A week early and a dollar short: That should be the name of my fantasy golf team.
Like most of you, I rostered and used Jason Dufner two weeks ago at the Dean & DeLuca Invitational, only to watch him miss the cut in an event where he was destined to succeed. Like at least some of you, I broke up with him that week, and swore him off in my preview last week. Not shockingly, he responded by claiming victory at The Memorial in stunning fashion; Duf’s third-round 77 erased his five shot lead at the 36-hole mark. 65-65-77-68 is a tough trick to pull off, but Dufner made the elephant disappear right in front of all of us.
Rickie Fowler and Anirban Lahiri finished three shots behind Dufner’s total of 275, with Justin Thomas and perennial Memorial powerhouse Matt Kuchar sitting four shots off the lead. Lahiri’s final-round 65 was three strokes better than anyone else on the course.
How did my digital duffers do last week? Miserable.
2017 Memorial Tournament recap
Yahoo! Tournament Points – 108; Yahoo! Segment Points/Ranking – 1,383/1,533th; Yahoo! Season Points/Ranking – 3,246/97th Overall
For as poorly as I performed, most everyone else must have done the same, as I only slipped 18 spots in the seasonal overall ranking. The most costly item last week was burning starts from Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth and Jon Rahm, only to have two of them miss the cut. I was able to save a Hideki Matsuyama start, and his T45 sadistically warmed my heart.
Fairway – Kuchar and Kisner both hit the top-10, and I had a full lineup for the weekend. The rest of my preview was rubbish.
Rough – I left Kuchar’s Saturday 67 and Adam Scott’s Friday 66 on my bench. I misfired on a bunch of players. I’ll blame my mid-week trip to Las Vegas for a rushed preview, but the truth is that everyone has a bad week. Dufner did two weeks ago. I did last week. Three words – Rear. View. Mirror. (Two words... I know... don’t Tweet me.) (I also know Pearl Jam’s song title was one word. Relax.)
Off to Memphis – the FedEx St. Jude Classic has arrived!
2017 FedEx St. Jude Classic Yahoo fantasy golf picks
- Rickie Fowler (5) – I loved Rickie last week and didn’t trust him. Now, I’m forced to, and I’m not that upset about it. Rickie’s only trip here was three years ago and resulted in a T13, so he’s at least mildly familiar with the track. His approach game is still on point, and he continues to score well on par fours, which is critical this weekend. Group ‘A’ is hot garbage after Fowler and Adam Scott, so don’t spend too much time thinking.
- Graeme McDowell (10) – He’s the only other ‘A’ player worth print, and that’s only because he’s 9-9 on the PGA Tour this season. His last four trips here have resulted in MC-24-MC-MC, and his problems this year have been with his approach shots. Pass.
- Adam Scott (7) – Scottie’s mildly disappointing T31 last week further accentuated his inability to string two solid finishes in a row together. The trend is good for this week, not so good for the U.S. Open. The Aussie hasn’t been here since 2007, when he finished seventh, well off the pace of champion Woody Austin. His stats are solid across the board, and, like Fowler, there is nobody else. Roster him and move to the ‘B’ group.
- Chad Campbell (10) – Why not? He has made two cuts in a row on Tour, with finishes of 13-34, and survived seven consecutive cuts here with two top-10 finishes. 38th on Tour in SG:Approach is solid... I’m seriously considering rolling the dice because this group is so bad. Pretty good DFS gamble, if nothing else.
- Kevin Chappell (10) – It’s hard to believe I haven’t used Chappell once this season, but that might change this weekend. He hasn’t popped since his win at the Valero Texas Open, and he sits 182nd on the Tour in par four scoring, so I’m not overly excited. However, ‘B’ is almost as thin as ‘A’, so Chaps provided a solid, unspectacular option. He finished T22 in his only start here two years ago. Tread lightly.
- Sung Kang (9) – He has had no success here in three tries, but his step up in class this season forces us to look deeper. Recent form has faded, and he shot 83 last Sunday to finish one spot above DFL. Before that, he was on a run of 2-11-6-30-20-57. The numbers check out – good par four player, solid approach game, hits some fairways. After Mickelson and Molinari, the other two spots are up in the air, and Kang isn’t a bad way to go.
- Russell Knox (8) – This is a reach, but Knox is due to get back on track. His eighth-place finish here two years ago is his only success in four tries. Made the weekend at three under par last week, but shot 78-76 to finish T65. MC in five of his last eight tourneys with no top-10 finishes. Makes a ton of birdies and posts a TON of big numbers. Why do I like him? I don’t, really... but in a weak ‘B’ group, he’s a darkhorse.
- Danny Lee (10) – I love a guy who can get to the green and make birdies, and Lee fills both categories. This will be his fifth consecutive week on the course, and all four rounds last week were north of 70... has he run out of gas? He’s 2-2 here with finishes of 49-32, but with a weak field this year, he could sneak in another top-20. I’ll leave this one up to you.
- Francesco Molinari (9) – Everything works here. T34 in his first trip last year knocked the rust off, and included an opening 68. Ranks second on the Tour in SG:Approach and fifth in par four scoring. He’ll be a Thursday starter for me and I’m hoping to ride him to the victory circle!
