Back in the saddle. Much has happened since we last met. Marc Leishman scored his first PGA victory in five years by taking down the field at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Dustin Johnson bulldozed the best players in the world in an undefeated romp to win the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play. D.A. Points reigned supreme at the Puerto Rico Open. What does all this mean? Not sure, but it was nice to have a week off!
If you missed my article last week, I engaged in a Yahoo! brain dump of strategy and thoughts, both micro and macro. Yahoo! Fantasy Golf is a funky game, and while luck plays a big part, there are certain strategic moves which will put you in position to be luckier than your opponents. Bookmark the article and use it as a guide throughout the season.
Let’s talk fake golf!
2017 Arnold Palmer Invitational recap
Yahoo! Tournament Points – 116; Yahoo! Season Points – 1,863; Yahoo! Ranking – 177th Overall (99th Percentile)
I preached chalk to finish off opponents in the last week of a segment, so that’s what I ran with, and it almost cost me a bunch of cash. My slump traveled to Bay Hill, where I watched most of my team fail to contend and somehow willed Henrik Stenson to miss the cut. Six of my eight on the roster played the weekend, but only Rory McIlroy hit the top-13 and I lost more than 100 spots on the overall Yahoo! leaderboard.
What’s the silver lining? I won the segment in all three of my leagues. One of the leagues plays a head-to-head tournament, and I was eliminated in the semi-finals. I still have a chance at the consolation cash this week, but I’m already looking toward the Spring Segment as a chance to start fresh!
The Shell Houston Open jumps into the spotlight this week as a tune-up for the Masters! Bring it on!
2017 Shell Houston Open Yahoo! fantasy golf picks
We have entered the Spring Segment of the Yahoo! game, which includes the Masters, the Players Championship and the U.S. Open, among other star-studded events. At more than 7,400 yards, Golf Club of Houston will be a solid pre-Masters test, especially if the wind is howling. Make sure to check the weather forecast Wednesday night or early Thursday morning.
The winner in each of the last five years has finished either 15 or 16 under par, and the cut line has fluctuated between even par and four under. If you are confident in your players, run them out there if they play poorly during round one.
- Rickie Fowler – He seems to have jumped out of the flake car (see previous articles for explanation) at full speed, having posted consistent results of 4-1-16-12 his last four times out. Two top-10s in his last three SHOs and an elite approach game has me anointing him the favorite to take home the hardware this week. Start with confidence and expect a podium finish.
- Patrick Reed – His game looks completely broken right now, but send a Texan to Texas and anything can happen. MC-17-10 in his last three turns here is a positive trend, but I see no need to roster him ahead of Fowler or Scott. If this was the last week of the segment and you were chasing, you could do worse. It’s the first week of the segment. Ignore him.
- Adam Scott – The Aussie is the only other option of note in the ‘A’ group. He hasn’t played here since 2010, but the 2007 champ has top class, and any course which tries to emulate Augusta is a good fit for Scott. He withdrew in his title defense in 2008 after falling ill, but that was so long ago that nobody cares. Sorry for making you read that. Roster Scott and ride Fowler all weekend.
- Lucas Glover – He has had no success whatsoever at the SHO, but his course fit is solid and he’s playing magnificently lately. His last six tournament show at 41-33-36-21-18-7, but Glover has only made the cut in two of his last five trips to Houston with nothing better than a 57th-place finish. I’ll throw him in the mix as a gut play but not a roster-filler.
- Charley Hoffman – This one is simple. He’s 10-10 here with an average finish of 31. Long hair, short hair… makes no difference in Houston. One of those ten went for a top-10 finish, so he likely won’t win. He nearly won twice in his last three times out, so there is no shame in burning a start so you have someone to play the weekend.
- Charles Howell III – Here’s another Tour stop where Charlie Three Sticks excels; three for his last four at the SHO and they’ve all been top-10s. His form has cooled, but he survived his pool at the Match Play and he seems to love playing in Texas. The SHO will be five tournaments in six weeks, so the fatigue factor might set in, but he’s worth a flyer this week.
- Matt Kuchar – Kooch has settled in as the guy who will play most weekends and never win. He has just seven PGA Tour victories, and hasn’t won a tournament in three years. That said, he lost in a playoff here in 2014 and also hit the top-10 in 2010 and 2011. Roster with cautious optimism.
