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PGA DFS: Horse For The Course - 2019 PGA Championship

It's major championship time RotoBallers!

Yes, it's hard to believe that the year's second major is already upon us, but the PGA Tour's new 2019 schedule keeps things coming fast and furious. I say 'Bring It On'...the more PGA DFS the better!

I'm not going to spend any time on Sung Kang's victory at the Byron Nelson last week, but I will mention that our 'Horses' came up huge, with THREE of our highlighted players (Koepka, Sabbatini, and Jones) logging top-five finishes! Let's keep this momentum going!

 

PGA Championship Overview

The PGA Championship has long been known as 'Glory's Last Shot', but it is now the second major championship on the calendar. This week's PGA will be played at the legendary Bethpage Black course, one of America's toughest tracks and also one of the few truly public courses that you will see hosting a major championship.

Brooks Koepka won last year's PGA Championship at Bellerive and we all know that it will be Tiger Woods' first time teeing it up since his return to glory at Augusta National. This field is packed with golf's superstars and all 100 of the OWGR's top 100 will be in attendance at Bethpage. Evaluating course history will be difficult...Bethpage has hosted two U.S. Opens - but both came over a decade ago - and two FedEx Cup playoff events (The Barclays) in 2012 and 2016.

If the 'HFTC' isn't enough for you this week, check out my 2019 PGA Championship DFS Bible, for an in-depth DFS breakdown of the field!

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: Bethpage Black

Par 70 - 7,432 Yards, Greens: Poa Annua

This AW Tillinghast design is perhaps the best public golf course in the United States. By public, I mean that anyone can go play it and it won't cost you $800. The Black Course is the crown jewel of Bethpage State Park's five courses. It has hosted two U.S. Opens ('02 & '09) and two FedEx Playoff events (Barclays '12 & '16). There isn't anything tricky about the Black Course, it's just long and mean and in your face. Its length forces players to hit driver, but you can't miss the (narrowish) fairways because nasty rough awaits. We've seen the USGA dial Bethpage up to 11 for the U.S. Opens and the PGA Tour scale things back a bit for the Barclays events...we can probably expect a degree of difficulty that falls somewhere in the middle for this week's PGA Championship. One important note, it's rained in New York for about two months straight and will continue to do so for at least part of the tournament, so this beast will be playing even longer with players getting next to no roll out off the tee.

 

The Horse

Tiger Woods (DK - $11,300 & FD - $11,700)

Notable Course History: Win ('02 U.S. Open), T6 ('09 U.S. Open), T38 ('12 Barclays)
Recent Form: Win (Masters), T30 (Players), T10 (WGC-Mexico)

You guys knew the 'Horse' was going to be Tiger right? I know it's a little obvious, but the man's record speaks for itself. In a field full of players with little-to-no Bethpage Black experience, I have to highlight the man that conquered the Black course at its toughest (the '02 U.S. Open) and logged a T6 in a rain-soaked (sound familiar?) 2009 U.S. Open.

In addition to his experience and history of success at Bethpage, we also have to love where Tiger's game is right now. You might have heard that he WON THE FREAKIN' MASTERS about a month ago! We know the 'Big Cat' can go on major-winning binges and his lack of play after his win at Augusta National gives us the sense that he's laser focused on winning another one.

Tiger is perhaps the greatest iron player that's ever lived, and he leads this field in GIRs Gained over his last 24 rounds, so we have to feel comfortable with that area of his game. The bigger area of interest for me is how he's hitting his driver. We know that it's been a continuing issue for Tiger over the years, but he drove the ball impeccably at Augusta National and it was a key component in his Masters victory. He grades out 47th in this field in SG: OTT over his last 24 rounds, but stands a rock-solid fourth in Fantasy National's Good Drives Gained metric over the same time period. I think those numbers speak to Tiger's willingness to sacrifice a bit of distance in order to have control of shot shape and accuracy off the tee. He's 'long enough' that if he's finding fairways with regularity at Bethpage, he will have a serious chance to win his second major of the season.

DraftKings isn't pulling any punches with Tiger this week, as he's the highest-priced player on their board at $11,300. Most regular DFS players are aware of Tiger's popularity with casual fans - the type of fans who will be entering the Milly Maker - so there probably is a game-theory argument that can be made for fading him in that tournament. However, if you are going to roster a player over the $10k threshold, Tiger offers the best combination of floor and ceiling of the bunch.

 

The Ponies

Rickie Fowler (DK - $9,300 & FD - $11,100)

Notable Course History: M/C ('09 U.S. Open), T24 ('12 Barclays), T7 ('16 Barclays)
Recent Form: T4 (Wells Fargo), T9 (Masters), T17 (Valero)

Let's drop down into the low $9k range to talk about our first 'Pony' of the week, Rickie Fowler. Fowler's course history doesn't bash you over the head as dominant, but I really like his trend of improvement over three starts at Bethpage. He missed the cut at the '09 U.S. Open (as a 20-year-old), but produced a top-25 and a T7 in two Barclays starts.

In addition to the course history, there's a lot to like about Rickie's form. He's made the cut in all 12 of his starts this season with a win, two top-fives, and a top-10 at the Masters. Fowler might not have captured that elusive first major win yet, but he's been straight-up money in the biggest tournaments. He hasn't missed the cut in a major championship in over two years ('16 U.S. Open) and over the last five years he's recorded seven top-fives finishes in majors.

Fowler doesn't blow you away statistically in one specific area, rather he's the type of player that seemingly does everything really well. His standing of seventh in Strokes Gained: Total in this elite field reflects that overall ability.

He feels really affordable at $9.3k on DK, so rostering Rickie will probably involve swallowing a big ol' chunk of chalk. I understand that we want to be contrarian in a huge tournament like the Milly Maker, but we also need core building blocks in our lineup. Those of you multi-entering might want to consider penciling Rickie in as a core piece while mixing and matching some contrarian-type players around him.

 

Jason Day (DK - $9,000 & FD - $11,300)

Notable Course History: T24 ('12 Barclays), T4 ('16 Barclays)
Recent Form: T24 (Wells Fargo), T5 (Masters), M/C (Valspar), T8 (Players)

I got a little queasy as I typed Jason Day's name into the header. The Aussie is a player that I don't have the stomach for anymore, but here at 'HFTC' I'm willing to set my personal biases aside for the good of the reader. *PATS SELF ON BACK* Ok, back to the warrior Jason Day...like I said, the guy's not my personal cup of tea, but there's no doubt that he can play.

He's performed well at Bethpage Black in his previous starts at the tough Long Island track, and really, at all difficult courses in general. If we use Fantasy National's amazing tools to narrow our stat search, we find that on courses considered 'Difficult' and over 7,400 yards, Jason Day ranks second in this field in both SG: T2G and SG: Total over the last 50 rounds. So while Day might not want to grit it out in an event like the Arnold Palmer Invitational, he's been tough as nails when it counts. If we look at major championship results from the last five years, Day has a win, four top-fives, and four top-10s.

The Aussie is strong with the driver and ranks 11th in this field in SG: OTT over his last 24 rounds. He has perhaps the best short game in the world and stands fifth in the field in SG: Putting. The concern with Day is his often-loose iron play. He's just 88th in the field in SG: Approach and lost strokes with his irons in his most recent outing at the Wells Fargo.

Day's ownership won't be super-low, but he definitely won't be chalky...probably somewhere in the 10-15% range. Lots of DFS regulars (like me!) normally avoid Day due to his WD potential, but there are some things to like about the Aussie in this spot. He packs a lot of punch at his $9k DK price and fits nicely into balanced lineup builds.

 

Bubba Watson (DK - $8,000 & FD - $9,700)

Notable Course History: T18 ('09 U.S. Open), T10 ('12 Barclays), T13 ('16 Barclays)
Recent Form: T12 (Masters) T4 (Valspar), T56 (Players), T17 (API)

Perhaps more than any other player on the PGA Tour, I always evaluate Bubba Watson in a 'course-specific bubble'. Bubba has his happy places - Riviera, Augusta National, and TPC River Highlands to name a few - and he repeatedly performs well on them. With his past history at Bethpage, it's safe to consider the Black Course another 'safe zone' for Bubba.

Watson is one of the most mercurial personalities on the PGA Tour and it sometimes seems like keeping him engaged and interested is half the battle. He should be fully invested this week at a track where all three of his previous starts have resulted in finishes inside the top 18.

His prodigious ability with his driver should serve him well at a soggy Bethpage. Bubba stands second in the field in SG: OTT over his last 24 rounds. While his driving prowess is a given, Watson has been impressive from tee to green this season, as he's 12th in the field in SG: T2G. Watson's putting has been a work in progress, but while he stands just 60th in the field in SG: Putting overall...if we use Fantasy National to narrow the search down to SG: Putting on Poa greens, Bubba comes in at a surprisingly high 15th in the field.

There's usually an uneasy feeling that comes with rostering Bubba because we've seen him hit the eject button so many times in the past, but the combination of his current form and fondness for Bethpage Black should have him fully engaged this week. He offers nice salary relief on both DK and FD.

 

Sergio Garcia (DK - $7,900 & FD - $9,700)

Notable Course History: 4th ('02 U.S. Open), T10 ('09 U.S. Open), T3 ('12 Barclays)
Recent Form: T4 (Wells Fargo), M/C (Masters), T54 (Valspar), T22 (Players)

The course history is strong with this one. In a field full of youngsters that have never even played a tournament round at Bethpage, Sergio might be the king of track records this week, as he's logged two top-fives and a top-10 in his three appearances on the Long Island layout.

I've been a Sergio defender for a long time, but even I've grown sick of his antics recently. While Garcia's mental lapses are certainly noteworthy (and slightly worrisome), his golf game fits this course perfectly. He's long and straight off the tee (34th SG: OTT) and is currently blistering his irons (2nd SG: Approach).

As I started preparing for this tournament a week or so ago, I thought Garcia might be a sneaky play, especially due to his Masters missed cut...but as we barrel closer to this tournament's start, that certainly does not appear to be the case, as Sergio seems to be a trendy play around the DFS industry. I'm going to keep an eye on ownership and won't hesitate to change course and fade Garcia if he's looking uber-chalky, but things do line up for him really well at Bethpage.

 

Jhonattan Vegas (DK - $7,100 & FD - $8,400)

Notable Course History: T22 ('16 Barclays)
Recent Form: T8 (Wells Fargo), T30 (Valero), T26 (Corales), T3 (Players)

In a field full of superstars, it's tempting to go with what you feel are "sure things". However, we know that constructing a super-conservative lineup probably won't win us a million dollars anytime soon.

Those of you that are willing to move outside of your comfort zone might want to take a look at Jhonattan Vegas when building Milly Maker lineups. Vegas has three-career victories on the PGA Tour, with the last one coming in 2017. He's put together a strong 2019 by making 11 of 15 cuts and recording four top-10s.

Vegas is MASHING the driver and ranks fourth in this elite field in SG: OTT over his last 24 rounds. He's not a one-trick pony...and grades out 18th in SG: T2G and 13th in SG: Short Game. All the tools are there for Vegas to make some noise this week. He notched a top-25 in the lone Bethpage start of his career, but has traditionally struggled in major championships.

The 34-year-old from Venezuela offers us some flexibility when constructing lineups. With the salary relief that Vegas brings to the table, we can comfortably fit one of the top players on the board or stack multiple players from the juicy $9k range. He's no "sure thing", but I really like how the pieces fit between Vegas and the Black Course.

 

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PGA DFS: Horse For The Course - AT&T Byron Nelson

Welcome back RotoBallers! Max Homa? How many of you guys had him winning the Wells Fargo? Yeah...me neither. Homa's victory is a nice reminder that these guys on the PGA Tour are good, ALL of them. While we didn't discuss Homa in last week's article, the Wells Fargo went well for our Horses. We nabbed a top-five (Paul Casey), two top-10s (McIlroy & Mitchell), and a top-20 (Aaron Wise), with a Phil Mickelson missed cut and a Sam Burns WD being our only misses.

This week we head to Texas for the AT&T Byron Nelson, an old tournament that's being played in a relatively new setting. Trinity Forest Golf Club made its debut on the PGA Tour schedule in 2018 as the host of the Nelson and is back this year. If we're being honest, a lot of us probably already have one eye on next week's PGA Championship at Bethpage. Don't feel bad, as most of the elite golfers in the world do too. Brooks Koepka headlines a weakish Nelson field that includes defending champ Aaron Wise, Hideki Matsuyama, and hometown boy (and Trinity Forest member) Jordan Spieth.

As far as course history goes, we only have a one-year sample to build on. Those of you that like to look at player's tournament history should keep in mind that Byron Nelsons prior to last year weren't played at this course.

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.

Editor's Note: Our friends at Fantasy National have built some incredible DFS Golf lineup tools including a Lineup Optimizer, Stat Engine, Ownership Projections and Course Breakdowns. They are by far the best daily fantasy Golf tools in the industry. Seriously. You can read all about them here and see screenshots. 

Sign Up Now!

 

The Course: Trinity Forest Golf Club

Par 71 - 7,371 Yards, Greens: Bermuda

This place is a dump. No, really...Trinity Forest was constructed on top of a former landfill. Despite its name, there isn't a tree to found on this Trinity Forest layout that resembles a links course that might be found in Scotland or England. The pros lit up Trinity Forest last year and it graded out as one of the easiest courses on the 2018 Tour schedule. The combination of huge rolling fairways with no rough to speak of and gigantic greens resulted in 1,970 birdies and eagles being made in last year's Byron Nelson. Marc Leishman logged a first-round 61 and Branden Grace scored a final-round 62 last year and we should again see plenty of fireworks in Dallas this week. A round of 59 isn't something you can ever expect, but we might see someone flirt with that magic number on this layout. We obviously want to target players that can pile up birdies and eagles on this golf course. I'll also be interested in players that are great off the tee and, as always, I'll be trying to squeeze great ball strikers into my DFS lineups.

 

The Horse

Keith Mitchell (DK - $9,100 & FD - $10,200)

Notable Course History: T3 (2018)
Recent Form: T8 (Wells Fargo), M/C (RBC Heritage), T43 (Masters), T47 (Players), T6 (API), Win (Honda)

Keith...I can't quit you. I wrote up 'Tha Killa' in this article last week for the Wells Fargo and he came through for a T8 at $7.8k. This week at the AT&T Byron Nelson, Mitchell's DFS price tag has increased significantly, but my faith remains strong.

Mitchell is admittedly a little more volatile than my usual 'Horse' selections, and prior to last week's top-10 finish at Quail Hollow, Mitchell had logged three straight ugly outings...but I just can't ignore how great his game fits Trinity Forest, especially on a week that we are dealing with a field that's pretty short on depth.

The Chattanooga native (shoutout Tennessee!) is strong with the driver and ranks first in the field in Strokes Gained: Off The Tee over his last 24 rounds. Mitchell also has the ability to score, an ability that will be crucial this week in what should be a birdie-fest. He stands second on the PGA Tour in Total Eagles this season and 23rd in Total Birdies.

One appearance is a tiny sample size, but Mitchell seems extremely comfortable at Trinity Forest. In last year's Byron Nelson he gained strokes across the board, including a massive 12.7 Strokes Gained: Total. The official 'Keith Mitchell Flow Chart' starts with one simple question: "Are the greens Bermuda?"...the answer is "Yes" this week, so we can feel good about considering him for our rosters.

As I mentioned, Mitchell's price has increased across the industry. He comes in at $9,100 on DK which I know is really tough to swallow for a player who hasn't been priced above $7,800 on DK all season, but when we take into account his form, course fit, and the depth of this field...it isn't as outrageous as it seems. There's a chance that Mitchell's shiny, new price tag will put a dent in his ownership, but while some might be scared away by the salary bump, I'll be going right back to the Mitchell well this week.

 

The Ponies

Brooks Koepka (DK - $11,400 & FD - $12,600)

Notable Course History: None
Recent Form: T2 (Masters), T56 (Players), T85 (API), T2 (Honda)

A quick word about Brooks Koepka, who (with apologies to Hideki Matsuyama) is the best player in this watered-down field. I have no doubt about Koepka's physical tools and I also believe that he should be a perfect fit for Trinity Forest. The concern with Koepka is always where he will be mentally. After demonstrating some truly concerning form this season, he once again flipped the 'major championship switch' to log a T2 at Augusta National.

With the PGA Championship on the near horizon, how motivated will Koepka be to win this tournament? We know that he will bring his 'A game' to Bethpage next week, but it's a bit of a wild card as to where the three-time major champion's head will be in Dallas.

Trinity Forest should be a great fit for Koepka. Its huge fairways are reminiscent of Erin Hills, the course where he won his first U.S. Open. Anytime that Brooks has the opportunity to bomb away off the tee, he must be considered a serious threat to win, and he will have plenty of chances this week. Koepka has the ability to go low and ranks fifth in this field in Birdies or Better Gained and third in Eagles Gained over his last 24 rounds.

His place atop the salary scale reflects his position as the best player in the field, but the scary thing is I don't know that you're really getting much 'safety' by paying up to Koepka, as we've seen him appear completely disinterested in some of his starts this year in the lower-echelon events. However, he does carry huge upside and could legitimately run away with this tournament. I don't think he'll garner tons of ownership, so rostering him might actually be a somewhat contrarian line to take in GPPs.

 

Rory Sabbatini (DK - $9,000 & FD - $10,100)

Notable Course History: T13 ('18)
Recent Form: T18 (Wells Fargo), T10 (RBC Heritage), T36 (Valero), T39 (Corales), T18 (Valspar)

I really can't believe that I'm writing about Rory Sabbatini in the year 2019, but here we are. Tiger won the Masters again, so I guess anything is possible. Sabbatini has been playing (and partying?) like it's 1999. The South African has ran off seven straight made cuts with a top-20 finish last week at Quail Hollow and a T10 a couple of weeks ago at the Heritage.

He heads to Dallas as one of the guys in the field with some previous experience at Trinity Forest, as he recorded a T13 in last year's AT&T Byron Nelson. Almost unbelievably, Sabbatini ranks seventh in this field in SG: Tee to Green over the last 24 rounds and he's been surprisingly solid in all facets of the game this season. He stands ninth in the field in Fantasy National's Birdies Gained category, not to mention ranking third in Bogeys Avoided. While he's nowhere close to being a bomber, he has handled himself well off the tee and grades out seventh this week in Good Drives Gained.

I know, I know...it's ridiculous to see Rory Sabbatini at $9k! Unfortunately, that's where we are this week. If this price tag is going to scare a lot of people away, I'm willing go the other way and bite on a guy that's been really solid over the last two months.

 

Matt Jones (DK - $7,500 & FD - $8,900)

Notable Course History: T13 ('18)
Recent Form: T38 (Wells Fargo) T30 (Valero), T18 (Corales), T13 (Valspar), T36 (Honda)

On a week that we get the aforementioned Rory Sabbatini at $9k, Matt Jones is one of the few guys in this field that really jumped off the page at me as actually being underpriced. The Aussie has been under-the-radar good this year and as long as DK wants to keep rolling him out there with a mid to low $7k price tag, I'm staying on board.

One of the problems we face in these less-than-stellar type of fields is the inconsistency that a lot of these players struggle with. Jones doesn't fall into that category, as he's made 10 straight cuts this year. We might be sacrificing some tournament-winning upside when we roster Jones, but he has managed a couple of top-15 finishes in 2019 and a T13 on this course last year.

He has been solid across the board recently, standing 11th in the AT&T field in SG: T2G over his last 24 rounds and 13th in SG: OTT. If Jones has a weakness, it's lackluster iron play. He grades out just 71st in the field in SG: Approach, but might be aided in that department by Trinity's massive greens.

There's a lot to like about Jones' consistent results and DFS price tags this week. He will be a core building block for me in all formats. I'm not usually an 'All In' type of guy, but I'll be heavily invested in Jones in this spot.

 

Wyndham Clark (DK - $7,300 & FD - $8,500)

Notable Course History: None
Recent Form: M/C (Wells Fargo), T54 (RBC Heritage), T20 (Valero), T37 (Valspar), DQ (Players)

Those of you that read this article regularly probably know that I'm always looking for opportunities to take advantage of any recency bias that might be surrounding a player. Wyndham Clark is in an interesting spot this week. He became a pretty trendy value option last week at the Wells Fargo and proceeded to shoot 74-75 to badly miss the cut.

Folks that rostered Clark last week aren't gonna be in big hurry to jump back on the 25-year-old and he's probably not going to pop in many models thanks to his bad iron play. But...there are some things to like about him at Trinity Forest. He ranks FIRST in this field in Birdies or Better Gained, fourth in SG: Par 4s, and ninth in SG: Par 5s over the last 24 rounds. He's a bomber and stands fifth on the PGA Tour in Driving Distance this season at just over 311 yards per drive. His ability to attack off the tee and take advantage of scoring opportunities should serve him well on this layout that's susceptible to great drivers of the ball that can go low.

Clark is a boom-or-bust GPP option this week. His recent couple of outings have been pretty ugly, but he brings tons of upside and fantasy scoring potential to the table at this price. He's probably not for the faint of heart, but if you're trying to take down a large-field tournament he's a really intriguing value option.

 

Adam Schenk (DK - $7,000 & FD - $8,500)

Notable Course History: T59 ('18)
Recent Form: T13 (Wells Fargo), M/C (RBC Heritage), T7 (Valero), T33 (Corales), M/C (Valspar)

Adam Schenk isn't exactly a household name, but neither is Max Homa or C.T. Pan...two guys that won on the PGA Tour last month. As I mentioned in the intro, ALL of the guys on this Tour are good. Schenk is just 27-years-old and after struggling through a trial by fire type of season last year, the Purdue product is starting to show that he belongs at this level in 2019.

Schenk logged a quiet T13 at Quail Hollow last week and an impressive T7 a month ago at the Valero. He's doing it on the strength of his ball striking and ranks fifth in the field in SG: Approach and THIRD in the field in SG: Total over his last 24 rounds. He also has some Trinity Forest experience and made the cut (T59) here last year.

Anytime we're dipping down to $7k in what's a weak field, there's naturally some risk involved. Schenk's no magic bullet, but he's a guy that's dialed in with his irons and solid from tee to green. He opens up a lot of options when constructing lineups and makes it possible to roster either Brooks Koepka or a couple of players from the $9k range. He's a great deep-dive GPP play.

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PGA DFS: Horse For The Course - Wells Fargo Championship

Ok...how bad did last week suck?!? No offense to the Zurich Classic, but a week in April without PGA DFS feels like it lasts a month. The struggle is real for those of us that eat, sleep, and breathe this game. The unlikely duo of Jon Rahm and Ryan Palmer took down the Zurich, and it was really cool to see how much the win meant to the veteran Palmer. While the PGA schedule punished us last week, we are cranking things back up with a strong tournament...the Wells Fargo Championship!

I think a lot of folks (including me) expected Tiger Woods to play this event, but the 2019 Masters champion decided to rest this week. Though we're not getting any Tiger, this tournament is loaded at the top. Defending Wells Fargo champion Jason Day will be joined by Rory McIlory, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, and Tony Finau.

While this field has some juicy names, it is rather top-heavy. Things get dicey pretty quickly as we move down the salary scale this week. Due to that fact, I find myself leaning towards high-upside, high-volatility DFS plays. I'm also drawn to a couple of bounceback plays this week, which is always a scary route to take. All in all, I think you might find some of this week's highlighted players to be a little out of your comfort zone.

I would argue that one of the biggest stars of this event is actually the golf course. Quail Hollow hosted the 2017 PGA Championship and is one of the best courses you will see on the PGA Tour schedule this year outside of the majors. In addition to being a quality track, Quail Hollow has shown some teeth since its makeover prior to hosting the '17 PGA and should once again play pretty darn difficult this week. Jason Day won last year's edition at 12-under par, but the majority of the players in the top-10 were single-digits under par, so this will not be your standard birdie-fest.

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.

Editor's Note: Our friends at Fantasy National have built some incredible DFS Golf lineup tools including a Lineup Optimizer, Stat Engine, Ownership Projections and Course Breakdowns. They are by far the best daily fantasy Golf tools in the industry. Seriously. You can read all about them here and see screenshots. 

Sign Up Now!

 

The Course: Quail Hollow Club

Par 71 - 7,553 Yards, Greens: Bermuda

Originally designed by George Cobb in 1961, Quail Hollow has always presented players with the daunting closing stretch dubbed the "Green Mile", but a Tom Fazio upgrade prior to hosting the 2017 PGA Championship put the North Carolina layout in the conversation for one of the tougher tests on the Tour schedule.

The first thing that jumps out is Quail Hollow's length. At almost 7,600 yards, a golfer's distance will play an important factor this week. We have an almost polar opposite situation to what we saw at Harbour Town a couple of weeks ago...where players were almost never forced to hit drivers off the tee.

At Quail Hollow, players will be using the big dog often, which makes me very interested in a player's prowess off the tee. Ball striking will be important, as it seemingly is every week. We must also consider scrambling ability and bogey avoidance on this tough layout.

It must be noted that the 2017 regular-season edition of this tournament was played at a different course, so when you're doing course-history research ignore '17, unless you want to look at the PGA Championship from that year.

 

The Horse

Rory McIlroy (DK - $11,800 & FD - $12,500)

Notable Course History: T16 (2018), T22 *PGA Championship ('17), T4 ('16), Win ('15), Win ('10)
Recent Form: T21 (Masters), Win (The Players), T6 (API), 2nd (WGC-Mexico), T4 (Genesis)

Remember this guy? You know, the guy that was supposed to win the Masters. Rory McIlroy bore the brunt of the hype machine in the lead-up to the Masters, but was never a factor at Augusta National. We'll never know if the pressure got to him or if it was just an off week, but it's safe to say that McIlroy disappointed a lot of people with his performance. That disappointment is part of why I'm really interested in hopping back on the Rory train. While his ineffectiveness at Augusta might have some folks reluctant to pay the freight on him, Quail Hollow shapes up as the mother of all bounceback spots for McIlroy.

Rory is the only man that has ever logged two victories at Quail Hollow, with wins in 2010 and 2015. He holds both the 18-hole (a third-round 61 in 2015) and 72-hole (267 in '15) scoring records at this course. Using the amazing tools available at Fantasy National, we also find that McIlroy ranks second in this field in Strokes Gained: Total in this tournament over the last five years with 2017 excluded.

You want stats? My man Rory has got them all in spades. He leads the Wells Fargo field in SG: Tee to Green over both long term (50 rounds) and recent (24 rounds) measurements. You probably don't need me to tell you that he's a tremendous driver of the ball, but I'll remind you that he's first in the field in both SG: Off the Tee and Fantasy National's Good Drives Gained metric over the last 24 rounds.

McIlroy's T21 at the Masters was his first tournament finish outside of the top six in 2019. The question is...will DFS players want to roster him after his disappointing outing at Augusta? The answer isn't crystal clear as I write this. He will of course garner some ownership just because he's Rory McIlroy, but if his projections are low to reasonable, I'll definitely be going overweight on him in this spot.

 

The Ponies

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

Notable Course History: T5 ('18), T13 *PGA Championship ('17)
Recent Form: M/C (Masters), Win (Valspar), M/C (The Players), T3 (WGC-Mexico), T25 (Genesis)

We go from a player in Rory McIlroy that was merely disappointing at the Masters, to a guy that literally sunk a lot of DFS lineups in the year's first major championship. Paul Casey was one of the last guys in the Masters field that we would expect to suffer a massive meltdown-type round, but that's exactly what we saw from the Englishman with an opening-round 81 at Augusta National. I'm always willing to be honest here, and I have to admit that I totally missed on Casey at the Masters. He was a core building block for me and I really expected him to play well. So while I always try to keep my emotions out of DFS, Casey and I have some unfinished business.

One of my favorite strategies in DFS is attempting to use recency bias to my advantage. What better way is there to attack those biases than by going back to a player that set a lot of people's money on fire less than a month ago? Casey's recent game log looks downright weird, as he has a win at the Valspar sandwiched between two horrible and head-scratching performances at the Masters and Players. So...while I find the Englishman to be very intriguing from a game-theory standpoint, he doesn't come without risk.

If it makes things slightly more palatable for you, Casey has fared well in his previous trips to Quail Hollow; logging a T13 in the 2017 PGA and a strong T5 in last season's Wells Fargo. His game is a natural fit here, as he's strong both with his driver and irons. Casey stands ninth in this field in SG: OTT and 13th in SG: Approach over his last 24 rounds, as well as ranking third in Good Drives Gained over that the same number of rounds. The Englishman has been absolutely SMASHING Par-5's, which has historically been a crucial factor at Quail Hollow, and is first in the field in SG: Par 5 over his last 24 rounds.

Yes, it makes me a little queasy to go back to Paul Casey, but I also feel like it makes tons of sense. Sure, he had an absolutely terrible outing at the Masters, but that doesn't mean the guy forgot how to play golf. He's a GPP-only play for me due to his recent volatility, but I love his upside at this golf course.

 

Phil Mickelson (DK - $9,100 & FD - $11,200)

Notable Course History: T5 ('18), M/C *PGA Championship ('17), T4 ('16), T4 ('15)
Recent Form: T18 (Masters), M/C (The Players), M/C (API), T39 (WGC-Mexico), Win (AT&T)

You know how earlier I said that Rory McIlroy was second in this field in Strokes Gained: Total for this tournament? Well, Mr. Mickelson stands atop the rankings at Quail Hollow over the last five years. The 48-year-old has done about everything except win on this course. In 16 Wells Fargo starts, 'Lefty' has 12 top-12 finishes, including a T5 in last year's edition.

Mickelson has experienced some highs and lows in 2019, mixing an early win at the AT&T Pebble Beach with a couple of missed cuts during the 'Florida Swing'. He played well in the Masters and was in contention before fading over the weekend. Basically, we've learned that despite his age, Mickelson can still play really well in spurts, specifically at courses that suit him.

Mickelson's stats aren't going to blow anybody away, but he profiles more as a pure 'course horse' play than anything else. Over his last three starts, his DK GPP ownership has averaged a shade under 5%. If his ownership is trending in that ballpark again this week, 'Lefty' will offer tons of leverage in large-field tournaments. Yes, he's erratic...but he brings top-five upside to the table at reduced ownership. I'm firing him up in GPPs.

 

Aaron Wise (DK - $8,100 & FD - $8,500)

Notable Course History: T2 ('18)
Recent Form: T17 (Masters) M/C (Players), T40 (API), T19 (WGC-Mexico)

I think you'll see a lot of folks around the DFS industry talking about the 'Stat God' Luke List at this price point this week, but I'm really interested in pivoting to Aaron Wise in this spot. The 22-year-old has experienced some growing pains in 2019 after a breakout win at the Byron Nelson last season. Wise has struggled to find his footing this year, but I'm really encouraged by his play in the Masters on the way to a 17th-place finish at Augusta.

His Quail Hollow resume consists of just one start, but it was an impressive T2 in last year's Wells Fargo. I've tried to stress the importance of length and off-the-tee ability this week, and Wise is a true prodigy with the driver. He ranks eighth in this field in SG: OTT over his last 24 rounds. We've seen him struggle a bit with his irons and putter this year, but he appeared to have some things starting to click at Augusta National.

While there are plenty of options in this price range that look better than Wise on paper, my reasoning behind him is three-fold: 1.) He's great off the tee, which makes him a natural fit at Quail Hollow as evidenced by his T2 last year. 2.) He showed some improving form at Augusta National and this is about the time of year that his game kicked into high gear last season. 3.) He is a juicy contrarian option on DK and is practically free on Fan Duel.

 

Keith Mitchell (DK - $7,800 & FD - $9,600)

Notable Course History: T34 ('18)
Recent Form: M/C (RBC Heritage), T43 (Masters), T47 (Players), T6 (API), Win (Honda)

Things start getting interesting as we get below $8k this week. As we dip our toes in the $7k's, I'm looking for upside and I like what 'Tha Killa' can do. After endearing himself to PGA degens last year with his legendary first-round leader prowess, Keith Mitchell has had a true breakthrough season in 2019. After struggling during the early portion of the schedule, he kicked things into high gear once he reached Florida and his beloved Bermuda greens.

Mitchell came up huge at the Honda Classic for the first win of his career and followed that victory up with a strong T6 at the Arnold Palmer. He's been quiet since, but we have to consider what tournaments he's played...The Players, Masters, and RBC Heritage. The Players and Heritage are both terrible course fits for his game, and he was making his first career start at the Masters...never an easy task.

The bomber's game should fare much better at Quail Hollow. Mitchell logged a T34 in his lone appearance last year and has the ability off the tee required to compete here. He ranks sixth in the field in SG: OTT and 16th in Driving Distance over his last 24 rounds. Mitchell has what it takes to score at Quail Hollow, standing ninth in SG: Par 5's and 13th in Birdies or Better.

As I mentioned earlier, I'm targeting upside in this price range, because their frankly isn't a lot of options that I consider "safe plays". Mitchell's recent finishes aren't very pretty, but he does possess all the tools needed to make a run on this golf course.

 

Sam Burns (DK - $7,200 & FD - $8,500)

Notable Course History: T55 ('18)
Recent Form: 9th (RBC Heritage), T23 (Valero), T12 (Corales), T30 (Valspar)

Sam Burns is just 22-years-old and in his first full season on the PGA Tour. This kid has tons of talent and is starting to show it over his recent outings. He logged his first top-10 finish of 2019 a couple of weeks ago at the Heritage, his first since a T3 at Sanderson Farms during the swing season, and he's ran off five consecutive made cuts.

Burns has actually been doing a lot of his damage with the putter, but he has the length to attack Quail Hollow. His driving distance average this season is 306 yards - good for 18th on the PGA Tour - and he ranks 19th in the Wells Fargo field in SG: Par 5's over his last 24 rounds. Burns has exhibited a complete tee-to-green game by gaining strokes across the board in his last two tournament starts.

Sure, there are guys in this price range that are more accomplished than Burns and that have more extensive history at Quail Hollow (Adam Hadwin specifically), but as I mentioned when discussing Keith Mitchell, I'm willing to take on some volatility risks this week in exchange for upside. The LSU alum is a very talented player that's still finding his way on the Tour, but Burns has the type of game to win tournaments when he puts everything together. His recent form indicates that he's getting close and I really like him in GPP formats this week.

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PGA DFS: Horse For The Course - RBC Heritage

Wow! Can you believe what we just saw? Tiger Woods captured his fifth Masters title and 15th (!) major championship in a performance for the ages. It was Woods' first major championship win since the 2008 U.S. Open and was a storybook moment in what might be the greatest comeback story in the history of not only golf, but any sport.

We're probably all still flying high from what might be the best tournament we've ever seen, but there is DFS work to be done this week! The RBC Heritage is a fun tournament that is traditionally held the week after the Masters. Located in beautiful Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, the Heritage is a nice way for a lot of the elite pros to wind down after a stressful week at Augusta and it's a chance for those that weren't in the Masters field to get back in action.

While a solid field usually tees it up at Harbour Town, this year's turnout is surprisingly strong and perhaps the best we've ever seen at Hilton Head. Players like Dustin Johnson, Francesco Molinari, and Xander Schauffele will be joining defending champ Satoshi Kodaira at the Heritage. We also have guys like Patrick Cantlay, Tommy Fleetwood, and Bryson DeChambeau scheduled to tee it up. So, while this is normally a week that we can catch our breath after the excitement of the Masters, this year's strong Heritage field demands our DFS attention. This is a tournament where we routinely see players repeatedly perform well and there are lots of juicy 'course horses' in this field!

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.

Editor's Note: Our friends at Fantasy National have built some incredible DFS Golf lineup tools including a Lineup Optimizer, Stat Engine, Ownership Projections and Course Breakdowns. They are by far the best daily fantasy Golf tools in the industry. Seriously. You can read all about them here and see screenshots. 

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The Course: Harbour Town Golf Links

Par 71 - 7,099 Yards, Greens: Bermuda

This Pete Dye/Jack Nicklaus beauty is one of the shortest layouts these pros will face all year. Its lack of length is a refreshing change of pace from the stretched-to-the-max layouts that we routinely see on the PGA Tour schedule. While it may lack length, Harbour Town is by no means a pushover. Very tight, tree-lined fairways often take drivers out of the players hands, forcing them to play strategically off the tee. In true Dye fashion, this is a second-shot golf course and players will be taking aim at miniscule greens that routinely grade-out as some of the toughest to hit on the PGA Tour schedule. These factors make me give almost no weight to the bombers this week and I'll instead be focusing on players that are precise off the tee and accurate on approach. While it's an area that often goes overlooked, I'll also be giving weight to around the green ability this week. Harbour Town is slightly similar to Augusta National in that we often see the same players perform well here every year, while first-timers can struggle, so I'm giving an even bigger bump than normal to players with strong course history.

 

The Horse

Matt Kuchar(DK - $10,000 & FD - $11,500)

Notable Course History: T23 (2018), T11 ('17), T9('16), 5th ('15), Win ('14)
Recent Form: T12 (Masters), T7 (Valero), T26 (The Players), 50th (WGC-Mexico), T22 (AT&T)

Some of you might consider this week's Horse a little boring. Matt Kuchar doesn't exactly ignite excitement, but he does consistently get the job done. That's been especially true at Harbour Town. Since 2014, Kuch has a win, a top-five, a top-10, and two top-25 finishes on this Pete Dye classic. He also leads this field in Strokes Gained: Total in this tournament over the last five years at 46.24.

His course history itself is enough to make you want to pull the trigger on Kuchar, but his form of the last six months makes him downright impossible to ignore. He has two wins already this season and is probably playing this best golf of his career. He's pretty spicy from a statistical standpoint...as he ranks third in this RBC Heritage field in Strokes Gained: Approach and SG: Tee to Green over his last 24 rounds. His irons have been especially hot, as he gained 8.6 strokes on approach at Valero and 7.5 at The Players (The Masters doesn't release Strokes Gained statistics), which is an area that we are heavily weighting this week.

I find Kuchar so interesting from a DFS game-theory standpoint in this spot. For the Masters, he was obviously underpriced and a player that folks flocked to. This week he's at $10k on DK, which seems to be Kuchar's 'salary Mendoza line'. There are probably some psychological reasons, but people just don't ever want to pay $10k or more for Matt Kuchar. I think we will see that strongly in play this week with elite players above him on the salary scale and an absolutely stacked $9k range below him. Can we really be talking about Kuchar as a contrarian GPP play a week after he was THE CHALK at the Masters? It sounds a little wacky, but I honestly believe that will be the case. While he's normally a cash game staple, I'm actually targeting Kuch in tournaments in this spot.

 

The Ponies

Patrick Cantlay (DK - $9,700 & FD - $10,900)

Notable Course History: T7 ('18), T3 ('17)
Recent Form: T9 (Masters), M/C (Players), T6 (WGC-Mexico), T15 (Genesis)

Whew...Patrick Cantlay almost stole the Masters. A late eagle put him right there, but he promptly went bogey-bogey on his next two holes. After a breakthrough 2018, we are starting to see Cantlay's name pop-up on some leaderboards in these huge events. In addition to the Masters, he also flirted with the WGC-Mexico Championship lead earlier this year. The young man can flat-out play.

Cantlay heads to a golf course where he has a strong history of success on the heels of his weekend charge at Augusta National. In two RBC Heritage appearances he's logged a T3 and a T7. Harbour Town's tight fairways and tiny greens shape up perfectly for Cantlay's sharp, ball-striking style. He grades out ninth in this field in both SG: Approach and SG: Ball Striking over his last 24 rounds.

His position on the salary scale is really interesting. On a normal year, Cantlay would be almost the highest-priced player on the board, but with the influx of talent in this year's field he's listed as the sixth-highest salaried player on DK and seventh on FD. While it's tempting to reach for one of the big boys this week, those of you that want to go with more of a balanced roster build would be just fine starting your lineups with Cantlay.

 

Byeong-Hun An (DK - $8,200 & FD - $9,800)

Notable Course History: T7 ('18)
Recent Form: T7 (Valero), T26 (The Players), T10 (API), T36 (Honda), T45 (WGC-Mexico)

I ain't jumping off this Benny An train yet. I've rostered An with great success over the past month and I see no need to go away from him this week. He ranks FIRST in this field in SG: T2G and SG: Around the Green over his last 24 rounds. An also stands fifth in the field in SG: Ball Striking and 15th in SG: Approach over the same number of measured rounds.

