Greetings fine golf enthusiasts and welcome to the first edition of The Fantasy Golf Sommelier. I’m here to help guide you through the earthy, melon-like, oaky, with a slight hint of coconut twists and turns of the Sony Open at Waialae Country Club this week.
First though, a disclaimer, of which there might be several I will suggest as the year progresses. I am NOT a real Sommelier (shocking, I know). Real Sommeliers’ go through extensive, grueling (really? grueling? Apparently so, I read it somewhere on the internet. Seriously though, were they running obstacle courses while sipping on Opus One?), and extremely comprehensive training to learn just about every detail you can possibly imagine about wine. It’s a title that only a few can achieve, and I respect that, so as to the disclaimer, if you’re a fairy and want to defend Sommelier rights across the world, this article isn’t for you.
That being said, what is this article? Why am I writing it? What the hell does fantasy golf have to do with wine? Well, actually I think you can make a fun and interesting correlation between the touting of players, and the touting of fine, or shitty wine. Wine, as they say, is an acquired taste, it also varies in taste, consistency, color, and region amongst many other things. Doesn’t that remind you of the way professional golf works and particularly fantasy golf? Week in and week out, we never know what we’re going to get. Golf is the most variable fantasy sport. Hands. Down. Just look at the courses themselves, you have short courses, long courses, courses with a ton of hazards, lots of trees, no trees, and countless other varying factors. Then there are the players… You have guys that can bomb it, ball strikers, great putters, accurate drivers, short game specialist, hell, we even talk sometimes about freakin WIND specialists!
I’m sure several of you reading have been out to dinner at a nice restaurant, perhaps with business colleagues, or a large group of friends, and for God knows what reason, you get picked by the waiter as the lucky recipient of the massive wine menu with 6 pages full of whites, reds, champagnes, desert wines and whatever else they can fit in to look fancy. All eyes are now on you, you’ve got to pick the wine for the night, and the pressure is on. You look down and all you see is NAMES, that’s it, nothing else, I mean, you may get where they’re from, but that’s about all. How are you supposed to make a decision with that info? You can’t, it’s impossible. So what do you do? You close your eyes, take a deep breath, perhaps pray, point, and GUESS. Am I right?
Of course, there are a few recognizable names on the list, staple go to wines you might say, but basically you have zero to go off of. It would be nice if they would at least give you a brief description of each wine with various “stats” as to why they might be a good choice. See where I’m going here folks! All this adds to the simple and undying fact that picking players, like picking a wine, is…well…hard.
So for the purpose of this article, I will be your own personal fantasy golf sommelier. I’m going to give you player recommendations each week and tell you as much as I can in order to perhaps give you an opportunity to make a good, and educated decision on choosing or avoiding him instead of just pointing your finger and guessing or going with the names you just happen to know. I’m also going to compare the players to the various aspects of wine discussed earlier, for no other reason than it’s just fun to talk about and provides a different tone than just reading stats and gobbly goo about why Tiger Woods is a must start for the week. For this we are going to use the classic Wine Spectator 100 point scale:
95-100 Classic: a great wine
90-94 Outstanding: a wine of superior character and style
85-89 Very good: a wine with special qualities
80-84 Good: a solid well-made wine
75-79 Mediocre: a drinkable wine that may have minor flaws
50-74 Not recommended (or a very shitty wine)
So, here we go, let’s saunter on in to the sommeliers’ cellar of vintage golf plays for the week…
Jordan Spieth - $10,300 - 94 points - Mr. Spieth strolls into the season this year as somewhat of an enigma. We really just don’t know what to expect from a guy who is typically like your go to glass of Cabernet with a nice Ribeye…solid, reliable, and a winner. This year is different though. We need to figure out whether or not the harvest was a good one in the fall. Will we get the Jordan of old? Waialae being a tremendous course fit for Jordan, could give us some decent insight into the state of his game today. He finished tied for 20th last year and 3rd in 2017 so we’ve seen him play well at Waialae in the past. Jordan has also won on similar style courses like Colonial so there’s no reason to think he can’t continue that success again this year. I also LOVE that he was a last minute entry to this event. I think that tells you that he’s confident in his game and he’s ready to test it for the year sooner than later.
