Fantasy Insider: PGA Championship
August 08, 2017
By Rob Bolton, PGATOUR.COM
Inside the PGA TOUR
The game's hottest players tee it up at PGA Championship
Don't be that gamer who thinks that just because the PGA Championship is a major that ShotLink is turned off in PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf presented by SERVPRO.
As I've written on numerous occasions in multiple locations, and as it's parked in Appendix A of the Rules on the gaming platform, ShotLink data will be collected this week. The Open Championship was the last tournament of the 2017-18 season when only actual scoring and bonus points were applied.
As you may have read in the Power Rankings and The Confidence Factor, Quail Hollow Club hosted the Wells Fargo Championship from 2003-2016 before sitting out this year to let the course mature following a renovation that needed only 89 days from start to finish. So, you'll find many references to course experience below, but use it wisely. It's not an entirely new course, but all of the greens have different Bermudagrass, there are four new greens and three of the first five holes are making their debut in competition.
PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf presented by SERVPRO
My roster for the PGA Championship (in alphabetical order):
• Tony Finau
• Rickie Fowler
• Charley Hoffman
• Hideki Matsuyama
• Rory McIlroy
• Thomas Pieters
You’ll find my starters in Expert Picks.
Others to consider for each category (in alphabetical order):
Scoring: Daniel Berger; Jason Day; Dustin Johnson; Brooks Koepka; Luke List; Phil Mickelson; Jon Rahm; Charl Schwartzel; Jordan Spieth; Brendan Steele
Driving: Daniel Berger; Paul Casey; Kevin Chappell; Sergio Garcia; Zach Johnson; Brooks Koepka; Russell Knox; Francesco Molinari; Jon Rahm; Adam Scott; Brendan Steele; Gary Woodland
Approach: Paul Casey; Dustin Johnson; Zach Johnson; Russell Knox; Jon Rahm; Webb Simpson; Jordan Spieth; Brendan Steele; Steve Stricker; Gary Woodland
Short: Daniel Berger; Dustin Johnson; Zach Johnson; Brooks Koepka; Marc Leishman; Phil Mickelson; Patrick Reed; Charl Schwartzel; Jordan Spieth; Steve Stricker
Power Rankings Wild Card
Webb Simpson … Nothing like rolling up to your home club with a series of positive results as the nearest objects in the side-view mirror. Perhaps most impressive statistically is that he's fourth on the PGA TOUR in scrambling. And when he's hitting greens in regulation (ranked 89th), he's 11th-nearest the hole in proximity. Mixed results at Quail Hollow include a solo fourth in 2012 and a distant T2 in 2015 – both pre-anchoring ban – and three missed cuts, including a 75-74=149 in 2016 his only opportunity since the anchoring ban went into effect. It was an unlikely experience given how well he was performing as a course horse throughout the year, but gamers shouldn't shy away from his invaluable, intrinsic knowledge of the course, even as it debuts its renovation this week. Oh, and it doesn't hurt the mojo that he's celebrating his 32nd birthday on Tuesday, Aug. 8.
Daniel Berger … Easily the biggest snub in my Power Rankings, but it's not an indictment. He gets back on Bermudagrass greens this week and brings a couple of months of phenomenal form with him. There's everything to love about him throughout his bag and he's 2-for-2 at Quail Hollow with a T17 last year.
Jason Day … Even though he's misfired for most of 2017, he's earned a spot worthy on your bench in PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf presented by SERVPRO. This is both a smart and conservative play due to his firepower.
Gary Woodland … Even if he didn't log a solo fourth at Glen Abbey two weeks ago, he'd demand our attention in weekly leagues, including DFS. He answered with a T63 at Firestone, which is more in line with his string of pedestrian results since spring. He's still grinded out eight consecutive paydays. That marries with a 6-for-6 slate at Quail Hollow that includes top 25s in his last three appearances. If he happens to win the Wanamaker Trophy, it would one of the stories of the year for obvious reasons, and there are multiple arrows suggesting that it's not a stretch of the imagination.
Charl Schwartzel … Broken record. He is who we've known him to be. Continues to complement any roster in any format. Probably longer off the tee than casual fans know, but he makes it count, ranking 17th in strokes gained: putting and 31st in adjusted scoring.
