Hudson Swafford birdied three of his final four holes to post a 67 on Sunday and claim his first PGA Tour victory. His 20-under total was enough to hold off Adam Hadwin by one shot. The CareerBuilder Challenge proved to be unpredictable, as the top-10 was mostly filled out by less-than-household names, and players like Richy Werenski and Dominic Bozzelli found their names in lights down the stretch.
But that’s real life… let’s discuss fantasy!
CareerBuilder Challenge Recap
106 points; Season Rank – 2,827 (93rd Percentile)
This was an incredibly frustrating week, as I feel my score should have been much better given the players I rostered. I was stuck in neutral due to starting the wrong players seemingly every day. Most of that is luck, so I can’t be too upset… right?
Did I start Brendan Steele on Friday when he shot 64? No. Was Adam Hadwin in my lineup for his historic 59 on Saturday? Nope. Did Luke List’s 67 on Thursday earn me any points? No chance. The week was peppered with indecision and wrong calls.
Did anything go right?
Fairway – Hadwin was my gut play of last week and he came through with a solo second place finish. List was another decent gut call, as was avoiding Zach Johnson. I took Steele for the win and he finished T6, so no complaints there. Charles Howell III was Charles Howell III again.
Rough – Jamie Lovemark never left the gate, and it cost me a bunch of points. I certainly didn’t expect Phil Mickelson to play as well as he did. List carded just -1 over the weekend, crushing his chances of making me look better.
Another week in California? Sign me up!
2017 Farmers Insurance Open Yahoo! fantasy golf picks
- Dustin Johnson – None of the ‘A’ players excite me this week, as all have baby-sized questions marks. I know it’s picky, but DJ spent 16 hours of his early week on an airplane following his second-place finish in Abu Dhabi. He’s been just mediocre at Torrey Pines, posting one top-10 finish in nine tries. I’m fading DJ for Shane Lowry, but paint me nervous. I think I’ll find better fits for his starts.
- Jason Day – Group A is loaded with names, but Day also comes with reservations. He knocked the rust off with an apathetic T12 at the Tournament of Champions, and his back seemed to hold up fine. His Torrey finishes of 1-2-9 in the three years before last year’s bad weather MC show that these courses fit him. But which courses don’t? Proceed with caution… but… proceed.
- Gary Woodland – If he is playing the opposite course rotation from DJ, he makes a viable second ‘A’ player. Woodland has finished 18-45-10-27 in his last four trips to Torrey, and his T6 at the Sony Open has him in good form. Gary hit ball. Gary hit ball far. Torrey like far. Don’t be afraid.
- Brendan Steele – My pick last week to win, he didn’t disappoint. His flat stick left a few chippies on the greens, but he otherwise had a solid run. Four straight cuts made at Torrey, though nothing in the top-20. Despite his recent success, he’s the contrarian passenger in DJ’s car this week.
- Shane Lowry – We haven’t seen him since the World Cup, but his driving statistics and his finishes of 7-13 in the last two years here warrant attention. I’m worried that he’ll have some rust to shake off early in the week, but he could be in the mix come Sunday.
- Marc Leishman – Noted wind player comes in with three career top-10s here, but his performances have proven too inconsistent to fully trust. MC here in 2013 and last year, but I think he finds his way to the top-half of the leaderboard.
- Rickie Fowler – Can you trust him? Ever? No. Pass.
- Brandt Snedeker – Simply brilliant on these courses. Yes, last year’s win was a bit of a fluke, as he avoided the worst of the weather. However, he has seven top-10 finishes in 11 trips to Torrey, including the 2008 U.S. Open. No matter the weather, Snedeker has to enter the discussion. Recent form is mediocre, but who cares? Send him in!
- Hideki Matsuyama – The hottest player on the planet cooled to a T27 at the Sony Open, and took last week off to mourn. He has missed the cut the last two years at the Farmers, and it’s hard to see him challenging the leaders this week. He hasn’t played great on courses where he doesn’t play great (what?) and I don’t expect a top-10 at this year’s edition.
- Justin Rose – Torrey Pines has been a thorn (every Rose has one…) as he has MC the last two years. He’s trending the right way, however, as his second-place finish at the Sony came from nowhere. His game seems to fit Torrey Pines, but I thought that the last two seasons. Too much class to write off, but he isn’t my favorite to win this week. Ahh… finally, a Bret Michaels reference.
