For a second consecutive year, Brendan Steele won the Safeway Open. And for a second consecutive year, it didn't count for my fantasy team. But hopefully, Steele helped others whose fantasy leagues actually mirror the wrap-around schedule of the PGA Tour, which heads to Malaysia this week for the CIMB Classic. In case you don't know, this is the event that Justin Thomas has won the past two years -- and that was before he became POY JT. A three-peat for this young star almost seems inevitable, but I'm going to make myself pick four other golfers ahead of him. And to discuss those picks, Phil Mickelson's strong start to the season, and more, Stephen Hennessey joined me on this week's fantasy podcast in place of Joel Beall, who is on his honeymoon. Apparently, Joel didn't factor in the wrap-around schedule when planning his wedding. Bad job by him. Anyway, please have a listen:
And if you're more old school and would rather just read my normal weekly fantasy golf picks, here's my fab foursome at TPC Kuala Lumpur:
Brendan Steele: All kidding about the timing of his wins aside, Steele has turned into a really solid player who has a pretty solid track record in Malaysia with a T-3 in 2015. And he returns to Asia with a red-hot driver after leading the field in strokes gained: off-the-tee at the Safeway Open.
Charl Schwartzel: The 2011 Masters champ finished T-19 at this tournament last year. However, he posted finishes of 11th, sixth and fourth at TPC Kuala Lumpur in three starts at the now defunct Malaysian Open on the European Tour from 2011-2014. He also was the rare International Team member who played well at the Presidents Cup. Well, fairly well, at least. That was a tough week for everyone on Nick Price's squad.
Ian Poulter: The Englishman got a reprieve with his PGA Tour card in the spring (Thanks to Brian Gay, although, I mistakenly said it was Ryan Palmer on the podcast) and never looked back. Poulter hasn't missed a cut since April, finished runner-up at the Players, and has six top 25s in his past eight starts overall, including a T-11 at two weeks ago at the British Masters. Poulter, who finished T-17 at this event last year, also has thrived in Asia, winning the 2012 HSBC Champions and the 2010 Hong Kong Open.
Xander Schauffele: The freshly anointed PGA Tour Rookie of the Year held off the Player of the Year at the Tour Championship his last time out. This kicks off a big three-week stretch for Xander in which he's playing all three of the Asian Swing: the CIMB Classic, the CJ Cup at Nine Bridges (South Korea) and the WGC-HSBC Champions (Shanghai). It's a great opportunity to climb the Official World Golf Ranking. Then again, he's done most of that climbing already in the past four months, moving all the way up to No. 32 from No. 352 after finishing T-52 at the FedEx St. Jude Classic.
Just missed: Justin Thomas and Gary Woodland. I couldn't totally ignore JT, who is a huge 4-to-1 favorite at some betting sites. That's some serious respect.
And for those of you playing other fantasy golf formats:
Yahoo! lineup: There is no Yahoo! fantasy golf in the fall. Apparently, Yahoo! isn't a big fan of the PGA Tour's wrap-around schedule.
Knockout/One-and-done pick: Charl Schwartzel.
And here's the podcast link again, if you want to hear Steve and I jabber: