WATCH: CHASE OR FADE – TIGER WOODS
The Cheat Sheet provides fantasy golf players with course info, golfer history and the most noteworthy trends of the week to help with roster selection.
Another 59 was recorded, this time the guy that did it (Adam Hadwin) didn’t win the tournament. Hudson Swafford survived a shaky round three and showed some serous mettle down the stretch to hold off Hadwin, Bud Cauley and Brian Harmon. This is the first PGA win for Swafford who possesses a lot of talent and has been trending towards a win for a while now. This was also the 19th made cut in a row for Swafford, a golfer who has been very fantasy friendly for the last year or so.
The field this week is 150+ golfers. This isn’t a Pro-Am like last week so regular Tour cut rules will be back in effect with the main cut taking place after Friday’s round. Only the top 70 golfers and ties will be playing on the weekend (unlike last week where everyone got three rounds in). The one quirk that’s important to remember this week is the fact two courses will be in play. Golfers will each play the South and North Course once on Thursday and Friday, and all the action will take place on the South Course on the weekend.
Not all of the top golfers are here, but the number one golfer in the world — Jason Day — along with the number three golfer in the world — Dustin Johnson — will both be teeing it up. Other big names include Hideki Matsuyama, Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose and oh yeah, Tiger Woods. This is a tournament with a great list of former champions that is being played on a course that’s been used at past major championships… as such, I expect some of the top players to contend and for one of them to likely take home the hardware at the end. Where Tiger finishes is anyone’s guess, but it will be good to see him back on the course this week.
Torrey Pines — San Diego, CA
South (home course) 7,600-7,700 yards, par 72
North 7,200-7,300 yards, par 72
As mentioned above, golfers will all get in a round on both courses before the cut is made, with weekend play being exclusively on the South Course. Torrey Pines South is a completely different challenge than what the golfers have been exposed to so far this year. It’s consistently ranked as one of the hardest courses on Tour, with one of the lowest Birdie or Better Percentages as well — you likely won’t see anyone approach -20 this week. Torrey North will still play easier than the South, but with less wind protection (less tress), new bentgrass greens and over 200 yards of extra length added, so it will likely be a more difficult challenge than in years past.
The North course features four very reachable par 5’s, and you’ll still need a good under-par round from your golfer there if they are going to advance to the weekend. On the South Course, playing the par 5’s well will also be important as they are generally the only birdie holes on the course, and the only holes that will play over par for the week. Length isn’t the only factor that makes Torrey South a difficult test, but six of the ten par-4’s on the course do measure in at over 450 yards in length, while only one measures in at under 400. Par will be a very good score on most Par 4’s.
The golfers will also be putting on poa annua greens (on the South course anyway) this week which can be very difficult to maneuver. A few of the other courses on the West Coast swing also use some type of poa annau (Pebble Beach, Riviera), and many of the golfers this week will be more comfortable than others on this surface. Torrey Pines consistently ranks as one of the hardest courses to hole putts from inside of ten-feet, so don’t be overly shocked if your golfers miss some short putts this week.
Last 5 winners
- 2016—Brandt Snedeker -6 (over K.J. Choi -5)
- 2015—Jason Day -9 (over J.B. Holmes, Harris English, Scott Stallings playoff)
- 2014—Scott Stallings -9 (over multiple players -8)
- 2013—Tiger Woods -14 (over Brandt Snedeker -10)
- 2012—Brandt Snedeker -16 (over Kyle Stanley playoff)
- Recent form does not seem to be a huge deal at this event (at least for the winners) as only one of the last five were coming off a top ten performance the week before (Snedeker in 2012 and 2016). The other three either hadn’t played for at least 3 weeks or finished outside the top 50 the week prior.
- All of the winners since 2011 had a South/North draw — meaning they played the South Course on Thursday and the North on Friday.
- Driving Distance
- Par 5 Scoring
Distance off the tee matters this week. Looking at the leaderboard from 2015 (when gail force winds weren’t a factor), only three of the top ten golfers at the end of the week were ranked outside the top 20 in Driving Distance for the year, and only two were ranked outside of the top 50 (61st and 78th). With Torrey South playing wet this year from recent rain, the longer golfers will have a nice advantage on the par 5’s and longer par 4’s. I’d feel good about weighing distance off the tee as the one of the most important stats this week.
The other area of importance statistics-wise has to do with how the golfers play the par 5’s. In 2015, only one golfer inside the top five played the par 5’s at worse than -6 for the entire week. Five of the top six golfers from 2015 also ranked inside the top 30 at the end of the year for Par 5 Scoring. That is serious correlation and is a category that deserves to be looked at as well.
