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 this week is a full one at 150 players. This event is an interesting event for several reasons as it always has marked the last official event before the Open Championship, allowing players who already have qualified for the event a final warm-up (and free plane ride over the pond), and those who haven’t one final shot at qualifying. This is a weaker-field event, with most elite talent taking the week off, but heading the field will be the likes of Charles Howell III, Kyle Stanley and John Deere favorite Zach Johnson. The event will no doubt carry some excitement though as several younger players, who have been lighting it up of late, will be in the field. Last week’s winner and runner-up, Matthew Wolff and Collin Morikawa, respectively, both will be playing, as will Victor Hovland and Joaquin Niemann. Past champions like Brian Harman (2014), Ryan Moore (2016) and Michael Kim (2018) are also here. With lots of young players aiming for their first win this should be an exciting week for DFS and might produce another exciting finish, similar to the one we saw last week.
TPC Deere Run, Silvis, Illinois
Par 71 – 7,200-7,300 yards
This is traditionally the easiest, or one of the easiest, courses the players will see all year. In 2016 it ranked as the 11th easiest course on tour (39th out of 50 in scoring average) and in 2017 was 12th. Last year it ranked as the sixth easiest venue on tour and yielded a scoring average well under par at 69.375 for the week. The winning score here almost always hits 20-under par or better, and some scores in the low-60s likely will be put up every day.
TPC Deere Run is a par 71 and features three par 5s, all of which play straightforward and are holes that must be taken advantage of by those planning to compete for the win. Of the past six winners, only one (Spieth 2013) has finished outside the top 10 in Par 5 Scoring for the week. The par 4s are also much more manageable than a typical par 71 and only a couple of them tend to play over par for the week. Three of them come in at under well under 400 yards, and most fall in at under 450 yards, making distance off the tee somewhat irrelevant. Of all the par 4s, the 18th often plays the toughest as it plays long (471 yards) and presents a tight tee shot, which must be placed well as players will have to navigate a long green with water to their immediate left on their approach.
The pure bentgrass greens here are always a welcome site for the players, too, as they are generally easy to navigate and often to lead to a couple monster putting weeks. Last year’s winner, Michael Kim, gained more than 13 strokes putting against the field last season.
With length not a huge issue this week, a player’s main goal off the tee will be to hit the fairway so they can go flag hunting on their second shot into the well-manicured bentgrass greens. Decent irons and a hot putter always are needed here, and those who can get it rolling the best on the weekend undoubtedly will be in the hunt.
2019 Weather Report: The weather finally is starting to heat up, and players will see temperatures hit the low-90s this week. There is some wind expected for Round 1, with gusts topping out at 12-15 mph in the afternoon. Friday looks much calmer, though, and players who go out early on the second day should get an almost completely calm golf course. With the course likely playing somewhat firm from the heat, expect driving distance to be a near non-issue this week and for players with strong around-the-green and putting games to shine through instead.
Past five winners
2018 — Michael Kim -27 (over Francesco Molinari and three others -19)
2017 — Bryson DeChambeau -18 (over Patrick Rodgers -17)
2016 – Ryan Moore -22 (over Ben Martin -20)
2015 — Jordan Spieth – 20 (playoff over Tom Gillis)
2014 — Brian Harman -22 (over Zach Johnson -21)
— Eight of the past 10 winners of this event played at TPC Deere Run in a previous year and made the cut at least once before their win.
— Six of the past eight winners of this event ranked 54th or better in SG: Approach for the year of their win.
— Four of the past seven winners of this event ranked inside the top 50 on tour in Approach Proximity from 125-150 yards in the year of their win.
Approach Proximity (125-150, 150-175 yards)
Birdie or Better Percentage
Strokes Gained: Approaches and Strokes Gained: Putting
Birdie or Better Percentage is obviously worth targeting here, as players with high birdie rates will \ have an advantage on a course like this. The past seven winners all ranked inside the top five in this stat for the week of their win.
From a Strokes Gained perspective, Putting and Approach likely will be the most emphasized metrics given the nature of this venue. Players with a hot putter and great short games can get by with missing a few greens here, but recent champions like Brian Harman and Ryan Moore have proven having great approach games and a high green in regulation percentage is extremely beneficial this week, too. Moore and Harman both were inside the top three for Greens in Regulation for the week of their win.
Additionally, as shown by Fantasy Golf Metrics, the most common approach shots this week likely will fall in the 125-175-yard range, so targeting players with good proximity stats in that range is a good idea, too. Only one of the past five winners ranked outside the top 50 for the year in approach shots from 125-150 yards.
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: JT Poston
Odds to win: 66-1
DraftKings Price: $7,800
Peter Malnati; 70-1; $7,900
Nick Watney; 80-1; $8,000
Jason Dufner; 66-1; $8,100
Player: Brian Harman
Odds to win: 25-1
DraftKings price: $9,300
Sungjae Im; 28-1; $9,700
Charles Howell III; 28-1; $9,500
Zach Johnson; 33-1; $9,600
HORSES FOR COURSES
1. Zach Johnson (best finishes: win-2012): ZJ’s record at this event is borderline unbelievable. He’s played this event 10 times now since 2009 and finished 16-5-34-3-2-2-1-3-21-2. Outside of his two major wins, this event has been his main money-maker over the years and he’s the clear lead horse this week.
