‘Tis the season for inquiries on the transition into the next PGA TOUR season. Yes, it’s late June, there are still two months remaining in the 2020-21 season and gamers are asking about the future. This is normal.
Before last year’s disruption due to the pandemic when we holding our collective breath by the tournament, the curiosity and the planning for what’s next happens every year.
Generally speaking, DFSers and other weekly leaguers don’t care about these details even though every tournament presents an opportunity to learn and file away the knowledge. However, for full-season gamers, salary leaguers and other formats that are beginning to prep for a draft in the brief offseason, the time is now to act.
As revealed in this space during the week of the Valspar Championship two months ago, my annual full-membership fantasy ranking is back on this year.
The TOUR Championship is scheduled to conclude on Sunday, Sept. 5, and the 2021-22 season-opening Fortinet Championship is slated to begin on Thursday, Sept. 16. So, as of this post, I’m targeting no later than the weekend in between for the monster file to publish. Continue to watch this space for updates.
If you’re new to my contributions and haven’t played PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf, but you’re planning on registering, if one of your goals is to chase full-season prizes, set a reminder not to wait to sign up. Early promotion on television always drags into the early part of the season. If you’re not clued into the game sooner than that, it all but eliminates your chance to win full-season prizes. Those who are locked in hit the ground running on Opening Day and never take a week off. It’s the same regiment that we follow in Expert Picks (linked below).
Elsewhere, the R&A has remained fluid in determining the field for The Open Championship. The governing body has needed to be since its major was the only scrapped in 2020.
The latest modification to the qualifying criteria occurred on Monday when it was announced that the top finisher, not otherwise exempt, inside the top five at the John Deere Classic will gain entry. It’s a traditional exemption but it wasn’t official until now. It’s been added to the REMAINING QUALIFYING CRITERIA in Qualifiers. It’s also the last exemption available via PGA TOUR competition.
Once all automatic qualifiers are determined, all remaining spots in the field of 156 will be filled by a combination of golfers from the Open Qualifying Series, Final Qualifying and/or the Official World Golf Ranking (in order of position). The list of alternates will be exclusively set by the next update to the OWGR (July 4/5).
PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf
My roster for the Travelers Championship (in alphabetical order):
Bryson DeChambeau (+750)
Sungjae Im (+3500)
Jason Kokrak (+2500)
Joaquin Niemann (+2500)
Webb Simpson (+1800)
Will Zalatoris (+2500)
You’ll find my starters in Expert Picks
Others to consider for each category (in alphabetical order):
Scoring: Rickie Fowler; Hideki Matsuyama; Maverick McNealy; Patrick Reed; Brandt Snedeker; Sepp Straka; Brendon Todd; Cameron Tringale; Danny Willett; Matthew Wolff
Driving: Keegan Bradley; Jason Day; Rickie Fowler; Doug Ghim; Lucas Glover; Emiliano Grillo; Hideki Matsuyama; Doc Redman; Cameron Tringale; Bubba Watson
Odds sourced on Tuesday, June 29th at 5 a.m. ET. For live odds visit betmgm.
POWER RANKINGS WILD CARD
Matthew Wolff (+2500)… It can be enticing to latch back onto a wunderkind no matter what he’s been through personally, but his missed cut at the Travelers (by seven strokes to boot) serves as a reminder that the only thing that matters in our world is execution. This is to say to set responsible expectations. Because of his raw talent, fractional ownership in DFS not only is suitable, it’s encouraged. There’s nothing more impactful to our pursuits than emotional attachment.
Sungjae Im (+3500)… Although he hasn’t recorded a top 10 since The Honda Classic just over three months ago, he leads the PGA TOUR in red numbers with 55 and sub-70s with 49. (Emiliano Grillo slots second in both with respective totals of 54 and 40.) Of course it helps to have made 28 starts, tied for most (with Tom Hoge, Brian Stuard and Patrick Rodgers), but Im is 30th in the FedExCup (in contrast to Hoge at 85th, Stuard at 121st and Rodgers at 137th). Furthermore, Detroit GC caters to guys who take it low often. Im cashed in both editions with seven red numbers and a scoring average of 69.25. For all of these reasons, he’s worthy of my rare investment in a golfer not in the Power Rankings for PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf.
