With subtle changes in course come big changes in leaderboard…
After the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass underwent a bit of cosmetic surgery following last year’s The Players Championship, none of the experts believed it would cause a major shakeup. The best of the best still circle it on their calendar every year, and the results would end up typically chalky. Right?
Call it the wind, but the new layout rewarded those who were best around the green on Sunday, and the top of the leaderboard left the superstars looking for a dance partner. 21-year-old Si Woo Kim posted a 68-69 on the weekend to defeat Ian Poulter and Louis Oosthuizen by three shots. Rafa Cabrera Bello and Kyle Stanley tied for fourth, four shots off the lead.
Needless to say, very few Yahoo! players rostered any of the above-mentioned names, so the week proved to be low scoring and a bit melancholic.
So how did my computer team do? Meh.
2017 The Players Championship Recap
Yahoo! Tournament Points – 114; Yahoo! Segment Points/Ranking – 925/4,003rd; Yahoo! Season Points/Ranking – 2,788/185th Overall
Good news? Other than starting Jon Rahm (82) on Saturday instead of Sergio Garcia (62), I didn’t leave many points on the board. Bad news? My roster was bad, so it didn’t matter. Nobody on my squad pierced the top-20, and three golfers (Rahm, Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth) either MC or MDF. I didn’t burn a Spieth start, so no harm done. What else?
Fairway – Another boring week in the fairway column, although I faded some strong players and that worked out; none of Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson or Jason Day chased the leaders. DJ’s 68 on Sunday was nice, but he would have needed a 59 to win. Guys like Tyrrell Hatton, Branden Grace, Kevin Chappell, etc. performed about how I expected.
Rough – I had no shares at all of anyone in the top six other than Molinari. I certainly didn’t see Brendan Steele, Henrik Stenson or Brooks Koepka finishing as high as they did. Kevin Kisner never fired, and Spieth unceremoniously missed the cut. So much for my gut feeling…
The Players Championship is in the rearview mirror – off to Dallas to honor Byron Nelson!
2017 AT&T Byron Nelson Yahoo! fantasy golf picks
- Jason Day (8) – If I’m burning a start on DJ, I’m probably staying on him all weekend. That said, Day is one of the few other ‘A’ players who could win. Day scuffed his way to an 80 last Sunday to finish T60 at The Players, but he looked pretty good until then. He hasn’t played this tournament since 2013, but his four tours resulted in WIN-5-9-27, so he likes the course. He still has driver distance, and is a wizard around the greens. That plays in Texas. Roll on!
- J.B. Holmes (9) – Holmes is 8-9 this season on his own ball, but no top-10 finishes. He hasn’t played here since 2010 and it wasn’t pretty. Looked great last week until all of his missed fairways in his first three rounds caught up to him, and he exploded to a 84 on Sunday after holding the 54-hole lead. He’s a longshot at best this week.
- Dustin Johnson (6) – A career-best T12 at The Players shows what kind of form DJ has, and his 68 on Sunday means his tank isn’t empty. The only concern here is that he’ll be playing three straight weeks in a different state. Other than that, he should be the overwhelming favorite to win. His last six trips here have equaled 4-7-20-7-8-12. Burn a start and don’t turn around!
- Smylie Kaufman (10) – He hits the ball far. He has played well the last two weeks. He has never played here. That’s about all. Longshot.
- Marc Leishman (10) – Which Leishman will show up? If you are saving DJ starts, Leishman is a gamble, unless you play in an all-Aussie league and have to run him out there with Day. How’s this for course history – 8-12-MC-3-12-3-MC-MC? That’s worse than Rickie Fowler’s record at The Players. Leish MC last week; after birdies on the first three holes Friday, he carded eight bogeys. Only room for two in ‘A’, so I’ll fade.
- Louis Oosthuizen (10) – He had no good history at The Players going into last week, but finished T2 with a weekend 73-73. Now, he arrives in Dallas with past results of MC-WD-11-MC. If he’s as solid this week as last around the green, Oosty will contend. Falls victim to my love for DJ and Day, but he’d be in the on-deck circle.
