Fantasy Forecast: 2016 Hero World Challenge recap

Hideki Matsuyama is fully in charge in the Bahamas.

Fantasy Forecast: 2016 Hero World Challenge recap

Fantasy

Fantasy Forecast: 2016 Hero World Challenge recap

By

Hideki Matsuyama continued his dominant play as he defeated Henrik Stenson by two shots in winning the Hero World Challenge at the Albany Club in the Bahamas. Matsuyama posted 18-under par 270 to win by two shots. Dustin Johnson led a trio of players including Rickie Fowler and Matt Kuchar to round off the podium three further shots adrift.

For the third event in a row and fourth in five worldwide the Japanese stud stood alone with the trophy at the end of the week. If you’re wondering what happened in the other week, he finished solo second to Justin Thomas at the CIMB Classic. Matsuyama teed it up 25 times worldwide this calendar year and won as many times (five) as he MC. He added a second, third and five other top 10’s just to remove any doubt. Not bad considering he didn’t win in 27 events in calendar 2015!

Gamers will trade his career WORST in MC for his career BEST in wins, right? Matsuyama now has 11 career wins worldwide since 2011 and is living up to all of the hype that comes with it. Obviously, the next stop will be claiming a major championship but based on the form listed above, I can’t see why not.

Matsuyama’s ferocious ball-striking has been the backbone for his successes but his putting stroke deserves credit as well. Nobody gets to 89 under in their final 20 rounds of the season without the flatstick cooperating and that’s exactly what he did. The question that follows Matsuyama around is when the putter will and will not show up. I’m willing to ride his ball-striking, yes, it’s THAT good, and wait for the putter. Most majors don’t need 15-under to win and two putts are usually OK!

I feel bad for the gamers who piled on him last year and didn’t get the wins in return. I’m not sure there is anything that would push me away from him moving forward but remember he has had issues with WD over the last few years. Bad back. Wrist. Illness. His results this season have shown these issues haven’t affected his efforts for season-long investors.

BUY. BUY. BUY.

Key moment(s)

  • Getting off the plane? With his recent record, this MIGHT have been the only way of stopping him this week.
  • Thursday’s seven birdies and eagle got him off to the perfect start and didn’t force him to play catch-up on an easy course.
  • Building a seven-shot lead heading into the final round meant he could cruise but he still needed a tight chip at the final hole to exhale. He did and he did.

Scorecard

  • His lead of seven after three rounds tied the event record (Spieth, 2014).
  • 18-under par didn’t touch Bubba Watson’s course event record of 25-under set last year.
  • Racked up 22 birdies (2nd) and two eagles (T-5) but only made two of those birdies on Sunday.
  • Squared only four bogeys (T-1) and had only one round with more than one.
  • He made a double on Thursday but still shot 65. He doubled No. 11 on Sunday to make things interesting on the back nine.
  • Did the business in the first three rounds as he hit 33 of 39 fairways and 39 of 54 greens to run away and hide.

Past history at Albany

  • Finished T-DFL with Anirban Lahiri on 4 under last year in the only other event on this course.
  • Shot 75-73 to open last year.
  • His only round in the 60’s was his final one where he finally figured it out with 66. #QuickLearner

Fantasy Forecast

  • His close to the 2016 calendar year reinforces his elite status in the game.
  • Regardless of format, he’s going to factor in every event he’ll tee it up.
  • In formats with limited starts (PGATour.com, Yahoo!) he’ll have to be managed under the microscope to get the maximum benefit.
  • I’ve already burned him in OAD (solo second, CIMB) so the pressure is off but he’s a previous champ at TPC Scottsdale and Muirfield Village.
  • He smoked a premium field at WGC-HSBC Champions and this week in the Bahamas so the flood gate is officially OPEN for 2017.

With this win

  • Collects $1,000,000
  • No FEC points for this one but he’ll hardly care as he leads by 236 points over Justin Thomas, the only man to beat him in the new season.
  • Checks in at No. 6 in the OWGR, unchanged from last week.

Hindsight

Trends and stats from the week for next week and next year

  • Second year for Albany as host.
  • Scores across the board were higher than last year.
  • New back tee on No. 10 added a few shots to multiple scorecards.
  • Lowest round of the week was 63 set by last year’s champ Bubba Watson.
  • Just three rounds under 65 for the week with J.B. Holmes and Brandt Snedeker both posting 64.
  • Both winners have no problem getting it down the fairway.
  • Tiger Woods led the field with 24 birdies, five less than Fowler’s 29 last year.
  • Top eight players were double-digits under par, down from 14 last year in the same field of 18.
  • First-timers here haven’t contended as Brooks Koepka finished seventh last year and Louis Oosthuizen was the best first-timer this year in ninth.
  • Course played slightly over TWO strokes-under par for the week at 69.842.

I’m not sure if the host, Woods, had any say in the set up of the course, but it did play much tougher than last year. Woods rarely tees it up, if ever, in tournaments where 25-30 birdies are necessary to win so that would surprise me if it was the case. Last year the top six players were 19-under or LOWER. With five par fives and generous fairways, the winner here is going to have to always go low.

Scorecard

Hideki Matsuyama (WIN): Not even the stoutest of course historians could have faded Matsuyama’s chances this week! Dominating opening 54 holes continued his majestic run of form. All aboard for 2017!

