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Fantasy

Fantasy Golf: Zach Johnson Shoots For Three Straight At The Sony Open


The Sony Open
Defending Champ: Russell Henley

Enjoy having your entire team finish inside the Top 10 at Kapalua? I’m sure you did. Wouldn’t count on a repeat, though. The Sorny Open marks the first links excursion into full fieldness on the PGA calendar. There’s now an added 114 golfers being injected into the mix after last week’s miniaturized Tournament of Champions. Not everyone can be winner now can they?

Although the plot has thickened, and this influx of extra bodies has hacked up everyone’s odds of collecting a hilarious, oversized novelty check – there’s still good news for the players. They’re still in Hawaii while the rest of us get polarized and VORTEX’DDDDD!!!!! THAWLESS VICTORY. Annnnddddd… there’s the off chance Paulina Gretzky is still lingering about – wearing nothing, and loving CIGS – somewhere on the archipelago. But it’s not just peachy news for the players; I too get rather amped for tee off at Waialae. And most of it has to do with this disturbing commercial for “Waialae Country Club” – on the N64 – which has haunted my dreams for the past 16 years…

I get it though. Putting is pretty impossible in that game – it takes extreme concentration – and it’s also just one of the scads of reasons it’s ONE OF THEE WORST! The N64 wouldn’t produce a golf cartridge of any substance until “Mario Golf” dominated the summer of ’99. I’d like to see the Tour pros manage the extreme winds of the Boo Classic. Not happening.

As for who’s going to win, this is probably the most combustible event of the season. There are a slew of Web.com Tour grads making their debuts, a pair of Chinese amateurs and a bunch of holdovers from 2013 that could either make the leap this year or be off the Tour forever; on top of a bunch of names no one outside their immediate families are familiar with. Russell Henley won here last year, basically no one knew who he was. Golf is capricious enough week-to-week, but toss in a bunch of entrants you’ve never heard of or seen play and you’re just best going with the safer, more recognizable names you trust, because if you select Martin Trainer hoping he pulls a Henley, you’re just asking for an easy missed cut on your starting roster.

That said, here’s who’s going to win.

PICKS

Zach Johnson – No player has claimed the Tournament of Champions and Sony in the same year since Ernie Elsaccomplished the feat in 2003. So, the Schwartz may not exactly be with Johnson, but it’s pretty hard not to take any player who’s won two consecutive events and landed inside the Top 10 in 8 of his past 12 outings. I didn’t take him last week and it killed me, I refuse to do it twice. Plus, ZJ won here in 2009 – he’s plenty familiar with the layout.

Matt Kuchar – I Hate burning through Kuch’s eligibility in the first two weeks, but sometimes it needs to be done. In giant fields full of unknowns, stick with the safe bet. Seven of his last eight rounds here have been all Mad Men -in the 60s – securing Kuchar pair of T5s as his bounty.

Tim Clark – Everyone will forget that Clark has been bestowed a silver medal past two times he’s dug his soft spikes into Waliaie. That is, everyone… BUT ME!!!! And now, by extension, you know too. Use Clark.

Chris Kirk – The Captain’s never missed a cut at Kapalua: One of the premier traits a bench “B” Pool pick can have. Kirk banked a winner’s payday at the McGladrey back in November (his second career win) and remained in the fray last week at the TOC despite a Friday 75. He’s playing just well enough that watching him add another Top 10 to his resume, like he did here last year, shouldn’t exist outside the realm of possibility. 

Hideki Matsuyama – Matsuyama has climbed up to No. 23 in the world rankings and is hottest Japanese export since Sega Dreamcast – SEGA!!! Since missing the cut on this site last year, the 21-year-old’s played the weekend in 20 of 22 events worldwide, posting 13 Top 10s, winning four times on the Japanese Tour and finishing no worse than 19th in any of his three Major appearances in 2013 – T10 at the U.S Open, T6 at the British and T19 at Oak Hill. Matsuyama enters the islands fresh off a victory at the Casio World Open and likely won’t be a common pick. Get him in and separate from the competition.

Harris English & Jordan Spieth – The kids keep posting quality finish after quality finish. Continue plugging them into your lineup until they produce a let down. Fantasy Golf is won riding hot streaks.

Charles Howell III – I know there are bigger names just waiting to be plucked out of the “A” Pool, but, trust, you’re gonna want CH3. He’s was one of the few to play the entire PGA fall schedule, earning no worse than a seventh place payday in three of five events. So he’s been playing well recently, and he’s playing his favorite course. Now, I’m not actually sure Waialae is Chuck’s favorite place to waste a good walk – but it really should be. Since 2009, Howell’s missed just a lone cut here and is averaging 2.5th place in the other four.

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