WATCH: PRICE CHECK
The Cheat Sheet provides DraftKings fantasy golf players with course info, player history and the most noteworthy trends of the week to help them with roster selections.
After a smaller than normal field at the Memorial, we are back to a regularly sized PGA Tour event this week which features a full field of 150+ golfers. Only the top 70 plus ties will make the cut which means getting all six of your players through to Saturday will be a tougher task this week as over 50% of the field will not play the weekend. The field this week features a lot of lesser known players, but there is still some quality at the top of the field. Phil Mickelson, Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler will all be in attendance as they get in one last tune-up event before the U.S. Open. Additionally, Adam Scott and Charl Schwartzel will also be in the field this week giving it some major champion panache. Finally, also look out for last year’s champion, Daniel Berger, who is making his first start since THE PLAYERS. Overall this field will feature a lot of Web.com and conditional status players, so make sure you do your homework on the names at the bottom of the field as they could make a difference this week given the lack of talent overall.
TPC Southwind — Memphis, Tennessee
Par 70, 7,200-7,300 yards
TPC Southwind is an interesting course and usually ends up being a decent warm up for players heading to the U.S. Open next week. It’s not overly long, but there are numerous doglegs, and these doglegs really stretch out some of the holes and take away some of the advantage long hitters have here as well. Winning scores have generally been between -8 and -13, and last year it ranked as the 10th hardest stop on tour, playing to a 70.930 scoring average. In the grand scheme of things, TPC Southwind definitely falls on the harder-than-average side of most tour stops.
As a par 70, TPC Southwind has two par 5s which generally play as two of the easiest holes. The 16th will be reachable in two for 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 3s as well, two of which play as “island style” greens. The par 3-14th, which can clock in as long as 240 yards, almost always plays as one of the most difficult holes for the week, and overall handling the par 3s has been the key to success for past winners.
As for the par 4s, 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 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. In 2015, Fabian Gomez ended up 8th in the field in Greens in Regulation; while last year’s champ Daniel Berger was 2nd in the same stat.
2017 Outlook: The weather as of writing looks perfect for the week with winds not expected to rise above 10 mph for the most part and no sign of storms. There are some storms and rain forecasted for earlier in the week which should help soften the course up and possibly make conditions a little easier than normal. The winning score here hasn’t exceeded -13 since 2009, although that streak may be in jeopardy this week if the forecast holds true.
Last Six Winners
- 2016 – Daniel Berger – 13 (over Phil Mickelson, Brooks Koepka, Steve Stricker -10)
- 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 six winners of this event had not finished higher than 9th in any of their previous two starts before their respective victories.
- Of the previous six winners of this event, only one (Ben Crane) had played the FedEx St. Jude Classic the year prior to his win and made the cut.
Strokes Gained: Approach
Green in Regulation
Scrambling/Strokes Gained: Around the Green
TPC Southwind very much sets up as a second shot course and looking at stats from the last couple of years at this event confirms that. The past two winners of this event have ranked 1st in Strokes Gained: Approach for the year of their win, and, with TPC Southwind’s smaller greens, emphasizing Strokes Gained: Approach as a stat over the other Strokes Gained categories here seems extremely beneficial this week.
Another stat that emphasizes approaches and can be used this week is Greens in Regulation. With smaller greens, just hitting the putting surface with a lot of consistency will pay off for players this week, and last year, three of the top four finishers were inside the top-10 for the week in this stat, with eventual winner, Daniel Berger, tied for first.
While approach games are important this week, I would also look towards stats that measure around the green play here as well. Scrambling is often important at TPC Southwind, and last year, both Steve Stricker and Brooks Koepka (dual runner-ups) ranked inside the top-5 for this stat for the week. In 2014, the eventual winner, Ben Crane, also ranked 2nd in this stat for the week of his despite only being 16th in approach stats.
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.
|Danny Lee||50-1||$7,200||Robert Garrigus $7,200 and 200-1
Xander Schauffele $7,200 and 200-1
John Peterson $7,300 and 250-1
|William McGirt||67-1||$7,300||Harold Varner $7,400 and 80-1
Zac Blair $7,400 and 150-1
Patrick Rodgers $7,400 and 125-1
Phil Mickelson might be our lead horse this week as Lefty has played this event five times since 2009, never missed a cut and also garnered finishes of 2nd-2nd-3rd here over that span. Phil hasn’t been grabbing those top-5s in 2017, but his course history at TPC Southwind makes him a scary fade this week.
