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.
This is a tiny 18-man, invite-only field. The event is sponsored by the Tiger Woods Foundation and none of the prize money (first wins a million dollars) counts towards the PGA Tour’s money list. The good news for fantasy is that there is not a cut, but the bad news is that in such a small field, there’s really no room for error with your choices.
Player-wise, with Dustin Johnson (knee) withdrawing from the event we have just a 17-man field this year. Both of the last two champions, Jon Rahm ($11,200) and Rickie Fowler ($8,200), are here, as is Justin Thomas ($10,600) and Patrick Cantlay ($10,200) — who hasn’t played in nearly two months now. We’ll also be getting the first look at Bryson DeChambeau ($7,600) in a while, as “the scientist” hasn’t played since a T4 at the Shriner’s Hospital event in early October. Joining them all will be the GOAT Tiger Woods ($9,500), who won his only fall start of the year in Japan but finished just 17th, out of 18, in this event last season.
Albany Golf Course, Bahamas
Par 72, 7,400 yards
This is just the fifth time this course will have been used for the Hero World Challenge, and that is important to note since we have just a few years of small fields and course data to go off. The Albany course is an Ernie Els design and sets up as a very exposed, links-styled venue. There’s some serious bunkering on the course too and Els himself described it as a course that mimics some of the classic links venues from Scotland. The course is also quite dissimilar from most PGA tour venues in that it is actually a par 72, but has five par 5s and five par 3s (and only eight par 4s), seemingly giving the good Par 5 scorers here an advantage. What is certain is that being in the Bahamas on an exposed course means that the wind can and will be a factor. Players who hit it long and can handle some expected gusts should have an edge this weekend, but at this point in the year, any player that comes in with solid form will have a shot in what is essentially a big-stakes exhibition for the world’s best players.
Good course comparisons likely include most of the Open venues, particularly pure links tests like St. Andrews and Carnoustie. As of writing the weather looks great for the week with gusts staying below 10 mph the first two days and then picking up on Sunday where it might hit 15-20 mph in spots. A winning score of between 18-20 under par — similar to the last two seasons — is probably a good target.
Past 5 winners
2018—Jon Rahm -20 (over Tony Finau -16)
2017—Rickie Fowler -18 (over Charley Hoffman -14)
2016—Hideki Matsuyama -18 (over Henrik Stenson -16)
2015—Bubba Watson -25 (over Patrick Reed -22)
2014—Jordan Spieth -26 (over Henrik Stenson -16)
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: Justin Rose
Odds to Win: 15-1
DraftKings Price: $7,200
Player: Bryson DeChambeau
Odds to Win: 15-1
DraftKings Price: $7,600
Player: Rickie Fowler
Odds to Win: 14-1
DraftKings Price: $8,200
HORSES FOR COURSES
1. Rickie Fowler has played at this week’s venue each of the past four seasons and finished T3-T3-Win-T5. He’s traditionally been a good wind player who has had some success at open style venues in the past, so it’s not shocking to see this course suits his eye. He closed with a 61 in 2017.
2. Patrick Reed nearly won on this course back in 2015 and finished T10 here in 2016 and T5 in 2018 and T11 last year. He’s had success at some open style and windy venues in the past, too (Doral, Plantation Course in Hawaii) and should be considered one of the lead horses this week.
3. Jordan Spieth took last year off the Hero Challenge but returns to action this year. In three prior appearances, he’s never finished outside the top 6 here, posting a best finish of T3 in 2017.
1. Jon Rahm ($11,200): Won in his last outing at the DP World Championship, the year-end finale for the Euro Tour. Comes in this week as defending champion with two wins and a runner-up finish over his last four starts.
2. Webb Simpson ($8,800): Coming off a slow fall season but placed runner-up and T7 in both of his swing series starts. Will be pushing hard for his first win here since the 2018 PLAYERS.
3. Tiger Woods ($9,500): Woods played once in the fall in Japan and won going away. He’ll be looking to sharpen up this week as the President’s Cup approaches.
MY PICK: Xander Schauffele ($9,800)
Schauffele comes in with better than average form, having placed T2 and T10 in two fall series starts over in Asia. The American, who now has four PGA Tour wins and five runner-up finishes, will be looking for his first win since last year’s Tournament of Champions. He finished a solid T8 here last season but has already proven himself to be a reliable wind player, tackling more open/links venues like Carnoustie and the Planation Course with ease. Third last season in Par 5 Birdie or Better %, the five Par 5 setup of the Albany Course should play right into Schauffele’s hands, and the American should also feel right at home in this limited field set up, as two of his four wins have come against fields of 35 or less. He looks like a solid anchor play — and a potentially nice outright bet at +1000 or better — on DraftKings this week.
MY SLEEPER: Henrik Stenson ($6,300)
Stenson has been fairly active this fall, playing in three events alone over the last five weeks. While he hasn’t put up any stellar results yet, a couple of top-20s on the Euro Tour point to the fact his best likely isn’t too far away, and he’s certainly coming in sharper from a competition perspective than many other players. The Swede has a solid record at this week’s event too, posting T4 and T2 finishes in 2018 and 2016, respectively, and has a fantastic record at more open style venues akin to the Albany course. This includes wins and several top-5s at the Open Championship and a silver medal at the very similarly designed Olympic course in Rio. Rostering Stenson means you’ll undoubtedly be able to fit in multiple players over $9K in your lineup, and the fact you’re getting a player with a solid track record at similarly styled venues, who has played consistently over the fall, makes him a great DFS target here.
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