The coronation of Jon Rahm finally happened at Torrey Pines, a week before we all expected. He blitzed the back nine and finished with an emphatic eagle to pull away from the field. It was cool to see him come through, and we’re going to see him win in bunches over the next couple decades.
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.
This week, the Tour heads back to TPC Scottsdale, where players face the famous Stadium Course. Although we have a ton of course history to draw upon, there was a recent renovation by Tom Weiskopf which dramatically changed the event, and made the course much more difficult. But here’s what we know: it’s a par-71 course, stretching nearly 7,300 yards. Players have different ways of playing the course, but it’s driver-heavy – everyone will be hitting drivers. This makes strokes gained off-the-tee the key stat of the week, in my book. Weiskopf added bunkers, narrowed the landing areas, and created a course that really makes players think. It also will highlight the best players, as we’ve seen the last two seasons (Brooks Koepka win, Hideki Matsuyama win in a playoff over Rickie Fowler). The course also has a ton of drama, featuring reachable par-5s, a drivable par-4, and the famous 16th hole. It’s a par-3 that’s surrounded by grandstands and stadium seating making for an insanely raucous atmosphere. For correlation courses, I’m focusing on recent form, but will also be looking at results from TPC Summerlin, host of the Shriner’s.
This week’s field is headlined by Jordan Spieth, Hideki Matsuyama, Patrick Reed, Justin Thomas, Rickie Fowler, Bubba Watson, Phil Mickelson, and last week’s winner Jon Rahm. One thing that I will note – although it’s hard to quantify – is that it’s Super Bowl week. Many of these top players have sponsor commitments and appearances scheduled, and many will attend parties before the Super Bowl. Use that information at your own discretion.
Scottsdale, like Orlando, is a hotbed for PGA golf. Many Tour pros played college golf in the area, and still reside in Scottsdale. Names in the field who still live and practice in Scottsdale include Aaron Baddeley, Pat Perez, Bryce Molder, Martin Laird, Ryan Moore, Phil Mickelson, and Chez Reavie.
Recent Tournament History
Here is the data we can draw upon for this week’s Tournament History:
Finished in the top-20 each of the last three years: Bubba Watson, Hideki Matsuyama, Ryan Moore.
Finished in the top-20 in two of the last three years: Zach Johnson, Brendan Steele, Harris English, Webb Simpson, Graham DeLaet, Martin Laird.
Current Form Review
Each week, we’ll look backward at the last three tournaments on the PGA and European Tours. I have included the top-20 from the past three events: the Sony Open, the CareerBuilder Challenge, and last week’s Farmer’s Insurance Open.
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 Hideki Matsuyama, Brooks Koepka, Daniel Berger, Gary Woodland, and Tony Finau 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.
Strokes Gained Off-the-Tee (SG:OTT)
You can really target driving distance alone, but I also wanted to target some accuracy metrics, as well. As I mentioned, the course redesign from a couple of years ago really put the driver into the players’ hands. The course was lengthened, bunkers were added, and players who drive it well have a huge advantage. The reason I like using this metric is that SG:OTT points towards the bombers anyways, 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 tacticians.
Par 5 Scoring (P5)
I expect the winning score this week to be much lower than the carnage we saw at Torrey Pines. Although there are some short par-4s, most of the scoring this week will be done on the par-5s. We’ve seen Brooks Koepka, Rickie Fowler, Hideki Matsuyama, and Harris English crush the par-5s here the past couple years. When you look at par-5 scoring, you’ll see bombers like Ryan Palmer and Brooks Koepka, but also elite wedge players like Matt Kuchar, Jordan Spieth, and Roberto Castro.
On top of these stats, we’re going to focus on getting as many elite golfers into our lineups as possible. We want bombers, and we want players who are in good form on the West Coast Swing. For comparison courses, look at TPC Summerlin, host of the Shriner’s.