Brendan Steele took home the win in the first tournament of the 2016-2017 season in Napa, CA, but the second stop of the year is halfway around the world. The CIMB Classic tees off this week from Kuala Lumpur, with players already starting to pile up the FedEx Cup points for next fall. Here are a few golfers I like for your lineups this week, from every price range.
Paul Casey ($11,600) – On a course with the lowest scoring average of the season among all par-72 courses, there are going to be plenty of fantasy points to go around. Golfers that drain birdies with ease will be most needed here, and Casey fits the bill perhaps as well as anyone else. He has finished no worse than 4th in any of his last four starts, with sixteen straight rounds under par, and a total of 78 birdies and eagles over that span.
Hideki Matsuyama ($11,300) – He is coming off a victory in his last time out, at the Japan Open Championship, a nice follow-up to the T5 we saw him card at East Lake to cap off the 2016 season. He also happened to finish T5 here last year, not surprising for a player who finished the 2016 Tour season well inside the top-20 in both par-5 scoring (17th) and overall Scoring Average (13th).
Adam Scott ($10,900) – A runner-up here last year by a single stroke, Scott is going to show up looking to rebound from a missed cut in Japan. He was inside the top-10 in each of the four rounds of the FedEx Cup playoffs, and could certainly take home the win this weekend.
Justin Thomas ($10,400) – He won this event last year and is a player who can make birdies anywhere. He ended up at T6 in the Tour Championship, and after a short break, got right back after it with a T8 last weekend. He has the distance to continuously get himself into scoring position (T24 in Driving Distance last season), and the touch around the green to capitalize (31st overall in Par Breakers last season).
Brendan Steele ($8,800) – He won last weekend, so apparently his game is in good shape right now. Last season, he ended up T3 here after leading through three rounds, and in both cases – in Kuala Lumpur last season and in Napa, CA last weekend – he did most of his damage on the par-5’s. On a course that measures just over 7,000 yards and has four of them, that’s a solid recipe for success here if he can replicate that kind of effort again starting tomorrow.
Emiliano Grillo ($8,600) – The first of two second-year players in a row on my list, both of these guys are looking to continue the promise they flashed as rookies last season. Grillo had just six holes over par last weekend en route to a T26, and for someone who also finished with a Birdie or Better of 21.36 last season, that provides him with a respectably high floor to go along with whatever upside you see here. It is always hard to track course performance on these younger players, since you just don’t have the years of history to rely on, but that Birdie % got him well inside the top-40 on Tour last season. It’s easy to envision a scenario where he puts up a big fantasy numbers on a course that yielded so many scoring chances last year.
Daniel Berger ($8,500) – The second of these 2016 rookies in a row on my list, Berger is another player who could find himself with a long career on Tour if last year was any indication. He ended up inside the top-15 at both of the season’s last two tournaments, and for most rookies, just showing up at the Tour Championship is quite the accomplishment. He did more than that, showing he belonged out there with the best players in the world, making him one of the mid-priced options this weekend you can imagine staying in contention even if guys like Casey and Adam Scott come out firing for big weekends.
Tony Finau ($8,100) – It’s almost a default reflex on this course, but Finau can score on par-5’s. This course has workable par-5’s, and sometimes that’s all you need. He ended up T26 last weekend because he never had that one huge round, but he was under par on all four days. With 17 birdies and eagles against just 9 bogeys, he was playing the kind of consistent golf you don’t always expect from a big hitter, giving him high upside with a higher-than-usual floor, making him an option worth considering in any format contest.
Ryo Ishikawa ($7,500) – He sat out much of 2016 with a back injury, but returned to action in August, and has played four tournaments – all in Japan – since that time. In those four starts, he ended up with a win, a T2, a solo-3rd and a 17th. With performances like that not on the PGA Tour, he might be off your radar, but he might be one of the hottest low-priced golfers available to you for this weekend.
Jamie Lovemark ($7,400) – He showed up last weekend and recorded a T20 on the strength, mainly, of his 6-under 66 on Sunday. He was playing well off the tee and putting well all weekend, with four rounds played under par. But he got himself all the way down to T20 because he started nailing his approaches on Sunday. On a shorter course this weekend, that ability is going to be key for anyone to stay in contention if you can assume the field scores anywhere near as well as it did last season at this event (-26 won the event).
Jim Herman ($7,000) – Herman made 18 out of 29 cuts last season, so he was up and down all year long, giving him enough downside to potentially ignore in a cash game. But he ended the season on a high note, finishing no worse than T33 in any of the first three rounds of the FedEx Cup playoffs. With above average distance off the tee leading to solid scoring stats on par-5’s, his skill set should be a good match for the course if he brings the same all-around game he did a little more than a month ago, that could mean enough scoring chances to keep himself in contention and put up a decent fantasy number.
Derek Fathauer ($6,200) – He collected a T15 last weekend at the Safeway Open with a solid all-around game, especially on and around the greens. He had three rounds in the sixties and bounced back from a 74 on Saturday with his best round of the weekend on Sunday, firing a 66. Clearly you have to be putting yourself in a position to score, but in a tournament that is bound to see some very low scores, a player is not going to be able to keep pace without sinking putts, and if last weekend was any indication, that could make Fathauer an interesting inexpensive play for you at the CIMB Classic.
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is theasquad) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above.