Golf Barometer: Tiger Creates a Roar

Golf Barometer: Tiger Creates a Roar

This article is part of our Golf Barometer series.

A World Series champion has been crowned, the NFL's regular season has surpassed its midpoint and winter sports are already in full swing, so you're not alone if you missed a considerable amount of the PGA Tour's fall series. The European Tour's 2021 campaign also culminated last week, with world No. 2 Collin Morikawa emerging victorious at the DP World Tour Championship and becoming the first American to win the Race to Dubai. 

With a brief winter break approaching in the stateside golf scene, we'll take a look at a handful of players who have seen their fantasy stock either spike or tumble and also provide some injury updates as well.

VALUE RISING

Matthew Wolff

Wolff's struggles adjusting to life on the PGA Tour were documented throughout the past year as a disappointing 2020-21 campaign came to a somber conclusion with back-to-back missed cuts at the Wyndham Championship and the Northern Trust, but a lengthier offseason for Wolff appears to have been quite helpful. The 22-year-old opened the new season with a top-20 at the Sanderson Farms Championship before finishing 2-T5-T11 from the Shriners Children's Open through the Hewlett Packard Enterprise Houston Open. Wolff remains top-5 on Tour in driving distance, but his short game has drastically improved as he ranks 12th or better in both SG: Around-the-Green and SG: Putting. He's up to seventh in the early FedExCup standings while averaging an impressive 5.13 birdies per round through four starts.

Sam Burns

After being questionably left off the U.S.

A World Series champion has been crowned, the NFL's regular season has surpassed its midpoint and winter sports are already in full swing, so you're not alone if you missed a considerable amount of the PGA Tour's fall series. The European Tour's 2021 campaign also culminated last week, with world No. 2 Collin Morikawa emerging victorious at the DP World Tour Championship and becoming the first American to win the Race to Dubai. 

With a brief winter break approaching in the stateside golf scene, we'll take a look at a handful of players who have seen their fantasy stock either spike or tumble and also provide some injury updates as well.

VALUE RISING

Matthew Wolff

Wolff's struggles adjusting to life on the PGA Tour were documented throughout the past year as a disappointing 2020-21 campaign came to a somber conclusion with back-to-back missed cuts at the Wyndham Championship and the Northern Trust, but a lengthier offseason for Wolff appears to have been quite helpful. The 22-year-old opened the new season with a top-20 at the Sanderson Farms Championship before finishing 2-T5-T11 from the Shriners Children's Open through the Hewlett Packard Enterprise Houston Open. Wolff remains top-5 on Tour in driving distance, but his short game has drastically improved as he ranks 12th or better in both SG: Around-the-Green and SG: Putting. He's up to seventh in the early FedExCup standings while averaging an impressive 5.13 birdies per round through four starts.

Sam Burns

After being questionably left off the U.S. Ryder Cup Team, Burns went out and secured his second career PGA Tour victory at the Sanderson Farms Championship. He joined the top-20 in the Official World Golf Ranking for the first time ever, and then strung together results of T14-T5-T7 from the Shriners through the Houston Open. The LSU product has gained a ridiculously good 8.3 strokes from tee to green per event throughout his first four starts this season. We'll get to see him against elite competition at the upcoming Hero World Challenge.

Talor Gooch

Gooch began his 2021-22 campaign with four straight finishes of T11 or better from the Fortinet Championship through the World Wide Technology Championship at Mayakoba, ultimately foreshadowing his maiden win this past week at the RSM Classic where he comfortably dusted the field by three shots. Dating back to the Charles Schwab Challenge in late May, Gooch has gained strokes with his irons in 10 of 11 measured starts. He's also 13th in SG: Around-the-Green and 43rd in putting from 4-8 feet, producing a lethal combination of ball striking and short-game prowess.

