The Cheat Sheet provides fantasy golf players with course information, player history and the most noteworthy trends of the week to help them with their roster selections.
The field this week consists of approximately 130 players. There are two weeks left in the official 2019 swing season, and so, several players who took time off over the Asian swing have returned for this event. Leading the pack is last year’s controversial winner Matt Kuchar, who is making his first start since the Tour Championship and likely will face questions all week about his “tipping practices” after using a local caddie here last year. Joining him at the top are Jason Day — playing this event for the first time ever — and Viktor Hovland, still in search of his first Tour win. Also, in the field are past winners like Pat Perez, Graeme McDowell and Harris English. It’s still a slightly smaller field than we’ll see later in the season, but with the new cut rules allowing only the top 65 and ties to play the weekend, getting 6/6 through on DraftKings still will be difficult.
El Camaleon, Riviera Maya, Mexico
Par 71, 6,987 yards
This is a Greg Norman-designed course set on the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. This course has hosted the event since 2007, although the dates changed from February to November back in 2013. This change is significant as the tournament has seen much lower scores since the move as the winds at this time of year are usually much milder than they are in February.
As a shorter course with a lot of hazards, driving distance almost always takes a backseat here as players often will “club down” to find fairways and avoid trouble. This is very much a second-shot course where players simply will be looking to avoid trouble off the tee and then firing short-to-mid irons onto most of the greens. One other thing to note is the course uses Paspalum greens, which will be average or slower than normal on the stimpmeter.
The setup here is fairly standard as El Camaleon plays as a par 71 with three par 5s and four par 3s. As previously mentioned, the course plays short for Tour standards at right under 7,000 yards, making wedge and short game play emphasized. In terms of the hole setups, three of the four par 3s measure in at 155 yards or less and none of the par 5s come in at longer than 554 yards, making it essential for players to take advantage of scoring on these holes. There are five par 4s that measure in more than 450 yards, however, so the key for most will be to limit the damage on these tougher/longer holes while taking advantage on the easier/shorter scoring ones. For reference, of the past five winners here only one has finished outside the top five in Par 4 Scoring for the week of play.
2019 Weather Update: The weather doesn’t look like it will be a huge issue here, although there are a few things to take note of. Thursday starts out nice, although there might be a few rain drops early, with the temperatures looking mild to warm. Friday looks a little blustery and there are possible thunderstorms in the p.m. The Friday p.m. wave looks set to be a little windier with gusts approaching 10 mph, but nothing hugely substantial to worry about. The weekend looks mostly sunny with winds dying down Sunday and, overall, we should see a low-scoring event, similar to last year. Stacking in four-round Classic formats might have some validity this week given Friday’s forecast, but don’t expect huge wave discrepancies.
Past 5 winners
2018—Matt Kuchar -22 (over Danny Lee)
2017—Patton Kizzire -19 (over Rickie Fowler -18)
2016—Pat Perez -21 (over Gary Woodland -19)
2015—Graeme McDowell -18 (in playoff over Jason Bohn and Russell Knox)
2014—Charley Hoffman -17 (over Shawn Stefani -16)
— Five of the past seven winners have ranked inside the top 50 for birdie average in the year of their respective victory.
— Four of the past eight winners were playing this event for the first time in their career — Patton Kizzire and Matt Kuchar both had played here just once before winning.
– Strokes Gained: Approach
– Birdie or Better Percentage
– Par 4 Scoring/Par 4 Efficiency 450-500 yards
As mentioned previously, I’m not super concerned with off-the-tee stats this week, but I do want players who can hit it close and make a ton of birdies. While it seems obvious, this is a course you want to emphasize Birdie or Better Percentage on. The past three winners all ranked T6 or better in this stat for the week, and in 2015, the three playoff participants all ranked inside the top four of this stat.
Additionally, with off-the-tee stats not being a huge concern, taking a more specific look at players’ SG: Approach makes a ton of sense as well. In 2015, two of the three men from the playoff ranked inside the top 20 on Tour in SG: Approach for the season coming into the event, while last year’s winner, Matt Kuchar, ranked 17th on the season in this stat.
Finally, I’d consider Par 4 Scoring. There has been a fairly strong trend of players ranking well in this category on Tour and their finishing position here, and with most of the tough holes being par 4s there’s good reason why. The 2016 champion, Pat Perez, ranked second in this category for the week, while 2014 winner Charley Hoffman led the field in Par 4 Scoring in the year of his win. Looking at efficiency stats from 450-500 yards also makes sense as five of the par 4s measure inside this distance.
Odds 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: Emiliano Grillo
Odds to Win: 33-1
DraftKings Price: $8,900
Aaron Wise; 35-1 and $9,400
Scottie Scheffler; 33-1 and $9,100
Russell Knox; 33-1 and $9,300
Player: Graeme McDowell
Odds to Win: 45-1
DraftKings Price: $7,800
Danny Lee; $8,300 and 50-1
Harold Varner III; $7,900 and 55-1
Brian Gay; $8,000 and 60-1
HORSES FOR COURSES
1. Russell Knox (best finish: second – 2015): Knox lost in a playoff here in 2015 and has finished inside the top 10 at this venue in three of six starts. He’s 6/6 in terms of cuts made and is coming in off a T11 finish two weeks ago.
