The Sleeper Report: Fantasy Golf Sleepers, Long Shots, and Undervalued Picks for the 2017 PGA Championship
2017 PGA Championship Fantasy Sleeper Preview
So here we go then: the fourth and final major of the year. So far 2017 has witnessed Sergio Garcia finally join the Green Jacket brigade, Brooks Koepka translate potential into reality at the US Open, and Jordan Spieth….well, he just did what Jordan does over at Royal Birkdale.
The WGC-Bridgestone Invitational has set the scene rather nicely for the PGA Championship, with Hideki Matsuyama ploughing through the field with an outrageous round of 61 to take the honors ahead of Zach Johnson and Charley Hoffman.
The theme at Firestone was long, straight hitting and coping well with the ever-changing weather conditions, and judging from the early forecasts the same could well be true this week at Quail Hollow.
Hideki Matsuyama of Japan hits his approach shot on the ninth hole during the second round of the Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow Club on May 6, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina. Get premium, high resolution news photos at Getty Images
Have you heard that name before? Followers of the PGA TOUR will have, as this has been the host venue for the Wells Fargo Championship for the stretch between 2003-2016. The watchwords at this famous stretch are hit it far, hit it straight, and hit those greens – a recipe that has witnessed the likes of Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, JB Holmes, and Lucas Glover take the honors here in the past.
That format has been tweaked yet further thanks to a series of course renovations overseen by Tom Fazio. The aim of the remodelled Quail Hollow is to test the players’ all-round game, and so holes have been lengthened – the course is now up to 7,600 yards despite dropping from Par 72 to 71 – and extra bunkers added. Some greens have even been moved so that they straddle water features and sand traps; this should be a test worthy of a major.
We say ‘should’ because the likes of Rory and JB have taken this course to the cleaners in the past, but we expect the difficulty tariff to have been increased somewhat by Fazio’s work.
The best protection for many courses is the weather, and that could well be the case this week with plenty of rain expected. That will play a double-hand: lengthening the course artificially (fairways won’t run, elevation changes will become less marked as a result), but also softening these Bermudagrass greens to make them more approachable. That will be news to the ears of the players, for whom hybrid and long iron approaches are the norm at Quail Hollow.
So, a tough test is expected this week to bring the curtain down on the year’s majors. Outside of the favorites, who is expected to show well in North Carolina? Let’s take a look.
PGA Championship Fantasy Sleeper Report
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