The Cheat Sheet provides fantasy golf players with course info, player history and the most noteworthy trends of the week to help them with their roster selections.
THE FIELDThe field this week consists of 78 players and will act as a no-cut event with all 78 players playing all four rounds. This week marks the start of an Asian swing, as events in South Korea, Japan and China are all on the schedule the next three weeks, with several top names returning to action for some lucrative prize-purses. Defending champion and world No. 1 Brooks Koepka is in the field and joining him overseas will be Justin Thomas, Jason Day and Tommy Fleetwood. This will also be a bit of a “home field” event for some of the Tour’s South Korean players and the likes of Kevin Na, Byeong Hun-An and Sung-Jae Im will be all be playing in their native country this week. One final note, there will be a big time difference with these events, so make sure you check the lineup lock time on DraftKings this week as the event will start much earlier than a regular US-based event.
The Club at Nine Bridges — Jeju Island, South Korea
Par 72, 7,196 yards
The Club at Nine Bridges is a resort style layout that has been built into the hillside of a volcano on South Korea’s famous Jeju island, a popular tourist spot. This course has hosted LPGA events in the past and is regarded as a world class golf resort. In 2017, the weather and course conditions combined for some difficult scoring and the winning score stayed in single digits as Justin Thomas won in a playoff at 9-under par over Marc Leishman. Last year though, conditions were much tamer and Koepka ended up winning by three at 21-under, as the venue played as just the 31st hardest course on Tour, yielding a scoring average of 70.946.
The course itself is setup as a shorter par 72 and has some generous fairways and larger green complexes. There are a couple of quirky hole designs which include links style bunkering, and an island green on the par-5 final hole, which forces a risky approach for those going for the green in two. The layout may not appear overly challenging off the tee but the tricky approaches — greens and wind/weather possibilities in an open layout — means short games and iron play will be tested.
Given the layout, it’s a venue that in the long-run should favor good placement off the tee over pure power, but in reality the wind will determine a lot about how this venue will play year-to-year. One final note, the course this week uses bentgrass greens and fairways so we should see faster green speeds than other stops with more tropical climates around these parts.
2019 Outlook: Like past years at this week’s venue, weather will be a factor. The wind this year doesn’t look like it will be as nasty as it was the first year, but it will still be a factor. Gusts are expected to approach 12-15 mph the first day but should get slightly weaker as the tournament goes on, with the wind dying down to under 10 mph by Sunday. The bigger factor might be the overall temperature this week as wind will combine with slightly cooler temperatures as morning lows are slated in the high-50’s to low-60’s for the week with highs barely cracking 70 degrees. It’s a smaller field event so stacking tee times likely won’t help much but tougher scoring conditions could prevail early once again, with a chance for more birdies on the weekend as the wind dies down.
Strokes Gained: Tee to Green
Par 4 Scoring
Birdie or Better %
Emphasizing recent Tee to Green play is a good idea on a course where wind can play a big factor. Solid ball-striking has been the hallmark of the last two winners and good tee-to-green form should be emphasized here.
I’d also tend to lean towards par 4 scoring this week over par 5 scoring. Nine Bridges has several short par 5’s and like last week they will likely be easy for almost every player in the field. 2017 winner (Justin Thomas) ranked third in par 4 scoring here, while last year’s winner Koepka ranked first in this category.
I’d also lean towards weighting Birdie or Better % heavily again here. The conditions may produce some poor rounds overall, but this course does give the players chances to score, regardless of conditions. Both winners here ranked second and third in this category for the weeks of their wins respectively.
FINDING VALUESOdds to win are one factor to think about when picking players (but not the only thing, so be careful of putting too much weight on them). This section is going to detail a few of the players who have the best fantasy value comparative to their odds of winning this week.
Player, Odds, DraftKings Price, Comparable
Pat Perez, 60-1, $7,500, Rory Sabbatini ($7,900; 70-1), Charles Howell III ($7,600; 70-1), Ryan Moore ($7,500; 66-1)
Sergio Garcia, 29-1, $9,100, Marc Leishman (30-1; $9,200), Gary Woodland ($9,400; 29-1), Jason Day ($9,500; 30-1)
Course History**limited course history this week, but here’s the best players after two years at this week’s venue
1. Rafa Cabrera-Bello: Finished T3 last season after a T11 in the first year. Also enters this week with some progressively better form.
2. Cameron Smith: Has two top-10 finishes at this event in two starts. T3 in his visit to Jeju Island, where he was near the lead most of the week was followed by a T7 last year.
