Fantasy Insider: THE PLAYERS Championship
May 09, 2017
By Rob Bolton, PGATOUR.COM
- 2016 PLAYERS Champion Jason Day will be returning to TPC Sawgrass this week seeking to return to his top status. (Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Not only does THE PLAYERS feature the deepest field in the game but it lands in Segment 3 of PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf presented by SERVPRO. With little if any concern about needing more than three starts on any golfer, there's no reason not to select everyone you want. And because of the depth, go ahead and consider one or even two options driven by your heart.
That seemingly careless approach is mitigated by the promise that straight chalk is likely going to yield disappointment on some level no matter the stakes. This is the rub of TPC Sawgrass. So, you might as well go halfway and take some of that pressure off.
PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf presented by SERVPRO
My roster for the THE PLAYERS (in alphabetical order):
You’ll find my starters in Expert Picks.
Others to consider for each category (in alphabetical order):
Scoring: Jason Day; Jason Dufner; Adam Hadwin; Brian Harman; Dustin Johnson; Brooks Koepka; Justin Rose; Adam Scott; Jordan Spieth; Jimmy Walker
Driving: Paul Casey; Graham DeLaet; Jason Dufner; Dustin Johnson; Zach Johnson; Francesco Molinari; Louis Oosthuizen; Jon Rahm; Adam Scott; Kyle Stanley
Approach: Paul Casey; Jason Dufner; Dustin Johnson; Zach Johnson; Kevin Kisner; Kevin Na; Jon Rahm; Jordan Spieth; Kyle Stanley
Short: Graham DeLaet; Jason Dufner; Adam Hadwin; Brian Harman; Dustin Johnson; Zach Johnson; Brooks Koepka; Marc Leishman; Graeme McDowell; Jon Rahm; Jordan Spieth
Power Ranking Wild Card
Branden Grace … Fourth appearance. Hasn't missed a cut but hasn't cracked a top 40. Like fellow South Africans Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel, gamers can usually turn to Grace in the deepest fields of the season not only for their consistency but also to spell notables who don't present as appealing. Grace's statistics won't wow anyone, but that's the same reason why too many won't be on board. Find room in PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf presented by SERVPRO and DFS.
Brian Harman … If the 30-year-old wasn't as seasoned, we might be concerned about a letdown after that statement victory at Eagle Point on Sunday. Instead, he's poised to double down while he's on fire. The Wells Fargo win was his fourth top-15 finish in his last five starts. Additional reason to retain elevated expectation is that he connected four red numbers en route to a T8 at TPC Sawgrass in 2015.
Patrick Reed … Despite everything we know and love about him, this is an aggressive play. You'd be investing in an uptick in form that includes the outright lead after 54 holes at Eagle Point. He settled for a share of 12th place on a closing 75. He's also fared reasonably well in his only cut made in three trips to TPC Sawgrass, that a T24 in 2015. But again, it's all about the surge with the emotionally charged Texan.
Louis Oosthuizen … Sat out the Wells Fargo Championship after committing. While that decision alone motivates gamers to get on board – because he simplified his focus over the current fortnight – the 34-year-old's reputation as a tee-to-green monster supports the move. He's 3-for-4 at TPC Sawgrass since 2013 and hasn't missed a cut anywhere in 10 months.
Jimmy Walker … It's impossible to know if he's competing freer of expectations than usual as he battles Lyme Disease, but whatever works. Top 20s in his last two starts, including a T13 at TPC San Antonio where he publicized his malady. No stranger to TPC Sawgrass and no stranger to whiffs of success, either. He's 4-for-7 with a pair of top 15s.
Charl Schwartzel … Sat out last year's edition but shapes up as a better option this year, anyway. Rested since a quiet solo third at the Masters. Finished sixth in his title defense at Copperhead. No top 25s in six trips to TPC Sawgrass, but he's missed only one cut. That reliability to complement is why we love him.
Marc Leishman … With the wind expected to test the field and a 5-for-5 slate here since 2012 (with a T8 and another pair of top 25s), the Aussie is prime to contribute. Also a recent winner at Bay Hill and ranks 12th in adjusted scoring and 17th in bogey avoidance.
Adam Hadwin … Another recent winner (Valspar) who's a more balanced ball-striker than you might realize for a guy best known as a terrific putter. Sits 21st in strokes gained: approach-the-green and 28th in strokes gained: tee-to-green. The perfect complement in DFS where his price tag should be attractive. Making his third start at TPC Sawgrass.
Zach Johnson … En route to a T18 at Eagle Point, he submitted a positive measurement in strokes gained: approach-the-green for the first time in seven starts with ShotLink in play. That turnaround comes as the perfect time, too, doesn't it? Speaking of perfect, he's been a constant on the weekend at TPC Sawgrass since 2009 five top 25s among eight cuts made.