2. Emiliano Grillo (best finish: T9 – 2016): Grillo has played this event in each of the past three seasons and has posted results of T9-T10-T15. The Argentine has one of the more consistent iron games on Tour and generally is quite accurate off the tee, so these results shouldn’t be overly surprising on this sort of venue.
3. Pat Perez (best finish: win – 2016): The winner here back in 2016, Perez has a load of experience playing at this week’s venue, playing here in each of the past six seasons. He added a T6 finish to his record here last season.
4. Danny Lee (best finish: second – 2018): Lee has played well in Mexico during his career, finishing T3 here back in 2014 and in second place last season. He has withdrawn from this event twice in six starts, so there’s a little concern, but he enters this week in seemingly good health and off two strong starts on the Asian swing.
5. Brice Garnett (best finish: T5 – 2018): Garnett loves these international tourist destinations as his only win on Tour came in the Dominican Republic. He’s played this Mexican-based venue five times over his career and has finished T6-T7-T25-T5 here over his past four starts.
Cash Games: We don’t have a ton of elite players in this field and this event has tended to be won by mid-to-longer shots anyways. I like starting cash-game lineups here in the $9K range with names like Russell Knox ($9,300), Abraham Ancer ($9,200) and Emiliano Grillo ($8,900). All three have sterling records at this event with multiple low rounds and are coming in with solid-to-above average form. After this trio, there’s plenty of other values to choose from. The likes of Harris English ($8,000), Rory Sabbatini ($7,800), Cameron Tringale ($7,400) and Brian Stuard ($7,100) all look tempting here.
Tournaments: Billy Horschel ($10,200) doesn’t come in with a ton of steam but looks tempting in this kind of event, nonetheless. Horschel’s played well at both Greg Norman courses on Tour and has finished top 30 in four visits to this week’s venue. I also don’t mind Brian Harman ($7,700) for similar reasons. Before his missed cut in Houston he was trending well and looks under-priced here in a weaker field. Other potential GPP targets this week include Ryan Armour ($7,200), Kevin Chappell ($6,700) and David Hearn ($6,700).
1. Scottie Scheffler: Scheffler has been busy this fall and added a T3 finish to his growing resume at the Bermuda event two weeks ago. He’s finished outside the top 30 only once in his past four starts.
2. Denny McCarthy: McCarthy has shown some of the most consistent form in the field this fall, recording four straight top-20s coming into this week. The strong putter is coming off a T15 in Bermuda two weeks ago.
3. Danny Lee: Lee had a strong Asian swing, battling Justin Thomas down the stretch in South Korea — he finished in second — and then landing a T10 in Japan. He’s taken a few weeks off now but enters this event in great form.
4. Lanto Griffin: Griffin leads the FedEx Cup standings coming into this event, which gives you an idea of just how consistent he’s been thus far. He followed up his win in Houston with a T18 finish in Bermuda two weeks ago.
5. Brian Gay: Gay comes in having made five cuts in a row and with top-10 finishes in two of his past three starts, including a T3 finish in Bermuda two weeks ago.
MY PICK: Abraham Ancer ($9,200)
Ancer heads into this event off a solid week in China for the WGC event, where he finished T4 for the week. While that result alone should turn some heads given the relative strength of that field, his ball-striking also seemed to be up to snuff there as he ranked T8 in Greens in Regulation and was T3 for the week in birdies made. Being from Mexico, Ancer should be relishing the chance to nab his first PGA win in his home country, and he’s done well at this week’s venue before, finishing T21-T9 here the past two seasons and, overall, has shot 65 or better here three times already. A straight hitter who ranked eighth in Par 4 Scoring last season, Ancer fits the mold of several past winners at El Camaleon and looks like a solid pay-up target this week on DraftKings.
MY SLEEPER: Kevin Chappell ($6,700)
Chappell’s been all over the place since returning from injury early in the fall. He’s made two of three cuts thus far, posting a T40 at the Safeway Open as his best finish, but mixed in an incredible 59 at the Greenbrier as well in his first event, showing he might not be far removed from putting things altogether for a big week. The American hasn’t played since the Houston Open, but it’s notable his only win on the PGA Tour came at the other Greg Norman-designed course on Tour, TPC San Antonio, home of the Valero Texas Open. Chappell basically was a mainstay inside the world’s top-50 before injuries caught up to him, but he reportedly is as healthy as ever now and has had three events to get back into shape. At less than $7K, on a venue that should allow his elite iron game to flourish, I’d have no problem buying low here in big GPPs this week.
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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is wavegoodbye) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above.