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.
Welcome back! After an agonizing two-week layoff, the PGA Tour’s 2019-20 season will kick off this week with the start of its swing season; a grouping of tournaments held between September and November before the Christmas break. This year’s swing season kicks off with the Greenbrier, an event that used to be held annually every summer in July. The venue remains the same, though, and really nothing about the event has changed except for the timing. The first event still will maintain a full field of 150-plus golfers but, like most swing season events, will feature a somewhat weaker field.
There are some top players here, with Bryson DeChambeau claiming the title of highest ranked golfer in the field. The likes of Bubba Watson, Byeong Hun-An and one of last year’s rookie sensations, Victor Hovland, are also here. They’ll be some new names in the field, too, as many Korn Ferry Tour graduates will be making their first starts on the PGA this week. It all shapes up for an interesting first week, where plenty of players should be in the mix for the overall win.
The Old White Course (TPC) at the Greenbrier, White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia
Par 70, 7200-7300 yards
The Old White Course is one of the oldest venues on tour, but it has undergone some extensive renovations of late. In 2012 the course underwent renovations that included changing the greens to Bentgrass and lengthening/toughening many of the holes. More than 200 yards were added to the course, and this renovation has seemed to have the desired effect as scores have been tamer since the changes, with 2014’s winning tally of 16-under actually the highest since the redesign.
As mentioned above, the Old White Course is a par 70 and as such carries only two par 5s, one of which (the par-5 17th) measures in at well over 600 yards (616 on the card) and isn’t really a true birdie hole. As such, strong par 5 scorers are at a slight disadvantage here as most of the scoring will have to be done on the other holes. While the fairways and greens aren’t as tight or daunting as some other par 70/71 courses (like Harbour Town or Colonial), this is a longer course and it contains six par 4s that fall in the 450-500-yard range (or just outside of it). With that being said, shorter hitters like Kevin Kisner, David Hearn, Kevin Na and Danny Lee have done well at this venue, so pure driving distance still doesn’t appear to be a huge factor.
Finally, while Par 3 Scoring isn’t always something we look at, three of them measure in at more than 200 yards on the scorecard here, making 200-225-yard efficiency something to possibly key in on as well. While the Greenbrier is mostly a traditional layout, it also should be noted the course ends on a rather short par 3 as well, which could land in the favor of some of the better par 3 scorers down the stretch.
2019 Weather Outlook: There’s really not much to report here. The weather looks warm and mostly inviting for the week. Thursday starts off hot with highs in the upper-80s. It will cool off a bit after that but not a lot. Scattered thunderstorms over the weekend are in the forecast and could make the course play a bit softer if they end up hitting. Other than that, prepare for a mostly windless week where there isn’t likely to be much of a wave differential.
Past five winners
(2018)—Kevin Na -19 (over Kelly Kraft -14)
(2017)—Xander Schauffele -14 (over Robert Streb -12)
(2016)—Mother Nature (event cancelled due to flooding)
(2015)—Danny Lee -13 (four-way playoff)
(2014)—Angel Cabrera -16 (over George McNeil -14)
— Since 2010, Danny Lee is the only champion who had played the event/course in a prior year before his win.
— The past three champions here have ranked inside the top 50 for the year of their win in Birdie or Better Percentage.
Strokes Gained: Tee to Green
Par 4 Scoring
Birdie or Better Percentage
The Old White Course has proven not to heavily favor one style of player over another. As such keying in on Strokes Gained: Tee to Green isn’t a bad idea here. Of the past five winners, only Danny Lee finished the week ranked outside the top 20 in this stat. The 2014 winner, Angel Cabrera, and 2011 winner Scott Stallings finished second and third in this category, respectively, for the week of their win. The 2017 winner, Xander Schauffele, finished sixth in this stat while last year’s winner, Kevin Na, finished fifth.
Par 4 Scoring is also something to take note of here. The course is set up as a traditional par 70 with most of the par 4s coming in between 400-500 yards. Past champs almost always have tended to score strongly on the par 4s for the week with the 2014 and 2012 champs both leading the way in Par 4 Scoring for the weeks of their win.
One final note; off-the-tee stats here have become fairly relevant since the rebuild, too. Two of the past three winners have killed it off the tee, beating the field average at other venues in both driving distance and accuracy by wide margins (via fantasygolfmetrics.com). As such, looking at players with strong Strokes Gained: Off the Tee might make sense this week as well.
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: Bud Cauley
Odds to Win: 55-1
DraftKings Price: $7,700
Danny Lee; 80-1 and $7,900
Bronson Burgoon; 70-1 and $7,800
Austin Cook; 66-1 and $7,800
Player: Cameron Tringale
Odds to Win: 80-1
DraftKings Price: $7,300
Jimmy Walker; 90-1 and $7,400
Brandon Hagy; 90-1 and $7,400
David Hearn; 90-1 and $7,400
HORSES FOR COURSES
The golf course was significantly renovated after the 2010 event and made quite a bit tougher, so looking at results from before that year might not provide much help.
