Nobody knew what to expect when the Wells Fargo Championship temporarily relocated to Eagle Point Golf Club so that Quail Hollow could prepare for the 2017 PGA Championship. What the players, real and fantasy, found was that solid tee-to-green performance was necessary, as usual. Putting statistics didn’t stand out good or bad, except for Brian Harman’s 28-footer on 18 to win the title, and first-round leader Francesco Molinari’s inability to hit a putt inside nine feet. He missed 16 of those. 16. Not that I needed him in all of my fantasy formats… I’m not bitter…
Harman posted a 68 on Sunday to break up a likely playoff, which would have included Dustin Johnson and Pat Perez, who finished one shot behind Harman’s 10 under par total. Johnson carved out low round of the day on Saturday and Sunday to overcome making the cut on the number. Jon Rahm continued his incredible season by finishing solo fourth, two shots in back of Harman.
So how did my electronic team do two weeks ago? Miserable…
2017 Wells Fargo Championship Recap
Yahoo! Tournament Points – 218; Yahoo! Segment Points/Ranking – 811/3,011th; Yahoo! Season Points/Ranking – 2,674/136th Overall
In honor of the Kentucky Derby last Saturday, I’ll recap the Wells Fargo Championship accordingly.
- Harman – Good position early, four wide into Sunday, late rally, closed with a rush.
- Johnson – Stumbled, steadied sharply, closed gap, dueled Rahm, second best.
- Perez – Unhurried early, well placed, erratic Sunday, finished well.
- Rahm – Away alertly, hustled along, dueled Johnson, outfinished.
- Kaufman – Slow early, allowed to settle, mild bid, closed fast.
- Molinari – Broke sharply, set pace, broken equipment (putter), faded.
Fairway – Most of the players I liked fared well, and those I faded generally played poorly. That’s the point, right? Fading Wesley Bryan was the right move, as was staring DJ, even though he didn’t win.
Rough – I knew I should never trust Webb Simpson, and his MC along with Kisner’s bad run left me with just two ‘B’ players for the weekend.
We thank Eagle Point for being gracious hosts and we head to the season’s fake major – THE PLAYERS Championship!
2017 The Players Championship Yahoo! fantasy golf picks
Since nearly all of the top-50 players in the world are in the field, everyone is chalk. That said, finding the golfers with the fewest drawbacks is key, as certain stars don’t fit the course, despite their lofty OWGR. Don’t be afraid to fade superstars, as there are more superstars waiting for your admiration.
- Jason Day (8) – Nobody questions his talent. His health and mindset? Different story. Class is class, but Day hasn’t found a top-20 since Pebble Beach 12 weeks ago. The defending champion has posted MC-6-MC-19-MC-WIN at THE PLAYERS. On that trend, he’ll miss the cut this week. Day isn’t consistent enough for me to consider this week, as he’s the ‘A’ chalk most likely to MC or WD. The story is there, so don’t be surprised if he bucks my preview and wins anyway.
- Luke Donald (10) – He loves Pete Dye tracks. This is a Pete Dye track. Don’t do it.
- Rickie Fowler (6) – The ultimate boom-or-bust pick. Seriously. His seven trips to THE PLAYERS have resulted in MC-MC-2-MC-MDF-WIN-MC. That’s the most ridiculous line I’ve seen. Rickie missed the cut at the Zurich Classic but was throwing fastballs prior to that quirky event. His tee-to-green game is elite, and he can obviously turn it on here when on point. One of a handful of ‘A’ players who could win. I’m buying.
- Branden Grace (8) – He’s 3-3 here with all three finishes sitting between 42nd and 57th. Will he make the cut? Probably. Do you want him on your team? Probably not.
- Dustin Johnson (6) – The best player in the world just doesn’t perform well here. He has seen the weekend six times in eight tries, but has never finished top-25. Let that sink in. His elite approach game might be neutralized by his inability to keep the ball in the fairway, and Stadium penalizes errant tee shots more than most. Given the history, I’m fading DJ this week across the board.
- Marc Leishman (10) – The statistics don’t work at all, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Leishman have a nice weekend. He has made the cut in his last five trips here, which includes three top-25 finishes. Leish has cooled since winning the Arnold Palmer Invitational, but he clearly likes this course. Top-30 is not out of the question, but I don’t need him in Yahoo! this weekend.
- Graeme McDowell (10) – GMac is 7-7 on the PGA Tour this season, and he loves Florida courses. He has seen the weekend in six of his last eight trips to Sawgrass, but only one went for a top-25. He finds a lot of fairways, but his approach game has been off this year. You can do better.
- Rory McIlroy (8) – Finishes of 8-6-8-12 in the last four years excite me. 7-4-7 in three PGA Tour starts this year excite me. Cheeseburgers excite me. Everything works here… but I’m just not sure how much I like Rors rolling out his new deal with TaylorMade, and new golf balls to go with it, right before this tournament. How long will it take him to get comfortable? Without that curveball, he was my favorite to win. Now? I’m not so sure… but I’m all in anyway because everyone else has minor issues.
