Let’s just start off by saying that these three WGC events are not counted in our year-long draft league, because they are shortened fields and do not have a cut. But I suppose that does not mean we get the week off – we still need to make picks for weekly leagues. After the results at the Honda, trust me, we would like the week off. Though to be fair, every fantasy expert and blog I follow has expressed the same exact sentiments in regard to last week’s picks and results. Anyway, enough dwelling on what was and what should never be.
Full field or not, this tournament is one of the most exciting events of the year. Mostly because it by definition puts the best players in the world up against each other, the leaderboard is always strong and entertaining to follow (note: this is also the first we will see from Adam Scott, Henrik Stenson, and a red-hot Branden Grace in the states). And when you head to a course nicknamed “the blue monster,” you know you will get a high level of golf due to a high level of difficulty.
Trump National at Doral is a course owned by, you guessed it, Donald Trump. Because of this, you can bet that it is a course in pristine condition, in which – as John Hammond from Jurassic Park would say – they spared no expense in course redesigns and maintenance. You’d be hard-pressed to find a “horse for the course,” because of the significant changes made last year, and the depth of the field yields a very unique leaderboard every year it seems (not to mention several players go in and out of qualification each year).
As for the top golfers in the world, really any one of them could win. Whether it be McIlroy, Watson, Day, Rose, Spieth, Kuchar, or defending champion Patrick Reed, you can almost pick names out of a hat from the top 16 in the world to make your picks this week. The only ones that concern us are Stenson and Scott, because they haven’t been playing much, and Kaymer and Fowler because they seem like they still need to wake up and snap into form.
The scary thing is that there are a lot of other golfers in the field who we really like. Jamie Donaldson, Luke Donald, and Joost Luiten impressed us last week with their strong finishes in harsh conditions (6, T7, and T11, respectively). Paul Casey had a second-straight run for the title. Then you’ve got several players, like Brooks Koepka, Ryan Palmer, Shane Lowry, and Branden Grace, who are just in great form right now. A lot of ways to go this week. So without further ado, we try to rebound from the worst week ever:
Jordan Spieth. Of all the “big names” this week, we are not hearing a lot about Spieth. You all know everything you need to know about this guy. Sure, he’s not lights out every week, but who is (see Rory’s missed cut last week)? He’s proven in the Masters, the Hero World Challenge, and other tournaments early in his career that he can rise to the occasion on the biggest stages. If we have a chance to be in the minority by picking Spieth this week, we will take it.
Jim Furyk. Another player who isn’t getting a lot of attention, yet it would shock no one if he finished in the top 5. Still, given the other options this week, we consider Furyk to be a definite risk. That is a theme in our PGATour picks this week – we’d like to make up some ground by going for guys that aren’t popular picks this week.
Stephen Gallacher. The Scot will be our only “double-dip” pick of the week, and we are doing this for good reason, as he is our sleeper pick to win the whole tournament. Gallacher earned our respect in the Ryder Cup, and we think he will garner even more attention in the WGC’s and majors this year. Truly, picking him in the first WGC of the year is a bit of a gamble, as it would be nice to see how he performs on U.S. soil first, but after last week we are thinking “why the hell not?”
Joost Luiten. Another pick that qualifies as a sleeper, but Luiten did finish in a T11 last week and a T13 in this tournament last year. A staple on the European tour, we think Luiten can carryover his momentum from PGA National to Doral.
Jason Day. Hard to bet against a healthy Day. Well, when your other options include Rory McIlroy, Bubba Watson, and Adam Scott, it may not be THAT hard… Still, we’ll take Day to keep making a push toward unseating Rory for best player in the world. He has the game, the consistency, and the composure to win here.
Matt Kuchar. Only in a WGC, and possibly the majors, will Kuchar drop to the second tier. We will take advantage. He comes as close to the definition of “stalwart” – coincidentally a great GRE word – as any golfer does in terms of fantasy golf. Of course, there were many, many options in the second tier, but it’s impossible to not feel comfortable with Kuch.
Stephen Gallacher. Again, we passed on many great options because we’re just going for it with Gallacher this week. Please, please, please don’t let us down Stephen!
Russell Henley. Because of the field, golfers like Jason Dufner and Webb Simpson fell to the bottom tier this week, which makes the Golf Channel format all the more challenging. We are going with Henley on the hope that he finds the poise that has him ranked 56 in the world, and a two-time winner on the PGA Tour in just his second season as a pro. With Henley, you truly never know what you’re going to get, but if he’s on his game, he can beat anyone in the world.