It is with a heavy heart that I come to you with preparations for the PGA Championship.
Now, I’m not sad because it’s the PGA Championship — I’m sad because on Sunday, when the final putt falls in the hole, there will be no more major championship golf for the better part of eight months. And that’s a terrible thought.
In the words of Jon Snow, “winter is coming.”
All that doomsday stuff out of the way, the world’s best still have to play the season’s final major — and that means there’s still a chance for fantasy golfers to make a move and claim superiority over their friends and enemies.
Here’s a look at those who will give fantasy junkies a fighting chance this week — and those who are just pretending:
Charley Hoffman — I know he won’t be the betting line favorite, but from a fantasy standpoint there should be no more popular pick this week than Charley Hoffman. In the past, Hoffman seemed to appear on leader boards here and there before disappearing back into the muck and mire. That hasn’t been the case in 2017, especially lately. Hoffman has strung together back-to-back top-3 finishes and collected career-best finishes in both the U.S. and Open Championships. And in case you forgot, made a valiant effort at the Masters before faltering on Sunday. Do not make the mistake of passing on Hoffman.
Rory McIlroy — His first week without long time caddie J.P. Fitzgerald on the bag was a pretty successful one for Rory McIlroy who, according to Jordan Spieth, is the favorite to win the PGA Championship. And while I tend to think the World No. 1 was just deflecting and blowing some smoke, there’s no reason Rory couldn’t win his third PGA Championship this week. Not only has Rors been playing some great golf lately, he’s got a friend on the bag and great vibes to fall back on at Quail Hollow. He’s certainly worth a start in most all formats.
Jordan Spieth — After a very disappointing mid-pack finish at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational last week, Jordan Spieth will tee it up at Quail Hollow with his first chance to finish off the career grand slam. Spieth, who has won two of his last three starts, is in the midst of a putting hot streak unseen since he won the Masters and U.S. Open in 2015. There’s no reason to be weary — Spieth is a go in all formats as well.
Patrick Reed — While I wouldn’t count on him to pick up the win, Patrick Reed has put together one heckuva consistent, solid season on the PGA Tour. With top-20 finishes in more than half of his starts the last three months, Reed is providing fantasy players great mid-pack production. The upside with this pick is obviously spectacular — Reed is one of the most clutch players on Tour and major titles are in his near future — but don’t expect too much. If you need production from the middle of your lineup, Reed is your guy.
Tommy Fleetwood — If you’re looking to catch a little lightening in a bottle, you may want to take a flyer on Tommy Fleetwood. While most who ignore the European Tour will be relatively unfamiliar with the Englishman, seasoned fantasy players should be quite aware of his talent and the potential prowess he possesses. After a run of top-10’s came to an end at the Open Championship (T-27), Fleetwood should be a save bet to at least keep swinging well and net some points on the back end.
Matt Kuchar — It may be a bit of a sentimental pick, but Matt Kuchar is certainly getting a start for me this week in most formats. The PGA Championship marks Kuchar’s first opportunity at major glory since his disappointing defeat at the hands of Jordan Spieth at the Open. Few players are more deserving of a major title and it may just be Kuchar’s time. I’m banking on a good week from Kuch in Charlotte and I think you should be, too.
Billy Horschel — At this point, no one should even have Horschel on their notes let alone their big board. It’s been said many times, many ways that Horschel is streaky — almost painfully so. His Sunday 68 at Firestone kept him from a last place finish in Akron, but it didn’t vault him up the board too far. While the 2014 FedExCup champion has proven he can get hot at any time, I don’t expect that time to be this Thursday morning.
Rickie Fowler — I know, I know — This is a essentially a repeat of what I say I about Fowler ahead of every major. Great talent, not ready yet blah blah blah. Of course, the only reason I have to keep saying it is because some of you people continue to give him the nod over lesser known but more deserving players. Someday, Rickie Fowler will prove me wrong — but I don’t mind going 107-1 if it means being right 106 times.
Dustin Johnson — There’s no real reason why I should talk you out of Dustin Johnson this week — once again, if you want to start him, go ahead. Just don’t come to me when he finishes T-54. While most will happily give DJ the start thanks to his T-8 and T-17 showings in his last two starts, but I’m looking at his MC and T-54 at the U.S. Open and Open Championships respectively. Obviously, calling Johnson a poser is a relative thing, as, odds are, he’ll end up picking up a top-20 on Sunday afternoon. That said, I think there are better options — especially if you’re in a format that limits how many times you can start a guy.
Louis Oosthuizen — For a long time, it seemed like every major championship featured a run from Louis Oosthuizen. While he is still the supremely talented being who will (probably) win another major (if he can stay healthy) when it’s all said and done, this week at Quail Hollow will not be his week. His form has been poor and, physically, he’s still a bit banged up. A good week would be a surprise. A bad one is almost a certainty.
Justin Thomas — Like Fowler, Thomas is another player who will one day win a major for sure, but until he gets more consistent there’s no reason to bet on him on the biggest stage. It’s been seven months since his memorable beginning of the season where he won three times before March and, since then, there’s been more downs than ups.