Reading The Grain: Why Marc Leishman Is Among Matt Jones' Top Targets

The final stop of the FedEx Cup is East Lake Golf Course. The TOUR Championship has been held there every year since 2004. East Lake is a longer par-70 course that will play nearly 7,400 yards this week. When golfers not named Tiger Woods have won here, most winning scores have been between 8-under and 13-under (Tiger cleared the field by eight strokes, shooting 23-under in 2007). In 2016, 11 holes played over par and East Lake finished the season as an average difficulty course (27th out of 50).

We’ll take a look at the usual stats for par-70 courses this week but will limit the number of picks due to the small field. The field only has 30 golfers, and it is a no-cut event. As we go with the grain, we’ll look at Driving Accuracy, Strokes Gained: Approach, Greens in Regulation and Par 3 Scoring. When we go against the grain, we’ll target Driving Distance, Strokes Gained: Around the Green, Scrambling and Par 5 Scoring.

Going With The Grain

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  • Driving Accuracy
  • Strokes Gained: Approach
  • Greens in Regulation
  • Par 3 Scoring

As always, it’s hard to verbalize how good Jordan Spieth ($11,600) truly is. In his last 10 starts, Spieth hasn’t missed a cut and finished in the top-15 on eight occasions. The other two times, he was 28th and 35th. Since the playoffs began, he’s gained over 35 total strokes, which is the most in the field this week. He also leads in DK points scored and Greens in Regulation Gained, according to Fantasy National. In my opinion, Spieth would be the riskiest fade of anyone this weekend.

Rickie Fowler ($10,900) finished as the runner-up in the Marc Leishman ($8,400) show last weekend at the BMW Championship. Over the past three events, Fowler has the seventh-most DK points in the field. Fowler has finished in the top-10 in five of his last eight events and is a very safe play this week. He’s sixth in the standings, so he’ll need a win and some help to hoist the FedEx Cup.

Speaking of Marc Leishman ($8,400), it’s hard to ignore the performance he put together last weekend. After missing the cut at the Northern Trust, he finished third at the Dell Championship and won the BMW Championship pretty easily. Leishman did most of his damage around the green, gaining six strokes and recovering nicely on the rare occasions that he missed a green in regulation. Leishman provides some nice salary relief with high upside in a week that you want to be able to fit in higher priced golfers.

Honorable Mention: Jason Day ($10,100) & Matt Kuchar ($7,700)


Going Against The Grain

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  • Driving Distance
  • Strokes Gained: Around the Green
  • Scrambling
  • Par 5 Scoring

Justin Thomas ($9,900) had a disappointing finish last week at the BMW Championship. His finish was largely due to his putter, as he lost a total of 4.3 strokes on the greens. If he was just neutral with his putter or gained even a stroke, he would’ve been in the top-20. In his three starts leading up to the BMW, he had two wins and a sixth-place finish. His numbers for the last 12 rounds, according to Fantasy National, are in the chart below. The moral of the story is don’t overthink it. Last week was more of a blip on the radar than a sign of some crippling loss of form.

StatJustin Thomas’ Rank (Last 12 Rounds)
DK Points10th
Driving Distance3rd
Strokes Gained: Around the Green1st
Strokes Gained: Par 5s10th

Jon Rahm ($9,500) has really been trending in the wrong direction in his last three starts, finishing in third, then fourth, then fifth. In all seriousness, there’s a lot to like about Rahm this week. His three consecutive top-five finishes are no joke in FedEx Cup level fields. His irons have been up and down through that stretch but his Off the Tee game has improved in each of the last two weeks. He’s impossible to fade for me this week, and I wouldn’t be shocked if he won the FedEx Cup come Sunday.

Justin Rose ($8,900) popped in the model that I built around the Against The Grain stats for this week. With three consecutive top-10s, including a runner-up finish last week, Rose is primed to compete this week. Over the past three weeks, Rose is fifth in DK points despite not really playing well on the PGA Tour since April. Rose is worthy of cash consideration this week given his salary.

Honorable Mention: Patrick Cantlay ($7,800) & Xander Schauffele ($6,800)

 


I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is matt13jones) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.