Hi guys and welcome back to Horse For The Course! I hope everyone had a great Open Championship last week. Shane Lowry certainly did. The Irishman stormed to a runaway victory at Royal Portrush for the first major championship of his career. Lowry's victory was unexpected, but not shocking, as the 32-year-old has played very well over the last couple of months.
There were some shockers at Portrush though...Rory McIlory missing the cut and Tiger Woods looking very human, just to name a couple of them. Woods has said that he played too much golf last year. Fair enough - he knows his body better than we do - but he also won the Tour Championship at the end of last season and was in contention in the last two majors of the year, so how badly did the heavy schedule negatively impact him? This is the second major championship in 2019 where Woods had obvious signs of rust and basically no chance from his first tee shot. Will he adjust his schedule accordingly next year? I highlighted Rory in this article last week, but I ended his write-up by saying that I had concerns about all the pressure that he would be facing at Portrush. Those worries were valid, as he struggled horribly in the first round, before putting forth a valiant effort in round two. This week's article is filled with rebound candidates and Rory is definitely an interesting one.
It's kinda hard to believe that the majors are already over, but the PGA Tour's new schedule sure has kept things humming right along this season. This week, some of the world's best players head to Memphis, Tennessee for a new event at a familiar venue.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!
WGC FedEx St. Jude Overview
One of the significant changes that occurred with the reworked Tour schedule was this event. The old WGC Bridgestone Invitational that was played at Firestone Country Club has been replaced with the FedEx St. Jude Invitational and will be played at TPC Southwind (Memphis in July...it's gonna be HOT!). The course has hosted the FedEx St. Jude tournament as a regular PGA Tour event for years (those of you looking for course history this week should check out that tournament's results), but its rise to WGC status will attract the strongest field we've ever seen in Memphis.
We've traditionally seen the Canadian Open hold the post-Open spot on the schedule with just a handful of the top players making a start directly on the heels of the Open, but basically everyone in this week's field played at Portrush last week. It will be interesting to see how these guys handle the quick turnaround time and deal with the mental and physical hangover (or in Shane Lowry's case an actual hangover) of the year's last major.
I try to make HFTC more than just a regular 'picks' article (though you can certainly use it that way if you need to) and while I often use course history as a foundation, there are no 'rules' here other than to get you the best PGA DFS info possible. One quick word about this week's WGC event, there is no 36-hole cut, so adjust your lineup building strategy accordingly.
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 Southwind
Par 70 - 7,237 Yards, Greens: Bermuda
Doglegs, bunkers, and water hazards...oh my! That's what awaits players at this former Memphis dairy farm. TPC Southwind winds through lakes, streams, and ponds with the danger of water always lurking...especially on the par-3 11th hole that is almost a 'baby brother' to the famous 17th island green at TPC Sawgrass. Many of Southwind's par-4's have dogleg tendencies, which forces the bombers to throttle down a bit, though we have seen long hitters like Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka play very well here. Precise ball striking will be key, as the water hazards and almost 100 bunkers in play demand accuracy. Southwind is a long-ish Par 70 and ranked as one of the tougher tracks on the PGA Tour last season.
Both these fairways and greens are tough to hit, so I will primarily be targeting ball strikers with sharp iron games. Since this is a WGC event with no cut, I'll be willing to sacrifice consistency a bit in order to target players that can rack up birdies. We have eight par-4s that are 450 yards or longer, so I'll lean towards guys that fair well on long par-4s.
Webb Simpson (DK - $8,200 & FD - $9,500)
Notable Course History: M/C (2015), T3 ('15)
Recent Form: T30 (Open Championship), T16 (U.S. Open), T2 (RBC Canadian Open), T29 (PGA Championship)
I love Webb Simpson! Maybe I should just turn this part of the article into a mini-Webb Simpson appreciation piece? The guy has been rock-solid not only this season, but really over the last two years. Since winning The Players Championship last May, he's missed just three cuts, with only one of those coming in 2019. Simpson hasn't finished outside the top 30 or lost strokes tee to green in a tournament since he failed to make the weekend at the Valspar in March.
Webb ranks fourth in this elite field in Strokes Gained: Total and eighth in DK Points Scored over his last 24 rounds, yet comes in as the 19th highest-priced player on DraftKings this week! We can also safely project him as a great fit for TPC Southwind. Simpson hasn't teed it up in Memphis recently, but he did log a T3 here back in 2015...not an extensive track record, but good enough to make us feel comfortable. He's terrific at finding fairways (eighth in Fairways Gained & 13th in Good Drives Gained) and is good enough with his irons (23rd in SG: Approach) to be a factor here. Webb's also great at dodging big numbers, as he ranks first in the field in Double Bogeys or Worse Avoided...a nice little stat on this layout where one horrible hole can take players out of contention for the week.
I'm writing this early Monday afternoon as pricing just went up, so I don't yet have a feel for ownership, but I have to think that Webb will be extremely popular at this price. We definitely want to differentiate our lineups in this limited-entry event, but Simpson might just be too good for me to pass up. I'm willing to swallow the chalk and attempt to differentiate my lineup in other ways...either with contrarian plays or by leaving a chunk of the available salary cap on the table.
Justin Thomas (DK - $10,700 & FD - $11,100)
Notable Course History: None
Recent Form: T11 (Open Championship), T9 (Scottish Open), T36 (Travelers Championship), M/C (U.S. Open)
I've been a member of the 'wait and see' crowd when it comes to JT, but I might be ready to dip my toe back into the water this week. It's an intriguing spot for Thomas. Both DJ and Brooks Koepka have monster track records at TPC Southwind, which makes me think that those paying up this week will most likely go to one of them. JT has no course history to evaluate and might go a bit overlooked at this (high) price.
