The top players in the world are playing the WGC-Dell Match Play event this week in Austin, TX, so the field in Puerto Rico is…uh… not great. However, FedEx Cup points and a huge purse are still on the line. The course at Coco Beach is interesting, because it's a par-72 that's listed over 7,500 yards. But looking at past winners and leader boards, it's not exactly a bomber's track. Much of the distance is in the par 3s and par 5s, which will neutralize distance off the tee as a major advantage. However, most courses in this part of the world are designed for high wind conditions and are wide open off the tee. This one is no exception. Winning scores have ranged from -7 to -21 over the years, so pay attention to the weather reports this week. We are expecting rain and winds all week, so I don't think scoring will be quite as prevalent this year. Last year, Tony Finau broke through for his first career win at the PRO.
You can use the usual SG:T2G, bogey avoidance, birdie or better %, etc. this week, but I don't want to focus too heavily on stats because of the unpredictable wind conditions and the really low strength of field. I do think, however, that looking at other weak-field events and windy, seashore courses should provide some insight into the type of players we can target 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 Luke List, Chris Kirk, Camilo Villegas, and Graham DeLaet 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 Approach (SG:App): There's no doubt that ball-striking and GIR% are huge at this venue, and that's clear in past leaderboards. Because of the rain, the course should be playing soft enough for these players to throw darts all week. There's going to be a slight edge to bombers, but targeting solid iron players – specifically long iron players – is one key for me this week. 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 Mark Wilson, Camilo Villegas, Luke List, Brad Fritsch, and Wesley Bryan.
Par-5 Scoring (P5): Par-5 scoring is going to be key this week, and I think the winner will be the player who leads the field in par-5 scoring. This could mean a bomber who makes a couple of eagles, or an elite wedge player. Either way, I think looking at par-5 scoring on the season will be a great pointer towards success this week. Some players who popped out to me were Luke List, Greg Owen, Whee Kim, Nick Taylor, and Seamus Power.
Proximity from 200+ yards: I'm not huge on targeting proximity yardages, but this is an exception. We're going to see a ton of long iron approaches this week, especially since the course should be playing very soft. I'll be targeting elite long iron players this week. Players will be using long irons on par-3s and on 2nd shots on par-5s. Names that stood out to me in this field were Mark Wilson, John Peterson, Bobby Wyatt, and Mark Hubbard.
1. GRAHAM DELAET [YAHOO CLASS C] - WORLD RANKING: #129
DeLaet MC last week at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, but had strung together five strong weeks before last. It was a tough track and a tough field, so I'll give DeLaet a pass. He's still searching for that first win, and hopefully the recent win by fellow Canadian Adam Hadwin provides the extra motivation DeLaet needs to break into the winner's circle. He comes to the PRO for the 5th time, having posted top-25s every year. He's a great iron player and wind player, so the signs are pointing up for DeLaet this week.
2. WESLEY BRYAN [YAHOO CLASS C] - WORLD RANKING: #72
Bryan cooled off a little bit last week at Bay Hill, but still had a solid week after a horrendous opening round 75. He rattled off three straight top-10 finishes before last week, and should be high on confidence. Bryan is a great ball-striker who loves playing in these tropical climates, as he showed during the Florida swing. He also won a web.com event in Mexico. Bryan is going to win on Tour this year, and the PRO could be just the place to get the job done.
3. LUKE LIST [YAHOO CLASS C] - WORLD RANKING: #182
Speaking of breakthroughs, List might be the most talented player in the field without a PGA Tour win. He had a red hot Fall Swing, and has been playing decently in 2017 as well. List ranks highly in par-5 scoring, birdie or better percentage, and ball-striking from 200+ yards, making him an awesome play on paper. Throw in a couple of solid finishes at the PRO in the past, and you've got one of my picks to win.
4. CHRIS KIRK [YAHOO CLASS C] - WORLD RANKING: #86
Kirk has missed back-to-back cuts on tough tracks, and now comes to an easy course in a weak field. This is a Chris Kirk specialty if I ever saw one. I have a slight concern with Kirk in that he's never played here before, but raw talent should get him into contention this week. He's a great putter and wedge player, and should take advantage of the par-5s. If he can keep his driver in play, Kirk very well could be the winner Sunday afternoon.
5. PETER UIHLEIN [YAHOO CLASS C] - WORLD RANKING: #173
Uihlein's price on DraftKings is brutal, so I won't have too much exposure to him this week. But he's an elite talent and birdie-maker that should be perfect for this track. He's played here three times, including a 6th place finish in 2013. He plays on the European Tour, and has quietly put together a great run. He's made his last six cuts, including three top-7 finishes. His distance off-the-tee should help him crush the par-5s this week.