2017 Arnold Palmer Invitational: preview

Things we Learned:

  • Adam Hadwin was due to have a good year. He was on the trajectory to back up a solid 2016 showing, with some 2017 magic and he hasn’t disappointed. Maybe all he needed was a fiance to show him the way.
  • Remember Patrick Cantlay’s name. He was ranked as the world’s #1 amateur before injuring his back, which sent him into a spiral of multiple years where he tried to jump start his PGA Tour career, but could not overcome the injury. Well, he seems to be okay on the injury front now, so maybe we are finally going to see the star that was first hyped as an amateur in 2011.
  • Henrik Stenson was indeed sick at the WGC, because he is once again playing like the high-caliber player he is.
  • Stats become more useful for both picking and fading as the season goes on. Obviously, there is more meat that comes with the stats with every tournament played. This can play to your advantage in two ways, though. First, the obvious ability to find sleeper picks based on key stats – this is especially important when it comes to finding those bargain-bin players who are more likely to make a cut and return value. Second, you can really gain a competitve edge by cross checking key-stats against course history/performance on similar courses. This paid off at the Valspar when looking at players who putt better on Bermuda greens, or are accurate on courses that demand accuracy (vs. overall accuracy). This approach allows you to see the clearest picture, where most players stick with just course history or just key stats/current form.

Pick of The Week

Jon:

Henrik Stenson $11,500 – I can’t get more chalky than this, and I honestly struggled because the Pick of The Week should really be reserved for someone who is not totally on the radar and adds value to the roster. But in the spirit of the late, great Arnold Palmer who was on everyone’s radar when he was playing, I am going with  as my pick of the week. I am 100% calling my shot here, and pointing to the fences — I will have 100% exposure to Henrik. Why? T3, 2, T5, T8, T15, T47, T52, and that my friend is what we call a negative regression (which in golf is a good thing). The other major stat Stenson has going for him was his -8 on par-5s at The Valspar – which is a stat that is an absolute must at Bay Hill.

Tom:

Brandt Snedeker $9,000 – Sneds is a risky pick which, as you will see, becomes a trend in this week’s picks. My main concern is putting. Snedeker is known to excel on Poa Annua greens, and this will be his first tournament on Bermuda, which has caused mixed results through the past few years. However, those mixed results also yielded mixed results in this tournament. Snedeker has two top 10s and another T13 to his name at the Arnold Palmer in the past 5 years, and has gained strokes putting  each time. More interestingly, he gained strokes putting even in his two missed cuts, and only lost strokes putting once in the past five attempts. With the consistent golf Snedeker is playing this season, I’m betting on him to have confidence with the putter and find his way back into contention.

As always, we look forward to the golf that will be played this weekend, but in this case, it will be a special tournament no matter what happens from tee to green, because of the opportunity to pay tribute to the late Arnold Palmer.

Thick Steak Plays

Jon:

Justin Rose $9,500 – Mr. Consistent for 2017. Rose has yet to miss a cut this year, and has great course history at Bay Hill. He also brings with him some great par-5 scoring. Another reason I love Rose is because his ownership is typically lower than it should be and at $9,500, I think he’s a good pivot off of some of the double digit guys.

Rickie Fowler $9,900 – I love this price for Fowler, it is too expensive to keep the sharks away, but is too close to some of the guys named Matsuyama and Day for people to sink to. In my mind this means Rickie gets low ownership yet again. It’s a Florida course, so you know Rickie is good to go there, as proven with his win at The Honda Classic. Additionally, you get to roster the #1 putter on tour right now.

Tom:

With Jon deciding to take the chalkiest of picks in Stenson and Rose, and then taking a great pivot-pick in Fowler, he didn’t really leave his partner much other than steak scrap plays. So I’ll instead just go on a little tangent about picking chalky and high-end golfers. The strategy worked out last week with chalky picks and “course-horses,” but we did predict that would be the case in an overall weak field.

This week could be a different story, though, as the stars and international players alike are showing up to pay tribute to the King in the first Arnold Palmer Invitational since his passing in 2016. As a result of a stronger and much more diverse field, it will probably be important to figure out which chalk to play and which to fade, but I would still strongly support any of Jon’s picks above.

My preferred play this week will be to start most lineups with Rose at $9,500 (which leaves an average of $8,100 for your 5 remaining players), but use Stenson in a couple safety lineups (because he is so overwhelmingly perfect on paper), and maybe go for the Stenson-Rose combo in one lineup (which drops your remaining average per player to $7,250) by adding a few value plays, of which there are several because of the depth of field.

To end the tangent, I would not sleep on McIlroy or Matsuyama either, who might lose some ownership because of Stenson and Rose, but my biggest caution is Day who will be balancing continued rust with the defending champion obligations and pressures.

Middle of the Road:

Jon

Paul Casey  $8,800 – I know, I know, this is only a middle of the road play based on a technicality of Casey being priced just inside the 8k range. However, I think Casey is a good pick in an otherwise dead range. I see people either dipping down to hop on the Hadwin train (way over priced IMO), or hitting the 9k range with Oosthuizen, Snedeker, and a recent favorite, Hatton. Casey hits all the major stats except par 5-BoB, but if he gets that going then I could easily see Casey winning.

Hudson Swafford $7,200 – A recent winner on the PGA Tour, Swafford has all the makings of a stud. His form since The Career Builder hasn’t been great, but he does seem to have the right makeup to contend at Bay Hill. The biggest thing I like about Swafford his stat line for the Valspar looks eerily similar to the stat line of some of the recent winners at Bay Hill. If I haven’t said it enough: Par-5 scoring is going to be key.

Tom:

Kevin Chappell $8,000 – This doubles as a flyer pick for sure, as Chappell’s form continues to look terrible this season. However, his price spiked due to awesome course history, including a runner-up here last year, and thus I think it’s the best time to take a gamble on DJ Decaf (credit: ZH, thanks!). The price and recent form should be enough to keep people away despite his course history, but there’s nothing wrong with a struggling golfer returning to a comfortable track. So let me be clear, I’m thinking 1 or 2 entries max for this risky pick, but I want to be one of the few who picks Chappell in his first strong finish of the season, and if I’m really lucky, first win of his career.

Tommy Fleetwood $7,200 – This pick is in keeping with the gutsy calls, as Fleetwood does not often tee it up on the PGA Tour, and does not have a lot of data to back how he might perform. There are far more stable plays in the mid-range, but if you move over to ESPN where you can check Fleetwood’s performance on the European Tour, you’ll see that he has played high-level, albeit streaky golf (a 12th place finish and a win at Abu Dhabi sandwich two missed cuts in 2017. And obviously he made a splash with that runner-up finish at the WGC Mexico Championship. Fleetwood’s name has been around for a few years in Majors and WGCs, so you’re not guaranteed to get a bargain on him in terms of ownership, but I just feel good about riding a hot hand in this case.

**I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the ridiculousness of the 6k range this week. Most of the grossly under-priced players of the week fall right there at 6.8 and 6.7k. Including but not limited to: Marc Leishman, Graham DeLaet, Will McGirt, Chris Kirk, and Brian Harman. Leishman and DeLaet especially might be used more than the aforementioned Fleetwood in my lineups this week, just to allow more ownership of the higher end players.

