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Fantasy Insider: Genesis Open

By PGA Tour News
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This week's Genesis Open concludes the West Coast Swing and sets the table for the annual migration to Florida that follows. It also marks that time of year when curiosity piques for when the contingent of international PGA TOUR members and non-members end their hibernation in the U.S. As important as it's been to learn that Rory McIlroy and Jason Day won't compete in the World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship on March 1-4, we're eager to pounce on the likes of Tommy Fleetwood, Thomas Pieters, Alex Noren and Martin Kaymer to name four international members who are scheduled to play Riviera. Golfers' websites are informative, but due to the nature of their profession as independent contractors, any who exhibits what appears to be firm plans to tee it up everywhere cited on his published schedule should not be taken on his word. Test a handful and you'll soon understand. Furthermore, because the penalty for failing to meet the membership minimum of 15 starts is but one year in which the violator falls under the non-member restrictions, including ineligibility for the FedExCup Playoffs, the number of those stopping short has increased in recent years. Kaymer is one of the more notable who hadn't planned on the exile (in 2015-16), nor did we, but it's a reality when choosing to invest in the long-term. It's also one of the primary reasons why it's not advisable to load up on these guys regardless of cachet and world ranking. As we await the season debuts of Sergio Garcia and Louis Oosthuizen and the 2018 debuts of Ross Fisher and Tyrrell Hatton – all are TOUR members – we're equally intrigued by the promise of China's Hao Tong Li, who is in the field of 144 at the Genesis Open. He's a recent winner in Dubai and will compete in all three remaining WGCs, all four majors and THE PLAYERS. He's a former Web.com Tour member with the PGA TOUR in his sights, but at just 22 years of age, he's willing to remain patient and let membership come to him. The same can be said of 23-year-old Englishman Matthew Fitzpatrick. He's come this close to securing TOUR membership via the top 125 equivalent in non-member FedExCup points in each of the last two seasons. Get ready to see all of these faces soon and often. It's because of them that we won't miss McIlroy and Day in Mexico. PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf presented by SERVPRO My roster for the Genesis Open (in alphabetical order): Paul Casey Dustin Johnson Rory McIlroy Phil Mickelson Thomas Pieters Jordan Spieth You’ll find my starters in Expert Picks. Others to consider for each category (in alphabetical order): Scoring: Brian Gay; Matt Kuchar; Marc Leishman; Alex Noren; Ollie Schniederjans; Brendan Steele; Justin Thomas Driving: Keegan Bradley; Kevin Chappell; Branden Grace; Alex Noren; Ollie Schniederjans; Brendan Steele; Justin Thomas Approach: Keegan Bradley; Brian Gay; Branden Grace; Matt Kuchar; Chez Reavie; Ollie Schniederjans; Justin Thomas Short: Brian Gay; Branden Grace; J.B. Holmes; Matt Kuchar; Marc Leishman; William McGirt; Jhonattan Vegas Power Rankings Wild Card Adam Scott … So, he was one-and-done with his return to the long putter, but then missed the cut with a traditional model last week at Pebble Beach. To be fair, it was his first appearance in eight years. With Riviera in the crosshairs now, he is expected to shine. His scoring average in the last eight rounds on the course is 68.125. However, only calculating course history buffs should inject him into a fraction of their DFS lineups, as the 37-year-old has struggled for months regardless of which wand he's wielded. Draws Tiger Woods … As long as he's feeling good, it's likely that he'll never land in Fades, which is the only reason you'd pay attention to my opinion on him. He's in his own lane, tier, class and league, and you're going to adjust accordingly to your format and opposition. However, if you're skeptical, while his winless slate at Riviera attracts attention, remember two things. First, everything he does attracts attention. Second, he's recorded three top 10s and another four top 20s in eight starts as a professional at Riviera. If there are relevant reasons to abstain, it's that he hasn't competed here since 2006 and that this field is exploding with high-octane talent. Matt Kuchar … Last week's T62 was surprising but it aligned with recent form in that tournament. As we now consider his usage at Riviera, we're comforted by a more consistent record that includes five top 25s among 10 cuts made in 11 appearances. That itself aligns with his proclivity for tougher, tighter tracks. He's perfectly suited for the Roster game. Branden Grace … Delivered on cue with a T20 in his Pebble Beach debut last week. En route to a T22 in his first appearance at Riviera last year for which he arrived with similarly strong form, he ranked T7 in par-5 scoring and third in scrambling. Not quite One & Done material, but he checks all of the other boxes. Jimmy Walker … Poised for the early feel-good story of the year. With a confidence-building T8 at Pebble Beach on the board, he carries that into beloved Riviera where he's