NOTE: If you play PGA TOUR Champions One & Done presented by SERVPRO, the Regions Tradition begins on Thursday. It’s the first of five majors on the circuit and it’s one of two that doesn’t feature a cut. See the possibilities at the bottom of the page to assist you in determining your pick.
There are all kinds of takeaways from last week's PLAYERS, but one of the overlooked facts is that only three of the golfers who finished inside the top 11 in the tournament are Americans. Kyle Stanley (T4), Lucas Glover (T4) and Brendan Steele (T6) have enjoyed varied levels of success all season, so none were surprises to threaten at TPC Sawgrass, but that they paced the host nation, as it were, was not expected.
Now, that's not necessarily a trend at the PGA TOUR's flagship event as it is the latest evidence that global depth is as strong as ever. More importantly, it's a reminder that THE PLAYERS presents a phenomenal opportunity to invest in it while reserving homegrown strength elsewhere.
Going back three years, five internationals were sprinkled among the top 11 in the 2016 edition, six of the top 12 in 2015 and seven of the top 10 in 2014. We could keep turning back the clock, but you get the idea. But of the internationals who have finished inside the top 10 in the last six years, only two were non-members of the PGA TOUR. These are timely notes to log while any sting is still fresh from the fallout of last week. That we know is commonplace in that tournament.
Just as the legion of champions at TPC Sawgrass is rich with golfers from all corners of the world, so goes the theme at the AT&T Byron Nelson at Four Seasons Resort and Club Dallas at Las Colinas. Since it transitioned to solo host in 2008, six of the nine winners are internationals, including defending champion Sergio Garcia of Spain. However, he's the only non-American inside the top five of my Power Rankings from which I'm encouraging you find your pick.
J-Dub, er, Jonathan Wall isn't going to like it, but I'm matching him again this week in selecting Brooks Koepka (No. 2 in the Power Rankings). In the spirit of competition, pushes are lame but they're still important. (This begs the question about what we're going to do if it's possible in the Playoffs. I've recommended solutions to gamers over the years about how to handle the dynamic, if necessary, and I'll revisit the talking point in this space another time, but we'll cross that bridge as a league later.)
To be honest, Koepka was nowhere near my crosshairs for any stop as recent as two months ago. Why would've he been? As we've witnessed on occasion, the Match Play (where he escaped the round robin) can do wonders for confidence and form. He hasn’t backed down since.
Before I confirmed that Koepka was still on my board, I was ready to pull the trigger on Tony Finau (No. 5). He stumbled in the team format in New Orleans and missed last week's cut – he's allowed dispensations for each – but he checks all of the other boxes for Las Colinas. Furthermore, and just like that, two-man gamers have their quinella: Koepka-Finau.
If you're in an earnings-based format, remember that you'll want Dustin Johnson (No. 1) on your board at the sites with the biggest paydays. It's that simple. Jordan Spieth (No. 3) remains chalk, of course, but his pedestrian interest in Las Colinas is realized in a lackluster record. Limit him to roster games this week. And if you didn't burn Garcia (No. 4) at THE PLAYERS, you'll appreciate him as an option when The Open Championship rolls around.
Two-man gamers can have some fun complementing Koepka or Finau with a long hitter who in some form, so consider Byeong Hun An or Kevin Tway. Otherwise, Russell Henley is sexy, Chad Campbell is a man for the job and Bud Cauley offers risk-reward if you're chasing.
RANK PANELIST PICK COMMENT 213th
Brooks Koepka Not going to overthink this decision. Koepka fell short in a playoff last year at the AT&T Byron Nelson and posted a T16 in 2015. There's also the five straight top 20 finishes this season dating back to the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play. A win is coming. 239th Rob Bolton
Wholly fulfills the strategy of letting a guy come to you. It was just a matter of time before he emerged as a viable option. 395th
Brooks Koepka Big hitters seem to thrive at the AT&T Byron Nelson. Koepka arrives in fine form and was runner-up here last year. 572nd Ben Everill
I need to be different from the others if I'm to make a late surge this season. Hoping big hitting Tony can start my acceleration. 697th Mark Immelman
On the Mark
Hopefully my fellow countryman can come through and play well for me as I've had limited success up till now. YEBO! 702nd Chris Dunham
Good vibes in his return to the site of his second TOUR title. He’s in better form this week than in the last two years where he’s gone T8-T24. Duf Man. OHHHHH YEAH! 716th
Keegan Bradley From 2011-15, Bradley was a winner and a runner-up at the AT&T Byron Nelson and never finished out of the top 30. He missed the cut with a pair of 70s last year, but is putting a little better this year (7 Top 25s so far) and seems poised to revive his career where he earned his first TOUR title.
NOTE: Select golfers committed to the tournament are listed alphabetically. Future tournaments are sorted chronologically and reflect previous success on the courses on which the tournaments will be held in 2016-17. All are pending golfer commitment.