Tom’s Fade of The Week

Tyrrell Hatton $9,100 – Hatton is a different kind of fade for me this week based primarily on ownership. His popularity has skyrocketed, and granted it’s because he’s had incredible results on the PGA and especially European tours throughout his short time as a pro, I not my head to the golf gods and respect the variance of the game of golf. Knowing that Hatton is probably the next biggest buzz player to Jon Rahm right now, I’d like to play the percentage game in that a fade and an off week would return much more value than a play and a solid finish. I accept that Hatton could easily win and pop a huge hole in this strategy, but again, let’s try to play the percentages and hope for the best.

Jon’s Flyer of The Week

Roberto Castro $6,900 – Castro has quietly made 6/8 cuts this year, and though he hasn’t hit a top-10 yet, he seems to be trying to put everything together. This week, I like his strokes gained putting and his top-10 ranking in proximity stats. He also made the cut here last year as well. I do want to be perfectly clear on this pick – this is an ownership based flyer. There are plenty of solid picks in the 6k range – Lahiri, Howell & Leishman, to name a few. However, I predict those three will all be heavily owned. So if you want to take a chance on a low ownership FLYER, then I’m suggesting Castro.

 

 

2017 Valspar Championship: Preview

Image result for Valspar championship

Things we have learned in 2017:

  • Dustin Johnson is not just a “bomber” anymore. The dude has an all-around game that is just further supplemented by his ability to drive the ball far. There is a reason he is officially now the number 1 golfer in the world.
  • Alexander Noren is not Tyrrell Hatton. No matter what every other DFS insider says, Hatton’s game is on a better level – at least right now than Noren.
  • Big name + first calendar event played = WD – looking at you Grace and Stenson…
  • There is something supremely wrong with the 2017 versions of Russell Knox, Patrick Reed, and Kevin Chappell.
  • The top ranked golfers, especially of the younger variety, have showed up to play this season, and do not want to share the wins with anyone else. This might push you toward stars + scrubs lineups, or at least making sure you anchor each lineup with one of the top names.

Now onto the preview of THE VALSPAR CHAMPIONSHIP (We previously got our calendars mixed up and said this week was the Arnold Palmer Invitational instead of next). The Copperhead Course at Innisbrook Resort hosts this too-often overlooked tournament, because it is purely underrated for the quality of course.

A par 71, Copperhead is known as one of the tougher tests on the PGA Tour, especially the final stretch that is so challenging it was dubbed “the Snake Pit” (not that coming up with catchy nicknames for a stretch of holes is a new concept *cough* Amen Corner *cough* Bear Trap *cough* Green Mile *cough* Blue Monster *cough* I hope you get the idea).

Oh look, it’s another fearful nickname on a golf course! The Snake Pit, to be fair, is in fact one of the most devilish stretches of golf on the PGA Tour

Any who… This tournament is a fun and fair contest that never gets the strength of field it deserves, thanks to a pair of WGC events, the PGAs tribute to Arnold Palmer, and prep for the season’s quickly approaching first major causing many of the elite to circle this week as a perfect week off from golf. The result of a weaker field is that there will be some especially chalky picks, which is reflected a little bit in our advice below, as we are not going to be the fools who overthink our lineups, pass on obvious choices, and get burned on the weekend.

So with that, here is what we’re thinking for the Valspar:

Pick of The Week

Jon:

Ryan Moore $9,000 – I had Ryan Moore pegged for a solid 2017 season, and I think he starts to get that going at the Valspar. Moore has gone back-to-back top-10s here in the past two years, and I think he can get it done again in 2017. He had a quietly good wrap around season, and I’m throwing out the cut at Riviera, and chalking it up to weather. Driving accuracy is what shows up the most for his stats, in terms of where he’s been shining. On a difficult course, I think Moore has all the tools, and the history to put together a solid performance at Innisbrook.

Tom:

Graham DeLaet $8,400 – The Canadian is skating his way into my pick of the week (see what I did there) because of the sneaky good golf he is playing of late. DeLaet has made four cuts in a row, and hasn’t finished outside the top 20 since January (in three tries).

One thing you look for in fantasy golf is when course history collides with recent form, setting off fantasy fireworks, as the metaphor might go. Well, DeLaet combines the form described above with two top 10s and one top 20 in his three previous starts. When it comes to the volatile DeLaet, the plan could always backfire, but I am still going to take the reassuring resume on this one.

Thick Steak Plays

Jon:

Bill Haas $9,200 – Haas to me is a “can’t miss play” this week, which probably means he’ll shoot an 82 and withdraw — based on other “can’t miss plays,” like Grace and Stenson. Haas checks all the boxes in regard to Copperhead. After finishing 2nd in a playoff, I think Haas will be hungry to seal the deal this year. He hasn’t missed a cut and should be a staple in most cash lineups. The thing that’s great about Haas is that he is a GIR maker, and when he’s not hitting greens, he can back it up with being the #1 scrambler.

Matt Kuchar $10,200 – Kuch is the only other guy I like in this high range, and it’s mainly because he’s played this event every year since 2011 without missing a cut. He’s got some stats to back it up too, including scrambling, and driving accuracy. With how Kuch has been playing this year, and his dramatic price increase, I like Kuch to be a solid play with lower ownership.

Image result for matt kuchar 2016

We are in agreement on Kuchar this week, who always fits the “consistent category,” and could be commonly passed over due to prices this week

Tom:

Henrik Stenson $11,700 – I originally thought Stenson would be a great play from an ownership standpoint. His WD in Mexico burned an exorbitant number of players, and likely incited fears of a nagging or serious injury. However, it was well-reported that Stenson’s reason for withdrawing was a stomach issue, and that fact was reinforced when PGATour.com’s Rob Bolton made Stenson his number one on the power rankings this week. So instead of Stenson being a sneaky play, I see him instead as a defensive play, as I do like the Swede to bounce back and return to his usual, elite ball striking ways.

Matt Kuchar $10,200 – Here is something I usually try to avoid, repeating a pick of Jon’s. I just couldn’t get around it this week though, as I was highly considering Kuchar to be my pick of the week. Circle the last two words of Jon’s breakdown: low ownership. A big reason why I love Kuchar this week is the strategy side of it. With the firepower of Justin Thomas and Henrik Stenson, compared to the relative weakness of the remaining field, I see A LOT of lineups moving past Kuchar. Given his identity as one of the most consistent finishers on the PGA, I will take what other DK players leave me.

Middle of the Road

Jon:

Luke Donald $7,800 – Donald is my sneaky play this week. He seemingly loves this course, and has been having a quietly solid year. Donald has been lights out with his putter, and I think that will be what separates him this time around. He also has the added bonus of being a winner here, back in 2012 when it was The Transitions Championship.

Jim Furyk $7,200 – Furyk seems like kind of a no-brainer at $7,200. He’s got good course history here, and also has the stats — albeit a limited number of recorded rounds — to back it up. He’s a great scrambler, and his short game in general is something he can lean on. I like the Furyk pick in both cash and GPP

Tom:

Russell Henley $7,700 – People sometimes forget the talent that Russell Henley has and has shown on tour since winning the Sony Open in his 2013 pro debut. He followed that up by surviving a 4-man playoff at the Honda Classic in 2014, beating the likes of Ryan Palmer, Russell Knox, and another R-named golfer you’ve probably heard of, Rory McIlroy.

After that second win, Henley was just ahead of the pace of Jordan Spieth, who was in his second season and would later earn his second PGA win. Needless to say, the golfing careers have taken different turns, as Henley has not won again since, but this shows you just how much talent the former Georgia Bulldog has.

