There is a lot of information 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.
ST. JUDE COURSE HISTORY: THE GOOD
1. Phil Mickelson, $11,300
Mickelson has played this event in each of the last three years with results of T3, T11 and T2. He clearly likes it here at TPC Southwind. “I think it’s the most underrated course we have on Tour. It’s such a straightforward, fun test of golf,” Mickelson said a year ago while in Nashville. Of course, we’re not getting a bargain on Phil in this weakened field. He’s the second-most expensive golfer on the slate, behind only white-hot Dustin Johnson ($12,800).
2. Ben Crane, $7,000
Crane comes into TPC Southwind with a bit of confidence after back-to-back top-30 finishes at Byron Nelson and Colonial. Now he gets to play one of his favorite courses. Crane’s last six finishes here are T37, 1, T18, T73, T12 and T14. At $7,000, he’s a tournament pivot off guys like Will Wilcox ($7,400) and Hudson Swafford ($7,400) who figure to be highly owned.
3. Camilo Villegas, $6,900
When only three of the world’s top-20 golfers are in the field, salaries of lower-tier players get inflated. That’s left us with very little to chew on under $7,000 this week. Therefore, Villegas’ history at the St. Jude stands out in this price tier, as he’s finished T18, T11, T10, CUT and T3 the last five years. Just be aware Villegas is really struggling this season with eight missed cuts in 19 PGA events and just two top-25s.
4. Seung-yul Noh, $7,200
A sleeper almost no one will be on is Noh, a 25-year-old South Korean who has zero top-10s in 19 events played this season. He’s a high-risk option, but one that has shown some upside at this course in his last three appearances. In 2015, Noh booked a T3. In 2013 he missed the cut but shot a respectable 71-71 on Thursday and Friday. In 2012, Noh fired a 66 on Sunday to finish in a tie for 7th.
ST. JUDE COURSE HISTORY: THE BAD
1. Kyle Reifers, $9,200
First of all, any value Reifers has was sucked out by this massive price jump. He hasn’t cost more than $7,500 at any point this season, and was just $6,700 at a weak field Byron Nelson three weeks ago. Now Reifers costs $9,200 on a course he’s missed the cut at both times he’s played (2015, 2012). His overall long-term adjusted round score of 70.4 is tied for 29th in the field yet he costs 10th-most.
2. Graeme McDowell, $8,200
McDowell backed up his 9th-place finish at The Players with a couple made cuts on the European Tour. Now he’s back stateside to tune up for the U.S. Open, but he’s at a course that has given him a lot of problems. McDowell missed the cut at +9 last year, finished T24th in 2014, skipped the event in 2013 and missed the cut at +8 in 2012. His price is more palatable than Reifers, but he’s still an easy avoid for me with players like Francesco Molinari ($8,100) in the same range.
COMING IN HOT: RECENT FORM
1. Dustin Johnson, $12,800
Johnson has the best long-term adjusted round score in the field (67.6), has played well at this course (T24, T10, 1 last three appearances) and comes in smoking hot. He’s yet to miss a cut this season and has five top-5s in his last eight tournaments. I expect Johnson to rightfully be the highest-owned player in both cash and GPPs on DraftKings this week.
2. Retief Goosen, $7,600
Goosen goes underowned every week because he’s 47 years old. And maybe that’s fair. But we can’t argue that when the South African has played lately, he’s played well. Goosen has missed just one cut since last July and is coming off an impressive T12 at his most recent event, The PLAYERS. He’s exceeded salary-based value in nine of his last 10 events.