- Patrick Reed (9) – Reed has turned around a bad recent trend with three consecutive top-25s, but I’m not sure how to feel about him this week. He has posted MC-MDF in 2012-13, but he was a newly-minted pro then. Reed should be at home on a Dallas track, but the Byron Nelson will mark his fifth straight week on the course, and eight out of nine. Is he too young to tire? So far, yes. Total wildcard – I’ll pencil him in for 25th place.
- Gary Woodland (9) – Woodland has solid results here, going 7-8 with three top-25s, and he’s a bomber, but his recent form is bad and I don’t need him this week. Wish he was a ‘B’ player…
Note – I strongly dislike this group. That’s all. Read on.
- Charley Hoffman (9) – Played the weekend under par to finish T30 last week, and has generally played well of late, with three top-10s and three other top-30s in his last nine events. History here is exceptional, including four top-10 finishes and a 12th-place post last year. Hoff isn’t as long as he used to be, but his game fits this course well, and I’ll take a chance that he earns another podium finish.
- Sung Kang (10) – Interesting play, here. He was superb tee-to-green last week, but when he missed the putting surface, Kang was a mess. He finished T34 here last year, and his form has been excellent, showing 49-2-11-6-MC-30 his last six tournaments. Top-25 seems about right… wouldn’t surprise me to see him contend.
- Matt Kuchar (7) – Since the tournament returned to using only one course, Kuchar has posted 42-39-6-15-33-7-39-3. Typical Kuchar line… no victories, and nothing outside the top-42. Kooch sits 168th on Tour in driving distance, but he knows his way around a green. Something clicks here for MK, and I’ll throw him in the mix this week in a weak field.
- Danny Lee (10) – Lee is 6-12 this season, but four of the six were top-22 finishes. His history here is similar; 4-5 with all finishes between 13th and 32nd. He makes a lot of birdies, so if he avoids big numbers, life is good. The resident of Irving, Texas could be another surprise top-15 golfer. Worth a shot…
- Ryan Moore (7) – Moore finished second here in 2008, but MC in his other three trips. He was in pretty good form before fading to T53 last week. Not long off the tee, not great when he’s around the green, and no great history. Three strikes. Will his class win out? I need two guys to make the weekend, and he probably will because he always does, but I’m not excited about using him.
- Brandt Snedeker (6) – After injuring a wrist tendon at the Masters, he posted a T11 at the RBC Heritage, and hasn’t played since. I’m never wild about a guy coming off injury, but there are so few solid options in ‘B’ this week that he might sneak onto my roster. MC-6-MC in three tries here isn’t enthralling. Yuck.
- Jordan Spieth (5) – Yikes. I dodged a bullet by not using him last week as he MC again at The Players. While he’s 6-6 here, Spieth has never found the top-15; he started 64-65-67 last year before a 74 on Sunday dropped him to T18. I’m sure he’ll turn it on at some point, but he just doesn’t look like Jordan Spieth this year. With five starts left, it’s worth me taking a deeper dive. He’s an automatic start next week at the Dean & DeLuca Invitational, where he defends his 2016 title, and he has performed well at the WGC-Bridgestone the last two seasons. You could skip a start at the Memorial, but there are three majors left, and you’ll likely want him for two of them. That doesn’t count the FedEx Cup Playoffs. In short (not really), he doesn’t have blazing hot results here like other tournaments, so leaving him home is a solid option if you are short on starts. I REALLY don’t want to use him this week, but this ‘B’ group stinks. Stay tuned…
- Hudson Swafford (10) – Excellent distance off the tee, but he’s a butcher around the greens. Trending in the right direction here, with finishes of MC-66-34, and he has two top-10 finishes recently. You don’t really need him this week (do you?), but you could do worse with a gamble.
Note – This is where Yahoo! leagues will be won or lost. ‘C’ is straight loaded this week, so look deep and go with your gut. Any of five or six of these guys could win. Good luck!
- Byeong-Hun An (9) – Same story, different week. He’s among the best ball-strikers on Tour, but he can’t get the flat stick rolling. Playing here for the first time, An should be in the mix. Enough to use him in Yahoo!? Nope.
- Bud Cauley (10) – He’s as hot as anyone on Tour, with finishes of 9-10-5 in his last three tournaments. Posted a T4 here last year after starting 64-65. If he misses greens, he takes fantasy players on a wild ride, but that hasn’t been much of a factor the last few weeks. Cauley will be one of the odd men out this weekend, but I love him in most formats.