An is being held back by a ridiculously cold putter. Ok, let me clarify that...I don't know that it's fair to call his putting "cold", as there's a legit chance that Benny's just a truly terrible putter. He logged a T7 in his last start at Valero despite LOSING SIX STROKES PUTTING! I honestly don't even know how that's mathematically possible...but it happened. The crazy thing is it's not really anything new. An has lost strokes putting in every one of his 2019 starts, but has still made every cut and logged two top-ten finishes. I suppose the optimist in me thinks that if Benny ever finds just a lukewarm week on the greens, he will be in line for his first PGA Tour victory.

An's history at Harbour Town isn't extensive, but it is impressive. He recorded a T7 in his Heritage debut last year on this course which can be tough on first-timers. Sure, this field is kind've shockingly top-heavy and we definitely want to grab some exposure to those elite players, but I will be slotting An into a big portion of my GPP lineups this week.

 

Russell Knox (DK - $7,700 & FD - $9,500)

Notable Course History: T40 ('18), T11 ('17), T2 ('16), T18 ('15), T9 ('14)
Recent Form: T24 (Valspar) T35 (Players), T51 (Honda), T39 (WGC-Mexico)

Russell Knox has really been low-key good this year. He hasn't missed a cut in 2019, despite losing strokes putting on a regular basis. Knox logged a T24 at the Valspar in his most recent start and gained a massive 5.9 strokes on approach, his third straight start with impressive iron play.

He ranks sixth in the RBC Heritage field in SG: Approach and 11th in SG: T2G over his last 24 rounds. Knox brings this form to a Harbour Town course that he has fared very well on. He has a runner-up finish, a T9, and a T11 over his last five RBC Heritage starts. He's 36th in the field in SG: Around the Green over his last 24 rounds, but his aforementioned putting woes are a legitimate point of concern, as he ranks near the bottom of this field in SG: Putting.

I have to admit, I was a little surprised to see Knox with a sub-$8k price tag on DK this week. I suppose it's due to the surprising strength of this field and his lack of top-10 finishes recently, but man it feels like a we're getting a bargain here. I'll fire him up in GPP's and hope we catch a warm putter this week.

 

Graeme McDowell (DK - $7,500 & FD - $9,400)

Notable Course History: T55 ('18), T29 ('17), M/C ('16), T26 ('15), Win ('13)
Recent Form: T7 (Valero), Win (Corales), T46 (Valero), T54 (API)

Graeme McDowell is a player that's been trending nicely over the past month or so. He got over the hump with a win at the opposite-field Corales event at the end of March, his first win since the Mayakoba Classic in 2015. McDowell followed up the victory with an impressive T7 at the Valero and appears to be in sharp form as he heads to a Harbour Town track where he has performed well throughout his career.

We can't get definitive stats from his win at Corales, but he's no doubt had a hot putter as of late and he's gained strokes putting in seven straight tournaments dating back to November. While I'm not normally one to jump on a player that's doing most of his damage on the greens, McDowell is an exception to that rule at this Harbour Town course that puts so much pressure on a player's short game.

He won here in 2013 and is highly motivated for another victory. Some of you might be familiar with McDowell's attempts to qualify for this year's Open Championship that is being held a Royal Portrush, his home course. Unfortunately the Corales victory didn't qualify him, so the Northern Ireland native will be doing everything in his power to earn his way into the Open field. I love his price point this week and would feel comfortable using him in all formats.

 

Luke Donald (DK - $7,200 & FD - $9,000)

Notable Course History: M/C ('18), 2nd ('17), T2 ('16), T15 ('15), 2nd ('14)
Recent Form: M/C (Valero), T9 (Valspar), M/C (Sony)

Are you ready for #LukeDonaldChalkWeek? Yeah, I know it's kinda random, but Donald turns into Tiger Woods when he gets to Hilton Head. He unbelievably has seven top-three finishes in the RBC Heritage in the last ten years!

It seems like a million years ago, but Luke Donald was the number-one-ranked player in the world for a good portion of 2011. The great distance boom hurt Donald's career in a big way and a player whose game revolved around precision and accuracy hasn't been able to compete in the era of 'Bomb and Gouge'.

One of the few courses that Donald has managed to stay relevant is Harbour Town. He has recorded an unbelievable FIVE runner-up finishes in this tournament over his career, with the last one coming as recently as 2017. The Englishman has battled injuries over the past year or so and this tournament was actually his last start of the 2017-18 season. He doesn't have much recent form to evaluate, as he's only made three PGA Tour starts in 2019, but he did pop-up for a T9 recently at the Valspar. Donald gained 5.4 strokes T2G at Innisbrook on the strength of sharp iron play and his phenomenal short game, but missed the cut in his next start at Valero on a course that was a poor fit for his style.

Donald might end up garnering more ownership than he should this week, but it's hard to completely ignore his RBC Heritage track record. There are certainly a couple of different ways you can go in this price range, but Donald is a solid 'sixth man' option in cash lineups.

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PGA DFS: Horse For The Course - 2019 Masters

It's time! The week we've all been waiting for is upon us. Welcome to the 2019 Masters edition of 'HFTC'! In an amazing story, Corey Conners pulled off the unbelievable feat of Monday qualifying for, and then winning, the Valero Texas Open. The victory will get the Canadian into the field at Augusta National. Dreams do come true and miracles do happen!

A lot of us are dreaming big DFS dreams this week, as the DraftKings 'Millionaire Maker' looms large for the season's first major. The Masters is my favorite tournament of the year and I think that's probably true for a lot of golf fans. It has it all...the greatest players in the game, the most exciting golf course in the world, and amazing traditions that we all know and love!

While I'm interested in course history on a weekly basis, I'm especially focused on prior experience at Augusta National this week. Year after year we seem to see the same names dotting the Masters top-10 and top-25. This week, knowing the type of shots to hit and where to hit them is at a premium.

Patrick Reed is the defending Masters champion and he has a pack of capable contenders that will be gunning for their own green jacket. This field of 87 is dotted with former Masters champions and elite players. A note on the field size of just 87...with the top-50 and ties, as well as any player within 10 shots of the leader making the cut, we are going to see a big majority of this field playing the weekend. So, while getting 6/6 through the cut normally means your golden, it won't amount to much this week if you don't have some high finishers in your lineup.

For this week's HFTC I'll be giving you some brief thoughts on strong course history plays. If you are interested in an in-depth breakdown, I urge you to check out my 2019 Masters DFS Bible, it's a massive article and I discuss EVERY PLAYER IN THE FIELD!

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.

Editor's Note: Our friends at Fantasy National have built some incredible DFS Golf lineup tools including a Lineup Optimizer, Stat Engine, Ownership Projections and Course Breakdowns. They are by far the best daily fantasy Golf tools in the industry. Seriously. You can read all about them here and see screenshots. 

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The Course: Augusta National

Par 72 - 7,435 Yards, Greens: Bentgrass

The brainchild of the legendary Bobby Jones, Augusta National was built on a 365-acre property that had been Fruitland Nurseries. Jones imparted all his wisdom on the layout that would eventually become the most famous golf course in the world. The condition of the course is IMMACULATE, with not as much as a young azalea out of place.

Augusta National is a Par 72 that has been stretched out to 7,435 yards. The legendary layout tests every facet of a player's game. You have to be long and (somewhat) accurate off the tee, precise on approach shots with your irons, creative with your short game, and have nerves of steel on the lightning-fast greens.

Perhaps nearly as important as being able to hit the shots, is knowing what type of shots to hit and where to hit them. Course experience isn't an absolute must to play well at Augusta, but we see time and again how big of an asset course knowledge and experience can be in the Masters. The preferred ball flight is right-to-left (a draw for right-handed players) off the tee and a high cut on approach shots into the greens. While there is obviously more than one way to skin a cat, we've seen players that can hit those shots repeatedly succeed over the years.

 

The Horse

Rory McIlroy (DK - $11,600 & FD - $12,100)

Notable Course History: T5 (2018), T7 ('17), T10 ('16), 4th ('15)
Recent Form: Win (The Players), T6 (API), 2nd (Honda), T4 (Genesis), T5 (Farmers)

I'm not exactly going out on a limb by naming Rory McIlroy this week's Horse. The guy is in beast mode right now and is the odds-on favorite to win the 2019 Masters. However, I felt it was worth noting just how dominant McIlroy has been...both this season and throughout his career at Augusta National.

Rory took down The Players Championship and hasn't finished lower than sixth in any tournament this year. He's first in the Masters field in SG: Total over his last 24 rounds at 72.3. His closest competitor in that metric? Dustin Johnson at 52.6. Just to give you a little perspective, Rory leads the second-ranked DJ in SG: Total by the same amount that DJ leads Paul Casey, WHO IS 14TH ON THE LIST!

McIlroy takes this unbelievable form to a course where he has ran off five consecutive top-10 finishes. I would argue that McIlroy hasn't been near his best form over the last five years, which makes that accomplishment all the more impressive. There are some psychological hurdles that he must clear this week. He has some final-round battle scars at Augusta and enters the week with a heavy-load of pressure on his shoulders, both as the favorite and in needing the Masters to complete the career grand slam.

There are a couple of drawbacks to rostering Rory this week. He carries the highest price tag on both DraftKings and FanDuel. Coupled with his high salary, McIlroy will also be an extremely popular option and should easily garner the most ownership of players priced above $10k. So, what do we do if we think Rory is going to finally slip on the green jacket this week? We will need to find other spots to differentiate our lineups with less popular players. Another strategy is to treat this week almost like a WGC event and leave some salary on the table when building your rosters.

 

The Ponies

Tiger Woods (DK - $10,500 & FD - $11,100)

Notable Course History: Four-time Masters Champion
Recent Form: T30 (The Players), T10 (WGC-Mexico), T15 (Genesis), T20 (Farmers)

C'mon...you know I wasn't going to leave Tiger Woods off this list. We all know about his amazing accomplishments, both overall in his career and specifically at the Masters. The interesting thing this week is that Tiger is almost flying under the radar - as much as it's possible for Tiger Woods to fly under the radar - as all the pressure and expectations seem to be on Rory McIlroy, with Jordan Spieth drawing a lot of media scrutiny and public speculation.

Woods hasn't steamrolled the competition in 2019, but he's looked extremely solid in his limited starts this year. There was a minor scare when he was forced to skip the Arnold Palmer Invitational with a neck issue, but overall Tiger seems to be in a good place both physically and mentally as he heads to Augusta National.

While he came up short at the Open Championship and again at the PGA Championship last year, I really love the fact that Tiger got the opportunity to feel that major championship heat again. Even though he's won 14 majors, Woods hadn't been in the thick of things in some time. Those recent experiences will help him tremendously this week if he finds himself in contention come Sunday afternoon.

We always peg Tiger as being a popular DFS option with 'casual players'. While there's definitely some merit to that assessment, I don't know that he'll reach the mega-chalk levels that some are expecting. He's priced with some heavy hitters and his DK salary specifically should put a damper on his ownership getting crazy. Everybody was pumped about Tiger in last year's Masters, but I think his outlook is more promising this year.

 

Paul Casey (DK - $9,000 & FD - $10,800)

Notable Course History: T15 ('18), 6th ('17), T4 ('16), T6 ('15)
Recent Form: Win (Valspar), M/C (The Players), T3 (WGC-Mexico), T25 (Genesis), 2nd (AT&T)

There's a lot to like about Paul Casey this week. Outside of a randomly horrible outing at The Players Championship, the Englishman has been rolling in 2019. He took down the Valspar Championship for the second-straight year, and has a T3 at the WGC-Mexico and a solo-second at the AT&T Pebble Beach also on his 2019 resume. He ranks ninth in the Masters field in SG: Tee to Green over his last 24 rounds and is only ever held back by a balky putter.

Casey's T15 in last year's Masters snapped a streak of three straight top-6 finishes at Augusta National. Since a T6 in his 2004 Masters debut, he has always appeared extremely confident and comfortable on this course en route to recording five career top-10s at Augusta National. Unfortunately, the Masters doesn't release Strokes Gained statistics, but it feels like Casey seems to roll the ball a bit better than average on Augusta's bentgrass greens.

At just $9k on DK, Casey figures to be a popular option. He brings top-five upside to the table at his reasonable price. I'm hoping that Tommy Fleetwood at $9.2k will soak up some ownership from Casey. Fleetwood seems to be the more popular player, but Casey is the option I prefer at this price point.

 

Jordan Spieth (DK - $8,900 & FD - $10,400)

Notable Course History: Win ('15), 3rd ('18), T11 ('17), T2 ('16), T2 ('14)
Recent Form: T30 (Valero) M/C (Players), T54 (WGC-Mexico), T51 (Genesis)

Man...Jordan Spieth has been a hot debate topic in the lead-up to this event. Everybody in the DFS industry seems to have a #HotTake when it comes to Spieth. I wish I came down stronger on one side of the fence, but I'm honestly torn on what to do with him this week and will be reluctantly wading into the Spieth waters with just a lukewarm opinion.

His course history is really second to none. He has one green jacket already and I don't think it's a stretch to say that he should have two and could have as many as four. Spieth's worst finish in five career starts at Augusta is a T11 in 2017 and the Masters just seems to bring the best out of the 25-year-old that already has three major championships on his resume.

While his course history is a thing of beauty, his current form would make a train take a dirt road. Everything about Spieth in 2019 screams "RUN!". He ranks outside the top-50 (!) in the field over his last 24 rounds in every major Strokes Gained category except for standing 49th in SG: Approach. A huge deal has been made about his putting issues over the past year, but the problems with his game run much deeper than just a balky flatstick. Outside of the physical aspect, I'm also not sure where Spieth is mentally at this point. The player we thought was the most mentally-tough player we've seen since Tiger Woods, just hasn't been the same since his 2016 collapse in this tournament.

I wish I could paint a clear picture of what will happen with Spieth from a DFS ownership perspective, but that outlook is cloudy, with some glimmers of form at the Valero last week only further complicating things. Will sharp players run away from his recent form or take a contrarian approach by going heavy on him? Will rostering him even be contrarian? There are more questions than answers with Spieth this week. Personally, I won't be all-in or all-out, but will have some light Spieth exposure when multi-entering the Milly Maker.

 

Matt Kuchar (DK - $7,900 & FD - $9,700)

Notable Course History: T28 ('18), T4 ('17), T5 ('14), T3 ('12)
Recent Form: T7 (Valero), 2nd (WGC-Match Play), T26 (Players), 50th (WGC-Mexico), Win (Sony)

While the DFS community is sharply divided on the aforementioned Jordan Spieth, the consensus on Matt Kuchar this week is overwhelming. He carries a strong combination of sharp current form and elite Masters history at a DK price tag that's way too cheap. Kuchar will be THE chalk this week - let's just get that out of the way - and presents an interesting DFS dilemma: Do we elect to take the 'free square' by rostering him or employ a game theory-based fade in the Milly Maker?

After going winless for nearly five years, Kuchar has been on a victory binge. He closed out 2018 with a swing season win at Mayakoba and kicked off 2019 with a win in Hawaii at the Sony Open. Kuch hasn't lifted anymore trophies yet, but he came very close at the WGC-Dell Match Play, where he reached the finals before falling to Kevin Kisner.

His history at Augusta National is pristine. Kuchar has three top-fives and a top-10 against one missed cut in 12 career Masters starts. He's a former Georgia Tech Yellow Jacket and has always been a crowd favorite at Augusta National.

I don't know that many people believe that Kuchar will completely whiff this week, but his expected ownership does force us to make some rather nuanced decisions. At what point does fading Kuchar at $7.9k become counterproductive? This is where you must evaluate where you truly believe Kuchar will finish in the Masters. Do you think he will win this week? If so, roster him. Top-five? Lock him in. Top-10? Ok. If you think Kuch will finish outside the top-10, that's where a fade becomes interesting. Let's say he logs a T21 at 35% ownership...a fade could offer some serious leverage in that scenario. Ultimately, your decision should come down to how strongly you feel about Kuchar's chances of logging a very high finish, as well as your risk tolerance in GPP's.

 

Charley Hoffman (DK - $6,800 & FD - $8,500)

Notable Course History: T12 ('18), T22 ('17), T29 ('16), T9 ('15)
Recent Form: 2nd (Valero), T18 (Valspar), M/C (Players), M/C (API), M/C (Genesis)

We're rounding out the Masters edition of HFTC with Charley Hoffman. Though the California-born Hoffman and Augusta National seem like an odd couple, it has been a peanut butter & jelly combination through the years.

Hoffman has never logged worse than a T29 finish in the Masters over five career appearances. He qualified for this year's Masters thanks to a T12 performance in the 2018 edition and also recorded a T9 finish in 2015. He has a penchant for quick starts at Augusta National and has fired a sub-70 opening round in three of his last four starts at Augusta National.

This season had been a lost cause for Hoffman, as he'd scuffled to five missed cuts in 2019. He seemed to find something a few weeks ago at the Valspar though and he logged a T18, his best outing of the year to that point. Hoffman really cranked things up last week at the Valero Texas Open - on another course where he's traditionally played well - and he logged a runner-up finish to the surging Corey Conners. Charley gained 9.6 strokes total at the Valero, including 6.2 on Approach and 3.3 Off the Tee.

While we don't have to go value hunting this week, Hoffman has an intriguing blend of trending form and solid course history at his sub-$7k price tag. He makes it possible to stack Rory McIlroy with another elite player. His Valero outing put him on some radars, but I look for Kevin Kisner and Charles Howell III to soak up plenty of the ownership in this price range.

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PGA DFS: Horse For The Course - Valero Texas Open

Hello and welcome back RotoBallers! The 'Kiz' was lit at Austin Country Club, as Kevin Kisner took down the WGC-Dell Match Play. Kisner is proving to be a real bulldog in match play formats and last week's win was a very impressive follow up to a runner-up finish in the event last year. The WGC-Match Play isn't my favorite event from a DFS standpoint, but it was definitely worth keeping an eye on, as it marked the last time we'll see lots of these guys before the Masters. There was some interesting takeaways from Austin, as Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy both head to Augusta looking great, while some players like Brooks Koepka and Jason Day had performances that are slightly concerning.

This week we gear up for the Valero Texas Open - not to be confused with the Houston Open that has been played the week before the Masters in recent years - and its new spot on the 2019 schedule. The Valero is in San Antonio and this will be the last tournament held before the Masters. It's easy to catch yourself peeking ahead to Augusta National this week and that's totally understandable, as this Valero field isn't exactly star-studded. We do have some big names in the field - Jordan Spieth is definitely a player I'm interested in keeping an eye on this week - with Rickie Fowler, Tony Finau, and Matt Kuchar all scheduled to tee it up alongside defending champion Andrew Landry, but the tournament does lack a bit of depth as we go down the DFS salary scale.

This won't exactly be an 'easy warmup' for Augusta National, as TPC San Antonio has some teeth and regularly grades out as one of the tougher tests on the PGA Tour schedule. We must also take into consideration a player's motivation this week. Are they trying to play their way into the Masters or simply tuning up their game in preparation for the first major of the season? Miracles do happen, as we saw Ian Poulter earn a Masters victory with a win at Houston last year. It's an interesting tournament and one I'm ready to dive into.

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.

Editor's Note: Our friends at Fantasy National have built some incredible DFS Golf lineup tools including a Lineup Optimizer, Stat Engine, Ownership Projections and Course Breakdowns. They are by far the best daily fantasy Golf tools in the industry. Seriously. You can read all about them here and see screenshots. 

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The Course: TPC San Antonio (AT&T Oaks)

Par 72 - 7,435 Yards, Greens: Bermuda

Opened in 2010, this Greg Norman design (with an assist from Sergio Garcia) immediately found its way into the PGA Tour rotation and has hosted this event since it opened. Norman incorporated the natural terrain to create a layout that's long and tough. It's length definitely gives a bump to the bombers, though we have seen precise ball strikers be able to compete here. The Par-5's are no picnic, as all four play almost 600 yards and don't yield the amount of birdies and eagles that we normally see on the Tour. The wind is always a huge factor at TPC San Antonio, just as Norman intended with his design. It's somewhat of a fool's errand trying to predict the weather, especially wind, but it's worth keeping an eye on the forecast for any possible tee-time draw advantage. It'sI will definitely give a bump to driving distance and total driving this week, while also giving ball striking and approach play its due.

 

The Horse

Jason Kokrak (DK - $9,400 & FD - $11,200)

Notable Course History: T36 (2018), T67 ('17), M/C ('16), T11 ('15)
Recent Form: T2 (Valspar), T47 (The Players), T10 (API), T9 (Honda)

You guys that read this article regularly might be sick of seeing Jason Kokrak's name here, but if you've been rostering him on a regular basis your profits should help to ease the pain. Everyone seems to keep waiting on the Kokrak bubble to bust (and it probably will at some point), but if we look at how Kokrak has been racking up strong finishes, there's really no reason to think his output isn't sustainable, at least for the moment.

Kokrak hasn't been blessed with a ridiculously hot putter, the marker that we usually peg for unsustainable output. He's actually ran rather cold on the greens and has gained strokes putting in just one of his last five starts (5.5 SG: Putting at Valspar). Kokrak is performing in a manner that DFS-ers drool over...very strong from tee to green, with excellent ball striking and approach measurables. He ranks first in this Valero field in all three of those categories (SG: T2G, SG: Ball Striking, & SG: Approach) over his last 24 rounds and also stands a strong seventh in SG: Off the Tee over the same measured rounds.

Kokrak's course history at TPC San Antonio is surprisingly mediocre. On paper, his game is suited perfectly for this long track, but his best Valero finish was a T11 in 2015. He has been a reliable cut-maker here and has made four of his last five cuts in San Antonio.

I really wish Kokrak was priced up even more on DK, as I expect him to garner tons of ownership at just $9.4k. He was around 30% owned for the Valspar and I look for him to be extremely popular again this week at a DK price that's probably a bit too cheap when considering his recent form.

 

The Ponies

Tony Finau (DK - $10,800 & FD - $12,000)

Notable Course History: T3 ('17), T68 ('15)
Recent Form: T22 (The Players), T25 (WGC-Mexico), T15 (Genesis), T38 (AT&T)

Does anybody remember this guy? After spending the last two years as a DFS darling, Tony Finau has been really quiet in 2019. While he's been well known to those of us in the DFS community for years, Finau gained some notoriety among casual golf fans with his play last season. We became accustomed to seeing consistent top-five and top-10 finishes from Finau in 2018, but those types of outings have yet to materialize this year.

Finau hasn't been bad by any stretch, he just hasn't played at the level we expected after his breakout 2018. He logged top-15's at the Farmers and Genesis, as well as top-25's at the WGC-Mexico and Players Championship...so Finau has been around, just slightly out of sight. He lacks a lengthy track record at TPC San Antonio, but a T3 in one of his two Valero starts confirms that this course is a great fit for him.

Finau is one of the most prolific drivers of the ball on the PGA Tour. He has drove it well this year and stands fourth in the Valero field in SG: Off the Tee over his last 24 rounds and first in the field when going back 50 rounds. He's been very solid from tee to green, ranking eighth in the field in SG: T2G and sixth in SG: Total over his last 24 rounds. Where Finau has really struggled this year is around the greens, an area where he showed massive improvement in 2018. He ranks just 93rd in the field in SG: Around the Green and has lost strokes in that area in his last three starts.

Finau has been a popular DFS option for a couple of years, but we've seen his ownership levels dropping as this season progresses. It will be interesting to see if people jump back on him in this somewhat watered-down field at $10.8k. I like him in GPPs and I'm looking for a breakout performance from Finau this week.

 

Jim Furyk (DK - $9,600 & FD - $10,900)

Notable Course History: T26 ('18), T58 ('15), T6 ('14)
Recent Form: T18 (Valspar), 2nd (The Players), T9 (Honda), T37 (Genesis), T14 (AT&T)

Like Jason Kokrak, Jim Furyk has been mentioned here several times recently. And like Kokrak, Furyk just continues to produce. It's getting to the point where you are fading the veteran at your own peril. Even with his amazing stretch of play, Furyk's average DK ownership hasn't exceeded 15% in GPPs over the past month. Maybe folks are scared the 48-year-old will run out of gas or something?

Furyk is keeping the pedal to the medal and hasn't shown any signs of slowing down this season. He looked feisty at the WGC-Match Play last week and you know that Furyk is desperately trying to get into the Masters, which he can do with a win, so he has plenty of motivation this week in San Antonio. A T6 back in 2014 and a T26 last year (when he wasn't playing his best golf), show that he can handle this long layout. We have to love the current form - he's first in this field in SG: Total over his last 24 rounds - and the stability that he brings to lineups in any formats. We know what we're getting with Furyk...fairways and greens. He's first in the field in Fairways Gained and second in the field in Greens Gained over his last 24 rounds.

He's a grinder and, honestly, not a real exciting player to roster, but he's consistently offered solid returns this season. If you want to lean towards a balanced build, Furyk (or Jason Kokrak) is a great place to start your roster construction this week.

 

Byeong Hun An (DK - $9,200 & FD - $10,200)

Notable Course History: T40 ('17)
Recent Form: T26 (The Players) T10 (API), T36 (Honda), T45 (WGC-Mexico)

We're veering a bit off the course-history path with Byeong Hun An, but if we're looking for ball strikers this week, 'Benny' definitely deserves a mention in this article. An has been striping the ball as of late, averaging 3.23 SG: Approach and 3.66 SG: Off the Tee over his last three stroke-play tournament starts.

An stacks up well against anyone in the Valero field when it comes to his recent ball striking prowess. He grades out second in this field in SG: T2G over his last 24 rounds and sixth in SG: Ball Striking. As with most players that aren't considered elite, there is a drawback with An. He stands an abysmal 141st in the Valero field in SG: Putting over his last 24 rounds. While I'm always willing to overlook bad putting to an extent, Benny is really struggling on the greens. But...he logged a T10 at the API and a T26 at The Players against elite fields while losing over 1.5 strokes putting in each event. If we can catch just a not terrible putting week from An in San Antonio, he should find himself in contention.

An rounds out what I feel is a very strong $9k price range on DK. You can very easily get two players from this range in roster builds this week and can even squeeze in three if there are some value plays that you feel comfortable leaning on. An's putting troubles do put him in the 'GPP Only' category for me, but I really like the upside that comes with his current ball striking.

 

Aaron Baddeley (DK - $8,300 & FD - $9,600)

Notable Course History: T16 ('18), T5 ('17), T29 ('16), T20 ('15)
Recent Form: T7 (Corales), M/C (The Players), T17 (API), T2 (Puerto Rico), T49 (Genesis)

Aaron Baddeley is sorta the anti-Benny An. He's a terrific putter and has an extensive track record of solid play at TPC San Antonio. Some of you might not remember, but 'Badds' was once upon a time the 'next big thing' in golf. The Aussie hasn't reached the superstar status that many expected, but Baddeley has grinded out a very respectable career for himself on the PGA Tour.

He's not the type of player that I normally feature in HFTC, but Baddeley is trending a bit right now. He logged a T7 at Corales last week, was in the weekend mix at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, and very nearly had a victory at the Puerto Rico Open a little over a month ago. Obviously, this field is stronger than the ones he faced in the Dominican and Puerto Rico, but good play often leads to more good play. Baddeley should also feel confident at TPC San Antonio, as he's ran off five consecutive made cuts here since 2014, with a top-five and two top-20's over the course of that stretch.

We've mentioned that this track favors ball strikers, which Baddeley most certainly isn't, but the Aussie's impeccable short game and ability to play in the wind has always served him well at TPC San Antonio. It's not often that I'm willing to compromise in the type of player I'm targeting, but in a week that players priced similarly to Baddeley (Charley Hoffman, Luke List, & Ryan Palmer) will soak up some ownership, I feel like he's a nice GPP contrarian option that most people won't be willing to pay $8.4k for.

 

Dylan Frittelli (DK - $7,300 & FD - $9,300)

Notable Course History: T20 ('18)
Recent Form: T18 (Corales), T37 (Valspar), M/C (Honda), T28 (Genesis)

Even if we prefer solid lineup builds this week, we have to venture down the salary scale at some point. Dylan Frittelli is a nice option at the lower end of the $7k price range on DK. The 28-year-old played his college golf at the University of Texas and looked very comfortable on the way to a T20 in his Valero debut last season. The South African was a very accomplished amateur golfer and made his bones on the European Tour, where he won twice in 2017. His transition to the PGA Tour last year came with some growing pains, but he has settled in nicely this season with seven made cuts in 10 starts and two top-25's.

Frittelli fits the profile of what we are looking for this week. He stands ninth in the field in SG: Off the Tee over his last 24 rounds. He's a solid ball striker and ranks 19th in the field in SG: Ball Striking and 18th in SG: T2G. He's a great salary saver on both sites for Valero and doesn't have a lot of holes in his game other than being slightly shaky around the green. He's borderline cash-game playable in this field and can really round out GPP lineups when your looking for a sixth man.

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PGA DFS: Horse For The Course - WGC Dell Match Play

Welcome back golf fans! Paul Casey successfully defended his Valspar title over the weekend to log his second straight win at the Copperhead Course. The Englishman headed into the Valspar fresh off a disastrous outing at The Players Championship and reminded us that it is often a viable DFS strategy to target good players in solid bounce-back spots.

Casey outlasted two players that were highlighted in last week's edition of HFTC, Jason Kokrak and Dustin Johnson. While it's never great when our Horse completely strikes out like Patrick Reed did, the strong performances from Kokrak and DJ coupled with T18's from both Jim Furyk and Sung Kang, helped to soften the blow of Reed's train wreck of an outing.

This week is going to be a little weird. We head to Austin for the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play event, where 62 of the world's top 64 players will be in action. This isn't a regular stroke play event AND it gets kicked off on Wednesday morning AND the player 'brackets' weren't announced until Monday evening. So...we have a lot of foreign information to process and we have to do it in a shorter time span than we're used to. You will hear a lot about 'pods' and 'groups' in this event and will need to employ a bit of 'bracketology' when building DFS lineups. Personally, I will be scaling back the amount of money I invest in DFS this week.

I will do my best to be as helpful as possible this week, though at the time of this writing I don't yet have the player brackets available to me, so make sure and review the Dell brackets before rostering the players in this article together. If you take away anything from this week's article, let it be this: DON'T SHOOT YOURSELF IN THE FOOT WITH LINEUP CONSTRUCTION. With this event using an NCAA tourney style bracket system, you want to make sure you give yourself a chance to have players from each side of the draw in the 'Final Four'. In other words, if your roster is made up of players that will be facing each other early in the event, you will effectively be eliminating yourself. I know it's a little confusing, just make sure to keep one eye on the player bracket when constructing your lineups this week and try to avoid rostering players that might have to face each other early 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.

Editor's Note: Our friends at Fantasy National have built some incredible DFS Golf lineup tools including a Lineup Optimizer, Stat Engine, Ownership Projections and Course Breakdowns. They are by far the best daily fantasy Golf tools in the industry. Seriously. You can read all about them here and see screenshots. 

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The Course: Austin Country Club

Par 71 - 7,108 Yards, Greens: Bermuda

For the second time in three weeks we head to a Pete Dye-designed course. Austin Country Club has settled in nicely as the home of the only match play event on the PGA Tour schedule. It has all the usual trappings of a Dye track with emphasis placed on approach shots, water heavily in play on the back nine, and plenty of holes with great risk/reward options. The front and back nines are rather different, with the front focusing on natural elevations and the back bringing Lake Austin into play. Despite this being a Dye track, long hitters have fared well here. The Par-5's are gettable and a driveable Par-4 offers some juicy, late-match drama.

 

The Horse

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

Notable Course History: Win (2018), T28 ('17), T17 ('16)
Recent Form: T4 (Valspar), T56 (The Players), T17 (API), T27 (WGC-Mexico), T15 (Genesis)

As I mentioned in the intro, I'm kind of flying blind this week with the timing of the WGC player draw and the writing of this article, so I appreciate you toughing things out with me for this out-of-the-ordinary match play event! I tend to avoid naming defending champions of an event as the Horse in this article, because it's usually a little too obvious. But...there's something brewing with Bubba Watson this season that makes him very intriguing to me. I'm not sure if it will be this event or in a few weeks at Augusta, but it feels like a Bubba win is coming.

If you've read this article much in the past, you probably know one of our 'HFTC Golden Rules' is: Thou shall only playeth Bubba on 'Bubba courses'. Perhaps more than any player on the PGA Tour, Watson is an extremely course-specific player. He repeatedly performs well on the same layouts, while routinely struggling on courses that don't suit him. Austin Country Club would definitely qualify as one of the former. Watson took down this event last year, has regularly made deep runs on this course, and has multiple wins at other Pete Dye tracks like TPC River Highlands and TPC Louisiana throughout his career.

Bubba's stats often get skewed by his play in the events that he doesn't like, but we find some excellent current form when looking at his last 24 rounds with Fantasy National. It comes as no surprise that he ranks second in the field in Strokes Gained: Off The Tee, but he also stands 11th in SG: Tee to Green and 10th in SG: Ball Striking. Watson's putting has slowly, but surely, been coming around since he went to a longer putter that he braces against his forearm and he ranks-out in the middle of the pack in SG: Putting over his last 24 rounds. Bubba comes in at an affordable $8,900 this week. His reasonable price tag and history in this event should make him a popular option.

 

The Ponies

Rory McIlroy (DK - $11,700 & FD -)

Notable Course History: T36 ('18), T30 ('17), T4 ('16), Win *Harding Park ('15)
Recent Form: Win (The Players), T6 (API), 2nd (WGC-Mexico), T4 (Genesis), T5 (Farmers)

Rory McIlroy stock is nearing an all-time high right now, but I'm still a buyer. The one time 'next big thing' is once again fulfilling his promise after a couple of 'lost years'. Rory has entered 2019 focused and motivated. It's paid huge dividends, as he logged a monster victory at The Players two weeks ago and hasn't finished outside of the top-six in any tournament he's played this year.

Rory is one of two golfers (Dustin Johnson being the other) that I put in a special little category I call "Unbeatable, If...". Meaning, McIlroy is damn-near unbeatable, if he's playing his best. He drives the ball perhaps as well as anyone in the history of the game. He's sharpened his approach game over the past year and he needs just a mediocre putting week to win any tournament.

McIlroy has been statistically ridiculous this season. He ranks first in this elite field in a sicko four Strokes Gained categories over his last 24 rounds: SG: Total, T2G, Ball Striking, and OTT.

While we don't get to see these guys in match play settings too often, Rory has shown that he can handle it. He won this event (at Harding Park GC) in 2015 and followed it with a strong run in 2016. Along with Dustin Johnson he's the Las Vegas favorite to win this event. It's probably asking to much to see those two square off in the final of this event, but we can dream...If you want to get Rory on your DFS rosters this week, it's doable...just be mindful of the players you roster with him.

 

Paul Casey (DK - $9,100 & FD -)

Notable Course History: T17 ('18), T9 ('17), T51 ('16), T5 ('15)
Recent Form: Win (Valspar), M/C (The Players), T3 (WGC-Mexico), T25 (Genesis), 2nd (AT&T)

A confident Paul Casey heads to Austin this week. The Englishman just picked up his second straight Valspar win a few days ago, adding to an already-impressive 2019 resume that includes two other top-three finishes. Casey logs the occasional nightmare outing (the less said about The Players, the better), but has shown himself to be comfortable with this match play format.

Casey as been rock-solid tee to green and ranks 10th in this field in SG: T2G over his last 24 rounds. His kryptonite is, and has always been, his putting. He ranks an abysmal 53rd in the field in SG: Putting over his last 24 rounds, which really makes his finishes all the more impressive. While clutch putting is obviously needed in match play, we don't see as much of the cumulative ill-effect as we do in a 72-hole stroke play event.

If we can't get my dream Rory vs DJ final, maybe we can get Paul Casey vs Phil Mickelson Part II: Mic'd Up, as that pair provided some of the most riveting TV of the year over the final few holes of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.

 

Ian Poulter (DK - $7,700 & FD -)

Notable Course History: T5 ('18), 4th ('13), Win *Dove Mountain ('10)
Recent Form: T56 (The Players) T23 (API), T3 (WGC-Mexico)

There was absolutely no way I was writing this week's article without including the greatest match-play golfer of our generation, Ian Poulter. His record speaks for itself. He has two career wins in match play events, the 2010 WGC-Accenture Match Play and the 2011 Volvo World Match Play Championship. He is undefeated in singles matches over six Ryder Cup appearances. Yeah, you read that right, Poulter has never lost a singles match in the Ryder Cup!

Poulter would be worthy of a mention here on the merit of his match-play record alone, but it is comforting to know that he's having a tremendous season. It was actually a deep run in this event last year that kickstarted a Poulter renaissance. He went on to win the Houston Open to qualify for The Masters and make his sixth Ryder Cup team last fall. He's kept things going nicely in 2019 with a month-long string of top-six finishes on the Euro Tour and a T3 at the WGC-Mexico already this year. He also popped at The Players before a disastrous weekend sent him tumbling down the leaderboard. I could give you a bunch of Poulter's stats (which are solid), but I think this dude could be dead last in every metric and still be a threat to win this thing.

Poulter's elite match play record will probably garner a lot of buzz around the DFS industry this week, and thus, a lot of ownership. He will definitely be the DK chalk this week, but it's hard not to love the cagey veteran's prospects in this type of event.

 

Louis Oosthuizen (DK - $7,500 & FD -)

Notable Course History: T9 ('18), T17 ('17), 2nd ('16), T5 ('15), T5 ('14)
Recent Form: T2 (Valspar), T56 (The Players), M/C (API), T25 (WGC-Mexico), M/C (Genesis)

It's been a rocky road for Louis Oosthuizen over the past year. The South African has battled nagging back and neck injuries which have forced him to withdraw from a few events. He's been inconsistent in 2019, seemingly alternating missed cuts with mediocre outings. However, things might finally be coming together at the right time for Oostie. He logged a very impressive runner-up finish at the Valspar last week, he heads to Austin for a match play format that he has thrived in, and we have The Masters on the horizon.

Despite his erratic form over the past year, I wouldn't be at all surprised to see Louis play well this week. He seems to always be a factor in this event and his beautiful 66-69 weekend on a tough Copperhead Course just a few days ago has to give him some positive momentum. His form and statistical prowess isn't equal to the players listed above him in this article and he leaned heavily on his short game at Valspar, but Oosthuizen seems to find ways to get it done in match play and I like the glimpses we saw last week.

 

Kiradech Aphibarnrat (DK - $7,200 & FD -)

Notable Course History: T5 ('18), T18 ('16), T33 ('14)
Recent Form: M/C (The Players), T23 (API), M/C (Honda), T3 (WGC-Mexico)

We're gonna wrap things up this week with the 'Asian John Daly', Kiradech Aphibarnrat. 'The Barn Rat' likes to burn heaters and drive Lambos, but outside of his colorful personality, he's proven himself to be a legitimate, world-class golfer. The native of Thailand made a run in this event last year and it was no fluke, as Aphibarnrat has a very strong track record in match play events. He has two victories on the European Tour in match play events, the stroke-play/match-play hybrid Perth World Super 6 event which he won last year and the Paul Lawrie Match Play in Scotland in 2015.

Aphibarnrat's ball striking has left a lot to be desired this season and he ranks near the bottom of the Dell field in SG: Approach. This stat would be enough for me to toss him out of consideration most weeks, but match play is just different. Aphibarnrat is a grinder that's accurate off the tee and has a knack for making clutch putts in critical situations. He's an intriguing salary-saving option this week.

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PGA DFS: Horse For The Course - Valspar Championship

Welcome back RotoBallers! After a series of near misses in seemingly every tournament this season, Rory McIlroy finally closed the deal on a Sunday to win The Players Championship. We are seeing a focused and motivated Rory this year and it's really what we've been waiting for from a guy that has all the tools to be a legitimate all-time great. With the win at TPC Sawgrass and his consistent performances in 2019, it's pretty fair to consider Rory the current favorite for The Masters, which is now less than a month away.

