Not all spikes in a PGA TOUR season are alike. Likewise, not all moments that feel busier than usual in our world are the same.
For full-season gamers, the bubble from the doubleheader that includes The Open Championship in July through Opening Day of the following season about two months later is both the Mount Everest and the climb to its summit among the experiences. Even though we see it coming, it can be a lot to process in real time.
We’re at another zany time of the year right now.
Segment 3 of PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf has three tournaments remaining before the season concludes with arguably the most challenging of the phases – Segment 4. Like Augusta National for the Masters – at least in most years; this year’s event was unusually and largely unpredictable in terms of the outcome – Colonial Country Club almost always is a safe play in fantasy because of the value of course history.
It also doesn’t hurt that the fields at this week’s Charles Schwab Challenge and next week’s Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide are reserved for only 120 golfers because both are invitationals. Yet, the 36-hole cut remains the same at low 65 and ties. The numbers game that favors them to survive also benefits us. Fantasy golf is a better experience for all when points scored determines the overall rankings, not zeroes due to missed cuts.
Because the PGA Championship also is an invitational, all top 10s from the AT&T Byron Nelson, PGA, Schwab and Memorial will generate automatic exemptions into the Palmetto Championship at Congaree on June 10-13. (This tournament is sitting in for the RBC Canadian Open that was canceled for the second straight season due to the pandemic.)
Through the first two events of this four-week stretch, the top-10 exemption probably will be needed by Seamus Power (T9, Nelson) and Padraig Harrington (T4, PGA). Power has conditional status, so he could be on the bubble to qualify for the field of 156 at Congaree on his number. Harrington burned the last start on his Minor Medical Extension at Kiawah Island and has been demoted to the Past Champions category, which also might not be looped into Congaree on merit.
And that’s not all, or even the majority of what’s swirling around.
The PGA Championship was a checkpoint for entry into the U.S. Open and The Open Championship. Both majors used the latest Official World Golf Ranking for automatic exemptions. Both batches and a recap of where the dust settled can be found in Qualifiers. (Note the incredibly small margin by which K.H. Lee squeaked into the U.S. Open.)
Helping inject added value into a couple of golfers for 2021-22, the top-four at Kiawah Island earned exemptions into the 2022 Masters. The most beneficial are Harrington and Harry Higgs, both of whom were knotted in the four-way T4. Harrington’s long-term fantasy value is long gone but the potential for a spot start for weekly leaguers has been established. Higgs is 61st in the FedExCup, so he’ll be fully exempt next season, but the mere promise of an appearance in the Masters could do wonders for his confidence as he continues to flatten his learning curve.
Two sectional qualifiers for the U.S. Open also took place this week. The larger in Dallas needed two days and a 10-for-1 playoff to identify the last of 10 berths. Another eight sectionals will take place on June 7. Scroll to REMAINING QUALIFYING CRITERIA in Qualifiers for that detail.
Odds sourced on Tuesday, May 25 at 5 a.m. ET. For live odds visit betmgm.
PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf
My roster for the Charles Schwab Challenge (in alphabetical order):
Abraham Ancer (+2000)
Daniel Berger (+2000)
Collin Morikawa (+1400)
Justin Rose (+3000)
Scottie Scheffler (+3000)
Jordan Spieth (+1000)
You’ll find my starters in Expert Picks.
Others to consider for each category (in alphabetical order):
Scoring: Tony Finau; Charley Hoffman; Sungjae Im; Jason Kokrak; Joaquin Niemann; Carlos Ortiz; Ryan Palmer; Patrick Reed; Justin Thomas
Driving: Corey Conners; Emiliano Grillo; Billy Horschel; Sungjae Im; Jason Kokrak; Joaquin Niemann; Carlos Ortiz; Ryan Palmer
POWER RANKINGS WILD CARD
Tony Finau (+2200) … Age 31; sixth appearance. Certainly worthy of most Power Rankings, this isn’t an indictment as much as it is an opportunity to observe through a different prism just to see if there’s anything new to learn. The 2019 runner-up hasn’t missed a cut at Colonial and his scoring average is a sporty 68.75 on the stock par 70. Because he’s among the best at adapting his game to a course but has the extra gear to step on a driver, his second PGA TOUR title is likely to occur on a course and in a field like this this than up against the other heavyweights on longer tracks.
