Henrik Stenson proved all of the doubters wrong. “He won’t be motivated,” they said. “He’s only playing because he has to in order to keep his card,” they said. “He’ll probably MC or WD,” they said. I was on that wagon, as well… in fact, in the preview last week, I foreshadowed my fall in the Yahoo! rankings if Stenson performed well, as the lazy fantasy players would see his name and assume he was a great play.
I owe you all an apology.
The Sweet Swingin’ Swede (I made that up… I think…) posted 62-66-66-64 to win by one shot over charging upstart Ollie Schneiderjans, who I also spoke very highly of in last week’s article, and didn’t select him, either. Webb Simpson finished solo third, four shots off the lead.
The regular season is over, and the FedEx Cup Playoffs begin this week… but let’s review the carnage at Sedgefield, because that’s what I do every week. Grab your barf bag.
2017 Wyndham Championship recap
Yahoo! Tournament Points – 133; Yahoo! Segment Points/Ranking – 1,316/19,176th; Yahoo! Season Points/Ranking – 4,816/1,095th
Mercifully, this is coming to an end soon. I’ve had emails and tweets from loyal readers asking if I am sick/on vacation/dead, and while I’m not, I appreciate the concern. One reader put the whole season into perspective by emailing me that even though my segment has been hot garbage, I’m still ranked better than 98% of the field. Thanks for picking me up, guys.
To illustrate how many Yahoo! players have checked out at this point, I actually gained about 1,000 spots in the segment ranking, and lost more than 200 in the seasonal ranking. That’s a perfect Yahoo! dichotomy.
I was high on Ollie and didn’t roster him. I had a feeling about Henrik and didn’t roster him. Many others who finished well were smiled upon in last week’s writings… I just didn’t use any of them. My DFS teams did really well, but you didn’t come here for that. Maybe you should…
The FedEx Cup Playoffs have arrived – welcome to the race!
2017 The Northern Trust Yahoo fantasy golf picks
The Glen Oaks Club hosts The Northern Trust, formerly The Barclays, for the first time, and the long, par-70 will be quite the test for the top 125 players in the world. There are only two par-fives on the course, with one playing at well over 600 yards and the other at less than 540 yards. Two of the par-threes will play more than 230 yards, and there are gobs of long par-fours. What does this mean? Distance is king.
Most of the areas around the greens are peppered with sand traps, so bunker play could be important. Long approach shots on par-fours is another angle to look from. With poa annua greens, those golfers becoming known as Bermuda specialists might struggle more than usual.
- Jason Day (7) – His T9 last week was just his third top-10 in 18 starts since this event last year. In nine attempts at this tournament, albeit on different courses, Day has hit the top-15 six times, including winning the 2015 trophy. We don't know a lot about the course, other than that it's long, and Day sits 23rd in Driving Distance. He seems like he's been around forever, yet he will turn just 30 later this year. He has been a phenomenal FedEx Cup Playoffs performer recently, posting a top-15 or better in all but one playoff event that he finished since 2012. That's insane. Form is solid and he looks fresh and ready to contend. Fire him up!
- Rickie Fowler (1) – This will be a difficult call. Do I use my last start on an unknown course? Rickie checks all the boxes; he's brilliant with the driver, ranks 16th on Tour in SG Approach, 19th in SG ATG, and leads the Tour in SG Putting. He's the real deal – top-12 finishes in 11 of his last 15 tournaments - but where to use the final start? Rickie has had a love/hate relationship with the Deutsche Bank (now the Dell Technologies Championship), winning in 2015 but with little other success. The BMW will be played at Conway Farms near Chicago, where he has gone T39-T4 in two appearances, and he has posted T23-8-T12 in three Tour Championships. As the preview goes on, I'll look at others who I have minimal starts left with (DJ) and decide who to run out there.
- Bill Haas (4) – His form is off and I just don't think he's long enough to compete with the big guns.
