During the week of most majors, my readers don't give a lick about the recap of the previous week's event. I don't blame them... like them, I'm impatient and just want the good stuff. However, this recap could prove important, as the field is strong in both, and while Firestone was a long par-70, Quail Hollow plays at 7,600 yards or more, depending on the par-71 setup, and that's long even at more than 600 feet above sea level.
So what happened last week at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational? Hideki Matsuyama did the unimaginable. Yes, he won the tournament by five shots, but he putted fantastically. After entering the week ranked 180th in Putting, the flatstick led him to a brilliant round of 61 on Sunday and helped him cruise to a win over Zach Johnson, who added to his excellent WGC-Bridgestone history. Charley Hoffman sustained his ridiculously hot run by finishing third, and Thomas Pieters continued his ascent to the top of the game by posting a fourth-place finish.
Several other names peppered the board, including Rory McIlroy [T5], Rickie Fowler , Adam Scott and Jordan Spieth [T13], and a boatload of stars at T17, including Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Henrik Stenson, Daniel Berger, and Matt Kuchar.
While those studs all had a prosperous weekend at Firestone, my Yahoo! squad did not.
2017 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational recap
Yahoo! Tournament Points – 111; Yahoo! Segment Points/Ranking – 1,007/22,344th; Yahoo! Season Points/Ranking – 4,507/961st
Absolutely embarrassing. Horrid. I have no other way to describe it. All season, I have taken pride in posting my selections and having phenomenal success. There was a stretch about six weeks ago that was pretty challenging, but I thought we were past that. Then comes the WGC-Bridgestone. Puke.
I lost nearly 500 spots in the overall season ranking and more than 5,000 for the segment. I'm now out of the seasonal money in all three of my leagues. Why? Not sure... many of the players I took a deep look at performed how I thought they would. When a tournament is filled with chalk and my team doesn't have the right golfers, the numbers look bloody. That was the case last week. I'm determined to not let that happen this week.
I was on Rory, and even sung the praises of Thomas Pieters. However, despite my mostly glowing reviews, I left Matsuyama and Zach Johnson off my team and didn't have room for Charley Hoffman, either. The Yahoo! weekend turned ugly for me, and the results were nasty.
Ok... that's enough. Let's throw last week in the trash and move forward – the final major of the year is here!
Quail Hollow has been a PGA Tour host for many decades, and currently invites everyone in for the Wells Fargo Championship, which was held this season at Eagle Point, more than 200 miles away, to allow Quail Hollow to prepare for this week. The most recent course history goes back to the middle part of last decade when the Tour returned to QH for the Wachovia Championship, which became the Wells Fargo Championship in 2011. This week, I'll focus on course history primarily, but those who also have a solid record at the PGA might get an extra bump, as they can adapt to different venues well.
2017 PGA Championship Yahoo fantasy golf picks
- Jason Day  – He defended his 2015 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits by finishing runner-up to Jimmy Walker last year, and his dramatic eagle on the 72nd hole to force Walker to make par was one of the season's best moments. Even though he has posted 22-MC-27 in his three majors this year, his record in the biggest tournaments stands at 24-27 with 13 top-10s. At the PGA, he's 5-7, but his weekends resulted in 10-8-15-WIN-2. He hasn't played Quail Hollow in five years, but his posts of 22-9 in two trips add to his case. Day didn't scare anyone last weekend en route to T24, and the two courses will play similarly, so I'm predicting another T24. Fade.
- Rickie Fowler  – One start left for Rickie and it will be hard to convince me to save it. For all the attention he gets, Fowler has just four PGA Tour wins, and his record at the PGA Championship sits at 58-51-MC-19-3-30-33... not mind-blowing. His history at Quail Hollow is what draws we nerds to the Handsome One this week. The 2012 Wells Fargo Champion also finished T6 two years earlier, and posted an ugly 74 on Sunday last year to finish T4. Stats are similar to last week, and he torches long holes. He's 28 years old now, and if there is a major championship in his future, this could be the week.
- Branden Grace  – Finishing 3-T4 in your last two PGA Championships deserves praise. Showing up with top-15 finishes in three of your last five starts is solid, too. I just can't get past two things: Grace is 95th in Driving Distance and hasn't played at Quail Hollow before. I think a bomber wins this week, and Grace isn't. Solid pedigree, but I'll look for a top-30 and not much else.
