The Cheat Sheet provides fantasy golf players with course info, player history and the most noteworthy trends of the week to help them with their roster selections on DraftKings.
The FieldThis is a full field event at 156 golfers. However, given the Pro-Am format that is set to play over three different courses, this event also has an unusual cut criteria. Barring injury or DQ, every player in the field will get to play each course once, meaning there will be no cut until after Saturday. On Saturday, the top 65 and ties will all get to move onto play on the final day, with one more go around the Stadium Course to decide the winner.
The actual field this week is quite interesting, as we’ll see a few bigger names returning to action as the season progresses towards bigger events. Rickie Fowler ($11,500) is back in action after a solid start at the TOC, and Francesco Molinari ($9,200) and Tony Finau ($10,500) are both playing in their first PGA events of the year as well. There’s plenty of mid-tier talent in this field too as the likes of Billy Horschel ($9,700), Byeong-Hun An ($10,300) and Jason Kokrak ($9,100) are all set to make an appearance. Last year’s shock winner, Adam Long ($7,200), is also in the field, as is runner-up Phil Mickelson ($8,700). With three courses in play and a Saturday cut, this event always provides lots of low scores and has a solid field this year to choose from for DFS.
The CoursesPGA West—Palm Springs, California
TPC Stadium (home course, played twice) 7100-7300 yards, par 72
La Quinta par 72, 7,000-7100 yards, par 72
Nicklaus Tournament 7100-7160 yards, par 72
The tournament this week will be played over a total of three courses, with the home course—and the course being used to decide a champion on Sunday—being the TPC Stadium Course. It should first be noted that only one of these courses (La Quinta) was used in the rotation prior to 2016, which makes the results before that year not quite as relevant. Additionally, while the Stadium course can stretch to 7300 yards, expect all three courses to play somewhere in the vicinity of 7000-7150 yards for the week, making distance less of a factor. Players can still be very aggressive here though as the rough is generally kept low and the Par 5’s are almost all reachable in two with a solid drive.
Of the three courses it’s almost a certainty that the home course, the TPC Stadium course, will play the toughest. A Pete Dye design, this course was once rated as the fourth toughest course in America by Golf Digest and has the highest slope and stroke ratings of any of the three. In 2019, the Stadium Course played as just the 40th toughest course on Tour, as players averaged -1.7 strokes under par. However, both the La Quinta and Nicklaus Tournament courses played far easier, as players averaged -3.2 and -2.9 strokes under par there, making them the two easiest courses on Tour.
One final note, the greens here are still predominately Bermuda, but because of the climate, they will play slightly different than the ones last week. The fact three courses are in play here and will all play slightly different means players with good history at this event can be bumped up slightly in terms of fantasy value. Six of the last seven winners had all played at this event at least once prior to winning.
2020 Weather: This is going to be a short update because there doesn’t appear to be much to report on. Unlike last week where wind and rain played a huge factor, especially late in the tournament when the greens got flooded, the weather here looks to be a non-issue. Players will have to deal with colder temperatures in the morning, but we’re only talking lows in the high 50’s. Sunny skies are forecast for all four days with winds no expected to be rise above 8mph all week. Expect good conditions to lead to low scoring and a tournament that plays out without any weather related issues.
Last FIVE winners2019—Adam Long -26 (over Phil Mickelson -25)
2018—Jon Rahm -22 (over Andrew Landry playoff)
2017—Hudson Swafford -20 (over Adam Hadwin -19)
2016—Jason Dufner -25 (over David Lingmerth playoff)
2015—Bill Haas -22 (over five players at -21)
Winning Trends– Nine of the past 10 winners of this event played in one of the two season opening events in Hawaii in the year of their respective wins (*exception: Bill Haas 2015).
– Of the past seven winners, four played in the Sony Open the week before, and all three of the four made the cut there finishing 9th/13th/31st (Adam Long missed cut at Sony in 2019).
– Eight of the past nine winners had a top 15 finish in one of their past 7 events world-wide before their win—the exception was Adam Long last year.
