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.
It’s the week before the year’s third major, and the field is quite strong as a result. This event was moved on the schedule and used to draw poorer fields when it came after the Open Championship, but being as it’s the last warmup chance before Pebble Beach this year, there’s plenty of big names in attendance in 2019. Last year’s champion, Dustin Johnson (different venue) is in attendance, as is Rory McIlroy and world No. 1 Brooks Koepka. Those three are flanked by other big names like Matt Kuchar, Justin Thomas and Sergio Garcia.
This event wasn’t just moved on the schedule but also moved venues to Hamilton Country Club, where it last was played in 2006 and 2012. Former champions Jim Furyk and Scott Piercy are both here to try and replicate their success from those years this week. It’s a busy week as US Open qualifying is in effect this Monday and several players will be on tight schedules to both arrive in Canada and leave for Pebble Beach right after. Watch the withdraws and entry list closely as things likely will change a lot during the week.
Hamilton Golf & Country Club, Hamilton, Ontario
Par 70, 6,966 yards
This will be the fourth time since the year 2000 that Hamilton G&CC has hosted the RBC Canadian Open. Previous years winners include Scott Piercy (2012), Jim Furyk (2006) and Bob Tway (2003). The venue was designed by Harry Colt (Muirfield, Pine Valley) in 1915 and is set up as one of the shorter tracks on tour at just less than 7,000 yards and plays as a traditional par 70, with just two par 5s and four par 3s.
Like many short par 70 venues, the most challenging aspect of Hamilton G&CC likely is going to involve ball placement and sharp iron play. Several of the par 4s require more precision shots off the tee and also feature elevated approaches. With only one par 4 exceeding 450 yards in length, distance off the tee shouldn’t be a huge factor this week. Eight of the par 4s at Hamilton measure between 400-450 yards, though, so short iron play and driving accuracy should get a small bump in stat models. Additionally, three of the four par 3s play well over 200 yards in length and during the past two editions played here, a couple of these holes played quite tough.
From a course setup point, recent venues like Colonial and Hilton Head appear to compare most favorably, and it’s not shocking to see Jim Furyk’s name (2006) on the winner’s list at Hamilton and Hilton Head — and as a playoff loser at Colonial — since he epitomizes both accuracy and precision iron play. While it’s been a long time since we played Hamilton, it’s worth nothing both Jim Furyk (2006) and Scott Piercy (2012) ranked inside the top five in SG: Putting and inside the top 20 in SG: Off the Tee stats during the weeks of their respective wins.
2019 Weather Report: There’s a bit of rain in the forecast early in the week and temperatures aren’t overly warm, but don’t expect the weather to play a huge factor. Highs will be in the low-70s throughout, but winds are expected to be calm and aren’t expected to get up past 7-8 mph all week. The early week weather means the course could play slightly easier, with slower greens early on, and early risers might get a chance at posting some low scores the first two days. Other than that, though, don’t expect weather to play much of a role here as the tournament seems unlikely to run into lengthy stoppages or poor weather.
Past five winners
2018—Dustin Johnson -23 (over Byeong Hun-An -20)
2017—Jhonattan Vegas -21 (over Charley Hoffman, playoff)
2016–Jhonattan Vegas -12 (over three players at -11)
2015–Jason Day -17 (over Bubba Watson -16)
2014–Tim Clark -17 (over Jim Furyk -16)
— Seven of the past nine winners had a finish of T8 or better in one of their previous two events prior to winning the Canadian Open.
Par 4 Scoring/Efficiency 400-450 yards
Strokes Gained: Off the Tee (emphasis Accuracy)
Strokes Gained: Putting
We don’t have a ton of past stats to rely on this week, since the event has only been played at Hamilton twice since 2006. That being said, both Scott Piercy (2012) and Jim Furyk (2006) ranked inside the top five in Strokes Gained: Putting for the week of their respective wins. Putting is a stat I rarely emphasize given how wildly players can vary from week to week in it, but players who have been trending well with the flatstick can be viewed more positively here.
As for course setup, Hamilton G&CC contains eight par 4s that rank between 400-450 yards. Both strong Par 4 Scoring stats and Efficiency ratings on holes between 400-450 yards can be viewed as good indicators, too. Additionally, while power off the tee isn’t likely to be a huge deal this week given the shorter venue, placement and accuracy should matter. Both former winners from 2006 and 2012 had good weeks off the tee, ranking inside the top 20 in Strokes Gained: Off the Tee stats for the weeks of their win, with solid accuracy stats as well.
