And just like that, we've arrived at the midpoint of Segment 3 in PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf. The Rocket Mortgage Classic is the fourth of seven events of the modified schedule.
The adjustments made to the fantasy game have generated a sweet spot of timing for new gamers. Not only does the PGA TOUR have a captive audience during the pandemic, but there's little concern over saving starts for the remainder of the season. Segment 4 has only six tournaments, and half of those won't have a cut. It's like Fantasy 101.
As I referenced in my comment in Expert Picks (linked below), the thought about fatigue has crept into my thinking, and that affects strategy. Consider that of the 156 in the field at Detroit Golf Club, as of Tuesday afternoon, 45 played in each of the first three events since play resumed. In alphabetical order, the most popular fantasy picks among them are Jason Day, Bryson DeChambeau, Tony Finau, Viktor Hovland, Sungjae Im, Kevin Kisner, Patrick Reed and Bubba Watson. So, it's possible that you're out of starts on a couple.
Every time something familiar is presented, such as the possibility of fatigue, I default to two reactions.
First, just because I think of it doesn't mean it's a thing. Sure, it's fair to consider, and it may apply in some fashion to some guys, but we can make a lot more of it than it deserves. If you're not comfortable in investing, then don't. That keeps it simple.
The other factor is that all of these guys know in advance that they could be playing four in a row. None decided at the last minute to keep going. This is their profession and they've been through other challenges that could be perceived as rigorous to some degree. Right now, that they're playing at all after three months champing to get back out there still is fresh.
Conclusion: It's not quite paralysis by analysis, but it tilts that way
PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf
My roster for the Rocket Mortgage Classic (in alphabetical order):
You’ll find my starters in Expert Picks.
Others to consider for each category (in alphabetical order):
Scoring: Dominic Bozzelli; Sungjae Im; Maverick McNealy; Kevin Na; Alex Noren; J.T. Poston; Scottie Scheffler
Driving: Lucas Glover; Sungjae Im; Doc Redman; Scottie Scheffler; Harold Varner III; Bubba Watson
POWER RANKINGS WILD CARD
Chris Kirk … Took last week off after connecting for victory at The King & Bear Classic at World Golf Village. To listen to him explain what it meant was to listen to a survivor who just happens to play professional golf for a living, and really well at that. No doubt the pleasantries exchanged with his fellow PGA TOUR members upon arrival in Detroit will sustain the positive vibes, but with things in a new perspective, more than just his ego will be fulfilled. He's exempt via a Major Medical Extension with 10 starts remaining. Although he got the job done on and around the greens in Florida two weeks ago, and not primarily from tee to green, your decision to hop aboard digs deeper than that.
Bubba Watson … Despite the fact that he missed the cut during a rough patch last year, I love his fit upon return. He managed his game at Colonial wonderfully and finished T7 while leading the field in par-4 scoring. He also ranked ninth in Strokes Gained: Putting for the week. Now he gets a similar track with twice as many par 5s.
Brian Stuard … The Oakland University product was in a rare position inside the Power Rankings for the inaugural Rocket Mortgage Classic and finished T5. With him reopening the season 3-for-3 with a T20 last week in Connecticut, this has all the makings again of local boy does good.
Scott Stallings … You know what to do. He's heater-prone and fresh off a T6 at TPC River Highlands where he led the field in greens in regulation and ranked third in par-5 scoring.
Lucas Glover … A renown ball-striker with a trio of top 25s in tow post-hiatus? Yes, please!
Scottie Scheffler … He's scoring but not low enough out of the gate to have resonated. That will change. He's too proficient throughout his bag to slump. Invest in the bargain for the promise of the upswing.
Wesley Bryan … He's answering the bell. When he returned at the RBC Heritage, the message in this space was not to hesitate if he gained traction. After shedding the rust with a payday at Harbour Town, he rose for a T24 at TPC River Highlands and led the field in Strokes Gained: Approach-the-Green. Even better, that merely punctuated an otherwise balanced attack. With 19 starts remaining on his Major Medical Extension, it's time to make room if you already haven't.
Kurt Kitayama … Breezed to medalist honors at Monday's open qualifier and he won't be under-owned in savvy DFS circles, and he shouldn't be. The 27-year-old from California has cashed in 11 consecutive starts worldwide, including four on the PGA TOUR, two of which in World Golf Championships. Altogether, this run includes a P2, a third, a fourth and a T6. At 77th in the Official World Golf Ranking, he's highest among non-members from the United States.
