Last week was probably the most insanely swingy week of fantasy golf I’ve seen since I started playing. You know things are crazy when your Jimmy Walker and Jordan Spieth lineups are getting held back by, well Jimmy Walker and Jordan Spieth. Tons of high priced “safe” plays missed the cut last week and that saw teams that gambled on solid, but inexperienced players do well. I was in the same boat as many with most of my “top plays” flaming out early but was delighted to see my main gpp play Rickie Fowler have a massive end to his Sunday round and ship the tournament. At around 5-6% owned he was the perfect gpp play and one of my best calls of the year thus far…
On to this week…
The Wells Fargo Championship is played in Charlotte, North Carolina and is played on a high quality championship course. Quail Hollow golf course always seems to get high remarks from the players and it is of no surprise that this course will soon host the 2017 PGA Championship. Quail Hollow is a par 72 course that plays around 7500 yards. It’s had some remodeling done in the past few years to make it longer and add some toughness to some of the tee shots. It also had it greens completely replaced with Bermuda grass following the 2013 tournament (where the greens were awful). The redesign seemed to work as the course looked great last year even though it play relatively easy.
If you watched last year you saw JB Holmes win his first event in a few years and also saw how unimportant driving accuracy is. Much like his win at the Shell Houston Open this year, Holmes drove the ball everywhere but straight and still managed to win the tournament. For this reason, I am really focusing on driving distance this week and also strokes gained tee to green. Players should be able get away with some inaccuracy as long as they have distance off the tee and power to make up for missing the fairway. Players with good tee to green games should be able to hit several greens in regulation and not get as penalized for missing fairways. As well, players who have been scrambling well of late should be watched. If players do miss a green getting up and down will be important. There are plenty of tough holes to navigate this week and every player will have their short game tested at some point.
Odds to win: 25-1
A lot of people will likely go with the safe snuggly picks this weeks like cut machine Jim Furyk or young gun Hideki Matsuyama. Both are solid choices. But if there was ever a tournament where you could feel confident rolling Phil Mickelson out in nearly any fantasy format it would have to be this one. Mickelson’s record at this event is astonishing. He’s made 10 of his last 10 cuts here while landing four top 5’s. He’s only finished outside of the top 12 on two occasions in this same span. Phil is a player I generally do not bother using stats with since he’s talented enough to win anywhere but is inconsistent week to week. This week Phil’s inaccuracy off the tee will not be penalised nearly as much and if he can bring even a smidgeon of the form he showed at the Masters to Quail Hollow he may end up being the top fantasy producer for the week.
Odds to win: 30-1
I know a lot has been made about his poor putting recently but at $8600 on DraftKings Adam Scott is definitely in play for me, especially for cash games. Scott is still one of the best players in the world tee to green and this week likely plays to his strengths more so than last. Some not so great putters have had success here in the past and Scott could easily continue that trend this week. Given the carnage that occurred at the Players it’s impossible for me to call anyone a lock, but having the option to roster a former major winner and cut making machine like Scott for under $9000 should still be a welcome site for fantasy players. He’s a must play in cash games for me.
Odds to win: 70-1
I think a lot of fantasy players will migrate to Justin Thomas this week due to his Players performance and the amount of airtime he received, but this week also sets up very well for Daniel Berger. Berger has great length off the tee and ranks highly in strokes gained tee to green. I also really like Berger for two other reasons, he’s a pretty decent scrambler and he absolutely destroys par 5’s. To be quite honest I couldn’t fault anyone who wanted to roster either Berger or Thomas but for my money I would rather pay for the player who is going to be lower owned and that is most likely going to be Berger. I think Berger makes for a great play this week and could be once again find himself in prime position to win his first title on tour. He’s a great bargain on Victiv where he doesn’t even crack 7k in salary.
Odds to win: 70-1
There’s likely two camps of people in relation to Gary Woodland this week for fantasy purposes. The people who will be so put off by his horrendous missed cut last week they refuse to play him, and those who remember how dominant he looked the week before the match play. Even though I got burned by him myself last week in some lineups this week is a completely course and one that suits Woodland’s game 100x better than last week. Woodland ranks in the top ten in power off the tee and also ranks nicely tee to green. I was really impressed with Woodland’s putting over in the match play and if he brings that same stroke to Quail I think he can contend once again. I’d have a short memory and use him in some gpp lineups if possible.
