The AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am presents a mix of variables that won't challenge gamers in PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf presented by SERVPRO again until the Masters.
While every stroke on Pebble Beach will be measured for every golfer who plays it twice this week, because MPCC and Spyglass Hill aren't lasered, only actual scoring and bonus points will contribute to all fantasy scoring. Since it will be at a fraction of weeks when ShotLink is in play in its entirety, the default is to bench two stars you think could gobble up the 250 bonus points with a victory.
The rub is that we're not even halfway into Segment 2 and rationing starts already is a factor in our decision-making process. So, if you stick with all four of your starters through three rounds and one misses the cut, there's an argument that burning either of the guys on your bench isn't worth it unless he is in contention to win. Yes, this means swallowing a zero in one slot, but it's a valid strategy in this game. The tradeoff is that you retain the start that is more valuable in a ShotLink-scored tournament, both for Segment and season totals.
Now, if you're in the school of planning to rotate all six of your charges on the three courses, the following data may dissuade you from that approach and force you to reconsider the plan above.
In last year's edition, here's how the 13 golfers who finished inside the top 10 scored in PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf presented by SERVPRO in each of the first three rounds on average:
18.54 = R1
21.54 = R2
21.31 = R3
The differences are nominal, but they're virtually equal when reviewing how the same 13 averaged on each course in the same three rounds:
20.70 = Spy
20.61 = Pebble
20.08 = MPCC
Jason Day owned both outliers of the 39 scores considered for this sample size. After totaling 30 points on Spy in the second round, he managed only seven points on Pebble in the third round. Somewhat interesting but likely coincidental due to how tournament officials schedule notables to play Pebble for television coverage on Saturday, nine of the 13 golfers started on MPCC, played Spy in the second round and rotated to the coveted TV window on one of the most beautiful courses in the world.
Yes, inclement conditions hampered scoring, but there isn't enough variance or aggregate scoring to endorse micromanaging your squad this week.
PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf presented by SERVPRO
My roster for the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am (in alphabetical order):
You’ll find my starters in Expert Picks.
Others to consider for each category (in alphabetical order):
Scoring: Patrick Cantlay; Chesson Hadley; Kevin Kisner; Phil Mickelson; Pat Perez; Jon Rahm; Sam Saunders; Gary Woodland
Power Rankings Wild Card
Kevin Kisner … Consider him No. 16 in the Power Rankings. Without a T10 here last year, that wouldn't be the case, however. For a guy who's thrived primarily on bermudagrass, his terrific putting is put to the test on the Poa annua greens of all three courses in this week's rotation. Recent results have been pedestrian for his elevated standard, but they're not discouraging. He's rested as well.
Patrick Cantlay … Perfect spell for PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf presented by SERVPRO gamers. Still hasn't missed a cut since resuming his career in last year's AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. (He finished T48.) Ranks 24th in birdie-or-better percentage with a putter in hand as well as T6 in par-5 scoring.
Chris Kirk … Steady enough on which to rely at the moment. Finished second on this week's rotation in 2013 and possesses the familiarity of five previous appearances on the trio. Slide him into your DFS lineup.
Austin Cook … As long as he keeps delivering payday after payday, there's no reason to overthink the rookie. He's 8-for-8 on the season.
Chesson Hadley … After tripping into the holiday break, he's back in a groove with a T23 at Torrey Pines and a T5 at TPC Scottsdale. T10s here in both 2014 and 2015.
Kevin Chappell … If there was a Power Rankings Wild Card Plus, he'd wear that hat at the AT&T. Believe it or not, this is the 31-year-old's 10th consecutive appearance in the tournament. With all of that local knowledge, he's poised to make noise as he continues to capitalize on one of the most proficient tee-to-green games on TOUR. Furthermore, it's easy to dismiss last year's T48 until you realize that he sat T6 at the conclusion of 54 holes.
