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.
For the third year in a row the Memorial was decided in a playoff and for the second year in a row we got ourselves a surprise winner. William McGirt scored his first ever PGA Tour win, by outlasting another lessor known name in Jon Curran. McGirt has been pretty consistent all year for fantasy players, but this was still a pretty ‘out of left field’ result, and again goes to show us how crazy golf can be. This week is the final regular season stop before the US Open at Oakmont, and while there’s not a ton of top players in attendance here, there’s still a lot on the line as players chase an elusive Tour win and a huge payday.
The field this week is unquestionably weaker than the last one we saw and that will leave us with many pricing changes (check out DKTV for the PGA “Price Check” video for a more in depth look at salaries). As far as big names go there aren’t a ton in attendance but Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka and Phil Mickelson are all in the field fine tuning their games. As well, up and coming players like Daniel Berger and former champion Harris English will be here too to push the top players. The field will be rounded out by a ton of Tour regulars and lessor known players who are getting a shot at playing in a full field, 150 man PGA event, so don’t be shocked if we see another surprise winner. The last two champs of this event have seemingly come out of nowhere.
TPC Southwind—Memphis, Tennessee
Par 70, 7,200-7,300 yards
TPC Southwind is an interesting course and usually ends up being a decent warmup for players heading to the US Open next week. It’s not overly long, but there are numerous doglegs on the course, and these doglegs really stretch out some of the holes and takes away some of the advantage long hitters have here as well. Winning scores have generally been between -8 and -13 meaning TPC Southwind definitely falls on the harder than average side of most Tour stops.
As a par 70 TPC Southwind has two par 5’s which played as two of the easiest holes at last year’s version. The 16th will be reachable in two by almost everyone and is probably the only hole on the course where players will lose ground if they don’t walk away with at least birdie. The course features four par 3’s as well, two of which play as “island style” greens. Last year the par 3 14th, which can clock in as long as 240 yards, played as one of the most difficult holes for the week. Handling the par 3’s has been key to success for past winners.
As for the par 4’s, there are seven of them that measure 450 yards or longer. While this might not faze players given today’s technology, the doglegs on several of these holes mean long approaches are necessary to reach the smaller than normal greens. These holes will put a lot of pressure on players approach games and scrambling abilities, and it’s not a shock to learn that winners of the St. Jude usually end up ranking well for the week in Greens in Regulation and/or Scrambling. Fabian Gomez put on somewhat of an approach “clinic” down the stretch last year and ended up 8th in the field in Greens in Regulation and 1st in Strokes Gained: Tee to Green.
Last 5 winners
- 2015 – Fabian Gomez -13 (over Greg Owen -9)
- 2014 – Ben Crane -10 (over Troy Merritt -9)
- 2013 – Harris English -12 (over Phil Mickelson and Scott Stallings -10)
- 2012 – Dustin Johnson -9 (over John Merrick -8)
- 2011 – Harrison Frazar -13 (over Robert Karlsson, Playoff)
- The previous 5 winners had not finished higher than 14th in any of their previous two starts before their respective victories.
- Of the previous 5 winners of this event only one (Ben Crane) had played the Fed Ex St. Jude Classic the year prior to his win and made the cut.
Strokes Gained: Tee to Green
Approach Proximity 150-200 yards
Par 4 Scoring
Scrambling/Strokes Gained: Around the Green
TPC Southwind seems to play very much like a second shot golf course. Bombers and short hitters alike have found success here, and what you do off the tee seems less important than what you do on your second shot given the smallness of the greens and dog-legged nature of many of the holes. Last year’s winner Fabian Gomez won by leading the field in Strokes Gained: Tee to Green and hitting a ton of greens in regulation. Additionally, with several of the approach shots in this tournament coming from 150-200 yards (more than in an average tournament) looking at both Strokes Gained: Tee to Green and proximity from 150-200 yards out makes sense. If you’re ever looking for more info on approach stats from week to week make sure you check out @FGMetrics on twitter as they give out a ton of great info on the course for every event.
The other two areas I would advocate looking at this week are stats around the green and par 4 scoring stats. TPC Southwind really doesn’t have any “gimme” birdie holes outside of the par 5’s, so players are going to have to be able to handle the par 4’s this week to grind out a good finish. With birdies likely not being plentiful here, looking at pure par 4 scoring stats makes sense. Additionally, the small greens mean players will have to get up and down (potentially a lot), and seeing Ben Crane and Troy Merritt finish one-two here a couple years ago means that while ball striking is important, a tidy short game can carry a player a long way here too. I’d look at Scrambling and the new Strokes Gained: Around the Green stat to identify players who can get up and down consistently and who make for potentially good value plays.