Rickie Fowler (+5000)… It’s one of those weeks in which there could be two legitimate Wild Cards. He’d be the other. You know the saga, so the advice is to lean on his relative value compared to the rest of the field. He’s traded three top 20s with as many missed cuts in his last six tournaments, and he’s 2-for-2 at Detroit GC with a T12 last year. Force him.
Seamus Power (N/A)… The 34-year-old Irishman is on a heater, but he’s no longer hidden in plain sight. I wouldn’t pretend to talk you out of him because of over-ownership – because he’s presented no reason why he can’t continue to blaze this trail – but there are tremors on the street of his presence. It loves him. Build shrewdly with him, not because of him.
Cameron Tringale (+4000)… Tepid at best here despite a 2-for-2 record with a T5 in 2019. He was a regular contributor through a T3 at Copperhead two months ago, but the game has cooled to the tune of a 2-for-5 without a top 25. Despite that, the RMC sets up as a plum spot for a rebound because of his otherwise consistently strong skill set and scorer’s mentality.
Ryan Armour (+12500)… Before you think that the 45-year-old is running out of rope on his fully exempt status – he’s 135th in the FedExCup – consider that he finished T8 at Congaree and he’s cashed in three straight starts for the first time since capping three in a row with a T4 at, you guessed it, Detroit GC a year ago. He led the field in par-3 scoring and finished fifth in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green. It’s a level of comfort laid over his strongest skills of splitting fairways and sinking putts. Also cashed in the inaugural in 2019 with a T46.
Justin Suh (+35000)… Because one eight-hole playoff isn’t enough, apparently. After Harris English upended Kramer Hickok at the Travelers, another was required to determine the final open qualifier into the Travelers on Monday. Suh was the last man in. It’s also the only method of entry available to the 24-year-old. He’s exhausted his allotment of seven sponsor exemptions and sits the equivalent of 82.446 FedExCup points short of eligibility for Special Temporary Membership. He’d need no worse than a two-way T8 (worth 82.500 points) for STM, but now that he’s in the field in Detroit, even if he falls short of that primary objective, a top 10 would yield an exemption into next week’s John Deere Classic, and he’d still have one more start allowed short of STM before he’d hit the ceiling of 12 allowed non-members who aren’t eligible for STM. So, the message here is to invest in his promise. It’s a reminder that his upside is tremendous.
Charles Howell III
Nate Lashley (+12500)… The feel-good story of the 2018-19 season missed the cut in his title defense last year despite posting 4-under 140. He’s proven to be danger in the desert in his backyard at TPC Scottsdale, but there hasn’t been enough positive reinforcement in the last four months to count on a replication of it in Detroit. Statistically just fine but his mastery of all facets of his game as the last man in the field in the inaugural edition of the RMC was a career-defining spike, not an indication of his norm.
Kramer Hickok (+8000)… Similar to how Lashley checked all of the boxes here two years ago, Hickok came this close before losing in that thrilling playoff at TPC River Highlands on Sunday. Now set for fully exempt status in 2021-22, the Texan can play free and chase the singular goal of connecting for his first PGA TOUR title, but we need to respect the special context of last week. Yes, there’s evidence that he can sustain form over consecutive starts, and Detroit GC comps nicely to Colonial where he finished T14 a month ago, but he sets up as a trap in the wake of last week’s performance. He’s also 0-for-2 with a scoring average of 72.50 in Motown.
Max Homa (+5000)… Proving to be all or nothing, so hit it and hope or sit it out and sleep. His slot here aligns with my conservative viewpoint. Just 1-for-5 since his two-year-old title defense at Quail Hollow, but the cut made was a T6 at Muirfield Village. Of his 12 paydays in 18 starts since Mayakoba in early December, 11 have gone for a top 25. That kind of output resides on Adam Long Lane (also a Fade).
Chris Kirk (+8000)… Opened the final round here last year positioned T4 and five strokes off the 54-hole lead before backpedaling to finish T21 with a closing 73. That was two weeks after his victory on the Korn Ferry Tour in its second tournament of the Return to Golf. After a solid first three-fifths of the 2020-21 PGA TOUR season, he’s scuffled in his last five starts with only one top-65 finish among two paydays in five starts.
