The bridesmaid finally got married -- well, on the course, at least.
Following five top-5 finishes at Riviera without ever holding the trophy, Dustin Johnson ran away from the field in the weather-altered Genesis Open and held on Sunday for a 17-under total and a five-shot victory over Thomas Pieters and Scott Brown. The group at T4 (-11_ included Charley Hoffman, Kevin Na, Wesley Bryan and Justin Rose. DJ is the top-ranked player in the OWGR for the first time in his career, and there appears to be nothing stopping him on his run toward Player of the Year honors.
So how did my fake golf team and predictions fare?
2017 Genesis Open recap
Yahoo! Tournament Points – 164; Season Points – 1,241; Yahoo! Ranking – 156 (99th Percentile)
I’m quite pleased with the way last week turned out, despite poor weather conditions and the typical Yahoo! starting lineup deadline issues. As predicted, the early/late wave fared much better, as those on the other side of the draw were left battling a monsoon Friday morning. Ask Hideki Matsuyama how that worked out; he splashed his way to a second-round 80 following an opening 68.
The only move I regret was not substituting out Matsuyama for Paul Casey in round two. Weather can be unpredictable, but it was obvious by Thursday night that Friday was going to be a mess. It didn’t cost me all that much, and I still moved up more than 100 spots overall in the Yahoo! game. It feels good to be back in the top-200… I finished there after each of the 2014 and 2015 seasons. (Shameless Plug is a good band name, isn’t it?)
As for players, what worked and what didn’t?
Fairway – Chalk has paid off so far, so my call of DJ winning in the last paragraph of last week’s preview wasn’t rocket science. Fading Spieth, Reed, Snedeker and Day was the right move, as they never were in contention. Scott was the right ‘A’ partner for DJ, though I never started him. I didn’t score any bonus points, but I was pleased with my weekend ‘B’ pairing of Rose and Paul Casey. Rose tied my ‘sneaky play’ last week Bill Haas for low weekend at -9. Phil played the front nine in 6 over and the back nine in 10 under for the week, so avoiding him was a smart move.
Rough – What made me roster Bubba? I didn’t start him, so no harm done, but even rostering him made me want to take a shower. Sergio Garcia and J.B. Holmes both made the cut but neither showed appreciation for the love I showered them with. I missed the boat on a few name players who popped near the top of the leaderboard, and I didn’t see Thomas Pieters coming at all!
Say goodbye to Hollywood -- the Tour swings to the Sunshine State!
2017 Honda Classic Yahoo! fantasy golf picks
- Adam Scott – The ‘A’ group won’t win you much in Yahoo! this week, as Scott and Rickie Fowler will be the optimus electiones this week. The handsome Aussie defends his title of a year ago when his nine-under-par showing was good enough for a one-shot win over Sergio Garcia. Scottie posted T11 last week without mounting a serious threat and he’s the class of the field. No restrictions here – a repeat title isn’t out of reach.
- Rickie Fowler – He has made the weekend here each of the last five years, with three top-15 finishes to show. His fourth-place result at the WMPO proved that his MC the week before was a bit flukey. He still has the ability to space out and disappoint you, but in a difficult event with a premium placed on tee-to-green, I’ll take my chances with Rickie.
- Brendan Steele – DISCLAIMER: Same write-up as last week, with changes in bold. -- I like Steele a lot, and he’s probably my third ‘A’ player this week… but I can only use two. He has made the cut in each of his last six visits to PGA National including two top-15 finishes. He’s in excellent form, with results of 6-6-20-16-39 in 2017. If his driver cooperates, he could scare the leaders on Sunday. If Rickie worries you, Steele is a solid contingency plan.
- Graeme McDowell – This one seems like a no-brainer, as McDowell is 6-7 here with four top-10 finishes, but he didn’t fire at all last week on his way to a 67th-place finish and now flies across the country to tee it up in his home state. I’m just not getting the Irish vibe this week. He was a more trustworthy player when he posted most of those great numbers, and he has only won once outside of France since the middle of 2013. Yep, France. He could finish top 10 again, but I’d bet against it. Fade.
- Louis Oosthuizen – He’s too hot to completely ignore, but he hasn’t seen the weekend here in three attempts. His tee-to-green game is very good, but I don’t see a reason to deviate from Scott-Fowler.
- Gary Woodland – He’s 4-4 at the Honda with a sixth-place finish in 2011, but his other three cuts made were 73-68-61. Again, he’s fantastic tee-to-green, and his temperamental putter won’t matter this week. He’s my gut play of the week, but I still wouldn’t use him over my ‘A’ horses.
- Luke Donald – Yeah, yeah, I know... he’s 6-6 with four top-10s here since 2007. He finished 23-17 the last two weeks. He’s a former world No. 1. Tell ya what: You roster him and we’ll talk Monday, ok?
- Paul Casey – I’m not sure if a player of his class can be called a gut play, so I’ll take Casey for the win this weekend. He’s 4-5 here with two top-five finishes, and his game seems to be almost there. Three cuts in a row made, with nothing better than 28th isn’t great recent form, but if he finds his mid-season 2016 form, his stat set will be a snug fit. He’ll have an advantage if the wind kicks up, and he won’t make me sweat about my Yahoo! starts strategy. Checks all the boxes for me.