- James Hahn  – Last year's Wells Fargo winner came from absolutely nowhere... he had MC in his last eight starts before winning at Quail Hollow. Hahn is extremely inconsistent, and shouldn't be allowed near your team.
- Dustin Johnson  – There are only two A spots this week, same as always. DJ got left home last week by my roster, and his second-round 75 sunk an otherwise excellent week to a T17. He has been straight cash in the FedEx Cup Playoffs, so I'll save my two starts. Three trips to Quail Hollow have resulted in two MC and a T29, and he hasn't played there in six years. He still leads the Tour in Driving Distance and ranks in the top-10 in dozens of other categories, but I'll keep him on the sidelines and hope for the best.
- Marc Leishman  – He's in solid form and his stats across the board look like those of a major winner, but Leish has a putrid record at QH, with no top-40 finishes in three tries. I'll pass this week.
- Shane Lowry  – His form has faded, and he's just 2-5 at the PGA Championship. MC in his only Quail Hollow appearance. Carry on.
- Rory McIlroy  – It looks too good to be true. Results at Quail Hollow? WIN-MC-2-10-8-WIN-4. Two top-fives in his last two starts. Hits the ball an absolute mile. The two-time PGA Championship winner has three other top-10 finishes since 2009. Five starts left in Yahoo! I don't need anything else to go all-in, and neither do you.
- Patrick Reed  – This will be nine straight weeks on the course for Reed. Nothing better than last year's T28 in four trips to Quail Hollow. His PGA Championship trend of 58-30-13 is solid, but that won't continue.
- Adam Scott  – I like Scottie's chances to be a sneaky top-five finisher this week, primarily because nothing makes sense. He had a few top-10s at Quail Hollow about 100 years ago, but nothing great since. His form is a bit old-school Kucharian; doesn't threaten the leaders, but hangs around. His last five weekends at the PGA have all gone for T18 or better, but no podiums. He's down to 17 in the OWGR, the lowest point since 2010. Plus, his wife is due very soon, and he could be called away during the tournament. Add all that up, and I think he'll contend this week. Still hits the ball far, and his approach game has been on point. If he can pull a Matsuyama and make a few Sunday putts, you never know. It makes no sense.
- Brendan Steele  – Shows up with 30-9-14 in his last three runs at Quail Hollow, and he shook off a Thursday 73 to play solid golf over the final three days. Despite what looks like a nice little game, Steele has just three top-three finishes anywhere since 2011, and no top-10 posts in his 12 major starts. This doesn't look like the week to reverse those numbers.
- Gary Woodland  – Woody never got it going last week, and needed a final-round 67 to finish T63. Statistically, he's off the charts; 12th in Par Five Scoring, 14th in Driving Distance, 21st in SG:Approach. His last three spins around Quail Hollow have gone for 18-4-24. I'd like to think it will all come together for him this weekend, but I absolutely don't see it. No top-10 finishes in 23 major starts is telling, and no success at the PGA is the final nail.
- Paul Casey  – Casey has been as hot as anyone in the world; his last nine starts worldwide have gone for 9-6-12-22-10-26-5-11-5. No wins, but excellent play everywhere. Last year's T10 at Baltusrol was his best PGA Championship result in 14 tries. He sits third on Tour in SG:Approach this year, and he's just barely long enough to be considered a threat to win. Casey has no good history at QH, and that might hurt his chances. He's too hot to bench, and at 40 years old, time is running out. Will he win? Probably not... but a top-10 is a strong bet.
- Kevin Chappell  – Two top-20 finishes in six trips to Quail Hollow and two solid weeks in a row recently have me intrigued. He gets hot in bunches, and we could be in the middle of one now. 23rd in Driving Distance, 31st in SG:Approach is an excellent combo. His major championship history shows three top-10s in 14 events, but none at the PGA. If you look at his top tournaments over the course of his career, the events mostly involved deep fields and difficult courses. In short, he likes to bang with the best. I don't think I'll use him, but he's on the short list if I change my mind.
- Jim Furyk  – Furyk has had phenomenal success on this course, but MC in the last two versions of the Wells Fargo shows that time is catching up. Fade.
- Lucas Glover  – The 2011 Wells Fargo Champion has sprinkled in several other top-10s here, and while his form is improving, I can't see him winning another major.
