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Horse For The Course: PGA DFS (Course History) - Waste Management Phoenix Open

Hello again PGA family and thanks for joining me here at RotoBaller! What started out as an exciting Sunday at the Farmers turned into a somber event, as the news of Kobe Bryant's tragic death lingered over the broadcast and reverberated throughout the sports world. You don't have to be a Lakers or Kobe fan to understand the impact that he had on basketball and sports in general, and the fact that he was traveling with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and several other passengers makes this loss even greater.

Ok, enough sadness, let's talk some golf. Marc Leishman found his groove in the final round at Torrey Pines to storm past a stout field and win the Farmers Insurance Open. It was a great week for us here at HFTC, as every player highlighted last week made the cut, with Jon Rahm, Tiger Woods, and Ryan Palmer remaining squarely in the mix to win throughout the weekend.

Horse For The Course is an article that highlights players in this week's field with elite course history, for my favorite DFS plays of the week check out my Core Four article here at RotoBaller every Wednesday. Be sure to also read all of our other top-notch weekly PGA DFS and betting articles to help you win big!

 

Waste Management Phoenix Open Overview

After a Farmers tournament that had a heavy feel, we're in for a lighter setting in Phoenix this week. The Waste Management can sometimes get a little rowdy, but is always tons of fun for both the fans and the players. While everyone can cut loose a bit at the WM, make no mistake, this is a very competitive event that features some of the Tour's best players.

This year's field seems to be especially strong, with defending champion Rickie Fowler set to be joined by some legitimate stars. Players like Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Xander Schauffele, and Bryson DeChambeau will tee it up, with young guns Viktor Hovland, Matthew Wolff, and Collin Morikawa also expected to be in attendance. This WM field seems even better than what we normally see in this event and it should make building PGA DFS rosters a blast this week. Let's go!

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 Scottsdale (Stadium)

South: Par 71 - 7,261 Yards, Greens: Bermuda

A lot will be made of the famous Par-3 16th hole this week, and rightfully so, as it's unlike any other hole we see on the PGA Tour, but players will have to tame the other 17 holes at TPC Scottsdale if they want to win this week. The Stadium Course isn't difficult by PGA Tour standards and the average winning score over the last five years has been around 16-to-17 under par, with the 36-hole cut line normally around Even par.

Players will need to take advantage of three gettable Par-5s, as well as the driveable Par-4 17th hole, so distance is a nice bonus this week. Perhaps more important than distance is iron play...strokes gained on approach is a consistent trait of players that fare well in Phoenix. We have a nice sample size of course history to draw from this week and I feel comfortable making strong iron play with good proximity numbers my top priority for this event as I narrow down my potential player pool.

 

The Horse

Rickie Fowler (DraftKings - $10,500)

Notable Course History: Win ('19), T11 ('18), T4 ('17), 2nd ('16), T46 ('15)

It’s easy to sometimes dismiss the defending champ of an event, but I think that would be a mistake this week. Rickie took down last year’s WM in some wild conditions, but it certainly was no fluke, as he has a long history of success in this event.

His missed cut at the Farmers will be a cause of concern to some, but the cycle of playing bad at Torrey, followed by playing well in Phoenix, has turned into something of an annual tradition for Fowler. These are Rickie’s last four years of results at the Farmers and Waste Management: ‘19: T66/Win, ‘18: MC/T11, ‘17: MC/T4, ‘16: MC/2nd...so don’t be surprised at all by a Fowler bounce-back this week.

 

The Ponies

Hideki Matsuyama (DraftKings - $10,100)

Notable Course History: T15 ('19), W/D ('18), Win ('17), Win ('16), T2 ('15)

I can’t rightly do a course history article for the Waste Management without mentioning Hideki Matsuyama. He’s a beast in this tournament and has a downright legendary track record in Phoenix that includes back-to-back wins in 2016-17 on the heels of a T2 in ‘15.

‘Deki has been flying under the radar a bit this season, but he’s been sharp, logging consecutive top-three finishes during the fall swing and two solid outings since the calendar flipped over. The Japanese star wasn't great at Torrey last week, losing strokes both putting and off the tee, but he’s an elite ball striker, which probably explains why he’s flourished on this TPC Scottsdale layout over the years. Matsuyama’s history here is no secret - so he will be “Chalki Chalksuyama” in DFS and OAD formats this week - but his elite blend of course history, skill set, and current form is impossible to ignore.

 

Matt Kuchar (DraftKings - $9,400)

Notable Course History: T4 ('19), T5 ('18), T9 ('17)

Matt Kuchar is never a guy that we're pumped to roster, especially not at $9.4k, but he's flashed tremendous upside at the WMPO in recent years with two top-fives and a top-10 since 2017. Kuch was in the midst of a rather underwhelming stretch before capturing the Singapore Open a couple of weeks ago. You can argue about the strength of that field, but a win is a win - and it lets us know that he should be in pretty solid form as he heads to the friendly confines of TPC Scottsdale. Look...we all know that Kuchar is a scoop of vanilla in a field full of tantalizing players with flavor, but if this is going to suppress his ownership, he actually makes for an intriguing GPP option this week.

 

Daniel Berger (DraftKings - $7,800)

Notable Course History: MC ('19), T11 ('18), T7 ('17), T58 ('16), T10 ('15)

It wasn’t that long ago that Daniel Berger seemed on a path to stardom. Twice a winner on the PGA Tour before the age of 25, Berger was the 20th-ranked player in the world as recently as the summer of 2017. Unfortunately, his career has been sharply derailed by injuries over the last couple of years and he currently sits at 152nd in the OWGR.

Still just 26-years-old, there have been some signs of life from Berger recently. He ran off a string of top-25 finishes during the fall swing and has looked sharp tee-to-green in two starts this calendar year. Berger has gained 5.3 (Sony) and 4.4 (AmEx) strokes T2G in his 2020 starts and brings that sharp ball-striking form to a TPC Scottsdale track where he’s recorded three finishes inside the top-11 since 2015. He’s been cold with the putter as late, but if he can warm the flatstick up he just might make some noise in the desert this week.

 

Byeong Hun An (DraftKings - $7,600)

Notable Course History: T20 ('19), T23 ('18), 6th ('17)

It feels like a lot of folks turned to Benny An at his discounted DK price tag last week at the Farmers. Those that rostered him at Torrey were disappointed with a T68 finish - his second bad outing in as many weeks. While many will be ready to hop off the An train, I view this as a great buy-low opportunity on a player that’s finished inside the top-25 in all three of his previous Waste Management starts. He lost a ridiculously-bad 7.2 strokes putting last week, while gaining almost 3.5 strokes with his irons. Make no mistake, An isn’t a good putter, but we have to expect him to improve on that mark this week.

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Horse For The Course: PGA DFS (Course History) - Farmers Insurance Open

Hello again PGA family and thanks for joining me here at RotoBaller! Andrew Landry popped up to win the American Express last week in a shootout over Abe Ancer and Scottie Scheffler. It was Landry's second-career win on the PGA Tour and it is safe to categorize this one as a huge surprise, as he came to the AmEx on the heels of five-straight missed cuts!

Last week's Horse, Charles Howell III, proved to be an unmitigated disaster as he missed the cut in this event for the first time in a million years. With CH3 withdrawing from this week's Farmers, it's pretty safe to assume that there is an injury situation going on. Hopefully, this week's highlighted players will be injury free and a little more successful!

Horse For The Course is an article that highlights players in this week's field with elite course history, for my favorite DFS plays of the week check out my Core Four article here at RotoBaller every Wednesday. Be sure to also read all of our other top-notch weekly PGA DFS and betting articles to help you win big!

 

Farmers Insurance Open Overview

After an avalanche of birdies in the desert last week, players will find things a bit tougher at the Farmers Insurance Open. Justin Rose won last year's Farmers at 21-under par, the lowest score this event had seen in nearly two decades. Rose is back to defend his title, but I would be very surprised if we see that type of scoring again this year.

Torrey Pines South is slated to host the 2021 U.S. Open and while it won't be in "U.S. Open mode" yet, I expect it to provide a fairly stiff test this week. Rose will be joined by Tiger Woods, who will be making his first start of 2020 after a hugely successful offseason in which he captured the ZOZO Championship and captained the U.S. team to a President's Cup victory. Woods has owned Torrey Pines throughout his career. This will be the strongest field we've seen in 2020, with stars like Jon Rahm, Rory McIlroy, and Jason Day all scheduled to tee it up this week!

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: Torrey Pines

South: Par 72 - 7,698 Yards, Greens: Bent w/ Poa
North: Par 72 - 7,258 Yards, Greens: Bent

While nothing like last week's American Express, we are again faced with rotating courses this week. Over the first two rounds, players will play once on Torrey Pines South and once on Torrey Pines North. Those that make the cut will finish out the weekend on the South course, the more famous and difficult of the two.

The South course hosted the 2008 U.S. Open and is slated to host the 2021 U.S. Open if that gives you any indication as to its quality. The two courses are vastly different with the North playing much easier than the difficult South.

Players will need to take advantage of their round on the North and survive the South in order to play on the weekend. The cut line is often around even or a few shots over par, though last year provided the lowest scores we'd seen in this event in years. Players that make the cut will play both weekend rounds on the South course and it can be brutal. It is long and mean, with thick rough. The South course will test every facet of a player's tee-to-green game. This will send me toward targeting players with complete games rather than a specific strength with an emphasis on golfers that have a history of performing well on tough courses.

 

The Horse

Jon Rahm (DraftKings - $11,300)

Notable Course History: T5 ('19), T29 ('18), Win ('17)

Lots of smart people are predicting a big year for Jon Rahm in 2020 and there's a good chance it starts right here at the Farmers. Rahm heads to Torrey Pines on a remarkable run of form, having won twice internationally during the fall season and logging a top-10 at the Sentry TOC despite losing 1.1 strokes putting. The Spaniard has been a beast in the Farmers, recording a win, a T5, and a T29 in three career starts.

It's the type of potent combination of current form and course history that we're always attempting to pinpoint in this article. Over his last 36 rounds, Rahm grades out top-five in this field in Strokes Gained: Total, Ball Striking, and Off the Tee, as well as DraftKings Points Scored. We all know that he's an explosive scorer, but Rahm also grades out eighth in the field in Bogeys Avoided - an aspect that shouldn't go overlooked this week. Outside of Rory McIlroy - who doesn't have the course history needed to make this week's list - Rahm grades out better for me statistically than anyone else in the Farmer's field.

 

The Ponies

Tiger Woods (DraftKings - $10,800)

Notable Course History: Eight Career Wins at Torrey Pines

Maybe they should change the name of this place to Tiger Pines? That’s how good Tiger Woods has been here throughout his legendary career. He has eight career victories at Torrey, including the unforgettable 2008 U.S. Open on what was basically a broken leg.

What’s so exciting is that Tiger’s inclusion here this week isn’t just due to sentimentality, as he is - as crazy as it sounds - currently in some of the best form of his career at 44-years-old. An offseason knee procedure appears to have rejuvenated Woods, as he won the ZOZO Championship in October and legitimately looked like the best player on the U.S. President’s Cup team last month.

 

Tony Finau (DraftKings - $9,300)

Notable Course History: T13 ('19), T6 ('18), T4 ('17), T18 ('16)

I’ve been a Tony Finau apologist for like three years now and it’s been a fun ride, as I’ve seen Finau go from a nobody to contending in majors and making Ryder & President’s Cup teams. However, it’s getting tougher and tougher to defend my guy’s inability to close, as another season passed without a win from Big Tony in 2019.

So, since I’ve stopped predicting wins for Finau, I’ll just say that this week sets up very nicely for my dude. He’s historically been a beast at Torrey and trails just Charles Howell III in Strokes Gained: Total in this event since 2015 at 38.6. He hasn’t finished outside the top-25 at the Farmers in his last five appearances with a T6 and a T4 thrown in for good measure. He played well at the American Express last week and he’s traditionally thrived at major-championship-type layouts that are long and difficult. As I mentioned a second ago, I don’t call Finau victories anymore, but I’m just sayin’...

 

Jason Day (DraftKing - $9,000)

Notable Course History: T13 ('19), T2 ('18), MC ('17), MC ('16), Win ('15)

Gotta mention Jason Day this week, so WELCOME TO THE UPSIDE DOWN! The dude has won twice here in the past five years for crying out loud! I don’t currently have any knowledge of back spasms, vertigo, knee issues, blurred vision, migraines, cracked fingernails, or a planned family trip that is going on with Day...but it is early in the week. If the Aussie does make it to his tee time, he could be dangerous in this event.

True to form, he’s been extremely tough to predict at the Farmers, as he sandwiched two missed cuts in between his wins and a T5 last year. He looked horrible in a missed cut at Mayakoba back in November and skipped the President’s Cup, so good luck trying to figure out where his game is at the moment. When we factor in the injury concerns, bad recent form, peaks-and-valleys course history, and the long layoff...we’re probably just a bout with the flu and a pro-am WD away from Jason Day playing great this week.

 

Ryan Palmer (DraftKings - $8,000)

Notable Course History: T13 ('19), T2 ('18)

Last seen banging a three-wood from a fairway bunker off a scoreboard in Hawaii (they're still looking for the ball), Ryan Palmer is on a legit heater! The Texan has ripped off four-straight finishes of 17th or better since October and logged a top-five in his most recent outing at the aforementioned Sony Open.

Palmer will bring that trending form to a Torrey setup that’s been very good to him over the last couple of years. He’s went T13-T2 in his last two Farmers starts and might go a bit overlooked in this week’s strong field. He’s averaged gaining a ridiculously-strong 5.3 strokes total over his last five tournaments.

 

Harris English (DraftKings - $7,400)

Notable Course History: MC ('19), T8 ('18), T14 ('17), T31 ('16), T2 ('15)

Harris English is a player that's been in my DFS orbit since the Swing Season when he went on an incredible run of four top-six finishes over six starts. After a bit of a layoff, I hopped back on him last week at the AmEx, where he looked rusty en route to an underwhelming T48.

English should have the rust knocked off as he heads to the Farmers this week and outside of a missed cut last year, he's played very well in previous trips to Torrey Pines, with three top-15 finishes in this event since 2015. It's fair to wonder if he's lost the mojo he had working in the fall, but English showcased his explosive scoring ability with a third-round 64 last week and he offers some legitimate upside at this price point.

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Horse For The Course: PGA DFS - The American Express

Hello again friends and thanks for joining me here at RotoBaller! Young Aussie Cameron Smith emerged victorious at the Sony Open, besting Brendan Steele in a sudden-death playoff. The final round was a true slog, with wet conditions and extremely slow play being the order of the day. That said, it was still a nice win for Smith, a talented young player that we've had an eye on for the last couple of years.

We had some hits and misses from last week's article. Our Horse Webb Simpson was in the mix until the end, missing out on the playoff by one stroke and grabbing a solo third-place finish. The rest of our Ponies proved to be a mixed bag, with Brandt Snedeker and Russell Knox logging solid outings, while Justin Thomas and Kyle Stanley were slamming their trunks.

This week we head back to the continental United States for 2020's first event on the "mainland". Thanks for joining me, let's tee it up!

 

The American Express Overview

The Desert Classic. The CareerBuilder Challenge. The Humana Challenge. The Bob Hope...
Yes, this tournament has been known by many names over the years, but the event in the desert has managed to endure and find a new title sponsor in American Express that will hopefully bring some stability to the long-time celebrity pro-am. Phil Mickelson will make his 2020 debut this week and also act as "tournament host". He'll be joined by Adam Long, the journeyman that defeated him on the 72nd hole of this tournament last year. We'll also see some established stars like Rickie Fowler, Francesco Molinari, and Tony Finau teeing it up this week. This event is unique for several reasons, but perhaps the biggest difference for DFS purposes is that the cut will be made after THREE rounds rather than the usual two, after being played on THREE different courses. This allows us to lean towards an aggressive roster-building strategy.

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 Stadium Course at PGA West

Par 72 - 7,113 Yards, Greens: Bermuda
Players will also play rounds on the Nicklaus Tournament and La Quinta Country Club courses. The "main" course for the Desert Classic will be the TPC Stadium Course at PGA West. Players will face the Stadium Course once in the first three rounds and again in the final round if they make the 54-hole cut.

Frustratingly, Shotlink data is not available on the Nicklaus or La Quinta courses, which sort of has us flying blind from a DFS statistical perspective. The TPC is a Pete Dye design and in typical Dye fashion, there is tons of water and sand in play throughout the course.

The Stadium Course traditionally plays much tougher than the other two tracks in the rotation and players will face a difficult closing stretch that includes a 20-feet deep bunker on Hole 16, the infamous "Alcatraz hole" at 17, and a par-4 18th that is lined with water. The three-course rotation makes this a volatile tournament. I'm targeting strong ball strikers who I hope will gain strokes both off the tee and on approach this week. 10 of the last 11 Desert Classic winners have played at least one of the Hawaiian events, so I will lean toward players that have been active in the last two weeks. Also, keep an eye out for the tee time draws, as players that have to play the Stadium Course on day one normally have a much tougher time in this tournament.

 

The Horse

Charles Howell III (DK - $10,100)

Notable Course History: T34 ('19), T20 ('18), T12 ('17), T11 ('16)

Death, taxes, and Charles Howell III playing well at the start of every calendar year. These are life's great inevitabilities. Don't question it, just accept it and move on. Who knows why CH3 always plays so well at this time of year in Hawaii and California, but it's past the point of coincidence now.

True to form, Howell is coming off yet another solid outing at the Sony Open last week (a T12) and I see no reason why the run won't continue in California. Chucky is kinda like a scoop of vanilla statistically, nothing really pops or stands out, but it's pretty darn good overall. While there are some young and talented players in this week's field that we can definitely consider, we'll also have to weigh how they will handle the pro-am aspect of this event that turns rounds into hours-long slogs or how their games will translate across the three different courses in the rotation. We have no such questions to ponder with Howell (or the other veterans in this week's write-up), as he's repeatedly proven over the years that he can well handle all aspects of this event. As an added bonus in tournaments, I'm not sure how many DFS players will be willing to pull the trigger on CH3 at this big price tag.

 

The Ponies

Phil Mickelson (DK - $8,700)

Notable Course History: T2 ('19), MC ('18), T21 ('17), T3 ('16), T24 ('15)

Phil’s current form is anybody’s guess, as he hasn’t teed it up since the WGC-HSBC in early November. Mickelson seems more concerned with “hitting bombs” and crushing social media than actually winning golf tournaments at this point in his career - and he’s playing the “host” role at the AmEx this week - but it’s really hard to ignore his elite track record in this event.

‘Lefty’ almost took down this tournament last year, but ultimately fell to Adam Long on the 72nd hole. It was no fluke, as it was his second top-three finish in this event in the last four years and this is a tournament that he won multiple times in his prime. The 49-year-old proved that he still has some juice left by winning the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am last season, which reinforces the idea that if he’s going to be competitive it will be in these more “relaxed” events that are held early in the year before the true grind of the PGA Tour schedule kicks in.

 

Brian Harman (DK - $8,600)

Notable Course History: MC ('19), T20 ('18), T3 ('17), T11 ('16)

Brian Harman made my Core Four last week (It’s a new article here at RotoBaller, you should check it out!) and he gets the HFTC nod this week. Harman was battling a slump at this time last year, so you will see several missed cuts in his 2019 history, but outside of what feels like an outlier performance in the desert last year, Harmon has been rock solid in this event.

In addition to the strong history in the AmEx, Harman heads to California in superb form. He faded a bit over the weekend at the Sony, but still gained strokes in every major category (outside of Around The Green) for the week. It was no outlier, as he’s averaged 1.9 Strokes Gained T2G over his last five combined tournaments.

 

Brendan Steele (DK - $7,500)

Notable Course History: T57 ('19), T20 ('18), T6 ('17), T34 ('16), T2 ('15)

Is it Brendan Steele SZN? Ok, that’s pretty gross when you say it out loud, but it’s hard to ignore Steele for a couple of reasons this week, as he’s coming off a huge outing at the Sony Open (though it did end rather badly) and has been remarkably consistent at the American Express over the years. Since 2015, the Californian has made the cut in this event every year - including last year when his game was COMPLETELY out of sorts - highlighted by a T2 in ‘15 and a T6 in ‘17.

Steele appeared primed for a career breakout after back-to-back wins at the Safeway Open in 2016 and 2017, but his game fell off a cliff in the summer of ‘18 and he’s been stuck in a horrible slump since. There had been some signs of life starting to show prior to his performance at the Sony, as Steele had averaged gaining strokes Tee to Green, Off the Tee, and on Approach over his last five combined tournament starts. We know that good play can often lead to more good play in this crazy game called golf and the veteran will be headed to a course where he’s always performed well with a boatload of new-found confidence.

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Horse For The Course: PGA DFS - Sony Open

Hello again friends and thanks for joining me here at RotoBaller! The season kicked off with a bang at the Sentry Tournament of Champions last week, as Justin Thomas prevailed over Xander Schauffele and Patrick Reed in a three-man playoff.

JT was this article's Horse last week, while one of our Ponies - Patrick Reed - was also in the playoff! I love it when a plan comes together!

This week we'll stay in Hawaii for the long-running Sony Open. It will be our first full-field event of 2020 and I'm really looking forward to the return of "normal tournaments" that include a 36-hole cut. Golf is BACK, let's dive in!

 

Sony Open Overview

Did you love watching primetime golf in Hawaii last week? If so, you are once again in for a treat this week, as we stay in paradise for the Sony Open. There's tons of great course history for us to dive into this week, as Waialae Country Club in Honolulu has hosted this event for many years, which gives us a very nice sample size to work with. A blistering-hot Matt Kuchar took down last year's Sony Open and he'll be back to defend on the heels of a so-so T14 outing at the Sentry. He'll be joined by a solid field that includes last week's winner - and 2017 Sony Open champ - Justin Thomas. We'll also see Patrick Reed, Hideki Matsuyama, and Collin Morikawa tee it up this week, which does give the Sony something of a "top heavy" feel...but we'll also find names that PGA-DFS regulars are familiar with as we work our way down the salary scale.

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: Waialae Country Club

Par 70 - 7,044 Yards, Greens: Bermuda
We get another beautiful Hawaiian golf course this week in Waialae Country Club, the long-time host of the Sony Open. It would be easy to lump this course in a similar bucket as last week's Kapalua layout, but that would be a huge mistake, as the courses are rather different. Waialae's fairways routinely rank as some of the toughest to hit on the PGA Tour (while Kapalua's fairways are hard to miss!), but missing these fairways isn't super penalizing, as player's will still find their ball in short grass more often than not. Waialae only has two Par 5s, but players racked up a massive 56 eagles here last year, which makes Par-5 scoring critical this week. Past winners here have hit fairways and greens consistently, while also taking advantage of the Par 5s.

 

The Horse

Webb Simpson (DK - $11,100)

Notable Course History: T4 ('18), T13 ('17), T13 ('16), T13 ('15)

The Webber!!! Poor guy had to spend the entire President's Cup with Patrick Reed, which I imagine is probably like being forced to hang out with your Mom's best friend's kid when you're a child. No matter how weird or how big of an ass that kid is, there you are, stuck with him while your moms drink wine and discuss taking up a yoga class together. Luckily, Simpson will be free of his "buddy" this week at the Sony. He's been ridiculously-consistent at Waialae Country Club, with a T4 and three T13s in four Sony starts since 2015.

Simpson is the type of player that's easy to sleep on. He doesn't hit it a mile or win a whole lot of tournaments, but he's produced remarkably-consistent, excellent results over the past few years. In 21 starts last season, Webb made 20 cuts and logged six top-10s en route to ranking third on the PGA Tour in Scoring Average at 69.377.

Despite being a fairly short hitter by today's standards, Webb finished ninth on the Tour in Total Eagles last year. Over his last 24 rounds he ranks fifth in this week's field in both Strokes Gained: Tee to Green & Approach. He's also looked sharp in limited starts this fall, scoring a T7, a runner-up, and a T10 in addition to seeing action at the President's Cup.

 

The Ponies

Justin Thomas (DK - $12,000)

Notable Course History: T16 ('19), T14 ('18), Win ('17), MC ('16), T6 ('15)

I highlighted JT in last week's HFTC and I'm not ashamed to keep riding the hot hand. Thomas has looked simply dominant since late summer, logging three wins and three top-fives since August.

While we normally might be reluctant to roster the previous week's winner, the opposite is true when it comes to JT, a player that can go on unbelievable hot streaks and has often collected wins in bunches throughout his career. In addition to the sicko form, we have to love his record at the Sony, a tournament that he won in 2017 - a week after winning the then SBS Tournament of Champions. Does any of this sound familiar?

His ball striking numbers are ridiculous, and he enters this week ranked first in the field in Strokes Gained: Total, T2G, Ball Striking, and Approach. It can sometimes be a stretch to roster a player with a $12k price tag, but this week with Thomas you are getting the unquestioned best player in the field and a golfer that is playing head and shoulders above everyone right now. If his putting is decent-to-good, he might just go back-to-back for the Hawaii Swing, just like he did in 2017.

 

Brandt Snedeker (DK - $8,600)

Notable Course History: T16 ('19), MC ('17), 2nd ('16)

Brandt Snedeker's super-solid course history certainly makes him HFTC worthy this week, as the Vandy product recorded a solo-second at Waialae in 2016 and a T16 last year. In addition to his track record at the Sony, I'm highlighting Sneds in large part due to the expected weather in Honolulu this week. With sustained winds of over 20mph and some rain expected throughout the tournament, I'm really intrigued by Sneds, a player that's roundly considered one of the best "bad weather" players in the world. Snedeker ranks second in the field in Scrambling Gained over his last 24 rounds - an aspect that could go overlooked by many this week.

 

Russell Knox (DK - $7,800)

Notable Course History: T43 ('19), T10 ('18), T11 ('17), MC ('16), T13 ('15)

Russell Knox is another player I don't mind having on my roster whenever the weather gets nasty. The veteran from Scotland has also traditionally fared well in the Sony Open. Knox heads to the 2020 edition in trending form, as he's ran off five-straight made cuts after since failing to make the weekend in his first start of the fall. Knox is averaging 5.3 Strokes Gained Total over his last five tournaments. He stands 23rd in the field in Good Drives Gained and fourth in GIRs Gained over his last 24 rounds, and his fairways-and-greens style puts him squarely in consideration as a sub-$8k option this week.

 

Kyle Stanley (DK - $7,000)

Notable Course History: T22 ('19), T10 ('18), T36 ('17), T13 ('16)

Sometimes course history can take us to some funky places and that's where we are with Kyle Stanley this week. Stanley had an absolutely miserable 2018-19 season, making just 16 of 25 cuts, while ranking 161st in SG: Putting. Stanley has shown a bit of life this fall, especially with his irons, as he's gained over four strokes on approach in four of his last five starts. Waialae is a true "get right" spot for Stanley, as he's went 4/4 in the Sony since 2016 with a top-10 and two top-25s. I wouldn't let him anywhere near cash lineups, but he's an intriguing GPP option this week.

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Horse For The Course: PGA DFS (DraftKings) - Sentry Tournament of Champions

Hello again friends and thanks for joining me here at RotoBaller as we slide into 2020! After a brief (but long feeling) break from golf, we're ready to gear up for the new season. As is tradition, the brand new golf year will get kicked off in Hawaii this week.

I'd like to take a second to explain what you can expect from Horse For The Course this year. Some of you might read it religiously and some of you might be stopping in for the first time - either way - I really appreciate you checking out this article! HFTC is a weekly piece, which means if there is a PGA DFS tournament on DraftKings there will be an article up (I always drop a link on Twitter when the article is posted if you want to follow me @JoeNicely and stay up to date).

This will be the third year that I've written this article - all of them here at RotoBaller - and it has evolved over the years, morphing from what was originally a strict course history article into more of a way for me to express my thoughts on the players that I really liked on any given week. Thankfully, the popularity and demand for PGA content here at RB has continued to grow, which will allow us to start offering Premium PGA Content in 2020! This a really exciting new chapter for both me and the site, and as a result, I'll have more avenues to write about different aspects of PGA DFS each week. For that reason, I'll be taking HFTC back to its roots this season and tightly focusing in on the players in the field with strong course history. Don't worry...HFTC will always be available for free (as will lots of our other great PGA articles), but those of you that want to dive deeper down the PGA rabbit hole with me each week, and that want to truly learn and improve as a PGA DFS player, should strongly consider becoming a Premium PGA Member here at RotoBaller. Ok, now that we have all that stuff out of the way, let's dig into the Sentry Tournament of Champions!

