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.
Well, we’re finally here, the Catalina wine mixer!… I mean the Tour Championship! It’s been a long season, but it all comes to a close this week as the top 30 players from this year’s FedEx Cup point standings face off for some serious dough and a little bit of pride. The tour heads to Atlanta this week for a nice fall showdown to crown this years King.
This is the final event of the 2016 PGA season. The field is made up of only 30 golfers, all of whom finished in the top 30 of the FedEx cup point standings. This week, as Jigsaw would say, there is a game within the game. While all 30 players will obviously be competing for the Tour Championship and a tournament win, only a certain number of players will have a real shot at winning the FedEx cup point standings and the 10 million dollar bonus that goes to the winner. Here’s a breakdown of which players will actually win the 10 million bonus if they win the golf tournament on Sunday (regardless of what everyone else does):
– Dustin Johnson
– Patrick Reed
– Jason Day
– Adam Scott
– Paul Casey
– Rory McIlroy (would still need Dustin Johnson to finish tied 2nd or worse)
Everyone else in the field would need fairly significant help to win the FedEx standings outright, although for 6th – 10th ranked players the scenarios needed are not super complex. Every player will be out there trying to win this prestigious event but those with good shots at winning the bonus coming in will obviously have a little extra motivation (actually 10 million of them). There’s no cut this week and all 30 golfers will get in four rounds.
East Lake Golf Club—Atlanta, Georgia
Par 70, 7300-7400 yards
East Lake Golf Club is a Donald Ross design that has undergone some renovations in the past 5-10 years. The course used to be very ripe for scoring (Tiger Woods won at -23 one year) but after the redesign, where the greens were changed to Bermuda grass, it now plays much tougher and the course has yielded winning scores in the -8 to -13 range. This course is quite tactical, so while there’s a few easier holes (a drivable par 4 and a very reachable par 5) there’s also some very intimidating ones. Long par 3’s are a trademark of Ross designs and this course features 4 of them, one of which is essentially an island green. There’s also two longer par 4’s that are actually scaled down par 5’s and will play long.
Ball placement off the tee and into the greens will be more important than sheer power this week as the already discussed green complexes will give players fits if they don’t hit it to the right spots. While longer hitters have certainly done well at East Lake, the list of recent winners doesn’t include a ton of true “bombers” off the tee and overall players who emphasize accuracy and have a tidy short game should do well.
Last 5 winners
- 2015—Jordan Spieth – 9 (over three players at -5)
- 2014—Billy Horschel – 11 (over Jim Furyk and Rory McIlroy -8)
- 2013—Henrik Stenson – 13 (over Jordan Spieth and Steve Stricker -10)
- 2012—Brandt Snedeker – 10 (over Justin Rose -7)
- 2011—Bill Haas – 8 (over Hunter Mahan playoff)
- 5 of the 6 past winners have ranked 13th or better in par 4 scoring in the year of their victory
- 5 of the 6 past winners had scored a victory on tour in the year they won the Tour Championship (Bill Haas hadn’t in 2012 but he did have two T2’s)
- 5 of the past 6 winners had not missed a cut in any playoff event coming into East Lake.
Par 4 scoring
Par 3 scoring
Greens in regulation
As noted earlier, some of the past winners of this event had very good rankings in par 4 scoring in the year of their victories. However, with four tough-long par 3’s on the course par 3 scoring is generally also very important this week. I’d consider both stats when making any projections or line-ups. It’s also hard for me to ignore Greens in Regulation at this venue. Past winners Bill Haas, Henrik Stenson and Billy Horschel were all GIR monsters during the year of their respective wins, and anyone finding the green consistently on this course will be at a huge advantage as scrambling will be difficult on these green complexes.
A final trend I noticed was that recent winners of this event had high rankings in strokes gained: total for the year, a category which is essentially a ranking of how a player has done vs. the field in their shot-making for the year. It makes sense in a very tough field/event, on a course that challenges players throughout the bag, that players who rank highly in this category have done well at the Tour Championship. While so many of the players in this event are ranked highly in that category, it’s still worth noting that, outside of Billy Horschel, no player in the past five incarnations of the Tour Championship had ranked 23rd or worse at the end of the season in this category.
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.
|Ryan Moore||41-1||$6,800||Roberto Castro $7,200 and 56-1
Justin Thomas $7,100 and 67-1
Kevin Chappell $7,200 and 67-1
HORSES FOR COURSES
Jordan Spieth seems to fit this course rather well as he’s now put up a win and a T2 in three appearances. Given that East Lake doesn’t give an advantage to bombers, Spieth would seem like a good fit for this venue.
Ryan Moore is another player who relies on accuracy and placement over power and he also has two nice finishes on two attempts at this event, finishing 3rd back in 2012 and 9th in 2010.
Paul Casey is the last golfer I’ll mention here. He has only played this venue twice, but has now finished 4th and 5th in those two appearances and has strong results at other Donald Ross designs. Casey seems a like a fit for East Lake as well.
This week has an insanely small field and no cut so picking the winner is going to be even more important than normal. In the last four incarnations of this event all of the winners were players who were already inside the top five of the FedEx Cup standings at the beginning of the week. This week that list includes Paul Casey, Adam Scott, Jason Day, Patrick Reed and Dustin Johnson. Maybe this is too basic, but centring your lineups around these and other top players and then filling out your rosters with the best value plays is probably what you should be aiming for this week, as it’s likely the winner will come from a player within the top 5-7 players.
Top Performing Studs from recent weeks
* Patrick Reed
* Paul Casey
* Dustin Johnson
Top Performing Value plays from recent weeks
* Roberto Castro
* Jhonattan Vegas
* Kevin Na
MY PICK: Paul Casey ($9500)
The Englishman has been trending up for the past month or so and now has back to back solo 2nd place finishes in his last two playoff events. Even better is the fact that since the PGA Championship, Casey has not finished worse than T10 in Greens in Regulation for a tournament and also has moved up to 9th place in the strokes gained: total category for the year. In short, Casey has been an absolute monster tee to green lately and also comes into this event with some good course history as he opened with a -5 in the first round last year and also finished T3 at another Donald Ross designed course (Sedgefield) in late 2015 as well. There’s a lot to like about Casey this week for me and I think being so close to a win in his last two outings could really push him here. He’s my pick this week.
MY SLEEPER: Kevin Na ($6500)
Sleeper Qualification: must be under $7000 in salary and projected by me to be less than 10% owned
If you’re not familiar with the term baby swag let me inform you. Many golfers, upon their wives having a child, have often played some of their best golf directly after this momentous event and landed some huge wins in the process (see Danny Willet at this years Masters). Well, Kevin Na was fortunate enough to become a father right before the Deutsche Bank Championships and I’m wondering if his new found “dad strength” will carry over to some inspired play this week. It’s not like Na hasn’t played well lately either as he’s not finished worse than 27th in his last eight starts. Na also finished T10 at the Donald Ross designed Sedgefield this year and quite frankly I think the layout suits his game quite nicely. He’ll probably be popular this week, but as it’s the last official event I’m not worrying about ownership percentages here. Na could buck the trend and bring home a shock win.
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.