Well what a week that was. It’s safe to say that watching the Masters with the knowledge that someone is going to win a million dollars based on a made or missed putt—and knowing that person isn’t even playing in the tournament—is a pretty cool thing. The best thing about this weekend for me was seeing the Millionaire Maker fill nearly 12 hours before tee off and then watching Draftkings launch an even bigger one for the US Open. DFS Golf is catching on and that is great news for players. Now if we could just get a little more balanced payouts?
Our picks last week were very very solid and I’m happy with how things turned out even if I did underestimate Jordan Spieth a bit. Our value plays turned out to be huge (ahem Morgan Hoffmann ahem Russell Henley) and Dustin Johnson had one of the highest fantasy scores for the week. So let’s continue the good times…
On to this week.
I’ve always seen the RBC Heritage as a perfect post Masters tournament. It takes place within Habour Town Golf Links at Hilton Head, a small coastal golf town/village in South Carolina. The course is very serene and idyllic, and the coastal setting makes it one of the nicest venues of the year in my opinion. Additionally, with it taking place right after the Masters the field is always semi-decent and it’s interesting to see how players react after the letdown that is inevitable after a major ends. The course itself is a par 71 which ranges between 7000-7100 yards and for all intents and purposes is shorter than most courses the players have played recently. But Habour Town is a course that can’t really be overpowered. It has small greens and lots of interesting doglegs that make placement and accuracy key this week. It’s a fitting test that always seems to produce some drama.
With the course being so unique, it’s not shocking to find that certain players have thrived at the course, and this is very much a week where history should play a huge role in creating your lineups. For that reason I’ve really focused on course history this week as well as a few other key stats to help make selections. Given the small nature of the greens, proximity to the hole is one of those stats that should help you determine potentially high scoring DFS players. The small greens mean players will need pinpoint approaches to hit these greens. As well, scrambling and strokes-gained putting should both be crucial stats to focus on this week. Missing the green is inevitable at Habour Town. If you can get up and down consistently, you will have a major edge on the field. It’s not shocking to see that some of the past winners of this event are also some of the best scramblers and putters on tour in the past decade or so.
Odds to win: 20-1
Key Stat: 20th—driving accuracy
A couple of weeks ago I wrote that Zach Johnson is a player you really want to watch when he starts playing well, because he typically starts landing some very high finishes, and he does it in a hurry. Well I’m officially putting Zach on “heater” alert and expect he might continue his run this week at Harbour Town. Zach’s last three finishes read 9-20-9 and that includes his best finish at Augusta since his win in 2007. This week sets up very very well for Zach. While he hasn’t exactly lit the world on fire in 2015, he’s still very accurate with his driver and irons when he is on and ranks 20th in driving accuracy. Zach also putted much better last week than he did in weeks prior, and if he can build on that performance then I think a top ten is likely. I’d expect to see him near the top at some point this week.
Odds to win: 25-1
Key Stat: 49th—proximity to the hole (fairway)
Poulter was quite possibly the best player at Augusta on Saturday and Sunday, shooting a pair of 67’s to vault him up to a tie for 6th. Poulter has for all intents and purposes gone through a rebirth this season and looks every bit the quality player he did when he was in his prime 3-4 years ago. I really like the fact that Poulter has played so much in America this year and he seems hungry to nab himself a win. Poulter ranks very solidly in almost every area I am looking at this week stat wise, and even though he doesn’t have a long history at Habour Town, I feel like the course will set up for him extremely well. I could very easily see this being Poults’ week.
Odds to win: 40-1
Key Stat: 13th—strokes gained putting
Henley is a fantastic young player who has been on a bit of a roll himself the past few tournaments. Henley led the field in greens in regulation at the Shell Houston open where he finished in fourth, and then followed that up with a 21st at Augusta last week, his best finish ever there. Henley’s game seems taylor-made for Habour Town as his low ball flight allows him to cut through the wind better than most. He’s won at the equally windy Sony Open and finished 4th this year at the McGladrey Classic, which features another seaside course. Henley is ranked 13th in strokes gained putting on tour and if his flatstick heats up, I think he stands a great chance of winning this week.
