Greetings golf enthusiast and welcome back to this weeks edition of the Fantasy Golf Sommelier for The American Express ______. I’m looking forward to getting you ready for this weeks tournament with some fine selections straight from the esteemed TJ wine cellar. This week has me thinking about new beginnings and hope for the new year. Now, I know that’s kind of cliche when it comes to the fact that I’m pretty sure that’s literally what everyone else on earth that pays attention to a calendar is thinking, but this year just seems different. Let’s just look at the PGA Tour for instance, we have a ton of new young talent with Matthew Wolff, Viktor Hovland, Colin Morikawa, and countless other new faces on tour this season that have shown they are ready for the big time and to shine in the spotlight. On top of that, gambling is more accepted than ever in this country and only going to grow, AND, even the PGA Tour has struck a deal with DraftKings also for PGA DFS. What a time to be alive! Things are looking up for all of us junkies out there, but not just in golf, gambling, and dfs, but also in the world of wine! There are a lot of hot new trends in the wine world to look out for this year and it would be a travesty if your FGS didn’t keep you abreast of the situation immediately.
Let’s start with the how technology is now affecting and being used in the wine making. Apparently, drones are now being used to manage crops and send data to wine makers in order to better manage crops and quickly detect any problems faster than humans. So basically I feel like this is the FantasyNational.com to the wine world making it much easier to produce the best product/outcomes possible. Poor humans though, drones are taking over the world even in wine making. Staying on topic with technology, buying wine online and with apps on your phone is becoming increasingly popular. I do this myself and from personal experience two of my favorite apps are WTSO (Wines ‘Til Sold Out) where you can find some great deals, and also Vivino which is great for making sure you’re buying the right wine with the ability to scan labels at the store and get direct information on taste, pricing, reviews, and pretty much anything you could think of to help you make decisions for you on vino. I’ve also heard Drizly is fantastic and basically the Uber Eats of booze delivery. I don’t think that’s coming to my market any time soon though. As far as actual wine trends though for this year, while we saw mine and everyone’s favorite vintage Rose’ become all the rage in 2019, expect a return to wines from the classic regions this year like French Bordeaux’s and California Cabs. Also more and more states are making names for themselves in the wine world especially Oregon and Washington State. As a matter of fact, I reached out to our resident expert Holly Bonnalie (lovely wife of our favorite caddie on tour Geno Bonnalie) who works with Basalt Cellars in Washington State, and she said we have to try a Grenache Syrah Mourvèdre (GSM). It’s a southern Rhône style wine that is hot right now in that region and “freakin good”. So I’m definitely going to have to try that sometime soon. As you can tell, there’s a lot going on in 2020 in both wine and golf so make sure you drink up, take it all in, and just enjoy the ride in these Great Fantastic times.
So with that, let’s dive in to The American Express 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 stride on down into the sommeliers’ cellar of fine golf plays for the week…
Jason Kokrak – $9,100 – 96 Points – It’s been a while since we’ve seen Kokrak play with his last start being the WGC-HSBC back in October (finished 8th), but after a great 2019 season, I think it continues into 2020 and we may even see him break thru and finally get a well deserved win on the PGA Tour. Over the last 4 times playing this event, Kokrak has gained almost 20 strokes on the field and finished T18 last year and T8 in 2018. We all know this is definitely going to be a week where scoring is a premium, especially the par 5’s and Jason checks the box in Opportunities Gained, Par 5 Scoring, and Birdie or Better percentage. I think we’ll see fairly low ownership as well so for me Kokrak is a great GPP play on DraftKings this week. Jump on him!
Matthew Wolff – $9,000 – 95 Points – Alright so I alluded to some of the young guns in the opening of this article and I’m going to back that up with Matthew Wolff being one of my favorite plays in the over 9K range on DraftKings. I started to dive into this a little bit on the pod last week, but I think Wolff is definitely a guy that’s not going to fit every course and I’ll fade him plenty this year, but for this week, he should light all 3 of these venues up, because of one simple fact. The dude is a scorer. He should have plenty of opportunities for birdies and eagles on the par 5’s with his length, and also ranks in the top 30 in the field in birdie or better percentage and DraftKings scoring. Bermuda greens are also one of his better surfaces to putt on historically which is just the cherry on top as far a I’m concerned when deciding to play him this week.
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.
Abraham Ancer – $8900 – 90 Points – I pretty much overlooked Abraham when doing my early research before the pod, but I’m not really sure why. Perhaps it was because DB faded him last week and I just had it in my head that he might be another fade candidate again this week based on ownership. Well as of this writing, Ancer is projected at around 10-12% in DraftKings GPP’s and that’s definitely a number I’m comfortable with when thinking about who I want to target strategy wise for my lineups. Abraham has been incredibly consistent lately with 5 straight cuts made and two top 10’s in that time frame. He also finished in the top 20 last year in the desert and definitely has the game to win this tournament checking boxes in Proximity inside 100 yards, Strokes Gained off the Tee and Strokes Gained Approach.
The $10 Wine Special – Priced like a Sutter Home, plays like a Caymus!
Harold Varner III – $7,000 – 88 Points – Like we see with several guys this time of year, we haven’t seen HV3 play since late November, but he had a great fall campaign making the cut in every event he played in with 3 finishes inside the top 20. He did have a rough go of it his first 3 years playing this tournament with 3 straight missed cuts, but rallied for a T18 last year and with his scoring ability, I think he has a shot to definitely exceed value with his cheap price this week. HV3 is basically #1 in the field when you look at my favorite stats across the board this week ranking in the top 20 in the field in Par 5 scoring (15th), Proximity inside 100 yards (5th), Birdie or Better Percentage (18th), and Opportunities Gained (18th). You may not get the finishing points from him this week but the name of the game is always scoring on DraftKings and I think HV3 will do just that if you plug him in your lineups as a cheap, low owned option.
Matthew NeSmith – $6,700 – 90 Points – It’s a pretty rare occurrence when both DB and I are on the exact same players in the 6k range and even more rare when it’s a relative unknown coming off the Korn Ferry Tour like NeSmith. This guy is super talented though and should definitely make some noise in his first full season on the PGA Tour. He’s coming in this week in good form as well having made 3 straight cuts including a T14 at the RSM in November, and a solo 32nd last week at the Sony. We don’t have ton of history to go off of as far as stats, but he has proven to be a great putter (top 20 SG: Putting over his last 24 rounds) and ranks 17th in the field in Par 5 scoring. Of all the guys in this 6K range, I think NeSmith also has the best upside relative to price so he will definitely find his way into some of my DraftKings 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).
Tony Finau – $10,500 – 78 Points – This really pains me to put Tony in this position but I’m just not feeling him this week in a tournament he missed the cut the last time he played in 2016 and finished T59 the year before. Now, I’ll admit, he’s a much better player now that back then, but I still don’t see him winning this tournament or exceeding any sort of value as the 4th highest price player. Finau’s form also isn’t that great with a missed cut at the OHL in Mexico and a T53 in the short field WGC-HSBC back in October. The current projected ownership for Tony is around 20% which is a little high for me also in tournaments and he’s not exactly popping either with my key stats as he ranks 121st in the field in Par 5 scoring, 100th in Proximity inside 100 yards, and 67th in Birdie or Better Percentage. Top all that off with Bermuda being by far his worst surface as far as putting (95th in the field) and it pretty puts Finau on the bottom shelf of fine plays for this week.