Are you thinking about drafting Tiger Woods in fantasy golf?
Should you select Tiger Woods for your fantasy golf lineup? There’s arguments both for and against choosing the game’s most famous golfer. Many people would say the smart money bets against Woods in fantasy golf, due to his increasing age and out-sized popularity with casual fans, but in the right circumstances, Woods can offer exceptional value.
Here are some of the pluses to keep in mind when considering Tiger Woods for your fantasy-golf team:
1. He’s Aging, But He’s a Young 38
Tiger Woods has certainly reached the age when most golfers show an obvious amount of physical decline. Some golfers adjust mentally, others physical; Tiger is one of the few who can do both.
Yes, Tiger’s skills are slowly decreasing, and yes, he’s no longer two strokes a round better on average than any other pro golfer. He’s also going to have to keep on retooling and readjusting now that his body is showing more and more signs of physical wear and breakdown. However, Tiger remains virtual unchallenged in pro golf for his ability to go through that process and return to the top of the game.
His overall physical condition means that despite being 38, he’s still a fit 38, and he may have as much as a decade of top-level golf left in his body, barring more serious injury or the simple loss of will to compete.
2. Across-the-Categories Performance in Non-Salary Leagues
Tiger Woods is generally overpriced in salary-cap formats due to his name recognition for casual players, but in a straight draft format, he can often slide to a very attractive spot. Savvy fantasy-golf players can often overthink themselves, saying, “He’s old, he’s hurt, he puts too much pressure on himself…” and go pick a younger golfer of less ability instead.
Don’t forget to consider the numbers themselves, the most important of which (if not a daily or weekly category) may be all those Vardon Trophies he’s won for low scoring average – on consistently tough courses to boot. (He won’t win the Vardon in 2014 after having to withdraw from a tourney due to injury, but that’s irrelevant to your drafting needs.)
Then consider that your league probably gives most of its points to subpar holes (birdies, eagles) and consistently high finishes in events. In 2013, despite the off 2012, Woods still won five events, had several other high finishes, was fourth in birdies per round, 15th in number of holes per eagle – and oh, yeah, he was the number-one rated overall player.
3. Ride Him When He’s Hot
Woods is noted for his ability to run off three or four great events in a row, and he’s also one of a very few golfers who can post a low, low number more than once in a given weekend. Many golfers can’t seem to follow up a 65 with anything other than a 73, but Woods doesn’t have that problem.
That’s why Woods, when he’s on his game, is one of just a handful of golfers who can win a tournament by five or six or eight shots, and all those extra holes under par can make for a winning fantasy-golf weekend for whoever has him in the lineup. Few other golfers can close out a tournament in a similar manner – Rory McIlroy being one of the exceptions – so if Woods seems primed for a super weekend, give him a serious look.
4. Pressure in Majors, But Not Elsewhere
The same pressure that Tiger Woods places on himself in golf’s majors might be one of the reasons he’s still stuck on 14 titles, but the flip side is that he doesn’t put as much pressure on himself in non-majors. The result? He’s been even tougher in non-majors where he regularly participates than his overall great number would indicate.
This holds particularly true on course where Woods is comfortable and has had considerable previous success. At Bay Hill (Arnold Palmer Invitational), for example, Woods has already won eight times, and would have been the favorite for the ninth in early 2014 had he not been sidelined by his bulging disk. Woods might not get to Nicklaus’s 18 majors, but with 79 PGA tour wins already, he’s a virtual lock to eclipse Sam Snead’s mark of 83. And Woods plays fewer events each season than many other PGA pros.
So it’s not a major, and Woods is on the course? Then you have to consider him for your lineup.
5. Adaptability and Perseverance
The minus side of Tiger’s game is that he’s already had to reconstruct his swing and game on several different occasions, and he’ll likely have to do it again to protect his aging body, particularly his back. That’s tough for any athlete, especially one nearing 40, but Woods has shown himself to be more mentally suited to this form of challenge than virtually any other athlete, let alone a pro golfer.
So the smart money doesn’t bet against him making another climb up golfing’s performance charts. Such climbs are always done in skips and jumps, with stages of improvement marked by periods of setback and little gain. That means if you can time it correctly and add Woods at the right moment, when he’s really honing his game into shape, he can be a great value.
Tiger Woods is often overvalued in general terms, but at the right moments and in certain formats, the best golfer in the game can offer an exceptional value to a fantasy-golf lineup. The key with Woods as he grows older will be to use him selectively in your lineups. Done correctly, it can be a “Best of Tiger”-type run… and that in turn can make your fantasy golf lineup a winner.