WATCH: CHASE OR FADE – JORDAN SPIETH OR JON RAHM
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.
Last week we had dual events taking place but the big fantasy focus was in Puerto Rico where D.A. Points took down a weakened field. Some young players, like Bryson DeChambeau and Peter Uihlein challenged for their first PGA win but ultimately it was the crafty vet who took the title. In the WGC event, Dustin Johnson won his third event of the season over Jon Rahm in the final and solidified himself as the clear favorite going into Augusta. We also got some bad news on Jason Day and Gary Woodland who both withdrew for personal reasons and should be considered questionable for the year’s first major. This week represents the last chance for the top players to get their game in shape before the Masters.
The field this week is loaded with potential Augusta contenders and players who will be trying to get the outright win and book their last minute ticket to the year’s first major. Elite players with something to prove like Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler and Henrik Stenson will all be using this week to prepare for Augusta, while others like Charles Howell III, Tony Finau and Billy Horschel will all be chasing a win and the last potential spot into the Masters. Last week’s second place finisher from the match play event, Jon Rahm, will also be in attendance giving DraftKings players plenty of talent to choose from. The field this week is set at just under 150 golfers making it quite a bit bigger than last week. This should be a good fantasy warm up for Augusta as many of the top players will want to go into the year’s first major on a high note and scoring here is usually quite good.
The Golf Course of Houston (Redstone) — Humble, Texas
Par 72, 7,400-7,500 yards
This course was built specifically for this tournament some eleven years ago and has hosted this event since its inauguration, it’s almost always been played on the week before the Masters. The GC of Houston is a long-ish par 72 course that generally plays between 7,400-7,500 yards but has seen its fair share of shorter hitters play well here over time. As we saw in 2015’s final round — when J.B. Holmes sprayed it all over the place off the tee but still managed to win the tournament — the fairways are wide and forgiving and the rough usually isn’t hard to deal with. What is a huge deal though is the water, which comes into play on over 10 holes. However, even with the hazards, low scores here are the norm and the winners over the past four years have all been in the mid-teen range (-15 to -16).
The greens are Bermuda but seeded with some Bentgrass and set up very fast to mimic Augusta. As a result, a lot of what is needed to play well at Augusta is needed here as well. The par 5’s are all good scoring opportunities and will need to be played well under par by any player hoping for a successful week. That being said, par 4 scoring here has been just as important in past incarnations, mainly due to the course featuring four par 4’s which stretch over 450 yards (similar to Augusta). The toughest of these is generally the 18th which is a long winding hole with a tough tee shot over water. The course, in general, is a great mix of challenging holes and scoring opportunities which should make for an exciting finish on Sunday and possibly some pretty big fantasy point totals as well.
Last 5 winners
- 2016 — Jim Herman -15 (over Henrik Stenson -14)
- 2015 — J.B. Holmes -16 (over Jordan Spieth and Johnson Wagner playoff)
- 2014 — Matt Jones -15 (over Matt Kuchar playoff)
- 2013 — D.A. Points -16 (over Billy Horschel and Henrik Stenson -15)
- 2012 — Hunter Mahan -16 (over Carl Pettersson -15)
- The past five winners have ranked no worse than 10th in Greens in Regulation Percentage during the week of their win.
- Four of the last five winners had a top-20 finish or better in one of their previous four starts before winning this event.
- Greens in Regulation
- Par 4 Scoring
- Birdie Average
Since 2012 no winner of this event has finished outside the top-10 in Greens in Regulation for the week. With a lot of trouble (water) around the course and some tougher green complexes emphasizing this stat makes sense. Last year, four of the top six players ended the week inside the top-10 in this stat and in 2015 the three playoff participants ranked 10th and T3 in this stat.
On a course like Houston GC Birdie or Better Percentage is also a good stat to emphasize. Since 2012 the winner here has not been worse than -15 for the week and not ranked lower than 10th overall in this category for the week either. The past three winners have ranked 2nd-2nd-3rd in this category overall for the week as well.
While the course sets up like Augusta, in the sense that players will need to play the par 5s in well under par to win, it also carries some very difficult par 4s as well. Since 2012 the winner of this event has not ranked worse than fifth for the week in Par 4 Scoring, and last year, four of the top six players were ranked fifth or better 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.
|Tony Finau||50-1||$7,100||Boo Weekley $7,200 and 200-1
Harris English $7,200 and 125-1
J.J. Spaun $7,300 and 100-1
|Ollie Schniederjans||80-1||$6,700||Ben Martin $6,900 and 150-1
Chris Stroud $6,900 and 150-1
Smylie Kaufman $6,800 and 250-1
HORSES FOR COURSES
- J.B. Holmes has a great record here. On top of winning this event in 2015, he also lost in a playoff back in 2009. In his last five visits, he’s only finished out of the top-12 once. Holmes has been consistent in 2017 having made the cut in all six of his starts.