- Dustin Johnson (2) – Here's the other 'A' dilemma. He hasn't made much noise at the Deutsche Bank, and there is no guarantee he'll play the BMW, as he sits fourth in FedEx Cup Points currently. His stat profile fits any course, but especially tracks where length is paramount. DJ leads the Tour in Driving Distance and SG T2G, and sits eighth in SG Approach. He absolutely slays on the poa greens at Pebble Beach and Riviera, so this shouldn't be much different. DJ seems to be rounding back into form after his fall and subsequent back injury earlier this year, and It seems logical to play him this week and at the Tour Championship.
- Marc Leishman (9) – He ranks top-50 in all four major Shots Gained categories, and his form is excellent, with four top-20s in his last five starts, including T6 at The Open Championship and T13 at the PGA Championship. However, his last five starts at this tournament have resulted in four MC and a 71st-place finish. I know they are all at different courses, but that's still a pattern. If you believe in his form and his stats, Leish makes for a sneaky cheap DFS play, but still probably not a Yahoo! rosteree.
- Rory McIlroy (4) – Last week, he was out for the season with a rib injury. Now, he seems determined to defend his FedEx Cup Championship. Fantasy veterans will be familiar with the term "Beware The Injured Golfer" as they have won many a tournament... but I don't see it this week with Rors. His injury-plagued season looked to be trending positive after T4-T5 at the Open Championship/WGC Bridgestone, respectively... but then a PGA Championship set up for him to claim at Quail Hollow never materialized, and he hobbled his way to a T22. If you are chasing and want to take a huge gamble, run Rory alongside DJ or Rickie. If not, I'd go chalk and save the world's fourth-ranked player for next week or the Tour Championship, both places where he has had wonderful success.
- Louis Oosthuizen (10) – Oosty completed the Major Bridesmaid Slam by finishing T2 at The Open a few weeks back, but he hasn't played much this year and his form was questionable heading to Royal Birkdale. Statistically, he's beautiful, but he has had more success at the Deutsche Bank than anywhere else on the playoff run. Keep that in mind next week.
- Patrick Reed (8) – He played nine straight weeks before relaxing last week, and cashed seven times, with all but one in the top-20. His T2 at the PGA Championship was a bit unexpected, but Reed played the weekend 69-67 after a mediocre start. He ranks eighth on Tour in SG Putting and defends his Barclays title this week, albeit on a very different setup from last year's Bethpage Black arrangement. His lack of elite distance didn't deter him from a T13 at Erin Hills, and while I don't feel compelled to use him on this course, he has finished T5-T4 in his last two runs at TPC Boston, so he's another name to remember next week.
- Brendan Steele (5) – I love him statistically, until he gets to the green. 128th on Tour in SG Putting and 146th in Sand Save Percentage aren't numbers that excite me. His only top-10 in a playoff event came at the 2011 Deutsche Bank, and he has never qualified for the Tour Championship. Sitting at 16th in FedEx Cup Points, this could be the year, but with MC in three of his last four starts, I can't see Steele rising to the top this weekend.
- Gary Woodland (8) – He likes this event, as evidenced by four top-15s in the last six years, but that doesn't mean much on a new course. His driver does, though, and ranking 13th on Tour is solid. He's also 19th in SG Approach, but while he hasn't missed a cut in nine starts since the Masters, his fourth-place finish at the Canadian Open is his only top-20 in that stretch. I'll fade Woodland, but I'm hoping he catches fire.
- Paul Casey (4) – Mr. Consistency... Since the 2016 Open Championship, Casey is 25-26, with his only MC coming at the Sony Open back in January. He hasn't won a thing during this run, but nine of those starts have resulted in top-10 finishes, and seven others in the top-20. Casey is third on Tour in SG Approach and fourth in Par Four Scoring, among other notable stats. His rank of 64th in Driving Distance is a bit concerning, but since he hasn't won a tournament since 2014, I'm not looking for a trophy... just a top-10 will do. If you are low on starts, Casey has hit the top-five in each of the three trips he has made to the Tour Championship, and at 18th in the current FedEx Cup Points standings, he'll likely return to East Lake. This week? Smoke 'em if you got 'em!
