Fantasy Insider: Valspar Championship

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Once the Valspar Championship and all of the other action on the planet concludes this weekend, the field for the World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play will be set. The top 64 in the next edition of the Official World Golf Ranking determines who qualifies.

Whoever sits 65th in the OWGR should also plan his trip to Austin Country Club in Texas because the Valspar is Sergio Garcia’s last start until the Masters. (He’s currently 11th in the world.) His wife is due to deliver the couple’s first child at the end of March, so the Spaniard will not compete in the Match Play. By default, this means that this is your last opportunity to invest in Segment 2 of PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf presented by SERVPRO.

The Match Play lands inside the window for Segment 2, but in our world, it’s contested on a stand-alone platform, which is now open for registration at FantasyBracket.PGATOUR.com. If you’re already registered for any of the three existing games, then you don’t need to sign up for the bracket game. Simply sit tight until the round-robin matches are finalized at 9:00 p.m. ET on Monday, March 19. In the meantime, you can create public and private leagues on the platform. I will be participating in the PGA TOUR Experts league.

PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf presented by SERVPRO

My roster for the Valspar Championship (in alphabetical order):

Paul Casey
Tony Finau
Justin Rose
Jordan Spieth
Henrik Stenson
Tiger Woods

You’ll find my starters in Expert Picks.

Others to consider for each category (in alphabetical order):

Scoring: Byeong Hun An; Dominic Bozzelli; Bryson DeChambeau; Jason Kokrak; Luke List; Cameron Smith

Driving: Byeong Hun An; Bryson DeChambeau; Kevin Streelman; Gary Woodland

Approach: Jason Dufner; Matt Kuchar; Rory Sabbatini; Kevin Streelman;

Short: Dominic Bozzelli; Matt Kuchar; Ryan Moore; Webb Simpson; Cameron Smith

Power Rankings Wild Card

Rory McIlroy … The best thing about blue chips with plummeting value is that they become speculative. His investment floor is higher than most because of his cachet and because we know he’s going to turn it around at some point. Let the negative rhetoric in the mainstream influence others. Take a nibble. The rib injury is a thing of the past, too.

Draws

Tiger Woods … This is entirely about keeping the faith as he warms with a steady stream of meaningful action. A top 25 in his debut at Copperhead would exceed expectations against this field, but once he connects, as he’s projected to do at some point, everyone will be on him. When that happens, he’s going to cancel out in PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf presented by SERVPRO. This is why I’ve rostered him at the Valspar. Before the reign.

Webb Simpson … With him, it’s tough not to fall into the “fool me twice, shame on me” pool because he always looks good and went years of zigzagging around sure things, but I’m diving head-first. His putting has been making headlines and his form has been dynamite for nearly a year now. A fruitful history at Copperhead (top 20s in every edition from 2010-2013) is a bonus, not the guide.

Kevin Na … Easily could be the Wild Card as his game rounds back into shape. At the same time, he’s never been streaky because he lacks distance off the tee, which puts some pressure on his short game that can get exposed in deeper fields but not automatically so. He’s been a regular at Copperhead where he connected seven cuts made from 2009-2016, including a runner-up finish in 2014, and bombers’ primary weapons are neutralized on this course, so the combination of factors caters to his overall strengths as a golfer.

Matthew Fitzpatrick … With as well as he’s been performing for months, he’s unlikely to let us down, so it’s just a matter of how we build him into our approach. In DFS, he can be applied as a hired gun to complement the stalwarts at Copperhead. In PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf presented by SERVPRO, he’s a sporty option to stow on the bench in case he elbows into contention. For season-long gamers, continue to remain patient until he qualifies for fully exempt status. The Englishman is likely to max out on his allotted starts as a non-member.

Sam Burns (DFS)
Bryson DeChambeau (all)
Ross Fisher (DFS)
Charley Hoffman (DFS)
Charles Howell III (DFS)
Jason Kokrak (all)
Brandt Snedeker (DFS)
Kevin Streelman (all)
Gary Woodland (SERVPRO)

Fades

Adam Scott … Even if his record at Copperhead was impressive, there hasn’t been enough consistently strong form to warrant the price tag in DFS. But that he’s just 3-for-6 (from 2005-2015) with no top 25s here cinches the decision to abstain.

Patrick Reed … Continues to disappoint despite variables that suggest that he makes sense. They conspire again at Copperhead where he lost in a playoff in 2015 and finished T7 in 2017.

