Hello again PGA family and thanks for joining me here at RotoBaller! What started out as an exciting Sunday at the Farmers turned into a somber event, as the news of Kobe Bryant's tragic death lingered over the broadcast and reverberated throughout the sports world. You don't have to be a Lakers or Kobe fan to understand the impact that he had on basketball and sports in general, and the fact that he was traveling with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and several other passengers makes this loss even greater.
Ok, enough sadness, let's talk some golf. Marc Leishman found his groove in the final round at Torrey Pines to storm past a stout field and win the Farmers Insurance Open. It was a great week for us here at HFTC, as every player highlighted last week made the cut, with Jon Rahm, Tiger Woods, and Ryan Palmer remaining squarely in the mix to win throughout the weekend.
Horse For The Course is an article that highlights players in this week's field with elite course history, for my favorite DFS plays of the week check out my Core Four article here at RotoBaller every Wednesday. Be sure to also read all of our other top-notch weekly PGA DFS and betting articles to help you win big!Editor's Note: Golf is back! Come join the fun and win big with RotoBaller. Get our full-season PGA and DFS Premium Pass for 50% off! Our exclusive DFS Lineup Optimizer, Research Station, DFS Projections and weekly DFS/betting articles! Sign Up Now!
Waste Management Phoenix Open Overview
After a Farmers tournament that had a heavy feel, we're in for a lighter setting in Phoenix this week. The Waste Management can sometimes get a little rowdy, but is always tons of fun for both the fans and the players. While everyone can cut loose a bit at the WM, make no mistake, this is a very competitive event that features some of the Tour's best players.
This year's field seems to be especially strong, with defending champion Rickie Fowler set to be joined by some legitimate stars. Players like Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Xander Schauffele, and Bryson DeChambeau will tee it up, with young guns Viktor Hovland, Matthew Wolff, and Collin Morikawa also expected to be in attendance. This WM field seems even better than what we normally see in this event and it should make building PGA DFS rosters a blast this week. Let's go!
You can also find out who the smart money is on by checking out Spencer Aguiar's PGA DFS: Vegas Report every week.
The Course: TPC Scottsdale (Stadium)
South: Par 71 - 7,261 Yards, Greens: Bermuda
A lot will be made of the famous Par-3 16th hole this week, and rightfully so, as it's unlike any other hole we see on the PGA Tour, but players will have to tame the other 17 holes at TPC Scottsdale if they want to win this week. The Stadium Course isn't difficult by PGA Tour standards and the average winning score over the last five years has been around 16-to-17 under par, with the 36-hole cut line normally around Even par.
Players will need to take advantage of three gettable Par-5s, as well as the driveable Par-4 17th hole, so distance is a nice bonus this week. Perhaps more important than distance is iron play...strokes gained on approach is a consistent trait of players that fare well in Phoenix. We have a nice sample size of course history to draw from this week and I feel comfortable making strong iron play with good proximity numbers my top priority for this event as I narrow down my potential player pool.
Rickie Fowler (DraftKings - $10,500)
Notable Course History: Win ('19), T11 ('18), T4 ('17), 2nd ('16), T46 ('15)
It’s easy to sometimes dismiss the defending champ of an event, but I think that would be a mistake this week. Rickie took down last year’s WM in some wild conditions, but it certainly was no fluke, as he has a long history of success in this event.
His missed cut at the Farmers will be a cause of concern to some, but the cycle of playing bad at Torrey, followed by playing well in Phoenix, has turned into something of an annual tradition for Fowler. These are Rickie’s last four years of results at the Farmers and Waste Management: ‘19: T66/Win, ‘18: MC/T11, ‘17: MC/T4, ‘16: MC/2nd...so don’t be surprised at all by a Fowler bounce-back this week.
Hideki Matsuyama (DraftKings - $10,100)
Notable Course History: T15 ('19), W/D ('18), Win ('17), Win ('16), T2 ('15)
I can’t rightly do a course history article for the Waste Management without mentioning Hideki Matsuyama. He’s a beast in this tournament and has a downright legendary track record in Phoenix that includes back-to-back wins in 2016-17 on the heels of a T2 in ‘15.
‘Deki has been flying under the radar a bit this season, but he’s been sharp, logging consecutive top-three finishes during the fall swing and two solid outings since the calendar flipped over. The Japanese star wasn't great at Torrey last week, losing strokes both putting and off the tee, but he’s an elite ball striker, which probably explains why he’s flourished on this TPC Scottsdale layout over the years. Matsuyama’s history here is no secret - so he will be “Chalki Chalksuyama” in DFS and OAD formats this week - but his elite blend of course history, skill set, and current form is impossible to ignore.
Matt Kuchar (DraftKings - $9,400)
Notable Course History: T4 ('19), T5 ('18), T9 ('17)
Matt Kuchar is never a guy that we're pumped to roster, especially not at $9.4k, but he's flashed tremendous upside at the WMPO in recent years with two top-fives and a top-10 since 2017. Kuch was in the midst of a rather underwhelming stretch before capturing the Singapore Open a couple of weeks ago. You can argue about the strength of that field, but a win is a win - and it lets us know that he should be in pretty solid form as he heads to the friendly confines of TPC Scottsdale. Look...we all know that Kuchar is a scoop of vanilla in a field full of tantalizing players with flavor, but if this is going to suppress his ownership, he actually makes for an intriguing GPP option this week.
Daniel Berger (DraftKings - $7,800)
Notable Course History: MC ('19), T11 ('18), T7 ('17), T58 ('16), T10 ('15)
It wasn’t that long ago that Daniel Berger seemed on a path to stardom. Twice a winner on the PGA Tour before the age of 25, Berger was the 20th-ranked player in the world as recently as the summer of 2017. Unfortunately, his career has been sharply derailed by injuries over the last couple of years and he currently sits at 152nd in the OWGR.
Still just 26-years-old, there have been some signs of life from Berger recently. He ran off a string of top-25 finishes during the fall swing and has looked sharp tee-to-green in two starts this calendar year. Berger has gained 5.3 (Sony) and 4.4 (AmEx) strokes T2G in his 2020 starts and brings that sharp ball-striking form to a TPC Scottsdale track where he’s recorded three finishes inside the top-11 since 2015. He’s been cold with the putter as late, but if he can warm the flatstick up he just might make some noise in the desert this week.
Byeong Hun An (DraftKings - $7,600)
Notable Course History: T20 ('19), T23 ('18), 6th ('17)
It feels like a lot of folks turned to Benny An at his discounted DK price tag last week at the Farmers. Those that rostered him at Torrey were disappointed with a T68 finish - his second bad outing in as many weeks. While many will be ready to hop off the An train, I view this as a great buy-low opportunity on a player that’s finished inside the top-25 in all three of his previous Waste Management starts. He lost a ridiculously-bad 7.2 strokes putting last week, while gaining almost 3.5 strokes with his irons. Make no mistake, An isn’t a good putter, but we have to expect him to improve on that mark this week.