- Kevin Chappell (9) – Form is ok, stats are ok, playoff history is ok. I needed something to jump out of the 'ok' category and it doesn't. I'll move on.
- Lucas Glover (10) – Glover can't seem to get over the hump. He has just one podium finish since 2011, and of his 14 weekends in 18 tries in 2017, Glover has finished between 25th-45th nine times. He ranks fourth on Tour in Par Four Scoring and 16th in SG Tee, but his putter has let him down in key spots. He has no success in the FedEx Cup Playoffs, and he'd be a huge Yahoo! gamble this week.
- Charley Hoffman (5) – His T48 at the PGA Championship knocked a bit of the shine off the Hoff, but don't forget he was white hot before that and his PGA record was horrid; four top-eight finishes in six starts before Quail Hollow is the goods. 11th in Par Four Scoring, primarily because he's 13th in SG Tee. He hasn't been a consistent playoff performer, but he hasn't been a consistent golfer over his career. Hoff has missed only one cut at the Barclays (Northern Trust) going back to 2007. He'll be on the roster bubble.
- Charles Howell III (4) – I don't even want to consider CH3, but the numbers speak. 11th on Tour in Par Four Scoring. 39th in SG Approach. Two top-four finishes in his last six starts, including T4 at the WGC-Bridgestone. Howell has never made any noise this late in the season, and I doubt it starts now at age 38. There's no chance I can roster him and sleep through Wednesday night.
- Kevin Kisner (1) – Kis never fired last week en route to T42, and his solid form earlier this year looks like it has faded; His T7 at the PGA Championship is his only top-25 since The Memorial in early June. He's 122nd in Driving Distance, but excellent everywhere else. With only one start left and no reason to use it here, I'll fade.
- Matt Kuchar (3) – Kooch has lit the world on fire over his last nine starts, posting 9-12-4-16-4-2-32-17-9. Very Kucharian. All but one in the top-17, but no wins. Kuchar is a mixed bag in this event, winning in 2010 and chasing that with a runner-up in 2011, but he has flaked out in other years. He sits just 152nd in Driving Distance, and while he ranks 11th in Par Four Scoring, a deep dive shows he ranks 144th in Approach Proximity from 175-200 yards, which could be critical this week. He's a beast around the greens and sits a solid 31st in Sand Save Percentage. He'll be another last-minute 'B' decision.
- Hideki Matsuyama (2) – Not much of a decision here. 2-14-14-WIN-5 in his last five starts moved him back up to #2 in the OWGR, and he now ranks ninth in both SG Tee and SG Approach. His putter is always a concern, but other than a second-round 80 at Riviera this year, he seems to have performed decently on poa greens. I only have two starts left, so the only question is which two? He has played all four FedEx Cup Playoff events each of the last three years, and I'm a firm believer that he could win at East Lake and take the giant pile of cash home. T57-T25-T15 at the Deutsche Bank since 2014, and he posted a T5 with a second-round 63.at the BMW Championship in 2015 on this year's host Conway Farms. Up to you...
- Phil Mickelson (8) – Oh, Phil... after making 700 cuts in a row this season, Phil lays eggs at the last two majors, and now he looks like he's drifting away from relevance. It happens fast. Ask Jim Furyk. Phil still ranks seventh on Tour in SG Approach, but he doesn't have a top-10 in a playoff event since the Barclays in 2013. Sad to see it... I'm fading, and so is he.
- Francesco Molinari (8) – The Italian sits 17th in SG Tee, primarily because of his hyper-accuracy... he's only 100th in Driving Distance. He leads the Tour in SG Approach, which will come in handy with bunkers all over the grounds, and sits sixth in Par Four Scoring. His T2 at the PGA Championship was impressive, and moved him to 14th in the OWGR, the highest rank of his career. He has very little playoff history, which might not matter much if he makes some putts. If I don't use him in Yahoo!, he'll be a solid DFS play.
