Yahoo! Fantasy Golf kicked off for 2017 with the SBS Tournament of Champions, and each week, Golf News Net will be offering weekly plays and a recap of the previous week.
Yahoo! presents a different strategy than most games, as you select two A players, four B players and two C players, with the option to change your starting lineup daily. Some history and a bit of luck can lead to success, and that’s what we hope to lead you toward with this feature.
SBS Tournament of Champions recap
217 points; Season rank: 5,274 (86th Percentile)
Burning starts on stars early in the season is a gut-wrenching exercise, as nobody wants to be left sitting with just Gary Woodland available in the A group late in the season, but the SBS Tournament of Champions presented a small field and a ton of birdies. I loaded up on star power with the hopes of not having to shuffle around my lineup. In the end, it was a moderately successful week, though I failed to remember that Jordan Spieth typically has a few no-pressure-go-low-Sunday rounds in him every season, and I left him on the bench on the final day. With Justin Thomas, Hideki Matsuyama and Spieth on my roster, bonus points were flowing! On to Honolulu! Aloha!
2017 Sony Open in Hawaii Yahoo! fantasy golf picks
- Bill Haas – Jay’s kid hasn’t played at Waialae since 2010 when he missed the cut. His last three tournaments in the Fall Series produced 20-4-13, and he played well enough to win the WGC event. Group A doesn’t have much firepower this week, so hold your nose and take a strong look at Haas.
- Gary Woodland – Started the fall slowly after a solid run in the FedEx Cup playoffs, and finished runner-up at the OHL Classic in November. Woodland can overpower this course, and with 13th- and third-place finishes here the last two years, he’s a safe bet to contend, especially if the wind kicks up.
- Marc Leishman – The Aussie is another familiar wind player and his history at this venue proves it, finishing between fifth and 37th in his last six trips to Honolulu. He posted two top-25 finishes in the fall, and is the safest ‘A’ player to make the cut, albeit it without scaring anyone at the top of the leaderboard.
- Branden Grace – Finished DFL at the TOC. Bad. Has never played a competitive round at Waialae. Bad. So why do I like him as a potential contrarian play? Class, baby… He’s a risky play, but has the pedigree to win and he’s too good to not bounce off the bottom.
- Jimmy Walker – Despite his wins here in 2014-15, his play has been choppy of late, including a boring ninth-place finish at the TOC. He’s just as likely to finish 30th this week as win, but the upside is clearly there. As Fabian Gomez proved last year, you don’t have to hit fairways to win, and Walker will test that this week.
- Justin Thomas – Toughest player in the field to predict. Will he have a hangover from the win? Will he run out to a blistering start? Who knows… but, Thomas is white hot and his sixth-place finish here in 2015 with a second-round, course record-tying 61 will give gamers no reason to run away. I’d run him out there one more week.
- Jordan Spieth – The only issue with Spieth is Yahoo! allows just 10 starts per player. Otherwise, this would be a no-brainer. His final round 65 at the TOC has him in good form coming in, and… well… he’s Jordan Spieth. If you start him, get all four rounds in.
- Brandt Snedeker – Finished second in 2016 in his only appearance here and has posted decent numbers of late. If his putter works, he should contend. Snedeker will fly under the radar due to the star power in this group, but he makes a lesser-owned solid play.
- Hideki Matsuyama – We all know the success; his last six tournaments have been either wins or seconds. He hasn’t made the cut here in four tries, and he can’t finish top-2 every tournament forever. I’m selling high on Matsuyama this week and it wouldn’t surprise me to see him finish 20th-30th place.
- Charles Howell III – He’s here every year, he makes the cut every year, and he’s never won the tournament. If you want a guy in good form who guarantees you’ll have a ‘B’ player on the weekend, CH3 is your man. If you want a player who could actually win the tournament, look somewhere else.
- Paul Casey – He was on fire to close the season in 2016, and if that momentum carries to a tournament he has played once, he will contend. Hasn’t played since October, so be careful of firing him out of the gate.
- Russell Knox – Comes in with good form and seems to enjoy short courses. If you are daring enough to roster him, beware of his Sunday blues – his last four Sundays have produced 74-74-66-73.
- Pat Perez – He’s my slam dunk of the weekend – no other ‘C’ player comes in as hot as Perez, and his finishes of 9-8-17 at Waialae from 2013-15 add more wood to the fire. Add in a 67 on Sunday at the TOC and he checks all the boxes. Plug him in for all four rounds… you can throw me a ‘mahalo’ later.
- Ryan Palmer – He has hit the top 20 each of the last three editions of the Sony Open and he finished last season in strong form. He hasn’t played since the BMW in September, but he offers the best potential to win the tournament and makes for a nice risk/reward play alongside Perez.
- Scott Piercy – He checks most of the boxes... finished 2-13 the last two Sony Opens, ended 2016 in solid form and his game fits Waialae. As MC here in 2010 and 2014 and a 63rd at the WGC-HSBC show, you just can’t ever fully trust Piercy. Play him at your own risk.
- Daniel Berger – He never fired last week at the TOC, but he’s too talented to not at least consider next to Perez. His two trips around Waialae produced 13-42, but he has taken a step up in class since then. Yet another ‘C’ risk/reward play.
- Zach Johnson – The class is there and the two top-10s in his last three trips to Waialae are impressive, but he missed the cut in his last start at the RSM Classic in November and hasn’t played since.
My Yahoo! fantasy golf lineup
(* - denotes first round starter)
- A – Gary Woodland*, Bill Haas
- B – Justin Thomas*, Jordan Spieth*, Brandt Snedeker, Russell Knox
- C – Pat Perez*, Ryan Palmer
In the last 18 years, two-thirds of the winners at the Sony Open played the week prior. This trend could bode well for the likes of Spieth, Perez and Walker, who all played well last week without drinking from the victory cup. Knox is my gut play of the week, but I feel that young Mr. Spieth will hoist the trophy Sunday afternoon.
Follow me on Twitter @commishjoe for any last minute thoughts or changes. Good Luck! Aloha!