As golf fans and fantasy gamers, we've been fortunate to witness live action and have fun with it for a month now. The Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide already is the sixth tournament since play resumed after the three-month hiatus. It's also the last stand-alone event with as few as 132 golfers until the FedExCup Playoffs.
We're about to embark on one of the busiest, most diverse and unprecedented runs of wall-to-wall PGA TOUR action in history. Consider that after next week's full-field 3M Open, there's a doubleheader, a major (PGA Championship), the conclusion of the regular season and the three-event Playoffs.
That takes us through Labor Day.
After an "offseason" that will last only two(!) days, the 2020-21 season will commence with the Safeway Open. Another major (U.S. Open) will follow, as will a full slate of stops until the weekend before Thanksgiving, including yet another major (Masters). Then, because of the massive shifting of events, the Mayakoba Golf Classic was moved to the week after Thanksgiving. You can view the fall portion of the 2020-21 season here.
When consumed all at once, it makes the last five weeks feel tame. So, if you've yet to get on the horn – smartphones qualify, right? – to assemble your league for Draft Day, consider this a timely reminder.
As noted in this space recently, the curtailed Segments 3 and 4 in PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf serve as a soft open for rookie gamers. Consideration on how to ration starts takes a back seat to the general learning curve of the format. However, on the other end of the educational spectrum is the benefit that front-runners possess because starts for the most valuable talent work as a line of defense without as much worry about missing out.
Now, because Segment 4 includes a World Golf Championship, a major and three Playoffs events, it presents as more challenging, but three of the six tournaments will not have a cut, so league leaders need only concern themselves realistically with leaderboard finishes for bonus points. It'll become increasingly difficult for those of us in pursuit to gain ground in the final two, especially.
PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf
My roster for the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide (in alphabetical order):
You’ll find my starters in Expert Picks.
Others to consider for each category (in alphabetical order):
Scoring: Daniel Berger; Rickie Fowler; Viktor Hovland; Collin Morikawa; Ian Poulter; Patrick Reed; Webb Simpson; Justin Thomas; Gary Woodland
Driving: Abraham Ancer; Daniel Berger; Paul Casey; Lucas Glover; Billy Horschel; Viktor Hovland; Hideki Matsuyama; Doc Redman; Webb Simpson; Kevin Streelman; Gary Woodland
POWER RANKINGS WILD CARD
Jason Day … What to do, what to do. Punctuated the Workday Charity Open with a 67 to finish T7. It's his best finish in 12 appearances at Muirfield Village. In fact, he had only one top 25 prior (T15, 2017). The performance was balanced, too, with the usual emphasis on his short game and putting. Could it be that he's turned a corner? On one hand, while the results haven't been impressive lately, he has connected 11 red numbers since the second round of the RBC Heritage. He's also sleeping in his own bed this week, which didn't hurt last week. Gamers in pursuit should consider stowing him on the bench just in case. And, obviously, as the co-narrative applies in these cases, surround him with more reliable value to survive the cut.
Brooks Koepka … He was a late entry after missing the cut on the number last week. While he returns to the same course, this week's event has the look and the feel of a major. That's all that matters.
Daniel Berger … Makes his way back to Muirfield Village for the first time in four years, but his forgettable history here is irrelevant. Instead, this automatic green light has everything to do with how well he played both before and after the hiatus. He's rested since a T3 at Harbour Town, which was his fifth consecutive top 10.
Rickie Fowler … OK. While he's logged just two top 25s after opening the restart with a pair of missed cuts, that's something. It's evidence that the swing changes are taking hold and yielding confidence. With a pair of runner-up finishes among four top 15s at the Memorial, he owns as solid a record as any contemporary non-winner of the tournament, so he knows the place and it's been kind. He's ideal in DFS and for chasers.
Billy Horschel … Well, he passed the litmus test about which I wrote last week. That said, his tee-to-green game for the Workday was substandard, especially on a welcoming layout like Muirfield Village, but he more than made up for it on the greens en route to a share of seventh place. With three top 15s in the last five editions of the Memorial in which to tap, he connected with course history and easily earned the endorsement this week.
Abraham Ancer … He's been playing too well of late to ignore, and now that he's come into his own at this level, we should expect something inside the top 55 for the first time in what is his third appearance at Muirfield Village.
Matthew Wolff … Tremendous rebound candidate. Needless to say, I believe in him even after a disappointing debut at Muirfield Village last week. Despite the positivity in his rhetoric post-round on Sunday at Detroit Golf Club prior to it, it's possible that the inability to close imparted a greater effect on him than he was able to withstand. He'll be fine, and now he has two rounds of experience on the course.