His Achilles-heel has been streaky play, which bodes well for Henley this week, because he is atop the stat pages in strokes-gained putting, par-breaker %, and overall birdie numbers. Hopefully the preferred Bermuda greens will get Henley back into the win column here.

Adam Hadwin $6,800 – Jon will go on to reference his support for Hadwin despite his course history being “patently disgusting.” I think that is a bit of an overreaction because he’s such a young golfer… However, it is true that Hadwin has yet to figure out Copperhead after two tries. What I like is that he finally broke 70 on Friday last year, albeit it followed a Thursday 79 that essentially eliminated him from the cut.

Hadwin, like DeLaet (and I just realized I’m leaning on the Canadians this week – must be a fellow snow bird, mutual understanding kind of thing), comes in with great form. Hadwin, in fact, has yet to miss a cut since the season opener. So when you cannot align recent form with course history, I lean a little more often toward strong recent form.

Tom’s Fade of the Week

Charl Schwartzel $8,800 – Take the rationale above: Recent form > course history. Schwartzel has looked plain-bad in his one European Tour and three PGA Tour events in 2017. Not to mention, his history at this tournament is nonexistent outside of an unexpected win here last year. So as a defending champion, I think Schwartzel fits the perfect category as one to fade. Especially after you look through the South African’s career and see that it is really just comprised of his fluky Masters win in 2011 and his fluky win here last season. And really his European Tour history, though bolstered with a few more wins, is nothing to get too excited about.

Wow… I think I just sold myself on the argument that Charl Schwartzel is the most overrated golfer in the world (shots fired, cue the PGATour.com survey and puff piece), but for the sake of this article that is a moot point. For now I will just consider him to be a justifiable fade of the week.

Here’s Your Flyer

Robert Garrigus $6,800 – I can’t even believe I’m writing this, and let me also premise this by saying there are A LOT of good players in the 7-8k range, and the only reason to play Garrigus would be to differentiate yourself in a GPP. THIS IS NOT A SAFE CASH PLAY. I was between Garrigus and Hadwin this week, and Hadwin’s course history here is patently disgusting. Garrigus however, has notched two top 10’s in the past five years. If he’s going to contend it’s going to be because of his GIR%, and the fact that he can stick it close to the hole. Again, I can’t believe I’ve written Garrigus’ name down, so take it for what you will, but here is your flyer of the week.

 

 

 

 

2017 WGC-Mexico: Preview

wgc-mexico-championship-logo-990x556For the first time, this WGC event will be hosted at Club de Golf Chapultepec in Mexico City, as the event has moved from Trump Doral in an undeniable twist of irony. Because this is the first time the event will be played in Mexico City, Tom and I are going to go with a different format for picks. Instead of our tiered breakdown, we are going to do a little bit of a round table discussion about what should be a really interesting WGC event.

WGC Mexico

Club De Golf Chapultepec reaches elevations as high as 7,835 feet above sea level Source: Talens Magazine

At first glance this course is long (par 5’s of 625 & 622, and par 3’s of 235 & 225), however it also has short par 4’s sprinkled throughout. Additionally, at 1+ miles of elevation, how do you attack this course? And does this give an advantage to the bombers?

Jon: At first glance early in the week, I thought this was going to be a bombers paradise based on yardage alone. Then I read a little physics about altitude and its affect on drag and magnus force, and suddenly had a change of heart. The best way I can put this is that in higher spots on the course there is less air resistance, making the balls retain speed at a higher rate throughout their flight. Additionally, they are playing in Mexico, which means it will get hot, which reduces the air density even more. The big takeaway being that bombers will have a slight advantage in reaching some of the shorter par 4’s, but it will be to a negligible degree. BIG, big takeaway — your short iron players are the guys to target.

Tom: I do not want to read into this too much – when you look at Jon’s description, I focus on the word negligible because it just seems like there are too many variables. When I looked through the course breakdown on PGATour.com (a good practice that is accessible information to everyone), what stuck out to me most was how tight a lot of the holes look. So maybe total driving (a stat that measures driving distance + driving accuracy). Rickie Fowler is obviously driving the ball well, Henrik Stenson and Justin Rose also come to mind (especially if Stenson can use his favorite club, the 3 wood), and interestingly, Bubba Watson is very accurate off the tee so far this season – but somehow is also in terrible form, so he would be a risky play to consider.

 What do you think the winning score will be, and how does that correlate to your picks?
Jordan SpiethJon: After reading and listening to copious amounts of material, it sounds like this is going to be a low scoring affair, with chances early and often to make birdies. For me, that lends itself to picking players like Jordan Spieth, and Jon Rahm who can make birdies in bunches. Winning score –> -19
Tom: The weather report is also favorable, so that helps avoid additional variables that would affect scoring. Since every golfer is guaranteed four rounds, that should also drive scores lower. I’m not sure we will see them break -20 though, so in the interest of making this little mini-competition with Jon interesting, I’ll say -17. In general, I’m not worried about score, other than agreeing with the interest in birdie or better %, strokes-gained putting, etc. (stats that are almost always relevant).
This is essentially a brand new tournament, and also features players not typically found on a PGA event. With that said, what is your strategy for picking players, and for picking what DFS games to play?
Jon: There is definitely a different strategy to picking players in a small field event, filled with the worlds top golfers, and I think you have to have a “what have you done for me lately” attitude. That’s not to say you should shy away from guys coming in with less than stellar form (see below). With these WGC events, there is much less variability, and I really feel like the sharks smell blood in the water. People with the bankroll are going to enter multiple lineups, with little variability, simply because they can. Therefore I am playing small entry GPP games, to just have fun this week.
Tom: When it comes to a lot of unknowns, I take a little safer approach than normal. Not to say safe in terms of leaning on cash-game plays, but safe in terms of consistency with my own picks. I recommend leaning toward guys who you predict to have lower ownership, but stay consistent with your own picks. I think less variance in players than usual is important.
Does your approach to picking players change in a no-cut event?
Jon: To add to my explanation above, GPP’s are always hard to win (you should never expect to outright win a GPP), whereas cash games are typically easier, because of cutline.  Typically, if you get 6/6 through the cut, you’re going to win a cash game, and often if you get 5/6 through you’re going with win in cash. With these no cut games, it distorts who you should pick. You could theoretically pick all 6k guys, have them collectively average a 3+, and still win if they hit enough birdies. The distortion adds another dimension to DFS, which makes these no cut tournaments hard. It also makes ownership percentage paramount to winning; if you zig while others zag, you’ll be in good shape. I’d look for Russel Knox, Branden Grace, Bubba Watson, and Brooks Koepka to be the biggest names who are low owned this week, but that’s mainly because they’ve been in poor form, so you gotta pick your poison.
Tom: When it comes to WGC events, I think that most people salivate a little bit at the opportunity to not worry about their players getting cut. But this is the mirage that Draft Kings wants you to see. Simply put, WGCs are extremely difficult to gauge. You almost have to pick the winner, for starters. So the approach I’m taking this year is leaning on single-entry formats. I don’t want to enter any leagues where the sharks can really maximize their chances by playing the numbers, since there are fewer players and no cut. I want to be in tournaments where we all have the same competitive advantage in terms of entries. And like I said above, I want to go to the well early and often with my favorite players this week. For me that means Rickie Fowler to keep up his great form, Justin Rose, Brandt Snedeker, and Louis Oosthuizen who I think will be underrated due to the WD fears.
Does history in this WGC event and others matter?
 Jon: I looked at little-to-no course history, and instead tried to focus on current form. Look, you have the worlds top ranked golfers here, so it’s hard to have a traditionally bad lineup, but with that said, I think that the players who are here on exemption, will fade to the back, unless your name is Will McGirt.
Tom: I would say yes and no. This particular event should be treated like a new tournament because of the very unusual course it is being played on, but you still have to factor in the stakes and features of the tournament. Some players simply rise to the occasion in these events, whether it is the relative competition with the best golfers in the world, or the ability to not worry about making a cut. Guys in that boat include Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy, Patrick Reed, and again Bubba Watson. And I will say, it is hard to bet against Spieth when he’s given four rounds, because he’s a virtual lock to go low in at least one.
Rory McIlRoy

Source: CBSSports

Since this event consists of the top golfers in the world, can you take a flier on just about anyone?

