The Cheat Sheet provides fantasy golf players with course info, golfer history and the most noteworthy trends of the week to help them with their roster selections. This week’s tournament is the Shriners Hospitals For Children Open.
The PGA Tour heads back to the United States this week for the fifth leg of the swing season, and even though almost all of the big-name players will skip this event, there’s actually a decent field. Some names to watch this week include Bubba Watson, the continually consistent Tony Finau and Patrick Cantlay — who’s making his debut at this event.
The field should top out around 140 golfers, making this a nearly full-sized PGA field. Like most full-field events, the cut will include the top 70 golfers only (and ties) and take place after Friday’s round.
This event has been a fixture on the swing season for a while, and the course hasn’t changed much, so we have some decent course history and previous year’s stats to rely on here.
TPC Summerlin in Las Vegas
Par 71, 7,200-7,300 yards
This course historically is one of the easiest the golfers will encounter all year, although obviously, weather still can play a factor. One reason for the low scores here is that it’s played at altitude, which means pretty much everyone can drive the ball relatively far. The fact that recent winners have included shorter hitters such as Ryan Moore, Kevin Na and Ben Martin should tell us right off the bat that lack of driving distance isn’t a huge deal. The second thing helping the golfers is that nothing about this course setup is overly difficult.
The rough isn’t very long, and the bentgrass greens aren’t overly small and don’t play too fast. The course features three par-5s, and even the longest can be reached in two because of the altitude, meaning most golfers will have an eagle opportunity or two every round if their ball-striking is on track. While there are a couple longer par-4s, only one or two are challenging in the sense that they require golfers to hit a driver off the tee. Of the 11 par-4s on the course, only three measure in at over 450 yards. The par-3s also aren’t overly difficult, and three of them measure in at under 200 yards from the tee.
This course is all about capitalizing on opportunities (of which there will be a lot). The golfer who plays aggressively this week and can bury his chances with the putter when they arise will succeed here.
Last Six Winners
2016 — Rod Pampling -20 (over Brooks Koepka -18)
2015 — Smylie Kaufman -16 (over six golfers at -15)
2014 — Ben Martin -20 (over Kevin Streelman at -18)
2013 — Webb Simpson -24 (over Jason Bohn and Ryo Ishikawa at -18)
2012 — Ryan Moore -23 (over Brendon de Jonge -22)
2011 — Kevin Na -23 (over Nick Watney -21)
— Four of the last six Shriners Hospitals Open winners had finishes of tied for 16th or better at this event in a year before their win.
— Five of the last seven winners had a tied for 11th-or-better finish in their previous five tournaments leading up to their win.
— Strokes Gained: Approach
— Birdie or Better %
— Par 4 Scoring
This should be a good event for golfers ranked highly in Birdie or Better Percentage. The past four winners of this event all have ranked first or second in this category for the week of their win.
The par-4s aren’t overly challenging as a group, but they do represent some of the course’s toughest holes. The past four winners here all have finished inside the top 10 for the week in Par 4 Scoring, and some strong par-4 scorers (Webb Simpson, Russell Knox) have played well at this venue over their careers.
Finally, while a hot putter certainly can make up for a bad shot or two on an easier venue such as TPC Summerlin, it’s generally a course that puts more emphasis on iron play and putting. As such, looking at Strokes Gained: Approach and golfers who have ranked well in this category of late is a good idea. Strong iron golfers such as Knox, Simpson and Ryan Moore all have taken to this venue well over their careers, and golfers with similar style games or stats certainly can be emphasized this week.
Odds to win are one factor to think about when picking golfers (but not the only thing, so be careful of putting too much weight on them). This section will detail a few golfers who have the best fantasy value, compared to their odds of winning this week.
|Luke List||40-1||$8,300||J.B. Holmes $8,500 and 60-1
Jamie Lovemark $8,700 and 50-1
Jason Kokrak $8,800 and 45-1
HORSES FOR COURSES
— Robert Garrigus has enjoyed some success at this venue. He has made the cut at TPC Summerlin eight times in 10 visits, with a high finish of third. He does enter the week on a bit of a cold stretch, however, so take that into account when making your decision on him this week.
— Martin Laird loves playing in Las Vegas and at this event. In eight trips, he only has missed one cut at this course, and has a victory (2009) and a second-place finish to his credit. Laird has played well in the desert in Phoenix and Palm Springs, too.
— Kevin Na has a nice history at this event, and we know the upside is there. Over his last 10 appearances at this event, Na has a withdrawal and a missed cut to his name, but he also won back in 2012 and finished second here in 2015.
— Webb Simpson also deserves to be on the list this week as he has made the cut at this event in five consecutive starts and owns three top-five finishes in that span, including a win here from back in 2013. He played well for much of last season and will look to close out 2017 with a win.
1. Chesson Hadley now has finished second and third in his last two PGA starts and owns four top fives (and a win) over his last five starts.
2. Anirban Lahiri finished tied for fifth in his last start and now has recorded three consecutive top 10s.
3. Tony Finau remains on the hot list as he recorded a solid tied-for-11th finish last week in China against a strong field, and he has finished outside the top 12 only once in his last four starts.
MY PICK: Jamie Lovemark ($8,700)
Lovemark enters this week coming off a nice start two weeks ago in South Korea, where he played his final 36 holes in 5 under par (in poor conditions) and ended up taking home a nice tied-for-fifth finish.
The 29-year old American always has been lauded for his potential, but he has yet to capitalize on it with an official PGA Tour win. This event could be a place for a big week, however, as Lovemark not only comes in playing well but also has some nice course history both here and nearby venues.
Lovemark tied for 13th at TPC Summerlin in 2015, and also nearly recorded his first win in another West Coast desert setting at the Humana Challenge in 2016. Having tied for seventh in greens hit in Korea and tied for fifth in Driving Accuracy, a similar type of ball-striking week here easily could propel Lovemark to that first win. He’s shaping up as a nice upside play under $9K in a weaker field.
MY SLEEPER: Sam Saunders ($7,500)
Saunders has had an eventful last couple of months. He shot a 59 at the opening of the Web.com Tour Championship, but he eventually finished second in that event to Jonathan Byrd (a former winner of this week’s event). While that result definitely is disappointing, there is reason to believe that this week’s venue is one where Saunders finally could make his breakthrough.
While his best finish at TPC Summerlin in two tries is a 33rd-place tie three years ago, Saunders has played well at another event in Nevada (also played at altitude) as he now has finished inside the top 10 at the Barracuda Championship the past two seasons. Saunders does not have an issue going low, as he was top 20 on tour in both Birdie Average and Birdie or Better Percentage last season, and he should be at home here in what almost always is a low-scoring event. He carries some risk, as he’s coming off a missed cut in the first swing event, but for tournaments, he’s a great upside play this week.
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