Greetings fellow golf enthusiast and welcome back to this weeks edition of the Fantasy Golf Sommelier. We are in Detroit, Michigan this week for the inaugural playing of the prestigious Rocket Mortgage Classic at Detroit Golf Club. The field is crap but who cares because we all want to see if Smylie Kaufmann is finally back anyway (by back, I mean back to breaking 80). Truth be told actually, I’m a fan of getting to research new courses we haven’t seen and then seeing just how dead on or wildly off I was with my approach to the week. The one thing I do know for sure is that there should be plethora of scoring on this course. It’s also a week where, especially since we don’t have course history to go off, that you can take a few chances on some guys even if they haven’t been in the best form but do fit when it comes to what the stats are telling us. So with that in mind, it also got me thinking about wine labels which might seem like an odd connection, but there is a lot of information you can glean from wine labels to help you pick out that ideal wine for a nice evening by yourself, with a significant other, or you just want to get wine drunk with your friends. If you are a wine drinker you certainly have your standard household wine that you probably never even pay attention to the label, but when you’re trying something new, there is definitely things to be learned from labels and it’s all there right in front of you.
Picking a wine and using the information from the label is a lot like picking golfers using stats if you really think about it. The information is there and we just have to hope we choose correctly based on what we are looking for or deem the best fit. There can also be a lot of smoke and mirrors on labels that mean absolutely nothing that you have to sift thru in order to make the best choice possible. I’ll give you a great example on this, the word RESERVE placed on labels. Reserve means absolutely nothing in particular when it comes to the actual wine quality itself and there are no rules whatsoever when it comes to when you can place the word on a label. Now does that mean the wine isn’t a top notch offering? Not necessarily, but it can have multiple meanings depending on the producer and sometimes is simply put on the bottle to entice you into thinking it’s some sort of super fancy wine you’re just overpaying for. I think if you were to take one player this week and create a label for him with the word Reserve in fancy cursive and bold letters it would be Brandt Snedeker. Just sayin. But you’ll learn more about that when we get to the plays of the week.
One of the more obvious things we first notice on wine labels is the producer or estate that has made the wine. There’s the popular “names” out there like Robert Mondavi, Caymus, E&J Gallo, and of course we can’t forget Franzia, but to me looking for those gems involves going beyond the name and seeing what else we can tell from a label that can help us make the best possible choice. Outside of the grape varietal itself which is going to be the first thing we are looking for, I typically like to look at the region, or appellation as my leading indicator for the selection. I’m a sucker for Sonoma and Napa always, they are kind of like the Strokes Gained Ball Striking and Strokes Gained off the Tee stats when it comes to region. Don’t sleep though on the Central Coast region of California though, specifically the north area that makes some excellent Pinot Noir’s and Chardonnays. I’m also a big fan wines from Oregon, and especially the Willamette Valley AVA (American Viticulture Area which are areas specifically designated for grape growing). If you are interested in looking at French wines, the most popular would be listed as Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne, and Cotes du Rhone on the label.
Now some folks also like to look at the ABV (Alcohol by Volume) listed on the label as well which is typically written in a small discreet location that you can sometimes barely read. There’s a good reason for that if you ask me and it’s because you shouldn’t really give a shit. Good wine is good wine regardless of what level the alcohol content is. That’s just my opinion but it’s the right one. Next you will definitely want to look at the vintage, or year that the wine was bottled. We can tell a lot from this but it definitely takes diving a little deeper (Googling to be honest) to find out what years were better than other for a particular vineyard. You will also often see no vintage, or NV, listed on the label which is typically what we see in your cheaper wines as they could be combining grapes from different years in order to control the flavor. Basically this is your 6K range on DraftKings. And finally, you almost always see “contains sulfites” somewhere on the label, This is probably the most misleading thing on the label because sulfites are relatively harmless unless you have severe allergies and asthma and can be found in much higher levels in all different kinds of food we eat every day. The U.S. (along with Australia) is actually one of the only countries in the world that requires the sulfite disclaimer on wine labels. I would say if you are comparing sulfite to a stat it would most definitely be putting which is obviously one of the more obvious things you have to do well in week to week on tour, but using the stat as an indicator can be fairly meaningless in the grand scheme of things because of it’s variance. So there you go folks, you are now equipped to be fluent in the language of a wine label and ready to go out and impress everyone when you come home with that Cab nobody has ever heard of before. You’re welcome.