– Six of the past seven winners had played in this event at least once before prior to their win—the exception was Adam Long last year.
Key StatisticsBirdie or Better Percentage
Strokes Gained: Approach
Par 5 Scoring
This week is a classic birdie-fest, as winners here have averaged well above the tour-norm in terms of birdie or better stats at this venue. The last four winners of this event all finished top-three in this stat for the week with BoB%’s well above standard Tour winners. Each of last year’s runners-up finished inside the top-10 in this stat as well.
Additionally, much like last week, putting and approach play is very much emphasized at this week’s venues. We have limited strokes gained data (just from Stadium venue), but two of the past three winners ranked top-ten in Strokes Gained: Approaches for the week, with both runners-up from last year ranking inside the top-10 in this stat as well. With shorter venues, but lots of water and sand in play around the greens, strong iron-play will once again be the main ingredient to success here.
Finally, as each course plays as a par 72 with four shorter par 5’s, par 5 scoring is also a factor this week. You will see plenty of birdies on these holes and lots of eagle opportunities as well. Each of the past three winners here have ranked inside the top-10 in Par 5 scoring for the week, with last year’s winner, Adam Long, finishing fourth overall in that stat.
Finding ValuesThis 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||Odds to win||DraftKings Price||Comparable|
|Brian Harmon||30-1||$8,600||– Byeong Hun An $10,300 and 35-1
– Scottie Scheffler $9,500 and 35-1– Billy Horschel $9,700 and 45-1
|Russell Knox||45-1||$8,100||– Lucas Glover $8,200 and 66-1
– Alex Noren $8,400 and 45-1– J.T. Poston $8,500 and 45-1
Horses for Courses1. Charles Howell III ($10,100 — best finishes: 2nd-2013, T11-2016): Howell has an immaculate record at this week’s venue. Since 2010, he’s played this event every season and has made the Saturday cut every year. On top of that impressive record, Howell has placed T20 or better at the new course rotation in three of the past four seasons now. Coming off a T12 at the Sony Open, Howell’s again a dominant course horse and a near must in cash games.
2. Phil Mickelson ($8,700 — best finishes: T2-2019, win-2002 and 2004): Mickelson is now the de facto player-host for this event, so he will have some off the course duties this year. That being said, he’s been an ATM for fantasy purposes here, making the cut in six of his last seven appearances and winning the event twice back in 2002 and 2004 at a different venue. He didn’t end 2019 well, but loves aggressive golf, which is what it takes to perform well this week.
3. Chez Reavie ($8,000 — best finish: T12-2017): Reavie gets a nod here due to consistency. The veteran and winner of the Travelers last season has played in this event in each of the past four seasons and made the cut every year. While he’s yet to crack the top-10 here, two top-20 finishes are encouraging, and he’ll be fresh after missing the weekend at the Sony.
4. Brian Harman ($8,600 — best finishes: T3-2017): Harman’s been very consistent at this event in his career, flashing solid upside with three top-12 finishes in eight career starts. The lefty missed the cut here last season but was T3 back in 2017. He comes in playing solid golf, coming off a T32 in Hawaii last week.
5. Kevin Streelman ($6,900 — best finishes: T10-2013, 2010): Streelman’s another player who has shown solid consistency at this event. He’s racked up four top-30 finishes here since 2009 and made the cut here on five of his past six visits, making him a solid horse course on a week where volatility tends to reign.
Recent Form1. Scottie Scheffler ($9,500): Scheffler hasn’t played since the Fall swing but his form over his last five or so events is hard to rival this week. He went T5-T18-T3 in his final three starts of 2019 and should be looking at this week’s assured birdie-fest as a great spot to pick up win number one.
2. Rickie Fowler ($11,500): Fowler didn’t play much towards the end of last season, but he’s looked strong over his last few starts. On top of helping out the U.S. team pull out a win at the Presidents Cup, he finished T5 at the TOC two weeks ago.
