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Golf Barometer: The Rise of Woodland

Bryce Danielson

Bryce covers the PGA for RotoWire and provides input on the golf cheat sheet. He also contributes to the coverage for NFL, NBA and other sports.

The 2017-18 PGA Tour season began last week at the Safeway Open with a spell of deja vu come Sunday afternoon, when Brendan Steele won the event for a second consecutive year. The Tour now heads overseas to Malaysia for the CIMB Classic, which includes a 78-man field highlighted by 2015 and 2016 champion Justin Thomas. We’ll take a look at several trends in fantasy value as the fall series commences.

VALUE RISING

Gary Woodland

Heading into his 2017-18 debut at the CIMB Classic, Woodland has finished outside of the top-30 just once in his last five starts dating back to the PGA Championship, including no finish worse than a T27 throughout the final three legs of the FedExCup playoffs. Woodland also finished runner-up in back-to-back CIMB Classics in 2013 and 2014, so he’s comfortable playing on the paspalum seashore grass at TPC Kuala Lumpur. He could be a valuable fantasy asset during the fall series and beyond, having ranked top-15 in driving distance, SG: Approach and GIR percentage last season.

Tony Finau

Finau’s fantasy stock continues to climb following a runner-up finish at the Safeway Open, where he averaged five birdies per round and ranked third in SG: Tee-to-Green. His recent FedExCup playoffs run ended at the TOUR Championship when he posted his second straight seventh-place finish. Finau could be in line for a career year during his fourth season on the PGA Tour, looking to surpass $3M in earnings for the first time.

Phil Mickelson

Mickelson amazingly led the field in birdie average at last week’s Safeway Open on the way to his third-place finish, despite hitting just 26.8 percent of the fairways in regulation at Silverado. He’s now placed T3-T20-T6 throughout his past three starts, even with glaring accuracy issues off the tee.

VALUE FALLING

Patton Kizzire

Since ending his 2016-17 regular season with finishes of T9-T24 at the Barracuda and Wyndham Championships, Kizzire has missed three straight cuts including the first two legs of the FedExCup playoffs and last week’s Safeway Open. He was solid off the tee at Silverado, but lost strokes in every other category as he carded just five birdies in two rounds. The 31-year-old ranked just 169th in SG: Total this past season.

Byeong-Hun An

An has appeared in just five events dating back to July’s British Open, missing four cuts during that stretch including his most recent MC at the European Tour’s Alfred Dunhill Links Championship. He barely finished inside of the top-100 in the FedExCup standings last season, limited by putting and accuracy issues. An also appeared in just 22 events during his 2016-17 campaign, while it remains to be seen if he’ll hover around that number again this season.

Kelly Kraft

Kraft has posted no result better than a T58 throughout his past six starts, falling to 189th in the Official World Golf Ranking. The 29-year-old finished his 2016-17 season outside of the top-150 on Tour in GIR percentage, scoring average and SG: Tee-to-Green despite managing to place 58th in the final FedExCup standings.

INJURY UPDATE

Danny Lee

Lee returns to PGA Tour action in Malaysia this week after a nagging back injury ultimately kept him from weekend golf for nearly three months, either missing the cut or withdrawing in each of his past five starts. It could take some time for Lee to shake off the rust as he eases back to full health, so consider his fantasy value somewhat limited for the time being.

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