Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Fantasy Golf: Waste Management Phoenix Open Preview

Last week's highly scientific analysis of five years worth of tournament results yielded Jason Day (1st), Charles Howell, III (T6), Tony Finau (T6), Harris English (T8) and Justin Rose (T8) and, if I had really trusted it and stuck to the chart instead of trying to get creative with guys like Francesco Molinari and Aaron Wise, the next two logical picks would've been J.B. Holmes (4th) and Keegan Bradley (5th). You know it takes a special kind of gift to develop a gambling system and then manually override it because you think that you're smarter than the system . . . that you developed three hours earlier.

"Take it from a forgettable former 
player like me, this stupid gimmick
might help you suck slightly less." 
This week we're diving even deeper into the numbers by filling-in all of the blanks like a sudoku puzzle (whatever the fuck that is) and including some fancy highlighting of top ten finishes, an idea we may have ripped-off from Wikipedia (and no Wikipedia I'm not going to give you $3 to stay in business . . . if the Fantasy Golf Report can run on broken dreams, then so can you). We're also adding a sixth year to the historical analysis which is about as far back in time as we should ever go because, when you start running into names like Aaron Oberholser, Tommy Gainey and Anthony Kim, you're definitely trolling the day old donut table at the bakery (and no I don't buy the office donuts there . . . every time). 

Adding 2012 results to the data provides more reason to consider viable options like Webb Simpson, Kevin Na and Kyle Stanley along with one not so viable option in Bubba Watson who has dropped from 4th to 98th in the world since March of 2016. He hasn't quite entered the epic 1994-96 Ian Baker-Finch Zone* but a couple more missed cuts and he could start snowballing in that direction. And then you know where this is headed right? A tearful nostalgic stroll down memory lane with Tom Fucking Rinaldi and seventeen references to our lord and savior. I'd rather have the General Lee drive over my dick than sit through that.       

So who should you pick this week? Well Hideki Matsuyama is the obvious choice (more on that below). Beyond him you have a few guys playing well with solid track records at TPC Scottsdale including Jon Rahm, Rickie Fowler, Zach Johnson, Ryan Palmer and Harris English who could win this year's "Holy Shit I Just Remembered How to Play Golf Again" award. If you're looking for something more in the price range of a Kia Soul, I'd recommend a Martin Laird ($6,800) or a Kevin Na ($6,900) who could sneak you a top ten. If you want to gamble on a youth movement, take a look at Austin Cook ($8,300)(first timer) and Grayson Murray ($7,000)(T36 last year). Of course Grayson Murray and Grayson Allen are basically the same d-bag so let your conscience be your guide.          

You have to eschew some high dollar players and for me this week that will be Rahm, Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas. Just feels like this is a tournament Rickie is going to win once he figures-out how to play the 334 yard par four 17th hole (he managed to bogey it in the 4th round and the playoff when he lost to Hideki back in 2016). The mid-range guys I'm passing-on are Phil Mickelson, Matt Kuchar, Shane Lowry and Ryan Moore though I'm sure I'll get Phil and Kuch involved in some combinations because those are two guys you definitely want to have a vested interest in if they're in the hunt. What about Daniel Berger you ask? Show me something at the FedEx St. Jude, the John Deere or another event with a less challenging field and then we'll talk.

"Do you see my ball up there?
Titleist 5 . . . two green dots?"
Finally we have some players at the bottom of the chart that you may have thought were a good investment until you took a closer look at what you were actually buying. "Timeshare Players" as it were. I always just assumed that, as the face of Waste Management (dubious distinction), Charley Hoffman would be a solid pick but he has pretty much stunk-out the dessert other than last year's tie for 24th. Can't really blame him because if my primary sponsor hosted this particular boondoggle, I'd barely be able to get the tee in the ground for my inevitable early Sunday morning start time. Based on talent Patton Kizzire, Tony Finau and Kevin Chappell would also be enticing but the dessert experience for them has been less goddesses in an oasis and more circling vultures. Leave them on the bench this week and thank me for it later (why do I feel like that one's going to haunt me?).

Here's the chart generally (but not mathematically or scientifically) laid-out with the best track records at the top.


