WATCH: PGA PRICE CHECK
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 Wells Fargo falls in an awkward part of the schedule just after the Masters and the week before the Players Championship. For that reason, the 150-man field is fairly watered down but still contains a couple of big names. Most importantly, world number one Dustin Johnson is returning to action here after his freak accident (stair fall) the day before the Masters. From all reports, Dustin is healthy again and practicing in full and is using this event as his tune-up before the Players, which will have a much more stacked field. Other than DJ some other big names in attendance will be Phil Mickelson, Adam Scott and Patrick Reed (who is still looking for his first top-10 in 2017). Some bigger international players who are making the trip include Louis Oosthuizen, Rafa Cabrera-Bello and Emiliano Grillo. Perhaps the most important note about the event this year is that it will be played at a new venue (Eagle Point-see below) as Quail Hollow is getting ready to be used for the PGA Championship in August.
Eagle Point Golf Club — Wilmington, North Carolina
Par 72, 7,300 – 7,400 yards
As mentioned above, one of the largest storylines for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship is the fact it will be taking place away from the regular host venue of Quail Hollow (which is going to host the PGA Championship in August). While the loss of a great course like Quail on the rotation stings a bit, Eagle Point looks every bit as good a test and early reports are that it is in pristine condition.
While we obviously can’t use course history this week as we normally do in research I am actually expecting Eagle Point to play fairly similarly to Quail in many respects. Both are longer, tree-lined par 72s which require accuracy and distance off the tee, and both were designed — or redesigned — by the same man, Tom Fazio. Much like Quail Hollow, Eagle Point features narrow fairways in several areas, which are guarded by both streams and trees, but also features some interesting risk-reward holes as well, including two par 5s with small, semi-island greens. While the course has short par 4s where long hitters may be able to drive the green, there are also some longer par 4s where placement will be key. The finishing 580-yard par 5 looks like it will provide a ton of drama too as it’s skinny green is protected by water right, providing tons of danger for those looking to get home in two.
As far as the overall setup goes, Eagle Point features three par 4s between 350-400 yards in length but also features four longer than normal par 5s – two of which come in at over 580 yards. The par 3s also cover a broad range as two of the one-shotters measure in at well under 200 yards, while the 16th is the longest on the course at a reported 222 yards. While it’s hard to determine how professionals will perform here on their first go around, I do expect Eagle Point to play very much like a major championship course this week and produce a winner worthy of inclusion into the list of great players who have won this event over the past 10 years.
Last five winners
- 2016 — James Hahn -9 (over Roberto Castro playoff)
- 2015 — Rory McIlroy -21 (over Patrick Rodgers -14)
- 2014 — J.B. Holmes -14 (over Jim Furyk -13)
- 2013 — Derek Ernst -8 (over David Lynn playoff)
- 2012 — Rickie Fowler -14 (over Rory McIlroy and DA Points playoff)
- Outside of Rory McIlroy, the last seven winners came into this event without a top-5 finish on the year.
- Four of the last six winners of this event had recorded a top-10 at this event before winning.
Strokes Gained: Tee to Green
Strokes Gained: Off the Tee
Par 5 scoring
Since it’s a new course and we don’t have any key data to look back on from past years this week, I’m using my best approximations based on the course preview.
Eagle Point should mimic Quail Hollow in many respects, especially in the sense that it should challenge players with a lot of difficult tee shots and technical approaches into multi-tiered greens. Over time, Tee to Green Specialists — who often rank outside the top 50 in Putting — seem to thrive at Quail Hollow, and those are the same types I expect to do well this week. With that in mind targeting both Strokes Gained: Tee to Green and Strokes Gained: Off the Tee stats — over Around the Green or Putting stats — this week makes sense.
One nuance of Eagle Point that also stuck out to me when writing the preview was the fact that the par 5s are all longer holes which feature some difficult approaches onto multi-tiered greens. Past champions and top finishers have always ranked well in Par 5 Scoring at Quail Hollow, with the past five winners all being inside the top-10 in Par 5 Scoring for the week. Given the similarities between Quail and Eagle Point, I think good Par 5 Scoring will be a key stat here this week at Eagle Point as well.
