We’re back at it, as the PGA Tour travels to Firestone Country Club for the World Golf Championships – Bridgestone Invitational in an event where forty of the top fifty golfers in the world rankings will make an appearance. A couple of notes on the tournament that need to be considered when building lineups this week – the field this week is very small with only sixty players in the tournament, you can expect ownership percentages to be inflated with fewer golfers to choose from. There will also not be a cut in this event as a result of the small field so every golfer will be playing four rounds regardless of their scores. Here is a list of golfers I love, like and hate for help when building rosters this week.
Golfers I Love
Jason Day ($12,100) – Jason Day is the best putter on Tour, and it’s not even close when you look at the numbers. It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that Jordan Spieth is untouchable with the putter, but Jason Day’s Strokes Gained: Putting nearly doubles that of Jordan Spieth through 2016 at 1.145 strokes gained on average. Putting is crucial to winning any week, and I’ll be taking a lot of Jason Day as a result.
Jordan Spieth ($11,300) – While Jason Day may take the edge from Spieth in putting through 2016 it’s Spieth who holds the Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green bragging rights between these two top ranked golfers, and at $11,300, Spieth is at his lowest price yet. Despite Jason Day looking far better on paper, I think Spieth clearly has what it takes to win which makes his discounted price really enticing.
Justin Rose ($10,200) – I’ve taken over 200 various statistics from different sources and compiled them in order to project fantasy scoring for every golfer in the field, and Justin Rose’s name has topped the list. While I only have him projected a mere 3.8 points higher than Jason Day, he is nearly $2,000 cheaper and has finished in the top five in three out of his last four starts at this event. I’ll take the discount and the upside with Rose this week.
Daniel Berger ($8,200) – The first question I ask myself when deciding whether to roster a young golfer who is new to the course is – “have new golfers performed well on this course in their first time out before?” In looking for the answer to this question, I stumbled upon a long list of first timers who had something to say. Jason Dufner, Brooks Koepka, Justin Rose, Matt Kuchar, Patrick Reed, Louis Oosthuizen, David Lingmerth, Danny Lee and Kyung-Tae Kim all finished top ten or better in their first appearance here, and those are only the players in this field that I could find. Making a long story short, yes I feel more than comfortable rostering last year’s rookie of the year who is coming off a win three weeks ago despite being a newcomer to the event.
Smylie Kaufman ($6,900) – Kaufman is currently ranked twenty-fourth on the list of total earnings this year at $2,164,000, which is quite a haul for his rookie season. That puts him ahead of some big names like Danny Willet, Rickie Fowler, Charley Hoffman, Justin Rose and Charl Schwartzel. As a newcomer to this event, Kaufman is in a similar situation as Berger, and for many of the same reasons I’ll be on this talented young rookie.
Golfers I Like
Dustin Johnson ($11,600) – Close your eyes and picture the third ranked golfer in the world for a moment. It may not be the same curly haired Northern Irishman you’ve become accustomed to. You may have heard of this guy after his first major win at the U.S. Open only two weeks ago, but Dustin Johnson is the third ranked golfer in the world. He has made his way into the like or love section of my article for what seems like two months straight. He continues to be absolutely on fire with a first, fifth, and third in his most recent events and he has not missed a cut in over a year. I would say he’s made his way into the big four, but Rory hasn’t won on the PGA Tour this year and has underperformed in big events, so go ahead and put Dustin Johnson in the big three without thinking twice.
Bubba Watson ($10,100) – I’ve said this in articles in the past, but Bubba Watson is not your average run of the mill bomber. He has one of the best approach games on Tour, ranking seventh in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-green and thirty-sixth in Strokes Gained: Approach-the-Green. Both these stats should lead to a solid performance out of Bubba Watson following up his second place finish at this event last year.
Hideki Matsuyama ($9,300) – It’s not a very common occurrence to see Hideki Matsuyama missing two cuts in a row, but here we are. I expect Hideki to be less popular than he typically is, and Matsuyama’s tee-to-green game fits the mold, which makes him a great GPP play. My biggest concern is that I’m not certain Hideki has winning upside in a difficult field with no cut.
Marc Leishman ($8,100) – On paper, Marc Leishman has a great resume and although he doesn’t lead most relevant categories by a long shot, he is above average in seemingly every stat category. As a seasoned veteran with a third place finish at this event his upside is just fine at a bit north of $8k in salary.
Kevin Na ($7,300) – I can’t seem to decide why Kevin Na’s price doesn’t seem to go up, particularly in these WGC events with short fields. In 2015 Kevin Na finished inside the top twenty in every single WGC event he played with the exception of the Dell Match Play event. I am strongly considering Kevin Na as a sleeper to win this tournament, and he’ll make a lot of my lineups.
Golfers I Hate
Adam Scott ($10,500) – There isn’t much I can say about Adam Scott other than he just hasn’t been playing his A-game recently. Hopefully it’s obvious at this point that Adam Scott is one of the best golfers in the world and can definitely win any week; however, in his price range I think Justin Rose and Bubba Watson are both less expensive and suit this course much better.
Branden Grace ($9,700) – I mention Branden Grace in much the same way as Marc Leishman. He doesn’t stand out in any stat category but is above average in seemingly everything. The difference is that Grace is $1,600 more expensive, and in four appearances at this event he has never breached the top fifteen.
Rickie Fowler ($9,000) – This is a really difficult choice for me to make with Rickie Fowler, and it’s possible my feelings toward Rickie change as the week progresses. At only $9,000 we are getting a massive discount, and as such I am concerned that he could become a very popular option despite his three missed cuts in four of his most recent events. If we see Rickie at 20% ownership because of his discount than he seems like a good fade consideration.
Louis Oosthuizen ($8,400) – Despite Oosthuizen having been in the top ten at this event twice in five tries, his results have trended in the wrong direction which is an indicator of poor performance that I like to monitor carefully. Having finished no better than fifteenth in over twelve weeks, his form is nothing to write home about, and I’ll be avoiding Louis this week.
Scott Piercy ($7,100) – Beware the urge to roster too much of Scott Piercy this week following his second place finish at the U.S. Open two weeks ago. That being said, Piercy ranks ninety-fourth in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green, and loses strokes approaching the green which makes him a very poor fit for this course. His results tell the same story with his best finish being nineteenth at this event.
Do you have questions about golfers who aren’t in this article? Get more weekly analysis and answers to any of your questions by following me on Twitter @BradMessersmith