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.

Intro

The rain shortened last week’s event, and it was no surprise that as a result we saw a bit of a surprise winner. Brian Stuard sunk every putt he faced for the week inside of ten feet and went on to outlast Jamie Lovemark and Byeong-Hun An in a playoff. It’s hard to take too much from the results at the Zurich Classic as the players were starting and stopping all week, but it’s hard to deny that both Lovemark and An look like players on the rise. This week the Tour heads to Charlotte for what should be a fairly sunny four days of golf and a pretty stacked field. We are now one week out from the PLAYERS Championship, and as a result you should expect some of the top players to elevate their games this week.


The Field

This field, like last week, is also quite large with 150+ golfers teeing things up. With only the top 70 and ties making it to the weekend expect some big names to miss the cut, but also expect to see some familiar names around the top of the leaderboard. Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson are all here, as are Adam Scott and Rickie Fowler. The top end of the field is absolutely loaded, and there are also a lot of young guns who will be hungry to prove themselves against an elite field like this. Players like Justin Thomas, Daniel Berger and Byeong-Hun An will all be out to get their first win of the season (or career) and have pretty attractive prices on DraftKings. This is a big, but very quality field, and it’s a great warmup for next week when we’ll see arguably our deepest field of the year.


The Course

Quail Hollow—Charlotte, South Carolina
Par 72 -7,500-7600 yards depending on setup

Quail Hollow is one of the most popular destinations of the year amoung tour pros and is a true championship course. It’s hosted major events in the past and will be the host of the PGA championship in 2017. This week the conditions won’t be major championship-esque so to speak, but the course is challenging regardless of setup.

What makes Quail Hollow so challenging is its length and the sheer variety of the course. There are two semi-drivable and very short par 4’s as well as four pretty reachable par 5’s which make this a very fair test in terms of overall scoring. However, Quail Hollow also features six par 4’s over 450 yards in length that all play very tough. These holes are not just long either, but some feature severe doglegs, tight fairways sided by creeks or water and island style greens. Overall Quail Hollow is a longer course where distance off the tee is crucial but knowing where to miss and layup to are also pretty important. The final three holes play as perhaps the hardest finishing stretch on tour and feature two par 4’s of exceeding length, and a long par 3 to a semi-island style green. This course will give up birdies but will also ensure nothing is decided until the final group gets through the “Green Mile”.

Last year we saw Rory McIlroy decimate Quail with a tournament record 61 and overall score of -21. While it’s certainly possible we see another vintage Rory week, I doubt that such low scoring will be on tap and would expect winning scores to be in the traditional, mid-teens range (around -15).


Last 5 winners

Rory McIlroy—2015
J.B. Holmes—2014
Derek Ernst—2013
Rickie Fowler—2012
Lucas Glover—2011


Winning Trends

– The past 6 winners have ranked 63rd or better in Driving Distance in the year of their respective win

– Outside of Rory McIlroy, the last six winners came into this event without a top 5 on the year

– Outside of Derek Ernst in 2013, the last 5 winners all had recorded a top 10 at this event before winning


Statistics:

Par 5 Scoring
Par 4 Scoring
Strokes Gained: Tee to Green
Driving Distance

Both Par 4 and Par 5 Scoring have been good barometers of success at this event. Back in 2009, both Lucas Glover (2nd place) and Sean O’Hair (the winner that year) ranked inside the top 35 in par 4 scoring and 28th and 11th respectively in par 5 scoring. More recently, Jim Furyk has shown up as a player who consistently ranks highly in both categories and seems to have success every year at Quail Hollow. With reachable par 5’s and extremely challenging par 4’s on tap this week I think both these stats are worth paying attention to, and I won’t be shocked if the winner ends up having good numbers in both categories.

With Quail Hollow presenting players with a lot of long difficult tee shots and approaches it’s no wonder that many players who have had success here often rank outside the top 100 in Strokes Gained: Putting, but well inside that mark in Strokes Gained: Tee to Green. And while I highly recommend looking at Strokes Gained: Tee to Green this week, players will not only need a good tee to green game but distance as well. As previously mentioned, the last six winners here have all ranked 63rd or better in Driving Distance in the year of their victory, and one only needs to see the success of some young bombers from last year (Patrick Rodgers, Justin Thomas, Tony Finau) to realize that length is beneficial at Quail Hollow. Use Driving Distance as a key barometer this week to sift out some of those in form bombers who might be able to explode here with a big week.


