As a fantasy golf fanatic, I can't but help feel a sense of emptiness knowing that the Masters was originally supposed to take place next week. While the Masters is a "tradition unlike any other," I was elated to find out FanDuel is offering a simulated PGA contest (starts on Thursday at 12 p.m. ET) for THE PLAYERS Championship, which was canceled after the first round was played on March 12. It certainly won't erase the loss, but might just lessen it.
I'm not one to bet money on simulated results when I don't know the algorithm or at least the variable weights that go into it. However, FanDuel's simulated contest involving THE PLAYERS Championship is free to play and offers cash to play in future FanDuel contests. I just wish I could enter more than once!
I'm not sure why FanDuel has Smylie Kaufman as the sole $6K player and then immediately jumps the salaries to $7K. But I'll give you a little peek at my entry this week and I will tell you that I'm not choosing a single player under $8K this week. So I'll keep it simple and give you one golfer from each $1K price band:
FanDuel Simulated THE PLAYERS Championship Pick: $8,000 to $9,000
Byeong Hun An ($8,800)
An arrived at TPC Sawgrass coming off a disappointing T-56th at the Arnold Palmer Invitational after firing a week-high 77 in the final round. But he opened that tournament with a 71, giving us reason to believe. Remember, this is a player that was not only in the top 10 in shots gained tee to green last year, but he also was first in shots gained around the green. And he has posted back-to-back top-30 finishes in THE PLAYERS. That type of performance at this price? That's all we need!
FanDuel Simulated THE PLAYERS Championship Pick: $9,000 to $10,000
Collin Morikawa ($9,200)
Morikawa is woefully underpriced. He has not missed a cut in 11 straight tournaments this year. This is Morikawa's debut at THE PLAYERS Championship, so if the simulation favors experience, Morikawa could be in trouble. However, he's currently eighth in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green. Also noteworthy is that Morikawa might have been one of the biggest losers when THE PLAYERS was canceled after one round. He was tied for seventh place after shooting a four-under 68 in the first round.
FanDuel Simulated THE PLAYERS Championship Pick: $10,000 to $11,000
Tommy Fleetwood ($10,900)
On the flip side was Fleetwood, who had a horrendous opening round, finishing six-over (78) and tied for 140th! But Fleetwood is currently ranked 10th in the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) for a reason. Furthermore, if we throw out his most recent round, Fleetwood's history at TPC Sawgrass is quite good. He's never missed the cut and he finished seventh (2018) and fifth ('19) in THE PLAYERS the past two years.
FanDuel Simulated THE PLAYERS Championship Pick: $11,000 to $12,000
Rory McIlroy ($12,000)
I know, not exactly a bold pick. But when it comes to simulations, it is often better to go with chalk. Most of the pre-tourney simulations this year had McIlroy winning. Even if he doesn't win, I'm willing to pay the premium for the high floor this week. It doesn't hurt that he is the defending champion. Most simulations don't factor in the human element and the extra toll being defending champion can take on you. If you need more concrete reasons, however, McIlroy arrived at TPC Sawgrass with seven consecutive top-five finishes worldwide. And if you're looking for stats, McIlroy is tied for second in bogey avoidance, first in scoring average, third in shots gained approaching the green, second in shots gained tee to green, second in shots gained total... do I really need to keep going? Take the chalk and go contrarian elsewhere.
— Written by Mark Strausberg, a member of the Athlon Network Contributor, who despite his youthful exuberance and good looks has been playing fantasy sports before Wildcats or Hoosiers even made it to VHS. Got a fantasy sports question or thought? Hit him up on Twitter @MarkStrausberg.
(Top photo courtesy of tpc.com/sawgrass)