“It’s a hard grape to grow, as you know. It’s thin-skinned, temperamental. It’s not a survivor like Cabernet that can grow anywhere and thrive even when neglected. Pinot needs constant care and attention, you know? And in fact it can only grow in these really specific, little, tucked away corners of the world. And, and only the most patient and nurturing of growers can do it, really. Only somebody who really takes the time… to understand Pinot’s potential… can then coax it into its fullest expression.”
Miles Raymond, from the movie “Sideways”
Greetings fellow golf enthusiast and welcome to this weeks Fantasy Golf Sommelier Honda Classic edition. We’re just a few days removed from the Oscars and when conjuring up this weeks FGS, I immediately though of this quote about Pinot Noir from Sideways that comes at a particularly poignant time in the Academy Award winning movie. As I’ve mentioned before, Sideways has had a tremendous impact on the wine business in our country which I discussed a few weeks ago in regards to the “Sideways Effect” on Merlot that involved declining sales due to a simple line in the movie (Desert Classic Week, if you want to go back and read it). Well, the opposite effect occurred with Pinot Noir as sales absolutely took off after the movie and Pinot continues to be one of the most trendy and best selling wines today.
Pinot Noir is though, as the quote above suggest, quite a tough grape to grow, and needs a lot of attention. It has to be grown in almost the perfect conditions and climate to produce the best Pinot’s. It’s actually very similar to golf courses when you think about it. The best ones demand constant attention, care, and a little bit of that extra nurturing and patience to realize their fullest potential. Most everyone thinks of Pinot as a red wine grape, but it actually can be used in Rose’ and at times white wines and blends. Speaking of Rose’, and since I, Pat, write the FGS and can use this platform however the hell I want, DB loves to gives me shit on the pod for drinking Rose’ because of the sole reason that it’s pink in color and he has this false assumption that it’s a super sweet wine (I’m not sensitive about it though). That’s actually far from the truth with a good Rose’, especially the ones made with Pinot. Personally I’m not a fan at all of sweet wines, like White Zinfandel, another false comparison to Rose’, and Riesling. I challenge you to try a good Rose’ of Pinot Noir and tell me it’s not totally different than what your (or maybe just DB’s) perception is. But I digress, let’s get back to Pinot Noir. Napa Valley and Sonoma in California are widely known in the US, for good reason, as producing the best wines, but you might be surprised that Oregon is arguably the best growing region for Pinot Noir. The cooler climate makes for a more traditional, French Burgundy style growing area for Pinot and the volcanic and marine sedimentary soil gives it a unique quality that is what I like to call, Great Fantastic.
Damn, I feel like I got kind of technical there. Sort of reminds me of DB’s use of Apex Height at one time as a leading stat for predicting golfer performance. Anyway, staying along those lines, lets sum this up in actual golf terms. I kind of imagine Pinot Noir is the Bryson Dechambeau of grapes. They require attention and detail to thrive, are very tough to figure out and can be somewhat temperamental, but when everything comes together, the results are impeccable.
Now, on to the Honda Classic plays of the week. As always, we are going to use the classic Wine Spectator 100 point scale for the picks (think of it like a confidence factor):
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 jaunt on down into the sommeliers’ cellar of fine golf plays for the week…
Adam Scott - $10,300 – 96 Points – Adam comes in this week in fantastic form and is the perfect fit for a tough course like PGA National. The constant theme you’ll read here, and most everywhere else for the Honda is that it’s a Ball Strikers course and that means you’ve got to hit fairways and greens in order to play well. What’s another characteristic of ball strikers? They stay out of trouble, and with 14 holes on this course with water hazards in play you’ve got to do exactly that if you want to contend. Scott should be a core play in both GPP and Cash Lineups on DraftKings.
Webb Simpson - $9,600 – 93 Points – Webb was a popular pick in Mexico last week (20% owned in GPP contests) with his ball striking ability and scrambling ability. He underperformed though mostly due to the putter and a disappointing approach game. I’m throwing that out though this week as he gets back on a much more comfortable course and especially putting surface for his game with the Bermuda greens. Webb ranks in the top 10 in the field in Strokes Gained Putting on Bermuda and also 6th in Greens in Regulation. Throw in a T5 last year for course history and you’ve got another solid core play for your lineups.
Pop the Cork on him and Let it Breathe - New Segment! This is the guy we didn’t mention on the pod but after further review, popped later in the week and is a sneaky good, possibly low owned play.
Scott Piercy - $8,100 - 91 Points - The former pod guest Piercy has been playing quite well lately with a great start to the season in the fall and top 20 finishes in his last two starts at Pebble (10th), and the Waste Management (20th). The key for Scott has been his ball striking which has been great fantastic as he ranks top 10 in the field over his last 12 rounds and top 15 over his last 24 rounds. It’s kind of a trending theme this week, but the knock on Piercy has been his putting which hasn’t been great. He was even trolled on twitter as being horrendous on Bermuda which he promptly responded to here with a nice little troll job himself. I like the attitude and confidence coming out of Scott and will play him in my DraftKings tournament lineups. Bome!
The $10 Wine Special - Priced like a Sutter Home, plays like a Caymus!
Graeme McDowell - $7,600 – 88 Points - Graeme has been in decent form this season making 5 of 6 cuts with top 20 finishes at Pebble Beach just a few weeks ago and at the RSM Classic in the fall. He’s not a flashy guy to play, but is always solid on tough courses like PGA National (2 Top 15 finishes in his last 3 starts here) and traditionally putts well on Bermuda greens where he ranks 8th in the field. Side note, GMAC is a huge wine lover also so why not throw him in your lineups this week!
Jhonattan Vegas - $6,800 – 84 Points - Johnny Vegas is another guy like McDowell that’s kind of boring to play, but he’s another guy like I mentioned with Webb that’s a good ball striker and rarely gets in to much trouble off the tee. Vegas’ putting has been suspect lately, but as we know all too well, the putting can come and go at anytime and I think Vegas has great upside this week with his cheap price. He also be extremely low owned and a good tournament play on DraftKings.
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).
Brooks Koepka - $10,700 – 78 Points - So yeh, about Brooks, It’s basically becoming a love/hate relationship for me at this point and this week he’s trending on the hate end of the spectrum. There’s no doubt he’s world class, but lately he has been anything but with a lackluster T27 performance in Mexico and a 57th in Saudi Arabia which is the only other tournament we’ve seen him play this year. For Brooks, the downfall has been mostly the putter where he lost almost 6 strokes to the field at the WGC Mexico. He also has very average course history at PGA National with a missed cut in his last appearance and nothing better than T26 in 2016. With Brooks I think there are better courses for him to content on as he isn’t very accurate with his driver despite being a pretty good ball striker. I think with that we see the potential for a lot of water balls this week and another disappointing start at the Honda for DB’s man crush.