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.
|Kevin Kisner||28-1||$8,400||Cameron Smith $8,500 and 50-1
Lucas Glover $8,600 and 80-1
Rafa Cabrera-Bello $8,700 and 80-1
|Alex Noren||60-1||$6,600||David Lingmerth $6,600 and 150-1
Brian Harman $6,700 and 80-1
Smylie Kaufman $6,700 and 200-1
*Since we’re playing a new course this week, course history isn’t something I recommend looking too heavily at (although I do think the courses will play somewhat similar). We’ll focus more on recent form in this week’s column instead.
Dustin Johnson: Time for a quick reminder about how well the number-one player in the world was playing before his accident/misstep/fall at Augusta. Dustin has won the last three events he’s entered and he hasn’t finished worse than sixth all season in an event where he’s made the weekend (he’s missed one cut in seven starts). He could easily hit the ground running here and not look back until he’s won his fourth event of the season.
Kevin Kisner: Kisner has been otherworldly at times this year. The Georgia native is nine for nine in cuts made so far in 2017 with six finishes of T11 or better in those eight starts. He has seven rounds of 68 or better over his last 16 competitive solo rounds and is coming off another runner-up finish at the team event, where he chipped in three times in the final round.
William McGirt: McGirt started 2017 slowly but has caught fire the past month or so. A strong T9 at the WGC Match Play was followed up by a T22 at his first Masters, where he actually challenged for the lead over the first three rounds. He shot four sub-70 rounds at the Heritage in his last solo play start.
Top Strokes Gained: Tee to Green (Season)
1. Dustin Johnson
2. Jon Rahm
3. Sergio Garcia
Top Strokes Gained: Putting (Season)
1. Tyrell Hatton
2. Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano
3. Michael Thompson
Top Birdie or Better Percentage (Season)
1. Justin Thomas
2. Jordan Spieth
3. Dustin Johnson
4. Hideki Matsuyama
5. Jon Rahm
Cash Games: It may seem tough to fade birdie machines like Jon Rahm and Dustin Johnson but for cash games, there is a ton of great value in the high $7k to $10k range. Kevin Kisner, Louis Oosthuizen and Daniel Berger all provide plenty of upside with great made-cut rates and are underpriced relative to their results/recent form/world rankings. Going higher, I also wouldn’t be afraid of paying up for Paul Casey or Adam Scott. Casey hasn’t missed a cut in seven starts now. Other potential plays include William McGirt ($7,900), Hudson Swafford ($7,700) and Lucas Glover ($8,600).
Tournaments: Dustin Johnson has the potential of blowing away a weak field like this and his ownership could be slightly suppressed due to his recent injury. Two others in the top of the field who are interesting for tournaments include Patrick Reed and Bill Haas. Reed had a solid week in Nola and looks closer to getting his game back in form, while Haas has played well most of the year and has local ties to the area this week. Other potential high-upside targets include Brian Harman ($6,800), Carl Pettersson ($6,200), Alex Noren ($6,600) and Michael Thompson ($6,200).
MY PICK: Daniel Berger ($8,300)
Berger gets the nod for me this week in what is rapidly becoming a very thin field. While he’s been somewhat inconsistent in 2017, he’s flashed good form of late at both the Shell Houston Open and the Masters on courses that should correlate fairly well to this week’s venue. The third year player currently ranks 14th in Birdie or Better Percentage and is only a few weeks removed from a T5 in Houston where he was ranked second in Strokes Gained: Tee to Green for the week. Even though it’s a new venue, the fact Berger scored T28 and T17 finishes on his first two visits to this event shouldn’t go overlooked either as I expect Eagle Point to play similarly to regular host Quail Hollow. At $8,300, a second career win isn’t out of the question here for Berger and he could be looked at as an exceptional value on DraftKings.
MY SLEEPER: Geoff Ogilvy ($7,200)
I’m going with a pretty deep sleeper this week in Ogilvy. The Aussie hasn’t cracked the top-10 yet in 2017 but he has played solid in spots, especially of late, suggesting a big week may be coming soon. Ogilvy comes into North Carolina on the back of three top-30 finishes in his last four starts and he’s had success when he’s made the trek to North Carolina in the past, having made the cut in 10 out of 11 appearances at this event. Given some of the shared characteristics between Eagle Point and Quail Hollow, I’m guessing Ogilvy will find this week’s venue at least somewhat to his liking as well. While he’s more of a GPP play, Ogilvy is a player you can target given his improved recent form (13th overall in Strokes Gained: Tee to Green at the Valero) and affinity for this event/region. He’ll likely be extremely low owned in tournaments and could be a difference maker on a difficult looking course that may not yield many low scores.
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