Last week was pretty exciting for golf purposes. Justin Rose looked like a sure winner of the event until he teed off on Sunday and forget how to hit the golf ball. David Lingmerth, who was under .5% owned everywhere in daily fantasy won and showed how powerful picking a longshot winner can be for fantasy purposes. It was crazy to think that most major tournaments were actually won with none of the top ten team’s even rostering the winner of the actual golf tournament, and a good example of why you should consider every player on the roster each week when doing your research.
On to this week…
The tour heads to Memphis this week for one more stop before the US Open. The FedEx St. Jude is played at TPC Southwind, a 7200 yard, par 70 course that plays pretty tough. It has a lot of doglegs, features water on 10 of the holes and was toughened up in a 2004 renovation in which more bunkers and trees were added to the course. While the course has played more difficult since the 2004 reno’s it has not shown to favour any one style of player over another, and that alone makes it difficult for handicapping purposes. Another twist to this week is the weakness of the field. Many top players have already withdrawn or taken the week off to get a better look at Chambers Bay, the US Open course. There will not be many well-known players in this event and many of the unknown players may end featuring in this event in some way (similar to last week’s winner). Last year, after a horrible stretch of golf Ben Crane came from out of nowhere to win. Previous years have seen some quality winners, but there have also been some fairly big surprises. Ultimately, this is a week where I would not rely much on course history, and instead look for players who have been playing well or trending in a positive direction coming in. Players who have been driving the ball well and hitting a lot of greens in regulation in their past few tournaments should be favoured.
Par 4 scoring
Proximity to the Hole
Greens in Regulation
The course only features two par 5’s. Quite simply the players will need to play the par 4’s well and those who have ranked highly in this category have done well at this event in past years. The course also features smaller than normal greens and so I think those who are hitting their approaches well should be favoured. Players who are hitting it accurately (proximity) and consistently on the green (GIR) will have an advantage this week and should be able to avoid the many hazards. Lastly, while it’s not the main stat I’m looking at this week, I do think past results have shown that long drivers have an advantage here. I’ve included it in my research and think it makes for a good tiebreaker alongside course history this week.
Odds to win: 20-1
It’s hard to ignore some of the trends on Webb Simpson this week and I think when all is said and done there’s a pretty good case to be made for him coming out as the top play this week. Simpson is a multiple winner on tour who also has a US Open title to his name. He’s mired in a winless drought but has actually been playing some pretty solid golf this year. His biggest concern has been his putter and even in his recent second place finish at Well Fargo you could see he struggled with it. Still, Simpson sets up perfect for this week. He’s taken a couple events off now and should be raring to put together a good effort before Chambers Bay. He’s also ranked inside the top 20 in approach proximity and greens in regulation, two stats of importance this week given the small greens. And lastly, Webb finished third here last year while not in very good form. This year he comes in pretty hot and is my top pick amoung the top players.
Odds to win: 28-1
I initially wanted to write up Paul Casey this week, but his withdraw sent me back to my next choice at his price range which was Harris English. English won this event in 2013 and also won the OHL Classic in 2013 on a similar course. English has not played great this year given his past track record and immense talent but his recent play has shown some glimmers of hope. He put together a pretty solid four rounds last week and looks to be headed in the right direction. There are some bigger names ahead of him in pricing this week but I would consider that for gpp purposes they will all be higher owned. English ranks 38th in par 4 scoring and 42nd in proximity to the hole making him a good fit for this course from a statistical standpoint as well. I’d really consider building some gpp lineups around Harris this weekend because in this weaker field, with the US Open looming for many other top players, he might get his year back on track here and snag the win.
Odds to win: 70-1
Brian Harman is not the most consistent payer for fantasy purposes but he can often pay off in a big way. Harman has his fair share of missed cuts this year but he also has 5 top twenties and 2 top ten’s in his last 4 starts. Moreover, while Harman doesn’t have the greatest stats on the year his recent play shows a lot of promise. In his last two starts he’s now ranked 5th and 2nd in greens in regulation and the only thing slowing him down seems to be cold putting. I really like Harman as a tournament play this week because I think most people will scoff at paying up for him. However he’s actually been hitting the ball as good as anyone recently and in this week field, a top ten or better is easily within his grasp.
Odds to win: 50-1
Stefani’s been a reliable fantasy option all year and this week, in a reduced field there’s no reason to get off the Stefani bandwagon. Stefani ranks 24th in par 4 scoring for the year and also has played well at this event before finishing 7th in 2013. Another good omen for Stefani is that he finished 2nd this year at the OHL classic in Mayakoba on a course that has shown correlation with TPC Southwind. Many players in the past have performed well at both events (Harris English has actually won both) and while course correlation can be somewhat unscientific it’s still another reason to like Stefani. At his price this week I think Stefani makes sense as a very solid cash game play for fantasy purposes and someone to anchor your teams around. In a weak field you may see him breakthrough for a big week.
