Last week was a gross tournament, although we were high on Rickie Fowler and it was great to see him get a win. A lot of my picks made some noise, headlined by Fowler, Gary Woodland, Jimmy Walker, Billy Horschel, and Wesley Bryan, but ultimately it was a losing week. Let’s move on to our first WGC of the year, the newly-minted WGC-Mexico.
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.
The Club de Golf Chapultepec hosts this week’s WGC-Mexico and is marked at 7,330 yards, but will play significantly less than that due to the high altitude at which the course is located. There are a lot of ways to try to calculate altitude, but my best estimate is that the course will play about 600 yards shorter than the posted yardage. That tends to even the field in terms of distance, and the tree-lined fairways further skew this course towards the more accurate hitters. I have several comp courses that I’ll list later, many of which are applicable to the European Tour players in this field. The course features kikuyu fairways and rough – which we’ve seen recently at Torrey Pines and Riviera – and poa annua greens. I noticed that the par-5s are very long, which again may mitigate the advantage of the bombers. Par-4 scoring is going to be critical this week, since we have 11 par-4s this week, some of which are extremely short. It should be a birdie fest, and I think the winner will be the player who wins par-4 scoring for the week.
Recent Tournament History
We are going to ignore recent tournament history because the event has moved from Doral to the Club de Golf Chapultepec, in Mexico. We will have to rely on recent form and statistics this week.
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 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, the Genesis Open, and last week’s Honda Classic.
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 Justin Thomas, Daniel Berger, Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, and Hideki Matsuyama come to mind in this week’s field when targeting birdie makers. Bombers, you see. 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 Approach (SG:APP): Because this course is new to us, targeting strokes gained metrics is a great place to start. The course is narrow and greens will be tough to hit, so SG:APP should isolate some ball-strikers who will give themselves the most birdie opportunities. If you have a player who sticks approach shots inside 10’ consistently, he’s going to shoot up the leaderboard and contend on Sunday. Some names that stand out in the field are Kevin Kisner, Justin Thomas, Jimmy Walker, Brendan Steele, and Francesco Molinari.
Par 4 Scoring (P4): Since we have a par-71, players will contend with an extra par-4 this week. Because of that, P4 scoring will be key. Guys like Justin Thomas, Jason Dufner, William McGirt, Francesco Molinari, and Rickie Fowler pop out as names to target in this metric. Par-3 scoring will also be crucial, but I think par-4 scoring will separate the winner from the other contenders.
Correlating courses that I’ll take a small look at this week are Riviera and Torrey Pines (due to similar grass types), TPC Kuala Lumpur (CIMB Classic), and three European Tour venues: Crans Sur Sierre (Omega European Masters), Wentworth (BMW PGA Championship), and Woburn (British Masters rotation).
*In order of my rankings
Dustin Johnson ($12,500) – Although I don’t think this is a perfect course fit for DJ, he’s playing so well that he deserves the top spot. He won his last start at Riviera, vaulting himself to #1 in the Official World Golf Rankings. This course is definitely narrow, but I still think DJ’s SG:OTT is going to serve him well. He’s also excellent on SG:APP numbers and loves putting on poa annua greens. If he’s still in solid form, DJ is once again the man to beat.
Justin Rose ($9,600) – Rose has two runner-up finishes at the BMW PGA Championship, and has won a British Masters at Woburn. When we look for accurate ball-strikers, he always comes to the forefront. Rose has three top-4 finishes in his past four starts, and I believe a win is coming. With all the top players in the world here, Rose could go slightly overlooked in all fantasy formats. Playing a course that should look like woodland courses back in England, Rose is a strong play.
Adam Scott ($9,200) – Although he’s only third in my rankings, my gut says Scott wins this week. He’s been mediocre the past two weeks, and has still managed to post 11th and 14th place finishes. Scott fits the bill of an elite ball-striker and SG:T2G monster who should keep himself out of trouble this week. His driving accuracy was bad last week at the Honda Classic, but I’ll blame the wind, since everyone was struggling. Scott has a strong track record in no-cut WGC events, and I think that continues here in Mexico.
Henrik Stenson ($10,300) – The only reason I consider Stenson a sleeper is because we haven’t seen him in a few weeks. He’ll be less popular than Dustin Johnson and Jordan Spieth, given their recent form. But in his past two starts, Stenson had finished 8th and 2nd, and comes to a course that should suit him exceptionally well. He’s deadly accurate off the tee and with his irons, and obviously won’t be intimidated by anybody in this field.