Brendon de Jonge
Odds to win: 80-1
De Jonge is one of the players here with local knowledge and quite frankly it shows in his results. De Jonge has played this event each of the past 6 years and has made the cut all 6 times, while also recording finishes of 4th and 6th. Even though de Jonge is not long off the tee he does have a very solid tee to green game and ranks highly in greens in regulation which is probably why he has had so much success here. It should also be noted that de Jonge has also had a lot of success at the Shell Houston Open, a course very similar in style to Quail Hollow. I really like the trends this week for de Jonge and think he’s been playing solid enough to warrant using, his price allows you to use a lot of top talent.
Odds to win: 80-1
My other bargain price player with some local connection is Jason Kokrak. On top of absolutely killing the ball off the tee Kokrak is also ranked very nicely in scrambling and near the top of the tour in par 5 scoring. Kokrak may be coming off a disappointing Players but once again we see that the course this week shifts massively in his favour. Kokrak has improved here each of the past two years he’s played and it’s starting to look like he might be taking to a Quail Hollow, a course which really suits his strengths. He’s yet to win on tour but definitely has the game to contend, at his price he’s another great value play this week.
Notes: I really think Rory McIlroy will be in contention again this week and has a great chance to win. However he’s really hard to roster on DraftKings with steep prices there this week. He would be my top choice if prices there were a little softer. Kevin Kisner will be very highly owned this week and for good reason. He’s been playing great and could possibly contend again. But remember this is a very, very different course than Hilton Head or TPC Sawgrass and because of that he’s not a must play for me. Rory Sabbatini is someone to consider this week, he tends to get on rolls where he’s top ten’ing every week and has a nice record at this event.
Odds to win: 250-1
My favourite value punt of the week definitely goes to Steven Bowditch. Bowditch may not be as solid tee to green as some of the other players on my list but he does have great length off the tee and also has something many of the other big hitters don’t, a world class scrambling game. Bowditch ranks second on tour in scrambling and should be able to put that game to use this week as he powers his way around the golf course. He started the season very poorly but has made a few cuts recently and even recorded a 12th at the TPC Zurich, another longer par 72. I think the course actually sets up perfectly for his style of play and I’d recommend Bowditch as a great gpp punt this week.
Odds to win: 200-1
If you play on Victiv there is quite a few cheaper options this week and one very cheap option I would consider would be John Merrick. Merrick has a fine record at this event and sets up quite well for it as a longer hitter off the tee. A former winner on tour Merrick has flashed some decent results in his past few starts and in a weaker field might be a very good source of cheap fantasy points as he looks to build up his own fedex point total. I like Merrick as a cheap punt play on Victiv and a great filler who could possibly even land you a higher than expected finish.
Odds to win: 45-1
Just like last week with Rickie Fowler I think a lot of people are going to be bypassing Louis Oosthuizen for pricing reasons and that in my mind makes him a great gpp target. On DraftKings Oosthuizen is more expensive than Adam Scott and Patrick Reed and also just under last year’s winner and fantasy favorite JB Holmes. Hence for most people, he’s set up as a fade. However, Oosthuizen sets up perfectly for this course and has been playing phenomenally tee to green as of late. Oosthuizen’s strengths have always been great driving and his ability to take advantage of the par 5’s, and he can be a great source of fantasy points when on as he tends to make a boatload of birdies and eagles. He played great at the match play event and even though he kind of flamed out last week this week offers a much weaker field and a much friendlier course. I really like Louis to sneak up on people this week and possibly even bag his first win on American soil.
Fade: a few people may still have Brendan Steele down as an automatic cut maker from his early season play, but lately he’s been really ordinary. He’s also been bad at this event in the past so I’ll pass on him this week.
My Pick: Maybe I’m delusional from last week but I really like my gpp play once again. It will be tough sledding to beat Rory this week but I think Louis Oosthuizen can get it done on a course that should really suit his game.