Jason Kokrak (+5000) … Age 36; seventh appearance. As noted in Monday’s Power Rankings, the average age of the winners at Colonial since 2002 is exactly 36. (He turned 36 last Saturday.) The average number of starts before the first victory at Colonial among the same winners is exactly six. In his first six, he’s recorded two top 20s, the latter a T3 in last year’s Return to Golf. He’s T2 on TOUR with 12 consecutive cuts made and nothing concerning his metrics is alarming.
Chris Kirk (+5000) … Age 36; 11th appearance. He’s exactly and only two weeks older than Kokrak but Kirk is a former champion at Colonial (2015). In fact, he’s never missed a cut while scattering six top 20s. He stumbled in his last two starts, including last week’s PGA Championship, but shortfalls in majors can be ignored. Balanced throughout his bag with four top 10s among seven top 20s this season.
Charley Hoffman (+4000) … Age 43; 13th appearance. What a heater he’s on – five straight top 20s, seven in his eight and eight in his last 10. He’s also missed only one cut at Colonial, and that was during a quiet spell in 2020. He has a top 10 and another four top 25s here. He’s never broken par in a final round but his overall scoring average in 45 rounds is 69.38.
Brandt Snedeker (+6600) … Age 40; 10th appearance. He has reconnected with form at the right time. Dating back to a T6 at the Valero Texas Open, he’s 5-for-5 with two top 10s and another two top 20s. He’s also perfect at Colonial with a co-runner-up finish in 2015 among four top 20s. In addition to his reputation as a wizard on Poa greens, he’s thrived often on shorter tracks with smaller targets.
Kevin Na (+6600) … Age 37; 15th appearance. If you wonder why he’s been conspicuously absent in most of my preview material despite many reasons why he shouldn’t be, there are certain guys of considerable talent who are untouchable because they rarely break into the projected direction. This is to say that when they do, you haven’t unlocked the code, you’ve merely been lucky. However, he’s a former and recent champion at Colonial (2019) with five career top 10s on the track. He’s an elite horse for the course, but note that he’s not my top draw. Fool me 11 times and all that…
Matt Kuchar (+6600) … Age 42; 13th appearance. Sets up nicely as a top-30 prop what with four top 20s in his last six starts and a sparkling record at Colonial that includes seven top 30s.
Gary Woodland (+5000) … Age 37; third appearance. I had been playing him conservatively for most of the season because of his physical injuries, but I swung too far to that side of the spectrum. Now I’m settling into a position lower than his usual expectations but detached from the concerns that triggered the reasonable fear. He hasn’t been consistent, but his class remains permanent. He also finished ninth here last year after sitting one stroke off the 54-hole lead.
Carlos Ortiz (+8000) … Age 30; fourth appearance. Despite his lackluster form over the last few months, I’m respecting his backyard feel that can’t be ruled out as a contributor to his T21 at TPC Craig Ranch two weeks ago. It’s his only top 40 of his last seven starts but he’s a Dallas resident and a University of North Texas product. He’ll also be pegging it with the knowledge that his younger brother, Alvaro, was among the 10 U.S. Open sectional qualifiers over at Dallas Athletic Club on Tuesday. Carlos qualified automatically via the top 60 in the latest Official World Golf Ranking.
Emiliano Grillo (age 28; sixth appearance)
Brian Harman (age 34; ninth appearance)
Billy Horschel (age 34; fourth appearance)
Sungjae Im (age 23; third appearance)
Ian Poulter (age 45; eighth appearance)
Cameron Tringale (age 33; eighth appearance)
Sergio Garcia (+6600) … Age 41; 10th appearance. It’s the 20-year anniversary of his momentous triumph on the PGA TOUR, but he arrives having gone 0-for-4 since the 2021 Masters. Throughout his career, he’s been all but impervious to allowing negative results command his short-range potential, which is exactly what any touring professional would aspire to control, but all we care about is the result. Despite his success here, he’s a contrarian at best.
