Fantasy Golf Cheat Sheet: AT&T Byron Nelson Picks, Preview

The Masters - Round Two

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

The field here is a lot thinner than last week but does bring back a couple big names into play who weren’t in the field last week. Brooks Koepka and Jordan Spieth both return to action here and will look to get in a solid tune-up before the PGA Championship in a week’s time. Spieth has local ties to this event and played in it at as a teenager but has yet to win here. Other bigger names in the field this week include Marc Leishman, Patrick Reed and last year’s winner Aaron Wise, who took down the first variation of this event at its new home course.

Given the lack of talent at the top, there’s plenty of lessor names as we go down the 152-name field, and it’s a list DFS players will want to study given how profitable it was for those who were able to pick out names like Max Homa and Joel Dahmen last week. Finally, while he’s not someone you should consider for DraftKings purposes, former Dallas Cowboys QB and zero-time Super Bowl winner Tony Romo is in the field. Romo has played in PGA events before, including this year in the Dominican, but has never come close to making a cut — so you’ve been warned, Cowboy fans.


The Course

Trinity Forest Golf Course—Dallas, Texas
Par 72, 7,450 yards

This will be the second year in a row Trinity Forest is used for this event, and it remains as one of the more unique stops on the PGA Tour. This relatively new course was built in 2014 and designed by Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore, two venerable architects who also helped redesign both Pinehurst and Shinnecock Hills, two major championship venues with a lot of links-link qualities. Here’s a quote from the course website on how the venue tends to play:

“Trinity Forest is going to make us use our brains a little bit … you have to work out where your best angles are … one side of the fairway is easy, the other side is going to be difficult … your mistakes are magnified, but your good stuff is magnified as well …” — Geoff Ogilvy on playing Trinity Forest

At its core, Trinity Forest is an open, basically treeless course that easily could pass for an Open Championship stop. It’s sprawling and has an endless supply of undulations, mounds and bumps, which are sure to give players fits throughout the week. This will look and play differently than pretty much every venue we have seen to this point in the season, especially one like we saw last week in Quail Hollow with lots of trees, water and tight fairways. Players here will need to come in with fresh and positive perspectives to thrive.

The course scorecard is traditional in the sense it will play as a par 72, with four par 5s and four par 3s. Two of the par 5s come in at around 550 yards or less, but the other two are longer, including the 14th, which is comes in at 630 yards. Three of the par 3s also will play long at well over 200 yards. Big hitters likely will have an advantage given the openness off the tee, but the real scoring will come from those who can adjust to the undulations on and around the greens.

One final note, being this is wide-open venue in the heart of Texas, wind really can play a factor. It was almost dead-clam here last season, and that allowed Wise to get to 23-under par. The venue itself also played as the seventh-easiest on tour, allowing a well-under par scoring average of 69.415. That kind of scoring might not be seen this year, however, as some poorer weather and wind are expected the first couple of days.

2019 Weather Report: The weather this week could be an issue. Thunderstorms are in the forecast for almost the entire week and the course could be soaked from Wednesday rains when they start. Showers and highs in the low-7’s are expected Friday and Saturday, as well. The cooler temperatures also will be accompanied by some wind, although it’s not expected to rise above 13-15 mph at any point of the week, for the moment. The wind still will add in another element the players will have to deal with on this tricky venue and should be watched right up until tee-off Thursday in case an obvious bias occurs. Like most tournaments in Texas, expect some sudden weather changes and for luck to play a factor in which players get the better end of the draw this week.


Past Five winners

2018—Aaron Wise -23 (over Marc Leishman -20)
2017—Billy Horschel -12 (over Jason Day playoff)*
2016—Sergio Garcia -15 (over Brooks Koepka playoff)*
2015—Steven Bowditch -18 (over Charley Hoffman -14)*
2014—Brendon Todd -14 (over Mike Weir -12)*

*Tournaments played pre-2018 were not played at Trinity Forest


Winning Trends

— The past seven winners here had recorded a T8 or better on tour in the same year of their victory, and prior to winning at the Byron Nelson.

— Since 2012, the best a player has finished at THE PLAYERS before winning the AT&T Byron Nelson is T33 (Sang Moon Bae 2013).


Statistics

Birdie or Better Percentage
Strokes Gained: Approach/Proximity
Par 5 scoring

The course this week is being used in competition for only the second time, so we don’t have a ton of historical stats to rely on. With that in mind, targeting some of the key stats this week makes sense.

Trinity Forest has large greens and massive fairways but hitting it to certain levels/plateaus on approaches seems key, as missing will lead to balls running off or through the green in spots. Ball-striking and particularly Strokes Gained: Approach seem like an important factors this week in that regard. Last year’s winner, Aaron Wise, dominated in the approach department last season, leading the field in SG: Approach for the week.

Additionally, there are four par 5s on this venue and it seems, given the layout, like these holes will be the players’ best chances at birdies or better. Emphasizing strong Par 5 Scoring and strong recent form in this stat seems like a smart move, along with the pretty obvious Birdie or Better Percentage stat. Wise was second in Birdie Average at this year’s venue last season, and with a scoreable layout in front of them, having players on your team who are great at converting birdies — even if they prone to a few more bogies than normal — is a good profile to have.


