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.
Last week was a great tournament – low scores, lots of lead changes and ultimately a worthy winner. Oh and we also got to see Jim Furyk break the PGA scoring record for a single round when he shot 58. Furyk went from +1 all the way to -11 after the end of his round and put up a massive DraftKings score along the way. It’s a good lesson for fantasy players as any golfer who makes the weekend is really always one huge round away from being a great fantasy play for the week. This week we are headed to Rio for a very special tournament. The first gold medal in golf since 1904 will be handed out at the end of this week, and the players will all be looking to get their names forever marked in history.
The field this week is a mere 60 players and comprises of players from all around the world. While its true many of the top players decided not to attend (Zika, schedule, burnout etc.), there is still plenty of elite talent at the top end of this field. Sergio Garcia, Rickie Fowler and newly crowned Open champion Henrik Stenson will lead the front of the pack and look to take home the gold for their respective countries. The field will be rounded out by some lessor known, but still very solid international players, and in a small field, many of these players could surprise this week. With the tournament being only 60 large, and there being no cut-line to contend with, everyone in this field is in play for DFS purposes.
Location: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Par 71, 7100-7200 yards
This course looks to be a fairly unique test of golf which could favour certain types of players, specifically those used to playing non-traditional PGA setups and those with an eye for links golf.
The course was designed by Gil Hanse, the same architect responsible for the re-design of Trump National (Doral) and also the man who created Castle Stuart, the course where the recent Scottish Open was played. This course looks to have taken many keys from Castle Stuart. It’s essentially wide open (no trees) and uses the natural vegetation and sand as its primary defense. The course features no traditional rough and, as mentioned, no trees either, so expect wind to play a factor and also expect players to have to hit numerous “creative” shots this week if their ball travels off the fairway and into the vegetation.
As far as layout goes, this course also has a few unique features about it. It’s a par 71, but features five par 3’s and four par 5’s, many of which will offer players good chances at birdies. The course isn’t long by any means, but offers a wide variety of hole setups. Three of the par 5’s measure in at 570 yards or greater, yet only one of the par 3’s comes in at over 200 yards. Additionally, the par 4’s come in unique sizes as well. Five of them measure in 479 yards or greater in length, while four of them come in at 412 yards or shorter. The par 4—16th should prove to be one of the most exciting holes on the entire course as it plays to only 303 yards and offers a great risk-reward opportunity for players who need to make up shots late.
One last note, while the course looks gettable on paper, scoring will likely be determined by how much wind the players see. With how wide open the course plays, windy conditions could mean a score of near par takes the gold, while calmer conditions could see players go into the upper teens under par.
Top Ten Golfers (World Rankings)
- Henrik Stenson (5th)
- Bubba Watson (6th)
- Rickie Fowler (8th)
- Danny Willet (9th)
- Sergio Garcia (11th)
- Justin Rose (12th)
- Patrick Reed (14th)
- Matt Kuchar (20th)
- Rafael Cabrera Bello (29th)
- Byeong Hun An (35th)
- Proximity 175-200 Yards
- Par 3 Scoring
- Scrambling/Sand Save Percentage
With this being the first ever real event contested on this course, we obviously don’t have a lot to fall back on history wise. The course looks similar to other Gil Hanse designs, specifically Castle Stuart, and judging by results there, it doesn’t seem like off the tee stats will be a huge deal. If the wind stays down, bigger hitters could still prosper here, however, as high ball flights will be punished less.
For stats this week I’ve targeted proximity from 175-200 yards for the mere fact that four of the five par 3’s will fall essentially within that range. Players strong from that distance will obviously have an advantage, and I’d also reckon players will see a lot of approaches from that distance on the longer par 4’s as well. In addition, looking at overall par 3 scoring stats isn’t a poor idea either. As this course features five par 3’s, one more than most courses, players who excel on these will no doubt hold a bit of an advantage on this setup.
Finally, I’d also look for players with either strong scrambling or sand-save stats. This course is unique in the sense that it doesn’t have traditional rough or bunkering. The sand used on the course is “indigenous,” and there is actually three different types of sand being used this week. Having good feel from the sand and the indigenous “plantation” will be key, and players with good stats around the green should be able to deal with these obstacles better than most. All-in-all this is a hard week to pin point key stats, and so relying more on recent form and what players have done to prepare might be more beneficial.
