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.
Recent Web.com grad Cody Gribble blazed his way to a five-under back nine and cruised to a five-shot victory at the Sanderson Farm Championship. Gribble was a surprise winner but he had been playing strong for a while and posted an impressive eighth in his PGA debut. This was the second year in a row that the Sanderson Farms championship had been won by a Web.com graduate. Overseas in China at the WGC event, Hideki Matsuyama won his third PGA Tour event in a landslide.
The second leg of the PGA Tour’s wrap-around season takes us to Las Vegas for the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open this week. This is a 144-man field and will have the cut take place after Friday’s round. The field this week features a few less top players than usual and will include a few names you might not be familiar with. While tour mainstays like Ryan Moore, Brooks Koepka and Jimmy Walker will be playing, a lot of the field will be filled out by recent Web.com tour grads and fringe PGA players. It will behoove you to learn more about these players this week as several of them have been in good form recently and could be in for big fantasy performances.
TPC Summerlin, Las Vegas, Nevada
Par 71, 7,200-7,300 yards
This course is one of the easiest the players will encounter all year. First of all, it’s played at altitude, which means pretty much everyone can drive it far. The fact that recent winners here have included shorter hitters like Ryan Moore, Kevin Na and Ben Martin should tell us right off the bat that driving distance is not a huge deal. The second thing helping the players is that nothing about the setup of this course is overly difficult.
The rough generally isn’t very long and the greens aren’t overly small/don’t play too fast. There’s three par 5s on the course and even the longest can be reached in two due to altitude, meaning most players will have an eagle opportunity or two every round. While there’s a couple longer par 4s, only one or two are challenging in the sense that they require players to hit a driver off the tee. Of the 11 par 4s on the course only three measure in at over 450 yards. The par 3s also aren’t overly difficult and three of them measure in at less than 200 yards from the tee.
This course is all about capitalizing on opportunities (of which there will be a lot). The player who plays aggressively this week and can bury his chances when they arise will succeed.
Last five winners
2015—Smylie Kaufman -16 (over six players at -15)
2014—Ben Martin -20 (over Kevin Streelman at -18)
2013—Webb Simpson -24 (over Jason Bohn and Ryo Ishikawa at -18)
2012—Ryan Moore -23 (over Brendon de Jonge at -22)
2011—Kevin Na -23 (over Nick Watney at -21)
- Four of the last six winners of the Shriners Open had finishes of 15th place or better at this event in a year before before their win.
- Four of the last five winners had a T11 or better in their previous four tournaments leading up to their win.
– Birdie Average
– Approach Proximity
– Par 5 scoring
Given the extreme lack of difficulty this course presents I’m not focusing too much on stats this week and will be relying more on relative form and course history. Still, players who have done well at the Shriners have shown well in Birdie Average in the year of their victory. With the winning score generally around -22 or better, a ton of birdies will be needed for a good week. Birdie average is therefore one of the most reliable stats of the week for me.
Given that altitude takes away some of the driving advantage long hitters have, looking at approach proximity is also a decent idea. Accurate approaches lead to more birdie chances and with not much rough and a shortened course, most players will be able to fire away at pins all week. I think it’s also a decent indicator of success as many players ranking highly in this category, traditionally, have had success at this event, including Russell Knox, Jason Bohn and Kevin Na.
Lastly, Par 5 scoring looks like a good indicator to me as well. TPC Summerlin only has three par 5s this week but they are all some of the easiest holes on the course. Players who take advantage of these holes will, by definition, have a better chance of keeping up with the leaders.
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.
|Player||Vegas Odds||DraftKings Price||Comparables|
|Harris English||80-1||$7,200||Cameron Smith $7,500 and 100-1
Wesley Bryan $7,300 and 90-1
Nick Watney $7,500 and 90-1
|Bud Cauley||100-1||$6,800||Kyle Reiters $6,900 and 140-1
Scott Brown $7,000 and 125-1
Robert Streb $6,900 and 125-1
HORSES FOR COURSES
Robert Garrigus definitely enjoys this venue. While he didn’t play last year, in his last nine visits Garrigus has made the cut eight times and has finished as high as third.
Jason Bohn has made the cut at this event in each of his last six attempts, he’s got two runner-up finishes and an eighth place to his name here in that span. Last year he finished T2 and couldn’t catch Smylie Kaufman down the stretch.
Martin Laird loves playing in Las Vegas and at this event. In seven trips he’s only missed one cut at this course and has a victory and a second-place finish to his credit. Laird’s played well in the dessert in Phoenix and Palm Springs as well.
Kevin Na has a pretty nice history at this event, and we know the upside is there. In his last six appearances he has a WD and a missed cut to his name but he also won back in 2012 and finished second last year.
After a couple weeks the swing season is in full effect now and it looks like we have a better idea of who to keep an eye on at the moment, as far as recent form goes anyways. With a few bigger names at the top and some good value at under $7k this seems like a good spot to start taking a chance with some of the new players on tour who have shown good form so far (and who are priced appropriately). I’d be careful not to overpay for the players who got big price jumps from last week but would instead look for those good value plays and pair them with the reliable studs in the field (Koepka, Moore, etc.). There should be some monster scores this week.
Top Studs from last week
* Chris Kirk $11,700 and 108 ftps
* Francesco Molinari $8,300 and 102.5 ftps
* Keegan Bradley $7,600 and 110 ftps
Top Value plays from last week
* Xander Schauffele $6,400 and 106 ftps
* Carl Pettersson $5,800 and 78.5 ftps
* Hiroshi Iwata $6,100 and 98 ftps
MY PICK: Ryo Ishikawa ($7,500)
This choice is a tad out of left field, but I do think you could see Ishikawa post a big week here. The former teenage prodigy hasn’t had an easy time on the PGA Tour but he has played well of late after coming back from an injury late in the year. Ishikawa won a few months ago over in Japan and also posted a T10 at the CIMB classic in his first PGA start since last winter. Ishikawa also has a nice record at this event, having played here three times and making the cut in all three appearances – a stretch which includes a runner-up finish from back in 2013. While sometimes streaky, Ishikawa has proven that he can make a ton of birdies (something needed this week) as he ranked 10th in this category back in 2014.
MY SLEEPER: Xander Schauffele ($6,200)
Sleeper qualification: Must be under $7,000 in salary and projected by me to be less than 10 percent owned.
Schauffele, like last week’s winner Cody Gribble, is another Web.com tour graduate who has started his PGA season very well. After a couple nice finishes in the Web.com championships, Schauffele started his season with two made cuts on tour including a T5 last week where he finished with a brilliant six-under par. Even more impressive is Schauffele actually led the field in strokes gained: tee to green last week. Like last year’s winner Smylie Kaufman, Schauffele is coming into this event with a ton of confidence and a game which should give him lots of chances at birdies this week. The new graduate looks like tremendous value and will look to build on the trend of first-time winners in the swing season.
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