If you visit the discussions underneath my features, you already know that nearly every week a reader proclaims support for a golfer not scheduled to play in the tournament to which the feature is associated. I've never bothered to ask why he or she believes that the golfer is in the field, but it's probably worth a quick review to those of you that are new to the PGA TOUR and fantasy golf.
No golfer plays every week. With 26 of 45 tournaments complete into the 2013-14 season, Cameron Tringale leads all golfers with 20 starts. Looking back at 2013, which consisted of 40 events, Tommy Gainey led the TOUR with 28 starts. These guys are road warriors, but even they take a break if for no other reason than they don't qualify for all of the majors, World Golf Championships, FedExCup Playoff events and invitationals.
Another common problem for readers is misinformation regarding scheduling found elsewhere on the Internet, including tournament and player websites. Nothing is official until the commitment deadline at 5:00 p.m. ET on the Friday before a tournament. Some golfers simply list the entire PGA TOUR schedule on their websites, not necessarily their intended commitments. PGATOUR.com always publishes the official field on Friday. If you're in any form of a drop-add league, monitoring its release can prove to be valuable if you're waiting for someone to return to competition (like Patrick Cantlay this week) or any of the aforementioned commitments published elsewhere to hold.
Just a reminder that TPC Four Seasons-Las Colinas underwent a significant redesign prior to the 2008 edition of the HP Byron Nelson Championship. This aligned with it becoming solo host after 14 years sharing pre-cut duties with Cottonwood Valley. So, relevant course history begins in 2008.
You can find my selections for PGATOUR.com's fantasy game in Expert Picks.
Power Rankings Wild Card
Brooks Koepka ... With the objective of Special Temporary Membership achieved, he can play unencumbered, but he fared rather well under the gun. Survived five of his last six cuts, including a T21 in his last in New Orleans. Expect him to juggle time on the European Tour, and he's not eligible for the FedExCup Playoffs unless he wins a PGA TOUR event, but the 24-year-old is ahead of schedule in the long-term.
Ryan Moore ... First visit since missing the cut in 2009. Lost in a playoff in 2008. With four top 10s and another four top 25s, he's already surpassed his 2013 totals, so concern for a short week is low. Sixth in greens hit, 16th in par breakers and 44th in adjusted scoring.
Brian Harman ... With as many red numbers for which he's signed this season -- his 34 ranks T10 -- he's often underrated in all formats. But with four top 10s, he shouldn't be. Sits 34th in strokes gained-putting and 33rd in adjusted scoring. T27 in his debut here last year.
Robert Streb ... It's not often when a non-winner finds success from the conditional status category. Starts are hard to come by early in the season and sponsor exemptions usually go to veterans with a trophy or two at home. Those inherent challenges have nothing on the 27-year-old from Oklahoma. He's 8-for-8 with a T2 in New Orleans and three more top 25s, all within his last six starts. Ranks 35th in greens in regulation, 32nd in adjusted scoring, 10th in scrambling and third in par-4 scoring.
Charles Howell III ... As confident as they get to reach the weekend. Hasn't missed yet since the course makeover. Only three missed cuts in 18 starts this season. Ranks T13 in greens hit and 14th in adjusted scoring.
Robert Garrigus ... Always prone to a crooked number, but he's logged three top 20s in his last five visits. Since hitting fairways isn't a necessity at Las Colinas, it makes sense why he's enjoyed some success. Also placed T5 in New Orleans three weeks ago.
Erik Compton ... After a slow start to the season, he's climbed to 71st in FedExCup points thanks to T5s in two of his last six starts. Hadn't recorded a top 30 in Texas at any point of his career until sharing 12th place in Houston in early April. He's 2-for-2 at the Nelson with a second-round 63 last year. Ranks 13th in strokes gained-putting.
Brendan Steele ... Squeezed from my Sleepers, but he belongs here, too. Enjoying a quietly strong season with two top 10s and another three top 25s; sits 63rd in the FedExCup standings. Polished off THE PLAYERS with a 5-under 67 to place T26. Currently 37th in the all-around, T27 in scrambling and T22 in par-4 scoring.
Retief Goosen ... First appearance since missing the cut in his debut in 2005, but he should come cheap for weekly salary gamers that covet cuts made. He's missed only two in his last 10 starts.
Paul Casey ... As he continues on his comeback, the only drawback this week is that he's making his first appearance at Las Colinas. However, each of the last three first-time winners broke through in their debuts and none had the cachet that the Englishman carries. While he's made only seven starts this season, he's logged enough rounds to qualify for the rankings. Currently 37th in adjusted scoring and T8 in par-4 scoring.
Brandt Snedeker ... At some point, he's going to burst out of his relative funk and showcase his skill set. For the time being, he's merely grinding. Most gamers will be surprised to know that he's actually 11-for-13 on the season, but only three of those cuts made when for a top 35 and he's posted a red number in just seven of his last 29 rounds. Hasn't pegged it at Las Colinas since the redo.
