The 19th of 24 contributing events for PGA TOUR Champions One & Done presented by SERVPRO is this week's Boeing Classic. It begins on Friday. Scroll for tournament notes, 21 notables and six wild cards from the field of 78 in Snoqualmie, Washington.
To pick one is to plan for four.
If you play PGA TOUR Fantasy One & Done presented by SERVPRO, you know that the FedExCup Playoffs present the season within the season. With FedExCup points quadrupled, unless your league leader has gone to the post with a historic 2017-18, you have a shot to win outright. Well, at least you're not mathematically eliminated entering the four-event series.
That's not necessarily the case in an earnings-based format in which full-season success is more evident sooner than later, but you still need to run through the tape. Don't go anywhere because this preview is for you as well. While THE NORTHERN TRUST is the immediate focus, it's influenced by the entirety of the Playoffs.
On opposite ends of the fantasy spectrum sit Daily Fantasy Leaguers and One & Doners. Of course, there's room for all and it's increasingly more likely these days that you dabble in both, but we're all about the long game here no matter how you measure performance.
With that in mind, it's an annual rite during Masters week to review who I've burned and who I've earmarked for later. Positioning in real time isn't as important as beginning the construction on the plan for the Playoffs.
I've done this both ways and neither has really mattered. One year, I ran out of monsters in the Playoffs and failed to contend, the next I went with one haymaker after another and barely hung on to win after lackluster showings, thus proving the value of the season before the FedExCup points are quadrupled. I was lucky that my fellow little leaguers didn't capture lightning in a bottle, but I also put myself in position to capitalize on that possibility.
This year, the objective was somewhere in the middle. I've holstered Jason Day for the Dell Technologies Championship and Justin Rose for the TOUR Championship. Both are multiple winners on the PGA TOUR this season, so that plan has panned out. However, without victories at the PGA Championship (Brooks Koepka) and Wyndham Championship (Brandt Snedeker), which lifted me to only third place (from last), the long-range thinking almost didn't matter.
As you wrestle with your pick at Ridgewood Country Club, remember two important facts:
• We know the entire field for the Playoffs before they start. To a point, this phenomenon exists usually only in the majors, World Golf Championships and THE PLAYERS, but all nine of those tournaments are scattered across the season and involve hundreds of choices. There are only 120 at THE NORTHERN TRUST. There won't be more than 100 at TPC Boston next week, 70 at the BMW Championship and 30 at East Lake. Embrace the finite.
• Avoid non-winners at all costs. Even if you're a hard-core gamer, you'll probably struggle in identifying the last first-time winner in the Playoffs. In fact, there has been only one: Camilo Villegas at the 2008 BMW (in a weather-affected 72-hole event over three days at Bellerive).
Zeroing in on the matter at hand, it'd be a fun exercise in PGA TOUR Fantasy One & Done presented by SERVPRO to start your season this week. With the potential of totaling 8,000 FedExCup points in four events – assuming a unique winner in each – imagine the damage to your opponent, both competitively and psychologically.
The same vacuum is a smart approach at how to end the season. Just do it in reverse because of the funnel.
Taking into the account that the top-13 opening seeds have advanced to the TOUR Championship in every edition of the Playoffs, that's your pool from which to select your man at East Lake. My pick, Rose, is No. 4, so I'm set. The only other on that short list who deserves the faith is Justin Thomas (No. 2). With a T6 and solo second in two appearances, it's why the tournament is included in his Future Possibilities where he and Rose are aligned nicely. If you're chasing, simply make sure that another one of the 11 is still available come the finale. The 2015 champion, Jordan Spieth, also makes sense but he's not guaranteed to advance since he opens 43rd in points. No matter your confidence, you can't bet on him being there. Then again, that would be the ultimate in contrarian decisions.
The BMW will be contested at Aronimink Golf Club, which underwent a renovation since it lasted hosted the Quicken Loans National in 2010 and 2011. Nick Watney (No. 102 in FedExCup points) and Rose were the respective champions. Because of its unfamiliarity, consider it an opportunity to burn a wild card. When we get there, you'll know him when we see him, so there's no sense in cornering ourselves.
Rory McIlroy is a two-time champion (2012, 2016) and all-time earnings leader at Dell Technologies Championship, so he's the automatic in the aforementioned vacuum. The problem is that he's in a state of flux at the moment. It's possible that all he needs is a week at TPC Boston to reconnect with the feels, but front-running One & Doners may not want to touch him.
That backpedals us to this week's NORTHERN TRUST. The stingy trio of par 5s will reward the long hitters à la Bellerive, but that same challenge, when combined with the other 15 holes, offers one of the fairest tests of the season for all skill sets. Five who registered a top 10 at Ridgewood in 2014 are back this week: Jason Day (T2), Matt Kuchar (T5), William McGirt (T5), Kevin Na (T9) and Patrick Reed (T9). They are among 51 in this week's field who appeared four years ago.
One of the most underrated dynamics of the Playoffs is that the opening event migrates. Course history can matter, but it lines up more as a diplomatic lid-lifter. This downplays any default headliner. Instead, a balanced attack with an emphasis in putting and good form upon arrival should define the champion. That's why I've called on Patrick Cantlay. Strategically, he makes sense because Sean is going with Jon Rahm and Mark already has used Cantlay (en route his Shriners title no less), but Patrick Reed isn't connecting as strongly as I wanted. This bumps Captain America into contention for the start at the BMW where Tommy Fleetwood, Rafa Cabrera Bello, Xander Schauffele and others also give me options.