Kevin Kisner (+12500) … Age 37; eighth appearance. The 2017 champ arrives with a career-high-tying five consecutive missed cuts, and if he hadn’t qualified for the no-cut Match Play, it’d be six in a row. Dating back to a second-round 80 at Concession in late February, he’s signed for only two red numbers in 16 rounds of individual competition.
Zach Johnson (+8000) … The two-time champ and all-time earnings leader at Colonial is just 2-for-4 with a scoring average of 71.33 in his last 12 rounds here since 2017. He’s also managed only two top 25s in a dozen starts in 2021. It’s a distinct departure from the end-of-year flourish that resulted in a T6 at home on Sea Island in November.
Lee Westwood (+10000) … Age 48; first appearance. Phil Mickelson’s historic victory at the PGA Championship on Sunday was proof that barriers are not impenetrable, but it’s possible that no one was more inspired than the Englishman who is winless in the majors. Westwood is about 34 months younger than Mickelson and in strong physical condition as well. Long-time fans will remember the transformation that Westwood made to improve his health for the long-term, and it’s paid off. Keep that in mind at the remaining two majors this summer. In the meantime, respect the experience that has defined success at Colonial and invest elsewhere.
Si Woo Kim (+6600) … Age 25; sixth appearance. He’s flashed some form since a T9 at THE PLAYERS Championship, but his only payday at Colonial was but a T66 in 2018 and his scoring average in 12 rounds is 71.25.
Lucas Glover (+12500) … Age 41; 15th appearance. He’s cashed as often as he hasn’t at Colonial, and only two of his paydays were top 25s. The right play is for him to make the cut because he’s been turning out those in bunches in 2021, but limit your prop considerations to that.
Will Gordon (age 24; first appearance)
James Hahn (age 39; fifth appearance)
Graeme McDowell (age 41; fourth appearance)
Kyle Stanley (age 33; eighth appearance)
Henrik Stenson (age 45; fifth appearance)
Hudson Swafford (age 33; fourth appearance)
RETURNING TO COMPETITION
Louis Oosthuizen … Didn’t wait too long after sharing runner-up honors at the PGA Championship to opt for a (well-deserved) week off. Currently 24th in the FedExCup and still first in Strokes Gained: Putting.
K.H. Lee … He was the last automatic qualifier for the PGA Championship by virtue of his breakthrough win at the AT&T Byron Nelson the week prior, so it had been a planned week off until then. Now he rests but not without the confirmation that he’s in the U.S. Open as the last man inside the top 60 of the latest Official World Golf Ranking.
POWER RANKINGS RECAP – PGA Championship
Power Ranking/Golfer /Result
1 Rory McIlroy T49
2 Bryson DeChambeau T38
3 Viktor Hovland T30
4 Xander Schauffele MC
5 Justin Thomas MC
6 Jon Rahm T8
7 Marc Leishman MC
8 Daniel Berger T75
9 Matt Fitzpatrick T23
10 Webb Simpson T30
11 Jordan Spieth T30
12 Cameron Smith T59
13 Collin Morikawa T8
14 Keegan Bradley T17
15 Louis Oosthuizen T2
16 Corey Conners T17
17 Dustin Johnson MC
18 Charl Schwartzel MC
19 Sam Burns WD
20 Will Zalatoris T8
Wild Card Joaquin Niemann T30
SLEEPERS RECAP – PGA Championship
Emiliano Grillo T38
Garrick Higgo T64
Charley Hoffman T17
Takumi Kanaya MC
Alex Noren T55
BIRTHDAYS AMONG ACTIVE MEMBERS OF THE PGA TOUR
May 25 … Rafa Cabrera Bello (37); Tom Hoge (32)
May 26 … none
May 27 … none
May 28 … none
May 29 … Seung-Yul Noh (30)
May 30 … none
May 31 … Chad Campbell (47)
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