 

Sentry Tournament of Champions Overview

The Sentry TOC is the traditional start to the new year on the PGA Tour. It's a small field of 34 players that's comprised of tournament winners from the previous season. There's no cut with guaranteed prize money and FedEx Cup points for every player in the field. The event is annually held at the beautiful Kapalua Resort in Hawaii. So...it probably goes without saying that this isn't exactly a high-stress environment. These guys are winners and most of them already have successful, established careers, which is why we'll see the majority of this field looking at this tournament as an opportunity to knock the rust off after a winter layoff. That said, these guys all want to win and we'll see their intensity levels dial up as the week progresses. There are some big names that qualified for this event but elected not to play, with Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose, and Brooks Koepka the most notable players that will sit this week out. Xander Schauffele will be back to defend his title and will be joined by some of the game's best players like Justin Thomas, Dustin Johnson, and Jon Rahm. It's great to be back! 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: Plantation Course at Kapalua

Par 73 - 7,518 Yards, Greens: Bermuda
The Plantation Course is one of the most beautiful stops of the PGA Tour season. Designed by Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore, it was opened in 1991. The Plantation Course sits at the foot of the West Maui Mountains and incorporates drastic elevation changes into the layout. We will see some of the longest drives of the season this week, as players will have several downhill tee shots. We are dealing with a rare Par 73 course that features four Par-5s. Weather conditions, specifically the wind, can sometimes be a factor at Kapalua, but the conditions are usually mild to moderate enough to allow for very low scoring. Every winner of this tournament since 2014 has been at least 20-under par, so we definitely want to pay attention to players that can make birdies. This a true "resort course" layout: wide fairways, slow greens, and low scores.

 

The Horse

Justin Thomas (DK - $11,200)

Notable Course History: 3rd ('19), T22 ('18), Win ('17), T21 ('16)

I'll be honest, I'm chomping at the bit to roster Justin Thomas this season. If they were selling stock on JT's prospects for 2020, I would be an all-in buyer! Luckily, we don't have to wait to play Thomas, as he qualified for this TOC field via his win at the BMW Championship.

JT has exhibited huge upside in his previous appearances at the Plantation Course, winning the event in 2017 and recording a solo-third last year. A lot of these guys haven't played much golf over the past couple of months, but Thomas heads to Kapalua in excellent "recent form". He saw action at the President's Cup last month, logged a T5 at the Hero, and won at Nine Bridges back in October. These results came on the heels of a super-strong closing push during the FedEx Cup Playoffs. Stats are always a little skewed at this time of year, but if we look at this field's last 24 rounds, JT leads in Strokes Gained: Total, T2G, Ball Striking, and Approach, as well as DK Points scored.

Thomas is pricey, but with the small field and no-cut nature of this event, we can take on some risk at the bottom end of the salary scale in order to grab his tournament-winning upside.

 

The Ponies

Jon Rahm (DK - $11,400)

Notable Course History: T8 ('19), 2nd ('18)

Not to wander too far down "narrative street", but isn't this a perfect "Jon Rahm tournament"? No pressure, bombs away with the driver, Par-5s galore, and tons of birdies. Yep, it's the perfect setup for the young Spaniard and his track record on the Plantation Course reflects just that, as Rahm has recorded a T8 and a solo-second in his two previous TOC appearances.

I mentioned earlier that Justin Thomas probably has the best current form in the field, but Rahmbo is neck and neck with him. He won in both Spain and Dubai during the fall season and scored a runner-up at the Hero last month. Those performances aren't going to track statistically because they were overseas, but we know what Rahm does well...he finished sixth on the PGA Tour in both Scoring & Birdie Average last season, as well as ranking fifth in SG: Off The Tee.

If you want to go ultra "Stars & Scrubs" this week it can be done fairly easily. You can roster both JT and Rahm if you are willing to take some chances on the low end of the salary scale.

 

Dustin Johnson (DK - $10,100)

Notable Course History: T4 ('19), Win ('18), T6 ('17), T10 ('16)

If you want to pivot away from the 1 and 1A options of Thomas and Rahm, Dustin Johnson is an intriguing candidate. DJ offers a bit of salary relief and should come in with lower ownership than either of his pricier counterparts. We are taking a bit more risk with Johnson though, as he didn't look at all like himself down the stretch last year and struggled in a way that we haven't seen from him in recent years. He underwent an offseason knee surgery and looked so-so in his return to action at the President's Cup which makes his current form a legitimate concern. That concern is somewhat offset by DJ's MONSTER track record on this Plantation layout. He's hasn't finished outside the top-10 in four appearances since 2016. We know that Johnson is one of the best drivers of the ball in the modern era and he ranked fourth on the PGA Tour in SG: Off The Tee last season while averaging 312 yards per drive. If - and it is still an if at this point - DJ is healthy, he has a great chance of playing well here once again.

 

Patrick Reed (DK - $9,000)

Notable Course History: T25 ('19), T6 ('17), 2nd ('16), Win ('15)

Look...I don't like Patrick Reed and you probably don't like Patrick Reed, so let's just get that out of the way. I guess I understand if you have some type of moral objection to playing Reed in a fantasy golf lineup, but I will have no such trouble rostering Justine's husband if I feel it's a money-making opportunity. That's what we're looking at this week with Reed at Kapalua, a track where he's been downright dominant in previous appearances. Last year's T25 was his worst-ever finish in the Sentry, having went: T6/2nd/Win in his three prior starts. So yeah, there's some baggage to unpack here with Reed - and he didn't play well at all in the President's Cup - but the guy is a gamer that loves this course and had played well throughout the Swing Season before the drama at the Hero.

 

Brendon Todd (DK - $8,100)

Notable Course History: T8 ('15)

BRENDON!!! (I've always wanted to do that, hopefully some of you get it!) I say this with true sincerity...Brendon Todd is one of the better comeback stories we will ever see in golf and I have an unbelievable amount of respect for what he's been able to get through. This is a guy that battled THE FULL SWING YIPS(!) which is a big problem to have when you are a professional golfer. However, instead of just fading away, Todd went about rebuilding his swing and game. After a truly dark period, he emerged from this year's Korn Ferry Tour finals with a PGA Tour card and wasted no time making the most of it, winning twice this fall at the Bermuda Championship and the Mayakoba Classic (he also came damn close to winning three straight before finishing in the top-five at the RSM). His history at the Plantation Course only consists of one appearance - a T8 back in 2015 - but it's enough for me to put him in consideration when we add in his reasonable DK price tag and scorching-hot form over the past couple of months.

 

Kevin Kisner (DK - $7,700)

Notable Course History: T17 ('18), 9th ('16)

The Kiz is the only player under $8k with any real track record on the Plantation Course, but I did want to include a player with a cheaper price tag in this week's article. Kisner had a solid, if unspectacular 2019. He did take down the WGC-Dell Match Play event which punched his ticket into this week's Tournament of Champions. Kiz was remarkably consistent throughout last year, making 22 of 25 cuts with 11 top-25 finishes. He's a quality iron player that has the ability to get red-hot with the putter. Kisner doesn't fit the traditional profile of the type of players that we target on this layout, but he's a solid lineup option and something of a proven commodity at this price point.

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PGA DFS (DraftKings): Horse For The Course - RSM Classic

If you would've told me a year ago that Brendon Todd would win back-to-back PGA Tour events this fall...first I would've laughed at you and then I would've told you how crazy you were! However, we all know that golf is the most fickle mistress there is in the world of sports, and sure enough, Todd claimed the victory at Mayakoba last week for his second-straight win on the PGA Tour. It is pretty remarkable that a guy that battled the honest-to-God-full-swing yips could even get back on the Tour, much less win again. So, nothing but tons of respect for Todd.

While it was cool to see Todd continue his remarkable comeback, he did slightly kill this article's Horse along the way, as Harris English played tremendous golf throughout the week, but fell apart during the Monday morning finish. English was our best performing player, but outside of an outlier poor performance from Viktor Hovland, every player listed in last week's article made the cut. It's good to be back! Unfortunately, we only have one week left to do a proper "heat check"!

This will be the last edition of HFTC for a while, as the PGA Tour heads into the holiday break. I'd like to take a quick minute to thank all of you that have supported this article from the start and make it part of your weekly PGA DFS research. 'Horse For The Course' will be back each and every week when the PGA Tour schedule amps back up in January and the RotoBaller PGA staff has some interesting new things that we are working on and hope to introduce for the 2020 season! I'm really pumped for what we have in store for you guys next year, so make sure and stay connected during the break via my personal Twitter account @JoeNicely or the official RotoBaller PGA account! Ok, with that out of the way, let's dig into the RSM Classic. This will be our last tournament for a while, so let's make it count!

 

RSM Classic Overview

It's a bittersweet feeling as the fall portion of the 2019-20 season comes to an end at this week's RSM Classic. There isn't much star power headed to Sea Island this week, but last year's RSM winner Charles Howell III will be back to defend his title. CH3 will be joined by some familiar faces that were in Mayakoba last week, with Brendon Todd, Matt Kuchar, Scottie Scheffler, and Billy Horschel just some of the guys that will travel from Mexico to Georgia. The "best" player in the field is Webb Simpson, though he's only teed it up once since the TOUR Championship.

We've seen a lot of first-time PGA Tour winners in this event, but you'll also notice that the RSM has a "hometown-flavor field", with lots of guys that live in or have ties to the Sea Island area. That's a narrative that will get lots of run around the DFS industry this week, so I won't spend a ton of time on it here. Enough talking, for the last time in 2019, 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: Sea Island Golf Club (Seaside Course & Plantation Course)

Par 70 - 7,005 Yards, Greens: Bermuda (TifDwarf)
We're thrown a little curveball this week, as every player in the field will play two courses (Seaside & Plantation) in the first two rounds. To complicate matters even further, Davis Love III just recently completed a fairly extensive renovation on the Plantation Course. We'll focus on the Seaside Course here, because it's the layout that those players that make the cut will be playing on the weekend...I described Mayakoba last week as a "plodder's course" and that's also a pretty apt label for the RSM this week, as the bombers will take a back seat at Sea Island. We'll see a lot of less-than-driver holes and we should place a premium on accurate and precise ball striking, as well as course management. For that reason, I'll be targeting similar traits as last week...driving accuracy, greens in regulation, and consistent ball striking, while also glancing at putting splits on Bermuda greens.

 

The Horse

Billy Horschel (DK - $11,000)

Notable Course History: T2 ('17)

It feels fair to call Webb Simpson the "best" player in this week's field, but Billy Horschel is certainly one of the "hottest" golfers that will be teeing it up on Sea Island. Billy Ho heads to Georgia in sharp form, having logged two top-10s and a top-25 over his last three starts, and he's fresh off a T8 at Mayakoba last week.

Horschel doesn't have an extensive history in the RSM, but recorded a runner-up finish in his only appearance in the last five years. He's one of the streakiest players on the PGA Tour and can run extremely hot and cold. Obviously, his inconsistent tendencies are a little scary at this big $11k price tag, but if I'm ever going to roll the dice on Horschel it's gonna be when he's in the midst of a heater.

He's gonna grade out ho-hum statistically if you dig into his numbers, but Horschel is kinda like Patrick Reed in that he has always been very capable of outperforming his stats and winning golf tournaments. His putting can be otherworldly at times and he has three career wins on Bermuda greens. My favorite spend-up options are Webb and Billy, and I'd rather lean in the direction of the guy that's been playing frequently.

 

The Ponies

Harris English (DK - $10,000)

Notable Course History: T46 ('19), M/C ('18), M/C ('17)

Those of you that read last week's article know that I was "All In" on Harris English at Mayakoba. While I don't feel as strongly this week, I'm willing to stay on this train.

I haven't quite decided what DFS players are going to do with English this week, so I'm kinda just thinking out loud here...English hasn't played very well at Sea Island in the past and he's received a fairly significant $2,000 price bump this week. He's also sandwiched between two RSM 'course horses' in Charles Howell III and Kevin Kisner, players that should be popular in this spot. So...do all those factors contribute to him going underowned this week?

I'm not sure yet, but I will definitely keep a close eye on his ownership projections over at Fantasy National as the week progresses. If it looks as though people are jumping ship on English, I won't hesitate to load up on a player that's notched an incredible four top-10 finishes in his five starts this fall.

 

Brian Gay (DK - $8,800)

Notable Course History: T23 ('19), 3rd ('18), M/C ('17)

Brian Gay didn't make last week's write up, but he's a player that I gravitated toward as the week progressed and ended up in a couple of my DK lineups. Gay performed well in Mexico, going 69-65 in his final two rounds to surge into a top-15 finish. It was yet another solid outing in what's been a strong fall season for the veteran, as he also has a top-five and a top-10 across six swing season starts. In addition to his sharp form, Gay has traditionally played well at Sea Island, a course that fits his plain-jane-fairways-and-greens style very well. I always hate to factor in putting too much, but he's been consistently good on Bermuda throughout his career. As with several players this week, his DFS price tag is a little gross, but that's just the way it goes in fields like these.

 

Lanto Griffin (DK - $8,000)

Notable Course History: M/C ('18)

Speaking of pricing...in a field where quality players have been saddled with bloated price tags, Lanto Griffin's salary has actually decreased by $1,000 since last week. I get that he didn't play well at Mayakoba, but Griffin has pretty much owned the fall season...recording a win at the Houston Open and making seven of seven cuts with five top-20s. The Korn Ferry Tour graduate heads to Georgia ranked seventh in this field in Strokes Gained: Tee to Green over his last 24 rounds and is solid in all aspects that we're targeting this week, yet is the 22nd-highest-priced player on DraftKings. I'm kinda blown away by his price tag and feel like this is a tremendous opportunity to "buy low" on Lanto.

 

Robby Shelton (DK - $7,300)

Notable Course History: None

I've noticed a theme in this week's article...trending form. I didn't purposefully set out with that in mind this week, but I honestly never know where this article is gonna take me. Robby Shelton is a Korn Ferry Tour graduate that's had some some measure of success during the fall season. Shelton has made five of seven cuts since September with two top-10s, including a T6 in Mexico last week. He's no doubt a volatile player, so I wouldn't go penciling him in to your cash lineups, but I am intrigued by his upside at this price. Another underlying factor - that admittedly might be a stretch - is that he recorded two top-three finishes on this Seaside layout at the SEC Championships while playing at the University of Alabama (FYI: Matthew NeSmith at $6.3k is another player that feasted on this course in college). It's a little thin sure, but he does have some experience (and success) on this course, though it was as an amateur. Shelton is a boom-or-bust GPP play that could log a top-five or miss the cut, but if we're trying to win a large-field PGA DFS tournament, he's exactly the type of "good volatility" that we must be willing to embrace.

 

Bo Hoag (DK - $6,700)

Notable Course History: None

Let's round out this week's article (and 2019) with a salary saver. At $6.7k, Bo Hoag is a player that should probably be on your sub-$7k radar this week. Hoag is another PGA Tour rookie that has been under-the-radar solid this fall. He's made six of seven cuts and heads to Sea Island on the heels of back-to-back top-20 finishes at Mayakoba and Bermuda. He doesn't have any RSM history, but he's a nice fit on paper, as he stands fourth in the field in Good Drives Gained and sixth in Greens In Regulation Gained over his last 24 rounds. Hoag has impressively gained over 7.5 strokes total in each of his last two starts and is an intriguing value option when rounding out GPP lineups or mass-multi entering this week.

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PGA DFS (DraftKings): Horse For The Course - Mayakoba Classic

Hey guys, welcome back to 'Horse For The Course'! I hope you all enjoyed the short break, I know it was much needed for me, as I really struggled with the Asian Swing portion of the schedule. It sounds crazy, but I had back-to-back weeks with players withdrawing in no-cut events, which is ridiculous! That's just the type of run it was...and is just an example of the type of swings we can experience in PGA DFS!

Ok, enough about the bad luck. The PGA Tour is heading back to this side of the globe, as we travel down Mexico way for the Mayakoba Classic. And guess what? There's a cut! Of course, a cut brings its own set of challenges, but I'm eager to get back to the feel of a "normal" golf tournament. Thanks for joining me again here at RotoBaller, let's take a look at this week's event!

 

Mayakoba Classic Overview

The Mayakoba Classic has become somewhat infamous over the past 12 months due to the controversy surrounding last year's winner Matt Kuchar and his payment (or non-payment) to fill-in caddie, David "El Tucan" Ortiz, the local looper who was on the bag when Kuch took down the title last year. I'm not going to dive into that can of worms here, but let's just say that things will probably be pretty uncomfortable for the defending champ this week.

In addition to Kuchar, we have some team members of the upcoming President Cup that will be in attendance this week. Jason Day and Tony Finau are perhaps the most notable stars in this field, but they'll also be joined by young 'Prez Cuppers' Joaquin Niemann and Mexico-native Abraham Ancer.

Overall, this is a fairly "run-of-the-mill" swing season field, with a couple of elite players mixed in with some solid pros and PGA Tour rookies. As I mentioned (happily) in the intro, we are back to a 36-hole cut this week and will want to keep the dynamics of the PGA Tour's new cut rule in mind, as 6/6 lineups have been hard to come by in the fall swing. Enough chatter, golf is back! 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: El Camaleon Golf Club

Par 71 - 6,987 Yards, Greens: Paspalum
If Matt Kuchar's win last year isn't a good enough indicator, let me be clear: this is a plodders golf course. Yes, players can go low here, but they will need to consistently hit fairways and greens to do it. A 2006 Greg Norman design, El Camaleon is a unique course that takes advantage of a beautiful and interesting natural landscape. It is perhaps most famous for its "sinkholes" that can give golfers fits. This is a short course by modern standards, but not one that can be easily overpowered. Accuracy off the tee is crucial and we will see lots of players hitting less than driver this week. Ball striking will also be at a premium at El Camaleon in order to find fairways and greens in what is typically windy coastline conditions. A hot putter never hurts and that is again the case this week on a Seashore Paspalum putting surface that we basically never see on the PGA Tour. I'll be targeting accurate ball strikers who are capable of working their way around this course with precision and getting in a groove with the flatstick.

 

The Horse

Harris English (DK - $8,000)

Notable Course History: T68 ('19), M/C ('18-'16), Win ('14)

There are some heavy hitters in the Mayakoba field, but my favorite dollar-for-dollar play on the board is Harris English. English was a rising star once upon a time, and won this tournament back in 2014 for what was supposed to be the first of many victories for him, but he's struggled over the last few years. After picking his play up enough at the end of the 2018-19 season to keep his PGA Tour card, English has come out of the gates firing in the new season, logging three top-six finishes in his four fall starts.

His sudden surge can be tied directly to his vastly improved ball striking. English heads to Mexico tied for first in the field in both Good Drives Gained and Greens In Regulation Gained over his last 12 rounds, both of which are keys to success on this El Camaleon layout. Another important factor on this course is the ability to score on the Par-4s, an area where English excels and ranks tied for first in the field in Strokes Gained: Par 4s over his last 12 rounds.

At just $8k, English feels almost criminally underpriced. This is a player with tournament-winning upside that comes in as the 23rd-highest-priced option on DraftKings! Listen, it's golf and English unfortunately hasn't teed it up in a month, so anything can happen...but he's playing his best golf in years and is headed to a course that he's won on previously and fits his game perfectly. English is a no-brainer for me this week.

 

The Ponies

Viktor Hovland (DK - $11,200)

Notable Course History: M/C ('19)

Those of you that read this article regularly are probably well aware of my affinity for Viktor Hovland (because he's AWESOME), so I'm not gonna spend a ton of time on him here. I'll just say that on a week where there's lots of quality available in the mid-range on DK, Hovland is without a doubt my favorite "spend up" option.

The young star showed us that he is indeed human by firing *GASP* three rounds over 70 in his two starts on the Asia Swing, which ended his PGA Tour-record streak of 19 consecutive sub-70 rounds. Will the combination of Hovland's relatively-middling results in Asia and his high price tag make DFS players a bit cool on him this week? As I write this, I'm not sure of where his projected ownership is, but I'll be keeping an eye on it as the week progresses and won't hesitate to be very overweight if it looks as though he'll be underowned. Hovland missed the cut as an amateur at Mayakoba last year, despite making 10 birdies in his two rounds. Though he's only been on Tour for a very short time, he's already a much more polished player than he was at this time last year and I expect that small bit of exposure to this layout to help him this week.

 

Charles Howell III (DK - $9,600)

Notable Course History: M/C ('19), T4 ('18), T7 ('17)

Rostering Charles Howell III on DraftKings always feels like ordering a scoop of vanilla at an ice cream parlor that has 100 flavors. Rostering him at $9,600 makes it feel like you're paying 20 bucks for that scoop of vanilla. That said, this is a golf course where "vanilla" routinely works very well and CH3 is hard to ignore this week. He's been strong since the new season kicked off, logging a top-five finish at the Safeway Open in September, in addition to mixing in a top-20 and a top-10 over three starts during the recent Asia Swing. He has three top-10s and four top-20s in 10 career starts at Mayakoba, which makes for an undeniable blend of recent form and course history. It always feels like we're sacrificing some win equity when rostering Chuckie, but it's tough to argue that he's not a sharp play this week. Getting CH3 in your lineups won't win you any style points, but it should once again be very effective at Mayakoba.

 

Denny McCarthy, Danny Lee & J.T. Poston (DK - $8,400, $8,300 & $8,200)

Notable Course History: McCarthy - T41, T68 ('19-'18); Lee - 2nd, T25 ('19-'18); Poston - T21, T14 ('19-'18)

We've only very briefly ever touched on 'player blocks' in this article, but this trio of players presents those of you that are making multiple lineups this week with a unique opportunity to lock up a nice core for around $25k in salary. All three head to Mayakoba in sharp form with Lee coming off a runner-up finish and a top-10 on the Asia Swing and also owning the best course history of the three. McCarthy was first on the PGA Tour in SG: Putting last season and is tied for the lead in this week's field in SG: Par 4s over his last 12 rounds. Poston tasted victory for the first time a few months ago at the Wyndham, owns consistent course history, and has been rock-solid during the fall season. You can stack these three together and have a very comfortable average of around $8.3k/per player for your remaining three roster spots, which allows you to do some do some interesting things when entering multiple lineups. Individually, I would rank them: 1. Poston, 2. McCarthy, 3. Lee...if you want to pick and choose rather than play them all together.

 

Cameron Tringale (DK - $7,400)

Notable Course History: T25 ('18), T46 ('17)

Cameron Tringale is sort of a 'Charles Howell III-Lite'. He doesn't really knock your socks off or get you pumped when you roster him, but like CH3, he is just a very solid, quality player. This week, it feels as though we are getting a lot of bang for our buck with Tringale at just $7.4k, especially if we consider that he was priced at $8.7k the last time he teed it up at the Houston Open, where he logged a T13. Tringale's course history is mediocre-at-best, but like the aforementioned Harris English, he's currently playing at a higher level than he has in years. He's a great fit for this layout on paper, as he stands eighth in the field in Good Drives Gained and 26th in GIR's Gained over his last 12 rounds, while standing 11th in Birdies Gained and fifth in Bogeys Avoided. At $7.4k, we're getting a consistent performer that's 4/4 in made cuts this fall with two top-16 outings in those starts.

 

Brandon Wu (DK - $6,800)

Notable Course History: None

As you can see throughout this week's article, I'm definitely leaning toward players with prior Mayakoba experience. However, I'm willing to buck that trend (at least in GPPs) with young Brandon Wu. Wu is a less-heralded member of the Hovland/Morikawa/Wolff crop of collegians, but don't let the lack of hype fool you, the kid is talented. Wu opted to finish school rather than turn pro last season, and he led Stanford to an NCAA title and the U.S. team to a Walker Cup win before turning pro. The 22-year-old logged a T35 at the U.S. Open as an amateur and flirted with a top-10 finish in his professional debut in windy conditions at the Houston Open last month. Obviously the statistical sample size is small, so we're forced to take a little leap of faith here, but Wu is a player that relies on precision and accuracy both off the tee and on approach...a style of play that's a recipe for success at Mayakoba. I also like how he's handled playing in the wind, which can always be a factor at El Camaleon. He's a 'GPP Only' play, but I feel like this might be the cheapest we see Brandon Wu priced this season. I understand if you want to take a 'wait and see approach' here, but I'm never scared to jump on these young guys early.

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PGA DFS (DraftKings): Horse For The Course - WGC HSBC Champions

Tiger Woods is running out of ways to shock us. The legend, fresh off a surgical procedure on his knee during his short offseason break, wowed us yet again last week in Japan by coming from seemingly nowhere to win the ZOZO Championship for his 82nd career victory on the PGA Tour. The win tied him with the great Sam Snead.

Yep, just when you count Tiger out he finds a way to remind us that he's the most unbelievable golfer that has ever played the game. Mr. Woods crushed the dreams of hometown boy Hideki Matsuyama, this article's 'Horse' last week. It was the second-straight week that we had a strong finish out of our top selection (we nailed JT at the CJ Cup a couple of weeks ago), which is a great feeling, but the rest of last week's highlighted players really struggled...which is maybe something we can chalk up to the ZOZO being a new event that was played on a golf course we hadn't seen before.

All that said, I'm gonna keep working hard to bring you guys the best info I can each and every week. This will be the last HFTC for a little while, as the PGA Tour takes a quick break after this week's WGC-HSBC Champions event. Don't worry, it's just for a week and then I'll be back for the Mayakoba Classic in November. We head to China this week for the last leg of the 'Asian Swing', let's close it out strong!

 

WGC-HSBC Champions Overview

Over the last couple of weeks I've referred to the CJ Cup and the ZOZO as "WGC Lite" events. Well, we get the real deal this week in China. The WGC-HSBC Champions has been contested 10 previous times as a WGC event and will once again draw a star-studded field this week. Of course, there's no cut in this event (Man...I'll be glad to see cuts again!) and nice juicy paychecks for everyone teeing it up.

Young American star Xander Schauffele captured last year's HSBC and he heads back to Shanghai to defend his title this week. He'll have his work cut out for him, as a star-studded field that includes the likes of Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose (in his 2019-20 PGA Tour debut), Tommy Fleetwood, and Tony Finau will be in hot pursuit of this prestigious WGC crown.

Unlike last week's ZOZO Championship, we have plenty of course history to examine this week, as Shanghai's Sheshan International Golf Club has hosted every edition of this event other than in 2012. 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: Sheshan International Golf Club

Par 72 - 7,261 Yards, Greens: Bent
When the Nelson and Haworth Design team started construction on the ultra-exclusive Sheshan International Golf Club, they might not have moved heaven, but they sure did move a lot of earth. Over 1 million cubic meters of earth actually. They used all this dirt to create tons of slopes and undulations. There are few flat spots on these greens and many have false fronts that will run balls back into a collection area. Players will be put to the test with the flatstick this week. The fairways average just over 25 yards in width and are tree lined. We are looking for ball strikers, capable scramblers, and solid putters this week. Players that are long and accurate off the tee can post low numbers on this layout (think Dustin Johnson). Perhaps the most important facet of the game on this golf course is greens in regulation, so I will be placing heavy emphasis on GIR % and Strokes Gained: Approach.

 

The Horse

Tony Finau (DK - $9,700)

Notable Course History: 2nd ('19), T11 ('18),

Last week's 'Horse' was Hideki Matsuyama, who has the reputation of not winning enough tournaments. True to form, 'Deki logged a runner-up finish at the ZOZO. This week I'm going with another player that also has issues actually winning tournaments in Tony Finau. Finau came realllllyyyy close on this golf course last year, losing in a playoff to Xander Schauffele, and heads back to Sheshan International still in search of a "W" after a somewhat up and down 2018-19 season.

Finau wasn't as consistent in 2019 as he was in his breakout 2018 season, but the young star had some truly great outings that included top-five finishes at both the Masters and the Open Championship. He finished the season in strong form with a fourth and a seventh in the last two events of the FedEx Cup Playoffs, and he's kept things going with two top-10s in four fall starts. He heads to China on the heels of a disappointing outing at the ZOZO Championship, but this Sheshan layout is a prime rebound spot for Finau. He's logged a solo second and a T11 in two HSBC starts and is tied for the highest average of birdies/eagles per round at Sheshan over the last five years at 5.13.

Finau's tremendous ability off the tee gives him a huge leg up this week and I expect yet another strong outing from him in the HSBC. It sounds redundant to say at this point (and I feel like I've been saying it for three years), but Finau is just too talented not to eventually get a big win. His sub-$10k price tag makes him a great place to start roster builds and he's viable in all formats.

 

The Ponies

Xander Schauffele (DK - $10,800)

Notable Course History: Win ('19), T46 ('18)

You won't often see the defending champions of an event highlighted in this article, but I'm making an exception for Xander Schauffele this week. I wanted to take a 'wait and see' approach with Xander at the ZOZO, as it was the first time he'd teed it up in over a month. He responded with a T10 in Japan (and it could have been better) and heads to China for the type of event that he has repeatedly excelled in...high profile, small field, and no cut. In addition to this event, the 26-year-old already has wins at the TOUR Championship and the Sentry Tournament of Champions, which are both very similar to this week's WGC-HSBC structure.

I'm always trying to put my finger on how to describe Xander and his success, because there's not really one thing that you can point at and say, "Wow...he does that better than any player in the world." I guess the best thing I can come up with is that Schauffele is a 'the-whole-is-greater-than-the-sum-of-its-parts' player...meaning he's not going to grade out statistically as the best off the tee, on approach, or putting; but he is very, very good in all facets of the game.

It seems as though Xander continues to grow in popularity in the PGA DFS community and we are increasingly seeing his ownership at elevated levels, but I don't know if that will be the case this week with his price tag up to $10.8k, and popular players both above and below him on the salary scale.

