I generally try to avoid writing about fantasy golf in the introduction part of this preview each week, but the curious case of Billy Horschel has forced my hand this week. You see, Horschel was not on my radar entering the year, and I wasn't alone. Horschel's first two seasons on the PGA TOUR resulted in return trips to Q-School, and although he showed some signs of improvement in 2012, he never threatened the top 125. All of which makes his play this season quite a surprise. It's not unheard of for a golfer to come from outside the top 125 to comfortably inside that magic number, but we are nearly halfway through the regular season and Horschel sits third in the FedEx Cup standings. His rank is no fluke either - you don't find yourself that high in the standings this deep into the season without some consistent play. In addition to his win last week, Horschel also has a runner-up and a third-place finish. He's teed it up 12 times this season and has five top-10s, six top-25s and no missed cuts. So why make the exception and write about Horschel in the intro? Basically to make a point that as long as a golfer has his card, he has a chance to make it big. On paper, there was little to indicate that Horschel had this in him, but as I've always said, there isn't much separating golfers on the PGA TOUR, and sometimes a little confidence is all they need. Something to keep in mind when setting up your fantasy teams.
This week: Wells Fargo Championship
Last Year: Rickie Fowler shot a final-round 69 on his way to a playoff victory over Rory McIlroy and D.A. Points.
Players to Consider:
1. Rory McIlroy
When we last saw McIlroy at a regular PGA TOUR stop he was in quite a groove. He didn't play as well as many hoped at the Masters, but this isn't Augusta. McIlroy proved he can get around this course last year when he lost in a three-way playoff.
2. Rickie Fowler
Fowler disappointed last week in New Orleans, but that shouldn't dissuade you from picking him this week. Sure, he's the defending champ, which usually is a tough spot, but he should be fine this week.
3. Jimmy Walker
Walker might be the most underrated player on the PGA TOUR. He's yet to miss a cut in 12 events this year and already has four top-10s, including two top-5s. Of the available players in Yahoo's Group B this week, Walker's scoring average is nearly five points clear of the next guy.
4. Webb Simpson
Simpson is coming off a runner-up showing in his last event at the RBC Heritage and has a solid track record here as well, including a solo-fourth last year, just behind the playoff pack.
5. Lee Westwood
The expectations for Westwood are so high that it feels like he's having a bad year, but he's actually playing pretty well. He enters this week off consecutive top-10s, which is where he happened to finish here last year, T5 to be exact.
Players to Avoid:
1. Steve Marino
As of this writing, Marino is still in the field this week, but he may want to reconsider if he hopes to make enough money off of his major medical extension to regain his card for the rest of this year. Marino withdrew with a foot injury last week but posted an 80 prior to pulling out.
2. John Rollins
Rollins had a good track record entering last week's event, but even the positive vibes at TPC Louisiana couldn't help him avoid a pair of 75s. That's three consecutive 75s that Rollins has posted on the PGA TOUR.
3. Vijay Singh
This hasn't been a great year for Singh off the course, and though he started well on the course, his game has started to go south as well. Singh has failed to post anything better than a 72 in his last eight PGA TOUR rounds.
4. Ben Crane
Crane's cut rate this season sits at an unimpressive 50 percent entering this week. He made the cut last week, but could do no better than 72nd place. Looks like another rough week awaits Crane at Quail Hollow.
5. Sean O'Hair
O'Hair is a former champ here, but he's not playing like one this season. O'Hair has only two top-20s this season and zero top-10s. O'Hair is the type of player who can turn it around on a dime, but he's simply too risky this week.
Yahoo! Fantasy Golf:
1. Rory McIlroy
2. Phil Mickelson
With McIlroy's track record here and his improved play over the last month, the second pick in this group is really an afterthought, but alas, you have to pick somebody. I thought about Weekley after a solid performance last week, but I went with Mickelson in the hopes that his game might be rounding into form with the Players next week.
1. Jimmy Walker
2. Webb Simpson
3. Lucas Glover
4. Ryo Ishikawa
Much like Group A, the reserve picks this week might not even come into play because the top two look so strong. Those top two are Simpson and Walker, who are both in my top 5 this week. Beyond the those two, I went with Glover, who's playing well lately, and Ishikawa, who's suddenly formed some game the last month. Ryo was in position for a top-10 until a final-round 80 derailed his chances. Still, he has a lot of talent, and if he's finally coming around, it might be a good time to get on board.
1. Lee Westwood
2. Rickie Fowler
Fowler is an obvious choice in Group C this week, but there are a couple of quality options as the backup. I went with Westwood because of his track record here and his recent play. Stenson and Streelman were the others I looked at, but Streelman has had some consistency issues this year, and I'm still not sure I can trust Stenson just yet.
Starters Round One
1. Rory McIlroy
2. Jimmy Walker
3. Webb Simpson
4. Rickie Fowler
It's rare when a starting four comes this easily, but I honestly had no trouble putting this foursome together for Thursday. McIlroy has been great here over the last few years, so he's an easy pick to start. Simpson and Walker look like the class of Group B this week, which makes them the easy picks for the opening round. Group C gave me a little pause, but in the end, Fowler was the pick to start because of his play here last year and his recent form.
Round Two and Going Forward:
If things go as planned this week, it could be a slow week as far as changes go. All four players could end up being four-round starters, and it might depend on the backups to play their way in. Mickelson seems the most likely to fit that bill, but he's got the highest mountain to climb as it will be tough to pull McIlroy at any point this week. Mickelson will have to be in bonus point range come Saturday to get a look. Group B is a little different, as Webb and Walker aren't quite at the level of McIlroy, but they are both penciled-in through Friday. There is a chance that either Ryo or Glover could get in the line-up on Saturday if either starts well. Group C will be up for grabs Friday, though, as Westwood could play his way in after the opening round.