- Keegan Bradley is also a horse for the course this week. He missed the cut here last year but overall has three finishes of 10th or better in his last six starts in Houston. His history suggests a decent finish for him this week.
- Cameron Tringale is 6/6 in cuts made here. He was in the mix to win the event back in 2014 and has four finishes of T16 or better overall. Tringale has been up and down in 2017, but he’s been solid at this course over time and could easily be a factor this week.
- Russell Henley has developed quite the liking for Houston GC over the past few years. In four starts he’s never missed the cut and finished 5th/4th/7th at this event the past three seasons. He’s been close to some big weeks in 2017 and shouldn’t be ignored here even at an elevated price.
Cash Games: Given the strength of this field, there is good value at the bottom of the salary charts this week. For cash games rostering two of Rahm, Stenson, Rose, Rickie, Scott, over jamming Spieth in, seems more optimal. Of the higher priced plays I prefer Fowler ($10,000), Rose ($9,700) and Stenson ($10,400) who are all rested after skipping the match play. Some solid lower tier values could be Billy Horschel ($7,700), Tony Finau ($7,100) and Ollie Schniederjans ($6,700). Matt Kuchar ($9,000), Charles Howell III ($8,500) and Lucas Glover ($8,300) should all be considered good for cash games as well considering the number of cuts they make.
Tournaments: Given the withdraw of Dustin Johnson, Jon Rahm and Jordan Spieth’s ownership will likely be higher than expected. Henrik Stenson has burned DFS players in his last two outings but carries a 69.6 scoring average at this tournament over his last three visits. I also like Rickie Fowler who has figured this course out recently with two top-10s here over the past three years. Australians have a nice record at this event and Adam Scott (a former winner) could go overlooked due to his lack of play. Lower down some speculative plays include Bud Cauley ($7,400), Kyle Stanley ($7,400), Roberto Castro ($6,400) and Martin Flores ($6,700-see write-up below).
Top Recent Form (Overall):
1. Jon Rahm: He’s six for six on cuts made this season, which includes a win at the Farmers. He’s not finished worse than fifth in last three starts and is 24 under in his last eight stroke-play rounds.
2. Phil Mickelson: T7 and T5 in the last two WGC events, he’s not missed a cut in eight starts since the swing season. His last six stroke-play rounds have all been par or better.
3. Peter Uihlein: Uihlein will play his second straight PGA event this week. He’s made eight straight cuts worldwide and has finished T5/T17/T4 over his last three starts.
Top Strokes Gained: Tee to Green (on year)
1. Rory McIlroy
2. Dustin Johnson
3. Jon Rahm
Top Strokes Gained: Putting (on year)
1. Tyrell Hatton
2. Marc Leishman
3. Matthew Fiztpatrick
MY PICK: Rickie Fowler ($10,000)
Fowler has quietly put together a fine start to the 2017 season. After a few poor tournaments, he’s now finished no worse than 16th in his last four starts and picked up his first win in over a year at a tough course during the Honda Classic. Fowler’s stats have been impacted somewhat by his slow start, but he was still T2 in Greens in Regulation a few weeks ago in Mexico and is ranked seventh in Par 4 Scoring for the year too. He’s also played longer par 72 courses well over his career and has wins at both Quail Hollow and TPC Boston, courses which setup similar to this week. Rickie has two top-tens at this event in five starts—including two from the past three years—and should be coming in rested and ready for a big week with the Masters looming. At $10,000 he’s expensive but offers a significant discount on the top players and plenty of upside.
MY SLEEPER: Martin Flores ($6,700)
Flores is coming into this event off the back of his best finish on the year in Puerto Rico, where he ended up T10 for the week. What I love about Flores this week is the fact he ranks inside the top-10 on Tour in Greens in Regulation and also seems to be putting the ball well as he was ranked T2 in Birdies Made for the week in Puerto Rico. Flores is a Texan and has some decent course history at the GC of Houston as he finished T17 back at this event back in 2014. So far on the year Flores has made seven of 11 cuts but also has four finishes of T28 or better. I think this course should suit him well and I like him as a legitimate low-owned sleeper this week and a player who is coming in with confidence.
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