Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Fantasy Golf: The Valspar Championship Preview

[Editor's Note: The FGR is in Florida on spring break so the following may be somewhat disjointed as it was written through the din of family vacation chatter and WOULD EVERYONE PLEASE JUST SHUT THE FUCK UP FOR FIFTEEN MINUTES?!?]

I gotta be honest. Last weekend stung a bit because if Tommy Fleetwood even had Van de Veldian level course management skills, he would have won The Players by three shots and I would have looked like a genius. The most obvious example was aiming directly at the flag on 17 and ricocheting it off the railroad ties when the way to get it close was to drop it 10-15 feet left of the pin and let it feed down to the hole. But I fully expected that bullshit result following the classic TPC Sawgrass bullshit lucky bounce eagle he made on 16 to get him back within two shots of the lead. The purpose of that two hole jaunt was clearly just to: (a) give Dan Hicks one more tingle in his nether regions and (b) fuck with me.  

The real death blow to Fleetwood's chances actually came over an hour earlier on the second shot at the par five 11th. Everyone forgot about that one because of the mind-blowingly awful decision that Jon Rahm made on the same hole three minutes later but here was the scenario.* Fleetwood was -13 (when it looked like -15 could win) and he was in the fairway with 236 yards to the hole downwind for his second shot. Anywhere left of the hole leaves a really good chance for an up and down birdie and he still has the reachable par four 12th and very reachable par five 16th ahead of him. Oh yeah, his playing partner Rahm was in jail so, if there was ever a time to just hit a ball onto dry land, this was it. 

Naturally he took the all or nothing line and dunked it right in the water with a swing that could best be described as lacking inspiration and fortitude. The result was a 6 on a hole on which four of the other top six players on the final leaderboard made birdie and no one else made worse than par. At least Rahm had an excuse for hitting in the water. Once he chose his shot, he had no chance in hell of hitting it anywhere else. All Fleetwood had to do was aim left of the pin and make semi-solid contact. Apparently he did neither.     

I'm not looking to pile-on Tommy who is almost impossible not to root for but it does remind us that the really great ones who have racked-up multiple majors and other prestigious titles are probably most adept at not making bogeys (or worse) in those moments down the stretch when they will serve the dual purpose of killing your momentum while pumping life into your opponent. You can't find a similar moment in history when Tiger or Jack in their primes hit a shot like that with the tournament on the line (at least I don't think you can). We love guys like Fleetwood who are cut-out of the Mickelson mold but, if you're going to wager your hard-earned coin on their decision making skills, you better be ready to find yourself sitting on a tranquil beach with your family, gentle gulf breeze blowing and nothing but the sound of the surf being occasionally interrupted by you spitting venomous f-bombs at your phone.      

@GOLFBABES TWEET OF THE WEEK

Note to self: Swing with more violence this year.

THIS WEEK'S SALIENT ANALYSIS

Last week wasn't all bad. Of the four players I thought would win (Fleetwood, McIlroy, Garcia and Molinari), at least I went with the second best option and now I still have the other three to use later in the season. And if you think that actually provides me with any level of solace, then clearly we've never met. I need a win to extricate myself from this bitter funk and I need it now.

It literally took me writing
this preview to realize that
I'll be in Tampa this week.
Normally when I have my back up against the wall like this I freak-out and pick the best player in the field who proceeds to finish tied for 37th, wrecks my season and leaves me feeling like I just accidentally ran over the neighbor's cat (again). But I'm not going to do that this time dammit, especially not this week on a course that is going to take the driver out of Dustin Johnson's hands. I'm also steering clear of Jon Rahm who is still in a timeout and not likely to get his shit together on a track that has yielded victories to the likes of Jim Furyk, Luke Donald and the inimitable Kevin Streelman. 

Jason Day is intriguing but why would you want to pick someone who would make for a pleasant weekend of casual viewing when you have the golden opportunity to hate-root for either Sergio Garcia or Patrick Reed? If things go the way I anticipate, these two will be dueling on Sunday in a Ryder Cup style match-up only everyone in the United States and Europe will come together in their shared support of every other player in the field (except maybe Graeme McDowell).    

To balance out the awful at the top of your line-up I have compiled a list of supporting players from Sweden, Canada and Wisconsin where everyone is extra nice. Also, the Europeans seem to be on a mission to continue kicking our ass so I fully expect Russell Knox, Tyrrell Hatton and/or defending champion Paul Casey to be in the mix at the end. I'm going with Knox because he's been lurking in a way that's reminiscent of 2015-16 when he won twice and had two runner-ups in the space of ten months. You will notice that I have in no way endorsed Rafa Cabrera-Bello who's unexpected DFL finish at The Players torpedoed nearly all of my potential winning options. He is therefore dead to me indefinitely. 
           