Odds to win: 70-1
Key Stat: 10th—proximity to the hole (fairway)
My other Russell pick is another good young player who typically excels in a little more windy conditions where distance is not as large an issue. Knox came to Habour Town for the first time last year and promptly finished 9th, showing DFS players that he can really excel on a course that favours the strengths of his game. Knox is an accurate driver and can also be deadly accurate with his irons as he ranks 10th overall in proximity to the hole. Knox has had a couple weeks off now and I expect he might come into this event flying and catch some people off guard. At his price this week, he’s one of the most intriguing plays on the board and could be a huge difference maker.
Odds to win: 80-1
Key Stat: 9th—scrambling, 18th—proximity to the hole (fairway)
My other lower priced talent with massive upside is Brendon Todd. Like many of the players already mentioned, Todd’s game really seems built for a course like Harbour Town. Right now Todd ranks 9th in scrambling (brilliant) and 18th in proximity to the hole and he is also one of the most consistent putters on tour. Todd had a brutal Masters, as he opened with an 80 which was well, brutal. However dig a little deeper and you see that one bad result should not dissuade you from playing Todd. Over the past two years or so, Todd has never missed two cuts in a row and has typically bounced back from a missed cut with a great performance. In fact, Todd’s win last year came off the heels of a missed cut. Like Knox, I think Todd is a player who might bust out of the gates this week, at his price I would recommend getting a heavy dosage of him in your lineups.
Odds to win: 90-1
Key Stat: 21st—scrambling
I’m really hoping most people overlook John Huh, or just simply forget he exists. Huh has played some of the most consistent golf of his career so far in 2015 and now comes to a course that suits him possibly better than any on tour. Huh is a very accurate driver of the ball and this year his scrambling and putting stats also rank with the best. Last year Huh came to this course and finished third in only his second appearance, and he has also had top finishes at similarly styled courses such as Colonial and El Camaleon at Mayakoba. Huh has now made his last 5 cuts on tour and also landed two top twenty finishes in that span. The stats and his finishing trends say he might be about to do something much better, you’ve been warned.
Other notes: Ben Martin is a streaky player, but is the kind you love for fantasy when he gets hot. He finished 3rd here last year and was also 5th a few weeks ago at Bay Hill, he makes for a great cheap gpp play. Luke Donald has finished in the top 3 here 5 of the past 6 years, that is not a misprint. He seems like an obvious play assuming you can stomach his recent poor performances. Charley Hoffman is coming off a great performance and has a nice history at Habour Town with two top ten’s to his credit, I expect he’ll be popular this week and for good reason.
Odds to win: 150-1
Key Stat: 5th in 2014 at Harbour Town
Brown is a lesser known player who typically shows up at select tournaments where precision and putting play a key role, like this week. Brown has played pretty well the past few weeks, making the cut in all three events, while also landing a top ten at the windy Puerto Rico event, which was likely good practice for this week. Brown is a stellar putter who finished 5th last year at Harbour Town and I reckon at 5400, he will have a good chance of making the weekend. He certainly has the right sort of game to take on this course.
Odds to win: 150-1
Key Stat: 6 for 6 cuts made at Harbour Town
Levin has really faded of late after his hot start to the year but I would not let that stop you from considering him as a punt for this week at Habour Town. Levin seems to love this track, having made the cut here in all 6 of his visits, including last year when he came to the event in horrific form. Levin’s strength is definitely his short iron play and accuracy and when he is on he can land you some birdies in bunches (always good for fantasy scoring). At his price, and with his great history at Harbour town, I’d be fine rolling the dice in some gpps to see if Levin’s recent break did his game any good.
Odds to win: 90-1
Key Stat: 14th—proximity to the hole (fairway)
Webb is one of my favorite gpp plays simply because he can go super low at almost any time and win you a gpp. Webb typically thrives on par 70 or par 71 golf courses that favour accuracy and ball-striking more than length. He finished 2nd at this event in 2013 and for all intents and purposes it suits his game very well. I think people may be off Webb a little this week simply because of where he falls in the salary range, but he had one of his best finishes at Augusta last week and—except for one of the worst shanks I have ever seen on tour—played very well. Webb is one of the best ball strikers in the field this week but his overall success will depend on his putter. If he putts well, he could be the difference maker in many of your lineups.
This is the time of year you start fading Charles Howell III in my opinion. This course requires a good short game and decent putting, and Howell has neither. He may have been money for the first quarter of the season but it’s time to get off this train.
This is a tough one. My top three players all have great arguments to be made for getting their name here, so I’ll say we see a three way playoff between ZJ, Henley and Poulter, with Russell Henley besting the two veterans.