Because fantasy forever is relative and context is everything, going all the way back to my nascent days at Rotoworld, when gamers have approached to bounce off ideas and seek opinion, I focused my response based on the answers to three introductory questions.
1) What format?
2) Others on your roster, if applicable?
3) Are you pacing or chasing?
You can’t answer the second question until you answer the first, but the third could lead off and take us to the same place.
In fact, where you are positioned right now in PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf is the proper swing thought for this week’s U.S. Open. This is because the second edition of the major this season launches Segment 4 of the fantasy game.
If Segment 3 was a war of attrition with its 13 events, then Segment 4 is a war of wits.
There are “only” 11 tournaments from now through the TOUR Championship. It includes two majors – for which shot-level measurements will be contributing to neither; more on that in a minute – and three tournaments with no cut, including the last two of the FedExCup Playoffs.
If you’re a league leader, no matter your margin, it’s early enough to allow others the time to force it, make mistakes and compound their struggles. You’ve earned this power. Play a smart but strong game. Worst case, because you’re methodical, you lose your lead and tip your visor, but you’re in a stronger relative position of pursuit than whoever whizzed by. While a marathon often concludes with a sprint, planning for the opportunity to make it matter requires the same delicate balance of aggression and resolve that got you here in the first place.
If you’re in the majority that isn’t out front, consider mapping out Segment 4 backwards. Define for whom you want a start remaining at East Lake where starting scores are determined by FedExCup ranking upon arrival. Remain as committed as possible to this plan but not so much that you squander a realistic chance of connecting on a Hail Mary as time expires. This isn’t “Varsity Blues.” A hook and ladder that results in Billy Bob reaching paydirt with three defenders on his back is not an expected outcome. (Spoiler alert.)
The only entirely new course on the slate is Caves Valley Golf Club (in Baltimore), but because it’s host to the BMW Championship, which is the penultimate stop with no cut, it sets up literally as a position week that I’ve referenced at times. Even better, it’ll scare pacesetters because of the uncertainty. Furthermore, because leaders obviously have something to lose, holstering chalk for the final two tournaments will be a motivating factor as we navigate the stretch run.
Speaking of the Playoffs, FedExCup points again are quadrupled. (They were merely tripled during the 2020 Playoffs due to the shortened season.) So, victories will yield 200 fantasy points (one-tenth the actual). While FedExCup points are not distributed at the TOUR Championship, PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf uses the same points structure as the first two Playoffs events. The volatility experienced in that series won’t be confined to reality.
As noted in the banner atop your My Roster page, shot-level points will not be awarded at Torrey Pines. As explained in previous editions of the Fantasy Insider, the USGA has used technology to measure every stroke in the U.S. Open since 2017, but that data is not used for PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf (for reasons not related to the fantasy game). The confusion is that the fantasy game did use the data for the 2020 U.S. Open, but it was an oversight for which the repair isn’t practical.
The Open Championship in July is the other tournament for which only actual scores and bonus points will apply. Despite the fact that it’s a major, if I were to rank all 11 events in Segment 4 by most influential in the context of expectations and timing, it’d slot last. It’s always a crapshoot because of the style of golf and the unpredictability of the weather. It’s a terrific week to send the second team out there because the value of savings starts at key times on familiar venues will decide league championships.
PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf
My roster for the U.S. Open (in alphabetical order):
You’ll find my starters in Expert Picks.
Others to consider for each category (in alphabetical order):
Scoring: Daniel Berger; Viktor Hovland; Dustin Johnson; Jason Kokrak; Joaquin Niemann; Ryan Palmer; Patrick Reed; Justin Rose; Cameron Smith; Jordan Spieth; Justin Thomas
POWER RANKINGS WILD CARD
Phil Mickelson (+5000) … Although the career grand slam continues to hang in the balance, its likelihood hasn’t received a capital injection in recent memory and quite like his historic victory at Kiawah Island four weeks ago. This is to say that what he accomplished still is settling in and it’s been a distraction from – or at least it’s eased the pressure of – checking the final box. Yes, he gets five more cracks at it, but because he’s 51 (as of Wednesday), this will be his easiest chance in that regard. I can’t advise investing in any format or on any board because, well, he’s Phil Mickelson. The upside is that if you don’t and he connects, we’ll still be able to enjoy the show and witness history.
