WATCH: CHASE OR FADE – RORY MCILROY
The biggest non-major of the year tees off Thursday morning, with $10.5 million and 600 FedEx Cup points on the line at TPC Sawgrass. THE PLAYERS Championship features as talented and deep a field as any week of the year, giving you plenty of ways to go and decisions to make when constructing your lineups. Here are a few of the golfers to be considering in every price range.
Rory McIlroy ($11,200) – Getting him $800 cheaper than DJ makes sense when you think about the epic run the No. 1 player in the world is on here, but he doesn’t have the best track record on this particular course, while Rory does, finishing in the top 10 here multiple times. Rory is also due for a big win with the way he is playing right now, finishing inside the top 10 in every tournament he’s played so far in 2017. I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see him get over the hump and record his first win of the year and first win at TPC Sawgrass this weekend.
Sergio Garcia ($10,200) – We haven’t seen Sergio since his breakthrough win at Augusta, and he is returning to a course where is the all-time earnings leader, having finished T12 or better four separate times since his win in 2008. He is currently first in Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee and third in Tee-to-Green, showing the consistency with which he is striking the ball right now. I expect another high finish for him here this year.
Hideki Matsuyama ($9,700) – I personally was expecting more of a breakout season from Matsuyama this year, which hasn’t happened in quite the way I imagined, but there is still time. He hasn’t been bad, with only one missed cut and a fantasy scoring average of 83.6. He has finished inside the top-25 in all three of his starts here, including a T7 last year, and he would love to use a course that seems to fit his game as a springboard into the rest of the summer.
Jon Rahm ($9,600) – With all of his elite scoring stats since joining the PGA Tour still less than a year ago – which seems crazy – the stat that jumps out at me for him this week is his 15th ranking in Bogey Avoidance, a stat I like this week on a course that demands some caution at times. He has a scorer’s mentality, but with a demeanor that has allowed him, at least so far, to lay up and take par when that’s the best course of action. Let’s see if he can hold to that at TPC Sawgrass.
Brooks Koepka ($8,600) – He had been playing somewhat below expectations for several months prior to the Match Play event, but he is still second in Birdie-or-Better %, always a great stat when you’re looking for fantasy upside. But in his last two standard events, the Masters and the Valero Texas Open, he totaled just 22 bogeys over all eight rounds, en route to an 11th-place finish at Augusta and a second place in Texas, which could be a sign of much better days ahead this summer.
Adam Scott ($8,400) – He has only missed one cut in 2017, but also only has one top 10. He’s played really well here in the past, winning way back in 2004, and lately, it’s been solid if not amazing results, finishing somewhere between T11 and T20 in each of his last five appearances. For me, all of this makes him a perfect cash game option with a reasonable price tag this weekend, while I’d likely rather spend elsewhere for upside.
Russell Henley ($8,200) – He is currently eighth in Strokes Gained: Total, with solid contributions from all facets of his game: 27th in Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee, 25th in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green and seventh in Strokes Gained: Putting. He is playing very solid golf right now, which is what you need to survive this course. He has a win and two other finishes of T9 and T11 in his last five appearances, all against solid fields (like, for example, The Masters), so he has shown he can compete and I expect him to this weekend.
Kevin Kisner ($7,700) – He made it all the way to a playoff before succumbing to Rickie Fowler ($9,300) in a playoff, and like Henley, he has continued to display the kind of all-around game that makes it possible to see him succeed anywhere. The missed cut last weekend might scare some people away, but prior to that he had six of eight finishes inside the top-25, and that at least should make him a consideration for your cash game lineups, with definite upside at this price as well.
Tommy Fleetwood ($7,500) – Currently leading the European Tour in in Greens in Regulation %, he is the kind of ball-striker who can succeed here. He is second in the Race to Dubai with some solid performances around the world, including his last outing, a solo second at the Shenzhen International, in which he closed on Sunday with a low round of 63. This demonstrates the kind of upside he could have for your fantasy squad at this price.
Martin Kaymer ($7,300) – He hasn’t missed a cut in over a year, and he has never missed a cut here, ever. He has also won here in the past (2014), and has been inside the top-25 in five of his last six. I’m not sure if all that makes him a better cash play, or a better GPP play, but it does all make me want him on my roster.
Bernd Wiesberger ($6,800) – For those of you who tend to lose track of guys when they head overseas for tournaments, Wiseberger left the Masters and went to China, where he won the Shenzhen International, and then followed that up with a T4 at the Volvo China Classic. While the competition might not be what he saw when he posted his T43 in Augusta, he did just fire seven of his last eight rounds in the 60s, with just 13 total bogies against 41 birdies and eagles, and no rounds over par. You’re getting a guy whose game is in the right place. Where that leaves him on the leaderboard at the end of the weekend might depend on everyone else.
Graeme McDowell ($6,700) – He has been inside the top-30 in three straight events on tour since a missed cut in Puerto Rico, and he has done is playing very unspectacular, predictable golf. But that is in no way a bad thing. He is 36th in total Strokes Gained, just keeping the ball in the fairway and only attacking the greens when he knows he can, which could be enough to make him a very useful inexpensive option for any format contest this weekend.
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.