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.
This week, the field has been pared down again, as only the top 70 players in the FedEx Cup Playoffs have advanced. Notable players who WILL NOT be playing this week include: Henrik Stenson, Sergio Garcia and Aaron Wise. Since there are only a max of 70 players in this field, there will be no cut to worry about this weekend, and all players will get in four rounds of play (barring a DQ or withdraw).
After this event, the top 30 players in the FedEx Cup standings will be allowed to tee it up one more time in two weeks at East Lake for the Tour Championship and a chance at some serious cash. As of now the top five in the FedEx Cup standings are: Brooks Koepka, Patrick Reed, Rory McIlroy, Matt Kuchar and Jon Rahm. The seeding going into the last leg of the playoffs is very important given the new structure of the event, where top players in the seedings start at better scores than those beneath them. Expect to see a lot of jockeying for position on the weekend in what is always a fun and exciting final round.
Medinah (Course 3), Medinah, Illinois
Par 72—7,613 yards
The No. 3 course at Medinah is a tree-lined, long par 72 that has been the site of several big events on the PGA Tour in the past. The past two major championships it hosted — the 1999 and 2006 PGA Championships — were won by Tiger Woods at scores of 11-under and 18-under, respectively.
Despite playing long, the venue has yielded low scores in the past, as evidenced by Woods’ triumph in 2006 at 18-under, and today’s power players should have no issue putting up scores this week given the four par 5s in play. The main defense of the course should be thicker Kentucky bluegrass rough, which reportedly is quite thick, and smaller bentgrass greens, which will require more than excellent touch.
As for setup, Medinah does contain four par 5s, which players will need to take advantage of this week, although it should be noted two of those holes are set to play more than 600 yards. The par 3s all have waterfront greens, too, so efficiency on ranges of 175-200 yards (where three are set to play) also can be considered. The par 4s almost all fall between 400-500 yards, so efficiency from 400-450 and 450-500 can weighted nearly equally.
Woods won back in 2006 by being just better than the field average in terms of driving accuracy, but he also led the field in both scrambling and greens in regulation. Longer players who can keep the ball in the fairway here will have an advantage, but missing too many of these small greens will yield bogeys as Medinah might not be the beast it once was way back in 1999, but it’s still longer than most PGA venues.
2019 Weather Report: There is some rain expected early in the week, so it’s possible we might start with a softer course, which could lead to slightly better scoring early in the week — similar to what we saw last week. It will get hotter as the week progresses, too, with Sunday looking like a scorcher in the high-80s. Wind-wise there’s not a whole lot to worry about as Saturday looks like the only day where it will gust up to 10 mph or over.
There are thunderstorms in the forecast for Saturday to watch, and if any day could be troublesome weather-wise, it will be that one. For single-round Showdown, all days have windier conditions in the afternoon at the moment and greens should be softer in the a.m., so take advantage of early starters if possible. For full tournament formats, stacking tee times won’t be much use this week given the small 70-man field.
Past Five winners
This year will be the first time this event is played at Medinah
2018—Keegan Bradley -20 (over Justin Rose playoff)
2017—Marc Leishman -23 (over Rickie Fowler -18)
2016—Dustin Johnson -22 (over Paul Casey -19)
2015—Jason Day -22 (over Daniel Berger -16)
2014—Billy Horschel -14 (over Bubba Watson -12)
— The past eight winners of the BMW Championship all have had at least one top-eight finish in their past four starts on Tour.
— None of the past nine winners of the BMW Championship had missed the cut in their previous start on Tour.
Strokes Gained: Tee to Green
Approaches 175-200 and greater than 200
Par 5 Scoring
Given the length and accuracy needed off the tee at Medinah and the smaller greens in play, it’s safe to say a good #ballstriking week will be needed. Tiger Woods only putted about field average here in 2006, but he was better than the field by a wide margin in pretty much every other metric, making it a good time to really emphasize tee-to-green stats.
Medinah has a lot of longer holes, and four or five of the par 4s will play more than 450 yards for the week with two par 5s also measuring more than 600 yards. Long approaches should be key here, and given that all four of the longer par 3s come with waterfront greens — and three fall in around 175-200-yard mark — looking at approaches form 175-200 yards and greater than 200 yards looks appropriate.
Finally, I also would venture this will be a good week for strong par 5 scorers. Medinah is long, but with today’s technology, even the par 5s over 600 yards will be in reach in two for lots of the field. Players good at crushing it near or on the greens on the longer holes and converting birdies throughout the week will have a great shot at getting into contention here.
