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 Field:

The Field this week is big at 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 DQ every player in the field will get to play each course once, meaning there will be no cut until 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 on to Sunday. It’s slightly confusing but the just of it is your golfers will have three days to get themselves in a good spot if they want to play the last day.

As for players, this field is a tad weaker than last week, but still carries some big names. Patrick Reed, Zach Johnson and Phil Mickelson (making his season debut) will all be in attendance. With a larger field there’s plenty of names near the bottom who you should familiarize yourself with before deciding to use in fantasy.

The Courses:

PGA West—Palm Springs, California

TPC Stadium (home course, played twice) 7100-7300 yards, par 72
La Quinta par 72, 7,000-7100 yards, par 72
Nicklaus Tournament 7100-7160 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 in the previous couple of years which makes looking at past results this week somewhat meaningless. The good news is that there’s still some similarities between all three courses. All are par 72’s with traditional layouts that feature four par 5’s and four par 3’s. Additionally, while the Stadium course can stretch to 7300 yards, expect all three courses to play somewhere in the vicinity of 7000-7150 yards for the week, making distance a non-factor for most pros.

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. It features some greens with severe slops and deep bunkers and sightlines that will challenge players off the tee and on their approaches. While there are some shorter scoring holes, good ball striking will be crucial for players.

As for the other two, expect to see some lower scores, especially at La Quinta, where the scoring index from last year was 69.487. Ultimately players will need to take advantage their birdie opportunities this week on all three courses as the Pro-Am nature of this event will generally mean a bit of an easier setup (even on the two new “tougher” courses) and we should still see a pretty low score from the winner this Sunday.

Last 5 winners

Bill Haas—2015 (-22)
Patrick Reed—2014 (-28)
Brian Gay—2013 (-25)
Mark Wilson—2012 (-24)
Jhonattan Vegas—2011 (-27—five rounds)

Winning Trends

– Of the last five winners of this event none have finished better than T31 the week before their win at the Sony Open (of the ones who played it)

– Each of the past 5 winners had top tens in one of their past 7 events world-wide before their win

Statistics:

Approach proximity (125-150, <200)
Driving Accuracy
Approach proximity
GIR

None of the courses are super long but they will be slightly more challenging than in years past and put a premium on finding the fairway. While neither of the last two winners were super accurate off the tee I think the course change will emphasize accuracy and like looking at that stat this week. In the same vein accurate approach shots will be a must, especially on the Stadium course which features some seriously penalizing bunkering around the green. With a ton of shorter par 4’s looking at approach distances between 125-150 yards as well as approach proximity in general is a decent place to start looking. I’d also consider looking at the sub 200-yard proximity averages as well as players won’t have a ton of approaches over 200 yards, and many of the par 3’s come in between 150-200 yards.

Lastly, I think Greens in Regulation is a good stat to follow this week as well. With a couple tougher courses being introduced I think finding the greens is going to be more vital than it has been the past few years. Being able to find the greens over and over again will help set up more birdie chances in the long run and help players avoid the trouble that possible awaits them on the newer courses. I like using this stat to help find players who are striking it well and staying out of trouble.

Vegas Values

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 to win DraftKings Price Comparable
Scott Brown 67-1 $7400  

Kevin Chappell $8100 and 67-1

Cameron Tringale $7800 and 67-1

Smylie Kaufman $7700 and 81-1

 
Tony Finau   61-1   $7800  

Daniel Summerhays $7900 61-1

Billy Horschel $8600 and 61-1

William McGirt $8000 and 61-1

 
Tim Clark 81-1 $7300  

Nick Watney $7600 and 81-1

Will Wilcox $7300 and 91-1

Smylie Kaufman $7700 and 81-1

 
 

Horses for Courses

These players have had a lot of success at this event over their career

o Ryan Palmer has now made 6 of his last 7 cuts at this event and has 4 top tens in his last 5 trips, including a 10th here last year.

o Charley Hoffman won this event way back in 2007 and also has 5 top tens over 9 appearances, he’s always performed well in the dessert.

o Webb Simpson has made 5 of his last 6 cuts here and finished inside the top 13 three times, including a 7th here last year.

o Matt Kuchar has made 6 straight cuts at this event, a streak that includes two second place finishes.

DFS Strategy

This week will make you take some shots with your lineup, since all 156 of the golfers will be getting at least three rounds of play in. Even if one or two of your players misses the cut it will only mean one missed round of scoring which isn’t as big a disadvantage as it is in normal weeks. There’s some hot players priced fairly well in the middle to upper tiers you can take advantage of and I’d recommend targeting that area vs. overstocking your lineups with higher priced players.

Top Performing Studs from recent weeks

o Matt Kuchar
o Charles Howell III
o Jason Bohn

Top Performing Value plays from recent weeks

o Si-Woo Kim
o Harold Varner III
o Daniel Summerhays

My Pick: Graham DeLaet

When you think of good ball strikers and a player who can hit green after green after green, Graham DeLaet comes to mind. He started slow last week but finished with a flurry. DeLaet battled injuries all last season but is reportedly very healthy and when so is still one of the best ball strikers in the game. I think he’s focused and can keep up the momentum at an event like this. He’s a bit of contrarian pick but my pick to win.

Sony Open Pick: Danny Lee (T33)

My Sleeper: Chez Reavie

My Sleeper this week is also a great ball striker. Revie had a nice week at the Sony and was second in GIR % for the week. He can struggle around and on the greens but I think the course sets up well for a player like him and think he’s a decent putting week away from a top 20 or better finish. I love his price at $6400 and think he could be headed for a good week.

Sony Open Sleeper: Daniel Summerhays (T13)