Odds to win: 70-1
I actually think Jason Bohn is a pretty good bargain this week considering the field of this event. While that may sound strange Bohn’s recent form includes a 2nd and a 9th in his past three events. He’s also shown some very good form at this event (and at the OHL event) and has landed three top 25 finishes in his last 5 visits to TPC Southwind. I think Bohn having success at this course makes a lot of sense because when he is playing well Bohn is one of the most accurate players on tour with his approaches. He ranks 3rd in proximity to the hole and 17th in greens in regulation for the year, meaning he should be very capable of attacking the small greens this week and avoiding trouble. I like Bohn’s price for fantasy and the possibility he brings to the table this week.
Odds to win: 60-1
Knox is a good example of a player who is playing well, has great statistics for the course but still has a few question marks because of his course history. Knox has now made his last 6 cuts on tour with three top 20 finishes in that stretch. He’s been playing extremely well of late and was even threatening the lead at one point last week. Knox ranks 4th in par 4 scoring and 2nd in proximity to the hole, meaning he can be deadly accurate with his approach shots when he is on. Knox is a player I absolutely expect to win on tour at some point and I think the fact this week features a par 70 course definitely moves the odds in his favour. He’s only made one of three cuts at this course but I’m not putting as much emphasis on course history this week as I am recent form. Knox may be better suited as a gpp play this week due to his poor history but I think the weak field really does make him a pretty solid play. He’s the type of player I expect to rise up and have a mammoth week.
Odds to win: 125-1
In a field where there’s some serious question marks surrounding a lot of the field a great, consistent cheap option this week is William McGirt. McGirt is coming off a decent performance at the Memorial last week and has now made his last 3 cuts on tour. He ranks 46th in par 4 scoring and 39th in proximity, and his past history at this course gives you some reason for optimism too as he finished 13th here three years ago. In a normal week McGirt would strictly be a “punt” type of option for me, but at this event in a very weak field he’s probably in the top half of the field for me in terms of talent and probably has a pretty good chance to land you a top 20 finish this week too. His price makes him very attractive as he offers consistency with some upside this week.
Charles Howell III
Odds to win: 90-1
When Howell III is priced cheaply AND making cuts he can be one of the most consistent players for fantasy purposes. This week, Howell is really cheap considering the quality of this field and I think it’s a perfect time to start firing him up for fantasy golf again. Howell rebounded from a bad opening round last week to make the cut and finish in a respectable 31st. This week he’ll be looking to keep the momentum going on a course that he’s shown remarkable consistency at. Since 2010 Howell III has made the cut every time he’s played this event and even landed a 3rd place finish in 2011. He may not always challenge for the win but his high green in regulation percentages (20th) have obviously served him well at this event and allowed to him to post a decent record. On DraftKings he makes for the perfect roster filler as he is very good at getting you four rounds when his game is on.
Odds to win: 110-1
My Victiv punt of the week is former tour winner John Merrick. I’ve been keeping tabs on Merrick all year and he’s started to piece together some pretty solid results in the past couple months. In addition to finishing 16th in his last event, Merrick also has a pretty solid record at TPC Southwind. Merrick has played here each of the past 6 years and never missed a cut while also posting results of 2nd and 11th. Merrick is a nice blend of good recent form and good course history. He’s a longer hitter who should be able to use that power to his advantage on some holes this week and his good recent play makes him an excellent upside option for you final roster spot on Victiv.
Odds to win: 125-1
I like Jeff Overton as a punt play because he is the consummate tour grinder. Overton doesn’t make every cut but even the weeks he does miss he is usually not far off the cut line. After a rough opening to his year Overton has started to show the consistent play that has allowed him to maintain his tour card for so long. Last week he had his best finish in quite a while, putting up a 26th place at a very demanding golf course. This week Overton plays a course he’s much more familiar with as he’s played TPC Southwind seven times since 2006. Overton’s never missed a cut at this event and even has a 13th and two top ten’s to his name here. I really like his price and chances of making the cut this week and think he makes for one of the best punt options on DraftKings.
Fade: I like way Steven Bowditch has been playing but his fantasy price is now way too high and his game seems like a poor fit for this course. I’d avoid and pay up elsewhere.
My Pick: I really like Webb Simpson this week. He should be highly motivated to put in a good week before the US Open and just seems to be really hungry to get back in the winner’s circle. I’m looking for him to somewhat dominate in a pretty watered down field.