Vaughn Taylor … The 41-year-old has been performing well enough that he'd have been an automatic Sleeper if not for the title here two years ago. Currently 68th in the FedExCup standings with a trio of top-15 finishes. Below-average length off the tee doesn't hurt a bit on any of the courses and he checks almost every other box of value for our purposes this week.
Branden Grace … He's a debutant but his game translates just about everywhere. Simply a perfect fit for DFSers given his cachet.
Paul Dunne (DFS)
Brian Gay (DFS)
Shane Lowry (DFS)
Steve Stricker (all)
Bubba Watson … It was promising early in the desert last week, but he faded to T40. He didn't capitalize on the par 5s and his putting was below average. This will mark just his second trip to the Monterey Peninsula (T70, 2016) in the last 11 years, so gamers are advised to allow him to use it as another tune-up for next week's presumed commitment at Riviera where he's a two-time champ.
Adam Scott … Similarly to Watson, the Aussie could use a week to warm in advance of his prospective appearance in next week's Genesis Open where he's also a former winner. It's perfect timing as he's expected to exhume the broomstick.
Jimmy Walker … His record at the AT&T is one of the best, but he remains a simple pass due to the absence of positive results with consistency since getting diagnosed with Lyme disease.
Bryson DeChambeau … Loyalists know that I'm bullish in the long-term, but we can give him a break on the Poa this week.
Kevin Na … Late entries always intrigue me. With only two potential starts remaining on the West Coast Swing where he's cleaned up over the years, and positioned just 143rd in the FedExCup standings, this commitment makes sense. Still, we need to remain cautious due to the absence of a top-35 finish since Labor Day. For the record, he didn't peg it in last year's edition of the AT&T but didn't miss one from 2008-2016 during which he connected for a pair of top fives (2012, 2014).
Graeme McDowell … The U.S. Open champ at Pebble Beach will get to "defend" his 2010 title on the course next year, so this year's appearance serves as an advance scouting trip. He's presented whiffs of form, but it's occurred too infrequently to attach confidence. At best, he's a one-off for DFS contrarians.
Returning to Competition
Alex Cejka … An illness that forced him to withdraw prior to his second round of last week's Waste Management Phoenix Open was surprising only because it wasn't a neck or back injury that he usually cites for a mid-tournament withdrawal. The additional good news is that his malady shouldn't impede his swing for his 13th consecutive start at the AT&T where he's performed modestly over the years. If you include a T8 at the 2010 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, he's an aggregate 9-for-13 with three top 25s since 2006. With a P2 (Shriners) and T9 (Mayakoba) already on the board this season, he presents as a sneaky piece in DFS.
Abraham Ancer … Missed the cut in his only previous appearance (2016). At 86th in the FedExCup standings, he can afford to take a second consecutive week off after three straight starts to open 2018.
Whee Kim … Since a T21 in his tournament debut in 2015, he's 0-for-2. He's also missed five straight cuts since The RSM Classic but sits 24th in FedExCup points on the shoulders of a fourth-place finish in South Korea and a playoff loss in Las Vegas. Unfortunately, this massive swing of form has defined his profile since breaking onto the PGA TOUR in 2014-15.
Power Rankings Recap – Waste Management Phoenix Open
Power Ranking Golfer Result
1 Hideki Matsuyama WD
2 Rickie Fowler T11
3 Jon Rahm T11
4 Jordan Spieth MC
5 Webb Simpson MC
6 Ryan Palmer MC
7 Alex Noren T21
8 Zach Johnson T57
9 Marc Leishman T31
10 Tony Finau MC
11 Daniel Berger T11
12 Justin Thomas T17
13 Matt Kuchar T5
14 J.B. Holmes MC
15 Adam Hadwin T43
Wild Card Harris English MC
Sleepers – Waste Management Phoenix Open
Robert Garrigus T52
Emiliano Grillo T57
Russell Knox MC
William McGirt MC
Brian Stuard T65
Birthdays among active golfers on the PGA TOUR
February 6 … Tim Herron (48); Ricky Barnes (37)
February 7 … none
February 8 … none
February 9 … none
February 10 … none
February 11 … none
February 12 … none