If you think the new cut rule of low 65 and ties has been a challenge, imagine dealing with it in reality.
In the first four events of the 2019-20 season, fewer than 70 golfers have survived the 36-hole cut three times. (Seventy-six made it to the weekend of last week's Shriners Hospitals for Children Open.) That means that the cut fell one stroke lower than it would have under the old provision.
In all, 46 golfers missed the first three cuts on the number. Forty-six! Ouch, babe.
It's resonated in my Power Rankings in which Jason Kokrak (No. 1, Greenbrier), Lucas Glover (No. 2, Sanderson Farms) and Kevin Na (No. 9, Safeway) were one shot too high in their respective weeks during which they projected for something better.
The old saying that what doesn't slam your trunk makes your stronger also applies to our pursuit as fantasy golfers. A tougher cut line accentuates gamers who have averted the land mines, and this is how it should be. The directionally proportional beauty is that the rest of us are closer to getting back in the race for the same reason. It's harder to sustain power when you're at greater risk of losing it.
The Houston Open is the last tournament with a cut included in PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf until the Mayakoba Golf Classic on Nov. 14-17. All three events on the upcoming Asian Swing promise four rounds, weather pending as always, to all 78 entrants in them. Therefore, the bonus points awarded to final-round starters will serve as the most significant source of separation in our ranks overseas.
PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf
My roster for the Houston Open (in alphabetical order):
You’ll find my starters in Expert Picks.
Others to consider for each category (in alphabetical order):
Scoring: Kevin Chappell; Brian Gay; Brian Harman; Matt Jones; Pat Perez; Scottie Scheffler
Driving: Harris English; Matt Jones; Russell Knox; Doc Redman; Scottie Scheffler; Robby Shelton
Power Rankings Wild Card
Kevin Chappell … Since returning from a nine-month layoff after back surgery, he's 4-for-4 across two tours. His results have progressively improved through a T40 at the Safeway Open, but the greatest value is in his confidence to trust the process. On paper, he's a fantastic fit for the Tournament Course because of his default skill set as a ball-striker, so bank on a continuation of form. Just don't lead with him.
Matt Jones … If he didn't respond with a T29 at TPC Summerlin where he spun a 63 in the second round, he doesn't earn this endorsement. Prior to it, he withdrew during the Sanderson Farms with a sore back, and then withdrew early from his commitment to the Safeway Open. It's likely that he'll be nursing/battling the malady until he can work in an extended break, but he's a former winner in Houston (2014) and he hasn't missed an edition since. The rub is that the victory is his only top-35 finish among just four cuts made in nine appearances.
Harris English … Might as well plug into his power surge. After going 17 months without a top 10 and having entered 2019-20 with conditional status, the 30-year-old opened with a T3 at Greenbrier and a T6 in Mississippi. He also placed T33 at Silverado. He's 4-for-5 in Houston where the value of the experience of 18 rounds is greater than every result.
Johnson Wagner … You'd win a bet if you challenged even the hardest-core PGA TOUR fan to identify the golfer who ranked second in greens in regulation and 18th in Strokes Gained: Putting last season, but he's the guy. Alas, he's back with his familiar conditional status, but the 39-year-old still picks his spots. That includes in Houston where he prevailed in 2008, lost in a playoff in 2015 and has gone a collective 9-for-12. Lock him into your DFS lineups.
Cameron Champ … The Safeway Open champ didn't appear in my preview material for the Shriners because he didn't confirm that he was sticking with his commitment until after everything published. He missed the cut by five strokes, anyway.
Kyle Stanley … That a player of his ilk wasn't in the Power Rankings for GC of Houston tells most of the story. One of the best ball-strikers of his generation should thrive on this track, and he finished T19 (2016) and T8 (2017) in his last two visits, but his putting has not paid off the chances he's given himself for most of 2019. In a vacuum, he's worth fractional ownership in DFS, but he sets up as a trap for the rest of us.
Beau Hossler … He was the runner-up to Ian Poulter in the last edition, but the 24-year-old remains on the prowl for consistency. He needed the Korn Ferry Tour Finals to regain fully exempt status for this season and he's approaching the eight-month mark since his last top 25 on the PGA TOUR. Allow your opposition to take the plunge.
Robert Garrigus … Attracts this attention because he's 7-for-9 with three top 20s on the Tournament Course, including in each of the last two editions, but only the most devout of course-history buffs are expected to roster him as a throw-in in maybe one DFS lineup. Since a T20 at the Sanderson Farms Championship nearly a year ago, he's 3-for-11 with zero top 60s.
Returning to Competition
Jimmy Walker … After missing the cut in the first two events of 2019-20 to extend his skid worldwide to 0-for-5 since the Scottish Open in mid-July, he withdrew early from the Safeway Open as well. The Texan is fully exempt through 2020-21, but his short-range prospect is concerning.
Nick Taylor … The Canuck is off to a solid start with a pair of top 25s among three paydays to sit 28th in the FedExCup. This is to say that he's merely maintained the consistent hum that defined last season.
Jason Kokrak … Off to a slow start but he could be adjusting to his new, elevated level of classification after having advanced to the TOUR Championship. It gets him into everything except the Sentry Tournament of Champions and the last two WGCs of the season.
Tim Wilkinson … The lefty started near the bottom of the reshuffle and would actually lose a couple of spots if the first reorder occurred after the Shriners. After finishing the 2019 Korn Ferry Tour with three missed cuts, he's opened the 2019-20 PGA TOUR season by going 0-for-2.
Ryan Blaum … Like Wilkinson, Blaum missed his first two cuts, but he has conditional status, so he won't have as many opportunities to play as the Kiwi. This also trails his curious decision not to give it a go in the KFT Finals.
Andres Romero … If it seems odd that a golfer with Past Champion status would withdraw early from an event the fall, your sense is spot on. However, the Argentine has been competing regularly on the European Tour since June. As he's poised to compete in this week's Italian Open, he's 108th in the Race to Dubai standings. The top 110 at the conclusion of the season retain eligibility for 2020.
Power Rankings Recap – Shriners Hospitals for Children Open
Power Ranking Golfer Result
1 Webb Simpson T7
2 Patrick Cantlay 2nd
3 Bryson DeChambeau T4
4 Collin Morikawa T42
5 Brooks Koepka MC
6 Scottie Scheffler T74
7 Adam Scott T42
8 Tony Finau T9
9 Charles Howell III T68
10 Brian Harman T18
11 Brandt Snedeker T48
12 Gary Woodland T55
13 Adam Hadwin T4
14 Dylan Frittelli MC
15 Lanto Griffin T18
Wild Card Hideki Matsuyama T16
Sleepers Recap – Shriners Hospitals for Children Open
Bronson Burgoon T55
Chesson Hadley T18
Mark Hubbard T42
Denny McCarthy T9
Nick Taylor T29
Birthdays among active golfers on the PGA TOUR
October 8 … none
October 9 … none
October 10 … Charlie Beljan (35)
October 11 … Greg Chalmers (46)
October 12 … none
October 13 … none
October 14 … Tyrrell Hatton (28)