Henrik Stenson (2nd): I thought his week was going to end with a triple on No. 16 Friday afternoon that dropped him to four-under for the week. The Swede rallied to birdie the final two holes and shift his momentum back into a positive direction. He only posted four bogeys against 21 birdies and an eagle to fight Matsuyama until the final hole Sunday.

Dustin Johnson (T-3): He completes the NO-BRAINER tri-fecta this week as the three hottest players in the world all showed up and performed. Another week, another top 10 makes it seven from his last 10 worldwide starts and his finish was in spite of playing the weekend in just one-under (72-71).

Rickie Fowler (T-3): After solo third and 29 birdies last year he’ll settle for 21 birdies and T-3 this year. He was two-over through his first four holes so he rallied for investors. He also shot 68 paired with Woods on Saturday which hasn’t been his most favorite pairing. He loves the Bahamas and obviously plays well here. Along with Stenson, he was the only other player to post both weekend rounds in the 60’s.

Matt Kuchar (T-3): Not the longest off the tee, Kuchar avoided bogeys with just four and one double on the week. His 48 pars were second yet he still circled 19 birdies, good enough for T-8. This is his first top 10 in six events since T-4 at Crooked Stick. Gamers who are already invested will enjoy hearing that while the rest of us continue to scratch our collective heads on his value (premium or support staff) moving into 2017.

Bubba Watson (T-6): Spirited defense had just as many ups as downs as he fired the low one of the week (63) followed by one of the highest (75) in consecutive rounds. The next mayor of Pensacola co-led the field in eagles (2) and circled 20 birdies. His driver got a workout this week as did a bunch of new clubs in the bag.

Jordan Spieth (T-6): Jet lag never hurts as much after a win and that’s what Spieth did in Australia in his last event before Albany. Weird week for the 2014 champ at Isleworth as he was in the top two in fairways and greens but near the bottom in putting. His three-putt on the final hole Friday from three feet was something. Something you’ll never see again!

Brandt Snedeker (T-6): His finishing place on the leaderboard was buoyed by his second round 64 as he only broke par twice for the week. He made nine birdies in that round and only 10 more the rest of the event. Remember, it’s not how but rather how many.

Louis Oosthuizen (9th): Sat just two off the lead on his maiden voyage after 67-67 but played the weekend one OVER (73-72) to finish in the bottom half of the 17 players who finished. That’s essentially a microcosm of his last two months of the season where it has been top 10 or bust.

Patrick Reed (10th): Last year’s runner up finished 14 shots worse this time around. He and Fowler were the only two players to find a bogey-free round on the weekend as the both went through Sunday with a clean card. This is Reed’s first top 10 since TPC Boston and he’ll play his 32nd event of the calendar year next week in Hong Kong. It will be his second consecutive calendar year with 32 starts worldwide. #InternationalManofMystery.

J.B. Holmes (11th): Set the pace out of the gate with 64 on Thursday but that was his only round in the 60’s all week. He finished T-8 last year closing with 64 so there’s something he sees here!

Zach Johnson (12th): I’m pretty sure he was in the bottom three or quite possibly last in DFS. He finished well above projection so relatively speaking, that’s a win for investors. He finished 12th last year on 15-under and 12th this year on six under. #Perspective.

Brooks Koepka (T-13): Three rounds in the 70’s at this event is fantasy death unless there’s a 58 or 59 along with them! He couldn’t improve on his 65-68 finish from a season ago.

Jimmy Walker (T-13): He played the third round in 66 strokes in less than two hours. That deserves recognition.

Tiger Woods (15th): This is a fantasy golf column so please keep that in mind when you continue to read. I loved and was surprised by the fact that he made more birdies than anybody in the field. He also made the most doubles, which isn’t surprising given his massive layoff. He looked to have the same power with new clubs. He also was excited to have his old Scotty Cameron putter back in the bag. Moving forward, I’ll be interested to see how he reacts physically to a more demanding track both for his game and walking four rounds for his back. Seeing this wasn’t an unmitigated disaster is encouraging for fantasy players but I’m not sold on over-paying for Woods in any format. What if he injures his back AGAIN and you’re stuck with dead weight at the top of your lineup? Can he swing the club with the same confidence on tighter, more demanding tracks? Are his short game jitters a thing of the past? Will he play an easier track this season?

These are questions that you’ll have to ponder late at night as you pray to the FANTASY GODS for advice.

Russell Knox (16th): First-timer as well got off to fine start with a bogey-free 69 but never went lower than 71 the rest of the way.  Knox and Woods racked up two of the five bogey-free rounds of the week and both finished in the bottom three. Knox led the field in pars for the week and that’s not handy when the 54-hole leader was 19-under!

Emiliano Grillo (17th): His 15 bogeys led the field and 14 birdies were hardly enough to turn it around.  He’ll take comfort in being reminded that the guy who finished LAST a season ago was the same guy holding the trophy on Sunday this year.

Stay Tuned: With the 2016 calendar year in the bag, I will start my season review/preview for calendar 2017. I’ll evaluate most all of the players on Tour for the coming year and will include their early season results (if applicable) to get you ready for 2017. My review/preview will be released in chunks over the next few weeks so stay tuned @MikeGlasscott, @Golfweek or @GolfweekFantasy for more details.

Latest

More Golfweek
Home