WATCH: PRICE CHECK – WGC MEXICO CHAMPIONSHIP
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.
As if we haven’t had enough big name winners yet this year, Rickie Fowler went and added his name to a list that includes Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson and Hideki Matsuyama. Fowler was impressive all week and distanced himself nicely during the final two rounds. This was his first win since early 2016 and one he needed for his confidence. Once again, we saw some bigger names miss the cut as well, as Russell Knox, Daniel Berger and Brooks Koepka all failed to make the weekend. Fortunately, there is no cut to deal with this week as we are headed to Mexico for our first WGC event of 2017.
This tournament is a World Golf Championship event which means that the field is only 75 players. This also means that there is no Friday cut and all players will get in four rounds of play barring a DQ or withdraw. The big news this week is that this event has undergone a venue change (see course details for a breakdown). This event used to be named the WGC Cadillac and was held in South Florida at the famous Doral Course, but was moved to Mexico for, well, let’s just say “political reasons.”
Since this is a WGC event the prize purse is also larger than normal, and the field is mainly limited to only elite PGA/Euro players, and a few international qualifiers. Outside of Jason Day — who withdrew with an infection/flu — all of the top players in the world are in attendance (Spieth, Dustin, Rory, Hideki, Stenson), including Rory McIlroy who is making his PGA debut this week after recovering from an early season rib injury. While there may be a few lessor-known names near the bottom of the DraftKings salary chart, most of the golfers here are either ranked inside the top 50 in the world or have won a big tournament to qualify, so make sure you take the time to acquaint yourself with the players before writing anyone off.
Club de Golf Chapultepec — Mexico City, Mexico
7,300-7,400 yards – Par 71
One of the main storylines this week will undoubtedly be the course. The venue for this event shifts to Mexico for the first time ever, and the players will be at the Club de Golf Chapultepec (we’ll just call it the CGC form here on out). The CGC is an older Mexican course that has undergone some renovations and has hosted more modern events recently, including the Mexican Open on the PGA Latin America Tour. It’s generally played as a par 72, but one of the par fives is being converted into a par four this week. The course features Poa Annua Greens and Kikuyu grass on the fairways and rough, making it somewhat similar in style to Riviera, the course the players saw at the Genesis Open recently. It should also be noted that CGC is located at 8,000-feet of elevation, meaning golf balls will fly further than normal this week in the thin air, and the course will play shorter than advertised.
In terms of layout, the CGC is going to present a very interesting test. It features some dauntingly long holes (that admittedly won’t play that long at altitude). Two of the three par fives play at over 600 yards, and there are also three par fours which measure in at 480 yards or more. With that being said, there’s also four par fours which come in at under 400 yards, including the par four first hole which measures in at a mere 315 yards and will likely be a hole players will need to birdie to keep up with the field this week.
With the elevation changes, the varying layout and different styles of grass, CGC should present a unique look for the players but should also provide a lot of birdie chances. Looking back at the 2014 Mexican Open, the winning score there was 17 under par, and given this field, I won’t be shocked if the winning score this week exceeded that total.
LAST 5 WINNERS
- 2016 – Adam Scott -12 (over Bubba Watson -11)
- 2015 – Dustin Johnson -9 (over J.B. Holmes -8)
- 2014 – Patrick Reed -4 (over Bubba Watson -3)
- 2013 – Tiger Woods -19 (over Steve Stricker -17)
- 2012 – Justin Rose -16 (over Bubba Watson -15)
- Each of the past six winners had already recorded a top five or better on the PGA Tour in the year of their win, before securing their win at this event.
Birdie or Better Percentage
The course this week has some quirks, but overall should be gettable for the elite Tour pros. Targeting Birdie or Better % in conditions like this is usually a good idea as the players with high birdie rates will have a great shot at hitting some of the scoring bonuses on DK this week — especially given the fact everyone is guaranteed four rounds of play.
The other stat I’ve focused on this week is more speculative, as we don’t have prior versions of his tournament to look back on. The course has been described as quite tight and very tree-lined, so Driving Accuracy should be at a premium this week. It’s true that altitude may make it easier for big hitters to hit the fairway this week, but looking at players who play well on courses where Driving Accuracy is at a premium is definitely something to consider. You don’t necessarily have to eschew long hitters, but checking their history to see if they’ve had success at courses where accuracy off the tee is essential makes sense.