A personal note on The Players...YUCK! I knew that the tournament had historically been an unpredictable event, but man...things were ugly for me last week! I'm pretty sure I was drawing dead by Thursday evening and that's never a good feeling. Unfortunately, bad weeks are a part of DFS. The great thing is that we get a chance to bounce back this week with a really good event in the Valspar Championship.

Defending champ Paul Casey (an unmitigated disaster at TPC Sawgrass) leads a surprisingly strong field this week. He's joined by the likes of Dustin Johnson, Jon Rahm, and Jason Day. I say surprisingly strong, because usually a lot of the top guys aren't too eager to tackle the tough Copperhead Course at Innisbrook Resort, but we have seen this tournament gain some steam over the last couple of years and draw the sort of fields that this type of quality golf course deserves. The cream of the crop certainly rose to the top of the leaderboard in last year's Valspar, with Casey, Tiger Woods, Patrick Reed, Sergio Garcia, and Justin Rose making up the top-five finishers...but this is also an event where we saw Kevin Streelman and John Senden win in 2013 and 2014. With this deep field, I expect golf's elite to rise to the challenge again this year.

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.

Editor's Note: Our friends at Fantasy National have built some incredible DFS Golf lineup tools including a Lineup Optimizer, Stat Engine, Ownership Projections and Course Breakdowns. They are by far the best daily fantasy Golf tools in the industry. Seriously. You can read all about them here and see screenshots. 

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The Course: Innisbrook Resort (Copperhead Course)

Par 71 - 7,340 Yards, Greens: Bermuda

Located in Palm Harbor, Florida, the Copperhead course at Innisbrook Resort is the type of course that could hold a PGA Championship next week and no one would raise an eyebrow. It is a quality golf course and one that routinely ranks as one of the most difficult on the PGA Tour schedule. It's many undulations are unique for a Florida course. Players in this field will face tree-lined fairways, tough doglegs, and greens that are hard to hit. They must also tackle 'The Snake Pit'...the Copperhead's daunting closing three-hole stretch. This is a less-than-driver course for the bombers, but there are four Par-5's for them to gun at. Interestingly, there are FIVE Par-3's on this layout, which almost forces us to look at something we rarely give much weight to in this article; Par-3 Scoring. As usual, ball striking is a trait we want to target. A players' short game and ability to scramble will also be tested this week.

 

The Horse

Patrick Reed (DK - $9,500 & FD - $10,800)

Notable Course History: T2 (2018), T38 ('17), T7 ('16), T2 ('15)
Recent Form: T47 (The Players), T50 (API), T22 (AT&T), T13 (Farmers), T13 (Sony)

Patrick Reed is not a guy you will see featured in this article very often. The reason being, he's just not a statistically strong player, so I'm never really able to point at a group of statistics and say: "Here's why you should play Patrick Reed this week."

Unfortunately, this week is no different from a stat perspective, as there's really not many measurables that Reed pops in. What I do like is Reed's history at Copperhead. He was a 72nd-hole error away from, at the least, being in a playoff at last year's Valspar. It was just the latest in a string of strong Valspar performances for the 2018 Masters champ. Last year was Reed's second runner-up finish at Copperhead since 2015 and he logged a T7 here in 2016. This track demands more than a little toughness over 72 holes and the man who made his bones on the PGA Tour by playing Monday qualifiers always seems to answer the bell at Innisbrook.

Going into the research process for this week, I honestly thought that Reed was having a bad year. I was surprised to find that he's logged three top-15's and two top-25's over his seven 2019 starts. Not a bad down year. That Reed has been quietly solid shouldn't be surprising, as he's a guy that just seems to find a way to get the ball in the hole without blowing you away with his talent. Reed is helped by a strong short game that gets him out of a lot of jams. He ranks third in the Valspar field in Strokes Gained: Short Game and fourth in SG: Putting over his last 24 rounds.

Reed was actually having a nice Players outing after opening with three straight 69's, but a disastrous final-round 78 sent him tumbling down the leaderboard. He was 28th in The Players field in SG: Tee to Green, but uncharacteristically lost almost 3.5 strokes putting. I look for Reed to get things straightened out on the greens quickly and once again be in contention at the Valspar. Reed's DK price is pretty spot-on and rostering him will probably put you on the road to a more 'balanced build' this week.

 

The Ponies

Dustin Johnson (DK - $,000 & FD - $12,600)

Notable Course History: None
Recent Form: T5 (The Players), Win (WGC-Mexico), T9 (Genesis), T45 (AT&T), T4 (Sentry)

We go from a guy in Patrick Reed that grades out horribly statistically, to perhaps the most statistically impressive player on the PGA Tour in Dustin Johnson. So let it be known that we are an equal opportunity golf article here at HFTC!

What we normally target in this article is strong course history, something that DJ has none of at Innisbrook. It's slightly unusual for me to include a player here without a proven course track record, but Johnson is a pretty big exception to that rule. Along with Rory McIlroy, DJ has been running roughshod over the competition this year. He has a win, two top-five's, and a top-10 in just five 2019 PGA Tour starts, as well as a win at the Saudi International on the Euro Tour. He's in what I like to call 'DJ-God Mode', the type of form in which he has a legitimate chance to win every time he tees it up. We've seen him go on huge winning binges before and here we are again.

I won't bore you with many of Johnson's unbelievable stats, so let's just say they are dominant. Over a long-term measurement sample (50 rounds) he ranks first in this field in an unreal FIVE Strokes Gained categories: Total, T2G, Ball Striking, Off the Tee, and Approach! One sneaky stat I will throw at you is that DJ stands third in this field in SG: Par 3's over his last 50 rounds, a rather surprising stat from a player that we often think of as the ultimate bomber.

Listen, I know you don't need me to tell you to play Dustin Johnson, but his current form is something so special that I felt he was worthy of a mention this week. He plays difficult courses perhaps better than anyone in the world and has a game that's peaking right now. Unsurprisingly, DJ sits atop the salary scale on both DK and FD. In a week where things get pretty thin, pretty quickly as we move down the salary scale, rostering him will require some sacrifices. If you do build around DJ, you are expecting him to win this tournament.

 

Jim Furyk (DK - $9,200 & FD - $10,000)

Notable Course History: 7th ('18), T41 ('17), T40 ('15), T20 ('14)
Recent Form: 2nd (The Players), T9 (Honda), T37 (Genesis), T14 (AT&T)

Let's take a second to talk about Jim Furyk. Fresh off an impressive display of 'old-man strength' at The Players, the 48-year-old heads to another course that fits his grind-it-out style of play. Furyk's runner-up finish at TPC Sawgrass probably came as a huge shock to many, but he has been on my radar for several weeks and was a player we successfully highlighted in the Honda Classic edition of this article.

I'm willing to go right back to Furyk this week, because he does profile as such a good fit at the Copperhead Course. He's played well here in the past and logged a T7 in last season's Valspar. Furyk's stats are about what you would expect...he's rock-solid in SG: Short Game & Putting, as well as ranking third in the field in both SG: Total and Bogey Avoidance over his last 24 rounds.

There are a couple of different outlooks we can take on Furyk's run at TPC Sawgrass...will he carry the positive momentum from his strong Players outing to Innisbrook or will he suffer an emotional letdown from the near miss? I think the veteran has been around the block enough times to not get too high or low after very good or very bad performances. After receiving huge price bumps on both sites, many will be reluctant to pay the freight on Furyk this week, but he's a player that I will get into my Valspar lineups.

 

Ryan Moore (DK - $8,700 & FD - $8,900)

Notable Course History: M/C ('18), T18 ('17), 3rd ('16), 5th ('15)
Recent Form: T20 (The Players) T33 (Arnold Palmer), T28 (Genesis), M/C (WMPO), M/C (Farmers)

Ryan Moore is like a younger version of Zach Johnson in that he constantly pops up during my weekly course history research. The guy has quietly had a very solid career. He finds his way into this week's article because he has a very strong Valspar resume. Moore recorded consecutive top-five's on the Copperhead Course in 2015-16 and logged a T18 in '17.

The reason he isn't highlighted here more often despite having strong history at several courses, is his frustrating inconsistency over the last couple of years. Moore has been through numerous equipment changes over the years, and while I don't like blaming equipment for a player's results, I honestly feel like it's hurt his career. He seems to be settled in with PXG now and we've seen some signs of consistency over the past month. He's ran off three straight solid outings at the Genesis, API, and The Players...and has gained strokes both T2G and on Approach in all three of those starts. He also ranks fifth in the Valspar field in SG: Around the Green over his last 12 rounds, which is a handy skill to have at a tough course like Copperhead.

Ryan Moore is never going to be an 'all-in' type of play for me, as he's just too inconsistent, but his course history and improving form have me intrigued this week. We focus mainly on DK in this column, but Moore is an unbelievable value on FD this week, so those of you that play over there should give him a long look. His DK price puts him in the same range as several guys that will be popular, which should make him a nice contrarian-ish GPP option.

 

Jason Kokrak (DK - $8,600 & FD - $9,700 )

Notable Course History: T8 ('18), T58 ('17), M/C ('16), T7 ('15), T14 ('14)
Recent Form: T47 (The Players), T10 (API), T9 (Honda), T37 (Genesis), T20 (WMPO)

I've been beating the Jason Kokrak drum for the entirety of 2019 and I'm not slowing down this week at a course where he's logged two top-10's since 2015. He's fresh off a T47 at The Players, which doesn't seem very impressive, unless you mention the fact that he lost nearly two strokes to the field on the greens. It's a recurring theme with Kokrak, who logged a T10 at the API despite losing a MASSIVE 4.1 strokes putting!

Why am I so quick to jump on such a bad putter? Because as I've preached in this article for almost a year, putting can come and go in the blink of an eye on the PGA Tour. If a guy is hitting the ball consistently well, a decent putting week can always come along. Kokrak is striking the ball at a very elite level this season. I'm talking 'DJ-like' stats. Over his last 24 rounds, Kokrak trails only Dustin Johnson in this field in Strokes Gained: T2G and Ball Striking; and he trails only Keegan Bradley in Strokes Gained: Approach over that same time frame. So, yeah...my man Kokrak has been inviting folks to 'The Stripe Show' all year long.

After being an extremely popular DFS option at the Honda Classic, Kokrak's DK ownership dwindled to around 10% for both the API and The Players. I imagine that reduction was due to the depth of those fields and I look for his ownership to trend back up again this week. I'm fine with eating a little chalk if need be, and I'm playing Kokrak in all formats.

 

Sung Kang (DK - $7,200 & FD - $7,900 )

Notable Course History: 73rd ('18), M/C ('17), T22 ('16)
Recent Form: T47 (The Players), T6 (API), T51 (Honda), T64 (Genesis), T14 (AT&T)

While there is a lot of strength at the top of the Valspar field, things get pretty ugly when we start searching for DFS value this week. Sung Kang is a player that I've leaned on several times this year when trying to save salary and I'm leaning in his direction again for the Valspar. Obviously a player at this price isn't going to be a model of consistency, but Kang has only missed one cut in eight 2019 starts and has popped off for a couple of top-10 finishes at the API and the Sony Open.

Kang isn't the type of player that blows you away in one statistical area, but he's competent across the board. He's 25th in SG: Total and 26th in SG: T2G in this Valspar field over his last 24 rounds. He's also very efficient on Par-3's, of which the players will face five of this week, and grades out 10th in the field in SG: Par 3's over his last 24 rounds. Kang is also good at getting himself out of trouble and stands 14th in the field in Bogeys Avoided.

The South Korean is an especially great value on FD at just $7.9k, but his $7.2k price on DK also presents some salary relief. He's by no means a 'slam dunk', but there aren't many discount plays to feel great about this week. He's a GPP play for me and I'll mix and match him with some of the other usual suspects in this price range like Joaquin Niemann, Trey Mullinax, and maybe even someone like Danny Willett in the sub-$7k range. I usually try to keep my player pool as tight as possible, but because there's nothing I really love down here this week, I'll be tossing several different cheap players in my MME lineups.

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PGA DFS: Horse For The Course - THE PLAYERS Championship

Welcome back RotoBallers! 'The Italian Stallion' Francesco Molinari caught fire Sunday to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational. I hope you read last week's edition of HFTC, as Molinari was one of our featured players!

Let's keep the momentum going, because we've got a big one this week. We head to TPC Sawgrass for THE PLAYERS Championship and you know it's important because it's ALL CAPITALIZED! The tournament does take itself a little too seriously, but it's with good reason, as it has the most elite field we will see outside of the four major championships, not to mention a $12.5 million prize pool.

All eyes will be on the injury status of Tiger Woods this week, but even if 'The Striped One' isn't able to go, we have a STACKED player pool to choose from! The DFS sites are giving the 'Fifth Major' its due by rolling out some major championship-like soft pricing. Let me go ahead and tell you that every lineup you construct will look good, but don't fall into the 'play everybody trap' that can so often happen in these type of events. Be diligent about keeping your player pool tight this week.

As I just alluded to, Tiger's status is still up in the air at the time of this writing, but every other big name in professional golf will be teeing it in Ponte Vedra Beach. Defending champ Webb Simpson is back and looking to be the first repeat champion in PLAYERS history. He's joined by the likes of Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, and pretty much everyone else inside the OWGR's Top 50.

While this will be an exciting and fun week, it is not without some DFS challenges. Pete Dye specifically designed TPC Sawgrass to not favor any specific type of player, which can make it difficult to determine what traits to target. The soft pricing and deep player pool will also force us to make some tough decisions when finalizing rosters. We must also deal with the fact that this tournament is being played in March instead of May for the first time since 2007, which throws new course conditions and possibly weather into the equation.

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.

Editor's Note: Our friends at Fantasy National have built some incredible DFS Golf lineup tools including a Lineup Optimizer, Stat Engine, Ownership Projections and Course Breakdowns. They are by far the best daily fantasy Golf tools in the industry. Seriously. You can read all about them here and see screenshots. 

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The Course: TPC Sawgrass (Stadium Course)

Par 72 - 7,189 Yards, Greens: Bermuda

At just under 7,200 yards, the Stadium Course is one of the shortest layouts these players face on the PGA Tour schedule, but what it lacks in length, it makes up for in bite. The Pete Dye design that opened in 1982 has endured as one of the trickiest courses in the world. In true Dye fashion, it's a second shot golf course with danger lurking everywhere in the form of water hazards and bunkers.

This layout was specifically designed to not favor any one style of play, so we see holes of varying length in Par 3's, 4's, and 5's, doglegs that go both left and right, with no two consecutive holes playing in the same direction. THE PLAYERS' most iconic hole is, of course, the Par-3 17th 'Island Hole'. The 17th is short, but its psychological impact on players in key moments makes it difficult. A recent update to TPC Sawgrass now has the 12th hole playing as a driveable Par-4 with water in play to raise the risk/reward stakes.

With TPC Sawgrass being such a balanced course, it's tough to give the edge to one type of player this week. While we can normally classify courses as a 'bomber' track or an 'accuracy' layout, we have no such luxury this week. I will say that I'm not giving the distance guys their usual bump this week. I'm targeting ball strikers with strong approach games that are solid from tee to green. I will also consider a player's short game strength and ability to avoid bogeys, as big numbers are seemingly lurking everywhere at TPC Sawgrass. It's always hard to predict putting, but this week's winner will need to get hot with the flatstick on these fast bermuda-grass greens. I will also lean towards those in the field that have some PLAYERS experience, as this track can be brutal on first timers.

 

The Horse

Sergio Garcia (DK - $9,100 & FD - $10,900)

Notable Course History: 70th (2018), T30 ('17), T54 ('16), T2 ('15), 3rd ('14), T8 ('13), Win ('08)
Recent Form: T9 (Honda), T6 (WGC-Mexico), T37 (Genesis Open), DQ (Saudi International), T3 (Omega Dubai)

I'll be honest, it's with a little bit of reluctance that I'm naming Sergio Garcia the Horse for THE PLAYERS Championship. We all know how volatile the fiery Spaniard can be and that's always a scary thing to put a lot of faith in. However, with that volatility comes streaks, both hot and cold, and Sergio is on a doozy of a heater right now. I've been riding Garcia's hot hand pretty heavily (I've featured him in this article in his last two starts) and it's paid off with back-to-back top-10's.

I might be playing dimestore psychiatrist here, but since Sergio's little incident in Saudi Arabia, he is playing with a fire that we haven't seen from him in quite some time. The 2017 Masters champion has put on an absolute ball striking clinic since crossing the Atlantic a month ago. In his three 2019 North American starts, Garcia has been in elite form on shots approaching the green. His SG: Approach numbers look like this over his last three tournaments: Honda: 7.5 SG: App (3rd in the field), WGC Mexico: 7.1 SG: App (4th in the field), and the Genesis: 5.4 SG: App (7th in the field). Garcia has produced two top-10's and a T37 in those three recent outings, while losing strokes putting in two of them.

Garcia has an elite, yet somewhat flawed, history at TPC Sawgrass. He captured the PLAYERS title in 2008 and had a very successful stretch from 2013-2015 that included a T8 and back-to-back top-three finishes. His success at TPC Sawgrass hasn't come without a few battle scars though. The T8 in 2013 was the result of a late collapse in which Garcia was tied for the lead and proceeded to put three balls in the water on the 17th and 18th holes for a quad/double finish. Blowups and mental lapses are what has held Garcia back throughout his career and they are usually what gives me pause when considering him in big DFS situations.

I'm willing to roll with Sergio this week because it feels like there are no 'sure things' above him on the salary scale. While I would be willing to move up from Garcia for a level of 'safety' that I felt comfortable with, I just don't see it in this tournament. Sure, you certainly can spend up with this week's soft DFS pricing, I just don't know that you need to do so. I suppose a strong argument could be made for Justin Rose at $10.2k in just about any tournament, but all of the other players above Garcia come with either injury or course history concerns. Yes, Sergio is volatile, but that volatility comes with the type of upside that can help you win a massive GPP this week.

 

The Ponies

Xander Schauffele (DK - $9,000 & FD - $11,000)

Notable Course History: T2 (2018)
Recent Form: T14 (WGC-Mexico), T15 (Genesis), T10 (WMPO), T25 (Farmers), Win (Sentry)

We drop down just $100 from Sergio Garcia to our top Pony for THE PLAYERS, Xander Schauffele. The X-Man's TPC Sawgrass experience isn't extensive, but it is impressive, as he scored a runner-up finish in his PLAYERS debut last year. He looked extremely comfortable on the Pete Dye layout, and actually led the 2018 PLAYERS field in Strokes Gained: Tee to Green at 12.2 for the week, but was the victim of a somewhat balky putter.

The Schauffele of 2018 was very good, but the scary thing is the 2019 version is even better. He finished last season ranked 62nd on the PGA Tour in Strokes Gained: Tee to Green, but currently stands at 13th in the same category this season. The jump has been powered by Schauffele's massive improvement with his irons. He clocks in at 11th on the Tour in SG: Approach this season, an area where he finished 64th at the end of last season.

There's not a lot that Schauffele isn't doing well at the moment. Using the stat engine at Fantasy National, he grades out sixth in THE PLAYERS field in SG: Total over his last 24 rounds and ranks inside the top-15 in the field in SG: T2G, Ball Striking, Short Game, Approach, and Putting over that timeframe. His game is basically bulletproof right now and in five starts this calendar year he has finished no lower than tied for 25th.

The days of Schauffele being a well-kept DFS secret are over. His DK ownership has steadily increased this year and he topped out at 25% in his last start at the WGC-Mexico. His ownership might get dinged a tiny bit due to the strength of this field, but I still expect him to be really popular. He's gonna pop in a lot of models this week...but there is a lot to like about the X-Man at TPC Sawgrass.

 

Patrick Cantlay (DK - $8,700 & FD - $10,000)

Notable Course History: T23 ('18), T22 ('17)
Recent Form: T6 (WGC Mexico), T15 (Genesis Open), M/C (Farmers), T9 (Desert Classic)

Man...I love the $8k range on DK so much this week. With a nod to both 'Fairway Jesus' Tommy Fleetwood and Francesco Molinari, I'm going to highlight Patrick Cantlay from this fertile price range. Despite his tortoise-like pace of play, Cantlay is a player you should quickly get in your lineups this week. After popping up on our DFS radars strongly last season, the 26-year-old has continued to roll in 2019. He defended his Shiners title with a runner-up finish to Bryson DeChambeau back in the fall and he's continued balling out as the calendar flipped into the new year. Outside of a squirrelly missed cut in the Farmers Open, Cantlay has been extremely impressive in his four 2019 starts, recording a T15 and two top-10's.

After suffering some career-threatening injuries early in his career, Cantlay's playing schedule definitely favors quality over quantity. Because he sometimes goes several weeks between starts, it can be easy to forget just how good he is. Like Xander Schauffele, Cantlay has exhibited excellence across the statistical board this year. Over his last five tournament starts, which includes the missed cut at the Farmers, Cantlay has averaged gaining strokes in every major strokes gained category. If we toss out the Farmers, Cantlay has gained over six strokes tee to green in each of his other 2019 starts.

Cantlay has managed TPC Sawgrass adequately in his two previous PLAYERS starts, logging back-to-back top-25's over the last two years. I expect more out of Cantlay this time around, and while predicting winners at THE PLAYERS is a dangerous thing, he's definitely a legitimate dark-horse contender. His DFS ownership is similarly tough to peg, as it feels like he should be popular, but in his last start at the WGC-Mexico he garnered just 10% DK ownership. As I mentioned, I love the $8-9k price point this week and it's tempting to just set up shop in this range and never leave. The combination of Cantlay, Fleetwood, and Molinari creates a very nice core to build around.

 

Henrik Stenson (DK - $7,800 & FD - $9,600)

Notable Course History: T23 ('18), T16 ('17), M/C ('16), T17 ('15), Win ('09)
Recent Form: T17 (Arnold Palmer Invitational) T54 (WGC-Mexico)

Over the weekend, I Tweeted that Henrik Stenson was like the Night King from Game of Thrones and he just re-emerges every so often to remind everyone what a badass he is. Well prepare yourselves this week, because winter is here and Stenson marches toward the wall. I really wanted to get 'The Iceman' in last week's API article because his record at Bay Hill was ridiculously good, but I chickened out due to his poor form. I forgot that sometimes a player's comfort level with a course can help to bring about good form and that's exactly what happened with the Swede at Bay Hill.

After an ugly start to 2019 that consisted of three missed cuts on the Euro Tour and a bleak-looking WGC-Mexico outing, Stenson became Stenson again last week. He gained a massive 6.7 strokes on approach and 5.2 T2G in the API. We know that he can go on white-hot binges and his API breakout bodes well for him this week, as he now heads to a TPC Sawgrass course where he won in 2009 and has recorded nine top-25's in 13 starts.

Stenson's Bay Hill performance will garner some buzz, but I expect his ownership to be reasonable in this super-deep field. He reminds me of the way I felt about Francesco Molinari heading into last week...a player who's year-to-date game log isn't very impressive, but who is trending in the right direction. He's a high-upside, low-ownership, GPP play that I love in large-field DFS tournaments.

 

Rafa Cabrera-Bello (DK - $7,400 & FD - $9,800 )

Notable Course History: T17 ('18), T4 ('17), M/C ('16)
Recent Form: T3 (Arnold Palmer), T19 (WGC-Mexico), T25 (Genesis), T22 (AT&T)

Like his fellow Spaniard Sergio Garcia, Rafa Cabrera-Bello has been featured prominently both in this article and my DFS lineups recently. I promise I'm not trying to bore you with repetition, but as long as DraftKings refuses to raise his price tag, you will see him here.

Rafa's ball striking from over 200 yards looked to be a great course fit for Bay Hill last week and, sure enough, he came through in resounding fashion with a T3 in the API. Fresh off this solid outing and heading to a TPC Sawgrass course where he's went T17/T4 in his last two trips, Cabrera-Bello's DK price tag has...WENT DOWN $100!!!

In DK's defense, pricing for THE PLAYERS was posted early, so Cabrera-Bello's API performance wasn't accounted for. I'm definitely willing to take advantage of this pricing snafu, but so is everyone else, which means Rafa will be the uber-chalk this week. He's a no-brainer in cash games, but you might have to get creative to gain any leverage in GPP's, by either going extremely underweight or overweight on him. If you are playing the game-theory angle, then a fade is in order in large-field stuff, but if I'm forced to take a stand on him...I'll be heavy with my Rafa exposure.

 

Lucas Glover (DK - $7,100 & FD - $9,200 )

Notable Course History: T72 ('18), T6 ('17)
Recent Form: T10 (Arnold Palmer), T4 (Honda), T7 (AT&T), M/C (WMPO), T12 (Desert Classic)

Lucas Glover is one of those players that the casual golf fan doesn't give a second thought to, but is very well known inside the DFS community. He just quietly goes about his business without much attention from the media (except for one little incident) or TV time during the broadcasts. The 2009 U.S. Open champion is making some noise lately and is experiencing a true career renaissance in 2019. After a strong showing during the swing season, Glover has kept it going this year by racking up three consecutive top-10 finishes in his last three starts.

Always a tremendous ball striker, Glover has finally started getting a few putts to drop, as he's actually gained strokes putting in four of his five 2019 starts. His ball striking is still there, as he ranks out 16th in the PLAYERS field in both SG: T2G & Ball Striking over his last 24 rounds, but a suddenly passable short game has him contending on a weekly basis this year. I was surprised to find that Glover logged a T6 at THE PLAYERS just two years ago, because I didn't remember it at all, but this guy just has a knack for logging quite and forgettable top-10's.

As I've mentioned a couple of times, you don't really need to go to salary-saving extremes this week, but there are a lot of genuinely good players available as we go down the salary scale. Glover might be the most intriguing option of the bunch at around $7k. Rostering him opens up plenty of options like stacking Sergio and Xander together or nabbing one of the field's elite players that you might love and want to spend up for. It's always a little scary when your hoping that Glover continues to putt well, but he is a sharp ball striker that should be able to stay in the mix at TPC with even a mediocre performance on the greens.

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PGA DFS: Horse For The Course - Arnold Palmer Invitational

Welcome back RotoBallers! DFS darling and FRL legend Keith Mitchell fought off Rickie Fowler and Brooks Koepka to take down the Honda Classic last week. While Mitchell might not be well known to casual golf fans, he is a player that has been popular in the DFS community for over a year, so score one for the fantasy guys!

After a huge week at the WGC Mexico, our little article was 'hit and miss' at the Honda. Justin Thomas and Adam Scott both disappointed, but we grabbed a couple of top-10 finishes with Sergio Garcia and Jim Furyk (BAM!). Some variance was expected on a tough course like PGA National, but I'm excited for some great fantasy goodness as we head into the second leg of the 'Florida Swing'!

The Honda field was weaker than we've seen in the past and the reason for that was because many of the big-name players elected to take the week off before this week's event, the Arnold Palmer Invitational. The API field more than makes up for any shortcomings we might have suffered through last week. Even though Mr. Palmer passed away over two years ago, we continue to see his tournament draw the best of the best to Bay Hill Club and Lodge. The big news this week is that eight-time API champion Tiger Woods was forced to withdraw from this event Monday afternoon with a neck injury. While losing Tiger does take away some of the shine this week, defending champ Rory McIlroy is back and he's joined by the biggest names in golf. Players like Jason Day, Bryson DeChambeau, and tournament co-host Justin Rose will all tee it up in "The King's" 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.

Editor's Note: Our friends at Fantasy National have built some incredible DFS Golf lineup tools including a Lineup Optimizer, Stat Engine, Ownership Projections and Course Breakdowns. They are by far the best daily fantasy Golf tools in the industry. Seriously. You can read all about them here and see screenshots. 

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The Course: Bay Hill Club & Lodge

Par 72 - 7,419 Yards, Greens: Bermuda

Arnold Palmer fell in love with this course over 50 years ago and it still holds up in the modern era. Similar to last week's host course PGA National, water and sand are prominent at Bay Hill. It's long at just over 7,400 yards, but players can't just bomb away, as some tee shots require lay-ups and a fairly penal rough guards the fairways. This is a second-shot golf course and those approaches often require longer irons than we normally see on the PGA Tour schedule. One of the reasons Tiger Woods has dominated at Bay Hill throughout the years is his phenomenal iron game from 200-plus yards out. We usually see this tournament play as one of the 10-most difficult courses on the Tour schedule, but while it's difficult, players can still score as evidenced by Rory McIlroy's final-round 64 last year. Players that are great long-iron players are my priority this week, while the ability to make birdies in bunches is also a must. This will also be our second consecutive week on bermuda-grass greens, so I'll probably check out who was rolling the ball well in last week's Honda Classic.

 

The Horse

Rory McIlroy (DK - $11,400 & FD - $12,200)

Notable Course History: Win (2018), T4 ('17), T27 ('16), T11 ('15)
Recent Form: 2nd (WGC-Mexico), T4 (Genesis Open), T5 (Farmers Open), T4 (Sentry)

I have to be honest, this spot was originally going to Tiger Woods. I had a real nice Tiger write-up finished when the W/D news came down Monday afternoon. Anyway...I already had Rory McIlroy down as the the top Pony, so the big honor is by no means a stretch for him.

The man from Northern Ireland has been about as dominant as you can possibly be without actually winning a tournament this season. McIlroy has scored top-five finishes in all four of his 2019 starts, but hasn't been able to find the winner's circle yet. He was able to lift the trophy in last year's API, after blitzing Bay Hill's back nine and playing his final six holes in five-under par. The birdies have continued to come in bunches this season and he's second in the API field in Birdies or Better Gained over his last 12 rounds.

McIlroy's iron play hasn't been at Tiger Woods levels, but he's certainly competent in that area and stands tied for 27th on the PGA Tour in approaches from over 200 yards. McIlroy has been sizzling in every facet of the game in 2019 and leads this field in Strokes Gained: Total, Tee to Green, Ball Striking, and Off the Tee over his last 12 rounds. There's not much weakness in his game at the moment. If we're being picky, we can point to his putting, but McIlroy has actually gained strokes on the greens in three of his four starts this year and he should be aided by the switch to bermuda...his best putting surface historically.

McIlroy is the highest-priced option on both DK and FD, and I can't say that it's surprising. He has been on a tear in 2019 and is the defending API champ, so the price bump was to be expected. Rostering Rory will require eliminating some tempting mid-high range players from consideration. This 2019-version of Rory is the best version we've seen in years and he's sooo close to a win. He has all the upside in the world and the ability to dominate this tournament.

 

The Ponies

Justin Rose (DK - $10,700 & FD - $12,100)

Notable Course History: 3rd (2018), T13 ('17), T9 ('16)
Recent Form: M/C (Saudi International), Win (Farmers Open), T34 (Desert Classic)

How quickly we forget! I know it's early in the week, but I'm not hearing much Justin Rose buzz at this point. The Englishman hasn't been on this side of the Atlantic since his January victory at the Farmers Insurance Open, when there was a lot of concern in the golf world surrounding Rose's big equipment change over the winter. It proved to be much ado about nothing, as he promptly rolled over a tough field to win at Torrey Pines.

I would feel comfortable recommending Rose every week, but he's earned a mention here with his sterling play at Bay Hill, going 3rd/T13/T9 in his last three visits to Arnie's place. His game has no weaknesses. He ranks near the top of this field in Strokes Gained: Tee to Green over both the long-term (50 rounds) and short-term (12 rounds). Rose is solid off the tee, on approach, and has drastically improved his short game over the last few years. At the level he is currently playing, he's capable of winning every week.

I'm hoping that it's 'out of sight, out of mind' for a lot of DFS players when it comes to rostering Rose this week, but that's probably being really optimistic. No matter where he clocks in ownership wise, Rose is a no-brainer in all formats. While we're getting a slight discount from Rory to Rose, it's still a steep price to pay with all the solid options available in the $8k and $9k ranges.

 

Marc Leishman (DK - $9,500 & FD - $10,800)

Notable Course History: T7 ('18), Win ('17), T17 ('16), M/C ('15)
Recent Form: T62 (WGC Mexico) T4 (Genesis Open), T43 (Farmers), T3 (Sony), T4 (Sentry)

You know those tempting mid-tier range of players I was just talking about? Well, Marc Leishman might be the best of the bunch. The 'Big Aussie' has found tremendous success at Bay Hill over the last two years, logging a T7 in 2018 and winning the API in 2017.

Leishman was having a red-hot season before the wheels fell off in Mexico City a couple of weeks ago. Before the ugly T62 WGC outing, he had logged three top-fives in his four 2019 starts and a win during the swing season. His Mexican debacle can be chalked up to losing a massive 9.3 strokes on Chapultepec's tricky poa greens. We won't see another outing like that from Leishman for a long time, which might let us take advantage of some recency bias this week. The Aussie possesses a solid tee to green game that has translated well at Bay Hill. He also ranks first in the field over his last 36 rounds in proximity from the key range of 175-200 yards.

It's possible that some folks will be off Leishman after his full-eject performance at the WGC-Mexico, which would allow us to gain some leverage by rostering the Aussie. At any rate, with his complete game, Leishman is the type of player you can feel comfortable about rostering in all formats.

 

Francesco Molinari (DK - $9,000 & FD - $10,700)

Notable Course History: T26 ('18), T7 ('17), T9 ('16), T17 ('15), T5 ('14)
Recent Form: T17 (WGC-Mexico) T27 (Sentry)

Talk about 'out of sight, out of mind'...where has Francesco Molinari been this season? After having the best season of his career in 2018, the defending Open champion has been M.I.A for months. After only making one swing season start at the WGC-HSBC Champions event in October, Molinari dropped off the map until resurfacing at the Sentry Tournament of Champions in January. The Italian then sat idle until the WGC-Mexico two weeks ago. So...there are some definite question marks surrounding him as we dig into the heart of the 'Florida Swing'.

We have to remember that this is a guy that was playing better than ANYONE in the world for a stretch last season. He has consistently been a ball striking machine over the course of his career and started winning tournaments when he found some rhythm with his always-balky putter. His ball striking ability has served him well at Bay Hill over the years, as he's recorded a top-five and two top-10's over his last five API starts. There aren't enough recent rounds to examine, but if we stretch back over the last 50 rounds we see that Molinari is right in the thick of things statistically. He ranks fifth in the field in SG: T2G and eighth in SG: Approach.

Yeah...it's slightly unsettling that Molinari hasn't played more this year, but I think this is a great 'buy-low opportunity' on him. We're getting a lot of bang for our buck at his $9k price tag. The irons looked sharp in Mexico and he gained an impressive 4.7 strokes on the field on approach shots and the introduction of bermuda greens should also help him. I love him as a high-upside, low-ownership GPP play this week.

 

Ian Poulter (DK - $8,000 & FD - $10,100 )

Notable Course History: T41 ('18), T41 ('17), T46 ('16), T21 ('15), T20 ('14)
Recent Form: T3 (WGC-Mexico), T6 (Saudi International), T3 (Omega Dubai), T6 (Abu Dhabi HSBC)

I don't know what it is, but DFS players just don't like to roster Ian Poulter. Maybe it's his brash attitude or his U.S.-killing Ryder Cup record? Maybe it's because he doesn't bomb it off the tee or reach Par-5's in two? Well...good old-fashioned fairways and greens might not be sexy, but they sure are effective. Poulter is perhaps the hottest player in the world right now that no one is talking about. The Englishman practically lived in the top-10 during the month of January by running off three straight in his early-2019 Euro Tour starts. If that wasn't enough, he notched a T3 at the WGC-Mexico against an uber-elite field.

We now catch Poulter heading to a Bay Hill course where he's been extremely solid. Since 2011, he's recorded five top-25's and no missed cuts at Arnie's place. Poulter is in arguably the best form of his long career and is fresh off a ball striking clinic in Mexico City, where he gained over four strokes on approach for the week.

Poulter's DFS price and reputation scream 'cash game', but he's exhibited such great upside recently that I don't mind using him in GPP's this week. He offers a nice blend of salary, course history, and recent form that is always tough to come across.

 

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

Notable Course History: M/C ('18), T62 ('17), M/C ('16), Win ('15), Win ('14)
Recent Form: T16 (Puerto Rico Open), T14 (AT&T)

Ladies and gentlemen, your two-time Arnold Palmer Invitational champion...Matt Every! I know it sounds weird, but it's true. I looked it up and everything! This is one of those strange anomalies that we discuss from time to time here at HFTC, when a player just 'fits' a course. That's all I can chalk it up to. It wasn't as if Matt Every was playing particularly great golf in other events when he won back-to-back API titles in 2014 and 2015.

Surprisingly, we have a bit more to build on than eccentric course history with Every this week. The journeyman pro from Daytona Beach has actually flashed some recent form. Every logged a T16 two weeks ago at the Puerto Rico Open and played well at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am en route to a T14. He also recorded two top-20 finishes in two swing seasons starts at Sanderson Farms and the RSM Classic. Every has gained over six strokes total in four consecutive tournament starts.

I can't believe I'm saying this, but things actually line up pretty well for Every this week. Obviously, he's a gamble, but he's a legitimately intriguing one. He's dirt cheap over on Fan Duel at just $8.4k and can be sprinkled into DK lineups for those that multi-enter tournaments. With ownership magnet Rafa Cabrera-Bello at just $100 more on DK, not many casual DFS players will be clicking on the little-known Every's name this week.

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PGA DFS: Horse For The Course - The Honda Classic

What's up PGA DFS fans? Thanks so much for joining me for another edition of Horse For The Course! Dustin Johnson was in 'God Mode' down in Mexico last week and made things look easy at the WGC-Mexico Championship. D.J. trounced the field and earned his 20th career win in the process. He also illustrated why he's basically unbeatable when he's playing his best.

While I didn't highlight D.J. in last week's article, we did have a very nice week with our WGC-Mexico stable of players. Rory McIlroy scored a solo second, while Justin Thomas, Sergio Garcia, and Joost Luiten (BAM!) logged top-10 finishes. Rafa Cabrera-Bello and Tyrell Hatton both finished inside the top-20, with Phil Mickelson logging a T39 and being our only true 'bust' last week. So hopefully you guys were able to turn last week's horses into some DFS profit. On a personal lineup note, Matt Kuchar ripped my heart out and stomped on it with his Skecher-clad feet. Scrooge McDuck tanked two of my excellent lineups with his weekend hackfest. Perhaps there was a little karma at play south of the border?

Things will be a bit tougher this week as we kick off the PGA Tour's 'Florida Swing' with the Honda Classic. I feel safe in saying that the Honda is the first real 'casualty' of the PGA Tour's new 2019 schedule. While I love what the Tour has done with it, the scenario of players being forced into tough scheduling decisions was inevitable and it's definitely put a slight damper on the strength of the field for this week's Honda Classic, with the Arnold Palmer Invitational and Players Championship both looming over the next couple of weeks.

It's not as if the Honda field is devoid of star players...defending champ Justin Thomas will be teeing it up and he's joined by Rickie Fowler, Brooks Koepka, and Sergio Garcia. While solid at the top, things do get rather thin, rather quickly this week. In addition to its unenviable spot on the new schedule, the Honda is annually held on one of the toughest courses on the Tour schedule. The Champion course at PGA National, with its infamous 'Bear Trap', strikes fear into the hearts of professional golfers. We go from a relative stress-free, no-cut WGC event to a tournament that can be brutally tough on DFS lineups. If you have heart problems, make sure to take your blood pressure meds before Friday afternoon.

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.

Editor's Note: Our friends at Fantasy National have built some incredible DFS Golf lineup tools including a Lineup Optimizer, Stat Engine, Ownership Projections and Course Breakdowns. They are by far the best daily fantasy Golf tools in the industry. Seriously. You can read all about them here and see screenshots. 

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The Course: PGA National (Champion Course)

Par 70 - 7,140 Yards, Greens: Bermuda

As I mentioned in the intro, the players are facing a daunting task this week at PGA National. The Champion course ranked second in difficulty of all PGA Tour courses played in 2018 and things won't be any easier this year. The infamous 'Bear Trap' is a brutal three hole stretch (Holes #15,16,& 17) that can destroy a players' scorecard at the end of a round.