- Phil Mickelson – Knowing Lefty, this is the type of week where he tinkers and tweaks and tries different shots and clubs to get ready for Augusta. The bizarre fact is that hasn’t hurt him here. He’s in top form, and since winning the SHO in 2011, Phil has finished 4-16-12-17-13. I’d be skeptical if he had to play 36 holes on Sunday at the Match Play, but he was eliminated on Saturday. Oddly enough, I haven’t used a single Phil start this year. That changes this week.
- Justin Rose – His talent is undeniable and his form is always solid, but Rose has shown up in Houston just once in the last six years and finished 37th during that visit in 2015. He crushes par 5s, and he can make birdies in bunches, so he’s worth the roster spot. I’m hoping I don’t have to use him, as I’m down to six starts on the brilliant Brit.
- Jordan Spieth – Didn’t fire last week at the Match Play, but nobody is worried. Spieth is 3-4 at this event with one top-10. If he uses it as a warm-up for the Masters and works on his game rather than tries to win, a la Phil, he will disappoint fantasy owners. I have only six starts left, and I don’t feel the need to roster him this week. If he wins, I’ll congratulate him and accept my drop in ranking. Anything short of victory and I’ll be vindicated.
- Jimmy Walker – Not sure what to think here. His form has become Kuchar-esque and his length would seem to fit here. Take a deep dive and see that he’s been miserable on par-fives this year, which makes little sense. He has made the cut here six straight times, but last year’s 19th-place finish was his best effort. Pass.
- Daniel Berger – I like this play, but not enough to roster him. He posted 25-5 in his only two starts here, and the course seems to fit his skill set. Recent history has been extremely choppy, so despite the SHO success, I’ll pass this weekend.
- Rafa Cabrera-Bello – Spanish Kuchar. Plays just about every weekend and never wins. He finished fourth here in his debut last season, but the stats don’t show a great fit. With a deep ‘C’ group, I don’t need him. Take me back one more time, Spanish Kuchar.
- Tony Finau – I’m taking a huge risk here and firing up Finau. Course history is blah, and he’s been up and down this year. Why the love? He’s an elite ball-striker and his monster distance means shorter irons into these greens. He’ll have to make a few putts, but I think a top-10 is in the cards and he could make a push for the trophy.
- Russell Henley – Good statistical fit, good form, excellent course history. Henley is 4-4 at the SHO with finishes of 45-7-4-5. He’s a par-5 smasher, and his approach game has improved dramatically. If the Texas wedge is kind to him, Henley should be in the mix again. He’s the perfect contrarian play to Rahm/Stenson/Holmes.
- J.B. Holmes – A shoulder injury kept Holmes from defending his 2015 SHO title, so he’ll be poised to post another good showing. Two other top-10 finishes shows his accepting eye for the course. Any masher on this course has a chance, and he certainly qualifies. I haven’t seen enough in his recent form to roster Holmes, but I won’t hate if you do.
- Billy Horschel – Don’t do it. Don’t get sucked in. I know, I know… he has a great approach game and he finished second in his 2013 trip here. I don’t care. Run away quickly.
- Jon Rahm – That Match Play exhibition had to take a lot out of him. Rahm cemented his place with the best players in the world last week, but at a cost of seven rounds in five days. I know he’s young and powerful, but that has to catch up to him. Right? He’s too hot to bench, but I’m doing it anyway. If he wins this week, then I’ll suffer the consequences. Stay tuned to my Twitter account @commishjoe in case I change my mind.
- Henrik Stenson – I was floored when he missed the cut at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, where he was my pick to win. Something isn’t right with Stenson, and even though his record here includes three podium visits in five trips, I’ll bank on him working on his game in preparation for Augusta. I can’t believe I’m breaking up with him, but Stenson is a fade this week.
My Yahoo! fantasy golf lineup
(* - denotes first round starter)
- A – Rickie Fowler* and Adam Scott
- B – Phil Mickelson*, Charles Howell III*, Justin Rose, and Matt Kuchar
- C – Tony Finau* and Russell Henley
I have no idea what to think this week. The ‘A’ group couldn’t be more obvious, and ‘B’ is fairly simple too. Starts get in the way, so I’m leaving Spieth out knowing I’ll use him next week at Augusta. My ‘C’ group scares me, and I’m not yet convinced that benching Rahm is the right move. I also never trust Russell Henley, so taking a dive with him and Finau in ‘C’ will have me sweating… unless I change my mind!
Hit me up at @commishjoe on Twitter with questions, comments or emotional outbursts. Follow along for last-minute changes. If you aren’t a GNN Plus member, sign up today! $10 for the year! You spend that on two craft beers! Good luck!