WATCH: CHASE OR FADE – PETER UIHLEIN
The Cheat Sheet provides fantasy golf players with course info, player history, and the most noteworthy trends of the week to help with roster selections.
For the second week in a row, we got a real nail biter down the stretch as Aussie Marc Leishman held off Kevin Kisner and Charley Hoffman to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational. The win was Leishman’s second on Tour and moved him up to 29th in the World Golf Rankings. It also booked him a ticket to Augusta for the year’s first major. On the DFS side of things we once again, saw Henrik Stenson fail to live up to his top billing as the Swede was over 25% owned in almost every contest on DraftKings but missed the cut. Meanwhile, Rory McIlroy had a strong tournament but couldn’t make up for a poor round one and ended up T4 for the week. We’re now only two weeks away from the year’s first major and the first Fantasy Golf Millionaire of the year on DraftKings.
Since this is an opposite-field event, and with all of the top players playing the WGC Matchplay event this week, we are getting a weaker than normal field. As of now, there are approximately 130 players set to tee it up at the Puerto Rico Open, and a lot of them will be names you haven’t heard much from this year. Leading the field will be players like Graham DeLaet, Graeme McDowell and Danny Lee, golfers many fantasy players will know, but not ones we’d describe as elite by any means. The rest of the field is a mix of some interesting young talent (Brandon Hagy and Wes Bryan), older veterans (John Senden and Ian Poulter), and an eclectic group of international players (Thorbjorn Olesen and Fabrizio Zanotti). The prize pool is much smaller this week for the golfers — about half the size of a regular Tour stop — but the prestige and perks of winning are still the same. The cut will still take place on Friday, and the top 70 and ties will make the weekend. In a smaller field, getting 6 of 6 through will be statistically easier on DraftKings but will be made more difficult by the fact extra research may be required to learn more about the lesser known golfers.
Coco Beach Golf Club — Rio Grande, Puerto Rico
Par 72, 7,500 yards
Coco Beach Golf Club (formerly Trump International) is a seaside course which generally plays fairly easy for the modern PGA Tour pro but can really get tricky if the wind gets up (as we saw in 2015). For the most part, the winning scores here have been between -15 and -20, but in 2015 poor conditions saw Alex Cjeka win in a five-way playoff at -7, and last year wasn’t much easier as Tony Finau won in a playoff at -12. Coco Beach is long, but it’s not necessarily long hitters that score well here. Past winners have generally been on the shorter side (Scott Brown, George McNeil, Alex Cjeka) off the tee, and that’s probably because positioning here is somewhat important if you want to avoid the hazards or many of the tricky bunkers that line the course.
That’s not to say long players won’t have an advantage of some kind. The course can play over 7,500 yards and features four par 5’s that play between 530 yards and 630 yards, so longer hitters will have an easier time on the approach into these greens, and, in general, on the longer holes. Speaking of greens, they’re paspalum grass, which is found in more tropical environments and also used at the CIMB classic and OHL Classic. The greens are generally slower here which should benefit some of the weaker putters. A lot depends on the weather, but generally, this is a pretty interesting course that challenges players with some tougher approaches, and it can play tough if the wind gets up. Right now the weather doesn’t appear too bad as winds appear steady throughout the week.
Last 5 winners
- 2016 — Tony Finau -12 (over Steve Marino playoff)
- 2015 — Alex Cjeka -7 (in a five-way playoff)
- 2014 — Chesson Hadley -21 (over Danny Lee -19)
- 2013 — Scott Brown -20 (over Fabian Gomez -19)
- 2012 — George McNeill -16 (over Ryo Ishikawa -14)
- Four of the past six winners of this event had recorded a 13th place or better in a previous year at this event before winning.
- Strokes Gained: Approach
- Par 4 Scoring
The PGA Tour hasn’t tracked a ton of stats specific to this event in past years, so we are left without a lot of data to rely on. That being said, there has been some trends that stick out among past winners and top finishers here to take note of. Recent winners, or top finishers here, have tended to rank higher than normal in Proximity to the Hole, and with the emphasis this course tends to put on approach shots this trend seems to make sense. Players have stressed the need for precise approach shots here in the past, and while the course isn’t difficult, the green complexes are tricky, especially for first timers.
In addition, if we’re emphasizing approach games, I’d also venture to take a look at the Strokes Gained: Approach the Green stats as well. Like Proximity, this measures who is gaining strokes on the field on approaches. 2014 Champ Chesson Hadley ranked 63rd on Tour in approaches in the year of his win and it’s significant to note that last year’s champ Tony Finau ranks 31st this year in that category.
