What a performance we saw from Justin Thomas at the Sony Open! He broke the 72-hole scoring record en route to his second win in a row in Hawaii. Thomas is a force to be reckoned with this week. He checked in as my 2nd ranked player last week, so all-in-all, I’m pleased with the result. This week, we head back to the mainland for the CareerBuilder Challenge in La Quinta, California. Although most of the top players in the world are in Abu Dhabi, this field is headlined by Patrick Reed, Phil Mickelson, Paul Casey, Zach Johnson, and Bill Haas.
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Your DraftKings lineup is made up of six golfers you select from within the $50,000 salary cap.
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Unfortunately, we have a confusing stop this week. We have three courses in use – La Quinta CC, PGA West, and the Stadium Course at TPC West. Players will play each course once over the first three days, then there will be a 54-hole cut, and the remaining players get another crack at the Stadium course on Sunday. These courses ranked in the top-10 easiest courses on last year’s PGA Tour, with PGA West the easiest. Scoring averages were 69.1, 68.9, and 70.9, respectively last year. Since this rotation was only used last season, there’s just one year of “ideal” course history to draw upon; however, La Quinta has been a host course for a long time. These are all par-72 courses, so we get a few more scoring opportunities on the additional par-5s. Also, we’re faced with Bermuda greens, the surfaces that often have the highest splits amongst Tour players.
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: Bill Haas
Finished in the top-10 in two of the last three years: Charley Hoffman, Ryan Palmer
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 Sony Open, and highlighted the players in this field:
Birdie or Better % (BoB%):
There aren’t many weeks where we aren’t going to target birdie or better percentage because that’s what fantasy golf scoring is all about. Last year, there were some low rounds here, and we can expect the same this year. Based on 2016 statistics, the best players in this field in BoB% were Ryan Palmer, Robert Garrigus, Patrick Reed, Alex Cejka, and Charles Howell III. It’s possible to have a player finish top-10 in fantasy points while not finishing anywhere near the top-10 in the actual event.
Strokes Gained Approach (SGA):
I think hitting greens in regulation are a key this week, but I didn’t want to look at that stat simply. I also think there are some proximity yardages to key on, but that’s inherently unpredictable. I’m going to target ball-strikers, so SGA is a good all around metric to measure whose iron play has been best. The 2016 SGA leaders in this field are Kevin Na, Webb Simpson, and Paul Casey.
Par 5 Scoring (P5):
Par-5 scoring should be crucial this week. Even though we have different courses, we have all par-72 tracks, which means plenty of par-5s are there for the taking. When we look for strong par-5 scorers, we see names like Patrick Reed, Harold Varner III, Hudson Swafford, Roberto Castro, Charles Howell III, and Ryan Palmer. Thinking about those players, we are also going to add a little edge to bombers, who should be able to overpower parts of this golf course.
As usual, we will be looking towards strokes gained tee-to-green from last season, but with a lot of players coming off month-long breaks, it’s a bit unpredictable. For correlation courses, we can look at results from Torrey Pines, Riviera, and last week’s venue, Waialae Country Club.
As always, check back on the weather Wednesday to see the final forecast. This week it looks like players will see temperatures in the mid to high-50s with a chance of rain on Thursday and Friday. Since this is a pretty short course, rain shouldn’t hurt the short hitters or favor the bombers much. It may slow the greens down a bit, though.