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.
|Louis Oosthuizen||50-1||$7,200||Alex Noren $7,200 and 80-1
Richard Sterne $7,200 and 200-1
Kevin Chappell $7,300 and 125-1
|Jhonattan Vegas||100-1||$6,600||Mackenzie Hughes $6,600 and 250-1
Kyung-tae Kim $6,700 and 300-1
Scott Hend $6,600 and 250-1
This is a brand new course and venue this year, meaning past course history does us absolutely no good. Instead, we’re going to look at recent form this week, particularly what players have been hot thus far in 2017.
- Dustin Johnson: On top of winning by a landslide two weeks ago, Dustin also has three finishes of sixth place or better to his name already on the season. He’s 31 under par in his last eight rounds, and currently leads the Tour in Strokes Gained: Tee to Green.
- Jordan Spieth: Spieth has been in great form since the year began as he’s 5/5 in made cuts and won by six shots at Pebble Beach three weeks ago. He currently has three finishes of T3 or better in five starts and leads the Tour in Strokes Gained: Approaches.
- Tyrell Hatton: Hatton has been on a tear since winning the Alfred Dunhill Links near the end of 2016. In his last eight starts, he hasn’t finished worse than 25th and has four finishes of T5 or better (including the aforementioned win). He’s coming off a T4 last week at the Honda Classic.
- Gary Woodland: Woodland has been on fire since the start of the swing season. He’s now accumulated four finishes of sixth or better in his last six starts. He’s a cool 41 under par in five starts in 2017 and playing some of the best golf of his career. He finished T2 to Rickie Fowler last week.
Cash Games: In a no cut event, fitting either of the top two players — Dustin Johnson or Jordan Spieth — isn’t hard this week, but I’d rather target the upper tier values like Justin Rose, Adam Scott and Sergio Garcia. If I was picking between Spieth or DJ, price and course fit has me leaning towards Spieth because I don’t think Johnson’s distance off the tee will be a huge factor given the altitude of this course. Other values this week who have been in great form and seem too cheap to me include: Louis Oosthuizen and Alexander Noren at $7,200, Rafa Cabrera-Bello at $7,400, Paul Casey $7,800 and Danny Willett $6,700.
Tournaments: The most intriguing play at the top of the ranks for me is Rory McIlroy who is returning from an injury layoff. He’s certainly capable of winning, but I feel like that’s asking a lot for him in his first start back. Given that accuracy off the tee may be at a premium this week, Henrik Stenson might be my top play as he’s generally one of the best at finding fairways off the tee, and he might go overlooked with all the talent above and below him. Other potentially low-owned plays this week: Jason Dufner $8,100, Byeong-Hun An $7,500, Emiliano Grillo $7,300, Matthew Fitzpatrick $7,300, David Lipsky $7,100 and Danny Willett $6,700.
Top Strokes Gained: Tee to Green from Last Week
1. Paul Casey
2. Billy Horschel
3. Jhonattan Vegas
Top Strokes Gained: Putting from Last Week
1. Chad Collins
2. Rickie Fowler
3. Morgan Hoffmann
MY PICK: Justin Rose $9,600
Rose has been money all season, and I don’t see any reason why that trend won’t continue here. In four starts he’s finished T4 or better three times now, and he’s coming off a great week at Riviera. Rose hasn’t won on the PGA Tour in over a year now, so motivation shouldn’t be an issue and the Englishman has already won a major and a WGC event in the past (this one in 2012). His recent form and resume both fit the mold of a winner for this week. Rose should also be at home on the Poa greens this course features as he’s traditionally putted well on that surface — and was eighth in Strokes Gained: Putting for the week on similar greens at Riviera. At $9,600, I won’t be shocked if he picks up a win here and sets himself up nicely for a run at a green jacket in a month or so.
MY SLEEPER: Louis Oosthuizen $7,200
Oosthuizen isn’t really a “sleeper” (he’s a pretty well known commodity), but given the strength of this field and his price, I thought I’d include him here. He placed T3 at the Phoenix event — missing out on a playoff by a stroke — just missed winning the Euro Tour event in Perth for the second year in a row, and then put in four solid rounds of par or better at the tough PGA National where he ranked eighth in Driving Accuracy and first in Greens in Regulation. Oosthuizen thrived at another unique test a couple years ago when the U.S. Open was played at Chambers Bay (which also featured Poa Greens) and also has a strong record at WGC events in the past, including a second place at the match play event last season. I think Louis has a great shot at a big week here for fantasy, and at $7,200 is priced ridiculously cheap for someone in such good form. I think he’s a great value play and has winning upside even in this ridiculously strong field.
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