Odds to win are one factor to think about when picking players (but not the only thing, so be careful 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.
Editor’s Note: Brendan Steele has withdrawn from this week’s tournament.
|50-1||$7,900||David Hearn $8400 and 67-1
F. Molinari $6100 and 61-1
Luke Donald $8700 and 50-1
|Retief Goosen||70-1||$7,600||Martin Piller $7700 and 80-1
Matt Jones $7700 and 80-1
David Toms $7600 and 90-1
HORSES FOR COURSES
- Boo Weekley has taken to TPC Southwind extremely well. He’s made 7 of 8 cuts here over his last 8 visits and has two top tens to show for his efforts in that span. He finished 8th here last year and would make for a pretty high upside GPP selection this week.
- Chad Campbell hasn’t won on Tour in what seems like forever, but this course has treated him well of late. He’s made 6 straight cuts at this event and has an 8th from last year and a 3rd place showing from 2012 to his name as well. He’s another likely low-owned option with great course history.
- Ryan Palmer hasn’t always had the smoothest sailing at TPC Southwind, but lately he’s had some very productive starts at this event. He’s now made 4 straight cuts at the St. Jude and recorded finishes of 3rd and 4th here in 2012/2013. The reliable Palmer looks like a decent option for cash games this week.
- Camilo Villegas isn’t always the most trustworthy golfer but this is a course he’s almost always been money at over his career. He’s made 9 of 10 cuts at TPC Southwind and has played this event every year since 2006. Villegas has only finished outside of the top 20 three times in that span at this tournament and has undoubtedly one of the best looking course histories in the field this week.
The weakness of this field makes going with a stars and scrubs strategy extremely viable. While the names at the very bottom of the field don’t look enticing on first glance there are a lot of players under $6,500 that have and are capable of a top 30 or better finish in this field. In fact, the top of last years leaderboard is littered with players that were likely priced in the bottom 20% or so of last years DraftKings field. So if you’re making multiple GPP lineups I’d advocate mixing those top players with a ton of low, low priced punts that could potentially pay off with good weeks in a depressed field.
Top Performing Studs from Recent Weeks
- Dustin Johnson
- Gary Woodland
- Brooks Koepka
Top Performing Value Plays from Recent Weeks
- Kyle Reifers
- David Hearn
- Hudson Swafford
MY PICK: Daniel Berger ($10,100)
There was some desire on my part to go completely off the board this week with my main pick given the weakness of this field but the more I look at things the more I think this makes for a great spot for Daniel Berger to challenge and possibly pick up his first victory. Berger has put together an insanely productive last couple of months. In fact, last week was the first time he’d finished a tournament worse than 28th since March 3rd. While I didn’t expect a ton from Berger last week, I do this week. Along with the field being much weaker here, Berger ranks inside the top 50 in Strokes Gained: Approach-the-Green and also has nice proximity stats from 150+ yards. While this may be the first time he’s seeing the course three of the past four winners were also seeing TPC Southwind for their first time in competition, so that might actually be slightly helpful. Berger’s played tough par 70’s well thus far in his career, particularly excelling at the Honda Classic and Valspar Championship. I think he can take that experience and go even better in this depressed field. He’s my main pick for the St. Jude.
MY SLEEPER: Zac Blair ($6,800)
Sleeper Qualification: must be under $7,000 in salary and projected by me to be less than 10% owned
After a couple poor choices in this section, I’m going back to Blair as my sleeper this week. Blair never seems to be highly owned, and I doubt that will change this week, but in a weaker field, on a course that really favors Blair’s style, I think he’s great value at only $6,800. Some of the best finishes by Blair thus far on the PGA Tour have come at corollary courses to this week’s test (3rd at Sony Open, 10th at OHL Classic), and given that this will be his second go around on TPC Southwind (after finishing 58th last year), I think he can improve greatly on that standing here. This field is so weak here that just seeing Blair play well in a much stronger field last week gives me hope for a high finish at TPC Southwind, and I think his strong play around the greens should shine through. At $6,800 he’s got top ten upside to me, and I am hopeful that he’ll put up a strong performance.