- Louis Oosthuizen (10) – He’s a classy player, but so is everyone else, and most of them are a better statistical fit than LO. He’s 3-6 here with no threat to the leaders ever, so while I think he’ll see the weekend, I’ll pass.
- Patrick Reed (9) – Looked solid last week before fading Sunday to a T12. MC in two of three tours here. Pass.
- Brendan Steele (7) – Disappointing trend lately combined with only two of six cuts made here adds up to an easy fade.
- Paul Casey (6) – His form is fantastic and he boasts a top-20 SG:Approach ranking, but Casey never plays well here. He has seen the weekend in just two of his nine attempts. That’s a pattern… a bad pattern.
- Kevin Chappell (10) – Could be a popular pick because of recent form and course history. Dig a little deeper… Before last year’s runner-up at THE PLAYERS, he was 3-5 with no top-25s. He can’t hit fairways consistently, and his approach game – though better lately – leaves something to be desired. I’m fading Chappell, and the last time I did that, he won. Your call.
- Adam Hadwin (8) – Here’s the name nobody is talking about. MC-39 in his first two trips to Ponte Vedra Beach, but his stats seem to fit well. The only concern is his driving accuracy, which sits 70th. Approach game? Solid. Par-3 performance? Elite. Form? Solid. This is a sleeper, and I won’t have him on my roster, but I warned you.
- Kevin Kisner (8) – Kis missed the cut here last year, but finished runner-up in his 2015 debut. He caught the wrong end of the weather last week and MC at the Wells Fargo, but the stats here are a match made in Augusta. He stays in the fairway, his approach shots are magic, and if he can make a putt, he’ll contend. I’m jumping on this week and I expect a top-20. Bring it!
- Matt Kuchar (7) – The 2012 Champion finished third last season, and has three other top-25 posts in the last nine years. His form lately is what it has seemed to settle in as – he’ll make the cut, but you won’t see his name on the lower right of your TV screen on Sunday. If you want solid, go for it. I want to win.
- Hideki Matsuyama (5) – I’m down to five starts, but I’ll burn one here on a guy who is 3-3 here and trending nicely; finishes of 23-17-7 make for a solid pick. Oddly enough, he isn’t a great statistical match, but I’ll ride the classy horse who plays the course well. Plus, one of my readers, Jonathan LaCour, likes him, and he’s straight fire this year! Load it up!
- Phil Mickelson (9) – His form is excellent, but he hasn’t made a cut at THE PLAYERS since 2012, and hasn’t hit the top-10 since 2007. I’ll pass.
- Francesco Molinari (9) – Molinari struck the ball beautifully all weekend, but had an all-time bad putting performance, missing 16 putts inside nine feet. He should be in the mix again this week, as all he does is hit fairways and stick irons. Three top-10s in six trips, with MC the other three loops. His putter can’t be as bad as last week… right? RIGHT?
- Ryan Moore (7) – He has had no success here at all, but I can’t ignore a guy who ranks 20th in driving accuracy and 16th in SG:Approach. I won’t roster him, but a top-30 seems about right.
- Justin Rose (5) – Since 2005, he’s just 5-11 here with one top-10. I’ll happily save starts for better fits down the road.
- Jordan Spieth (5) – Like Rose, I thought about saving a start with Spieth, who has gone 4-MC-MC in three starts here. Jordan can’t keep the driver in the short grass, and that kills him here every year. Approach game is among the elite, but it will be tougher from the rough. I have a feeling he could sneak a top-5 in, so I will have him on the end of the bench in case he runs out to a lead. GUT ALERT!
- Justin Thomas (7) – This is his favorite event, as evidenced by 24-3 posts in his two trips. He’s hoping to regain his January form, and while his driving accuracy is off-the-charts bad, it doesn’t seem to bother him here. 13th on Tour in SG:Approach, and that’s where it’s at this week. I’ll ride that trend… I think Thomas has a great chance to win.
- Jimmy Walker (8) – Another version of Kuchar… he has had some success here with two top-15s in the last four years, but MC the past two editions. He’s in solid form, but I don’t need to take the chance that he’ll MC again. Pass.
- Wesley Bryan (10) – I played the fade last week because of his driving accuracy stats, and I’m doing the same this week. No course on Tour seems to penalize you more for missing the short grass. I think he’ll be a great player on Tour for a long time, but this week isn’t for him.
- Daniel Berger (8) – Florida guy, good form, good stats, finished 9th last year here. Blah blah blah. I can’t trust him. Pass.
- Jason Dufner (9) – He’s in incredible form, with six of his last eight tournaments going for top-25s. Driving accuracy is there, but past success isn’t – just one top-30 in eight tries. He should make the cut, but I need more.
