The Tour’s next stop is at Riviera CC for the Northern Trust Open. At one of the hardest courses on Tour every year, every stroke is going to count for all the guys on your fantasy roster. With greens this hard to hit, do you go for the best ball-strikers or the best scramblers? Everything can be on the table – so here are a few names you can consider.
Jordan Spieth ($13,200) – He is one of the best golfers in the world, returning to a course where he has finished T12 and T4 the last two years, and coming off a 66 on Sunday at Pebble Beach that showed off his full array of skills and almost got him into the top-20. He managed to shoot four straight rounds here under par last year, impressive on a course with a scoring average more than a full stroke over. He’s the safest guy on the board, and he has the most upside – hence the price.
Hideki Matsuyama ($11,100) – He took last weekend off after outlasting Rickie Fowler at the Phoenix Open, finally triumphing on the fifth playoff hole. He has played here twice, finishing 23rd in his 2014 debut and then 4th last year. He is a player who is going to have his best performance if he is hitting greens, and he has the talent to do it, even on a track like this one. But if he succumbs even a little to the course, he might not be able to recover quite like some of the other elite options, which makes him more of a high risk/reward tournament play than a cash game option, in my mind.
Sergio Garcia ($10,100) – It’s just fun to see Sergio out there, isn’t it? He’s played a few times since the last time he played on the Tour, including a T7 in Qatar last time out, and he has always succeeded here. He can make shots, which is what a course like this takes. He is someone you might normally prefer in a GPP to a cash game as well, but the track record he has here makes him an option in any format (seven top-25’s in nine tries).
Charl Schwartzel ($9,600) – I love Schwartzel in this spot. He is someone who runs hot and cold, but when he is hot, he is the type of player who can win, certainly. But almost more importantly, he is the kind of player who can lead the field in fantasy points even without winning. He’s been in the top five here twice before, and just won the Tshwane Open a couple of days ago in South Africa with a -16 that included a round of 64 on Friday and a closing round 63 to blow away the field. I would say he was on his game.
Bill Haas ($9,200) – He has a great history here with a win in 2012 and four other top-25 finishes. He struggled through large portions of 2015, but started turning it around as the 2016 season was kicking off last fall. That success has carried through to the past month or so, with top-twenties at the CareerBuilder and the HTOC, and most recently, his T8 at Pebble Beach. He had 16 birdies against only six bogeys, and showed the kind of form he has had when entering this tournament in years past.
Paul Casey ($8,900) – One of two players to fall to James Hahn in a playoff last year, he made it there by somewhat of a different route. Hahn shot 66-74 to open the weekend last year, but Casey shot a more consistent 70-69-71-68. He does everything pretty well: he might not have the best GIR numbers every week, but he doesn’t miss badly, and he can finish a hole. The ability to leave your chips close and drain all your makable putts should be enough to keep him in contention.
Andy Sullivan ($8,400) -This will be his first appearance in the US since November, and after he left here last time he went on a bit of a run, with three straight top-20 showings on the European Tour. He came back from a break around the holidays strong, and in his last two tournaments, in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, he has carded T22 and T2 finishes (four rounds under par in Dubai, coming in at -18).
Harris English ($8,100) – He finished +1 here last year to tie for thirtieth overall, but that was his worst showing in three tries. His best was a T10 the year before. He played well last time we saw him in Scottsdale, and if you take his recent play and course history, he is at worst a decent cash game option who would be a value at this price.
James Hahn ($7,300) – Well, he is the defending champ. He fought off Casey and Dustin Johnson in a playoff last time, but he doesn’t need to end up tied for #1 at -6 to be a value at this price. Prior to a missed cut last week at Pebble Beach, he had made four straight cuts to kick off 2016. At his best, he is a player who doesn’t make a lot of mistakes, which explains his success here in the past. This is a course where mistakes can pile up in a hurry.
Fredrik Jacobson ($7,900) – Quite possibly the best value on the board, you are looking at a guy who costs under $8K and who has finished T4 in each of his last two starts. The 65-69-68-71 he shot at Pebble Beach feature 21 birdies and only 7 bogeys, good for 103.5 DK FP. He is inside the top-15 in all kinds of categories from close in to the green like scrambling, scrambling from the rough, and some proximity to the hole stats. These are the exact skills that can translate into a solid performance on a course where your competitors can end up dropping strokes all around you.
Jamie Lovemark ($7,200) – Despite the missed cut at the Phoenix Open, Lovemark STILL managed to improve his spot in the Scrambling stat for the year, moving from 14th to 11th. He has the length to take the bite out of some of the hazards, and if he can manage to get up and down consistently, he should be able to easily outperform this price tag.
Adam Hadwin ($6,900) – Since returning to action at the Sony Open in mid-January, he has made four cuts, and finished inside the top-20 twice, including a T17 at the Phoenix Open just a couple of weeks ago. He has averaged just about 10 bogeys per tournament over that span, showing off an ability to save strokes that, if he can duplicate it, would have him in contention this weekend.