I may be the one penning this weekly feature, so most readers don’t have an understanding for the quality of the guys who comprise the league. The relationships we share add to our fun behind the scenes, but you’re due a couple of introductions.
Last week, D.J. cited Occam’s razor for his selection at the U.S. Open; that is, “the simplest solution is most often the correct one.” While D.J. riding DJ a/k/a Dustin Johnson en route to his first title in a major would seem to the most coincidentally obvious – or is it obviously coincidental? – fantasy decision in the world, that mentality is arguably the smartest in our format. It’s lifted our D.J. to within striking distance of yours truly, so it certainly has my respect.
What you may not know about D.J. is that he’s in charge of content at SkratchTV. To describe or define that medium would be to pigeonhole it, which, if you’re already familiar with it, would be unfair. Erik Anders Lang is a focal point on camera, but there’s a team of talent producing killer stuff, and often at that. Moreover, no one would argue with my assessment that it’s feel-good, high-quality visuals with a current pulse on the game sparking conversations you’re having about it. You laugh and you learn and you do all of it without the urge to debate. And that also happens to sum up my first-hand experiences with D.J. and who he is. He’s smart and fresh and dutifully channeling that into SkratchTV. You need to check it out.
Our defending champ, Mark, is already familiar to devotees of his “On the Mark” show at PGATOUR.COM/podcasts as well as his frequent role during live coverage on PGA TOUR LIVE and PGA TOUR Radio, but what you might not know is that he’s also the director of golf at Columbus State University in Georgia. What’s more, Mark’s dad, Johan, was dubbed Golfweek’s 2016 Father of the Year in the latest issue (June 13). It’s such a terrific honor that I won’t ask Mark if that means more to the family than his one-and-done crown in 2015.
The bottom line is that, if you’re not fortunate to meet either D.J. or Mark, or frankly any of the guys, whatever hint of likability you may glean through any digital conduit is genuine. Just like a good game of golf, a good score in our one-and-done is a bonus, but nothing beats the camaraderie.
Now, as we shift our attention to the Quicken Loans National, make no mistake, this is a grinding kind of week. Had 2014 champion Justin Rose committed, the four of us who have yet to burn him probably would have. That leaves Bill Haas as the most recent winner at Congressional (in 2013). However, he’s been misfiring for several weeks. His victory here occurred shortly after his first child, William, Jr., was born, a fact not lost on him as a touring professional.
“The first week out after having him, I played well at Memorial (T4),” Haas said after securing the QLN trophy three years ago. “Something about, they say new dads. You do see it a lot out here. I don’t know what it is. There was a couple times today, I was going over a couple balls, and I said, ‘You get to go home and see William this week.’”
“Maybe that helps. Maybe just that one little thought keeps you in perspective.”
Certainly, veteran gamers respect the Nappy Factor, but they might have trouble embracing Haas this week. Consider that only Tom had already crossed him off and the rest of us are taking a pass.
Now that Jim Furyk is back in a groove, you can lean on his multitude of success at several upcoming stops, except that Congressional isn’t among them. He’s No. 2 in my Power Rankings primarily on class, and I’ve rostered him in PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf driven by AVIS, essentially for the same reason, but he’ll look better later. I suppose that means that Mark is the most dangerous among us at Congressional.
If Patrick Reed is still available, leave him alone until we review our options at Firestone next week. There are 11 European qualifiers who are not expected to compete, which means that Reed’s value will rise in a lucrative event where he’s prospered before.
As for me, my goal to record a top 10 faces a stiff challenge despite the fact that at least 10 golfers are guaranteed the finish. Of those still on my board, Haas and Furyk arguably deserve the call at some point. Others such as Daniel Summerhays, Kevin Streelman, Roberto Castro and Kevin Chappell make for suitable tandems in two-man formats. I also dig Sean’s move for Byeong-Hun An, who is now officially a PGA TOUR rookie. However, I can’t build a strong case to dismiss Marc Leishman. Converging trends is a feel-good theory, but the aggregate of his tools on a track like Congressional is my leading combination for influence. If I were chasing, I may have given Summerhays or Castro a spin in the absence of a no-brainer.
NOTE: Golfers are sorted alphabetically. Future possibilities are sorted chronologically and are pending golfer commitment. Tournaments listed include consideration for two-man gamers.
Rickie Fowler … Quicken Loans; WGC-Bridgestone; Deutsche Bank (defending); TOUR Championship
Jim Furyk … WGC-Bridgestone; RBC Canadian Open; Deutsche Bank Championship; BMW Championship; TOUR Championship
Bill Haas … Quicken Loans; Wyndham
Charley Hoffman … Quicken Loans; Deutsche Bank
Chris Kirk … Deutsche Bank
Marc Leishman … Open Championship; Travelers
Patrick Reed … WGC-Bridgestone; Deutsche Bank
Webb Simpson … Greenbrier; Wyndham
Brendan Steele … Barracuda; Travelers
Daniel Summerhays … John Deere; Deutsche Bank
Rank Panelist Pick Comment 1 Rob
Marc Leishman A tweener at best, so it’s all about the timing. It helps immensely that he finished T8 here the last time Congressional hosted in 2014. And I won’t lie, D.J. aligning DJ at Oakmont rattled me. What a pick! 2 D.J.