- Sergio Garcia (7) – Nobody other than Tiger has won the Masters and THE PLAYERS in the same year – that stat courtesy of my loyal reader, Jonathan LaCour. Sergio might be the guy to break that trend, as he already has mind-blowing success here. Like everyone else, the question is who to roster opposite Rahm, and Sergio is the answer. Form is great. Attitude is great. History is great. If he MC this week, I’ll buy LaCour a membership to thegolfnewsnet.com!
- Emiiliano Grillo (10) – I’m really tempted to endorse Grillo, but the killer attitude and weekly leaderboard threats have been temporarily misplaced. He hits fairways, then he hits greens, then it’s an adventure. Total longshot, but I’ll call a top-50 and nothing else.
- Brian Harman (10) – Last week’s champ has had three great tournaments in a row. Will that continue? Probably not… but if you’re a “hot hand” person, go for it. He finished eighth here two years ago. Maybe that will help.
- Tyrrell Hatton (10) – Hatton was the hottest player on the planet not long ago, but this is his maiden voyage at THE PLAYERS. Stats are beautiful – 14th in SG:Approach, hits enough fairways, and averages just over 23 putts per round. I’d like to see him gain experience here before I trust him, but the numbers line up pretty well for a top-30 finish.
- Russell Henley (8) – He’s just 2-4 here, but the finishes were both in the top-25. Plays par-3s well, gets to the hole easily, even hits some fairways. It’s all there. He’s in the best form of his career, so no anger if you take him for a ride this weekend.
- J.B. Holmes (9) – Some success at the THE PLAYERS with four top-20s years ago, but MC in three of his last four. He simply can’t hit a fairway. Fade.
- Martin Kaymer (10) – I absolutely love Kaymer. He’s a classy player who is still somehow underrated. He makes the cut here every year. He’s above-average looking. Yes, his 2014 win was his only top-10 here, but his approach stats are sub-par even though he ranks eighth in driving accuracy. If we had three ‘C’ roster spots, Kaymer would be there. As we don’t, he’s on the outside looking in for me.
- Brooks Koepka (9) – This pick doesn’t make a lot of sense, but he’s straight fire lately – last four tournaments show 9-11-2-5. MC-35 in two runs here isn’t inspiring, but he’s hot lately. Still can’t hit a fairway with his 700-yard drives, but he’s scorching recently. Get the point? If you like form and nothing else, he’s your guy. I’ll pass this week.
- Pat Perez (9) – He got Harmaned last week, otherwise he had a legit chance at besting DJ for a victory. Perez has had a magnificent bounce-back season, but hasn’t loved THE PLAYERS in the past. Not a terribly accurate driver, and not an elite approach player, and you need one of those. I’ll fade, but I’m cheering for his success to continue.
- Jon Rahm (7) – Nothing fazes him. Rahm is a special kind of animal where you throw everything out and ride the rocket to superstardom. This is his first visit to THE PLAYERS, but it’s his first visit everywhere, and he’s 8-8 with five top-10s this season. He’ll need to find the fairway or the first cut to unleash his incredible approach game. No reason to jump off now – full speed ahead!
- Charl Schwartzel (10) – Here’s a case of a guy with great form who hasn’t played in five weeks. His approach game is fantastic, but he can’t keep the driver straight. Not much success at THE PLAYERS is strike three. Yer’ Out!
- Lee Westwood (10) – Wild Card City. Three top-8 finishes in his last five trips here. Seems like all of his cuts are top-30s. He’s still among the best players in the world in big events. I won’t have him on my roster, but many will, and they might be rewarded.
My Yahoo! Roster
*denotes First Round Starter
- A – Rory McIlroy and Rickie Fowler
- B – Hideki Matsuyama, Kevin Kisner, Justin Thomas, and Jordan Spieth
- C – Sergio Garcia and Jon Rahm
I didn’t list starters this week because I’ll decide last-minute. Watch my Twitter account if you care who I’m starting. I also might sub out a few of my fence-sitting picks, like Spieth and Rickie.
Like I said, any of the chalky players could rise to the top, but my job is to find reasons to not choose them. That doesn’t mean you won’t discover a purpose for them on your squad. Use me as a jumping-off point. Not me, literally… although I am a large person and can handle it.
I’ll take Rory and Hideki to battle it out at the end, with Rory coming out on top, even with the new ball in his bag. Many others could ascend, but these two are the best of the best, and most everything lines up. With that said, congrats to Martin Kaymer in advance on his victory.
I really appreciate all the comments on Twitter and by email – as I mentioned in the preview, if Sergio missed the cut, Jonathan LaCour gets a free membership to the site on me. Keep reading the previews… you never know when your name will be in lights! (or ink…)
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 three golf balls with your favorite team’s logo on them! The balls were terrible and you lost them anyway! Good luck!