The U.S. Open is right around the corner, and players are doing what they think is best to prepare for it, but the FedEx St. Jude Classic at TPC Southwind counts too, both on the course at for DFS too. Whether you are trying to win a few more spots in next weekend’s Millionaire Maker or just trying to pad your bankroll before the field gets flooded by everyone under the sun next weekend, here are a few golfers to target for your lineups this weekend, before you start thinking about the next. Good luck.
Phil Mickelson ($12,000) – Mickelson will be spending this weekend getting ready for the US Open. But as it so often happens, preparing to play the hardest courses in the country gets you ready to play elsewhere too. He has finished T11 and T2 in the past two years here.
Billy Horschel ($11,500) – Horschel has a well-documented history of running hot and cold, and right now he is definitely not cold. He is just hoping the momentum can keep up for two more weeks, so you know he will let it fly and play aggressively this weekend coming off his T11 and T13 the past two times out, at the Memorial and The Players.
Jamie Donaldson ($9,900) – He’s never played here before, but he always seems to rank high in scrambling, and that could fit this course very well. He’s not incredibly long off the tee, but this course actually rewards short, accurate drives – you could see a lot of 3-woods off the tee, which could also provide players like Donaldson with more opportunities for success.
Graeme McDowell ($9,200) – McDowell has been making cuts but not finishing really all that close to the top of a leaderboard for some time now, either in the States or on the European Tour. But that being said, he is always, even this season, one of the best ball strikers out of the rough, a skill that could serve him well this weekend, the same way his iron play usually translates to links golf in Europe. He is one player who you should consider for your lineup next weekend if he comes through with a good showing here. The skills that would get him near the top this weekend are the same ones he will rely on to compete at Chambers Bay.
George McNeill ($8,700) – McNeill isn’t flashy, but he also isn’t expensive. It’s always nice when those two things go together. Getting “solid” for under $9K is good value in my book, because the players around and below him just seem to have so much risk. All players do, of course, but McNeill has a top-30 finish in each of his last five (top-20 in four of those, top-15 in three), just the kind of track record to give you at least some sense of confidence.
Brian Harman ($8,400) – He has finished in the top ten in two of his last four events, and in his last two appearances, he hasn’t had a single round over 70. He’s totalled only 16 birdies over those eight rounds, and that kind of ability to consistently save par will keep him in contention at TPC Southwind as well.
Shawn Stefani ($8,200) – He has finished in the top-25 nine times this season. For $8,200, I will take it. He is actually T-22 (right between Ryan Moore and Zach Johnson) in a fun stat: strokes differential from the field, which basically confirms that he is finishing that high on all those leaderboards by more than just a stroke or two. If anything that ranking makes you think he’s been unlucky, and maybe should have notched a few more top-5’s so far on the year. Now is a good time for him to start.
Russell Knox ($7,800) – With top-25 finishes in four of his last five tournaments, Knox is exactly the kind of player who can thrive on this course, with his ability to control his irons and finish when he is around the green. He is one of my favorite picks of the weekend, and could seriously outperform his price tag in this one
Camilo Villegas ($7,600) – This is one of those picks you make when you can’t decide on that last guy to fill out your roster. No one looks all that appealing anymore, and you looked right past Villegas a dozen times, mainly because he really isn’t playing well lately. But then somewhere you’ll read something from someone who went and looked at the results here since 2004 when the tournament started – that he has made eight of the last nine cuts here, including sox top-25’s and T11 or better in four of the last five years.
Chesson Hadley ($7,600) – He finished T13 here last year, and has four top-25’s in his last five starts. When you’re looking at someone as a value pick, that’s enough, right? Just look at the recent track records of some of the guys around him if you need additional convincing.
John Merrick ($6,600) – Merrick is another golfer I like for his ability to strike the ball. He’s not going to win this weekend, but if he can close out holes even reasonably well on Thursday and Friday, his iron play is consistent enough to keep him scoring points for you all weekend long.