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 FieldThe field this week consists of 154 players. All of the players will be paired with a Pro-Am partner for the first three rounds, though, and will play in foursomes. Unlike regular weeks, there are three courses the players all will visit once before the Saturday cut, with play concluding Sunday at Pebble Beach. Only the top 60 players and ties will be allowed to play the final round, which means getting all six of your players through to Sunday will be even more difficult than usual (but on the flip side, everyone is guaranteed three rounds instead of two).
Given the fact this event has a lot of big sponsors attending its Pro-Am, many of the big-named golfers are here. Past champions in the field include Dustin Johnson (2009), Phil Mickelson (2012), Jordan Spieth (2017) and Brandt Snedeker (2015 and 2013). Some bigger international names also are attending, including Tommy Fleetwood, Matthew Fitzpatrick and Branden Grace. One final note, the US Open will be taking place at Pebble Beach exclusively in June, so the players here will be looking to get in some good recon for that event.
The CoursesPebble Beach (main course), par 72, 6,800-6,900 yards
Spyglass Hill, par 72, 6,900-7,000 yards
Monterey Peninsula, par 71, 6,800-6,900 yards
As mentioned above, golfers will rotate between these three courses before the cut, and then those who make the cut will play Pebble again Sunday. These three courses often rank as some of the easiest on tour, although Spyglass Hill generally plays a little tougher than the other two. Weather conditions can make things tricky early on, and all three venues can play a lot tougher than normal if it’s cold and windy. Last year, Pebble saw some bad weather and played as the toughest of the three courses and the 16th toughest venue on tour, and yielded an over-par scoring average of 72.02. Monterey Peninsula played as the easiest of the three and ranked as the 38th easiest venue on tour. There is bad weather in the forecast this year, so a draw bias could be in effect. Even though Spyglass Hill is technically tougher, it is more wind protected than Pebble and Monterey, so having your player there on a windy day isn’t such a bad thing.
As far as layout goes, the host course (Pebble Beach) is a traditional par 72 — with four par 5s and four par 3s — that plays quite short in spots. Three of the four par 5s often play at less than 550 yards in length and only one par 3 is more than 200 yards. As a result, some long hitters — like Dustin Johnson and Phil Mickelson (in his prime) — have prospered here and benefit from being able to attack the smaller-than-average greens with wedges and short irons. However, length off the tee isn’t essential at all, and the average driving distance for the field is generally 10-15 yards lower than the average field event. Even though there is trouble lurking in areas (most people remember the famous cliffs on 18), the course allows for aggressive play in a lot of spots — if the weather allows it — and low scores are often seen here most years. Last year’s winner, Ted Potter Jr., shot a 62 here in Round 3 last season.
With a three-course rotation, a lot might depend on the weather this week. Avoiding players who are out on Pebble or Monterey on the windy days might be a decent strategy to employ for DFS. One last thing to take note of this week; the greens are back to Poa Annua, so looking at players who tend to putt well on that surface is a decent idea. Course experience here is often a factor (see trends below), but getting a good draw goes a long way to a prosperous week, too.
2019 Weather Report: The weather this week looks like it could create some tough conditions. The temperature is expected to hover between the mid-40s and mid-50s most of the week with lots of clouds and potential rain in the forecast. Thursday might be the best day of the four as no rain is forecast and winds are expected to be calm. The weather gets worse as the week progresses, though, as Friday and Saturday both have some rain forecast, with Saturday expecting winds to reach 12-14 mph. Having your players on the more exposed courses Saturday might be detrimental if this forecast holds. It’s early, though, so checking the wind again Wednesday is recommended.
Past Five Winners2018—Ted Potter Jr. -17 (over Dustin Johnson -14)
2017—Jordan Spieth -19 (over Kelly Kraft -15)
2016—Vaughn Taylor -17 (over Phil Mickelson -16)
2015—Brandt Snedeker -22 (over Nick Watney -19)
2014—Jimmy Walker -11 (over Dustin Johnson -10)
— Since 2000, the winner at Pebble (including US Open) had a T16 or better in one (or both) of his previous two starts at the course — h/t @Jude_UT4.