- Justin Thomas – JT leaves California with a few bruises coming off MC-39 his last two times out. The long par 4s at PGA National won’t be a problem for him, and his driver has been a positive weapon this season. Finished third here last year in just his second trip. If he’s going to fight in the heavyweight division, he has to contend at events like the Honda. I’m expecting a top-15 finish in a watery field.
- Russell Knox – I’m not too worried about his MC at WMPO; he had to miss a cut at some point. Knox is 3-3 here with finishes of 2-3-26, so he sees something he likes. He’ll have to improve upon his poor long irons this season; his hole proximity ranked 17th last year on shots from 200 yards or more, and sits 118th in the same ranking this year. In a thin ‘B’ group, Knox earns a spot on the roster.
- Kevin Kisner – I’m not wild on any of the remaining ‘B’ players, but Kisner has at least a sliver of my attention. His SG Off the Tee numbers have been solid in the recent past, and his phenomenal long iron work has shown up this season. He’s riding solid form coming off finishes of 4-25-10 since the calendar turned. Results of 51st and 70th here in his two trips isn’t impressive, but if the stats play out, he’ll make a run at another top-10 finish.
- Charles Howell III – He has been amazing of late, but I feel like I type that every year. CH3 is trending the wrong way at the Honda, with results of 26-10-26-29-55-44-MC in the last seven years. If you believe in form over history, throw him in the mix. If not, stuff him in the attic and bring him back out with the Christmas decorations.
- Danny Willett – Now here’s an interesting dilemma. He’s improving in form and has a decent skill set for the Honda, where he’s never played. Could he win the tournament? Possibly. Is it more likely he will be a non-factor? Yes. Pass.
- Scott Brown – Some of my theories will be tested with Brown this week. He’ll be playing for the sixth consecutive week, and even though he filed a T2 last week, I can’t see anyone winning when playing that much without rest. He’s made the cut each of the last six weeks, but with nothing better than a T41 until last week. Same with his course history; 10th last year, but 75-MC the previous two tours. He’ll be a popular play, but I’ll fade Brown and take my chances elsewhere.
- Sergio Garcia – It’s easy to blame the weather for Sergio’s subpar performance last week, but he simply didn’t play well enough to compete. That said, he survived through the weekend, and his 8-31-2 run at PGA National in the last three years means he’s the class of a surprisingly loaded ‘C’ group. Don’t overthink this one. Just plug him in and hope he cracks the top 10 again.
- Daniel Berger – Seems like the perfect play opposite Sergio: MC at the Farmers, but in otherwise excellent form. He has performed well on Bermuda greens, and he lost in a playoff in his first attempt here in 2015. If he can get his long irons dialed in, he’ll make a run at the trophy. He’ll be my second ‘C’ player, but I wouldn’t fault anyone rolling the dice with any of the next few.
- Brooks Koepka – If he’s going to break his awful form, PGA National might be the place. He’s played the weekend in all three attempts, but with nothing better than a 26th-place finish. BK has been miserable on long par 4s this season, and if he continues to struggle, he’ll watch the weekend from his couch. He’ll have to keep the driver in the fairway as well… I think I’m talking myself out of even thinking about rostering him.
- Tyrrell Hatton – He hasn’t played here before but Hatton has been white hot overseas. He’s a GIR machine and first-timers who can hit greens have fared well at PGA National. If Berger doesn’t tickle you, Hatton makes for a suitable replacement. Top 25 isn’t unrealistic.
- Russell Henley – The 2014 champ missed the cut last year, but posted a 13th-place finish in his debut and followed the win with a 44th. He has two top-20s this year, and anytime a par-70, Bermuda greens course presents itself, Henley is in the mix. He seems to be this week’s “better DFS than Yahoo! play” but the contrarian in me loves this as a ‘C’ wager.
- Thomas Pieters – TP is the wildcard… He’ll need to be accurate with the driver this week, but if you are going to miss the fairway, it might as well be following a 350-yard drive. This is his first run at PGA National, so it’s unlikely he’ll win, but a MC would be surprising.
- Rafa Cabrera Bello – His European form has been incredible, and his skill set seems to fit PGA National like a glove. This is his first run through the Honda, otherwise he’d be an automatic play. Most American fantasy players aren’t yet aware of his talent, so if you want to push some chips in on a guy who could win the tournament, RCB is your guy.
There are plenty of other ‘C’ players who could be rostered, but with a lead group of Garcia, Berger, Hatton, Henley, and RCB, there’s no reason to deviate.
My Yahoo! fantasy golf lineup
(* - denotes first round starter)
- A – Adam Scott* and Rickie Fowler
- B – Russell Knox*, Paul Casey*, Justin Thomas and Kevin Kisner
- C – Sergio Garcia* and Daniel Berger
The ‘B’ group scares me yet again, but I can’t see Knox failing at two ball-striking tournaments in a row. Casey is my pick to win, and because I’ve slacked on gut plays in the past few weeks, I’ll take three – Gary Woodland, Rafa Cabrera Bello and Russell Henley. Florida’s first event likely won’t be decided on the greens, so whomever is striking the rock the best will dance come Sunday.
There won’t be much scoring this weekend, so if the top-tier can avoid big numbers, the leaderboard will be packed tightly for the final round. Hit me up at @commishjoe on Twitter for questions and last-minute changes. Good luck!