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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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 $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.