— Recent form is also important this week. Five of the past eight winners recorded a top-10 or better in their previous two starts on tour before winning here.
StatisticsSG: Tee to Green/Approach
Birdie or Better Percentage
Proximity to Hole (150-175 and 175-200)
The courses this week demands players make some birdies if they are going to survive into Sunday. In 2015, five of the top six players ranked eighth or better in birdies made for the week, and in 2016, seven of the top eight ranked inside the top 10 in this stat for the week as well. Outside of shock winner Ted Potter Jr., the five previous winners ranked second-75th-55th-third-sixth for the year in this category. It’s a week you can, and should, emphasize birdie-makers.
SG: Tee to Green is again a metric to emphasize, although you also can look to approaches here more over off-the-tee play. The 2017 second-place finisher (Kelly Kraft) ranked first in both these metrics on the main course, and last year’s winner, Potter (the Wizard), ranked seventh in tee-to-green stats. Pebble has small greens and little margin for error on approaches, so proximity is also a key stat here. The key ranges this week (via fantasygolfmetrics.com) are 150-175 yards and 175-200 yards.
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.
|Jordan Spieth||22-1||$9,400||Phil Mickelson $9,600 and 25-1
Patrick Cantlay $9,800 and 25-1
Tommy Fleetwood $10,300 and 22-1
|Chesson Hadley||90-1||$7,100||Ryan Palmer $7,200 and 100-1
Matt Jones $9,200 and 160-1
Ryan Armour $7,200 and 160-1
HORSES FOR COURSES1. Dustin Johnson (best finishes: win-2009; T2-2018, 2014): DJ has a long and mostly successful history at Pebble (bar one US Open Sunday meltdown in 2010). In 10 appearances, he has six top-fives and two wins (including a T2 from last year). He is the lead course horse here and a near must-play for anyone who thinks there’ll be extra motivation given he didn’t get it done Sunday when in prime position last year.
2. Brandt Snedeker (best finishes: win-2015, 2013): He’s a two-time winner who loves this layout. Snedeker has thrived at the shorter venue, which features tough-to-putt-on Poa greens. Since 2013 he’s missed only one cut here but has the two wins and two other top-20 finishes in that span as well.
3. Jimmy Walker (best finishes: win-2014; T8-2018): Walker has been extremely consistent at this event over his career. He won it back in 2014, when he was in the best form of his career and has made the cut here every year since 2011. In his past eight starts at Pebble, he’s finished outside the top 12 only twice.
4. Phil Mickelson (best finishes: win-2012, 2007, 2005): Phil is a three-time winner of this event, with his most recent win being in 2012. He also almost won the event in 2016 but was hunted down by an out-of-nowhere winner in Vaughn Taylor. Mickelson has the most experience of anyone in the field at this event/venue and sets up well as a good target this week.
5. Jason Day (best finishes: T2-2018; T4-2014): Day’s record here can be easy to overlook as he’s never won this event. Still, the Aussie has finished T6 or better here in four of his past six starts at Pebble Beach and has dominated West Coast events that feature Poa greens over his career. He’s started the season well and should be primed for a big week.
DFS STRATEGYCash Games: The draw could play a factor this week, but from a roster construction standpoint, it’s a solid idea to start with one of the two top players this week, as both Jason Day ($10,900) and Dustin Johnson ($11,400) have superb records at this event. Day is cheaper and coming off a week of rest, which might make him the more attractive anchor by a smidgen. There’s plenty of mid-tier value available, too, in the likes of former winner Brandt Snedeker ($8,200), Shane Lowry ($8,800) and Russell Knox ($8,100). Other potential targets for this format include: Russell Henley ($7,600), Lucas Glover ($7,700), Beau Hossler ($7,300) and Chesson Hadley ($7,100).
