Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Fantasy Golf: The PGA Championship Preview

Let me begin this week with a couple of announcements: 

(1) This preview is not going to get the major tournament due it deserves from the FGR because my writing schedule got all fucked-up by a Monday night lacrosse game where the refs showed-up an hour late which then meant I had to go into the morning hours to get caught-up on Game of Thrones and (SPOILER ALERT) what a waste of time that was considering it was just an hour of Daenerys napalming Kings Landing while Jon Snow looked on in feckless horror like a medieval Senator Susan Collins. Then I had to wake-up at 5:30 a.m. this morning for a monthly meeting where I get to tell people things they don't want to hear and they make shitty faces at me so I make a shitty face back. Oh and tonight I have a tennis match where I will be the fourth best player on the court in the same way that Zeppo was the fourth funniest Marx brother and I haven't picked-up a racket since Labor Day. Thus are the travails of the brooding middle-aged country club athlete lawyer hack-writer but let's be honest, without all of the manufactured angst, this would just be a couple hundred words of bad fantasy golf advice every week and you can get that anywhere.


(2) I don't have even the slightest hunch who is going to play well this week which may be a good thing in light of the epic run of forecasting futility that I have going. I'm still shell-shocked from the one-two punch of Justin Rose missing the cut at the Masters and Rory McIlroy shooting 73 on Sunday at Quail Hollow. Frankly, it's starting to feel personal but let's keep grinding through the information at our disposal and see where it goes. 


"Yeah, Yeah . . . just  pour my
Bloody Mary and Shut-up."
The pros have played Bethpage Black four times in the last seventeen years starting with the 2002 U.S. Open where Tiger Woods beat Phil Mickelson by three shots and Sergio Garcia finished six back in 4th place. That leaderboard was loaded with some of the best players of the day including multiple major winners Nick Faldo, Nick Price  and Padraig Harrington who all finished in the top ten. As you will see, this is a recurring theme at Bethpage.

In 2009, Lucas Glover beat Mickelson, David Duval and Ricky Barnes by two shots with Tiger finishing four back after failing to overcome an opening round 74. Henrik Stenson was 9th with Rory McIlroy and Sergio finishing in a tie for 10th. It was a brutal year from a weather standpoint with every round extending into the following day. The leaders didn't tee off in the final round until Sunday evening and finished on Monday. Glover ruined two potentially great story lines by denying Phil his U.S. Open title and squelching the David Duval comeback. Considering the unreasonably high intra-familial bar he set for himself, I wonder if he'd throw a few three putts in there if he had the chance to do it over.    

In 2012, Nick Watney (who was very good at playing golf back then) cruised to a three shot win in The Barclays over a quality group of pursuers including Dustin Johnson, Sergio Garcia, Lee Westwood, Louis Oosthuizen and Brandt Snedeker all of whom finished in the top five. And then in 2016, Patrick Reed won The Barclays with another solid leaderboard featuring Jason Day, Adam Scott, Rickie Fowler, Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas in the top ten. So that's the history and I just named sixteen major winners who have at least one top ten on this course in four tries or less. Long story short, we could be in for another awesome weekend on the heels of a Masters which still seems kind of surreal.     

Before we dive into the prognosticating, let's take a brief commercial break.

GOLFBABES TWEET OF OF THE WEEK

THIS WEEK'S ANALYSIS

This just feels like the perfect setup for Brooks Koepka. Again. I am slowly coming to the realization that he is going to surpass Rory and eventually be regarded as the best golfer of this era (assuming we're counting Tiger as being from another era which is now kind of hard considering, you know, the Masters). This used to bum me out because I'm not a fan but I think I'm moving into the acceptance stage because sports are better when you have dominating teams and players. And make no mistake, Koepka has been dominant winning three of the last seven majors while adding a runner-up at the 2019 Masters and a T6 at the 2017 British Open for good measure. He's ranked third in the world behind D.J. and Justin Rose but that's just a case of the numbers producing a stupid result that doesn't reflect reality like that time I got a 3.5 GPA in college by taking Modern American Film, the History of Sports and Caribbean Literature. Let's just say that Jamaican writers like to keep it under 200 pages. God bless them.