- Ryan Moore (7) – Moore seems to be back to normal following a shoulder injury which cost him a good chunk of the season. This will be his fourth straight week on the course, with his previous three all hitting for top-30s. That's one way to test the shoulder... He's still 24th in SG Approach for the season, and he went on a mad run last year during the playoffs to make the Ryder Cup team. Will solid memories prevail and carry him toward the top of the leaderboard? Probably not...
- Chez Reavie (10) – Hasn't missed a cut since the Byron Nelson, but only his T4 at the St. Jude Classic made him any solid money. Reavie has finished between T16 and T43 in each of his last six starts, but that includes two majors. He ranks 11th on Tour in Par Four Scoring, and 36th in SG Approach, but at just 284 yards, his Driving Distance is ranked 160th. That won't work this week. He'll likely finish T37, but that isn't good enough.
- Justin Rose (2) – His form just isn't there. T4 at the Irish Open is his only top-50 worldwide in his last five starts. The numbers still look pretty good; 10th in SG Tee, 37th in Par Four Scoring. Rose just doesn't excite me this week, and I can't put a finger on it. This is the time of year when the big boys come to play, and it remains to be seen if Rose can answer the bell.
- Webb Simpson (7) – His solo third last week was his third top-10 in his last nine starts, and he hasn't missed a cut since the Wells Fargo Championship in early May. Webb flourishes on Par-70 tracks because he ranks third in Sand Save Percentage, sixth in Par Four Scoring and 17th in SG Approach. He had a great playoff run in 2011, but hasn't had much FedEx Cup success otherwise. Hot is hot, and Webb fits the bill. The course would seem to be a good match for him... can he jar a few putts?
- Jordan Spieth (0) – If the fairways are as wide as they seem, his trouble keeping the driver under control will be minimized. Leads the Tour in Par Four Scoring, second in SG Approach and Scoring Average, top-10 in just about everything else. If you have one start left, I'd probably save it for the Tour Championship. If you hold multiple Spieth uses, next week would be a priority.
- Justin Thomas (3) – Not too many were surprised to see the young star win the PGA Championship, but I couldn't believe it was this year. He was coming off an uninspiring T28 at the WGC-Bridgestone, and three straight MC before that. He likes to get hot in bunches, and this course might be another stepping stone to stardom. Thomas is tied with his buddy, Jordan Spieth, atop the Par Four Scoring ranking, and he sits fifth in Driving Distance, sixth in SG Approach, and 37th in SG Putting. It's all lined up. No hesitation... burning one of the final three starts here.
- Byeong Hun An (8) – I trusted him last week. I can't do it again. Tee to green, he's fantast... nope. Can't do it.
- Daniel Berger (7) – There are a few numbers holding me back. Berger is just 63rd in Driving Distance, and a whopping 155th in Sand Save Percentage. I need both of those digits to be lower before I dive in. The good is really good - fifth in SG Approach, eighth in Birdie Average, 40th in Scrambling. Solid. His MC at the PGA Championship was surprising, and I'm scared off by the first two numbers, so I'll step away for a week. He finished runner-up at the 2015 BMW, so keep that on the radar.
- Keegan Bradley (10) – Usually, he wouldn't get a sniff, but Keegs ranks sixth on Tour in Par Four Scoring and SG Tee, and that counts. What also counts is that the rest of his game is average, at best. Don't do it.
- Patrick Cantlay (10) – There isn't much of a sample size, but he just makes cuts. His T33 at the PGA was rather boring, but Cantlay is 8-8 this year with six of the eight in the top-40. No reason to chance him here, but as a DFS play, I likey.
- Bud Cauley (9) – Anyone who is 13th in SG Approach gets attention. Cauley laid an egg last week en route to T42, and hasn't hit the top-10 since the Byron Nelson. He has played six weekends in his last eight tournaments, but with only one top-25 finish. I'll keep him benched this week.
