Last chance junction, all travel beyond this point requires sufficient toll. Hard to believe that the 2014-2015 regular season is coming to a close, as it seems like just a few weeks ago that Billy Horschel stole the FedEx Cup, Rory McIlroy looked nigh unstoppable and Tiger Woods was no where to be seen. Much has changed, including on this side for the keyboard, as my address, job, education status, and more have shifted over the course of these last 10 months or so. Much as things have changed, there's still one question, one thing remaining: where is Tiger Woods?
Last Week - PGA Championship
2014-15 will be remembered as the season that golf truly transitioned away from the Woods-Mickelson era, with Jason Day's first major championship the final exclamation point on a season where neither former titans managed to make much noise. I don't know about you, but I found myself a little misty-eyed as Day nearly lost his composure before tapping in for the win. Much as Woods and Mickelson were great and, indeed, incredible, I've always found it difficult to feel anything other than awe for them. This new cadre of players - Spieth, Day, McIlroy - they're just some darn likable.
Spieth's sportsmanship shone through as it usually does, deflecting attention from his move to #1 in the world back on to the accomplishments Day at Whistling Straits. Look no further than his thumbs up on #17 after Day played a perfect lag, a similar gesture to the one he made to Justin Rose as the Englishman threatened to overtake the 22-year-old en route to his Masters victory. In the end, Day ceded no ground, even after duffing a wedge into #9 like he was yours-truly on any given Sunday. Knocking on the door longer, finally, he's kicked the door down in record fashion.
This Week - Wyndham Championship
As mentioned earlier, this is it. Finito, donezo, kaput. Players outside the Top 125 in FedEx points are officially out once this tournament closes, but don't mistake the finality of the week for a motivating factor. Just one player moved in from outside the Top 125, with Sangmoon Bae edging in last year. Some will say players will be motivated to do better, to play harder, because they'll miss the playoffs. On the contrary, does that mean they haven't been playing their hearts out all season?
Sedgefield Country Club measures just 7,127 yards and allows 70 strokes for par. This Donald Ross design is the site of Camilo Villegas' victory last year and almost always serves as the last gasp before the playoffs. The field is typically pretty shallow, but drama is abound as making the Top 125 in point also automatically secures a Tour card next season.
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- Brooks Koepka - TA: 15.83, CHG: (-0.4) - There must have been thousands of fantasy gamers sweating it out as Koepka entered the fourth round last week. After all, his 7-under position was hardly what might have been expected for such a talented player. Were it not for a few bogeys down the stretch, Koepka would have easily secured his first Top 3 in a major. Instead he settled for his second Top 5. Rough life. Oh, you want to know how well he's playing overall? Hasn't finish worse than 18th since mid-June. Expect that trend to continue.
- Will Wilcox - TA: 27.5, CHG: (+18) - Chock-full of confidence and ready for a breakthrough. Wilcox has a solo-second, two Top 10s, and a Top 25 in his last four starts, which, when coupled with a T24 last year, gives him rather solid credentials. With a less-potent field, this sophomore professional might just make some noise over the weekend.
- Charl Schwartzel - TA: 27.83, CHG: (+12.6) - Oh no... if there's one player to which the vagaries of chance and avarice are constantly in play, its Charl Schwartzel. I keep burn cream on hand whenever I muster the courage to start him as he's wont to implode or place in the Top 10 with little regard to pattern or predictability. Maybe I'm just bitter (Okay, I am.) but he's playing well enough and had a Top 15 here last year. Roll the dice and you're only slightly likely to get burned.
- Martin Kaymer - TA: 32.17, CHG: (+17.6) - Super streaky since his fall from the pinnacle of the game and subsequent return to upper-level talent. With a Top 5 and two T12s in his last four starts worldwide, its safe to say he's on a heater. With a T20 in his last start at Sedgefield, he's a proven winner with converging trends. The cynic would point to his quiet season as proof to avoid, but we're opportunists. If he's not ludicrously over-priced, he's worth the start.
