It was bound to happen, and it’s a lesson learned, although I knew better, and that’s what stings.
If you’ve tracked my contributions and perhaps even communicated directly with me over the years, you may have picked up on one of my tenets of the gig – purity and independence. I’ve uttered and written it at times, so it’s never been a secret.
Way back in the early years after I assumed this chair in January of 2010, I’d engage in conversation with former colleagues at Rotoworld on Mondays and Tuesdays. We’d chat about the tournament that just concluded and toss around thoughts about the next one. It was innocent enough, but eventually it took a toll.
See, as much as I love being a part of the fantasy golf community, I reached the point where I had to make a decision. Because I found that I was influenced by outside forces – trusted, informed and valuable as they were – I needed to determine what I wanted my role to be.
Properly choosing that the job comes first, I gravitated to the position of resource and guide. To fulfill that objective, it meant putting what I knew to be entirely my own signature on the preview material, and that meant eliminating the chatter to simplify and focus on the tasks at hand. Purity and independence.
I broke that rule last week.
Joaquin Niemann was slated as one of my Starters in PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf for the Rocket Mortgage Classic. He was a no-brainer for all the reasons. I filed the Fantasy Insider for the tournament and was content with the lineup.
In my enjoyable experience in contributing to GolfBet and forever in pursuit of a parlay, the only attractive option to me was a make-the-cut trio of Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Doc Redman. I already loved Redman at Detroit Golf Club – he was No. 8 in my Power Rankings – so, like Niemann in my fantasy lineup, the parlay also was a no-brainer, and at +400 no less.
As a stand-alone line, that didn’t coerce me, but when I saw that my fellow colleagues at GolfBet also had circled Redman in a variety of ways for their prop consideration, it more than caught my attention. They’re also trusted, informed and valuable voices in our community, and they agreed with my position. It was the kind of harmony that I hadn’t experienced in a long time, primarily because I refused to play in that head space.
Come Wednesday night, after reviewing the weather forecast, Redman seemed to be in the better draw – although it wasn’t significant enough to trigger me to tweet about it – and Niemann was in the opposite draw, so I made the swap. Redman for Niemann.
Redman missed the cut and Niemann reached the playoff without making a bogey in regulation. Even worse, only three of my golfers cashed, so I swallowed a pair of zeroes on the weekend.
Frankly, I deserve it for abandoning my commitment to purity and independence. Had I stuck with Niemann and the results been reversed, I probably would have been kicking myself, but once that emotion subsided, I’d have known that I wasn’t influenced by outside forces, and that that was OK.
Understand that it doesn’t matter that Redman didn’t fulfill his expectation and Niemann was in position to prevail. It’s that I got away from what got me here. That’s what’s so disappointing. It cost me a sweeter margin entering the John Deere Classic, and now I’m bracing for it to cost me the season.
The moral of the matter is not to deviate from the philosophy that works for you.
Meanwhile, the field for The Open Championship will be determined at TPC Deere Run. The top finisher, not already exempt, inside the top five will gain entry. Of the 156 in the field, only 14 currently know that they can hop the charter for Royal St. George’s. Charles Howell III, Sungjae Im and Si Woo Kim also qualified, but each elected not to compete in the major.
For the entire field and all REMAINING QUALIFYING CRITERIA for The Open and the World Golf Championships-FedEx St. Jude Invitational, please navigate to Qualifiers.
PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf
My roster for the John Deere Classic (in alphabetical order):
Daniel Berger (+1000)
Brian Harman (+1400)
Russell Henley (+1800)
Sungjae Im (+1600)
Zach Johnson (+4000)
Seamus Power (+3300)
You’ll find my starters in Expert Picks.
Others to consider for each category (in alphabetical order):
Scoring: Cam Davis; Patton Kizzire; Maverick McNealy; Alex Noren; Pat Perez; Jhonattan Vegas
Driving: Lucas Glover; Ryan Moore; Kyle Stanley; Kevin Streelman; Jhonattan Vegas; Aaron Wise
Odds sourced on Tuesday, July 6th at 5 a.m. ET. For live odds visit betmgm.
POWER RANKINGS WILD CARD
Dylan Frittelli (+8000) … It’s not often that the defending champion is the Wild Card, and it’s not a compliment. While he fulfilled his promise in his tournament debut with a victory, it’s been a slog for the South African in individual, stroke-play competition throughout 2021. In 14 starts, he’s cashed only four times and only once for a top 40 (T22, PLAYERS). At 130th in the FedExCup, his season-long investors in drop-add leagues likely are glad that this week finally has arrived so that they can pivot to someone inside the bubble for the Playoffs once the deadline passes to lock him in at TPC Deere Run.
Pat Perez (+5000) … He’s 18-for-28 on the season but only a recent flourish has sprung the 45-year-old back inside the top 125 of the FedExCup. With top 15s in two of the last three weeks, he’s 107th. While comfortable to qualify for the Playoffs, the momentum into the JDC should stay stoked. Gamers forever have loved the fire, anyway, and he’s no stranger to the property with eight paydays in 14 trips.
Charles Howell III (+6600) … With an 11-for-12 record that includes three top 10s, including a T6 in the last edition in 2019, and a scoring average of 68.15 at TPC Deere Run, he should’ve been the top Draw if not in the Power Rankings proper. Alas, time catches up to all – except Phil Mickelson, obviously – and the 42-year-old Chucky Three Sticks has struggled all season. He’s spoiled us so much that his ranking of 131st in the FedExCup looks like an administrative error (NOTE: it isn’t), but he’s worth the faith on a track that won’t fight back enough to warrant a Fade. His baseline of talent relative to the field also helps tilt the balance.
