So what do you reckon? Is golf in the Olympics a good thing? Or is it nuts? Ahead of Rio in 2016 most in the upper echelons of the sport thought it was a bad idea. The reasoning went that the four majors were the pinnacle of the sport. So, let other sports enjoy their peak without golf showing up and being half-hearted about it. But Justin Rose was not among the nay-sayers. His wife was a gymnast and she understood what the Games were all about. Her husband went all-in and loved the experience. Other top golfers took note. And there’s no doubt that there is more excitement this time around. It’s not quite converted everyone, but the meh factor is considerably down on five years ago.
There’s a lot to be said for this 7,466 yard par 72 layout hosting the tournament. First up, the East Course at Kasumigaseki Country Club is a traditonally designed gem. Secondly, it hosted the 1957 Canada Cup, which is what the World Cup was called when that tournament meant something in the sport. Japan won on home soil and the nation’s love affair with the sport was launched. It even has links with modern Japanese hero Hideki Matsuyama because he won the Asia Pacific Amateur there, albeit on the West Course.
Back to its heritage: it was crafted and built during the heyday of the sport’s expansion, in the first few decades of the 20th century. The designer was Charles Alison, an English partner of the great Harry Colt (who designed Wentworth’s West Course among others). It’s therefore absolutely no surprise that the shaping of the holes, plus the lie of the land for the fairways and greens, is typical of that era.
It is classical stuff, although it must also be noted that it has been somewhat mitigated by Tom Fazio getting his hands on it. That’s no great slight on Fazio. The man does what he has to, which is take a great track and manipulate it so that modern players are tested by, rather than overwhelm, it. Which courses might interest us this week as form guides? Alison designed Huntingdale in Australia and many of the classic tracks there share visuals and a likeness of test. He also created Glendower and Royal Johannesburg in South Africa. More intriguingly, he was responsible for nine of the holes on the Seaside Course at Sea Island.
The weather for Saitama, Japan is potentially a little tricky. Practice is likely to be disrupted by thunderstorms and, after nice weather on Wednesday and Thursday, the final three rounds could be further frustrated by the possibility of thunder and lighting. The chance of rain will start at 25 percent on Thursday, rising to 75% by the weekend. It will be hot (in the 90s) and humid (in the 80s), with not that much wind.
Past Champions in the Olympic Men’s Golf Competition and at Kasumigaseki CC
First things, first. Although the host course hails from the golden age of golf, we won’t consider the two winners of gold medals back then. But Justin Rose deserves plenty of thought because the Englishman adored his week in Rio five years ago and it clearly stoked the fire in his belly.
If we were to use him as a template, we would be seeking golfers this week who are genuinely motivated to both enjoy the experience of being among other athletes and also desperate to win a medal themselves. That will be the majority to be honest, but there is no doubt that some will be fuelled more than others.
And what of the course history? Well, Australia’s Paul Sheehan is pretty much unknown to most observers of the game, but he played lots of golf on the Japan Tour and won the Japan Open in 2006, the last time the course was used on tour. He not only plays his golf back home on a classic design located on the Melbourne sandbelt, he also has a won on another of those courses, plus another at Royal Adelaide which is more or less along similar lines. It backs up the notion that we’re looking for connoiseurs of the game.
Here’s are some entirely FREE suggestions for you this week with MORE for subscribers (DraftKings Prices)
|A list||C. Morikawa||$11,200|
|B list||S. Lowry||$9,600|
|B list||S. Im||$9,000|
|C list||A. Noren||$8,200|
|C list||S. Vincent||$6,400|
Collin Morikawa ($11,200) It seems every step this young man takes, he proves again how smart and adaptable he is. In his first start back from lockdown his putting was weak and it cost him a win at Colonial; he shored it up and won a month later. They said he didn’t hit it far enough; he drove a par-4 on his way to winning the PGA Championship. He hadn’t played links golf; he still won the Open. He’s elite for a reason and his super neat long game should be a great fit for the course. He also has double pride this week: representing his country, returning to the land where his forefathers lived.
Shane Lowry ($9,600) The Irishman is fierely proud of flying the flag, as his celebrations proved when winning the 2019 Open. But it’s also the case that playing between trees is absolutely his thing. He won at Firestone, he’s twice finished top three in Japan, and he adores Colt’s Wentworth (11 starts, eight top 15 finishes).
Sungjae Im ($9,000) Forget gold, silver and bronze – Im and his compatriot Si-Woo Kim have an etra motivation this week: if they grab a medal they can say goodbye to 20 months of national service. It’s a huge prize, one that will stop their golfing careers being put on hold (and potentially ruined). It also helps that Im is gun tee-to-green.
Alex Noren ($8,200) Can he emulate his fellow countryman Henrik Stenson and have a medal placed around his neck on Sunday? He’s a winner at Wentworth and he also boasts a top 10 finish at Sea Island, for what that’s worth. I suspect very little, but he really does like the classic England test and could easily thrive here.