- Stewart Cink (10) – Cink is the reason fantasy golf is hard. While he has cooled considerably from throwing top-25s every weekend, Cink still seems to play four rounds almost every week. He hasn't finished in the top-three in a tournament since the Open Championship in 2009. That's eight years ago. The key stats are great though... Cink is only 72nd in Driving Distance, but 18th in GIR on the heels of his rank of 10th in SG Approach. He kills Par Fours, but at 192nd, he's just appalling out of the sand. Cink won't win, but if you need a guy to make the cut, here he is.
- Graham DeLaet (10) – The T7 at the PGA Championship sums up Graham's season perfectly... hot in spurts and completely useless in others. He finished as co-runner-up at the 2013 Barclays at Liberty National, right up the road. 13th in GIR, 15th in SG Approach, 30th in Driving Distance, 37th in Par Four Scoring. Love it. What if he misses the green? 190th in Sand Save Percentage, 194th in SG ATG. Do I trust him to hit the greens?
- Jason Dufner (8) – He's striking the ball really well – 12th in SG Approach and 35th in SG Tee. Since he won the Memorial, Duf is 4-6 with T14s at the Open Championship, then stateside last week. Dufner is a great player, but if he misses the green or ends up in the sand, it's over. I think he could do several of both of those things this weekend, so I'll fade.
- Tony Finau (4) – Finau is a beast. Seventh in Driving Distance, 10th in GIR, 11th in Par Four Scoring, 35th in SG Approach. Beautiful. His form is herky-jerky, intertwining top-10s and mid-level finishes... but he has just two MC since mid-February, and in his two appearance at this tournament, he has posted a largely meaningless T16-T15, as they were on a different track. I have nothing against running Finau out there, but if two better options arise, he's on the bubble.
- Martin Flores (10) – Flores is an interesting case this week. He has made seven straight weekends, with his form improving to a T7 last week at the Wyndham Championship. However, none of those were majors or WGC events, and he has done nothing of consequence in his career. That's not to talk down on his performance, but rarely do players ascend to the top from nowhere at age 35. I'm fading Flores.
- Russell Henley (7) – He sits 37th in Par Four Scoring and 49th in Driving Distance, which is part of the reason he's a Par 70 specialist. Henley also ranks 22nd in SG Putting, but he sits 108th in SG Approach and 128th in Sand Save Percentage, which could be a deadly combination this weekend. He has made six straight cuts, and I expect him to play four rounds, but I'd be surprised if he finds the top-20.
- J.B. Holmes (9) – He still mashes the ball, as evidenced by him sitting 14th in Driving Distance this season, but the rest of his game has been really sketchy. Same as Henley, I think he'll make the cut for the ninth consecutive tournament, but he won't threaten the leaders.
- Billy Horschel (9) – His record in this event is horrible, and he even MC in 2014, the year he won the FedEx Cup. Billy's season has been as inconsistent as his career, and despite his fairly solid all-around game, there no reason to roll the dice.
- Zach Johnson (7) – Check out these numbers: 140th in Driving Distance, 110th in SG Approach, 135th in GIR. Sound good? Not this week. That said, Zach is fairly strong around and on the greens, because he has to be. 5-14-2-48 in his last four starts... I'm fading anyway.
- Brooks Koepka (5) – Hot is hot, and his worst showing in his last four starts is T17 at the WGC-Bridgestone. When you post WIN-6-17-13 in three majors and a WGC event, you are dialed in. Ranking ninth in Driving Distance and 20th in SG Putting is a nice combination – now he just needs to get to the green because his Scrambling and Sand Save Percentage rankings are horrid. Koepka has turned into the ultimate big stage performer, and there is no reason to think he won't challenge for the win this week.
- Luke List (9) – List has only made three of his last six cuts, but he sits third in Driving Distance and 44th in SG Approach. That's enough for inclusion in this preview, but not on my team. Deep DFS dive here...
