After a week’s hiatus all of the daily fantasy golfers can rejoice, golf is back and in a big way. Last week the World Match Play Championships were taking place in San Francisco and while it is a great format it is not a great format for fantasy golf. Maybe one day sites will figure out a game for match play (fantasy Ryder Cup action would be sweet) but for now, I am fine with a week off in the middle of a very busy season.
I used the week off to alter my selection process a bit and will be decreasing the number of stat categories I look at and giving a little more weight to recent form, course history, fantasy salary value and just my own intuitions. I’m excited to see what it produces in the next week or two.
Not only does the tour return to regular stroke play this week but it returns with one of its biggest events of the year. The Player’s Championship is regularly referred to as “the 5th major” and rightfully so. This event has as deep a field as any major and also has one of the largest prize purses on tour. Most of the top 100 golfers in the world rankings will be in attendance.
The event takes place at a course that was built primarily to host this event, TPC Sawgrass. TPC Sawgrass is a stadium styled course that was designed by Pete Dye and is really a great all-around test of golf. The course is a par 72 that plays generally between 7200-7300 yards and features small greens, quite a bit of sand and some very well placed water hazards as well. Like many of Pete Dye’s designs, it also has smaller than average greens and some interesting dog legs on many of the holes. Many different types of players have had success on this course and there’s really no one style to favour over another. Still, certain statistical categories have stood out and proximity to the hole from 100-150 yards away seems to be the most important. From a winners perspective, it’s also important to note that most of the winners of this event have been veterans with a fairly decent history at TPC Sawgrass. Last year’s winner (Martin Kaymer) is a perfect example as he had played here 5 times previously and made the cut every single time with finishes between 15th and 55th.
All in all, expect a player of decent form and pedigree to triumph here, but also be on the lookout for certain young players who might be good value plays from a fantasy perspective. There’s a potential for some big weeks from a lot of lower priced players.
Odds to Win: 9-1
There’s not much that needs to be said here so I’ll be brief. The course sets up very well for Spieth who has a fantastic approach game and is obviously great around and on the greens. Power is not an issue this week and that plays massively in Spieth’s favour (much like it did at the Valspar). Motivation should also not be an issue. Last year he finished 4th here and should be motivated this year to overcome his poor final round performance from 2014. Even with his increase in price you can build solid rosters with Spieth because of the depth of the field. Spieth is a cash game must, but his ownership levels in gpps will be through the roof. The decision to fade or not to fade in gpps will be the toughest of the week. I’d recommend you consider making at least some lineups without him as he does still need a minimum top 5 finish to pay off his salary.
Odds to Win: 35-1
Jimmy Walker always seems to be underpriced by the sites in these large scale tournaments and this week is no exception. Walker is priced extremely fair (cheap) by the sites this week and his history at this event and on tour over the past two years suggests you need to take advantage. Walker closed here with a brilliant 65 last year and vaulted himself into 6th place. He’s made the cut at this event in 4 out of 5 attempts and never finished worse than 35th in times he’s made the weekend. I really like Walker’s progression here and like last year’s winner, Martin Kaymer he may have figured out how to have success on this course. Walker ranks very highly in approach proximity from 100-150 yards and he’s one of the players I could see really challenging for the win.
Odds to Win: 70-1
A lot of players might still be stinging from Zach’s missed cut at the RBC heritage, but I would suggest trying to get past that misfortune this weekend. Johnson has a stellar record at this event (9 of last 10 cuts made) and finished second here in 2012. Aside from one bad performance two weeks ago, Johnson has also really been playing solid of late, and it’s been mostly due to his great iron play. He looked very solid at the match play event last week and only narrowly missed out on advancing from his group. TPC Sawgrass sets up perfectly for great iron players and right now that is the strongest part of Zach’s game. At 8200 I think he could easily outperform many of the much higher priced talent above him and land you a top 5 finish.
