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PGA DFS: Horse For The Course - RBC Canadian Open

Hello RotoBallers and welcome back to HFTC! Patrick Cantlay came up huge with a final-round 64 at Muirfield Village to win the Memorial at 19-under par over Adam Scott and Martin Kaymer. It was the 27-year-old's second PGA Tour victory and I get the feeling that there are many more to come.

Cantlay has an excellent tee-to-green game that translates well to almost any type of course, especially major championship venues. We've already seen his name on the leaderboard at both the Masters and PGA Championship this year, and I wouldn't be at all surprised if he's a big factor at the upcoming U.S. Open.

If you can't tell, I'm firmly seated on the Cantlay bandwagon. I'm also really excited because he was our featured Horse in last week's article *FIST PUMP*, so hopefully you guys made some money and are ready to keep rolling at this week's RBC Canadian Open!

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RBC Canadian Open Overview

After being regularly contested at Glenn Abbey Golf Club for several years, the RBC Canadian Open will head to Hamilton Golf & Country Club for the first time since 2012. Due to that fact, be careful when researching course history this week! While it has nowhere near the prestige of the U.S. or British Opens, this tournament has drawn increasingly stronger fields over the last few years. It doesn't hurt that the event is sponsored by RBC, a company that has several of golf's elite players on its payroll.

RBC Ambassador Dustin Johnson took down last year's Canadian Open and will be back to defend his title...#ForTheBrand. Perhaps the biggest news this week is that Rory McIlory will be making the trek north of the border for his first-ever appearance in the RBC Canadian Open. DJ and Rors will be joined by recent PGA Champion and possible cyborg Brooks Koepka, as well as a group of solid players like Webb Simpson, Bubba Watson, and Sergio Garcia. Justin Thomas also decided to play this event late last week, probably in an attempt to knock off some rust before the U.S. Open. So all in all, we've got ourselves a downright juicy little field this week!

Thanks to the PGA Tour's new (and improved) schedule, this will be the first Canadian Open held in June since 1989. With the U.S. Open on the horizon, we will be on W/D alert this week. We've seen it numerous times in the week before a major - the AT&T Byron Nelson most recently - that players won't hesitate to withdraw if they are dealing with any type of injury. My advice would be to walk softly when rostering players that have any type of injury concerns or history of W/D's.

I try to make HFTC more than just a "picks" column (though you can certainly use it that way if you are in a hurry) by digging deep into each highlighted player. Obviously, our weekly jumping off point is a player's course history, but there isn't a firm set of rules when it comes to who is featured in this article. My goal is to help you succeed as a PGA DFS player. Period. I will touch on different GPP and cash-game strategies throughout the column each week and hopefully have some useful info for both beginners and experienced DFS players. Thanks for joining me here at RotoBaller, 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: Hamilton Golf & Country Club

Par 70 - 6,966 Yards, Greens: Poa Annua w/ Bent

After leaning heavily on Glen Abbey Golf Club for the last several years, the RBC Canadian Open heads to a classic Hamilton course for the first time since 2012. A H.S. Colt masterpiece that opened in 1915, Hamilton has previously hosted five Canadian Opens. We don't see many sub-7,000 yard courses on the PGA Tour schedule anymore (think Harbour Town), but players won't necessarily be able to overpower this golf course thanks to its tricky layout and (reportedly) thick rough. The most elite players in this field can be considered 'bombers' (DJ, Rory, Koepka), but I'll be targeting ball strikers this week, with a heavy emphasis on Strokes Gained: Approach. The Canadian Open hasn't been played on this course since 2012, but that leaderboard was dotted with shot makers like Scott Piercy, Robert Garrigus, and William McGirt. Players can go low here (Piercy fired a course-record 62 en route to the win in '12), so I'll also be looking for guys that have the ability to pile up birdies.


The Horse

Brooks Koepka (DK - $11,700 & FD - $12,500)

Notable Course History: None
Recent Form: Win (PGA), 4th (AT&T Byron Nelson), T2 (Masters), T56 (The Players)

If I'm being candid (which is how I always try to be here), I have to admit that I didn't expect Brooks Koepka's name to be anywhere near this week's article. There seems to be lots of reasons not to play Koepka this week: a questionable course fit, he's making his first start since winning the PGA Championship, it's possible he'll be looking ahead to next week's U.S. Open, etc., etc.

