It’s fantasy golf time again – time to pick your team! Here’s my take on the Pure Silk Bahamas LPGA Classic field.
Looking over the final field for the Pure Silk Bahamas LPGA Classic, I’m finding some very exciting possibilities. It’s a strong field among not just among the high-ranked players but also among those a bit further down in the Rolex Rankings. There are several very good golfers playing their rookie year on the LPGA Tour who could well become first time winners before the season’s finished.
I’ve based my fantasy picks on the Ladies Dream Golf Pick-4 game, although my assessments of the field will work with other fantasy games as well.
Pure Silk Bahamas LPGA Classic – Final Round
Ariya Jutanugarn of Thailand prepares to hit a tee shot on the first hole during the final round of the Pure Silk Bahamas Lpga Classic at the Ocean Club course on February 8, 2015 in Paradise Island,… Get premium, high resolution news photos at Getty Images
With 4 of the top-10 ranked players in the field – Ariya Jutanugarn, Lexi Thompson, Sei Young Kim, and Brooke Henderson – as well as some of the most competitive players on the Tour – Stacy Lewis, Gerina Piller, Charley Hull, and Hyo-Joo Kim – you can afford to be picky. These are players who will make the cut and probably finish Sunday on the front page of the leaderboard. The real question is which one is the most likely to win?
Like just about every other fan, I’m waiting for Gerina Piller to figure out how to close the deal. There’s no doubt about her golf game. It’s superb in every respect, but she seems to freeze on Sunday. Could she turn the tide this week? Maybe, but I need to see her in action this season before I put her in the top spot on my fantasy team.
Sei Young Kim and Hyo-Joo Kim are always solid picks but I’m looking for a 3-way battle between Ariya Jutanugarn, Lexi Thompson, and Brooke Henderson. They all know the Ocean Club Golf Course and they’re all powerful players who know how to move the ball around a golf course. With light winds they’ll have less need to play targeted golf. We could get treated to quite a battle, but I’m looking for Jutanugarn to end up Sunday leading the group.
If you don’t like Jutanugarn, either Thompson or Henderson would be a solid pick. I’d shy away from Stacy Lewis, who’s slipping down the rankings, and Charley Hull, who tends to be somewhat slow getting her season going.
Pure Silk Bahamas LPGA Classic – Round Three
Brittany Lincicome tees off the second hole during the third round of the Pure Silk Bahamas Lpga Classic at the Ocean Club Golf Course on January 30, 2016 in Paradise Island, Bahamas. Get premium, high resolution news photos at Getty Images
Pornanong Phatlum, Megan Khang, Austin Ernst, and Brittany Lincicome have my eye in this group.
Phatlum just keeps getting better. She’s a little girl with a big game and although, like Piller, she’s still on the hunt for her first Tour victory she finished in the top five last year at the Pure Silk Bahamas.
Khang opened her rookie year with a T11 finish at the Pure Silk Bahamas last year and she played a superb game. I look for her to do the same this year, so if you have a soft spot for an up and coming player who knows her way around the golf course and will give it everything she has, Megan Khang could be your girl.
Ernst hasn’t delivered a consistent performance at the Ocean Club but I saw her playing with a heightened focus and determination last season and I’m looking for her to add more top-10 finishes and perhaps another victory to her resume this year. I think she’d make a solid pick for any fantasy team.
Lincicome is the most experienced of the four. If she’s been practicing (which she hates) and if she can keep her mind off fishing and on golf, she could easily walk away with the hardware. Those are two big iffs. Still, Lincicome knows she needs to start getting ready for the Solheim Cup and I think she may take a more focused and serious approach to her game this season. She’s my pick from this group.
Golf – Olympics: Day 14
Nicole Broch Larsen of Denmark watches her tee shot on the first hole during the third round of the Women’s Individual Stroke Play golf on Day 14 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at Olympic Golf Course… Get premium, high resolution news photos at Getty Images
With some new names on the list, things get interesting when we start looking at Group 3. You may be drawn to one of the familiar players – Paula Creamer or Yani Tseng or even Michelle Wie – but I’m looking at Katie Burnett, Mel Reid, and Nicole Broch Larsen.
Why do I have Katie Burnett on my list? She’s missed the cut at the Ocean Club for three consecutive years and has only two top-10 finishes on her resume in her 4-year pro career. But Burnett has been working hard on her game and that work is paying off. She made the cut in her last 6 2016 starts. I think she’ll play the weekend in Nassau this year and I’m not confident that Creamer, Tseng, or Wie will do the same.
Two transfers from the LET, Mel Reid and Nicole Broch Larsen – both rookies who aren’t really rookies – are on my long-term watch list. Reid, who was Charley Hull’s Solheim Cup playing partner, is a superb competitor who’s struggled through personal tragedy to reclaim her game. I look for Mel Reid to have a standout rookie year on the LPGA Tour.
I have the same expectation for Nicole Broch Larsen, the 2015 LET Player of the Year, and I’m tapping the young Danish Olympian for my fantasy team.
Group 4 always involves risk and challenge. While we can expect most of the players in Group 1 to make the cut and play the weekend, we can expect most of the Group 4 players to be sitting out the final two rounds. So, who’s most likely to make the cut and keep your team intact?
Nellie Korda is one possibility. If big sister Jess provides the guidance and inspiration and encouragement, rookie Nellie could come through with enough game to survive to the end of the Pure Silk Bahamas.
Another possibility is Jaye Marie Green, who has shown enough game to earn medalist honors at the Tour’s 2016 Q-School and get herself back onto the big stage for a second chance.
My pick, however, is Madelene Sagstrom, who broke one record after another in 2016 on the Symetra Tour. I think Sagstrom is very likely not only to make the cut but to finish on the first page of the leaderboard this week.
Let me know how your team does this week!
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