WATCH: JAMIE LOVEMARK – THIS WEEK’S TOP OPTION?
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.
Justin Thomas. He started where he left off the last week by joining the exclusive 59 club, and then pretty much just cruised the rest of the way. With back-to-back wins, Thomas has now climbed all the way to eighth in the world. Outside Thomas’ domination, numerous other golfers had big weeks including Justin Rose, Jordan Spieth, Zach Johnson and Kevin Kisner who came within an inch or two of also shooting a 59.
This is a full field event of 156 golfers. However, with this being a Pro-Am format that is set to play over three different courses, it also has an unusual cut criterion. Barring injury or disqualification, every player in the field will get to play each course once, meaning there will be no cut until after Saturday. On Saturday, the top 70 and ties will all get to play the final day, unless more than 78 golfers are tied at the end of the round, then only the top 60 and ties would move onto Sunday. It’s slightly confusing, but the gist of it is that your golfers will have to get themselves in a good spot if they want to play the final round.
As for the actual field, it is a tad worse than last week, but still carries some big names. Patrick Reed, Zach Johnson and Phil Mickelson (questionable) will all be in attendance. With a larger field, there are plenty of names near the bottom who you should familiarize yourself with before constructing your roster.
PGA West—Palm Springs, California
TPC Stadium (home course, played twice) 7,100-7,300 yards, par 72
La Quinta par 72, 7,000-7,100 yards, par 72
Nicklaus Tournament 7,100-7,160 yards, par 72
The tournament this week will be played over a total of three courses with the home course — and the course being used to decide a champion on Sunday — being the TPC Stadium Course. It should first be noted that only one of these courses (La Quinta) was used in the rotation prior to 2016 which makes looking at past results this week not as relevant, but still useful as there are some similarities between all the courses at PGA West. All are par 72s with traditional layouts that feature four par 5s and four par 3s. Additionally, while the Stadium Course can stretch to 7,300 yards, expect all three courses to play somewhere in the vicinity of 7,000-7,150 yards for the week, making distance a non-factor for most pros. Players can be very aggressive here, and judging by the winning score of -25 last year, they will need to be.
Of the three courses it’s very likely that the home course, the TPC Stadium course, will play the toughest. A Pete Dye design, this course was once rated as the fourth toughest course in America by Golf Digest and has the highest slope and stroke ratings of any of the three. As for the other two, expect to see some lower scores, especially at La Quinta, where the scoring index from 2015 was 69.487.
Last 5 winners
- 2016—Jason Dufner -25 (over David Lingmerth playoff)
- 2015—Bill Haas -22 (over five players at -21)
- 2014—Patrick Reed -28 (over Ryan Palmer -26)
- 2013—Brian Gay -25 (over Charles Howell and David Lingmerth in playoff)
- 2012—Mark Wilson -24 (over Robert Garrigus -22)
- Six of the past 7 winners of this event played in one of the two season opening events in Hawaii in the year of their respective wins.
- Each of the past 6 winners had top tens in one of their past 7 events world-wide before their win
- Par 5 Scoring
- Birdie or Better Percentage
- Strokes Gained: Tee to Green
The stadium courses all have four par 5s, and most of them are very reachable in two for the majority of the field. These will almost all be birdie holes and the players who perform well on them will get a huge leg up on the field. Six players from inside the top-ten ranked inside the top 50 in Par 5 Scoring last season.
With the winning score being -25 last season, pouring in a ton of birdies will be necessary as well. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that only two of the top ten players from last year’s leaderboard finished the year outside the top 50 in Birdie Average.
For Strokes Gained this week I would also emphasize Tee-to-Green stats over Putting or Scrambling. Six of the top ten players from last year’s event ranked inside the top 50 for the year in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green.
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 golfers who have the best fantasy value comparative to their odds of winning this week.
|Kevin Kisner||33-1||$8,900||Russell Henley $9,500 and 40-1
Brendan Steele $9,300 and 40-1
Jason Dufner $9,200 and 35-1
|Martin Laird||50-1||$7,800||Ryan Palmer $8,000 and 50-1
Hudson Swafford $7,900 and 60-1
Scott Piercy $8,300 and 50-1
Horses for Courses
- Ryan Palmer has now made six of his last seven cuts at this event and hasn’t finished outside the top 17 in his last four starts here. He’s a great desert golfer as he also has a nice record at the Phoenix Open.
- Bill Haas has a great record at this event. Dating back to 2006, Haas has won twice and also made nine out of 10 cuts. Coming off a very strong week at the Sony Open, he’s definitely someone to take note of.
- Charley Hoffman won this event way back in 2007 and also has five top tens over 10 appearances. He has also missed the cut five times at this event, but the upside for a big week is definitely there.
- Webb Simpson has made 5 of his last 6 cuts here and finished inside the top 13 three times, including a 17th here last year.
Cash Games: Unlike the last two weeks, I don’t think paying up for the top one or two golfers is a necessity. Golfers to consider as your anchor for a high floor lineup would be Bill Haas and Charles Howell III. Both have great records at this event, have good recent form and don’t miss many cuts. John Rahm, Russell Henley, Jamie Lovemark, Kevin Kisner and Brendan Steele could all also be considered in this range. Lower range plays with good recent form or course history include Martin Laird, Lucas Glover, Henrik Norlander, Daniel Summerhays, Ollie Schniederjans and Kelly Kraft.
Tournaments: Expect golfers who did poorly last week to get the cold shoulder. That means golfers like Paul Casey, Chris Kirk, Anirban Lahari and Ryan Palmer could all be under-owned. While it might seem overly risky to use players who played poorly last week, it should be noted that the winner of this event has missed the cut at the Sony Open before. Don’t write off these guys after one bad week, especially if you’re looking for extremely under-the-radar plays.
Top Strokes Gained: Tee to Green from Last Week
1. Justin Thomas
2. Jordan Spieth
3. Justin Rose
Top Strokes Gained: Putting from Last Week
1. Michael Thompson
2. Justin Thomas
3. Jamie Lovemark
Phil Mickelson (groin): Phil is coming off groin surgery, and even though he’s in the field, he may not tee it up this week. If you do use Phil make sure you check for any late breaking news on his status.
My Pick: Jamie Lovemark ($9,600)
Lovemark is off to a fantastic start to the 2017 season, and one has to think his first win can’t be far away. With a T6 and a T4 in his last two starts, Lovemark will again tee it up at PGA West where he was in the mix last year before bombing with a one-over final round. With a full year of experience under his belt though, there’s a chance he gets redemption this week. On top of riding a recent hot putter (3rd in Strokes Gained: Putting last week), Lovemark is also well suited for this venue as he was ranked inside the top 30 in Birdie or Better Percentage and Par 5 Scoring last season. He’s expensive, but I think he’s worth paying up for this week.
My Sleeper: Henrik Norlander ($6,800)
Norlander is a golfer who just missed retaining his Tour Card last year, and now has conditional status on Tour – he actually got late entry this week due to a sponsor’s exemption – mainly due to his great recent play. In two events this season, Norlander has finished T2 (lost in a playoff) and T20 and seems to be gaining confidence in his second year as a PGA player. A former Web.com winner, Norlander has the ability to go low and now ranks inside the top 20 in Birdies or Better and Par 5 Scoring for 2017. He looks well-suited for the venue and sets up nicely for another big fantasy week.
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