All those concerns are valid - and while they are perhaps legitimate reasons to maybe wait until next week with Koepka - something tells me that none of that stuff matters. With the way the newly-minted-four-time major champion is playing right now, we can almost throw all the usual stats and normal rules out the window.

While we might (fairly) think of Brooks as a bomber, it should be apparent that he has evolved into so much more than that. Looking for ball striking and sharp iron play this week? He's third in the field in Strokes Gained: Ball Striking and seventh in SG: Approach over his last 24 rounds. We know that Koepka is dominant on Par 5s (he's first in the field in SG: Par 5s), but he's also been shredding Par 4s and stands second in this field in SG: Par 4s over his last 24 rounds.

As I write this it is still early in the week, so I don't have a great feel for how popular Koepka is going to be just yet. I don't think tons of people will go to Koepka due to the reasons mentioned above and the lack of quality available on the lower end of the salary scale. We know that Brooks flips a switch at the majors, but we saw a strong outing from him at the Byron Nelson during the week prior to the PGA Championship. I think there's a strong chance that we see a repeat of that performance this week. If his ownership is trending low, I won't hesitate to jump on him in GPPs.


The Ponies

Webb Simpson (DK - $9,700 & FD - $10,800)

Notable Course History: None
Recent Form: T29 (PGA), T18 (Wells Fargo), T16 (RBC Heritage), T5 (Masters)

I feel like Webb Simpson is sort of a forgotten man recently. Simpson has quietly went about his business in 2019, just flying under the radar and logging solid outing after solid outing.

Simpson might have moved to the back of our minds because it doesn't feel like he's really played a lot this year (he hasn't...Webb's only played 13 events in the 2018-19 season), but when he's shown up, he's shown up. He's only missed one cut this year (the Valspar back in March) and hasn't finished outside the top 30 in his last four starts, which include both the Masters and the PGA Championship. These super-stretched major championship courses aren't suited to Webb's game, but a sub-7,000 yard layout like Hamilton Golf & CC should be right down his alley.

Simpson averages just 287 yards off the tee, but he ranks sixth in this field in Fantasy National's 'Fairways Gained' metric. While we don't necessarily think of Simpson as a true 'scorer', he stand an impressive eighth on the PGA Tour in scoring average this season at 69.73. He should routinely find fairways and greens this week, and he has an impeccable short game to bail him out of any trouble (sixth in the field in SG: Around the Green).

Simpson is probably priced appropriately this week...he's not over $10k, but also isn't an obvious great value. There's a good chance that he will be the forgotten man when players are constructing lineups, but I have him squarely on my radar at this short Hamilton track.


Jim Furyk (DK - $8,800 & FD - $10,900)

Notable Course History: M/C ('12), Win ('06)
Recent Form: T33 (Memorial), T13 (Charles Schwab), M/C (PGA), M/C (RBC Heritage)

I was really close to going with Henrik Stenson in this spot. If we are looking for precise iron play, no one is doing it better than Stenson at the moment. However, I thought you guys would want a tiny bit of course history thrown in this week, so let's talk about Jimmy Furyk for a moment.

Furyk is one of the few players in this field that has played Hamilton in both 2006 & 2012. He took home the Canadian Open crown here in '06, so it's safe to say he's comfortable with the layout. Speaking of layout, this is exactly the type of track that we want to target Furyk on...not super long, demands accuracy off the tee, precision with the irons, and the ability to make birdies while avoiding big numbers. So while we might not usually get super jacked about rostering a guy that's just a year away from the Champions Tour, this is a perfect spot for Furyk.

We know what we're getting with the 49-year-old veteran. He's extremely accurate off the tee (second in Fairways Gained & third in Good Drives Gained), solid with his irons (ninth in SG: Approach), and great at avoiding big numbers (seventh in Bogeys Avoided). Furyk will most likely be a popular cash-game option this week, but I'm cool with swallowing a little chalk here and using him in 50/50 and Double Up formats.