3. Vaughn Taylor ($7,900): Taylor’s been on a nice stretch dating back to last Fall, as the veteran has now made the cut in 16 of his last 17 starts on Tour and has finished T12 or better over his last three starts. He’ll almost assuredly be a popular DFS target this week.
4. Brendon Todd ($8,800): Todd has cooled off a touch over his last few starts but he’s still doing enough to keep on the recent form leaderboard. A T21 at the Sony Open was a solid result when you couple it in with his two Fall season wins.
5. Henrik Norlander ($7,100): Norlander’s a new addition to our top-5 as the Swede had an excellent week at the Sony Open, finishing T9, while ranking 2nd in SG: Putting. Overall, he’s made five cuts in a row now on the PGA and finished T5 and T9 in his last two starts.
DFS StrategyCash Games: Scheffler and Howell III look like reliable anchors
This will be Scottie Scheffler’s ($9,500) first appearance at the Palm Springs event, but his consistency and high birdie rate from the Fall swing make him a nice target here at under 10k. On the flipside, it’s hard to go wrong paying just 10k for Charles Howell ($10,100), who hasn’t missed a cut at this event over the last decade. A more balanced approach seems like a solid approach for an event which always has some volatility among the top names. That makes the likes of Russell Knox ($8,100), Vaughn Taylor ($7,900) and Andrew Putnum ($7,800) all look like fantastic targets here who won’t break your salary constraints. Other potential cash targets here include Harris English ($7,700) and Brendan Steele ($7,500).
Tournaments: Fowler’s price could may make him a solid GPP pivot
Rickie Fowler ($11,500) hasn’t played this event since 2014 (T33), but he’s always performed well in the desert in Phoenix, and this week’s venues share a lot of similarities with TPC Scottsdale. Rickie’s high price and the tendency for DFS players to go balanced this week makes him a good GPP target here, especially as he’s coming off a good effort in Hawaii. Abraham Ancer ($8,900) also sets up well here as a possible GPP pivot as he played well in Hawaii, has experience at this week’s venue and slides into a range many DFS players may bypass to save cash this week. Other potential GPP targets here include: Jason Kokrak ($9,100), Danny Lee ($7,300), Carlos Ortiz ($7,200), DJ Trahan ($6,800), Patrick Rodgers ($6,500), Ben Martin ($6,300), and Maverick McNealy ($6,200).
My Pick: Jason Kokrak ($9,100)Two of the past three winners of this week’s event have been big hitters off the tee who have bludgeoned these easier courses into submission by taking advantage of the short Par 5’s. Enter Jason Kokrak, who is coming off a career season and has the same style of play that could make him a very legitimate contender to win here in 2020. Kokrak has played in this event six times in the past, but importantly has come here each of the past two seasons and shot under par in all eight rounds, posting finishes of T18 and T8. Ranked sixth in approaches and 31st in Birdie or Better % last season, Kokrak’s end of season run– which included a T14 finish at the Tour Championship that qualified him for all the majors—and a T8 finish at the WGC China event, should have him confident coming into his first event and give him a great shot at taking down his PGA win.
My Sleeper: Carlos Ortiz ($7,200)Ortiz is a player who deserves more attention after a solid 2019 season that was followed by a sparkling Fall swing. The Mexican was once lauded as a future star after winning the Korn Ferry Tour money list back in 2014, but struggled to maintain his PGA standing. However, after battling back to full status, Ortiz again flashed his upside in the Fall, landing Top-5 finishes at both the Houston Open and the Mayakoba Classic, where he finished T2. While he was a touch inconsistent at the Sony, most of issues came as a result of putting on slower wet greens, an issue that should be rectified this week in sunny Palm Springs. Ortiz ranked 13th in approaches last week and will be playing the American Express for the fifth-time this week, an event where he finished T15 back in 2013. Once a rising star, Ortiz looks like he’s ready to take a big step forward soon and he comes in fitting essentially all of the past winner’s trends posted above in this article. He looks like a great upside play here in the low 7k range for DFS.
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