Kevin Na (+4000) … You already know that he’s in my collection of Kryptonite, but it’s a relevant disclaimer every time. He’s the kind of play sharks in DFS will ride in fractional situations because of the potential for his pop over the conservative gamers who (rightfully) worry about his inconsistency. I’ll put it to you like this: If you could play the same lottery ticket with him on it over the course of a year, you’re going to be rewarded. The problem is that it’s going to happen far less often than many others for whom you could play the same game. He’s recorded a pair of top-15 finishes at TPC Deere Run, but the more recent was five years ago. Tiptoe, but you already knew that, too.
Ryan Moore (+6600) … He’d be the quintessential Wild Card if that slot wasn’t occupied. The 2016 champion is 10-for-11 with three top 10s among six top 25s at TPC Deere Run. However, after sitting out last fall to rest a sore back, he’s failed to ignite in 2021 and sits 194th in the FedExCup. The underlying support to this endorsement is that he’s cashed in seven of his last nine starts, just not for a top 25. Poised to reward full-season salary gamers in 2021-22 when he’s likely to open with a Major Medical Extension (if necessary), but he’s just as likely to inflate his price this week.
Si Woo Kim (+3300) … Because he’s taking a pass on The Open Championship, this could be his latest live test before the Olympics. Not too concerned that he’s 0-for-2 at TPC Deere Run (2013, 2018) as much as I am about his sputtering form of the last two months or so. A T9 at Muirfield Village is his only top-30 finish in eight starts. The week before, he pulled out of the Schwab with an injured back, thus reminding us why his risk is higher than others most weeks, anyway. It was his 10th career mid-tournament WD.
Chez Reavie (+6600) … He’d love to take his seat on the charter with a taste of what got him the ticket, but save a microburst in June, the 39-year-old hasn’t fulfilled his reputation as a streaky contributor since last summer. Currently 126th in the FedExCup and presenting as a trap with a mildly impressive record at TPC Deere Run. He’s 6-for-8 with a T5 (2011) and a T15 (2013).
Sebastián Muñoz (+6600) … Another with a tee time at Royal St. George’s next week and grinding through a tough 2021. Top 10s at TPC San Antonio and Colonial serve as reminders of his firepower, but they’re also his only top-35 finishes in full-field competition of the last seven months. He’s also missed six of his last nine cuts.
Peter Malnati (+25000) … Continues to make the stops with the confidence that he’ll be making his third trip to the FedExCup Playoffs. A phenomenal fortnight last fall laid the foundation for his current spot at 69th in points, but he’s cashed only three times in his last 16 starts.
Harrison Frazar (+250000) … This ends his revival tour. Short of a victory, the 49-year-old will be losing his fully exempt status because it’s the final start via his Major Medical Extension. He’ll turn 50 at the end of the month but his aspirations of competing on the PGA TOUR Champions remain in doubt. Besides, he’s been working full-time in commercial real estate in Dallas for a few years now, anyway. It’s a funny thing about the sunset. No touring professional ever would want to know that he’s likely making the rounds for the last time, but the medical is like a gift to see the writing on the wall and prepare for what he probably has accepted for some time. Former TOUR members Jay Williamson and Joe Ogilvie, to name two, were in similar positions when their time came to call it a career and shift into the corporate world, but Frazar has been sitting on his last three starts for six years. All told, he cashed in 225 of 408 starts prior to this week.
RETURNING TO COMPETITION
Ben Crane … It depends on how you define “return” because he’s trying. As of Tuesday, he’s second alternate for the Deere. He gave it a go at open qualifying for the Rocket Mortgage Classic and the John Deere Classic, only to fall short at both. The 45-year-old had been sidelined for 17 months to recover from a torn labrum. Because of his status in the Past Champions category, he’s ineligible for a medical extension but he could be a spot-starter on the right track once he’s proven that his game is worthy.
Brandt Snedeker … Hadn’t appeared at TPC Deere Run since sharing runner-up honors in 2009, anyway. He’s on his way to England for The Open Championship and positioned 105th in the FedExCup.
Tyler McCumber … His JDC debut will have to wait for another year. This is his fourth early withdrawal since the RBC Heritage, and he’s just 1-for-6 in competition with a T50 at Colonial over the same time frame, but he’s safe at 88th in the FedExCup.
Erik van Rooyen … Third consecutive early withdrawal as he awaits the arrival of his first child. Currently 132nd in the FedExCup and exempt into next week’s Open Championship.
POWER RANKINGS RECAP – Rocket Mortgage Classic
Power Ranking Golfer Result
1 Bryson DeChambeau MC
2 Jason Kokrak T12
3 Will Zalatoris 77th
4 Hideki Matsuyama WD
5 Webb Simpson MC
6 Patrick Reed T32
7 Kevin Kisner T8
8 Doc Redman MC
9 Jason Day T14
10 Joaquin Niemann P2
11 Bubba Watson T6
12 Sepp Straka MC
13 Satoshi Kodaira MC
14 Gary Woodland MC
15 Alex Noren T4
Wild Card Matthew Wolff T58
SLEEPERS RECAP – Rocket Mortgage Classic
Doug Ghim T32
Troy Merritt P2
Mito Pereira MC
Brian Stuard MC
Danny Willett T67
BIRTHDAYS AMONG ACTIVE MEMBERS OF THE PGA TOUR
July 6 … none
July 7 … none
July 8 … Kevin Chappell (35)
July 9 … none
July 10 … none
July 11 … Sean O’Hair (39)
July 12 … Robert Allenby (50); Derek Lamely (41); Alex Noren (39)
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