Welcome back PGA RotoBallers! The PGA Tour's 'Swing Season' started out with a bang, as young, star-in-the-making Joaquin Niemann captured his first victory on the PGA Tour at A Military Tribute At The Greenbrier. Niemann is a HFTC favorite and was featured here multiple times toward the end of last season. It seemed like a matter of when, not if, Niemann was going to win and he did it on a course where he had looked very comfortable in two previous starts.
While the Greenbrier has its beautiful resort to help draw solid fields, this week's Sanderson Farms Championship has no such luck. As a result, we are looking at a true 'Swing Season' field - meaning one that is devoid of any established superstars.
As I write this, Niemann is scheduled to tee it up (though I'll be surprised if he doesn't WD) at the Sanderson. He'll be joined by the likes of Sungjae Im (obviously), Brandt Snedeker, and defending champion Cam Champ. See...I told you the field was pretty thin!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!
Sanderson Farms Championship Overview
After years of being an 'opposite field' event, the Sanderson Farms Championship gets all the spotlight this week. The Sanderson will be offering a full compliment of FedEx Cup points this week. Cam Champ exploded on to the pro golf scene with his dominant performance in last year's Sanderson and broke the tournament's scoring record en route to his first career victory on the PGA Tour.
While Champ carved up the Country Club of Jackson last year with his prodigious length off the tee, it was actually his hot putting that propelled him to the win. When we take a look at the recent winners of this tournament, we see that distance off the tee isn't necessarily a prerequisite.
From a DFS perspective, there's a lot of uncertainty this week due to the quality (or lack of quality) of this field. There are certainly some ways to attack this slate, but I will be focusing mainly on large-field GPPs and scaling back what I normally have in play. Ok, 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: Country Club of Jackson
Par 72 - 7,421 Yards, Greens: Bermuda
This will mark the sixth time the Country Club of Jackson has hosted this event. Yes, this course is long at just over 7,400 yards, but I'm not necessarily putting all my eggs in the 'bomber' basket this week, as a ton of that yardage is accounted for by the layouts FOUR Par-5s. So, while I won't be strictly targeting length off the tee, I will definitely be focused heavily on a player's ability to score on the Par-5s. It seems like ballstriking is always important, and that is once again the case this week, as CC of J presents players with lots of approach shots from 200-plus yards. There will be plenty of birdies this week (Champ won at 21-under par last year), so I'll give a long look to birdie makers when constructing rosters.
Scottie Scheffler (DK - $9,900)
Notable Course History: T45 ('18)
Listen, any of the guys above $10k are sharp plays this week and I could make a case for all of them, but those of you that read this article last week know that I'm driving the Scottie Scheffler bandwagon and I see no need to start pumping the brakes yet. Scheffler logged a T7 last week at the Greenbrier despite LOSING strokes putting for the week. The Korn Ferry Tour champion dropped 1.8 strokes on the greens (3.6 strokes on the weekend alone!), but led the field in Strokes Gained: Tee to Green.
As I mentioned in last week's write up, Scheffler was statistically dominant on the KFT last season and has the game to win on the PGA Tour. His game should be a tremendous fit at CC of Jackson, as he drives the ball beautifully, is an impeccable iron player, and scores well on Par-5s. In fact, he gained 10.6 strokes T2G in last year's Sanderson, but lost a historically bad 9.4 strokes putting (that's gotta be some kind of record!).
The 23-year-old's downfall is the flatstick - and it certainly held him back last week - but he is such a tremendous fit tee-to-green that I'm willing to gamble on his putting. It seems like over the last several months we are continuously talking about these young guys that are primed for a win. We saw Joaquin Niemann break through last week and this could very well be the week for Scheffler to do the same.
Corey Conners (DK - $9,600)
Notable Course History: 2nd ('18), T65 ('17)
If ballstriking conquers all, then we have to talk about Corey Conners. The Canadian is a tee-to-green beast that ranks second in this field in SG: Ball Striking over his last 24 rounds. Conners also stands third in the Sanderson field in SG both Off The Tee and Approach over the same time frame. After picking up an out-of-nowhere win at the Valero Texas Open back in April, the 27-year-old suffered through a 'victory hangover' for much of the summer before finally clearing his head enough to make a very strong run down the stretch and qualify for the TOUR Championship.
Conners ran into the Cam Champ freight train in Jackson last year, but played well en route to a solo second...gaining 11.7 strokes T2G for the tournament. His putting is better left unmentioned, but the nice way of saying it, is it's definitely a concern when rostering him at this price. If there's a silver lining to Conners' shortcomings with the putter, Bermuda is his 'least worst' surface, and he gained over a stroke putting on these greens in last season's tournament.
Aaron Wise (DK - $8,500)
Notable Course History: T25 ('18), M/C ('17)
Pricing is what it is this week, but when I look at the guys in the $9k range, it starts to feel like Aaron Wise is a bit underpriced at $8.5k. Wise sure does bring a lot to the table. He's a great driver of the ball (13th SG: OTT), makes birdies in bunches (second in Birdies or Better Gained), and slaughters Par-5s (first in SG: Par 5). Wise also logged a T25 in last year's Sanderson, so there's some familiarity with this layout.
Like the aforementioned Scheffler and Conners, Wise isn't exactly a putting wizard, but Bermuda is his best putting surface by a wide margin. He's a bit erratic, but what we're giving up in consistency we're more than making up for in upside, as the 23-year-old already has a PGA Tour win and six top-10 finishes in his young career.
Doc Redman (DK - $7,200)
Notable Course History: None
There's a lot of recognizable names in the $7.5-$8k range (List, Burns, Streelman, Armour, ZJ), but I'm dropping down to the low $7k's for Doc Redman. When I go down to this price range - especially in a swing season event - I'm looking for upside, and Redman has demonstrated both in his college days at Clemson and in his brief career on the PGA Tour, that he has the type of game that can compete for wins.
He scored a runner-up finish and two top-20's in just six starts at the end of the 2018-19 PGA Tour season and recorded a top 25 last week at the Greenbrier. We don't have any course history to lean on, but Redman is a nice statistical fit for CC of Jackson. He ranks first in the field in Birdies Gained over the last 24 rounds and grades out fifth in SG: OTT and eighth in SG: Ball Striking. Again, at this price, in this tournament, I'm not really worried about making a cut, but rather looking for players that can actually contend. I believe Redman has a chance to do just that.
Harry Higgs (DK - $7,000)
Notable Course History: None
I'm going to round things out with Korn Ferry Tour-graduate Harry Higgs. The 27-year-old had an excellent season on the KFT in 2019, picking up a win and five top-10 finishes. He played well during the KFT finals and recorded a solid T19 at the Greenbrier last week, gaining 4.2 strokes T2G over four rounds, so he heads to Jackson in active and good form.
Higgs isn't the type of player that has one area of his game that jumps out at you, but instead has a very well-rounded game that is solid in all facets. He ranked fourth in Birdie Average on the KFT in 2019, as well as finishing in the top 10 in Par 4 & Par 5 Scoring and Putting Average. He's just a solid player that is flying a bit under the radar this week and is a nice pivot from what I expect to be a chalky Robby Shelton.