Ryan Palmer … Pretty simple here. He's in a good place again and it shows. After a T11 at Harbour Town, he tossed up a T6 in San Antonio, and then placed fourth with Jordan Spieth in New Orleans. This is his 12th appearance at TPC Sawgrass where he's logged a T5 in 2013 and a T23 in 2016.
Patrick Cantlay … Like Jon Rahm (No. 15 in the Power Rankings), Cantlay is a first-timer at THE PLAYERS. And like Rahm, the American belongs on every short list as a sturdy, complementary piece in every format. There's a certain temperament and intensity to him that blends so well with the same that's required to tame TPC Sawgrass, well, as much as it can be. It transcends the stats and it deserves our confidence.
Phil Mickelson … You know his quip. He can't believe that he's actually won here. It's been 10 years now, in fact. He strung together 11 consecutive cuts made, five on either side of that title, but has gone 0-for-4 since 2013. Quite simply, there are many weeks when we know that we can plug him in and there are times when we shouldn't. This is one of the latter, if not the only site all season.
Henrik Stenson … Because he's Henrik Stenson, now is exactly when contrarians need to pounce. You're buying low on an 0-for-4 slide and on a track where he's a former champ (2009). And, of course, TPC Sawgrass yields as random a leaderboard as any all season. All that said, if you're currently contending or sniffing the lead, stick with the commodities over whom you won't lose sleep.
Bubba Watson … Perhaps the T5 with J.B. Holmes at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans will spark something moving forward, but the lefty still needs to prove to us that he can put four rounds together in stroke-play competition on his own ball since changing it entering 2017. Not helping matters is that his record at TPC Sawgrass is uninspiring despite six cuts made in nine appearance. He's yet to record a top 35.
Jim Furyk … While he's a local resident, he's acknowledged that he doesn't peg it at TPC Sawgrass as often as most think. His record suggests that it doesn't matter what with four top 10s and another five top 25s among 17 cuts made in 21 appearances. That's enough reason for course history buffs to take the plunge, but his recent form remains substandard. While it's kind of like beating a dead horse in this space, it's very possible that the distractions of the duties as Ryder Cup captain are taking a toll on his performance.
Ryan Moore … Something will give and there are fair arguments to support and deny decisions to invest and abstain. It absolutely depends on your situation. His form upon arrival is strong enough to warrant the risk, but the absence of recent fortune at TPC Sawgrass is enough reason to move along. The recommended hedge, if you're compelled, is to surround him with front-liners.
Russell Knox … He's 3-for-3 since debuting in 2014, has a pair of top 20s and has carded a 68 in every final round, but the Jacksonville University product has been in a funk for months. A T11 at Harbour Town is his only payday in a tournament with a cut in six starts.
Returning to Competition
Ernie Els … Withdrew during his second round of last week's Wells Fargo Championship with a back injury. It extended his current drought to 2-for-13 worldwide. Last top 40 at THE PLAYERS occurred in 2008.
Alex Cejka … Walked off Eagle Point with a sore back during his second round last week. It's an injury with which we're all too familiar with him. Now, that doesn't mean that we should immediately jump off, either. He's proven to bounce back quickly. What's more, his record at TPC Sawgrass suggests that he's worth the plunge regardless of concern. The 46-year-old has three top-15 finishes tucked inside his 6-for-8 slate. That includes a T9 last year.
Brandt Snedeker … Resting a sore wrist. Doesn't want to risk further damage with the U.S. Open a month away.
Thomas Pieters … A surprising DNP, but we'll get our fill in the last three majors. He just might look good in all, too.
Charles Howell III … Gamers won't miss him. He's just 6-for-15 with one top 50 at THE PLAYERS.
John Senden … He stepped away to be with his family when it was discovered that his son has a brain tumor.
Jon Curran … He's been nursing a sore rib. Hasn't played since missing the cut at The Honda Classic in late February.
Colt Knost … Had surgery on his wrist a couple of months ago. Plans to return at the beginning of the 2017-18 equipped with a Major Medical Extension.
Tiger Woods … Out indefinitely again after a fourth back surgery.
Power Rankings Recap – Wells Fargo Championship
Power Ranking Golfer Result
1 Dustin Johnson T2
2 Jon Rahm 4th
3 Kevin Kisner MC
4 Webb Simpson MC
5 Paul Casey T12
6 Adam Scott T36
7 Bill Haas MC
8 Francesco Molinari T24
9 Phil Mickelson T18
10 Louis Oosthuizen WD
11 William McGirt MC
12 Bud Cauley WD
13 Hudson Swafford T49
14 Wesley Bryan MC
15 Brian Harman Win
Sleepers Recap – Wells Fargo Championship
Martin Laird T42
Shane Lowry T24
Sebastian Muñoz MC
Robby Shelton T52
Nick Watney T59
Birthdays among active golfers on the PGA TOUR
May 9 … none
May 10 … Parker McLachlin (38)
May 11 … Briny Baird (45)
May 12 … Jim Furyk (47); Mike Weir (47)
May 13 … none
May 14 … none
May 15 … none