Right after New Years, the 2017 PGA Season kicked off with the SBS Championship. I made DFS picks, going with Dustin Johnson and Bubba Watson as top choices for the tourney being held at the Kapalua Plantation Course on Maui.
As it happened, Diane and I determined that a trip to Maui was a good idea come February, and since we actually got married last August, we decided to merge the traditions of vacation and honeymoon, and made reservations for a week in the Islands during whale migration season.
Diane wanted to become certified to dive, but since I returned to golf two years ago after a 41-year layoff, I decided to bring my clubs. My brother Eric suggested I play the Wailea Emerald course, but my other bud, Jeremy Steinkohler said I had to play the Kapalua Plantation Course, for it was indeed a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity at a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
So, I made a reservation, and last Friday, February 17, at 8:37, I was paired up with Jon, Pete, and Johnny, a troika in from Houston for the weekend.
To say this was the toughest course I have played would be an understatement. It wasn't just the ups-and-downs that proved challenging, but the holes were peppered with tables, and not just with elevated greens also on tiers, meaning being precise with a shot is everything. Similarly, the greens were tough Bermuda grass, growing and blowing with the weather, hiding slow uphills from fast downhills, adding a dimension to putting here-to-fore unrealized by a Saturday hacker such as I.
However, just the thought of hitting the ball where the PGA Tour guys had just been playing was as magical as looking out onto Lahina Bay and seeing the frolicking whales spout and breech. Over the first three holes, my game, or lack thereof, certainly showed. But eventually I got into a groove, bagging three pars out of the first five on the back nine, including nailing a birdie on the famous Par 3 11th hole, meaning for five holes anyway, my "fantasy" golf game was pretty much the same as that of Dustin and Bubba.
Perhaps that it is indeed one of the allures of golf: that for a round, or a few holes, or even a shot here and there, we can replicate what the best do, just not as consistently. But, aside from perhaps bowling, I cannot think of another comparable game. Irrespective, that means a big "mahalo" for playing was certainly dreamlike, but it was indeed real and wonderful.
So, this week the Tour moves to the other side of the country and Palm Beach Gardens in Florida to the PGA National (Champion) for The Honda Classic.
After a week of playing the courses rather than picking the players on them, who do I like? Let's see and don't forget you can duke it out against me and cut your chops playing $3 DraftKings Weekly Hybrid PGA.
Adam Scott ($12,200): 53 pars at the Genesis last week for a guy who is two-for-two making cuts this year while averaging 93 points. Talk about hot.
Daniel Berger ($8900): Berger has fared well at National, losing a playoff two years ago, while finishing the weekend three times out of four tries this season. And, that Bermuda grass that ate me up is something Berger feeds from.
Branden Grace ($7900): Finished 22nd at Genesis and is five-for-five making cuts thus far, so go with the hot hand.
Brooks Koepka ($7500): After missing the cut at the Genesis, Koepka is on one of those Saberhagenmetric on one week, off the next cycles, so that means a payoff this week, right? More to the point, Koepka is on his home course where he has made the cut three times out of three tries.
Richy Werenski ($7000): Four-for-four making cuts for the hot youngster who has averaged 77.3 points per week at what appears to be a bargain price.
Derek Falthauer ($6500): Like Koepka, PGA National is home to Falthauer, who has survived the cut four times, and again, at this price, the gambit is worth it.
Do remember to keep fantasy open and regulated and fair for all by writing your local lawmakers and tell them of your love of playing and desire to keep on playing. Visit the FSTA site for more information (and thanks).
Feel free to comment with your thoughts, and remember you can also hit me up @lawrmichaels