- Ian Poulter (10) – I think Poults has a chance to shine this week. He's one of the shorter hitters in the world, but his PGA Tour rankings include fourth in SG Approach and fifth in SG ATG. Going deeper, he leads the Tour in Scrambling and ranks 18th in Sand Save Percentage. Poulter is 16-18 on the PGA Tour this season, and comes in off finishes of 9-14-3-22 in his last four worldwide starts, including two majors. If he can get anything out of his driver and not get too frustrated, he might just surprise people. I don't think it's worth the Yahoo! gamble, but if you are short on starts from the stars, he's a great fallback.
- Jon Rahm (4) – Rahm has fallen out of form a bit – no top-25s in three starts since he won the Irish Open - but he's still too dangerous to ignore. Need length? 16th in Driving Distance. Want to get to the green? Fourth in SG T2G and 25th in SG Approach. Stuck at the beach? 47th in Sand Save Percentage. Have to drain a putt? 63rd in SG Putting. He's the total package. This will be his first time through the FedEx Cup Playoffs, and whether he plays all four events remains to be seen, but I like having four starts left. Three after this week...
- Xander Schauffele (10) – This kid is good. 11th in Par Four Scoring and 20th in Driving Distance are hot plays here. He also ranks 26th in SG Putting, but getting close to the hole has been an adventure. Oddly enough, he's 27th in GIR, but just 131st in SG Approach. That means he's either playing huge greens or just not dialed in with his irons. Since winning the Greenbrier, he has posted 20-13-MC, and two of those were the Open Championship and the WGC-Bridgestone. The stage isn't too big for him, and while he won't be on my team, he might just sneak up the board late in the week.
- Ollie Schneiderjans (9) – 'C' is loaded with great options, and Ollie sits near the top of that list. I was dangerously close to using him last week, and he rewarded my roster exclusion by finishing solo second. That was his first top-10 since the RBC Heritage in April, but he lined up really well to perform last week, and he lines up really well to perform again. Categories he ranks in the top-40 include Driving Distance, Par Four Scoring, SG Approach, SG T2G, and Sand Save Percentage. Like Schauffele, Ollie will win a lot on Tour but I'll use others this week.
- Charl Schwartzel (10) – Charl has been up and down all season, and hasn't performed consistently in the playoffs. He still hits the ball hard and his approach game is very good, but I just don't feel it this week and I'm trying to ignore the solid stats all around him. Hmm...
- Kyle Stanley (7) – Since winning the Quicken Loans, his form is 55-MC-41-MC-MC. This isn't the week to solve that. Pass.
- Henrik Stenson (6) – Yikes. We arrive at the end again, and Stenson is taunting me. I left him home last week and he responded by winning. I'll apologize for the length of this, but Henrik has played 21 times since his FedEx Cup Playoffs ended last year with a T41 at the Deutsche Bank. In those 21 starts, he has missed four cuts and withdrawn once. His 16 finishes in those tournaments look like this: 2-8-9-2-8-2-7-16-3-26-10-26-11-17-13-WIN. That's absolutely insane. Everyone, me included, freaked out earlier this year when he missed a few cuts and looked broken, but the guy is a world-class performer. Does this course fit his eye? I don't know... but it simply comes down to Rahm, Koepka and Stenson for two spots. What to do?
2017 The Northern Trust Yahoo! Roster
- A – Dustin Johnson and Jason Day
- B – Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Thomas, Paul Casey and Matt Kuchar
- C – Brooks Koepka and Henrik Stenson
Stay tuned – I’m not wild on Kuchar as my fourth ‘B’, and I might switch over to Hoffman or Simpson. Only because of lack of experience, I’m leaving Rahm home in favor of the white hot form of Koepka and Stenson. My plan is to use my final Rickie start at East Lake.
My team has been a hot mess lately, so I’m hoping for a strong finish. Chalk is all over for the next four weeks, so this will be tricky. I’m looking forward to the challenge!
Just because I should, I’ll pick either DJ or JT to win this one, but it wouldn’t shock me to see Stenson go back-to-back or Matsuyama continue his historic run.
I will Tweet out my starters on Wednesday night – there are several factors to look through. Make sure to hit me up @commishjoe 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! That’s a 30-pack of Icehouse! This is better! Good Luck!