Keegan Bradley … Byron Nelson; Memorial; WGC-Bridgestone; Dell Technologies
Jason Day … U.S. Open; Canadian; WGC-Bridgestone; PGA Championship; Dell Technologies; TOUR Championship
Jason Dufner … Byron Nelson; DEAN & DELUCA; U.S. Open; TOUR Championship
Harris English … DEAN & DELUCA
Tony Finau … Byron Nelson; Memorial
Sergio Garcia … Byron Nelson (defending); Open Championship; TOUR Championship
Charley Hoffman … Byron Nelson; DEAN & DELUCA; Travelers; Canadian
Billy Horschel … St. Jude; TOUR Championship
Dustin Johnson … Byron Nelson; Memorial; St. Jude; U.S. Open (defending); Canadian; TOUR Championship
Brooks Koepka … Byron Nelson; St. Jude; U.S. Open; PGA Championship
Matt Kuchar … Byron Nelson; DEAN & DELUCA; Memorial; Canadian; WGC-Bridgestone
Marc Leishman … DEAN & DELUCA; Memorial; Travelers; Open Championship
Ryan Moore … Travelers; John Deere (defending); TOUR Championship
Louis Oosthuizen … Dell Technologies
Ryan Palmer … Byron Nelson; DEAN & DELUCA; St. Jude
Scott Piercy … John Deere; BMW
Patrick Reed … Wyndham; Dell Technologies
Charl Schwartzel … Memorial; U.S. Open; Open Championship; WGC-Bridgestone
Jordan Spieth … DEAN & DELUCA (defending); John Deere; WGC-Bridgestone; PGA Championship; TOUR Championship
Gary Woodland … Byron Nelson; Barracuda; PGA Championship; Dell Technologies; TOUR Championship
CHAMPIONS ONE & DONE POSSIBILITIES
The Founders Course at Greystone Golf & Country Club in Birmingham, Alabama, hosts for the second consecutive year. It's a par 72 with five par 5s. It hosted the Bruno's Memorial Classic from 1992-2005, but widespread changes and upgrades were made in advance of its return to the PGA TOUR Champions in 2016.
Golfers listed alphabetically. Rob’s serious considerations in bold.
Stephen Ames … Won Mitsubishi Electric a month ago. T13 at Insperity two weeks ago. Ninth in earnings.
Tommy Armour III … Co-runner-up at the Insperity Invitational two weeks ago was his first top 10 in nearly 12 months. Shared third at Greystone last year.
Olin Browne … Distant runner-up finish here last year is attractive, but he's gone five straight individual competitions without a top 40 entering this week.
John Daly … Fresh off breakthrough title at The Woodlands and went a respective T12-T13 in his previous two starts.
Jay Haas … Holding his own at 63 years young. Chased a T5 at the Bass Pro Shops Legends with a solo fifth at the Insperity. Ranks 17th on the money list.
Miguel Angel Jiménez … Making his debut at Greystone. Currently third in earnings with a 2nd-Win-T8-T8-T7 run in tow.
Bernhard Langer … Won by six here last year. Comfortably out front on the 2017 money list. Remember that the purse ($2.3 million) is the second-lowest among the five majors.
Tom Lehman … Since winning in Tucson, he's added a T16, T8 and T13, respectively, and sits 10th in earnings. His T35 here last year was his fifth-worst finish in 20 starts.
Scott McCarron … After an early victory at the Allianz, he's drifted to fifth on the money list, but has six top 20s this season. Leads the tour in par-5 scoring. Placed sixth here last year.
Colin Montgomerie … T17 here last year. Still chasing his first top-five finish of 2017. Had six in 2016 and two by this point of the season.
Kenny Perry … Held the outright lead after each of the first two rounds last year before fading to a T23. Sixth in 2017 earnings with a pair of T2s, including two weeks ago at the Insperity.
Gene Sauers … He's traded three top 10s with four results outside the top 25 this season and sits 12th in earnings. Tied for 12th at Greystone last year.
Joey Sindelar … If not for his season-best T3 last year, he wouldn't be mentioned here. Seven starts into 2017 and he's yet to clear $50K in earnings.
Vijay Singh … In his only start of 2017, he won the Bass Pro Shops Legends (with Carlos Franco). Made noise last week with a T16 at THE PLAYERS. Now making his Greystone debut.
Steve Stricker … In three starts since turning 50, he's finished second, T3 and T8, respectively, while working in a T16 (Masters), T14 (Zurich Classic) and a T41 (THE PLAYERS) on the PGA TOUR.
Kevin Sutherland … The most reliable source to put points on the board. No worse than T8 in his last nine starts. Four top 10s and another six top 20s in his last 10 starts in majors.
Kirk Triplett … Tied for third at Greystone in 2016, the second of six top 10s last year. Four top 10s already in 2017, including a T7 at the Insperity in the last event.
Duffy Waldorf … Looking to rebound from an uncharacteristically poor showing at the Insperity, but still slots 14th in earnings. Back-doored a T7 here last year.