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 fun ending to a tournament that played a lot tougher than we all thought it would. The parched fairways and greens at the Canadian Open made for some tough golf and Steve Wheatcroft’s bunker fail on 18 made for a pretty interesting finish to say the least. This week the tour heads to New Jersey for the final major of the year. There are a ton of players heading here in excellent form and the storylines for this week include a chase for the number spot in the world, a search for a first major win and numerous players looking to secure Ryder Cup berths. It’s going to be a fun week for golfers and DFS’ers a like.
The field this week is obviously quite a bit stronger than last week. The fourth major of the year has most of the top international and American players in the field but it also has a few names you definitely won’t recognize. The PGA Championship honors PGA club professionals by inviting the top 20 PGA club pros every year into the event (determined by a qualifying event in June). This is a nice side story for the event but these players rarely if ever are a factor in the actual tournament. This is important for this week as several players at the bottom of the field may look enticing but will be hard pressed to compete in this field. Make sure you research any player below 6k before rostering. Other than that the field is quite deep and the top four players in the world, Jason Day, Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth will all be in attendance. With only Dustin having a major win on the season thus far expect the other three to be hungry for a win. For DFS purposes the cut rules are the same as they are every week (top 70 and ties make weekend) however there is no secondary cut if more than 78 players advance.
Baltusrol Golf Club (Lower Course)—Springfield, New Jersey
Par 70, 7400-7500 yards
Baltusrol is a tricky course that will likely set up as a tough test this week and perhaps even the toughest course the players have seen all season. The course was designed by A.W. Tillinghast, a designer who also built other similar courses in the region, including Beth Page Black (host of 2012 Barclays and 2009 US Open) and Ridgewood (host of 2014 Barclays). This seems significant this week as these courses all have some of the same qualities as Baltusrol and so players with good form in these past events could be worth noting. While Baltusrol usually plays as a par 72, for the players this week it will be set up as a par 70 with two holes that usually play as par 5’s converted into par 4’s for the week. As a result, the course setup will be a little strange. The front nine consists of an unusually tough stretch of long 4’s with two of the holes measuring over 500 yards in distance. The back nine ends with both par 5’s (17 and 18) and will definitely be holes the players will want to take advantage of as the week progresses. Seeing a winning birdie or even eagle will be possible on the final hole this week.
As far as the course goes, Baltusrol may not have a ton of water but that doesn’t mean that keeping it on the fairway won’t be important here. The rough this week looks to be quite thick and there are also quite a few deeper than normal fairway bunkers out there, some of which have been redesigned and moved since we last saw this course in 2005. The redesigns have been made to keep the course relevant and so keeping the ball in the fairway will be of utmost importance as it’s hard to hit out of rough and bunkers.
All in all, Baltusrol has been described as a “fair test” by some of the players already this week and so while we may see some tough holes and setups, expect the cream to be able to rise to the top and a player who can excel in all areas of the game to succeed.
Last 5 winners
2015 – Jason Day– 20 (over Jordan Spieth -17)
2014 – Rory McIlroy -16 (over Phil Mickelson -15)
2013 – Jason Dufner -10 (over Jim Furyk -8)
2012 – Rory McIlroy -13 (over David Lynn -5)
2011 – Keegan Bradley -8 (over Jason Dufner playoff)
– Each of the last 5 winners of the PGA Championship finished T15 or better in their last start before winning.
– 4 of the last 5 winners of this event ranked 6th or better for the year in Strokes Gained: off the tee in the year of their win (Dufner was 46th in SG:OTT in 2013) .
SG: Off the Tee
Par 4 scoring
Greens in regulation
While even some US Open courses will allow for some degree of error off the tee the players won’t have much margin for error on their tee shots this week. On top of tackling a long golf course, Baltusrol is lined with deep fairway bunkers and supposedly very thick rough. Phil Mickelson won here by dialing it back off the tee in 2005 and finding a ton of fairways (while also hitting it relatively long). As a result, I think players with good Strokes Gained: off the tee stats will be ones to target this week and it’s a category I’m emphasizing for my picks.
Given the nature of this course, a couple other categories could definitely be emphasized as well. Par 4 scoring should be important given the set up of the course. Baltusrol only features two par 5’s and carries some deadly long par 4’s which means scoring well on these holes will be vital. Also vital will be the ability to hit out of the rough. With thick rough and fairly narrow fairways players will undoubtedly have to handle hitting the odd approach out of the thick stuff this week regardless of how accurate they are off the tee. Hence rough proximity (how accurate players are out of the thick stuff) is a category worth noting as well and players with good distance off the tee and strong rough proximity stats may be ones to watch this week.