1. Robert Streb (best finishes: T2 in 2015; solo second in 2017): Streb hasn’t been a consistent player at all the past few years, but he has been solid at this week’s venue. He finished solo second here in 2017 and lost out in a four-man playoff in 2015.
2. Russell Henley (best finishes: T5 in 2015 and 2017): Henley has finished inside the top 10 at this week’s venue in each of his past three starts here. Over his past 12 competitive rounds at the Greenbrier he’s shot 63 (twice), 64 and only has one round (70 in Round 1 of 2015) that wasn’t under par.
3. Kevin Na (best finishes: win in 2018): The defending champion of this event, Na does have some prior history to fall back on at this week’s venue as well. He’s made the cut here in each of his past five starts and finished T7 at this event back in 2012.
4. Danny Lee (best finishes: win in 2015): Lee has played this course five times, and his past three appearances all have led to solid finishes. Lee finished 16th here in 2014, won the event in 2015 and then finished T9 last season. Over his past 12 rounds at The Old White Course, Lee has shot 68 or better in seven of them.
5. David Lingmerth (best finishes: T6 in 2015): The Swede has played this event five times over his career and finished inside the top 20 on four occasions. His best result came back in 2015 as he finished T6, but he also finished T11 here last year despite not having full Tour status.
Cash Games: Starting with the red-hot Victor Hovland ($10,900) this week seems like the right thing to do. He’s finished T16 or better in each of his past six starts. Jason Kokrak ($10,500) also could be considered. After them, new Tour members Scottie Scheffler ($9,300) and Byeong Hun An ($9,500) both look like solid $9K targets. There’s plenty of value out there this week, but targets I’d consider for this format include Joel Dahmen ($8,000), Cameron Tringale ($7,300), Lanto Griffin ($7,100) and Grayson Murray ($6,800).
Tournaments: Given the weak field, most of the top players are in consideration here. Joaquin Niemann ($9,700) and Russell Henley ($9,300) are two players with the potential for suppressed ownership, and both also have great course histories at the Greenbrier, too. After them I’d look at Tom Lewis ($7,900), who just won the Korn Ferry Tour finals, Kramer Hickok ($7,700), Brandon Hagy ($7,400), Anirban Lahiri ($7,200), Brandon Todd ($6,700) and Ryan Blaum ($6,300) as potential targets.
Top Recent Form
1. Victor Hovland: Hovland continued his torrid run in the Korn Ferry playoffs this summer. He’s finished T16 or better over each of his past six starts, including a T2 finish his most recent time out
2. Scottie Scheffler: Scheffler led the Korn Ferry Tour in points during 2018, meaning he has special status compared to most new players. He won the first Korn Ferry playoff event and finished T7 and T11 his past two times out.
3. Jason Kokrak: Kokrak had a nice run to end the year, finishing T6-T12-T19 in his past three starts, which qualified him for the Tour Championship. He still is looking for his first Tour win and led the field here last year in SG: Tee to Green.
4. Kramer Hickok: He lost his PGA card last year but had an excellent Korn Ferry playoff run to regain it, finishing T19-T5-3 in three starts. He enters this event in great form.
5. Grayson Murray: Murray is yet another player who had a great run in the Korn Ferry Tour finals, finishing T23-T11-T7 in three starts. He’s shown increasingly better form of late and, unlike many new players, already has a PGA win under his belt.
MY PICK: Joel Dahmen ($8,000)
Dahmen looked to be putting something together towards the end of last season, so there’s some hope he might hit the ground running in the fall. The 31-year-old made the cut in each of his last three events last year and actually co-led after Round 1 at the BMW Championship. A consistent off-the-tee player (24th in Driving Accuracy), Dahmen played well at this week’s venue last year, when he finished T5 for the week and was second in the field in Strokes Gained: Tee to Green. He’s coming off a solid year where he posted a T12 at the PLAYERS Championship and narrowly missed out on capturing his first win at the Wells Fargo. The familiar Bentgrass greens of the Greenbrier should be a welcome site for Dahmen, and the momentum he built in the playoffs hopefully should help carry him to another big week here. He looks undervalued on DK this week at just $8K considering the weaker field.
MY SLEEPER: Lanto Griffin ($7,100)
Griffin is coming off a solid season on the Korn Ferry Tour, where he finished sixth in the overall points list and then backed that up by finishing T7 at the Korn Ferry Championship event a few weeks ago. He enters this week on both the high of regaining his PGA Tour card and off the back of a solid recent result. The former PGA Tour member lost his card after 2018 and should be eager to get off to a hot start this week so he can avoid a similar fate this year. Griffin attended college in Virginia and has played the Greenbrier twice already, posting a solid T26 here back in 2018. He finished seventh in BoB% and 10th in Par 4 BoB% last year on the Korn Ferry Tour and looks like a solid target in the first fall event for fantasy purposes. At just over $7K, he’s good value for DK and an interesting outright or each-way bet at +10000 or greater.
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