Harold Varner III
Nate Lashley … Although he's a first-time defending champion, he's 37 years of age, so I'm not worried about him losing focus of the task at hand despite the welcome distractions of the duties. Rather, he's yet to put to rest residual doubt over a wrist injury that lingered early in the year. Even if he's 100 percent now, counterproductive habits can develop. He's been inconsistent at best.
Rickie Fowler … He's missed both cuts since the restart with an over-par round in each, and he's 108th in the FedExCup with only four cuts made in eight starts. Finished T46 here last year, and that was during a brief lull amid otherwise impressive performances.
Jason Day … With the help of the hiatus, he's now gone one year with only one top 10 (solo fourth at Pebble Beach). His putting, which is his primary weapon, has regressed so much that last week's mildly positive result lifted his overall rank in Strokes Gained: Putting to 154th. However, in his seven starts in which it's been measured, he's given away strokes on the greens in four of them.
Kevin Kisner … Surprisingly just OK in the context of our expectations this season. He's 78th in the FedExCup and 1-for-3 in the restart. Of course, he always pops for a top five when we least expect it, which is why his long-term value remains high. So, consider him at best fractionally in DFS for the RMC.
Branden Grace … It's not a hard-and-fast rule, but it applies often; that is, invest elsewhere on par 72s. He still doesn't score well on par 5s. Also, and oddly, going back over two years, his only two top 10s in individual competition on the PGA TOUR occurred at the Waste Management Phoenix Open at TPC Scottsdale (a par 71).
Lucas Bjerregaard … It's easy to forget that he's fully exempt because he's 0-for-6 in 2020 and has just a T45 (Houston Open) on the board all season. As a member of the European Tour, and with the mandate to fulfill a membership minimum of 15 starts on the PGA TOUR eliminated for this season, it's fair to wonder how much longer he continues to grind in the U.S. Don't be surprised if he departs for his home circuit sooner than later.
RETURNING TO COMPETITION
William McGirt … Let's try this again. He originally had earmarked the Korn Ferry Challenge at TPC Sawgrass to get back to meaningful competition, but ultimately delayed it until this week's TPC Colorado Championship at Heron Lakes. The 41-year-old has missed 22 months of action for surgery and recovery of a torn labrum in his left hip and femoroacetabular impingement. Not dissimilar to Wesley Bryan's inspiring return, if McGirt hit the ground running, he could prove to be a valuable and cheap find in PGA TOUR formats when he returns. Because he sat out an entire season, he has 29 starts on a Major Medical Extension.
Mackenzie Hughes … What a wild season. For the record, even though they span four months, he has a pair of podium finishes in his last four starts. None of his three cuts made were top 50. He's also missed 10 cuts.
Dylan Frittelli … Removed from the field on Sunday after testing positive for COVID-19.
Harris English … He tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday.
Stewart Cink … He was the last to exhaust a medical extension before the hiatus, and he fell short of the primary terms, but he secured conditional status for the remainder of the season. Currently 140th in the FedExCup.
Padraig Harrington … This would have been his first start since Bay Hill. He opted for resetting the terms of his Minor Medical Extension after the hiatus, so he still has 11 starts to earn 314.882 FedExCup points and a promotion to the Major Medical category. However, the Irishman's usage should be reserved for spot starts, if at all.
POWER RANKINGS RECAP – TRAVELERS CHAMPIONSHIP
Power Ranking Golfer Result
1 Justin Thomas MC
2 Bryson DeChambeau T6
3 Justin Rose MC
4 Patrick Cantlay T11
5 Rory McIlroy T11
6 Brooks Koepka DNP
7 Webb Simpson DNP
8 Jon Rahm T37
9 Bubba Watson MC
10 Abraham Ancer T11
11 Paul Casey T32
12 Joaquin Niemann 63rd
13 Marc Leishman T58
14 Sungjae Im T58
15 J.T. Poston MC
Wild Card Jordan Spieth T54
SLEEPERS RECAP – TRAVELERS CHAMPIONSHIP
Joseph Bramlett T41
Brice Garnett MC
Will Gordon T3
Patrick Rodgers MC
Kevin Tway MC
BIRTHDAYS AMONG ACTIVE GOLFERS ON THE PGA TOUR
June 30 … Patrick Rodgers (28)
July 1 … none
July 2 … none
July 3 … none
July 4 … none
July 5 … Chesson Hadley (33)
July 6 … none