His injury struggles this year have been well documented, so I won't dive into them here, but the wrist has obviously been a huge problem in one way or another for the majority of the season. I'm finally confident that it's no longer an issue and feel that we are now just waiting on Thomas' putting stroke to come back around. We don't have the numbers from his top-10 finish at the Scottish Open, but JT's irons have been on absolute fire over his last several starts. He's gained 4.5 & 6.1 strokes on approach at the Open & Travelers, ranking 13th in the field in SG: Approach and fourth in SG: T2G over his last 12 rounds.
I'm gonna keep a close eye on ownership projections as we move deeper into the week. If Thomas is trending relatively low, I won't hesitate to jump on board and would love for him to be a way to gain some leverage on GPP fields this week. It's not that long ago that we were talking about JT as perhaps the best player in the world and all the indicators are pointing in the direction of him returning to form sooner rather than later.
Hideki Matsuyama & Adam Scott (DK - $8,900 / $8,700 & FD - $10,500 / $10,300)
Notable Course History: Matsuyama (None) & Scott (T10 - '17)
Recent Form: Both Missed Cut At The Open Championship
"Let the hate flow through you."
-Emperor Palpatine, Star Wars: Return of the Jedi
A recurring theme in the Star Wars films is that letting your emotions dictate your actions can really get you in trouble. One minute you're a little ticked about your girl and not feeling the love from the Jedi Council, and the next thing you know you're stuck in a ridiculous helmet for the rest of your life because of some bad decisions. Nobody wants to be Darth Vader, so let's take a Yoda-like approach to the FedEx St. Jude this week...
I'm lumping these two together because they are my 'Comeback Kids' and also pretty hated in the DFS community right now. Let me give you a minute to take a deep breath and exhale, as the mention of one or both of these guys probably still raises your blood pressure after they trashed your Open lineups. Believe me, I feel your pain...Adam Scott ABSOLUTELY DESTROYED me last week and Hideki also derailed plenty of my lineups, thankfully to a lesser extent.
I've said a lot of words about Adam Scott over the last 5-6 days...none of them nice...but I always try to take emotion out of DFS and going right back to Scott and Matsuyama this week gives me an excellent chance to practice what I (and Yoda) preach. It should also let us take advantage of the emotions of other DFS players that are letting the hate flow through them and just can't let go of what went down at Royal Portrush. Because when we lay our recency biases aside, both Scott & Matsuyama make sense on this golf course. They are elite-level ball strikers that rank fifth (Deki) & sixth (AS) in this field in SG: Approach, as well as second (Deki) & sixth (AS) in DK Points Scored over their last 24 rounds.
It seems that some sharp DFS players have caught on to recency bias plays over the last year, so their ownership might not be zero, but I think you'll find that the masses just can't bring themselves to click on either one of these players again so soon. Use that to your advantage on a week where we will see lots of duplicate lineups in large-field GPPs.
Chez Reavie (DK - $7,900 & FD - $8,700)
Notable Course History: T6 ('18), T4 ('17), T12 ('15)
Recent Form: T87 (Open Championship) M/C (Rocket Mortgage), Win (Travelers), T3 (U.S. Open)
Hey, remember this guy? Though it seems like forever ago, it was just last month that Chez Reavie logged a T3 at the U.S. Open and won the Travelers Championship in back-to-back weeks. Reavie has been out of sight and out of mind lately, with missed cuts at the Rocket Mortgage and Open Championship in his last two starts. This provides a nice opportunity to once again use our old friend Mr. Recency Bias to our advantage.
If we look closely at Reavie's last two poor outings, they make sense. He was on a 'win hangover' at the Rocket Mortgage and actually didn't play horribly (73-72) last week in an Open environment where he doesn't have a ton of experience. This week, Chez heads to a TPC Southwind layout that he is very familiar with, as he's went T6-T4-T12 in his three St. Jude starts since 2015. He grades out 10th in this field in SG: T2G and 18th in SG: Approach, while also ranking first in both Fairways Gained & Good Drives Gained. Reavie also stands second in the field in SG: Par 4s over his last 24 rounds.
There's a lot to like here other than his last two starts and this lines up as a great bounce-back spot for Reavie. He should be a nice contrarian play and is a really intriguing pivot from what might be a trendy option that's right below him on the salary scale in Andrew Putnam.
Billy Horschel (DK - $7,500 & FD - $9,000)
Notable Course History: T4 ('17), T8 ('15), T6 ('14), T10 ('13)
Recent Form: M/C (Open Championship), T17 (Rocket Mortgage), T32 (U.S. Open), T9 (The Memorial)
Let's round out our little 'redemption tour list' with another player that might get lost in the shuffle this week after a missed cut at Portrush. Billy Horschel isn't really a player that stands out in this stacked field, but he is a true 'course horse' at TPC Southwind, as he's recorded five top-10s on the Memphis track since 2013.
Horschel hasn't fared well recent in Open Championships, so I'm willing to overlook his missed cut at Royal Portrush. Prior to last week's outing, Billy Ho had gained strokes T2G in every one of his starts since the Masters, with a top-10 and three top-25s over those six events. He stands third in this field in Good Drives Gained and returns to his best putting surface on Southwind's Bermuda-grass greens.
Billy offers a nice bit of salary relief and allows you to pay up for one of the big guns in the field if you're so inclined. He's a streaky player that can really flash some upside when he finds his groove, and his Open performance aside, he's looked dialed-in over the past couple of months.