Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Fantasy Golf: The PGA Championship Preview

The last time Baltusrol's Lower Course hosted a major was in 2005 when Phil Mickelson shot -4 to win thanks to the fact that Tiger spotted him eight shots on Thursday by opening with a 75 and could only close the gap to two shots by the time it was all said and done. The final leaderboard featured the top four players in the world at the time with Retief Goosen finishing T6th and Vijay Singh posting a T10th. Back in 1993 when Lee Janzen razzle-dazzled his way to his first U.S. Open title we also had a loaded top ten with Payne Stewart (2nd), Paul Azinger (T3rd), Tom Watson (T5th), Ernie Els (T7th) and Raymond Floyd (T7th).

So does this finally mean that we're going to get a 2016 showdown involving some combination of D.J., Rory, Day, Spieth with hopefully a bit of Phil, Henrik and Sergio mixed-in? It fucking better. The British Open was phenomenal but call me greedy because I want another final round free for all like we had at Valhalla in 2014 when Rory, Phil and the potential major winner formerly known as Rickie Fowler were climbing over each other in the dark on 18. I want Jim Nantz's eyes glowing and head spinning like he's possessed by demons on the Sunday back nine. 

But before we get there, we need to pick our horses. Below is our top fifteen ranked by DraftKings value. Our one and done picks have been circling the drain lately and we're counting on Justin Rose to end that slump this week even though he doesn't crack the rankings (not exactly sure how to reconcile that one). For sleepers, we've got our eye on J.B. Holmes, Kevin Chappell and Chris Wood but again, we're banking on those guys just hanging around the back of the top ten while the pretty boys duke it out for the Wanamaker Trophy.
Today's picture brought to you by the
fact that I'm on a ski slope. No penguins
though. We photoshopped them in.


1. Dustin Johnson - 15/2
2. Rory McIlroy - 8/1
3. Jason Day -10/1
4. Jordan Spieth - 12/1
5. Henrik Stenson - 14/1
6. Phil Mickelson - 20/1
7. Adam Scott - 30
8. Sergio Garcia - 30/1
9. Justin Rose - 33/1
10. Bubba Watson - 35/1
11. Rickie Fowler - 35/1
12. Patrick Reed - 45/1
13. Matt Kuchar - 45/1
14. Brooks Koepka - 50/1
15. Zach Johnson - 50/1


1. Jason Day ($11,700): He's overdue to starting pulling some cool Jason Day shit. 

2. Dustin Johnson ($11,600): Best player in the world right now. Biggest upset of the week would be either (a) DJ not finishing top five or (b) me not making a series of Bud Lights disappear on a golf course this weekend after a ten day non-golfing family vacation that saw me log about 1,000 miles in a minivan. (And you thought a cold pool caused shrinkage).

3. Sergio Garcia ($9,400): Here are Sergio's last six finishes - T5th, T5th, T5th, 1st, T54th and 3rd. Two of those ties for 5th were at the U.S. Open and the British Open. In this year of guys like D.J. and Stenson getting the major monkeys off their backs, you have to like Sergio (which is also what his aunts and uncles keep telling his cousins at family gatherings).

4. Lee Westwood ($7,900): Westwood's been solid if not spectacular since his T2nd at the Masters but Baltusrol should suit him as long as it doesn't come down to chipping and putting and really, that stuff's kind of overrated right? 

5. Rory McIlroy ($11,400): Rory's somehow managed to fly a bit under the radar lately but, if you ignore his M/C at the U.S. Open, he's been on fire lately. Looking forward to seeing a lot of the ugliest golf shirt in the history of the game on Sunday.

6. J.B. Holmes ($7,700): He's quietly climbed to 16th in the world after finishing 3rd at Royal Troon. He probably doesn't have a major in him but when you consider that he swings like John Daly, hits it further than Daly and this is the PGA Championship . . . 

T7. Kevin Chappell & Gary Woodland ($6,700): Your bargain basement guys. They're like a $7 bottle of wine this week. They go with everything and the more you drink, the better it tastes.

8. Rafa Cabrera Bello ($7,300): He's ranked 27th in the world and you can get him for below the median price of $7,500. (Not to be confused with the mean price or the mode price or the break-up value or any of that other crap I didn't learn in my one semester as an economics major or from watching Wall Street).   

9. Henrik Stenson ($10,500): He's got to be in the mix considering he's won two of the last three times he's teed it up but man it's going to be tough to go back to back over the space of three weeks against one of the deepest fields in the history of golf.  

10. Patrick Reed ($8,100): Definitely the highest dickhead to price ratio available this week.

11. Charl Schwartzel ($7,300): Like Bello, looks to be way undervalued. You can count on him to shoot one of the low rounds of the tournament and then back that up with a bunch of middling golf to finish in the teens. 

12. Jordan Spieth ($11,100): Spieth has become something of the forgotten man since his Masters meltdown but you know it's just a matter of time before he pulls it together and starts demoralizing people with his putter again. 

13. Chris Wood ($6,400): If you've crafted the most perfect five man roster and left yourself nothing but some pocket change, here's the 23rd ranked player in the world going for $100 less than Rocco Freakin' Mediate (seriously?).