- Charley Hoffman  – The Hoff continues to burn down anything in his way. Four top-eights in his last six starts catapulted him to 20th in the OWGR, the best ranking of his career. He's striking the ball beautifully and making putts, and that plays anywhere. 50th in Driving Distance and 12th in Par Five Scoring helps justify an endorsement. Here are the problems: in eight PGA Championships, he has seen the weekend once. ONCE. He hasn't played at QH since 2011, and had no success there at all. Those two items scare me a lot. This will be a last-minute call...
- Kevin Kisner  – I got cute last week and rostered Kisner instead of Matsuyama. You know how that turned out. He isn't a great course fit here, which I should have picked up on last week. Kis posted T6 here three years ago, and his T18 at the PGA last year is nice, but he won't be on my team. I'm not upset. Honestly.
- Matt Kuchar  – He has absolutely nothing positive to show from Quail Hollow and he sits 154th on Tour in Driving Distance. Statistically, the PGA Championship is his worst major, playing four weekends in eight tries, but all four went for T22 or better. We know his form is solid, but this is his fifth consecutive week on the course. I'm trying to talk myself into automatically fading Kooch... but I can't. Stay tuned.
- Danny Lee  – Lee has been in great form over the last three months, and he has two top-15s in a row at Quail Hollow. He has played four rounds in each of his two PGA Championship appearances, but hasn't hit the top-20 yet. The course doesn't seem to fit his skill set, but he succeeds here. Won't be owned by many, but makes for a deep contrarian play across all formats.
- Jamie Lovemark  – Here comes the Lovemark love – top-30s in six of his last seven starts with two top-10s included. He's filthy long and crushes par fives, so that should equal success at QH, right? Not so far... he's 1-3 with a T53 at the Wells Fargo. He's playing better than ever before, but I don't think he's ready to survive in the ring with the big boys. Top-35 wouldn't shock me, though...
- Hideki Matsuyama  – Typing anything next to his name makes me sick, so I'll keep this short. 38-20-11 is a solid trend at Quail Hollow. We all know what his form looks like. Leads the Tour in Par Five Scoring, 12th in SG:Approach, 22nd in Driving Distance. It's all there. Don't overthink.
- Phil Mickelson  – Phil has played here every year since 2004. Need the results? Buckle up! 5-7-35-3-12-5-2-9-26-3-11-4-4. That's 13 trips to Quail Hollow with an average finish in single digits. This season, he's fourth on Tour in Par Five Scoring and fifth in SG:Approach. The MC at Royal Birkdale was his only of the season. No reason to think this one over, either. Full Phil ahead!
- Ryan Moore  – The only reason he's on the list is to honor his two top-10s at Quail Hollow, and that he showed some life last week. If I dismiss him too quickly, he'll win this week... so I'll write that he's 47th in SG:Approach on the season. There. I'm done. Pass.
- Jordan Spieth  – I have no starts left, but you probably do. You know the drill; he still leads the Tour in SG:Approach, and he ranks eighth in Par Five Scoring. I can't get too upset with a T13 in my final Spieth start last week, but I was gunning for another win. The reason I would have faded him anyway this week is that his only appearance at Quail Hollow went for a T32 in 2013. Jordan has shown the ability to win anywhere, but course history has become his friend, and he has little here. 80th in Driving Distance is his only statistical blemish. If you have starts left, he has solid history at the two static courses in the FedEx Cup Playoffs. Should you somehow have three starts left, burning one here isn't an awful proposition, as he likely won't be in the field next week.
- Justin Rose  – Rose was the subject of another huge mistake by me, as I went against my research and tossed him into the starting lineup for all four days. I won't make that mistake again. He admitted that he has changed his mechanics to take pressure off his back, which is never a good sign. I've done the same thing, but I'm just a fat weekend hack. That said, he's finished in the top-five in each of his last two trips to Quail Hollow, and he banged out PGA top-fives in 2012 and 2015. I'm going to try really hard to find four B players I like better, but I might go back to the well one more time. I can guarantee he'll start on my bench.
- Justin Thomas  – His form is erratic, and his history here is T7-MC. Even his T7 at the 2015 Wells Fargo went 69-73-65-70. Can you trust him? Maybe... JT sits seventh on Tour in SG:Approach and ninth in Driving Distance. His final round 67 last week was encouraging, and he played the weekend well after starting slow. Thomas isn't elite yet, because he simply isn't consistent enough. However, the PGA Championship has produced winners like Keegan Bradley, Y.E. Yang, and Shaun Micheel in recent memory, so JT could get hot and grab the trophy.