Russell Knox … An intriguing option in every format as he's suddenly hot. It was jarring to digest his commentary about failing to find comfort with a putter as he navigated Firestone en route to a T5 because he introduced himself as one of the most balanced performers just a couple of years ago. It suggested that the dreaded Y-word was creeping into play when the 32-year-old late bloomer instead should be soaring during the prime of his career. However, last week he recorded his best measured putting performance in 16 months to extinguish a months-long drought. That he was refreshingly playful about his struggles speaks to the grasp he has on the fickle reality of the game.
Sergio Garcia … Finished T39 at Firestone for his first performance as a married man. Better weeks will follow, of course, but even though he's probably not worth the price tag in DFS, the Spaniard is one of the most reliable pieces on the board no matter when or where. It doesn't hurt that he has plenty of experience at Quail Hollow, although it's been four years and two grasses on the greens ago since he last appeared.
Kevin Chappell … Superb pick no matter your game. His weakness as a putter can hide on new surfaces while he attacks targets with his tee-to-green proficiency. In terrific form with top 15s the last two weeks. Also perfect at Quail Hollow every year since 2012 with a pair of top 20s. Best of all, he's a proven performer on tough tracks in deep fields.
Francesco Molinari … Because he's so strong tee to green, the leash is longer when he's sputtering, but he's fresh off a vintage performance at Firestone where he placed T24. In his only visit to Quail Hollow, he finished T17 last year. Round out your DFS lineup with him and do so with confidence.
Jason Dufner … Too much inconsistency in which to rely despite a bevy of angles on paper that suggest the opposite. It's such a sudden and stark contrast up against his performance through 2016 and extending into the first half of 2017.
Steve Stricker … Until he lets us down, he remains valuable. Expectations always drop when a guy turns 50, but he's blended both a regular schedule on the PGA TOUR Champions with the responsibility of his role as Presidents Cup captain perhaps better than anyone ever has. Quail Hollow doesn't figure to swallow him, either. He leads the junior circuit in fairways hit, ranks T9 in proximity to the hole and 22nd in strokes gained: putting. Cover his name and associate that data with any 20something and you wouldn't hesitate. Now add his experience, balance and temperament. Even better.
Jimmy Walker … As he struggles putting four rounds together while continuing to compete at less than 100 percent, the defending champion remains risky even for contrarians. Obviously, there's no letup in the season, but his road back to full health won't occur overnight, anyway.
Justin Rose … If this was the Wells Fargo Championship, he's in the Power Rankings on the strength of top-five finishes in his last two appearances (2014, 2016). Instead, there's concern in the wake of last week's disappointment when he shot 8-over 288 at Firestone where nothing clicked. I understand all of the arguments that it's a new week, but expectations are higher. Quite simply, he didn't pass last week's test on a track where he converted three top fives in the previous five editions.
Justin Thomas … So much of the rhetoric in the mainstream is that he's a three-time winner on the PGA TOUR this season. Of course that's true, but it's been seven months since his last. And of course, he's always a threat, but the inability to avoid big numbers and weekends off scares conservative gamers. And in one of the deepest fields of the year, he's just not worth the risk unless you have nothing to lose.
Bill Haas … It wouldn't get any better for the Charlotte-born 35-year-old to land his first major title here, and if he were playing better of late, I could overlook his 2-for-5 with no top 40s at Quail Hollow since a solo fourth in 2011 (on bentgrass greens), but he's now gone three starts without a top 35 after stringing five top 25s together.
Kevin Kisner … Because he's so impressive statistically, this is a relative downgrade due to a summer without a top-25 finish. It also doesn't help that his only top-35 finish among just two cuts made at Quail Hollow was in 2014.
J.B. Holmes … Because he's failed to gain traction all season despite missing only three cuts, doubt hangs overhead. Because we don't know which guy is going to show, he's a risk. Case in point, he won at Quail Hollow in 2014, but missed the cut in his title defense and placed T53 last year, breaking par in just one of his last six rounds on the course.
Louis Oosthuizen … After a predictable missed cut at The Open Championship, he deviated from his projection at Firestone and finished a forgettable T50. If we're going to hold him to the higher standard he's earned, we need to wait until he finds form. That said, like with most South Africans, his value remains greatest on full-season rosters.
