If you play PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf and you’re on the fence to burn the final start for any of your possibilities at the PGA Championship, your best default is to open with any of those candidates on your bench and leave them there until the 36 -hole cut falls. (REMINDER: The cut at the PGA Championship is low 70 and ties.)
RELATED: Horses for Courses | Sleeper picks
With only two tournaments remaining in Segment 3, and projecting that round-by-round fantasy scoring will be low at Southern Hills Country Club, there is no reason to rush into any golfer unless he’s unlikely to play at Colonial and / or Muirfield Village where fantasy scoring will be higher.
Consider your experience at the Wells Fargo Championship just two weeks ago when actual scores were among the highest of the season. Until bonus points were applied to your starters in the final round, hanging up a zero in any round was addition by subtraction. For example, I played Matt Kuchar in all four rounds. He finished T49 at 7-over 287 and netted one fantasy point, that via his FedExCup bonus. In other words, if there ever was a week to sit the studs, that was it.
The beautiful thing about the PGA Championship – other than the breathtaking course – is that the field is deeper than every other this side of THE PLAYERS Championship. Mix in one or two hard-charging internationals among the sometimers to reserve a start for one or two who project to contribute more in the two weeks that follow.
POWER RANKINGS WILD CARD
Shane Lowry (+125 for a Top 20) … This is a major, so it’s only rightful that he’s an extension of the Power Rankings proper. In fact, based on reaction to the PR, he’s a snub, and I can’t disagree even though I write the thing. Phenomenal form upon arrival with all of the data supports a continuation, he hasn’t done anything to warrant concern. But if he finishes solo 21st, I’m a genius.
Dustin Johnson (+110 for a Top 20) … In his first start as a married man, he finished T59 at the AT&T Byron Nelson, but there’s nothing to read into there, gang. Expectations for success always are way up there for the 24-time PGA TOUR winner, so every forgettable result to which you’re attached emotionally feels personal, but Southern Hills will reward his tee-to-green strengths, so go ahead and push for something stronger than this bet.
Tyrrell Hatton (+225 for a Top 20) … In the numbers game of the Power Rankings, he just missed. In his last four stroke-play starts in individual competition, he’s finished no better than T21, and none of those were in a field as thick as this week’s. So, he slots nicely as a cornerstone to make the cut and take his talents into the weekend.
Talor Gooch (+333 for a Top 20) … It’s easy to spin positively about anyone in the field with ties to the Sooner State, but it’s the right call for the native and resident of Midwest City, an eastern suburb of Oklahoma City about 90 miles southwest of Southern Hills. While he’s cooled a bit since his breakthrough title at The RSM Classic six months ago, he’s still been connecting for top 20s with regularity. One of the best around the greens and currently leading the PGA TOUR in par-3 scoring, a handy weapon in the winds.
Keegan Bradley (+250 for a Top 20) … Fun fact: Back in the day when I was hosting and producing live text chats at Rotoworld, at the very end of the hang for the 2011 PGA Championship, a reader asked for only the name of a longshot. My answer: Keegan Bradley. Sho’nuff, the then-PGA TOUR rookie went out and prevailed in Atlanta in what was his major debut di lui. He already had won the Nelson that season, so my short list was limited to recent winners, but Bradley also checked all of the boxes statistically. With four years of weekly, hands-on experience analyzing the sport and over 15 years playing fantasy, I was confident. Keegs has been dynamite on challenging courses in the last couple of months, so he no longer is a longshot.
Brian Harman (+450 for a Top 20) … Keeps on keepin ‘on. Went through the process of committing late to the AT&T Byron Nelson only to withdraw early, but even though the strength-of-field rating at TPC Craig Ranch was a sturdy 371, he may have determined that contributing to his divisor in the Official World Golf Ranking via only the PGA Championship was the better move to position better to qualify for The Open Championship via the next top 50. Whatever the case, he finished T9 the week prior in the test outside DC, and he compensates for relative distance lost off the tee with accuracy and precision on approach. Confident short game and putting continues to pay off the efforts.
Seamus Power (+333 for a Top 20) … The 35-year-old hadn’t qualified for a major until the Masters last month. Like more and more first-timers at Augusta National in the last couple of editions, he busted the trend that experience is required and finished T27. He’s 23rd in the FedExCup with four top 10s and another six top 25s, but he presents as a sleeper this week because of the star power around him. His analytics di lui are eye-popping and he’s entirely worth full value of this bet.
Harold Varner III
Odds sourced on Wednesday, May 18th at 9 am ET. For live odds visit betmgm
KH Lee … Checks to see if the PGA Championship is contested at TPC Craig Ranch. No? OK, then. He’s equipped better to handle the comedown after defending his title in Texas than last year’s surprise breakthrough, but it’s still a fact that he’s 0-for-5 in the majors. Zero reason to expect lightning to strike in that bottle again this soon.
Webb Simpson… At the certainty of repeating the lament, he still hasn’t put four rounds together since returning from missing two months due to a herniated disc in his neck.
