries reveals some bargains like Louis Oosthuizen ($8,100), Paul Casey ($7,800), Matt Kuchar ($7,400) and Lee Westwood ($7,200). I'm building rosters around guys like that along with the big guns (Spieth, D.J. and Rory) and then filling-in one of my two random foreign players that the guys in blue blazers and happy colored pants** have never heard of - Soren Kjeldsen and Hideto Tanihara. Listening to the haphazard pronunciation of those names after the seventh vodka tonic will surely be one of the highlights of the evening.

The DraftKings Fifteen 
Can I get that in a 44 regular?

Jordan Spieth: $11,500
Dustin Johnson: $11,300
Rory McIlroy: $10,600
Rickie Fowler: $9,300
Justin Rose: $9,200
Louis Oosthuizen: $8,100
Paul Casey; $7,800
Tyrrell Hatton: $7,600
Matt Kuchar: $7,400
Emiliano Grillo: $7,300
Lee Westwood: $7,200
Russell Henley: $7,200
Charley Hoffman: $7,100
Soren Kjeldsen: $6,500
Hideto Tanihara: $6,500


* If I really wanted to take this seriously, I would've dug a little deeper into each player's last twelve rounds played but that seemed like a lot of work and remember, I'm just a caveman. 

** Just to be clear. I am one of those guys.

Email the Fantasy Golf Report at fgr@fantasygolfreport.com and follow us on Twitter @FantasyGolfRep