3. Justin Thomas: The inaugural winner, Thomas won in a playoff over Marc Leishman in windy conditions back in 2017. He didn’t fare quite as well last year finishing T36 in better scoring conditions.
4. Jason Day: T5 last season and T11 on his first visit to JeJu Island. Day has handled both windy and calm conditions well at this week’s venue. This will be his first start of the new swing season.
5. Pat Perez: Top-10 finishes in two starts at this week’s venue, including a T5 from the first season. He withdrew from last week’s event but only so he could get to Korea quicker.
Recent Form1. Victor Hovland: Hovland’s been a on a tear since the end of last season, finishing T13 or better in each of his last eight starts. The 22-year-old followed a T2 finish in the KF Tour finals up with T10 and T11 finishes, the latter coming over in Europe against a strong field.
2. Rafa Cabrera-Bello: Cabrera-Bello has been teeing it up against some strong fields in Europe as of late and comes into this event with a T6 and a solo 2nd place finish in his last three starts.
3. Kevin Na: Na is coming off his second win in 2019 two weeks ago at the Shriners. He does have a missed cut on the short Fall swing but also finished T14 at the Greenbrier.
4. SungJae Im: Im has been tearing it up on the Fall swing, posting a solo 2nd place finish at the Sanderson Farms event and a T19 at the Greenbrier. He’s quite familiar with this week’s venue.
5. Justin Thomas: Unlike some of the other top players who are making their swing season debut this week, Thomas already has a start under his belt, finishing T4 at the Safeway Open where he flashed a second round 64. He’s finished win-T3-T4 in his last three PGA starts dating back to last season.
DFS StrategyCash Games: There’s a lot of elite players in this field but the bottom tier does feature some weaker Asian Tour names, so going with a balanced approach seems appropriate this week. Marc Leishman ($9,200), Rafa Cabrera-Bello ($9,600) and Victor Hovland ($10,500) are three players coming in with good form and affordable prices who are capable of racking up birdies at high rates. After them the likes of Byeong Hun-An ($8,400), Ryan Moore ($7,700), Pat Perez ($7,500) and Si Woo Kim ($6,800) can also be considered as good candidates for this format.
Tournaments: Given the no-cut nature of this week’s event building some extreme stars and scrubs lineups can be something to consider. Justin Thomas has the highest birdie-rate on Tour from last season and could be devastating on an easier course like Jeju Island. Sergio Garcia ($9,000) has also shown some better form of late and, like Thomas, has a great record playing in Asia over his career. Other GPP targets this week include Matthew Wolff ($8,800), Rory Sabbatini ($7,900), Chesson Hadley ($6,800) and Troy Merritt ($6,400).
My Pick: Marc Leishman ($9,200)Leishman has had an up and down last couple of months. While he was able to make his way to the Tour Championship last season, lingering back issues caused him to withdraw, in-play, from an early season Fall event. A week of rest seemed to help though as Leishman was able to rebound quickly with a solo third-place finish at the Safeway Open three weeks ago. That performance was quite encouraging as the big Aussie ended the week with rounds of 67 and 65, and ended up finishing the week second in SG: Tee to Green stats. The top-5 finish marked Leishman’s third such finish in his last 10-starts, a feat that tells us the four-time Tour winner is perhaps closing in on his fifth Tour win. A playoff loser at this event two years ago, Leishman returned a solid T18 finish here last season and also has a win at the CIMB Classic (2018), a past Fall swing event that took place in Malaysia. His experience in this part of the world and his recent form all collide here positively and set Leishman up for a potential big week in this no-cut event.
MY SLEEPER: Chesson Hadley ($6,800)Hadley enters this week’s event off of two solid starts on the PGA where he showed progressively better form. A T23 at the Safeway Open, where he ranked 12th in SG: Tee to Green stats for the week, was followed by a T18 at the Shriners. This top-20 finish in Vegas marked his best finish since last year’s U.S. Open and was highlighted by a strong approach game, which had him finish second for the week in SG: Approach stats and third in Tee to Green stats against a stronger field. While his putter needs to ultimately get hot for him to challenge for a win anytime soon, fantasy players should take note of this solid ball-striking which will no doubt come in handy will trying to tame the unpredictable winds at this week’s venue. Hadley only managed a T73 finish here last season but his improved form—and the fact he’s back in the field despite that poor finish from last year suggests he’ll be in for a much better finish this year.
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