14. Matt Kuchar ($8,600): Not sure if Kuchar has a major in him or if he's doomed to be one of those really good players never to win one like Brandt Snedeker, Stuart Appleby and Steve Stricker (the answer to the trivia question: "which active player has the most PGA Tour wins without winning a major?"). He's playing great golf though and you know he's going to be there for all four rounds charming our socks off with that infectious smile. 

15. Andrew Johnston ($6,500): Beef.

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

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Fantasy Golf: The Canadian Open Preview

There's no way around it. Writing post-major tournament previews sucks. No offense to the Canadian Open, the people of Canada, Canada Dry, etc. but after watching Henrik and Phil go all dueling banjos on what I found to be an underrated British Open track to decide who gets the deliciously pretentious title of “Champion Golfer of the Year,” where do you find the inspiration to preview the national championship for a country that only has one real golf tournament? Well I’m going to try to find it on a plane 20,000+ feet over Texas. But before we get to that, let’s give last weekend’s events a fraction of their due because they certainly earned it.

I think what I was most struck by was the fact that I don’t recall ever seeing a two day showdown of that caliber in my golf viewing lifetime which extends back to about 1992. The mano-a- mano element was palpable and you would certainly expect that from Phil who’s unofficial nickname is “FIGJAM” as in “Fuck I’m Good, Just Ask Me” but the understated Stenson clearly came to play and exuded cool from holes 2-17. At least on Sunday and especially down the stretch, he ripped-off Phil’s nickname as in “Fuck I’m Good, Just Ask Mickelson.” (Sorry that was a bit forced but I do love that nickname). 

Now we head back across the Atlantic to Canada, the country most likely to get a wedgie at the United Nations and do nothing about it but say “you guys are crazy.” The good news is that we’ve got half of the new Big Four in the field (sorry Rickie but Stenson’s win now means we’d have to expand it to at least a Big Eight before you’d get to be part of a “Big” anything). I’m glad we have Jason Day and Dustin Johnson in the field because D.J. currently has the best player in golf belt (screw the world golf rankings, you know it when you see it) and, while Day can't get it back with a win at a mid-level event this week, he could land a couple of knee wobbling jabs and that would make this worth watching leading up to the PGA Championship

We’ve got a decent second tier with Matt Kuchar, Jim Furyk and Brandt Snedeker plus some very intriguing young guns one more level down in Emiliano Grillo, Jon Rahm and Bryson DeChambeau who has to be itching to get back in the spotlight. As much as we want this to be all about D.J. and Day, the Sunday leaderboard is often dominated by these role players so that’s probably where you want to focus your attention (and money). And if you want a deep sleeper, keep an eye on Vijay who was on a roll before the British Open and who won this thing on the same course back in 2004. Not to mention, it's clearly old folks month on tour.  

The Canadian Open Odds

I know the tour is in Canada but
I'm in the desert and let's face it,
the FGR is really all about me.
1. Dustin Johnson - 5/1
2. Jason Day - 5/1
3. Matt Kuchar - 14/1
4. Brandt Snedeker - 16/1
5. Jim Furyk - 25/1
6. Emiliano Grillo - 33/1
7. Tony Finau - 40/1
8. William McGirt 50/1
9. Chris Kirk - 50/1
10. Graeme McDowell - 50/1

Ten Guys We Like in DraftKings

Jason Day - $12,300
Jim Furyk - $9,900
Tony Finau - $9,300
Adam Hadwin - $8,700
Emiliano Grillo - $8,500
Bryce Molder - $8,100
David Hearn - $7,900
Daniel Summerhays - $7,000
Chad Campbell - $6,800
Vijay Singh - $6,400

The One and Done Pick: Emiliano Grillo

Sleeper Pick: Vijay Singh

Email the Fantasy Golf Report at fgr@fantasygolfreport.com

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Fantasy Golf: The British Open Preview

Kind of a good news/bad news situation for the FGR this week. The good news is obviously that it's British Open week which means I'll have something to entertain me at work on Thursday (the FGR does not work on Fridays) and we get to look forward to Peter Alliss regaling us with lines like "one good thing about the rain in Scotland . . . most of it ends-up as Scotch" and "it's a funny old game . . . one day you're a statue, the next you're a pigeon." (Based on my actual golf performance to date, I have unquestionably been the statue in 2016). 

The bad news is that we're flirting with yet another lackluster writing effort which has become something of a trend for the FGR lately. This week's excuse is that I'm under the gun gearing-up for the most ill-conceived family adventure since Clark W. Griswold uttered the famous last words, "why aren't we flying? Because getting there is half the fun. You know that." (I love that he added that last condescending "duh" line which serves to heighten the effect of his buffoonery later in the movie. Every dad can, has and/or will identify with that. It's our destiny). 

The bad news may, however, yield some good news later because, though we are not driving across the country, we will be attempting to do something as a family that is sure to be fraught with golden nuggets of writing material even if it somehow defies all odds and goes well (my unbridled optimism as a travel partner makes me the gift that keeps on giving). Just know that if there is no PGA Championship preview in two weeks, it means they're probably still scraping me off a rock or I didn't get the antidote for whatever bit me in time. But we'll leave that out there as a tease for now. Let's get down to the business at hand.

