Segment 1 of PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf presented by SERVPRO concludes with the Mayakoba Golf Classic and The RSM Classic. Neither utilizes ShotLink (for fantasy purposes), but because fantasy scoring doesn't rely on it as much as in previous iterations, its absence doesn't influence lineup decisions like the old days.
If you haven't stumbled upon my advice until now, the fantasy game is all about making cuts and the long game. There are prizes for every Segment, but those are bonuses in the construct of long-range planning. Focus on avoiding missed cuts by loading up on predictable value in a given week.
The 132-man field at El Camaleón Golf Club is chock full of horses for the course. This is exactly what's expected on a ball-striker's par 71 measuring just 6,987 yards. Fellow fantasy contributor Mike Glasscott and I will go into more detail on this during our live show on Twitter on Wednesday. Please keep an eye on our promotion for it in real time as the start time varies.
The RSM Classic presents the last chance for Web.com Tour graduates to hang up a crooked number in their category before it reorders at the conclusion of the tournament. The entire class will qualify for the 156-man competition. Remarkably, only two who are currently exempt no higher than the category – Joey Garber and Hank Lebioda – and not on a medical extension have yet to make a cut this fall. (Sangmoon Bae also has a spot and hasn't made a cut, but he's still officially playing out of the Major Medical category.)
If you're in a higher-stakes, full-season league that allows drop-adds, you're probably inching your finger to the trigger to make a move or two once the dust settles at Sea Island. If you're not already familiar with the Reshuffle that I maintain weekly, click here. It should be self-explanatory, but fire away with any questions on that page, beneath this column or on Twitter.
As the PGA TOUR plays this fortnight before the annual holiday break, the European Tour is wrapping its 2018 season. Most importantly, the top 20 in the final Race to Dubai standings (on Nov. 18) will earn an exemption into the World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship in February. The top 30 will punch a ticket to play Royal Portrush for The Open Championship in July.
Knowledge of this playing time sometimes yields motivation to apply for a sponsor exemption or two in advance or after these events. For season-long gamers – salary or otherwise – it can make a difference in the short- and long-term. Bookmark my Qualifiers and check back often if you already don't.
PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf presented by SERVPRO
My roster for the Mayakoba Golf Classic (in alphabetical order):
Charles Howell III
You’ll find my starters in Expert Picks.
Others to consider for each category (in alphabetical order):
Scoring: Abraham Ancer; Billy Horschel; Zach Johnson; Si Woo Kim; Martin Laird; Danny Lee; Keith Mitchell; Sam Ryder; J.J. Spaun; Aaron Wise
Driving: Abraham Ancer; Billy Horschel; Beau Hossler; Sungjae Im; Ryan Moore; Joaquin Niemann; Scott Piercy; Chez Reavie; Sam Ryder; J.J. Spaun; Kevin Streelman; Aaron Wise
Power Rankings Wild Card
Zach Johnson … Based on profile alone, he belonged in the Power Rankings, but in the context of what-has-he-done-for-us-lately, he was bumped. Walked off his debut here last year with an eight-birdie 64 to place T23. It was the low round of the finale. Hasn't competed since a forgettable Playoffs after finishing the Regular Season with six straight top 20s.
Sam Ryder … Boy, did he turn a corner in July with consecutive top 10s to save his job, and he hasn't missed since. All told, he's survived eight consecutive cuts, most recently on the back of a 62 to close out a solo third at the Shriners. The PGA TOUR sophomore also opened the season with a T4 at Silverado. His confidence is evident, so continue to ride this horse.
Pat Perez … No one can sustain a high level of performance every week, but he has only two top-30 finishes in the last six months. Despite the recent regression in form, he still makes cuts and he gets the benefit of the doubt at Mayakoba because he's 5-for-6 with a victory (2016) and another pair of top 20s.
Brian Gay … The 2008 champ hasn't missed a cut at El Camaleón in eight appearances. He's totaled four top 25s, including a T25 last year, and recorded a scoring average of 68.94 in 32 rounds. He's also coming off a terrific 2017-18 during which he matched career highs in top 10s (six) and top 25s (12). Ideal in all formats.
Sungjae Im … Suffice it to say that he's transitioned wonderfully to the PGA TOUR with a T4 at Silverado and T15 at TPC Summerlin early on. Expectations remain up there at Mayakoba because he's so balanced throughout his bag. And obviously, inexperience on every course he's played since flourishing as a rookie on the Web.com Tour in 2018 hasn't posed a challenge.
Kevin Streelman … Presents the same approach as last week's "guaranteed" cut made at TPC Summerlin (where he placed T51). He's perfect in five tries at El Camaleón with a pair of top fives and a scoring average of 68.35. Line him up as a safety net in PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf presented by SERVPRO.
Billy Horschel … This endorsement rests almost entirely on his recent form that extends back several months with four top-three finishes among seven top 20s over 12 starts. It's also a bonus for gamers in that he's appeared only once at Mayakoba since it was shifted into the fall (MC, 2016).