Louis Oosthuizen ... Returned from a back injury at THE PLAYERS and promptly missed the cut by eight strokes. The injury-riddled major champion is 0-for-2 at Las Colinas.
Brendon de Jonge ... Authored one of the most impressive intra-tournament recoveries at Quail Hollow two weeks ago in chasing an opening 80 with a 62 and eventually sharing sixth place, but that remains the only top 35 in his last 12 starts. Also 0-for-2 post-redo at Las Colinas.
Justin Leonard ... It always feels wrong not to endorse a Texan in his home state, but he's survived only one cut in the last three editions of the Nelson, and that was a T43 last year when he shot 70 in every round. His short-range value is relegated to weekly salary gamers given he's 11-for-13 on the season, but he hasn't found a top 30 in six consecutive starts.
Carl Pettersson ... Cooled since connecting three top 20s in March. Just one cut made in his last four (T69, Wells Fargo). Same record at Las Colinas since 2009 (T40, 2011).
Boo Weekley ... Since the season resumed after the holidays, he failed to record a top 25. No better than a 3-over 73 in his last four rounds at Las Colinas.
Keep an Eye On
Graham DeLaet ... Simply too much of a risk at the moment. Tops on TOUR in greens in regulation but 163rd in strokes gained-putting. Last season, he ranked third and 76th, respectively. His SG-P split is down by a value of 0.457 to a season-worst -0.360. He tied for 10th here last year while ranking 37th in SG-P.
Harris English ... Amid a mini-drought with just one cut made (T31, RBC Heritage) in his last three starts. Parlayed an opening 64 here in his debut here last year into a T17, so your enthusiasm is understandable. Just don't lead with him.
Jeff Overton ... For the time being, his solo fourth in New Orleans looks like an anomaly. In seven starts leading up to it and in two since, he has zero top 35s. Shot an 83 in the third round at TPC Sawgrass and missed the 54-hole cut. His slate at Las Colinas featured a similar mixed bag with a T2 (2010), a T8 (2011) and four results outside the top 30 since the redo.
Returning to Competition
Patrick Cantlay ... First live action since opening the Web.com Tour Finals with a solo second. He played through a fractured vertebrae. That effort sustained a spot inside the top 25 to earn a PGA TOUR card. The rookie will undoubtedly get a medical extension in the reshuffle category for 2014-15 if he needs one, but it wouldn't shock anyone if he hits the ground running in his debut at Las Colinas.
Peter Hanson ... Had to withdraw from Wells Fargo after 26 holes with a back injury. He battled the same thing in 2013. Making his debut at Las Colinas.
Briny Baird ... A back injury knocked him out of THE PLAYERS after 27 holes. Also ended his consecutive cuts made streak at four, but none went for a top 45.
Brad Fritsch ... Called it quits after an opening 79 at Quail Hollow due to personal reasons. While gamers will appreciate the knowledge that it's not a physical issue, he's riding a stretch of six consecutive rounds over par.
Patrick Reed ... Baby due on May 26, but he's not taking any chances on missing the birth.
Pat Perez ... Bit of a blow across the board. He's survived 14 consecutive cuts and tied for ninth at Las Colinas in 2012.
Roberto Castro ... Third time this season that he's withdrawn after the commitment deadline and before the tournament (Mayakoba; Bay Hill)
One-and-doners often ask about future tournaments for which you should consider saving a golfer. It's part of the strategy for formats that allow you to make your selection in real time as opposed all at once at the beginning of the season. While it seems like a sound approach, it really only applies to a handful of obvious choices. Steve Stricker or Zach Johnson at the John Deere Classic, for example, spring to mind. Bubba Watson at the Travelers Championship is another slam dunk.
There's merit to plugging in automatics like those guys, but you need to remain fluid. Positioning in your overall standings, prize money, current form, potential weather hazards, course condition and health status factor into every selection. At this moment, Phil Mickelson remains my only lock. I'll be riding shotgun as he chases the career grand slam at the U.S. Open. It's a rare emotional decision, but it's one that doesn't surface often (or at least potentially until the 2015 U.S. Open if he doesn't convert at Pinehurst).
As it relates to this week, I've already burned hometown hero Jordan Spieth, so there was no tug of war with the No. 1 in my Power Rankings, Keegan Bradley, who defaults into my pick. If you're in pursuit and have a good sense that your competition will lean the same way, consider Charl Schwartzel as a deke. Two-man games should confidently slide Marc Leishman into one of your slots. Ryo Ishikawa also presents as an attractive option.
THE PLAYERS Championship: Matt Kuchar; T17; $135,333.33; 52.500 FedExCup points
Overall Record: 20-for-26
FedExCup points: 1,020.129
Top 5s: 2
Top 10s: 7
Top 25s: 12
Missed Cuts: 6