Lastly, I’d put an emphasis on Greens in Regulation this week. In 2009 Lucas Glover was second in the field in GIR when he won at another A.W. Tillinghast design in Beth Page Black. The greens here aren’t huge and players who can hit the putting surface time and time again and avoid chipping from tough green side bunkers or overgrown rough will have a huge advantage. I would venture to guess the winner this week will be in the top three in this statistic and so looking at overall season stats on Greens in Regulation when making your selections isn’t a bad idea at all.
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.
|Charl Schwartzel||60-1||$7,300||Byeong Hun-An $7400 and 150-1
Scott Piercy $7400 and 125-1
Marc Leishman $7500 and 125-1
|Brandt Snedeker||60-1||$7,500||Paul Casey $7600 and 125-1
Graeme McDowell $7700 and 150-1
Keegan Bradley $7700 and 125-1
|Branden Grace||50-1||$8,000||Louis Oosthuizen $8300 and 67-1
Hideki Matsuyama $8800 and 67-1
Danny Willet $8200 and 70-1
HORSES FOR COURSES
**The PGA Championship is played on a rotating group of courses so we’ll be looking at overall performance in past PGA Championships but not direct course correlation.
Rory McIlroy has really thrived at this event since he joined the tour. Since 2009 he has finishes of T3-T3-T8 and two wins to his credit. It’s safe to say the young Irishman likes this late season event and seeing him put in another big week here won’t be shocking.
Charl Schwartzel has played in eight straight PGA Championships and made 7 of 8 cuts. Over that span he’s finished the top 20 three times and looks to be one of the most consistent performers at this major over the past decade or so.
Jason Dufner has been money at this event over the past 5-6 years. Including his win in 2013 Dufner also has a T5 from 2010 and a lone 2nd place from 2011. He’s made 5 of his last 6 cuts at this major and always seems to peak for this time of year.
Keegan Bradley has had his strongest results at this major championship. Including winning in his debut at this event back in 2011, Bradley also has a t3 from back in 2012 and a T19 to his credit as well. Bradley played solidly at the last major and could re-find some form at his favorite event this week.
While early in the season we often heard everyone talk about the big 3 (Day, Rory, Spieth) this event now has a big 6-7 golfers to choose from. With Stenson and Phil Mickelson seemingly at the peak of their games, as well as Dustin Johnson playing well every week, it’s hard to differentiate amoung the top plays. For tournament purposes this should mean that ownership is spread fairly evenly this week so I would definitely recommend not worrying about a player being too highly owned, as I doubt anyone will approach absurd levels. As far as what value plays to use, don’t forget that this event will be played on a much more traditional PGA course and so targeting some of those lower salaried players who have had strong results on the PGA this season (and recently) is probably more likely to pay off than using lessor known international names. Getting the top players right this week might be difficult but taking advantage of some good in form players at lessor levels could make things easier.
Top Performing Studs from recent weeks
– Dustin Johnson
– Brandt Snedeker
– Henrik Stenson
Top Performing Value plays from recent weeks
– Jhonattan Vegas
– Daniel Summerhayes
– William McGirt
MY PICK: Sergio Garcia ($9400)
Garcia has really had a strong year and there’s a real shot it could all culminate here with a win at the event where he burst onto the scene 17 years ago. Garcia comes into this event off of two great performances at the year’s second and third major championships and has now recorded finishes of 5-5-5-1st in his last four starts. On top of this it really looks like Baltusrol sets up well for Garcia who ranks 3rd on the PGA in Greens in Regulation and 11th in Strokes gained: off the tee. Garcia has had some success in this part of the world before finishing T10 at the 2009 US Open and T3 at the 2014 Barclays. For DFS purposes, Sergio’s price is once again a nice discount off the top plays and he makes a lot of sense for DraftKings this week. I’ll throw caution to the wind and say Garcia gets his first major this week. It would be a fitting way to cap off a great year for the Spaniard.
MY SLEEPER: Cameron Tringale ($6000)
Sleeper Qualification: must be under $7000 in salary and projected by me to be less than 10% owned
There were a lot of different ways I could go this week, however I really wanted to make sure my pick was going to be low-owned and cheap. Enter Tringale. Tringale has had a pretty inconsistent year but comes into this event off of three straight made cuts. This is significant because Tringale is usually a player who holds his form extremely well and has had some long made cut stretches over the past few years. Even better is the fact that Tringale has showed some of his best golf at tough golf courses, both this season and in past ones, with one of Tringale’s best finishes this season coming at the Players where the course played insanely difficult. I’m also buoyed by the fact that in 2014, Tringale finished T2 at the Barclay’s event on anther A.W. Tillinghast designed course. If Tringale’s driver cooperates, his short game and putter can definitely let him compete and a top 20 finish on a tough course like Baltusrol is within reach. I love the price and the potential here on a grinding type of venue this week.
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.