Fantasy Golf Picks: The Barclays Sleepers & Strategy
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Now, it’s only PGA playoffs, and they don’t hold the same cache as other sports’ postseasons with, you know, Majors being all the rage in golf, but these are playoffs nonetheless. There just isn’t a similar level of excitement. Likely, because no one really understands how the FedExCup system works. Which I get, since it’s ultra confusing, so let me help with the nuts and bolts.
The first three playoff events are worth four times as many FedExCup points as regular TOUR events, so 2000 points for first instead of the standard 500, and any point earned in the first three legs of the playoffs (The Barclays, Deutsche Bank and BMW Championship) are added to a player’s yearly FedExCup point total. After those three events are complete, the points are reset based on where players sit in the standings after the BMW Championship, creating a situation where everyone in the field in the Tour Championship have a mathematical chance of claiming the $10M payday.
FedExCup Reset for the Tour Championship
1 - 2000
2 - 1800
3 - 1600
4 - 1440
5 - 1280
*all the way down to the 30th player in the field.
Now, the 30th player has basically no chance of winning the FedExCup, even with a victory at East Lake, as do most outside the top seven or so; however, the players inside the top five are guaranteed to finish atop the standings with a win the final event. This is why they reset the points, to keep competitive balance (and interest) in the final tournament of the season.
Each week, the playoffs eliminate a collection of players based on their FedExCup points. Initially, the Top 125 qualify for The Barclays and the fields is whittled down with each subsequent event.
FedExCup Playoff Event | Field | Cut Line
The Barclays | Top 125 | T70 and Ties
Deutsche Bank Championship | Top 100 | T70 and Ties
BMW Championship | Top 70 | No Cut
Tour Championship | Top 30 | No Cut
The Wyndham was the final opportunity for players to move into the Top 125 and qualify, and this year provided the most final week movement in the playoff standings since the FedExCup’s inception - BRRRRRRRRAAAAAAAWWWWWWWWNNNNWRWRRWRWRWMMMMMMM - in 2007.
In: Camilo Villegas, Ryo Iskikawa, Jonas Blixt, Jason Gore and David Love III.
Out: Will MacKenzie, Scott Stallings, Jamie Donaldson, Nicholas Thompson and Brian Stuard.
Although all 125 qualified players are eligible for The Barclays, only 120 will be in the field. Rory McIlroy, Sergio Garcia, Francesco Molinari, Louis Oosthuizen and Retief Goosen are taking a pass on the proceedings in New Jersey. Unfortunately for Molinari (No. 99) and Goosen (No. 111), their absence means they won’t qualify for the second leg of the playoffs in Boston, as only the Top 100 players advance.
Could this explanation be better? Most definitely. But this set of rules are stupid, so take what you can get.
The Barclays Key Stats
Proximity 50-125 Yards
Par 4 Scoring
First thing, for you course history acolytes, The Barclays is played on a rotation of courses, so merely peaking at recent results from this tournament will prove futile in projecting success in 2015. To find any relevant information on this year’s venue, Plainfield CC, you have to go all the way back to 2011, when Dustin Johnson earned the novelty check in a shortened 54-hole event. However, since 2011, the course has been re-made… to an extent. Plainfield has been lengthened from 6,949 yards to 7,012 yards, yet moves from a Par 71 to Par 70. The easiest hole on the course from 2011, the 527-yard, Par 5 fifth, is now a 495-yard, Par 4. These alterations are expected to make the course a tad more challenging, since DJ was -19 after the conclusion of the third round. Still, Plainfield is still a shorter course, so the same stats that resonated in 2011 are a logical starting point for this year.
Despite winning, Johnson appears more of an outlier in terms of skill set (bomber) against the rest of contenders. DJ was second in driving distance that week, but none of the next eight on the final leaderboard exceeded 32nd in that stat. I’m not going to discredit the longer hitters, but distance isn’t as advantageous at Plainfield like it is at some courses. In fact, use last week’s Sedgefield, another Donald Ross design, as a comparable layout to Plainfield. Precision drivers who score well on Par 4s and are deadly with short irons should be the ones that last throughout the weekend. Above average putting and overall birdie rate will also be key numbers to target at The Barclays.
The Barclays Picks
Henrik Stenson & Bill Haas - With only four events left in the standard Fantasy game, no need to concern yourself about remaining starts with any player, just put in any guy you want and worry about the consequences later. Those are future you problems. I’m certain everyone had plenty of Chris Kirk and Billy Horschel starts left this time last year. So, ride the hot players throughout the playoffs, but for the first event, in the largest field, target quality. Outside of Jason Day, and personal favorite Will Wilcox, Henrik Stenson is a statistical savant. The Swede hits more GIRs than any other player in the world, while also earning the top grade in total driving (38th distance; 10th accuracy) and ball striking. I worry about his birdie average (55th) and proximity off the fairway from 125-and-in (194th), but his past success on Ross layouts (2013 winner at East Lake) and dominance out of the rough will mitigate those deficiencies. Stenson has top 60 grades from the long grass from the key ranges and is best on TOUR in scrambling from the rough. Oh, Stenson hasn’t missed a cut in 11 PGA events this season either, he’s safe, with considerable upside. I’ll turn to suddenly red-hot Bill Haas for the other “A-List” spot. After his poor two-month stretch in June and July, the 2011 FedExCup champion now has two T10s in his last four starts, including a T6 at the Ross designed Sedgefield CC last week. Haas will likely be under owned from this group, and presents an excellent opportunity to create a points gap in the standings.
A-List Alternates: Brooks Koepka & Luke Donald
Jason Day, Jordan Spieth & Justin Rose - The “B-List” is all about going chalk and not losing points to the field. If you have the starts left, make sure to use this elite trio.
Note: Jason Day withdrew from the Pro-AM Wednesday with a back issue. Don't chance it, replace him with Matt Kuchar.
Brandt Snedeker - Use your final roster spot from this grouping to help differentiate your squad, and after his Sunday meltdown at the Wyndham, Brandt Snedeker likely scorned enough Fantasy gamers to keep his ownership down at The Barclays. I’m good taking the course record holder, though. Sneds used a third-round 61 to propel himself to a T3 in 2011 and flashed the ability to go just as low as recently as last week, when he fired a Friday 61. He can be volatile round-to-round, but the overall consistency is apparent; Snedeker has only missed one cut since May (in eight starts), with four Top 15s in that span. Plus, Donald Ross designs have been fortuitous to Sneds over the years, with wins at East Lake (2012) and Sedgefield (2007).
B-List Alternates: Matt Kuchar, Dustin Johnson, Rickie Fowler & Lee Westwood
Jason Bohn & David Lingmerth - I know I’m a shill for Jason Bohn, but, honestly, it’s for good reason. Bohn’s currently in the best stretch of his career with five T15s in his last nine starts, and pops up in all the key categories for The Barclays. Lofty ranks in scoring (20th) and birdie (15th) average aside, Bohn’s been deadly with a wedge in his hand - 14th in 50-125 yard proximity. Couple that with his affinity for par breakers (17th), overall birdie or better percentage (17th), and Par 4 scoring (4th), and you have an elite player masquerading as a scrub. It’s taken me a while to warm to David Lingmerth, and hopefully I haven’t missed out on his sizzling run, but no player may be in better form. After a horrendous run of four missed cuts in five events, Lingmerth has been downright dominant since his breakthrough win at The Memorial. Seven starts, seven paydays; with four T10s - including no result worse than T12 in his last three events.
C-List Alternates: Patrick Reed & Jonas Blixt
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