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

Last week we all saw a player who had been trending towards a great finish for the past couple of months finally cross the finish line. Charley Hoffman had been having a lot of great starts to tournaments but coming up short on Sunday. Last week, though, he finally finished on top, and also lent credence to the idea that the Valero is definitely a decent week to use course history when making DFS teams (as Hoffman’s record at the Valero Texas Open was already sparkling beforehand and only became brighter afterwards). This week the tour heads towards another weaker field event on a much more forgiving course where birdies should be plentiful and scores will be low.


The Field

Much like last week, this will be a larger field event with 150 or so golfers taking the start, and also like last week, it will be a case of having to rely on less than elite talent. Outside of the top three players in the field — Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler and Jason Day — there isn’t a ton of upper echelon golfers here, but there are players who have thrived in weaker field events like this over their careers. Veterans like Billy Horschel and Chris Kirk and younger players like Smylie Kaufman and Daniel Berger are here and will make for very intriguing plays. Outside of them, however, question marks surround most of the players in the field, and as much insight as possible will be needed to determine who among the lower ranks will end up as good plays this week.


The Course

TPC Louisiana—Avondale, Louisiana
Par 72 -7,300-7400 yards depending on setup

TPC Louisiana is a Pete Dye designed course that carries a mixed bag of hole designs, but generally allows for some really low scoring. Last year Justin Rose ended up winning with a final score of -22, and in general, the scores have usually ended up around -18 to -20. One of the main reasons that the scoring is so low here is that the par 5’s all rate as extremely great birdie opportunities. Only the par 5, 18th comes in at over 580 yards in length, and for most players at least three of these holes are reachable in two shots. There is also some extremely short par 4’s on TPC Louisiana, as well with five of the par 4’s coming in at under 400 yards. Players with length and accuracy off the tee, or those with good wedge games, should have an advantage this week as a result.

While the course does have some water and quite a few bunkers on it, accuracy isn’t a huge factor here (at least not as much as last week) due to the lack of rough and larger fairways. The Bermuda greens are fairly easy to hit as well and have been figured out in past incarnations by less than fantastic putters like Jason Dufner and Seung-Yul Noh. As a result, while a good putting week is certainly going to be needed here, refusing to use players with bad putting stats might be a mistake. Instead finding players who have been striking the ball well and thinking they can get the flat stick going enough for a decent outcome might be the better option. Nothing about this course plays extraordinarily hard, and as a result, you might see players who often struggle on the greens suddenly thrive in easier conditions.


Last 5 winners

Justin Rose—2015
Seung-Yul Noh—2014
Billy Horschel—2013
Jason Dufner—2012
Bubba Watson—2011


Winning Trends

  • The last 5 winners of the Zurich Classic have all ranked 38th or better in Greens in Regulation (GIR) in the year of their respective win
  • Of the last 5 winners of the Zurich Classic, only one had missed more than one cut all season on the PGA tour (Rose missed three before winning last year).


Statistics:

Par 5 Scoring
Strokes Gained: Tee to Green
Greens in Regulation

All in all, looking at ball striking and scoring stats seems to be the most beneficial method this week given the setup and past trends. Scoring well on the par 5’s is almost critical at this event, as the winning score will likely hover around the -20 mark and will require players to birdie these holes with regularity. Last year the eventual winner, Justin Rose, played the par 5’s in 11 under par for the week and didn’t make a bogey or worse on the par 5’s all week. The players who can take advantage of the par 5’s will prosper here, so including Par 5 Scoring or Par 5 Birdie or Better Rankings into your model should help identify decent plays for DFS.

Additionally, past winners have tended to be more of the ball striking variety than simply great putters, so looking at both Strokes Gained: Tee to Green and Greens in Regulation should help you identify some of those players with long games that can take advantage of the scoring conditions here. As mentioned previously, the past five winners all had good long games and ranked well inside the top 50 on Tour in Greens in Regulation hit during the year of their win. The more greens the players hit, the more birdie chances they’ll see, and that will be extremely important this week given the need to go low just to stay within contention.


Finding Value

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
Jamie Donaldson70-1$7,600Sean O’Hair $7600 and 100-1
Keegan Bradley $7700 and 80-1
Gary Woodland $8000 and 80-1
Morgan Hoffmann110-1$6,700David Toms $6700 and 125-1
Andreas Romero $6900 175-1
Hudson Swafford $6700 200-1


HORSES FOR COURSES

  • David Hearn has played this event each of the past 5 seasons and made the cut in each visit. He’s also been progressively better here as time has gone on and had his best finish at this event last season with a 6th place finish. Hearn has been progressing into better form of late, too, and he is someone to keep an eye on.
  • Cameron Tringale will probably be a divisive figure this week as he comes in with a great course history at TPC Louisiana but bad form on the year. Tringale has made 5 of 6 cuts at this event and owns two top 20 and two top 10 finishes here.
  • David Toms may not be an elite player anymore, but he’s someone to at least consider this week due to his past play at TPC Louisiana. He’s made seven straight cuts at this event and is a former champion from way back in 2002.
  • Justin Rose is probably the best player at this event who also owns a sterling record at this course. Rose not only won last year, but in his last four visits here, the worst he’s finished is 15th. Expect him to be in the mix once again. This is where he picked up his first win last season, and he could easily repeat the feat this week.