Tournaments: There are plenty of intriguing GPP plays in the field this week. Patrick Reed ($9,300) and Paul Casey ($9,100) both have decent results in past years at this event and could get bypassed as DFS players load up on multiple bigger names. Casey is coming off a T2 in his most recent start in Malaysia and should be well rested. J.B. Holmes ($7,900) has been a bit hit-or-miss of late but his record at Pebble Beach is quite good and again, he could be overlooked due to bigger names around him in salary. Other potential big-field GPP targets this week include: Charley Hoffman ($7,500), Michael Thompson ($7,400), Matt Jones ($7,200) and Sean O’Hair ($6,700).
Recent Form1. Matt Kuchar: Despite fading a bit in the final round, Kuchar posted another top-five finish in Phoenix and has two wins and a T4 in his past five starts. He ended last week 14th in tee-to-green stats and remains the hottest player in golf heading into another favorable venue.
2. Dustin Johnson: DJ got his season started with a bang last week, as he outlasted a couple of young Euro Tour stars to win in Saudi Arabia. DJ hadn’t been slouching before, but his win confirms he’s in top form and ready to dominate the rest of the West Coast swing.
3. Chez Reavie: Reavie back-doored a T4 finish last week in Phoenix with a great final round in poor conditions. If you include his T3 finish at the Sony, he has top-five finishes in two of three starts in 2019 and deserves to be mentioned among the most in-form players on tour.
4. Sung-Jae Im: Im has made the cut in six straight events entering this week and has finished T16 or better in three of four starts in 2019. He ranked ninth in tee-to-green stats last week, and his T7 last week was his best result of 2019.
5. Shane Lowry: The Irishman started his season off with a win over in Abu Dhabi on the Euro Tour a couple of weeks ago and followed that up with a T13 finish the week after. He comes over to the States off a week off and should be ready to tackle Pebble Beach, an event he’s played four times before and never missed the cut.
MY PICK: Russell Knox ($8,100)Knox has had a solid start to 2019 and comes into the week off his best finish of the year, a T10 in Phoenix. The Scotsman has displayed a well-rounded game thus far, ranking 13th in approaches at Torrey Pines, while scratching out a nice week in Phoenix due some heady scrambling, a stat he ranked fifth in for the week.
The weather this week looks semi-ugly, but that shouldn’t bother Knox, who has performed well at coastal venues over his career and is the reigning Irish Open champion. His Pebble Beach form also has improved over his career. He’s made the cut at this event in three of his past four starts and landed a career-best T15 finish at this event last season.
It’s somewhat of a cliché to pick a Scotsman in an event forecast to have poor weather, but Knox’s blend of sharp approaches and improved scrambling should be viewed as huge assets at a venue like Pebble Beach, which features small greens and potentially thicker rough. His blend of improving course history and recent form suggests a big week here, and he sets up as a solid, upper-tier value on a week where dealing with the draw and elements will be key.
MY SLEEPER: Matt Jones ($7,200)Jones scratched his way back onto tour in 2019 with a solid Web.com showing last year. The Aussie has had his moments on the PGA and is a former winner (Houston Open 2014) who has proven he can compete in regular field events when his game is clicking.
Pebble Beach also has proven to be one of Jones’ favorite venues. He’s played here in each of the past eight seasons and has recorded five finishes of T30 or better, including a career-best T7 finish from back in 2014. Jones has started 2019 well, recording T29 (Sony Open) and T13 (Farmers) finishes in two of his first three starts and ranked a solid 14th in tee-to-green stats at Torrey Pines against a tough field.
It might be asking too much of him to win, but Jones also fits the profile of the several veteran players who have outperformed their rankings here of late (Taylor, Potter) and carries good upside this week in an event known for unpredictable performances from less-heralded players.
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