Palm Beach Gardens, Florida welcomes the PGA Tour this weekend. Well, maybe “welcomes” isn’t the right word. The Champion Course at PGA National is consistently rated as the most difficult on the entire Tour, and you need to know that when you are putting together your team.
The Champion is tough enough to make you change your strategy. As I have said before, birdie-bogey is worth more than par-par, so what you are normally looking for is someone who can make a lot of birdies, even if he isn’t the most consistent. Where a player is going to finish is just too tough to predict, so you grab someone good enough (you think) to make the cut, who is going to score you fantasy points. It can be a tricky balance to strike.
But on a course like this, it’s simplified. Consistency is key. You need a player who can avoid the big blowup hole, because those holes are out there, and they can ruin a player’s (or a fantasy player’s) weekend. Instead of searching for the player who makes the most birdies on his way up the leaderboard (think Sergio Garcia), you are looking for players who make the fewest bogeys, with just enough scoring holes to compete for the win (think Justin Rose).
Truthfully, though, this way of selecting players is more intuitive, so it might actually be easier to find and select the guys who will have the most success. Instead of worrying about the complexities of fantasy scoring, and trying to identify players who can succeed on the course and in your lineup (and thinking about those two things differently), all you need to think about is the course. You can base your picks, essentially, on who you think has the best chance to win the tournament, and nothing else.
That might be “more intuitive,” but I am not saying it’s easy. Because let’s be honest, the first thing that jumps out at you about this weekend is the field. All of a sudden, all the big names are there: Rory, Rose, Sergio, Kaymer. It’s Rory’s PGA debut, Rose’s second appearance, and Kaymer’s first appearance in the US since last November. And with this influx of talent coming from other tour’s around the world, the prices of the guys you are used to seeing every weekend are suppressed, which only means you are probably going to be happier with your mid-range selections than usual. Even though this is nothing but your brain playing tricks on you (they ARE still mid-priced options for a reason, and the reason is competition), it’s still nice. A little peace of mind can go a long way when you’re hitting that Submit button.
The problem with all these guys being back is that the increased level of play means trusting the cheapest options is a real risk. Which of course means you won’t be able to afford the Rories and the Roses of the world anyway. They’re just there at the top of the list, enticing you, teasing you, until you start rationalizing Sabbatini missing his last two cuts, or wondering if Angel Cabrera has one of those throwback weekends in him. Maybe both? Then I could afford Rose AND Kaymer! You can get caught up in it.
Whether you actually go that route is a “go big or go home” type decision, and with a field this deep, the options are there at every price level to execute any strategy you’d like. And you know the leaderboard, at the end of the day, is going to be peppered with players with DK prices from all over the board, so any strategy you talk yourself into could work, so long as you’re right… good luck!