Odds to Win: 125-1
The only thing not to like about Brendon Todd this week is his lack of experience at this course, otherwise everything about him screams great play. Todd is ranked highly in scrambling, strokes gained putting and proximity to the hole. He’s a great wedge game player who relies on accuracy over power. In his last stroke play start at the Pete Dye designed Hilton Head he was throwing darts for most of the week and ended up finishing 4th. This course fits Todd’s game to a tee and even though I don’t like his lack of history I’m not letting it affect me with this choice. Todd should be able to handle most of the difficult shots this course requires and I like him for a surprise top ten finish at this event.
Odds to Win: 80-1
There’s definitely a few interesting prices on the sites this week and Ian Poulter might be the most interesting of them all on DraftKings. At 7200 he’s priced under many players he’s outperformed, both this year and throughout his career. Poulter might be coming off a poor match play performance but his play this year has been borderline spectacular at times. He nearly won at the similarly styled PGA National Course and also finished T6 at the Masters where he was the best player not named Spieth on the weekend. I really think Poulter is due for a big win at some point this year and this could easily be the place for it. The course plays to his strength and he is certainly confident enough to take on Rory or Spieth head on should he need to.
Odds to Win: 100-1
There’s a ton of good young players you can back in this tournament but the best deal for my money might be Morgan Hoffmann. Hoffmann catches my eye this week for a couple reasons. He’s now had back to back solid performances on Pete Dye courses (9th at Hilton Head, 36th at Zurich) and also finished 17th here in his first visit. It seems as if the course should suit him. Secondly, since the first WGC in March, Hoffmann has been on a tear making 5 of 6 cuts and also landing two top ten’s in that span. He’s a great young talent who really seems poised to land his first victory soon enough. This week I think he makes for a great value play as he has shown great mettle in big events thus far in his career.
Notes: I like Lee Westwood a lot this week for his price and the consistency he offers. He has a great record at this event and has been very solid this year thus far. I also like Luke Donald and Sergio Garcia for the fact neither have a missed a cut here in the past ten years, great for cash games. Finally, I won’t be shocked at all if Tiger Woods plays well this week and possible even wins. His driver isn’t what it used to be, but his iron play is still world class and that’s key to winning this event.
Odds to Win: 250-1
Once upon a time Alex Cejka actually led this event in the final round in 2009 but ended up imploding on the back nine and finishing 9th. This year however has seen Cejka win his first event on tour and just be extremely consistent with his results. He’s also played pretty well the past two weeks on Pete Dye courses and has the precise sort of game to succeed at TPC Sawgrass. One of the more underrated tour veterans, Cejka’s experience at this course, and on tour, should come in very handy this week and he offers some pretty decent upside at his price.
Odds to Win: 225-1
Matt Every is not exactly the type of player I’d advocate rolling out in cash games this week but I would venture him in a gpp or two. He’s extremely cheap and has the perfect sort of game (when on) to compete at this golf course. Every really relies on precision iron play and good play around the greens and that is a lot of what is required for success at Sawgrass. Every has played this event three times in the past and has two missed cuts and a 26th. However he’s shown more maturity and better play this year after his win and I would expect he would like to validate his second win on tour this time with some solid play at the bigger events. As a Floridian, Every is quite familiar with the course and I think he offers upside that others at his price range simply do not.
Odds to Win: 66-1
A week ago before the match play started Fowler tweeted out the following: “Just didn’t score well the first two rounds…my swing is really good right now…need to stick my putter in the oven and heat that thing up”. Fowler burned DFS players at the Zurich when he missed the cut and with very solid players right above him and great value plays right beneath him, Fowler is most likely going to be very overlooked this weekend. Fowler may have a spotty record at TPC Sawgrass but he also has a second place to his name back in 2012. Fowler looked very good last week in the match play and I won’t be shocked if he comes out blazing in this event ready to put his early season disappointment behind him.
Fade: This one is almost too easy. Keegan Bradley spent last week picking fights with elderly golfers and embarrassing himself on national TV. Now he gets to play TPC Sawgrass, a course that requires patience and precision, not exactly the type of game he likes to play, I’ll pass and so should you.
My Pick: It’s tempting to go contrarian and I really think we may see a big performance from Walker or Fowler but my pick is Jordan Spieth. Every time I think he can’t he does, so why fight the current any longer?