Bud Cauley (DK - $8,400 & FD - $9,800)

Notable Course History: T4 ('12)
Recent Form: T9 (Memorial) M/C (Charles Schwab), T43 (AT&T Byron Nelson), T24 (Wells Fargo)

Bud Cauley is a player that’s found his way into several of my DFS lineups this year as something of a “sixth man”. I will be making Cauley a higher priority this week.

The 29-year-old has been working his way back from a devastating car accident he suffered last year. His progress has been slow, but steady. After a top-10 at the Shriners back in November, he put together some strong outings early this year. He seemed primed for a breakout after a T12 at the Honda Classic, but fell into a ‘Florida funk’ soon thereafter. Cauley’s cold streak can be attributed to an uncooperative putter. He lost strokes putting in seven consecutive starts from March to May, before finally logging a plus week on the greens last week at the Memorial where he gained 3.2 strokes putting en route to a T9 finish.

Cauley has an elite short game and ranks first in this field in Strokes Gained: Around the Greens over his last 24 rounds and first on the PGA Tour for the season. Scrambling ability will be important this week on a tight Hamilton layout. He fared well here in 2012, when he recorded a top-five by gaining 8.2 strokes tee to green.

We’re in new pricing territory with Cauley this week, as his $8.4k DK price marks the first time this season he’s been priced above $8k. If you can get over the sticker shock you will probably notice that things get pretty thin as you move down the salary scale. He’s an intriguing player to consider this week, but we are paying a premium due to his recent performance at the Memorial and his strong outing at Hamilton in 2012.


Joaquin Niemann (DK - $7,700 & FD - $9,000)

Notable Course History: None
Recent Form: T27 (Memorial), T31 (Charles Schwab), M/C (PGA), T38 (Wells Fargo)

Don't look now, but everybody's favorite 2018 DFS darling is beginning to round into form. Joaquin Niemann exploded on to the scene last year with four top-10s in just 12 starts. Things haven't been anywhere near as easy for Niemann in 2019 and he hasn't logged a top-10 finish since the calendar flipped over.

The 20-year-old's struggles can be directly attributed to his absolute inability to putt. It's been REALLY BAD! During a five-tournament stretch earlier this year Niemann lost over FOUR strokes putting in four of five outings. That's off-the-charts ugly. Niemann hasn't exactly had a "Happy learned how to putt" moment, but his work on the greens has been slowly improving. He's gained strokes putting in two of his last four starts, which is...something. He's 24th in this field in SG: Tee to Green over his last 24 rounds, so we just need something to click with the putter.

Niemann profiles as strictly a 'GPP-ONLY' type of play. Maybe I'm jumping back on the young phenom a bit too early here, but we know that there is just so much talent and upside with him that it's hard to resist taking a stab at this price when it appears he's trending in the right direction.


Corey Conners (DK - $7,500 & FD - $8,900)

Notable Course History: None
Recent Form: T65 (Memorial), T31 (Charles Schwab), T64 (PGA), M/C (RBC Heritage)

Sorrey, but I couldn't get through this week's article without throwing a Canadian into the mix! Corey Conners hails from Ontario eh (I have no idea if I'm using the Canadian stereotypes correctly, but at least I'm making the effort) and, to steal a phrase from my buddy Nagels Bagels, he's a real "ball-striking bastard"!

Conners is the type of player that brings his irons every week, but usually forgets his putter in the car. He ranks seventh in this field in SG: Ball Striking and eighth in SG: Approach over his last 24 rounds, BUT he stands a laughably-bad 144th in the field in SG: Putting over the same number of recent measured rounds. He trails only Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka in GIR's Gained and leads the field in Good Drives Gained, so there is a lot to love from a ball striking perspective with Conners.

He's a boom-or-bust type of player, but he exhibited his massive upside with a remarkable win at the Valero earlier this year. I don't believe he's a 'one-hit wonder', as he's represented himself nicely in some big-time events since his win. He will be comfortable at Hamilton and his elite ball striking should pay huge dividends on this layout. Of course, we're hoping from some cooperation from his usually-balky putter, but Conners has the type of upside that can help you take down a GPP this week.

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