Jordan Spieth ($11,500) – The trouble with Spieth at this venue is that he’s been spraying his tee shots everywhere in the past few weeks. He managed to scramble his way to a victory at Pebble Beach, but there aren’t very many trees there and the rough was down. I think Spieth can get in trouble this week, forcing himself to punch out from the trees. However, Spieth is never a bad play, and he’s very capable of contending here if his short game continues to be on fire. The greens are reportedly undulating and fast, which favors his elite putting.
Rory McIlroy ($10,900) – Rory checks in lower in my rankings this week solely because of the question marks surrounding his health. Although he says the rib injury is fully healed, testing it out in a no-cut, automatic-paycheck event isn’t the world’s worst idea. If Rory is on, he can win here. But the narrow fairways are troublesome and will take the driver out of his hands too often for my liking. I have similar feelings with Rory that I do with DJ.
Sergio Garcia ($8,500) – Everything should line up for Sergio here, but something about this price feels like a trap. He’s going to be very popular at a discounted price after a couple decent weeks in a row, making him one of my favorite GPP fades. On paper, Sergio’s elite ball-striking and SG:OTT should be perfect here, but his putting the last couple weeks has been awful. Not only is putting important to scoring and birdie-making, but it’s also something that affects Sergio’s mindset more than most players. I’m high on Sergio overall this year, but not this week in a stacked field.
Matt Kuchar ($7,300) – Once again, Kuchar is significantly underpriced and nobody is talking about him. Short, narrow course. No cut. Accuracy and short game emphasis. How do you not like Matt Kuchar, who hits every fairway, scrambles well, and doesn’t make big numbers? At this price, he would be a cash game lock for me, and a core GPP play. Ownership will be spread out this week since there are so many viable options between $7,000 and $8,000, but Kuchar will be one of my highest owned players this week.
Louis Oosthuizen ($7,200) – Louis has burned us before in no-cut events, so tread lightly. He has chronic neck and back issues and is always a risk to WD, although he seems to be in better health recently. His game is also in better health, although this is his third event in three weeks in three different countries. Louis nearly won the European Tour event in Perth, backed it up with a 21st last week at the Honda Classic, and comes to a track that should suit him extremely well. He’s an elite ball-striker and birdie maker, and is exactly the type of middle of the pack player who could hoist the trophy on Sunday afternoon.
J.B. Holmes ($6,800) – While this doesn’t fit the bill as a J.B. Holmes course, you can’t overlook his fit in no-cut events. He’s a birdie making machine who is significantly underpriced given his odds and recent form. Holmes hasn’t finished outside the top-35 in months, and has the upside to contend in this field. If he keeps the ball in play, I think Holmes finishes in the top-15 this week at a cheap price.
Alex Noren ($7,200) – Noren quietly broke into the top-10 in the official world golf rankings, thanks to his four wins last season. He’s an accurate player with a great short game, and should suit this track very well. At Crans Sur Sierre, one of our comp courses, Noren is a two-time winner (including last season). Although he may get more popular as some of the DFS sharps talk him up, he’s still a sub-5% player who could win the event.
David Lipsky ($7,100) – Lipsky has the same mold and course fit at Alex Noren, without the four wins last season. He’s been red hot recently, most notably finishing 2nd in Malaysia (when I had an outright bet on him), which was frustrating. He had several close calls last year as well, and is due for a win. While I don’t think he has the pedigree to win this event, I could see him cracking the top-15 pretty easily. He’s an elite ball-striker who keeps the ball in the fairway and makes a ton of birdies. Like Noren, he’s won the Omega European Masters.
Bill Haas ($7,000) – Very quietly, Haas has finished inside the top-20 in his past six starts on Tour. He rarely cracks the top-10, but he’s also never played this well this consistently. Haas fits the mold of a ball-striker who keeps himself out of trouble, which we’ve seen at narrow courses like Riviera and Colonial. He’s comfortable on poa greens, and his lack of distance isn’t a negative this week. If Haas gets hot with his putter, he could be inside the top-5 by week’s end.
This section focuses on “odds” players – those players whose odds vary the greatest with respect to their DraftKings salaries. Keep in mind, this doesn’t make these players “good plays” or “bad plays”, but it simply measures the value based on their price. I’ve done this not just with the actual rankings, but as a percentage. So, if two players have a difference of 10 spots in pricing versus odds rankings, the player ranked higher overall will have a higher percentage. It’s a quick way to find value. I use an aggregate of odds from various odds makers to come up with my valuation.
The value differential column shows the number of spots lower in salary than their odds to win imply. The differential % column shows that as a percentage of the players DraftKings salary ranking. Here is a list of the top-20 “values” based on my aggregations:
On the flipside, we have the list of players Vegas believes are overpriced based on their odds to win. Using the same model and calculations as above, here are the top-20 worst “values” based on my aggregations:
DraftKings lineups for the WGC-Mexico
Stars and Scrubs