2. Ryan Moore (best finishes: win-2016): Moore deserves some recognition at this venue, especially after he won this event in 2016. Overall, Moore has only one missed cut at this event in eight appearances and has three top-10s at TPC Deere Run over his past six visits.
3. Johnson Wagner (best finishes: T5-2015, 2016): Wagner’s been mucho consistent at this event with finishes of T16 or better in four of his past five starts here. He finished inside the top-five in back-to-back years and always has seemed to find good form for this event and venue.
4. Brian Harman (best finishes: win-2014): Harman has made only four of six cuts at Deere Run, but his upside has been evident when he’s made the weekend. The 2014 winner of this event also has T10 and T19 finishes at this week’s event and has played better golf of late coming into this year’s version.
5. Scott Brown (best finishes: T5-2014): Overall, Brown has made the cut at this event in six of seven attempts. He also has recorded six finishes of T25 or better and has finished T12-T25-T16 over the past three seasons here.
Cash Games: This is a difficult week to navigate for cash game purposes with a lot of unknown quantities in the field. You have to like Colin Morikawa’s ($10,700) resolve and form after just falling short of nabbing his first title last week. He led the field in approaches and should see some carry-over. After Morikawa, I like targeting players like Kyle Stanley ($8,800) and Martin Laird ($8,200) in the $8K range. Both are veterans who have seen upticks in iron play and putting recently. Other potential cash-game targets this week include the likes of Peter Malnati ($7,900), Vaughn Taylor ($7,700), Troy Merritt ($7,500) and Robert Streb ($6,900).
Tournaments: This entire field feels like one big GPP target this week, so narrowing choices is a little difficult. From the top echelon a veteran like Ryan Moore ($9,200) continues to have interest for those in search of expected low ownership. A former winner of this event, Moore still rates out well in recent iron play and is one of the best in the field from 125-150 yards. Below him, JT Poston ($7,800), Danny Lee ($7,600) and Dylan Frittelli ($7,600) all have flashed some solid form of late, and while their results have been a bit boom or bust, their strong iron play gives them great upside in this weaker field. Other potential targets include Russell Henley ($7,100), Curtis Luck ($6,700) and Tyron Van Aswegen ($6,300).
Top Recent Form
1. Collin Morikawa: The former No. 1 amateur player in the world has done nothing but impress thus far in his short time on tour, making four straight cuts, highlighted by finishes of T14 at the Canadian Open and a T2 last week in Minnesota, where he led the field in SG: Approach.
2. Joaquin Niemann: Niemann made his sixth cut in a row last week, a finish highlighted by rounds of 63 and 65. The Chilean now has two top-five finishes in his past three starts and looks hungry to go after his first tour win this summer.
3. Matthew Wolff: The 20-year-old pulled off the shock win last week, eagling the final hole to edge out the more experienced Bryson DeChambeau. He was coming off of two missed cuts (or he’d be ranked higher here) but led the field in SG: Tee to Green in Minnesota.
4. Victor Hovland: Hovland has made five cuts in a row, including a T13 last week. He ranked second in off-the-tee stats in Minnesota and 12th in approaches. he should be hungry for a win after seeing his former college teammate achieve victory last week.
5. Brian Harman: The 2014 winner of the John Deere Classic is quietly coming on of late with two top-eight finishes over his past three starts on tour. He ranked 22nd in approaches last week and has putted well in two of his past three starts.
MY PICK: JT Poston ($7,800)
Poston is an interesting target in this week’s colorful field. The 26-year-old is coming off a week of rest and was in contention in his most recent start, going off in the final group in Detroit, where he ultimately finished the week T11. Poston will be disappointed not to have finished higher there, but the week still had a lot of positives for him. Ball-striking wise, he finished eighth in approaches, losing strokes only in the final round. His putter also got hot in Detroit, as he finished 16th in SG: Putting for the week.
A solid approach game and a strong putter is exactly what will be needed at TPC Deere Run, and Poston’s ability to dissect these shorter, technical and easier “resort”-style venues has been evident in some of his results on the PGA as he has top-20 finishes at Hilton Head, Mayakoba, the Sony Open and TPC Summerlin. Poston sets up as a nice mid-tier play this week for DFS and should his putter stay hot he’ll have as good a chance as anyone in this field to run the table and pull off the first win of his career, in what is shaping up as a wide-open event this week.
MY SLEEPER: Curtis Luck ($6,700)
Fresh off an event where a couple of newly crowned pros who were stud amateurs shocked the tour by finishing first and second, it seems like a decent week to consider former stud amateur player Curtis Luck as a GPP target. Luck has been hyper-inconsistent in his time on tour, racking up as many missed cuts as made cuts (10 each) on the season already. However, the Aussie also has shown that when he’s on, he’s more than capable of getting in contention. He showcased that ability last week, when he opened with rounds of 68 and 65 in Minnesota.
Luck might have faded on the weekend in Minnesota, but he showcased a little bit of improved ball-striking last week, too. While there’s little doubt his best club is his putter (14th in SG: Putting on the year), if he’s able to bring even slightly improved iron play this week to TPC Deere Run, his ability on the greens could lead him to a big finish. The former No. 1 amateur in the world seems well suited for Deere Run’s emphasis on putting and wedge play, and while he brings plenty of bust potential, Luck’s form at his most recent start suggests his upside here could be worth taking a chance on this week.
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