Odds to win are one factor to think about when picking golfers (but not the only thing, so be careful 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.
|Tiger Woods||34-1||$7,900||Emiliano Grillo $8,300 and 51-1
Brendan Steele $8,100 and 61-1
Byeong-Hun An $8,400 and 51-1
|Charles Howell||40-1||$7,300||Hudson Swafford $7,500 and 51-1
Jhonattan Vegas $7,500 and 101-1
Kevin Chappell $7,400 and 67-1
HORSES FOR COURSES
- Nick Watney loves this course. In his last eight appearances at the Farmers he’s amassed a win and five top tens. He missed the cut last season but was nursing a back injury at the time. Watney knocked off the cobwebs last week after a long injury layoff and should be looking forward to one of his favorite tracks this week.
- Charles Howell III is a West Coast beast for fantasy and this tournament is one of his favorites. He has made the cut at this event in 12 straight seasons dating back to 2005. Howell is off to a strong start with an 8th and a 12th place finish in his first two starts.
- Brandt Snedeker loves this course and tournament. In his last seven appearances he has two victories to his name and two runner-up finishes as well. He might not hit it long, but he can sure score here.
- K.J. Choi is also a shorter hitter but he has had lots of success at this event. Choi hasn’t missed a cut at Torrey in his last six appearances and has two runner-up finishes to his credit over his career, including one from last season. His only start in 2017 is a missed cut at the Sony Open.
- Jimmy Walker has yet to seal the deal at Torrey Pines, but he’s finished inside the top ten here in four of the past five seasons — with the one non-top ten being a missed cut. Walker dominates on the West Coast in general, so I expect a serious bounce back here after a bad start at the Sony.
Cash Games: Paying up for one of Jason Day or Dustin Johnson makes sense. You can fit in both in and still have over $6,800 average salary left for four spots, which is quite good considering some of the great value under $7k this week. If forced to choose between one, I would roster Day since the weather is supposed to be nice and won’t wreak havoc on his wonky back or high ball flight. Charles Howell III is only $7,300 and almost unfadeable due to his record at this event and on the West Coast in general. Other golfers to consider include Martin Laird, Lucas Glover, J.B. Holmes, Tony Finau, Robert Garrigus and Kyle Stanley.
Tournaments: Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler and Daniel Berger are some of the bigger names who should have lower ownership this week due to recency bias or bad course history. Rose played great in Hawaii but hasn’t finished better than 22nd here in eight attempts. A few other golfers who make sense as tournament plays include Michael Kim, Aaron Baddeley and Jason Kokrak. Kokrak hasn’t payed yet this season, but is a player who hits the ball a mile and traditionally scores well on par-5’s.
Top Strokes Gained: Tee to Green from Last Week
1. Bud Cauley
2. Scott Stallings
3. Martin Laird
Top Strokes Gained: Putting from Last Week
1. Dominic Bozzelli
2. Nick Taylor
3. Adam Hadwin
While the course has been absorbing a lot of rain lately, there is no bad weather in the forecast for this week. Winds shouldn’t rise above 15mph and there isn’t any precipitation expected.
There is also little difference in the Thursday-Friday forecast at this point, so one wave likely won’t have a huge advantage over another, although checking the forecast again Wednesday night is always recommended!
MY PICK: Justin Rose ($10,200)
Rose is an interesting play this week, so much so that I think it makes sense to pair him with one of the top-three priced golfers, as there are enough lower-salaried golfers to fill out lineups with. Rose started the season much earlier than usual this year at the Sony Open, and he responded with his best finish ever there with a lone 2nd. He may have missed the cut in his last two appearances at the Farmers, but it’s interesting to note that the last two years Rose played the Sony Open (2010 and 2011) he posted two of his best finishes ever at this event. Rose was 16th in Driving Distance last season, 17th in Par-5 Scoring and 7th in Par 5 Birdies or Better. I think he’s a better fit for this course than his results dictate and like him to contend, if not win, this week.
MY SLEEPER: Kyle Stanley ($6,000)
Stanley is off to a nice start in 2017 with four of five made cuts and three top-25 finishes or better. This has mostly been off the back of some solid ball-striking too as he currently ranks eighth in Strokes Gained: Off the Tee, 14th in Strokes Gained: Tee to Green and is also averaging over 300 yards per drive in 2017. In 2011, Stanley famously blew a win at this tournament with a meltdown on hole 18 on the final day, but bounced back the next week to win his first and only PGA Tour event in Phoenix. While I don’t expect him to win, his game is in fine form, and he has the experience and types of stats I want to target this week. At the bare minimum, he’s definitely on my list of values.
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