Harbour Town Golf Links proved a worthy host yet again, as PGA professionals scratched and clawed their way around the course with nobody running away from the field. The lead changed hands many times on Sunday, and rookie Wesley Bryan ended the day on top, shooting a final-round 67. His 13-under score bested annual bridesmaid Luke Donald by one shot, and Bryan finished two strokes ahead of Patrick Cantlay, Ollie Schniederjans and William McGirt. Bryan became the third rookie to win on tour this season (Mackenzie Hughes and Cody Gribble) and earned himself a Tour card through 2019. Not bad for four days of work…
So how did my computer team do?
2017 RBC Heritage recap
Yahoo! Tournament Points – 136; Yahoo! Segment Points/Ranking – 463/3,681th; Yahoo! Season Points/Ranking – 2,326/99th Overall
The week was nearly a Titanic-like disaster. I had horrible luck with my starting lineup all weekend, as I missed Hadwin’s 66 on Friday, Kisner’s 66 on Saturday and Kuchar’s no-pressure 64 (I’ve eluded to this theory many times) on Sunday. Based on who I would have benched to insert those fellas, I left 34 points on the bench, and that’s just in the ‘B’ group. Bill Haas cost me a ton of points, primarily because I faded Luke Donald at the last minute to add Billy Boy to the mix. I just don’t trust Donald. I paid handsomely for that.
I’m still (barely) in the top-100 overall, so I didn’t get blown out completely, but this is two weeks running where I’ve gone against my gut and suffered as a result. I have a big gut. I should trust it.
What else worked? What didn’t?
Fairway: Four of my eight rostered golfers finished T11, but I earned no bonus points. Kevin Kisner was my enthusiastic pick to win, but he suffered through five three-putts on Thursday. Kis actually held a share of the lead on Sunday, but played the final 12 holes in five over par to fall out of the top-10. Fading Jim Furyk and Charley Hoffman proved to be fruitful. I had Wesley Bryan listed as a “deep gut play” but didn’t use him in any format. I hope you did.
Rough: There isn’t enough room here to list all of my bombs. Several players who I faded had excellent weeks. Haas destroyed my whole strategy with a MC. None of my players earned bonus points, and like I mentioned earlier, I was on the wrong end of the starting lineup almost every day. Fortunately, a few good rounds kept me afloat.
I’ll gladly leave the RBC Heritage in the rear-view mirror and head to Texas – the Valero Texas Open is here!
2017 Valero Texas Open Yahoo! fantasy golf picks
- Luke Donald (10) – Fool me once, shame on Luke. I’ll take the chance he doesn’t fool me twice. His 13th-place finish in his maiden voyage at the VTO last year doesn’t sway me. His statistics don’t seem to fit, but his whole season has been subpar (not literally) until last week. With Branden and Brendan available, I’ll fade Donald again. Buckle your seatbelts if you run with him.
- Branden Grace (9) – Converging trend alert… I wasn’t nice to him last week in my preview, but he posted a T11 like everyone else, and I ended up starting him three days. His three trips to the VTO resulted in MDF-30-9 and he played the weekend five under par, so he has some momentum on his side. The ‘A’ group is thin, like usual, so Grace is a perfectly legitimate option. Probably.
- Graeme McDowell (10) – He is 5-5 on Tour this year, but his only appearance here resulted in a WD, and he hasn’t exactly been lighting the world on fire in those five weekends. Pass.
- Patrick Reed (9) – Hard to believe I have nine starts left on Reed, but that shows how bad he’s been. Reed hasn’t posted a top-20 since the CareerBuilder Challenge 12 weeks ago. His stats look ugly, but they look ugly everywhere this season. He was runner-up last year to Charley Hoffman, but his game was in a different place. Does he just need some home-cookin’ to get back on track? Proceed with caution.