Rickie Fowler will contend this week. Will he win? Of course not but he's got positive history on this course and he's playing well. Then again, Rickie always seems to be playing well until that make or break six hole stretch sometime in the middle of the tournament where he randomly drops five shots and drifts away. Rory rounds-out the top tier. Big bad golf course that's been softened-up with some rain? He's a no brainer and I fully expect him to do here what he was supposed to do at the Wells Fargo Championship when I picked him. 

The real strength of this field from a DraftKings gambling perspective is, however, in the middle with guys like Adam Scott ($8,100), Phil Mickelson ($8,000), Sergio Garcia ($7,900), Louis Oosthuizen ($7,800) and Ian Poulter ($7,600). Throw those guys in the mix with Koepka or Fowler and thank me later. 

As for a sleeper, you have to like Eddie Pepperell. He proved that he loves the big stage with his final round 66 at The Players and, next to Phil, I can't think of anyone who is going to feed-off the kind of tough love energy that only a Long Island crowd can deliver.

You have to give Long Island its due
for great golf courses, tasty Southsides
and the world's most off-putting accent.
One and Done Pick: Brooks Koepka

Other Guy I'd Pick: Rory McIlroy


Sleeper Pick: Eddie Pepperell


DraftKings Top Ten Values


Rory McIlroy
$10,900
Brooks Koepka
$10,400
Rickie Fowler
$9,300
Adam Scott
$8,100
Phil Mickelson
$8,000
Sergio Garcia
$7,900
Louis Oosthuizen
$7,800
Ian Poulter
$7,600
Joel Dahmen
$7,300
Eddie Pepperell
$6,900

Not sure how much value can be derived by looking at the results from four different tournaments on the same course spread over seventeen years but we like charts so here is how every relevant player has fared. 

                    THE LONG ISLAND CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
                SUCK BAWLS* HISTORICAL PERFORMANCE CHART


DK Price
2016
2012
2009
2002
Tiger Woods
$11,300
DNP
T38
T6
1st
Dustin Johnson
$11,100
T18
T3
T40
DNP
Rory McIlroy
$10,900
T31
T24
T10
DNP
Justin Rose
$9,900
T31
T36
MC
DNP
Francesco Molinari
$9,700
MC
DNP
T27
DNP
Rickie Fowler
$9,300
T7
T24
MC
DNP
Jason Day
$9,000
T4
T24
DNP
DNP
Matt Kuchar
$8,700
T64
T38
MC
DNP
Jordan Spieth
$8,600
T10
DNP
DNP
DNP
Patrick Reed
$8,400
1st
DNP
DNP
DNP
Paul Casey
$8,300
T31
DNP
MC
DNP
Adam Scott
$8,100
T4
62nd
T36
DNP
Bubba Watson
$8,000
T13
T10
T18
DNP
Phil Mickelson
$8,000
T13
T38
2nd
2nd
Henrik Stenson
$7,900
W/D
T54
9th
DNP
Sergio Garcia
$7,900
DNP
T3
T10
4th
Louis Oosthuizen
$7,800
T18
T5
DNP
DNP
Gary Woodland
$7,700
T4
DNP
T47
DNP
Ian Poulter
$7,600
DNP
T36
T18
DNP
Brandt Snedeker
$7,500
T48
2nd
MC
DNP
Ryan Moore
$7,400
T7
T24
T10
MC
Lucas Glover
$7,300
T70
DNP
1st
DNP
Zach Johnson
$7,200
T48
T38
MC
DNP
Charles Howell, III
$7,000
MC
T54
DNP
T18
Graeme McDowell
$7,000
MC
MC
T18
DNP

Footnote

* Credit to the guy on the face-off wing at Hofstra in 1990 who responded to my friend Dave's friendly greeting with a cordial "suck bawls."  

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