- Charles Howell III - I’m going to copy my blurb on CH3 from last week. And the week before. Verbatim. ‘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.’ Yep. Nailed it. Again.
- Hudson Swafford – I don’t typically like taking a new champion, as the hangover effect could set in, and it’s incredibly hard to win two weeks in a row. That said, I wouldn’t put it past Swafford to make another run. This is a major step up in class from last week, but his 13th place finish here last year won’t scare anyone away.
- Jimmy Walker – The 2016 PGA Champion has turned into a fantasy flake. You can’t trust him when he should be a lock. Bad trends? He’ll surprise and contend. So where to go this week? Course history is incredible; 4-7-MC-4-8 last five years. Form is suspect, as he flamed out at the Sony. Nobody can hit fairways at Torrey, so I’ll take a chance on a noted bomber.
- Phil Mickelson – Lefty surprised me last week by posting a top-25 in his first competitive tournament since hernia surgery. He hasn’t found the magic at Torrey in a long time; finished second in 2011, but has posted MC-51-WD-MC-MC since then. I can find four better options in the ‘B’ Group, but if the course rotations don’t jive, I’ll consider Phil.
- Adam Hadwin – My gut pick from last week might look like a decent play at Torrey, but beware... he was only -6 in his three non-59 rounds at the CareerBuilder. He has made the cut in the last two Farmers, but I wouldn’t expect him to be on the first page on Sunday afternoon.
- Martin Laird – Where history meets form… Laird has posted 7th and 8th-place finishes his last two trips to Torrey Pines and he comes off a 9th last week. Foreign players seem to have a tough time winning the Farmers, but Laird has the power and the wedge play to surprise the field this week. He’ll be a popular One-and-Done pick, and for good reason.
- Tony Finau – His form isn’t great, but Finau’s game fits Torrey Pines well, as evidenced by finishes of 24 and 18 the last two years. He’s young, hits the ball a mile, and has shown the ability to combat wind in the past. Finau is one of my gut plays this week, and if his putter cooperates, he could snatch the title.
- Scott Stallings – Course horse… won the tournament in 2014 and finished P2-25 the last two years. Stallings is riding a top-10 at the CareerBuilder to boot. His skill set doesn’t seem to fit Torrey, but that hasn’t stopped him from wild success in the recent pass. Don’t be quick to look elsewhere.
- Brooks Koepka – Opposite of Stallings; game fits both North and South course well, and his driving power can neutralize wet fairways. The flat stick has been his friend of late, and if he’s rolling putts in all weekend, he’ll challenge the lead. Even though we haven’t seen him in 2017, he’s my second gut play.
- J.B. Holmes – Like Lowry, I’m concerned that this is his lid-lifter for the season. Second and sixth here the last two seasons shows that his driver likes these courses. If he had played at all recently, or played extremely well to close 2016, I’d endorse. Since neither of those facts are true, I’ll pass.
- Jon Rahm – He checks most of the boxes, except for course history, which isn’t his fault. Knocked the sleep out of his eyes last week with a 34th at the CareerBuilder. His distance and approach prowess play well anywhere, and, like so many others, if his putter works, he’ll dance with the leaders.
- Tiger Woods – No idea. Absolutely no clue. He won’t be on my Yahoo! roster because I think there are several ‘C’ players who could win, and I don’t believe Tiger is one. The course history is undeniable, but there is no screaming reason to believe he’ll suddenly avoid bad numbers or injury. I’ll wait to see what he looks like this week before firing him up.
My Yahoo! fantasy golf lineup
(* - denotes first round starter)
- A – Shane Lowry* and Jason Day
- B – Brandt Snedeker*, Jimmy Walker*, Hideki Matsuyama, Charles Howell III
- C – Martin Laird* and Tony Finau
The roster was constructed this week around the first two rounds – all of my starters are playing the much easier North Course. That meant leaving Koepka off the roster in favor of Finau, who starts on the South. I’m nervous about fading Dustin Johnson, but Lowry and Day are both solid course horses, albeit with red flags. My gut plays were Finau and Koepka, and I’m looking for Jimmy Walker to rebound nicely this week. Who wins? No clue… but it wouldn’t shock me to see Lowry or Walker hoist the trophy.