Jon: EF NO! Look at your injuries, current form, wedge play. Even though they are the best in the world, they are still competing against each other and they all do things vastly different. Spieth loves his putter, and prides himself on green reading. DJ, the perennial bomber is going to make his opportunities based on distance. Warren Buffet prides himself on doing his homework, and so should you. Branden Grace withdrew last week citing a rotator cuff injury, Rory is coming back from a rib injury, and also pretty much couldn’t figure out his putter last year. All of these are factors to consider when picking your players for Mexico.
Tom: I agree here: no. Sure, anyone in this tournament has the pedigree to win. But there are a lot of golfers coming in from other world tours who have never teed it up against the likes of a Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, of Dustin Johnson. It’s hard to translate your success in the face of players that bring the inherent intimidation that comes with their exposure in the media and the world of golf. There are also golfers who are simply not playing up to their world ranking currently. So as Jon mentioned, really lean on that current form, and don’t just throw guys in there who you know nothing about on the assumption that they will make decent contrarian plays.
***
Finally, good luck! Don’t over think your approach this week. It also might not be the week to go ham on your bank roll and bet a ton more money than usual. This is a common mistake people make in no cut events. But on the plus side of there being no cut, you should hopefully be able to stay entertained through Sunday no matter what happens on Thursday and Friday, so enjoy the viewing this weekend!
We apologize for getting this post out on the morning of the tournament, and expect to be back next week with our normal picks style for what will be an emotional and special installment of the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

2017 Honda Classic: preview

PGA National

Source: Nicklaus.com

Goodbye, Hollywood. Formerly called the Northern Trust Open, this tournament might as well have changed its name to the Dustin Johnson Open, because there was really little else worth watching  through a wild week of weather delays. Okay, it might be also worth mentioning Thomas Pieters, who is a young stud on the European Tour, and with a Sunday 63 is showing he could show up on the PGA Tour as well. Otherwise, we are all too ready to shift gears to the Florida swing, hopefully shake some things up with your daily fantasy strategy, and of course, be one week closer to Augusta.

Now that the second WGC of the season has switched from the WGC Cadillac at Trump Doral to the WGC Mexico Championship (which comes with its own share of political irony), the Honda Classic and the Arnold Palmer Invitational seem to be the only two quintessential stops on this Florida swing. The Copperhead course that hosts the Valspar Championship is very difficult in its own right, but it doesn’t seem as open, windy, and full of water as is typical of Florida golf, and is definitely a main feature of this week’s host, the PGA National Champion course.

Wind players have done well here, including, but not limited to the last four winners here in Adam Scott, Padraig Harrington, Russell Henley, and Rory McIlroy. But it is just as important to look at general consistency stats – Driving accuracy, GIRs, BoB %/Bogey avoidance %, and as always, strokes-gained putting – because scoring can be hard to come by on this Nicklaus course, and those who avoid the blow up holes will likely persist through the weekend. So without further ado, check out our highlighted picks of the week.

Pick of the Week

Jon:

Rickie Fowler

Source: USA Today

Rickie Fowler – Rickie is my pick of the week. This tournament is really hard to gauge, and Rickie provides a bright spot in an otherwise haze of confusion. He hasn’t missed a cut here since 2011, and in the times he has played, he seems to really like the course, with a plethora of top-10 finishes. Rickie has also been playing some quietly good golf, and with a weaker field, I like Rickie as a safe play, and a possible win this week.

Tom:

David Lingmerth $7,300 – Let me first say that Jon committed a slight (albeit subconscious) theft of my pick of the week! I am also very high on trickie Rickie this week, and although it is a chalky pick, I think there’s an ownership advantage to Fowler as his ownership has been uncharacteristically low, even in the recent Waste Management Phoenix Open where he was even more chalky. I wouldn’t be shocked if his ownership explodes into the high 20s-low 30s this week, but I am confident enough to ride him regardless.

So instead of repeating a pick, let me sell you on Lingmerth, my pick of the week to balance your rosters as a mid-priced option. As we turn to the Florida swing, there is a fairly big category of golfers with which Lingmerth is a member: international golfers who have actually relocated to Florida, and thus consider these tournaments to be relative home games. Fitting with assumptions, the Swede has actually done well in this tournament – making the past three cuts, highlighted by a T8 in 2014. Lingmerth also has skipped a few of his usual stops on the West coast swing, and did not supplement them with a full European tour schedule, so he’s rested and (hopefully) prepared for Florida golf.

Thick Steak Plays

Jon:

Sergio Garcia $10,900 – Sergio mildly burned a lot of people last week, as I think most had him pegged to compete for a win. He did make the cut however, and I think that should help him get his PGA legs under him. Like Fowler, Sergio seemingly likes PGA National, and has played really well here in past events. I also like him to compete in a weaker field, where he has the “dominate mentality,” which should serve him well.

Paul Casey $8,700 – With the chance of wind this weekend, I really like Paul Casey. I’m not unique in thinking that if there is bad weather on the docket, then going with the British players is going to pay out. Casey also has the stats and the history at PGA National that would suggest he can contend this weekend, especially with high scrambling and bogey-avoidance. I think Casey is a safe play in both cash and GPP lineups.

Tom:

Adam Scott Honda

Source: Miami Herald

Adam Scott $12,200 – Let’s see, what are the line items for Scott this week. 1. Defending champion. 2. Coming off a T11 at the Genesis Open. 3. Is the highest priced golfer on Draft Kings this week. Hmmm… that sounds like a recipe for high ownership and lots of users leaning toward stars and scrubs lineups this week. On the other hand, can you really fade a golfer of Scott’s caliber who is bringing good form and great memories to Palm Beach?

Yes and no. Obviously, I am high on Scott, because I’m writing about him up here and not down in the fade of the week section. HOWEVER, I also support the approach of leaning more on balanced lineups than stars and scrubs lineups as a  way of differentiating yourself. I just wouldn’t fade Scott entirely, because the odds are in his favor to have another strong finish this week.

Brendan Steele $8,100 – Steele is considered by most to be in the West coast swing specialist category with the likes of Charles Howell III, Pat Perez, and before he broke through in the PGA Championship last year, Jimmy Walker. But much like Walker, I think Steele has plenty of value in this Eastern Standard Timezone as well, so hold on before you fade. Steele has regressed since his T6 at the Career Builder, with results of T20, T16, and T36, respectively. But he continues to make cuts, which he has also done at the Honda Classic in each of his six years on tour, including top 15s in the past two years.