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.
|Bud Cauley||50-1||$8,400||Keegan Bradley $8,500 and 66-1
Jason Dufner $8,700 and 50-1
Adam Hadwin $8,300 and 66-1
|Alex Noren||70-1||$7,700||Kevin Tway $7,700 and 90-1
Joaquin Niemann $7,700 and 80-1
Erik Van Rooyen $7,800 and 80-1
No course history to go on this week, as Hamilton G&CC has hosted this event only twice in the past 15 years; 2006 and 2012.
1. Brooks Koepka: He hasn’t played since the PGA Championship, but his past three starts include a win (PGA), a T2 finish at Augusta and a T4 finish at the Byron Nelson. Despite the lack of recent starts he’s the best player in the world by form or ranking.
2. Scott Piercy: Piercy continues to put together a remarkably consistent year. T19 his most recent time out at Colonial, Piercy’s past four starts have exemplified great ball-striking and consistency, and he ranks eighth in Greens in Regulation and 21st in Driving Accuracy on the year.
3. Webb Simpson: Simpson hasn’t missed a beat all season. Webb has finished T29 and T5 in the year’s first two majors and has finished T18 or better in three of his past four starts.
4. Dustin Johnson: DJ almost certainly would be ranked much higher if he had more recent starts under his belt. Johnson has played only three times over the past nine weeks, though. Two of those starts results in second-place finishes at major championships.
5. Henrik Stenson: The Swede slowly is finding his game and comes into this event ranked first in Strokes Gained: Approaches on tour. Despite the lack of top-10 finishes on the year, Stenson has made seven cuts in a row and looks close to breaking out.
Cash Games: There’s plenty of big games in the event this week but they cost a pretty penny. I’d rather start cheaper with names like Webb Simpson ($9,700), Henrik Stenson ($9,100) and Jim Furyk ($8,800) at a venue that should favor accuracy and iron play over pure power. Below them, there’s a lot of interesting names at $8K or below. Daniel Berger ($8,000), Joaquin Niemann ($7,700), Alex Noren ($7,700), Brian Harman ($7,600) and Nick Watney ($7,500) all look like solid values for this format, given their recent form and price.
Tournaments: Despite the missed cut last week, I like going with Rory McIlroy ($11,200) in GPPs at this event. He’s cheaper than Brooks or DJ and should be lower-owned as a result of recency bias. Further down, Sergio Garcia ($9,500) also would make the list of tournament targets for me. His form outside of the majors has been fine, and he has the ability to destroy a short venue like Hamilton CC with his irons. Other tournament targets for me this week would include Bud Cauley ($8,400), Russell Henley ($7,500), Stephan Jaeger ($7,000) and Sebastian Munoz ($7,200).
MY PICK: Nick Watney ($7,500)
I’m going to go with a value pick as my main selection for the second straight week and try to ride the great recent form of Watney to a big week in Canada. The former top-10 player in the world has put up impressive ball-striking stats over his past couple of starts, ranking third in approaches and first in tee-to-green stats at the Charles Schwab Challenge — also ranking 22nd in tee-to-green stats last week at the Memorial.
Watney’s had a muted year thus far, but he’s proven he still can compete with the best when on, as evidenced by a near-miss last year at the Wells Fargo. Finishes of T22, T7 and T31 in three of his past four starts coming in is a good sign, and the fact he’ll be playing for a US Open spot this week after missing out on qualifying should provide plenty of motivation. On a course that requires precision ball-striking both off-the-tee and on approaches, Watney seems like a good fit this week and, at well under $8K in price, he’s the type of player I could see stepping up in a big way in the week before a major.
MY SLEEPER: Stephan Jaeger ($7,000)
Jaeger’s proven himself to be a mercurial type of player throughout his career, amassing three wins on the Web.com Tour the past two seasons while also shooting an incredible 58 at an event three years ago. The German hasn’t really broken through on the PGA yet, but there’s no reason to suggest he still can’t. His season stats are less than impressive, but from a pure form perspective, he does come in with some momentum.
A T17 his most recent time out at the Byron Nelson is impressive, a result he himself described as “solid” on Twitter, and he brings an increasingly hot putter and short game into this event, two aspects of the game which have been crucial to success of former champions at Hamilton G&CC. Jaeger’s poor cut rate means he’s not for the faint of heart, but he did post some solid results around this time last season, too, and almost certainly will be sub-5%-owned in most big GPPs. For those looking for lightening in a bottle from one of their cheaper roster spots, Jaeger’s an interesting fantasy prospect this week.
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