- Jimmy Walker  – The defending champion has found some form, seeing four straight weekends after a glum spring, and as long as he can hit the ball far and rip his irons close to the pin, he'll have a chance. Walker has had no luck at QH whatsoever, and I don't see anything in the stats to convince me that he will win. Though the story would be nice, I'll look elsewhere for results.
- Bubba Watson  – 11th in Driving Distance, 26th in Par Five Scoring. Good. 146th in SG:Approach. Bad. 10 attempts at the PGA Championship, one top-10. Bad. Only one solid finish – T2 in 2010 – in 400 tries at Quail Hollow. Bad. Too much bad. Fade.
- Daniel Berger  – Is this Berger's major? Two visits to QH have given him T28-T17. Last six starts are WIN-MC-2-5-27-17. He's just 55th in Driving Distance, but most everything else sparkles: sixth in SG:Approach, 21st in Par Five Scoring, 26th in SG:Putting. Berger has hit the top-30 in four of the six major weekends he has played in nine attempts, which is a fantastic resume for a 24-year-old. There are a ton of C options, as you'll read below, but few have the upside of Berger.
- Keegan Bradley  – 8-5-50-14 in his last four tournaments is fun, but he has no good vibes at Quail Hollow. Yes, he won the 2011 PGA Championship. No, he won't win this one.
- Rafa Cabrera Bello  – He didn't fire last week and finished near the bottom of the pile. Having never played at Quail Hollow, I can't see him figuring out immediately, especially given his woes at Firestone. Pass.
- Jason Dufner  – Once a PGA Championship stud, the 2013 champ has gone WD-68-60 in his last three. His form has faded, and although he has a T5 here in 2009, that's his only success on this track. Fade.
- Tony Finau  – He's going to win soon, and this could be the spot. 16-28 in two starts at Quail Hollow, and his recent form is powerful, posting top-30s in each of his last five starts, including two top-10s. Finau is 4-6 at major championships, with all four weekends going for T27 or better, and he posted a T10 at Whistling Straits two years back. He sits sixth in Driving Distance, 10th in Par Five Scoring, and 30th in SG:Approach. It's all there, but can he put it together for four days? He'll be in the hunt.
- Ross Fisher  – In the last seven years, Fisher has visited Quail Hollow three times, which resulted in 29-43-10. His form is a bit jerky, as a few MC are mixed in with high finishes over the past three months. Fisher is fantastic from tee to green, and that is the magic potion at QH. He's a sneaky Yahoo! play as most have never heard of him, but I fully expect Fisher to post a top-30.
- Tommy Fleetwood  – Fleetwood has never played here, but his form cannot be ignored; last six tournaments have resulted in 4-6-WIN-10-27-28. He's another Euro star who has a wonderful game until he gets on the green. Putting hasn't seemed to matter much here, and Fleetwood can hit a ton of greens. Like Fisher, I'll predict a top-30. That just isn't enough to roster either of them.
- Sergio Garcia  – His form is his form, but he has only played here once in the last five years. Sergio has had some success here a long time ago, but he plays long holes with the best of the Tour, and he still pokes the ball out far enough to have a solid approach. In 18 tries at the PGA Championship, Sergio has played 10 weekends with only two top-10s since 2002. I'll fade him because I like others better, but if he's truly an elite player, he'll be in the mix come Sunday.
- Brooks Koepka  – No course history here, but he absolutely slays major championships. The U.S. Open Champion has made 14 consecutive major cuts, with five top-10s besides his win. Second on Tour in Par Five Scoring, sixth in Driving Distance... there just isn't anything to think about here. Go with it.
- Alex Noren  – He needs another 30 yards on his drives to hang with the bombers. Noren has two MC thrown in the middle of impeccable form, but this is his maiden voyage at Quail Hollow. He just hasn't put it together in the United States, and there is no reason to chance that he will this week.
- Thorbjorn Olesen  – Three top-10s in his last seven starts is excellent, but like many others, this is his first Quail Hollow attempt. He shot 67-65 last weekend to finish T10 at Firestone, and many believe the courses play similarly. If he continues his hot iron play, he can sneak into the top-20. Too much risk for the Yahoo! team.
- Thomas Pieters  – What do we do here? There is no doubt that he's a budding star. He hits the ball like an animal, and can get to any green without trouble. His T4 at Firestone last weekend got people salivating at his chances this week, and his T4 at the Masters set the tone for his season. I don't think he'll win, and I need winners, but everything is pointing at a top-20 finish and a possible appearance on the first page on Sunday.