Bill Haas … Fell short of meeting the terms of his medical extension and will play with conditional status for the remainder of the season, but he's a lock to receive sponsor exemptions. It begins with one for his third appearance at Mayakoba (but first in nine years). Opened 2018-19 with a pair of top 15s, and that was after he finally had surgery on his right knee after tearing his ACL last December.
Brian Stuard … After the Zurich Classic of New Orleans where he was the last individual champion in 2016, the Mayakoba Golf Classic registers second among tournaments at which he's earned the most money. He's 5-for-5 with a solo second in 2014, a T9 last year and a scoring average of 68.55. Slide him into position in DFS.
Harold Varner III
Patton Kizzire … In each of his first three years on the PGA TOUR, he's stormed out of the gates in the fall, but given his tailspin over the last nine months, it's not surprising to see him open 2018-19 with but a T23 in South Korea and a solo 67th in China.
Charley Hoffman … At best a contrarian because he makes most cuts, but he has only one top 25 in his last seven events worldwide (T20, THE NORTHERN TRUST). It's also been 15 months since his last top 10 in official competition. And he's 0-for-3 without a sub-70 at Mayakoba since prevailing here in 2014. It's also his only top 30 in six trips.
Graeme McDowell … This is relative to the expectations as a former champion (2015). He's cashed in the last three editions and averaged 68.08 in those 12 rounds, but save as a back-end complement in DFS at best. The 39-year-old has managed only one top-35 finish in his last 11 starts worldwide.
Kevin Kisner … First start in two months. Concluded last season with only three top-35 finishes in his last 13 starts. While still a threat to contend everywhere, he's worth passing even in PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf presented by SERVPRO due to a 1-for-3 slate at Mayakoba where he hasn't appeared in five years.
Kevin Chappell … As a taut ball-striker, he should be a short-lister at El Camaleón, but it hasn't panned out with just two red numbers in six rounds. He's also too inconsistent over time to attach usable analytics to a higher expectation this week.
Brian Harman … Continues to scuffle as he cashes checks, but his last top-35 finish was a T6 at the Travelers Championship in late June. And since Mayakoba hopped into the fall, he's just 2-for-4, also without a top 35.
John Huh … Something will give because the 2012 champ who's a collective 5-for-6 with a scoring average of 68.86 in 22 rounds at El Camaleón has missed his last five cuts upon arrival. The field is deep enough to snag something on the line elsewhere.
Chris Stroud … Once upon a time, he was an automatic at El Camaleón thanks to a 7-for-7 record from 2008-2014 that included three straight top fives among five top 25s. However, those halcyon days are long gone. Since 2015, he's made only one cut and averaged 71.25 in eight rounds. His recent form is suspect as well as he's gone five starts without a top 50.
Russell Henley … Making his tournament debut with only a T50 (PGA Championship) and T58 (Dell Technologies Championship) as cuts made in the last three months.
Returning to Competition
Andrew Landry … Rested since a T66 at the Safeway Open. He withdrew early from both the CIMB Classic and THE CJ CUP @ NINE BRIDGES. While counterintuitive given the promise of FedExCup points and getting paid in those no-cut invitationals, he's fully exempt through 2019-20. He also became a first-time father early this year, so the tug of staying home is stronger than ever. He's 0-for-2 at Mayakoba.
D.A. Points … Making his first start of 2018-19 for which he's fully exempt due to his win at the Puerto Rico Open in 2017. Hasn't played since a T4 at the Wyndham Championship in August. When asked how he was feeling on Twitter later in the month, the 41-year-old replied, "Physically I feel fine. I just have frequent numbness in my right hand and fingers. Trying to find a good solution for the fix."
Padraig Harrington … Sticking with his commitment to the Nedbank Golf Challenge in South Africa. The 47-year-old has come on strong of late to position himself 88th in the Race to Dubai. He's fully exempt on the PGA TOUR this season via the top-50 career earnings exemption.
Power Rankings Recap – Shriners Hospitals for Children Open
Power Ranking Golfer Result
1 Gary Woodland T10
2 Tony Finau T36
3 Rickie Fowler T4
4 Patrick Cantlay 2nd
5 Webb Simpson T15
6 Ryan Moore T36
7 Aaron Wise T15
8 Scott Piercy T10
9 Austin Cook MC
10 Cameron Champ T28
11 Jordan Spieth T55
12 Beau Hossler T23
13 Sam Burns MC
14 Bryson DeChambeau Win
15 Bronson Burgoon MC
Wild Card Martin Laird T28
Sleepers Recap – Shriners Hospitals for Children Open
Harris English T36
Alex Prugh T57
J.J. Spaun T15
Kevin Streelman T51
Martin Trainer MC
Birthdays among active golfers on the PGA TOUR
November 6 … Scott Piercy (40)
November 7 … Joaquin Niemann (20)
November 8 … Troy Matteson (39); Francesco Molinari (36)
November 9 … David Duval (47); Ted Potter, Jr. (35); Nicholas Lindheim (34)
November 10 … Jon Rahm (24)
November 11 … Robert Garrigus (41); Joel Dahmen (31)
November 12 … Lucas Glover (39); Chez Reavie (37); Jason Day (31); C.T. Pan (27)