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PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf
My roster for the Sony Open in Hawaii (in alphabetical order):
You’ll find my starters in Expert Picks.
Others to consider for each category (in alphabetical order):
Scoring: Sungjae Im; Hideki Matsuyama; Collin Morikawa; Sebastián Muñoz; J.T. Poston; Webb Simpson; Cameron Smith; Justin Thomas
Driving: Daniel Berger; Keegan Bradley; Emiliano Grillo; Sungjae Im; Sung Kang; Hideki Matsuyama; Pat Perez; Andrew Putnam; Webb Simpson
Power Rankings Wild Card
Cameron Smith … Splitting hairs on excluding him from the Power Rankings proper, but it's a deep field. There's no reason to think that he won't record a personal-best finish at Waialae where his 4-for-4 record is punctuated with a T18 in 2018. He was one of the busier talents in December in bracketing his debut in the Presidents Cup with starts in his homeland, the latter of which a T10 at the Australian PGA Championship. The only curiosity is how he'll manage the winds this week, but that applies to everyone.
Kevin Kisner … This is an easy call. Despite a closing 76 at Kapalua, he still finished a respectable T14, but the more valuable takeaway is that he's warm. And since 2015 at Waialae, he's 5-for-5 with a pair of top fives.
Brian Harman … When he's in form, the elements have little impact. Four top 10s and another three top 20s since late June. The lefty also connected top 20s at Waialae in every edition from 2015-2018.
Shugo Imahira … Get used to the name if you aren't already. The 27-year-old from Japan paced his home circuit in the Order of Merit in each of the last two seasons. He's a four-time winner on the JGTO and he'll qualify for all of the biggest events in the world in 2020. He's also 2-for-2 at the Sony Open in Hawaii.
Andrew Putnam … Although he was the runner-up last year (after opening with a career-low 62), his value has been baked into consistently strong form going back to last spring. He's made 15 consecutive cuts worldwide, eight of which going for a top 25. In the process, the 30-year-old quickly has evolved into one of the TOUR's best putters.
Zach Johnson … It's been 11 years since he lifted the trophy here and now five years since his last title of any kind (2015 Open Championship), but the 43-year-old still is a horse for some courses. Waialae is one of them. Since his win, he's gone on to add five top 15s. Struggles with his putter last season were new only in the context of the extended slump. His experience in the wind and temperament to withstand tough conditions inspire confidence this week.
Rory Sabbatini … Since debuting as a rookie in 1999, he hasn't missed an edition of the Sony Open in Hawaii. Overall, he's cashed 15 times. His most recent of five top 15s was a T6 in 2015, but when conditions will be as challenging as forecast for this week, you want his experience.
Matt Jones … In case you missed it, he prevailed at the Emirates Australian Open the week before the Presidents Cup. It's his second title at Australian Golf Club where he's a member. It's not that he was trending hard to contend anywhere, but there was enough evidence to prove that he was in touch with his game often enough not to be ruled out as a contender where comfy. This includes Waialae where he's 4-for-4 since 2013.
Ryan Armour … Sufficiently equipped for the short test, replete with one of the lowest ball flights on the planet. Personal-best T22 in scorable conditions last year. Ideal DFS value.
Brendon Todd … Had a tough time in the wind at Kapalua and finished 29th. His precision off the tee will be of greater value at Waialae, but it's the rest of his game in these conditions that doesn't yield much faith at the moment.
Jimmy Walker … If you're new to fantasy, you don't have an appreciation for what a weapon he was, not only at Waialae where he's a two-time champion (2014, 2015) but all over the West Coast Swing that follows. Sure, you can research the results, but gone is the confidence he instilled as a leader to our lineups. As he approaches his 41st birthday (on Jan. 16), he's beginning another year with the doubt and inconsistency generated by his ongoing battle with Lyme disease. Since a burst of form during the spring of 2018, he's managed only three top 25s and none better than a T19 at the Charles Schwab Challenge last May.
Russell Henley … Winner here in 2013 and two top 20s since, but he's done very little of late to earn our trust in any short-range usage.
Aaron Wise … As he plows ahead in his contract year, I'm bullish in the long-term, but the 2017-18 Rookie of the Year still is in just his third season. That means that the learning curve demands respect in weekly formats. With only one top 30 in the last eight months and a missed cut in his only previous trip to Waialae (2018), abstain. However, the fact that he attracts our attention is a positive. Monitor closely.
Jason Dufner … He's 8-for-11 with four top 20s at Waialae, but his tee-to-green work hasn't been anywhere as impressive as it was during his prime. What's more, he's recorded only one top-50 finish in his last 10 starts dating back to late June.
Returning to Competition
Matt Every … This is his first start since serving a three-month suspension. He made his last two cuts (in early October) and sits 142nd in the FedExCup. Two top 10s in six trips to Waialae, but it's been six years since the more recent. Given that his time away was not due to injury, he presents as an intriguing complement in DFS.
Roger Sloan … First start since the birth of his second child on Nov. 19. Unlike immediately following the birth of his first child in the heart of the Korn Ferry Tour Finals in September of 2017, he had more time to let this celebration soak in. Given that, the Nappy Factor probably has a better chance of taking hold, although his long-range progression already was enough reason to invest in full-season formats. This is his third appearance at Waialae (67th, 2015; T33, 2019).
Jordan Spieth ... Didn't want to exacerbate an illness with travel, but he'll be back inside the ropes at the Farmers Insurance Open on Jan. 23-26, under-the-weather-pending.
Kevin Na … Out due to chronic discomfort in his neck. Dating back to last year's Sentry TOC, this is his 10th withdrawal after a commitment deadline and second this season (WGC-HSBC Champions). That doesn't include his mid-tournament WD at the 3M Open, also due to his neck. It's a remarkable stat given he's also won twice in the same time frame.
Aaron Baddeley … In his only appearance in the last eight editions of the Sony Open in Hawaii, he missed the cut in 2018. Currently 137th in the FedExCup with three cuts made in five starts.
Power Rankings Recap – Sentry Tournament of Champions
Power Ranking Golfer Result
1 Justin Thomas Win
2 Jon Rahm 10th
3 Xander Schauffele P2
4 Gary Woodland T7
5 Rickie Fowler T5
6 Patrick Reed P2
7 Dustin Johnson T7
8 Brendon Todd 29th
9 Paul Casey T19
10 Collin Morikawa T7
11 Patrick Cantlay 4th
12 Corey Conners T19
13 Ryan Palmer T17
14 Graeme McDowell T23
15 Matthew Wolff T11
Wild Card Kevin Kisner T14
Birthdays among active golfers on the PGA TOUR
January 7 … Camilo Villegas (38); Keith Mitchell (28)
January 8 … none
January 9 … Sergio Garcia (40)
January 10 … Ian Poulter (44)
January 11 … none
January 12 … Rob Oppenheim (40)
January 13 … none