Marc Leishman… On Twitter Spaces for GolfBet in advance of the AT&T Byron Nelson, I stated that I’ve drifted accidentally into the position of an apologist in support of the Aussie. The absence of a top 10 in seven months doesn’t seem possible given how great of a fit he’s been for all the reasons. Even last week, he had an eagle-1, -2 and a pair of -3s, yet managed to finish T51. The cynic in me believes that, on the spectrum of golfers who have gone through the gauntlet of Riviera, Bay Hill, TPC Sawgrass, the Match Play, Augusta National, the team format in NOLA and the challenge at TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm, someone will be situated near an endpoint of disappointing returns. The silence can’t last, and it should have ended last week, but there’s no reason to think that he makes noise at Southern Hills after so many solid looks without meeting even one expectation.
Abraham Ancer… No top 30s in stroke-play competition in seven consecutive starts and no top 25s in the same format on the PGA TOUR since Mayakoba in November. Southern Hills isn’t a track where he’s going to find an elixir, either.
Bubba Watson… He should love how the topography of the course fits visually with his style of play, but the form just isn’t there. The turning point was Riviera where he’s had so much success and still missed the cut despite months of inspiring performances.
Tony Finau… He’s showing signs that his putting is turning a corner but not enough to warrant hope for something special beyond making the cut.
Matthew Wolff … Well, I was on board at TPC Craig Ranch last week, but that didn’t pan out. If he wasn’t an Oklahoma State University product, I may have omitted him, but he continues to struggle in putting two rounds together, much less four.
Cameron Tringale… Loyal readers already know what’s coming. In 21 starts in the majors and THE PLAYERS, he’s cashed just 10 times and only once for a top 25 (T16, 2016 PLAYERS). Bottom line, his game di lui has not played up on the biggest stages.
Editor’s Note: In addition to PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf, fans can also participate in the PGA Championship’s fantasy game this week and win merchandise from Southern Hills.
RETURNING TO COMPETITION
Bryson DeChambeau… Easily the biggest question mark as we encroach on the opening round. He had surgery to repair the hamate bone in his left hand on April 14. In the context of elevated expectations, at best this is a potential boon for full-season owners who have been crushed by his decision to sit out the entire fall and failure to stay healthy in 2022.
Daniel Berger… Careful here. He was slated to play the Mexico Open at Vidanta but withdrew early due to a sore back. End. That’s an international trip. However, his back di lui also thwarted his title defense at Pebble Beach in February. Of course, in between those episodes, he went 5-for-5 with a solo fourth at PGA National headlining a trio of top 25s.
Louis Oosthuizen… This is his first live action since he pulled out of the Masters before his second round with a sore back. The irony was that one of his playing partners di lui was Tiger Woods, he of his own comeback at the time and curiosity of the physical capability to complete two rounds, much less make the cut and complete all 72 holes as he did. For the record, while Oosthuizen has withdrawn twice during competition in the last six months (RSM), he hasn’t missed a cut since the 2020 edition of the RSM.
Phil Mickelson … The defending champion announced late last week that he will remain sidelined indefinitely. He hasn’t played anywhere since early February.
Sungjae Im… Complications regarding travel from his native South Korea after testing positive for COVID-19 made it impossible for him to arrive at Southern Hills in time. He was among the handful of internationals who opted not to compete in the 2021 Open Championship as a result of challenges related to the pandemic.
Paul Casey… Extended discomfort in his back has prevented him from playing, or at least trying to play since his mid-tournament withdrawal just two holes into the first round of the Match Play in late March. This is his third early WD di lui since.
Harris English… Had hoped to give it a go for the first time since having surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right hip on Feb. 14.
Jimmy Walker… Out since missing the cut at home in San Antonio. This is the first PGA Championship he’s missed since taking the title in 2016.
Davis Love III… Recently withdrew after two rounds of the Mitsubishi Electric Classic on the PGA TOUR Champions. An explanation wasn’t released; he was T53 at the time. This is the fourth edition of the last seven PGA Championships that the 1997 winner has skipped. He’s missed the cut in his last seven appearances dating back to 2012.
RECAP – AT&T BYRON NELSON
Power Ranking Golfer Result
1 Scottie Scheffler T15
2 Justin Thomas T5
3 Will Zalatoris MC
4 Jordan Spieth 2nd
5 Sam Burns MC
6 Talor Gooch MC
7 Xander Schauffele T5
8 Joaquin Niemann T25
9 Brian Harman DNP
10 Hideki Matsuyama T3
11 Marc Leishman T51
12 Dustin Johnson T59
13 Jhonattan Vegas T59
14 Cameron Champ T38
15 Aaron Wise T51
Wild Card Tommy Fleetwood T59
Golfer (Bet) Result
Joohyung (Tom) Kim (+550 for a Top 20) T17
Maverick McNealy (+200 for a Top 20) T32
Shaun Norris (+650 for a Top 20) MC
Cameron Percy (+1100 for a Top 20) MC
Callum Tarren (+1100 for a Top 20) T46
Bet: Adam Hadwin – Top 30 (+190)
BIRTHDAYS AMONG ACTIVE MEMBERS OF THE PGA TOUR
May 17… Hunter Mahan (40)
May 18… Christiaan Bezuidenhout (28)
May 19… Austin Smotherman (28)
May 20… Branden Grace (34)
May 21… Stewart Cink (49); Gary Woodland (38); John Huh (32)
May 22… Scott Brown (39); Jason Kokrak (37)
May 23… none