By Rob Bolton, PGATOUR.COM Fantasy columnist
With the bevy of U.S. Open sectional qualifiers commanding our attention at the start of the week, it's only natural that gamers worry that a seemingly shrewd investment at the FedEx St. Jude Classic should be eliminated as an option if he attempted to qualify for the major, what with the 36-hole grind and emotional roller coaster that many ride.
Five guys that qualified for the major withdrew from the field at TPC Southwind on Tuesday -- Blake Adams, Alex Cejka, Steve Marino, Rod Pampling and D.A. Points. Obviously, they are no longer options. But what about the guys that didn't earn an exemption and remain committed to the PGA TOUR stop in Memphis? How much should a 36-hole sectional qualifier weigh in your decision process?
Take note of this email that arrived on Tuesday night:
After a grueling Memorial with a heartbreaking final nine, Spencer Levin then had to go out and play 36 holes to qualify for the U.S. Open. He HAS to be exhausted. Did you factor this into your fantasy picks? Is Robert Garrigus maybe a smarter choice for the spot [opposite Zach Johnson] in Yahoo!'s Group A? -- Jim
To clarify, Levin fell short at the sectional qualifier in Columbus, Ohio, finishing T51 at a site where 16 exemptions were distributed. He's No. 6 in my Power Rankings and I stand by that despite his failure to secure a U.S. Open bid.
In fact, there's an argument to be made that he can freewheel it now given he knows he has next week off. Furthermore, there's no reason to cite exhaustion as Levin is still a few days shy of his 28th birthday (i.e. he's young) and the weather in central Ohio on Monday was quite tolerable. Therefore, while a debate remains to be waged against Garrigus, the premise of taking a pass on Levin is unwarranted.
Meanwhile, Garrigus is already in the U.S. Open. He earned his right to tee it up at Olympic Club with a share of third place at Congressional last year. (The top 10 and ties are exempt the following year.) He's known this for some time and still committed to Memphis this week, so you can also throw out the age-old theory that he's looking ahead and not focused on the matter at hand.
I'm afraid this discussion simply boils down to the usual dynamics. I like both guys at TPC Southwind for different reasons, and you're unlikely to burn through 10 starts on either. Garrigus has enjoyed a solid year. He's inside the top 30 in FedExCup points on the strength of a pair of runner-up finishes. I don't presume to sell everyone on every angle, but I won't rule out Garrigus.
In terms of how to handle guys that competed in the U.S. Open sectionals, consider the case of St. Jude defending champion, Harrison Frazar. He was one of four to escape the sectional qualifier in Dallas last year before parlaying that form into his only victory on the PGA TOUR. We also can't overlook the fact that he had just two starts remaining on a Major Medical Extension at the time, and he hadn't even secured conditional status as a safety net either.
Frazar shall forever serve as the benchmark for refuting the concern broached in Jim's email.