Sean O’Hair (+40000)… If he doesn’t withdraw before his first-round tee time, then this will mark the last start on his Major Medical Extension. To fulfill its terms of 197.519 FedExCup points, he needs no worse than a solo second (worth 300 points). For conditional status, he needs 109.972 points for which a solo fifth (worth 110) is required. Short of that and he’ll tumble into the Past Champions category for the remainder of the season. The 38-year-old hasn’t had a top 30 in an event awarding 500 FedExCup points to the winner since he finished T9 at PGA WEST in 2019.
Curtis Thompson (+20000)… In the field on a sponsor exemption, the younger brother of former PGA TOUR member, Nicholas, and older sibling to LPGA superstar, Lexi, is inside the bubble to snare his first PGA TOUR card for 2021-22. Currently 19th in Korn Ferry Tour points thanks most recently to a solo second in Wichita, Kansas, we get a free peek at his game as the KFT takes the week off. Use it for observation only.
Rafa Cabrera Bello
RETURNING TO COMPETITION
Viktor Hovland … This is a week late but it’s still worth noting that he bounced back from withdrawing during his second round of the U.S. Open (due to sand in his left eye) to win the BMW International Open by two strokes. In an expected note to express how difficult it can be to climb into the upper reaches of the Official World Golf Ranking, the victory in the European Tour stop with a strength-of-field rating of 97 resulted in him moving from 14th in the OWGR to … 14th. That’s right, he didn’t budge.
Charley Hoffman … As I wrote in last week’s FI, and then stated on “Talk of the TOUR”, I was expecting a letdown and found it respectfully curious that he played the Travelers after the trajectory toward qualifying for and competing in his hometown U.S. Open. He placed T30 at TPC River Highlands, so he contributed, but it required a second-round 63 to set it up. All of this is to say that he’s due a break.
Luke List … Also withdrew early from last week’s Travelers and fresh off an 0-for-3 skid since Colonial. Still 113th in the FedExCup, so if he’s nursing a malady or addressing a personal matter, he can focus on it without worrying about his job for a little while.
Erik van Rooyen … Second consecutive early withdrawal. His wife is due to deliver the couple’s first child any day now. Currently 131st in the FedExCup.
Jim Knous … Finished T5 at the Korn Ferry Tour’s Live and Work in Maine Open, so he’s back! At the same time, he needs to be choosy where to burn the last two starts on his medical extension on the PGA TOUR. At this point of the season, it’s not so much about fulfilling its terms to retain status for the remainder of 2020-21, it’s about how to manage his recent surge of form so that he’s not left without the possibility to parlay that into a full schedule in 2021-22. In other words, because he’s 0-for-4 on the PGA TOUR this season and just 156th in KFT points, it’d be wise to pump the brakes and open the 2021-22 PGA TOUR season with at least one start to extend his status at this level.
POWER RANKINGS RECAP – Travelers Championship
Power Ranking Golfer Result
1 Bubba Watson T19
2 Bryson DeChambeau T19
3 Dustin Johnson T25
4 Kevin Streelman MC
5 Patrick Cantlay T13
6 Paul Casey T36
7 Patrick Reed T25
8 Brian Harman T5
9 Keegan Bradley MC
10 Scottie Scheffler T47
11 Abraham Ancer 4th
12 Stewart Cink T30
13 Brendan Steele MC
14 Rickie Fowler MC
15 Mackenzie Hughes T76
Wild Card Brooks Koepka T5
SLEEPERS RECAP – Travelers Championship
Austin Eckroat T47
Talor Gooch T36
David Lipsky MC
C.T. Pan MC
Aaron Wise T66
BIRTHDAYS AMONG ACTIVE MEMBERS OF THE PGA TOUR
June 29 … Mark Hensby (50); Anirban Lahiri (34)
June 30 … Patrick Rodgers (29)
July 1 … none
July 2 … none
July 3 … none
July 4 … none
July 5 … Chesson Hadley (34)
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