Water is prevalent on the Champion layout and over 75 sand traps lay waiting around the course. As if all that weren't enough, the Florida wind can always wreak havoc when it starts gusting! The players do finally get a break from the funky poa annua greens they've faced over the last several weeks, as PGA National has bermuda. I'm looking for players that have the ability to excel on hard courses, can avoid bogeys, and are solid ball strikers.

 

The Horse

Justin Thomas (DK - $11,900 & FD - $13,000 )

Notable Course History: Win (2018), M/C ('17), T3 ('16), M/C ('15)
Recent Form: 9th (WGC-Mexico), 2nd (Genesis Open), 3rd (WMPO), T16 (Sony), 3rd (Sentry TOC)

I think we're making HFTC history here! I know that I've highlighted players in back-to-back weeks, but I don't remember ever giving out Horse honors in consecutive weeks. However, Justin Thomas is a special kind of player that's playing the game at a special level right now.

I'm not going to spend a ton of time on J.T. this week, because if you play PGA DFS on a regular basis you don't need me to tell you that he's been on fire in 2019. Thomas stumbled a bit in the WGC-Mexico before dropping an electrifying 62 in the final round. It's honestly how I expected him to perform throughout the whole week, but yanno...GOLF IS HARD! J.T. actually lost strokes putting for the tournament and his iron play wasn't as sharp as we would've liked, but Thomas is the type of player that can win an event on the strength of one crazy-low round.

'Crazy low' will be hard to come by at the Champion course this week and it speaks to the difficulty of the place that Thomas has alternated a win and a T3 with missed cuts over the last four years in this tournament. While the missed cuts are a bit scary for a player that we're paying way up to roster, J.T. truly is the class of this field. Rickie Fowler and Brooks Koepka are elite players, but they're not currently on the same planet as Thomas.

I start writing this article immediately after salaries are posted (C'mon DraftKings, while we're young!), so I've not had a ton of time to play with roster construction yet...but it doesn't look like it's going to be easy to roster Thomas. That's ok and honestly kinda how it should be this week. Both sites have him priced up, which forces us to make a decision...J.T. and some guys that are risky OR a more solid build with more consistent players? I'm willing to roll with the most talented guy in the field and take my chances in some other spots, especially this week on a tough golf course where there are no 'sure thing' plays on the board, even if you take an ultra-conservative approach to lineup construction.

 

The Ponies

Adam Scott (DK - $10,300 & FD - $10,800 )

Notable Course History: T13 ('18), T14 ('17), Win (2016)
Recent Form: T7 (Genesis Open), T61 (AT&T Pebble Beach), 2nd (Farmers), M/C (Sony)

Beam me up Scotty! Adam Scott is kind of the Horse 1A this week. The guy with the perfect swing has basically been perfect at the Champion course. Over the last three years, Scott has two top-15's and a win at the Honda Classic, which is really remarkable when you consider: A.) how the difficult the course is and B.) the ups and downs that Scott's game has went through in that time period.

It was nice to see Adam Scott contending for a major again at last year's PGA Championship. His run in that event seems to have sparked a renewed interest in golf for a guy that at times has appeared as if he could take it or leave it. The Aussie has been motivated in 2019 and is playing some of the best golf of his career. He has a solo second and a T7 already to his credit in just four starts this season. Over his last 12 rounds, Scott leads this field in DK Points scored, an impressive feat considering Justin Thomas has played so well, and is third in strokes gained: total for that same time period. Scott isn't just popping in short-term stats, his long-term (50 rounds) numbers are perhaps even more impressive; he ranks second in DK Pts scored, third in SG: Approach, and seventh in SG: Tee to Green.

Maybe it's wishful thinking on my part, but I kind of like that Scott skipped last week's WGC-Mexico Championship. While most of the other heavy hitters in this field have had a long two weeks of travel between the rain-soaked Genesis Open and the WGC, Scott has had a week to relax and, hopefully, work on his putting (He's actually gained strokes putting in four straight starts).

I'm starting my lineups this week with either Justin Thomas or Adam Scott. It's that clear cut for me. Yeah, Scott's short-range putting can cause some involuntary breaking of random things by those that roster him, but I'm pulling out the bubble wrap and taking the plunge this week.

 

Sergio Garcia (DK - $10,000 & FD - $11,200)

Notable Course History: T33 ('18), T14 ('17), 2nd ('16), T31 ('15), T8 ('14)
Recent Form: T6 (WGC Mexico) T37 (Genesis Open), DQ (Saudi International)

It's deja vu all over again. Yep, Sergio Garcia was one of our Ponies last week and yep, he came through for us with a strong T6 outing in Mexico City. I'm riding the Spanish wave into Florida this week and will be on Garcia again for the Honda Classic.

Playing the blowup-prone Garcia at a difficult course with water and trouble lurking around every corner might not seem like a real bright idea, but Garcia has a pristine track record on the Champion course. The Spaniard is perfect in eight career trips to PGA National with a second-place finish in 2016, in addition to four top-15's.

True to form, Garcia was a ball-striking beast last week. He ranked fourth in the WGC-Mexico field in strokes gained: approach, gaining a massive seven strokes on the elite field. Garcia has also exhibited long-term excellence in ball striking, ranking third in the Honda field in both SG: Tee to Green and SG: Ball Striking over his last 50 rounds.

Garcia has received a fairly significant price bump on DK this week, going from $8k to $10k, but his salary is still workable. If you start your DK lineups with Justin Thomas you are left with an average of $7,620 for your remaining five roster spots. Another route to take is pairing Sergio with Adam Scott and leaving yourself $7,425 to work with over four spots.

 

Luke List (DK - $9,200 & FD - $10,200)

Notable Course History: 2nd ('18), T52 ('17), T10 ('16)
Recent Form: T15 (Genesis Open) M/C (WMPO), T40 (Farmers), M/C (Desert Classic)

As we move into the sub-$10k range on DK things start getting interesting. Luke List is a name that you will probably hear a lot this week in the PGA DFS industry. His course history is attention grabbing. List fell short in a playoff at last year's Honda and he scored a top-10 in 2016, so his game definitely fits the course.

He's had a forgettable start to 2019, but his most recent outing was also his best...List showed some signs of life at Riviera by recording a T15. The 34-year-old ranked fifth in SG:T2G in the Genesis field, which is an encouraging sign as he heads into the Florida swing, where he has traditionally played better throughout his career. The less said about his putting the better, but Bermuda is his best surface, which translates into: it's the surface on which he loses the least amount of strokes.

It's kind of remarkable when you look at his results, but List is actually 10th on the PGA Tour in SG:T2G in 2019. Ball striking is never the issue for 'Adam Scott-lite', we just need some signs of life from the putter and we're golden this week. His DK price point is a little funky, as the salary itself works best in conservative lineup builds, while List is actually a high-upside, high-variance play that's best suited for GPP's.

 

Michael Thompson (DK - $8,000 & FD - $10,100 )

Notable Course History: T24 ('18), M/C ('17), T53 ('16), Win ('13)
Recent Form: T7 (Genesis Open), T10 (AT&T), T13 (Farmers), T9 (Desert Classic)

If you had told me when this season started that we would be talking about 'Michael Thompson Chalk Week' as we kicked off the Florida Swing, I would've said that you were crazy...but here we are. I know it sounds crazy, but Thompson actually is pretty hard to ignore this week. The dude has been ON FIRE over the last month or so. Thompson has finished no worse than 13th in his last four starts, with three top-10's. He's not had an unbelievably hot putter, something we often see when guys go on monster runs, which leads me to believe that his play is somewhat sustainable.

Thompson's ball striking has been the key to his recent success. Over his last 24 rounds he is fourth in the Honda field in SG:T2G and eighth in SG: Total. He also ranks out top-five in the field in SG: Around the Green and DK Points scored. His standing of 45th in SG: Putting is an indicator that things could actually get even better for him if a few more putts start dropping.

In addition to his hot form, Thompson has some notable history at PGA National. He won the Honda Classic in 2013 and logged a top-25 finish in last year's tournament. I'm always looking for reasons to fade the 'flavor of the week play', but there's actually a lot to like about Thompson this week. He will be popular, but he hits a really nice price point for us on DK this week and is well worth a roster spot in your lineups.

 

Jim Furyk (DK - $7,000 & FD - $9,200 )

Notable Course History: T46 ('18)
Recent Form: T37 (Genesis Open), T14 (AT&T)

I'll be honest, I really labored to find a value option that I felt confident highlighting this week. As I've alluded to a couple of times throughout the article, this is a week when playable options are scarce as we get down the salary scale. I settled on Jim Furyk for a couple of reasons...he's a notable grinder that I love playing on tough courses and he's actually played really solid golf in his two 2019 starts. He ranks in the middle of the Honda field in SG:T2G over his last couple of tournaments, but he really pops in a couple of important categories. Furyk grades out first in the field in Bogeys Avoided and second in Opportunities Gained, a cool new stat from our good friends at Fantasy National that measures birdie opportunities from inside 15 feet coupled with greens/fringes under regulation.

Some would argue that Furyk's upside is capped and I don't completely disagree. My counter would be that I'll gladly take a made cut from a value play this week, on this course. It's easy to forget that Furyk was once an elite-level golfer. He stepped back from the game when he was named the U.S. Ryder Cup captain, but seems to be slowly working himself back into competitive form. Furyk grinded his way to a made cut here last year and I'm looking for more of the same from the steady veteran this week.

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PGA DFS: Horse For The Course - Genesis Open

Hi RotoBallers and thanks for joining me! Phil Mickelson roared passed Paul Casey to win his FIFTH career AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am title. It was a rain-soaked week on Monterey Peninsula that forced Mickelson and playing partner Casey into a Monday finish. For those of you that were lucky enough to catch the end of the broadcast Sunday evening on the Golf Channel, it was truly riveting TV. I could've watched 'Lefty' and Casey bicker about whether or not to continue play for hours! Mickelson has vowed to play a lighter schedule this year and so far it is paying off for him big time. The 48-year-old will profile as a 'boom-or-bust' option most weeks, but Mickelson is certainly proving that he still has tournament-winning upside.

Thankfully, we are finished with the "rotating courses" events, so we get all 72-holes on the same course this week...and it's an absolute masterpiece! Riviera Country Club is considered one of the great 'classic' courses in the world. Steeped in the lore of "Hogan's Alley", it's a ball striker's paradise that rewards great shot making. Bubba Watson scored his third career victory at Riviera last season and is back to defend his title. Tiger Woods will make just his second start of 2019 and he's also serving as the Genesis tournament host this week. While Woods obviously has an affinity for Riviera, it's interestingly one of the few courses that he's played with regularity and never won on during his illustrious career. Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, and Rory McIlroy are some of the heavy hitters in this elite field that will feature 20 of the top-30 players in the current FedEx points standings.

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.

Editor's Note: Our friends at Fantasy National have built some incredible DFS Golf lineup tools including a Lineup Optimizer, Stat Engine, Ownership Projections and Course Breakdowns. They are by far the best daily fantasy Golf tools in the industry. Seriously. You can read all about them here and see screenshots. 

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The Course: Riviera Country Club

Par 71 - 7,322 Yards

As I touched on in the intro, Riviera Country Club is a legendary track and one of the classiest courses on the PGA Tour schedule. It's Hollywood history only adds to the club's intrigue. Opened in 1927, Riviera was an instant classic and has long been a favorite of L.A.'s celebrities. It was famously dubbed 'Hogan's Alley' after Ben Hogan logged three wins on the course in 18 months. In addition to all the history, Riviera still stands out as a great golf course in the modern era. The 315 yard, Par-4 10th hole is one of the best on the PGA Tour. It is 'risk/reward' at its finest and offers players a chance to drive the small green for an eagle opportunity. However, a miss on 10 can quickly turn disastrous, as shots from around the green are extremely tricky. Riviera places an emphasis on ball striking and shot making. I will focus on ball strikers that have previous experience at Riviera this week.

 

The Horse

Bubba Watson (DK - $9,700 & FD - $10,700 )

Notable Course History: Win (2018), W/D ('17), Win ('16), T14 ('15), Win ('14)
Recent Form: T4 (Waste Management), M/C (Sony), 31st (Sentry TOC)

It's been a dominant stretch for Bubba Watson at Riviera Country Club over the last five years, and with apologies to Dustin Johnson and his tremendous course history, I'm giving Watson the edge and Horse honors this week. Bubba has won on this classic layout three times since 2014 and should be right in the thick of things again this year.

Perhaps more than any golfer on the PGA Tour, Watson is a very course-specific player. We've seen him repeatedly perform well at the same courses throughout his career. Of Bubba's 14 professional wins, 8 have came on three courses: this tournament three times all at Riviera, the Travelers Championship three times all at TPC River Highlands, and of course The Masters twice at Augusta National. The point being...if Bubba likes a course, he REALLY likes a course.

Many in the golf world will point to Watson's unique swing as a reason for his inconsistency, but even his biggest critics would probably agree that Bubba is a masterful shot maker. New equipment technology is geared toward hitting the ball long and straight, which has made Bubba one of the last of a dying breed of players that still emphasize curving the ball. This style makes him very reliant on course layout and sight lines. Obviously, Riviera sets up well for Watson and 'fits his eye' perfectly.

Trying to nail Bubba down statistically is somewhat of a fool's errand. He obviously posts some impressive numbers off the tee, but his stats in other categories are generally ho-hum at best. Though he won't pop in many statistical models this week, he's been a beast at Riviera, gaining 52.31 strokes total on the field over his past five appearances. That number is second to only Dustin Johnson in this week's Genesis field.

Course history buffs will definitely be on Bubba this week, but I'm hoping his ownership will be a bit depressed both by his increased price tag and all the other elite options that are available in this field. Though we're betting on a repeat of his past performances here, it's encouraging to see that Watson fared well in his last outing, a T4 at the Waste Management Phoenix Open two weeks ago. He has been experimenting with a new, Matt Kuchar-like putting stroke and though he lost just over a stroke putting on the greens at TPC Scottsdale, it was still a huge improvement over his disastrous outing with the putter at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. You won't catch me recommending Bubba for cash games very often, but his track record here and a fine showing in Scottsdale give me the confidence to use him in all DFS formats this week.

 

The Ponies

Xander Schauffele (DK - $9,400 & FD - $11,200 )

Notable Course History: T9 ('18)
Recent Form: T10 (WMPO), T25 (Farmers Open), Win (Sentry TOC)

There are players in this field with more extensive history at Riviera than Xander Schauffele, but the X-Man has been playing world-class golf as of late. If we go back to the swing season, Schauffele has two wins, two top-10's, and a top-25 in his last five starts. Pretty impressive stuff from the 25-year-old.

If I do a little self-examination, I have to admit that I probably don't roster Schauffele as much as I should. He always seems to fall in a weird gray area for me...what I mean by that is, he's not quite in the 'elite' category with the D.J.'s and Justin Rose's of the world, but he's also definitely better than just 'really good'. His DFS price tags usually bare that out and he often ends up in a price range that doesn't quite fit with the type of lineup I'm trying to build in any given week. This week is different and I'm viewing Schauffele as a clear DFS bargain for the Genesis Open.

I mentioned earlier that Xander doesn't have an extensive history at Riviera. While that's true, he did record a T9 in his debut last year. Riviera is usually tough on first-timers, so Schauffele's top-10 in his first go around leads me to believe that he will continue to be comfortable on this classic layout. I'm drawn to Schauffele because his game doesn't really appear to have a weakness at the moment. If we examine his stats over his last 24 rounds, Schauffele has been unbelievably solid from tee to green. He leads the Genesis field in strokes gained: total over his last 24 rounds and ranks inside the top-25 in every strokes gained category with the exception of SG: Off the Tee. He's good enough off the tee and an excellent ball striker that should eat on Riviera's Par-5's. His short game is phenomenal and he's excellent on poa.

As we'll continue to discuss in this week's column, there are lots of viable options in the $8-10k price range. Schauffele can be paired with Bubba Watson or those that aren't sold on spending up this week can start their roster builds with him. I think he will offer tons of leverage in GPP's, as I expect him to once again go overlooked and underowned. Schauffele has played some of his best golf in high-profile events with tough fields and I look for that to continue this week.

 

Matt Kuchar (DK - $8,500 & FD - $10,300)

Notable Course History: T26 (2018), T22 ('17), T8 ('16)
Recent Form: T22 (AT&T), T4 (WMPO), Win (Sony)

If you are a PGA DFS regular, you don't need me to tell you that Matt Kuchar has been riding a MASSIVE HEATER since November. 'Kuch' took down the Mayakoba Classic in the fall and followed that with another victory at the Sony Open in January. He backed up the wins with a solid T4 at the Waste Management and played well last week on a Pebble Beach course where he has historically struggled. Yep...it's safe to say that the Skechers (I have a friend that says to never try a pair of their golf shoes on because you will fall in love with the comfort and then be forced to look like Matt Kuchar on the course) poster boy is in the zone and playing some of the best golf of his career.

There's no reason to think that Kuch won't remain comfortable this week. He has a solid, if unspectacular, track record at Riviera that includes two top-25ish outings and a T8 over his last three Genesis starts. Though not quite at Xander Schauffele levels, Kuchar is cut from the same statistical cloth, in that he's a little lacking in SG: Off the Tee, but otherwise super solid across the board over his last 24 rounds.

Kuchar ranks fourth in this Genesis field in SG: Total over his last 24 rounds, but he head-scratchingly has 17 players priced above him on the DK salary scale this week. His $8.5k price is way too cheap for the combination of consistency and upside that Kuchar brings to the table in this tournament. He will be very popular on DK, but don't let that slow you down. Lock him in cash game lineups and spend your research time on the other five roster spots.

 

Branden Grace (DK - $8,100 & FD - $9,900)

Notable Course History: T37 ('18), T22 ('17)
Recent Form: T28 (AT&T), 2nd (WMPO), M/C (Farmers)

For several years Branden Grace was one of the most consistent golfers in the world, until last season when he most certainly stopped being one of the most consistent golfers in the world. The South African has been mired in a horrible slump for the better part of a year, but Grace seems to have found something with his swing over the winter. He went T7-T34-T27 in three Euro Tour starts over December and January. Grace very nearly stole the Waste Management two weeks ago and eventually logged a solo second. He also looked solid at Pebble Beach and held on for a T28 after an unlucky final round in some nasty weather.

His track record at Riviera doesn't blow you away, but he's been solid in his two starts and has gained over eight strokes total in this tournament. Grace doesn't pop off the page statistically, but it feels like he's trending in the right direction these past couple of weeks, as he's gained strokes on approach in consecutive starts and poa is his best putting surface. He profiles as a nice mid-range option at $8.1k on DK and his salary sets up well for 'solid' lineup builds.

 

Adam Hadwin (DK - $7,800 & FD - $9,700)

Notable Course History: T6 ('18), T34 ('17), T16 ('16), T22 ('15)
Recent Form: T18 (AT&T), T44 (WMPO), T2 (Desert Classic), T57 (Sony)

After researching these last few tournaments on the west coast, I'm gonna start calling Adam Hadwin 'Charles Howell Lite', because the dude historically crushes this stretch of the season. We loved his course history at the Desert Classic a few weeks ago and he came through with a very strong T2. Hadwin heads to Riviera this week to tackle another course where he has been rock-solid throughout his career. The Canadian is perfect at Hogan's Alley, never missing a cut and recording a top-10 and two top-25's in his last four trips.

We have to love the course history, but we are also catching Hadwin in sharp current form. I mentioned the runner-up finish at the Desert Classic and Hadwin also logged a T18 at Pebble Beach last week. He's eighth in the Genesis field in Strokes Gained: Total over his last 24 rounds. Hadwin is powered by the strength of his short game, he's stands seventh in SG: Putting and ninth in SG: Short Game over the last 24 rounds. Hadwin's ability on and around the greens are a key component of his success at this Riviera course that can be extremely tricky. He's a bargain on DK and is viable in both cash and GPP's.

 

Jason Kokrak (DK - $7,600 & FD - $9,200 )

Notable Course History: T20 ('18), T22 ('17), T2 ('16), T41 ('15), M/C ('14)
Recent Form: T20 (WMPO), T20 (Farmers), T18 (Desert Classic)

The mid-$7k range on DraftKings has been crazy over the last couple of weeks. It was a dead zone for the AT&T, but there was some great quality there for the Waste Management. The Genesis is similar to the Waste Management in that there's a lot to like in the $7k's this week. Jason Kokrak pops off the page for me at just $7.6k. He has a really solid track record at Riviera, including a runner-up finish in 2016, and he's been playing very well this season.

In three 2019 starts, Kokrak has ripped off three top-20 finishes. I'm hoping that his pre-tournament WD last week will scare some people away, as it was due to rest rather than injury. If we evaluate Kokrak based on his 12 rounds played in 2019, he grades out well and ranks inside the top-20 of the Genesis field in SG: Total, T2G, Ball Striking, Off the Tee, Approach, and DK Points. He has been on people's DFS radars over his last couple of tournament appearances, but I don't expect his ownership to get crazy. He's a nice GPP option.

 

Sung Kang (DK - $7,400 & FD - $8,900 )

Notable Course History: T16 ('18), T22 ('17), T8 ('16)
Recent Form: T14 (AT&T), M/C (WMPO), T20 (Farmers), T10 (Sony)

We're rounding out this week's list with another player from the fertile mid-$7k price range. Sung Kang isn't a name that often comes to mind when constructing lineups, but his blend of borderline elite course history at Riviera and sharp play in 2019 put him squarely in the GPP conversation this week. He's 3/3 at Riviera with two top-25's and a top-10 and he's gained 21.5 strokes total in those three appearances.

Kang isn't just a random player with nice course history, he's played well recently. In four 2019 starts he's missed just one cut and racked up two top-20's and a top-10. In this elite field, it's kind of shocking that Kang grades out to 11th in SG: T2G and 10th in DK Points over his last 12 rounds. Both his iron play and short game have been tremendous this year. Kang should head into this week with tons of confidence. I love him as an under-the-radar, large-field tournament play.

 

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PGA DFS: Horse For The Course - AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am

RICKIE! It was a wild Sunday at TPC Scottsdale, but Rickie Fowler overcame a disastrous triple-bogey to win the Waste Management Phoenix Open. It was the popular player's fifth PGA Tour win of his career. Fowler had knocked on the door in Phoenix several times over the years, only to experience heartbreak in the fan-favorite event. Weirdly enough, he had to fight through a massive Sunday rainstorm (in the middle of the Arizona desert), while also holding off a charging Branden Grace. Things just never seem to be easy for the man in orange. The sport is better when Rickie is playing well and this win will raise hopes that he can grab his first major championship in 2019.

After a one week reprieve from events with rotating layouts, we are unfortunately back to "musical courses" for the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. This event is played in similar fashion to the Desert Classic that was held a couple of weeks ago...players will play one round each on three different courses (Pebble Beach, Spyglass Hill, and Monterey Peninsula) over the first 54 holes. A cut will be made after three rounds, with the remaining golfers playing the final round on the legendary Pebble Beach links.

As you can tell from the name of the event, this is a Pro-Am, which often leads to a more relaxed atmosphere than a normal PGA Tour event, as well as some excruciatingly slow play. Between the rotating courses and the unpredictable weather, this event is often tough to peg. While the field is solid, I'm not crazy about this tournament's format and will probably scale back my DFS play a bit this week. While it's not my favorite type of tournament, we can take advantage of the 54-hole cut format. With players guaranteed three rounds, we can get aggressive with lineup construction this week.

Unlikely 2018 AT&T champion Ted Potter Jr. is back to defend his title. Potter remarkably held off a star-studded leaderboard last year for the win. Dustin Johnson, Jason Day, and Phil Mickelson are some of the recognizable names in this week's field. Tommy Fleetwood leads a rather strong European contingent that is trying to get a sneak-peek of Pebble Beach, the host of this year's U.S. Open. The talented group of Europeans might leave disappointed this week, as this tournament has been dominated by Americans over the years, with only two non-American winners since 1966.

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.

Editor's Note: Our friends at Fantasy National have built some incredible DFS Golf lineup tools including a Lineup Optimizer, Stat Engine, Ownership Projections and Course Breakdowns. They are by far the best daily fantasy Golf tools in the industry. Seriously. You can read all about them here and see screenshots. 

Sign Up Now!

 

The Course: Pebble Beach Golf Links

Par 72 - 6,816 Yards

As mentioned in the intro, we are dealing with three different courses this week. In addition to Pebble, which players will play once in the first three rounds and again in the final round, Spyglass Hill (6,953 yds/Par-72) and Monterey Peninsula's Shore Course (6,958 yds/Par-71) will also be in the rotation. All three are ruggedly beautiful, with the famous Pebble Beach being the crown jewel. Pebble is slated to host this year's U.S. Open, but the setup will be nowhere near as difficult as we will see later this year. All three courses measure less than 7,000 yards, so distance isn't a necessity this week. Players will need to find fairways and greens, but that can be more difficult than it sounds in often unpredictable conditions. All three of these courses are smack-dab on the Monterrey Peninsula coast and huge changes in weather can, and often does, influence the outcome of this tournament. So...we are forced to deal with a lot of unpredictable variables this week. The course a player draws for each different day and the amount of wind during their rounds on those different courses is something that is unfortunately out of our hands. This event is famously tough on first-timers, so I'm targeting players with plenty of AT&T experience that are sharp on approach shots.

 

The Horse

Dustin Johnson (DK - $11,400 & FD - $12,400 )

Notable Course History: T2 (2018), 3rd ('17), Win ('10), Win ('09)
Recent Form: Win (Saudi International), T16 (Abu Dhabi HSBC), T4 (Sentry TOC)

The Horse is always the Horse for a reason and that's the case with Dustin Johnson this week. While I'm not going out on a limb by recommending arguably the best player in the game, DJ's results in this event can't be ignored. He has been simply dominant in the AT&T Pro-Am, logging back-to-back wins in 2009 and 2010, not to mention top-five finishes at Pebble in four of the last five years.

I've said it before in this column, but I'm going to say it again...Johnson's "A game" is better than everyone else's "A game". Basically, if DJ plays his best golf, no one is going to beat him. Johnson might not be in absolute peak form, but he's playing pretty damn good golf at the moment. He won the Saudi International last week on the heels of a T16 at Abu Dhabi and a T4 in the Sentry Tournament of Champions.

As he's been for years, Johnson is a statistical beast. He leads this week's AT&T field in Strokes Gained: Total, Tee to Green, Off the Tee, Ball Striking, and Approach over his last 50 rounds. Johnson logged three victories in 2018 and led the PGA Tour in both SG: T2G and OTT. While his advantage with the driver will be muted a bit this week at a Pebble Beach course that regularly has the shortest average drives on the PGA Tour, Johnson has fared surprisingly well on less-than-driver layouts in recent years. His success lies in his often overlooked approach game, specifically his wedge play. When compared to the AT&T field, DJ ranks first in Proximity to the Hole from 100-125 yards and second from 125-150 yards over his last 50 rounds.

DJ is the most expensive DFS option on both DraftKings and FanDuel this week. He's the only player over the $11k threshold on DK and the only one above $12k on FanDuel, so it feels like the sites have tried to be aggressive with DJ's pricing, but I don't know that it will matter in an event that lends itself to a "Stars & Scrubs" roster construction with its 54-hole cut. I expect Johnson to be popular in all formats. Make no mistake, at this price we are expecting a win and anything less than that would be considered disappointing.

 

The Ponies

Jordan Spieth (DK - $9,400 & FD - $10,800 )

Notable Course History: T20 ('18), Win ('17), T7 ('15), T4 (2014)
Recent Form: T35 (Farmers), M/C (Sony)

Yeah...I know...I can't really believe I'm listing Jordan Spieth either. Things haven't been pretty for the boy wonder lately. His game went downhill as the 2018 season wore on and he hasn't been able to bounce back in his two 2019 starts. He hasn't just been "bad for Jordan Spieth", he's been "just plain bad". Everyone makes a big deal about the putting issues and while they are definitely concerning, the bigger problem is his overall game. Spieth has lost strokes tee to green in five consecutive tournaments. So, you are probably asking yourselves, "Why are we talking about him?"

If we think Spieth is close to finding his form, then the AT&T Pro-Am makes lots of sense as a bounce-back spot. He's played terrific on the Monterey Peninsula throughout his career, recording a win in 2017 and top-10 finishes in 2014 and 2015. If we want to look for a tiny bright spot in his game, Spieth actually didn't lose strokes putting in his last outing, a T35 at the Farmers Open two weeks ago, and he gained nearly a stroke on the field both off the tee and on approach. While Torrey Pines and the AT&T trio of courses are very different, they do share one common denominator...poa greens. Spieth has performed better on poa than any other putting surface throughout his career and he's gained strokes putting in every one of his AT&T starts since 2015. He averages 0.4 strokes gained putting on poa vs. 0.32 on bermuda.

While I like Spieth's chances to break out of his slump this week, I consider him as a "GPP only" play. His ownership should continue to be depressed, which makes him a great contrarian option on both sites. It's hard to wrap our heads around his potential upside with his ugly recent form, but let's not forget that Spieth is a threat to win any tournament at any time. He's still in the sub-$10k price range on DK, and despite a higher actual price tag he's an even better value on FD, where he's the 10th-highest priced player on the board...not bad for a guy that still has the third-highest odds to win this tournament at most sports books. Sure, it's possible Spieth could crash and burn this week, but I'm more optimistic about his chances to play well than I have been in months.

 

Chez Reavie (DK - $9,000 & FD - $10,500)

Notable Course History: T2 (2018), M/C ('17), T26 ('16), M/C ('15)
Recent Form: T4 (WMPO), T28 (Desert Classic), T3 (Sony)

Our next selection has a bit of a checkered past in the AT&T Pro-Am. Chez Reavie has a couple of missed cuts at Pebble Beach over the last four years, but showcased his potential last year when he logged a runner-up finish. While the missed cuts aren't ideal, consistency is hard to come by in this tournament that has such unpredictable weather. Last year's T2 and a T26 in 2016 show that Reavie is capable of playing well here.

Reavie's course history is nice, but his recent form is what brings him to the forefront this week. Reavie has been on fire in 2019, logging two top-five's and a T28 in three starts since the beginning of the year. If we narrow our focus to performance just over the last 12 rounds, Reavie leads the AT&T field in Strokes Gained: Total, T2G, and Ball Striking; while his sharp iron play puts him at second in SG: Approach. The one concern with Reavie has been his putting, but he showed a marked improvement on the greens last week and gained over four strokes putting on the Waste Management field.

His DFS price tags are high enough to make you a bit uncomfortable, but the $9k range on DK and $10k range on FD are the new normal for Reavie. He's topped 100 DK points in two of his last three tournaments and I expect another great return on investment from him this week. Reavie can be paired with DJ in aggressive builds or is a great foundation for those that want to construct a solid lineup. I'm comfortable slotting him in cash game lineups and like him as a GPP option as well.

 

Brandt Snedeker (DK - $8,200 & FD - $10,900)

Notable Course History: T20 ('18), 4th ('17), T35 ('16), Win ('15)
Recent Form: T55 (WMPO), T62 (Farmers), T16 (Sony), T22 (Sentry TOC)

Brandt Snedeker is basically the opposite of Chez Reavie in that his recent form has been ice cold. Sneds popped at the end of 2018 when he won the Wyndham Championship, but his best finish since was a runner-up at the Safeway back in October. He's been grinding in 2019 and has made cuts despite losing strokes off the tee in every start since January. Snedeker's weakness with the driver won't be as glaring this week and he's gained strokes off the tee in every one of his AT&T starts since 2015.

Snedeker is tough to put a finger on. He's the type of player that will struggle along for months and then pop for a top-five. His course history definitely puts him on my DFS radar this week, but his recent form makes him difficult to trust in cash games. His battles off the tee shouldn't be a huge detriment this week and we know what type of putter Sneds is. He's a large-field GPP play that, like Jordan Spieth, has a nice chance to break out of a slump at Pebble Beach.

 

Trey Mullinax (DK - $7,400 & FD - $8,000)

Notable Course History: T47 ('18), T14 ('17)
Recent Form: T15 (WMPO), T25 (Farmers), T34 (Desert Classic), T57 (Sony)

You have to love how much PGA DFS can change from week to week. In last week's Waste Management tournament the mid-$7k range on DraftKings was a treasure trove of viable players. Unfortunately, the cupboard is pretty bare in that price range this week. One player that interests me is Trey Mullinax at $7.4k. The 26-year-old out of Alabama popped a couple of times last season and has kicked 2019 off in solid fashion. Mullinax has improved his finishing position from week to week in every one of his starts this year, culminating with a T15 in Scottsdale last week. His best weapon is the driver, which isn't exactly the course fit we are looking for at this week's trio of courses. Despite the seemingly ill statistical fit, Mullinax has held his own in his two previous trips to Pebble Beach.

I got on Mullinax late last week and he managed to salvage a ton of Lucas Glover lineups for me. Even though he's received a significant price bump this week, he still stands out in the DK "dead zone" that is the mid-$7k range and offers some roster flexibility at $8k on FD. He's flourished over his last 12 rounds, ranking 12th in the field in SG: T2G and 10th in SG: Ball Striking. It's enough to make him a definite GPP play this week and a borderline cash game option.

 

Chesson Hadley (DK - $7,100 & FD - $9,100 )

Notable Course History: T35 ('18), M/C ('16), T10 ('15), T10 ('14)
Recent Form: T20 (WMPO), M/C (Farmers), M/C (Desert Classic)

This week's "deep dive" is Chesson Hadley. "Bojangles" got off to a rocky start in 2019, but he heads to Pebble Beach fresh off a T20 finish at the Waste Management, his best outing of the year. Hadley was solid tee to green in Scottsdale and gained over three strokes on approach shots last week. He looked comfortable on the greens and had his best putting performance in months. Hadley has found some success in the AT&T over the years. He logged back-to-back T10 finishes in 2014 and 2015.

Hadley's 2019 body of work doesn't inspire much confidence, but he looked sharp last week and gained nearly six strokes total. He is deadly with the wedge and ranks first in the AT&T in proximity to the hole from 100-125 yards over his last 12 rounds, which helps to explain his two top-10's in this tournament. Hadley offers some excellent salary relief on DK and pairs well with DJ in aggressive lineup builds.

 

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

Hi RotoBallers! Welcome to Horse For The Course! The Farmers Insurance Open provided a leaderboard full of elite players, just as we expected, but Justin Rose sucked a lot of the drama out of the final round. The Englishman got off to a shaky start Sunday, but quickly bounced back and played nearly flawless golf down the stretch. Rose's victory calms some concerns about a big equipment change that he made to start the year.

We go from what is generally viewed as one of the best tournaments on the PGA Tour schedule, to a tournament that is widely considered the most fun event of the year. The Waste Management Phoenix Open is famous for its party atmosphere. The sometimes rowdy Par-3 16th hole is a one-of-a-kind experience on the PGA Tour with its "Coliseum" seating and crowd involvement.

Gary Woodland is back to defend his 2018 title and he's joined by a solid field that includes 22 of the top 30 players in the current FedEx standings. The final round of the Waste Management coincides with Super Bowl Sunday, so it's always fun if you can have a PGA DFS sweat prior to kickoff.

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.

Editor's Note: Our friends at Fantasy National have built some incredible DFS Golf lineup tools including a Lineup Optimizer, Stat Engine, Ownership Projections and Course Breakdowns. They are by far the best daily fantasy Golf tools in the industry. Seriously. You can read all about them here and see screenshots. 

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The Course: TPC Scottsdale (Stadium)

Par 71 - 7,261 Yards

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 16-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 sharp iron play my top priority this week as I narrow down my potential player pool.

 

The Horse

Hideki Matsuyama (DK - $10,700 & FD - $11,800 )

Notable Course History: W/D (2018), Win ('17), Win ('16), T2 ('15), T4 ('14)
Recent Form: T3 (Farmers), T51 (Sony)

Ready for "Hideki Chalk Week"? I realize it's probably not very original to name Matsuyama this week's Horse, but sometimes things are just undeniable. If Matsuyama were an artist, TPC Scottsdale would be his canvas of choice. His track record in Phoenix is really second-to-none when we dig into a players history at a specific course. As you can see in the header above, Matsuyama had a pretty unbelievable four-year stretch here from 2014 thru 2017, logging two top-fives and two wins. He busted lots of DFS lineups last year when he was forced to withdraw from the Waste Management with a wrist injury that would hamper his entire 2018 season.

Matsuyama has gained an off-the-charts 51.99 strokes total on Waste Management fields over his last five appearances. That number is basically unheard of and all the more mind-blowing when you consider that his W/D after the first round last year is factored into that total! The Japanese star is an elite iron player and his excellence on approach shots has been the key to his success at TPC Scottsdale. In his last WM victory in 2017, Matusuyama gained 8.4 strokes on the field on approaches, a full stroke more than his nearest competitor in the 2017 field.

We don't have to wonder if Hideki is bringing his "A game" this week, as he heads to Scottsdale fresh off a T3 at the Farmers Open. Matsuyama was solid from tee-to-green last week, but his red-hot iron play was the driving force behind his success, as he gained over five strokes on the Farmers field on approach shots. If he continues striking the ball that well in Phoenix, he has a very good chance to lift his third Waste Management trophy in four years.

You probably didn't need me to tell you how well Matsuyama has played in this tournament, but I wanted to highlight him because he puts us in a very interesting DFS pickle this week. While DK has jacked his price by $2,700 above his ridiculous Farmers price tag, I don't think it's high enough to keep the masses away. How much ownership is "too much"? Matsuyama's course history is no secret and I expect him to be HUGELY popular this week. At what point do we consider fading him, even if we love his chances? Unfortunately, I don't have the column space needed to go into a complete game-theory discussion, but I'll say this...if you are a casual PGA DFS player that plays for fun and makes one lineup a week, I always recommend playing the players you feel most comfortable with, no matter their expected ownership. In addition to single-bullet lineups, Matsuyama is a slam-dunk in cash game formats. Where you might consider a pivot from him is in GPPs with huge fields and/or if you are entering multiple lineups.

 

The Ponies

Jon Rahm (DK - $11,500 & FD - $12,500 )

Notable Course History: T11 ('18), T16 ('17), T5 ('15)
Recent Form: T5 (Farmers), 6th (Desert Classic), T8 (Sentry TOC)

Jon Rahm's Waste Management resume isn't quite as impressive as Hideki Matsuyama's, but the kid is still young, just give him a little time. Rahm heads into this week's Waste Management Open as perhaps the hottest player in the world. After winning the "exhibition like" Hero World Challenge in November, the Spaniard has been a force in three 2019 PGA Tour starts, recording top-10s every time he's teed it up.

Rahm's gameplan isn't overly complicated...he is simply overpowering golf courses. The Spaniard's aggressiveness off the tee is paying huge dividends and Rahm will once again bomb away at TPC Scottsdale this week. He gained a massive 6.5 strokes on the field off the tee in last year's Waste Management Open and I expect more of the same this week. Maybe we should call him "Teflon Jon" because the normal TPC Scottsdale rules didn't apply to him in 2018, as Rahm nabbed a T11 despite horrible iron play that led to him losing four strokes to the field on approach shots. He was the only player to finish inside the top-25 of last year's WM and lose strokes on approach.

Rahm is very familiar with this course. He was a collegiate star at Arizona State University and has seen a ton of TPC Scottsdale. He recorded a T5 here as an amateur in 2015. He is very capable of winning this week's tournament and racking up major fantasy points along the way. Rahm is second in this field in DraftKings points scored over his last 24 rounds and he's fifth in the field in Birdies or Better Gained in the same 24 round span.

Rahm sits atop the salary scale on both DK and FD. While he went under-owned in the same position at the Farmers last week, I expect his popularity to see a big uptick this week. He's a spend-up alternative to Matsuyama...or you can even pair them together if you want to take an aggressive "Stars & Scrubs" approach.

 

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

Notable Course History: M/C (2018), 2nd ('17), T14 ('16), 10th ('14)
Recent Form: T8 (Sentry TOC)

Those of you that are looking for an alternative to Matsuyama and/or Rahm, might want to consider Webb Simpson. I have a feeling that Simpson might go slightly overlooked this week, and based on his 2018 output and history at TPC Scottsdale, not considering him could be a huge mistake.