 

Bernd Wiesberger (DK - $9,200)

Notable Course History: T9 ('18), T35 ('17), T17 ('16)

These WGC events are a great chance to roster players that we don't get to see on the PGA Tour on a regular basis. Depending on how much you follow the Euro Tour, you may or may not know that Bernd Wiesberger has been perhaps the hottest player in the world over the last six months. The Austrian has recorded an unbelievable three wins since May, with his most recent victory coming at the Italian Open just a couple of weeks ago. In addition to his sharp form, we can grab Wiesberger on a Sheshan golf course where he's performed very well in prior starts. His name will probably pop up around the DFS industry a lot this week, but we can always hope that he flies under the radar with casual American DFS players this week.

 

Ian Poulter (DK - $7,700)

Notable Course History: 2nd ('14), T6 ('15), T30 ('16), T21 ('19)

Ian Poulter definitely doesn't fit the mold of a 'bomber', but we all know that there is more than one way to skin a cat when it comes to this beautiful game called golf. The Englishman gets things done with solid golf...fairways and greens, great scrambling, and timely putting. Poulter's style has been successful over the years in the HSBC (he won the event in 2012, but it wasn't held at Sheshan) with a solo second and a T6 on his Sheshan resume. The veteran is streaky and we're catching him trending in the right direction this week, as he's coming off back-to-back top-16 finishes at the CJ Cup and ZOZO. I love his price tag and he's a solid play in all formats.

 

Eric Van Rooyen (DK - $7,500)

Notable Course History: T22 ('19)

If you're a ball-striking junkie like me then you are probably familiar with the man we simply call 'EVR'. This dude hits it pure and is one of the best ball strikers on the planet right now. Unfortunately, we very rarely get to see Van Rooyen in the U.S., as he spends the vast majority of his time on the Euro Tour, where he picked up a win at the Scandinavian Invitation back in August. He heads to China in slightly inconsistent form - over his last three starts he's sandwhiched a top-10 at the Italian Open between missed cuts - but he's the type of player that is a high-upside GPP option. Full disclosure...EVR is a pretty horrendous putter, which leads to his consistency issues, but that volatility is part of what makes him a great large-field tournament play this week.

 

Xinjun Zhang (DK - $6,900)

Notable Course History: T50 ('19), T44 ('18), T21 ('17)

Over the last couple of week's we've discussed Sungjae Im at the CJ Cup and Hideki Matsuyama at the ZOZO. This week's 'hometown hero' is Xinjun Zhang. Zhang is a native of China and - while he's not performed especially well in his previous HSBC starts - is very familiar with this Sheshan International layout. While his history on this course doesn't scream "Must Play", Zhang is arguably playing the best golf of his career right now. He led the Korn Ferry Tour points list last season and earned his PGA Tour card. Zhang has been taking full advantage of his new status and has went T7-T16-T4 over his last three starts on the PGA Tour this fall, firing sub-70 rounds in nine of his last 12. It's a limited sample size, but Zhang has exhibited some explosive scoring ability in the fall season and he's an intriguing way to save salary this week.

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PGA DFS (DraftKings): Horse For The Course - ZOZO Championship

Welcome back RotoBallers and PGA DFS fans! Last week's 'Horse' Justin Thomas came away with the win at the CJ Cup @ Nine Bridges. It's always a great feeling when we can nail a winner here for you guys! In addition to Thomas, we also highlighted Cam Smith who scored a T3 finish at Nine Bridges.

JT wasn't exactly a "going out on a limb" choice last week, as he headed into the week with the type of trending form/course history combination that we're always looking to target in this article. Still, it's always nice to be on the winner and - as we so well know - being the highest-priced player on DraftKings offers no guarantee of victory, and I think the win speaks volumes about the type of motivation and drive that Thomas is playing with at the moment.

Unfortunately, the rest of last week's featured players didn't fare as well as JT and Smith at the CJ Cup. It's a good reminder that although these are 'official' PGA Tour events, tournaments like the CJ Cup are tough to get right from a DFS perspective due to their international locations, slot on the calendar, and no-cut formats. We get exactly that type of tournament again this week for the second leg of the 'Asia Swing' in the ZOZO Championship. Let's dive in!

 

ZOZO Championship Overview

Golf has been extremely popular for years in Japan and this week the PGA Tour will hold its first-ever official event in the country. The ZOZO Championship should be a great introduction to the PGA Tour for Japan, as the tournament has a field that is truly star-studded.

Tiger Woods will be making his first start since his season ended in the FedEx Cup Playoffs. He'll be joined by some of the games biggest stars, with last week's winner Justin Thomas, recent FedEx Cup champion Rory McIlroy, and hometown favorite Hideki Matsuyama all scheduled to tee it up in the Zozo Championship. We'll also get to see stars like Xander Schauffele, Tony Finau, Jason Day, and Jordan Spieth giving it a go in Japan.

Like last week's CJ Cup, this event is almost a 'WGC-Lite' tournament...there's a limited field of 78 (with 10 players from the Japan Tour included) and no cut, which means a nice paycheck for everyone teeing it up. Similar to last week, we can lean more aggressive in our DFS lineup construction with four rounds being guaranteed for everyone. Unlike last week, we have no course history to evaluate, which forces us to make some guesses and assumptions about how this course will play.

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: Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club

Par 70 - 7,041 Yards, Greens: Bent
Opened in 1965, Narashino is one of the most highly-regarded golf clubs in Japan. Fairly short by modern standards at just over 7,000 yards, this is a fairly tight, tree-lined layout that's popular throughout Japan. Players will face multiple doglegs and water hazards when making the loop, while fairway and greenside bunkers offer some protection for this shortish course. With the doglegs and tight conditions, we will see lots of players hitting irons off the tee this week, which basically takes distance out of the equation for me for DFS purposes. The greens are bentgrass and some of these holes even have two greens (!) in order to give tournament officials some options when setting up the course each round...which is not something we see every day. In the absence of course history, I like to lean in the direction of strong ball strikers that are solid tee to green. This week's layout should demand accuracy and precision both off the tee and on approach shots, which puts players that consistently hit fairways and greens in my sights. I will probably be focusing on putting a bit more than usual this week, as the greens have some tricky undulations.

 

The Horse

Hideki Matsuyama (DK - $10,700)

Notable Course History: None

Like last week's 'Horse' Justin Thomas, going with Hideki Matsuyama here isn't exactly a wild and crazy choice, but hey...sometimes using a little common sense, makes a lot of sense. We of course have the 'homegrown Japanese player' narrative in full force with Hideki this week, but that's honestly not why I like him so much here (if anything, I feel like 'hometown' situations only add pressure - ie. Rory at the Open). No, my interest in Matsuyama is due to his trending form and what should be a great course fit.

The Japanese superstar has gotten progressively better with each start this fall, going from a missed cut in his first 'Swing Season' start at the Safeway, to a T16 outing at the Shriners, that led up to a strong T3 result at Nine Bridges last week. Matuyama is third in the ZOZO field in GIR's over his last 12 rounds and routinely grades out as one of the best iron players on the PGA Tour year after year.

I'm torn with how folks will roster Hideki this week...I think a lot of people will want to roster him, because this event is in Japan, but I also feel like his $10,700 price tag will give many of those players pause. The knock on Matsuyama is that he doesn't win enough - and it's a fair take - but this is lining up almost as a storybook-type spot for Hideki to grab his first win in a long time.

 

The Ponies

Justin Thomas (DK - $11,800)

Notable Course History: None

It seems like the popular current thinking in PGA DFS is: "Never play a guy the week after a win." While I don't totally disagree with that line, it definitely isn't set in stone and is something that we can sometimes use to our advantage. So, while most people will completely ignore Justin Thomas because he won at Nine Bridges, I'm totally comfortable going right back to the well on a guy that is probably the hottest player in the world right now.

Thomas leads this elite field in Strokes Gained: Total over his last 12 rounds and has the type of game that translates well to any course. We've seen him go on winning binges before (often around this late-summer/early-fall time of year) during his career, with him winning multiple times in a one to three month span, including back-to-back victories at the 2017 Tournament of Champions and Sony Open. So...under normal circumstances I'm totally fine ignoring the guy that won the previous week, but I'm eager to get JT in my lineups once again in this spot.

 

Matthew Fitzpatrick (DK - $9,000)

Notable Course History: None

The young Englishman hasn't been highlighted many times in the history of HFTC, but I really like this spot for Matthew Fitzpatrick. He made a little noise on the PGA Tour last season with strong outings at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and the WGC-St. Jude, but Fitz has always played better when off U.S. soil. American fans might not realize it, but the 25-year-old already has five victories on the European Tour in his young career and has especially flourished in Asia, logging two top-10s at the HSBC Champions event that's held in China and a runner-up finish in last year's Hong Kong Open. Fitzpatrick heads to Japan on the heels of a runner-up outing at the Italian Open two weeks ago and profiles to be a nice course fit on a week where distance should take a back seat to precision, accuracy, and scrambling ability - the hallmarks of his game. Low ownership on Fitz is almost a guarantee with his "too high at first glance" $9k price tag, which makes him an intriguing contrarian play in GPPs this week.

 

Adam Hadwin (DK - $8,100)

Notable Course History: None

I expect Adam Hadwin to be a popular play this week, but his recent form is almost impossible to ignore. The Canadian has recorded top-five finishes in both of his fall starts at the Safeway and Shriners. He should be a great fit on this tight-ish layout, as he stands first in this week's field in Fantasy National's Good Drives Gained metric and second in GIRs Gained over his last 12 rounds. He brings both hot irons and a hot putter to Japan, ranking seventh in SG: Putting and Three-Putt Avoidance, while gaining strokes on the greens in his last four starts. If his ownership projections get too high, you can consider a calculated fade in large-field GPPs, but he should be a staple in cash-game lineups this week with his current form and affordable price.

 

Ryan Moore (DK - $7,800)

Notable Course History: None

Fair warning here: I never seem to get Ryan Moore right, so I'm never extremely comfortable when recommending him, but I really like how he lines up for Narashino CC this week. We know he's a precise ball striker and the numbers bear that out: first in in the field in Fairways Gained, ninth in Good Drives Gained, and 11th in SG: Approach. Like the aforementioned Matthew Fitzpatrick, Moore's game has translated well to this part of the world, as he's twice won the CIMB Classic in Malaysia. We're always a bit concerned about Moore's lack of putting skills, but three of his five professional victories have come on Bentgrass greens and he's putted well in his last two starts which have resulted in a T13 at the Shriners and a top-10 last week at Nine Bridges. There's a chance Moore could go a bit overlooked at $7.8k, as lots of players will be leaning towards 'Stars & Scrubs' roster builds this week.

 

Andrew Putnam (DK - $7,400)

Notable Course History: None

He's not flashy, but Andrew Putnam might just be my favorite dollar-for-dollar play on the board this week. He heads to Japan fresh off top-20 finishes in his last two starts, while just missing that mark with a T21 at the BMW PGA Championship in Europe in September. Putnam is a tremendous putter and ranks fourth in this field in SG: Putting over his last 12 rounds. He's also incredibly accurate off the tee and stands ninth in Fairways Gained, as well as gaining 1.2 strokes on approach over his last five tournaments. Like I said, he's not necessarily an exciting player to roster...but fairways, greens, and a hot putter will take us places this week.

 

Graeme McDowell (DK - $6,800)

Notable Course History: None

We're going to round things out down in the sub-$7k price range with Graeme McDowell, another player that might not get our blood pumping, but one that has a chance to play very well at Narashino. I had some success with G-Mac last season, but I'm the first to admit that he's streaky and often tough to peg...however I think we are catching the Ulsterman trending in the right direction this week. His ball striking numbers from his last two starts at the Italian Open and CJ Cup won't show up in stat engines (so his recent numbers look pretty damn bad), but McDowell has played well his last couple of times out, finishing inside the top 16 at both Olgiata and Nine Bridges. If you want to get aggressive at the top of the salary scale this week with a JT, Rory, or Hideki; you'll probably need to dip down to a couple of players in this price range and G-Mac should fly under the radar heading into the ZOZO.

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PGA DFS (DraftKings): Horse For The Course - The CJ Cup @ Nine Bridges

Welcome back RotoBallers and PGA DFS fans! We expected the Houston Open to be rather 'ho-hum' with its less-than-stellar field, but we actually got a pretty wild tournament with the Texas winds and weather wreaking havoc during the first couple of rounds. If your players survived the cut, there was some firework-type scoring over the weekend and newcomer Lanto Griffin held off a host of chasers for his first PGA Tour win at 14-under par.

All the signs were there for Griffin to play well, as he headed to Houston in trending form. He wasn't featured in last week's article (though he did receive a mention), but we did nail not one, but two top-five finishers last week, with Harris English and Xinjun Zhang both playing great golf over the weekend!

This week we turn our eyes to the 'Asia Swing' portion of the fall schedule, as the PGA Tour heads to Korea for the CJ Cup @ Nine Bridges. It's a small, but strong field...let's dive in!

 

The CJ Cup @ Nine Bridges Overview

After several weeks of surprisingly-strong golf during the fall season, we're changing things up a bit this week as we leave the United States and head to Korea for the first leg of the 'Asia Swing'. The CJ Cup is a WGC-lite type of event, in that it's a limited field with no cut that features some really strong players.

Defending CJ Cup champion Brooks Koepka is back to defend his title along with his little brother Chase (are they a package deal now?), and the Koepkas will be joined by former CJ Cup winner Justin Thomas. Some of golf's true elites will be in action this week, with players like Hideki Matsuyama, Jason Day, and Jordan Spieth set to tee it up. The 'young star' contingent will also be well represented, as Viktor Hovland, Collin Morikawa, Joaquin Niemann, and Matthew Wolf will all be in attendance.

As you can see, this is a pretty heavyweight lineup of players, but it is also a small field with only 78 players expected to tee it up (with lots of young Korean players on sponsor's invites). Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on how you view things), just like WGC events there is no cut this week, so everybody in the field is guaranteed a nice payday, which brings factors like motivation and pure competitiveness into the equation. With no cut (and barring a WD) players are locked in for four rounds, so we can definitely build more aggressive lineups if we so choose and will want to target players that can rack up DK points over the course of the tournament.

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: The Club at Nine Bridges

Par 72 - 7,196 Yards, Greens: Bent
There are actually only eight bridges at Nine Bridges...so there's that. The Korean club opened in 2001 to almost universal acclaim and quickly began hosting an LPGA Tour event. For the last two years it's served as the kickoff event for the PGA Tour's 'Asia Swing'. Nine Bridges has produced two elite-caliber winners in that time, with Justin Thomas and Brooks Koepka grabbing victory in the first two editions of the tournament. The course is situated literally on an island (Jeju Island) near the base of Mount Halla and offers some breathtaking views. The locale presents some unpredictable weather, which has led to the course playing to varying degrees of difficulty over the past two years (and makes it tough to pinpoint what characteristics to target). With the weather expected to be calm for most of the week and no cut to worry about, I'll be focusing on players that can make birdies, have strong tee-to-green games, and have some experience on this unique layout.

 

The Horse

Justin Thomas (DK - $11,700)

Notable Course History: T36 ('19), Win ('18)

I'm content to ride the 'JT Horse' until it bucks me. I realize this isn't a groundbreaking pick, but Thomas has been featured heavily both in this article and in my DFS lineups since the latter part of last season, and I just see no reason to shy away at this point. A wrist injury derailed what I expected to be a huge year for JT in 2019, but he's been unbelievably impressive since getting his wrist straightened out midway through 2019.

Thomas hasn't finished outside of the top-12 in any tournament he's played since June, including a win at the BMW and two subsequent top-five finishes in his most recent starts. Over his last 24 rounds, Thomas leads this week's field in Strokes Gained: Total, Tee to Green, and Approach...while also leading the field in DK Points scored and Birdies or Better Gained over the same time frame. Not only is he an elite player, but he's also an elite competitor, which is one reason that I always like rostering him in WGCs and no-cut events.

In addition to his fire form, JT should be very comfortable on this Nine Bridges layout on which he won two years ago. It's no surprise that he sits atop the salary scale, but this week's no-cut format makes us feel better about taking a 'Stars & Scrubs' approach to lineup building.

 

The Ponies

Viktor Hovland (DK - $10,500)

Notable Course History: None

My reasoning behind Viktor Hovland is very similar to the thought process with the aforementioned JT...why jump off him when he simply continues to produce? The youngster is a ball-striking prodigy and has started the fall season with a top-10 at the Greenbrier and a T11 at the BMW Championship in Europe last month, not to mention his torrid close to last season's PGA Tour and Korn Ferry Tour finals.

Hovland heads to Korea either trailing Thomas or leading in most of the important statistical categories...he's first in the CJ field in Strokes Gained: Ball Striking and Off the Tee, and second in the field in SG: Total, T2G, and Birdies or Better Gained, while ranking third in SG: Approach and fourth in DK scoring. His short game is considered his weakness, but he's still second in this field in Bogeys Avoided over his last 24 rounds.

There's a lot to love with Hovland this week, with his lack of experience at Nine Bridges being almost the only drawback here. We've seen his price tag steadily increase and it's no surprise that he comes in at over $10k in this spot. You can start your rosters with either Hovland or Thomas, or pair the two together if you're feeling really frisky! If your read this article frequently then I'm probably starting to sound like a broken record when it comes to V-Hova, but I'll reiterate that a win is coming soon.

 

Sungjae Im (DK - $9,700)

Notable Course History: T41 ('19)

It wouldn't be out of the ordinary to see Sungjae listed here on any given week, but I had to highlight the young star this week due to his connection with this tournament. Im is actually from Jeju Island and Nine Bridges IS HIS HOME COURSE! So, while we would certainly have Im in consideration many of the 51 times in a year that he tees it up, he gets bumped to the top of the list this week.

The young Korean didn't disappoint during his rookie season on the PGA Tour. After dominating on the then-Web.com Tour in 2018, Im embarked on a wildly successful rookie campaign in the big leagues last season, racking up an impressive seven top-10s in his ridiculous 35 starts. He doesn't necessarily blow you away in one category statistically, yet he ranks second in DK points and third in Birdies or Better Gained over his last 24 rounds.

I don't want you guys to think Sungjae is getting lazy on us just because he didn't tee it up on the PGA or Euro Tours last week. No, our noble grinder was busy winning something called the Genesis Championship on the Korean Tour. That's right, Sungjae NEVER QUITS PLAYING. Sometimes I wonder what he does in December, but I'm sure that he's teeing it up in some random Member-Guest in Daejeon.

 

Cam Smith (DK - $9,000)

Notable Course History: T7 ('19), 3rd ('18)

I like Cam Smith well enough as a player, but I honestly can't stomach rostering him very often. I've found in DFS that I prefer targeting sharp ball strikers with weak short games in hopes that they catch a hot putting week. Smith is basically the polar opposite of that, as he's an unbelievable putter with a silky short game that often struggles tremendously tee to green. However, every now and then the stars align just right and I find myself pulling the trigger on the Aussie. I'm leaning in that direction this week due to a couple of factors: he's been tremendous in his two previous starts at Nine Bridges, notching a T7 and a solo third; and we are catching him in fairly sharp form, as he's logged two top-25 finishes in three 'Swing Season' starts and surprisingly gained strokes T2G in all three.

 

Matthew Wolff (DK - $8,800)

Notable Course History: None

Some of you might be wondering why Viktor Hovland and Collin Morikawa are both priced above $10k while Matthew Wolff is 'only' $8,800. I don't have a great answer for you, because I've been wrestling with that same question myself. I suppose Wolff hasn't been as consistently elite as Hovland and Morikawa, but he has routinely shown the ability to make birdies in bunches and ranks fourth in this week's field in Birdies or Better Gained over his last 24 rounds. With the weather expected to remain calm for the majority of the week, we'll need scorers in our lineups. I love Wolff's chances of racking up DK points with four guaranteed rounds and if we're attacking this tournament purely from an "ability to go low" perspective he's a tremendous play.

 

Pat Perez (DK - $7,500)

Notable Course History: T7 ('19), T5 ('18)

I'm gonna try to ride the hot hand here with Pat Perez. He's coming off a top-three outing at the Shriners and has played extremely well in his two previous CJ Cup starts. Perez reminds me a little bit of Bubba Watson...he's extremely streaky and repeatedly plays well on the same courses, with Nine Bridges being one of his favorite tracks. We can't expect him to gain eight strokes putting like he did at the Shriners, but his four strokes gained T2G (2.7 OTT & 2.8 APP) is an encouraging sign that his ball striking is trending in the right direction. Perez is normally a little too volatile and inconsistent for my taste, but I'm willing to roll the dice on his upside in this no-cut format.

 

Adam Long (DK - $6,700)

Notable Course History: None

This is a week that we can feel comfortable taking some shots on the lower end of the salary scale. My favorite sub-$7k player is Adam Long. It's easy to classify Long as a "one-hit wonder" after he came from absolute nowhere to win the 2019 Desert Classic, but the journeyman is quietly exhibiting that he has some game. He's played very well in three fall starts on the PGA Tour, logging two T23s and a T14 at the Greenbrier that featured a second-round 62. If we narrow our focus down to a player's most recent 12 rounds (basically Long's fall season to this point), he stands third in the field in Birdies or Better Gained, second in DK Points scored, and fourth in SG: Ball Striking. It's a great week to implement a 'Stars & Scrubs' attack and Long is a player that is in sneaky-good form at just $6.7k.

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PGA DFS (DraftKings): Horse For The Course - Houston Open

Welcome back RotoBallers and PGA DFS fans! We expected big things from the strong field that turned up for the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, and the tournament didn't disappoint, as we got a drama filled playoff between two former Shriners champs - Kevin Na and Patrick Cantlay.

Despite actually losing strokes tee-to-green for the week, Na couldn't miss with the putter and eventually prevailed over young Cantlay on the second-playoff hole. After going almost seven years between wins on the PGA Tour, the mercurial Na has now won three times in the span of 16 months, despite battling injuries and withdrawing from multiple tournaments over the past year. For Cantlay - this article's 'Horse' last week - it was an impressive, but expected showing. The 27-year-old continues to prove that he is one of the best young players on the PGA Tour and that he's someone that deserves DFS consideration basically every time he tees it up.

From a DFS perspective, the Shriners was a brutal one for me personally, as the PGA Tour's new T65 and ties cut rule continues to have a huge effect on the DFS world. While it can be frustrating, I actually kinda like the change. I've always enjoyed when getting 6/6 golfers through is an accomplishment and can truly give you a leg up on the field for the weekend. Ok, enough about the Shriners, let's keep grindin' and dig into the upcoming Houston Open!

 

Houston Open Overview

After consecutive weeks of unbelievably-strong 'Swing Season' fields, we kinda come crashing back down to Earth for this week's Houston Open. The field is...less than stellar. Sweden's Henrik Stenson is the most well-known name in the field. 'The Iceman' will be joined by some recent PGA Tour winners like Cameron Champ and Sebastian Munoz, as well as several guys with Texas ties and some former winners of this event. That's about it guys, no way to sugarcoat it.

The Houston Open has traditionally been a warm-up for the Masters, but has been on an 18-month hiatus since the PGA Tour revamped the schedule and settled on a fall date for the tournament. The new spot on the schedule obviously hasn't helped when it comes to attracting big names to Texas, as many of golf's elite are gearing up for the looming 'Asia Swing' portion of the fall. Ian Poulter won this event the last time it was played seemingly forever ago, but Poults decided not to venture back to the Lonestar State for this one, which is sort of a typical Poulter-esque move, considering this tournament gave him a springboard into the Masters a couple of years ago.

After several weeks of some truly fun roster building, things will be noticeably more challenging when constructing lineups this week due to the caliber of the Houston field. My write-up this week will reflect that, as I will be "quick-hitting" a few more players than usual, rather than going in-depth on just a small number of guys. The quality of this field (and the pricing) sends me in a "throw multiple lineups in some GPPs" direction rather than my usual focus on higher dollar single entry or small field stuff. 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: Golf Club of Houston (Tournament Course)

Par 72 - 7,441 Yards, Greens: Bermuda
Normally a tune-up for the Masters, this will mark the first time we see the Golf Club of Houston in the fall. We can expect to see a few differences as a result, the greatest being the change in the putting surface on these greens. Normally overseeded with Bentgrass, this year players will face greens that are strictly Bermuda with no overseed. Another change that we can't be as sure about is the length of the (usually) non-existent rough. This golf course has generally been set up to mimic the conditions at Augusta National, hence the minimal rough, but there are some rumblings coming out of Houston that the rough will have more teeth this year. This track is pretty 'ho-hum' in general, but does feature water on half the holes which can bring some big-ish numbers into play. For DFS purposes I'll be targeting ball strikers that hit fairways and greens. I'll also give weight to scrambling around the green and putting splits on Bermuda surfaces.

 

The Horse

Henrik Stenson (DK - $11,400)

Notable Course History: T6 ('18), M/C ('17), 2nd ('16)

You will probably come across a mixed bag of takes from the DFS community about the viability of rostering Stenson this week, but make no mistake, the Swede is the class of this field and it's not particularly close. Stenson spent the better part of the 2018-19 season as the best iron player in the world and heads to Houston ranked first in the field in Strokes Gained: Approach over both long and short term measurements. He's a fairway-finding machine and stands second in the field in Fairways Gained over his last 24 rounds. Of course, the big obstacle to rostering Stenson this week is the combination of his huge price and the lack of quality on the bottom of the board, but - like Patrick Cantlay in Vegas last week - there is a huge common-sense path to him either winning this event or posting a top-five finish. If we want to take a "narrative" approach to this, we have to think that Stenson chose to play this event for a reason and he must feel like he has a pretty good chance to win on this track after coming close in two of his last three Houston Open appearances.

 

The Ponies

Russell Henley (DK - $10,100)

Notable Course History: T8 ('18), Win ('17), T5 ('16), 4th ('15)

If you don't want to spend all the way up for Henrik Stenson, there are lots of solid options in the $10k price range with Brian Harman, Daniel Berger, and Russell Henley all being standouts. I'm gonna lean Henley here due to his pretty otherworldly course history at the Golf Club of Houston. However, it's not purely a course history play, as Henley showed some trending form in Vegas last week by firing four sub-70 rounds and gaining a massive 7.1 strokes on approach at the Shriners. If he can bring that iron play with him this week to a course that he loves, he could very easily be in contention come Sunday afternoon. I was originally a little scared about how the switch to Bermuda-grass greens would impact Henley, but his best putting numbers have actually been on Bermuda.

 

Harris English (DK - $8,900)

Notable Course History: M/C ('18), T61 ('17), T57 ('16)

Harris English is basically the polar opposite of Russell Henley when it comes to course history, as his best finish in this tournament was a T17 way back in 2012. I'm willing to overlook his shaky track record here this week because of his strong recent form. English is playing his best golf in years and has been on a tear during the 'Swing Season' with a top-five, a top-10, and a top-35 in his three fall starts. The most noticeable reason for his turnaround is his dramatically improved ball striking. English has gained strokes both off the tee and on approach in all three of his starts in the new season and is averaging 5.7 strokes gained tee to green over those tournaments. As a bonus, he has performed much better on Bermuda greens and should be one player in the field that is positively impacted by the switch from Bent.

 

Xinjun Zhang (DK - $8,000)

Notable Course History: M/C ('18)

This $8k range is going to be a popular price point this week with guys like Sam Ryder, Cameron Tringale, Luke List, and Bronson Burgoon garnering lots of attention. I was torn between Lanto Griffin and Xinjun Zhang here at $8k, but ultimately gave the tiniest of edges to Zhang due to his better ball striking (Griffin is a much better putter). The 31-year-old from China nabbed two wins on the Korn Ferry Tour earlier this year and has been sharp in his last two starts on the PGA Tour, gaining over seven strokes T2G at both the Safeway and the Shriners en route to strong finishes. His putting is a slight concern, but we're getting a player that grades-out fourth in the field in SG: T2G and top-12 in both SG: OTT and Approach over his last 12 rounds.

 

Tom Hoge (DK - $7,400)

Notable Course History: T60 ('18), T65 ('17)

The $7k range is pretty much a barren wasteland this week with not a lot that jumps out at me. It's tempting to try and catch lightning in a bottle with a Jhonattan Vegas, Andrew Landry, or Matt Every (guys we know have the ability to top-10 an event when on), but I find myself settling in with Tom Hoge at $7.4k. His course history isn't anything fancy - three made cuts in three starts with nothing better than a T60 - but we will take a made cut at $7.4k in this field. Hoge popped for a runner-up finish at the Greenbrier last month and followed that with another solid outing at the Sanderson before missing the cut at the Safeway. He's gained strokes T2G in his last three and on approach in two of three. Hoge is by no means a good putter, but Bermuda is his least worst surface.

 

Shawn Stefani (DK - $6,800)

Notable Course History: T24 ('18), M/C ('17), M/C ('16), T25 ('15), 5th ('14)

Shawn Stefani is a player that I've been keeping my eye on for the last several months. I was encouraged by his strong finish to the 2018-19 season and I've dabbled with him in his two fall starts with mixed results, as he missed the cut at the Greenbrier, but managed a T28 at Sanderson Farms. His irons aren't quite there yet, but his previous results in this event are intriguing. Stefani has made three cuts in his last five Houston starts, but all three of those made cuts resulted in top-25s or better. So, he's a little 'boom or bust' and is more of gut call for me than a statistical one, but his sub-$7k price tag feels like a nice value in this weak field.

