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Horse For The Course: PGA DFS - The CJ Cup @ Shadow Creek

Hello PGA DFS family and thanks for joining me here at RotoBaller! It was a "Marty Party" in Las Vegas, as veteran journeyman Martin Laired emerged victorious from the Shriners Hospitals For Children Open for the second time in his career (#CourseHistoryMatters), fighting off Matthew Wolff and Austin Cook in a sudden-death playoff.

It was a big week for HFTC, as lots of our highlighted players (Bryson DeChambeau, Patrick Cantlay, and Matthew Wolff) were in the mix to win the Shriners! We go from a TPC Summerlin course where we had tons of history to dissect, to a mysterious Shadow Creek layout for which we have none. This is gonna be an interesting week...

Horse For The Course is an article that highlights players in this week's field with elite course history and is part of our free PGA DFS content here at RotoBaller. For my favorite DFS plays of the week check out my Core Four article here at RotoBaller every Wednesday. It's part of our amazing PGA Premium package that includes an all-new PGA Research Station, Lineup Builder & Optimizer, and some of the best articles in the PGA DFS industry! You can sign up now using Promo Code: NICE for an extra discount at checkout!

 

CJ Cup @ Shadow Creek Overview

Last week's Shriners field was incredibly strong, especially for a Swing Season event, but it doesn't hold a candle to the elite players that will tee it up in this week's CJ Cup. Guaranteed money and no cut will do that, as only 78 players will tee it up this week. Normally held at Nine Bridges in Korea, this year's CJ Cup was moved due to COVID-19. Players will convene at legendary Las Vegas layout Shadow Creek, a club that is shrouded in mystery and somewhat mythic status in the golf (and gambling) community. Long camera shy, Shadow Creek hosted The Match between Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson a couple of years ago, but other than that debacle, we've never seen the ultra-private course featured on TV.

Obviously, this situation throws a big monkey wrench in the traditional course history angle that we take in this column each week. So, we'll use this space to discuss some players, the course, and DFS strategy. Sound cool? Ok, let's tee this thing up!

You can also find out who the smart money is on by checking out Spencer Aguiar's PGA DFS: Vegas Report every week. And be sure to read all of our other top-notch weekly PGA DFS articles to help you win big!

 

The Course: Shadow Creek Golf Course

Par 72 - 7,527 Yards, Greens: Bent, Designed By: Tom Fazio (Fazio Renovation in 2008)

Shadow Creek is legendary. A spare-no-expense project of Las Vegas billionaire Steve Wynn to lure high rollers into town, Shadow Creek is what it would look like if you could pick up and move a lush Georgia golf course and then plop it right down in the middle of the Nevada desert. We can expect beautiful and pristine conditions this week. Considered one of America's best golf courses, this Tom Fazio layout is shrouded in mystery. A longtime home for Vegas' resident high rollers and visiting celebrities, Shadow Creek is a tough nut to crack when trying to determine how the best players in the world will fare.

Now owned by MGM resorts, the course was renovated by Fazio in 2008 and lengthened to a more-modern 7,500-plus yards. Since the redesign, Dustin Johnson holds the course record at 66, which is kind of incredible considering the number of pros that routinely play here. If we adhere to the legend that Shadow Creek is unbelievably tough, we would want to target "grinders" this week. However, with the course playing at this yardage - and with four Par-5s on the scorecard that will probably only be reachable by the longest players in the field - we must also consider those with plenty of distance to their game. Anytime we're dealing with an unfamiliar layout, I tend to fall back towards leaning on overall Tee to Green ability as my default "go to" stat. That will once again be the case for me this week and I'll also give a bump to distance, as well as players that have traditionally been successful at major championship venues and/or "tough" golf courses. You can also glance at putting splits on Bent if you give much weight to putting.

 

Recent Champions & Winning Scores

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The Horse

Dustin Johnson

*UPDATE: W/D DUE TO TESTING POSITIVE FOR COVID-19*

DraftKings: $11,100
FanDuel:
 $12,000
Notable Course History: N/A

I expect DJ to get a lot attention in the DFS industry this week. With such little to go on as it pertains to Shadow Creek, Johnson holding the course record is at least something tangible. Even without that nugget, I would be all over DJ in this spot, as he's basically "course proof". He's the guy I always want on long, tough layouts. Johnson frustratingly only has one major championship, but his track record in golf's biggest events is pristine, as he's posted six top-10s in majors since winning the U.S. Open in 2016. We also know that DJ slays it in elite, limited-field events, as he has six career WGC victories.