Finding Values

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.

PlayerOddsDK PriceComparables
Jason Kokrak70-1$7,200David Lingmerth $7,300 and 150-1
Brendan Steele $7,200 and 90-1
Scott Brown $7,500 and 150-1
Lucas Glover125-1$6,300Brendon Todd $6,500 and 400-1
Jeff Overton $6,500 and 300-1
Alex Cejka $6,300 and 200-1


HORSES FOR COURSES

Rory McIlroy loves Quail Hollow. On top of winning this event twice already (2015 and 2010) he set the scoring record last year and holds the overall course record at 61 as well. He will be very hard to fade this week in DFS, and he will be hard to beat period.

Geoff Ogilvy may not inspire confidence when you talk about him in DFS circles, but his record here speaks for itself. Since 2005, Ogilvy has played Quail Hollow 10 times and made the cut in all 10 appearances. With a 7th here last year, he’s a true course horse who looks like good value.

Phil Mickelson has done everything but win on this course. Since 2005 he’s played this event every year (11 in a row) and made the cut every year. Of those eleven finishes he’s only finished outside of the top ten four times. Phil is definitely trending for anther big week here.

Ryan Moore is not the prototypical power hitter who does well at this course, but his record should be mentioned anyways. He’s made 5 cuts in a row at Quail Hollow and has a 6th and 5th place finish here from 2012 and 2013. A consistent player with consistent results means he’s obviously taken to the course a bit and gets an upgrade this week from me as a result.



DFS STRATEGY

With a pretty stacked field, we finally get a bit of a pricing reprieve this week. Many of the players we’ve been used to seeing priced in the $9-10k range lately have dropped significantly and are now in the $7-8k range which makes them great value plays. Additionally, there’s some really solid players in the $6k range this week as well that will make using the players at the top of the salary charts much more attractive. This is a pure stars and scrubs week for me, and with the field being over 150 golfers, I think targeting lower priced players at this event with good recent form or course history makes sense as simply getting players through to Saturday will be an achievement in itself (as it is most weeks). Don’t totally ignore balance in your lineups this week, but don’t be afraid to dip down and take advantage of that softer pricing either. Chances are we’ll see a few sub-$7k plays have decent weeks here.

Top Performing Studs from Recent Weeks:

– Patrick Reed
J.B. Holmes
– Hideki Matsuyama

Top Performing Value Plays from Recent Weeks

– Will Wilcox
– Harold Varner III
– Spencer Levin


MY PICK: Justin Rose ($10,000)

This week is interesting because one elite player in the field (Rory McIlroy) has really dominated this event over the past few years and is a large favorite to win despite there being lots of quality players. While Rory is the easy choice here, I always strive to make less obvious picks (sometimes to my own detriment I admit), and this week Justin Rose is a player I can’t help but like. Rose is 5th in Par 5 Scoring and is also 15th in Greens in Regulation, two stats I think are fairly critical for success this week. While he’s coming off a pretty bad missed cut last week, I’m not concerned as the stop-start nature of that event makes it hard to use as a barometer for anyone. Rose finished 5th in this event in 2014 and Quail Hollow really does set up as a sort of major championship golf course in a lot of ways with its long par 4’s and tough finishing stretch. This should favor Rose who has a US Open win on the equally tough Congressional (Quicken Loans 2014). I’ll take Rose here as my pick and the player most likely to end Rory’s reign of terror at Quail Hollow.


MY SLEEPER: Sean O’Hair ($6,100)

Sleeper Qualification: must be under $7,000 in salary and projected by me to be less than 10% owned

O’Hair is a player who seems like he is either on the verge of finding his game very soon, or losing it completely. Last week he was in great position after round 1 of the Zurich Classic only to have a disastrous back nine on Friday that saw him move from -5 down to -1 and miss the cut. He also started poorly at the RBC Heritage and never recovered. That being said, he’s still long off the tee (28th in Driving Distance) and ranks fifth in Par 4 Scoring for the year. He should be able to handle those long par 4’s better than most, and while I hate his recent performances, at only $6,100 he has more upside than anyone else in his price range this week. It also doesn’t hurt that he’s a former winner of this event (2009) as Quail Hollow can be tricky for first timers. I won’t be shocked if I wake up Thursday and O’Hair is +5, but at his depressed price I can’t pass up on the upside, and I am making him my sleeper, he’s a great GPP play this week.