Ok, so ummm, Medinah wasn't as tough as expected. The PGA Tour pros shredded the once-feared Chicagoland layout and proved that length alone isn't a legitimate defense against the combination of modern-day equipment and today's aggressive players. The Medinah course record was set twice at last week's BMW Championship, first by Hideki Matusyama (Poor Hideki shot 63 TWICE and didn't win the tournament for crying out loud!!) and then by eventual winner Justin Thomas, who fired a blistering third-round 61.
We all sort of felt that JT had a win coming and he pounced on a softened Medinah, winning the BMW at a mind-boggling 25-under par. Thomas headed into the PGA Tour's postseason with trending form and he put it all together last week by combining his hot iron play with a putter that finally cooperated. He goes to the top of the FedEx Cup points standings with the win and will head to East Lake this week in search of his second FedEx Cup title in three years.
This week will mark the final event of the PGA Tour season, so I won't be talking to you guys for a little while. Don't get all weepy on me though, the break is only a couple of weeks and I'll be back in action for the Greenbrier Classic in September, the first of a surprisingly-decent slate of fall events. For now, let's tackle the TOUR Championship!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!
TOUR Championship Overview
If you are just now looking at DraftKings pricing for this week's TOUR Championship, DON'T FREAK OUT! Things are a little crazy this year, as the PGA Tour has decided to "simplify" the season finale. In an attempt to have just "one winner" at the TOUR Championship, we will - for the first time ever - see players start the tournament with a built-in stroke advantage.
Justin Thomas heads to Atlanta ranked first in the FedEx Cup points standings, so JT will start the week at 10-under par (hence his huge DK price tag, since he will start the week with first place points!). Patrick Cantlay is in second and will start at eight-under and the spotted strokes get smaller all the way down to the 26th-30th ranked players that will start at even par.
We're all flying a little blind with this new format, add in the fact that we only have a 30-man field, and I can't totally blame you if you choose to skip this event. I get it, unfamiliar is uncomfortable. However, for those of you (like me) that play PGA DFS pretty much any chance you get, I'm here to help. Since this is such unique event, I've decided to make this week's article a "One-Horse Race" Special Edition, I hope you enjoy it! For the last time of the 2019 season...LET'S TEE IT UP!
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: East Lake Golf Club
Par 70 - 7,385 Yards, Greens: Bermuda
There is tons of history at East Lake. The Donald Ross design is where Bobby Jones perfected his game and has been the permanent host of the TOUR Championship since 2004. East Lake isn't really tricky, but it does play fairly tough for these guys. Players will need to be strong both off the tee and on approach to have a chance this week.
Something to consider this week when constructing your DFS lineups is that this isn't a course where players are (usually) going to go crazy low. Tiger Woods won last year's TOUR Championship at 11-under par, with the two previous winners coming in at 12-under.
Justin Thomas (DK - $15,500 & FD - $14,200)
Notable Course History: T7 ('18), 2nd ('17), T6 ('16)
Recent Form: Win (BMW Championship), T12 (Northern Trust), T12 (WGC FedEx)
Justin Thomas is definitely the elephant in the room this week, so why not focus on just him in this write-up? The way I see it there will be two kinds of lineups for the TOUR Championship, those with JT and those without JT. No matter which way you go, what you do with Thomas and his MASSIVE price tag is probably gonna be your most important decision this week.
The case for him is a strong one:
1.) He's hot!
-JT's coming off a win at the BMW Championship, a culmination of several weeks worth of trending form in which he's been the best ball striker in the game (first in SG: Ball Striking, Total, & Approach over his last 12 rounds).
2.) He's got a strong record of success at East Lake!
-Thomas hasn't finished outside the top seven in three career starts at East Lake, including a runner-up finish in 2017 when he won the FedEx Cup. He's gained 15.5 strokes total in those three TOUR Championship appearances and has never lost strokes T2G at East Lake.
3.) He's starting the tournament with a huge advantage!
-Thomas will start this event with a two-shot cushion at 10-under par, thanks to his position atop the FedEx points standings, but most importantly for us in DFS land, he'll start Thursday with the 30 DK positional points that comes with first place. If you roster JT you are getting a huge head start as soon as things get going.
There are some reasons to consider a Justin Thomas fade though:
1.) He's REALLY expensive!
-We haven't seen a price tag like JT's on a normal slate. At $15.5k, rostering Thomas will eat up about 30% of your salary cap on DK and leave you with an average of just $6.9k per remaining player. Remember, while JT and some of the other big boys are getting strokes to start this thing, the guys at the bottom of the FedEx standings will be at a huge disadvantage on a golf course that isn't necessarily made to go low on.
2.) It's just plain tough to win golf tournaments.
-Yes, JT can get hot and win tournaments in bunches, but in case you haven't noticed it is EXTREMELY HARD to win on the PGA Tour. We've only had one multiple winner this season, Brooks Koepka, and he's arguably the best player in the world at the moment.
3.) Is his advantage REALLY that big?
-Those of you that play PGA DFS regularly see a familiar scenario play out all the time...a guy jumps out to a huge lead on Thursday and by Saturday evening he's an afterthought. Granted, JT is not your average FRL, but it's still tough to go wire-to-wire. Are we really supposed to think it's impossible for guys like Patrick Cantlay, Brooks Koepka, Rory McIlroy, and Jon Rahm to make up a few strokes over 72 holes?
So...there are both pros and cons to rostering Justin Thomas this week. The question you probably want the answer to - 'Should I play JT?' - is unfortunately one that I can't answer definitively for you. Your decision on Thomas should probably come down to game type (Cash or GPP) and your personal style of play (Aggressive or Conservative). Those of you that are on the conservative side or prefer cash games will probably be happy to take the points and run with JT, while if you are trying to win a large-field GPP with just 30 golfers to choose from, you will need to get very creative and most likely fade Thomas.
Whatever direction you decide to take, I wish you the best of luck! Thank you so much for joining me here at RotoBaller this PGA season, I appreciate those of you that regularly read the column and support it through word of mouth and on social media. As I mentioned earlier, I will continue writing HFTC throughout the swing season. Those articles will serve as something of a bridge (the swing season is also one of the most profitable times of the year to play PGA DFS!) to some HUGE plans we have for our PGA content here at RB in 2020! I'll be seeing you soon, but until then I hope your drives are long and your putts are short.