Justin Rose … After teasing with a fantastic display of putting right out of the break at Colonial, where he placed T3, he overcame suspect work on the greens at Harbour Town to finish T14. For the optimistic, and with a doubleheader at Muirfield Village on tap, even a poor effort at TPC River Highlands could have been classified as a one-off, but he continued to slide, and even worse, at the Workday where he hit only 17 greens in regulation and still need 57 putts to complete 36 holes. Even contrarians must pause.
Jordan Spieth … Fool us once, shame on you. Fool us X-number of times, well, you lose our trust. Muirfield Village presents as a soft landing to work on his game off the tee, but his inaccuracy continues to apply pressure on his approach game, and he's just not giving himself enough chances to score. Ignore his course success as a predictive component until further notice.
Ryan Moore … With a sparkling record at Muirfield Village, he deserves at least fractional ownership in DFS, but he's 0-for-3 in the restart and he limped into the hiatus as it was.
Brandt Snedeker … New week, same message. With last week's missed cut, he's now a combined 0-for-7 at Muirfield Village.
Byeong Hun An … Since 2016, he's finished no worse than T25 (2017) at the Memorial. He also lost in a playoff in 2018. That track record aligns with his profile as a long hitter with a nice touch around greens, but the 28-year-old either hasn't been able to go low enough or even avoid big numbers since the break. Trap.
Charles Howell III
RETURNING TO COMPETITION
Kevin Na … His chronic back injury forced him to walk off Detroit Golf Club during the second round of the Rocket Mortgage Classic two weeks ago. He finished fifth at the Travelers the week prior. Lost in a playoff at the 2014 Memorial and finished T13 the following year. They're his only notable performances in eight trips, but he's exactly the kind of swing for the fence in whom chasers need to reply to make a dent. League leaders can't risk touching him in short-term formats.
Harris English … He had planned on competing in Detroit, but he tested positive for COVID-19 and has rested since. He's built for Muirfield Village where he finished T18 in his last visit in 2015, so DFSers should be all over him. Tyrrell Hatton (wrist surgery), Daniel Berger (wrist injury), Bryson DeChambeau (transformed physique) and Collin Morikawa (first missed cut) all have overcome degrees of challenge to win recent PGA TOUR events, so it only makes sense that someone who has had to sit out due to COVID-19 will be the first to prevail.
Wyndham Clark … He stumbled out of the gates of the restart, and then withdrew during his first round of the Rocket Mortgage Classic with a sore back. Now making his Muirfield Village debut.
Bill Haas … Currently 203rd in the FedExCup, but he's assured of no worse than conditional status for 2020-21. His fantasy value is marginal at best, but it's curious to wonder if he's considering burning a career earnings exemption (he's currently 39th all-time). Just 38 years of age, he's younger than the average usage, but with what's set up to be a beefier season, the Geoff Ogilvy argument rushes to mind. The Aussie used his career earnings exemption in his age-40 season of 2016-17. His philosophy was that he'll be more competitive at a younger age. Lo and behold, after a two-season hiatus from qualifying for the Playoffs, Ogilvy returned and finished 108th.
Padraig Harrington … Also withdrew early from the Rocket Mortgage Classic. No change to my advice pertaining to him as shared in the Fantasy Insider for that event.
Tom Lehman … He was eligible as the 1994 champ. Because winners of the Memorial before 1997 are add-ons, they are not replaced if they withdraw early. So, when he stepped out, the field dropped to 132 and cannot increase.
POWER RANKINGS RECAP – WORKDAY CHARITY OPEN
Power Ranking Golfer Result
1 Hideki Matsuyama T22
2 Justin Rose MC
3 Patrick Cantlay T7
4 Justin Thomas P2
5 Brooks Koepka MC
6 Gary Woodland T5
7 Xander Schauffele T14
8 Matthew Wolff MC
9 Matt Kuchar T39
10 Viktor Hovland 3rd
11 Rickie Fowler T22
12 Kevin Streelman T7
13 Cameron Champ 67th
14 Marc Leishman MC
15 Jon Rahm T27
Wild Card Patrick Reed T39
SLEEPERS RECAP – WORKDAY CHARITY OPEN
Adam Long T52
Henrik Norlander T31
Kyle Stanley MC
Cameron Tringale MC
Richy Werenski T35
BIRTHDAYS AMONG ACTIVE GOLFERS ON THE PGA TOUR
July 14 … Michael Kim (27)
July 15 … none
July 16 … Adam Scott (40)
July 17 … none
July 18 … Brendon de Jonge (40)
July 19 … none
July 20 … none