Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

PGA DFS: WGC - HSBC Champions (Preview)

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We had a solid week of picks at the CIMB Classic with Justin Thomas leading the way to back-to-back wins in Malaysia, and our other top picks performing well. There should be a lot of form carrying over into this field, and players who don’t have to travel far to China should have a slight edge over the others.

This week, we head to Shanghai for the WGC-HSBC Champions. The field is headlined by Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, Bubba Watson, Henrik Stenson, Adam Scott, and Sergio Garcia. It’s important to note that for the 2nd consecutive week, we have a no-cut event, so target the birdie-makers. We have some decent course history to draw upon since the event has been played at this course – Sheshan International – six of the past seven years. I’m leaning heavily on course horses this week.

Daily and weekly fantasy sports have become all the rage. Battling it out over an entire season is fun, but sites like DraftKings offer a quicker payoff and big payouts for winners! Not only do they offer daily action in the four major professional sports (MLB, NBA, NFL, NHL) as well as college basketball and football but also the PGA Tour.

Your DraftKings lineup is made up of six golfers you select from within the $50,000 salary cap.

Each week DraftKings offers a wide selection of games to enter at a variety of price points. You can even get a feel for the game in a freeroll contest. Before you put your cash on the line, I'll offer my Top Values and Steals in this space every week, specifically geared to help build a winning DraftKings squad. I'll also give you my Overpriced golfers to avoid and a couple of “Vegas Says…” tips to help you find those players for GPPs.

Tournament Stop

The course is a tree-lined par-72 track that measures just over 7,200 yards, so it isn’t the longest course players see. There’s water in play throughout the course so that the big numbers can pop up. Although everything should point towards accuracy (as last year’s leaderboard did), we’ve seen bombers like Bubba Watson and Dustin Johnson win here. Four par-5s are pretty tame, which is likely why those bombers had success. For example, when Bubba Watson won this event at -11, he was -14 for those par-5 holes.  The fairways and tees are seashore paspalum grass, which should be comfortable for those players who primarily play in Asia, while the greens are Bentgrass.

Several other things to note about the course: Scrambling, and especially putting, seems to be very important. Players can find some trouble off the tee, and there is water in play on eleven holes at Sheshan International. I’ll be targeting some of the better putters in this field. Also, if you look at the previous winners of this event, the common thread is pedigree: Russell Knox, Bubba Watson, Dustin Johnson, Ian Poulter, Martin Kaymer, Francesco Molinari, and Phil Mickelson. In a no-cut event especially, a stars-and-scrubs roster construction is the way to go.

Recent Tournament History

Here is the data we can draw upon for this week’s Tournament History:

Finished in the top-10 each of the last three years: None.

Finished in the top-10 in two of the last three years: Dustin Johnson, Bubba Watson, Martin Kaymer.

Current Form Review

Each week, we’ll take a look backward at the last three tournaments on the PGA and European Tours. However, because this is the start of a new season and most players have had a month or so off, we will focus on course history and stats.   I have, however, included the top-20 from last week’s CIMB Classic, and highlighted the players in this field:

Statistical Report

Birdie or Better % (BoB%):

There are not many weeks where we aren’t going to target birdie or better percentage because that’s what fantasy golf scoring is all about. Guys like Justin Thomas, Brooks Koepka, Thomas Pieters, and Rafa Cabrera-Bello come to mind in this week’s field when targeting birdie makers who will benefit from the no-cut format. It’s possible to have a player finish top-10 in fantasy points while not finishing anywhere close to the top-10 in the actual event.

Strokes Gained Off-the-Tee (SG: OTT):

You can target driving distance alone, but I also wanted to target some accuracy metrics, as well. Last year, players hit 80% of the greens from the fairway, while only hitting 50% from the rough. Certain bombers can overcome those stats because they hit it far enough that they’ll have wedges in their hands anyways. However, SG: OTT stats point toward the bombers while allowing certain shorter hitters to pop, too. In 2016, the top-10 in SG: OTT were: Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, Bubba Watson, Sergio Garcia, Justin Rose, J.B. Holmes, Ryan Palmer, Jason Kokrak, Andrew Landry, and Boo Weekley. That’s 7-8 bombers and a couple of tacticians.

Par 5 Scoring (P5):

I expect the winning score this week to be around -15, with the bulk of that scoring coming from the par-5s. When Bubba Watson won here, he finished -11 for the tournament but was -14 on the par-5s. Even a shorter hitter like Russell Knox was -8 on the par-5s last year, so scoring there is crucial to success this week. Although I always target bombers who have great par-5 averages (Rory, DJ, Brooks, JT), I’m also looking at elite wedge players.

Strokes Gained Around the Green (SG: ATG):

I think all short game metrics, including putting, are super important this week. While putting is very volatile, I would look at players who perform better on Bentgrass greens. I’m also going to target players who are elite scramblers. The SG: ATG metric covers all of these aspects of the short game. There were a ton of missed greens last year at this event, and I expect the same this year. A few names show up when cross-referencing those two lists: Rickie Fowler, Matt Kuchar, and Charl Schwartzel.

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