Cameron Smith (+5000) … He’s now a fixture on the main stage; that is, he belongs. With a 4-for-7 record and 22 competitive rounds at Torrey Pines, the 27-year-old Aussie has enough experience and wisdom on the track. He’s a dynamite play for all gamers in pursuit as a more affordable value in DFS.
Matt Fitzpatrick (+5000) … Quite simply, he continues to do nothing to lose our faith. Still only 26 years of age and a veteran of 24 starts in the majors, six of which resulted in a top 25.
Charley Hoffman (+8000) … When he was one of the three to qualify via the second checkpoint of the Official World Golf Ranking when it sent its top 60 to Torrey Pines, he withdrew from the Palmetto Championship at Congaree and prepped for an original home game. The San Diego native made his PGA TOUR debut at Torrey Pines in 1994 and his first-ever TOUR cut here in 1996. He’s competed in the Farmers 24 times but didn’t qualify for the 2008 U.S. Open. He’s been connecting strong finishes all year, so if you’re keen on latching onto a guy with your heart without fear of what the head would say, he’s the guy. Now 44 years of age, he’s at the stage of his career during which he knows that opportunities like this don’t present themselves as often as his younger self may have believed.
Tyrrell Hatton (+4000) … Recently forced to rest due to COVID-19 and also by choice (to get married), he’s fresh in the best of ways. Shared runner-up honors at Congaree and superbly balanced for a test that demands it. Ranks 10th proximity to the hole and the all-around.
Daniel Berger (+5000) … Winner on Poa at Pebble Beach just four months ago, he does it all. He didn’t crack the Power Rankings because he’s just 1-for-4 at Torrey Pines (T24, 2015). Meanwhile, he’s fourth in the all-around and 13th in bogey avoidance.
Garrick Higgo (+6600) … Why not! The latest breakthrough champion on the PGA TOUR has self-confidence for days and the receipts to prove it. Pure and simple, he’s a winner. Three titles in his last five starts worldwide and four in the last nine months. Success as a result of fearlessness and talent trumps inexperience.
Odds sourced on Tuesday, June 15 at 5 a.m. ET. For live odds visit betmgm.
Sungjae Im (+6600) … This is relative as he’s still cutting his teeth in the majors. The close call at the November Masters was more than he expected, and then he missed the cut at the traditional staging in April of 2021. At crazy as it seems from our perspective, the 23-year-old may not yet understand with how good he is. It doesn’t help that his form of the last three months is uncharacteristically shaky.
Kevin Kisner (+25000) … It’s been a recurring theme for far too long now. In his last eight tournaments with a cut, he’s cashed only once (T40, Schwab). He’s also 0-for-3 at Torrey Pines and hasn’t appeared in the Farmers since 2014.
Max Homa (+8000) … Just 1-for-6 in the majors, including an 0-fer in the first three this season. That’ll change for the better in time, and it just might turn around at Torrey Pines where he finished T9 in 2020 and T18 earlier this year, but there’s too much depth this week to be compelled to reach.
Matthew Wolff (+15000) … This isn’t a surprise given the struggles he’s been enduring. You don’t need me to instruct you to use it as an opportunity to observe because you’re already curious.
Victor Perez (+25000) … Perhaps it’s the pressure of achieve Special Temporary Membership but since coming one win away at the Match Play, he’s missed three consecutive cuts.
Martin Kaymer (+25000) … The 2014 U.S. Open champion has missed three consecutive cuts upon arrival and four of his last five worldwide. He’s a PGA TOUR member but he’s 0-for-3 on the season.
Bernd Wiesberger (+25000) … The recent winner in Denmark is 14-for-25 with four top 25s in the majors. Remove the Masters from the grouping and he’s 9-for-20 with only two top 30s. This has been the knock for a while and it hasn’t changed even in his prime at 35 years of age.