 

Zach Sucher (DK - $6,600)

Notable Course History: None

In a week with heavily inflated pricing on mediocre players, Zach Sucher stands out as extremely underpriced to me. The sample size is small, but we have to love what we've seen from Sucher in his two 'Swing Season' starts...top-25s at both the Greenbrier and Sanderson Farms. If we narrow our target range down to the last 12 rounds, Sucher actually LEADS this field in SG: T2G, while grading out sixth in SG: OTT and 13th in Approach. This will be his Houston Open debut, so we don't have any course history to rely on, but we're getting a high-quality ball striker at a bargain-basement price. Sucher opens up lots of flexibility when constructing rosters and sticks out as a nice option to pair with Henrik Stenson in GPP builds.

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PGA DFS (DraftKings): Horse For The Course - Shriners Hospitals For Children Open

We have seen some emotional moments on the PGA Tour in the past, but Cameron Champ's victory at the Safeway Open was one for the books. Champ was dominant throughout, but needed to birdie the 72nd hole to avoid a playoff with Adam Hadwin. The young phenom came through to finish a shot clear of Hadwin and capture the second PGA Tour win of his career. The youngster was playing with a heavy heart, as his grandfather Mack is in hospice care just 60 miles from the site of the Safeway, which forced Champ to commute throughout the week.

We had high hopes for the Safeway due to the surprising strength of the field and it didn't disappoint. I was surprised by just how great a test the Silverado layout was for these guys and I can definitely understand why the property owner Johnny Miller has his eyes set on the course as a major championship venue in the future. The Safeway is a tournament that I will be circling on my calendar next year.

We stay out west this week for another traditional 'Swing Season' event, the Shriners Hospitals For Children Open in Las Vegas. We have another stout lineup of players in attendance this week. Let's dive in!

 

Shriners Hospitals For Children Open Overview

Like last week's Safeway Open, this Shriners Hospitals field is very strong for a fall event. Defending champion Bryson DeChambeau is back and he'll be joined by a host of high-quality players like previous Shriners winner Patrick Cantlay, and major champions such as Brooks Koepka, Gary Woodland, Webb Simpson, and Adam Scott. There will also be an injection of youth in Vegas this week, with last week's winner Cam Champ (I would keep an eye on Champ's status this week) set to play, as well as phenoms Matthew Wolff and Collin Morikawa.

From a DFS perspective, this week's slate looks eerily similar to last week...with a couple of marquee names up at the top and a lot of quality in the mid-to-high price ranges, which gives us tons of options when constructing rosters. The sample size is tiny - so I am still chalking it up to coincidence - but since the PGA Tour's new top-65 and ties cut rule went into effect, the percentage of 6/6 lineups on DraftKings has been very low. Do with that information whatever you will, but it is something to keep in mind when building lineups.

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 Summerlin

Par 71 - 7,255 Yards, Greens: Bent
We go from a fairly tough test at Silverado last week to a TPC Summerlin layout that will be a bit more forgiving for the field. Fairly short by modern standards at just over 7,200 yards, this Las Vegas track has reachable Par-5s and a driveable Par-4, which allows players to rack up birdies. The fairways are wide and firm with huge Bentgrass green complexes that generally roll on the slow side. Summerlin routinely ranks as one of the easiest courses on the PGA Tour schedule, but we have seen wind and weather occasionally play a factor on this layout that sits at high elevation. While this course is on the shorter side, we haven't traditionally seen bombers have a huge advantage here, as the past winners of the Shriners have mostly been sharp ball strikers. I'll be targeting ball striking and Strokes Gained: Approach this week, as well as players that can rack up birdies.

 

The Horse

Patrick Cantlay (DK - $11,100)

Notable Course History: 2nd ('19), Win ('18)

Patrick Cantlay disappointed last week at the Safeway with an underwhelming 40th-place finish, but we get the young star in a juicy bounce-back spot at the Shriners this week. Cantlay had a huge season in 2018-19...taking down The Memorial, logging strong finishes at both the Masters and the PGA, and routinely putting himself in contention throughout the year. After flying under the radar last week in his first start since the TOUR Championship, he now heads to a TPC Summerlin track on which he's won and finished second in his last two trips.

Cantlay ended the 2018-19 season at fifth in Strokes Gained: Tee to Green and second in SG: Total on the PGA Tour, so we know what we're getting this week...a player that's solid in all facets of the game and loves this layout. His ball striking numbers at last week's Safeway were very good - he gained 4.7 strokes T2G, 3.8 Off the Tee, & 2.8 on Approach - but he struggled both on and around the greens, losing over two shots in each category. I'm willing to chalk those up to two factors: rust and Poa. This week, Cantlay heads to Vegas with four tournament rounds under his belt and gets a putting surface which has traditionally been his best in Summerlin's Bentgrass greens.

He always seems to be popular, but I'm hoping that last week's disappointing outing will perhaps lower his ownership a bit (though that probably won't be the case!). He's my favorite play up top this week and will be where I start lots of lineups.

 

The Ponies

Webb Simpson (DK - $10,200)

Notable Course History: T15 ('19), T20 ('18), Win ('13)

I know I'm guilty of being a Webb Simpson apologist, but if you had rostered Webb Simpson every time he teed it up last season, you would've probably made a lot of money. Simpson was consistently great throughout 2019 and only missed one cut in 21 starts. He didn't get any wins, but logged 15 top-25s out of those 20 made cuts.

This will be the Webber's first start since the TOUR Championship, but he should feel right at home at TPC Summerlin. The 2018 PLAYERS champion has been the model of consistency at the Shriners throughout his career, having logged a win in 2013 and two additional top-five finishes. He finished 2018-19 ranked third on the PGA Tour in Scoring Average at 69, and ranked inside the top 20 in scoring average on Par 3s, 4s, and 5s (3rd in Par 4 Scoring Average!).

Like the aforementioned Cantlay, Webb is strong in all facets of the game and grades out fourth in this field in SG: Total over his last 24 rounds. Those of you looking for a more balanced build can feel great about starting your lineups with Simpson - and while we might be sacrificing a bit of win equity - there's something to be said for rostering a player as consistent as Simpson in this new DK climate where 6/6 lineups are hard to come by.

 

Brian Harman (DK - $7,800)

Notable Course History: T15 ('17)

There is really a lot to love in the $9k price range, with both Collin Morikawa and Joaquin Niemann being especially interesting to me, but just so we can touch on some players in different pricing tiers, I'm dropping down to Brian Harman at $7.8k.

Harman doesn't have a very extensive history at TPC Summerlin, which makes him an intriguing pivot from well-known course horse Scott Piercy at $7.9k. What the lefty does possess is some extremely sharp current form and a game that's a natural fit for this layout. Harman began trending toward the end of the '18-19 season by logging three top-10s between June and August. He hasn't slowed down after the short layoff, and scored a top-three at the Greenbrier and a top-15 at Sanderson Farms in the past month.

The veteran rates out an impressive third in this field in SG: T2G over his last 24 rounds and brings both sharp ball striking (eighth in SG: Ball Striking) and a silky short game (12th in SG: Short Game) to Vegas. I'm going to keep a close eye on Harman's ownership projections this week and if it appears that he's going to fly under the radar, I won't hesitate to go aggressively overweight on him in this spot.

 

Aaron Wise (DK - $7,500)

Notable Course History: T15 ('19), T32 ('18), T10 ('17)

Aaron Wise disappointed a lot folks (including me) a couple of weeks ago at the Sanderson Farms when he settled for a T39 as a very popular DFS option. I'm willing to let bygones be bygones with the former Oregon Duck in this spot, as he has a really solid track record at TPC Summerlin with top-15 finishes in two of his last three starts at the Shriners.

Though Wise didn't have the finish many of us wanted at the Sanderson, he actually played really well tee to green, gaining 4.4 strokes T2G for the week. His undoing was on the greens, where he lost 2.2 strokes putting. I'm encouraged by his solid play outside of the putting (he gained strokes in every major category at the Sanderson), his ability to light up Par-5s (first in the field in SG: Par 5s) and rack up birdies at a huge clip (first in the field in Birdies or Better Gained). I love his upside in large-field stuff and wouldn't mind rostering him in single entry tourneys.

 

Cameron Percy (DK - $6,900)

Notable Course History: T72 ('15), T2 ('10)

I don't often highlight sub-$7k players in this article, but I'm willing to dip into the high $6k price range to grab the Aussie Cameron Percy at what I feel is a bargain. Percy heads to the Shriners with trending form and irons that are smoking. He's gained over 10 strokes on approach combined in his last two starts, which resulted in a T11 at Sanderson Farms and a T7 at last week's Safeway. We can mix that recent form with some solid course history at TPC Summerlin, as Percy scored a T2 in this event way back in 2010 and owns a scoring average of 68.00 over his three appearances at TPC Summerlin.

Anytime I go fishing in this price range I'm looking to capture lightning in a bottle and Percy's recent ball striking form makes him very appealing in this spot. He stands sixth in this week's field in Birdies or Better Gained over recent rounds. Frankly, I probably won't be making this play in lineups where I need 6/6...but I love the upside Percy brings to GPP rosters at this price.

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PGA DFS (DraftKings): Horse For The Course - Safeway Open

Welcome back PGA RotoBallers! Another 'Swing Season' event, another first-time PGA Tour winner, as Sebastian Munoz captured the Sanderson Farms Championship last week. Munoz held off a hard-charging Sungjae Im Sunday afternoon and made a clutch 15-footer for birdie on the 72nd hole to force a playoff with Im, the reigning PGA Tour Rookie of the Year, before eventually prevailing at the Country Club of Jackson.

I know the lure of football is hard to ignore on Sundays, but we are seeing some high-quality golf being played this fall, and I look for this week's Safeway Open to be the best 'Swing Season' event that we've seen yet, as a slew of very strong golfers head to beautiful Napa, California.

 

Safeway Open Overview

For a 'Swing Season' event, this week's Safeway field is downright star-studded. Justin Thomas headlines a surprisingly-strong turnout that includes Patrick Cantlay, Adam Scott, Bryson DeChambeau, and Francesco Molinari. The reigning Safeway champion Kevin Tway will be back to defend his title and Phil Mickelson will also be coming out of hibernation to tee it up for the first time this season.

In addition to the elite players in the field, we get some fun names this week like rookie sensation Colin Morikawa, teenager Akshay Bhatia, Fred Couples and Tony Romo, though I wouldn't recommend playing the former Cowboys QB in DFS!

All in all, this is a surprisingly-juicy field and a nice little September surprise! From a DFS perspective, I think the field will naturally lend itself to 'Stars & Scrubs'-type roster constructions this week due to the elite players that are available above the $9k DraftKings price tag, but there is definitely enough quality to go with a balanced lineup if that's your preference. This will be an interesting and fun week to dig into PGA, 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: Silverado Resort & Spa North

Par 72 - 7,166 Yards, Greens: Poa
A small group led by Johnny Miller purchased this Robert Trent Jones Jr.-designed property in 2010. Miller quickly orchestrated a fairly extensive re-design which has been well received. This is a classic layout with tough-to-hit, tree-lined fairways that places an emphasis on accuracy off the tee. Elite ball striking is required at Silverado and will be an area that I will target heavily, while iron play will also take its usual prominent place in my research process. I'll also glance at scrambling and around-the-green ability this week. For the first time in a while, we'll see Poa Annua greens. Poa is notoriously tricky and could wreak havoc on some guys in this field - especially young players that have very little experience on the surface. So, I'll definitely be keeping an eye on players that have positive putting splits on Poa.

 

The Horse

Justin Thomas (DK - $11,400)

Notable Course History: T8 ('17), T3 ('16)

No big surprises here, as Justin Thomas is without question the class of this week's (strong-ish) field. JT checks all the boxes...he has a strong record in his previous starts on this Silverado layout, he's a great statistical fit, and he closed out the recent 2018-19 season on absolute fire - notching three top-12s, a win, and a T3 in his last five starts.

If you follow golf closely, then you know that (despite his strong finish) 2019 was something of a lost season for Thomas. I strongly believed that JT was primed for a huge year before a wrist injury suffered at the Honda Classic derailed his season in a massive way. He tried to play through it before eventually skipping the PGA Championship and taking some time off to rehab it. When Thomas did return there was a definite readjustment period. However, when things started clicking, he looked like the 'top-five golfer in the world' that we all know him to be.

JT heads to Napa for his first action since the TOUR Championship and - though he lost strokes on approach at East Lake - Thomas is arguably the hottest iron player in the world at the moment. He's averaging a ridiculous 4.3 strokes gained on approach over his last five tournaments and grades out first in this Safeway field in SG: Ball Striking and Total over the last 24 rounds. JT's putter was the last thing to come around when he returned from injury and his struggles on the greens probably kept him from at least one more victory over the last couple months of the season, but the Poa he will find at Silverado North is by far his best surface historically.

Yes, we will have to make some sacrifices at other spots in our lineup in order to roster Thomas at $11.4k, but it's definitely doable. He carries more upside than anyone in this field and is the odds-on favorite to win this week.

 

The Ponies

Hideki Matsuyama (DK - $10,500)

Notable Course History: T17 ('16), T3 ('15)

If you want to pivot away from JT (or go ultra Stars & Scrubs and pair them together), Hideki Matsuyama is another nice high-end option. It's hard to call the 2018-19 season a disappointing one for the Japanese superstar - as he only missed two cuts all year - but Matsuyama is just so consistently good that it feels like he should win more. In fact, if you're gonna knock Hideki, the fact that his last victory was over two years ago is probably the only argument you can make, as he had another very strong season statistically in 2018-19, finishing at third in SG: Tee to Green and fifth in SG: Approach on the PGA Tour last year.

He brings that strong tee-to-green consistency to a Silverado North course where he's played well in his previous appearances (gaining 16.93 strokes total in two starts). We're all well aware of Hideki's putting woes, but - like the aforementioned Thomas - Poa is his best putting surface. We're sacrificing a bit of win equity by moving from Thomas to Matsuyama, but the legendary ball striker offers a ton of consistency and $900 in salary cap savings.

 

Bronson Burgoon (DK - $8,000) - Harris English (DK - $7,900) - Harold Varner III (DK - $7,800)

Notable Course History:

I really wanted to touch on this price range, but couldn't decisively choose which one of these guys I wanted to highlight. Then after tinkering around with lineup construction a bit, I realized that these three players can make up a really strong core to build around, so why not list them as a package deal?

All three head to Napa in hot-fire form. Burgoon is fresh off a T6 at the Sanderson Farms, English has logged a third and a sixth in his two Swing Season starts, while HV3 has two top-15s on this course and looked sharp en route to a top-20 at the Greenbrier. All three are fine stand-alone plays, but I do like using this trio as something of a "stack", to borrow an NFL DFS term. Those of you that take the MME (Mass Multi Entry) route can go in tons of exciting directions when you start with these three. With an average salary of around $8.7k remaining after locking these guys in, you can then go up to JT, Cantlay, or Hideki and still have a very reasonable amount of salary to work with for your remaining roster spots.

 

Jim Furyk (DK - $7,400)

Notable Course History: None Recent

I'm always a little sheepish when I write-up Jim Furyk in this article (which I did several times last season), because I know he's not an exciting, #BreakTheSlate type of play...but I just can't ignore him at this price. I know, Furyk is old and boring, but he also profiles as a perfect fit for this golf course.

The veteran is your man when it comes to fairways and greens. Over his last 24 rounds Furyk ranks fourth in the field in Fairways Gained and sixth in GIRs Gained, in addition to grading out 12th in the field in Proximity. He had a very strong 2018-19 season that included three top-10 finishes, though he did fade down the stretch a bit. The 49-year-old hasn't teed it up since the BMW, so I look for him to show up in Napa well rested and refreshed.

 

Cameron Tringale (DK - $7,200)

Notable Course History: T46 ('18), T43 ('17)

I'm still kicking myself for not highlighting Cameron Tringale last week, but I let his poor course history at the Sanderson Farms influence me a bit too much. I won't make the same mistake again this week! Tringale's history at the Safeway is similarly underwhelming, but he just sticks out to me as way too cheap at $7.2k.

There's something to be said for a guy simply being a "good golfer" and that's where I am with Tringale this week at this price, as he's perhaps played the best golf of his career over the past year. He's solid in all facets and stands ninth in this field in SG: T2G over his last 24 rounds, while grading out sixth in GIRs Gained and 20th in Good Drives Gained over the same timeframe. This is a player that gained almost 10 strokes T2G last week at the Sanderson and his price went DOWN a hundred bucks!

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PGA DFS (DraftKings): Horse For The Course - Sanderson Farms Championship

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!

 

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.

 

The Horse

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.

 

The Ponies

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.

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PGA DFS (DraftKings): Horse For The Course - A Military Tribute at The Greenbrier

What's up PGA DFS family? I hope you all have recharged your golf batteries during the short (but much needed) break! The PGA Tour doesn't sleep long and we're heading into the 'Swing Season' this week. It's honestly one of my favorite times of the year, with football gearing up and some nice opportunities for us to profit in golf over the next several weeks.

The last PGA Tour event was the TOUR Championship, but this week's A Military Tribute at The Greenbrier will look much different from what we saw in Atlanta. These fall events are generally comprised of young players that have just recently earned their Tour card and veterans that are trying to extend their careers, with just the occasional star opting to tee it up. That said, this week's field has some relatively good depth for a 'Swing Season' event.

The highest-ranked player in this field is Bryson DeChambeau. Young guns Viktor Hovland, Joaquin Niemann, and Sungjae Im (of course!) will also be in attendance, in addition to players like Scottie Scheffler, Tom Lewis, and Harry Higgs that are fresh off conquering the Korn Ferry Tour. Kevin Na will be back to defend his 2018 title after an injury-plagued close to the 2018-19 season.

 

A Military Tribute at The Greenbrier Overview

Thanks to the PGA Tour's leaner, meaner schedule, The Greenbrier now finds itself in September rather than its traditional July time slot. While the 'Swing Season' is often an afterthought for golf fans, this tournament will be awarding full FedEx Cup points and privileges, so it is very important to these players.

We've seen a variety of different 'styles' be effective at The Greenbrier over the years, but the common characteristics of winners is accuracy, solid ball striking, and a hot putter. If you want to look at past winners from a narrative-based angle, we really don't see the 'big names' in the field actually win this tournament very often. Previous winners have generally been either up-and-comers or experienced veterans.

One interesting note, this will be the first event to utilize the PGA Tour's new cut line rule of Top-65 and ties. While I wouldn't completely change my strategy yet, it will be interesting to see how this change impacts the amount of 6/6 lineups we see. This week, we'll take a look at some players with good course history, as well as some of the exciting young players that you should keep an eye on. Golf is back! 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: The Old White TPC

Par 70 - 7,286 Yards, Greens: Bent

We head to beautiful White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia this week. The Greenbrier Resort is one of the favorite family destinations on the PGA Tour, and in addition to the amazing falconry (lol), these guys will also be playing a little golf. The Old White ranks about middle of the pack in difficulty when compared to other courses on the PGA schedule and we're most likely looking at a winning score of around 15-under par. These are some of the biggest (and easiest to hit) fairways on Tour and players can bomb away with drivers off the tee, which makes me want to emphasize Strokes Gained: Off the Tee statistics. As always, ball striking is of the utmost importance, so SG: Tee to Green and Approach will definitely be areas I'm targeting this week. With just two Par-5s on the course, I'll also be weighting Par-4 scoring a little heavier than normal.

 

The Horse

Viktor Hovland (DK - $10,900)

Notable Course History: None

Ok...I admit it, I've got a DFS crush on Viktor Hovland. I closed out the 2019 season by rostering Hovland basically every time he teed it up and I plan on kicking off the 'Swing Season' with V-Hova once again anchoring the majority of lineups.

To me, it's not a question of if Hovland will win, but rather a matter of when. He's got that type of game. He showcased his ability in limited PGA Tour starts at the end of last season, when he ran off three-straight top-16 finishes and a solo fourth over his last four starts. Hovland came up just short of securing his PGA Tour card (which was ridiculous), but cruised through the Korn Ferry Tour Finals to grab Tour status for this year.

He's still progressing with his short game, but his tee-to-green numbers are off the charts. Over the last 24 rounds, Hovland ranks first in this Greenbrier field in the following categories: Total, T2G, Ball Striking, Off the Tee, Approach, and DraftKings points. The youngster doesn't have any course history at Greenbrier, but he's proven himself to be a fast learner and has excelled on various types of layouts in his short career. It wouldn't surprise me to see Hovland log a Xander-type breakthrough win this week.

 

The Ponies

Russell Henley (DK - $9,400)

Notable Course History: 10th ('18), T5 ('17), 5th ('15)

A little course-history play here, as Russell Henley has been superb in his prior visits to the Greenbrier. Henley has two top-fives and a 10th in his last three starts on the Old White and the former Georgia Bulldog showed some life during the last few events of the 2019 season, posting a runner-up at the John Deere and a T15 at the Barracuda.

Henley has gained strokes off the tee in his last five starts on the PGA Tour and gained strokes on approach in seven of his last eight. He grades out third in this field in SG: Approach over his last 24 rounds and is eighth in Opportunities Gained in the same time frame. His putter held him back for the majority of last season, but he will be extremely comfortable on these Old White greens on which he's gained at least three strokes putting in each of his last three Greenbrier appearances. His big price tag is a little scary, which should make him an interesting contrarian option in GPPs.

 

Scottie Scheffler (DK - $9,300)

Notable Course History: None

If you are less than a hardcore PGA DFS player, you might be wondering, "Who is this Scottie Scheffler guy at $9.3k?". Well, don't let the price scare you, because the kid can flat out play. He was downright dominant on the Korn Ferry Tour last season, winning both the regular season and Finals points titles. The 23-year-old had a huge college career at the University of Texas, and is now set to attack the PGA Tour. He's already shown that he belongs by racking up almost $140k in winnings in just four PGA starts last season, and I expect big things from the young man in the upcoming year.

It's not apples to apples when comparing Korn Ferry stats to PGA Tour stats, but Scheffler's numbers on the KFT were staggering last season. He was first in both Scoring Average and Birdie Average, second in Ball Striking, sixth in Total Driving, and fifth in GIR %. The bottom line is that this kid can stripe it. His short game isn't great, but he can get hot enough with the putter to get himself into contention. Like the aforementioned Henley, the price tag might scare folks away, but I'm always willing to gamble on young talent.

 

Brandon Hagy (DK - $7,400)

Notable Course History: T18 ('17)

If we're gonna load our rosters with players in the $9k price range, we'll need to do a little bargain shopping. I'm really drawn to the upside that Brandon Hagy brings to the table at $7.4k. The bomber's promising career has stalled a bit, as he's battled a wrist injury for over a year. He didn't play well in limited PGA Tour appearances last season, but I'm encouraged by his recent performances in the Korn Ferry Tour Finals. Hagy logged a T5 at the Nationwide Children's Open in mid-August and followed that up with a T2 at the Albertson's Boise Open that included a final-round 64.

He heads to an Old White layout where he recorded a T18 in 2017. His prodigious length off the tee will give him a big advantage this week. I'm hoping that casual DFS players will glance at his DraftKings game log and cut record (1/13), and scroll past him. We could possibly get a leg up on tournament fields just by knowing that Hagy appears to finally be healthy and rounding into form.

 

Brendon Todd (DK - $6,700)

Notable Course History: T6 ('15), T4 ('14)

If you're uncomfortable with Brandon Hagy, you're probably gonna be really nervous about Brendan Todd, a player that literally lost his game a few years ago. There's no doubt that he's a scary player to roster, but if we remove all the psychological baggage from the equation, then Todd makes tons of sense at this price...he's got tremendous course history at Greenbrier and he's currently playing well.

Todd logged two top-25s in three PGA Tour starts in July and cruised to a runner-up finish and a T20 in the recent Korn Ferry Tour Finals. The 34-year-old has a win and 12 top-10 finishes on the PGA Tour over his career and it appears as if he finally has exorcised his golf demons. I'm will to take a shot on him in GPPs at this price.

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PGA DFS: Horse For The Course - Year In Review

Hey guys and thanks for joining me here at RotoBaller! I honestly thought that last week's HFTC would be the last golf article I would write for at least a couple of weeks, but old habits die hard and here I am talking about the PGA even though the season is over!

Rory McIlroy capturing the FedEx Cup in Atlanta last week was a fitting end to a season that has been truly amazing. After a few years of less-than-expected results, Rory has re-established himself as one of golf's truly elite players. His win at the TOUR Championship came at the expense of Brooks Koepka, who captured one major championship this season and contended in three others. Koepka is known as a 'Big Game Hunter' and came extremely close to bagging a huge $15 million payday at East Lake.

The 2018-19 PGA Tour season was a great one for several reasons. With just a couple of weeks until the 'Swing Season' kicks off, I thought now was the perfect time to look back at some of the best moments from this year. Thanks for stopping by, let's tee it up!

 

Tiger Woods Wins The Masters

In a world of 24-hour news cycles and instant reactions on social media, Tiger Woods pretty much broke the internet at this year's Masters. I still can't believe this really happened! TIGER WOODS WON THE MASTERS?!? Tiger's 2018 season was proof that he could play again, he was in the mix in a couple of majors and won the TOUR Championship to close out the season, but it was still unimaginable to most that he could really slip on another green jacket. A Masters win was hard to fathom not only due to all the personal obstacles he has overcame (divorce, a cheating scandal, repeated comebacks that ended badly, back surgery, and a DUI), but also because of the depth of talent the he would need to defeat in order to win a major championship.

Woods answered the call at Augusta National this year, winning his fifth Masters title and 15th major championship. His ascension to the top of the Masters leaderboard was a study in mental toughness. While Tiger of course played well, it was his ability to hold things together while everyone else fell apart that locked up the green jacket for him. Sunday back nines don't get much more exciting than what we witnessed at Augusta National this year.

While it was a huge emotional high for all golf fans, it's fair to wonder what the unimaginably-emotional win did to the man himself. Woods was largely a non-factor for the rest of the year. He missed the cut in two of the three remaining three majors, despite Pebble Beach and Bethpage Black being courses that he had previously conquered. It looked as though Tiger was set up perfectly for a major championship run in 2019, but he continuously looked both rusty and/or hurt.

Woods' season ended at the BMW Championship at Medinah and we are left with tons of questions as we look to what his future might hold. He'll captain the U.S. President's Cup team in December, but he never plays much golf over the winter. He finished 2019 with just 12 starts and it's fair to wonder how much golf Tiger will play going forward. Will he enter 2020 re-energized and healthy or will he be forced (or choose) to continue playing a drastically reduced schedule? No matter what we get from Woods in the years ahead, he without a doubt authored the signature moment of 2019 and one of the greatest victories in the history of any sport with his win at the Masters.

 

Brooks Koepka Dominates At Bethpage Black (And Pretty Much Everywhere Else)

Love him or hate him, you have to respect what Brooks Koepka has accomplished over the last two-and-a-half years. The 29-year-old has captured four major championships since 2017, including a display of absolute dominance at Bethpage Black en route to winning the 2019 PGA Championship. Koepka played near-flawless golf for 64 holes on the brutal New York layout that gave the rest of the field fits, before stumbling a bit down the stretch in the worst weather of the week.

The 'Big Game Hunter' didn't bag any other majors in 2019, but he was a constant on the leaderboards in all of them. Koepka recorded runner-up finishes at both the Masters and the U.S. Open, in addition to a T4 at the Open Championship despite a brutal final-round pairing with a slow and struggling J.B. Holmes. Koepka also answered critics that claim he only shows up to play in majors (Really? That's a critique?) by winning the swing season's CJ Cup and the WGC-FedEx St. Jude. Despite his two non-major wins this season, Koepka does remain something of an enigma for DFS players with his Jekyll and Hyde combination of a dominant upside and total indifference depending on the week.

 

Both Opens Produce Feel-Good Winners

We didn't see the world's biggest stars win at the U.S. or British Opens, but we got two winners that made us feel good. Gary Woodland's personal losses off the course have been well documented, and while his on-course talent has never been questioned, his ability to close out tournaments hasn't been great. After 54-holes of dazzling golf at Pebble Beach and the weight of a possible U.S. Open win on his shoulders, Woodland answered any doubters and held off an intimidating Brooks Koepka to grab his first major championship.

On the other side of the pond, an Irishman was supposed to win the Claret Jug at Royal Portrush...it just wasn't supposed to be Shane Lowry. Hometown favorite Rory McIlroy carried the hopes of Northern Ireland into this year's Open, but then the unthinkable happened when a horrifying opening-round 79 sent the Ulsterman home for the weekend. Ireland's Lowry, from a few hours south of Portrush, picked up the banner and ran with it. On the strength of a Saturday 63 that was one of the most amazing rounds of golf you'll ever see, Lowry claimed his first major championship in a drama-free final round.

 

The New Schedule & The PGA Tour Partners With DraftKings

After gaining lots of media attention, the new PGA Tour schedule appeared (at least in my eyes) to be a huge improvement. Wrapping things up before football always made sense and the leaner schedule gave us a huge tournament to look forward to basically every month. Sure, the players might complain about it, but let's be honest...the players complain about EVERYTHING. It may take golf's elite some time to tweak their schedules perfectly in an attempt to peak for the majors, but I think this schedule is great for the everyday golf fan (and for DFS players). A nice byproduct of the tighter schedule is a juicier-than-normal 'Swing Season' that is right around the corner.