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: Francesco Molinari
Odds to Win: 55-1
DraftKings Price: $7,800
Jason Kokrak; $7,800 and 60-1
Gary Woodland; $7,900 and 66-1
Collin Morikawa; $7,900 and 66-1
Player: Marc Leishman
Odds to Win: 66-1
DraftKings Price: $7,500
Kevin Kisner; $7,600 and 70-1
Abraham Ancer; $7,700 and 70-1
Ryan Moore; $7,700 and 66-1
1. Patrick Reed: Reed won his first event of 2019 last week while ranking in SG: Tee to Green. He comes in off a win and hasn’t finished worse than T22 in his past four starts. With a ton of money now on the line, don’t be shocked if he’s in contention again this week.
2. John Rahm: Rahm continued his ridiculous run of form last week as he’s finished T11 or better in his past six starts. His only win on this run so far has been at the Irish Open, but he’s performed better in big events this season.
3. Webb Simpson: Simpson regressed slightly last week as his putter ran cold on the weekend, and he drifted to a T18 finish after a strong start. Simpson has finished outside the top 20 only once in his past six starts and has three runner-up finishes over that span as well.
4. Rory McIlroy: McIlroy put up another solid finish with a T6 last week, although it should be noted his ball-striking wasn’t up to its usual brilliance as he ranked only 46th in SG: Approach.
5. Billy Horschel: Horschel finished T21 last week, mainly off the back of a hot putter, which saw him rank first in SG: Putting. He has gone T21-T9-T6 over his past three starts, though, with just one missed cut over his past 10 starts.
Top Strokes Gained: Tee to Green (Last Week)
1. Abraham Ancer
2. Harold Varner III
3. Louis Oosthuizen
4. Patrick Reed
5. Ian Poulter
Cash Games: I like the idea of starting with Brooks Koepka ($11,800). His price is down, and he ranked fifth in SG: OTT and 18th in driving accuracy last week. His tee ball will give him a bigger edge at Medinah. After Brooks, I also like the prospects for good par 5 scorers like Adam Scott ($9,200) and Tony Finau ($8,500). Neither’s price went up much, making them affordable compared to other bigger names. I’d also rate Marc Leishman ($7,500), Jason Kokrak ($7,800), Sunjae Im ($7,200) and Lucas Glover ($7,100) as solid value targets for this kind of format.
Tournaments: Despite taking a bit of a dip last week, I really like this setup for Tommy Fleetwood ($9,000). He’s a consistent off-the-tee player who should benefit from a little tougher, longer course and potentially will be lower owned than most in his range after a slow week at the first playoff event. Outside of him, the potential is there for a quick bounce-back from Rickie Fowler ($8,800), who needs a solid week to make a run up the FedEx Cup standings and is a solid bentgrass putter. His ownership should be low given the missed cut last week. Other potential GPP targets for me here include: Marc Leishman ($7,500), Emiliano Grillo ($6,700) and Cameron Champ ($6,200).
MY PICK: Adam Scott ($9,200)
Scott regained some of that solid mid-season form we saw from him over the early summer, when he reeled off top-10 finishes at both the PGA and US Open and finished solo second at The Memorial. The Aussie brokethrough on Sunday with a clean 65 to finish solo fifth at Liberty National, and it’s significant Scott’s iron play stats improved throughout the week, to the point where he gained more than two strokes alone against the field Sunday.
Scott’s putter was solid again at Liberty National, too, and he’s been more consistent with that club in 2019, flashing some of his best work on bentgrass, a surface he putted well on at Augusta and Muirfield. Medinah’s bentgrass greens and four par 5s could be a great mix for Scott as he’s shown good prowess on that surface and also enters the week ranked third in par 5 scoring. Scott finished T3 at the 2006 PGA (held at Medinah), so he’ll have a better grasp of the venue than most this week, and that good memory could be the thing that pushes him to his first win of 2019. A small increase in his DraftKings price was warranted and his upside matches that of the best in the field for me this week.
MY SLEEPER: Lucas Glover ($7,100)
Glover’s collected five top-10 finishes on the season so far, which includes a T4 at the Honda Classic earlier this year and a T7 more recently at the 3M Open (where he shot a final-round 62). The veteran ranks inside the top 50 in accuracy off the tee, which should come in handy this week given the thick rough we’re likely to see in play.
It’s also notable Glover is one of the only players in the field with experience playing Medinah competitively. At the 2006 PGA Championship he shot an opening-round 66 at Medinah (good enough to be first-round co-leader) and would go on to finish T46 that week. The Glove showcased solid ball-striking for the most part last week, which included ranking T19 in driving accuracy. He’ll need an improved finishing position at Medinah if he’s to make it to East Lake for the finale, but the 39-year-old has shown improvement with his putter this year and it has resulted in multiple big weeks for him in 2019. At just $7,100, his season-long form suggests he’s good value for the upside lurking here.
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