Middle of The Road

Jon:

William McGirt $7,400 – I love McGirt this week. To me he’s never been the kind of player to go on birdie streaks, but he can grind and PGA National is a course that plays well for a player who can avoid bogeys. He’s also ranked 3rd in GIR %, which bodes well for this course. McGirt finished T8 here last year, and I look for him to contend this week

Emiliano Grillo $7,600 – This is Grillo’s second go round at The Honda Classic, and the Argentinian checks a lot of boxes for stats that we’re looking at this week. His current form also adds to his value as well. He may have to improve on his scrambling if he wants to get to the winner’s circle, but I think that Grillo is a good pick this week.

Tom:

Branden Grace $7,900 – Grace has seemingly found a way to coast under the radar, continuing to be priced under $8,000, despite consistent top 25 finishes on both the PGA and  European tours this season. I also like his adaptability to changing course conditions, so I am banking on that consistency to allow Grace to build on a T22 finish last week.

Daniel Summerhays

Source: PGA.com

Daniel Summerhays $6,700 – Here is a classic example of a golfer you started out with a gut feeling about, and then really, really sold yourself on after looking into the stats. Summerhays might be the quietest money-maker on tour. He has held his card consistently through the past several years, and often seems to just lurk on that second page of the leaderboard. So after crunching the numbers, I came to this conclusion: If it weren’t for par 4 scoring, Summerhays would probably be a multiple winner on tour. Especially on the Florida swing’s Bermuda greens, he has constantly been on the plus column in strokes gained putting, and is pretty good with driving accuracy and GIRs. But his par 4 scoring has been abysmal. Still, he has made the last four cuts here, including two top 20s, so I believe that Summerhays is a very safe play at this price, and if he gets some luck on the par 4s he could turn into a game-changing pick.

Tom’s Fade of The Week

Louis Oosthuizen $9,400 – For those who have been playing fantasy golf for a little while, you’ve probably noticed a huge red flag is always put on Louis Oosthuizen – the high WD risk flag. Well this tournament has been a prime example, where he went on a streak of WD, WD, Cut, and then skipped this tournament outright the past three years. So why is he back in the field? Probably because he hasn’t really done anything since his runner-ups at the U.S. Open and Open Championship in 2015, and is at risk of becoming irrelevant on the PGA Tour beyond boasting the greatest front tooth gap as long as Michael Strayhorn doesn’t earn his card.

Do I think Oosthuizen will WD this week? No. But I do think he is nowhere near worthy of his fifth-highest price tag, and given his history here it is especially not worth the risk to roll him into lineups.

Here’s Your Flyer

Zac Blair $7,000 – This may be the hardest thing I’ve had to write since we started this website. But yes, Zac Blair is my flyer this week…hold on while I go throw up. Get this: Of the 9 events Blair has played this year, he has only missed two cuts — that’s not to say he hasn’t been hanging on by a thread, coming in no better than T26 back in October. Blair was cut hard last year after a first round 80, but he did notch a T22 his first go round at PGA National back in 2015. Blair has exceptional scrambling this year, in addition to good bogey avoidance. Well done Zac, you’ve made yourself relevant and not just for destroying a putter on your head.

 

2017 Genesis Open: Preview

Congrats to Jordan Spieth for winning at Pebble Beach last week! He said he hates playing “boring golf,” but man is he fun to watch when he’s on. And not to toot our own horn too loudly here, but the Fantasy Golf Source has now endorsed the winner for the past three consecutive tournaments. So of course, by bragging and referring to ourselves in the third person, we’ve inevitably jinxed ourselves for the next three tournaments or more.

That brings us to the first installment of The Genesis Open at Riviera Country Club. Formerly called the Northern Trust Open, Riviera has also played host to The U.S. Open and The PGA Championship, and is a staple on the PGA Tour. The players will continue to putt on Poa Annua greens, which bodes well for players who played last week and have had past success here. Final food for thought: Riviera is routinely ranked as one of the most difficult courses on the PGA Tour, and the weather report is far from ideal. Early reports indicated rain was likely for Friday-Sunday, but recent reports show that Friday will by far be the worst day affected. There are strong chances of both rain and high winds on Friday, and chillier temperatures are expected throughout the weekend, but the rain is not expected as much on Saturday and Sunday. So check out those Friday morning tee times if you’re looking for any pick tie breakers!

Pick of The Week

Jon:

Luke List $6,400 – It seems like I am rotating between Steele, Kirk and List each week, but they are bringing something new to the table with every course. List was not going to be my immediate pick, and I’m admittedly a little worried after his showing at the Phoenix Open, as Riviera similarly favors big hitters. However, List is still ranked number 1 in driving distance, which is routinely a statistic that shows up here. Coupled with high strokes gained putting and off the tee ranks, and I like List to contend. The time off should serve to get his body back in form after playing the wrap around season as well.

Tom:

Jason Day $10,000 – Honestly, there is no one I feel super confident with this week as a featured pick of the week. But Day is as good a bet as anyone in my book, because of the combination of consistency, birdies or better, overall talent, and likelihood of going overlooked. He played really solid last week for three rounds, and just got out of the flow with early bogeys and worse on Saturday. That is more of an anomaly in my opinion, which can be turned into a sneaky strategy, because the average fan will just look at his recent results and lean instead on Spieth, Matsuyama, and Johnson.

Thick Steak Plays

Jon:

I want to start by saying that Dustin Johnson ($11,400) and Bubba Watson ($8,300) are so obvious as course horses this week, that it wouldn’t be doing anyone any favors by putting them in the pick section. They’re both course horses, and I like both of them to contend. If you want to anchor your lineups with either of them, I have no problem with that, and will probably do so myself to a degree.

dj-bubba

Dustin Johnson and Bubba Watson enter as arguably the biggest course horses this week. Do we agree with putting both in your lineups?

Sergio Garcia $9,300– Sergio would be right up there in driving distance, and I’m banking on him being relatively forgotten, as this will be his first PGA event for 2017. He’s had a great season on the euro tour and is consistently a world class player. Additionally, he seems to like Riviera, consistently placing top-20, and even notching a few top-10’s. Last year’s cut should serve to keep ownership lower than it probably should be.

Justin Thomas $9,600 – “The Forgotten One,” or, at least, I’m hoping. Justin Thomas started off this season as hot as husky in El Paso, but he’s taken some time off. JT missed the cut at the Phoenix Open, but I have full faith in him at Riviera. He’s been bombing it off the tee, and his putting has been better than the average bear. He’s been pretty average at Riviera, but I do think this is a breakout year for him, so I like him to contend here, and prove that Hawaii wasn’t a fluke.

Tom:

I’ve started the Whole 30 diet, so no thick steak plays for me this week. Just kidding – Whole 30 is for losers, and anyone who does it, including close friends of this blog, is lame.

Okay, seriously though, good for you if you have that kind of commitment, and I am actually skipping the traditional two high-end picks this week because I think the best strategy is to fill your lineups with the mid-range plays. Similar to Jon’s statement, I think you can choose a few of those thick steak guys to anchor lineups, so just be intentional about how many you will target, how heavily you will play each, and how you will choose to fill rosters around them.

I agree with rolling out the course horses in DJ and Bubba (although maybe not so much Bubba – see below). I also am fine with riding the hot hands in Spieth, Matsuyama, and Thomas (despite his missed cut). I will personally be avoiding Adam Scott (also see below), and my strongest endorsements up here in the clouds would have to go to DJ, JDay, and Garcia.