Scott Vincent ($6,400) If you need a low salary, this might be your man. Plunging into the depths might well be required because lots of folk are going to have a roster that is top heavy given the nature of the field. What we have on-side with Vincent is bags of Japanese experience that many will overlook. He’s played there 31 times in the last few seasons, landing 21 top 30 finishes.
Justin Thomas ($10,900) Something has to give at the top and this week that is Thomas. He started the year in sensational form with his approaches, but in that Strokes Gained category he has been awful in recent times. In fact, almost everyone who made the cut at the Scottish Open performed better than him in that facet. I’ll happily swerve and favor others this week with a high salary.
Here’s Another Alternate of Core Picks For the Olympic Men’s Golf Competition
|A list||X. Schauffele||$10,700|
|B list||A. Ancer||$9,300|
|B list||C. Bezuidenhout||$8,700|
|C list||M. Pereira||$7,200|
|C list||F. Zanotti||$6,400|
Xander Schauffele ($10,700) In recent times Schauffele has lost the knack of winning tournaments, but his capacity to finish high up in elite fields has never diminished. He’s rock solid, in fact. In the majors he has 13 top 30 finishes from just 18 starts and nine of them were top 10s. This field is nowhere near the level of majors so his base level should be right up there. He’s dynamite at East Lake which is a Donald Ross design. Not Colt/Alison but along very similar lines. One year stroke average of this field? Schauffele tops it. He’s very, very good and he also has family connections with the Olympics – his grandfather was a famed track and field athlete who officiated at the Games and his father had aspirations to compete. Inspiration, excellence, elite-level success. A good combo.
Abraham Ancer ($9,300) If you like the Alison-sandbelt-Sheehan line (and I do), then the Mexican is flagged up. Back in 2019 he represented the Presidents Cup team at Royal Melbourne and he was superb. He gained three and a half points from his four matches with partners and was then drawn with Tiger Woods. The great man needed to play 16 holes in 7-under to better Ancer.
Christiaan Bezuidenhout ($8,700) I will always like this South African because almost no-one in the world chips and putts as well as he does. But the big question is where to play him to gain the most from his all round game, thereby catching him at his best. Between the trees seems to be the answer. He’s finished second at Glendower (an Alison design) and third at Wentworth (a Colt original).
Mito Pereira ($7,200) Who’d have thought Chile would find itself with two red hot golfers a few years back? Joaquin Niemann we know lots about. Meet Mito. He’s 26-years-old and he’s grafted to get where he is, which is just short of PGA Tour status. He wins for fun in Latin America and has added three Korn Ferry Tour successes in the last two seasons, two last month alone. He’s also fresh from two top six finishes on the PGA Tour. Oh, and he medalled in the 2019 Pan American Games so the format is not alien to him.
Fabrizio Zanotti ($6,400) The Paraguayan has sneaky good form in this format, which is to say playing golf within a wider event. First up he was T–15 in the Rio Olympics, and at his wage we’d happily take a repeat of that. Second, he won gold medal at the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima, Peru. But there’s more. A solid performer on the European Tour, he has always loved parkland tracks and has played Wentworth well with six top 25 finishes. He was his nation’s flag-bearer in the Opening Ceremony.
Garrick Higgo ($8,300) Count me in as a big Higgo fan. He will win a lot of golf tournaments and many of them will be prestigious. He also has, like so many, inspiration this week. In his case, mentor Gary Player loves the track, having finished second there in 1957. But since winning the Palmetto Championship Higgo has hit the wall: four missed cuts and T–41 the one time he did make the weekend.
Keeping it straighforward. I like the traditional, classic golf course line of thought. I want players who drive well when the fairways are lined by trees, and who hit solid approaches. Golfers whose eyes are drawn to old-fashioned curves and targets. I’m also delving deep for players low down who can offer a bit of value so I can accomodate the big hitters in a top heavy field.
Other Player Options For The Olympic Men’s Golf Competition
• Rory McIlroy is as mercurial as ever. His best golf could easily gobble up this challenge and I kind of like him to do that. He does have cluttered thoughts in the back of his mind however: just representing Ireland has him dealing with all sorts of angst from furious Northern Irishmen.
• Tommy Fleetwood is making it pretty clear on social media that he is loving this week, but he has a poor record at Wentworth given his undoubted quality: nine starts, two top 15s, best of T–6.
• Home hero Hideki Matsuyama has won two amateur events at the host club, but just how much will the pressure of the fans, and his brush with Covid, take out of him?
COVID-19 and Injury Warning:
Pro DFS players know it makes sense to stay up-to-date on Twitter, DraftKings, FanDuel and-or subscribe to any number of email feeds and whatever to remain up to speed with injuries or COVID-19 withdraws. Players that don’t make the cut are tough enough. Players that don’t play all four rounds (even when pulling out at the last minute) make for a pretty weak lineup.
Go win your lineups and then tell us how you did. Twitter (@FantasyDFSX) is a good place for that.
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