Simpson has actually been on my radar for a few weeks...I was very frustrated that he skipped the Sony Open in Hawaii. After firing an eight-under par final round in the Sentry Tournament, I was ready to jump on Simpson in the upcoming Sony where he had an AMAZING track record. For some reason, Simpson decided to skip the Sony and hasn't made a start since the Sentry. Anyway...I guess that's the long way of saying that I've been ready to get Simpson in a DFS lineup for weeks and the Waste Management is a great spot to do so.

Simpson logged an oddball missed cut at last year's WM, but that performance looks like an extreme outlier when compared to his previous trips to TPC Scottsdale. The Wake Forest alum has gained nearly 28 strokes total over his career in the Waste Management Phoenix Open. Simpson possesses the type of sharp iron game that we are looking for this week. He ranks fifth in Strokes Gained: Approach on the PGA Tour in 2019 (including the fall season) and stands ninth in this week's field in SG: Approach over his last 50 rounds.

I love the leverage that Simpson offers in GPPs. His DK price is higher than fan favorites like Tony Finau and Rickie Fowler and there's a good chance that he's off people's radars because he hasn't played in a few weeks. Fire him up as a sneaky tournament play with huge upside.

 

Daniel Berger (DK - $8,200 & FD - $10,400)

Notable Course History: T11 ('18), T7 ('17), T58 ('16), T10 ('15)
Recent Form: M/C (Farmers), T12 (Desert Classic)

It would be pretty easy to skip right over Daniel Berger's name during lineup construction this week. Berger was a rising star on the PGA Tour just a couple years ago, but was plagued with a wrist injury throughout 2018 that led to his worst season as a pro. The 25-year-old didn't play any events during the swing season, using the down time to rest and rehab his wrist. Berger made his 2019 debut at the Desert Classic two weeks ago and played really well, logging a T12 while gaining over three strokes on the field on approach. He had a disappointing outing in the Farmers last week, shooting 75-69 to miss the cut. I'm not going to read too much into that performance though, as Berger has never played well at Torrey Pines.

However, Berger has played well at TPC Scottsdale, logging two top-10s and a T11 in four career WM appearances. It's easy to forget, but this is a young player that already has two victories on the PGA Tour in his short career. His sometimes ugly play in 2018 makes it hard to get excited about him, and I don't recommend him in cash game formats, but this kid definitely carries tournament-winning upside. His ownership will be next to nothing and he's a very viable contrarian option in GPPs.

 

Zach Johnson (DK - $7,800 & FD - $10,000)

Notable Course History: T57 ('18), T12 ('17), T14 ('16), T10 ('15)
Recent Form: T28 (Desert Classic), MC (Sony)

I have to pick and choose when to feature Zach Johnson in this article, because he has such good history at so many different courses on the PGA schedule. TPC Scottsdale is no different. ZJ ran off a string of top-15 finishes between 2015 and 2017 before logging a T57 clunker here last year.

Johnson hasn't been his usual consistent self over the past year. He made a switch to PXG clubs and parted ways with his long-time caddie Damon Green over the winter. So...things aren't sailing as smoothly as we've come to expect from the two-time major champion. His inclusion on this week's list comes down to his really reasonable price on DK. At $7,800, Johnson is hard to pass up in cash game formats.

 

Talor Gooch (DK - $7,500 & FD - $8,700 )

Notable Course History: None
Recent Form: T3 (Farmers), 4th (Desert Classic), MC (Sony)

I pride myself on being willing to think outside of the box. This week that comes in the form of Talor Gooch, a player that has never teed it up in the Waste Management Open. Despite zero course history, I felt that Gooch was at least worth a mention here, due to his FIRE play over the last two weeks. The 27-year-old has scored back-to-back top-five finishes over the last two weeks at the Desert Classic and Farmers. Gooch has been in the zone, gaining strokes in every statistical category, with over seven strokes gained tee to green in his last two starts. In a tournament that includes players like Jon Rahm and Justing Thomas, it's a guy named Gooch that leads this field in DK Points scored over the last 24 rounds.

Gooch's game log makes for some interesting reading. You'll mostly find missed cuts or great finishes and not much in between...so his bubble will probably burst very soon. His recent streak has been helped tremendously by a hot putter and that's always a dangerous thing to count on, but when Gooch's irons are on, they are REALLY ON, and he's been striping them recently. I'm willing to take a shot on riding the hot hand in some large-field GPPs with cheaper entry fees.

 

Lucas Glover (DK - $7,200 & FD - $9,700)

Notable Course History: T43 ('18), T36 ('17)
Recent Form: T12 (Desert Classic), T11 (RSM), T7 (Shriners)

I'll be the first to admit that Lucas Glover doesn't have spectacular course history in the Waste Management Phoenix Open, but he has been solid, making three cuts in his last four appearances. This play centers more around Glover's talent and DK price than his track record at TPC Scottsdale.

In Glover, we have the opportunity to grab a really good player that demonstrated very sharp form in the swing season and played well in his lone 2019 start, logging a T12 at the Desert Classic. If we want to squeeze in the Rahm's and Matusuyama's this week, we must find some salary relief somewhere and Glover fits the bill. While Glover's struggles on the greens are well documented, he has been routinely solid in every other facet. He ranks an impressive ninth in the WM field in Strokes Gained: Tee to Green over his last 24 rounds.

 

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PGA DFS: Horse For The Course - Farmers Insurance Open

Raise your hand if you had Adam Long winning the Desert Classic. Yeah...me neither. Long birdied the 72nd hole of the tournament to finish one shot clear of Phil Mickelson and Adam Hadwin (our top Pony in last week's article!). It was the 31-year-old's first career PGA Tour victory and solidifies (at least in my mind) that the Desert Classic is a somewhat wacky event.

This week's event is most definitely not wacky. After easing into the season with some laid back, birdie-fest events, the intensity level will ratchet up a notch this week. The Farmers Insurance Open is an excellent event. We have an elite field of players that will be taking on a Torrey Pines golf course that is major championship quality. The huge news is that this will be Tiger Woods' first start of 2019. Woods proved the world wrong last season, capping an unbelievable comeback year with a win at the Tour Championship to close out 2018. He has been hugely successful at Torrey Pines, winning seven PGA Tour events and a U.S. Open on this course.

Along with Woods, we will see some of golf's heavy hitters this week. Jason Day is back to defend his 2018 Farmers championship. Rory McIlroy will be making his Farmers debut this week. Tony Finau and Rickie Fowler will be making their first starts of 2019. Justin Rose and Jordan Spieth are just a couple of the other big names that are in this week's field.

We have a great field and a great golf course. We also have tons of course history to draw from this week. In fact, there are so many quality players with great track records at Torrey Pines that I'm going to shorten the player breakdowns a bit in order to squeeze in some extra players this week. This is going to be a fun tournament.

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.

Editor's Note: Our friends at Fantasy National have built some incredible DFS Golf lineup tools including a Lineup Optimizer, Stat Engine, Ownership Projections and Course Breakdowns. They are by far the best daily fantasy Golf tools in the industry. Seriously. You can read all about them here and see screenshots. 

Sign Up Now!

 

The Course: Torrey Pines (South)

Par 72 - 7,698 Yards & Torrey Pines (North) - Par 72 - 7,258 Yards

While nothing like last week's Desert Classic, 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. Last year's champion Jason Day didn't break 70 in three rounds on the South course, but posted a second-round 64 on the North course. So, 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. 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.

 

The Horse

Marc Leishman (DK - $9,700 & FD - $10,800 )

Notable Course History: T8 (2018), T20 ('17), MC ('16), T27 ('15), T2 ('14)
Recent Form: T3 (Sony), T4 (Sentry TOC), T18 (CJ Cup), Win (CIMB)

I could have very easily went with one of the "big names" in this field (and we'll get to a couple of those guys shortly), but Marc Leishman is making a strong case that he belongs among golf's elite. The big Australian has been on a tear over the past few months. He had a monster fall season, picking up a win at the CIMB Classic and a solo second at the Australian PGA Championship. Leishman hasn't missed a beat in the new year and has recorded top-five finishes in both of his 2019 starts at the Sentry Tournament of Champions and the Sony Open.

Leishman has been powered by a game that is firing in all facets right now. The Aussie doesn't appear to have any weaknesses at the moment. He gained a massive 7.6 strokes Tee to Green on the Sony field in his last outing and didn't lose strokes in any measured category. His play has led to huge fantasy outings and Leishman ranks third in the Farmers field in DK points scored over the last 12 rounds.

Leishman's recent form alone would be enough to put him in the DFS conversation this week, but he has also played very well at Torrey Pines throughout his career. Leishman has recorded two T2s and two additional top-10s in 10 career appearances at Torrey. He logged a T8 in his most recent visit in 2018. The Aussie's skill set meshes perfectly with what we are looking for this week...overall excellence from tee-to-green.

Although I'm just starting to look at DFS prices as I write this, it looks like a nice week to lean towards "solid" lineup builds on DK. I was half expecting Leishman to come in at over $10k, which makes his $9.7k tag seem utterly reasonable. He's a great player to start your roster construction this week and allows you to pack your lineup with quality depth from top to bottom.

 

The Ponies

Tiger Woods (DK - $10,500 & FD - $11,500 )

Notable Course History: Eight Career Victories (Seven PGA Tour Events & 2008 U.S. Open)
Recent Form: 17th (Hero Challenge), Win (TOUR Championship)

You didn't really think I was going to ignore Tiger Woods this week did you? The man has OWNED Torrey Pines throughout his illustrious career, winning on the San Diego track eight times, including the legendary 2008 U.S. Open on a broken leg. The powers that be should probably be having a conversation about changing the name of the place to Tiger Pines at this point.

I was pretty tempted to name Tiger this week's Horse, but it was: A.) A little too obvious and B.) Tough to get a real feel for where Tiger's game is right now.

Despite his amazing course history and epic victory at the Tour Championship to close out 2018, we don't really know what to expect from Woods this week. His Ryder Cup and Hero World Challenge appearances were underwhelming. Don't even get me started on the Thanksgiving "Match" against Phil Mickelson.

We know what worked and what didn't for Tiger last season. He consistently struggled with his driver and putter, while regularly looking sharp with his irons. We saw Woods make some strides with both the driver and putter towards the end of 2018 and his improvement in those areas coincided with his improved finishes to close out the year. Torrey Pines (especially the South Course) is very long and players will be forced to hit a ton of drivers, so his play off the tee is a huge area of interest this week. It's tough to predict what type of form Tiger will be in for what will be his first start of 2019. One thing we know for sure, he knows how to play this course.

Both sites have Tiger priced fairly aggressively. He's the fourth-highest player on DK and fifth-highest on FD. It's almost a necessity due to his combination of course history and popularity. As was often the case at the end of last season, what to do with Tiger will be perhaps our most crucial DFS decision of the week. I hate taking lukewarm stances on players in this article, but that's where I am with Tiger this week. His course history and amazing comeback in 2018 justify him being discussed here, but I am worried about a winter's worth of rust being present. I'm neither all-in nor all-out on Woods and will be sprinkling him into lineups when multi-entering GPPs.

 

Jason Day (DK - $10,100 & FD - $11,300)

Notable Course History: Win (2018), MC ('17), MC ('16), Win ('15), T2 ('14)
Recent Form: 13th (Sentry TOC), 16th (Hero), T11 (WGC-HSBC)

I can't even pretend to have a handle on Jason Day, who is perhaps the most unpredictable "elite" player in the world. His last four appearances in this tournament perfectly illustrate my point. Day won the Farmers in 2015 and again last year, but managed to squeeze back-to-back missed cuts in between the two victories.

Day's Jekyll and Hyde results revolve around his loose iron play. The Aussie possesses perhaps the best short game in the world, he finished second in SG: Putting and fifth in SG: Around the Green on the PGA Tour in 2018, but can struggle with his ball striking and ranked just 142nd in SG: Approach on the Tour last year. When Day has just a decent ball striking week he has opportunities to win tournaments.

His victory at last year's Farmers was a great blueprint on how to succeed in this tournament. He took advantage of his North Course round by shooting a 64 and avoided big numbers on the South Course by shooting 73-71-70. The tougher the course, the more I like Day's chances, as his uncanny scrambling ability gives him a true leg up on the field. His penchant for putting on Poa greens is also a factor this week. Day leads the field in SG: Putting on Poa over his last 50 rounds.

While we have seen Day's DFS price slip down a bit over the past year when the field is elite, he's priced pretty on the nose this week. His recent form has been solid, but unspectacular. He's hit the driver fairly well recently, but in typical Day fashion he lost over two strokes to the field on approach on the way to a 13th-place finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. I wouldn't let him anywhere near my cash games, but his combination of upside and (what I expect to be) low ownership make him a very intriguing GPP target.

 

Tony Finau (DK - $9,900 & FD - $10,700)

Notable Course History: T6 ('18), T4 ('17), T18 ('16), T24 ('15)
Recent Form: 2nd (Hero), T16 (Mayakoba), T16 (Shriners), 2nd (WGC-HSBC)

I had to get in a few words about my main man Tony Finau. This will be his first start of 2019, which is about the only thing that gives me any pause when it comes to him this week. Outside of the rust concerns, there's a lot to love about Finau this week. He's played extremely well at Torrey Pines, logging a T24 the first time he saw the course in 2015 and followed that with a T18 in 2016. He's went T4-T6 in his last two Torrey starts.

This course fits Finau almost perfectly. The length of the South Course isn't an issue for Finau, who ranked fourth in driving distance on the PGA Tour last year. He feels very comfortable hitting driver as frequently as needed, but he also elevated every other facet of his game in 2018. Finau's most important improvement has been to his short game. He went from 81st in SG: Around the Green in 2017 to 81st last year. His SG: Putting numbers also jumped from 136th to 53rd.

The knock on Finau is that he hasn't had a signature win. If there's one thing those of you that closely follow the PGA Tour know, it's that it is EXTREMELY HARD to win in the modern game. Finau has been soooo close and a win feels almost inevitable.

 

Charles Howell III (DK - $9,100 & FD - $11,000)

Notable Course History: T6 ('18), T2 ('17), T16 ('16), T5 ('15)
Recent Form: T34 (Desert Classic), T8 (Sony), T14 (Sentry TOC), Win (RSM)

It's CH3 SZN! I keep waiting for a week that I don't come across Howell's name in my research process, but he just keeps popping up. Chucky's track record at Torrey Pines closely resembles his unbelievable history at the Sony Open. He's perfect in 16 Torrey starts, never missing a cut. He's also flashed some upside here, logging three runner-up finishes and a T6 last year.

In addition to his impeccable course history, we're getting CH3 in sharp form. He picked up a win at the RSM in the fall and has played very solid golf in his three 2019 starts. Howell is one of those players whose stats don't pop off the page, but he does pretty much everything really well. He's gained strokes on the field in basically every measured category since his RSM Classic win in the fall and he led last week's Desert Classic in greens in regulation.

 

J.B. Holmes (DK - $7,900 & FD - $10,500 )

Notable Course History: 4th ('18), T33 ('17), T6 ('16), T2 ('15)
Recent Form: T48 (Mayakoba), T23 (CJ Cup), T13 (CIMB)

*UPDATE: J.B. Holmes has been added to the FD player pool and is $10,500.
Well...this is weird, but at the time of this writing J.B. Holmes isn't currently listed in the FanDuel player pool. Hopefully that's something they will get resolved quickly because Holmes has been a stud at Torrey Pines. He's logged three top-six finishes in his last four Farmers starts. We all know that J.B. is excellent with the driver (14th in SG: Off the Tee in 2018), so it makes sense that he's played well on this long, driver-heavy layout.

Last year was a down year for Holmes and outside of his Farmers finish and back-to-back top-fives in June, he wasn't on many leaderboards. This will be his first start of 2019, so we are guessing a bit as to his current form (In a note that probably doesn't mean much, Holmes posted on Twitter that an airline lost his clubs a couple of weeks ago). He did play well during the swing season, picking up a top-10 and two top-25s in four fall starts. Holmes offers some salary relief on DK at just $7.9k with his FD price TBD I guess.

 

J.J. Spaun (DK - $7,300 & FD - $9,200)

Notable Course History: T23 ('18), T9 ('17)
Recent Form: T51 (Desert Classic), T37 (RSM), T3 (Mayakoba)

J.J. Spaun is a pretty maddening DFS play. He falls into that Keegan Bradley/Lucas Glover category of "excellent ball striker that can't putt it into the ocean". Spaun hits a lot of fairways and greens. He ranked 32nd in Driving Accuracy Percentage and 30th in Greens in Regulation Percentage on the PGA Tour last season. His ability to keep the ball in play and avoid trouble has served him well at Torrey Pines and enabled him to log a top-25 and a top-10 in his last two Farmers starts.

Spaun looked a bit rusty in his 2019 debut at last week's Desert Classic, but played well during the swing season when he recorded a top-15, a top-10, and a T3. He's definitely not consistent enough to be considered in cash-game formats, but he's an intriguing GPP option and his cheap salary opens up a lot of options when constructing lineups.

 

Harris English (DK - $7,300 & FD - $7,800)

Notable Course History: T6 ('18), T4 ('17), T31 ('16), T2 ('15)
Recent Form: T51 (Desert Classic), T22 (Sony), T46 (RSM)

If you don't have the stomach to roster J.J. Spaun, then you definitely won't have any interest in Harris English. He had a downright dismal season in 2018, missing 20 cuts in 31 starts. He only logged two top-10s last year, but one of those came at Torrey Pines. It was remarkably English's third top-10 finish in four years at Torrey.

There's not a lot of statistical reasoning behind his excellent play in the Farmers. As we've discussed in this article several times in the past, sometimes a course just "fits" a player for whatever reason. That certainly appears to be the case with English and Torrey Pines. He's obviously a large-field GPP specific play and he's practically free on FD for those of you that have some interest in going "Stars & Scrubs" over there this week.

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PGA DFS: Horse For The Course - Desert Classic

Hi and welcome back RotoBallers! The Sony Open didn't provide the same final-round fireworks that we saw at the Sentry TOC, as Matt Kuchar's tremendous play down the stretch secured a fairly stress-free victory at Waialae Country Club. It was Kuchar's second win in just a couple of months and he will be a player we need to keep an eye on in 2019. Unbelievably, the longtime fan favorite was a topic of some Twitter controversy over the weekend when some rumors started to swirl around the amount he paid to a local caddy after his Mayakoba win in the fall.

Ok, enough gossip, let's turn our attention to the business at hand this week, the Desert Classic. Formerly known as the CareerBuilder Challenge, this tournament throws some curveballs at us. Players will play rounds on three different golf courses this week before a 54-hole cut is made. This will be a pretty big departure from the normal 36-hole cut that takes place after players play the same course for two rounds. We will also be dealing with the weakest field we have seen in 2019. Defending champion Jon Rahm is back and will be joined by Justin Rose, who is making his first start of 2019, Phil Mickelson, and rising star Patrick Cantlay. There isn't much "star power" after the quartet of headliners. This is honestly a pretty tough week from a DFS perspective, which will force us to both dig deep into our research process and perhaps roster some players that don't normally find their way into our DFS lineups.

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.

Editor's Note: Our friends at Fantasy National have built some incredible DFS Golf lineup tools including a Lineup Optimizer, Stat Engine, Ownership Projections and Course Breakdowns. They are by far the best daily fantasy Golf tools in the industry. Seriously. You can read all about them here and see screenshots. 

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The Course: TPC Stadium Course at PGA West - Par 72 - 7,113 Yards

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. Nine of the last 10 Desert Classic have played at least one of the Hawaiian events, so I will lean toward players that have been active in the last two weeks.

 

The Horse

Chez Reavie (DraftKings - $9,200 & FanDuel - $9,800 )

Notable Course History: T36 (2018), T12 ('17), T17 ('16), MC ('15)
Recent Form: T3 (Sony), T26 (Mayakoba), T35 (WGC-HSBC)

Yeah...it's that kind of week guys, I'm waving the Chez Reavie flag. You don't need me to tell you that the trio of Rahm, Rose, and Cantlay are head and shoulders above the rest of this field, so I didn't want to waste time telling you something you already know this week. If you can fit 'em, play 'em when it comes to those three.

Outside of the three musketeers, we're forced to make some tough decisions at the top of the salary scale. Inflated pricing (especially on DK) is taking us out of our comfort zone in a big way this week. We normally aren't looking to pay $9,200 for a player of Chez Reavie's caliber. That's not a knock on Reavie, but he's a player we're used to seeing in the mid-$7k range for most events. However, Reavie has been playing at a high-level during the swing season and we saw him play extremely well in Hawaii last week.

Reavie put on an absolute stripe show at the Sony, gaining an unbelievable 13 strokes tee-to-green, good for first in the field. He was unconscious with his irons, ranking second in SG: Approach. While those numbers are unsustainable, they aren't necessarily flukey. Over his last 24 rounds, Reavie grades out 14th in SG: Ball Striking and third in SG: Approach in the Desert Classic field.

Reavie's undoing last week and over the last several months, has been an ice cold putter. He managed a T3 at the Sony last week despite finishing 50th in Strokes Gained: Putting. If this guy just putts bad last week instead of horrible, he probably wins the tournament...that's how well he's striking the ball right now.

In addition to Reavie's hot ball striking, he has a track record of solid performances in the Desert Classic, making the cut in his last three appearances. At $9,200 on DK we are looking for more than a made cut from Reavie, but he has shown the ability to rack up DK points in bunches. Of the players in this field, he trails only Justin Rose in DK points over his last 24 rounds.

As I've mentioned several times, lineup construction is tricky this week. Those of you that want to go the "solid" route can start you lineups with Reavie on DK. He is laughably cheap on FD at only $9,800...receiving just a $400 increase after last week's performance, so he's an auto-play for me over there.

 

The Ponies

Adam Hadwin (DK - $10,000 & FD - $10,700 )

Notable Course History: T3 (2018), 2nd ('17), T6 ('16)
Recent Form: T57 (Sony), T10 (Mayakoba), T30 (WGC-HSBC), T10 (CJ Cup)

I usually start the research process for this article over the weekend, but I don't actually start writing until DK prices are posted. I have to admit...I'm still suffering from sticker shock when it comes to Adam Hadwin. During my weekend research all signs pointed to Hadwin being this week's Horse...as you can see from the header he has ELITE course history at this event and he showed some flashes of his former upside during the swing season, logging two top-10 finishes. I was prepared for inflated, out-of-whack DFS pricing this week and knew Hadwin would get a salary bump due to his course history (Hadwin shot 59 here two years ago), but DAMN! $10k and $10.7k???

Ok, I had to take a couple of deep breaths after typing that. I felt like a had to bump Hadwin down to the Pony category due to those massive prices, despite loving where he is heading into this tournament. Hadwin has been one of those guys that has dropped in and out of my DFS lineups over the last couple of years. It seems like a couple of years ago he found his way into my lineups on an almost weekly basis, but as his play became more erratic I haven't rostered him much lately. He's proven to be streaky in recent years, but the Canadian is in the midst of his best stretch of golf since last spring.

Hadwin will never be confused with the best iron players on Tour, but he's been consistently gaining strokes both Off the Tee and Putting, two areas that are of significance this week and have led to him standing 11th in this week's field in Strokes Gained: Total over his last 36 rounds.

His price has admittedly thrown me for a loop, but I suspect that will be the case for lots of folks that were eyeing Hadwin for this tournament. If anything, his price tags should depress ownership and actually make him a great large-field GPP target, as I think lots of people won't be able to pull the trigger on him at this price after an underwhelming performance in the Sony. Despite the salary, his combination of course history and play during the fall should put him on your short list of players to consider this week.

 

Hudson Swafford (DK - $8,300 & FD - $8,200)

Notable Course History: T29 (2018), Win ('17), T56 ('16)
Recent Form: T3 (Sony), T76 (RSM), T55 (Mayakoba)

Let me get it out of the way and say that Hudson Swafford is ridiculously cheap over on Fan Duel. It's one of those double-edged sword situations...he's so cheap at just $8,200 that it's hard not to auto-play him, but he's also so cheap that he will garner MASSIVE ownership. He's more appropriately priced on DraftKings, but after looking at Hadwin and Reavie, Swafford's price tag seems downright reasonable on DK. Like our two previous selections, we normally aren't excited to pay this much for Swafford, but he's an intriguing mid-range target for the Desert Classic.

This is a case of a player's current form and course history colliding at the right time. Swafford heads to the desert fresh off a T3 performance in last week's Sony Open, where he fired four sub-70 rounds, including a blistering Sunday 64. The breakout might have seemed to come out of nowhere, but Swafford quietly had a solid fall. He logged top-30 finishes at both the Sanderson Farms and Shriners. Swafford is a streaky player that has trouble getting all facets of his game working at the same time. He has stretches where his putting is lights out, but the ball striking isn't there or vice versa. It's promising to see that he gained strokes across the board at the Sony last week. Swafford ranked top-five in the Sony field in SG: T2G and Approach, while also picking up a shade over two strokes on the field putting.

His sharp play in Hawaii would probably put Swafford on our radar regardless, but a nice little bonus is how well the former Georgia Bulldog has played in the desert. Swafford took home the title in 2017 and put up a solid defense last year, logging a T29. He made the cut in 2016, missed the cut in 2015, and notched a T25 in 2014. That's what passes consistency when we are talking about Hudson Swafford.

Ok, back to lineup construction and what to do with Swafford on FD. Though I like Swafford this week, I would never consider him a "can't miss, slam-dunk play" in any tournament, as he's just too streaky. That being said, if you are playing higher-dollar or single-entry tournaments he's basically a lock-button play. I can understand fading him in large-field GPPs from a game-theory standpoint, as he may very well be over 50% owned in lots of tournaments.

 

Joaquin Niemann (DK - $7,600 & FD - $10,400)

Notable Course History: None
Recent Form: T65 (RSM), T60 (Mayakoba), T10 (Shriners), T36 (CJ Cup)

Course history? We don't need no stinkin' course history! Yeah, this is one of those times when I go completely off script and tell you about my interest in a guy that has never played the course. While I generally use course history as the foundation of my player selections, I just can't ignore Joaquin Niemann this week.

Niemann's DFS pricing for the Desert Classic is sorta the opposite of Hudson Swafford's. Niemann is too expensive on FD, but way too cheap on DK. In a week of $10k Adam Hadwin, I'll take all the $7.6k Niemann I can get. Niemann has the 31st highest salary on DK and it's not a stretch to say that he's one of the top-five most talented players in this weak field.

When I say Niemann is one of the top-five talents in this field, it's not hyperbole. The stats back up the youngster's upside. If we compare the last 50 rounds (a fairly large sample size) of the players in the Desert Classic field, Niemann's output is somewhat staggering. He ranks first in the field in both SG: Ballstriking and SG: Approach, second in SG: Tee to Green and Off the Tee, sixth in SG: Total, and seventh in DK Points Scored. Niemann's downside lies in his short game...where he ranks just 86th in SG: Putting and 123rd in SG: Around the Green.

I'm trying to target players that played at least once in Hawaii and Niemann didn't...but in his case that might not necessarily be a bad thing. After a whirlwind rookie season on the PGA Tour, the 20-year-old appeared to be running on fumes in his last couple of swing season appearances. He should be rested and recharged this week. Niemann isn't a bad GPP contrarian play on FD, where his high price should hugely depress his ownership. He will be more popular on DK, but he's a "bet on talent & price" play that I'm firing up this week.

 

Si Woo Kim (DK - $7,400 & FD - $9,200)

Notable Course History: T9 (2016)
Recent Form: MC (Sony), T26 (Mayakoba), T15 (Shriners)

Similarly to Niemann, I'm slightly surprised to see a player of Si Woo Kim's caliber in the mid-$7k price range on DK. Unlike Niemann, Kim has some history in the Desert Classic, he had a strong T9 outing in his only appearance in 2016.

Despite having only one start in this tournament, I'm willing to give Kim credit for his success on other Pete Dye courses. He became the youngest Players champion in history in 2017, when he won on the legendary Dye layout at just 21-years-old. Using the unbelievable research engine at Fantasy National, we can narrow down Kim's specific results on Pete Dye courses and the results are eye-popping. When compared to this week's field, over his last 24 rounds on Pete Dye courses, Kim ranks first in SG: Tee to Green, SG: Total, and SG: Around the Green. He is also sixth in DK Points Scored.

The knock on Kim is that he is maddeningly erratic. True to form, he was trunk-slamming at last week's Sony Open after a really solid fall season. I'm willing to chalk last week's outing up to "knocking the rust off" after a winter break. I would not be surprised if Kim is in contention this week...but it also wouldn't be a huge shocker if he's cut after 54 holes. Despite his record of inconsistency and young age, Kim can almost be classified as a "Dye specialist" at this point in his career. He doesn't come without risk, but this isn't a slate with a lot of safety available. Like Niemann, Kim has the talent to win this tournament and is a tremendous GPP option.

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PGA DFS: Horse For The Course - Sony Open

Wow! What a start to 2019! Xander Schauffele fired a smooth little 62 in the final round at Kapalua to tie the course record and overcome Gary Woodland to win the Sentry Tournament of Champions. It's a great time to be a golf fan, because we have so many great players to watch every week. The quality of play on the PGA Tour is extremely high on a regular basis and there are tons of players that have the ability to win each and every tournament. We are in for a great year from a DFS perspective.

The PGA Tour gave us an appetizer last week with a short-field, no cut event. We stay in Hawaii this week for a real meal...a full-field event that has a standard 36-hole cut. We're skipping from Maui over to Honolulu for the Sony Open. There are over 20 players from the Sentry field that will also play this week, including the defending Sony champion, Patton Kizzire. Of the last 20 Sony Open winners, 14 have competed at Kapalua the previous week.

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.

Editor's Note: Our friends at Fantasy National have built some incredible DFS Golf lineup tools including a Lineup Optimizer, Stat Engine, Ownership Projections and Course Breakdowns. They are by far the best daily fantasy Golf tools in the industry. Seriously. You can read all about them here and see screenshots. 

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The Course: Waialae Country Club - Par 70 - 7,044 Yards

We are still in Hawaii and head to Honolulu's Waialae Country Club. Similar to Kapalua last week, Waialae is one of the easier courses on the PGA Tour schedule. However, there are some pretty stark differences between the two, as it's about 500 yards shorter than Kapalua and is a Par 70 instead of a Par 73. Perhaps the biggest difference will be the lack of Par-5 holes to score on...while Kapalua had four, players will only have two this week (both are VERY gettable). We know what to expect from Waialae, it was opened in 1927 and this will mark the 54th consecutive year it has hosted a PGA Tour event. Despite the lack of Par-5's, scoring will be plentiful and it will more than likely take better than 20-under par to win this tournament. There has been an eclectic group of winners here over the years, but I will be focusing on ball strikers with great approach games that can rack-up birdies on Par 4's.

 

The Horse

Gary Woodland (DraftKings - $10,800 & FanDuel - $12,000 )
Notable Course History: T7 (2018), T6 ('17), T13 ('16), T3 ('15)
Recent Form: 2nd (Sentry TOC), T8 (Hero World Challenge)

This week's Horse was probably always going to be Gary Woodland, even before his excellent performance at the Sentry TOC. As you can see from the header, he has an ELITE history at Waialae. The bummer is that Woodland had to go and put himself on everyone's radar with his excellent play at Kapalua last week. So even though this feels like a trendy pick, I have to roll with Woody at the Sony.

As you'll hear a lot this week, Woodland played extremely well at Kapalua. Despite not getting the win at the Sentry (it was more a case of Xander Schauffele winning the tournament, rather than Woodland losing it), we have to think he's heading to the Sony with tons of confidence. He did everything well last week, ranking inside the top-five in pretty much every Strokes Gained category (2nd T2G, 3rd Off the Tee, 3rd Approach, 2nd Total), which fits the profile of how Woodland has played of late (3rd in the Sony field in SG:T2G over his last 36 rounds).

We've always known the former Kansas Jayhawk was a tremendous ball striker, but what gets me really excited about Woodland's prospects both this week and this season, is his drastic improvement on the greens. If you watched last week's tournament for more than 15 minutes, you probably heard the announcers talk about Woodland's work with putting guru Phil Kenyon. The two hooked up at last year's Open Championship and a winter's worth of work certainly appears to have paid huge dividends. Woody finished the 2018 ranked 114th in SG: Putting, but has shown dramatic improvement lately, ranking 18th in the Sony field in the same category over his last 12 rounds, not to mention his mark of seventh in the field at the Sentry. We all know that a huge part of golf is the mental aspect and Woodland looks both confident and comfortable standing over putts.

There are a couple of drawbacks to Woodland this week. The most obvious from a DFS perspective is that he will be MASSIVELY popular. The combination of his eye-popping course history and play at Kapalua will put him squarely in the DFS consciousness this week. The other possible reason to have pause is probably just me playing junior psychologist, but I wonder what type of emotional toll coming sooo close to a win at the Sentry will have on Woodland. As I mentioned above, it's not as if he choked in the final round, but wins are really hard to come by on the PGA Tour and, while second is great, there has to be some mental disappointment in not closing things out at Kapalua. These are nitpicky concerns and definitely aren't enough to keep Woodland out of my lineups this week. There can be a game theory argument made to fade his huge ownership in large-field GPPs, but I'm of the "set it and forget it" mindset when it comes to Woodland in cash games and single-entry formats this week. Thankfully, both sites have Woodland priced up, which might help contain his ownership to a degree.

 

The Ponies

Justin Thomas (DK - $11,400 & FD - $12,300 )
Notable Course History: T14 (2018), Win ('17), MC ('16), T6 ('15)
Recent Form: 3rd (Sentry TOC), T12 (Hero World Challenge)

You don't need me to tell you that Justin Thomas is an elite player, but he's without a doubt my favorite "spend up" option this week. It's not hard to see that JT has been sharp at Waialae Country Club, including a win in 2017. However, the course history header above doesn't tell you just how dominate his 2017 Sony performance was. Thomas fired an opening round 59 (!) in '17 and never looked back, shattering both the tournament and PGA Tour records for 36, 54, and 72 hole scoring. JT finished T14 in his Sony title defense last year, when his game wasn't hardly as sharp, but still has eight consecutive sub-68 rounds at Waialae.

Thomas' recent form suggests he is closer to "2017 JT" than "2018 JT" and he heads into this week fresh off a third-place finish in the Sentry. The Kentucky native put on a ball striking clinic at Kapalua, leading the elite field in both SG: T2G and Approach. Thomas logged a third-place finish despite fighting the putter throughout the week and finishing 21st in SG: Putting for the week. A final-round 65 was aided by JT's best putting performance of the week by far and is an encouraging sign as we head to Honolulu.

It's no secret that Thomas can rack up birdies, he was fourth on Tour in Birdie Average last season, but his dominance on Par-4's seems especially noteworthy this week on a Waialae layout that has 12 of them on the scorecard. JT has feasted on Par-4's throughout his career and ranked third in Par 4 Scoring Average and fourth in Par 4 Birdie or Better Percentage on the PGA Tour in 2018. Thomas also grades out fourth in the Sony field in SG: Par-4's over his last 50 rounds.

Out of Waialae's 12 Par-4's, players will face approach shots in the 125-175 yard range on around 10 of them. Thomas has been money from these distances, ranking sixth in proximity from 125-150 yards and 10th in proximity from 150-175 yards when compared to the Sony field over his last 36 rounds.

There's a lot to love about JT this week. Elite course history and recent form, being at the top of the list. He's also the odds-on Vegas favorite at just 5/1 to win. Thomas is the most expensive player on DK and (somewhat ridiculously) the second-most expensive on FD. I've just started toying with lineup construction as I write this, but while JT is pricey, it looks relatively easy to get him in lineups. Fire him up this week!

Charles Howell III (DK - $8,900 & FD - $10,400)
Notable Course History: T8 (2017), T3 ('13), T2 ('12), T2 ('07), T3 ('05)
Recent Form: T14 (Sentry TOC), Win (RSM), MC (Mayakoba)

There are lots of different directions we could go in the $8k range. Both Zach Johnson and Matt Kuchar have had tremendous success at the Sony throughout their careers, but I had to go with the Waialae "Godfather"...CH3. Charles Howell III is like the guy in your hometown that drives a Toyota Corolla and lives in a modest home, but owns all the property in the county. Howell is quiet and unassuming, but has won roughly $7.9 billion on the PGA Tour in his career. Ok...so maybe not that much, but it's a lot, and in classic CH3 fashion he's never actually won the Sony Open, but stands third in all-time tournament earnings.

I won't do a complete breakdown of his course history, but Howell has been playing great at Waialae since before a lot of you were old enough to vote. In 17 career appearances at the Sony he's never missed a cut. Yep...17 for 17. He's knocked out two seconds, two thirds, two fourths and a slew of top-10's.

Howell would always be in the conversation from a course history perspective, but I find him especially appealing this week due to his recent form. He picked up his first PGA Tour win in over a decade in November, taking down the RSM Classic during the swing season. In typical Howell form, his stats are solid, if unspectacular. He's one of those guys that doesn't really do anything great, but is "pretty good" across the board. I know...we're normally not targeting "pretty good" for DFS purposes, but somewhere inside of the Waialae clubhouse there is a phone booth that Howell ducks into every year. He walks in as CH3, but steps out as "Super Chuck" and has gained over 30 strokes total against Sony fields in his career.

Howell will be a popular DFS option this week, I don't have much doubt about that. His course history is just too good to ignore. He profiles more as a cash game play...solid, safe, but unlikely to actually win this tournament.

Scott Piercy (DK - $7,600 & FD - $9,500)
Notable Course History: T25 ('18), T57 ('17), T13 ('16), 2nd ('15)
Recent Form: T19 (Sentry TOC), T6 (Mayakoba), T10 (Shriners), T5 (CJ Cup)

I'm gonna throw a couple of quick hitters at you as we work our way down the salary scale. It feels like Scott Piercy deserves some consideration at this price point. The Las Vegas resident has a very solid track record at the Sony and has routinely professed his love for Waialae Country Club over the years. Piercy had a very strong swing season, logging three consecutive top-10's in October and November. He rebounded nicely from an opening-round 76 last week to shoot a pair of weekend 69's and finish T19 at the Sentry.

Piercy falls into the Keegan Bradley-esque "great ball striker, terrible putter" category. He finished 2018 at 14th in SG: Approach and 24th in SG: T2G on the PGA Tour, but sat at a sickening 186th in SG: Putting for the season. Piercy's results over the fall indicate that things with the flatstick are at least improving.

Piercy is a polar-opposite type of play than our previously mentioned Charles Howell III. At the end of the day, we are simply hoping that Piercy can find his putting stroke this week, which makes him unpredictable. However, that unpredictability is exactly what makes him such an intriguing candidate for GPP lineups.

Jimmy Walker (DK - $7,400 & FD - $9,300)
Notable Course History: MC ('18), MC ('17), Win ('15), Win ('14)
Recent Form: T39 (CIMB), T29 (CJ Cup)

It isn't often that I would refer to the two-time winner of an event as a wild card, but that's the best way I can describe Jimmy Walker this week. He has a tremendous history here, winning the Sony Open back-to-back in 2014 and 2015, but has also missed the cut in his last two appearances. To complicate matters ever further, Walker has no recent form to speak of, having last played in a PGA Tour event in mid-October.

If you follow golf closely, you are probably somewhat familiar with Jimmy Walker's trials and tribulations. He seemed to be on the cusp of joining golf's elite after a breakthrough win at the 2016 PGA Championship, but a mysterious illness, that was eventually diagnosed as Lyme disease, has derailed his career over the past couple of years. When Walker was able to play, he didn't play very well, which explains his missed cuts in his last two starts at Waialae.

Walker seemed to put several of the pieces of his game back together in 2018. He had an exciting stretch of sharp play last season that began with a top-20 at the Masters and included a top-five at the Valero, a runner-up at The Players, and a top-10 at the Byron Nelson. Unfortunately, Walker faded as the season wore on and his season ended with a thud at the Dell Championship. Walker had a very light fall, playing the CIMB Classic and Nine Bridges on the Asia Swing with mediocre results.

