Okay first and foremost, I apologize for not getting this posted until the day of the tournament. Here in South Carolina where I am writing, we typically use snow as the perfect excuse to not do something, and this week we’ve more than we are accustomed to (1 inch on Tuesday and 6 more last night). But I have no excuse, I made our picks on Tuesday and just never got around to posting them.
So we’ll get straight to it – here is who we’re going with, repetition be damned, the deepest field of 2015. Granted, I really wanted to come up with some new material than “this is the strongest field yet,” but honestly there is not much drop off this week than the lineup for next week’s WGC event – which of course is no coincidence, a lot of the marquee international players want to get warmed up before they fall to the mercy of Trump National at Doral next week. Say hello to Charl Schwartzel, Louis Oosthuizen, Victor Dubuisson, Martin Kaymer, and of course, world number 1 Rory McIlroy. We’ll also see returns from Rickie Fowler, Jason Dufner, and Patrick Reed, among others.
Rory McIlroy. Our first available Rory use, and you better believe we are taking it. Like Tiger in the good old days, Rory heading into this season, with a runner up and a win already under his belt on the European Tour, is simply a must-take. Especially in a tournament where he won, had a tooth-ache that we will now forgive him for, and then lost in a playoff last year. He is money in the bank, and even in the event that he busts, he will bust probably about 95% of the fantasy teams this week.
Keegan Bradley. Somehow, despite the attention that Keegan typically gathers, he completely flew under the radar last week to land a T4 finish. It’s his second top 20 in this calendar year, and we fully expect Keegs to keep hanging with the big dogs as the season starts to heat up. A good challenge awaits him at PGA National, and we’ll just see if he can keep the non-anchor putter under control.
Charl Schwartzel. A bit of a horse for the course pick here, Schwartzel missed the cut last year, but prior to that had 3 top 15s in three years between 2011-2013 (T14, T5, T9). Mostly, though, we’re going with Charl because there are enough big names out there that we think the South African will be forgotten by many, ergo, he’s a good value pick.
Billy Horschel. Another value pick. Horschel had a stand-out year in 2013, then disappeared last year… until he woke up in the Fed Ex Cup playoffs and finished 2, 1, 1 in the last three tournaments. We don’t expect the trend to continue in which Billy only plays well at the end of the season. He’s never posted good finishes on the Florida swing, which is shocking, because he is such a proud Florida Gator himself. Maybe this is the year to change that. Oh and side note: We noticed after making these picks that Schwartzel and Horschel kind of rhymes, so… we’ve got that going for us.
Sergio Garcia. Obviously Rory is the popular choice in this top tier, but we are hedging our bets and putting our trust in the Spaniard to follow up his disappointing T4 (disappointing in that he had a great chance to win) with another strong finish. As always, you are not betting on Sergio to win, but betting on his consistency in terms of making cuts and getting into contention.
Keegan Bradley. Well starting off with hedging, we’re following up with a repeated pick in Bradley. Like we said, we’ve got big expectations for this guy.
Russell Knox. Okay, out of the 4 who made it into the playoff last year (Henley, McIlroy, Palmer, and Knox), Knox is probably the biggest long shot to get into contention this year. But we like his steady game, and in the third tier, he is a rational pick who also hasn’t been picked by many.
Mark Wilson. Another pick made purely to go against the grain. Wilson is one of those guys who you just see his name pop up every once in a while. He has no impressive finishes in this tournament in recent memory, but he has made 4/4 cuts in his last 4 attempts. That’s really all you’re hoping for with this pick, that they make the cut, then who knows what could happen.