The Cheat Sheet provides fantasy golf players with course information, player history and the most noteworthy trends of the week to help them with their roster selections.
The field this week is set at 78 players as we get our second no-cut event in a row on the PGA Tour’s Asian swing. With a bigger price purse and a new premier event, we are getting a truly elite field this week as several of the game’s top players have come out of hibernation to take part in this event. Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas, Xander Schauffele and the one and only Tiger Woods are only some of the bigger names playing this week. While Thomas — last week’s winner — and a few other players like Jason Day and Hideki Matsuyama all played last week in South Korea, many players like Woods, McIlroy and Patrick Reed will be making their first start in three or more weeks. How these players perform after a long layoff will be interesting to see as the longer flight over and quirky course could lead to the more “in-form” players having an advantage here.
Accordia Golf Narashino CC, Chiba, Japan
Par 70, 7,000-7,100 yards
This week’s venue is in Chiba, Japan and will be making its debut on the tour this week. The Accordia Golf Narashino CC plays as a par 70 but features some quirky layout designs that will make it a unique test for players. The course features smaller-than-average Bentgrass greens that likely will be tough targets for players on approaches. Narashino is also unique in that it features two greens per hole (one for winter and one for summer), and players will get free drops if they, for some reason, hit the wrong green this week.
Layout-wise, Accordia is also unique from most PGA par 70s in that it features five par 3s, two of which feature water. These par 3s should act as risk-reward holes for the players as poor shots could lead to double-or-worse (especially on the holes with water) while good shots still can be rewarded with birdies. All of the par 3s come in at less than 200 yards with three of them measuring between 175-200 yards in length.
The rest of the course features a lot of par 4s, which measure in as an eclectic group. Five of the par 4s measure in at 450 yards or greater, however, there are also several par 4s that play well under 400 yards in length and will require only iron shots off the tee. The venue is heavily tree-lined and features several dog-legs, which make it almost a certainty players will need to be emphasizing accuracy a little more here this week than pure power. This venue should play similar to US venues such as Colonial or Hilton Head, where small greens, doglegs and accuracy all take precedence over pure length.
2019 Weather Outlook: We could be in for a couple nasty days of weather for this week’s event. Highs for the first two days of competition are set to reach just the low-to-mid 60s with overcast skies and some rain in the forecast. Additionally, wind is expected to be a factor here, as gusts could reach as high as 20 mph Thursday. The good news is the wind is set to die down as the week progresses, and temperatures are expected to get a little warmer on the weekend as well. Still, the smaller field could be in for a tough week as cold temperatures and wind could work to keep scoring to a minimum.
Par 4 scoring/efficiency 450-500 yards/Par 3 scoring/efficiency 175-200 yards
SG: Approach/Greens in Regulation
SG: Tee to Green
The venue this week sets up as a classic tree-lined par 70 with several tight driving holes and doglegs. As such, targeting some of the same metrics we do at other similar courses seems viable. Both Strokes Gained: Tee to Green and SG: Approach should be vital here. The greens are small, and tee shots will require good placement over power. High green in regulations and accurate approaches should pay off more so than usual here as players’ power off the tee won’t be in as big demand.
Additionally, given the setup of the course, we can target certain scoring metrics this week as well. Narashino CC carries five par 3s, all of which come in under 200 yards in length, with three of them coming in at 175-200 yards in length. Additionally, five of the 11 par 4s on the venue come in at 450-500 yards in length. As with most par 70 setups, solid par 4 scoring should be vital here, but targeting this specific range for efficiency stats is a decent way to begin research.
Odds to win are one factor to think about when picking players (but not the only thing, so be careful of putting too much weight on them). This section is going to detail a few of the players who have the best fantasy value comparative to their odds of winning this week.
Player: Tony Finau
Odds to Win: 28-1
DraftKings Price: $9,200
Tommy Fleetwood; 28-1 and $9,800
Victor Hovland; 30-1 and $9,400
Patrick Reed; 28-1 and $9,600
Player: Shugo Imahira
Odds to Win: 66-1
DraftKings Price: $7,100
Rory Sabbatini; $7,200 and 70-1
Pat Perez; $7,300 and 80-1
Emiliano Grillo; $7,500 and 70-1
1. Justin Thomas: Thomas is coming off a win last week at the CJ Cup, his second in three years at the event. The world No. 4 now has a T4 finish and a win in two fall series starts.
