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 for the Charles Schwab Challenge (formerly the Fort Worth Invitational) has some big names at the top of the field. Jordan Spieth, the 2016 champ, is in the field, as is last year’s champion Justin Rose and current defending Open champion Francesco Molinari. Jon Rahm and Rickie Fowler also are attending. The tournament is one of the oldest stops on tour and as such it has “invitational” status, which means it has a smaller-than-normal field (typically 120-125 players) and gets to pick and choose who participates. This means you’ll see a few former champions past their prime — Keith Clearwater — plus a few other non-regulars in the field — Mike Weir and Dru Love (Davis Love’s kid).
On paper at least, this will be a week where getting six players through the cut will appear easier than normal in DFS due to the reduced field (let’s face facts, though, it’s never easy!). Even though it’s a smaller-than-normal field, the top 70 players and ties will get to play the weekend after the Friday cut. This should be a competitive tournament with a decent number of top players looking to rebound after getting blown out at the year’s second major.
Editor’s Note: Jason Kokrak has withdrawn from this weekend’s Charles Schwab Challenge.
Colonial Country Club, Fort Worth, Texas
Par 70, 7,200-7,250 yards
Colonial Country Club challenges players in numerous ways. It’s not super long but does contain some long par 4s and some challenging par 3s. It also has many tight tree-lined fairways as well as many doglegged holes that put a premium on accuracy off the tee. To make things even tougher, there’s a plethora of bunkers throughout the course and play from the sand is something to keep note of this week — there are some great bunker players in the list of past winners. The Bentgrass greens are also smaller than average and water is surprisingly in play on nearly half of the holes, mainly on approaches to help protect some of the greens. To sum it up neatly: Colonial is very much about target golf, and power is not generally a huge factor this week. Hitting fairways and greens will be crucial, and those who don’t will be at a severe disadvantage.
As for layout, the first couple of holes on Colonial play rather easy with the lead-off par 5 being a near must birdie — it’s the easiest hole the players face all week. The other par 5 plays long, at a maximum of 635 yards, making it a three-shot hole for pretty much everyone. The par 3s are a mixed bag but in general play quite tough, mainly due to the small greens and the fact water and sand are in play for wayward tee shots. Only one of the par 3s plays more than 200 yards, so again, distance isn’t as crucial as accuracy in overcoming these holes and looking for players with good proximity or efficiency in the 175-200 yards range is a decent idea.
As for the par 4s, there are 12 on the course, and here’s a breakdown of their yardage:
350-400 yards – 2
400-450 yards – 7
450-500 yards – 3
As you can see most of the par 4s aren’t super long, but again, the lack of fairway space and small greens can make even the simplest hole play tough here. Like many tighter courses, a good iron and approach game will be crucial to conquering Colonial and so expect the players who do this the best to come out looking good Sunday afternoon. Last year’s winner, Justin Rose, blitzed the field to a 20-under winning score and led the field by a mile in SG: Approach. The venue still played as the 20th toughest venue on tour last year, though, and Texas weather always can be a factor in how the venue will play.
2019 Weather Report: The weather this week takes a turn for the better as the players will be facing sunny skies with highs in the low-to-mid 90s. There’s no rain in the forecast, so expect a potentially burned out and fast course. Scoring not necessarily will be easy, either, as the wind should play a factor, too, with gusts expected to approach between 15-20 mph the first two days — with Thursday afternoon forecasted to be the gustiest wave. Good short games should be emphasized as the greens could be harder to hold than normal and players with good experience on fast Bentgrass greens should benefit as well.
Past five winners
Justin Rose—2018 (-20 over Brooks Koepka -17)
Kevin Kisner—2017 (-10 over three players -9)
Jordan Spieth—2016 (-17 over Harris English -14)
Chris Kirk—2015 (-12 over Jason Bohn, Brandt Snedeker, Jordan Spieth -11)
Adam Scott—2014 (-9 over Jason Dufner in playoff)
— Each of the past seven winners of the Fort Worth Invitational had a T8 finish or better on the PGA Tour in their previous five starts before their respective win.