Gary Woodland An outlier MC in Memphis halted some momentum, but I like him this week at one of the TOUR's big boy golf courses. 3 Sean
He nearly won a few weeks ago at the Zurich Classic and has developed into a world-class player. 4 Chris
Kevin Chappell Reminds me of another Kevin (Kisner) who had racked up near-misses, then went into a slump before emerging victorious at a course where he’d played well before. 5 Tom
He has a good record at Congressional: T16 in 2013 and T4 in ’14. And he’s in good form; Steele has finished in the top twenty in four out of his last five tournaments. 6 Mark
I've got to do something big soon. So in an attempt to bounce back from my U.S. Open bogey I'm going with a guy who plays demanding golf courses well.
1. Each makes one pick for each PGA TOUR event. After selecting a player, he may not be picked again.
2. To count as a pick, the selected player must at least start a tournament.
3. Competitors earn points based on the number of FedExCup points his pick earns in each event.
4. Each panelist may select just one defending champion over the course of the 2015-16 PGA TOUR Season.
Alter* Bolton Dunham Immelman* Martin Piehowski* Last Week Day, T8 Scott, T18 Day, T8 McIlroy, MC Horschel, T32 Johnson, Won Overall record 23-for-32 28-for-32 23-for-32 25-for-32 26-for-32 24-for-31 Earnings $4,850,286.68 $9,019,051.48 $6,133,486.84 $4,127,449.30 $6,325,477.29 $8,529,326.81 FedExCup points 2008.100 3829.550 2646.220 1827.250 2963.210 3505.560 Wins 1 3 2 1 3 4 Top 5s 7 11 7 6 8 9 Top 10s 11 11 9 9 11 11 Top 25s 14 24 16 11 15 15 Missed cuts 9 3 8 7 6 7 Withdrawals 0 1 1 0 0 0 Disqualifications 0 0 0 0 0 0 * = Panelist has used his one defending champion for 2015-16. Tom selected Charley Hoffman at the OHL Classic. Mark went with Patrick Reed at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions. D.J. took Jordan Spieth at the Masters.
THIS SEASON'S PICKS
Here's a look at who our panelists have selected thus far during the 2015-16 season:
Alter Bolton Dunham Immelman Martin Piehowski Points 1962.1 3778.55 2646.22 1885.08 2975.04 3512.39 Byeong-Hun An QUICKEN LOANS Daniel Berger 46 51 0 46 51 Jason Bohn 154.16 16 245 Steven Bowditch 0 Keegan Bradley 0 Scott Brown 60 60 Paul Casey 0 15.5 0 Alex Cejka 49 Kevin Chappell QUICKEN LOANS 24.5 K.J. Choi 8.5 Brendon de Jonge 33 Jason Day 85.25 100 85.25 72.6 550 Bryson DeChambeau 122.5 Graham DeLaet 34 34 Luke Donald 245 Jason Dufner 44 88.75 500 Harris English 42.5 0 0 42.5 Tony Finau 300 35 Rickie Fowler 0 0 Jim Furyk QUICKEN LOANS Sergio Garcia 16 46 16 0 69 Branden Grace 52.5 48.5 11 Emiliano Grillo 500 Bill Haas 0 Brian Harman 0 Charley Hoffman 0 500 27 500 57.83 J.B. Holmes 86 61.6 38.5 14.5 Billy Horschel 104 104 37 29.5 Charles Howell III 54.5 85 21 51.13 Freddie Jacobson 29.25 40 Dustin Johnson 135 57.83 57.83 57.83 600 Smylie Kaufman 33 Martin Kaymer 39 Jerry Kelly 0 Chris Kirk 0 Kevin Kisner 1.5 500 1.5 500 Patton Kizzire 11 62 0 62 Russell Knox 12.5 40 31.5 Brooks Koepka 0 208.33 208.33 27 208.33 27 Jason Kokrak 0 Matt Kuchar 88.75 51.13 51.13 19 88.75 25 Anirban Lahiri 49 Danny Lee 0 34 39.5 Marc Leishman QUICKEN LOANS 0 Jamie Lovemark 0 Shane Lowry 22.5 Hideki Matsuyama 0 500 61.6 0 0 0 Graeme McDowell 0 41.5 William McGirt 135 Rory McIlroy 0 0 Phil Mickelson 0 56.4 65 56.4 0 0 Ryan Moore 25 190 Kevin Na 14 162.5 14 162.5 0 154.16 Louis Oosthuizen 315 0 0 Ryan Palmer 162.5 51 2.5 43 Scott Piercy 46 Ian Poulter 39 Patrick Reed 12.5 12.5 0 300 12.5 0 Patrick Rodgers 57.66 Justin Rose 72.6 75 Charl Schwartzel 23 Adam Scott 51.6 550 1 1 Webb Simpson 12.5 0 Brandt Snedeker 162.5 500 500 500 Jordan Spieth 270 Scott Stallings 23 Brendan Steele QUICKEN LOANS 54 0 Henrik Stenson 162.5 162.5 162.5 40 162.5 D. Summerhays 56 Justin Thomas 147.5 145 0 Jimmy Walker 60.5 60.5 60.5 0 60.5 Bubba Watson 315 315 33.5 56 65.4 Boo Weekley 0 Will Wilcox 0 0 Danny Willett 38.5 170 Gary Woodland QUICKEN LOANS