Hideki Matsuyama - $9,300 - 92 points - Hideki is your typical expensive wine that just never seems to satisfy for the right occasion. He’s an incredible player that probably should be rated at 99 points based off talent alone but he can be very inconsistent, especially with the putter. I’m all in on Hideki coming in to the PGA Tour season hot with the putter and bursting with crispy flavors of goodness for his owners this week. Hideki is solid across the board when it comes to the stats we like this week. He ranks 8th in the field in Ball Striking, 3rd in Proximity, 6th in Strokes Gained Around the Green, and 10th in Opportunities Gained. It’s safe to say that we should see vintage Hideki this week at the Sony.
Kyle Stanley - $8,700 - 90 points - I bet you’re looking at the menu of players this week and thinking there’s no way in hell you’re going to spend $8,700 on Kyle Stanley when there seems to be so many better options around him. Don’t fret, Stanley is a fantastic play and should be a staple in your tournament lineups this week. Think of him like your wife or significant others go to Chardonnay at almost any type restaurant, you know, the one that’s slightly better and more expensive than the house label they are offering but still satisfying and delivers every time. Kyle checks boxes for me in Strokes Gained Approach, Ball Striking, Driving Accuracy, and Opportunities Gained. All of which he ranks in the top 10 in the field over the last 50 rounds played. He’s also got great fantastic course history having made the cut 3 straight years with two top 15 finishes and a T36 in 2017. Bome.
Adam Scott - $8,300 - 88 points - Adam Scott drives you nuts every week. The guy is literally a stat machine and it’s no different coming into this week where he finds himself number one in the field in Strokes Gained Approach and Opportunities Gained. Personally, I think Australian wines are underrated. A great Shiraz is fantastic on any occasion but especially this week in Hawaii where I like Mr. Scott to start the season off in fine form and contend come Sunday. His ownership should be low as well making him a great tournament play and worth every penny on DraftKings.
The $20 Wine Special - Priced like a Yellow Tail, but playing like a Caymus!
Chris Kirk - $7,600 - 91 points - Well well, we have our first Georgia Bulldog in the first edition of the FGS. I just couldn’t resist. We don’t make very good wine in Georgia, but we can sure produce some damn good golfers. Kirk ranks in the top five in the field this week in Strokes Gained Approach and Proximity. He’s also played very well at Waialae in the past with a top 10 finish last year and a runner up finish in 2014. Yes, he’s had some bad years with a couple missed cuts in a row in 2016 and 17’, but we’re fairly certain there was some sort of infestation that screwed up the grapes during that time. I expect Kirk to outplay his price this week making him a play in cash and GPP’s.
Ollie Schneiederjans - $6,900 - 92 points - I love some Ollie this week. He can work his ball in so many different ways, and Waialae sets up perfect for that. He finished 27th in his initial start at the Sony in 2017 and followed that up with a 7th place finish last year. Looking at stats, he’s in the top 35 or better in the field in Approach, Proximity, Scrambling, Ball Striking, and Opportunities Gained. You’re getting a bottle of Shramsberg champagne for the price of some Andre’ on the specials rack at your local grocery store before New Years Eve with Ollie this week. Pop that cork and enjoy folks.
Boone’s Farm Vintage Fade of the Week - Boone’s Farm is basically convenience store wine we drank in college and possibly could kill you (not really, but it’s gross).
Cameron Champ $9,900 - 78 points - Look, I realize Cam has been absolutely lights out the the past few events. He has seamlessly transitioned from the Web.com tour to the PGA Tour with relative ease. That being said, I can’t stomach paying this price for him on a course that just doesn’t suit him at all. It’s like pairing a full bodied Red with fish instead of a beef tenderloin. It just doesn’t work. Champ is riding high on courses that are perfect for him but if you take a deep dive he’s just not checking any boxes when it comes to what is needed to fare well at Waialae. I mean, if you want a guy that’s 109th in the field in Driving Accuracy, 75th in Scrambling, and 57th in proximity then by all means, play away. I’m going to avoid that terrible hangover I partially recall Boone’s farm will give you.
Alright folks! That’s all I got. Cheers!