In another (long awaited) fan-friendly move, the PGA Tour entered into a partnership with DraftKings that makes DK the official Daily Fantasy Sports partner of the Tour. The possibilities are endless with this partnership and it should help an already-growing PGA DFS industry explode in the future! What it means in the short term is that WE (PGA DFS players) will finally be gaining a level of acceptance from 'the establishment' after spiking their ratings over the last couple of years.

 

A Youth Movement That Can't Be Ignored

As DFS players, we're always looking for golf's "next big thing". Well, we weren't disappointed this season as an unbelievably-talented crop of young players exploded on to the PGA Tour. It's easy to forget now, but Cam Champ was THE story in golf at the end of 2018. Sungjae Im, AKA the new Vijay, played roughly 527 tournaments this season and showed the type of game that's built to last at the professional level. Last year's darling Joaquin Niemann overcame some putting struggles to finish the year strong. The trio of Matthew Wolff, Colin Morikawa, and Viktor Hovland (rightfully) grabbed all of the headlines during the second half of the season. Wolff and Morikawa both scored wins, while Hovland may actually be the best of the bunch and played very well in limited events (Hovland secured his Tour Card at the Korn Ferry Finals last week). These guys give me the feeling that golf, and the PGA DFS industry, has a very bright future.

 

Rory's (Kinda) Back

It's tough to knock a guy for not winning majors, as I truly believe it is one of the toughest times in the history of golf to win any tournament, so I'm not gonna drag Rory McIlroy too hard for not winning a major this year, but man he really came up small in the year's four biggest tournaments. He headed to Augusta as the prohibitive favorite, in great form, and fresh off a huge win at the Players Championship only to completely disappear at the Masters. He logged the backdoor-iest top-10 finish ever at the PGA after just making the cut and fizzled out at the U.S. Open after two sub-70 rounds to start the week. We all know about the disaster on his home turf at Royal Portrush, so the less said about that the better.

Still...even with his failures in the majors, Rory looked like RORY again in 2019. He won the Players, the RBC Canadian Open, and the TOUR Championship. He took home $15 million for his FedEx Cup triumph and was one of the few that had the nerve (or clout) to chime in on the slow-play issue, as well as continuing to be perhaps the most open and honest interview in golf. Overall, it was a very good year for Rory, one that gives us reasons to be optimistic about the future. Rory is one of the few current players that has a 'Tiger-esque' quality and golf is definitely better off when he's playing well.

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PGA DFS (DraftKings & FanDuel): Horse For The Course - TOUR Championship

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!

 

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.

 

The Horse

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.

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PGA DFS (DraftKings & FanDuel): Horse For The Course - BMW Championship

"Captain America" came out swinging at Liberty National, as Patrick Reed notched his first victory since the 2018 Masters at the Northern Trust. Reed entered Sunday with the 54-hole lead and answered the bell with a final-round 69 to finish at 16-under par for the week, one shot clear of up-and-comer Abraham Ancer.

Reed has struggled through some serious peaks and valleys this season, with his game basically falling off a cliff back in March after a particularly-brutal outing at the Valspar Championship. He (and his wife) called in veteran instructor David Leadbetter and things have been trending up over the latter portion of the season.

Reed's victory shot him up to second in the FedEx Cup points standings and he will have a great chance to win the FedEx Cup with two more good performances. This week we head to a legendary golf course for the second leg of the Playoffs race, the BMW Championship.

 

BMW Championship Overview

After getting the postseason kicked off with 125 qualifiers at last week's Northern Trust, the contenders have been whittled down to this field of 70 for the BMW Championship, with only 30 advancing to next week's Tour Championship. Brooks Koepka maintains his lead in the points standings with Reed, Rory McIlroy, Matt Kuchar, and Jon Rahm nipping at his heels, but things can change quickly in these events, as we saw Abraham Ancer jump 59 spots in the standings with his performance last week.

The BMW will present players with a challenging test with Medinah Country Club playing host this year. Normally reserved for major championships, this will be Medinah's first appearance on the big stage since hosting the infamous "Miracle at Medinah" Ryder Cup in 2012. It's long, it's tough, and we should expect the cream to rise to the top in this event.

With this being just a 70-man field, there will be no cut. You can attack it like you would a WGC event, as all players are guaranteed four rounds barring a WD. Speaking of WD's...Tiger Woods was forced to withdraw from the Northern Trust after one round last week. As of this writing he's still in the field, but make sure to keep an eye on his status as we get closer to Thursday. Keegan Bradley won last year's BMW, but course history from last year's tournament will be of no use. Those of you that want to do some deep-dive research can check out results from the 2012 Ryder and the 2006 PGA Championship which were both held at Medinah.

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: Medinah Country Club (Course 3)

Par 72- 7,613 Yards, Greens: Bent w/ Poa

Golf fans are in for a real treat this week, as the BMW Championship heads to one of the finest golf courses in the world, Medinah Country Club. Opened in 1928, the Illinois layout has a championship pedigree. It's played host to three U.S. Opens, two PGA Championships, and the 2012 Ryder Cup among other prestigious events.

Medinah is a beast. It measures a robust 7,612 yards with long par-4s, two monster par-5s that each measure more than 600 yards, and a trio of dangerous par-3s with forced carries over water. Players will be tested with multiple doglegs (the majority to the left) and will be faced with many long approach shots to elevated greens. Tiger Woods won both the '99 & '06 PGA Championships that were held at Medinah, which is a pretty good indicator that approaches with long irons will be of the utmost importance this week. While the course is ridiculously long, it's not fair to call it a bomber's paradise, as multiple tee shots will require just a 3-wood or hybrid to find the fairway in the proper spot. I'll be targeting players with strong approach games from 175-plus yards, as well as golfers that play long par-3s, 4s, & 5s well.

 

The Horse

Louis Oosthuizen (DK - $8,700 & FD - $10,400)

Notable Course History: None
Recent Form: T6 (Northern Trust), T20 (WGC FedEx), T20 (Open Championship)

Very few things in PGA DFS are 'slam dunks'. Sure, sometimes you'll come across the perfect storm of player, price, and course fit/history (Webb Simpson at the Wyndham a couple of weeks ago is a good example), but those blissful times of having absolutely zero doubt when rostering a player are pretty few and far between. Things aren't usually black and white, but more often than not just many different shades of gray. A nice stat here, a bad finish there...you work through it and eventually (hopefully) the pieces start to fall into place and make sense.

I say all this to explain that this is one of those weeks when I definitely didn't see Louis Oosthuizen as the Horse coming. In all honesty, I have rostered Oosthuizen very sparingly this season due to concerns about his injury status and his inconsistent play, so it's not like I'm a 'Shrek' truther or anything. I was aware of his strong effort at the U.S. Open (and the Masters), but dismissed it as a really hot putting week (he gained over eight strokes putting at Pebble Beach en route to a T7). However, his recent play has become much harder to ignore.

Oosthuizen picked up a T6 at Liberty National last week while losing 1.6 strokes putting. The South African gained a MASSIVE 9.3 strokes on approach at the Northern Trust and iron play is something I'm targeting heavily at Medinah. Louis also stands first in this field in Proximity from the key 175-200 yard range over his last 12 rounds.

I didn't expect to be writing up Louis Oosthuizen this week, but here we are. His inconsistency is a nagging worry, but I feel that we're getting a ton of upside at what should be very low ownership this week. I don't have that "push all my chips in the middle" feeling about him, but I'm really intrigued by his recent play and the seeming statistical fit. Add in a price that should keep his ownership suppressed and Oosty shapes up as a great GPP play.

 

The Ponies

Tony Finau (DK - $8,500 & FD - $10,300)

Notable Course History: None
Recent Form: T30 (Northern Trust), T27 (WGC FedEx), 3rd (Open Championship), T23 (3M)

I originally had this spot reserved for one of the high-priced options in the field like Rory or J.T., and while I really like both of them this week, do you really need me to tell you to play them at this point in the season? So instead of spending our time and energy on guys we know are great players and great fits this week, let's talk about Tony Finau for a minute.

I've been a Finau fan since he's been on the PGA Tour. Then all of a sudden the guy that started out as "my personal little DFS secret" a few years ago started morphing into the most popular DFS play every week last year. Fast forward to 2019 and Big Tony has had a strange year. It certainly feels disappointing if you're a fan, because it seemed like 2019 was going to be a "win multiple big tournaments" type of breakout season for Finau. Instead, we've seen less-consistent play and underwhelming finishes this year. The problem is, just when you are ready to write Finau off and call 2019 a bust, he pops up for a top-five at the Masters or a solo-third at the Open. Why do you torture us like this Tony??

While he's been very tough to peg this year, I do like the spot this week for Finau. He's never been the front-runner we want in weak fields, but he really excels in these big tournaments with deep, star-studded fields when he can almost become an afterthought. We know that Medinah is very long, which suits him perfectly. Finau ranks 13th in the field in Driving Distance, but he's also adept at finding fairways, and stands 12th in Fantasy National's 'Good Drives Gained'. Like the previously mentioned Louis Oosthuizen, Finau is deadly from long range with his irons. He ranks eighth in the field in Proximity on approaches from 175-200 yards and 24th from 200-plus yards.

Finau's ownership has shot back up since his performance at the Open Championship, so I don't think we'll be sneaking up on anybody with him this week, but his price on DK is reasonable for the type of upside he brings to the table. He's a great core piece for those leaning in the direction of a "solid type" roster build.

 

Ian Poulter (DK - $8,000 & FD - $9,300)

Notable Course History: T9 ('06 PGA), 4-0 Record at 2012 Ryder Cup
Recent Form:T10 (Northern Trust), 8th (WGC-FedEx), M/C (Open Championship), T88 (U.S. Open)

Ian Poulter is another player that I didn't expect to be writing up this week. When you think of a course that stretches over 7,600 yards, the light-hitting Englishman isn't exactly the first guy that comes to mind. However, after digging a bit deeper, I really like Poulter this week.

He's one of the few players in the field that has some experience at Medinah and it's pretty impressive stuff. Poulter logged a top-10 finish at the last major championship held here, the 2006 PGA Championship and he also starred for the European team in their 2012 Ryder Cup victory at Medinah, going a perfect 4-0 that week. Outings from 2006 and 2012 aren't really predictive of what will happen this week, but it is reassuring to know that Poulter has played well here in the past.

It's been a season of hot and cold stretches for Poulter. After beginning the year on fire he cooled off substantially as we moved into the heart of the season. However, it appears the Englishman intends to finish off 2019 in strong fashion, as he's put together a couple of top-10 outings in his last two starts at the WGC and the Northern Trust. Last week's finish was powered by some unbelievably sharp iron play, as Poulter gained 7.2 strokes on approach at Liberty National and nine strokes T2G.

Poulter's $8k price meshes well with both Oosthuizen and Finau, and lends itself to the "balanced" lineup construction. There will probably be a lot of chatter around the industry about his prior trips to Medinah, so unfortunately his ownership might be a bit elevated.

 

Jason Kokrak (DK - $7,800 & FD - $9,100)

Notable Course History: None
Recent Form: T12 (Northern Trust) T6 (Wyndham), T32 (Open Championship), T29 (Rocket Mortgage)

Lately, I've been guilty (if that's what you want to call it) of writing up the same player multiple times in a short time span. I do not do it lightly, but I'm gonna throw Jason Kokrak at you again this week. If you read the Northern Trust edition of HFTC, you know I loved Kokrak last week at Liberty National. He came through for us in a big way, with a T12 finish at just $7.4k. While he's received a bit of a price bump this week, I'm still screaming at the top of my lungs that the guy remains underpriced!

After a lull in form (during which I'm fairly sure he was fighting an undisclosed injury of some sort), Kokrak has stormed back into DFS relevancy over the past month. Last week's T12 came on the heels of a T6 at the Wyndham, and I wouldn't be a bit surprised to see his name pop up on the leaderboard at the BMW Championship. On a course where we are placing a premium on ball striking, Kokrak has been absolutely striping it. He stands second in this elite field in SG: Ball Striking over his last 12 rounds, a mix of solid execution both off the tee (third in SG: OTT) and with his irons (16th in SG: Approach). He's averaged 4.6 strokes T2G over his last five tournaments, which indicates to me that he has rediscovered his form of early 2019.

I know this field is stacked, but Kokrak feels underpriced to me at $7.8k. He doesn't have as much name recognition as lots of the stars in this field, but his play has been doing the talking recently and I'm willing to continue riding the heater on this week's stretched-out track.

 

Max Homa (DK - $6,100 & FD - $7,000)

Notable Course History: None
Recent Form: T38 (Northern Trust), T61 (WGC FedEx), M/C (3M), T42 (Rocket Mortgage)

We've talked about a lot of mid-priced DFS options this week, but let's close things out with a little deep-dive-GPP-bomb play. Max Homa probably isn't a player that we ever expected to be in the BMW Championship field when this season began, but here we are, as the resilient 28-year-old logged a life-changing win at Quail Hollow earlier this year. Homa heads to Medinah at 56th in the FedEx Cup points standings and would need a huge week to keep his Cinderella season alive.

While Homa has failed to record a top-25 finish since his win at the Wells Fargo, he catches my eye due to his ability with his long irons. I made a mixed condition model for the BMW Championship on Fantasy National using just two criteria, each weighed at 50% : Proximity from 175-200 yards and Proximity from 200-plus yards. Surprisingly, the number one player in that model from this elite field is Max Homa. He grades out fourth in proximity from 175-200 and 10th from 200-plus. Obviously, there's a few more factors involved in playing well this week, but it does pique my interest enough to give him a look at his bargain-basement price tags on both sites. I won't be going nuts, but I'll use Homa in some 'Stars & Scrubs' builds in large-field GPPs.

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PGA DFS (DraftKings & FanDuel): Horse For The Course - The Northern Trust

The regular season is no more, as the Wyndham Championship served as the last true "regular" tournament of the 2018-19 PGA Tour season. We knew what to expect heading into the Wyndham at Sedgefield Country Club and a lot of things went as predicted (last week's HFTC article featured three players that finished in the top six!), but it was a rather unexpected winner in J.T. Poston.

Poston has popped a couple of times this year and headed to North Carolina in trending form, having logged strong finishes in two of his last three starts, but Poston's victory has to be considered surprising and serves as a good reminder that ALL OF THESE GUYS ARE GOOD and can win any week.

Poston was the 14th first-time winner on the PGA Tour this season and there is definitely a huge youth movement taking place on the Tour over the past couple of months. Though the youngsters have garnered most of the spotlight recently, look for golf's 'established elite' class of players to reassert themselves in the upcoming FedEx Cup Playoffs.

 

The Northern Trust Overview

With the PGA Tour's new compressed schedule, it is already FedEx Cup Playoff time. The 125 qualifiers head to the New York area for the first leg of the playoffs at the Northern Trust. This event isn't new, but this week's host course, Liberty National Golf Club, will be hosting a PGA Tour event for the first time since 2013...so keep in mind when researching course history this week that the Northern hasn't been held at Liberty National since '13, when Adam Scott emerged victorious.

While making the playoffs is an accomplishment, being inside the top-125 is no guarantee that players will hang around past this week, as only the top-70 in the FedEx Cup points standings will move on to the BMW Championship next week. Of the 125 who qualified for the playoffs, 122 will be teeing it up at the Northern Trust, including Mr. Tiger Woods in his first start since the Open Championship.

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 field...with the top-70 and ties making the cut and just 121 players starting, we'll see a larger-than-normal percentage of guys playing the weekend, 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: Liberty National Golf Club

Par 71 - 7,370 Yards, Greens: Bent

It sounds crazy, but this is the second former landfill on the PGA Tour schedule this year (Trinity Forest being the other). Despite tons of money and effort being spent on Liberty National, as well as some truly spectacular views, it is safe to say that it is not one of the players' favorite courses.

After making its PGA Tour debut back in 2009 to less-than-stellar reviews from the players (Tiger Woods famously trashed the course), LNGC underwent a pretty drastic renovation in 2010 in an effort to improve its playability. Things have been improved and both the 2013 Northern Trust and 2017 Presidents Cup went off without a hitch. While Liberty is easier now than it was originally, it's no pushover. Frequent and unpredictable winds off the New York harbor can wreak havoc on golfer's rounds. Accuracy both off the tee and on approach is required to score. I probably sound like a broken record at this point, but ball striking will once again be of the utmost importance this week and will be my main focus when identifying DFS plays.

 

The Horse

Joaquin Niemann (DK - $7,500 & FD - $9,100)

Notable Course History: None
Recent Form: T13 (Wyndham), M/C (Open Championship), T10 (John Deere Classic), T23 (3M)

Swear to God, I was sooo close to making Webb Simpson the Horse for the third-straight week, but I thought you guys might boycott the article! While I - of course - love Webb again this week, the player that immediately jumped out at me the first time I looked at the Northern Trust pricing was Joaquin Niemann.

It's easy to forget that Niemann was the 2018 version of Collin Morikawa and was the kid that everybody fell in love with last season. A lot of folks lost that lovin' feeling with the 20-year-old this year, thanks in large part to his truly horrendous putting in the early part of the season, but Niemann has recovered on the greens nicely as of late and stands 17th in this field in Strokes Gained: Putting over his last 24 rounds. His improvement with the flatstick has done wonders for his results and he's made the cut in eight of his last nine starts with two top-fives and a top-10.

Ball striking has never been an issue with Joaquin and he grades out 11th in the field in SG: Ball Striking and 10th in SG: Approach over his last six tournament rounds, while ranking 13th in Good Drives Gained and 17th in GIRs Gained.

I'm under no illusion that Niemann is the "best" player in this stacked field, but his current form, DFS price (on both DK & FD), and projected fit at Liberty National makes him almost an auto-play for me this week. He will also be motivated to perform, as he comes into the Northern Trust ranked 74th on the FedEx points list with just the top-70 moving on to the BMW Championship next week.

 

The Ponies

Justin Rose (DK - $9,600 & FD - $11,500)

Notable Course History: T2 (2013), T41 ('09)
Recent Form: 11th (WGC-FedEx), T20 (Open Championship), T3 (U.S. Open), 13th (Memorial)

I can't figure out if Justin Rose's play has been legitimately underwhelming this year or if it just feels that way because he had such an amazing 2018 season. I've been a Rose naysayer over the last couple of months and it has cost me dearly in DFS contests. The Englishman has continuously proved me wrong in recent big events, with strong showings at the U.S. Open, the Open Championship, and the WGC-FedEx. I'm gonna hope I'm not too late to the party and will attempt to jump on the bandwagon this week.

Rose isn't very good at winning major championships, but he is perhaps the king of "events that seem really important, but aren't majors". He's the "anti-Koepka" if you will, with Exhibit A being his FedEx Cup win last season. Maybe I'm wandering down narrative street a bit here, but winning back-to-back FedEx Cups would be such an on-brand Justin Rose accomplishment!

My pro-Rose outlook this week isn't entirely narrative based, as he is one of the few players in the field with some course history, having logged a runner-up finish at Liberty National back in 2013. He's also been making EVERY putt he looks at recently, to the tune of fifth in this field in SG: Putting over his last 24 rounds. Putting isn't something I normally chase, but his ball striking has been good enough to justify rostering him here (21st SG: Ball Striking & 16th SG: Approach), especially when we take into account his sliver of course history and track record of playing well on tough tracks.

The players above Rose on the salary scale are great players, but do come with some question marks, whereas I have no doubt that Rose will show up focused and ready to play. His $9.6k price tag isn't a bad place to start your roster builds this week.

 

Billy Horschel (DK - $8,000 & FD - $9,800)

Notable Course History: M/C ('13)
Recent Form:T6 (Wyndham), T9 (WGC-FedEx), M/C (Open Championship), T17 (Rocket Mortgage)

I'm sparing you my Collin Morikawa speech this week, but I am going to touch on another player that I've relied on heavily over the past couple of months. I wouldn't call Billy Horschel consistent, but when he's hot...he's really hot, and he's been on an absolute heater as of late.

Horschel heads to Liberty National fresh off a T6 at the Wyndham, his fourth top-10 finish of the season. He ranks eighth in the field in SG: Ball Striking over his last 24 rounds and if we throw out the Open Championship, Horschel has gained strokes T2G in every start since the Masters! He's not long off the tee, but stands 10th in the field in SG: OTT due to his accuracy. His iron play has been solid, as he's gained strokes on approach in eight of his last nine starts.

It's extremely debatable what type of importance being on the President's Cup team carries with these guys, but Horschel is in a position to play his way on to the squad over the next three weeks. If he doesn't care about that, I'm sure that $15 million is of interest to him. Hey, it might sound crazy, but we saw him get hot and win the FedEx Cup in 2014. Love his price and will be pairing him with Niemann and our next Pony a lot this week.

 

Rory Sabbatini (DK - $7,700 & FD - $9,500)

Notable Course History: T13 ('13)
Recent Form: T6 (Wyndham) T16 (Open), M/C (3M Open), T3 (Rocket Mortgage)

You know when you're playing pickup basketball and you get stuck with a random dude on your team? You know the guy I'm talking about...he's dorky and takes everything way too seriously while being dressed in clothing that is nowhere near age appropriate or remotely in style. You roll your eyes when you get this guy on your team, but then during the course of the game he slowly, but surely, wins you over with his solid play and hustle. Sure, he's a dork, but now he's your dork. That's pretty much the DFS relationship I have with Rory Sabbatini this season...yeah he's a dork, but he's my dork.

I know this field is stacked, but $7.7k feels like a bargain for what Sabbatini has been consistently bringing to the table. When I say "consistently", I really mean CONSISTENTLY, as the Slovakian by way of South Africa has recorded six top-10s in his last 11 starts, including a T6 in last week's Wyndham Championship where he gained over four strokes on approach. Sabs has a little history at Liberty National as well, he logged a T13 in the last PGA Tour event held on the NY-area track in 2013.

I know that it's kinda tough to pull the trigger on this Rory in what's a stacked field, but I'm willing to take the awkward guy at the YMCA on my team if it means staying on the court. DraftKings doesn't give out style points, but they do give out money...that's what I'm after this week.

 

Jason Kokrak (DK - $7,400 & FD - $9,200)

Notable Course History: T9 ('13)
Recent Form: T6 (Wyndham), T32 (Open Championship), T29 (Rocket Mortgage), M/C (Travelers)

Remember Jason Kokrak? He was perhaps the most "consistently-good-non-elite" player on the PGA Tour from January until around May. I'm pretty sure that if I looked back at my DFS history for the entire year that Kokrak would be one of my most-rostered players this season. But, as all good things must, his run basically came to an end in the heart of summer when Kokrak started playing less and not as well.

He's picked things back up recently, with solid outings at the Open and the Rocket Mortgage, and he heads to the Northern Trust on the heels of a T6 at Sedgefield last week. He's had some bouts of horrific putting, but the ball striking has been very steady over the last month with gains of 6.1, 1.5, & 2 on approach in his last three starts. If we zero in on those last three starts, he grades out seventh in the field in SG: Ball Striking and fourth in SG: OTT. If you're looking for "ball-striking bastards" this week (shoutout Bagels), you might have your guy right here at just $7.4k.

The price is NICE and Kokrak is another player in this mid-$7k range that I really love in this spot. You can mix and match these guys (Kokrak, Sabbatini, Niemann) as your fifth and sixth players on your rosters or just play them all and load up with a couple of studs up top.

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PGA DFS (DraftKings & FanDuel): Horse For The Course - Wyndham Championship

Big Bad Brooks. The "Big Game Hunter" must have decided that a WGC trophy was worthy of mounting on his wall, because Koepka showed up at the FedEx St. Jude Invitational with major-championship form and focus.

Koepka entered the final round at TPC Southwind trailing Rory McIlroy by one shot and golf fans (myself included) were pumped for a heavyweight fight. Instead of the slugfest we were hoping for, we got a Mike Tyson-style beatdown, as Koepka cut through Rory like a warm knife through butter. Brooks fired a final-round 65 to Rory's uninspiring round of 71, and cruised to a no-sweat win in Memphis.

While his victory solidifies what we already knew about Brooks - that he can dominate any field on any course - Koepka still remains one of the DFS world's biggest enigmas. He's the type of dominant player that we would love to regularly target, but his motivations (or lack thereof) make it extremely difficult to trust him in non-major events. I wish he were more consistent, but right now it appears that we'll have to settle for him being a high-priced player with both an extremely low floor and tournament-winning upside that usually can be rostered at reasonable ownership levels.

 

Wyndham Championship Overview

We go from a "rich get richer" event in the WGC, to a tournament that holds a lot of importance to several of the PGA Tour's rank and file members. The FedEx Cup Playoffs loom large for many in this week's Wyndham field, as around a dozen players stand within 50 points of the cut line. The importance of getting inside the top-125 of the points list can't be overstated for these guys, as in some cases it's the difference between another year on the PGA Tour and being relegated to the Korn Ferry Tour. Nobody wants to play on a tour called the Korn Ferry.

Brandt Snedeker heads to Greensboro as the defending Wyndham champion. Sneds logged a remarkable 59 in his opening round at Sedgefield Country Club last year, but still had to go down to the wire in order to outlast CT Pan. The field is going to look fairly weak when compared to what we've become accustomed to over the last couple of weeks, but it's not without some strength. Paul Casey, Patrick Reed, Jordan Spieth, and Hideki Matsuyama all scheduled to tee it up in North Carolina, as are some of golf's most exciting youngsters, Collin Morikawa (fresh off a win at the Barracuda to secure his Tour Card!), Matthew Wolff, and Viktor Hovland.

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: Sedgefield Country Club

Par 70 - 7,127 Yards, Greens:

This little Donald Ross gem has been a presence on the professional circuit since the 1930's and has now played host to this event for 12 consecutive years. At just over 7,100 yards, length won't be an issue for the players this week (Henrik Stenson won here two years ago without hitting his driver one time. Literally never hit driver all week!). Fairways and greens are the order of the day at Sedgefield. In true Ross fashion, these greens are some of the smallest on the PGA Tour schedule and do have tricky undulations, but this track routinely ranks as one of the easiest on the PGA Tour schedule.

It seems like we emphasize ball striking every week, but it is without a doubt crucial at Sedgefield. It's a bit of an outlier event in that I'm paying absolutely no attention to distance. I'll be focusing on ball strikers that are both accurate off the tee and precise with their irons on approach. As mentioned earlier in the article, Sneds dropped a 59 here last year and the winners over the past three years have been at least 21-under par. Lots of birdies will be needed this week, so I'll also be searching for players that can go low.

 

The Horse

Webb Simpson (DK - $11,200 & FD - $11,900)

Notable Course History: T2 (2018), 3rd ('17), T6 ('15), T5 ('14), Win ('11)
Recent Form: 2nd (WGC-FedEx), T30 (Open Championship), T16 (U.S. Open), T2 (RBC Canadian Open)

Webb was last week's Horse and came through with a runner-up finish at TPC Southwind. In fact, he played so well that I decided to just go ahead and roll with him again at the Wyndham. Webb might not be as exciting as some of the guys that we normally see sitting atop the DFS salary scale, but he has been unbelievably consistent this season and it feels like a win is coming soon.

What better place for a Webb victory than at a Sedgefield course that he's dominated throughout his career? Since 2014, Simpson has only finished outside the top-six in the Wyndham once and he leads this field with 40.65 Strokes Gained: Total in that time span. This is something of a home game for the Raleigh, North Carolina native, and while his price tag is high, I'd be surprised if Simpson isn't in the mix come Sunday.

His game fits Sedgefield perfectly. He's accurate off the tee (32nd in Good Drives Gained) and precise with his irons (13th in SG: Approach), in addition to wielding a hot putter (2nd in SG: Putting). He's first in this week's field in SG: Total over the last 24 rounds and heads home in tremendous form, having logged four sub-70 rounds last week in Memphis.

It seems a little gross to see Simpson with the week's highest price tag, but his blend of course history and current form makes him worth spending up for. We don't have the type of stars available this week that we've had at our disposal in the last couple of events, but there is some sneaky-good value in this field that makes getting Webber in your lineups a viable option.

 

The Ponies

Collin Morikawa (DK - $10,400 & FD - $11,600)

Notable Course History: None
Recent Form: Win (Barracuda), T4 (John Deere), T2 (3M), T36 (Travelers)

As we near the end of the PGA Tour season, I've decided that I'm going out swinging with my guys! I've already told you about Webb Simpson and for my first Pony of the week I'm going with my new favorite player, Collin Morikawa.

I've been all-in on the young Cal product since he turned pro just under two months ago and I'm certainly not hopping off the Morikawagon now. My man just picked up his first professional win at the Barracuda last week and I've got the feeling that there are many more to come now that he's locked up his PGA Tour card.

Morikawa was slightly less heralded than his counterparts Matthew Wolff and Viktor Hovland coming out of college, but he's perhaps been the most impressive as a pro. The young man has lit it up during his short time on the PGA Tour. We know that Sedgefield is all about iron play and Mori heads to NC ranked first in the field in SG: Approach over his last 24 rounds, as well as third in SG: T2G in the same time span.