- Billy Horschel - TA: 32.63, CHG: (-3.4) - This might be a rarity or a maturity of Billy Horschel's career, as I could literally write the same thing as last week and have it still be perfectly relevant. For fantasy players knowledgeable about Horschel's career, that's an anomaly. His track record his is decent, having made the cut in each of his three attempts, but he's yet to record a Top 25 at Sedgefield. This current stretch of quality play is either the longest streak of Horschel's career or a new paradigm of consistency. Either way, give him a chance.
- Hideki Matsuyama - TA: 33.43, CHG: (-6.4) - Where do I even begin here with Matsuyama? How about his T15 here in his only start at the Wyndham before I complain about how his 2-over final round hosed me like a I was a California wildfire. Still, Matsuyama is easily one of the top talents in the field, as his back-to-back 37th place finishes are his equivalent to missed-cuts at his point. With his talent and this shallow field, it would be foolish to fade him now.
- Luke Donald - TA: 36.63, CHG: (+3) - As yet another former-world-nubmer-one in the field this week, Luke Donald is near-as-makes-no-difference to being the bubble boy this year. Sitting at 124th in the FedEx Cup, Donald is subject to a whole host of circumstances that could punt him outside the playoffs. Of course, that all disappear with a solid finish. With little history here, Donald will have to rely on the decent form he's held since the FedEx St. Jude back in June.
- Brandt Snedeker - TA: 37, CHG: (-1.2) - Coming off a T12 at the PGA Championship, Snedeker exceeded my expectation by a fair margin. Coming into the Wyndham, one of his title sponsors, he's get a reasonable track record here, including a T5 last year. There shouldn't be any reservations with starting him here, as his putter will, more often than not, guide him to a respectable finish if not a win.
- Webb Simpson - TA: 37.88, CHG: (+9.2) - The polar opposite of the man sitting above him in the rankings, Webb Simpson is not exactly a great putter. Feel free to heap on praise for his tee-to-green game, its just that when he arrives at the flat-ish part with the flag, he doesn't quite match up to his colleagues. That won't change this week, but with a softer field, he may be able to give up a stroke or two on the greens and still manage a respectable finish. He's also comfortable here, with a T5 and a T11 here in his last two starts.
- Branden Grace - TA: 38.38, CHG: (+0.2) - Looked dangerous heading down the front nine at Whistling Straits, reaching solo second and two shots back, before crumbling down the stretch and settling for solo third. Deceptively long off the tee and and excellent putter, essentially a shoe-in combination in the game these days. He's never played Sedgefield, but then he'd never played the Straits course either.
Scott Piercy - TA: 39, CHG: (+10.4)- Piercy flirted with the top of the leaderboard through the first two round before disappearing on the weekend. Having recently won the Barbarsol Championship, Piercy certainly has the game to win, as he's done twice prior to this year. With a T12 and T8 in his last two starts at the Wyndham, Piercy has a solid foundation with which to launch a campaign for his second victory of the season. - WITHDREW (BACK)
- Austin Cook - TA: 39.75, CHG: (+15.6) - Get to know this name, as Austin Cook will be making more and more noise as his career matures. Without official standing on any tour, Cook has leaped from 864th in the world to 346th. In seven starts on the PGA Tour, Cook has missed the cut just once, logging two top 10s and four Top 25s. He's good, really good.
- Tom Hoge - TA: 40, CHG: (+5.4) - Want a flier? Here's your dark-horse this week. Tom Hoge hasn't really done much that could be called spectacular, bagging just two Top 10s and two other Top 25s in 25 starts. Of course, both of those Top 10s and one of the Top 25s came in his last four starts. He's playing well, and in a weak field, that should be enough to warrant consideration.
- Bill Haas - TA: 40.38, CHG: (+7) - Went from consistent to streaky this season after picking up his most recent win at the Humana Challenge back in January. Haas is no doubt talented and without question one of the top-shelf talents in the field, but don't rely on just his pedigree. Look at his history here, owning a T2 last year on top of a T20 and T7 in his prior two starts at Sedgefield.
- Paul Casey - TA: 44.13, CHG: (
+1.8) - Solid outing at the PGA Championship saw him plodding along decently until a 2-over fourth round squandered what might have been a Top 15 finish. Still, nothing resembled poor form, just nothing resembled spectacular. He's been close several times this year, and with the shallow field at Sedgefield, he's a threat to seal the deal this week.
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