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.
The FieldThe field this week is set at 152 golfers. This isn’t a Pro-Am like last week, so regular Tour cut rules — top-65 players and ties make the weekend — are back in effect. The one quirk that’s important to remember this week is the fact two courses will be in play. Players will each play the South and North course once on Thursday and Friday, with all the action taking place strictly on the South course this weekend.
The field gets ramped up significantly this week with several top players returning to action. Past champions Tiger Woods, Jason Day, Jon Rahm and Justin Rose (2019) are all in the field, as is Rory McIlroy who, along with Woods, will be making his first American start of the season. Rickie Fowler, Xander Schauffele and Gary Woodland are just some of the other bigger names who round out the field this week in what is shaping up to be the deepest regular-sized field of 2020 thus far.
The CoursesTorrey Pines — San Diego, CA
South (home course) 7600-7700 yards, par 72
North 7200-7300 yards, par 72
As mentioned above, two courses are in play the first two days with weekend golf being exclusively on the South course. As for how the venues set up, Torrey Pines South is a completely different challenge than what the players will have been exposed to so far this year. It’s consistently ranked as one of the hardest courses on tour, and yields one of the lowest birdie or better percentages every season—although it should be noted that last season it did rank slightly easier than normal as just the 18th hardest course and even yielded an under par scoring average of 71.729. Torrey North will play much easier than the South, but it was renovated a couple of years ago to modernize it and represents a decent challenge on its own now. Last year the North played quite a bit easier overall too, ranking out as just the 45th toughest course (out of 49) as warm weather and low winds contributed to perfect scoring conditions.
The North course features four reachable par 5s and you’ll almost certainly need a good under-par round from your player here if they are going to advance to the weekend. On the South course playing the par 5s well is also important as they are generally the only birdie holes on the course, and possibly the only holes that will play under par for the week. Length isn’t the only factor that makes Torrey South a difficult test, but six of the 10 par-4s on the course do measure in at over 450 yards in length, while only one measures in at under 400. Last year’s winner ranked 12th in Par 4 scoring and fourth in Par 5 scoring.
The players will also be putting on poa annua greens (on the South course anyway, the North is now Bentgrass) which can be very difficult to maneuver. A few of the other courses on the West Coast swing also use some type of poa annau (Pebble Beach, Riviera) and many of the players this week will be more comfortable than others on this surface. Torrey Pines consistently ranks as one of the hardest courses to hole putts on from inside of ten-feet so don’t be overly shocked if you see players missing more short ones than usual this week. Ultimately, this is a true tee to green test where solid off the tee and approach play is a must and whoever sinks the most putts on the quirky greens will come out on top.
2020 Weather Outlook: The conditions this week look quite good, although cold weather may play a factor. The highs for the morning over the entire tournament are expected to top out in the mid 60s and lows for the morning tee times may dip as low as 50 F. Thus, while wind isn’t expected to be a huge issue, the afternoon tee times this week should have a clear advantage given that warming temperatures generally help out with distance. If you’re playing showdown this is something to think about as the greens shouldn’t dry out too much and players may get a boost later in the day with the sun out.
Last 5 winners2019—Justin Rose -21 (over Adam Scott -19)
2018—Jason Day -10 (over Alex Noren and Ryan Palmer playoff)
2017—Jon Rahm -13 (over Charles Howell III and CT Pan -10)
2016—Brandt Snedeker -6 (over KJ Choi -5)
2015—Jason Day -9 (over JB Holmes, Harris English, Scott Stallings playoff)
Winning Trends– Recent form does not seem to be a huge deal at this event (at least for the winners) as only two of the past seven winners had recorded a top 10 performance on the year before winning here (Snedeker in 2016 and Day in 2015).
– Eight of the last nine winners had a South/North draw — meaning they played the South course on Thursday and the North on Friday (exception was Justin Rose in 2019).
– Five of the past six winners (exception Jason Day – 2018) had made at least one professional start in 2019 prior to their win.
StatisticsSG: Tee to Green
Par 5 scoring
This event is very much about being strong tee to green. Jon Rahm, who won this event in 2017, only ranked 28th in SG: Putting in the field during the year of his win but was first in SG: Tee to Green. Other winners have been less prolific in this category, but most have been solid to spectacular with ball-striking. Last year’s winner Justin Rose ranked fourth in this category, while runner-up Adam Scott ranked first.
Despite needing to take advantage of the Par 5s, it’s been Par 4 scoring that’s been a somewhat better indicator here in many ways. The past five winners have ranked no worse than 11th in this category for the week of their win, with Jason Day ranking first in Par 4 scoring in both 2015 and 2018, the years of his wins. Par 5 scoring can also be considered but looking at Par 4 efficiency stats from 450-500 yards is something to consider given that 10 of the Par 4’s fall into that range.
While distance off the tee perhaps isn’t as significant a stat as the first two, it’s still something to consider here as winners here have averaged higher in Driving Distance and SG: Off the Tee than at other venues (on a whole). Five of the past six winners (Justin Rose, Jason Day, Jon Rahm, Scott Stallings and Tiger Woods) all ranked within the top 50 in Driving Distance for the year of their win.
Finding ValuesOdds 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.
– Marc Leishman $8,300 and 55-1
– Billy Horschel $8,100 and 66-1
– Matthew Wolff $8,200 and 66-1
– Byeong Hun An $7,700 and 80-1
– Bubba Watson $7,500 and 100-1
– Phil Mickelson $7,500 and 100-1
HORSES FOR COURSES1. Tiger Woods (best finish: winner – 1999, 2003, 2005-’08, 2013): Woods is a seven-time winner of this event and eight-time winner at Torrey Pines (2008 U.S. Open). It’s likely best to ignore his spotty recent history here as he played injured in two of his past four starts. He opened here last season and finished T20, it wouldn’t be shocking to see him improve on that mark this week.