He's a statistical beast and ranks first in this CJ Cup field in SG: Total, T2G, Ball Striking, and Approach over the last 24 rounds. Johnson has won twice since the restart (three times if you wanna count the TOUR Championship), and posted strong finishes in both the PGA Championship (T2) and the U.S. Open (T6). The only reason I can think of to completely fade DJ this week is that things all line up almost too perfectly, which will elevate his ownership to very high levels.

 

The Ponies

Xander Schauffele

DraftKings: $10,300
FanDuel: $11,500

Notable Course History: N/A

Whenever "plays well on hard golf courses" is a focus for me, Xander Schauffele immediately pops on my radar. Schauffele is a player that I've relentlessly targeted in majors over the past couple of years and he's responded with fabulous performances on golf's toughest stages by posting a ridiculous seven top-10s in 13 major starts since 2017.

The California native is making his first start since another impressive outing at a major championship, a fifth-place finish in the U.S. Open at Winged Foot. It was just the latest in a long streak of quality outings for Schauffele. Since the PGA Tour's restart, he's made 11 of 11 cuts with 10 top-25s! Those results have came on many layouts that we can consider "difficult",  like the aforementioned Winged Foot, East Lake, Olympia Fields, TPC Harding Park, and Muirfield Village. I don't have any knowledge of Xander's familiarity level with Shadow Creek, but it's a good bet that the tougher it plays, the better it is for his prospects this week.

Finally, we must also take into account the "Nagels Bagels Rule", which says that Xander always performs exponentially better in no-cut events. (Sorry buddy, I had to do it!)

Matthew Wolff

DraftKings: $10,000
FanDuel: $11,200
Notable Course History: N/A

Matthew Wolf was highlighted in this article last week, but I'm going right back to the well with the young bomber. Wolff came up just short in a sudden-death playoff at the Shriners, but it was after overcoming a "sluggish" opening-round 68 to shoot 66-61(!)-66 over his last three rounds at TPC Summerlin. The dude is perhaps the most explosive player in the game at the moment and - while we don't expect super-low scoring at Shadow Creek this week - the 21-year-old has demonstrated the ability to take it deep on even the toughest of layouts, dropping rounds of 65 in at both Winged Foot and TPC Harding Park over the last couple of months.

We know Wolff is a bomber (trails only Cam Champ in this week's field in Driving Distance), which will put Shadow Creek's driveable Par-4 and all four Par-5s in play for him this week, but he's also thriving in other facets. He gained over SIX strokes on Approach in the Shriners last week and finished T4 in Scrambling %. He's playing with what seems like an almost immeasurable level of confidence at the moment and it feels like a win is coming soon.

 

 

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Viktor Hovland

DraftKings: $9,000
FanDuel: $10,100
Notable Course History: N/A

As I mentioned in the course preview, in the absence of concrete stats from the week's golf course, I'm always gonna lean on tee-to-green ability and ball striking. My guy V-Hova checks those boxes in neon Sharpie. The youngster is a player that I'm quickly learning to target on long, difficult layouts. After coming out of the restart blazing, it seemed like Hovland it a bit of a wall, as his normally-excellent ball striking became a bit spotty for about a month. However, the youngster looked recharged at Winged Foot, gaining 8.5 strokes T2G and 4.3 on Approach en route to a T13...his second finish inside the top-13 in two career U.S. Open starts. The short game is always the concern with Hovland, but he's actually gained strokes putting in three of his last four starts and Bent is statistically his best surface.

Louis Oosthuizen

DraftKings: $8,500
FanDuel: $9,700
Notable Course History: N/A

While his game is pretty much the polar opposite of Dustin Johnson's, Louis Oosthuizen's classic swing is something that I'll trust on just about any type of layout. Oosty not only has a history of playing very well on major-championship golf courses, but he's also been in razor-sharp form, posting top-25 finishes in five of his last six starts while gaining strokes T2G in each. As the course difficulty gets cranked up, so does the South African's average strokes gained per round. Oosthuizen averages gaining .82 strokes per round on "Difficult" courses, versus marks of .61 and .53 on layouts classified as "Average" and "Easy".

Russell Henley

DraftKings: $7,100
FanDuel: $8,500
Notable Course History: N/A

There's lots to love at the top of the salary scale this week, and since the CJ Cup is a no-cut event, we are free to be aggressive with lineup construction. Russell Henley leads off the "this guy feels too cheap" category at $7.1k. Henley doesn't have the name recognition of many in this field, but his ball striking has been legitimately world class as of late. Over the last 24 rounds, Henley ranks third in this week's elite field in SG: Approach and second (!) in SG: T2G, while also grading out seventh in Good Drives Gained and third in Scrambling Gained.

 

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