I'm a big fan of subtle imagery and 
this statue is saying that snakes like 
to dry hump tree trunks. Who knew?  
One and Done Pick: Sergio Garcia

Other Guy I'd Pick: Patrick Reed


Sleeper Pick: Scott Brown


DraftKings Top Ten Values


Sergio Garcia
$10,100
Patrick Reed
$9,500
Henrik Stenson
$9,100
Ryan Moore
$8,700
Adam Hadwin
$8,300
Russell Knox
$8,100
Zach Johnson
$7,600
Steve Stricker
$7,400
Cameron Tringale
$6,500
Scott Brown
$6,300

Not a lot to glean from the historical chart. As noted above it's a straight hitter's course with Gary Woodland's win in 2011 being the one clear outlier. These tight tracks tend to bring-out the best in somewhat forgotten players so don't be surprised if Luke Donald, Bill Haas or Stewart Cink grabs a top ten. And you have to go back further than 2014 to fully understand why I like Cameron Tringale and Scott Brown. In the case of Tringale, you actually have to go all the way back to 1982 when he helped me and my brother escape from government agents on bikes to help an alie . . . I've said too much.  


              THE SOUTHWEST FLORIDA APPLEBEE'S TUESDAY NIGHT 
             EARLY-BIRD SPECIAL HISTORICAL PERFORMANCE CHART


DK Price
2018
2017
2016
2015
2014
Dustin Johnson
$11,500
DNP
DNP
DNP
DNP
DNP
Jon Rahm
$11,000
DNP
DNP
DNP
DNP
DNP
Jason Day
$10,700
DNP
DNP
DNP
DNP
DNP
Webb Simpson
$10,400
T8
T41
MC
DNP
MC
Sergio Garcia
$10,100
4th
DNP
DNP
DNP
DNP
Gary Woodland
$9,900
DNP
T58
T42
MC
T8
Paul Casey
$9,700
1st
DNP
DNP
DNP
MC
Patrick Reed
$9,500
T2
T38
T7
T2
DNP
Keegan Bradley
$9,400
T31
T58
MC
DNP
DNP
L. Oosthuizen
$9,300
T16
DNP
T7
DNP
DNP
Jim Furyk
$9,200
7th
T41
DNP
T40
T20
Henrik Stenson
$9,100
MC
T7
T11
4th
DNP
Lucas Glover
$9,000
T74
T18
MC
T24
MC
Bubba Watson
$8,900
DNP
MC
DNP
DNP
DNP
R. Cabrera-Bello
$8,800
DNP
DNP
DNP
T44
DNP
Ryan Moore
$8,700
MC
T18
3rd
5th
DNP
Jason Kokrak
$8,600
T8
T58
MC
T7
T14
Kevin Kisner
$8,500
DNP
DNP
DNP
DNP
MC
Brandt Snedeker
$8,400
T31
DNP
DNP
T53
DNP
Adam Hadwin
$8,300
T12
1st
MC
71st
DNP
Charl Schwartzel
$8,200
T49
6th
1st
DNP
DNP
Russell Knox
$8,100
T16
MC
T56
T33
T25
Branden Grace
$8,000
T8
DNP
DNP
DNP
MC
J.T. Poston
$7,900
DNP
T14
DNP
DNP
DNP
Tyrrell Hatton
$7,900
DNP
DNP
DNP
DNP
DNP
Kevin Na
$7,800
DNP
MC
T22
T10
2nd
Russell Henley
$7,800
DNP
T9
MC
DNP
DNP
M. Thompson
$7,600
DNP
MC
DNP
MC
T58
Zach Johnson
$7,600
T16
DNP
DNP
DNP
DNP
G. McDowell
$7,500
T40
T14
MC
DNP
DNP
K. Streelman
$7,400
MC
T18
MC
T40
T38
Steve Stricker
$7,400
T12
MC
T7
DNP
DNP
Chez Reavie
$7,300
MC
T27
T22
MC
DNP
Danny Lee
$7,300
MC
T22
W/D
T7
MC
Bud Cauley
$7,200
MC
T58
DNP
DNP
DNP
Nick Watney
$7,200
T59
T14
DNP
T53
DNP
Sung Kang
$7,200
73rd
MC
T22
DNP
DNP
Sam Burns
$7,100
T12
DNP
DNP
DNP
DNP
Trey Mullinax
$7,100
T8
MC
DNP
DNP
DNP
Brian Harman
$7,000
DNP
MC
MC
MC
T25
Stewart Cink
$7,000
T31
T27
MC
DNP
MC
Jason Dufner
$6,900
MC
T11
T22
T24
T14
Scott Stallings
$6,900
T31
68th
MC
MC
MC
Harris English
$6,800
MC
T27
MC
T10
T38
Sean O'Hair
$6,800
T12
W/D
W/D
T2
74th
Vaughn Taylor
$6,800
DNP
DNP
MC
DNP
DNP
Bill Haas
$6,700
T49
T41
2nd
DNP
T14
Luke Donald
$6,600
T64
MC
T22
T53
T4
C. Tringale
$6,500
DNP
MC
MC
T17
T25
Scott Brown
$6,300
T64
MC
T7
MC
MC

Footnote


* Unlike Grant Thornton, I love to beat my own drum so this is where I pat myself on the back for the following prediction from last week's preview . . . "you need to avoid players who can't accept that life and golf are not fair which eliminates high-strung guys like Bubba Watson, Jon Rahm and Bryson DeChambeau." Everyone who has watched Jon Rahm play golf for twenty minutes could see that back-nine meltdown coming. It was like watching Jim Rome and Jim Everett film a reunion interview.

    

Email the Fantasy Golf Report at fgr@fantasygolfreport.com