Fantasy and the PGA Championship

Fantasy golf, a trip down the primrose path as they say. Longtime fantasy football participant, not so naive to the ways of “skilled” gambling endeavors. Decided to take the plunge during the Open Championship at the urging of my brother in law. Frankly, really didn’t understand the scoring triggers and methodologies employed to score well in these contests. My lineup was full up with rookie mistakes, my picks all “probable winners” not fantasy golf scorers per se. I believe all my guys made the cut, but none of them really pushed my team up the ladder as only 2 were really in contention and the other 4 well..they made the cut.

That was then, like so 4 weeks ago, I’m better now and excited about the PGA Championship. My lineup is set, but I’ve decided to hedge my bets as it were and add a backup lineup. This week is building up to be very exciting. So many different players have a real opportunity to take home a major championship. Rory is back! Tiger is…well sort of back..maybe…hoping he can make a run. Jordan, the new number 1 player in the world? Then you have Bubba, DJ, Rickie, can I get a Phil in the house? It’s insanity in Wisconsin. As always the PGA field is obnoxiously deep. It seems to have been quite awhile since we’ve had a out of nowhere winner, scooping up the Wanamaker Trophy a la Rich Beem or Y.E. Yang in grand style. Somehow, I don’t see that happening this year. A funky aside, it still stymies my cognitive capacity grappling with the fact that Arnold Palmer never won this tournament. How can that be?

The favorites to win this major are a plenty. We can run down the list, but most pundits feel it’s Spieth, Rory….and then everybody else. I don’t believe we’ve reached the point where these two players are the only players when on their game can’t be beat. Just isn’t so, anybody, and I mean anybody can be beat on the PGA tour. The second wave of favorites include the likes of Jason Day, Dustin Johnson, Rickie Fowler, and possibly Adam Scott. All long hitters of the golf ball, 3 of which haven’t closed the deal at a major. It’s highly likely, these guys will probably win I’d say 6 majors between them career wise, but until they breakthrough they hang in purgatory clinging to the rope leading to golf immortality. My guess is Jason Day would be the next member into club, have a hunch he may breakthrough this week. Frankly, I’d be happy if any of the 3 amigos were “made”….as it were. Who else? What about Kuchar? This place screams a Stewart Cink’esque win for the veteran. He’s long enough, no doubt, and makes birdies at a rate rivaled only by Donald Trump’s headline making comments. Maybe a dark horse? Henrik Stenson should be a contender this week. His game is trending in the right direction and he has the confidence when he’s dealing to hit any shot in the book. Let’s hope he keeps the temper in check, though I believe it’s the engine fueling his unrivaled intensity. The one player I really like this week is Brooks Koepka. This guy is a player who can hit it long… make that stupid long. He can putt it to boot. A win would install him into the conversation with the other bigs, maybe spreading the wealth as it were being the independent party in a 2 man race for supremacy. I certainly don’t believe Brooks is flying under the radar, he’s a threat every week.

Lots of choices. You can field a pretty competitive fantasy squad with many of the above players. Unfortunately, there is a salary cap (Draft Kings). So who are the other guys trending up, that won’t blow your budget. I can’t divulge them all, but there are a few guys I like to make some noise at Whistling Straits. Justin Thomas has had a very good year. Pound for pound, he might be the longest driver of the golf ball on tour. He makes birdies and a lot of them. He ranks 8th on tour for number of birdies (359) and 6th in eagles (15). I like those numbers on a course purported to be open and favoring the long hitter. Hideki Matsuyama is another player trending in the right direction. He ranks in the top 10 for total driving (7) and ball striking (7) which are two skills that are at a premium this week. Strokes gained tee to green he ranks 4th. He’s not what you would call a bargain in the draft, but I would call him an excellent value. Patrick Reed, or as I like to call him, “Steady Freddie”. Somehow, this seems like a down year for him, yet he ranks 9th in Fed Ex points. He hasn’t been knocking on the door in a while and maybe a little bit of the bravado is waning. This guy is a fighter and he has shown signs of life as of late. His early round pairing is intriguing. To me, he seems to feed a little bit off his playing partners. G Mac (Graeme McDowell) looks to have resurrected himself from a dismal season…which could do wonders for Reed. Somebody tell Reed this is a Ryder Cup match….he’ll go bonkers.

There are couple of other guys I like this week to have a good tournament, but alas, I can’t give them all up. I’m trying to win too. It’s all there for the taking. Looking forward to tremendous tournament and hoping for a historic finish. Maybe Spieth wins his third or Rory comes back to win after a long layoff. Maybe Tiger finds it just in time to make the playoffs. Or J Day, finally gets his first changing the landscape of the PGA tour. I know the pros can’t wait to embark on those legendary 6 hour rounds starting off split tees. Good luck and enjoy the final major of the year.

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