As we prepare for this week, there are a lot of question marks surrounding Walker. We love the course history, but aren't sure which Jimmy Walker will show up in Honolulu this week. The version that won this tournament in back-to-back years or the player that's missed the Sony cut the last two years? I expect Walker to be somewhere in the middle this week. He's well rested and displayed his old form in spurts last year. With a lot of iffy plays at the bottom of the DFS salary scale this week, he's an interesting option to consider for those of you that multi-enter large GPPs.

Jerry Kelly (DK - $7,100 & FD - $7,800)
Notable Course History: T14 ('18), MC ('17), T9 ('16), T6 ('15), Win ('02)
Recent Form: Champions Tour

We've now come to the "totally random player with unbelievably elite course history" portion of the article. Jerry Kelly (I know right?) might be the only guy that can tell CH3 "Hold my beer" when it comes to successful course history at Waialae. The 52-year-old grizzled vet has OWNED the Sony Open for around two decades, notching a win back in 2002 and remaining a top-10 mainstay.

Kelly spent the 2018 season on the PGA Champions Tour, so stats are a little tough to come by, but he played very well against his peers. He was second in scoring average in 2018 and finished fourth in the Charles Schwab Cup money list. Kelly averaged 279 yards off the tee in 2018, which is very short by PGA Tour standards. At just over 7,000 yards, Waialae doesn't put short hitters at a disadvantage, which is one of the reasons Kelly has managed to stay so competitive here in recent years. He was first on the Champions Tour in Par 3 Scoring Average and fourth in Par 4 Scoring Average, which shapes up well this week on a layout that only has two Par-5's.

A lot of DFS players will be reluctant to roster a 52-year-old senior tour player (Dass Ageist!), but I'm always willing to think outside the box to gain an edge in GPPs. Kelly's $7,100 price tag looks pretty nice as we get to the last spot in lineup construction and I'm totally comfortable slotting him in this week.

 

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

Happy New Year RotoBallers and welcome to Horse For The Course! For those of you that read this article last season, welcome back! If you are stopping by for the first time, let me say thanks for joining me here at RotoBaller and I hope you'll want to make this article part of your weekly PGA DFS research this season.

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 (as you'll see right off the bat this week). 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.

Those of you that were regular readers last season might notice a small difference in the player headers. I'm adding notable course history and recent form along with the player's name and DFS prices, in an effort to both jam as much information as possible into the article and serve as quick reference for those of you that don't have time to read each player breakdown. I encourage all of you to follow both me (@JoeNicely) and the RotoBaller PGA account (@RotoBallerPGA) on Twitter for player news and updates throughout the week.

We are kicking off the season at The Plantation Course at Kapalua. The Sentry Tournament of Champions is a no-cut event that's comprised of winners from the 2018 season. Justin Rose, Tiger Woods, and Phil Mickelson qualified for this event, but elected not to play. Dustin Johnson won last year's TOC in dominating fashion. Course history is a little spotty, as not everyone qualifies to play this tournament every year. This tournament is somewhat similar to WGC events...a small field, made up of mostly elite players, with no cut. This forces us to adjust our DFS strategy a bit this week.

OK, enough with the formalities. To steal a line from Baker Mayfield, I woke up feeling dangerous this year! 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.

Editor's Note: Our friends at Fantasy National have built some incredible DFS Golf lineup tools including a Lineup Optimizer, Stat Engine, Ownership Projections and Course Breakdowns. They are by far the best daily fantasy Golf tools in the industry. Seriously. You can read all about them here and see screenshots. 

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The Course: Plantation Course at Kapalua - Par 73 - 7,518 Yards

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-5's this week, so we are looking for players that flourish on Par-5's. 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. Long drives come to mind at Kapalua and Dustin Johnson took home the 2018 title, but this is not a bombers-only course. The past winners list is fairly diverse, with players like Jordan Spieth, Zach Johnson, and Steve Stricker having won here in the past.

 

The Horse

Jon Rahm (DraftKings - $9,800 & FanDuel - $10,500 )
Notable Course History: 2nd (2018)
Recent Form: Win (Hero World Challenge), 4th (DP World Tour Champ.)

The no-brainer for this week's Horse selection should probably be two-time TOC winner Dustin Johnson. While DJ can win any tournament, any week, I'm a little reluctant to pay $11k for him in a field of this caliber. Johnson should have a great 2019, but with rumblings of some off-course issues during the offseason, I'm taking a wait-and-see approach with him.

I think most of us that play PGA DFS regularly probably judge Jon Rahm a little too harshly. I know that I'm guilty myself, because after riding him on an almost weekly basis during his breakout rookie season in 2017, Rahm rarely found his way into my lineups last season. It feels like Rahm had a disappointing 2018, but the Spaniard had a win on both the PGA and European Tours and managed top-five finishes in two majors (The Masters & PGA Championship). Perhaps the feeling that Rahm underachieved last season was spurred-on by his inconsistency. As opposed to his two top-five's in two of the majors, he missed the cut in the other two (U.S. & British Opens). In 20 PGA Tour starts he logged 15 Top-25's and four missed cuts. Not exactly much gray area.

We can probably chalk Rahm's inconsistency up to his aggressive style of play. Rahm hits driver perhaps more than any player on Tour and it usually works well for him, as he ranked second in Strokes Gained: Off the Tee in 2018. However, this mindset can put Rahm at a disadvantage in some situations (especially majors). That is most definitely NOT the case this week. The Plantation Course has some of the most generous fairways on the PGA Tour, which will allow the Spaniard to bomb away with impunity. So while there are weeks that we might leave Rahm out of our DFS lineups because of his aggressiveness, that very trait is what makes him such an interesting target in the TOC.

Rahm has limited history at Kapalua, finishing second in his tournament debut last year at 16-under par. We know that we will need birdies this week and Rahm has shown the ability to pile up birdies and eagles throughout his career. He finished third on the PGA Tour in Birdie Average and fourth in Birdie or Better Percentage in 2018. We also have to love his Par-5 prowess, as we're tackling a course with four of them. Rahm ranked sixth in the Par-5 Birdie or Better category last season and is also sixth among the TOC field in Strokes Gained: Par 5's over his last 36 rounds.

One difficult aspect of this tournament is that it's the first one after a lengthy layoff and we don't usually have much feel for a player's current form. Rahm has been fairly active during the swing season, winning Tiger's Hero World Challenge and logging a top-five in the Euro Tour Finals in November, which makes us feel comfortable with the current state of his game.

With Justin Rose out of the event, Rahm comes in as the fourth-most expensive player on DraftKings, while sportsbooks give him the second-best odds to win the Sentry this week. Though his salary is higher, he's actually a better value on FanDuel, where he is just the seventh-highest priced player. It's hard to get a pulse on ownership for the first couple events of the season, but I think that Rahm will be popular this week. With this being a no-cut event, I'm willing to load up on him in all formats. He brings tournament-winning upside to the table with no fear of a missed cut.

 

The Ponies

Bryson DeChambeau (DK - $8,700 & FD - $10,900 )
Notable Course History: 26th (2018)
Recent Form: Win (Shriner's Open), T12 (Hero World Challenge)

If we take recent form into consideration, I feel obligated to list Bryson DeChambeau as this week's top Pony. "The Mad Scientist" closed out 2018 as the hottest golfer in the world, racking up three victories in a four-month stretch. DeChambeau nabbed two wins during the FedEx Cup Playoffs and won his only official start of the swing season, the Shriner's Hospitals for Children Open in November.

During his short time on the PGA Tour, the 25-year-old has shown himself to be an extremely streaky player. In contrast to his huge "up" this fall, we can look at an ugly "down" period from 2017, during which he missed eight consecutive cuts over a two month stretch (before winning the John Deere later in the season). Ever the tinkerer, DeChambeau currently has his swing grooved and I'm always willing to hop on board during one of his heaters.

While we usually look for strong course history in this column, I'm willing to chalk DeChambeau's 26th-place finish in last year's TOC up to his aforementioned streakiness. Despite that underwhelming performance, DeChambeau's numbers indicate that he should be a terrific fit for The Plantation Course. He is excellent off the tee, ranking 12th in SG: Off the Tee and 25th in Driving Distance last season. DeChambeau also piles up birdies and in 2018 ranked seventh in both Birdie Average and Birdie or Better Percentage.

Perhaps what I like most about DeChambeau heading into this week is his willingness to be aggressive on Par-5's. He went for Par-5 greens in two at a 67% clip last season and it paid huge dividends for him. In 195 attempts to reach Par-5 greens in two, DeChambeau made a birdie or better 131 times, good for the fifth-best conversion rate on the PGA Tour.

One drawback to Bryson this week will be his massive ownership. The combination of his strong play to close out 2018 and his modest price tag will make him one of the most popular options on DraftKings. He obviously has tournament winning upside which makes him viable in GPPs despite the expected chalkiness and you can lock and load him in cash lineups.

Patrick Reed (DK - $8,200 & FD - $10,300)
Notable Course History: Win (2015), 2nd (2016), T6 (2017)
Recent Form: 11th (Hero World Challenge), 2nd (DP World Tour Champ.), T7 (WGC-HSBC)

Maybe you love him, maybe you hate him, maybe you love to hate him...no matter how you feel about Patrick Reed, you probably feel it intensely. I've always thought that things are more fun on the PGA Tour with a villain in the mix and Reed has shown an increased willingness to embrace that role over the past year. While you may not like Patrick Reed the person, you have to respect Patrick Reed the player.

Reed is a classic "elite course history" selection this week, as he's been downright dominant at The Plantation Course. In four career appearances at Kapalua, Reed has finishes of T6-2nd-1st-T16. Perhaps this is due to the intensity with which Reed attacks every tournament. While most players look at a Tournament of Champions in Maui as a semi-vacation, Reed shows up with the same determination he would bring to a major championship.

Reed is never going to be a player with stats that leap off the page, as his personality and intangibles are a huge part of what makes him great...but his success putting on Bermuda greens catches my eye this week. Reed ranks fifth in the TOC field in SG: Putting on Bermuda over his last 50 rounds. He is by no means a long hitter, but he has been surprisingly effective on Par-5's over his last 36 rounds and ranks fifth in the field in SG: Par 5's.

Reed usually goes underowned in DFS formats due to his lack of popularity and statistical measurables, but I expect him to be fairly popular this week due to his price and strong course history.

Cameron Champ (DK - $8,100 & FD - $9,100)
Notable Course History: None
Recent Form: 6th (RSM Classic), T10 (Mayakoba Classic), Win (Sanderson Farms)

We go from a player with elite course history in Patrick Reed, to a player that has absolutely none in Cameron Champ. I like to use course history as a nice jumping-off point, not as the end all, be all...but it's rare that I'm willing to give a player Pony status in his tournament debut. Cameron Champ is a rare player.

After blowing through the Web.com Tour last season, Champ has announced his presence on the PGA Tour with authority in the swing season. In his five starts over October and November, the 23-year-old made all five cuts and logged a win, two top-10's, and a top-25.

Champ is perhaps the next evolutionary step in the "bomb and gouge" style of play. He DESTROYS the ball off the tee, averaging 328-yards per drive and had a 400-yard drive at the Safeway Open. What makes Champ different from some of the long-hitters we've seen come and go on the PGA Tour is his ability to putt. In 15 measured rounds during the swing season, Champ ranked out 28th in SG: Putting and 11th in Total Putting. It has to be terrifying to other Tour players when this kid bombs it past you off the tee AND putts better than you!

I'm highlighting Champ this week not just for his amazing talent, but because Kapalua should fit his game like a glove. The very wide fairways of The Plantation Course will allow Champ to bomb away. He will EAT on the four Par-5's, as he has a Par 5 Birdie or Better Percentage of 65%.

It's probably wishful thinking to hope that Champ is still flying under the DFS radar. You can perhaps catch him at reduced ownership in tournaments with lower-dollar entry fees, but I expect his ownership to increase as you move up the ladder. I almost wish he was more expensive on both sites, because at these prices he is basically a lock-button play for me and lots of DFS regulars.

 

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PGA DFS: Horse For The Course - RSM Classic

Kuuuuch!!! Fan favorite Matt Kuchar took down the Mayakoba Classic for his eighth career victory on the PGA Tour and first win in nearly five years. Our Mayakoba horses and ponies fared well, with all of the highlighted players making the cut. RotoBaller staff member Spencer Aguiar nailed Matt Kuchar at 66/1 in his weekly Vegas Report column that's available completely free every week right here at RotoBaller. Congrats on a great call Spencer!

This week we will be taking at look at the RSM Classic. It's the closest thing that the PGA Tour has to a "Club Championship", as there are tons of PGA players that reside in Sea Island, Georgia, the location of the RSM. Zach Johnson, Davis Love III, and Brian Harmon are just a few of the homers that are in the field this week. Actual "residents" of Sea Island have surprisingly struggled through the years in the RSM Classic.

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 2019 season! 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!

Horse For The Course will take a look at players that have traditionally flourished at the course that hosts this week’s PGA TOUR event. This is not a traditional picks column, but rather an attempt to pinpoint players that have outstanding results at a specific course. "The Horse" is a player with an elite course history and that has a great chance to repeat his success in this week's tournament. "The Ponies" are players with very good course history, that might be entering this week's tournament under the radar or have a DFS price that is a great value.

For a full review of the DraftKings PGA Slate this weekend, check out Seth Finklestein's column reviewing picks at every price point.

You can also find out who the smart money is on by checking out Spencer Aguiar's PGA DFS: Vegas Report every week.

Editor's Note: Our friends at Fantasy National have built some incredible DFS Golf lineup tools including a Lineup Optimizer, Stat Engine, Ownership Projections and Course Breakdowns. They are by far the best daily fantasy Golf tools in the industry. Seriously. You can read all about them here and see screenshots. 

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The Course: Sea Island GC (Seaside Course) - Par 70 - 7,005 Yards

Located on the southern tip of St. Simons Island, this course makes use of natural marshes and creeks. The layout will challenge player's shot selection and course management. We have seen accurate ball strikers fare well here, with the bombers often taking a back seat. As we see only a few times per year on the PGA Tour, players will play two different courses in their first two rounds. Sea Island's Par 72 Plantation course will be in the rotation this year, with all players that make the cut finishing up the final two rounds at Seaside. We will see lots of players hitting less than driver off the tee in an attempt to find fairways. The greens are on the small side, so approach shots must be accurate. A hot putter will be a huge bonus this week.

 

The Horse

C.T. Pan (DraftKings - $9,700 & FanDuel - $10,400 )

As I mentioned in the intro, there are tons of players in the RSM field that are either residents of Sea Island or have very strong ties the course. It may surprise you that this week's Horse is not one of those players. While there were lots of legitimate options for my highest-rated selection this week, I kept coming back to C.T. Pan. Pan might not have local ties, but he comes into the RSM with a true trifecta working in his favor...course fit, current form, and solid course history.

Pan plays an accurate, fairway and greens type style. His lack of distance puts him at a disadvantage on lots of the courses in the modern professional game, but his game fits this week's course, Sea Island, perfectly. Using the massive statistical database available at Fantasy National, we find that Pan's game seems to be tailor-made for Seaside. Over his last 24 rounds, Pan ranks fifth in the field in both Fairways and GIR's Gained. He is also third in Strokes Gained: Approach and sixth in both SG: Tee to Green and Ball Striking.

While Pan's course history at Sea Island isn't as extensive as some of the other players in the field, it is impressive. He has only made two appearances in the RSM, but has been sharp on both occasions, logging a T13 in 2018 and a T6 in 2017. Pan's current form is nothing short of fire...he's ran off 11 consecutive made cuts with two top-fives. This streak also includes three top-25s in his four fall starts of the new season. It should be noted that Pan has racked up many of these finishes at courses that come nowhere close to fitting his game as well as Sea Island does.

In lots of weeks during the regular season, Pan profiles as a player that can "play really solid, make the cut, and maybe get us a top-25". His ceiling is much higher than that in this week's mediocre RSM field. Pan has a legitimate shot to win this tournament and has an excellent chance of logging a top-10 at Sea Island. It doesn't feel great that Pan's price tag is this elevated on both sites, but this is a swing season event with an especially thin field. I'm firing him up in all formats.

 

The Ponies

Kevin Kisner (DK - $9,300 & FD - $10,000 )

I feel pretty safe about our first Pony Kevin Kisner, considering he's this tournament's all-time earnings leader. "The Kiz" has lit up Sea Island throughout his career, and in addition to being the all-time earnings leader, also holds the 72-hole tournament scoring record of 260.

Kisner has been downright dominant at Sea Island. In five trips since 2014 he has finishes of: T20 ('14), T4 ('15), 1st ('16), M/C ('17), T4 ('18). Pretty eye-popping stuff from the South Carolina native. If we were going to design a course that perfectly fits Kisner's game, it would be Sea Island. His lack of distance off the tee isn't an issue and he is consistently inside the top-25 on the PGA Tour in Driving Accuracy Percentage. Shot selection and course management are at a premium and Kisner is a master at both. Sea Island's Bermuda greens are Kisner's best putting surface and he ranks second in the RSM field in SG: Putting over his last 50 rounds on Bermuda.

There's obviously tons to like with Kisner's course history and course fit. His current form is the only area of concern. Kisner has only made one start in the new season, missing the cut at Mayakoba last week. We're hoping that he knocked the rust off in Mexico and will be sharper this week. He has been a streaky player that repeatedly performs well at specific courses throughout his career and I look for his solid play at Sea Island to continue this week. Love him in large-field GPPs!

Jim Furyk (DK - $8,200 & FD - $9,500)

When I decided on Jim Furyk for this spot, I promised myself I wouldn't bring up the Ryder Cup debacle...so I won't. I will say that with all of the responsibilities that come with being a Ryder Cup Captain, I imagine it's really easy to neglect your own golf game. That appears to be the case with Jim Furyk over the past couple of years, as we haven't seen him tee it up very often. It's easy to forget that this guy was once near the top of the heap on the PGA Tour and a very elite golfer.

It seems that Furyk is eager to get back into the mix on the PGA Tour now that he has the Ryder Cup obligations behind him. He's already teed it up twice in this young, new season. The veteran was very impressive at Mayakoba last week, where he led the field in driving accuracy and was second in greens in regulation on the way to a T6 finish. This type of performance bodes well for Furyk at a Sea Island course that demands precision both off the tee and on approach. He doesn't have an extensive history at the RSM and last played Sea Island in 2017, when he recorded a T6. Furyk has never finished worse than tied for 11th in three trips to Sea Island, so the course definitely agrees with his game.

Furyk isn't the type of DFS play that's exciting, but these types of guys can be very effective. In a week where player pricing is inflated, Furyk is perhaps a bit underpriced on both sites. I like the momentum that he carries into this week after a top-10 at Mayakoba and the course is a great fit for his game. People sometimes joke about Furyk's upside, but this is a guy that shot a 58 just a couple of years ago! He's viable in both cash games and GPPs.

Brian Gay (DK - $7,500 & FD - $9,100)

Our final Pony of the week is similar to Jim Furyk in that it doesn't really get your blood pumping when you roster Brian Gay. Though he might be a tad on the "ho-hum" side of things, the dude can play. Gay had some stretches of incredibly solid golf last season, quietly racking up six top-10's in 2018. The veteran has been steady during the swing season, making the cut in 4/4 starts.

He has fared well at Sea Island, logging two top-five finishes in his three trips, including a solo third last season. Gay is extremely accurate off the tee, he is first in the RSM field in Fairways Gained over the last 24 rounds and he ranked seventh in Driving Accuracy Percentage on the PGA Tour in 2018. He also possesses a fantastic short game, ranking fifth in Scrambling and sixth in Putting Average last season. Gay is fond of Bermuda greens and is sixth in the field in SG: Putting on Bermuda over his last 50 rounds.

Gay hasn't had a breakout performance in the fall, but Sea Island presents an excellent opportunity for his first top-10 of the new season. His pricing and steadiness scream "cash game", but I believe he has enough upside to be a viable GPP play this week. Gay offers salary relief when constructing lineups in a week that pricing is awkward and difficult. I feel comfortable using him in 50/50's and double-up formats, but have no problem sprinkling him into multiple lineups in large-field tourneys.

 

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PGA DFS: Horse For The Course - Mayakoba Golf Classic

Hi RotoBallers and welcome back to Horse For The Course! Bryson DeChambeau played himself into the winner's circle at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open. The "Mad Scientist" is rolling and proving that his scientific approach is for real.

This week we head south of the border, down Mexico way for the Mayakoba Golf Classic. The field is headlined by Jordan Spieth (who is TOTALLY playing this event of his own accord), Rickie Fowler, and Tony Finau. Last year's winner Patton Kizzire is back to defend his championship, though he has struggled mightily for the better part of a year.

Horse For The Course will take a look at players that have traditionally flourished at the course that hosts this week’s PGA TOUR event. This is not a traditional picks column, but rather an attempt to pinpoint players that have outstanding results at a specific course. "The Horse" is a player with an elite course history and that has a great chance to repeat his success in this week's tournament. "The Ponies" are players with very good course history, that might be entering this week's tournament under the radar or have a DFS price that is a great value.

For a full review of the DraftKings PGA Slate this weekend, check out Seth Finklestein's column reviewing picks at every price point.

You can also find out who the smart money is on by checking out Spencer Aguiar's PGA DFS: Vegas Report every week.

Editor's Note: Our friends at Fantasy National have built some incredible DFS Golf lineup tools including a Lineup Optimizer, Stat Engine, Ownership Projections and Course Breakdowns. They are by far the best daily fantasy Golf tools in the industry. Seriously. You can read all about them here and see screenshots. 

Sign Up Now!

 

The Course: El Camaleon Golf Club - Par 71 - 6,987 Yards

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. I'll be targeting accurate ball strikers who are in a nice groove with the flatstick.

 

The Horse

Gary Woodland (DraftKings - $10,700 & FanDuel - $11,800 )

This week's Horse has long-been considered one of the most talented players on the PGA Tour. Yet, despite that talent, Gary Woodland has only won three tournaments during his career. One of those wins came at last year's Waste Management Phoenix Open and Woodland seemed primed for a breakthrough year. Instead, he went in the opposite direction. Woodland's game proceeded to fall off a cliff over the next several months. Nobody ever said this game was easy.

After the mid-season dip, Woodland rebounded nicely to close out the schedule, including a solid run in the PGA Championship. He has started the new season on fire, logging a T5 at the CIMB Classic, a second in the CJ Cup at Nine Bridges, and a T10 in last week's Shriners.

In addition to his trending form, Woodland has found success in his two previous trips to the Mayakoba Classic, logging a second (2017) and a T34 (2018). He has been a walking stripe show over his last 24 rounds, ranking top five in the field in Strokes Gained: Tee to Green, Total, Ball Striking, and Approach. Woodland's also first in the field in DraftKings points scored over the same 24 period.

Do we love paying over $10k for Woodland? It's not the best feeling in the world, but it's just the reality of November DFS golf. The "bigger names" should soak up most of the ownership in the above $10k price range, which makes Woodland a greenlight GPP play this week.

 

The Ponies

Emiliano Grillo (DK - $9,700 & FD - $11,500 )

Oh...Emiliano, Emiliano, Emiliano. I can't stress to you guys how tough it is for me to make this Grillo selection. No golfer killed more DFS lineups for me last season and in the interest of full disclosure, I never seem to get him right. Despite my shaky history with Grillo, I can't deny that all signs point to a good week for him at the Mayakoba Classic.

It just takes a quick glance at his season game log to see that Grillo isn't easy to figure out. After opening up with a T41 in the Safeway Open, Grillo shined in the CIMB Classic and finished tied for second. He then alternated a bad outing at the CJ Cup (T55), with a solid one at the HSBC Champions (T14). So...while Grillo has a huge amount of talent and upside, we are somewhat trying to hit a moving target.

Grillo has nailed the bullseye in both of his career starts at El Camaleon, recording a T9 (2018) and a T10 (2017), with a 67.88 scoring average in eight Mayakoba rounds. He has been striking the ball beautifully in the new season, with early ranks of fourth in SG: Approach and 20th in SG: Tee to Green.

I wish I had a secret formula for knowing which weeks Grillo will finish inside the top five and which weeks he'll finish tied for 47th. Unfortunately, there usually isn't a happy medium between the two for Grillo. It makes him unreliable, but a high-upside play that can help lineups win large-field GPP's. I have too many bad Grillo memories to let him near cash lineups, but can't resist firing him up in tourneys.

Si Woo Kim (DK - $9,200 & FD - $10,100)

In the words of the great Pat Mayo, it's Si WOOOO Kim! He has been around the PGA Tour so long that it's really easy to forget that Kim is only 23-years-old. Like any young players, he's went through ups and downs in his young pro career. When Kim's game is "on" he has shown extremely high upside. He won the Wyndham Championship at just 21-years-old and logged a huge victory at The Players Championship in 2017.

Kim has came out firing in the new PGA Tour season. He's made three starts and has logged three top-25's. The young Korean has been propelled by a ridiculously hot putter. At last week's Shriners Open he was 56 for 56 on putts within nine feet!!! Kim led the Shriners in SG: Putting on the way to a T15. The amazing thing is that despite the good finishes, Kim has struggled with his ball striking this season. He lost about five strokes to the Shriners field in ball striking.

Kim's struggles with the irons are a double-edged sword. We can say that if his ball striking improves he will start to win tournaments. The other side of the argument is that if his putter cools down he will miss cuts. It does make Kim a bit of a gamble going forward. My concerns are eased this week by his excellent track record at Mayakoba, where he logged a solo third last year and a T17 in 2016.

In what seems to be a running theme this week, we are taking on some risks even with higher-priced players. Most players have both pros and cons during this time of the year and Kim is no different. Kim's loose ball striking is obviously not ideal, but he his completely unconscious with the flatstick. I'm willing to bet on his talent and affinity for the course in this spot. I like him in large-field GPP's.

Abraham Ancer (DK - $8,400 & FD - $10,000)

Here at HFTC I'm always looking for threads that tie a player to a course. Abraham Ancer's connection is merely noteworthy and not as strong as some threads we've seen in the past. Ancer is a native of Reynosa, Mexico so he will definitely be the top Mexican golfer in the field and has a small "home country" advantage. He grinded his way on to the PGA Tour. After starting out at tiny Odessa College, he transferred to the University of Oklahoma where he became a first team All-American. After his collegiate career, Ancer again started at the bottom and worked his way up, going through Web.com Q school and bouncing back and forth between the Web and PGA Tours.

Ancer had a breakthrough season on the PGA Tour last year, playing well enough to earn his Tour card and full membership status for this season. He appears ready to hang around for a while and has gotten off to a blistering start in the new season, logging two top-five's in three starts since October. Ancer recorded a T5 at the CIMB Classic and a T4 at last week's Shriners Open, thanks in large part to a hot putter. While measured rounds are limited, he ranks fourth in SG: Putting on the young season.

Ancer has improved in each trip to Mayakoba, going from a MC (2016), to a T55 (2017), and finally a T9 (2018) over the past three years. His accuracy off the tee and hot putting should give him an excellent chance at another top-10 finish this week. Ancer offers a bit of salary relief in what is a tough pricing week. I'm comfortable using him in both cash games and tournaments. He's the type of player that's easy to pull for and I'll have him in plenty of lineups this week.

 

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PGA DFS: Horse For The Course - Shriners Hospitals for Children Open

Welcome back RotoBaller PGA family! My man Tony Finau was soooo close last week in China! Finau led a good majority of the WGC HSBC before falling to another young star, Xander Schauffele, in a sudden-death playoff.

Really excited that the PGA Tour is heading back to the U.S. this week for the (extremely long titled) Shriners Hospitals for Children Open. I'm also pumped to have the 36-hole cut rule back in play. There's just something about the "Friday Cut Sweat" that makes PGA DFS great.

Patrick Cantlay picked up his first PGA Tour victory in this tournament last year and he his back to defend. He's joined by a surprisingly strong group of players by fall season standards, including Rickie Fowler, Jordan Spieth, and the aforementioned Tony Finau.

We are headed to Las Vegas and TPC Summerlin, which has been the sole host course since 2008, which gives us a nice base of results to evaluate. We all know about the elite players in this field, so I'd like to discuss some lesser-known options in this week's column. The time constraints of a crazy personal schedule are forcing me to hit you with a "rapid fire" style this week, but I hope you still enjoy the Shriners Open edition of HFTC. Let's try to find the fairway!

Horse For The Course will take a look at players that have traditionally flourished at the course that hosts this week’s PGA TOUR event. This is not a traditional picks column, but rather an attempt to pinpoint players that have outstanding results at a specific course. "The Horse" is a player with an elite course history and that has a great chance to repeat his success in this week's tournament. "The Ponies" are players with very good course history, that might be entering this week's tournament under the radar or have a DFS price that is a great value.

For a full review of the DraftKings PGA Slate this weekend, check out Seth Finklestein's column reviewing picks at every price point.

You can also find out who the smart money is on by checking out Spencer Aguiar's PGA DFS: Vegas Report every week.

Editor's Note: Our friends at Fantasy National have built some incredible DFS Golf lineup tools including a Lineup Optimizer, Stat Engine, Ownership Projections and Course Breakdowns. They are by far the best daily fantasy Golf tools in the industry. Seriously. You can read all about them here and see screenshots. 

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The Course: TPC Summerlin - Par 71 - 7,255 Yards

We should see tons of birdies this week. The Par 71 is short by modern standards at just over 7,200 yards. The fairways are wide and firm. The Bentgrass greens are huge and roll slow. Throw in four reachable Par-5's and a driveable Par-4 and we have a recipe for low scores. With this talented field, the winner might need to reach around 25-under par this week. I'm weighting course history heavily this week and looking for ball strikers that can make lots of birdies and dominate Par-5's.

 

The Horse

Scott Piercy (DraftKings - $8,100 & FanDuel - $9,400 )

Let's hope this goes better than last week! Dustin Johnson let me down in a big way at the HSBC, but I'm not going to let that stop me from going a little off the board this week. My Horse for the Shriners Open is hometown boy Scott Piercy.

Since the Tour is in Vegas this week, let me work in an old Swingers reference on you beautiful babies by saying that Piercy has been so money in this tournament. In nine career starts at TPC Summerlin, the Las Vegas resident has made eight cuts. Piercy isn't just barely scraping by either, of those eight made cuts three have been top-10 finishes with three more top-25's.

It's fair to put Piercy in the "great ball striker, but can't putt" category that we are super familiar with as PGA DFS players. This dude is such a good iron player (11th in SG: Approach in 2018) and it's so frustrating that he can't get things worked out with the flatstick (190th SG: Putting in '18). Piercy is one of those guys with enough game to make a good living on the PGA Tour even while constantly struggling on the greens. On the rare occasion that he gets some putts to drop he has tournament-winning upside, as evidenced by his four career PGA Tour wins.

As a Las Vegas resident, Piercy is extremely familiar with TPC Summerlin's slow greens. This knowledge helps to serve as an equalizer of sorts when Piercy tees it up in this tournament. In addition to his elite course history, Piercy has flashed some nice form recently. During the Asia Swing, Piercy logged a T27 at the CIMB Classic and an impressive T5 in the CJ Cup two weeks ago. The combination of course history and trending form is something we are always trying to target in PGA DFS.

Piercy reminds me a lot of Keegan Bradley and in a normal week we can expect that type of "Keegan" volatility from him, but this is probably the only week of the season that we can actually expect Piercy to at least putt decent. Outside of the big boys with the high price tags, Piercy is perhaps my favorite GPP play of the week.

 

The Ponies

Cameron Champ (DK - $9,200 & FD - $9,200 )

I normally list the Ponies in order of salary, but I wanted to headline this week's section with one of the PGA Tour's most exciting rookies. This is not a course history play, as Cameron Champ has never teed it up in the Shriners, but is instead a chance to let my readers know about this ultra-talented young man. If you are reading this, you are probably aware of the fact that Champ won last week's Sanderson Farms tournament in impressive fashion for his first career victory on the PGA Tour.

In a world where all the pros hit it long, this 23-year-old kid hits it even longer. On the way to victory last week, Champ led the field in average driving distance at 334 yards and had the longest drive of the tournament when he hit a 360 yard BOMB in the third round. If that isn't scary enough, Champ was also second in the Sanderson Farms field in SG: Putting. He is a star in the making and perhaps the next evolutionary step in a game that increasingly becomes more about distance.

Despite the lack of course history, I find Champ relevant this week because TPC Summerlin has very generous fairways and four attackable Par-5's. Champ spent 2018 on the Web.com Tour where he led that tour in driving distance and dominated Par-5 statistical categories (1st in Total Eagles, Par 5 Scoring Average, and Par 5 Birdie or Better Percentage). Those skills should come in handy this week.

We don't know how he will handle the success of last week's win and we have no course history to rely on, but the upside is a DFS dream. We can safely assume that Champ won't continue to putt as well as he did last week, but his distance and advantage on Par-5's isn't going anywhere. Champ is appropriately priced on Dkings, but ridiculously underpriced on FanDuel at only $9,200. He's an auto-play on FD and I'm squeezing him in tons of GPP lineups on Dkings.

Webb Simpson (DK - $10,300 & FD - $11,700)

I feel like Webb Simpson is kind of the forgotten man this week, so I want to throw a little love his way. I don't know what the guy has to do to be viewed as an "elite" player, but you certainly can't argue with his 2018 results. Simpson had a career year in 2018, winning The Players Championship in dominant fashion, recording nine Top-10's, and finishing inside the Top-25 in all four major championships. He only missed three cuts all year and other than Justin Rose, was probably the most consistent player on the PGA Tour.

Simpson also made the U.S. Ryder Cup team and was one of the few Americans that came to play in Paris. Perhaps he's not garnering much attention this week because he hasn't played since the Ryder Cup, but Simpson closed out 2018 in hot fashion and I see no reason that his sharp play won't continue in Vegas.

He has, somewhat quietly, owned TPC Summerlin. Simpson is second in all-time Shriners Open tournament earnings, helped in large part by winning the Shriners in 2014 and scoring two additional Top-5 finishes in the desert. Simpson's game is complete and he ranked well in several statistical categories in 2018 (9th SG: Total, 6th SG: Putting, 4th Scoring Average). Despite his lack of distance off the tee, he remarkably finished 4th on the PGA Tour in Eagles and 12th in Par-5 Scoring Average in 2018.

I have a feeling that Simpson will go largely overlooked this week when we take into account the players that surround him on the salary scale. Both Patrick Cantlay and Gary Woodland sit just below him and should be very popular. Many will look to jump above Simpson to Fowler, Finau, Spieth, and DeChambeau. This gives us an opportunity to fire up Simpson as a very nice contrarian GPP play in large-field DFS tournaments.

Alex Cejka (DK - $6,900 & FD - $7,800)

I've spent every week since the Masters writing this article. I study and research course history for every PGA tournament that is offered as a DFS contest. Sometimes...even I can't figure this stuff out. That's pretty much the case this week with Alex Cejka. The dude somehow turns into Tiger Woods when he shows up at TPC Summerlin.

Since 2015, Cejka's Shriners Open results are: T18 ('15), T2 ('16), T27 ('17), T2 ('18). Zeee German has gained an off-the-charts 32.47 total strokes on the field over his last four Shriners appearances. To put that in perspective, in Patrick Cantlay's winning debut last year he gained 10.88 total strokes on the field!

I wish I could explain to you why Cejka has been so successful at TPC Summerlin, but I can't give you a definitive answer. He has an excellent short game, ranking 4th in SG: Around the Green and 15th in Sand Save Percentage in 2018. Cejka is also accurate off the tee, finishing 25th in Driving Accuracy Percentage in 2018. That's it...that's all I've got. Nothing else pops for me from Cejka's stats.

Players like Alex Cejka are what makes course history so interesting to me. It's why I never get bored writing this article. The pursuit of quantifying why a certain player always plays well on a certain course. Unfortunately, I'm not able to sufficiently crack the code on Cejka at TPC Summerlin...but there's always next week. Thanks for joining me guys, look forward to talking golf with you again soon!

 

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PGA DFS: Horse For The Course - WGC HSBC Champions

Thanks for dropping in for this week's Horse For The Course! Big, bad Brooks Koepka took down the CJ Cup at Nine Bridges and is now officially the number one ranked player in the world. Koepka has accomplished some amazing things in the past couple of years and shows no signs of slowing down.

Koepka will join some other big-time players in this week's World Golf Championships HSBC Champions event. The HSBC will once again be held at the Sheshan International Golf Club in Shanghai, China. Similar to the other "Asian Swing" tournaments of the last few weeks, this is a no-cut event with guaranteed money for the players. We all know the drill with no-cut events at this point and must build DFS lineups accordingly.

Justin Rose won last year's HSBC thanks to a massive Dustin Johnson meltdown in the final round. Rose started the final round EIGHT shots behind DJ, but hung tough for the win. He is back to defend and Johnson is back to take care of some unfinished business. This should be a fun tournament...let's tee it up!

Horse For The Course will take a look at players that have traditionally flourished at the course that hosts this week’s PGA TOUR event. This is not a traditional picks column, but rather an attempt to pinpoint players that have outstanding results at a specific course. "The Horse" is a player with an elite course history and that has a great chance to repeat his success in this week's tournament. "The Ponies" are players with very good course history, that might be entering this week's tournament under the radar or have a DFS price that is a great value.

For a full review of the DraftKings PGA Slate this weekend, check out Seth Finklestein's column reviewing picks at every price point.

You can also find out who the smart money is on by checking out Spencer Aguiar's PGA DFS: Vegas Report every week.

Editor's Note: Our friends at Fantasy National have built some incredible DFS Golf lineup tools including a Lineup Optimizer, Stat Engine, Ownership Projections and Course Breakdowns. They are by far the best daily fantasy Golf tools in the industry. Seriously. You can read all about them here and see screenshots. 

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The Course: Sheshan International Golf Club - Par 72 - 7,261 Yards

When the Nelson and Haworth Design team started construction on Sheshan International, 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, which is pretty narrow by modern standards. We are looking for ball strikers and solid putters this week.

 

The Horse

Dustin Johnson (DraftKings - $11,500 & FanDuel - $12,600 )

I love revenge movies. You know the one's where the main character is going scorched earth on those who have wronged him or stand in the way of unfinished business. Dustin Johnson has plenty of the latter to take care of this week. He is returning to Sheshan International for the first time since an epic final-round collapse in last year's HSBC Champions. Now, I'm not sure if DJ is supposed to be Clint Eastwood or John Wick this week, but I got a feeling that he's coming to China and hell's coming with him.

It's crazy to say that 2018 was a disappointing season for Dustin Johnson, because the guy won three times, but DJ has come to the point in his career that success is measured in major championships. The 34-year-old let another year slip away without taking down a major in 2018 and he unbelievably still has just one on his resume. The frustration of failing to win a major championship has to be huge for DJ. Toss in a failed FedEx Cup title bid, off the course issues, and a disastrous Ryder Cup loss and Johnson should be plenty angry this week.

DJ was statistically dominant in 2018, leading the PGA Tour in Strokes Gained: Tee to Green, SG: Off the Tee, Birdie Average, and Scoring Average. When we use Fantasy National to narrow down our research, we can see that he has also been dominant recently. Over his last 36 rounds, DJ leads this week's field in SG: Tee to Green, SG: Ball Striking, and DraftKings points.

Since this is a course history article, I should probably mention that DJ has owned Sheshan International. In his four appearances at the Shanghai track since 2014, Johnson has a win and two top-five's. If not for last year's final-round collapse, that would be two wins. I think DJ will be hungry to make things right this week.

He is the highest-priced player on both DraftKings and FanDuel this week, as has been the case for about the last two years. We are putting DJ in lineups this week to win. He's expensive, but not impossible to squeeze in this week. We are aided by the fact that this is a no-cut event and the players we surround DJ with are guaranteed to get four rounds. I've long been of the opinion that DJ's "best" is better than anyone else's "best". I think we will see him come to play this week.

