It’s the second week of the calendar year, so you know what that means. We’re at full strength all the way to the FedExCup Playoffs.
Of course, the golfers who contribute to our performances can balance their schedules, but gamers don’t have time for that. We wouldn’t want it any different, anyway.
All of my weekly franchises have turned over at least once since New Year’s Day, so please look for them on the FANTASY page of your desktop or in the FANTASY portion of the app.
As I often do in this space, I bake jumps into the specialty files when relevant. You’ll see a couple bolded below. However, I often leave to my Twitter other helpful nuggets that don’t have a natural place here.
For example, next week’s The American Express doesn’t have an open qualifier, but top 10s among professionals at this week’s Sony Open in Hawaii will be exempt at PGA WEST. (I will include this in my tweet of the field on Friday.) The same will apply to the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am for which top 10s among pros at the Farmers Insurance Open will be exempt.
Both tournaments without the four-spotters host 156 golfers, so all PGA TOUR members with fully exempt status who commit likely won’t need a top 10 the previous week to gain entry, but the exceptions are noteworthy for non-members, such as Chan Kim, who is among my Sleepers at Waialae.
The desktop and mobile browsing versions include the ROB BOLTON TWITTERFEED, but it’s not in the app. Still, remember that you don’t have to register for Twitter to read my forward-facing tweets. Of course, if you do register, you and I can communicate directly on that platform, publicly or privately.
It’s a long season with more nuance than even hardcore fans can remember, but I’m here for you as much and as often as I can be. Thank you as always for your loyalty and for reaching out whenever necessary.
PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf
My roster for the Sony Open in Hawaii (in alphabetical order):
You’ll find my starters in Expert Picks.
POWER RANKINGS WILD CARD
Jason Kokrak (+160 for a Top 20) … It’s baffling and a little amusing how much he swings on the pendulum from the good to the bad. It was just two months ago when he didn’t like where he was with his golf swing, but he retained his commitment in Houston, anyway, and won. Then there are other stops where he fits wonderfully, yet he can’t lock into a gear. That was the case at Kapalua last week where he finished last of 38. No doubt, we could analyze most of the planet’s best in a similar fashion and draw conclusions that resemble his profile, but it’s also fair to say that since he broke through at Shadow Creek in the fall of 2020, the spotlight has been brighter than ever, so awareness of his blemishes will be elevated. On pure talent, he deserves to be in the Power Rankings at Waialae, and he’s too good to be a contrarian, so simply slot him as a horse for the course given he’s perfect in six trips, albeit with only two top-45 finishes, and the latter of which occurring seven years ago.
Ryan Palmer (+225 for a Top 20) … Despite one title (2010) and another pair of top 10s, the most recent of which a T4 in 2020, contributing to 11 paydays in 15 trips to Waialae, he was an easy omission from the Power Rankings proper. It’s been nine months since he last recorded a top 25 in individual competition on the PGA TOUR. (The exception was a T4 at the Genesis Scottish Open in July. That new TOUR stop is returning to The Renaissance Club in North Berwick this summer, so make a note of his successful trip last year.) That said, I’m endorsing him in all formats because of the comfort level on Oahu.
Brendon Todd (+250 for a Top 20) … He’s missed seven of his last 12 cuts but three of his last four paydays went for a top 25. The lesson is placement. Waialae is on his board as a spot where we should expect him to shine. It’s a short course but it’s often a putting contest. He led the PGA TOUR in fairways hit last season and he also ranked eighth in Strokes Gained: Putting. That snapshot helps explain why he’s hung up three top 25s among six paydays in seven tries in Honolulu.
Keita Nakajima (+600 for a Top 20) … Japan’s most anticipated export since Takumi Kanaya, also in the field, is 204th in the Official World Golf Ranking and already a winner on the Japan Golf Tour (2021 Panasonic Open). In his only prior PGA TOUR start, Nakajima finished T28 at the ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP. Two weeks later, the 21-year-old and world’s top-ranked amateur prevailed at the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship to secure an exemption into the Masters. In fact, as long as he retains his amateur status, he’ll appear in all three majors that invite amateurs.
Stewart Cink (+275 for a Top 20)
Emiliano Grillo (+333 for a Top 20)
Brian Harman (+275 for a Top 20)
Takumi Kanaya (+300 for a Top 20)
Si Woo Kim (+220 for a Top 20)
Keith Mitchell (+275 for a Top 20)
Rory Sabbatini (+375 for a Top 20)
Brendan Steele (+260 for a Top 20)
Erik van Rooyen (+250 for a Top 20)
Odds sourced on Tuesday, January 11 at 5 a.m. ET. For live odds visit betmgm.