Zach Johnson … I review this every year. His career record in Florida in late February and March is surprisingly pedestrian. Factoring in PGA National, Copperhead and Bay Hill, he’s a combined 22-for-28. That’s ZJ-esque, but all five of his top 10s are at Bay Hill. So, even if he rises to the occasion in his first appearance at the Valspar in five years, simply tip your visor and short-list him for next week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Keegan Bradley
J.B. Holmes
Si Woo Kim
Chris Kirk
Shane Lowry
William McGirt
Ryan Palmer
Jimmy Walker

Returning to Competition

Bill Haas … There are moments in time when fantasy takes a back seat to reality. This is one of them. Obviously you’re going to do what you’re going to do, and for the same reasons why you make all of your decisions as his road to recovery following the fatal crash three weeks ago continues with his first PGA TOUR start this week. Copperhead has been good to him – his record includes a playoff loss just two years ago – but merely making the cut would be progress in his return to something resembling normalcy.

Bud Cauley … Returning from a wrist injury suffered at PGA National where he called it quits after opening with 80. Give him time.

Alex Cejka … Gamers are accustomed to his nagging neck and back issues, so it’s strange to accept that he’s withdrawn during two of his last three starts with an illness (WMPO) and a sore thumb (Honda). It’s also disappointing considering he closed out the fall with a playoff loss at the Shriners and T9 at Mayakoba. Tied for 14th at Copperhead last year, and he’s prone to turning the page quickly, but not even the risky should invest right now.

Danny Lee … Withdrew during his first round of The Honda Classic for personal reasons and acknowledged on Twitter twice that he “couldn’t really focus out there.” Since The RSM Classic, he’s just 1-for-7 with a T58 at Torrey Pines.

D.A. Points … Exited the Honda field early with “neck issues” (according to his tweet on Feb. 19). However, he was in Puerto Rico last week for the charity event benefiting the island after last year’s devastating weather. Now tackling Copperhead for the first time since 2015. He hasn’t recorded a top-45 finish here since 2010 and it’s been 10 months since his last top-50 finish in a full-field event.

Davis Love III … First live action since having his left hip replaced on Nov. 21. It’s also his first appearance at Copperhead since 2014. Turns 54 years of age next month.

Nicholas Lindheim … Take two. Had planned on returning to competition at PGA National two weeks ago, but withdrew early in the week. The 33-year-old walked off Riviera during his first round with an illness the week before that. He’s making his debut at Copperhead and does so in pursuit of ending an 0-for-4 skid.

Chris Couch … No need to adjust your monitor or screen. He is back! Assuming he sticks with his commitment, it’ll mark his first start since the 2012 Wyndham Championship, but Copperhead is also the site of his most recent of eight career top 10s on the PGA TOUR. After co-leading at the midpoint in 2011, he tied for fifth. (To help you tap into your memory bank, that was the same edition at which Gary Woodland broke through for his first TOUR title.) The 44-year-old has four starts remaining on his Major Medical Extension to earn $311,662 and retain status.

Notable WDs

Kyle Stanley … Cemented a spot in the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play with a T25 at Chapultepec. It’ll mark his first appearance in that tournament since his debut in 2012. Currently 55th in the Official World Golf Ranking.

Peter Uihlein … At 62nd in the OGWR, he’d risk playing his way outside the bubble for the Match Play because he’d add one to his divisor. It’s an example of the loophole in the formula in which a DNP can be worth more than a cut made if it’s not a high finish.

Jonas Blixt … A mildly disappointing decision for course history buffs given he’s hung up a pair of T22s on the renovation, but he’s been unusable all season, so the rest of us aren’t going to miss him.

Andrew Landry … Whew, what a season. Three top 10s among four cuts made but hasn’t survived a cut since the playoff loss at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Both the spikes and the slump are understandable, though. He’s about to become a father for the first time. Per his tweet on Feb. 24, he had planned on taking a break after the Valspar, and then return at the RBC Heritage on April 12-15.


Power Rankings Recap – The Honda Classic

Power Ranking Golfer Result

1 Justin Thomas P2
2 Alex Noren T14
3 Dustin Johnson T7
4 Tommy Fleetwood T14
5 Phil Mickelson Win
6 Justin Rose T37
7 Jordan Spieth T14
8 Tony Finau T27
9 Jon Rahm T20
10 Thomas Pieters T37
11 Paul Casey T12
12 Ross Fisher T46
13 Bubba Watson T9
14 Matthew Fitzpatrick T30
15 Webb Simpson T37
16 Jason Dufner T55
17 Sergio Garcia T7
18 Rickie Fowler T37
19 Dylan Frittelli T55
20 Daniel Berger T14
Wild Card Kevin Chappell T30

Sleepers – The Honda Classic

Golfer Result

Dean Burmester T30
Jorge Campillo T27
Joost Luiten T37
Chris Paisley T37
Shubhankar Sharma T9

Birthdays among active golfers on the PGA TOUR

March 6 … Ben Crane (42)
March 7 … none
March 8 … none
March 9 … Vaughn Taylor (42)
March 10 … Steve Marino (38)
March 11 … none
March 12 … none

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