Middle of The Road

Jon:

Tony Finau $6,800 – Notice my theme of bombers? Finau fits the mold of a player that should perform well here, and though he hasn’t in the past, he’s quietly having himself a hell of year. He’ll need to get his putting under control if he wants to win, but I certainly have faith that Tony can contend.

Graham Delaet $7,700 – I really like Graham this week. He’s started his 2017 campaign off in the right way, and it looks like the time off last year was exactly what he needed. He’s played really well at Riviera in the past. He’s been big off the tee, and his putting has been above average, which is exactly what he’ll need to contend here. Graham came in t8 in 2015, and I like him to continue on that trend, rather than the cut last year.

Tom:

Ryan Moore $7,300 – A lot of DK players will be listening to the advice of the talking heads this week, and targeting bombers, which most people know Ryan Moore is not. That is exactly why I like Moore – he is solid tee-to-green, he is consistent, and he has had some great results in this tournament. So with that price and little threat of high ownership, sign me up.

J.B. Holmes $7,100 – Holmes is another player with some strategy behind him. I simply think Brendan Steele, Kevin Na, and Brooks Koepka will all be more popular than Holmes at 7.1K. So give me a guy that has the most hardware to his name of the bunch, and who has had some good finishes at Riviera before.

Hudson Swafford $6,600 – I’m putting my money where my mouth is, so when I said I’m not as high on the high-end guys, I will in turn throw in another low-end play. The Georgia Bulldog’s price sure is low for a guy who has already won in 2017. Maybe it’s because he missed the cut in his first and only start following his breakthrough win. Maybe it’s because he’s missed the cut all three times he’s teed it up at Riviera. But those are just distractions, people! Aside from a difficult 78 on Friday of the Farmers Insurance Open, Swafford is at the top of his game, so I’m all in while others are too distracted to notice.

Tom’s Fade of The Week

Adam Scott $10,300 – I alluded to it earlier, I’m not ready to roll out Scott into my lineups, as I expect many are. Scott finished runner up here last year, and also went on to win two tournaments in a row after that. Although he does have a good overall history on this course, I’m fading him simply because he was playing at the highest level possible last year, but he usually doesn’t wait this long to tee it up, so there is no telling if he’ll get right back to the top of the leaderboard. Worth the risk to fade.

Bubba Watson $8,300 – This fade is more “at your own risk.” As Jon and I mentioned above, we can not fault anyone for anchoring lineups with a guy who has won here multiple times, and finished high plenty of other times. He is a true course horse. I also think he’s off his game more than usual at this time of the year, and with the threat of crappy weather, I just don’t love taking the tempermental lefty. But the icing on the cake for me, though, is this price. Given his history here and talent overall, $8,300 seems like a price that equates to Draft Kings begging players to roster Bubba. It worked pretty well to fade him in the Waste Management Phoenix Open where he was above 30% ownership, so I will be keeping that strategy up this week.

Jon’s Flyer of the Week

Jason Kokrak $7,800 – Kokrak might not be a typical “flyer” for Riviera CC. He’s only missed the cut once here since he’s been on the tour. Kokrak actually finished 2nd here last year (again, not your typical flyer). Riviera is seemingly made for long hitters and Kokrak ranks high in driving distance on the year. He’s performed well at Riviera in years where he had a solid showing at Pebble, and he did just that last week.

 

 

 

2017 Pebble Beach Pro-Am: Preview

ATT Pebble Beach

Source: PGATour

The party is over at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, and boy was it ever a party. The figure being thrown out was over 650,000 people in attendance throughout the week in Scottsdale, and for the second straight year, we got a 4-hole playoff in which Hideki Matsuyama won on the 17th hole. This year, the win came against Webb, who really played great, consistent golf down the stretch. It was pretty unbelievable to see these two play 18 twice in a row, and Webb hit his tee shot within about a 40 ft circle each of the three times he played it.

But congratulations to Hideki for defending his title – we are certainly glad we stuck with the title defender, who’s course history at TPC Scottsdale is now just nuts: T4, T2, P1, P1. So spoiler alert: we will be going with Matsuyama in the 2018 WMPO.

pebble beach

Source: PebbleBeach.com

Now on to the next one! Pebble Beach always seems to be in the hangover position after one of the best parties of the year. Gone is the par-3 filled with boos and cheers. Instead, they feature wild and animated celebrities like Bill Murray, proving that the best way to cure a hangover is to just keep the party going.

The AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am takes place in Monterey, Cal., right on the coast of the Pacific ocean – a little mecca for beautiful golf courses. Of course, most notable of these is the namesake for the tournament itself. Much like the Career Builder Challenge, this tournament will include three golf courses and a Saturday cut, which makes it difficult to nail down specific golfers to feature based on statistics. Instead, current form and the old “gut feeling” approach will take precedent. There are definitely some stars in this field, but once again, draft kings pricing has tried to add to the challenge by putting out some bizarre prices.

Bill Murray Pebble Beach

Source: WeiUnderPar

*A final note before we get into picks. Weather is predicted to be a factor in this tournament. Thanks to credible media sources like Snapchat, wind and rain has plagued the early practice rounds, and that weather is likely to hold up, but get progressively nicer until the weekend, when it should be out of sight, out of mind. So that could play a factor, especially in terms of looking at who will have the best chance to make the cut. Players who go out early on Thursday could have an advantage, but mostly you may want to consider good wind and bad weather players. Rose, Snedeker, Kuchar, Furyk, and Lowry come to mind (see below).

Pick of the week

Jon:

Chris Kirk $7,500  – I’m coming back to Kirk fountain and taking a drink. After missing the cut twice, Kirk came back and notched two top-40 performances. He’s notched a runner up here at Pebble in the past as well. Kirk is high in both strokes gained putting and GIR %, which are both stats that have shown up. I think Kirk will make a solid play here at Pebble

Tom:

Matt Kuchar

Source: PGA

Matt Kuchar $8,600 – I’m continuing my trend of bold, question-mark plays for my pick of the week. One of the biggest question marks with Matt Kuchar is simply the fact that he hasn’t played in this tournament since 2010 (when he withdrew). Before that, he had some decent success, but no, I’m picking Kuchar because I think he is a good fit for this tournament/for these courses, and he proved at the WMPO that he’s ready to roll in 2017. Not only do I think Kuch will embrace the Pro-Am distractions as well as anyone, I also think he added this tournament to his schedule because he’s chasing his first win since 2014, and thus is as motivated as he’s been since his incredible play in the Olympics. So I’m predicting a lot of Kuuuucccchhhh chants to be rolling through Monterey this week.

Thick Steak Plays

Jon:

Jordan Spieth, $12,000 – Most of my plays are going to be pretty chalky this week. Spieth has really not felt like he’s been in”Spieth Mode.” HOWEVER, he has quietly not missed a top 10 this season. I think his putting is quickly getting back into business, and, with the score fest that is Pebble Beach, I look at Spieth as one of the safest cash plays you can make. He’s about as safe a play as I can think in this price range.

Brandt Snedeker $10,000 – Brandt has a weird relationship with Pebble Beach. At first glance I thought he was a course horse. He seemingly wins every other year, followed by a hard cut. This year however, Brandt has been in great form, and I would look to him to perform well at a course that he really enjoys. If the weather is truly as bad as it looks, I also like Brandt to contend more than others.