2. Jason Day (best finish: win – 2015, 2018): Despite often coming in cold to this event, Day has a fantastic record at Torrey Pines. He’s now posted two wins and five top 10s here over his career, including a T5 finish last season. He did have some back issues which forced him to miss the Presidents Cup in December, but loves the challenge of this tough U.S. Open style venue and has massive upside this week if healthy.
3. Justin Rose (best finishes: win – 2019, T4 – 2017): Rose has seemingly figured out Torrey Pines the past few seasons, finishing no worse than T8 here on his last three go-arounds. Having played here eight times since 2010, he brings solid course history and is coming off a T2 finish last week overseas.
4. Tony Finau (best finish: T4 – 2017, T6 – 2018): Finau’s length off the tee has provided a clear advantage for him at this week’s venue where he’s a perfect five for five in terms of cuts made and has never finished worse than T24 in five starts.
5. Gary Woodland (best finish: T9 – 2019, T10 – 2014): Woodland has played this event each year since 2011 and over his past seven visits to Torrey Pines he’s only finished outside the top 30 here once. Shooting rounds of 66 and 69 on the South Course last year, he posted his best finish ever at Torrey last season with a T9.
Top Recent Form1. Xander Schauffele: Schuaffele has now racked up two runner-up finishes over his past three stroke-play events. The four-time Tour winner should be motivated after a heartbreaking loss in Hawaii and posted his best finish ever at this event last year with a T25.
2. Scottie Scheffler: Scheffler continued to roll last week, finishing in solo third for the event. Overall, he’s now finished inside the top five in three of his past four starts and his length off the tee should help him navigate Torrey Pines in his first professional start here.
3. Jon Rahm: Rahm could only manage a T10 in Hawaii at the TOC but, overall, he remains one of the most in-form players with a runner-up finish and a win over his past three starts. This will be his first start since the TOC three weeks ago.
4. Rickie Fowler: Fowler followed up his solid T5 finish at the TOC with a nice T10 finish at the American Express. Rickie’s putter hasn’t heated up yet, but he’s shown solid consistency over his last three starts now.
5. Tom Hoge: Hoge’s started the season off very well with T12 and T6 finishes in the first two regular-field events of the year. A streaky player, he’ll look to continue this solid start at Torrey Pines where he finished T12 two years ago.
DFS STRATEGYCash Games: Woods and Schauffele look like solid anchors
Given that Tiger Woods ($10,800) was able to post top 25 finishes each of the past two seasons here, despite being in worse form than he is this year, a sub-$11K price tag looks very favorable this week. Schauffele ($10,100) doesn’t have Woods’ incredible course history but he got around Torrey very well last year and looked dialed in in Hawaii, he’s also more affordable. Both look like good starting points in cash games. A balanced approach is also very in-play this week with Gary Woodland ($9,500), Tony Finau ($9,200), Scottie Scheffler ($8,800) and Ryan Palmer ($8,000) providing good upper-tier value. Other names to consider in this format include, Emiliano Grillo ($7,800), Keegan Bradley ($7,300) and Maverick McNealy ($6,600).
Tournaments: Rickie Fowler a boom or bust pivot in GPPs
With the $9K range likely to see heavy ownership on a few names, Fowler ($9,700) could be 5% owned or less in GPPs given that he has not finished better than T61 here in six straight starts. Rickie’s played well to start the year though and finished third in Off the Tee stats last week. A similar thought-process can also be applied to Byeong-Hun An ($7,700) who may get overlooked here after missing the cut last week. He’s played well in spurts on the West Coast, however, and has the Tee to Green game to potentially flourish this week. Other GPP targets to consider here include: Marc Leishman ($8,300), Matthew Wolff ($8,200), Talor Gooch ($7,200), Carlos Ortiz ($6,900), and Doc Redman ($6,500).
MY PICK: Marc Leishman ($8,300)Leishman comes into this week off a decent start to the season in Hawaii where he finished T28 at the Sony Open. After a Presidents Cup where he struggled at times with his game it was good to see the Aussie’s tee to green game in such good form in Hawaii as he ranked first in approaches and second in off the tee stats at Waialae. That kind of ball-striking will certainly be needed this week at the Farmers, where strong tee to green games are typically rewarded. Leishman also brings in a wealth of experience to this week’s event, having played at Torrey Pines in each of the past 10 seasons, recording two runner-up finishes in 2010 and 2014 and four top 10 finishes here overall. The bigger hitter clearly prospers at this wider, expansive venue and may be in good enough form this year to make a run at the title. With the past couple of weeks showcasing strong play from Presidents Cup teammates Cameron Smith and Abraham Ancer, Leishman looks like he might be next in line to put in a big week at a venue that clearly suits his game.
MY SLEEPER: Cameron Davis ($7,000)Davis has shown improved form to start 2020, landing T9 and T29 finishes in the year’s first two regular season events. The Aussie has always displayed good raw talent, but he may have found a new gear to his game this year as the big hitter displayed solid around the green and approach stats in his past two events. Torrey Pines may be a great venue for Davis to continue to showcase his skillset too as it typically rewards bigger hitters who can score well on the Par 5s. Davis fits both those criteria, as he finished last season 23rd in Par 5 scoring and ranked 10th in Driving Distance. Adding to his intrigue this week is the fact that the 24-year-old will be playing this event for the third time this season and was able to make the cut in each of his first two attempts, posting four rounds of par or better last season on the dual course setup, while also collecting a 69 on the tough South Course here in 2018. At $7K in price, he looks like a fine GPP target and with solid upside this week.
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