recorded five top 20s since 2011. Last year's T11 occurred amid his initial concern over his health. It wound up being his best result in a full-field event all year. To sum it up, you could invest with your heart, but that's the bonus. Charl Schwartzel … We love him because of his consistency and near-guarantee to make cuts. Contending is another story, which is why you use him for substance and complement. Two top fives highlight a 4-for-5 record at Riviera. Scott Stallings … On a mini-heater with a T23 at the WMPO and solo seventh at the AT&T. He's streaky, so this is the time to strike. Uninspiring record at Riviera (2-for-3 with a T45 and solo 66th) nonetheless illustrates familiarity and experience with the course. William McGirt … The course horse is a horse for this course. In his last three appearances (2014-2016), he's placed a respective T6, T14 and T20 with a scoring average of 69.50. Finished T26 at last week's AT&T. Keegan Bradley (all) Rafa Cabrera Bello (all) Charles Howell III (DFS) Ryan Moore (DFS) Pat Perez (DFS) Cameron Smith (DFS) Brendan Steele (all) Kevin Streelman (DFS) Jhonattan Vegas (all) Fades Ted Potter, Jr. … His inspirational victory aside, what's strange is that he hasn't proven to be streaky when healthy. This bucks conventional wisdom about golfers who profile best as great putters, which he's always been. Naturally, this mystery retains a level of danger for gamers opposing him at Riviera in the wake of a week when he was hitting on all cylinders. He's familiar with winning, so this isn't about a letdown. This is simply about gamers accepting last week as a spike. Bill Haas … His title here in 2012 is one of six top 25s in 12 consecutive appearances, but he's yet to connect with consistency in 2018. Only contrarians should consider and only at a fraction. Francesco Molinari … A rare slot for the Italian ball-striker, but he's yet to solve Riviera in four previous visits. He's also cooled early in 2018. Consider reattaching when the Florida Swing is upon us. Martin Kaymer … After a terrific 2016, he regressed last year but still missed only four cuts worldwide. The 33-year-old has tightened up lately with top 20s in three of his last four starts going back to November, but gamers are advised to let him go it alone in what is both his PGA TOUR season and Riviera debut. Charlie Beljan … Even though I'm not endorsing the 33-year-old, there's at least one DFSer who will risk the flier at Riviera. Here's why. Assuming he sticks to the commitment, it'll be his last start on a medical extension. To meet its terms (via earnings for which he's grandfathered on the medical), he needs to finish no worse than solo second. Lo and behold, that's exactly where he placed here (via a playoff loss) in 2013. He responded with a T12 the following year. In other words, we can't rule out the possibility that he mapped out his starts to wrap up his medical on this track because it's arguably his most logical spot to swing for the fences and connect. Tony Finau Si Woo Kim Shane Lowry Kyle Stanley Peter Uihlein Returning to Competition Charley Hoffman … Walked off Spyglass Hill during his third round last week due to a sore back. Only he knows the severity of the pain, but consider that it was just his second mid-tournament withdrawal in 337 PGA TOUR starts as a professional. He's fared nicely at Riviera with a personal-best T4 last year, but the default strategy is to sidestep back injuries until there's evidence to instruct otherwise. Jim Furyk … The Ryder Cup captain sat out the last six months allowing his shoulder to heal from pain and discomfort that he revealed prior to his last start (PGA Championship). There's reason to be optimistic given a sparkling record at Riviera where he's hung up seven top 20s in 20 starts, but it's asking a bit much for the 47-year-old to shed competitive rust with everything else going on. J.J. Spaun … Completed only 10 holes of the Waste Management Phoenix Open (in birdie-free 2-over) when he called it quits due to an undisclosed injury. He missed the cut in his debut on a sponsor exemption at Riviera in 2016 and didn't crack last year's field. Notables WDs Nick Watney … He cashed in each of his last three appearances at Riviera, but they constituted his only commitments in the last seven years. Currently 148th in the FedExCup standings and owns a modest consecutive cuts made streak of four. Power Rankings Recap – AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am Power Ranking Golfer Result 1 Jason Day T2 2 Dustin Johnson T2 3 Jordan Spieth T20 4 Phil Mickelson T2 5 Jon Rahm T26 6 Rory McIlroy MC 7 Gary Woodland MC 8 Pat Perez T35 9 Patrick Reed MC 10 Brandt Snedeker T20 11 Paul Casey T8 12 J.B. Holmes MC 13 Matt Kuchar T62 14 Rafa Cabrera Bello T26 15 Chez Reavie T2 Wild Card Kevin Kisner MC Sleepers – AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am Golfer Result Matt Jones MC Sam Saunders T26 Kevin Streelman 6th Nick Taylor MC Nick Watney T47 Birthdays among active golfers on the PGA TOUR February 13 … none February 14 … none February 15 … Cameron Beckman (48); Kevin Kisner (34) February 16 … none February 17 … Martin Flores (36); Jon Curran (31) February 18 … Andrew Johnston (29) February 19 … Greg Owen (46)

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