The next stop on the Tour is La Quinta, CA, for the CareerBuilder Challenge. The PGA WEST TPC Stadium Course and Jack Nicklaus Tournament Course play host this year, along with La Quinta Country Club (which also hosted last year), as golfers will have three courses to contend with as they shoot for the low scores they will need to take home the title. There are plenty of quality golfers around to build a solid fantasy lineup – and leave you with plenty of tough decisions to make. Here are a few players from every price range to consider for your fantasy rosters.
Patrick Reed ($12,400) – With the way he is playing right now, he is the class of the fantasy options available to you, which to me means that if you’re paying $10,000+ for just one golfer, it should be him. As great as a guy like Matt Kuchar is, for a savings of $300, just find the money somewhere else. Going back to October and including a couple of stops on the European tour, Reed has finished inside the top-10 in six straight tournaments, including a -22 solo second at the Hyundai a couple of weeks ago (not quite Spieth’s -30, but not bad either). He doesn’t have a single round over 69 in either of his last two appearances. And in case you need further convincing, he won this tournament in 2014, with a record -28 final score.
Bill Haas ($11,500) – He has won here twice and finished second once. He hasn’t shot a single round over par here in more than 8 years. And, even if it’s been a while since you have had him in your fantasy lineup, he has been playing well recently, with a T5 at the World Hero Challenge and a T18 two weeks ago at the Hyundai. One of those two wins came last year, when he finished -22 with no rounds over 69 and a low round of 63 on Friday.
Ryan Palmer ($11,000) – Palmer did not end the 14-15 season well, and his world ranking dropped 30 spots. But it could only drop that far because he had managed to creep into the top 25 in the world with his strong play earlier in the season. Well, it’s that time of year again. He finished with a T13 last weekend, and is going to be looking to build that ranking back up in a tournament he has played to a T10 or better finish each of the last three years.
Charley Hoffman ($9,200) – Hoffman hasn’t shown you a lot of reasons to trust him recently, but he has done great things at this tournament. He has won here once, back in 2007, but has four other top-ten finishes, including a T2 last year. With two new courses in the rotation this weekend, that might not matter as much, but it is still an early-season tournament in Southern California that will require low scores to win. And he did play very well at La Quinta last year, a course he would have to tackle again this year en route to a title (or anything even close).
Brendan Steele ($9,000) – He finished T2 here last year – one of a few guys who can claim that feat, who all came in tied at -21, just a stroke behind Bill Haas. He hasn’t played a lot of golf since last fall, but those performances landed him third in the All-Around Ranking, so if he is still swinging the clubs that well, he could easily compete with the rest of this field.
David Lingmerth ($8,800) – He had a T15 at the Hyundai and followed it up with a T13 last weekend at the Sony Open. Hawaii agreed with him, apparently. But he has been a streaky golfer at times, so if a couple of courses that agreed with him got him started on one, roll with it. He finished second here in 2013 after losing in a playoff, and really did see his career take off until last season (almost $3MIL in earnings, more than a million more than 2013, his second-highest). When he is hot, his game isn’t safe, it’s making birdies, which is what players are going to have to do this weekend in order to succeed.
Francesco Molinari ($8,700) – Currently sitting at fourth in the world in the “Strokes Gained – Putting” statistic, Molinari has the kind of game that translates onto most courses pretty well. He came in at T33 at Waialae, which happened because of too many bogeys – he wasn’t hitting quite enough greens, and the putting stroke is the only thing that allowed him to finish as high as he did in the end. These courses should lend themselves to slightly easier trips from the tee to the green, which could help Molinari take even more advantage of a hot putter.
Graham DeLaet ($8,500) – There were enough low scores last weekend that you would not expect a guy who opened with a 73 to be able to finish T7. DeLaet pulled it off, and he did it because of a ridiculous 62 he shot on Friday. He then followed that up with a 65-66 on the weekend, enough to get into the top ten and to show me he has the game to card enough holes under par this weekend to do it again.
Zac Blair ($8,200) – He shot 65-65-64-67 at Waialae, ultimately finishing third without quite enough juice to stay in front on Sunday. But those are impressive numbers nonetheless, and came on the strength of a red-hot putter that helped him make 23 birdies and also save a ton of pars (hence only the four bogeys). Those same skills will be exactly what he needs this weekend to go low enough to compete again.
Si Woo Kim ($7,400) – He is 20 years old, but sometimes it is better to not know what you don’t know. He doesn’t see a reason why he shouldn’t compete with everyone, and this is just another chance to go out and do it. He has played in six PGA events so far this season, and he has missed two cuts and finished inside the top-25 in each of his other four tries. That includes top-20 performances in each of his last three, and a solo fourth last weekend at the Sony Open. He has no rounds over par in his last three, and low rounds of 64 twice and 66 once, all good enough for a 90+ DK FP scoring average over that span.
Jamie Lovemark ($7,200) – The 27-year-old has has dealt with back injuries his whole career, and has played most of the last few seasons on the Web.com Tour. His one PGA event last year ended with a T18 at the U.S. Open. And as one of the top-25 2015 money winners, he’s got his card again. He has played in six PGA events so far on the 2016 season, and had a top-25 finish at the Shriners last fall. And maybe he’s gotten more comfortable – his last two performances have been even better, with top tens at the RSM Classic and last weekend’s Sony Open (where he shot four rounds under 70).
Troy Merritt ($6,200) – He’s very inconsistent, tournament to tournament, round to round, swing to swing – so he’s not a lock. Sometimes a player like this who is cheap is a necessary evil in a GPP, though, and he is someone who is capable of helping you. He had a T21 back in October at the CIMB, and then a T18 at the Hyundai (before missing the cut last weekend). His performance at the Hyundai Open was good, despite an opening-round 75, so you know he is capable of holing birdies. The 54-hole cut line this weekend will give him more chances to make up for a misstep here, and if none of the rounds get too out of hand, he could finish near the top of this leaderboard with a very useful fantasy performance.