Written by: Scott Schaeffer
Maybe Neil's break really wasn't a self-sanction...just a vacation! A big week tailing J-Day and of course Chez at Memorial brings Neil back into positive figures for the year, joining only DJ. Here's our picks for this week's Triple M:
"THE READ": DJ's 100 point loss last week can be chalked up to being a little busy and a little too comfy on his perch in the standings. Back in the killhouse this week, DJ spent countless hours in the lab concocting a winning formula for a little Minny golf this week. Sam Burns played himself into contention two weeks ago at Workday, but plunged down the board after opening with a triple on Sunday. Like Ryan Palmer last week, DJ predicts Burns will quickly be able to rebound from a disappointing performance.
Max Homa has been able to secure his status on Tour in the past couple years after bouncing back and forth between the PGA and KFT in the early portion of his career. The COVID break didn't come at a great time for Max as he was simmering in the first couple months of 2020, and he's had difficulty finding the same form after the Tour resumed. In all likelihood, his duties as a podcaster have taken away from his ability to practice and stay sharp. The only shot of him finishing Top 20 this week may be the fact that the likes of Ricky Barnes, Rich Beem and Tim Herron are in the field.
Unable to lay off the juicyness of the first round leader bet, DJ predicts Finau will go low on Thursday again, just a week after he did so at Muirfield. I will say, it does seem more likely than Finau actually closing the door on a Sunday.
"THE READ": Entrusting his nugs in the very questionable health of Jason Day, Neil responded from his hiatus just as strongly as #dbstraitvibin in Fort Worth. Day's short-game saves on the last two holes om Sunday allowed him to maintain his T4 place on the leaderboard, cashing Icarito's first dub of the year. Chez was able to hold on to Top 40 despite a poor Sunday to reward Neil for continuing to back him week-in and week-out.
Chez's absence from this week's field forces Neil's hand, making Neil place his wandering eyes on some other heart-stopping opportunities. Sepp Straka has been filling it up in the last few weeks, with strong finishes at the Rocket Mortgage and Workday where birides were a must. If birdies are once again a priority at TPC Twin Cities, Straka could make some noise.
Outside the current FedEx Top 125, Brooks Koepka will have opportunities at the no cut WGC next week and at the PGA to make a move up the standings. Icarito's guess is that he won't wait until then, predicting Brooks could top this week's field. Koepka is coming off two weeks worth of two-way misses at Muirfield...but it may not be as difficult to rise up the board this week in a stinkier field that includes his brother. Is Chase a good player? Undoubtedly yes. Are there thousands of guys like him that unfortunately don't share the name of a 4x major champ? Also yes. Still, Brooks will face a few names that will could push him this week. One is Tommy Fleetwood, often omitted in discussions of the best players in the world. According to Neil, Tommy Fleets will be buzzing this week in his return.
"THE READ": Amongst the wilderness, Randall was miraculously able to find enough signal to reach the DK Sportsbook and send in a few picks for the week. Randy admitted to not having a good sense for what's going to happen at the 3M this week, so he's playing it pretty safe with his picks. Based on his picks in recent weeks, I guess the big guy has not yet had a good sense for what's going to happen in ANY week to date. Hopefully his senses will be a little more heightened out to keep Randy in survival mode out in the elements.
I touched on Max earlier with DJ's picks, but we are so far 3 for 3 in NLU crew members picking Max in some form or fashion to play well this week. Bias is allowed, maybe even encouraged, but we'd love to see the big guy get bolder with his picks. For example, Bubba is +200 to miss the cut this week...and he always seems one bad break away from a mental breakdown. In Randy's defense, he was probably lost this week without Rickie in the field.
Harris English tied for 13th last week after testing positive for COVID-19 in Detroit. If stamina proves no issue this week, English has a good chance of taking advantage of his solid iron-play to possibly contend this week. Randy has seen enough out of Finau to officially make the coroner aware of his deteriorating "health status." (to be clear, Tony's physical health is ok...Randy has previously pronounced DJ and Rory to be "dead" based on their underwhelming play). Randy expects the weekend performance of Finau to bleed into this week, making Tommy Fleetwood a smart pick to best him.
"THE READ": "Mike" Wallace and Tony Finau both contributed to a modestly positive week for TC at Memorial. The profits must have been burning a hole in his pocket, as TC spent little time spending his winnings on a few celebratory cocktails to enjoy while making his 3M picks from Ernie's big chair live in Minnesota.
Dustin Johnson's inability to break 80 doesn't seem to scare Tron at all, as he is picking DJ to back up his second-to-last performance with a win this week. If not Dustin, then maybe List or Gordon, who have both showcased that things are clicking lately in their efforts to secure their place on Tour for next year's "reach-around" season.
Two outstanding 2019 KFT graduates, Ventura and Higgs, round out TC's picks (we think, the audio left something to be desired). Both the field and the venue may allow these two KFT standouts to draw on their success from last year to make some noise this week.
"THE READ": Cantlay was positioned well to reward Soly in some way for quintupling down on him in his picks last week. However, a Sunday 79 left Soly re-enacting Rahm's driver slam on #11 last week (allegedly). Another 100 point loss.
Sticking to the same ideals, Soly is choosing to back Tony Finau this week. Finau’s resume now has a glaring number of missed opportunities listed including last week, where he was 10 over par in his last 30 holes. However, if there was ever a week, this is it. He decided to part ways with his long-time friend and caddy Greg Bodine after his finish on Sunday. A change of pace may give him the little fire he needs to break through against a soft field. His length and ability to go low is suited for Minny.
The only concession Soly is deciding to make regarding Finau's chances this week is that Matt Wolff has the strongest of resumes when it comes to TPC Twin Cities. Wolff doesn’t seem like a guy who will be phased by the expectations/extra duties of a defending champion. He has a chance to again take advantage of a venue that places importance on the strengths of his game. He will likely make this a regular stop, unlike Morikawa and DeChambeau who passed on this year’s 3M after contending last year.
"THE READ": I promise I make my picks prior to watching the video of the picks the guys are making. With that being said, I do agree with Soly and DJ's opinion that Finau, Burns and Wolff are poised to contend this week. Finau and Wolff aren't exactly groundbreaking picks, but Burns is a little more under the radar. He has a winning pedigree as a Jack Nicklaus award winner at LSU. Hits it stupid far and putts it really well, profiling really well to win on Tour in the near future. If it’s only a matter of time until he wins, why not this week against a so-so field? Sloan and Piercy are a couple streaky guys I'm taking a shot on, as both profile as guys who are likely to either go low or miss the cut. Avoiding round numbers on my "nuggets" this week to try to mix up the vibe a little bit.
The standings below are as of completion of last week's Memorial. If you like my perspective and want more content related to the crew's picks and year-to-date status, I can be found on twitter and instagram @total_misread. If you're making picks and kicking our butts...let us know!