DFS STRATEGY

This is a week where you can really go one of two ways. There’s a lot of decently priced mid-tier players who can allow you to make remarkably balanced lineups; however, that likely means fading the big three at the top (Fowler, Day, Rose). Using one or two of the big guns, however, isn’t that appealing though, as the standard of player really craters under $7K this week. I think this might be a good event to “fade the chalk,” so to speak, and go with a more balanced approached. As we’ve seen the past couple of events, the top options in golf are never sure things, and at an event that has seen some average to above-average players break through and win before, loading up on those mid-to-above-average salaried players might be the right idea.

Top Performing Studs From Recent Weeks

  • Charley Hoffman
  • Chris Kirk
  • Billy Horschel

Top Performing Value Plays From Recent Weeks

  • Bryce Molder
  • Ricky Barnes
  • Kyle Stanley


MY PICK: Daniel Berger ($10,100)

While Berger had a rough West Coast swing, lately he has been tracking very positively. Berger finished 6th in Strokes Gained: Tee to Green at the Valspar and shored up his putting at the Shell Houston Open where he ranked 7th there in Strokes Gained: Putting for the week. In his last start, Berger led an elite field in Greens in Regulation hit (the Masters), a stat I think will come into play here. While there’s certainly a few elite players he’ll have to get through this week to pick up the win, I think Berger stands an excellent chance of doing just that and being there at the end when it is all said and done. He’s really demolished some of the easier par 72 courses thus far in his short career, finishing 6th at this event last year, 6th at the Shell Houston Open this year and 12th at the Deutsche Bank Championship in 2015. I think he’s playing at his best right now and should come into this event rested after a couple weeks off. While the price is high, I’m hoping that keeps people off him here. He’s my pick to contend and hopefully take down his first PGA Tour event.

TournamentPlayerFinish
Valero Texas OpenPhil MickelsonMC
RBC HeritageBill HaasT14
The MastersRickie FowlerMC
Shell Houston OpenPhil Mickelson
Puerto Rico OpenFreddie Jacobson14th
Arnold Palmer InvitationalRory McIlroy28th
Valspar ChampionshipsWebb SimpsonMC
Cadillac ChampionshipsHenrik Stenson28th
Honda ClassicBrooks Koepka26th
Northern Trust OpenBubba WatsonWin
Pebble BeachJ.B. Holmes11th
WMO Phoenix OpenJustin ThomasMC
Farmers Insurance OpenJimmy WalkerT4
CareerBuilderGraham DeLaetT42
Sony OpenDanny LeeT33


MY SLEEPER: Adam Hadwin ($6,600)

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

Hadwin has really showed up big a few times already this season, and I love the fact that a couple of his best showings (a 6th at the Career Builder and a 30th at Hilton Head) were played at least partially on Pete Dye designed tracks. While I am personally putting more stock on ball striking this week, I think using a player that is only $6,600, who is ranked 5th in Strokes Gained Putting (SGP) on the year, is never a bad idea (Hadwin is 5th on tour in SGP in case that wasn’t clear). Hadwin’s putter has really allowed him to vault up a few leaderboards already in 2016, and in an event where needing to sink a lot of putts is a must, it’s quite possible that if he strikes the ball even half decently this week, he’ll find himself in contention. At $6,600 I think he’s one of the best value plays below $7K and a player with better upside than almost anyone near his price this week.

TournamentValue PickFinish
Valero Texas OpenShawn StefaniT29
RBC HeritageZac BlairT59
The MastersChris KirkMC
Shell Houston OpenSean O’HairT10
Puerto Rico OpenScott LangleyT8
Arnold Palmer InvitationalHarold VarnerMC
Valspar ChampionshipsGeorge McNeilT11
Cadillac ChampionshipsDaniel Berger28th
Honda ClassicJon CurranMC
Northern Trust OpenScott PinckneyMC
Pebble BeachAlex PrughMC
WMO Phoenix OpenJason KokrakMC
Farmers Insurance OpenRobert GarrigusT50
CareerBuilderChez ReavieT17
Sony OpenDaniel SummerhaysT13