— Seven of the past eight winners have finished 44th or better in Strokes Gained: Approach on tour in the year of their win (average finish of winner in SG: Approach is 34th over past seven years).
Par 4 Scoring, Efficiency 400-450 yards
Strokes Gained: Tee to Green
Strokes Gained: Approach
Colonial CC is a golf course that has 12 par 4s (two more than a par 72). Ten of those holes measure in at well over 400 yards. In 2015, the top four players from this tournament ranked 95th, 25th, first and sixth in Par 4 Scoring for the year; in 2016 the top five finishers all ranked T3 or better in this stat for the week; last year’s winner ranked second in Par 4 Scoring for both the week and in the seasonal rankings. I’d look at Par 4 Scoring this week, and specifically efficiency stats between 400-450 yards, as it’s clear conquering the par 4s at Colonial are a big factor in a player’s success here.
On a tighter-than-normal course with smaller-than-average greens, good tee-to-green play always is going to be essential, too. In 2016, each of the top five players for the week ended the week ranked inside the top 10 in Strokes Gained: Tee to Green and last year’s winner, Justin Rose, led the field in this stat by a mile. Top players here also have tended to rank well in the Strokes Gained: Approach category, too; however, of note is the fact the past three winners before Rose only ranked 30/25/23 in that category for the week of their win.
One final note; around-the-green play is generally important here on tight, hard-to-hit greens, and past winners also all have been good sand players, so weighting Scrambling, around-the-green play and even looking at Sand Save Percentage isn’t a bad idea, either.
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.
|Kiradech Aphibarnrat||80-1||$7,500||Daniel Berger $7,600 and 100-1
Abraham Ancer $7,600 and 80-1
Sungjae Im $7,900 and 90-1
|Kevin Streelman||100-1||$6,900||Jim Furyk $7,300 and 100-1
Daniel Berger $7,600 and 100-1
Byeong Hun-An $7,500 and 100-1
HORSES FOR COURSES
1. Jordan Spieth (best finishes: win-2016; T2-2015, 2017): Colonial has proven to be perfect for Spieth over his pro career thus far. The Texas native is more than used to the climate, and the tighter track doesn’t emphasize power as much off the tee as it does an accurate approach game and good putting. He’s the lead horse here and in line for another good showing.
2. Kevin Kisner (best finishes: win-2017): Kisner has made the cut here in each of the past four seasons and has finished T10 or better in three of those appearances. A win in 2017 was his pinnacle, but he’s a player who can challenge at this tighter track for years to come given his accurate approaches and solid putting.
3. Kevin Na (best finishes: T4-2018; T10-2015): Na has made the cut at Colonial in six of his past seven appearances, but he’s shown a ton of upside to go along with those made cuts, too. He was the 54-hole leader here in 2015 and finished T4 last season. He might be coming off a missed cut at Bethpage but shouldn’t be underestimated here.
4. Zach Johnson (best finishes: win-2010, 2012): ZJ is the ultimate horse for the course if you consider longevity. In 12 visits to Colonial CC since 2005 he’s won twice, had finishes of third and fourth and only missed one cut (last year). He’s not had a good year, but his first top-10 could be just around the corner given his record at this week’s venue.
5. Danny Lee (best finishes: 6th-2017; T10-2015): Lee’s played this event five years in a row and is a perfect five for five in cuts made. He also has finished inside the top 25 here in each of the past four seasons and is coming off a decent finish last week at Bethpage.
Cash Games: This event has a ton of mid-tier players in excellent form you can target. Rory Sabbatini ($8,800), Scott Piercy ($8,600) and Kevin Na ($8,000) all look like good cash-game targets given their recent form and course history. From the top grouping perspective, if you’re using anyone in the $10K range, Xander Schauffele ($10,000) would be my target, although Paul Casey ($9,300) might be better value. Under $8,000 value targets for this format include the likes of Pat Perez ($7,700), Danny Lee ($7,300), Jimmy Walker ($7,400) and Kevin Streelman ($6,900).