2. Hideki Matsuyama: Despite a missed cut in his first fall series event, Matsuyama comes into this week in fine form. A T3 last week in South Korea was preceded by a T16 at the Shriners event three weeks ago. Overall, he’s finished T16 or better in four of his past five starts.
3. Tony Finau: Finau has been putting together a nice stretch of results recently and comes into this week off of back-to-back top-10 finishes. He’s finished T10 or better in four of five starts dating back to last year’s playoffs.
4. Matthew Fitzpatrick: Fitzpatrick has picked it up in the fall, posting three finishes of T4 or better in his past six starts, including a runner-up finish at the Italian Open a couple weeks ago. The Englishman has performed well in recent elite-field events, posting a T20 at the Open and a T4 at the WGC Bridgestone.
5. Adam Hadwin: Hadwin has shown some extremely solid form in the fall series, posting a T4 and a solo second-place finish at the Shriners and the Safeway Open, his only two fall starts. Hadwin led the field in greens in regulation in both events and could be primed for another solid week in Japan.
Cash Games: Given that we have a much deeper field than the past few weeks and we have a no-cut event, I think starting with a more balanced approach here makes sense. Both Gary Woodland ($9,500) and Tony Finau ($9,200) have shown good form in the fall swing, have solid birdie rates and are quite affordable, making them great plays for this four-day event. Joaquin Niemann ($8,200) is also coming off a solid T12 finish last week and looks like great value here, too. Other potential targets for this format include Adam Hadwin ($8,100), Ryan Moore ($7,800), Emiliano Grillo ($7,500), Rory Sabbatini ($7,100) and Ryan Palmer ($6,900).
Tournaments: From the top group we have plenty of players returning to action after a bit of a layoff, and of that group, Xander Schauffelle ($10,400) looks like a nice pay-up target to me. Not only does he have a win overseas around the same time from last season, but he’s been a great Bentgrass and small-field performer over his career. After Schauffele, I also like Matthew Fitzpatrick ($9,000), who has three top-five finishes in his past seven starts. Other potential big-field GPP targets this week include Rafa Cabrera-Bello ($8,600), Shugo Imahira ($7,100), Si Woo Kim ($6,500) and Vaughn Taylor ($6,100).
My Pick: Gary Woodland ($9,500)
Woodland is coming off a nice week at the CJ Cup, where he finished T3 for the week, off weekend rounds of 65-66. The American is coming off a banner season where he won his first major championship and looks like he might be getting form to make a run at another title in the late fall.
Woodland ranked 12th in Greens in Regulation last week and generally has handled tighter venues, which emphasize accuracy over pure power, quite well over his career. Including his win at the strategic Pebble Beach, Woodland also has done quite well at the Copperhead Course — home to the Valspar Championship — over his career, a venue that should be a good comparable to this week. Copperhead also contains five par 3s (the only other venue on tour that does so) and features plenty of water and doglegs, too.
Coming in with solid form and without the competitive rust that could plague other members of the field, Woodland should be in good shape to deliver another big week and pay off for DFS players here.
MY SLEEPER: Si Woo Kim ($6,500)
Kim is another player who was in action last week and could have an advantage over those who chose not to make the trip overseas for the first leg of the Asian swing. The South Korean ended up in T26 last week but put in three solid sub-70 rounds and looks to be in decent form heading into this week’s more elite field.
Kim should benefit from the setup this week, too, as he’s had plenty of success at tighter, more strategic venues over his career, gaining his biggest win at TPC Sawgrass — a shorter par 72 with plenty of water and small greens — but also posting big weeks at at tree-lined venues such as Hilton Head and Sedgefield. Kim’s a volatile player but comes into this week with better-than-average form and a DraftKings price that should make him extremely enticing to those looking for the best upside in big-field GPPs this week.
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