Now let’s get into the plays of the week for the Rocket Mortgage 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 meander on down into the sommeliers’ cellar of fine golf selections for the week…
Rickie Fowler – $11,200 – 95 Points – Rickie Tickie gets the honor of being the title sponsors rep this week which almost always spells disaster with all the obligations, but I’m all in on him this week in such a weak field. He’s checking all the boxes in the stats I love this week ranking top 20 in the field in Strokes Gained off the Tee, Scrambling, Approach, and Opportunities Gained. The form has been a little off lately with his best finish being a top 15 a few weeks ago at the Memorial, but he showed some flashes at the US Open and I think he is ready to prove that he will be a contender in a couple weeks at the British Open. Ownership projections right now also have Rickie at around 10-11% owned making him a stud leverage play in your DraftKings tournament lineups.
Kevin Kisner – $9,100 – 94 Points – So last week I wrote up Charley Hoffman in this spot but that was AFTER I freakin deleted my entire right up on Kiz because to be completely honest I didn’t trust my f’in instincts and decided to go with Hoff instead. Lesson learned and while I do like Charley again this week despite the missed cut at the Travelers, I’m a huge fan of Kiz and would play him in cash and tournament lineups this week. Kiz can be somewhat streaky and he’s coming off a top 15 last week and the Donald Ross designed Detroit Golf Club is a great course for his game which relies on being a great ball striker with accuracy off the tee and deadly with the putter. He’s admitted to not liking Poa Annua greens, but the stats show he putts well on them and I think we see another great week from Kiz with him contending for a title come Sunday.
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.
Mackenzie Hughes- $7,600 – 88 Points – So when I’m on FantasyNational.com before and after recording the pod there are at least 2 to 3 guys every single week that keep popping up that just totally mind screw me and I try everything I can not to play them even though the evidence screaming at me to take a second look. Well Mac Hughes is one of those guys this week and I think this is a great lesson that you need to trust the data, your gut, and grow some balls so you don’t miss out on an opportunity that’s slapping you in the face. Hughes has actually been very good lately with two top 15 finishes in his last 3 starts and the stats have really come around as he is improved dramatically over that time frame in Ball Striking (27th in the field), Off the Tee (24th), Strokes Gained Putting, and DraftKings Scoring (also 24th). I’m fairly certain he’ll be extremely low owned as well so Hughes will be a Great Fantastic play in your tournament lineups for the week. Bome!
The $10 Wine Special – Priced like a Sutter Home, plays like a Caymus!
Sung Kang – $7,600 – 90 Points – I was very close to mentioning the Kangster as one of my GPP plays in the 7K range this week but went a different direction. Well low and behold! DB was all about some Kang when it was his turn on the pod so we have some agreement with this guy and it’s for good reason. Kang has had a very solid year making 15/20 cuts with a win just a few weeks ago at the AT&T Byron Nelson and 3 other finishes inside the top 15. I really like his price also for a guy in good form and checking the stat boxes this week. Kang is ranked in the top 30 in the field in Approach, Ball Striking, Off the Tee, and Par 5 scoring and has also been pretty accurate off the tee all year long. All that said I think Kang should be a solid low owned GPP play this week on DraftKings.
Trey Mullinax- $6,900 – 88 Points – I’m loving some Mullinax this week for my GPP pool for a plethora of reasons. The first thing that jumps out is definitely his stats as he is top 25 in the field in everything I just mentioned about Sung Kang and you can add in Opportunities Gained where he is top 10 in the field. We’ve heard from multiple caddies on the grounds that this will definitely be a low scoring week and Trey is a great fit to go low on a course like this that suits his game. The form has been spotty with 3 missed cuts in his last 4 events, but as I mentioned on the pod and early in the FGS, I think that in such a weak field like we have this week you can afford to take several gambles on guys not in the best form but stats are showing the course is ideal for their game. Mullinax is my favorite gamble play this week and I will own a lot of him in my tournament lineups.
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).
Brandt Snedeker – $9,900 – 78 points – I’m typically a big fan (some might say a sucker) of playing Brandt Snedeker as we almost always seem to get him in the high 7 to low 8K range with significant value and upside. That is definitely not the cases this week and I just don’t see any upside in spending up for old Sneds in your DraftKings lineups. I think the ownership will be low so if you just have to play him I would look at GPP’s but I still don’t see why you would even play him. He’s made a ton of cuts this year but he’s been pretty inconsistent and isn’t exactly coming in to Detroit hot with a 77th place finish at the US Open (where he was lucky to make the cut), and a lackluster 43rd last week at the Travelers when everyone was all about playing him. The stats for Sneds also aren’t exactly popping either as he ranks 73rd in Ball Striking, 73rd in Approach, 118th off the tee, and 103rd in opportunities gained over his last 24 rounds. I think you look elsewhere in this range and let the Vanderbilt Commodore sit this week out in your lineups.