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.
The field this week is a bit smaller with only 130 golfers or so in the mix. Since there’s only one course in play and the daylight hours are still shorter than usual this tournament has a smaller field than most regular tour stops. That being said this event has one of the biggest party atmospheres of any stop on tour and that makes it more popular than usual. Once again there will be a lot of quality at the top of the field and big names like Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Bubba Watson will all be in attendance. With a smaller field only about 60 or so of the 130 entrants will miss the cut which will still take place after Friday’s round (top 70 and ties play the weekend). For DFS purposes expect a much higher percentage of lineups (than last week) to get 5/6 or 6/6 players through to Sunday.
TPC Scottsdale: Scottsdale, Arizona
Par 71, 7,200-7300 yards
TPC Scottsdale underwent some minor renovations two years ago that were aimed at “toughening up” the golf course and mainly resulted in a few holes being lengthened, and some bunkers being moved to provide better protection for pins (making approach shots tougher) and to challenge players off the tee (making tee shots harder). One of the big changes was on 18 as the new bunkering there now presents players with a real challenge to hit the fairway off the tee and is a tough closing hole for any leader with a one shot lead on Sunday. Even with the changes though the winner still hit -15 last year (only one off the -16 winning score of 2014) and I’d expect the course to still yield its fair share of birdies overall.
The course is made up of three par 5’s, four par 3’s and eleven par 4’s. All of the par 5’s are going to be very reachable in two by many players (especially the longer hitters) and last year this trio of holes were the three easiest to score on in the final round of play. The par 4’s are all generally between 410 and 490 yards in length and some shorter hitters may face a few longer approaches. That being said the course is fairly wide open so players will still find birdie chances on many of these holes. There is also a drivable par 4 (the 17th) which will play a huge role scoring wise later in the round. The course presents only a few really tough obstacles for players to navigate through and the wide open nature of the course makes it semi-links like in feel—although water does come into play on 6 of the final 9 holes. The Bermuda greens are quite different from the unpredictable Poa Annau the players putted on last week and should play relatively fast but be much less unpredictable overall. All in all, expect quite a few birdies here, some eagles, and for the winning score to likely end up in the mid to high teens again.
PGA CLEAN SLATE
Last 5 winners
– 4 of the last five winners have had a T5 or better in one of their last 5 starts before winning the WMO
– 5 of the last 6 winners have ranked inside the top 50 for Greens in Regulation in the year of their victory at the WMO.
Greens in Regulation
Par 5 birdie or better average
The course this week is much more “gettable” for players and they will need to give themselves as many birdie opportunities as possible throughout he week. Last years winner Brooks Koepka tied for 4th overall in Greens in Regulation for the week, while two of the other top 4 players were 4th and 1st for the week respectively. Hitting greens and getting more birdie chances is going to be crucial this week and I’ll definitely be looking for players ranked highly in GIR when starting research this week.
As mentioned in the course review the par 5’s are generally the easiest holes on the course this week by a wide margin. Players who rank highly in birdies or better on the par 5’s this week should also be targeted. On that same note, looking at overall birdie average rankings is also a good statistical category to weigh. A player will be need to be well under par this week to be a truly productive fantasy play.
The last category I’d look at this week is driving distance. The course is very wide open (although there’s a lot of water on the back nine) so accuracy off the tee isn’t super important. With ample landing space off the tee long hitters will have shorter approaches to many of the longer par 4’s and also a better chance of reaching the par 5’s in two. Long players have tended to prosper here and the leaderboard last year is chalk full of players ranked inside the top 50 or higher of driving distance. It’s the driving stat I’d lend the most credence to this 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.
|Justin Thomas||36-1||$9,300||Gary Woodland $9600 and 46-1
Webb Simpson $9200 and 51-1
Ryan Palmer $9900 and 36-1
|Si Woo Kim||61-1||$7,800||Shane Lowry $8100 and 61-1
Billy Horschel $7900 and 67-1
Martin Laird $7700 and 67-1
|Cameron Tringale||101-1||$6,900||C. Hoffman $7200 and 101-1
Fabian Gomez $7200 and 111-1
Jason Bohn $7400 and 101-1
HORSES FOR COURSES
– Bubba Watson has been close to winning this event twice and now finished 2nd in consecutive years. Since 2011 he’s played here 5 times and never finished worse than 29th.
– Ryan Moore has one of the longest and most consistent histories of play at the WMO. Since 2009 he’s made 7 cuts in a row and recorded 3 top tens and two top 20’s.
– Brendan Steele has played this event each of the past five years and recorded three finishes of 6th or better in that span. He’s generally been money in the desert.
– Phil Mickelson has won this event twice and as he was raised in Scottsdale, is very familiar with the course. He’s been boom or bust here usually but is very comfortable around the course.
The salaries are pretty soft this week meaning you can fit in a lot of higher priced talent on one roster. With a smaller field you also need to consider that even the players at the bottom of the salary range will have a better than usual chance at making the cut this week and so many cheaper-riskier players might end up being decent plays simply by virtue of making the cut/playing 4 rounds. Finding one or two value plays to pair with your top rated studs from the higher price ranges is definitely a viable strategy this week and one I think a lot of people will employ, as many of the top players are coming in hot or with great form at this course. I’d be on the look out for value picks at the cheaper salaries and try and use those players to fit in your best plays from the upper tiers.
Top Performing Studs from recent weeks
o Brandt Snedeker
o Kevin Kisner
o Jason Dufner
Top Performing Value plays from recent weeks
o Hudson Swafford
o Harold Varner III
o Jamie Lovemark
MY PICK: Justin Thomas
It’s hard to imagine a course that sets up better for a player with Justin Thomas’ talents. There’s ample room off the tee and Thomas’ power will allow him all kinds of opportunity to put up some low numbers this week. Last year Thomas ranked 15th in driving distance, 1st in par 5 birdies or better and 6th in birdie average, and outside of a bad final round was in contention all week at this tournament in 2015. I won’t be shocked if he contends again here and picks up his second career victory.
Farmers Pick: Jimmy Walker (T4)
CareerBuilder Pick: Graham DeLaet (T42)
Sony Open Pick: Danny Lee (T33)
MY SLEEPER: Jason Kokrak
Sleeper Qualification: must be under $7000 in salary and projected by me to be less than 10% owned
Kokrak hits it a ton off the tee and that trait should help him tremendously this week as many holes will allow him to just grip it and rip it. After a slow start Kokrak had a decent week at the Farmers marred only by a last round, weather-induced, implosion. Kokrak ranked 19th in par 5 scoring and par 5 birdie or better average last year and should be able to really take advantage of some of these shorter par 5’s. If he swings the putter even mildly well this is a course he could contend on and has come close at similar venues before. He’s my under the radar pick this week.
Farmers Sleeper: Robert Garrigus (T50)
CareerBuilder Sleeper: Chez Reavie (T17)
Sony Open Sleeper: Daniel Summerhays (T13)