- Phil Mickelson (9) – I don’t care if he shoots 84-86 to MC, I’ll be happy to play Phil. Finishes of 2-11-3-2 in the last four years here are all you need to know. That said, he hasn’t missed a cut all season, and with his intent to skip the U.S. Open, he’ll want to bring his daughter a shiny trophy. All systems GO!
Note: As usual with a weak field, the ‘C’ group is loaded. Dig deep...
- Daniel Berger (8) – He’s the defending champion, but his game looks problematic. Berger hasn’t played in four weeks and hasn’t posted a top-25 since the Shell Houston Open at the end of March. Maybe the time off did him some good, but it’s awfully hard to win two years in a row and there are better options. Fade.
- Stewart Cink (10) – He’s 7-8 at this track and has seen the weekend the last three years. Recent form is solid, with a ton of top-30 finishes of late. His stats are phenomenal, as he crushes par fours and sits 12th on Tour this season in SG:Approach. Will he win? Nope... but Cink will likely play four rounds and finish between 15th-30th. If that’s your goal, have at it. You could do worse.
- Ben Crane (10) – It seems like Crane is in the hunt here every year, and a 10-11 record backs that up. The 2014 Champion clearly loves this course, and if you want to roster someone who could pay off, who less than 1% of Yahoo! players will use, Crane is your guy.
- Russell Henley (8) – Never count Mr. Henley out on a par-70 track. Why? He plays par fours better than almost anyone, and he’s a birdie machine. Three trips to TPC Southwind have given us 27-MC-7, and although he has cooled since winning the Shell Houston Open, he still hangs around the leaderboard. In any other week with those credentials, he’d be on my team, but I’m rolling with others. No shame if you jump on the Henley bus.
- J.B. Holmes (9) – Only reason I included him is because he was on the preview last week and I didn’t want to delete his name. I will after this week.
- Billy Horschel (9) – How do you trust this dude? He lined up well last week and blew up with a 78-71 to miss the cut gloriously. His last three trips here have spawned 10-6-8, and that’s hard to ignore. As I said above, this group is loaded with solid options, so there is no reason to gamble on Billy Ho.
- Brooks Koepka (8) – Three trips to TPC Southwind have produced 19-3-2. Point for Koepka. 7-7 with three top-10s and two other top-25s since declaring that his game had returned. Point for Koepka. Seventh on Tour in Birdie or Better Percentage. Point for Koepka. Three points is enough. Fire away!
- Seung-yul Noh (10) – Course horse alert... Four trips here have equaled 7-MC-3-7. Noh has only seen the weekend in four of his last 10 tournaments, but finished T5 at the Wells Fargo Championship, so he’s dangerous when he’s on. He could have another top-10 in the bag, but I’ll look elsewhere in the group for consistency.
- Ryan Palmer (9) – Five cuts in a row here with two top-4 posts is impressive, but he has faded since two top-10 finishes nearly two months ago. Palmer is another ‘C’ player who could hit the podium, but it feels more likely that he’ll finish T34.
- Charl Schwartzel (10) – Scuffed his way to T35 last week on a bum wrist. MC in his only trip here in 2010. He’s classy, and that counts in this field, so if you want a total hit-or-miss player, it’s Charl. Personally, I’ll pass.
- Kyle Stanley (10) – If you made it this far into the preview, you’ll be rewarded. His course history is bad, with 49-MC-62-MC on the board. Three top-five finishes in his last five tournaments negates the bad history. Want stats? Sits seventh on Tour in SG:Tee and SG: Approach, so if he rolls in a few from the short grass, he’ll be golden. Stanley is my second ‘C’ player this week and I think he could sit atop the mountain on Sunday.
- Peter Uihlein (10) – He’s the rare American playing on the European Tour, and he’s excellent. Consistently posting top-30 finishes gets you noticed. He’s on my short list of ‘C’ players this week, primarily because of the weak field. First appearance here but he’s a superb DFS option, and a solid Yahoo! wager.
- Harold Varner III (10) – He’s been an inconsistent mess, but finished T16 in his first trip here last season. When he hits the weekend, he usually cashes a top-30, so there’s that. Pretty solid numbers across the board – I’ll bet on a top-40 and not much else.
- Camilo Villegas (10) – Five top-18 finishes in the last seven years here qualifies him as a supreme course horse. His wildly erratic season means I can’t use him this week, no matter the lure.
2017 FedEx St. Jude Classic Yahoo roster
denotes first round starter
- A – Rickie Fowler* and Adam Scott
- B – Francesco Molinari*, Phil Mickelson*, Kevin Chappell and Sung Kang
- C – Brooks Koepka* and Kyle Stanley
This is a disaster. ‘A’ and ‘B’ groups are exceeding thin and ‘C’ looks like my stomach; overweight, and full of uncertainty. If chalk wins out, it could be a battle between Fowler and Mickelson, but it’s more likely that someone like Molinari or Stanley paces the group on Sunday.
With the U.S. Open next week, the worry is that the stars will use this tournament as a “tune-up” and not play to win. The good news is there aren’t many stars here, so don’t hold back. My only concern with starts shows up with Fowler, but with two weeks left in the Yahoo! segment, I want to win money and I’m playing my top cards.
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! I spent that on one hand of blackjack last week which lasted 40 seconds! Good luck!