Hideki Matsuyama is a stud. There is no better way to type that.
Apropos on the week of Groundhog Day, Matsuyama scripted a mirror image of his performance from a year ago at TPC Scottsdale, winning the Waste Management Phoenix Open on the fourth hole of the playoff, this time against Webb Simpson. Last year’s playoff victim, Rickie Fowler, fired a Sunday 65 to tie for fourth with J.J. Spaun, one shot behind lone third-place finisher Louis Oosthuizen.
Simpson’s weekend cards read 65-64 with 12 birdies and an eagle against one bogey, but it wasn’t enough to chase down Matsuyama, who started the day four shots behind Byeong-hun An. The 24-year-old beast has now won five times in his last nine starts, and looks to be rocketing to superstar status.
2017 Waste Management Phoenix Open recap
Yahoo! Tournament Points – 190; Season Points – 840; Ranking – 974 (97th Percentile)
I’m fairly pleased with last week’s results, as I jumped about 800 spots overall and didn’t leave a ton of points on the bench. Trusting Brooks Koepka in Round 2 following a Thursday 67 proved to be a bad idea, and Zach Johnson rubbed salt in my decision by firing a 66, costing me 14 points. Overall, a solid week to build on.
What went right? Who let me down?
Fairway – Patrick Reed rewarded my fade with a Sunday 76. Fowler did in fact contend again here. Matsuyama won, and if you didn’t have him in your lineup all four days, you should see a doctor. Justin Thomas was a letdown, as predicted, but I didn’t see him missing the cut. My sneaky play of Daniel Berger netted a T7.
Rough – Not much went right in the ‘C’ group, although ZJ did enough to save me from disaster. Russell Knox had made 17 cuts in a row, so naturally he MC on a ball-strikers course. Koepka never fired, making his victory here two years ago look like the outlier. My two “gut plays” were a hot mess.
I’m jumping the fantasy bus to the most beautiful place on the planet...you coming?
2017 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am Yahoo! fantasy golf picks
- Dustin Johnson – The stars align this week for DJ. Of all the venues in the world, Pebble and Friends will continue to be his Valentine. In ten trips to the coast, DJ is 9-10 with two wins and five other top-10s. Rain is likely early in the weekend, and he seems to win every shortened event. Ignore the MC at the Farmers; the plane ride back stateside from Abu Dhabi is brutal even for the most physically fit among us. I wouldn’t know. DJ is a solid one-and-done pick this week if you aren’t saving him for Erin Hills – burn a Yahoo! start beginning Thursday and don’t look back.
- Patrick Reed – In four trips to the ATTPBPA (I don’t want to type the whole name each time) Reed has posted 7-13-29-6. Shot a miserable 76 on Sunday to make his Farmers run look worse than it was. Had he shot 5 under instead of 5 over, which he’s more than capable of, he finished T-24. He’s the safe play opposite DJ, something I never thought I’d type. Top-30 is likely, but don’t get greedy.
- Jason Day – I want to trust Day, I really do...but I can’t. His record at Pebble is sparkling, with finishes of 6-14-46-6-64-4-11 (he apparently only finishes in spots including a 1, 4 or 6) but he’s a WD threat every time he enters a tournament. His MC at the Farmers Insurance Open was more alarming, as he didn’t make the trip to Abu Dhabi. If you love DJ as much as I do and want to roll the dice, roster Day...but only bring him off the pine if he’s in the running for bonus points.
- Shane Lowry – The most boring star on the Tour right now… he makes cuts but never frightens the first page. The rain won’t likely bother him, and his limited history here yields finishes of 21-41. There isn’t a compelling reason to think he’ll win, and therefore, no purpose in rostering him. I wouldn’t consider anyone else in the ‘A’ group.
- Justin Rose – Comes in blazing following a fourth-place finish at the Farmers and a runner-up trip to the Sony Open. His maiden ATTPBPA voyage was good for sixth, and the only two concerns this week are his back and his putter. If the former cooperates, the latter might not matter. Hard to find a reason to fade Rosie – just set it and forget it!
- Jordan Spieth – If you saved a Spieth start last week, burn one here. The Pro-Am setting is a bit quirky and allows lesser-known players (D.A. Points, Vaughn Taylor) to jump up and snatch one, but Pebble still demands class, and Spieth has finished 22-4-7-21 in his four tours at this event. Form is never an issue and he’s hitting greens better than ever. No hate for those who fade, but don’t be left crying over the bonus points that got away.
