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. 
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