Don’t worry – the 2015-2016 PGA Tour starts up in three weeks. It definitely feels a little surreal that there will be any golf going on at that point, but it is not going to be these guys you see out there. This is your final chance to see Day, Spieth, McIroy, Fowler and the other top contenders on the same leaderboard at the same time in quite a while. So, yeah – you might as well up the excitement level a few notches with a daily fantasy golf lineup or two.
The TOUR Championship tees off Thursday morning, from East Lake GC in Atlanta, a regular home for this season-ending tournament. As if the million and a half dollars the winner will get weren’t enough, he’ll also be giving himself at least a chance at a tidy little $10 million bonus as the FedEx Cup champion.
Despite the fun format of the playoffs as a golf fan, as a DFS player, it’s certainly different. In fact, I’d bet that if you are new to daily fantasy golf this season, as you start to build your rosters for championship weekend, you are going to think one thing: this is hard. Rather than making it seem like your choices are narrower, the tiny field just makes it seem like every selection needs to be right. You are going to wish you could start six of the ten most expensive guys. Since, you know, you can’t, your ultimate success will be based on which one or two of those six you settle on, but also which cheaper options you go with to stay under budget. You’re going to have to be right on both counts if you want to take down a big GPP. For a 50/50 or the like, you might be able to get away with straddling the fence and picking a bunch of players just outside that elite grouping at the top.
You can rely on whatever kinds of metrics you want to decide which of these guys you think will perform well, same as every other week. Your first thought might be to wonder who of these players has a good history at East Lake. Here is the answer:
1. Jason Day – T6 here in 2011, T4 last year
2. Rory McIlroy – T2 here last year
3. Jordan Spieth – T2 here in 2013
4. Justin Rose – no worse than T6 in any of his last three appearances here
5. Henrik Stenson – played here once, in 2013, and won
Helpful, huh? And they are not the only ones. So, for me, scratch course history as a way to choose. Maybe you want to try to identify a stat that’s important for the course? It’s a tough course, which played slightly over par last year, and it requires solid iron play, definitely. It could be a little forgiving off the tee, accuracy wise, but it also doesn’t necessarily require a lot of length, so all sorts of drivers can be successful here.
Last year’s winner, Billy Horschel, did it with a solid game all around, not surprisingly. If you follow his lead, this is what you learn: you want a golfer who avoids bogeys, gives himself birdie chances by making GIRs, and hits his putts. Groundbreaking stuff, I know.
What all of that boils down to, then, for me, is that I want the players in my lineup this weekend who are playing the best right now. This is exactly what you’ll find if you check out my PGA Targets column because, for my money, with so many great players on hand and so few options to help round out the bottom of your lineup, you need to be right. This isn’t about identifying value – it’s about identifying golfers who will finish in the top 10, period. Yes, you’ll feel comfortable with your more expensive choices, but if you look closely, there are golfers playing well right now at every price range, from super elite (Day) to regular-old elite (Fowler), and further down the line. There is Zach Johnson a step down from them, and Daniel Berger, another big step down, both playing extremely well through the first three legs of the playoffs.
The talent is there for all of these players – all thirty of them – so if you see someone you think is peaking at the right moment or just playing a good brand of golf right now, you have to trust your instinct and just step up and get him in your lineup.