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.

 

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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:

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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).