The courses, I guess, by the numbers, are getting a little easier. It doesn’t necessarily feel it, though, as the Tour moves to the Blue Monster at Trump National Doral Golf Club. Last year’s winner, Patrick Reed, finished at -4. Much more of that and maybe we’ll be looking at this weekend as a step up in difficulty from Riviera and The Champion Course. With a field this deep, picking your fantasy lineup is certainly hard enough.
Here are a few players to think about at different prices for this weekend:
If you want the consistency and reliability of a top-level talent, you still have to pay for it, and this weekend, even at that price, there are a bunch options to choose from:
Bubba Watson ($12,400): When it comes to past performances in this tournament, there is only one year that matters, and it was last year. And Bubba finished second. And with a 10, 2 and T14 in his three starts in 2015, it’s easy to imagine him at the top of the leaderboard again this time around.
Dustin Johnson ($11,300): It’s basically the same story as above, for $1,100 cheaper. He finished fourth here last year after the redesign, and he had two top-5 performances in February, at Pebble Beach and the Northern Trust. You save $1,100 because he missed the cut at the Honda Classic. Don’t let that scare you off.
If you’re finding yourself having a hard time trusting the cheapest guys out there this weekend, just not believing they’ll outperform all these top players in the world, you aren’t going to be able to afford the most expensive guys either. It’s that simple, really. Luckily, these guys are all really easy to be comfortable drafting.
Henrik Stenson ($9,500): Exactly the kind of precision in his game that you’re looking for on a course like this. He’s had a pair of T13s in his first three appearances on the European Tour this season, and if his game is working at full strength, he could easily win.
Jimmy Walker ($9,200): Another guy who could win. He’s got the game that can survive a course like this, consistently finding greens and keeping bogeys to a minimum. His iron play is good enough to keep him in it, and he’s got the pedigree to close, even in a field this talented.
Martin Kaymer ($8,200): It seems cheap, doesn’t it? He finished only T44 last weekend, but he opened up with a 68 before conditions worsened, so you know the game is in there, and he is the kind of steady competitor you need to be to navigate the hazards of a course like the Blue Monster.
They’re cheap enough to allow you to make a few upgrades if you’re sticking to middle-of-the-road choices, and they won’t break the bank after you’ve spent a chunk of your salary on some top-ten player in the world.
Graeme McDowell ($7,800): A T9 and a T36 in his two 2015 starts in Europe show, at the very least, that the 74-71 he shot at the Honda Classic last weekend is not necessarily indicative of where his game is at. He has shown an ability to compete well in these deep fields, and I would have expected to find him higher up on this list. This price is a pleasant surprise.
Jamie Donaldson ($7,100): He finished 6th last weekend, and he finished T2 here last year, which in some ways is enough when a guy only costs $7,100. He’s shown he can compete with a tough course and tough field, and he seems to be playing well right now. Sold.
No one goes out looking to build a lineup around these guys, but they are a means to an end. Choose correctly and not only will they pay dividends – they are professional golfers, after all – but they’ll free up the salary you need to lock up those top players.
Branden Grace ($6,800): The South African is making his US debut, but it’s not his first time playing golf. He has six tournaments under his belt on the European Tour in the 2015 season, and he has five top-20 finishes, including two wins.