It's always a little scary to roll with a player that's coming off a win, but Morikawa is just young enough and focused enough to not realize how hard victories are to come by. It might sound nuts, but he really has a legitimate shot to go back-to-back this week. It's easy to fall hard and fast for these young guys that haven't scarred us yet, but I'm telling you folks, this kid is on a different level when it comes to ball-striking consistency.

 

Viktor Hovland (DK - $9,500 & FD - $11,100)

Notable Course History: None
Recent Form: T16 (John Deere), T13 (3M), T13 (Rocket Mortgage), T54 (Travelers)

I'm sticking with the youth movement here with Viktor Hovland. The Norwegian was the most hyped of the young trio that recently turned pro, but is unbelievably now the only member of the crew without a win. That might change this week in Greensboro, as V-Hova brings his uncanny ability to go low to a track that relinquished a 59 just last year.

Hovland has already earned a reputation as a "Sunday player", as he's went 64-65-64 in his last three final rounds. He also has eight consecutive sub-70 rounds over his last two starts. Hovland is second in the field in Opportunities Gained and third in Birdies Gained.

As it did with Wolff and Morikawa, there's a sense of inevitability when it comes to Hovland getting a win. This Sedgefield layout that allows players to score in droves might just be suited perfectly for the young star.

 

Kevin Streelman (DK - $7,00 & FD - $9,300)

Notable Course History:
Recent Form: T57 (Open Championship) T34 (3M), T35 (Rocket Mortgage), T15 (Travelers)

Kevin Streelman is nowhere near the best player in this field, but he might be my favorite play this week. That feeling is almost entirely due to his price and form, as Streelman has really no course history at Sedgefield to speak of, but man...he feels really underpriced to me at $7.8k, especially when we consider that he was priced in the mid-to-high $8k's for the Travelers, Rocket Mortgage, and 3M, fields that might have been slightly weaker than this one, but not by much.

I guess I get it...Streelman's recent finishes haven't been especially noteworthy, but it just feels like the guy is playing really solid golf at the moment. His stats bare that out, as he ranks second in this field in SG: Approach over his last 24 rounds, while also grading out fourth in SG: T2G and 10th in DK Points Scored.

Sure, I wish there was a little better course pedigree here, but good ball striking always travels well. Streelman has gained strokes T2G in nine-straight starts and his price really gives you tons of flexibility when constructing lineups.

 

Brice Garnett (DK - $7,100 & FD - $8,100)

Notable Course History: T20 ('18), T20 ('16), M/C ('15), T32 ('14)
Recent Form: T18 (Barbasol), T37 (John Deere), T23 (3M Open), T17 (Rocket Mortgage)

I'm rounding out the list with a player that I didn't expect to be talking about when I started my research process for the Wyndham. Brice Garnett is one of several intriguing players on the cheap end of the salary scale this week. At just $7.1k (and $8.1k on FD) Garnett caught my eye due to his solid course history at Sedgefield and his strong recent form.

Obviously, Garnett isn't a player that we often target, but he's an interesting GPP option this week. He's notched top-20's in his last two Wyndham starts and has reeled off four-straight made cuts on the Tour, with three of those being top-25 finishes. Garnett isn't a guy that's going to pop statistically, but he's extremely accurate off the tee (seventh in Good Drives Gained) and he's gained strokes both T2G and with his irons in all of his last three starts.

His lack of distance is a major hindrance on most PGA Tour layouts, but won't be a problem here. He's a great way to shake things up if you are playing large-field tournaments and has top-25 potential at this discounted price tag.

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PGA DFS (DraftKings & FanDuel): Horse For The Course - WGC FedEx St. Jude Invitational

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.

 

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.

 

The Horse

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.

 

The Ponies

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.

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RotoBaller PGA DFS: Horse For The Course - 2019 Open Championship

What's up guys? Y'all heard anything about a golf tournament overseas this week? We'll dive into the Open Championship in just a second, but I do want to recap the John Deere Classic just a bit.

We knew going in that the JDC field was one of the weakest we've seen this season. Dylan Frittelli outlasted the likes of Russell Henley and Andrew Landry to capture his first victory on the PGA Tour. Frittelli gained over seven strokes on the greens at TPC Deere Run, despite ranking just 139th on the PGA Tour in SG: Putting this season. It serves as a strong reminder that these elite ball strikers just need one hot putting week to do some serious damage.

The other thing that sticks out for me from the JDC is that the Tour's crop of youngsters showed up yet again. Collin Morikawa, Joaquin Niemann, and Viktor Hovland all overcame slow starts to log solid finishes. As the season winds down, these young guys will continue to be a great source of DFS scoring for us.

 

2019 Open Championship Overview

You guys know what's at stake this week in Northern Ireland. After a reshuffle of the schedule, the Open Championship now stands as the last major of the year and serves as the last chance of 2019 for players to change their lives with a major championship win.

Of course, every elite player in the world has turned up at Royal Portrush (though I wish Morikawa, Wolff, and Hovland were in the field) for the club's first Open in over 60 years. There are a couple of notable 'hometown' narratives at play this week, with Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell being the most obvious examples of guys that will have an advantage with 'course knowledge'. Franceso Molinari is the defending Open champion and he'll be joined by all the usual suspects this week.

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. We had a really nice week last week, let's do it again!

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: Royal Portrush (Dunluce Course)

Par 71 - 7,344 Yards, Greens: Bentgrass

The one thing we know about Royal Portrush this week is that there's a lot that we don't know about Royal Portrush this week. The course last hosted an Open in 1951, which is no help to us here. Portrush did play host to the 2012 Irish Open, but, besides being seven years ago, has undergone significant renovations in preparation for the Open.

The fairways are fairly wide, but are flanked by the most penalizing Open rough that we've seen in years. Fairway bunkers will also add another degree of difficulty to tee shots at Portrush. Length could be a big advantage, as it can take some of the bunkers out of play, but 'bomb and gouge' won't work with this rough. Another big unknown this week is the weather. At the moment conditions look as though they will be fairly benign this week, which would favor the bombers, but weather can materialize at any time at Portrush. The greens are tricky, but will feel slow to the Americans in the field.

This is a tough week to target specific traits, but I'll definitely be leaning toward ball strikers that find fairways. Great iron play will be a must and it never hurts to have some prior Open experience and hot form.

 

The Horse

Henrik Stenson (DK - $8,400 & FD - $10,100)

Notable Open Championship History: Win (2016), T35 ('18), 2nd ('13), 3rd ('08)
Recent Form: T4 (Scottish Open), T9 (U.S. Open), T8 (RBC Canadian Open), T37 (Memorial)

Before we dive into the players here, let me urge you to check out my 2019 Open Championship DFS Bible, where you will find a more in-depth look at all the golfers in this week's field.

Ok, with that out of the way, let's talk about my Horse this week...Henrik Stenson. As I mentioned in the course breakdown above, I'm targeting ball strikers with great iron play, Open experience, and strong recent form this week. 'The Iceman' checks every one of those boxes for me.

Stenson slumped at the end of 2018 and the beginning of this year as he fought through a nagging elbow injury, but the Swede has been firing on all cylinders recently. With no disrespect to Tiger Woods, Stenson is the best iron player in the world at the moment. He ranks first in this elite field in Strokes Gained: Approach over his last 24 & 50 rounds. The dude hasn't lost strokes with his irons in a tournament since FEBRUARY!

Stenson is never going to rate out well in SG: Off The Tee, just because of his lack of length, but he's super reliable with his infamous 3-wood. He ranks fifth in the field in both Fairways Gained & Good Drives Gained. If (and I'm just guessing here) the weather or rough force the bombers to keep driver in the bag, I really like Stenson's chances on an even playing field.

He brings both excellent form and a strong record of Open success to Portrush. Stenson has went T4-T8-T9 in his last three starts and in addition to his Open win in 2016, he's missed just two cuts in 14 Open starts.

 

The Ponies

Rory McIlroy (DK - $11,600 & FD - $12,000)

Notable Open History: Win (2014), T2 ('18), T4 ('17), T5 ('16)
Recent Form: T34 (Scottish Open), T9 (U.S. Open), Win (RBC Canadian Open), M/C (Memorial)

Rory McIlroy is probably a pretty obvious player to highlight, but there are just too many positives here to ignore. He comes from Northern Ireland and he holds the Royal Portrush course record of 61, which he shot when he was 16-year-old. Yep...I think it's safe to say that Rors will be pretty comfortable with his surroundings this week.

He's playing the best golf we've seen from him in years in 2019. He won both the Players and the RBC Canadian Open, and has only finished outside the top 10 in THREE tournaments the entire year. McIlroy hits it long and straight off the tee (first in SG: OTT), has exhibited sharp iron play (second in SG: Approach) and has putted good enough (43rd in SG: Putting). His Open record is elite, as he's ran off three-straight top-five finishes since winning at Royal Liverpool in 2014.

My only hesitance when it comes to Rory (and I touch on this in the Open Bible) is that it just all seems too perfect. That might sound a little paranoid, but how often do these "perfect situations" actually pan out? Yes, it's his home country and a course he's very familiar with...but with those advantages also comes TONS of expectations and pressure. Now, there's no doubt that Rory can rise to the occasion, he didn't get where he is by shrinking away from pressure and expectations, but it is worth considering before spending all the way up to $11.6k.

 

Adam Scott (DK - $8,800 & FD - $10,500)

Notable Open History: T17 ('18), T10 ('15), T5 ('14), T3 ('13), 2nd ('12)
Recent Form:T7 (U.S. Open), 2nd (Memorial), T8 (PGA), T18 (Masters)

Man...I still get sick to my stomach when I think about Adam Scott gifting the 2012 Open Championship to Ernie Els. Sickening. Anyway, moving on...I think that Scotty has a great chance for redemption at Portrush this week.

We've always known the Aussie has 'win many major championships' type of talent, but at 39-years-old he still has just one on his resume. After some years with golf on the back burner, Scott has refocused on the game over the last two years and the results have been impressive. He played very well in the last major of 2018 and has carried that momentum into this season, missing just two cuts in 2019 with runner-up finishes at the Farmers and Memorial, a T18 at the Masters, and top-10s at both the PGA Championship and U.S. Open.

Scott's strong finishes have been powered by his rejuvenated short game. He ranks first in the field in SG: Around the Green over his last 24 rounds and his much-derided putting troubles have all but vanished, as he's gained strokes putting in all but two of his 2019 starts. He's world-class tee to green (second in the field SG: T2G) and has a tremendous history of success in Open Championships.

Like Stenson, Scott will probably be really popular on DK, but I'm willing to swallow the chalk and attempt to differentiate my lineups in other spots. There are some players that I really like in the $9k price range (Xander & Cantlay, specifically), but I will basically be camped out in this $8k range when constructing rosters this week. With Stenson and Scott as my linchpins, I'll also be mixing in very heavy doses of Matt Kuchar ($8.7k) and Hideki Matsuyama ($8.5k).

 

Rafa Cabrera-Bello (DK - $7,500 & FD - $9,300)

Notable Open History: 74th ('18), T4 ('17), T39 ('16)
Recent Form: T9 (Scottish Open) T4 (Irish Open), T3 (BMW International), 65th (U.S. Open)

Those of you that are considering rostering Rory, Brooks, or one of the other high-priced options will need to familiarize yourselves with this price range. If we are looking at current form, Rafa Cabrera-Bello is definitely worth consideration.

Rafa started off 2019 in hot form with four-straight top-25s to kick off the year, including a T3 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. The Spaniard cooled off as we headed into the meat of the PGA Tour schedule, but he has regained his form since crossing the Atlantic after a 65th-place finish at the U.S. Open. Rafa has went T9-T4-T3 in his three most recent starts in Europe, a strong indicator that he's found something with his game.

His Open record is solid, but not spectacular. One interesting note is that Cabrera-Bello recorded a 14-under par second-place finish in the 2012 Irish Open that was held at Royal Portrush. So while the course has undergone some changes, Rafa is one of the few players in this week's field that have actually played the course in tournament conditions.

He won't pop in many statistical models, because his recent Euro Tour rounds weren't recorded in most stat engines, but I don't think he'll go overlooked at this price.

 

Patrick Reed (DK - $7,200 & FD - $8,200)

Notable Open History: T28 ('18), M/C ('17), T12 ('16), T20 ('15)
Recent Form: T23 (3M Open), T5 (Rocket Mortgage), T30 (Travelers), T32 (U.S. Open)

Sticking in the mid-$7k price range to round out the week, I'm gonna give Patrick Reed some serious consideration in this spot. In seemingly every major championship there is at least one player that seems seriously underpriced. It was Matt Kuchar at the Masters and Webb Simpson at the U.S. Open. This week, it feels like Reed is wearing the crown of 'guy that's just too cheap'.

We all know the personality issues that surround Reed. He's got a checkered past and a seemingly complicated personal life, but you have to respect what the guy's done in the game of golf, as he's went from getting on the PGA Tour by playing Monday qualifiers to winning the Masters last year. Reed hasn't found the winner's circle since slipping on the green jacket and we know that the guy is a proven winner.

Like the aforementioned Rafa Cabrera-Bello, Reed isn't going to pop statistically (he never does), but after his game seemingly went off a cliff back in the spring, he's been steadily rounding back into form. He's gained over six strokes on approach in each of his last two starts (that's massive) and when Reed's iron game is clicking he's one of the best players in the world. His Open resume is solid and he's shown himself to be comfortable playing links golf. Reed could easily find himself in the mix this weekend if his putter cooperates at Portrush.

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PGA DFS: Horse For The Course - John Deere Classic

Hello RotoBallers and welcome back to Horse For The Course! The 3M Open was a new tournament held in Minnesota that actually provided some pretty high drama Sunday afternoon. There was definitely a youth movement in effect at TPC Twin Cities, as the final-round leaderboard was packed with many of golf's most exciting young guns. In the end, 20-year-old Matthew Wolff eagled the 72nd hole to grab his first PGA Tour win, edging out two other young stars in Collin Morikawa and Bryson DeChambeau (both of whom were highlighted in this article last week!) by one shot.

Wolff was playing on a sponsor's exemption and making just his third start as a professional. The young man with the crazy swing recently won the NCAA Individual Championship and has definitely announced his presence on the PGA Tour with authority.

In addition to Wolff and Morikawa, some other exciting young players gave us a glimpse of the future at the 3M. Viktor Hovland continues to impress and seems to have all the tools needed to be a star. Guys like Wyndham Clark, Joaquin Niemann, Sam Burns, and Sungjae Im played well in Minnesota and are players that should continue to offer DFS upside in these birdie fest type of events.

 

John Deere Classic Overview

The PGA Tour stays in the Midwest for one more week, as we head to the Quad Cities for the John Deere Classic. Though the Tour schedule has been significantly revamped this year, the JD Classic will once again hold its traditional spot on the calendar as the prelude to the Open Championship and serves as a last chance to get into the year's final major for this week's highest finisher that isn't otherwise qualified for Royal Portrush.

Because the Open is next week and many of golf's elite players have already headed over to Europe, this will be one of the weakest fields we've seen since the swing season. I'm not gonna lie to you guys, it's not especially pretty this week. The JDC features four of the top 30 in the current FedEx Cup standings, but you'd probably be hard pressed to name them. The 2018 JDC champion Michael Kim hasn't made much noise since his surprise win here last year, but he's back to defend his title. We will get another look at some of the aforementioned young guns, as Matthew Wolff, Viktor Hovland, Collin Morikawa, and Justin Suh are scheduled to tee it up at TPC Deere Run.

After a couple of weeks of new events with zero course history to work with, we have plenty of results to evaluate from the long-running John Deere. 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. We had a really nice week last week, let's do it again!

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 Deere Run

Par 71 - 7,268 Yards, Greens: Bent

I hope you guys haven't grown sick of birdies over the last couple of weeks, because we've got plenty more in store this week at TPC Deere Run. This D.A. Weibring design ain't exactly Bethpage Black. The fairways are super easy to hit. The greens are super easy to hit. Paul Goydos shot a 59 here in 2010. You get the idea...there will be birdies.

TPC Deere Run features some dramatic elevation changes throughout the layout with the course being designed to present players with risk/reward options that, more often than not, results in more reward than risk. Though birdies are plentiful, the bombers don't necessarily have a distinct advantage in this tournament, as guys like Zach Johnson and Steve Stricker are some of the biggest all-time money earners at the John Deere Classic.

As I have for the last few weeks, I'll once again be looking for players that can go low by focusing on Birdie or Better Percentage and DK Points Scored. I'll also give weight to Strokes Gained: Approach & Tee to Green while glancing at guys that have success putting on Bentgrass.

 

The Horse

Viktor Hovland (DK - $10,900 & FD - $11,600)

Notable Course History: None Available
Recent Form: T13 (3M Open), T13 (Rocket Mortgage Classic), T54 (Travelers), T12 (U.S. Open)

Viktor Hovland is getting the highlight here, but you can very well consider this the Viktor Hovland / Collin Morikawa / Matthew Wolff section of the article. I wrote up Morikawa here last week, Wolff got the win at the 3M, and Hovland once again caught fire in a final round. In many ways, this week's John Deere Classic (and by default, DFS contests) revolves around this talented trio that is already taking the PGA Tour by storm.

While Wolff and Morikawa received most of the TV time last Sunday, Hovland was quietly logging a final-round 65 to finish in a tie for 13th at the 3M...his second consecutive T13 outing. The kid has been pegged as a superstar for some time now, and his record-breaking outing at the U.S. Open and subsequent performances since turning pro afterwards don't do anything to change that projection.

Over his last 12 measured rounds Hovland leads this John Deere field in both Strokes Gained: Ball Striking & Off The Tee, and grades out second in Opportunities Gained. He's gained strokes tee to green in every start he's made since turning pro, including gaining a massive 9.2 strokes T2G last week. The youngster has logged top-13 finishes in three of his last four starts despite gaining strokes putting in just one of those outings, which leads me to believe that a win is attainable with a decent week on the greens.

I have to admit, there was some sticker shock when I first looked at DK pricing this week. I suppose I was hoping deep down that DraftKings might be a little slow on the uptake with these young guns, but they obviously aren't fooling around in this weak JDC field. Of the three at the top of the board, I prefer Hovland and Morikawa to Wolff, but that's just personal preference. It will be tough to get even one of these guys in your lineup this week, due to the lack of depth in the field, but I look for Hovland to make a big splash in this tournament and will get him in as many GPP lineups as possible.

 

The Ponies

Brian Harman (DK - $9,400 & FD - $11,000)

Notable Course History: T10 (2017), M/C ('16), T24 ('15), Win ('14)
Recent Form: T7 (3M Open), M/C (Rocket Mortgage), T8 (Travelers), T50 (RBC Canadian Open)

Truth be told, 2019 has been a pretty brutal year for Brian Harman. The diminutive lefty has only made 13 of 24 cuts this season, but Harman's game is trending in the right direction at perhaps the perfect time, as he's logged top-10 finishes in two of his last three starts and heads to a TPC Deere Run track where he won in 2014 and has recorded four career top 25s.

Harman has been solid in all facets of the game recently and ranks ninth in the JDC in SG: Total over his last 12 rounds. While he certainly doesn't blow you away with obvious talent like some of the young guns in this week's field, the veteran has been finding fairways and greens at a great clip and has gained strokes T2G in six consecutive starts.

He might not be the most exciting player to roster this week, but Harman brings a really nice blend of trending form and terrific course history to the table. If you want to attempt to take a solid route with lineup builds, Harman is a good place to start roster construction at $9.4k.

 

Scott Brown (DK - $8,300 & FD - $9,900)

Notable Course History: T12 ('18), T25 ('17), T16 ('16), M/C ('15), T5 ('14)
Recent Form:T15 (3M Open), M/C (Rocket Mortgage), T60 (Travelers), T31 (RBC Canadian Open)

You know it's the John Deere Classic when Scott Brown seems like a decent option. While I definitely have some reservations here, Brown does possess a Brian Harman-like combination of strong course history and trending form. We're taking a stab with him on a TPC Deere Run course where he's logged six-career top 25s with four such finishes in his last five JDC starts.

In addition to his strong track record on this layout, Brown heads to the Deere fresh off a T15 at last week's 3M Open, his best outing since April. He had the irons firing in Minnesota, gaining an impressive four strokes on approach at the 3M and 5.7 strokes T2G.

There's not much I can do to make Scott Brown sound exciting guys...this is a true blue collar, salt of the Earth type of golfer. He's a course horse play that is third in the field in Strokes Gained: Total at this tournament, and we are attempting to catch him in hot form.

 

Bronson Burgoon (DK - $7,800 & FD - $9,400)

Notable Course History: T2 ('18), T47 ('16)
Recent Form: T34 (3M Open) T35 (Rocket Mortgage), T60 (Travelers), M/C (Memorial)

This mid-$7k price range has been a real sweet spot for me in recent weeks and I plan on going back to the well again for the JDC. Guys like Mackenzie Hughes, Peter Malnati, and Cameron Tringale have been playing well in these less-than-stellar fields over the past month, but their price hasn't really changed much. While I like all three of those players, for the purposes of this week's article, let's look at Bronson Burgoon for a minute.

There seems to be a common theme with the players I've already highlighted this week of "not had great seasons, but have trending form with a strong history in the Deere". That train of thought continues with Burgoon, who has pretty abysmal this year, but seems to have found something over the past couple weeks. The 32-year-old has logged back-to-back top-35 finishes at the Rocket Mortgage and 3M. He's gained strokes T2G and on Approach in both of those starts, while racking up 39 combined birdies in those two events.

Burgoon has a good pedigree at TPC Deere Run, as he logged a runner-up finish in last year's JDC. He also fits right into the type of roster construction I'm leaning towards this week...one of the young guns up top paired with heavy doses of this mid-to-upper $7k range.

 

Johnson Wagner (DK - $7,200 & FD - $8,200)

Notable Course History: T16 ('18), M/C ('17), T5 ('16), T5 ('15), T7 ('14)
Recent Form: T23 (3M Open), M/C (RBC Canadian), T43 (AT&T Byron Nelson), M/C (Wells Fargo)

I'm rounding out this week's article with Johnson Wagner. Yeah, I know...

Wagner actually has a freakishly-good track record in this tournament, with back to back T5s in 2016-17, a T7 in '14, and a T16 here last year. If there's gonna be a tournament where he shows up, it's the JDC. Wagner rode a hot putter to a T23 last week in Minnesota and gained 5.7 strokes on the greens at TPC Twin Cities. That's his M.O...try to find fairways and greens while making a ton of putts. It's worked well for him at TPC Deere Run, as he trails only Zach Johnson in Strokes Gained: Total (38.31 !) at the John Deere Classic.

You aren't going to find much to love statistically with Wagner, but after writing this article for a year-and-a-half, I can tell you that sometimes this stuff just doesn't make sense. He's a 'course horse' in its truest form and a player that you can gamble on in GPP lineups with this week's very thin field.

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PGA DFS: Horse For The Course - 3M Open

What's up RotoBallers? The Rocket Mortgage Classic drew strong crowds in the city of Detroit and the layout provided plenty of scoring opportunities. Nate Lashley was the last man into the Rocket Mortgage field, but also ended up being the last man standing on Sunday, as he used a pair of 63s to record a crazy-low total winning score of 25-under par.

It was the first victory of Lashley's career and the cap to a wild DFS week in which we saw both huge favorite Dustin Johnson and newly-crowned U.S. Open champion Gary Woodland miss the cut at Detroit Golf Club. Birdies were the order of the day at the Rocket Mortgage and if you weren't scoring you were dropping down the leaderboard quickly.

This week we head to another new stop on the PGA Tour schedule and I have a funny feeling that we will see more of the same from a scoring perspective.

 

3M Open Overview

The PGA Tour continues its barnstorming tour of the Midwest with another brand new event. This week we head to Minnesota for the 3M Open, the state's first regular PGA Tour event in around 50 years.

You will see a lot of similarities between last week's Rocket Mortgage field and the players that will be teeing it up in this week's 3M. Brooks Koepka, Jason Day, and Bryson DeChambeau headline a field that probably has a little more depth than last week, but still drops off fairly quickly after the top 10 or so players at the top of the board. Players like Hideki Matsuyama and Tony Finau add solid quality to the lineup. Phil Mickelson brings more name recognition than form to Minnesota, while 2018 Masters champion Patrick Reed heads to the Twin Cities on the heels of his first top-five finish of 2019 last week.

Unlike last week's Detroit Golf Club, which was a totally unknown commodity going in, we do have some sense of how this week's host course - TPC Twin Cities - will play due to its time hosting an annual PGA Tour Champions tournament.

Once again this week, we have no course history to build around, so I'll simply be highlighting some of my favorite DFS plays from different price ranges. 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: TPC Twin Cities

Par 71 - 7,458 Yards, Greens: Bent

While this TPC Twin Cities layout is a longtime host of a PGA Tour Champions event, this will be its first shot at the big time. The Arnold Palmer layout (with tons of input from Tom Lehman) opened in 2000 and has been long-been considered one of the best tracks on the Champions Tour schedule. The course has been upgraded in preparation of this week's tournament and will play at just over 7,400 yards to a par of 71.

We can take the term "upgraded" to mean longer and more difficult, but it's hard to imagine that this layout will be super tough for the best players in the world. TPC Twin Cities ranked first or second in birdies among Champions Tour stops in each of the past seven years, so we can safely project very low scores to be needed this week. There are 27 bodies of water in play on this course that takes advantage of its natural contours and rolling landscape, but players will be able to swing away with drivers as the fairways at TPC Twin Cities are VERY WIDE. Over the last few events we've leaned in the direction of accuracy off the tee, but I'm definitely giving the bombers a bump this week.

I will be targeting players in a similar fashion to last week; solid tee-to-green games, good ball striking, and the ability to make birdies in bunches. I'll also look for bombers with length off the tee and glance at Bentgrass putting splits.

 

The Horse

Bryson DeChambeau (DK - $10,500 & FD - $11,000)

Notable Course History: None Available
Recent Form: T8 (Travelers), T35 (U.S. Open), T22 (Memorial), M/C (Charles Schwab)

This week's 3M Open is almost eerily similar to last week's Rocket Mortgage Classic. Both are new events on the PGA Tour schedule, both courses come with lots of unknowns (but birdies are expected in bunches), both fields feature a few elite players at the top with the quality running out very quickly, and many players under $10k being overpriced. Last week we had Dustin Johnson in sort of a league of his own at the top of the salary scale, this week we have Brooks Koepka. I'll be the first person to admit that Koepka is capable of dominating any tournament he plays (and this course should set up PERFECTLY for him), but we just haven't seen it outside of major championships. While it's always scary to fade him, I think that's the direction I'm headed this week.

I'm not totally opposed to paying up this week, and there are merits to rostering guys like Jason Day, Hideki Matsuyama, and a surging Patrick Reed, but I'm perhaps most interested in Bryson DeChambeau in this spot.

I've resigned myself to the fact that Bryson is going to run hot and cold. After a scorching fall and start to 2019, he's been living in an ice age for several months. However, there are signs that things are starting to come back around, as he logged a T8 in his last start at the Travelers. The 'Mad Scientist' gained 6.1 strokes tee to green at the Travelers and was on the plus side of every major strokes gained category, a sign that his game is indeed trending in the right direction.

It's not necessarily that I think Bryson is better than Koepka, Matsuyama, or Day...but he has shown a propensity for winning these type of events in his short career (John Deere Classic and Shriners Hospitals Open). DeChambeau is also a talented birdie maker and he ranks ninth in the field in Birdies or Better over his last 12 rounds, despite standing 35th in Strokes Gained: Tee to Green in the same time frame.

I imagine DeChambeau will be a fairly popular option this week, as it doesn't take a genius to spot the trending form he brings to Minnesota. I will keep an eye on his ownership projections and will stick with him unless a pivot to Hideki, Day, or even Koepka offers a ton of leverage.

 

The Ponies

Joaquin Niemann (DK - $9,300 & FD - $10,200)

Notable Course History: N/A
Recent Form: T5 (Rocket Mortgage), T5 (Travelers), T31 (RBC Canadian Open), T27 (Memorial)

I have to admit, I became pretty enamored with Joaquin Niemann's game last year. While I was able to capitalize on his amazing start on the PGA Tour last season, I've proceeded to dump all those profits back by continuing to roster him over the past 6-8 months. Well, what goes around comes around, and my man Joaquin is coming around the bend like a freight train!

The 20-year-old from Chile heads to Minnesota on the heels of back-to-back top-five finishes at the Travelers and Rocket Mortgage, but even before the top-five outbursts we have seen his game steadily trending in the right direction. He's averaged 5.6 Strokes Gained T2G over his last five tournaments and stands 28th in the field in Birdies or Better Gained and second in Bogeys Avoided over his last 12 rounds. Niemann is slowly coming out of what can be described as 'putting purgatory' as he's gained strokes putting in three of his last five starts, which isn't bad for a kid that was maybe the worst putter on the PGA Tour for the first part of 2019.

Yeah, the price is a little ridiculous...but whose isn't this week? It's early in the week, so I'll closely monitor ownership projections, but you have to figure that Tony Finau will get some attention at $9.2k, $100 less than Niemann. I can't imagine that Niemann's ownership will be big at this price, which makes me eager to get him in GPPs lineups this week.