- Brandt Snedeker – It’s easy to just plug and play the two-time champion, but his inconsistency leaves me a bit apprehensive. Yes, he won in 2013 and 2015, but his other starts at Pebble resulted in 36-58-MC-21-8-MC-MC-35 – so if he doesn’t win, he won’t hit the podium...because history always repeats itself, right? Calling it right now: Following that statement, he will finish fourth this week. I don’t have too many other ‘B’ players I like more, so he’ll be rostered.
- Phil Mickelson – No new ground to break; he’s still a flake and since his win in 2012, he’s posted 60-19-2 here. His sports hernia surgeries are a distant memory, as he’s finished 21-14-16 the last three weeks, but his Sunday back-nine implosion makes me wonder if fatigue is setting in. Because he can win the tournament and because the cut doesn’t drop the hammer until 54 holes have been played, I’ll roll the dice with Phil if the course rotation works.
- Jimmy Walker – The biggest enigma of the week - his run here of 9-9-3-1-21-11 in the last six years is absurd. We’ve heard that same fantasy pomposity as recently as the Farmers Insurance Open. Walker should contend this week, but you simply have no idea. He would seem to be a decent gamble as a contrarian play, but of the four listed above him in this article, who do you bench?
- Matt Kuchar – He surprised everyone by placing ninth last week in his lid-lifter, but after opening with a 64, Kooch played the last three rounds in just 5 under. He hasn’t pegged it at Pebble since 2010, but his game seems to travel just about anywhere, and if the weather is as ugly as projected, Kuchar has the calm demeanor and tempered ball flight to survive.
- Jim Furyk – He’s listed here out of respect, and it’s hard to see him contending this week. With most, you’d worry about rust, as he hasn’t played in forever… but he starts the race here every year and has only missed the cut in two of his 19 appearances. Definitely a better DFS play than Yahoo! starter.
- Webb Simpson – His three appearances here saw him post MC-46-26, and while he had a great round last week to jump in the playoff pool, he hasn’t putted or played well enough to warrant a start. Pass.
- J.B. Holmes – After a few weeks of depth, the ‘C’ group is incredibly thin. Holmes headlines this uninteresting bunch as the only automatic play. Top-35 finishes the last two weeks without looking special got his engines running, and his Pebble history includes a 10-11 finish the last two years and three other top-20s. His length will play on wet land, so he could smash his way to the first page.
- Jon Rahm – There is no solid second option in the ‘C’ group, so you might as well default to talent. Rahm has never played this tournament, but that hasn’t mattered whatsoever over the last six months. This will be his fourth straight week on the course, so fatigue enters the equation, but as a 22-year-old riding high on success, I wouldn’t worry much.
- Sean O’Hair – He shows up here every year and makes the cut, and that fact alone might be enough to roster him. O’Hair is 3-3 with two top-11 finishes in 2017, and has finished between 10th and 35th in eight of his last nine appearances at Pebble. If you feel like Rahm is due for a letdown, O’Hair should be safe to play opposite Holmes.
- Martin Laird – The long-driving Scot has two top-10 finishes in the last three weeks and his length will be useful this weekend. He’s played at Pebble three times and made the cut once, but hasn’t appeared on the coast in five years. Not a terrible gamble, as nobody else excites me.
- Matt Jones – Jones is the only other player I’d even consider using. Lit the pilot last week with a 36th-place finish, but it’s his 8-9 cuts made at Pebble with four top-15s that deserves a second look. Again, if Rahm doesn’t get you going, your roster could do worse than Jones.
My Yahoo! fantasy golf lineup
(* - denotes first round starter)
- A – Dustin Johnson* and Patrick Reed
- B – Jordan Spieth*, Brandt Snedeker*, Justin Rose and Phil Mickelson
- C – J.B. Holmes* and Jon Rahm
All four of my ‘B’ players are starting their weekend at Monterey Peninsula Country Club, which historically is the easiest of the three courses. Poor weather conditions might throw the past numbers into the wind, so I might just gamble with the four I’ve listed. I’m comfortable with DJ and Holmes leading the charge for their respective groups, but stay tuned in case I make a ‘B’ change.
I don’t have any guy plays this week because I hate everyone that isn’t chalk. If I was forced to choose someone, I’d go with Shane Lowry, as long as his driver is working -- which of course I can’t tell at this point. As for a winner? Give me DJ all day, all night. It should be a great week at the crown jewel of American golf, so set those lineups and buckle up!