Ryan Moore … Once upon a time, he was a go-to at Quail Hollow having connected top 20s from 2012-2014, and perhaps he'd resonate if the course hosted, say, last year's PGA Championship when he was in career-defining form, but he's lost the luster. Last week's T28 at Firestone was his first top 50 among just two cuts made in seven starts since May.
Patrick Cantlay … Tournament debut. We still don't know why he sat out several weeks this summer before returning to a T48 at Glen Abbey, but it's worthy of pause. If his trajectory holds true, he'll be a regular in this major (and others) for years to come, but there's no need to force the issue in this field. Remember that this is just his second competition in two months.
Rory McIlroy has nothing to prove before the PGA Championship
Returning to Competition
William McGirt … Took last week off after calling it quits halfway into his second round of the RBC Canadian Open. An explanation wasn't released. He's gone eight consecutive starts without a top 40. Mild success at Quail Hollow never hurts, but he asks more questions than presents answers right now.
Troy Kelly … Scheduled to compete in the Web.com Tour's Price Cutter Charity Championship Presented by Dr. Pepper. He withdrew during his second round of the Barracuda Championship and has just one start remaining on his Major Medical Extension on the PGA TOUR.
Brandt Snedeker … This is his fourth straight early withdrawal since The Open Championship due to a rib injury. He hopes to return for the Playoffs, which means his consecutive starts streak of 10 at the Wyndham Championship is in jeopardy, but he's fallen just 14 spots to 55th in FedExCup points, so you can understand his motivation to wait until he's absolutely sure he can give it a go. This is annually one of if not the busiest stretches of his year, so it goes without saying that we've missed him.
Martin Kaymer … Repeating last week's message in this space, he made the decision to sit out both the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and PGA Championship due to soreness in his left shoulder. He's hoping to return to competition at the Made in Denmark on Aug. 23. Since PGA TOUR non-members are ineligible for the FedExCup Playoffs, we're unlikely to see him again until the WGC-HSBC Champions in late October.
Tiger Woods … This was a foregone conclusion months ago. No timetable for return.
Bernhard Langer … Qualified with his victory at the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship in May, but had a previous commitment that he's fulfilling this week instead. The PGA TOUR Champions is off until the DICK'S Sporting Good Open on Aug. 18-20.
David Toms … Hasn't pegged it on the PGA TOUR since the Sony Open in Hawaii seven months ago. In 14 starts as a rookie on the PGA TOUR Champions, he's recorded three top 10s nine top 25s, but sits a surprisingly low 28th on the money list.
Power Rankings Recap - WGC-Bridgestone Invitational
RANK PLAYER FINISH 1 Jordan Spieth T13 2 Brooks Koepka T17 3 Rickie Fowler 9th 4 Jon Rahm T28 5 Dustin Johnson T17 6 Justin Rose T63 7 Paul Casey T5 8 Adam Scott T13 9 Hideki Matsuyama Win 10 Kevin Chappell T13 11 Henrik Stenson T17 12 Rory McIlroy T5 13 Rafa Cabrera Bello 72nd 14 Matt Kuchar T17 15
Jason Day T24 16 Kevin Kisner T28 17 Branden Grace T28 18 Charley Hoffman 3rd 19 Lee Westwood T47 20 Sergio Garcia T39
Sleepers Recap - WGC-Bridgestone Invitational
Player Finish J.B. Holmes T60 Mackenzie Hughes T66 Zach Johnson 2nd Satoshi Kodaira T47 Hideto Tanihara T50
Power Rankings Recap - Barracuda Championship
Power Ranking Golfer Result 1 Ben Martin 14th 2 Robert Garrigus T6 3 Kevin Tway T37 4 Kyle Reifers T18 5 Brandon Hagy T18 6 Seung-Yul Noh MC 7 Rory Sabbatini 17th 8 Sam Saunders 8th 9 Seamus Power 26th 10 Scott Stallings MC
Birthdays among active golfers on the PGA TOUR
August 8 … Webb Simpson (32)
August 9 … Brett Wetterich (44)
August 10 … Jonathan Randolph (29)
August 11 … Morgan Hoffmann (28)
August 12 … none
August 13 … Tommy Gainey (42)
August 14 … none