Seventeen of the highest-ranked golfers in the world – plus Tiger Woods – will converge on the Bahamas this weekend for the Hero World Challenge. The Woods news will dominate the coverage leading up to the event, but no matter how he fares, this weekend will feature some excellent golf. Let’s get into my top targets at every price range.
Jordan Spieth ($10,300) – You have to love Dustin Johnson ($11,200) every week, but for an almost $1,000 savings, I will happily “settle” for Spieth. He finished 4th here last season and he is primed to enter the 2017 season at full stride, coming off a win last weekend following a three-way playoff at the Australian Open. His putter always keeps him in contention, and if he is hitting the ball as well as he did just two weekends ago, that combination should prove to be enough to have him at least in the conversation come Sunday.
Hideki Matsuyama ($9,900) – He is the no-brainer pick of the weekend for me, especially if you’re looking at recent performance to predict who might show up this weekend. He is coming into the Bahamas with five straight showings inside the top five, including three wins in those last five appearances. That isn’t even going back to last season (otherwise known as September), when he closed out the 2016 season with a solo-5th at the Tour Championship. He won the Mitsui Sumitomo VISA Taiheiyo Masters in Japan two weeks ago by shooting 65-66-65-69 to finish seven strokes ahead of the field, the kind of performance that, if they continue in PGA Tour events as this season kicks off, will have him listed as the guy to beat before too long.
Henrik Stenson ($9,400) – My personal favorite of these high-priced plays, Stenson has the right combination of ball striking to give himself chances on the green, and putting to finish those chances off to make plenty of noise on the leaderboard. He was on his way to an epic season last year before getting derailed by injury, with a serious run of great golf that included a major win and a silver medal at the Olympics. With top-ten performances in two European Tour appearances this month, it appears he is fully recovered and about to pick up right where he left off.
Brooks Koepka ($8,900) – He finished 7th here last year, so he has had some exposure both to the course and the intense competition, and he is coming into this one hot. He finished with a solo-2nd at the Shriners Open after opening up with a ridiculous 62 on Thursday that kicked off a weekend with 27 holes under par and 126.0 fantasy points. He followed that performance up with a victory in Japan two weeks ago, and will look to build on that momentum here against some of the best players in the world.
Rickie Fowler ($7,900) – Fowler is one of those players who, at 27, very likely still has the best golf of his career in front of him. He has the skills to compete with anyone, including the top golfers in the world, even when they are at the top of their games, and that is something not everyone can say. It’s just that, until now, he hasn’t been able to get to that level consistently. He is coming off a T6 at the WGC-HSBC Champions event and returning to the scene of a solo-3rd he captured here last year, so his confidence should be high as he looks to kick off this season successfully.
Russell Knox ($7,400) – Knox is an interesting case here, because he is a scorer – he finished 25th on Tour in scoring average in 2016 – but the strength of his game is ball striking. He was top-ten on Tour in both Driving Accuracy and GIR % last season, but no matter how well he is hitting the ball this weekend, there will be a couple of other guys doing it just as well in a field this impressive. The question for Knox this weekend is how well he can finish off holes, not how good he looks starting them off.
Emiliano Grillo ($6,900) – He has had no worse than a T26 at the Safeway Open in four appearances this fall, and while those showings have not been against so many of the world’s top players, he earned that T26 and a T17, 11th and T10 in the three tournaments that followed by shooting only one round out of his last sixteen over par. He has managed to stay away from any big problem holes, and with an average of just over 20 birdies per weekend since the beginning of last month, he has proved to be a very valuable fantasy asset.
Tiger Woods ($6,600) – I think every single person writing about this tournament is required to write about him, so here is the DFS take: I think he is a contrarian, tournament play. If he is managing to hit putts, he could keep himself at least somewhat close to the leaders. Just making it through four rounds would be a successful outing for him, but he certainly has the skillset to finish high enough to make this price a value if he can knock the rust off quickly (and, of course, assuming he is actually, finally, healthy).
Brandt Snedeker ($6,400) – He has consistently proven himself to be one of the best putters in the game, finishing inside the top-20 or so statistically in all the measures that matter year in and year out (#11 in Total Putting last season). That kind of stroke on the greens can make him a competitor in any field, on any course, and coming off a win last month at the Fiji International, it appears the rest of his game could be in good shape as well.
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.