Tom:

Justin Rose $9,200 – Rosey has teed it up twice in the States in 2017, and twice finished in the top 5. When players of his caliber do this, it is best to just ride the hot hand. While the top 5s won’t happen every week, Rose is coming off a T6 finish here last year, and oh by the way, he’s currently leading the PGA in strokes gained tee-to-green, scoring average, and pre-cut scoring average.

Jimmy Walker $8,800 – That’s right, I’m hopping back in the Jimmy horse. He might’ve kicked me off twice already this season, but COME ON! Is Jimmy Walker really going to miss three straight cuts? Probably, now that I’ve picked him and made a big deal about it. But seriously, he hasn’t missed three cuts in a row since 2013, his play earlier in this season has still been solid, and his history in this tournament is just as sensational as the Sony Open and the Farmers Insurance Open. So while others hopefully zag away from Walker, I will keep zigging and just address the elephant in the room later if he burns me again.

Middle of the Road

Phil Mickelson $9,300 – Here’s a fun thing: apparently mild hernias are not that hard to recover from. Phil has been in great form, and has had great success at Pebble in the past. I honestly thought about making Phil my pick of the week, but thought better of it. Again, this is a chalky, chalky play, but in cash games especially, I don’t know if there is a safer play other than Spieth. His experience with Pebble is what sets him apart. Couple that with great current form and he’s a no brainer for me.

Jim Furyk $7,500 – It happens every year, a mispriced Jim Furyk. Furyk is a hell of a scorer, and starts a lot of his seasons with Pebble Beach. He hasn’t been cut in recent memory at Pebble, and has the last time he played here he came in 7th. Birdies in droves is Furyk’s game and it bodes well for Pebble. You won’t find a better player priced this low.

Tom:

Tony Finau $8,100 – I’ve got a theme going here, and let me just say it does not have to do with course history (Walker not included). Finau has actually not played in this tournament during his first two full-years on the PGA Tour. That is always risky, and with the added concerns of wind and rain, I would almost put Finau into the “flyer” category despite his price and raw talent. But let’s not forget, Finau can hit it a mile, and one key factor that is pushing me to endorse him is that he has excelled on Poa Annua greens, gaining over a stroke on the field since 2014. This is our first true Poa Annua tournament of the season, and so I’m rolling the dice on Finau.

Shane Lowry

Source: Irishtimes

Shane Lowry $7,000 – Since shifting to a more PGA-heavy schedule in 2015, Lowry has been a quiet mechanic on the West Coast swing. It’s a small sample size (5 tournaments in 2 years), but he hasn’t missed a cut, and the only finish outside the top 25 was a T41 here last year. But the Irishman did finish T21 in his debut here in 2015, he’s coming off a T16 at the WMPO, and he gets to play with fellow countryman Paddy Harrington. But more than anything else, Lowry’s price is ridiculously low for one of the top golfers in the world, and he can excel in any kind of conditions, so I’ll be putting him in lineups early and often this week.

Tom’s Fade of the Week (Fact or fiction edition)

This week, I’m going to run through who I think are the top 5 high-level golfers that folks will be considering fading this week due to recent performances. Fact means I agree/endorse fading; fiction means I think you are over-analyzing or just plain wrong to fade.

Jordan Spieth $12,000 – Fiction. First, the only reason you could question Spieth’s recent performances is because he hasn’t won since the Dean and Deluca Invitational last year. And I get it – if Jordan is going to be the highest-priced player every week he tees it up, you really do want him to win. But still, as Jon mentioned above, he’s quietly getting it done this season, and now enters a tournament hosted by his title sponsor, AT&T, where he’s had success in the past.

Jason Day $11,600 – Fiction. Uh oh, Jason Day missed his last cut in a tournament (Farmers) where he’s a recent winner. Better hit the panic button! Not so fast… J Day could get overlooked for that reason, which is exactly why he could be a good golfer to target this week. He’s had really good results at Pebble Beach, a tournament he’s committed to each of the past 4 years. The only question is how to choose between Spieth, DJ, and J Day this week (the only golfers above 10K). My advice: either fade them all for strategy purposes, or choose one to play more than the others. For the latter strategy, I actually think I would go with Day.

*Also, apologies for going all Lee Corso on this analysis.

Jimmy Walker $8,800 – Fiction. As you can see above, I think that fading Walker is incredibly ill-advised. Of course, I’ll applaud you later when it pans out, but for now I think Walker is safe to use heavily in a projected bounce-back week.

Patrick Reed $8,300 – Fact. Okay, now we’re getting to the two I actually endorse as fades. Despite a T6 at the Tournament of Champions and T12 at the Career Builder (which he backed into with a Sunday 65), Reed has not looked like his elite Ryder Cup self yet in 2017. On paper, it looks like this is the kind of tournament where he could change that, but I’ve never liked Reed (the sentence could end here and be accurate) for lineups when he’s in a slump, because it’s just very hard to predict when he will finally turn things around. Not worth the risk.

Kevin Chappell $7,200 – Fact. Similar to Reed, I’m taking a wait-and-see approach with Chappell. He did everything you could do in a season without winning to solidify himself as a great player last year. And that price tag is very appealing. But again, he did not win last year, and has looked straight bad in his first two starts of 2017. So remember, we are not fortune tellers, and there is no reason to take the risk on Chappell until he starts to show some of the form that elevated him to great heights last season.

Jon’s Flyer of The Week

Cameron Smith $6,900 -Take this as you will. But Smith has been a cut maker this year. He’s finished t11 back in 2015, and ranks high in the stats that I’m looking at this week (strokes gained statistics, including strokes gained putting). I’d like him to rank a little better in GIR% and scrambling, but on the whole, I do like Cameron Smith to make the cut this week, and possibly contend.

 

2017 Waste Management Phoenix Open: Preview

704x422

The Farmers Insurance Open is over, and what a sweet finish it was, with Jon Rahm sinking a downhill, double-breaking, 60-foot putt for eagle, and turning a come-from-behind into a three-stroke victory. Okay, we’ll bite… Yes, we did feature Jon Rahm, and did predict a slow and steady climb toward Sunday contention. But in all fairness, we were not the only ones on Rahm. In fact, most everyone in the golfing world has been as high or higher on Rahm, and now you see why. Spoiler alert: we’re back on the Arizona State grad this week as he gets to build on his momentum from the win by essentially having a home field tournament with a significantly Sun Devil-partial crowd.

But aside from Rahm, there were a lot of casualties – as there often are – at Torrey Pines, and our picks were far from unscathed. So we’re not here to gloat. We’re here to show humility, show our respect to the fantasy gods, and to always keep working at improving our craft. So with that, it’s another week, another dollar.

This week the PGA Tour heads to Phoenix, Arizona to take on TPC Scottsdale, in what is easily one of our top five favorite non-majors of the season. Boasting “The loudest hole in golf,” and the “greenest show on grass,” the Waste Management Phoenix Open helps bridge the gap between golf and football on a Superbowl weekend like no other tournament could. The WMPO not only attracts the largest crowd of any golf tournament, at times making the action look more like a scene from Happy Gilmore than a traditional tournament, it is the most sustainable and charitable tournament of the year.

It also has begun attracting deeper and deeper fields, meaning lots of great players to pick from, so let’s get after it.