 

The Ponies

Rafa Cabrera-Bello (DK - $8,900 & FD - $11,000 )

With a tip of the cap to Paul Casey at $9,200, I'm going to drop down to Rafa Cabrera-Bello at $8,900 for top Pony honors this week. The Spaniard runs hot and cold, but we are catching him in great form after he dropped a pair of weekend 65's at the CJ Cup to finish in a tie for third.

Rafa has played well here in both of his appearances, finishing tied for 19th in 2017 and tied for fifth last year. In no-cut events we are willing to accept more volatility in exchange for upside. Cabrera-Bello can totally miss in some weeks, but when his game is on he's in contention at the top of leaderboards. He logged five top-10's in WGC and PGA Tour events in 2018.

Cabrera-Bello is a superior ball striker, ranking inside the top-25 in Strokes Gained: Tee to Green, SG: Approach, and Greens In Regulation Percentage on the PGA Tour in 2018. He was dialed in at last week's CJ Cup, hitting an eye-popping 85% of Nine Bridges' greens in regulation.

The Spaniard can be volatile, but that's not necessarily a horrible attribute in DFS GPP's. Especially in a no-cut event, where we're chasing upside, Cabrera-Bello is a nice play. I like the combination of course history and recent form that he brings to the table this week. He's a great option in large-field formats.

Matthew Fitzpatrick (DK - $8,700 & FD - $9,600)

I'm gonna throw a little curveball at you for our next Pony. One of the cool things about doing this article every week is that you never know what player will jump out at you during the research process. Before I started research for this week, Matthew Fitzpatrick wasn't even on my "perimeter" player list and now he's squarely in play for me. The Englishman is one of those players that U.S. golf fans are aware of, but never target in DFS. At just 24-years-old, Fitzpatrick is an ultra-talented player. He plays mainly on the Euro Tour, but has popped up on some major championship leaderboards a few times in the past couple of years.

Fitzpatrick has quietly been lights-out at Sheshan International. In his last three appearances in the HSBC, Fitzpatrick has finishes of T9 (2018), T16 (2017), and T7 (2016). Pretty impressive stuff. He also comes to China in sneaky-good form, having won the Omega European Masters just last month. Fitzpatrick is an excellent putter with a tremendous short game, that is fifth in the field in SG: Putting over his last 50 rounds according to Fantasy National.

Fitzpatrick's ownership will be next to nothing on DraftKings this week. He is not a player that's well-known in the U.S. and his $8,700 price tag is fairly steep. It's a contrarian play, but one that could definitely pay dividends this week. We are always looking for ways to differentiate lineups in no-cut events and Fitzpatrick is a great option.

Russell Knox (DK - $7,300 & FD - $8,700)

Let's stay on board the European player train as we search for some value down the salary scale. Scotland's Russell Knox profiles as a very nice salary saver this week. He has a tremendous track record of success at Sheshan International, winning the HSBC title in 2016 and following that up with a T9 in 2017. Knox had a good 2018 season, winning the Euro Tour's Irish Open and logging three top-10's and eight top-25's on the PGA Tour.

Knox is statistically sound across the board. He lacks distance off the tee, but is extremely accurate. He ranked 20th on the PGA Tour in Driving Accuracy last season and is fourth in the HSBC field in Fairways Gained over his last 36 rounds. That precision will be a huge asset this week on Sheshan's narrow fairways that have an average width of around 25 yards. Knox is a grinder that will find fairways and greens throughout the week. It might not be exciting, but it's a style of play that has served him well in previous trips to Sheshan International.

Fantasy National currently has Knox projected at 13% ownership. I'm sure a lot of folks will gravitate to his course history at just $7,300. This is a week where things get ugly fairly quickly at around $7k on DraftKings, so Knox feels like a safe bet at his price, however his lack of recent play is a little scary. At the end of the day, he offers upside with great course history and helps us to fit DJ in lineups.

 

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PGA DFS: Horse For The Course - The CJ Cup at Nine Bridges

Welcome back PGA RotoBallers! The "Big Aussie" Marc Leishman ran away with the CIMB Classic in the final round to take home his fourth career PGA Tour victory. We enter the second leg of the "Asia Swing" this week as we head to Korea for the CJ Cup at Nine Bridges!

As it does in most facets of life, money talks in golf. The CJ Cup has a huge $9.5 million purse that will be split between 78 players in this no-cut event, with the winner taking home over $1.7 million. As a result, we have a strong field this week. Justin Thomas won the title last year in the event's debut and is back to defend. He'll be joined in Korea by some elite players like Brooks Koepka, Jason Day, and Hideki Matsuyama among others. The promise of a nice guaranteed payday and FedEx Cup points brings a solid group of players to The Club at Nine Bridges.

There is no cut this week, which always alters how we tackle lineup construction. We are looking for upside and can take some chances when choosing players. We also have another Wednesday evening start time, so don't forget to have lineups set! Unfortunately, we only have one year of course history to evaluate for this event. We will take last year's results into consideration, but won't completely rely on course history alone this week. We've got a cool golf course and a talented field...let's tee it up!

Horse For The Course will take a look at players that have traditionally flourished at the course that hosts this week’s PGA TOUR event. This is not a traditional picks column, but rather an attempt to pinpoint players that have outstanding results at a specific course. "The Horse" is a player with an elite course history and that has a great chance to repeat his success in this week's tournament. "The Ponies" are players with very good course history, that might be entering this week's tournament under the radar or have a DFS price that is a great value.

For a full review of the DraftKings PGA Slate this weekend, check out Seth Finklestein's column reviewing picks at every price point.

You can also find out who the smart money is on by checking out Spencer Aguiar's PGA DFS: Vegas Report every week.

Editor's Note: Our friends at Fantasy National have built some incredible DFS Golf lineup tools including a Lineup Optimizer, Stat Engine, Ownership Projections and Course Breakdowns. They are by far the best daily fantasy Golf tools in the industry. Seriously. You can read all about them here and see screenshots. 

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The Course: The Club at Nine Bridges - Par 72 - 7,184 Yards

Since opening in 2001, The Club at Nine Bridges has been met with universal acclaim from the golf world. Located on Jeju Island near the base of Mount Halla, Nine Bridges uses the unique natural features of the island to shape holes, including the interesting par-5 18th that has it's green literally sitting on an island. The course is well-protected by Mother Nature, with unpredictable winds that can give players fits. In last year's debut edition, Nine Bridges proved that it could provide a stiff test for the best players in the world. Of the 51 measured courses played last season, Nine Bridges ranked fourth in difficulty. This week, we are targeting players that have solid tee-to-green games, that play well on difficult courses, and can grind out pars with their scrambling ability.

 

The Horse

Byeong-Hun An (DraftKings - $8,700 & FanDuel - $9,700 )

While I have tons of interest in the marquee names that are in this week's field, I'm going to go a little off-page with this week's "Horse". Byeong-Hun (Ben) An finished tied for 11th in last year's edition of the CJ Cup and returns for this year's tournament fresh off a T13 at last week's CIMB Classic. Nevermind home course, a native of Korea, An will have the home country advantage this week. While I don't know that An's Korean roots will help him with the Nine Bridges layout, I do think he will be better equipped to deal with the wind and weather that might play a factor this week.

An hasn't reached the "next level" on the PGA Tour yet, but the 27-year-old made his presence known during the 2018 season by logging three top-five finishes, including runner-ups at The Memorial and the RBC Canadian Open. He has shown a propensity to play well on courses that are difficult, often faring better in tough environments than he does in birdie-fests. He logged solid finishes at The Honda Classic (T5), The Arnold Palmer Invitational (T14), and the RBC Heritage (T7)...all tournaments that are played on challenging courses where par is a good score.

An is an excellent ball striker that ranked 12th in Strokes Gained: Tee to Green and 18th in SG: Approach on the PGA Tour last season. The stat that jumps out at me is An's standing at 21st in Scrambling % for 2018, a skill that we know will be very important at Nine Bridges this week. When we use Fantasy National to dig deeper into An's statistics, we find that over his last 36 rounds he ranks an impressive second in the CJ Cup field in Scrambling Gained and fifth in Bogeys Avoided. An's achilles heel is the putter and he ranks just 60th in the field in Strokes Gained: Putting over his last 36 rounds.

I wouldn't call An a great "value" this week, as he's fairly priced at $8,700 on DK and $9,700 FD. I actually like that his salary isn't super cheap, as I believe it will make his ownership levels quite low. Many folks will overlook An to get a more well-known name in their lineup and that's absolutely fine with me. The putting is a concern, and we will need him to find his putting stroke this week to realize his full upside potential, but if he can somehow get really hot with the flatstick, a win isn't out of the question. I like the boxes that An checks off this week and will be using him in single-entry and large-field GPP's.

 

The Ponies

Tyrrell Hatton (DK - $9,500 & FD - $9,600 )

Sometimes in this article you just have to go with your gut. There is no course history to support going with Tyrrell Hatton this week, but I can't shake the feeling that the Englishman will play well in the CJ Cup. There are several things that line up well for Hatton at Nine Bridges and we'll get to some of those in just a moment, but I'm most impressed with his amazing recent form.

Hatton most recently finished runner-up in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, this after a strong showing for Team Europe in the Ryder Cup. The dude closed out the 2018 season like a rockstar, logging a top-10 in the PGA Championship and playing great golf throughout the FedEx Cup Playoffs. Over his last 16 PGA Tour rounds, Hatton fired 12 sub-70 rounds.

Despite a lack of course history, Hatton's stats align well with what leads to success at Nine Bridges. Using Fantasy National, we find that over his last 24 rounds Hatton ranks second in both Scrambling Gained and Bogeys Avoided. Hatton is extremely solid across the board recently and over his last 12 rounds ranks inside the field's top-10 in Strokes Gained: Total, Tee to Green, Approach, and Around the Green.

While I typically focus most of my personal play on DraftKings, I will be going heavier than usual over at FanDuel just to take advantage of Hatton and someone we will discuss next. Hatton's hugely underpriced relative to the field on FD at just $9,600. I like the Englishman in all DFS formats this week.

Sungjae Im (DK - $8,000 & FD - $8,400)

It might sound crazy...but Sungjae Im was almost this week's "Horse". Why you ask? Because Im not only grew up on Jeju Island, but Nine Bridges IS HIS HOME COURSE! That's right, Sungjae Im grew up playing this course.

A professional golfer playing a tournament on his home course would always draw our interest, but Im also happens to be an ultra-talented 20-year-old that has played out of his mind over the past year. Im was so dominant on the Web.com Tour in 2018 that he was the first player in the history of that tour to lead the regular season money list wire-to-wire. He picked up two victories and a staggering 11 top-25's on the Web.com and cruised to earning full-time PGA Tour status for the 2019 season.

Im made his 2019 PGA Tour debut two weeks ago at the Safeway Open where he looked completely at ease with golf's best and logged an impressive T4 finish. We can grab the young man at $8,000 on DraftKings and a ridiculous $8,400 on FanDuel. The last time I remember a perfect setup like this was Ole Miss star Braden Thornberry teeing it up on a sponsor's exemption at TPC Southwind, a course that he grew up playing, just week's after winning the NCAA Individual Championship. Thornberry went on to notch a T4 as an amateur in the St. Jude Classic in 2017. This is that type of situation and we only come across these once or twice a year. Get him in your lineups this week!

Jamie Lovemark (DK - $6,800 & FD - $8,500)

For our final highlighted player of the week, we are going to move down the salary scale to Jamie Lovemark at $6,800. Lovemark will be making his second trip to The Club at Nine Bridges this week. He fared well in last year's CJ Cup, scoring an impressive T5.

Lovemark doesn't jump off the page at you, but I like the intangibles he brings to the table. He is an excellent wind player that has proven he can deal with the weather on Jeju Island. Lovemark also plays difficult courses very well. Fantasy National illustrates that Lovemark gains over .5 strokes per round on the field when rounds are at their most difficult. This attribute is reinforced by his scrambling ability and he ranks fourth in the field in Scrambling Gained over his last 36 rounds.

Lovemark is a somewhat boom-or-bust option. There are week's when he just doesn't have it, but as we can see from last year's CJ Cup performance, he has top-five upside. The guy finished 31st in Strokes Gained: Tee to Green on the PGA Tour last year, so he has the talent to show up big for us at his discount price. He's strictly a GPP option, but I like taking a shot with Lovemark in large-field tournaments this week.

 

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PGA DFS: Horse For The Course - CIMB Classic

The 2019 PGA Tour season got off to an exciting start as we saw a three-man sudden death playoff Sunday. Kevin Tway outlasted Ryan Moore and Brandt Snedeker to take home the Safeway Open championship, marking the talented 30-year-old's first career PGA Tour victory.

We are going to keep things going as we head around the world to Malaysia for this week's CIMB Classic. This tournament boasts a surprisingly strong field that includes seven major champions and players that are in excellent form, including the entire trio that was in the Safeway playoff. Everybody's favorite outlaw Pat Perez won the 2017 CIMB Classic and is back to defend his title. TPC Kuala Lumpur is the host course and is a ball striker's paradise.

A couple of DFS notes that everyone should be aware of...this tournament will start Wednesday evening, not Thursday morning. I'm a creature of habit when it comes to PGA DFS, so I will be setting a reminder alarm on my phone and it might be a good idea for you guys to do the same. Whatever you need to do, make sure to have lineups set before things tee off! We should also be mindful of the fact that this is a no-cut event when constructing lineups. We want to jam-pack as much upside as possible into our rosters this week.

Last week's "HFTC" choices didn't play very inspired golf at the Safeway. Three of four selections made the cut, but none were in serious contention. We must continue to trust our research process, especially when we have less-than-stellar results. I'm ready to grind, so let's tee up the CIMB Classic!

Horse For The Course will take a look at players that have traditionally flourished at the course that hosts this week’s PGA TOUR event. This is not a traditional picks column, but rather an attempt to pinpoint players that have outstanding results at a specific course. "The Horse" is a player with an elite course history and that has a great chance to repeat his success in this week's tournament. "The Ponies" are players with very good course history, that might be entering this week's tournament under the radar or have a DFS price that is a great value.

For a full review of the DraftKings PGA Slate this weekend, check out Seth Finklestein's column reviewing picks at every price point.

You can also find out who the smart money is on by checking out Spencer Aguiar's PGA DFS: Vegas Report every week.

Editor's Note: Our friends at Fantasy National have built some incredible DFS Golf lineup tools including a Lineup Optimizer, Stat Engine, Ownership Projections and Course Breakdowns. They are by far the best daily fantasy Golf tools in the industry. Seriously. You can read all about them here and see screenshots. 

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The Course: TPC Kuala Lumpur (West Course) - Par 72 - 7,005 Yards

Opened in Malaysia to much fanfare in 1991, TPC Kuala Lumpur is a beautiful course. Though it was lengthened in 2008, it is still short by modern standards at only 7,000 yards. This is especially notable when we see that the course features four par-5's! There are tons of birdies to be had, but TPC Kuala Lumpur does have a little bite by employing 10 water hazards around the course. I'm looking for elite ball strikers this week. I want players with a very strong approach game that can also take advantage of the par-5's.

 

The Horse

Justin Thomas (DraftKings - $11,700 & FanDuel - $13,000 )

In the intro I mentioned that this week's field is surprisingly strong. While that is indeed the case, Justin Thomas stands head and shoulders above the rest of the CIMB field from a talent standpoint. I know I'm stating the obvious by naming JT this week's "Horse", but after careful consideration I felt I had no choice. Not only is Thomas the best player in the field, but he is also a two-time winner at TPC Kuala Lumpur. If it were just one or the other I probably would have tried to shake things up a bit, but JT's elite blend of talent and dominant course history make him a no-brainer this week.

As I mentioned, Thomas is a two-time winner of this event, taking down the 2015 & 2016 editions of the CIMB Classic with a combined score of 49-under par for the two years. He shot a second-round 61 to break the course record in 2015 and holds the TPC Kuala Lumpur 72-hole tournament record of 262. Pretty dominant stuff. Thomas "only" logged a T17 in last year's tournament in a what was a bit of letdown following his breakthrough PGA Championship win. Thomas enters this week in excellent form, having logged a T12 at the BMW Championship, and a T7 at the TOUR Championship. JT was one of the lone bright spots for the American team at the Ryder Cup two weeks ago.

I'm sure you don't need to hear Thomas' elite level stats, but let me touch on them briefly. Our friends at Fantasy National allow us to narrow our research down and JT has been absolutely ridiculous over his last 24 rounds. He leads the field in Strokes Gained: Total, Strokes Gained: Tee to Green, and DraftKings points. Thomas also sits inside the top-five in several other Strokes Gained categories, including: Ball Striking, Short Game, Approach, and Around the Green. The guy is a sicko!

Unsurprisingly, JT carries the highest price tag on both DraftKings and FanDuel. We have to be willing to spend up to get him in our lineups. Despite the steep price, I think Thomas will be extremely popular this week. There are some legit game theory arguments to fading him, as we basically need him to win. While I can get behind that thought if I'm multi-entering large GPP's... if I'm only making one lineup this week, Thomas is in it. Game theory aside, this guy is far and away the best player in the field and has owned this course. Fade him at your own risk.

 

The Ponies

Ryan Moore (DK - $10,900 & FD - $11,600 )

Ryan Moore was soooo close to being this week's "Horse", but was just edged out by Justin Thomas. Like Thomas, Moore has won the CIMB Classic twice, going back-to-back in 2013 and 2014. He
also scored a T10 in 2016 and a T17 in 2017 at the CIMB. We get Moore in hot fire form, as he's coming off a runner-up at last week's Safeway Open.

Moore put a new PXG driver in play at the Safeway and gained 15-20 yards off the tee...a huge boost for a guy that ranked 163rd in Driving Distance in 2018. He is a world-class ball striker, which explains his excellent course history at TPC Kuala Lumpur.

It's hard to call five victories on the PGA Tour a disappointment, but after a legendary amateur career Moore seemed destined for even bigger things. It may sound like a minor thing, but he has cycled through several equipment changes during his career and I like the fact that he has been consistently using PXG since 2015.

Moore carries a high price tag this week. Being slotted below only Justin Thomas should depress his ownership levels. I love his course history and was very impressed with his play at the Safeway last week. He is a supremely talented player that knows how to win. I am very confident in Ryan Moore this week.

Keegan Bradley (DK - $9,900 & FD - $10,600)

Saddle up boys, it's a Keegan Bradley week! I was on Keegs heavily toward the end of last season, but of course was light on him the week he finally logged a win at the BMW Championship. His price tag makes me a little reluctant to take the plunge, but I'm somewhat comforted by the fact that this is a no-cut event. Due to this being a tournament with no cut, we are forced to go upside hunting, which brings some volatility into play and if there is one word that sums up Keegan Bradley, it's volatility. Despite his inconsistency, Bradley has actually been rock-solid at TPC Kuala Lumpur. He has finished inside the top-10 in three of his four appearances at the CIMB Classic, including a sixth in 2017 and a solo second last year.

As I mentioned above, Bradley recently broke through for a win at the BMW Championship, his first in six years. The victory was the culmination of a summer's worth of excellent ball striking. Bradley finished the 2018 PGA Tour season ranked second in Strokes Gained: Approach and 11th in Strokes Gained: Tee to Green...so it's no surprise that Bradley has flourished at TPC Kuala Lumpur with his elite ball striking skills. However, we all know the wheels come off the wagon for Keegan once he reaches the green right? While that's certainly true when taking a macro-view, Bradley's putting stats are somewhat surprising when we use Fantasy National to zero-in on his recent performance with the flatstick. Over his last 24 rounds, Bradley ranks a solid 21st in the field in Strokes Gained: Putting and sixth in 3-Putt Avoidance. Those are numbers we would take in a heartbeat this week, as Keegan only needs to putt decent to be in contention.

Bradley's salary is a little tough to swallow, but this is the price of doing business in the PGA DFS swing season. Could he blow-up and finish near the bottom of the field? Sure. However, Bradley offers legit tournament winning upside at a sub-$10k price. The no-cut factor softens the edges a bit on his volatility and Bradley is always capable of shooting the low-round of the tournament in a week that every fantasy point is huge. I'm not letting him anywhere near cash game lineups, but he is a very intriguing option for large-field GPP's.

Anirban Lahiri (DK - $6,900 & FD - $8,500)

I didn't forget about you bargain shoppers this week! We're headed down the salary scale for our final "Pony". Anirban Lahiri is a name that might be familiar to hardcore DFS regulars. He is a veteran player that's somewhat on the fringes of the PGA Tour, but seems to get on hot streaks and pop up every so often with a seemingly random top-10. Lahiri is very fond of TPC Kuala Lumpur and has logged three consecutive top-25's in the CIMB Classic, including a T3 in 2017 and a T10 last season.

I wish I could prop this selection up with some juicy recent stats, but this is a true "course history" play. Lahiri has struggled since logging an impressive T6 against an elite field at the WGC-Bridgestone in August. Despite his recent struggles, I don't put a ton of stock in Lahiri's form. This is the type of player that can miss four or five cuts in a row and then go off for a top-five finish at a course he likes. If we examine the arc of Lahiri's career, we see a definite pattern of him being repeatedly successful on a few select courses and struggling in most other situations. We know that he favors TPC Kuala Lumpur due to his nice finishes, but Fantasy National gives us some concrete evidence that he's played really well in Malaysia by showing us that Lahiri has a ridiculous stat of 21.35 Strokes Gained: Total over five career appearances in the CIMB Classic. That's good for sixth in the field, behind two-time winners Moore and Thomas.

Lahiri is a legit discount option in a week when we have no fear of a missed cut. He has demonstrated top-10 upside in this tournament, which I'm ready to jump on at his sub-$7k DK price. His recent form is slightly concerning, but those concerns are somewhat alleviated by Lahiri's pattern of course-specific success throughout his career. He's a GPP sleeper play with upside. For those of you that are leaning "Stars & Scrubs" this week, Lahiri helps us to get JT in lineups and there's one aggressive build I'm tinkering with that has Lahiri, JT, and Keegan together and leaves an average of around $7,100 per remaining player.

 

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PGA DFS: Horse For The Course - Safeway Open

Welcome back PGA DFS family! I'm not going to dig into the Ryder Cup, because the pain is still fresh...needless to say, it was a disastrous outing for the United States. After a very brief break, we are back in action on the PGA Tour this week for the Safeway Open!

The fall season is a really interesting time of year, especially for DFS players. We are going to see tons of names that we might not be very familiar with and names that we are familiar with will most likely carry a much higher price tag than we are used to seeing. This is the time of year when rookies and Web.com Tour graduates will take their shot at the big-leagues of professional golf.

Lineup construction will be more difficult than normal in the upcoming stretch of tournaments, but hang in there. The fall season rewards those who work hard during the research process. There is a definite edge to be had for those of us that are willing to do our homework. I'm ready to go to work and hope you'll join me right here at RotoBaller every week, let's tee it up!

Horse For The Course will take a look at players that have traditionally flourished at the course that hosts this week’s PGA TOUR event. This is not a traditional picks column, but rather an attempt to pinpoint players that have outstanding results at a specific course. "The Horse" is a player with an elite course history and that has a great chance to repeat his success in this week's tournament. "The Ponies" are players with very good course history, that might be entering this week's tournament under the radar or have a DFS price that is a great value.

For a full review of the DraftKings PGA Slate this weekend, check out Seth Finklestein's column reviewing picks at every price point.

You can also find out who the smart money is on by checking out Spencer Aguiar's PGA DFS: Vegas Report every week.

Editor's Note: Our friends at Fantasy National have built some incredible DFS Golf lineup tools including a Lineup Optimizer, Stat Engine, Ownership Projections and Course Breakdowns. They are by far the best daily fantasy Golf tools in the industry. Seriously. You can read all about them here and see screenshots. 

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The Course: Silverado Resort & Spa (North) - Par 72 - 7,166 Yards

Robert Trent Jones Jr. designed and contructed to 18-hole courses in the 1960's. After an off-and-on relationship with both the PGA Tour and Champions Tour throughout the years, the property received a massive upgrade after being purchased by Johnny Miller in 2010. Silverado North has hosted this tournament since 2014. The course offers an advantage to long-hitters on it's closing stretch, which features two long par-5's over the last three holes. Ball striking, both off the tee and on approach are of the utmost importance this week. Silverado North has poa greens, so we can also pay attention to players that excel on that putting surface.

 

The Horse

Brendan Steele (DraftKings - $9,000 & FanDuel - $10,000 )

I tried to avoid going with Brendan Steele as my first horse of the 2019 PGA Tour season, I really did, but his history at Silverado North is undeniable. Steele is the two-time defending champion of the Safeway Open and will head into this week trying to become the first player to consecutively three-peat at a tournament since 2011. The 35-year-old missed the cut in his first ever appearance at Silverado in 2014, but hasn't faltered since at the Napa Valley track, finishing T21-T17-1st-1st over four starts since 2015.

The reason I'm reluctant to highlight Steele, despite his amazing history at the Safeway, is his horrendous play throughout the summer of 2018. The native Californian kicked off the 2018 season by winning at Silverado for the second consecutive trip and played very well during the fall of 2017 and into the spring of 2018. That's where the good news ends. Steele's game ran off the rails after a bad Masters appearance and remained, how should I put this...really bad throughout the summer. Over his last 10 starts in 2018, Steele missed five cuts and never cracked a finish in the top-45.

Steele suffered through the summer despite ranking 11th in Strokes Gained: Off the Tee, 12th in Driving Distance, and 31st in Greens in Regulation on the PGA Tour. His issues are easily identifiable, as Steele was consistently horrendous both on and around the greens in 2018 and ranks 126th in Strokes Gained: Putting over his last 36 holes according to our friends at Fantasy National. However, if there is one sliver of a bright side, it's that Steele ranks 72nd in Strokes Gained: Putting over his last 36 holes on poa greens.

The beauty of this tournament is that it represents a fresh start for every golfer in the field. The downside is, as DFS players we are forced to guess as to how players will comeback from a lengthy layoff. I'm assuming lots of DFS regulars will be turned off by Steele's ugly summer, but he has obviously shown that he handles this season opener well. I'm willing to gamble that he finds his form in the mother of all bounceback spots.

 

The Ponies

Joaquin Niemann (DK - $10,300 & FD - $11,100 )

Am I allowed to name a guy a pony if he's never played in the tournament? My column, my rules...I'm rolling with it! We are trying to win DFS tournaments and young Joaquin Niemann has as much (or more) upside as any player in this Safeway field. The 19-year-old from Chile exploded on to the professional golf scene last year and managed to earn full-time PGA Tour membership in a limited amount of sponsor exemption starts. In just 13 starts, Niemann logged four top-10 finishes and stayed consistent throughout the year, making the cut in eight of his last nine tournament appearances. As evidenced by the top-10's, the upside is definitely there and a win is coming sooner rather than later.

Though we don't have any course history to work with, I love how Silverado North sets up for Niemann's game. He checks all the boxes for what will be needed this week. We can use Fantasy National to dig into Niemann's stats over his last 36 rounds and what we find is absolutely eye-popping. Niemann ranks first in the field in Strokes Gained: Total, Strokes Gained: Ball Striking, and DraftKings scoring. He also checks in at second in Strokes Gained: Off the Tee and third in both Strokes Gained: Tee to Green and Approach.

This kid could very well be "the next big thing" on the PGA Tour and I AM HERE FOR IT! Sure, he's priced above $10k, but I could make the argument that the teenager should be second in pricing behind only Patrick Cantlay. Niemann is a ball striking prodigy and I feel his game will be a terrific fit at Silverado North. Even though he is priced near the top of the salary scale, I'm more than willing to pay up for him in GPP's. In a week with a lot of question marks, there is no doubt about Niemann's talent. While we were flying blind much of last year with him stat-wise due to his lack of recorded rounds, I'm blown away when breaking down Niemann statistically. Big future ahead for this kid.

Chez Reavie (DK - $7,600 & FD -$9,500)

We go from a player in Joaquin Niemann that is flashy and exciting, to our next pony Chez Reavie who is, well... neither of those things. While Reavie may not have a major championship in his future, that doesn't mean he can't get it done at this week's Safeway Open. The veteran has been money at Silverado North and is batting a thousand in five trips to Napa Valley. Reavie has never missed a cut at Silverado and has logged top-25's in his last three Safeway appearances.

Reavie will look to replicate his quick start from last season, when he kicked things off with eight top-25's in his first nine tournaments. After the sizzling start, Reavie cooled as the 2018 season unfolded, including an ugly June/July stretch where he missed five consecutive cuts. He was able to bounce back toward the end of the season, logging a very respectable T12 at the PGA Championship. In fact, when we use Fantasy National to see how Reavie has fared recently, we find that he ranks first in the field in Fairways Gained over his last 24 rounds. So I'm confident that his game is heading in the right direction as we kick-off the 2019 season.

Reavie is a fairways-and-greens type grinder who finished 2018 at third in Driving Accuracy Percentage and 39th in Greens in Regulation Percentage on the PGA Tour. He offers some much-needed salary relief and carries very reasonable price tags on both DraftKings and FanDuel. Reavie is a solid cash option, but brings some sneaky upside to the table in GPPs. Though he's not really "fun" to play in DFS lineups, the veteran is the type of player that can grind out a solid top-25 this week and allow us to take some shots at other spots in our lineups.

Sam Burns (DK - $7,100 & FD - $8,800)

Those of you that read this column regularly know I like to take some shots with my last player of the week. This week's value play is a guy that I think the DFS community will get to know really well this year. Sam Burns has the potential to be this season's Joaquin Niemann. The 22-year-old is loaded with talent and earned his PGA Tour card for 2019 after spending most of last season on the Web.com tour. Burns made limited appearances in PGA tournaments last season, but flashed his potential by nabbing a T8 at The Honda Classic and a T12 at the Valspar in the spring.

Burns' game profiles perfectly for Silverado North. He is a tremendous ball striker that can make birdies in bunches. Web.com stats aren't as extensive as those kept by the PGA Tour, but I definitely like what I see from Burns. Over 56 recorded rounds on the Web.com Tour, Burns ranked 10th in Driving Distance, 35th in Total Driving, and 21st in Greens in Regulation Percentage. The kid isn't just a bomber, as he ranked an eye-opening first in Putting Average. His ability to score on par-5's will come in handy this week and he was second on the Web.com Tour in Par-5 Scoring Average and first in overall Birdie or Better Percentage.

There's a lot to love about Burns this week, but his price is icing on the cake. At just $7,100 on DK and $8,800 on FD, playing Burns gives us tons of flexibility when constructing lineups. I love pairing him with Niemann or Patrick Cantlay in GPPs. Those that multi-enter tournaments can actually use all four of this week's highlighted players to build a very nice core on DraftKings, while mixing and matching at the other two spots with an average of $8k per player left. We would be satisfied with a made cut from Burns at this price, but there is potential for much more from this exciting young player.

 

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PGA DFS: Horse For The Course - TOUR Championship

Welcome back golf fans! I hope everyone enjoyed the break last week. Hopefully the start of football helped to curb your PGA DFS withdrawals. We are back in action for the TOUR Championship and the stakes don't get much higher. After an entire PGA Tour season and the FedEx Cup playoffs, we are down to the final 30 players. The title of FedEx Cup Champion and 10 million dollars will be on the line at East Lake Country Club.

The TOUR Championship always has a slightly different feel than any other week of the golf schedule because players are trying to win the actual tournament, but are also keeping an eye on the points standings that determine the winner of the FedEx Cup title. There are five players in the field that can claim the FedEx Cup with a win this week: Bryson DeChambeau, Justin Rose, Tony Finau, Dustin Johnson, and defending champ Justin Thomas. Every other player in the field will need a win and "help" in the points standings to win the FedEx title.

This event is very interesting from a DFS perspective. There will be no cut this week and we have an extremely small field of only 30 players. Because of the limited options available to us, game theory will force us to get creative with lineup construction if we hope to take down a DFS tournament. There is a high probability that lineups will be duplicated due to the small player pool, but we'll discuss some strategies for differentiating our lineups throughout this week's article. We've had a week to recharge our golf batteries, let's tee it up!

Horse For The Course will take a look at players that have traditionally flourished at the course that hosts this week’s PGA TOUR event. This is not a traditional picks column, but rather an attempt to pinpoint players that have outstanding results at a specific course. "The Horse" is a player with an elite course history and that has a great chance to repeat his success in this week's tournament. "The Ponies" are players with very good course history, that might be entering this week's tournament under the radar or have a DFS price that is a great value.

For a full review of the DraftKings PGA Slate this weekend, check out Seth Finklestein's column reviewing picks at every price point.

You can also find out who the smart money is on by checking out Spencer Aguiar's PGA DFS: Vegas Report every week.

Editor's Note: Our friends at Fantasy National have built some incredible DFS Golf lineup tools including a Lineup Optimizer, Stat Engine, Ownership Projections and Course Breakdowns. They are by far the best daily fantasy Golf tools in the industry. Seriously. You can read all about them here and see screenshots. 

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The Course: East Lake Golf Club - Par 70 - 7,385 Yards

Opened in 1908 as the original home of the Atlanta Athletic Club, this Tom Bendelow designed was overhauled by Donald Ross just five years after opening and was freshened up by Rees Jones in the mid-1990's. Those of you that have followed the FedEx Cup Playoffs should be very familiar with Ross, as we have seen several of his designs over the last portion of the PGA season. The fairways are narrow and players will be finding the rough with regularity. Distance off the tee will be an advantage, so I'm looking for ball strikers with length that are accurate on approach.

 

The Horse

Justin Thomas (DraftKings - $10,300 & FanDuel - $11,000 )

On a normal week, I try to identify the player with the best combination of elite course history and great current form in order to name the Horse. On a normal week, Justin Rose would be a slam-dunk for the TOUR Championship honor with his history at East Lake and runner-up finishes in his last two tournaments. This is not a normal week.

At the time of this writing, ownership projections are a little foggy, but I get the feeling that the masses will flock toward Rose in this spot. My usual advice would be to eat the chalk if you love the play, but the size of the TOUR field offers a very unique situation where we must differentiate our lineups or find ourselves almost certainly duplicated by multiple entries in tournament fields.

In the spirit of taking a contrarian line this week, I'm dropping down the price scale to a different Justin...Justin Thomas. Though Rose might check all of our normal boxes, JT is definitely no slouch. I feel that he heads into the TOUR Championship a bit more under-the-radar than the other elite players available. While Bryson DeChambeau has been grabbing headlines for wins and Dustin Johnson has been grabbing headlines for...ahem...other reasons, JT has quietly been grinding away.

Over his last five tournament starts, Thomas has a win against an elite field at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, two Top-10's and two Top-25's. He has also had success at East Lake in his two appearances, logging a runner-up finish last year and a T6 in 2016. Our friends at Fantasy National confirm that JT has an affinity for Donald Ross layouts, as he ranks fifth in Strokes Gained: Approach and eighth in Strokes Gained: Tee to Green over his last 12 rounds at Ross courses. We must also weigh the mental aspect of this week's tournament. Thomas wasn't able to capture a major championship this year and will be hungry to "save" his season by winning his second consecutive FedEx Cup title, which he can do with a victory in Atlanta.

While salary cap relief isn't as important as usual this week, JT does offer a $900 discount from Rose on DraftKings. He is a great place to start your lineups. While we are touching on salary, I strongly recommend that you don't be a slave to using the full salary cap on either site. You would be very surprised how much you can differentiate your lineups by leaving just few hundred dollars on the table. With the situation we are in this week, I wouldn't shy away from leaving a great deal more than that in an attempt to gain leverage in tournaments.

 

The Ponies

Tony Finau (DK - $8,600 & FD - $10,300 )

I'm going to take this opportunity to talk about my main man and official U.S. Ryder Cup team member Tony Finau. Finau hasn't been featured in this article very often this season and the reason for that basically boils down to the fact that he hasn't been on Tour long enough to build up much course history at different venues. That is again the case this week, as Finau has only one career appearance at East Lake, logging a T7 in last year's TOUR Championship. Despite his lack of starts in Atlanta, I'm confident in his ability to succeed on the Donald Ross layout.

Finau has long-been a phenomenal talent with unbelievable distance off the tee, but with frustrating shortcomings in other areas of his game. It seems that Finau has finally put it all together in 2018 and is delivering on the promise he's flashed over the last couple of years. He has shown marked improvement this season in areas of his game that held him back in the past. Finau sits at 71st in Strokes Gained: Putting and 34th in Strokes Gained: Around the Green on the PGA Tour in 2018, huge jumps from his ranks of 136th and 81st in the same categories in 2017. This improved tee-to-green play has been the catalyst for Finau to go on a MASSIVE TEAR throughout the FedEx Cup playoffs, logging finishes of 2nd-T4-T8 in the three events of the PGA postseason that he's made starts in.

Finau gets a ton of grief for not winning more tournaments and I suppose that criticism is fair, but I could make the argument that it's never been harder to win on the PGA Tour due to the talent level of this generation's players. In any case, Finau could silence the critics in style with a win at East Lake this week. His standing of third in the points standing gives him the luxury of a "win and clinch" scenario. Finau is always a popular DFS option and that will be the case again this week, but I'm hopeful that Bryson DeChambeau will soak up a bit of ownership at a similar price point. While we want to be creative with lineup construction, it's hard to pass up Finau's upside at this price.

Billy Horschel (DK - $7,300 & FD -$7,900 )

Let's move on to another guy that is striking the ball like an absolute rock star. Billy Horschel has all the prerequisites we are looking for in a Pony by offering a perfect blend of excellent recent form and strong course history. The former Florida Gator is notoriously streaky, but has found his groove at the perfect time of the season. Horschel has been on fire in the FedEx Cup playoffs, logging a T11 at the Wyndham, a T3 at the Northern Trust, and a T3 at the BMW Championship. He was forced to withdraw mid-round at the Dell Technologies with an illness, but his performance at the BMW should relieve any concerns we might have about that.

In addition to his trending form, Horschel has a tremendous track record at East Lake. He logged a T7 in 2013 and won the TOUR Championship in 2014. That win and his hot play in the playoffs, helped Horschel capture the 2014 FedEx Cup title. His performances over the last few weeks are eerily similar to the run he made in '14. Horschel has been striking the ball at a world-class level. The stat engine at Fantasy National helps us to zero-in on recent trends and we find that Horschel in first in the TOUR Championship field in both Strokes Gained: Tee to Green and Approach over his last 12 rounds. Pretty impressive stuff when you consider those stats are compared to the best 30 golfers in the world. The thing that's helped Horschel find this high gear is the cooperation of his streaky putter. He ranks 12th among the TOUR Championship field in Strokes Gained: Putting over his last 12 rounds.

Horschel will draw lots of DFS attention this week. His recent play and affordable price will put him on plenty of radars. He is practically a "free square" on FanDuel, as well as being cheap on DraftKings. We will need to use Horschel carefully and attempt to differentiate in other spots, as he should be a popular option this week.

Paul Casey (DK - $6,800 & FD - $9,100)

As I mentioned in the intro, we must be a little creative in our thinking this week. Paul Casey interests me more for game theory reasons than anything he's done on the course recently. After arguably the best PGA Tour season of his career, that included a win at the Valspar Championship back in March, Casey's play has nosedived over the last month. The Englishman didn't play well in The Open Championship and missed the cut at the PGA Championship with an ugly performance. He then struggled at the Northern Trust before somewhat righting the ship with a T21 at the Dell Technologies.

Things get interesting for me at the BMW Championship, where Casey carded three sub-70 rounds before withdrawing prior to the final round with a "back injury". I'm hopeful that casual fans will check out Casey's game log, see the 69th place finish at the BMW, notice that he withdrew with an injury and skip over him. While Casey isn't a lock this week, the truth is he played much better than his 69th place finish indicates and the "back injury" was a result of extensive rain delays that forced the BMW into a Monday finish.

Casey is the type of player that can right the ship quickly and his game appeared to be trending up at the BMW. His course history at East Lake is elite, as Casey has rattled off three consecutive Top-5's in the TOUR Championship since 2015. The Englishman's kryptonite has always been the flatstick and Fantasy National confirms that is short game has been the source of his recent woes. Casey ranks at or near the bottom of the field in both Strokes Gained: Putting and Strokes Gained: Around the Green over his last 12 rounds. So if he can figure a few things out with the flatstick at East Lake, we could see an immediate jump in his results.

