Well, it was almost Brooks week last week, as I suspected. Unfortunately, he's making a name for himself as a non-closer, although this was more of Rod Pampling playing incredibly well than Brooks' blowing a chance to win. The fall swing in general has been very good to us. We've been able to target some of the web.com Tour graduates who have come out on fire. Notably, guys like Ryan Blaum, Trey Mullinax, and Ryan Brehm have had strong finishes and are making tons of birdies.
This week, we head to Mexico for the OHL Classic at Mayakoba. El Camaleon Golf Club is the host, and we have plenty of course history to draw upon. The course is an extremely short par-71, with four par-3s and three par-5s. All of the par-5s play pretty easy, so they're going to be that way for all players in the field. All but one of the par-3s plays under 160 yards, so we should see a higher than usual number of par-3 birdies. Because of that, I'm not going to focus on bombers and par-5 scoring, but more on accuracy, par-3 scoring, and par-4 scoring. I think players who hit a high percentage of their fairways (and thus, greens), will be atop the leaderboard come Sunday afternoon. There's a ton of trouble off the tee, including sand dunes, jungle vegetation, and canals that are automatic penalty strokes. And with no ShotTracker this week, prepare for plenty of tilt when the double bogeys pop up on the scoreboard. However, with rain in the forecast this week, players who keep their drives in play will be flag hunting. I'm going to keep targeting birdie-makers with upside, as we should see an absolute birdie fest here this week.
What stats are we looking towards this week?
Birdie or Better % (BoB%):
There are really 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 Jon Rahm, Emiliano Grillo, Tony Finau, and web.com Tour graduates Grayson Murray, Ryan Blaum, and JT Poston come to mind in this week's field when targeting birdie makers. 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.
Good Drive Percentage (GD%):
You can really target driving accuracy alone, but I also wanted to target some distance metrics, as distance (when drives are straight) is a huge advantage anywhere. As mentioned, the rough/hazards off the tee can be very penal, so keeping the ball in play off the tee is essential. Certain bombers can overcome bad drives because they hit it far enough that they'll have wedges in their hands anyways. And shorter hitters will still pop in this stat because they hit a ton of fairways. Some names in the field that pop from 2015's GD% rankings are Chez Reavie, Kevin Streelman, David Hearn, Webb Simpson, and Jason Bohn.
Par 4 Scoring (P4):
This week should be a birdie fest for the players, and as mentioned, there's an extra par-4 on the course. With almost the entire field able to reach par-5s in two and the par-3s playing easy, the par-4 performance will set players apart from the rest of the field. Some of the names I mentioned above (Chez Reavie, Jason Bohn, and Webb Simpson) also check this box. Another thing that's great about par-4 scoring is that we have data on the new web.com Tour players. C.T. Pan, J.T. Poston, Grayson Murray, and Martin Flores are all elite par-4 scorers from the web.com Tour who are in the field this week.
1. JON RAHM [YAHOO CLASS C] - WORLD RANKING: #129
Chalk Rahm last week, where he was nearly 50% owned in certain contests. But that ownership was justified, as he is super consistent, makes birdies, and was significantly underpriced. This week, he's priced appropriately in all markets, but is still an attractive name in a weak field. He's going to win soon, and I think a course where he finished top-10 last year is a good bet. My only concern is that Rahm is more of a distance player than an accuracy player.
2. EMILIANO GRILLO [YAHOO CLASS C] - WORLD RANKING: #25
Grillo is the class of this field. He's stripes it off the tee, hits deadly irons, and has the most experience on these greens of anyone in the field. The Argentine should be very comfortable playing a shorter golf course on familiar grass, and I expect tons of birdies this week. Although he's never played here, he has a fantastic streak over his last nine starts: 11th, 17th, 26th, 10th, 32nd, 33rd, 2nd, 8th, and 13th.
3. KEEGAN BRADLEY [YAHOO CLASS A] - WORLD RANKING: #105
Keegan's putter has finally clicked, as he's begun this season with finishes of 22nd, 7th, and 6th. He's made 57 birdies and 3 eagles so far this season, and that's huge for fantasy scoring. Keegan is an elite driver of the golf ball, but also ranked highly in iron proximity last year on Tour. If his putter stays hot, Keegan can easily dust this field for a victory. With everybody flocking to Rahm, Grillo, and Knox this week, Keegan for $10,000 should be the lowest owned of the bunch.
4. BILLY HORSCHEL [YAHOO CLASS C] - WORLD RANKING: #73
Hopefully people see Horschel's 41st place finish last week and don't think anything of it. He played much better than that, most notably in his opening round 64. He's a streaky player and I'm going to keep riding him while he's playing well in soft fields. He's by no means a bomber, so his game is similar to a lot of the previous winners of this event: John Huh, Harris English, Graeme McDowell, and Mark Wilson.
5. RUSSELL KNOX [YAHOO CLASS B] - WORLD RANKING: #19
Knox is only 5th in my rankings because his price in betting markets and on fantasy golf sites is ridiculously high. However, he's exactly the player you want to target this week. Accuracy. Scrambling. Success on paspallum greens. Runner up here last season. He's also coming off 9th and 10th place finishes in Asia, and has had a week to rest. Knox will either dust this field by 4-5 strokes, or hang around the cut line on Friday.