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.
|Nicolas Colsaerts||70-1||$6,900||Wu Ashun $7,100 and 125-1
Mikko Ilonen $7,100 and 100-1
Thorbjorn Olesen $7,300 and 100-1
|Padraig Harrington||45-1||$7,700||Anirban Lahiri $7,700 and 70-1
Jaco Van Zyl $7,900 and 100-1
Danny Lee $8,400 and 50-1
With no course form to look at this week we’ll be focusing on players’ recent form coming into the event.
- Henrik Stenson comes into the event as the clear favorite, and rightfully so. Stenson’s form now reads win-T13-win-T7, and he comes into Rio only three weeks removed from one of the greatest major championship performances in history. He’s definitely in-form for the week.
- Emiliano Grillo has had a fantastic year, and lately he’s been in fantastic form. Grillo finished inside the top 15 at each of the last two majors and has finished inside the top 15 at four of his last seven events. The South American should be popular this week as few have been more consistent in the past few weeks.
- Jhonattan Vegas broke out a few weeks ago with a great final round in Canada where he nabbed his second PGA Tour victory. Vegas has been consistent all year and has now made his last four cuts, including a T22 at the PGA Championship. He’s another South American who’s familiarity with the climate should help him.
- Gregory Bourdy is a French player who has really been playing solidly all season. Bourdy has only finished outside the top 25 once in his last eight starts and racked up top twenty finishes at both the US Open and PGA Championship in that span.
- Cheng-Tsung Pan is a Web.com player you probably haven’t heard of before, but make no mistake, he’s been playing good golf of late. Cheng hasn’t finished worse than T19 in his last six starts and narrowly missed a victory on the Web.com Tour four weeks back. He’s an interesting play this week at only $6,600.
With a small field and no cut to contend with we definitely have to adjust our strategy this week. While it’s tempting to dip down into the $6k and below regions, don’t forget that a high GPP finish on DraftKings won’t just mean nailing down a couple medal winners, it will also mean getting your value plays to finish inside the top twenty or better. There are a lot of players in the $6,500 – $8,500 range this week who have the ability to not only finish well here but who could contend for a medal, and those are the players I would target this week, especially given the unique course and circumstances the international games present. I’d look for a little more balanced approach to pay dividends as the middle tiers is where the real strength of this field lies.
Top Performing Studs from Recent Weeks
- Henrik Stenson
- Patrick Reed
- Emiliano Grillo
Top Performing Value Plays from Recent Weeks
- Alex Cejka
- Gregory Bourdy
- Cheng-Tsung Pan
MY PICK: Martin Kaymer ($10,300)
This event is really hard to decipher because there are so many players competing here who have not seen the course and who will be coming into the event last minute. Kaymer, however, is one of the players who actually took the time to attend the opening ceremonies and seems jacked about being a part of the games. Earlier in the year he even expressed some joy at the fact other top players were withdrawing, so his chances of winning would be greater. On top of this, Kaymer seems like he could really suit the course as he has a great links record and won both of his majors at open style links venues (Whistling Straights and Pinehurst) that remind me a lot of the course the players will see this week. Kaymer’s now made over 10 cuts in a row and finished off his PGA Championship week in style with a top ten placing. I think he can do better here and expect him to bring home one of the medals.
MY SLEEPER: Fabrizio Zanotti ($6,800)
Sleeper Qualification: must be under $7,000 in salary and projected by me to be less than 10% owned
Zanotti is an interesting play this week for several reasons. He is likely to be overlooked by many who don’t follow the European Tour and may not feel comfortable playing him. The truth is though, he’s had a strong last couple of seasons on the Euro Tour and comes into this event having made each of his last five cuts — including a T34 at the aforementioned Gil Hanse designed Castle Stuart. What I like most about Zanotti, however, is both that he’s from South America (Paraguay) and is heavily invested in competing at these games. Paraguay has only a few athletes competing this year, and Zanotti has gone on record saying he’d much rather have a medal at this event than a high finish at a major. At $6,800 he’s a pretty quality player with lots to play for who will be more than familiar with the conditions in South America. I like the price and think he could be in for a great finish.
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.