Finally, Par 4 Scoring is something else to monitor. We do know that the last three winners here have ranked 1st, 8th and 2nd in this category during the week of their respective win, and, in 2015, three of the five playoff participants were inside the top eight in this stat for the week.
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.
|Martin Flores||90-1||$6,800||Andres Romero $6,900 and 125-1
Hunter Mahan $6,800 and 125-1
D.A. Points $6,900 and 150-1
|Thorbjorn Olesen||60-1||$7,700||Willy Wilcox $7,900 and 80-1
Sam Saunders $7,800 and 100-1
Andrew Johnston $7,900 and 80-1
HORSES FOR COURSES
Scott Brown is a former winner of this event who in five starts at this event has only finished outside of the top 10 once. He finished 5th here last season but comes in on the back of some bad form as he had a terrible missed cut at the Arnold Palmer Invitational last week. He’ll look to bounce back here.
Boo Weekley hasn’t had much success in 2017, but he’s never had issues playing well in Puerto Rico. Outside of a withdraw (WD) from years ago, Weekley is five for five in cuts made here and has recorded three top 10s at this event. Like many veterans, he’s played this course well over time.
Brendon de Jonge lost his Tour card this season but will be playing this week. He’s generally been terrible over the past year or so, but he’s made six straight cuts at this event and only finished outside the top 15 twice. He’s a risky play, however, as he’s yet to make a cut on the Web.com or the PGA Tour in 2017.
Chris Stroud is another player who has lost his full-time playing privileges this year but will get a start this week in Puerto Rico. He’s generally been great at this event making five of his last five cuts here. Stroud has finished no worse than 27th here over the past four seasons, and in a weak field, I think he is worth considering with that type of history.
Cash Games: With no must play stud this week, I’d focus on value. Graeme McDowell plays coastal courses well and is in good recent form making him my favorite high priced play for cash games. I also like the recent form of Fabrizio Zanotti and Peter Uihlein. The $8k range is also loaded with solid young players like Brandon Hagy, JT Poston and J.J. Spaun. Lower down I’d also consider John Peterson and Harold Varner III as great values this week.
Tournaments: Ownership should be spread out this week given the lack of big names. European players like Thorbjorn Olesen and Andrew Johnston (BEEF) have both won huge events across the pond and are priced at a discount for this type of field, but they’ll likely go overlooked due to poor recent form. Danny Lee finished second here in 2014 and with his recent run of awful play apparently over, he makes for a worthwhile GPP play as well. Some other potential targets include Bryson DeChambeau, Zac Blair and Michael Thompson.
Top Recent Form (Overall):
1. Fabrizio Zanotti has a win at the Maybank Championship and a T12 in the WGC Mexico event over his last two starts. He’s 26 under par in his last two rounds with two eagles and 35 birdies.
2. Peter Uihlein has made seven straight cuts worldwide with five finishes of T17 or better in that span.
3. JT Poston has only one round over par in his last eight, and he’s made three straight cuts with finishes of 17th, 27th and 14th.
Top Strokes Gained: Tee to Green from Last Week
1. Rory McIlroy
2. Adam Hadwin
3. Lucas Glover
Top Strokes Gained: Putting from Last Week
1. Tyrell Hatton
2. Marc Leishman
3. Matthew Fitzpatrick
MY PICK: Peter Uihlein ($10,100)
Uihlein isn’t a well-known golfer in the United States which is a shame since he is actually a U.S. born player who makes his trade on the Euro Tour. At one point he was the highest ranked amateur player in the world and has had a moderately successful career thus far in Europe, with just a lone win to his name. Uihlein recently overcame an injury late in 2016, however, and has been playing great ever since his return, racking up seven straight made cuts and four top 20s over the last 10 weeks. Uihlein has also played this event three times and has expressed his fondness for it. In 2013 (the same year he won in Europe), he finished sixth here on the back of three rounds of 67 or better. Now in arguably his best form since that event, I think he’s in shape to go one better here and I won’t be shocked if he picks up a top five or even the win.
MY SLEEPER: John Peterson ($7,200)
Peterson is another talented player who hasn’t quite lived up to his billing out of college and who also recently overcame a serious injury. The Texan has had a somewhat up and down return in 2017 but a strong T15 in Phoenix should be evidence that his game isn’t far off. While Peterson has never played in Puerto Rico, he’s had decent results in other more tropical climates including Hawaii and Mexico, where he’s posted back to back top 20s at the OHL Classic — on a course that uses the same type of paspalum greens that are in play this week. At $7,200 I wouldn’t be put off of Peterson here due to his lack of course history or recent missed cut as the course should suit him, and his play at tournaments earlier in the year suggests his game isn’t very far off.
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