There are a lot of things to digest when researching for golf. Course characteristics can tell us whether we want to favor long hitters, great putters or the best scramblers. Weather is crucial as strong wind early on Thursday would mean we want players teeing off later in the day. Figuring out exactly how good a golfer is relative to his DraftKings salary and the field sounds simple but is an obvious key.
The two topics I’ll be focusing on in this weekly article are course history and recent form. Like every other stat in every DFS sport, these two topics are a piece of the puzzle rather than the whole pie. But knowing who historically plays well at a certain course and who comes into the event in good form correlate significantly with DFS success as long as we have a solid sample size.
BYRON NELSON COURSE HISTORY: THE GOOD
1. Dustin Johnson: $11,900
Johnson has played this tournament six times and never missed the cut. He also has an adjusted round score of 69.0 here, second-best among golfers with at least five appearances (only behind Keegan Bradley’s 68.7). His seven-year history at the Byron Nelson is T8, T7, DNP, DNP, T20, T7, T4. Johnson’s $11,900 salary in this weak field is second-most on the week, so we’re not exactly getting a bargain. But it all makes sense for DJ here as his field-best 314.0 long-term adjusted driving distance has proven to be an important course characteristic. Johnson is also in tremendous recent form, booking four top-5s in his last six events. He hasn’t missed a cut since October.
2. Jason Dufner: $9,100
Dufner made the cut at The PLAYERS last week but an 80 during Saturday’s brutal conditions left him far out of contention. There’s room for a bounce-back this week. Dufner has three top-10s (including a win in 2012) in his five appearances at the Byron Nelson and has never missed the cut. The ceiling is here, as evidenced by Dufner’s four PGA Tour wins and 22 top-10s in his last 98 events.
3. Jimmy Walker: $8,800
Walker, who lives in San Antonio, has played this tournament eight times and missed the cut just once. He recorded a T2 in 2015, T37 in 2014, T27 in 2013 and T29 in 2012. The problem is Walker’s troubling recent form, as he missed the cut in each of the last two weeks (at his home Valero Texas Open and then at The PLAYERS). Walker’s $8,800 price and recent troubles have me off him in cash games, but the course history and expected low ownership has me on him in tournaments.
BYRON NELSON COURSE HISTORY: THE BAD
1. Chez Reavie: $6,600
Reavie ranks T120th in driving distance, which is a problem at this TPC Four Seasons. He’s missed the cut five times in seven Byron Nelson appearances and has an adjusted round score of 72.0 here. That’s the worst among all players with at least six appearances at this tournament.
2. Boo Weekley: $7,400
Chasing Weekley’s surprising T16 at The PLAYERS from last week is a scary play. In his previous eight tournaments, he missed the cut four times and didn’t finish higher than T35. On top of that, Weekley has really poor course history here in Dallas, as he’s missed the cut twice in four appearances. That includes a third-round cut last year, a cut in 2013 and a T63 in 2012. The T5 from 2014 looks like an outlier.
COMING IN HOT: RECENT FORM
1. Bryce Molder: $7,600
Molder stands out in the sub-$8K range this week. Over his last four events, he’s gone T12 at The PLAYERS, T8 in New Orleans, T42 at the Valero and T6 at the RBC Heritage. On top of that, Molder netted a T22 at last year’s Byron Nelson. The weak driver is a concern on this course, but we can’t get too picky in the cheaper range this week.
2. Colt Knost: $7,800
Knost comes into this event hot, as he impressed with a surprising T3 at The PLAYERS last week, a T14 at the RBC Heritage and has missed just one cut all year. Knost’s long-term course history at the Byron Nelson is poor, but his recent play here has been far better. He shot 10-under for a T10 last year and had a T21 in 2013.
3. Matt Kuchar: $10,500
Kuchar shrugged off an illness last week to rally for a T3 at The PLAYERS. He’s finished 11th or better in five of his last nine events and has an adjusted round score of 67.9 over the last six weeks. That’s tied with Molder for the best among players with at least four events played during that span.