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The Fantasy Golf Sommelier – Desert Classic

“It tastes like the back of a fucking L.A. school bus. Now they probably didn’t de-stem, hoping for some semblance of concentration, crushed it up with leaves and mice, and then wound up with this rancid tar and turpentine bullshit. Fuckin’ Raid.

–  Miles Raymond from the movie Sideways

Have you ever had a bad wine? I mean really bad, not the cheap stuff that just tastes like shit, I’m talking full on vinegar tasting, nostril burning wine. If you haven’t let me tell you, it’s a shock to your taste buds and you’ll never forget it. It has happened once in my lifetime, and it was awful. I have often wondered how often it occurs though. You almost never see it happen at restaurants when the pretentious waiter pours that tiny little ounce of wine to the guy at the table who thinks he actually knows something about what he just ordered. Then gives his approval before the table receives the masterpiece that he has so pompously selected. I say all this for one particular reason. Last weeks’ FGS was a bad wine. There’s just no other way around it. The picks sucked. At least I got the Boone’s Farm fade of the week right! However, like a bad wine, I’m hoping it’s a rare occurrence.

One of the most popular movies ever about wine is Sideways. If you haven’t seen it, it’s great fantastic and I highly recommend. You will more than likely see me quote lines from that movie a decent amount in the future also as there are some absolute gems all thru the movie.  It features one of my favorite actors, Paul Giamatti (Miles) as a middle aged (me) self absorbed (not me, at least, I don’t think so) so called wine aficionado (definitely not me) who travels thru California wine country with his soon to be married best friend (Jack) played by Thomas Haden Church (Lowell from the tv show Wings). Without getting into too much detail, Miles (Giamatti) is obsessed with wine, but he hates Merlot for some reason, and because of that, the sale of Merlot actually took a huge hit in the U.S. There’s actually a true phenomenon called “The Sideways Effect” when it comes to wine in America. Wine makers literally were pulling up entire vineyards of Merlot grapes and replacing them with more popular wines. All because of a freakin movie! There’s really nothing wrong with Merlot though, and there never really was. Perception, you might say, due to popular sentiment, became a false reality. That happens ALL the time when it comes to golf, and especially when choosing golfers. We can’t always let a certain perception or notion guide us when trying to choose a player in our lineups. There are countless examples of this. I personally have a tendency to do this all the time. We tend to label guys in our minds as a bomber, short game specialist, great putter, wind player, and so on and so on because of what we may have heard or read, without truly understanding whether or not the data backs the perception. Take Jordan Spieth for example, up until very recently, he is almost always lumped in with the greatest putters on tour but in reality he hasn’t been higher than 40th in Strokes Gained Putting in more than two years. Justin Thomas is another guy who carries a common misconception that he has a “shaky” short game (cc: DB), but he’s actually been in the top 30 of scramblers on tour the last couple of years. In fact, of every player that won on tour last lear, JT ranked 2nd in putts per round and 2nd in Scrambling percentage. Both JT and Spieth are obviously world class golfers who are constantly trying to improve their game, as is every single player on tour, so you can’t get set in your ways when choosing players based off stats, you have to evolve with them year over year. Don’t get me wrong, the stats are very telling and you have to use them to your advantage, but don’t ever discount the old eye ball test. I will alway contend that actually watching golf, consistently, is still one of the best ways to hone your fantasy skills, and is the best way to ignore a perception and learn for yourself that the “Merlot” you’ve always thought sucked might actually be some of the best wine you’ve ever tasted.

Miles Bucket.jpg

By the way, in case you were wondering what Jack’s response to Miles’ scathing wine review in the quote above was…”Tastes pretty good to me”.

So we move on now to the Desert Classic in the beautiful desert of La Kwinta, California (It’s La Quinta (Keenta) but if you are a long time listener to the show, you will remember my very first pronunciation which still cracks DB and I up today). 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 mosey on in to the sommeliers’ cellar of vintage golf plays for the week…

Rose Honma.jpg

Justin Rose – $11,000 – 95 Points – We finally get to see what the 2018 fall harvest has produced with Justin Rose making his 2019 debut this week in the desert. He’s even got a fancy new label this year with a new clothing sponsor and those impressive looking Honma clubs he’ll now be sporting on the links. Typically club changes scare fantasy players away but I don’t typically buy into that. World class players like Rose don’t just make a club change without a ton of research, practice, and preparation. Rose will be fantastic off the tee and should score in bunches on all three of the courses this week making him my top rated play for the week and basically the equivalent of the finest Rose’ on the menu.

Patrick Cantlay – $10,600 – 93 Points – Patrick Cantlay kicks off his 2019 in the desert just like Rose and he’s another guy that I can’t wait to see this year. I fully expect 2019 to be a banner year for Cantlay and one we will be talking about like that prized 20 year old Pinot Noir you’ve been waiting to open for years and finally found just the right moment to open and it was everything you dreamed of and more. Cantlay has the perfect game for this course and ranks in the top 10 in the field in Strokes Gained off the Tee, Opportunities Gained, and DraftKings Scoring. He’s also extremely chill and doesn’t seem to let much bother him which should serve him well in this pro am format where there are a ton of distractions and play will be slow.

J.J. Spaun – $8,500 – 90 Points – The newly engaged Spaun has made his last six cuts dating back to the Safeway Open which includes three top 15 finishes during that span. Like Cantlay, he’s also another chill guy that should fit right in with this format and is checking all the boxes we like to contend this week. Put it this way, if you want a wine comparison, JJ is the wine you order when you want to impress your boss but not have to justify paying the price for when you submit the expense report. He’s solid, reasonably priced, and shouldn’t disappoint.

The $10 Wine Special – Priced like a Yellow Tail, but playing like a Caymus!

Joaquin Niemann – $7,600 – 92 Points – The new kid on the block is ready to roll for his second full season on tour and I’m expecting huge things from this kid in 2019. Everyone is talking about Cam Champ, but in my opinion, Niemann is the guy that will end up stealing the headlines of the young guys on tour this year. I think you can safely play “Jocko” in cash and GPP’s this week and not even think twice about it. He’s ranked #2 in the field Off the Tee, #1 in Opps Gained, 7th in DraftKings Scoring, and 5th in Birdie or Better %. Bome.

Richy Werenski – $7,600 – 89 Points – I can honestly say I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned Werenski as a play I like in the entire existence of Tour Junkies, but he is popping like a champagne cork this week for me. Richy has played ver well here in the past couple years with 29th and 9th place finishes over the past couple years. His recent form has also been very solid having placed 15th, 3rd, and 23rd in his last 3 events. Throw in checking boxes in Strokes Gained off the Tee, DraftKings Scoring, and Birdie or Better %, and you basically have THE definition of the $10 Wine Special.

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).

Andrew Putnam – $9,700 – 79 Points – Just like last week with Cameron Champ I am going to pour out the bottle of one of the hottest players on tour and fade Andrew Putnam this week. He’s been fantastic with the putter lately and was #1 in the field at the Sony with the flat stick. The putter is a fickle tool though and is one of the most inconsistent measures we can use week in and week out. You never know when a player will get hot with the putter and I’m banking on Putnam cooling down with his flat stick. He ranks 108th in the field in Strokes Gained Off the Tee and 125th in Opportunities Gained which just isn’t screaming out a must play this week. As far as I’m concerned Putnam is the typical overpriced popular wine that you pay for at hoity toity restaurant when you could get it for $15 at your local liquor store. I’m just not willing to waste my money on that this week.




“What wine goes with Captain Crunch?”

―  George Carlin

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