 

Collin Morikawa(DK - $7,900 & FD - $9,100)

Notable Course History: N/A
Recent Form:T36 (Travelers), T35 (U.S. Open), T14 (RBC Canadian)

I'm dropping from Joaquin Niemann at $9.3k all the way down to Collin Morikawa at $7.9k. Why? Because I honestly think I like what's available in the $7k price range more than the options in the $8k range.

Some guys like taking a 'wait and see' approach with young guys that are new to the PGA Tour. I get it, but I'm the complete opposite. I want to jump on them before their price (and ownership) get out of hand. My goal is to roster players like Jon Rahm and Tony Finau before they become JON RAHM and TONY FINAU, and I feel the same way about a couple of these guys that recently turned pro, like Viktor Hovland and Collin Morikawa. It's like stocks, you wanna get in on the ground floor.

Morikawa has been impressively sound in his three professional starts to date. He recorded a T36 in his most recent outing at the Travelers and was a third-round 75 away from a much better finish. The Cal product is 19th in this 3M field in SG: T2G over his last 12 rounds and ranks fifth in the field in Birdies or Better Gained in his last three starts.

The rookie has received a fairly significant price bump of $1,000 from his DK salary of $6,900 at the Travelers. I'm hoping that the increase will scare people away from Morikawa this week. Do I wish he was cheaper? Of course, but I'm willing to spend the $7.9k on a hungry young player that's solid tee to green and has amassed 50 birdies over the first three starts of his professional career.

 

Cameron Tringale (DK - $7,700 & FD - $8,900)

Notable Course History: N/A
Recent Form: T5 (Rocket Mortgage) MDF (Travelers), T11 (Travelers), T23 (Byron Nelson)

Let's stay in the mid-$7k price range with Cameron Tringale. The 31-year-old journeyman might not be well known to casual golf fans, but if you're a PGA DFS regular you've probably noticed noticed his performances as of late. He racked up 24 birdies at Detroit Golf Club last week on the way to a top-five finish and the ability to post low numbers will once again be crucial at TPC Twin Cities this week.

Tringale's recent finishes are noteworthy, but it's the stats behind them that truly stand out. He ranks second in this field in Birdies Gained and sixth in Opportunities Gained over his last 12 rounds. Tringale is an impressive second in this 3M field in SG: Approach and fifth in SG: T2G over his last 3 starts, and has averaged gaining strokes in every major strokes gained category over his last five tournaments.

I love the price here. You can almost construct your lineups from the inside out this week using a core of $7k guys like Tringale, while mixing and matching up top. We know that there are risks involved with this type of field and the lack of standout options at higher prices gives me the motivation to lean heavily on a guy like Tringale in this spot.

 

Max Homa (DK - $7,000 & FD - $8,300)

Notable Course History: N/A
Recent Form: T42 (Rocket Mortgage), M/C (Travelers), T37 (Memorial), T27 (Charles Schwab)

Max Homa's recent finishes haven't been spectacular, but I'm still interested in the Twitter legend this week. It really feels like we are getting a lot of bang for our buck with Homa at $7k in this field.

We all know that he logged the life-changing win earlier this year at the Wells Fargo, but Homa has put together a solid season outside of his Quail Hollow victory. In his five starts since the win he's averaged 2.1 SG: T2G. He has a lot of qualities that should be a nice fit for the 3M...he stands ninth in SG: OTT and 30th in Driving Distance over his last 24 rounds, while ranking 18th in the field in Birdies or Better Gained & 11th in Opportunities Gained.

As I mentioned, my favorite thing about Homa this week is the price tag. At $7k, makes rostering a Koepka, Day, or DeChambeau very doable. While his last two outings haven't been great, I was still really surprised to see that Homa's price had actually decreased in a field of this caliber. Fire him up in GPPS!

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PGA DFS: Horse For The Course - Rocket Mortgage Classic

How's it going golf fans? I hope you all are having a prosperous PGA DFS season! Chez Reavie took down the Travelers last week for his first PGA Tour win in around a decade. It's easy to forget how long some of these journeyman-type players can grind between wins. We had seen some trending form from Reavie over the past couple of months, and despite having a solid week, I once again missed the boat on the actual winner of the tournament.

 

Rocket Mortgage Classic Overview

We go from a longstanding Tour event in the Travelers to the Rocket Mortgage Classic, an event that's making its debut on the PGA Tour schedule. Quicken Loans has been a long-time partner of the Tour and has sponsored an event in the D.C. area for years, but the new schedule gave Quicken a chance to host a tournament in its hometown of Detroit.

The Rocket Mortgage has attracted a few headliners, with newly-crowned U.S. Open Champion Gary Woodland, Dustin Johnson, Rickie Fowler, and Hideki Matsuyama all scheduled to be in attendance, but it appears that the field takes a pretty sharp drop in quality after the handful of elite players at the top. The young gun duo of Viktor Hovland and Matt Wolff are in the field and will continue their quest to grab PGA Tour cards, with former major winners Patrick Reed and Bubba Watson also slated to tee it up.

In addition to the rather thin field, we are dealing with a golf course that we've never seen before. Detroit Golf Club was founded in 1899, but this will be its first-ever PGA Tour event, so we will have zero course history to draw from this week.

I'm not gonna lie ladies and gentlemen, this is a pretty tough week from a DFS perspective. A new golf course and a lackluster field aren't usually a recipe for success for those of us that normally feel like we have a bit of an advantage most weeks. Because we don't have any course history to evaluate, I'm throwing our usual format out the window this week and going with more of a "players I think I like in this spot" article. As always, thanks for reading! Let's talk about some golfers!

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: Detroit Golf Club

Par 72 - 7,309 Yards, Greens:

We're getting a course we haven't seen before this week with Detroit Golf Club. Established in 1899 and opened for play in 1916, DGC is a two-course complex (North & South Courses) with both being Donald Ross designs. For this week's Rocket Mortgage players will face 17 holes from the North Course with one hole from the South Course being utilized. Unlike some of Ross' other legendary courses (Pinehurst No 2, Oakland Hills, Scioto, to name just a few), DGC has never really hit the big time and this will be the club's first PGA Tour event.

The course should place a premium on accuracy off the tee with its tree-lined fairways, bunkers - not to mention out-of-bounds on multiple holes - forcing players to be somewhat cautious with drives. If players find the fairways, they should be hitting mid-to-short irons into these greens that have Ross' signature undulations and back-to-front slope. I'm looking for strong iron players and solid tee-to-green profiles this week. Fairways and greens will be the order of the day for me.

 

The Horse

Hideki Matsuyama (DK - $10,200 & FD - $11,300)

Notable Course History: None Available
Recent Form: T21 (U.S. Open), 6th (Memorial), T16 (PGA), T23 (Wells Fargo)

Look, we all know that Dustin Johnson is looming large over this field like King Kong. You guys don't need me to tell you to play DJ, so let's take a look at the other 'elite' options available to us. Of the players priced above $10k on DraftKings - Rickie Fowler, Gary Woodland, & Hideki Matsuyama - 'Deki is without a doubt my favorite option...and it's not particularly close.

Fowler is sponsored by Rocket Mortgage and will undoubtedly be faced with tons of corporate obligations this week. Woodland is making his first start since winning the U.S. Open and has been on a week-long victory tour. That brings us to Matsuyama, who - while being a huge star and always dealing with tons of Japanese media - can fly relatively under the radar.

When dealing with a course that's completely unknown, you have to feel great about Matsuyama's tee-to-green ability. Over his last 24 rounds he ranks top-10 in all of the following Strokes Gained categories: Total, Tee to Green, Ball Striking, Approach, and Short Game. Not to mention that he's first in this field in DK points scored over his last six tournaments.

We all know that Hideki has had more than his share of struggles with the putter, but he's actually been steadily improving on the greens over the past couple of months, and has gained strokes putting in his each one of his last four starts.

I'm not normally a big feel player when it comes to DFS, but it really does feel like Hideki is due for a win. His ball striking stats are elite and his putting is trending in the right direction. If I go above $10k this week, I'm heading straight for Matsuyama.

 

The Ponies

Ryan Moore (DK - $9,500 & FD - $10,200)

Notable Course History: N/A
Recent Form: T15 (Travelers), T33 (Memorial), M/C (PGA), T69 (Byron Nelson)

Let's continue our little walk down #narrativestreet with Ryan Moore. Doesn't the Rocket Mortgage Classic just sound like a tournament that Ryan Moore would win? Don't worry, I'm not (totally) basing this selection on the name of the tournament, as Moore has actually demonstrated some really impressive ball striking over the last few months.

At last week's Travelers, Moore gained a strong 4.1 strokes on approach and seven strokes tee to green. He grades out sixth in this field in SG: Approach, but is consistently held back by his short game, as he stands just 80th in SG: Around the Green and 63rd in SG: Putting. While those numbers are a little scary, it is somewhat encouraging that Moore has done his best work on the Poa surface that he will find this week at DGC.

Am I crazy about paying $9.5k for Ryan Moore? No, not really. But we know the deal on week's like this, players all along the salary scale will receive price bumps due to the weakness of this field. I don't want to say that you have to ignore prices this week, but you will have to make some stands with players in this field.

 

Billy Horschel (DK - $9,000 & FD - $10,400)

Notable Course History: N/A
Recent Form:T32 (U.S. Open), T9 (Memorial), T19 (Charles Schwab), T23 (PGA)

I'll admit that I probably had a little too much Billy Horschel in my DFS lineups for the U.S. Open, but I'm going right back to the well this week. Billy Ho heads to Detroit with a solid run of recent form. He's gained strokes T2G in all four of his starts since the Masters (including two majors) and has two top-25s and a top-10 in that span.

Horschel has been super solid both off the tee and with his irons. Over his last five tournaments he's averaged gains of 2.2 both OTT and on Approach. Since we're sort of grasping at straws when it comes to course history/fit this week, let's grasp at some with Billy Boy. Horschel has logged four top-five finishes in the last calendar year. One of them came in last year's BMW Championship, which was held at Aronimink Golf Club...a Donald Ross layout; one of the others was in last year's Tour Championship, which is held at East Lake...a Donald Ross layout. This week's Rocket Mortgage is being played at Detroit Golf Club, you guessed it...a Donald Ross design. Is it a little thin? Maybe. But on a week where we don't have much to go on, it's something.

We've already touched on pricing this week. It's tough, but I would actually argue that Horschel is the most appropriately-priced player in the $9 to $10k price range on DK. If you want to take a more balanced approach to lineup construction this week, you can start your builds with Horschel and try to jam in as many solid options as possible.

 

Jason Dufner (DK - $8,000 & FD - $9,500)

Notable Course History: N/A
Recent Form: T35 (U.S. Open) T7 (Memorial), T40 (Charles Schwab), M/C (PGA)

Let's continue down the list of guys that just scream, "ROCKET MORTGAGE CLASSIC CHAMPION"! Jason Dufner has a major championship win to his credit, so I'm definitely not knocking him, but it's been a rough few years for the 'Duff Daddy'. It seems like his career has been a series of peaks and valleys to this point, and if the way the War Eagle is striking the ball lately is any indicator, he might just be headed back to the mountaintop.

Dufner has been putting on a clinic with his irons recently. He ranks 13th in the field in SG: Approach over his last 24 rounds and has gained strokes with his irons in five of his last six tournaments. He's also been very solid off the tee, ranking third in this field in both Fairways Gained & Good Drives Gained. Fairways and greens are a stat I'm very interested in this week on an unknown course, and we can feel confident that Dufner will find both with regularity. The trouble starts once my man reaches the green, as he ranks an abysmal 116th in the field in SG: Putting. That's...not very good.

At $8k in this field, I'm willing to take a flyer on Dufner's putter being decent this week. Some will frame it by saying that since these greens are unfamiliar to every player in the field, everyone's a little more equal this week. I don't know that I fully buy that argument, but I nonetheless like Dufner as a 'GPP-Only' play this week.

 

Peter Malnati (DK - $7,500 & FD - $8,500)

Notable Course History: N/A
Recent Form: T30 (Travelers), T31 (RBC Canadian Open), T17 (Memorial), T40 (Charles Schwab)

Let's drop down to what stands in for 'mid-range value' this week with a guy from my neck of the woods. Peter Malnati, of Jefferson County High School in East Tennessee, is in the midst of a very solid run of play. He's ran off four straight made cuts - and while his finishes haven't been spectacular - he's shown the ability to go low with rounds of 66 in each of his last two starts.

Malnati pops in this spot due to his sharp iron play. He's eighth in this week's field in SG: Approach over his last 24 rounds and has gained strokes with his irons in his last four starts (including a MASSIVE NINE STROKES at the Memorial). Malnati's not a bomber, but comes in at a solid 21st in SG: Par 5s and 28th in Birdies or Better Gained.

The strength of Malnati's game is his mid and short iron play, which is what he should have in his hands plenty this week. As I've mentioned several times, it's a thin week, so catching a guy that's a sharp iron player and is playing with a lot of confidence at this price is enough for me in GPPs.

 

Alex Prugh (DK - $7,000 & FD - $8,100)

Notable Course History: N/A
Recent Form: 20th (Travelers), T21 (U.S. Open), M/C (RBC Canadian), M/C (Byron Nelson)

Chances are if you are gonna squeeze Dustin Johnson into your lineup, you will need to dive down into this range. Let me tell you, the sub-$7k price range of the Rocket Mortgage is NOT a pretty place to be. That said, if you do wanna take a shot with some 'Stars & Scrubs' builds you could probably do worse than Alex Prugh.

We're trying to ride the heater with Prugh here. He's been hot in his last two starts, a T21 at the U.S. Open and a T20 last week at the Travelers. Prugh has gained 7.5 & 4.5 strokes tee to green in those respective starts and does offer some salary relief. Over his last 24 rounds he's a nifty fourth in the field in GIRs Gained and 11th in Good Drives Gained. Fairways and greens. At $7k. At the Rocket Mortgage Classic. Give Prugh a look if you need to dive down here.

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PGA DFS: Horse For The Course - Travelers Championship

How about that U.S. Open? Gary Woodland held off Brooks Koepka to win the first major championship of his career. Woodland won at 13-under-par, not exactly the type of score we were expecting for a U.S. Open at Pebble Beach.

The unpredictable weather that we've seen at Pebble in years past never showed up and these powerful modern-day players were able to take advantage of the relatively-short layout as a result. Woodland powered his way to the win with his length and surprisingly-good short game, and finally delivered on the potential that we always knew he had. Even in defeat, Koepka continued to prove that he is a force to be reckoned with in major championships.

With the PGA Tour's new jam-packed schedule, we don't have much time to catch our breath, as we roll right into a Travelers Championship that boasts a surprisingly-strong field.

 

Travelers Championship Overview

We go from one coast to another this week, as the PGA Tour heads to Connecticut and TPC River Highlands for the 36th time. When I first started digging into this field I was pretty shocked by both how deep it is and also by how many players will be making the loooong trip from California on the heels of last week's U.S. Open.

Three-time Travelers champion Bubba Watson returns to one of his favorite courses to defend his title. Bubba will be joined by some high-profile names like Brooks Koepka, Jason Day, and Jordan Spieth. We'll also see the professional debuts of two extremely talented amateurs, Oklahoma State teammates Matthew Wolff and Viktor Hovland.

One thing we might want to be mindful of this week is the "major championship hangover" some of these guys might be dealing with. Obviously, we don't want to blindly ignore anyone that played last week, but you have to wonder how motivated a guy like Brooks Koepka will be this week after a runner-up finish in the U.S. Open.

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: TPC River Highlands

Par 70 - 6,841 Yards, Greens: Poa Annua

TPC River Highlands is a course with Pete Dye's fingerprints all over it. Its most famous stretch of holes (#'s 15-17) are played AROUND a huge 4-acre lake. While the course is tricky, we will still see plenty of birdies this week, as TPC River Highlands relinquished the only 58 in PGA Tour history to Jim Furyk a couple of years ago. At just over 6,800 yards this is one of the shortest tracks on the schedule, but players won't necessarily be able to overpower this course, as the layout requires less than driver off the tee in multiple spots. I'll be targeting sharp ball strikers that can pile up birdies this week.

 

The Horse

Paul Casey (DK - $9,500 & FD - $11,300)

Notable Course History: T2 ('18), T5 ('17), T17 ('16), 2nd ('15)
Recent Form: T21 (U.S. Open), W/D (Charles Schwab), T29 (PGA), T4 (Wells Fargo)

Yeah, I know...Paul Casey is kinda boring, but so is Connecticut (Just kidding Connecticut, you have a lovely and exciting state!). He doesn't generate as much buzz as some of the other names in this week's surprisingly-stout field, but the Englishman brings a strong track record of success and under-the-radar-good form with him to TPC River Highlands.

Casey hasn't won the Travelers, but he's been dominant over his last four appearances on this layout, with two runner-up finishes, a T5, and a T17 since 2015. He leads this week's field (including three-time champ Bubba Watson) in Strokes Gained: Total at the Travelers (39.57).

His solid ball striking and overall tee-to-green game is a terrific fit for this track. Casey stands second in the field in SG: Ball Striking and third in SG: T2G over his last 24 rounds. We know he's a pretty terrible putter (88th SG: Putting), but he's actually gained strokes with the flatstick in three of his last four starts at TPC River Highlands.

 

The Ponies

Bubba Watson (DK - $8,900 & FD - $10,200)

Notable Course History: Three-time Winner
Recent Form: M/C (U.S. Open), T63 (RBC Canadian Open), M/C (PGA), T12 (Masters)

Well, we're playing a 'Bubba course' this week, so let's talk about the three-time Travelers champion for a moment. A look at Watson's game log is gonna reveal some pretty hideous recent form. While I hate to say I'm completely dismissing his recent form...I'm basically completely dismissing his recent form. Bubba won this tournament last year after coming off a missed cut at the U.S. Open. Bubba won this tournament in 2015, you guessed it, after coming off a missed cut at the U.S. Open. So in short, I have no problem taking last week's outing a Pebble Beach with a grain of salt when it comes to how he will perform in Connecticut this week.

I've mentioned in the article in the past how 'course specific' Bubba is. He has his happy places where he plays well and also courses that we can pretty much take him totally out of consideration. TPC River Highlands ranks high on the 'Bubba scale', as it is truly one of his safe zones. I don't know if it's the tricky layout, the clubhouse, the greens, or the restaurants in town...but whatever it is, Watson likes it here and as a result usually plays really well.

We can look at his DK price of $8.9k and think that it's a pretty stiff salary for a guy that's went M/C-T63-M/C over his last three starts, but I kinda take the view that I'd be very happy to roster a player that can reasonably win the tournament for less than $9k. Bubba is never a cash-game play for me, but I'll happily pop him in GPP lineups this week.

 

Kevin Streelman (DK - $8,200 & FD - $9,500)

Notable Course History: T33 ('18), T8 ('17), M/C ('16), Win ('14)
Recent Form:4th (Memorial), T31 (Charles Schwab), T45 (Wells Fargo), T6 (RBC Heritage)

It's not often I find myself talking about Kevin Streelman, but he definitely deserves some attention this week. He took down the 2014 Travelers and notched a top-10 in 2017. The course history by itself is solid, but we're also getting a player in Streelman that hasn't missed a cut since March.

The 40-year-old Streelman isn't the type of player you would expect to pop statistically, but his numbers are pretty darn impressive. Over the last 24 measured rounds, he stands fifth in this field in SG: Ball Striking, sixth in SG: T2G, and fourth in SG: Approach. Solid stuff when you consider he ain't being compared to the Corales Puntacana field, but stacks up well statistically against what's a good Travelers lineup.

Streelman's $8.2k DK salary is a little disappointing and somewhat tough to swallow when we take into account that he hasn't been priced above $7.7k all season. That said, he's still a solid building block this week. His price over at FD is much more palatable.

 

Russell Knox (DK - $7,700 & FD - $9,700)

Notable Course History: T38 ('18), T62 ('17), Win ('16)
Recent Form: T27 (Memorial) T8 (Charles Schwab), M/C (PGA), T43 (Byron Nelson)

If you are considering Streelman at $8,200 then Russell Knox looks like a bargain at $7,700. Knox is a former winner of the Travelers (2016) and he heads to Connecticut with his form trending in the right direction.

Knox has struck his irons beautifully this season, ranking ninth in the field in SG: Approach and 10th in SG: Ball Striking. He has unfortunately been held back by a rather balky putter (80th in SG: Putting), but there have been some positive signs for him on the greens lately. Knox has gained strokes putting in his last two starts - 5.1 Charles Schwab & 2 Memorial - and his results have greatly improved as a result. If (and it's always an if when talking about Knox and putting) he can keep rolling the ball well this week, his sharp ball striking make him a legitimate dark-horse contender.

Knox is typically a 'GPP Only' play for me, but man...I do like this price tag this week. He will bring his irons, I don't have much doubt about that, but we're keeping our fingers crossed for another decent putting week.

 

Mackenzie Hughes (DK - $7,100 & FD - $8,300)

Notable Course History: T42 ('18), T17 ('17)
Recent Form: T14 (RBC Canadian Open), T8 (Charles Schwab), M/C (Byron Nelson), M/C (Wells Fargo)

We might be bringing a little volatility into play here with Mackenzie Hughes. The Canadian has a good enough track record at TPC River Highlands to bring him into consideration for me, but his recent form is what really catches my eye.

Hughes has played his best golf in his last two starts, a T14 in what was basically a home game at Hamilton G & CC and a top-10 outing at the Charles Schwab. The Canadian gained 5.1 strokes T2G at the Schwab and 6.7 T2G at the RBC. Those numbers have been powered by his sharp iron play. Hughes ranks 19th in the Travelers field in SG: Approach over his last 24 rounds and has gained strokes with his irons in five consecutive tournaments. He also stands 19th in the field in 'Good Drives Gained' and 29th in GIRs gained over the same time frame.

A lot of folks will gravitate to the fresh blood of Matthew Wolff in this price range - and while I'm definitely intrigued by Wolff - Hughes is a nice pivot in GPPs. His price is reasonable on both sites and rostering him opens up a lot of high-end options when building lineups.

 

Colin Morikawa (DK - $6,900 & FD - $8,700)

Notable Course History: None
Recent Form: T35 (U.S. Open), T14 (RBC Canadian Open)

I'm gonna veer off the course-history path with our last Pony of the week. The freshly-turned-professional-pair of Viktor Hovland and Matthew Wolff are going to garner a lot of hype and publicity this week (as they should), but I want to shine a little light on another young guy that just started cashing checks a few weeks ago.

Colin Morikawa from the University of California turned pro before the Canadian Open with a little less fanfare than the aforementioned Hovland & Wolff will receive this week, but he perhaps has as much star potential. The 22-year-old spent his college days battling it out with the boys from OK St. and managed to reach the #1 spot in the amateur rankings for a few weeks. He's been impressive in his first two outings as a pro, logging a T14 in Canada and a solid T35 at the U.S. Open last week.

We don't have many statistics to analyze Morikawa's game at this point, but he's gained strokes tee to green and on approach in both the Canadian & U.S. Opens. His short game has been rock-solid and he's one of those guys that just looks like he belongs on the PGA Tour. Morikawa is a great value on both DK & FD, and should be lightly-owned in GPPs.

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PGA DFS: Horse For The Course - 2019 U.S. Open

What is up RotoBallers? Rory McIlroy turned what had been a tight RBC Canadian Open through 54 holes into a blowout Sunday afternoon. The only drama available down the stretch was Rory's chance to shoot 59 (58 was even a possibility at one point).

Hamilton Golf & Country Club was a very suitable host of Canada's national championship. The short track played about as we expected and several players that were highlighted in last week's article (Webb Simpson logged a runner-up finish & Henrik Stenson nabbed a T8) did well. So hopefully we'll see Hamilton again sooner, rather than later, as I think we are all more than ready to move on from the farce that is Glen Abbey!

The layout at the Canadian Open provided a better-than-expected tune-up for players that are headed to the U.S. Open this week. Hamilton's tight fairways, thick rough, and Poa Annua greens were a decent stand-in for some things the field will face at Pebble Beach.

 

2019 U.S. Open Overview

It's pretty hard to believe we are already talking about the year's third major championship, but here we are. We head to a classic venue in Pebble Beach for the 2019 version of America's national championship. This will mark the sixth time that Pebble has hosted the U.S. Open and first time since 2010.

We get glimpses of Pebble Beach on an annual basis thanks to the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, but we can expect a drastically different golf course this week. Like most U.S. Open setups, the USGA will attempt to test every aspect of a player's golf game...both physically and mentally. The U.S. Open is often a war of attrition and it can be very far removed from some of the birdie-fests we routinely see on the PGA Tour.

Graeme McDowell walked away victorious from the 2010 U.S. Open and we've routinely seen the cream of the crop rise to the top of U.S. Opens held at Pebble Beach, with players like Woods, Nicklaus, and Watson (Tom, not Bubba) winning championships on this course. Plenty of eyes will be focused on Tiger Woods this week, but Brooks Koepka has demanded our respect and attention by winning the last two U.S. Opens, as well as the most recent PGA Championship. They'll be joined at Pebble by the best players in the world and those that went through the grueling qualifying process in order to live out their dream of playing in this great championship.

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: Pebble Beach Golf Links

Par 71 - 7,075 Yards, Greens: Poa Annua

The U.S. Open heads back to a classic venue this week in Pebble Beach. It's one of the most well-known golf courses in the world and it's with good reason. Pebble Beach offers a magical blend of architecture, natural features, and weather that will offer the field a stern test of their games.

This will be Pebble's sixth go-round as host for the U.S. Open and it has continually produced quality champions such as Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson, Tom Kite, and Tiger Woods. Pebble Beach doesn't have the length of some of the more modern golf courses that we see, but its natural defenses (penal rough and the ocean) will force players to be accurate off the tee. The tiny greens place an emphasis on sharp ball striking with brutal rough and bunkers awaiting errant approach shots. Pebble's Poa Annua greens are tricky, to put it mildly.

On top of all this, players will have to deal with unpredictable coastal winds and weather conditions that can change on a dime. Yep...this is gonna be a good tournament. I will intently focus on great ball strikers for my DFS lineups this week. I'm looking for players that can hit fairways and greens with regularity, but also have the ability to scramble. Unlike most major championships, distance will take a bit of a backseat for me at Pebble, though obviously those that are long AND accurate will put themselves in great position.

 

The Horse

Dustin Johnson (DK - $11,300 & FD - $12,200)

Notable Course History: Two-Time Winner (AT&T Pro-Am), T8 (2010 U.S. Open)
Recent Form: (RBC Canadian Open), 2nd (PGA Championship), T28 (RBC Heritage), T2 (Masters)

We all know that Dustin Johnson has more talent than perhaps anyone on the PGA Tour and when we throw in his strong track record at Pebble Beach, we have ourselves the perfect Horse for this week's U.S. Open!

DJ has been an absolute force in America's national championship over the last five years. He logged his lone major-championship win at the 2016 U.S. Open at Oakmont, and outside of a flukey missed cut on a funky Erin Hills layout in '17, Johnson has the win and three top-four finishes in the U.S. Opens played since 2014. DJ ranks second in the field (behind only back-to-back U.S. Open champ Brooks Koepka) in Strokes Gained: Total in Opens over the last five years at 56.35 strokes.

In addition to always navigating tough USGA layouts brilliantly, Johnson heads to a Pebble Beach course on which he's always thrived. He's a two-time winner of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am (36 of the tournament's 72 holes are contested on PB) and he headed into the final round of the 2010 U.S. Open with a three-shot lead before a disastrous final-round 82 sent a then-young-and-inexperienced Johnson tumbling into a tie for eighth. With most players we might worry about some psychological scarring at Pebble Beach from 2010, but DJ probably doesn't remember what he shot last Sunday and he's definitely not still carrying around one from a decade ago.

If you like stats, his are the stuff dreams are made of. He ranks either first or second in every major Strokes Gained category outside of SG: Approach (fifth) and SG: Around the Green (57th). He has the ability to bomb the driver when needed, but can also gear down and consistently hit fairways with irons off the tee. He has worked tirelessly to improve his wedge game and he's become one of the world's best from 150 yards and in. His putter still has its moments, but Poa is by far his best putting surface.

Johnson comes in with a DFS price just under Brooks Koepka on both DK & FD. Despite the strong price tag, I look for DJ to be a really popular option this week. The 'DJ only has one major thing' has been discussed to death, so I'm not going to get into it. Is it frustrating? Absolutely. Does he have a great chance at major win number two this week? Oh yeah!

 

The Ponies

Tiger Woods (DK - $10,700 & FD - $11,900)

Notable Course History: Win (2000 U.S. Open), T4 ('10 U.S. Open)
Recent Form: T9 (Memorial), M/C (PGA), Win (Masters), T30 (Players)

I don't mean to beat you guys over the head with Tiger Woods in every major championship, but it's just impossible to ignore his history at Pebble Beach. Woods painted an absolute masterpiece at Pebble in the 2000 U.S. Open when he DESTROYED the course and his competitors. He finished at 12-under par that week, with his nearest competitor at three-over par...a 15-shot victory that still stands as the most dominant performance in a major championship. In addition to his ridiculous win in 2000, Woods logged a T4 in the 2010 U.S. Open at PB.