John Huh (+30000) … Although he’s 9-for-10 with three top 25s at the Farmers, expectations are lower in what is his first appearance in a major in seven years. The reason I made sure to direct your attention to him is because this is the last start on his Major Medical Extension. To fulfill its terms (88.362 FedExCup points), he needs no worse than a two-way T8 (worth 91 points). However, to secure conditional status, all he needs to do is make the cut because he’s just 0.815 points shy of that secondary objective. Easy, right? No. Since a T69 at the Valero Texas Open (where he bogeyed his last two holes!), he’s 0-for-4. Worst case, he drops into the Past Champions category and remains eligible for the Playoffs as a former winner.
RETURNING TO COMPETITION
Bubba Watson … Opted not to continue after the weather-delayed second round of the Memorial due to a sore back. Gamers can dismiss that as a concern this week. He’s a former champion at Torrey Pines, albeit at the Farmers 10 years ago, but his track record throughout his career has been as strong here as anywhere he’s played consistently well. The 42-year-old lefty also has played some really solid golf in 2021.
Francesco Molinari … The 11th-hour withdrawal from the PGA Championship (for a sore back) hasn’t pegged it anywhere since the Wells Fargo Championship six weeks ago. He’s 133rd in the FedExCup, which feels surprisingly good given how much time he’s missed due to his relocation to southern California and now his recent injury. He finished T10 at Torrey Pines in January, and the course fits his profile (when he’s firing on all cylinders), so there’s merit to invest fractionally.
Matt Kuchar … Walked off Muirfield Village during his opening round with an injured left forearm. Gamers weren’t rushing to the window for shares, anyway. He hasn’t seen Torrey Pines since the 2008 U.S. Open.
Cameron Champ … Withdrew before the restart of the second round of the Memorial and cited an injured wrist. He’s fully exempt on the PGA TOUR through the 2022-23 season but he’s just 143rd in the FedExCup. Loyal readers might remember when I declared that I was all-in on the bomber earlier this year, but he’s gone in the opposite direction. He turned 26 today (see below), so he’s still too young to be worried. Furthermore, we’re encroaching on that point of the season during which salary gamers are holding their collective breath that he won’t climb out of his funk and ruin what would be a tasty price tag for next season.
Tiger Woods … Still a long way off from considering when he’d attempt to swing a golf club in earnest again.
Mikko Korhonen … He got in via the special three-event money list used to determine 10 qualifiers from the European Tour, and then cited concerns relating to travel during a pandemic for his reason not to compete.
POWER RANKINGS RECAP – Palmetto Championship at Congaree
Power Ranking Golfer Result
1 Ian Poulter T25
2 Tyrrell Hatton T2
3 Lucas Glover MC
4 Matt Fitzpatrick T10
5 Brooks Koepka MC
6 Alex Noren MC
7 Dustin Johnson T10
8 Harris English T14
9 Patton Kizzire MC
10 Brandt Snedeker T60
11 Harold Varner III MC
12 Garrick Higgo Win
13 Vincent Whaley MC
14 Seamus Power T19
15 Satoshi Kodaira T19
Wild Card Tommy Fleetwood T35
SLEEPERS RECAP – Palmetto Championship at Congaree
Bronson Burgoon MC
Hank Lebioda T31
John Pak MC
Scott Stallings MC
Jhonattan Vegas T2
BIRTHDAYS AMONG ACTIVE MEMBERS OF THE PGA TOUR
June 15 … Lanto Griffin (33); Cameron Champ (26)
June 16 … Phil Mickelson (51)
June 17 … David Hearn (42)
June 18 … none
June 19 … none
June 20 … Charles Howell III (42)
June 21 … Matt Kuchar (43); William McGirt (42); Russell Knox (36); Sangmoon Bae (35); Scottie Scheffler (25); Aaron Wise (25)
Visit BetMGM.com for Terms and Conditions. 21+ years of age or older to wager. CO, IA, IN,MI, NJ, NV,PA, TN, VA or WV only. Excludes Michigan Disassociated Persons. Please Gamble Responsibly. Gambling Problem? Call 1-800-522-4700 (CO, NV, VA), 1-800-270-7117 for confidential help (MI), 1-800-GAMBLER (NJ, PA & WV), 1-800-BETS OFF (IA), Call or Text the Tennessee REDLINE: 800-889-9789 (TN), or call 1-800-9-WITH-IT (IN).