Greetings fellow golf enthusiast and welcome back to this weeks edition of the Fantasy Golf Sommelier. It’s John Deere Classic week and I know you are all extremely excited. To be completely honest I am not sure how this week is going to top last week’s finish with the young stud Matthew Wolff making an eagle on the 72nd hole from off the green to win, but I do think we see a ton of fireworks this week in the form of birdies and eagles. The week before a major can be pretty tricky as well since we typically get weaker fields or studs just trying to find some form and not necessarily “in it to win it”. That being said it’s even weirder than normal in the quad cities as we actually have 3 studs with less than 5 starts as pros all in the top 3 in pricing on DraftKings. I’m pretty sure that’s unheard of and also somewhat speaks to the quality of the field this week. It’s nice though having some new names to route for on tour and they are already proving to be every bit the studs they’ve been touted to be. In similar fashion, these new guys got me thinking about wines, or grape varietals to be more specific that aren’t mainstream yet but could very well be in the future. I mean, everyone knows about Cabernet’s, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Grigio, Rose, and all the typical big names when it comes to wine, but what else is out there? What could we be missing out on just because they aren’t what everyone else is looking at. Luckily, thanks to the trusty old inter webs and some help from our friends at Basalt Cellars, there are definitely some very good varietals to try that might take an extra bit of effort searching for but should prove extremely satisfying.
I’ll start with Barbera, which might just be my favorite of the bunch as far as lesser known varietals. Barbera is an Italian red that is actually the third most grown grape in Italy. It’s often referred to as “the people’s wine” as it’s typically very affordable and not just reserved for special occasions. It’s also meant to be consumed “young”, so it doesn’t take a whole lot of time for it to age into a great tasting wine. Barbera typically is rich, but light bodied flavor with strong hints of strawberry and cherry flavors. If you like Italian wines, Chianti is typically one of my favorite “house” reds, but I think Barbera is definitely worth trying if you can get your hands on some.
Another tasty new edition to the cellar that is relatively unknown, but sneaky good is Lemberger (not to be confused with the stinky Limburger cheese!). It originated out of Austria, but in the States has been known to thrive in Washington State where it has a long history. As far as taste it compares strongly to your California Red Zinfandels and also Pinot Noir’s. I found it kind of funny also that because of it’s unfortunate name it’s been tough to market in the U.S. simply because of the name association with that stinky cheese so if you’re looking for it you can also find it marketed by it’s Austrian name which is “Blaufränkisch.” A few others I would try would be Grenache which is a very popular grown grape but not necessarily well known as far as name recognition. It an be produced in the form of a Rose’, but also is a common varietal found in a red blends. Finally, you might try a Furmint which is a Hungarian varietal with a very convenient name when it comes to alcohol. Furmint is often found in sweet desert wines which really aren’t my thing, but winemakers are now producing some great dry and crisp wines from the variety that are becoming increasingly popular around the world.
Alright folks! That’s all I got, but I’ll be back next week for the Open Championship at Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland where I might just have to ditch all this wine stuff and go straight to the Irish Whisky. Now let’s get into the plays of the week for the John Deere Classic. 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 saunter on down into the sommeliers’ cellar of fine golf selections for the week…
Joaquin Niemann- $10,200 – 96 Points – Niemann surely has the honor of being the most listed player now in the FGS as we are now on three weeks in a row but it’s for good reason as he is in great form and is also checking all the boxes this week. Joaquin has now made six consecutive cuts with a top 25 last week and back to back T5’s at the Rocket Mortgage and Travelers Championship. He’s been very solid in pretty much all facets of the game as well ranking in the top 20 in Opportunities Gained, Strokes Gained Approach, Ball Striking, and Proximity. If you’re going to fade the pricey young bucks this week I think you start your lineups right here with Niemann in both cash and tournaments on DraftKings.
Joel Dahmen – $8,400 – 96 Points – I’m pretty sure everyone knows by now that we are huge fans of Joel and his caddie Geno Bonnalie but I promise this is not just a homer pick this week! Joel has been enjoying his best year on tour and despite some underwhelming starts recently I think Joel is poised for a great week after taking 2 weeks off. He finished 2nd here last year so he’s obviously going to be nice and comfy at TPC Deere Run and the stats are really popping as well. When I plug in my favorite stats on FantasyNational.com and then run the mixed condition model, Joel is number one in the rankings ranking in the top 15 in literally all 5 of my favorites (Opps Gained, SG: App, Birdie or Better Percentage, Ball Striking, and Proximity). I would say Joel is a safe play in cash and also has tremendous upside for tournaments with his discounted price this week relative to the field strength.
Pop the Cork on him and Let it Breathe – 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.
Ryan Palmer- $8,600- 89 Points – So I’m kind of cheating this week as I did briefly mention Palmer on the pod but I just wasn’t quite sold on him to make him one of my favorite plays. Well I’m sold now and I will be plugging Ryan into several tournament lineups on DraftKings. Palmer has been pretty much off the radar lately taking a long break after his T35 finish at the RBC Canadian so I think he’ll definitely be fresh and ready to go. What really has put me on him though is, like I just mentioned with Dahmen, Ryan is top 25 in every single stat category I like this week. He’s also 4th in the field in DraftKings scoring and we all know this will be another birdiefest this week on what has traditionally been one of the easiest courses on tour.
The $10 Wine Special – Priced like a Sutter Home, plays like a Caymus!
Sam Ryder – $7,500 – 90 Points – So I guess a common theme this week is going to be comparing all my picks to Joel Dahmen, but just like we saw with our buddy JD, Ryder was fantastic at this tournament last year with a T2 in his first ever start at TPC Deere Run. Sam has also been in pretty good form with a top 35 finish last week and has made 13 of 19 cuts all year. One of the things DB and I talked about on the show also was that TPC Deere Run has always been a putting contest with relatively easy to hit fairways and greens and Ryder has been trending in the right direction with his putter ranking in the top 30 in the field in Strokes Gained putting over the last 24 rounds. I have noticed some decent ownership trends for Ryder this week at around 14%, but he’s still one of my favorite tournament plays in the 7K range this week.
Tom Hoge- $6,600 – 88 Points – My man Hoge doesn’t exactly have the best track record in this tournament but I’m casting that aside this week as he is coming in hot (for a guy this cheap I should say) with a top 25 last week at the 3M Open and 4 straight cuts made. Tom is typically a very good wedge player as made evident by his ranking in the top 15 in the field in Proximity from 125-150. He’s also top 25 in Strokes Gained Approach, and while it’s always a risk taking guys this cheap, I can see Hoge having a great week if he can get the putter rolling. If you are looking for a dirt cheap play to round out your lineups, Tom terrific is your man this week.
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).
Viktor Hovland – $10,900 – 80 points – Yes. I am going to fade Viktor Hovland as the highest priced golfer in the field this week. Sue me. Look, I get all the hype for the young bucks and they deserve it. Despite a take on twitter several weeks ago (that was correct) to fade these guys in their first ever pro start, I’ve always thought they would be studs. That being said I’m not playing Hovland this week with his price on DraftKings. He’s definitely checking boxes and coming off two straight top 15 finishes, but this is also now his fifth straight start and for a rookie you just never know how that will effect his play. It also just simply comes down to the fact that I think you can build much better lineups with upside than you can with Hovland plugged in. I will throw in also that out of all the stats he’s crushing, putting has not been one of them as he has lost strokes in every tournament this year outside of the Rocket Mortgage. Just sayin.