Mackenzie Hughes

I rarely consider Hughes for DFS tournaments because he's a short-game guru whose ceiling and win equity are generally too limited for the price, but he still hasn't missed a cut since the streak of five consecutive MCs from the Valspar Championship through the Memorial Tournament earlier this year. He ended the summer with top-15s at both the U.S. Open and the Open Championship, and Hughes has recently ascended to a career-best 39th in the OWGR with a T4 at the ZOZO Championship preceding runner-up honors at the RSM Classic. Hughes posted the best SG: Approach performance of his entire career at the Sea Island Resort last week, and he's currently sixth on the PGA Tour in scoring average.

VALUE FALLING

Harris English

A pair of missed cuts at the RSM Classic and Shriners Children's Open aren't too concerning, but those MCs sandwiched a withdrawal from the final round of the CJ Cup due to a back injury. Those are the only three events he's played in this season, and it'll be interesting to see how he holds up at the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas. Excluding the CJ Cup, English has lost strokes from tee to green in three of five starts dating to the Northern Trust. Albeit a very small sample size, he's now outside the top-200 in SG: Off-the-Tee and SG: Putting as well. A return to full health would likely alleviate the current concerns, but for now he's not playing like the 13th-ranked golfer in the world.

Stewart Cink

Cink hadn't found the winner's circle since 2009 before he notched two victories during the 2020-21 season with his son now on the bag, but he's recently dropped outside the top-50 in the OWGR with missed cuts in three of four starts dating to the Shriners Children's Open. It was pretty cool to see the 48-year-old pick up so much driving distance this late in his career, but Cink's accuracy off the tee is a problem as he's hit just 56.5 percent of fairways in regulation through four events played. As a result, Cink ranks 225th in SG: OTT and 152nd in total driving. He's also outside the top-125 in proximity, scrambling and one-putt percentage, so not much is going his way.

J.T. Poston

Simply put, Poston is really struggling with eight consecutive missed cuts since the beginning of August, failing to record a single score of 68 or better over his last 16 rounds. He's finished the past two seasons ranked inside the top-15 on Tour in SG: Putting, but even the flat stick has failed Poston lately as he's lost an average of 2.1 strokes on the greens per event throughout his last six measured starts. 

Patton Kizzire

Kizzire has gained strokes on his approach shots just twice in 14 measured tournaments since the beginning of June, and his short game has been just as bad this season. He's gone five straight starts without a top-50 result, missing the cut on three occasions during this span. Kizzire is on the negative side of each Strokes Gained subcategory except SG: OTT, though he resides outside the top-100 in both driving distance and accuracy.

INJURY UPDATE

Tiger Woods

Over the weekend, Woods absolutely destroyed Jim Herman's hopes of winning a solid chunk of the PGA Tour's massive $40-$50M Player Impact Program fund. Repping a sleeve on his injured leg, a nonchalant swing video posted to social media by the big cat understandably broke the Internet and provided hope for a return to competition in the somewhat-near future. The progress update still doesn't provide an exact timetable on how soon that might be, but it would be foolish to think Tiger doesn't have a certain major championship circled on his calendar in April.

Louis Oosthuizen

After yet another mid-tournament WD due to a back injury at last week's RSM Classic, it's becoming increasingly difficult to recommend Oosthuizen in DFS formats, especially for single-entry contests. He'll likely be fine from a season-long perspective per usual, but he doesn't have plans to travel to his native South Africa for the upcoming Joburg Open or the SA Open Championship, which he won in 2018. Oosthuizen turns 40 years old in 2022.

Carlos Ortiz

On the heels of a runner-up effort at Mayakoba, an especially poorly-timed left shoulder injury kept Ortiz from defending his title at the Houston Open, and it will keep him sidelined until the turn of the calendar year. It sounds like he'll avoid surgery at this point, however, with hopes that enough rest throughout the winter break is sufficient enough for the shoulder to heal. 

Charley Hoffman

Hoffman withdrew prior to the Houston Open due to a back injury after missing the cut at Mayakoba, so he drops outside the top-70 in the OWGR with his next official start likely not coming until January's Sony Open at the earliest. He'll celebrate his 45th birthday in December, but hopefully back issues don't become the norm in 2022.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Bryce Danielson
Bryce covers the PGA for RotoWire and provides input on the golf cheat sheet. He also contributes to the coverage for NFL, NBA and other sports.
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