Tournaments: Jordan Spieth ($10,900) should garner lots of ownership given his course history and play last week, which means Rickie Fowler ($10,500) and Jon Rahm ($11,200) could prove to be interesting pivots. The most interesting GPP play, though, at the top might be Bryson DeChambeau ($9,400), who opened with two good rounds at this venue last season and likely will be quite low-owned given his recent poor play — two missed cuts in a row coming in. Beneath him the likes of Charley Hoffman ($7,600), Brian Stuard ($7,100) and Sam Burns ($7,100) all provide for decent boom-or-bust big-field targets.
Top Recent Form
1. Rory Sabbatini: The veteran is on a ridiculously good run of form. In his past eight starts he’s yet to miss the cut and hasn’t finished outside the top 40 in any of those starts, either. T5 two weeks ago at the Byron Nelson, where he got to 17-under par, he’s trending everywhere right now and could surprise in this weak-field event.
2. Jason Kokrak: Not to be outdone, Kokrak hasn’t missed a cut all season and is coming off a solid T23 last week at Bethpage Black. Kokrak’s most recent top-10 was almost two months ago, but he was 11th in SG: Tee to Green last week and will have a much easier field to navigate at Colonial.
3. Jordan Spieth: Spieth rode a hot putter at Bethpage to a T3 finish. The three-time major championship winner has made six cuts in a row but last week marked his first top-10 finish on the year. He still ranked outside the top 50 in ball-striking last week, so some caution is recommended.
4. Scott Piercy: Piercy made the weekend at the PGA Championship last week and recorded T2 and T3 in his two starts before that. He has displayed immaculate ball-striking at times of late and comes into this week in good enough form to press for another top-five.
5. Rickie Fowler: The PGA wasn’t his greatest major performance, but Rickie did open with two rounds under par before fading a bit in the windy conditions over the weekend. Fowler’s yet to miss a cut this season and was in good form prior to last week, so a quick bounce back at Colonial is a possibility.
MY PICK: Xander Schauffele ($10,000)
Schauffele faded a bit Sunday at the PGA Championship but still managed to slug out a T16 finish. The now four-time PGA winner comes into this week having finished T2 and T16 now at the two biggest events of the year thus far and should be ready to ride that momentum to another big win soon. He’s not played Colonial much — T48 in 2017 is his best finish her — but there’s a ton about both his recent form and past playing history to suggest he’ll have a great shot at winning this week.
Schauffele comes in ranked fifth in Par 4 Efficiency from 400-450 yards and 15th in Par 4 Scoring on the season. He’s also done quite well putting on pure Bentgrass greens over his career as his wins at both the Greenbrier and in China were played on similar types of surfaces. It’s a talented group at the top this week, but Schauffele consistently either has matched or outperformed those above him in price this week during 2019, so for DFS, why not take the discount? His recent stats and overall career arc suggest you should.
MY SLEEPER: Danny Lee ($7,300)
Lee was my sleeper at this event last year, and he cruised to a solid T14 finish. He’s also another former winner of the Greenbrier (see above re: Schauffele) who has done well at Colonial over his career and doesn’t seem to mind putting on Bentgrass greens. Over the past five seasons, Lee has never missed a cut at Colonial and finished inside the top 15 three times. He’s a streaky player, but his recent form suggests a good run is ahead of him.
He busted out of the gates last week at Bethpage with a 64 that many people will forget given Brooks Koepka opened with a course-record 63 and gained an amazing 5.1 strokes on approaches alone that day. Lee’s irons have been firing well of late, as he’s gained strokes on approaches against the field in three of his past four starts and ranked 10th in this stat last week in a much tougher field. He’s got the course history and kind of form you want to make a go of it as a true sleeper this week, one who potentially could end up as an upset winner if everything breaks his way.
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