Boo Weekley has taken to TPC Southwind extremely well. In his last nine starts here he’s only missed the cut once and has three finishes of 12th or better to his credit in that span. Boo was 12th here last year and comes in needing a big week, he’s in play on DraftKings given his history here.
Chad Campbell hasn’t won on tour in what seems like forever, but this course has treated him well of late. He’s made seven straight cuts at this event and has two finishes of 8th or better to his credit here, including a 3rd from back in 2011. Campbell is another likely low-owned option with great course history.
Camilo Villegas isn’t always the most trustworthy golfer, but this is a course he’s been money at over his career. He’s made 10 of 11 cuts at TPC Southwind and only finished outside of the top-20 four times in that span. Villegas did make the cut last week, but his recent form still gives you pause, even with the great course history.
Cash Games: This isn’t a very deep field, so going with a more balanced approach is likely going to be more optimal this week. Starting with Francesco Molinari ($10,500) and Phil Mickelson ($10,200) is a definite option as neither player has missed a cut since February and both set up for this course. After that, Kyle Stanley and Stewart Cink are two players in the $8K range with great approach games I would feel good about using this week; as are Danny Lee, Harold Varner III and Peter Uihlein in the $7K range.
Tournaments: It’s likely we’ll see heavy ownership on a lot of big names at the top, so skipping down below $10K to start your teams could help give you a unique lineup build. Both Russell Henley and Daniel Berger played great at this course last year and could be lesser-owned than many players above them in salary this week. In the $8K range, Rafa Cabrera-Bello coming off a bad missed cut will likely go overlooked, as could Kevin Chappell who has had two slow starts since his win. Other good one-off tournament targets include Luke List ($6,600), Sam Saunders ($6,600) and Chez Reavie ($6,400).
Top Recent Form
1. Francesco Molinari: His finishes of 2nd and 6th over his last two starts have come at two of the strongest fields of the season. Overall, he has four top-25 finishes to his credit over his last four starts.
2. Kyle Stanley: He did miss a cut two weeks ago, but he has finishes of T6 and T4 to his credit over his last three starts.
Top Strokes Gained: Tee to Green from Last Week
1. Jason Dufner
2. Phil Mickelson
3. Daniel Summerhays
Top Strokes Gained: Putting from Last Week
1. Anirban Lahiri
2. Greg Chalmers
3. Kevin Streelman
MY PICK: Francesco Molinari ($10,500)
Molinari’s been fantastic at times this season and has been very close to nabbing a win over his last two starts. The four-time winner on the Euro Tour was in the mix all week at both THE PLAYERS and BMW PGA Championship but had to settle for T6 and T2 finishes. Even though he plays a dual schedule between two tours, Molinari’s stats really stick out this season on the PGA Tour as he’s ranked 2nd in Strokes Gained: Approaches and 7th in Tee to Green. While he sometimes struggles on the greens, Molinari should set up perfectly for TPC Southwind, which boasts smaller than normal greens and usually sets up perfectly for players with above average approach games. Given that the past two winners of this event have ranked 1st in Strokes Gained: Approaches for the week of their win, and that Molinari is ranked 2nd in this stat on tour (and was 2nd in this stat for the week of THE PLAYERS), a first win on American soil could be in the cards this week for the Italian.
MY Sleeper: Sam Saunders ($6,600)
While he’s sometimes better known as Arnie’s grandson, Saunders has developed into a more consistent player recently and had a couple of top-15 finishes early in 2017. A T5 in Puerto Rico and a T11 at the RBC Heritage shouldn’t go unnoticed this week as those are typically courses which correlate at least somewhat well with this week’s venue. Saunders putter has been hot at times in 2017, but his approach game has also improved recently as he was 18th in this stat two weeks ago at Colonial and gained strokes over the field in approaches for three of four rounds at the Memorial before a disastrous back nine on Sunday. In a weaker field, Saunders is a golfer I’d look towards on DraftKings this week, especially when needing value towards the bottom of the salary grid.
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is wavegoodbye) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above.