I'm willing to gamble on Casey repeating his success at East Lake in order to gain leverage in DFS tournaments. The Englishman isn't a sure thing, but in a week that will require high finishes by every player in our lineup, I like the sneaky upside that Casey brings to the table. Trying to pinpoint DFS ownership in a 30-player field is difficult, but we can hope that Casey's recent form and WD at the BMW Championship lower his ownership levels this week.

 

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PGA DFS: Horse For The Course - BMW Championship

Thanks for joining me again golf fans! Bryson DeChambeau is on a MASSIVE HEATER and won his second consecutive tournament by taking down the Dell Technologies Championship. The "Mad Scientist" has everything clicking right now and is the leader in the FedEx Cup standings.

We are getting down to the nitty-gritty of the 2018 PGA Tour season. The last 70 qualified players will tee it up in this week's BMW Championship, with only 30 advancing to the season's last tournament, The Tour Championship. A very important DFS note...with the limited field there will be no cut this week. Lineups will need to have six strong finishers to make any noise in tournaments.

We are kind of up against it this week. The Labor Day finish of the Dell makes this a quick turnaround. We have a limited field of golfers to choose from and no cut, which will force us to be creative with lineup construction. Football season is gearing up, which is exciting and distracting. To top it all off, the BMW Championship is being played at Aronimink Golf Club, which last hosted a PGA Tour event in 2011 and has undergone an extensive redesign in the years since. So...several obstacles to fight through and no meaningful course history to draw from this week.

Despite all the handicaps we are facing, we are going to continue grinding away. This week's edition will be forced to veer away from our traditional course history model and instead will focus on course fit, value, and current form. Let's tee it up!

Horse For The Course will take a look at players that have traditionally flourished at the course that hosts this week’s PGA TOUR event. This is not a traditional picks column, but rather an attempt to pinpoint players that have outstanding results at a specific course. "The Horse" is a player with an elite course history and that has a great chance to repeat his success in this week's tournament. "The Ponies" are players with very good course history, that might be entering this week's tournament under the radar or have a DFS price that is a great value.

For a full review of the DraftKings PGA Slate this weekend, check out Seth Finklestein's column reviewing picks at every price point.

You can also find out who the smart money is on by checking out Spencer Aguiar's PGA DFS: Vegas Report every week.

Editor's Note: Our friends at Fantasy National have built some incredible DFS Golf lineup tools including a Lineup Optimizer, Stat Engine, Ownership Projections and Course Breakdowns. They are by far the best daily fantasy Golf tools in the industry. Seriously. You can read all about them here and see screenshots. 

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The Course: Aronomink Country Club - Par 70 - 7,190 Yards

This Donald Ross design opened in 1928. Aronomink isn't as well-known as some other Ross designs, but it is a classic in its own right. In a recurring theme over the last few weeks, Gil Hanse performed an extensive redesign of the Pennsylvania layout. Hanse has tried to return the course back to Ross' original vision and make Aronomink a major championship venue. We should see a course this week that will test a player's complete game. Like most Ross designs, tee shots will require strategic thinking and placement for the ever-important approach shot into greens that will be larger than they were in 2011. The course is littered with bunkers, both around fairways and greens. Since we are not entirely sure how Aronomink will play, I'm focusing on players with strong tee-to-green games this week. Accuracy off the tee, solid iron play, and a sound short game will be required.

 

The Horse

Dustin Johnson (DraftKings - $11,600 & FanDuel - $12,400 )

When in doubt, go with DJ. That's a pretty good motto to have in PGA DFS. I really had to fight the urge to name the red-hot Bryson DeChambeau this week's Horse, but I figured that most of you guys are well aware of him at this point. Justin Rose also earned strong consideration because of his tee-to-green game and success at Aronomink before the redesign, but his price was just too much for me to swallow. Instead, I'm rolling with my man Dustin Johnson. The best player in the world has been relatively quiet the past couple of weeks, only logging a T11 at the Northern Trust and a T7 at last week's Dell. You know you've made it when a T7 in an elite field is disappointing, but that's where we are with DJ at this point. I'd be very surprised if we get through these FedEx Cup playoffs without Johnson logging a win and he is a sneaky good fit for Aronomink Golf Club.

DJ is well-known as a "bomber" and great driver of the ball, which is definitely true, but a peek into his stats reveal a very complete player. Johnson's season-long stats are ridiculous, he of course ranks first on the PGA Tour in Strokes Gained: Off The Tee, but he also stands first in Strokes Gained: Tee To Green, fifth in Strokes Gained: Approach, and a surprising 15th in Strokes Gained: Putting. DJ has also been in good recent form, our friends at Fantasy National show us that over his past 24 rounds, Johnson is first in Strokes Gained: Tee to Green, Strokes Gained: Ball Striking, and DraftKings points.

As usual, Johnson is the highest-priced option on DraftKings. The difference this week is we don't have a cut to worry about. We can afford to be aggressive with our lineup construction. In no-cut events, I'm always looking to swing for the fences and cram as much upside in my lineups as possible. In order to finish high in tournaments this week, we most likely need the winner and a good portion of the top-10 in our lineup. DJ is the Vegas favorite to win this week and though his DFS price is steep, we aren't crippled by his salary. I'm loading him up in large-field GPP's and pairing him with as much upside I can find from the mid and low price ranges.

 

The Ponies

Jordan Spieth (DK - $9,400 & FD - $11,400 )

There is so much I could dive into with Jordan Spieth. Breaking down his year would probably take up this entire article space, so we'll save that discussion for another time. (I do love talking golf though, feel free to hit me up on Twitter, @JoeNicely, anytime!) This would have to be considered a disappointing season for the young Texan. Spieth had two major championships in his grasp in 2018, great first and final rounds at The Masters and a 54-hole lead at The Open Championship, but let them both slip away. I truly believe that Spieth is one of those players that measures his success in major championship victories and he's leaving 2018 empty-handed. Winning the FedEx Cup and $10 million would probably help ease the pain and that should give Spieth some motivation this week, as he sits on the Tour Championship borderline at 27th in the FedEx points standings.

The three-time major winner has struggled with different aspects of his game at different times this season. At the outset of the year, Spieth was putting shockingly bad, while striking the ball beautifully. We have seen that situation somewhat reverse itself as the season has progressed. The stat engine at Fantasy National confirms that theory by showing us that Spieth is second in Strokes Gained: Putting and 10th in Strokes Gained: Short Game, but just 84th in Strokes Gained: Tee to Green over his last 24 rounds. Despite the poor ball striking, Spieth has remained competitive and logged solid finishes of T12-T25-T12 in his last three tournaments. These finishes with less than his best game give me hope that if Spieth can figure out the ball striking, he will win again this season.

In all honesty, Jordan Spieth hasn't been in my DFS lineups very often this season. I've found it hard to reconcile his elite-level price tag with his up-and-down play. However, this week I really like Spieth's discounted $9,400 DraftKings price. He is a bit of a gamble, but offers the huge upside that we are looking for this week. I wish I could tell you with certainty that this is the week that Spieth puts it all together for four rounds and gets back in the winner's circle, but I'm not in the certainty business. I do think he is a tremendous GPP play based purely on value. I multi-enter GPPs and will be starting several lineup builds with him when not using DJ.

Henrik Stenson (DK - $7,600 & FD -$10,300 )

As I typed Henrik Stenson's $7,600 price tag into the header above, I heard Admiral Ackbar's voice screaming, "It's a trap!" in my head. The Swede's price seems a bit too cheap this week, but I just can't resist. Stenson has been plagued by a nagging elbow injury for months and it has without a doubt hampered his performance. After a terrific 2018 season that has consisted of regular top-10 finishes, Stenson has struggled recently. He missed the cut at the PGA Championship and struggled to a T69 at last week's Dell Championship after taking a week off to rest and rehab.

Stenson's recent results are pretty discouraging, but I find myself feeling optimistic about a turnaround for the Swede this week. I know that the injury has negatively impacted his game over the past six weeks and that last week's finish wasn't pretty. However, if we take a closer look at Stenson's stats from the Dell Championship, we find that his ball striking was pretty solid. Fantasy National shows us that he gained strokes Tee to Green, Off the Tee, and on Approach, but lost a massive 5.8 strokes to the field putting. These stats tell me that Stenson has recovered from the injury, but has a completely ice-cold putter. Now obviously, terrible putting is not ideal, but it is something that can be improved upon fairly quickly by a professional golfer.

I had high hopes for Stenson as a contrarian option last week and that didn't work out very well. For better or worse, I'm jumping right back on "The Iceman's" wagon again this week. We are getting a significant price discount on Stenson this week at only $7,600 on DraftKings. I'm willing to roll the dice on his huge upside at this price point. If he can get the putter figured out, Stenson could be a top-10 sleeper.

C.T. Pan (DK - $6,900 & FD - $8,300)

Let's do a little bargain shopping with our last selection for the BMW Championship. I highlighted C.T. Pan a few weeks ago in the lead up to the Wyndham Championship. Pan made me look pretty good that week and finished in a tie for second. Mr. Pan popped up again on Labor Day, firing a final-round 66 on the way to a T4 at the Dell Technologies Championship.

Pan has made some noise recently and it can be attributed to his solid tee to green play. According to Fantasy National, Pan is gaining an average of five strokes on the field tee to green over his last five tournaments. He is deadly accurate, ranking 14th in Driving Accuracy Percentage and fifth in Greens in Regulation Percentage.

I might be a bit guilty of trying to ride the hot hand with Pan, but we're talking about a guy with a sub-$7k DraftKings price that has logged two top-five finishes over his last three tournaments. This is exactly the type of cheap upside that I can't wait to stick in lineups with DJ. I'm steering clear of cash games, but Pan will be a GPP favorite of mine this week.

 

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PGA DFS: Horse For The Course - Dell Technologies Championship

Thanks for visiting again golf fans! Bryson DeChambeau surprised many in the golf world by winning The Northern Trust. The rising star can struggle in spurts, but DeChambeau found his form over the weekend at Ridgewood Country Club to claim his second victory of the season and put himself at the top of the FedEx Cup Points standings. In addition to the win, DeChambeau almost certainly locked up one of the four outstanding spots on the U.S. Ryder Cup team.

This will be the second event in the FedEx Cup Playoffs and we have narrowed the field down to 100 players. We will lose another 30 players after this event, so we will see some guys fighting to continue their seasons in the Dell Technologies Championship. One interesting note this week...this field is only 100 players deep, but the standard cut rule of Top-70 and ties is still in effect. This allows us to be a little more aggressive with lineup construction, as a larger percentage of the field will make the cut.

If you are a regular Horse For The Course reader, you know that last week's selections really struggled! The Northern Trust was unquestionably my worst week of the year. In DFS we often have to deal with the "boom or bust" nature of playing large-field tournaments and I was definitely on the "bust" side of things. I always hope to learn from my mistakes and last week's results reminded me to trust the findings of my research process and that putting is extremely hard to predict from week-to-week on the PGA Tour.

I'm ready to bounce back this week as we head to Boston for the Dell Technologies Championship. TPC Boston is the host venue and is a long-time PGA Tour stop. This tournament doesn't get underway until Friday and is the only Tour event that has a scheduled Monday finish to coincide with the Labor Day holiday. We have tons of course history to evaluate this week, a great field full of talented players and we will have golf on Labor Day! Justin Thomas won last year's version at 17-under par. Enough talking, let's get to work!

Horse For The Course will take a look at players that have traditionally flourished at the course that hosts this week’s PGA TOUR event. This is not a traditional picks column, but rather an attempt to pinpoint players that have outstanding results at a specific course. "The Horse" is a player with an elite course history and that has a great chance to repeat his success in this week's tournament. "The Ponies" are players with very good course history, that might be entering this week's tournament under the radar or have a DFS price that is a great value.

For a full review of the DraftKings PGA Slate this weekend, check out Seth Finklestein's column reviewing picks at every price point.

You can also find out who the smart money is on by checking out Spencer Aguiar's PGA DFS: Vegas Report every week.

Editor's Note: Our friends at Fantasy National have built some incredible DFS Golf lineup tools including a Lineup Optimizer, Stat Engine, Ownership Projections and Course Breakdowns. They are by far the best daily fantasy Golf tools in the industry. Seriously. You can read all about them here and see screenshots. 

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The Course: TPC Boston - Par 71 - 7,342 Yards

This Arnold Palmer design is one of the great young courses in America. TPC Boston opened in 2002, but has been under a fairly continuous redesign by Gil Hanse and Brad Faxon since 2005. Hanse and Faxon have created a distinct New England vibe at TPC Boston. There are multiple bunkers across the course, but TPC Boston is perhaps most famous for the many fairway bunkers that make tee shots a challenging prospect, including a couple of holes that have bunkers in the middle of the fairway! Distance will play a factor, as two of the three Par-5's are very gettable. Ball striking will be important, as it seemingly is every week on the PGA Tour. Players will be putting on bent grass greens at TPC Boston that are notoriously fast. Strokes Gained: Approach has been a key ingredient for success in the past.

 

The Horse

Rory McIlroy (DraftKings - $10,600 & FanDuel - $11,600 )

To be completely honest, I usually shy away from this week's Horse. It's not that I don't like Rory McIlroy, it's that he's usually so close in price to Dustin Johnson that I find myself going with DJ. For the Dell Technologies Championship we are getting a little price break on Rory at a course he has just so happened to win on twice in his career. McIlroy won at TPC Boston in both 2012 and 2016. He also snagged a T5 in 2014. So, he is comfortable on the layout and has done well repeatedly at "Rory Courses" throughout his career.

McIlroy's biggest weapon is his driver and he is masterful with it. He leads the PGA Tour in Driving Distance this season. Our friends at Fantasy National help us dig deeper into stats every week and we find that Rory is first in Strokes Gained: Off The Tee over his last 24 rounds when compared to the Dell field. The concern with Rory is always his putting. He has shown spurts of improvement on the greens, but still is a troubling 57th in Strokes Gained: Putting over his last 24 rounds on fast bent grass greens. I'm willing to look past the putting statistics because we know what we are getting with Rory. If he putts just decent he has a chance to dominate any tournament.

I'm a little more concerned with McIlroy's wedge play. It's an area where he has struggled lately. Reports say that McIlroy is spending tons of time on his wedge game. This is where I like the fact that he decided to skip last week's Northern Trust to rest and prepare for the FedEx Cup stretch run. I think we will see a focused McIlroy in the Dell Technologies Championship. I expect his wedge play to be sharper and his putting to improve.

We are getting a small discount on McIlroy this week. He comes in at $10,600 on DraftKings and priced below not only DJ, but also Justin Thomas and Brooks Koepka. He comes in as the fourth-highest priced player on FanDuel. I find this a bit curious as Rory finished T2 at the Open Championship just a little over a month ago and logged a T6 at the Bridgestone to kick off the month of August. Not to mention that he's a two-time winner of this event. McIlroy definitely has some parts of his game that aren't firing on all cylinders, but even with those weaknesses he has still been very competitive in marquee tournaments. This is where the larger percentage of players making the cut comes into play. It allows us to spend up and take advantage of McIlroy's discounted price tag, while feeling a little safer about the lower-end of our lineup. I'm willing to gamble on Rory's huge upside in large-field GPP's this week.

 

The Ponies

Hideki Matsuyama (DK - $8,900 & FD - $11,000 )

While this week's first Pony hasn't won twice at TPC Boston, Hideki Matsuyama has played well at the New England track. The young star from Japan has reeled off three consecutive Top-25's in the Dell Technologies Championship, going T23-T15-T25 at TPC Boston since 2015.

This has been somewhat of a lost season for Matsuyama. After appearing primed for a major breakout in 2018, he was forced to miss extended time with a wrist injury early in the year and struggled to regain his consistency. However, we have seen Matsuyama rounding into form over the last month. He has posted back-to-back Top-15 finishes in his last two tournaments. Matsuyama led the field in Strokes Gained: Approach at last week's Northern Trust and according to Fantasy National ranks first among Dell entrants in Strokes Gained: Approach over his last eight rounds.

While Matsuyama's TPC Boston results lack a Top-5 finish, I love what we are getting for his $8,900 DraftKings price tag. He will be hungry to "save" his disappointing 2018 season, he is striking the ball beautifully right now, and he has played well at TPC Boston. I will have him in both cash and GPP lineups.

Patrick Reed (DK - $8,400 & FD - $11,100 )

What better way to celebrate Labor Day than with "Captain America" himself, Patrick Reed? The 2018 Masters champion has been very fond of this week's host course. Reed has ran off three straight Top-10's at TPC Boston, going T6-T5-T4 over his last three starts in the Dell Technologies Championship.

It's always hard to put a finger on Reed from a statistical standpoint. He has struggled a bit with his irons lately, which is a little cringe-worthy as we head to a course where SG: Approach is so important. What we can count on is that Reed is a gamer that finds ways to get it done on the course. He managed a T25 at last week's Northern Trust despite losing strokes to the field on approach and in putting.

We find Reed once again sitting in the low $8k range on DraftKings. There is huge upside for Reed at this price. We're hoping for some improved ball striking and putting from him this week, but the grinder has proven time and again that he can compete without having his best stuff. I'm leaning towards Reed as more of a GPP play this week, but I wouldn't be surprised to see him in the mix on Labor Day.

Louis Oosthuizen (DK - $7,800 & FD - $9,400)

Similar to Hideki Matsuyama, Louis Oosthuizen has struggled with injuries in 2018. The South African has been forced to miss several tournaments with neck and back issues, including a last-minute withdrawal from the PGA Championship that destroyed some DFS lineups. It is a little scary flirting with a guy that's battled back injuries, but when Oosthuizen has been able to tee it up, he's been consistently solid. "Shrek" hasn't finished lower than a T28 in the last six tournaments he's been able to play in.

The big reason I'm willing to take a shot on Oosthuizen this week is his stellar track record at TPC Boston. In four career starts at the New England track, Oosthuizen has played very well with finishes of T30 in 2017, T8 in 2016, T12 in 2015, and a solo second in 2012 that included a third-round 63. The South African is driving the ball beautifully and ranks 29th in Strokes Gained: Off the Tee on the PGA Tour in 2018. He will also bring a world-class short game to the Dell Technologies Championship, Fantasy National
lists Oosthuizen eighth in Strokes Gained: Short Game and fifth in Strokes Gained: Around the Green over his last 12 rounds. Like Patrick Reed, we would love to see some sharper ball striking from Louis. If he can improve his approach game, he has a great chance to contend this week.

I love Oosthuizen's sub $8k DraftKings price tag. The injury issues should temper his ownership. We are taking a risk by bringing a WD into play, but here's a player with tournament-winning upside for $7,800. Fear of a no-notice withdrawal takes him out of cash game consideration for me, but Louis is squarely in play for large-field GPP lineups.

Keegan Bradley (DK - $7,200 & FD - $9,100)

Let's squeeze in one more Pony this week. Keegan Bradley is the definition of a boom or bust play. Bradley's weekend at last week's Northern Trust is the perfect illustration of his volatility...he fired a beautiful 62 in the third round, which he proceeded to follow-up with a final-round 78. This is Keegan Bradley in a nutshell, talented but inconsistent, tournament winning upside mixed with cut-missing blowups. This is why we see Bradley's game log littered with both Top-10's and missed cuts. Surprisingly, the one-time PGA Champion has been consistent at TPC Boston. Bradley has made four consecutive cuts in the Dell Technologies Championship with solid finishes of T35-T25-T16-T16.

Bradley's success at TPC Boston can be attributed to his elite ability with his irons. Bradley is at the head of the class on the PGA Tour in ball striking statistical categories. He ranks second in Strokes Gained: Approach and seventh in the all-important Strokes Gained: Tee to Green. He has struck the ball well all season, but Fantasy National verifies that Bradley is coming into the Dell in hot form, as he ranks third in Strokes Gained: Approach and fourth in Strokes Gained: Tee to Green over his last 24 rounds compared to the other entrants this week. Unfortunately, once Keegan reaches the green he has to putt and that's where things usually go sideways. He ranks 81st in Strokes Gained: Putting over his last 24 rounds on bent grass. Definitely not ideal.

Obviously, Bradley is only a large-field GPP play. We know what we're getting with him...an explosive, but flawed player at a very reasonable DFS price. Bradley has legitimate Top-5 upside at $7,200 on DraftKings, which is nothing to sneeze at, but we also have to stress about a missed cut in a short field. I'm a player that enters multiple lineups, so I will be mixing in Bradley fairly heavily, but he is a dangerous proposition for those that only fire one bullet every week.

 

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PGA DFS: Horse For The Course - The Northern Trust

Welcome back golf fans! The Wyndham Championship exceeded expectations in almost every way. In what was supposed to be a "hangover" tournament, we saw a round of 59 from eventual champion Brandt Snedeker and an exciting Sunday finish. We had two players from last week's column that played very well, as Webb Simpson and C.T. Pan both finished tied for second! The Wyndham also marked the last chance for players to make it into the FedEx Cup Playoffs, which brings us to this week's tournament The Northern Trust.

The Northern Trust kicks off the FedEx Cup Playoffs and consists of the 125 players that qualified for the playoffs with their play this year. We will see an excellent field that features many of the world's top players including Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, and Tiger Woods. Rickie Fowler was forced to withdraw with an injury, Henrik Stenson withdrew Monday, and Rory McIlroy opted to skip the event for rest. The Northern Trust rotates courses and this year we head back to Ridgewood Country Club. The classic A.W. Tillinghast layout hosted in 2008, 2010 and 2014, so those will be the years that we focus on for course history purposes this week. This should be a fun tournament, we have great players and a legendary course. Let's dive in!

Horse For The Course will take a look at players that have traditionally flourished at the course that hosts this week’s PGA TOUR event. This is not a traditional picks column, but rather an attempt to pinpoint players that have outstanding results at a specific course. "The Horse" is a player with an elite course history and that has a great chance to repeat his success in this week's tournament. "The Ponies" are players with very good course history, that might be entering this week's tournament under the radar or have a DFS price that is a great value.

For a full review of the DraftKings PGA Slate this weekend, check out Seth Finklestein's column reviewing picks at every price point.

You can also find out who the smart money is on by checking out Spencer Aguiar's PGA DFS: Vegas Report every week.

Editor's Note: Our friends at Fantasy National have built some incredible DFS Golf lineup tools including a Lineup Optimizer, Stat Engine, Ownership Projections and Course Breakdowns. They are by far the best daily fantasy Golf tools in the industry. Seriously. You can read all about them here and see screenshots. 

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The Course: Ridgewood Country Club - Par 71 - 7,385 Yards

This A.W. Tillinghast masterpiece opened in 1929 as a 27-hole course. You might have heard of the legendary Tillinghast, he designed Bethpage Black, Winged Foot, and Baltusrol among many other fine courses...so it is safe to say that Ridgewood has a championship pedigree. This week the players will face a mixture of the best holes out of the 27 available across the property. Accuracy off the tee is required. Penal rough will punish errant drives and even shots that find the fairway will need to be in the correct position for the all-important approach shot. Like most of his designs, Tillinghast wanted Ridgewood to be a second-shot course. The greens are small with difficult bunkers protecting them. In short, every aspect of a players game will be tested this week. Players will need to be precise off the tee, accurate with approach shots, and able to scramble around the greens. While nowhere near the birdie-fests we have seen recently, players can score on the par-71 and will probably need several rounds in the 60's to be in contention Sunday afternoon.

 

The Horse

Jason Day (DraftKings - $10,700 & FanDuel - $11,900 )

This week's Horse was a no-brainer for me. Jason Day has shined in his previous appearances at Ridgewood Country Club and has displayed solid form throughout this season. The Aussie has, somewhat quietly, picked up two victories in 2018. After a 2017 season that was plagued by injuries and family issues, Day reestablished himself quickly this year by winning the Farmer's Insurance Open in January. The 30-year-old then cruised to another win at the Wells Fargo Championship in May. Since an ugly U.S. Open performance, Day has been rock-solid, notching four consecutive top-20 finishes over his last four tournaments.

Day's history at Ridgewood dates back a decade, when he finished T31 in 2008. His two subsequent appearances have gone much better, as he logged a T5 in 2010 and tied for second in 2014. Day's success at Ridgewood can be traced back to his phenomenal short game and his ability to navigate the dangers that surround the small Tillinghast greens. Our friends at Fantasy National confirm our suspicions that a player's short game is of huge importance at Ridgewood, as top-10 finishers in this tournament have averaged gaining nearly two strokes per round on the rest of the field with their short game. Day's numbers in this area are off the charts. He ranks first in Strokes Gained: Around the Green, first in Strokes Gained: Putting and second in Sand Save Percentage on the PGA Tour this season. Day's weakness is his tendency to get wild off the tee and be a little loose with iron shots. Despite these shortcomings, he still ranks seventh on the PGA Tour in scoring average. So while we would certainly love to see some sharper ball striking from the Aussie, I don't expect it to be a huge roadblock for Day in the Northern Trust.

Day's DFS pricing for The Northern Trust comes as a bit of a surprise. We have seen his salary gradually come down as the season has progressed, but this week we find him with the third highest price tag on DraftKings, trailing only DJ and JT. While the price is steep, this should only help to lower Day's ownership. Brooks Koepka should garner lots of attention at just $200 less than Day on DKings. I'm firing away with J-Day in GPP's and feel that he has tournament winning upside this week.

 

The Ponies

Matt Kuchar (DK - $8,200 & FD - $10,400 )

Over the last few years Matt Kuchar has been an ATM machine for DFS players, but the man I've long called "Old Faithful" has become a much less reliable option this season. It's probably not fair or reasonable to expect Kuch to continue performing at the elite level he's maintained for so many years, but lots of fantasy players have been burned by the veteran in 2018 and loyalty is fleeting in the DFS world. The 40-year-old hasn't had a horrible season, but he has struggled in the majors and missed way more cuts than we have seen in the past. He did grab a T9 in The Open Championship last month and popped up on the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational leaderboard a couple of weeks ago at a course where he's had tons of success throughout his career.

These recent spurts of form lead me to feel optimistic about Kuchar at The Northern Trust. His history at Ridgewood is elite. He won the 2010 Northern Trust title on the classic Tillinghast layout and followed that with a T5 finish in his next visit in 2014. Like Jason Day, Kuchar has found success at Ridgewood in large part due to his short game. While not at elite levels in 2018, the veteran hasn't totally lost his touch around the greens this year... Kuchar ranks 39th in Strokes Gained: Putting, 12th in Sand Save Percentage and according to Fantasy National, Kuchar is eighth among this week's Northern Trust entrants in Strokes Gained: Around the Green over his last 24 rounds.

I'm confident the Georgia Tech alum can find his way back to "Old Faithful" form this week. He will be comfortable on a course where he has had so much success and his game has looked better over the past month. Kuchar is a cash game play of course, but his recent form might push his GPP ownership down to reasonable levels. His proficiency in Par-4 scoring should come in handy this week. His $8,200 DraftKings price is a nice mid-range value for those taking a "solid" approach with lineup construction.

Stewart Cink (DK - $7,500 & FD - $8,900 )

Stewart Cink has been extremely profitable for me this summer and I'm very happy to highlight him again this week. The veteran has been priced crazy low on DraftKings over the past few months, but he finally received a salary bump to $7,500 for The Northern Trust after an impressive tie for fourth in the PGA Championship. With Cink's current form and track record at Ridgewood, this price is still a bargain we should be willing to jump on. The 45-year-old might not be flashy, but his Northern Trust history will get DFS players excited. Cink logged T15 finishes at Ridgewood in both 2010 and 2014. Those solid results combined with his sharp current form make Cink a greenlight play for me this week.

When I say Cink's current form is sharp, I'm talking Razor Ramon baby. He has been showing the young guys on Tour how it's done lately, ranking sixth in Strokes Gained: Approach and 30th in Strokes Gained: Tee to Green. While Cink's ball striking is his bread and butter, his short game has been quietly solid as of late. Fantasy National lists him at sixth among this week's competitors in Strokes Gained: Around the Green over his last 24 rounds.

I love Cink's prices on both DraftKings and FanDuel. He is cash game playable and brings tons of flexibility to GPP lineup construction. His play in the recent PGA Championship will put him on a lot of DFS radars this week and he will be a fairly popular play for The Northern Trust. I liked it better when Cink was under $7k and getting no respect, but I'm going to continue riding this Pony until he bucks me. I'll have the veteran in tons of lineups this week.

Joel Dahmen (DK - $6,800 & FD - $7,500)

I'm going a little off script for my final Pony of the week. Joel Dahmen has never played Ridgewood Country Club, but this guy is just playing too good to ignore. Similar to C.T. Pan last week, Dahmen is low on name recognition, but high on results. He has flown under the radar while putting together an impressive resume this summer. Beginning with a T16 at the Wells Fargo Championship back in May, Dahmen has reeled off four top-25's, a top-10, and two top-5's with only two missed cuts that came back-to-back in June. Those are eye-opening results. Now, most of those fields weren't as talent-rich as The Northern Trust will be this week, but we're talking about a guy with huge upside that's had sustained success this season in legit PGA Tour events.

Dahmen's calling card his is ball striking. He stands at 33rd on the PGA Tour in Strokes Gained: Approach and 43rd in Strokes Gained: Tee to Green in 2018. Those are solid numbers, but when we use Fantasy National to dig a little deeper into Dahmen, we find that over his last 24 rounds when compared to the entrants in this week's Northern Trust he ranks first in Strokes Gained: Approach, third in Strokes Gained: Tee to Green, and second in Strokes Gained: Ball Striking. That is elite level stuff. In fact, there are only three other players that rank within the top-five in all three of those categories over their last 24 rounds... Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, and Francesco Molinari. Pretty nice company for a guy with a sub-$7k DraftKings price tag. Dahmen is not without his weaknesses, he can struggle both on and around the greens and the Ridgewood layout will put his short game to the test.

I'm never going to recommend going all-in on a value play, but Dahmen's stats and results make me want to push a lot of my chips in the middle. We are rolling the dice with how the 30-year-old will handle the demands of Ridgewood's greens and bunkers, but at only $6,800 on DKings I'm willing to take my chances. I will be using Dahmen liberally in large-field GPPs.

 

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PGA DFS: Horse For The Course - Wyndham Championship

Wow...what a PGA Championship! Tiger Woods made a vintage Sunday charge, but came up just a couple strokes shy of Brooks Koepka. Anyone that says golf isn't better when Tiger is playing well wasn't watching the final round. Bellerive Country Club had an insane amount of fans in the galleries and the place was absolutely electric. As for Koepka, his legend continues to grow. He once again looked eerily calm in the final round of a major championship. The PGA Championship win gives him three majors at just 28-years-old and it appears he will be a force to be reckoned with for years to come.

This week we head to Greensboro, North Carolina for the Wyndham Championship. Following this year's awesome PGA Championship with the Wyndham is kind of like having a really great night out on the town, but waking up the next morning with a massive hangover and realizing it's time to go to work. However, the Wyndham does offer both fans and players a chance to catch their collective breaths before the FedEx Cup Playoffs gear up next week. It also offers the last chance for players to make their way into those playoffs. So while not a major championship, the Wyndham is a very important tournament for Tour pros that are on the FedEx bubble. Instead of a field packed with superstars, we will see a lineup of veterans and young players trying to extend their season and in some cases, their careers.

Last year's Wyndham champion Henrik Stenson is back to defend his title. The Swede headlines a sparse group of stars that includes Webb Simpson, Sergio Garcia, and Adam Scott. The lack of notable names will make DFS lineup construction a bit of a challenge. Stenson took down the 2017 Wyndham Championship without hitting driver the whole week! So that gives you a pretty good indication as to the type of players we will be targeting this week. Sedgefield Country Club has hosted the Wyndham since 2008, so we have plenty of course history to draw from. However, as you will see in this week's piece, finding solid course history plays was a challenge. The majors may be over, but we are still grinding here at Horse For The Course!

Horse For The Course will take a look at players that have traditionally flourished at the course that hosts this week’s PGA TOUR event. This is not a traditional picks column, but rather an attempt to pinpoint players that have outstanding results at a specific course. "The Horse" is a player with an elite course history and that has a great chance to repeat his success in this week's tournament. "The Ponies" are players with very good course history, that might be entering this week's tournament under the radar or have a DFS price that is a great value.

For a full review of the DraftKings PGA Slate this weekend, check out Seth Finklestein's column reviewing picks at every price point.

You can also find out who the smart money is on by checking out Spencer Aguiar's PGA DFS: Vegas Report every week.

Editor's Note: Our friends at Fantasy National have built some incredible DFS Golf lineup tools including a Lineup Optimizer, Stat Engine, Ownership Projections and Course Breakdowns. They are by far the best daily fantasy Golf tools in the industry. Seriously. You can read all about them here and see screenshots. 

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The Course: Sedgefield Country Club - Par 70 - 7,127 Yards

This Donald Ross gem dates back to 1926 and first hosted a PGA Tour event in 1938. A 2007 restoration by Kris Spence lengthened and modernized the course, helping to bring the PGA Tour back to Sedgefield in 2008 and it has played host to the Wyndham Championship ever since. Sedgefield's trademark is its very small greens, which makes accuracy and precision a must. The 7,100 yard length won't be a problem for these players. As I mentioned in the intro, 2017 champion Henrik Stenson didn't hit driver at all last year, so distance off the tee isn't a must-have this week. While the greens are small, this course does allow players to score. The winner has been at least 20-under par in the last two consecutive years, so birdies will be needed this week. Course history trends toward ball strikers who hit lots of fairways and greens. Getting hot with the putter will help as well.

 

The Horse

Webb Simpson (DraftKings - $11,600 & FanDuel - $12,200 )

Yeah, I know, I know...I'm really going out on a limb with the highest priced DFS player of the week. Before we dig into Webb Simpson, I have to admit, this has been one of the most challenging weeks I've had doing Horse For The Course. It is really difficult to find players with consistent success in the Wyndham Championship. I think it is due to the large amount of turnover in the field from year to year. The Wyndham holds a tough spot on the schedule and Greensboro, while a lovely city, isn't exactly a destination that makes Tour pros circle their calendar. So unlike a lot of tournaments that pros play each and every year, we see a pretty big change in tournament participants from one year to the next. The Wyndham is a popular destination for veterans trying to hang on to their careers or young up-and-comers looking to kickstart theirs. So, while I admit that Simpson is a bit of a safe pick, I have to warn you that he is the first and last such play on this week's list.

Webb Simpson is one of the few elite pros that seems dedicated to playing the Wyndham Championship every year, hence he gets the nod this week. Simpson doesn't just show up in Greensboro, he has been dominant on the Donald Ross layout. Since 2010, Simpson has notched five top-10's including taking home the Wyndham Championship title in 2011 and locking up a third place finish last year. Sedgefield sets up perfectly for the short-hitting Simpson and is one of the few remaining courses on the PGA Tour schedule that doesn't offer a huge advantage for bombers.

Though he won the U.S. Open in 2012, this has arguably been the best season of Simpson's professional career. He won The Players Championship in dominating fashion and finished in the top-20 in all four of the season's major championships. I also really love where Simpson is at this point in the season...he's been playing very well, just locked up a spot on the Ryder Cup team for the first time in his career and he his comfortably in the FedEx Cup Playoffs. It seems like this is a week that Simpson can let it all hangout and play relaxed, stress-free golf on a course that he loves. I think he has an excellent chance of picking up his second win of 2018 in Greensboro.

Unfortunately, we have to say goodbye to the soft pricing of major championships that we saw last week. Prepare to pay top dollar for the few elite players that are in the Wyndham field, including Simpson, who is the highest priced option on both sites. It's pretty slim pickings at the bottom of the salary board this week, so jamming Webb into our lineups won't be easy. There are a couple of approaches we can take with Simpson lineups...employ the "Stars & Scrubs" strategy or try to go solid with our other five players. I prefer the latter option, as this week's "scrub" options seem extra scrubby and there are some decent options available in the $7-8k range on DraftKings.

 

The Ponies

C.T. Pan (DK - $7,800 & FD - $9,100 )

Weren't expecting that name were you? As I mentioned above, this week's list is going to be a little unorthodox. While there are some exceptions, I'm not over the moon for the players in the $8-9k price range. Instead, this week I will be shopping heavily for players between $7-8k to pair with Webb Simpson and other elite-tier options.

C.T. Pan is nowhere close to being a household name, but he has quietly put together a very nice summer. Pan has made the cut in seven of his last eight tournament appearances without drawing much attention from the DFS community. The former Washington Husky has found success thanks to his unbelievable accuracy. Pan ranks 11th in Greens in Regulation Percentage and 17th in Driving Accuracy.

Pan doesn't have the course history that is normally required to be featured in this article...a 63rd place finish last year. Not exactly confidence inspiring, but I like the skills that he brings to Greensboro and feel that his game will mesh much better with Sedgefield in his second go around.

Sam Ryder (DK - $7,300 & FD - $8,600 )

Let's mosey on down the salary scale to Sam Ryder at $7,300. I'm once again bucking our usual course history model with Ryder, who has never made an appearance at Sedgefield. The young upstart has flashed so much upside this season that I'm drawn to him in this ugly field. Ryder has popped up on a couple of leaderboards over the past month, logging a T2 in a birdie-fest at the John Deere Classic and a T7 in the Barbasol Championship that included an impressive third round 63.

Ryder's game should fit the Sedgefield layout perfectly. The 28-year-old is a ball striker extraordinaire that ranks 20th in Driving Accuracy Percentage and fourth in Greens in Regulation. Ryder finds greens at an astounding 72% clip and he is usually close to the hole, as evidenced by his rank of 27th in Proximity to the Hole. We are looking for great wedge play this week and Ryder is deadly with them. He stands at ninth in approaches from 100-125 yards and 17th in approaches from 150-175 yards. As always with this type of player, there is a glitch in Ryder's game...he makes Adam Scott look like a good putter. Ok, so maybe not that bad, but Ryder struggles on the greens to the tune of ranking 184th in Strokes Gained: Putting.

We're gambling a bit with Ryder this week, but in all honesty, we aren't going to eliminate risk with the caliber of players in the Wyndham field. We are hoping that Ryder can get warm with the putter this week, which will be key. His elite level wedge play should give him plenty of great looks on the small Donald Ross greens he will be dealing with. Like C.T. Pan, he is a large field GPP option that pairs well with Webb Simpson.

Tyler Duncan (DK - $7,300 & FD - $8,600)

I think the train has officially left the tracks with sticking to course history picks at this point. You wanna get nuts? Let's get nuts! I'm firing up Tyler Duncan as my last selection this week. The little guy out of Purdue has been rolling this summer. Duncan has reeled off 10 consecutive made cuts in his last 10 starts. Despite the solid play, he sits at just 104th in the FedEx Cup rankings, so Duncan will have some motivation this week. While consistent, he doesn't exhibit as much upside as Sam Ryder and has a season-high finish of T12 at the John Deere Classic.

Sticking with our theme this week, Duncan is accurate off the tee and razor sharp with his irons. He's 30th in Driving Accuracy, 25th in Strokes Gained: Approach, and 16th in Greens in Regulation Percentage. Like Ryder, he struggles on and around the green, ranking just 195th in Strokes Gained: Putting...but the silver lining is that the bad putting obviously hasn't stopped him from making cuts. Duncan should feel comfortable on a Sedgefield course that doesn't require a ton of distance off the tee, as his lack of length puts him at a big disadvantage at several tour stops.

Like all this week's Ponies, Duncan is a GPP recommendation. I will likely stay away from cash games this week and will take my shots in large-field tournaments. This week's selections trend toward that style of game selection. To my regular readers that might be wondering where the course history plays are...I can only say stick with me. Sometimes in the DFS world we are limited by different factors. We often have to make decisions and adjustments based on what we are given to work with on any given day or week. In my opinion, this field at these prices didn't lend itself to our normal course history model (with the big exception of Webb Simpson and a couple of the other elite-priced players) and I couldn't recommend the few players that showed some minimal course history with conviction. I hope you have enjoyed this week's edition, even though it may be a little different than usual, and hope you visit again next week for the start of the FedEx Cup Playoffs!

 

Golf DFS News and Player Outlooks

 

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