If you have a heartbeat then you know that Tiger won the Masters earlier this year for his 15th major championship. You also know that he looked physically spent at the PGA Championship. I expect him to be closer to 'Masters Tiger' this week. He looked very sharp in his most recent outing at the Memorial where he gained over five strokes on approach and logged a T9 with an electric final-round 67.

Despite being 43-years-old, Tiger remains one of the game's best ball strikers. He ranks second in the field in GIRs Gained and third in Good Drives Gained over his last 24 measured rounds. His experience will be a huge asset on a layout that will require patience and mental toughness this week. His price is down to $10.7k on DK after they perhaps jumped the shark with his pricing at the PGA. If you want to fade Brooks & DJ, Tiger is a great place to start your roster construction.

 

Jason Day (DK - $9,100 & FD - $10,800)

Notable Course History: T4 ('19 AT&T), Win ('18 AT&T), T5 ('17 AT&T)
Recent Form: M/C (Memorial), T23 (PGA), T24 (Wells Fargo), T5 (Masters)

I'm honestly never too excited about tossing Jason Day's name up in this article, but I go where the course history takes me. J-Day has owned the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am over the past half-dozen years by logging FOUR top-fives in his last five AT&T starts. Sure...the entire tournament isn't played on PB, but the Aussie has tamed the beast sufficiently in his two rounds on Pebble each year, with a scoring average just over 70 for rounds on PB.

Day heads to Cali on the heels of an ugly missed cut at the Memorial. It's not ideal, but his recent form also may push his ownership down this week. For reasonable price tags on both DK & FD, we are getting the player with perhaps the best short game in the world. Day has gained strokes putting in every tournament he's played in 2019 and grades out seventh in this field in SG: Putting over his last 24 rounds. We know that Day can get loose with his irons, which is a scary thing when considering Pebble's tiny greens, but he did gain over two strokes on approach at this year's AT&T. In the back of my mind there's always the WD thing with Day, which makes it hard to pull the trigger on him in a $100 tournament like the Milly Maker, but if his AT&T record is any indication he's primed for a big week.

 

Paul Casey (DK - $8,300 & FD - $10,000)

Notable Course History: 2nd ('19 AT&T), T8 ('18 AT&T)
Recent Form: W/D (Charles Schwab) T29 (PGA), T4 (Wells Fargo), M/C (Masters)

Paul Casey's Pebble Beach experience isn't as extensive as some other players in this week's article, but it's pretty damn impressive. He logged a solo-second finish to Phil Mickelson (another player that has great history at Pebble BTW) in this year's AT&T and scored a T8 in the 2018 edition. The Englishman limped to a T40 in the 2010 U.S. Open, but his overall Pebble Beach scoring average is an impressive 69.25.

I've had some tough luck with Casey this year, so I'm a little reluctant to go back to the well here. He destroyed me in both the Players and the Masters with bizarrely-bad outings. He also hasn't been in action since withdrawing from the Charles Schwab mid tournament with the flu. So...there are several reasons for me to shy away from Casey this week, but I just keep getting pulled in by his numbers: third in SG: T2G, fourth in SG: Ball Striking, fourth SG: OTT, and 13th SG: Approach. We know he's a horrendous putter (101st SG: Putting), but he's decent enough around the greens (36th SG: ATG) to remain in consideration this week. He burned lots of folks at Colonial a few weeks ago with the WD and it might be an 'out of sight, out of mind' situation with Casey this week. If his ownership is projected at 10% or lower, I'll jump on.

 

Brandt Snedeker (DK - $7,500 & FD - $9,400)

Notable Course History: Two-time Winner (AT&T), T8 ('10 U.S. Open)
Recent Form: T4 (RBC Canadian Open), T19 (Charles Schwab), T16 (PGA), T48 (RBC Heritage)

This definitely won't be the first or last place that you hear Brandt Snedeker's name during your research process this week. The Vanderbilt Commodore is the course history king of Pebble Beach. Sneds has two AT&T wins under his belt (2013 & '15) and played well enough to log a T8 in the 2010 U.S. Open. His scoring average on rounds at Pebble sits just a shade over 69 and it's lack of length makes it one of the few layouts that the short-hitting Snedeker can truly compete with the big boys on.

It's basically the perfect storm for Sneds this week. He's been trending up recently after reuniting with his old swing coach earlier this year. He logged top-20's in both the PGA Championship and the Schwab before exploding for a second-round 60 and a T4 finish in Canada last week. The Nashville native has a magical short game, ranking first in SG: Around the Green & 18th in SG: Putting. He's also very comfortable on Poa greens and is also considered to be one of the best wind players in the world. If you think rostering Sneds will be sneaky this week, you are sorely mistaken. He will probably be the most popular value option on the board.

 

Jimmy Walker (DK - $7,000 & FD - $8,500)

Notable Course History: Win ('14 AT&T), T8 ('18 AT&T), T11 ('16 AT&T), T3 ('13 AT&T)
Recent Form: T35 (RBC Canadian Open), T19 (Charles Schwab), T23 (PGA), M/C (AT&T Byron Nelson)

Jimmy Walker heads to the U.S. Open under circumstances that are eerily similar to the aforementioned Brandt Snedeker. Like Snedeker, he has been fabulous throughout his career at Pebble Beach. And also like Sneds, he is playing his best golf of the season at the moment. Walker has practically lived in the AT&T Pro-Am top-10 for the better part of the past decade and he captured the title in 2014. His arrow is definitely pointing up right now, as he's reeled off three straight made cuts with two top-25s.

Walker has been consistently solid as of late and has averaged 3.2 SG: T2G over his last five tournaments. His stats are unremarkable, but he's routinely smooth around the greens and Poa Annua is by far his best putting surface (+0.44 strokes on Poa). He's a great wind player and has tamed the major-championship beast before (2016 PGA Championship). Walker will be a popular discount option this week.

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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!

 

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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PGA DFS: Horse For The Course - The Memorial

Hi RotoBallers, and welcome back to 'HFTC'! Kevin Na took advantage of a Colonial layout that played to his strengths last week and took down the Charles Schwab Challenge for the third PGA Tour victory of his career.

We'll jump into an exciting Memorial tournament in just a moment, but I did want to mention some comments that Kevin Na made last week that I found very interesting. To paraphrase Na's thoughts, he basically said that there are only seven or eight stops on the PGA Tour schedule where he feels like he has a legitimate chance to win, with Colonial obviously being one of them. He discussed how his lack of distance puts him at a disadvantage on numerous courses and that winning just isn't realistic for him on a number of the longer layouts.

I found Na's comments to be very open and honest, and also kind of brave in a way. His words are applicable for PGA DFS purposes. Some folks in the industry want to scoff at and/or wave away course history as something of a farce or joke, but it is pretty powerful to hear an accomplished PGA Tour professional saying openly and honestly that he feels his chance for success increases exponentially at certain golf courses. Here at 'HFTC', I attempt to use course history as a tool to identify players whose past performances might point to future successes...and Na's statement helps to solidify my belief that course history isn't an 'old wives tale', but rather a legitimate piece of the puzzle when targeting DFS plays. From a DFS perspective, last week was one that a lot of us would probably like to forget. We had some major W/D's after lineups locked and several of the field's big names missing the cut. Unfortunately, those weeks happen sometimes. We have to hang tough! Let's dive into the Memorial!

 

The Memorial Overview

We hear the term 'Fifth Major' tossed around a lot when discussing The Players Championship, but The Memorial is no slouch when it comes to attracting star-studded fields. The Memorial is 'Jack's tournament' and Mr. Nicklaus can still draw the biggest names in golf to Dublin, Ohio.

One of those stars that will be in attendance this year is Tiger Woods, a five-time winner at Muirfield Village. It will be Woods' first start since his disappointing missed cut at the PGA Championship. He'll be joined by the defending Memorial champion Bryson DeChambeau, who has been mired in a bit of slump as of late. A surging Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlory, Justin Rose, and many of golf's other elites are also headed to Dublin, Ohio.

While the Memorial never fails to draw an all-star caliber field, we've seen some surprising names triumph in this event in the past, with guys named McGirt, Dufner, and Lingmerth having left Dublin victorious over the last five years. Nicklaus designed Muirfield Village with an emphasis on accuracy and ballstriking in mind and we've seen players that hit fairways and greens consistently be rewarded in this event.

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: Muirfield Village Golf Club

Par 72 - 7,392 Yards, Greens: Bentgrass

We can always count on a Nicklaus-designed course to force the players into strategic thinking and Muirfield Village doesn't disappoint. 'The Golden Bear' built this course from the ground up in the 1970's and he continually updates it as needed. It's lengthy, but isn't a 'bomber's track'. Difficult, but not impossible to score on. In other words, Muirfield is a very high-quality golf course. The emphasis this week will be on accuracy and ballstriking, with players being required to hit both tree-lined fairways and undulating greens. Water is in play on 11 holes, with bunkers also causing trouble for the players. The closing stretch is one of the toughest in golf, with 16, 17, and 18 presenting players with a challenging close to their rounds. I'll be heavily weighting Strokes Gained: Approach, SG: OTT (with an emphasis on accuracy), and bogey avoidance this week at Muirfield.

 

The Horse

Patrick Cantlay (DK - $10,200 & FD - $11,000)

Notable Course History: 4th (2018), T35 ('17)
Recent Form: T3 (PGA), T3 (RBC Heritage), T9 (Masters), M/C (The Players)

In a field that's loaded with established stars, this week's Horse is a player that falls into the 'rising star' category. Patrick Cantlay is a young player that DFS regulars have had an eye on for some time and the 27-year-old has been delivering on his huge potential in 2019.

Cantlay is quickly becoming a force in golf's high profile events. He logged a top-10 at the Masters and a top-five at the PGA Championship, and the Long Beach native has consistently flourished on difficult courses. His history at Muirfield Village is limited, but he scored a solo-fourth-place finish in his second Memorial start last year.

He checks all of the boxes that we are looking for this week. He's a complete player that ranks fifth in the field in SG: Tee to Green over the last 24 rounds. His ball striking is razor sharp at the moment, as he stands fifth in the field in SG: Ball Striking and seventh in SG: Approach. Cantlay is extremely dependable off the tee (10th in SG: OTT). He gives himself tons of birdie chances (10th in Opportunities Gained) and consistently stays away from big numbers (first in Bogeys Avoided).

We've been somewhat spoiled with Cantlay's DFS price tags this season and his DK salary is above $10k for just the second time in 2019. He was an extremely popular option the last time he teed it up in the PGA Championship and I expect a lot of folks will be eager to go back to him this week. The price tag might give some people pause, but I'll be glad to work Cantlay into my Memorial lineups, as it feels like a win is almost inevitably coming soon.

 

The Ponies

Tiger Woods (DK - $11,200 & FD - $11,700)

Notable Course History: Five-time winner
Recent Form: M/C (PGA), Win (Masters), T30 (The Players)

If a guy has won on a course five times, I think I'm contractually obligated to mention him in this article. That's the mind-boggling win total that Tiger Woods has accumulated at Muirfield Village during his career, and though a disappointing missed cut at the PGA Championship might have finally dulled the shine of his Masters win a tiny bit, we are still talking about a highly-skilled player that is heading to a course he loves.

We know that ball striking is of the utmost important at the Memorial and even at 43-year-old, Woods is still one of the preeminent ball strikers on the PGA Tour. He's 18th in the field in SG: Approach over the last 24 rounds and we can be confident that he'll bring some sharp iron play to Ohio this week.

More concerning is Woods' play off the tee. We saw him drive the ball beautifully at Augusta National en route to his Masters win, but he struggled off the tee at Bethpage and hit just three fairways during a second-round 73 that heavily contributed to his missed cut at the PGA. He grades out just 44th in this field in SG: Off The Tee and will need to consistently keep the ball in play if he's going to have a chance this week.

Once again, DK has strapped Woods with a very high price tag ($11.3k). He trails only Rory McIlory on the salary scale and it's the type of price forces DFS players into a difficult decision. We saw his ownership come in a little lower than we expected at the PGA and I wouldn't be surprised if that's once again the case the week, so he should offer some leverage in GPPs.

 

Matt Kuchar (DK - $9,400 & FD - $10,900)

Notable Course History: T13 ('18), T4 ('17), T4 ('16), Win ('13)
Recent Form: T8 (PGA), 2nd (RBC Heritage), T12 (RBC Heritage), T7 (Valero)

After featuring Matt Kuchar in this article numerous times last season, I've eased up a bit in 2019. I figure that you guys know what you are getting with Kuchar by now...he's super-solid across the board and is a DFS asset that we can put a lot of trust in.

While we can feel confident about Kuch pretty much on a weekly basis, the guy has been absolute money at Muifield Village. He leads this field in SG: Total (39.01) at the Memorial since 2014 and has a win and two top-fives since 2013.

The 40-year-old is in the midst of one of his best seasons as a pro. Kuchar has two wins, two top fives, and two top-10's already to his credit this season. He's striking the ball extremely well and stands fourth in the field in SG: Approach over his last 24 rounds. His putting has been hit-or-miss lately (47th in SG: Putting over the last 24 rounds), but we've also seen him have some solid weeks with the flatstick that have propelled him to strong outings.

When you think of Matt Kuchar, you think 'Cash Game Play' - and it's true, he is a safe, reliable option - but we have seen DFS players be reluctant to spend up for Kuchar in previous weeks. On the two recent occasions that he's been priced above $9k his ownership has been noticeably reduced, so he might be a surprisingly viable tournament play at the Memorial.

 

Henrik Stenson (DK - $8,500 & FD - $10,200)

Notable Course History: T13 ('18)
Recent Form: T48 (PGA) T20 (AT&T Byron Nelson), T28 (Wells Fargo), T36 (Masters)

Henrik Stenson's Memorial track record isn't as extensive as some of our other highlighted players this week, but it is fair to deduct that the 'Iceman' has all the right stuff needed to succeed at Muirfield Village.

After scuffling a bit at the start of 2019, Stenson once again has his irons absolutely dialed in. He's first in this field in SG: Approach over his last 24 rounds and has averaged a massive 5.1 strokes gained on approach over his last five tournaments. He's sixth in the field in proximity from 150-175 yards and 25th from 175-200 yards, two key yardages that players will face this week.

While Muirfield is long, Stenson will be able to rely on his trusty 3-wood off the tee fairly often. The Swede struggles with his driver, but is deadly with the fairway wood and ranks sixth in the field in Fantasy National's Good Drives Gained metric. He should be able to continually put himself in great position off the tee and avoid Muirfield's troublesome rough.

Stenson's iron play will draw the attention of lots of DFS players this week. The drawback with Stenson is his terribly spotty putting. He's lost strokes with the flatstick in four of his last five starts and his troubles on the greens have severely limited his upside this season. We've seen less-than-stellar putters do well in this tournament and Stenson has tournament-winning upside if he can get a few putts to drop.

 

Emiliano Grillo (DK - $7,900 & FD - $9,700)

Notable Course History: T23 ('18), T40 ('17), T11 ('16)
Recent Form: T19 (Charles Schwab), T23 (PGA), T33 (RBC Heritage), T62 (Masters)

We've known for a couple of years that Emiliano Grillo is a very talented young player. It seems like he just hasn't been able to put everything together yet and that has again been the case in 2019.

Grillo's form has been trending up over the past month. He heads to Ohio on the heels of three rock-solid outings. The Argentinian has been smoking his irons and has gained over four strokes on approaches in his last two tournament starts ( 4.4-Schwab & 4.3-PGA). He's a tremendous long-iron player and ranks third in the field in proximity from both 150-175 yards and 175-200 yards, two key distances on this Muirfield Village layout.

Grillo's downfall this season has been his struggles on the greens. Over his last five tournaments he's lost an average of 1.1 strokes putting, but that still shows some improvement when compared to his average of -2.3 strokes putting over his last 10 tournaments. Bentgrass is Grillo's best putting surface and he's gained .24 strokes on Bent vs. losing strokes putting on both Poa and Bermuda.

His combination of solid course history, recent form, and price will make Grillo a popular DFS selection this week. You aren't going to sneak up on anyone with him in tournaments, but he grades out as a tremendous cash-game option.

 

Peter Uihlein (DK - $7,200 & FD - $8,600)

Notable Course History: 5th ('18), T25 ('17)
Recent Form: T13 (Charles Schwab), T5 (AT&T Byron Nelson), M/C (Wells Fargo), M/C (RBC Heritage)

One of the cool things about writing this article every week is that you never know where the research process will take you. This week my research led me to a player that isn't often talked about for DFS purposes. Peter Uihlein isn't a player that pops up on my radar very often, but his combination of surprising course history and recent form makes me very interested in the 29-year-old this week.

After a collegiate career at Oklahoma State, Uihlein took the 'Brooks Koepka route' and grinded on the Euro Tour for a few seasons before earning his PGA Tour card and playing a full schedule last season and ultimately finishing 81st in the FedEx Cup standings. He's had some false starts this season and has been forced to W/D from a couple of tournaments, but Uihlein has figured things out over the past month - logging a T5 at the Byron Nelson and a T13 at Colonial last week.

He's a tremendous putter that ranks ninth in this field in SG: Putting over the last 24 rounds and he also possesses a silky short game (17th in SG: Around the Green), but Uihlein's strong recent output has been powered by his improved iron play. He ranks just 92nd in the field in SG: Approach, but he's gained 1.4 & 2.4 strokes on approach in his last two starts (AT&T Byron Nelson & Charles Schwab).

We've seen some erratic results from Uihlein both this season and throughout his brief career, so he definitely falls into the 'GPP Only' category for me, but he is an intriguing option this week. He'll probably garner some buzz around the DFS industry, but will most likely go overlooked by casual players.

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PGA DFS: Horse For The Course - Charles Schwab Challenge

Well...that was impressive.

Brooks Koepka once again flexed his muscle in a major championship. Koepka bludgeoned both Bethpage Black and a hapless field of competitors into submission on his way to capturing the 2019 PGA Championship. It's his fourth major victory in two years.

If there were any doubters left, Koepka erased them last week and proved that he will be a force to be reckoned with in majors for the foreseeable future.

 

Charles Schwab Challenge Overview

New name, same great course! What has formerly been known as the Fort Worth Invitational and the Dean & Deluca is now the Charles Schwab Challenge, and while the name is a bit cheesy, I'm happy that this tournament now has a seemingly stable sponsor in place. I hate to continue gushing over the PGA Tour's new schedule, but man I am loving it! We go from a monstrous Bethpage Black layout to a subtle masterpiece in Colonial Country Club. Justin Rose held off the aforementioned Brooks Koepka to win in Fort Worth last year. The Englishman is back to defend his title against a rather spicy field that includes Rickie Fowler, Jon Rahm, and a surging Jordan Spieth.

While power is almost always a big asset - and definitely was last week - players will face a different type of challenge at Colonial Country Club this week. Don't be surprised to see distance taking a bit of a backseat to shot-making ability on this legendary layout. While long knockers can certainly play well here, this tournament's past leaderboards are littered with great ball strikers, and on this layout that features tight fairways and multiple doglegs, that's the way I'll be leaning for DFS purposes this week.

I try to start with a clean slate each week when writing 'HFTC', because each tournament brings its own unique set of circumstances. In this week's edition I didn't spend a ton of time on the many strong options available at the top of the salary scale for the Charles Schwab. Instead, I found myself interested in players that might be considered a bit out of the box. As a result, I feel this week's highlighted players definitely profile more as 'GPP-type plays' that you can pair with some of the more popular options at the top of the salary scale.

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: Colonial Country Club

Par 70 - 7,209 Yards, Greens: Bentgrass

This 1936 design was recognized as an instant classic. Since Colonial made its debut on the PGA Tour in 1946, it has continued to endure as a mainstay on the schedule. The legendary Ben Hogan looms large as a presence at Colonial, as he won the event back-to-back not once, but twice. In the same vein of Hogan, we have seen the same players repeatedly perform well at the Forth Worth layout. The tight fairways and multiple doglegs that are cut through the course's pecan trees make this layout difficult to overpower, with a premium being placed on a player's ball striking and shot-making abilities. While distance is not something we ever want to totally dismiss, it will without a doubt take a backseat in importance at Ben Hogan's old stomping grounds.

 

The Horse

Kevin Kisner (DK - $9,200 & FD - $10,500)

Notable Course History: T52 (2018), Win ('17), T10 ('16), T5 ('15)
Recent Form: M/C (PGA), T41 (RBC Heritage), T21 (Masters)

In a field that's honestly pretty stacked, Kevin Kisner probably isn't the name you expected to see here this week. No, he doesn't fall into the 'elite' category in this field, and no, he's not an especially awesome DFS value...but the 'Kiz' is calling my name this week.

I'm throwing out last week's outing at the PGA Championship, because I honestly believe Kisner took one look at Bethpage's length and said, "Nope, not for me." So, while it's not ideal to be targeting a player that's fresh off a bad performance, I'm willing to give Kisner a pass for having one foot out the door before the tournament even started. While the Black Course was about the worst imaginable fit for his game, this week's Colonial layout fits him like a glove. The premium placed on shotmaking and finding fairways at Colonial is right down Kisner's alley, as his previous results here show.

The South Carolina native heads to Texas ranked seventh in this field in Fantasy National's Fairways Gained metric over his last 24 rounds, as well as standing 21st in the field in Greens in Regulation Gained over the same time frame. Fairways and greens...it ain't sexy, but it'll get the job done this week. Speaking of getting the job done, Kiz has been doing DAMAGE on Par 4's measuring 400-450 yards. He grades out second in the field in efficiency on Par 4's of that length and he will get to face seven of them at Colonial this week.

The best word I can find to describe Kisner is 'solid'. The guy ran off finishes between 28th and 22nd in six straight tournaments before winning the WGC-Dell Match Play. He's never gonna be a player that we're in love with on super-long tracks, but luckily we don't have to worry about that at Colonial. It's early, but Kisner's performance at the PGA will turn some people off and his ownership should come in at around 10%, making him an intriguing GPP pivot from a sure-to-be-popular Paul Casey at $9,300.

 

The Ponies

Jordan Spieth (DK - $10,900 & FD - $11,400)

Notable Course History: T32 ('18), T2 ('17), Win ('16), T2 ('15)
Recent Form: T3 (PGA), T29 (AT&T Byron Nelson), T54 (RBC Heritage), T21 (Masters)

Ummm...is Jordan Spieth good at golf again? Who is this guy that looked so 'Spieth-like' at Bethpage last week? Obviously, things aren't simple when it comes to Spieth, as we've seen him go through a myriad of trials and tribulations with his game over the past year.

The best way to explain Spieth's major-championship resurgence last week is that he has once again turned into a very good putter. He gained a MASSIVE 10.6 strokes putting at the PGA Championship on the heels of a T29 outing at the AT&T Byron Nelson in which he gained 6.2 strokes on the greens. Now, if you do your PGA DFS stat homework you know those types of numbers aren't sustainable long term, but Spieth has averaged 5.1 strokes gained putting over his last five tournaments. Which is...a start.

We're still waiting on the ball striking to come around. Spieth has been consistently horrible with the driver and ranks an abysmal 112th in this 155-man field in SG: OTT over the last 24 rounds. If there's a positive to his play off the tee, it's that he won't be forced to totally rely on his driver this week. He certainly knows his way around Colonial and has been downright dominant on this course over the last four years with a win and two runner-up finishes on his Colonial resume.

Let's tackle the elephant in the room...Spieth's beautifully insane DraftKings price tag of $10,900. It puts him behind only Justin Rose and Jon Rahm on the salary scale, and above trusted workhorses like Rickie Fowler and Xander Schauffele. To get the thought out of the way, yes...it's way too high. However, I've had some nice success this season by being willing to swallow a high salary when other DFS players are running for the hills (Anybody remember Rory Sabbatini at the Byron Nelson a couple of weeks ago?). Sure, it's a little nuts, but you don't take down big tournaments by building cookie-cutter lineups. If I see that Spieth's ownership is trending heavily downward due to the price, I'll jump on board in large-field GPPs.

 

Joel Dahmen (DK - $8,200 & FD - $9,600)

Notable Course History: T20 ('18)
Recent Form: T71 (PGA), 2nd (Wells Fargo), T16 (RBC Heritage), T69 (Valero)

Let's take a minute to talk about a slightly lesser-known player that's been on a mini heater as of late. Joel Dahmen has been a name that those in DFS circles have known for a while, but his recent play - including a solo second at the Wells Fargo a few weeks ago - has earned him some recognition in the larger golf-fan community.

I'm always reluctant to jump on the 'flavor of the month', but Dahmen is doing all the right things on the course. He's 10th in this strong field in SG: Approach and eighth in SG: Ball Striking over his last 24 rounds. He's gained 5.1 (PGA) and 6.2 (Wells Fargo) strokes on approach in his last two starts. Dahmen's Colonial track record isn't extensive (a T20 in his lone start last year), but the tight layout seems to be a natural fit for his game, as he stands ninth in the field in Proximity to the Hole - which will help tremendously when taking aim at Colonial's small greens - and 11th in Par 4 Efficiency on holes measuring 400-450 yards (there are seven such holes this week).

Dahmen's DK price tag is up a bit from his usual mid-$7k salary, but his journey into the low-$8k's feels earned. I'm comfortable riding the 'Dahmen wave' in GPPs.

 

Matt Jones (DK - $7,400 & FD - $8,800)

Notable Course History: T63 ('17), M/C ('16), T45 ('14)
Recent Form: T5 (AT&T Byron Nelson) T38 (Wells Fargo), T30 (Valero), T18 (Corales)

You guys are probably sick of me beating you over the head with Matt Jones, but if you've been rostering him regularly over the past couple of months you know what I'm talking about. Does DraftKings have something against Australians? What's this guy gotta do to get a price bump? Here's a list of Jones' last six tournament finishes and his DK price for that week: T36 ($7,200) - T13 ($6,700) - T18 ($9,000) - T30 ($7,200) - T38 ($7,200) - T5 ($7,500). This week? $7,400. As long as they continue to throw Jones out there at this price, I'll be rostering him.

The Aussie's course history at Colonial isn't as good as we'd normally like to see in this article. His lack of success can probably be attributed to iron play that can be wobbly at times. Jones isn't setting the world on fire on approach (51st in the field SG: Approach), but he has gained strokes in that area in two of his last three starts. He's solid overall - standing seventh in the field in SG: T2G over his last 24 rounds - and he's good both on and around the greens (11th in the field SG: Short Game).

We are always targeting specific statistical traits in PGA DFS - and that's a very good thing - but there's also something to be said for guys that are just good golfers. It's easy to miss the forest for the trees sometimes in this industry, but I'm going to (perhaps stubbornly) overlook Jones' lack of success at Colonial in order to get him into my lineups this week.

 

Danny Lee (DK - $7,300 & FD - $8,700)

Notable Course History: T14 ('18), 6th ('17), T22 ('16), T10 ('15), T38 ('14)
Recent Form: T36 (PGA), M/C (Wells Fargo), T41 (RBC Heritage), T7 (Valero)

Danny Lee's name popped up at last week's PGA Championship after he fired an opening-round 64. He faded over the next three rounds and finished in a tie for 36th. Lee's outing at the PGA isn't the reason that he's highlighted here this week, though he did STRIPE his irons and gained 4.8 strokes on approach at Bethpage.

Lee's inclusion in this week's article is due to his sterling history of success at Colonial. In this 155-man field, Lee stands second to only Jordan Spieth in SG: Total in this tournament over the last five years at 31.1. As mentioned above, Lee's irons were on point at Bethpage last week and he also had a nice T7 outing at Valero in which he 5.2 strokes on approach, giving him positives in the Approach metric in three of his last four starts.

Those of you that have been around PGA DFS for long probably know not to put all your eggs in the 'Danny Lee basket'. It's hard to explain his consistent inconsistency, but he's been rock solid at Colonial and has went 5/5 in cuts made since 2014 with his worst finish being a T38 in 2014. He won't be anywhere near my cash-game lineups, but he's an intriguing GPP prospect this week on a track that he's owned in the past.

 

Shawn Stefani (DK - $6,800 & FD - $8,100)

Notable Course History: T66 ('18), T34 ('16), T19 ('15)
Recent Form: T20 (AT&T Byron Nelson), T13 (Wells Fargo), M/C (Valero), T44 (Corales)

We're gonna do a little discount shopping with our last Pony of the week. Shawn Stefani probably isn't a name that you hear very often, but I've got my eyes on the 37-year-old as we head to Colonial. Stefani has been solid in three previous starts on the Texas masterpiece, with his best being a T19 coming back in 2015.

My interest in Stefani stems from his eye-popping iron play in his past two starts. He stands a very respectable 14th in the field in SG: Approach over his last 24 rounds, but he's been especially scorching in his last two outings: 5.8 SG: Approach at the AT&T Byron Nelson that resulted in a T20 and 6.1 SG: Approach at the Wells Fargo that ended with a T13. He has the tools needed at Colonial this week and ranks 11th in the field in both 'Good Drives Gained' and 'GIR's Gained' over the last 24 rounds.

Stefani provides some nice salary relief at just $6.8k and is the perfect player to plug into 'Stars & Scrubs' builds on a week where there's a lot of quality at the top of the salary scale. Like most of our highlighted players this week, he's a GPP play that I feel great about taking a shot with.

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