WATCH: PGA CLEAN SLATE


The PGA Cheat Sheet provides fantasy golf players with course info, player history and the most noteworthy trends of the week to help with roster selections.

The Field

This is a tiny 18 man, invite only field. The event is sponsored by the Tiger Woods Foundation and none of the prize money (first is a million) counts towards the PGA Tour’s money list. The good news for fantasy is that there is not a cut, the bad news is that in such a small field there’s really no room for error. The field is stacked with top players and that will include the return of the one and only Tiger Woods. He’ll be making his return to competitive golf after over a year away from the game. Old man Woods might be entering the twilight of his career, and he’ll be going up against one of the most stacked fields of the year as the lowest ranked golfer in this event (outside of Woods) is Zach Johnson, who is 37th in the World Golf Rankings.


The Course

Albany Course, Bahamas
Par 72, 7,400 yards

This is only the second time this course will be used for the Hero World Challenge, so looking back at course history won’t provide much help. The Albany course is an Ernie Els design and is a very exposed and is a links style course. There’s some serious bunkering on the course too, and Els himself described it as a course which mimics some of the classic links venues from Scotland. The course is also quite dissimilar from most PGA Tour venues in that it is actually a par 72, but has five par 5’s and five par 3’s (and only eight par 4’s). What is certain is that being in the Bahamas on an exposed course means that the wind will definitely be a factor. Players who hit it long and can handle some expected gusts should have an edge this weekend.

A good comparison for this course might be the Olympic venue we saw earlier in the year where Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson went toe to toe and the scoring was often dependent on the weather, or the amount of wind. A similar situation will likely occur this week as calm weather could see players approach the -25 Bubba Watson put up last season, while more wind will likely result in tamer scores.


Last 5 winners

  • 2015—Bubba Watson -25 (over Patrick Reed -22)
  • 2014—Jordan Spieth -26 (over Henrik Stenson -16)
  • 2013—Zach Johnson -13 (over Tiger Woods playoff)
  • 2012—Graeme McDowell -17 (over Keegan Bradley -14)
  • 2011—Tiger Woods -10 (over Zach Johnson -9)


Statistics

Driving Distance
Par 5 Scoring

This course is definitely a bit of an unknown in terms of how it will play, so I think being as simple as possible this week when looking at stats is a good idea. With the course set up as very wide open and pretty long Driving Distance will be a factor and would target those with length off the tee when possible. Given that Bubba Watson won here last year would suggest that’s not a bad idea.

I also think that given the makeup of the course, using Par 5 Scoring ranks might be a good indicator. The five par 5’s must be taken advantage of, and last year’s eventual winner, Bubba Watson, played these holes at -13 for the week (recording one eagle, 11 birdies and no scores worse than par). Par 5 scoring seems like it will be magnified this week, and the course should favor those who can take advantage.

Finally on a non-statistical note, I also wouldn’t hesitate to give players with good links records a bit of bump this week either. The course has a lot of links style elements, and the players who are comfortable in that type of setting will have an advantage. Looking at results from the Scottish Open, St. Andrews and other longer/open venues might prove fruitful.


Finding Values

Odds to win are one factor to think about when picking players (but not the only thing, so be careful of 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
Bubba Watson15-1$7,600Ricky Fowler $7,900 and 17-1
Justin Rose $8,200 and 15-1
Patrick Reed $8,600 and 13-1


HORSES FOR COURSES

  • With too small a sample size to rely on course history this week we’ll focus in players who have strong recent results coming into this week.

Hideki Matsuyama has been hot fire ever since the beginning of the fall series. He’s now finished 1st and 2nd in his last two official PGA Tour events and also has had some huge finishes in weaker fields over in Japan. There’s not a hotter player on Tour coming into this week.

Brooks Koepka has now finished 2nd and 1st in the last two tournaments he’s started. And while his recent win may have come in Japan, his recent form should not be doubted here in such a small field.


DFS STRATEGY

This is small 18-man field which means there will be lots of overlap in tournaments since everyone is rostering a third of the field in their lineups. My advice is simply to make sure that you don’t cross anyone off your list completely as low ownership on a player could be very helpful to winning a tournament. Otherwise, targeting players who have some kind of a decent result in the last month or so isn’t a bad idea either as a few players will be coming in off long breaks and not ready for competitive action.


MY PICK: Henrik Stenson ($9,400)

It’s hard to pick one player to stand out from what is basically an all star field of golfers this week. Still, I do see this as an opportunity for Henrik Stenson to end his already amazing 2016 with a bang. Stenson won the Open Championship in maybe the most brilliant display of golf in a major ever, nearly won the Olympic gold and was just his usual cool self all year. He’s a great links player who has handled Open venues and the quirky Olympic venue well in the past, both places that should correlate well with this week. Since he’s just coming off a solid European Tour playoff performance, he’s definitely somewhat in form and should have a nice chance to add a cherry on top of his spectacular season with a win here this week.


MY SLEEPER: Jimmy Walker ($6,500)

Let’s be honest, in an 18-man field there’s not really any “sleeper” picks. Still, I do think Jimmy Walker could go under the radar due to his poor recent form. Walker has had a strange if not marvelous 2016. While he missed out on his usual early season win and struggled at times in the middle of the year, all that was erased by a dominant performance at the PGA Championship where he took home his first major. Walker hasn’t played well since to be honest, but he has the length and experience to pop up here in a small field. Don’t forget that he’s won in Hawaii twice already and nearly won on the very open and often windy Kapalua Plantation course back in 2014 as well. He has the ability to succeed here if the wind gets up. His recent form isn’t pleasing but his upside makes him a nice tournament target.

 


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