Fantasy Golf: WGC-HSBC & SFC Previews

10-26-16

The Tour splits time in Mississippi and Shanghai this week because of course it does.

China will host the WGC-HSBC Champions where Russell Knox defends his title while Peter Malnati looks to repeat at the Sanderson Farms Championship.

I have you covered on both fronts!

Trendspotting

With the new season underway, I will keep these numbers up until Thanksgiving so we can look back to forecast ahead.

 

2015-16 Winners (at time of victory)

 Youngsters

In 2014-15 there were 14 players in their 20’s who won tournaments. They accounted for a whopping 24 victories in 47 events.

In 2015-16, there were 13 players who accounted for 19 victories over 47 events.

Under-30 Winners

multiple winners in bold

Emiliano Grillo, 23; Frys.com
Smylie Kaufman, 23; Shriners
Justin Thomas, 22; CIMB
Peter Malnati, 28; SFC
Jordan Spieth, 22; HTOC, DEAN & DELUCA at Colonial
Hideki Matsuyama, 23; WMPO
Jason Day, 28; API, WGC-Dell Match Play, THE PLAYERS
Danny Willett, 28; Masters
Branden Grace, 27; RBC Heritage
Daniel Berger, 23; FESJC
Si Woo Kim, 21; Wyndham
Patrick Reed, 26; Barclays
Rory McIlroy, 27; DBC, The TOUR Championship

Prime-Time Players

The guys between 30-39 years of age produced 16 multiple champions in 17 events in 2014-15.

Last year, 22 players accounted for 26 wins in this category.

Winners, 30-39

Russell Knox, 31; HSBC Champions, Travelers
Graeme McDowell, 36; OHL Mayakoba
Kevin Kisner, 31; RSM Classic
Fabian Gomez, 37; Sony Open
Jason Dufner, 38; CB Challenge
Brandt Snedeker, 35; Farmers Insurance Open
Vaughn Taylor, 39; AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am
Bubba Watson, 37; Northern Trust Open
Adam Scott, 35; Honda Classic, WGC-Cadillac Championship
Charl Schwartzel, 31; Valspar
Jim Herman, 38; Shell Houston Open
Charley Hoffman, 39; Valero Texas Open
Brian Stuard, 33; Zurich Classic
James Hahn, 34; Wells Fargo Championship
Sergio Garcia, 36; AT&T Byron Nelson
William McGirt, 36; Memorial
Dustin Johnson, 31; U.S. Open, WGC-BI, BMW
Billy Hurley, III, 34; Quicken Loans National
Aaron Baddeley, 35; Barbasol Championship
Jhonattan Vegas, 31; RBC Canadian Open
Jimmy Walker, 37; PGA Championship
Ryan Moore, 33; John Deere Classic

Old Guard

There were only four winners in 2014-15 from 47 events (Furyk, Cejka, Love III and Harrington).

Winners, 40-plus

Greg Chalmers, 42; Barracuda Championship
Henrik Stenson, 40; The Open Championship

This is a stark reminder that the “name” doesn’t automatically translate in fantasy golf.

No wins from top 100 OWGR players Mickelson, Furyk, Westwood, Stricker or Kelly who fell in this category.

Rookies

In 2014-15 the only rookie to pick up a first-place check was Canadian Nick Taylor.

In 2015-16, that number doubled after the first two events of the season yet didn’t add one until the final regular season event, the Wyndham Championship, when reclassified rookie Si Woo Kim won.

Emiliano Grillo; Frys.com
Smylie Kaufman; Shriners
Si Woo Kim; Wyndham

Rookies in the FEC

Remember, 2014 was the only year a rookie has NOT found a spot in The Tour Championship.

In 2015-16, six players made the leap.

Smylie Kaufman
Emiliano Grillo*
Patton Kizzire
Harold Varner, III
Brett Stegmaier
Michael Kim

*Only Grillo advanced to East Lake

My thought on rookies is quite simple. If you’re good enough, you’re old enough. Grillo had won on multiple Tours around the world and has done his time. That could be a clue in finding diamonds in the rough to begin the new season.

 

First-Time Winners

Rookies, journeymen, up-and-comers, I’ll keep track of them all. It’s a life-changer.

2013: 12
2014: 10
2015: 11
2016: 16

Emiliano Grillo (Frys.com)
Smylie Kaufman (Shriners)
Justin Thomas (CIMB)
Peter Malnati (SFC)
Russell Knox (WGC-HSBC Champions)
Kevin Kisner (RSM)
Tony Finau (PRO)
Jim Herman (SHO)
Danny Willett (Masters)
Branden Grace (RBC Heritage)
Brian Stuard (Zurich Classic)
William McGirt (Memorial)
Daniel Berger (FESJC)
Billy Hurley, III (QLN)
Greg Chalmers (Barracuda) in his 386th event!
Si Woo Kim (Wyndham)

Interesting to note that almost one third of the events last season were won by first-timers. The history above points out that this is NOT a normal occurrence but should not be dismissed. With the help of technology, trainers, analysts, psychologists and the rest, there have never been so many with so much.

 

This Week — Sheshan International

If the rain continues throughout the week, which has been suggested, look for this course to grow some teeth and play longer. Recovery shots from wet rough aren’t as easy to play but soaked fairways and greens will surely favor the premium ball-strikers.

The scoring here over the years has been low and I’d continue to lean in that direction as I’ll explain below. WGC events are no joke because of the fields but Shane Lowry and Russell Knox have shown us that “lesser known” players can also sneak in. Looking through the list of winners for WGC events, these two are closer to the exceptions than the rules. Almost everyone has represented their countries at Ryder or Presidents Cup level. Knox ended up winning twice last year on Tour and was snubbed for a spot while Lowry led by four shots after 54 holes at the U.S. Open. They’re no longer “lesser known” I’d say.

Top Finishers  from 2015

01 Russell Knox
02 Kevin Kisner
03 Ross Fisher
03 Danny Willett
05 Branden Grace
05 Dustin Johnson
07 Matthew Fitzpatrick
07 Hao Tong LI
07 Patrick Reed
11 Danile Berger
11 Sergio Garcia
11 Rory McIlroy
11 Henrik Stenson
17 Rickie Fowler
17 Bernd Wiesberger
19 Ben An
19 Scott Hend
23 Paul Casey
23 Thomas Pieters
23 Gary Woodland

Sanderson Farms Championship

Year three at the Country Club of Jackson (CCofJ) and 10 more to follow as you’ll read about below. This is a big week for the guys in the reshuffle categories to stash some cash and make life easier as we ramp up to the Thanksgiving holiday.

Bermudagrass presents a challenge to some folks as does a bit of heat and humidity. I’m leaning on regional players this week even if it flies DIRECTLY in the face of the previous two champions. There are few in the field this week that should be in the top 10 come Sunday evening and I’ll bet a couple more that will send gamers scurrying to their Google search bars for information. That’s what makes fantasy golf fun, interesting, maddening and rewarding all at once or not at all!

Top Finishers  from 2015

01 Peter Malnati
02 David Toms
04 Patton Kizzire
04 Bryce Molder
10 DJ Trahan
12 Tyler Aldridge
12 Martin Flores
15 G F C
15 Cameron Percy
20 Derek Ernst
20 Andres Romero
20 Nick Taylor

 

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