2017
2016
2015
2014
2013
2012
Hideki Matsuyama
1st
1st
T2
T4
DNP
DNP
Rickie Fowler
T4
2nd
T46
M/C
M/C
T26
Webb Simpson
T2
T14
DNP
10th
DNP
T8
Jordan Spieth
T9
DNP
T7
DNP
DNP
DNP
Jon Rahm
T16
DNP
T5
DNP
DNP
DNP
Bubba Watson
M/C
T14
T2
T2
15th
T5
Brendan Steele
T16
T17
T26
T6
T6
T5
Martin Laird
T7
T41
T5
T19
M/C
T61
Harris English
T57
3rd
T40
9th
T57
T15
Shane Lowry
T16
T6
DNP
DNP
DNP
DNP
Phil Mickelson
T16
T11
M/C
T42
1st
T26
Ryan Palmer
M/C
T24
T2
T48
5th
T55
Zach Johnson
T12
T14
T10
DNP
DNP
DNP
J.B. Holmes
T24
T6
T66
T58
M/C
T45
Kevin Na
T16
T24
T26
T19
T36
T5
Daniel Berger
T7
T58
T10
DNP
DNP
DNP
Ryan Moore
T61
T11
T17
T6
4th
78th
Matt Kuchar
T9
DNP
T30
DNP
DNP
T33
Brandt Snedeker
DNP
T33
T10
T61
2nd
T50
Byeon Hun An
6th
DNP
DNP
DNP
DNP
DNP
Adam Hadwin
T12
T17
M/C
DNP
DNP
DNP
Keegan Bradley
M/C
T24
T17
M/C
T24
T15
Billy Horschel
T24
T24
T30
M/C
T11
DNP
Kyle Stanley
T36
T45
M/C
M/C
74th
1st
Marc Leishman
T24
DNP
DNP
M/C
M/C
T19
Justin Thomas
M/C
M/C
T17
DNP
DNP
DNP
Tony Finau
M/C
M/C
T22
DNP
DNP
DNP
Charley Hoffman
T24
T51
T53
T61
M/C
76
Patton Kizzire
T57
T60
DNP
DNP
DNP
DNP
Kevin Chappell
75th
M/C
T30
M/C
T24
M/C

Last year I foolishly picked someone besides Hideki to win this tournament that he has owned since he first showed-up in 2014. The result was that over half of my one and done league basically walked up to me and asked "hey is that your $1M on the ground?" to which I replied "no" to which they replied "ok" as they picked it up and went on there merry fucking way. This year I find myself mulling the same ill-advised decision. Hideki can't possibly do it again right? I mean even Tiger sandwiched his four consecutive wins at Bay Hill between a T56 and a T46. On the other hand, Steve Stricker followed his three year winning streak at the John Deere with a T5, T10 and T11 and Mark O'Meara had a similar run at the Pebble Beach Pro-Am from 1985-1990 before missing the cut in 1991 and then winning it again in 1992. So where does all of this waffling lead me? Well to paraphrase the original (and what should have been the only) Arthur Bach, "I took Hideki . . . I mean I'm not crazy."   

The One and Done Pick: Hideki Matsuyama
"Usually one must go to a bowling alley
to meet a woman of your stature."


The Sleeper Pick: Martin Laird


The DraftKings Top Ten Values


Hideki Matsuyama
$11,500
Rickie Fowler
$10,400
Webb Simpson
$8,900
Harris English
$8,100
Byeong-Hun An
$8,000
Brendan Steele
$7,800
Zach Johnson
$7,700
Keegan Bradley
$7,400
Kevin Na
$6,900
Martin Laird
$6,800

Footnote

* I shouldn't pick on Finch but that's pretty much the FGR mission statement so here goes. In 1991-92 he was indisputably one of the best players in the world with a British Open win and back-to-back top tens at the Masters. He then had an off year in 1993 which spilled over into the start of 1994 before the bottom absolutely fell-out in May of that year. He would enter 43 tournaments from then through the end of 1996 and miss the cut in 37 of them, withdraw from 3 and get DQ'd from 1. Not even David Duval's crash could compare to that and besides, Duval actually clawed his way back from the abyss to finish tied for second at the 2009 U.S. Open. Finch walked into the announcing booth and never looked back. Good for him. I would've limped to the nearest saloon, crawled into a whiskey bottle and been there ever since. (If you don't recognize that reference, thank you for reading person who is probably under forty years old and has never seen a Mel Brooks movie).    

Email the Fantasy Golf Report at fgr@fantasygolfreport.com
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