With just two more weekends between now and the Masters (and the next Millionaire Maker), the TOUR is stopping this week at the Coco Beach Golf Club for the Puerto Rico Open. Without any of the star power on hand that you’re used to, some golfers will have one of the highest price tags they’re ever likely to see. Here are a few golfers you can consider for your lineups as you attempt to sort through it all.
Scott Brown ($10,900) – In the last four years, he has finished inside the top-10 here three times (2012 – T5, 2013 – 1st, 2015 – T10). He holds a share of the course record with a 63 he fired here, and, on top of all that, he has been playing well recently. He just finished T27 at the Arnold Palmer Ivitational last weekend and was inside the top ten in each of the two weeks prior, at the Valspar Championship and the Honda Classic.
William McGirt ($10,500) – He did not putt well last weekend, which to me makes him more of a tournament play than a cash game play, just because of the risk that he returns something like the 73rd place finish he recorded at the Arnold Palmer. But he has played well here in the past, ending up inside the top 15 as recently as 2014, and he has six top-25 performances this season (including four in this calendar year), which is more of a track record than most of the guys in this field.
Freddie Jacobson ($10,400) – Either my first or second favorite choice, along with Scott Brown, in any format game. He has the putter you need to put up a big number, and while his ball striking might not be the most consistent on Tour, he isn’t playing against everyone on Tour this weekend. He’s played here just one other time, back in 2011, and he finished up T14 that weekend, so even in limited appearances, apparently he is comfortable on the course. And he has the skill set to win this tournament handily if he is feeling good and playing well.
George Coetzee ($10,000) – This spot came down to a choice between Coetzee and Boo Weekley. Should I go with Weekley, the guy who has missed the cut in six of his last seven tournaments, but who has finished T8 or better here three times in a row? Or should I go with the guy who has never played here before, but who has already finished inside the top-15 on the European Tour three times in 2016? I went with option B, the one I like to think of as the hot hand. Coetzee has a T26 and a T35 in Abu Dhabi and Dubai to go along with those three top-15 showings, so he has shown the ability – recently – to hold his own against the best in the world, as both of those tournaments had much stronger fields than what you are seeing here this weekend.
Alex Cejka ($9,500) – Last year, sixteen of the top twenty finishers here were Americans, and yet, Cejka took home the title. Defending his championship this weekend, it will be interesting to see if he can conjure up a round like the 67 he shot on Friday last year to catapult himself up the leaderboard. He made it to a playoff despite a 75 on Saturday, something that isn’t likely to translate for a second year in a row this time around.
“This is a player with truly elite length off the tee…”
Tony Finau ($9,200) – This is a player with truly elite length off the tee, who just came out of a slide consisting of four straight missed cuts with a T43 at the Arnold Palmer. At this price, with that recent history, he’s probably not a great cash game option, but if you’re looking for upside, look no further. He is a player who had five top tens and 16 top 25 finishes last season against the very best of the best. If he is starting to round into form against this slightly more manageable field, you would consider him one of the favorites.
Seung-yul Noh ($8,900) – In his last three events, the Northern Trust, the Honda Classic, and the Valspar Championship, he has finished T20, T65, and T42. But in that span, he has one round over par, a 75 on Saturday at Copperhead. This weekend, there just aren’t so many people to finish in front of him, and mistake-free golf will be a differentiator.
Kyle Stanley ($8,000) – Stanley is a grinder with five straight cuts made, and seven of eight. He only has two finishes inside the top 25 in that span, just churning out 50-60ish DK fantasy points every weekend with performances that have him somewhere in the vicinity of the top-50 or so. You can only do that by eliminating the really big rounds, because if you’re prone to shooting 78 every now and then, eventually one of them is going to come on a Thursday or Friday, and you’ll be done for the week. By avoiding that, Stanley becomes someone who, at the very least, isn’t often going to hurt your fantasy lineup.
Derek Fathauer ($7,800) – He has made five of his last six cuts, and when he is at his best, it’s the putter that usually carries him up the leaderboard. He was 42nd on Tour in Strokes Gained: Putting heading into last weekend, and 23rd coming out. He has the kind of stroke that can serve him well against any competition, and that alone could be enough to earn you a top-20 finish at an affordable price.
Jhonattan Vegas ($7,400) – He has at least nine birdies in each of his last five tournaments, and that includes a missed cut at Pebble Beach. He has the ability to hit enough shots to go under par, so if he can avoid the big round, he could easily play himself into contention. He is currently 11th on Tour in GIR %, so as long as he holds to form, at least the opportunities will be there for him, despite his lower price tag.
Nick Taylor ($6,700) – With such a limited field, you’re going to feel really compelled to try to get at least one or two or the most expensive guys in your lineup, and it takes players in this price range to do that. Taylor missed the cut with an opening 74-74 at the Valspar Championship, but in each of the two weeks prior, he had finished the weekend and ended up with 60+ DK FP.
Mark Hubbard ($6,200) – Hubbard has made twelve out of fourteen cuts, and he is the kind of player who can put up serious fantasy points on a good day. He finished T28 at the CareerBuilder back in January, for example, but did it on the strength of 24 birdies, good for 100 fantasy points. He has had double digit birdie counts in six of nine tournaments since the beginning of 2016, which allows a guy who never finishes that high on the leaderboard to average 60+ fantasy points an outing.