Finding Values

Odds to win are one factor to think about when picking players (but not the only thing, so be careful 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.

PlayerOddsDK PriceComparables
Aaron Wise25-1$9,400Marc Leishman $10,000 and 30-1
Patrick Reed $9,800 and 30-1
SungJae Im $9,600 and 40-1
Pat Perez66-1$7,700Scottie Scheffeler $7,900 and 66-1
Alex Noren $8,200 and 66-1
Justin Harding $7,800 and 70-1


Recent Form

1. Brooks Koepka: Despite this event being his first appearance since Augusta, Koepka gets the No. 1 spot this week due to a weaker field and the fact he finished second at the year’s first major. He’s been all over the map this year but does have two second-place finishes in his past five starts now.

2. Rory Sabbatini: It looked like the Sabbatini train was gonna go off the trails early last week, but the newly crowned Slovakian rallied in Round 2 to make the cut and then finished off his week in a solid T18 placing. He’s made seven cuts in a row and has finished inside the top 20 the past two times out.

3. Max Homa: Homa is obviously coming off a surprise win at Quail Hollow from last week, but even before that he’d shown decent form, making six of seven cuts this year. He’s Mr. Momentum here after winning last week while leading the field in Strokes Gained: Putting.

4. Scottie Scheffler: The American and former college standout has been tearing up the Web.com Tour to the point where many believe he’s got a strong chance to get in contention this week, too. Scheffler lost in a playoff last week in Nashville and has finished T7 or better in four of his past five Web.com Tour starts.

5. Brian Stuard: Stuard has been under-the-radar good of late, finishing T18 or better in three of his past four starts, a run that also included a T4 at the Valero a few weeks ago. He’ll look to continue his run at Trinity Forest this week, an event he finished T42 at last season.


DFS STRATEGY

Cash Games: It’s fine if you want to bypass question marks and start lineups with Brooks Koepka ($11,400) this week. Most of the players directly under him haven’t lived to the hype this year, so looking elsewhere to save money might be a good idea. A more balanced approach, though, should have eyes on Marc Leishman ($10,000) and Aaron Wise ($9,400). The two both played great here last season and enter this week in decent form, especially Wise. Beyond them there’s some interesting names in the $8K range as well, including the likes of Rafa Cabrera Bello ($8,600) and Ryan Moore ($8,800). Both have played well of late and bring good cut-making upside to the table. Other values to consider here include Scottie Scheffler ($7,900), Brian Stuard ($7,400) and Nick Taylor ($7,000).

Tournaments: There are lots of interesting names at the top this week that conceivably could catch fire at this venue. Of the lot, Patrick Reed ($9,800) looks the most interesting to me. The former winner of the Scottish Open has the right kind of ball flight for windy venues and showed some signs of improvement last week with a strong first three rounds at Quail Hollow. Beyond him, Lucas Bjerregaard ($8,700), Thorbjorn Olesen ($8,100) and Alex Noren ($8,200) should be targeted for their links prowess and overall talent in a lackluster field. Further down the likes of Justin Harding ($7,800), Dylan Frittelli ($7,500) and Peter Uihlein ($6,800) all should be considered as decent boom-or-bust targets at what could be a volatile event given the weather and venue.


MY PICK: Alex Noren ($8,200)

With only one finish inside the top 30 this season, Noren’s not a pick for the weak at heart, but his pedigree and recent play suggest this might be the perfect spot for him to jumpstart his 2019 season. A T28 his most recent time out at the RBC Heritage was a good omen, and the fact he ranked ninth that week in Strokes Gained: Approach is also a nice statistical signal that perhaps more good play is just down the road. Aaron Wise led the field in approaches here last season, so another good week with the irons could set up Noren well for a second solid showing. Further, while Noren might not have played this week’s venue before, he’s comfortable on links venues. The winner of the 2016 Scottish Open, Noren also has landed two top-10 finishes over his past four starts at the Open Championship and has made a name for himself as a great poor-weather player, too — prowess that could come in handy this week, as rain and wind are in the forecast. At just $8,200, he’s unlikely to be a hugely popular target but possesses the talent and experience to take advantage of a weaker field on a venue that should play to his strengths.


MY SLEEPER: Peter Uihlein ($6,800)

Much like my main pick, Uihlein comes into this week having had a terrible start to 2019. While there’s less reasons to think a quick turnaround might be coming here for Uihlein, they still do exist. Last year around this time the American was in a similar run of bad form, having missed three cuts in a row before reeling off a run of T5-T22-T5 finishes. The T22 from that run took place at this week’s venue, Trinity Forest; and, like Noren, Uihlein’s ability on the links should benefit him this week, too, as he searches for some spark to fire up his game. The American’s stint on the Euro Tour saw him compete well at several links-venues over his career, including the Alfred Dunhill Links event, where he finished second in 2013. It’s a risky pick, but as we’ve seen time and time again this season, with recent top finishes by golfers like Max Homa, KH Lee ($7,500) and C.T. Pan ($7,900), players can turn things around fast on this tour and writing certain players off due to a poor month sometimes isn’t the correct answer for fantasy purposes. Whichever way you cut it, Uihlein is overdue for a strong showing and is at the right kind of venue to become a positive asset again in DFS.


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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is wavegoodbye) 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.