- Ian Poulter  – Hot is hot, and he has gone 9-14-3 in his last three starts, but Poults has never been a great PGA Championship performer, eeking out two top-10s in 14 tries. I'll fade him without much thought.
Jon Rahm  – A few MC not long ago was just a speed bump – Rahm looks ready to dominate again, and this might be his playground. His second-round 77 last week ruined the 67-67-68 that he posted the other three days. His statistics across the board are elite, and while this is his first PGA Championship, the moment won't be too big for him, as his solid results in majors and WGC events shows.
- Xander Schauffele  – The rookie has had a marvelous summer, winning the Greenbrier Classic in July and posting five top-20s in his last six starts. His driver is his weapon, helping him to 17th in Driving Distance, but other parts of his game are rounding into elite form; Schauffele ranks 20th in GIR and 23rd in SG:Putting. His approach game isn't phenomenal yet, and his ranks of 105th in Proximity and 107th in SG:Approach are what will keep him from the trophy room this weekend. In two major championships, both this year, he went T5 at Erin Hills and T20 at Royal Birkdale. Majors are in his future, but not this one. Great DFS play if the price is right.
- Charl Schwartzel  – His only appearance at QH was an ugly MC two years ago when he posted 77-73. The 2011 Masters Champion hasn't made a lot of noise in the majors since, registering just four top-10 finishes in 26 tries. He's never seen the top-10 in 11 attempts at the PGA Championship, but he's a sly move this week, as the stats somewhat line up. Ranks between 40th-50th in Driving Distance, SG:Approach and Par Five Scoring, which will all be important. A top-25 isn't out of the question.
- Kyle Stanley  – At times, he has looked like a superstar this season, and then disappears for a stretch. That run is now, as he arrives at QH on the heels of 55-MC-41 in his last three starts following his win at the Quicken Loans National. I have no idea what to expect. Statistically, he's a gem. Leads the Tour in GIR, fifth in SG:Tee, ninth in SG:Approach. At 296.4, his Driving Distance is long enough, and leads to short irons. 152nd in SG:Putting isn't too much of an alarm this week. If Good Kyle shows up, he could push the leaders. If Bad Kyle emerges, T44 seems about right. Too inconsistent to trust here.
- Henrik Stenson  – His recent form is as good as his history at Quail Hollow is bad. In the last 10 years, Stenson has played Quail Hollow five times for a total of 12 rounds. Do the math. One cut made. He's back in great shape, posting top-20 finishes just about every week and contending during most. The Swede's PGA Championship record is phenomenal, posting 4-6-MC-3-3-25-7 in his last seven. That course history is just too much to ignore. He might me my Matsuyama this week, and if he wins, good for him. He won't do it from my roster.
- Lee Westwood  – I think it's time to turn out the lights on Westy's major hopes. At 44 years old and without a win since 2014, he seems to be fading from his most notorious role – major tournament bridesmaid. Where he was a top-10 fixture, he has finished as high only twice in his last 16 majors. His form isn't good enough at this point to warrant the risk. Goodnight, dear Westy... thanks for being a top man during a brilliant major career.
2017 PGA Championship Yahoo! roster
- A – Rory McIlroy and Rickie Fowler
- B – Hideki Matsuyama, Phil Mickelson, Paul Casey and Kevin Chappell
- C – Brooks Koepka and Daniel Berger
There were many players I left off the team who I'd use in other formats. I was torn in C between Berger and Finau, and my last B spot went to Chappell over Rose, Thomas and Hoffman. I might still make a last-minute move, so make sure to follow me on Twitter @commishjoe for updates.
Rory is my pick to win, because it has to be. I've hoped all year long that he'd be in some kind of form heading to Charlotte, and he looks to be fully healthy for the first time all season. Phil could sneak in there and grab this tournament if the rain screws up the rhythm, and it wouldn't surprise me to see Berger grab his first major.
I will Tweet out my starters on Wednesday night – the weather forecast has been dicey all week and I have no idea who I'll start right now. Make sure to hit me up @commishjoe on Twitter with questions, comments, or emotional outbursts. If you still aren't a GNN Plus Member, what are you waiting for? Click here to sign up for $10 for the year. $10 for the year! Honestly! That's less than three cents per day! Find it in your couch! Good Luck!