If all golfers were available and if I was forced to slot all four picks right now, I'd endorse Dustin Johnson at THE NORTHERN TRUST, Day at the Dell Technologies, Rose at the BMW and Thomas at the TOUR Championship.
If I was in the position of pursuit with all golfers available, Rahm goes out first, I'd keep the faith in McIlroy at TPC Boston, Spieth for the win at Aronimink and Rose for the FedExCup at East Lake.
As for Tiger Woods, talk about a wild card. Chasers unite. He's the 20-seed and still not officially on the Ryder Cup team.
RANK PANELIST PICK COMMENT 83rd
I tried to be disciplined and save some big names for the Playoffs, where points are quadrupled. Rahm is coming off a T4 at the PGA Championship.
On the Mark
Patrick Reed The Northern Trust is the only Playoffs event where I was not locked in on a pick. I considered Rafa Cabrera Bello and Alex Noren, but Patrick Reed is too enticing for me to pass up. Let's go! 236th
It's hilarious that I'm suddenly a threat, but I'm suddenly a serious threat as I'm peaking at the right time. This won't be easy but stranger things have happened in this format in the Playoffs.
Jason Day I’ve saved my Aussie mate all year so he can help me surge home for victory. Should have won here in 2014, will win in 2018. 453rd
Looks healthy and ready to win. 580th
Rafa Cabrera Bello
There's absolutely no way I repeat as O&D champ unless I catch a few breaks. Time to start throwing darts at the board.
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 2017-18. The numerical values in parentheses represent the order of relative confidence of where to use each golfer if multiple sites are listed (e.g. 1 for strongest, 2 for next-strongest and so on). To present weighted confidence in real time, numerical values will not change all season no matter how many tournament remain listed for each golfer. All are pending golfer commitment.
Paul Casey … Dell Technologies (2); TOUR Championship (3)
Kevin Chappell … Dell Technologies (3)
Jason Day … THE NORTHERN TRUST (8); Dell Technologies (5)
Jason Dufner … TOUR Championship (7)
Billy Horschel … TOUR Championship (4)
Dustin Johnson … Dell Technologies (11); TOUR Championship (6)
Zach Johnson … TOUR Championship (8)
Russell Knox … Dell Technologies (7)
Matt Kuchar … THE NORTHERN TRUST (9)
Ryan Moore … TOUR Championship (6)
Kevin Na … THE NORTHERN TRUST (11)
Louis Oosthuizen … Dell Technologies (3)
Patrick Reed … THE NORTHERN TRUST (9); Dell Technologies (2)
Justin Rose … TOUR Championship (2)
Adam Scott … Dell Technologies (9); TOUR Championship (6)
Jordan Spieth … TOUR Championship (4)
Justin Thomas … Dell Technologies (6; defending); TOUR Championship (3)
Jimmy Walker … Dell Technologies (7)
Bubba Watson … TOUR Championship (4)
CHAMPIONS ONE & DONE
This is the 14th edition of the tournament, all held at The Club at Snoqualmie Ridge outside Seattle. It's a stock par 72 stretching 7,217 yards.
Jerry Kelly is defending his first title on the PGA TOUR Champions. His 19-under 197 is the tournament record. Bernhard Langer is a two-time champion (2010, 2016) and the all-time tournament earnings leader.
Darren Clarke and Chris DiMarco are making their PGA TOUR Champions debuts this week. Clarke has been winding down his tournament action for some time, but DiMarco hasn't played a PGA TOUR event in two years. He warmed up for this week's splash with a Web.com Tour stop earlier this month.
For the second straight edition, total prize money is $2.1 million with $315K going to the winner.
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 2018. The numerical values in parentheses represent the order of relative confidence of where to use each golfer if multiple sites are listed (e.g. 1 for strongest, 2 for next-strongest and so on). To present weighted confidence in real time, numerical values will not change all season no matter how many tournament remain listed for each golfer. All are pending golfer commitment.
Stephen Ames … Boeing (2); Shaw (7)
Fred Couples … Usable everywhere.
Joe Durant … Boeing (10); Shaw (11); PURE (3); SAS (13)
David Frost … Boeing (5); Shaw (8); PURE (1)
Doug Garwood … SAS (1)
Paul Goydos … SAS (5)
Miguel Angel Jiménez … Shaw (7); SAS (12)
Brandt Jobe … Boeing (8)
Jerry Kelly … Boeing (1; defending); Shaw (5); PURE (2); SAS (4)
Bernhard Langer … Usable everywhere. Defending five titles.
Jeff Maggert … Shaw (5)
Billy Mayfair … Boeing (2); PURE (1)
Scott McCarron … Shaw (5; defending); PURE (8)
Colin Montgomerie … Shaw (4); PURE (7); SAS (3; defending)
Tom Pernice, Jr. … Shaw (3); SAS (5)
Kenny Perry … SAS (2)
Gene Sauers … Boeing (1)
Kevin Sutherland … Usable everywhere.
David Toms … Boeing (2); SAS (4)
Kirk Triplett … Shaw (4)
Duffy Waldorf … Shaw (5)
WILD CARDS (short list of golfers not included above but on the rise or still building portfolios after recently turning 50): Paul Broadhurst; Bob Estes; Steve Flesch; Rocco Mediate; Scott Parel; Wes Short, Jr.