Do you recognize Todd? Good,
because this is Scott Verplank.
The last time the British Open was played at Royal Troon in 2004, Todd Hamilton (who most people couldn't pick out of a line-up if he was wearing a Taylor Made hat) won in a playoff over Ernie Els which was basically like near-sighted Phyllis from accounting showing-up in the bottom of the 9th at the company softball game, ripping the bat out of Joe the forklift driver's hand while saying "I got this shit" and then smoking a bases-clearing triple into the gap for the win. In other words, it was so unlikely and Hamilton's career proved to be so unremarkable,* that his win at Royal Troon tells us almost nothing about the course and what type of player will succeed on it.

The rest of the top ten from that year, however, is a treasure trove of scouting information. Six of the next nine finishers in 2004 were (in order) Els, Phil Mickelson, Davis Love, III, Retief Goosen, Mike Weir and Tiger Woods, all of whom ended 2004 ranked in the top ten in the world. Also finishing top ten that year were Lee Westwood, Thomas Levet and Scott Verplank who were all Ryder Cup caliber players. Vijay Singh, who's high ball flight game fits a British Open about as well as my temperament fits being a chess coach (YOU CALL THAT CASTLING . . . WHY DON'T YOU JUST GIVE HIM THE KING?!?), finished T20th.    

So it appears that Royal Troon favors the ball-striker over the scrappy Seve Ballesteros like scrambler/putter, especially when you consider that when they played there in 1997, Davis Love, III had another top ten along with other suspect putters who hit the crap out of the ball like Fred Couples, Tom Watson and Darren Clarke. When you plug that salient analysis into the FGR 2000, it spits-out a message that says "don't overthink it dumbass" (the FGR 2000 is an ornery prick) and then offers-up Jason Day, Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy all of whom have been on fire lately (save for Rory's hiccup at the U.S. Open). But you knew that already so let's continue reading and see what it predicts beyond the elite level.

There's a lot to like in the rest of the top 20 but, if I have to single-out just a few based on their ability to hit fairways and greens along with some past British Open success, I'm going with Sergio, Louis Oosthuizen, Danny Willett and Martin Kaymer. Looking deeper down the list, we're anticipating good things from Paul Casey (66/1), Rafa Cabrea-Bello (80/1), Marc Leishman (80/1), Chris Wood (90/1) and Kevin Chappell (125/1). For a longshot, I'm willing to go as far as Jon Rahm at 200/1 but no further. The Open has gotten very chalky lately with the best in the world dominating the leaderboard, however, there is always one fearless newcomer who crashes the party and that should be Rahm considering his recent strong showings at the U.S. Open (T23) and Quicken Loans National (T3).

Hey you know what? That didn't end-up completely sucking. Not to mention, we haven't even gotten to the always popular British Open inspired Rosie Jones gallery yet. This annual Google search always makes me feel supercalifragilisticbrexpialidocious (see what I did there?).

First you establish the
British connection . . .
The British Open Odds

1. Jason Day - 8/1
2. Jordan Spieth - 9/1
3. Dustin Johnson - 9/1
4. Rory McIlroy - 10/1
5. Branden Grace - 20/1
6. Adam Scott - 22/1
7. Sergio Garcia - 25/1
8. Rickie Fowler - 28/1
9. Justin Rose - 30/1
10. Henrik Stenson - 30/1
11. Shane Lowry - 35/1
12. Phil Mickelson - 35/1
13. Louis Oosthuizen - 40/1
14. Lee Westwood - 40/1

The One and Done Pick: Louis Oosthuizen

The Sleeper Pick: Rafa Cabrera-Bello

. . . and then you make your point.***
Fifteen** Guys We Like in DraftKings

Jason Day - $12,300
Dustin Johnson - $12,000
Rory McIlroy - $11,900
Sergio Garcia - $10,000
Danny Willett - $9,200
Louis Oosthuizen - $9,000
Martin Kaymer - $8,400
Paul Casey - $7,900
Jim Furyk - $7,700
Chris Wood - $7,600
Marc Leishman - $7,400
Francesco Molinari - $7,000
Rafa Cabrera-Bello - $6,900
Kevin Chappell - $6,800
Jon Rahm - $6,600


* Nothing against Hamilton but his next best finish at any major was a tie for 15th and he's missed the cut in 8 of the 11 British Opens since his win with the high water mark being a tie for 32nd in 2008. At least Ben Curtis won three tournaments and had two other top ten Open finishes to go with his win even if watching him play golf was like watching a video of someone else watching paint dry.  

** Why fifteen players? Because if you're building six-man teams on DraftKings, giving you more than fifteen would be a waste of both of our time. Any other questions you didn't ask that you want me to answer like a D-bag? No? Good.

*** If you'd like to do some additional research on this topic (which I highly recommend), I'd recommend the key words "Rosie Jones Hot" and then keep your eye out for the red and white stripes. The censors denied us on that one.