Waste Management Phoenix Open

TPC Scottsdale Course History

Pick of The Week

Jon:

Brendan Steele $8,200 – Hideki is clearly the course horse at TPC Scottsdale, but Brendan Steele is the guy I’m going to be on this week. Currently sitting at 4th in the Fedex Cup standings, Steele has made 6 of 6 cuts this year, and has not finished lower than 31st. He has great course history at TPC Scottsdale, notching two top-10’s in the last 5 years. Couple that with a high strokes gained, total driving, and GIR %, and I have my golfer of the week.

Tom:

Brooks Koepka $9,100 – Last week, I cautioned that my pick of the week (Jimmy Walker) could blow up in my face. It did. This week, I’m picking a guy who was also in that list of notable golfers who missed the cut last week (which included Jason Day, Dustin Johnson, Rickie Fowler, and Tiger Woods). Koepka struggled in his title defense of this tournament last year, but it was the site of his breakthrough PGA win in 2015, and since, Koepka has been one of the higher-level golfers on tour, culminating in a Ryder Cup appearance this past fall. I see Koepka as a top-tier option who may have actually fallen a bit under the radar (I’m hoping for <20% ownership), and who’s length can absolutely dominate this course.

Thick Steak Plays

Jon:

wm-open

Source: Arizona Sports

Hideki Matsuyama $11,700 – One of us has to put him in here. Hideki will most likely be the highest owned player in the field, and rightfully so. He’s a past winner and has finished in top 10 positions in multiple years. He just seems to really like this course, and we wouldn’t be doing our job if we told you to fade him (unless Tom can find a reason). He’s a course horse for a reason.

Jon Rahm $9,700 – Last week’s winner returns to his college state of Arizona. I typically will stay away from last week’s winner, but after watching that 60-foot eagle putt to win, I’m a believer. Rahm ranks high in strokes gained categories, as well as birdie or better percentage. Again, as an Arizona State Alumnus, I see Rahm having another big week.

Tom:

Justin Thomas $11,500 – Elephant in the room: Justin Thomas is teeing it up for the first time since many in the golf world started crowning him as the “next big thing” in golf after two dominant wins in Hawaii, and already three on the season. Whether you buy into that story line or think it’s far-fetched and premature, the dude’s golf game has been incendiary this year. TPC Scottsdale is not exactly the track to humble a hot golfer, either. So I expect JT will continue his birdie-busting play, even if he doesn’t ultimately win the tournament. From an ownership standpoint, though, I would caution overuse of Thomas. A good strategy would be to roll him out in 33-50% of your lineups, and be strategic about which lineups to omit him.

J.B. Holmes $8,800 – I’m not going to lie, thick steak plays are not my favorite this week, and having already used one up as my pick of the week in Koepka, it was hard for me to even choose a second here who I strongly endorse. But as I looked into Holmes a bit more, I may have sold myself. Much like Koepka, J.B. has the length to get into scoring position early and often in Phoenix. On top of that, he’s played this tournament many, many times, has made the cut three years in a row, has two top 10s here (including a T6 last year), and is coming off a Sunday 68 at Torrey Pines. So I like his momentum, and love his history in Phoenix, and finally, believe he will go largely overlooked.

Still, I plan to craft most lineups this week that will pass up the high $ players, and focus on the 7k-low-8k range guys.

Middle of The Road

arizone-progress-and-gazette

Source: Arizona Progress Gazette

 

Jon:

Ryan Moore $8,600 – Another cut-maker of 2017. Moore has great course history here, and like him to round out some lineups. I think Moore has the potential to win here, but overall, I think he’s just a darn safe play. He’s finished with multiple top 10s the past few years at TPC Scottsdale, and ranks well in key metrics that I’m looking at.

Pat Perez $8,000 – Where the F did Perez come from? Tom picked him last week, and I am all in on Perez this week. Again, he has yet to miss a cut, and also has great course history here, coming in notching a bunch of top 50 showings. Following a missed cut last year, I look for Perez to give the course the business, and have a very strong showing at 2017’s version of the Phoenix Open. Oh, and it helps he was born in Phoenix, Arizona.

Tom:

Scott Piercy $7,900 – Piercy is a chalky play this week. First, he is 6 out of 7 in this tournament, including three top 10s and another T15 (granted, these high finishes go back a few years). Second, he has made the cut in every tournament he’s entered this season. There is a lot of clutter (that we will talk about) in this mid-range, so a steady hand like Piercy’s is preferable to taking a flyer on someone near his price.

Cody Gribble $7,100 – Gribble is my example of a sneaky play this week. Jon talked about him at the beginning of the season, as were most of the golf talking heads at that point. Gribble is a rookie from University of Texas who already won (Sanderson Farms Championship), back when most of us were not yet playing fantasy golf. He followed up that win with a couple top 15s, then missed the cut at the Sony Open, and then took a couple weeks off. It is pretty rare for a rookie to get a break like that early in the season, but the win granted Gribble that fortune, and thus I like his chances as he returns to the action this week.

Tom’s Fade of The Week

Rickie Fowler $9,500 and Bubba Watson $8,300 – These are probably considered bolder-than-usual fades, but that’s the kind of fade I like! Both Fowler and Watson are course horses at TPC Scottsdale (Fowler of course losing to Matsuyama in a playoff last year), both are extremely popular in the golfing world (especially with the casual fan), and – although it’s not relevant here – they are both really good friends! What that means is that they will likely carry high ownership, and because of their track records, that could really hurt if you fade them and they both end up contending. It ALSO, of course, means that a fade that pans out could give you an especially strong edge, so be bold, and fade the golf boys!

Jon’s Flyer of the Week

Lucas Glover $6,500 – I can almost guarantee that even mentioning Lucas Glover will draw groans from the DFS crowd. To this day, I have not mentioned Glover’s name without some sort of “really?” from Tom. And it’s true, Glover’s putter may as well be the wrong end of a ball-peen hammer, but the guy has been getting it done this year! He’s been cut once this year — back in October, mind you — and since then has done no worse than a 41st place. He ranks high in strokes gained tee-to-green, and GIR%, which are both metrics that he’ll need this week. I’m not saying Glover comes out ready to hit the winners circle, but I think he could be a sneaky, sneaky play.

BONUS! “7 and 7”

We’re going to add a little section this week (named after one of Tom’s favorite drinks) because frankly, the prices on DK are extremely bizarre for this tournament. It was going to be a tough week to judge anyway, as there is a predicted uptick in players transitioning from daily NFL leagues, and these prices are just adding to the challenge.

For instance: As we’ve continued to gather data on DK GPP leagues, including both our own lineups and others that finish at the top, one theme has become clear: lineups are often won and lost with how you pick players in the 7k range.

The problem with this week is… there are a whopping 47 golfers in this range! So Tom is going to highlight 7 golfers to consider, and 7 to avoid in the 7k range. They are as follows:

Yay:

Tony Finau ($7,600), Matt Kuchar ($7,400) – this is almost a defensive pick, because Kuch will likely be a huge favorite at this ridiculously low of a price, Luke List ($7,400), William McGirt ($7,400), Ryan Palmer ($7,100), Byeong-Hun An ($7,100), and Marc Leishman ($7,000).

Nay:

Webb Simpson ($7,900), Kevin Na ($7,500) – this is partially a strategy play (unlike the yay for Kuch) based on projecting high ownership, James Hahn ($7,300), Robert Garrigus ($7,300), Jason Kokrak ($7,100), Graham DeLaet ($7,100), and Daniel Berger ($7,000).