- Brendan Steele (8) – Steele has been solid lately, but is overdue for a scoreboard-threatening, career-defining win. Since his victory as a rookie at the 2011 VTO, he has one win and has never finished top-10 at a major. He’s an elite ball-striker, and anyone who can keep the ball in play only needs a hot putter for the week to win. Steele is familiar with the Bermuda greens and has hit the top-15 three times since his win in 2011. Fire him up and look for a top-5 finish. It all lines up.
- Kevin Chappell (10) – Form is trending positively, including a T7 at Augusta. Three top-15s in six attempts at the VTO is solid, and he finished T4 last year with a final-round 68. Statistically, he doesn’t tickle me, and I have four other ‘B’ players I like better, but if you are looking for a contrarian play, Chaps is a great gamble.
- Adam Hadwin (8) – Nothing to worry about here. The Canadian star is 9-9 this season with a win and two other top-10s. He ranks top-20 in SG:App and Birdie or Better (BOB) Percentage. Hadwin missed the cut in his only attempt here, but that was two years ago and his game has improved greatly. Stats fit, form fits, starts are plentiful. Light him up!
- Charley Hoffman (10) – Following a Masters letdown, fading Hoffman was a tough move to make last week. It paid off, as he MC… which doesn’t bother me as he heads to Texas to defend his VTO title. Since the event moved to TPC San Antonio, his finishes have been 13-2-13-3-11-11-WIN. Let’s not overthink this. Check the wind with regard to starting lineups, but the Hoff is a must.
- Matt Kuchar (8) – Kooch is frustrating. After playing the first three rounds one under par last week, he shows up with a Snedeker-like useless Sunday round of 64 and a backdoor T11. If you were patient and kept running him out there in Yahoo!, you were rewarded. I wasn’t, and I wasn’t. 13-22-4-15-42 over the last five versions of the VTO isn’t exactly getting me excited. It would be easy to fade Kuchar and know that he isn’t going to win, but I’ll check the tee times and wind conditions late Wednesday and make a decision. Yuck.
- Danny Lee (10) – I won’t roster Lee. Let me get that out of the way. But, you could do worse. He’s made five straight cuts after getting lost in MC Land for some time. The numbers work here - kind of. He’s had no success in three tries at the VTO, so there is no reason to use him whatsoever. I don’t even want to risk a ‘gut play’ designation here, but there’s something that catches my eye… just not sure what. Take that for what it’s worth.
- Ryan Moore (8) – Nothing worse than T34 in his last five starts and an eighth-place finish in 2012, his only trip to the VTO… is that enough to excite me? Not really, but I love the statistical fit. Bombers have done well here in the past, and Moore isn’t one, but he’ll keep it in the fairway and get to the green; ranks of 21st in driving accuracy and 14th in GIR play to this course well. His final round average of nearly 72 is a bit worrisome… can he close if he finds himself on top come Sunday? I’d fire him up out of the gate if the weather looks good.
- Daniel Summerhays (10) – He has no top-20 finishes since the Waste Management Phoenix Open, which means all of his stats are bad, but the course history reminds me of… well… Luke Donald last week. In six trips to the VTO, Summerhays has posted MC-29-7-2-4-13. Sick. I have absolutely no clue what to do here, so I’ll fade him in Yahoo! and probably use him in DFS lineups if the price is right.
- Jimmy Walker (9) – Save for an MDF at the Houston Open, Walker has been in good form, posting 11-21-25-39-MDF-18 in his last six starts. The VTO is a home game for him, and he’s performed from time-to-time; results of 3-MC-MC-31-16-WIN-MC are a bit confusing. He’s still long off the tee and his approach shots have improved as the season has progressed, so I expect the San Antonio native to be in the hunt. Of course, he could flake out and MC again. Ya just never know…
Preface: The ‘C’ group is loaded with exciting mediocrity this week. There are eight different players who could win out of this group, or they could all MC, so go with your gut and don’t look back!
- Keegan Bradley (10) – Keegs has made four cuts in a row, and is 2-2 at the VTO, finishing 9th in 2011 and 37th last year. What gets me going is his statistical fit; good driving distance, solid approach stats, above average par-4 play. He hasn’t won a tournament in nearly five years, but Bradley is only 30 years old and has plenty of time to forge out a very good career. Why not start this week?
