Majors Challenge: The 100th PGA Championship
Steve Pimental breaks down the playing of the 100th PGA Championship on Majors Challenge with prizes of $500+ in Amazon gift cards. Steve discusses their upcoming contest and what he learned from The Open Championship last month.
The PGA Championship begins Thursday, and the last major of the offers another opportunity to try MajorsChallenge.com for free. Hopefully, you joined the FantasyAlarm team for the free Open Championship contest, which was a ton of fun. I thought my lineup was in really good shape when only three of my golfers missed the cut, but it wasn’t to be. Only 13 lineups had more golfers make it to the weekend than mine, but I still finished 75th out of 152 entries because none of my golfers finished in the top 16. Before we get into the major takeaways from the Open Championship and how we can apply them to the PGA Championship, a brief overview of the Majors Challenge rules is in order.
Majors Challenge is a much different experience from the fantasy golf contests you may be used to. You fill out a lineup of 12 starters, who are divided into four groups based on World Golf Rankings. You choose three starters from Group A, three from Group B, four from Group C and two from Group D. In one of the biggest twists from other games, you also choose one alternate from each group. If one of your starters fails to make it to the first tee, he is automatically replaced by your alternate from that group.
Scoring is different for the Majors Challenge game as well. Your score is your lineup’s total relative to par. If all twelve of your golfers finish -5, your score would be -60. The team with the lowest score wins. It is much more straightforward than other scoring systems, where birdies are worth quite a bit and bogies only hurt you a little bit.
As I mentioned above, one of the biggest difference between Majors Challenge and many other fantasy golf games are the alternates. The presence of the alternates allows you to be a bit more aggressive with players who are dealing with injuries. For this week, that means Justin Rose.
Rose has been great all season, with 13 made cuts, 11 top-25s and eight top-10s in 13 starts. He has finished in the top 10 in each of his last four tournaments, including finishing tied for second at The Open Championship. That being said, he pulled out of the Bridgestone Invitational with back spasms, and that fact is enough to make him unplayable in some formats. It is much easier to take a chance on Rose on Majors Challenge, where you are covered if he fails to make it to the first tee. That being said, there is still some risk he withdraws in the middle of the tournament or isn’t himself because of the injury. You still have to determine how much risk you are willing to stomach, but if you’re going to play Rose this week, Majors Challenge is the place to do it.
I feel like the biggest difference in setting a Majors Challenge lineup for the PGA Championship as opposed to The Open Championship is in Group D. I feel like I had a much easier time choosing players from Group D for The Open Championship, even if one of my three missed cuts came from that group. At the PGA Championship, 20 tournament spots go to the top 20 finishers in the PGA Professional Championship. You can pretty much eliminate those players from consideration, along with past champions like John Daly and Y.E. Yang. That leaves a relatively small pool of players to choose from in Group D.
Out of the remaining players, I expect PGA Tour rookie Joaquin Niemann to be in a ton of lineups, including my own. Niemann has four top-10s in 11 events this season, though he did miss the cut at The Masters this year and the U.S. Open last year. Jamie Lovemark seems like an obvious candidate as well, having made the cut in six consecutive events including the PLAYERS Championship. Anirban Lahiri has one missed cut and two top-10s in his last eight tournaments, including a T6 last week at the Bridgestone Invitational. Ollie Schniederjans and Andy Sullivan probably deserves some consideration out of Group D, as well.
Group C may be the hardest Group for me to pick from. I like Thomas Pieters, Brandt Snedeker, Keegan Bradley, Byeong-Hun An, Adam Scott, Thorbjorn Olesen and Ryan Moore, but narrowing it down to four starters and an alternate is tough.
Henrik Stenson just barely missed the cut for Group A, and he stands out well above the rest of Group B. He has made nine consecutive cuts with four top-10s in that span, including the Masters and U.S. Open. He is fifth on the PGA Tour in Par 4 Scoring, second in Strokes Gained: Approach and fourth in Scrambling from the Sand. This may be your last chance to get Tiger Woods in Group B as well, and it’s hard to argue against Tony Finau seeing as how he is the only player with a top-10 in all three majors this season. There are a lot of very good choices for the alternate as well, but I think I’m going to go with Patrick Cantlay over the likes of Charley Hoffman, Zach Johnson and Xander Schauffele.
In Group A I think I am going to play Justin Rose, if for no other reason than he probably won’t be in any of my other fantasy lineups. It doesn’t feel like you can go wrong with anyone in this group, but I will probably wind up with Dustin Johnson and Justin Thomas, with Rickie Fowler as my alternate.
I look forward to another fun tournament on Majors Challenge. It is great to play a unique fantasy golf format with so many FantasyAlarm writers and readers. That the contest is free and you can win a $250 Amazon gift card for first place and a $100 Amazon gift card for second place is just icing on the cake. If you have any questions or want to trash talk my picks, feel free to do so in the comments or on Twitter.