- Graham DeLaet (9) – Total gut play here, though he won’t make the roster. This season, he either MC or goes for a top-25. Two top-10s in his last four years here is solid. Good distance, great ball-striker, horrid around the putting surface. Horrid. I’m hoping that doesn’t matter – calling GDL for a backdoor top-25.
- Jason Dufner (9) – Hard not to like the Duf-man lately. He didn’t fire last week, but his form has been impeccable lately, with five top-14s in his last eight starts before The Players. Dufner loves this track, too… 8-WIN-33-48-8-24 in his last six tours. I’m not going to use Dufner, but I’m expecting a top-20.
- Tony Finau (8) – No shock to see him MC last week, and I don’t care. Finished of 10-12 in his two trips here means the course fits his eye. Killer driving distance, incinerating par-four destruction, it’s all there. There is very little reason to believe he won’t win this week… just a matter of which two ‘C’ studs to roll with.
- Sergio Garcia (6) – What to do here? He blew up to a 78 last Sunday, and admitted he was nervous early in the week as he teed it up for the first time as Masters Champion. He’s the defending champion here, and that brings added responsibilities. He’s a beautiful numerical fit, but can he hold up mentally? I’d be surprised if he MC, but he isn’t an automatic start this week.
- Russell Henley (8) – Here’s another ‘C’ player who is easy to pick this week. He fired a second-round 68 last week but didn’t do much else… that said, other than an MC at the Zurich Classic, Henley has been fantastic of late. 22-MC in two trips to Dallas, but the stats line up beautifully – he hits the ball far and he murders par-fours. My ‘C’ choices might be fluid until Thursday morning, but Henley is near the top of the order.
- Brooks Koepka (9) – There are two extra par-fours this week, and that’s the only thing keeping me from proclaiming him the winner. Koepka sits 173rd on Tour (not a typo) in Par Four Scoring Average. Everything else aligns. MC-16-2 in his three trips here, and he set the 54-hole scoring record a year ago. 9-11-2-5-16 in his last five outings across the board. He’s eighth in driving distance and makes birdies in hordes. I’m betting the par-four average doesn’t keep him from the medal stand this weekend. Go ‘Noles!
- Ryan Palmer (9) – Suffered through a brutal four-putt on his final hole last Friday to miss the cut at The Players. Was hot coming in, finishing 11-6-4 in his previous three outings. This is a home game for Palmer, and he has shown up with three top-10s in the last six years. He’s another ‘C’ monster who could hit the podium, but I’ll leave him to the sharp gamblers this week.
- Charl Schwartzel (10) – Hadn’t played in five weeks, so last week’s MC wasn’t a huge surprise. Mixed bag of results here, with finishes of 3-11-MDF-58. I don’t like him enough to bump Sergio or Koepka, but he has enough distance to get in good position for an approach on shorter holes.
- Kevin Tway (10) – It’s a bit lazy to automatically fade a guy who has hit the top-5 in each of his last three tournaments, but here goes nothing. Tway flat out slaughters the golf ball, and that has served him well of late. He’ll need to find a way to get to the green, as his approach game hasn’t been great and he’s a rollercoaster around the greens. I don’t need to start him this week, and if he makes the cut, I’d be surprised to see him in the top-25.
2017 AT&T Byron Nelson Yahoo! Roster
*denotes First Round Starter
- A – Dustin Johnson* and Jason Day
- B – Charley Hoffman*, Matt Kuchar*, Sung Kang, and Danny Lee
- C – Brooks Koepka* and Tony Finau
I’ve never been angry at a group of players like I am with the ‘B’ group this week. Do I burn a Spieth start? Will Moore perform? Is Snedeker’s wrist healed? Sung Kang? This situation will be fluid, so check my Twitter for updates…
The ‘C’ group could shift, as well. Finau, Sergio, Koepka, Henley, and Dufner could all win this week. I’m not moving off of Koepka, but his cart partner could change. I’m going to dig deeper and see if I find gold.
DJ is the favorite, but it’s still hard to win on Tour, and nearly historic to win as much as he has. I’ll try to ride him for all four days, and hope I don’t need Jason Day.
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 new grip for your 60-degree wedge that you can’t hit anyway! Good luck!