Matt Kuchar … Say it ain’t so, Rob! Hey, all good things come to an end. Of course, expectations are not results, but if he makes the cut this week, it’ll be his first in three attempts since taking the title in 2019. He had an OK autumn but the 43-year-old is 120th in the Official World Golf Ranking, a slide of about 80 spots since this time last year.
Maverick McNealy … He’s not a rookie but he is a first-timer at Waialae, so he presents as a trap given he found a groove in the second half of 2021. He also comes at us strong statistically, but don’t ignore the value of experience.
Haotong Li … Once as strong as 32nd in the Official World Golf Ranking, the 26-year-old native of China has plummeted to 460th, and that’s after a solo second at the Volvo China Open just four weeks ago.
RETURNING TO COMPETITION
Bryson DeChambeau … Out with a sore wrist. It has not been reported which wrist is the issue. He’d have been making his third appearance at Waialae.
Lucas Herbert … Would have been a first-timer at Waialae. Finished second-to-last of 38 in his debut at Kapalua. As a first-time member of the PGA TOUR, the Aussie is going to experience more hiccups than hoorahs, but it’d be surprising if he doesn’t settle in and pay off investors time and again. With the promise of three seasons of membership (the last two for winning in Bermuda in the fall), he’s cleared to perform stress-free of retaining his card.
Garrick Higgo … The lefty’s Waialae debut will have to wait. While it came in a field of only 38, last week’s T25 at Kapalua was just his second top 25 anywhere since breaking through at Congaree seven months ago.
Chez Reavie … The 40-year-old was poised to be a popular selection in DFS because he’s 8-for-11 at Waialae with a pair of top 10s in the last five editions, but he’s gone 16 months without a top 10. Assuming he commits as usual, he’ll present similarly as attractive at Pebble Beach in three weeks.
Lanto Griffin … Another horse who likely wouldn’t’ve been overlooked in weekly formats with a T7 in 2020 contributing to a 3-for-3 slate. He also withdrew early from Bermuda in the fall, but he’s 46th in the FedExCup on the strength of consecutive top 10s in Vegas and Japan.
Pat Perez … He’d have been making his 20th start at Waialae, and with expectations to turn around his season at a site where he’s 16-for-19 with four top 10s and another four top 20s. His only payday in five starts in the fall was a T44 at the no-cut ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP.
Troy Merritt … After a fruitful fall during which he connected for five top 30s worldwide, three of which top 25s on the PGA TOUR, perhaps his early exit at Waialae is his way of saying, “Uncle.” Until now, he hasn’t passed on an appearance, but the course has beaten him up. He’s missed seven cuts in 10 tries.
Scott Piercy … He’s missing just the second edition of the Sony since splashing onto the PGA TOUR in 2009. A runner-up performance in 2015 headlines six top 25s. Zero worries in the short-term, however, as he’s 74th in the FedExCup with a pair of top 20s in the fall.
Brice Garnett … This is the first time in his career that he’s opted out at Waialae when eligible on merit. Gamers wouldn’t have been rushing to invest, anyway, given that he’s just 3-for-6 and without a top 30. He also closed out 2021 with no better than a T50 (Houston) among three paydays in eight starts.
Taylor Moore … The Korn Ferry Tour grad has kept his rally rolling into his rookie season on the PGA TOUR. All three of his cuts made in five starts were top 25s, including a T8 to close out the fall at Sea Island.
Peter Uihlein … Went just 2-for-4 and without a top 30 in the fall, but he climbed 13 spots to 31st in the graduate reshuffle category, so playing time shouldn’t be too much of an issue in the second phase. Still, it’s always odd when any KFT grad commits to and withdraws from any event this early in a season.
Omar Uresti … As the 2021 PGA Professional national champion, he’s allowed six (somewhat restricted) starts on the PGA TOUR this season. The Sony Open in Hawaii would have been his first.
RECAP – SENTRY TOURNAMENT OF CHAMPIONS
Power Ranking Golfer Result
1 Justin Thomas T5
2 Collin Morikawa T5
3 Xander Schauffele 12th
4 Jon Rahm 2nd
5 Jordan Spieth T21
6 Patrick Cantlay 4th
7 Viktor Hovland T30
8 Bryson DeChambeau T25
9 Sungjae Im T8
10 Patrick Reed T15
11 Daniel Berger T5
12 Abraham Ancer T35
13 Cameron Smith Win
14 Sam Burns T19
15 Talor Gooch T15
Jordan Spieth & Justin Thomas both finish inside top 10 (+350)
Spieth, T21; Thomas, T5
BIRTHDAYS AMONG ACTIVE MEMBERS OF THE PGA TOUR
January 11 … none
January 12 … none
January 13 … none
January 14 … Luke List (37); Kurt Kitayama (29); Hank Lebioda (28)
January 15 … none
January 16 … Jimmy Walker (43)
January 17 … none
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