- Tony Finau (8) – This should be an easy call, but Finau makes it tough on me every time he tees it up. He’s 7-9 this season with three top-10s, but the inconsistency has been maddening. All of his weekends in 2017 have cashed with top-34 or better. He strikes the ball exceptionally well, but always seems to get in his own way on the dance floor. The stats are a great match, and he’s at least played here once, albeit unsuccessfully in 2015. Don’t say I didn’t warn you...
- Billy Horschel (10) – Billy Ho doesn’t have much in the way of form lately, and his MC last week was no surprise as his wife delivered their second child. That said, he loves this tournament, as evidenced by his three top-4 finishes in the last four years. When a new baby is involved, you throw everything else out the window. Provided there are no complications, I’m expecting Horschel to be near the top again, and he could bring the trophy home for the new baby!
- Brooks Koepka (9) – He played great at the Match Play and parlayed that into a T11 at the Masters. Koepka is as talented as anyone on the course this weekend, and even though his season has been disappointing, he’s filthy long and can post birdies in bunches. Shows up on the heels of 36-MC in his only two loops around TPC San Antonio, but I don’t care. I think he’s in the hunt on Sunday.
- Martin Laird (9) – If we had a time machine available, Laird would be a solid pick. He won this tournament in 2013 and finished ninth in 2011, but has had no success since. On a micro scale, Laird posted three top-10s in his first five tournaments of 2017, but has been a bust lately. The booming Scot actually has a nice statistical fit, so I won’t chide you if you gamble with him, but I’m looking elsewhere.
- Luke List (9) – List was on a nice roll until a MC last week. He’s played here twice and seen both weekends. Third on the Tour in driving distance, List has a chance to fly under the radar and put up a special week. He’s another solid gut play this week who won’t be on my roster.
- Ryan Palmer (10) – The native Texan has missed five of eight cuts on Tour this season, but warmed up for a home match with a T11 last week at the RBC Heritage. Course history is phenomenal, with results of 9-MC-32-15-56-6-4 since the move to San Antonio. It would be an upset if he doesn’t hit the top-20 this week, and with his driving distance and approach prowess, this could be his week to shine.
- Ian Poulter (10) – He needs about $31,000 in earnings to keep his tour card. We’ve never seen him do anything under pressure, right? I’m betting on him finishing top-30, but nothing more. He finished 37th here in 2013, but hasn’t been back. Doesn’t hit the ball long enough to hang with the big boys. Fade.
- Ollie Schniderjans (10) – Why not? He’s 8-10 this season with three top-10s and he looked great last week en route to a T3. Ollie hits the ball hard and his approach game is solid. He hasn’t been consistent enough to fully trust, but his goods have been really good. He’ll be my gut play of the week, even though I won’t call his name in Yahoo!
- J.J. Spaun (10) – Many like his form, and with three top-10s since the calendar flipped, they have a right. He finished T6 last week in his first tour at the RBC Heritage, and is again playing the VTO for the first time. He isn’t super long or hyper-accurate, his approach game isn’t elite, and he doesn’t show huge stats with the putter. I’m fading him across the board this week.
My Yahoo! Roster
*denotes First Round Starter
- A – Brendan Steele* and Branden Grace
- B – Ryan Moore*, Charley Hoffman*, Jimmy Walker, and Matt Kuchar
- C – Ryan Palmer* and Billy Horschel
I could take eight ‘C’ guys this week and be just as happy. Check the wind and other weather conditions before making your decision, and visit me on Twitter @commishjoe for last minute changes and thoughts.
As for the tournament selections, I’ll run with Ryan Palmer for the win. I’m expecting names like Schniederjans, List and Koepka to pepper the Sunday leaderboard.
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 spent that on a fantasy football magazine last year and your team finished seventh! Good luck!