We're back after a week off from DFS golf! The Zurich Classic was…interesting, but we're back to a traditional stroke-play event this week. The Tour moves to a new venue, Eagle Point, which is in Wilmington, NC.
Eagle Point is a new venue for the PGA Tour, so we have zero course history to draw upon. But here's what we know: Eagle Point is a par-72 measuring nearly 7,400 yards, and it is a Tom Fazio design. Players who have been on-site early in the week have been raving at the fabulous course design and immaculate conditions. Some have even said it's the best golf course they've ever seen. Webb Simpson grew up on this course. Many other Tour pros live in North Carolina, and have played here previously. Carl Pettersson holds the course record with a 62. The course is bermuda grass throughout, but the greens feature bentgrass, which means they'll be absolutely pure. Water and wind will be major issues this week, so I'm going to favor accurate, ball-strikers more than the pure distance players.
In terms of what kind of player to target this week, I'm going to focus on guys who are in great recent form. Anytime we see a new venue, I always favor the hot hands and ball-strikers. New courses tend to punish players who get out of position, and I expect we'll see plenty of big numbers at Eagle Point this week. I'm also going to play the North Carolina narrative this week. Many NC natives have great track records in their home state, most notably Webb Simpson, Bill Haas, and Davis Love III. Some of the other North Carolina residents that I'll be targeting this week are Harold Varner III, William McGirt, Jason Kokrak, Kyle Reifers, Cameron Percy, and Carl Pettersson. These aren't the world's best players, but they should be very comfortable playing close to home. The field this week is pretty weak overall, with only a few studs in the field (Dustin Johnson, John Rahm, Adam Scott, and Phil Mickelson). And since it's a new venue, I expect some variance and a pretty confusing leaderboard throughout the weekend.
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. There's going to be plenty of bogeys this week, so we need birdies to offset the damages. Guys like Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson, Luke List, Jon Rahm, Daniel Berger, and Camilo Villegas lead this week's field in birdie or better percentage. 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 week, because we're dealing with an entirely new course. The winds will be up all weekend, so keeping yourself out of trouble will be paramount to success at Eagle Point. There are difficult, tiered greens, so keeping your ball on the right portions of greens will eliminate three putts. If 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 Francesco Molinari, Dustin Johnson, Kevin Kisner, Webb Simpson, and Jon Rahm.
Strokes Gained Off-the-Tee (SG:OTT): Behind strokes gained approach, I think targeting players who excel off-the-tee is key this week. It's a new course, so I'm putting a premium on ball-striking and accuracy. Controlling your ball around Eagle Point will be beneficial, and should keep big numbers off the score card. Names that stood out to me in this field were Dustin Johnson, Jon Rahm, Luke List, Jason Kokrak, and Lucas Glover.
1. DUSTIN JOHNSON [YAHOO CLASS A] - WORLD RANKING: #1
With DJ's tumble down the steps in Augusta finally behind us, he returns to the Wells Fargo in good health. He's won three straight starts, and is one pace for one of the most dominant seasons in recent PGA Tour memory. It's tough to predict how he'll play, given his rust and back issues, but he's easily the cream of the crop here at Eagle Point. If DJ is healthy, there isn't a guy in the field who can stop him. He checks every statistical box I'm targeting this week.
2. JON RAHM [YAHOO CLASS C] - WORLD RANKING: #14
Speaking of stats, Rahm is the only player near DJ on paper. He ranks 2nd in every model I've made, and for good reason. Rahm has made the leap this season into the world's elite, winning Torrey Pines, and contending in WGCs. He can win any week he tees it up, and this is no exception. I'm a bit wary of paying this price for Rahm at an unknown course, but he did win at Torrey Pines in his first appearance. Everything is trending up for Rahm, who continues to be one of the best and most reliable DFS targets.
3. ADAM SCOTT [YAHOO CLASS A] - WORLD RANKING: #7
Lots of comps to Augusta National have been lofted upon Eagle Point, so Scott fits the mold. The former Masters champ is still a great ball-striker, although his numbers this season aren't as solid as we've seen in year's past. He finished 9th in his last start at the Masters, so hopefully Scott can find some game in North Carolina. I always target consistency when facing a new venue, and Scott will surely go overlooked with Jon Rahm and Dustin Johnson in the field.
4. KEVIN KISNER [YAHOO CLASS B] - WORLD RANKING: #36
Heartbreak a week ago at the Zurich Classic, Kisner continues his strong play in 2017. The Georgia Bulldog loves playing in this part of the country, and I expect more good things from him this week. He's an excellent ball-striker and wedge player, who just needs to find a little more consistency with the putter. He can win any week he tees it up, and seems to be peaking towards another run at The Players Championship.
5. WEBB SIMPSON [YAHOO CLASS B] - WORLD RANKING: #65
Webb's already gaining popularity because he's a member at Eagle Point. We do this with him every year (since he's also a member at Quail Hollow). Eagle Point is more meaningful to Webb, since it's the course where he grew up playing. He's got the most course knowledge of anyone in the field, and is playing good golf right now. He contended at the RBC Heritage and had a runner-up earlier this spring in Phoenix. Simpson is a great ball-striker and performs well above average on difficult par-4s. This is a great price for him this week.
6. PHIL MICKELSON [YAHOO CLASS B] - WORLD RANKING: #19
Things have been up-and-down for Mickelson this year, but overall, he's been solid and consistent. He's flashed top-10 upside almost every week he's played, and I expect more good things this week at Eagle Point. Phil is a Tom Fazio specialist, and has gained the most strokes on Fazio tracks since 2014. He's rejuvenated, and wants to get a win under his belt before the U.S. Open, his ultimate goal.
7. BILL HAAS [YAHOO CLASS A] - WORLD RANKING: #39
The North Carolina angle is strong with Bill Haas, who was born and raised (and attended college) in the state. His family has deep-seeded roots here, and Haas always plays well in front of family and friends. Since his wife had a baby, Haas' form has been incredible, with his only MC at The Masters. Haas made seven straight cuts before Augusta, with multiple top-15 finishes and a 3rd place finish at the WGC Match Play. With everybody talking about Webb Simpson's connections to Eagle Point, it should be noted that Haas plays here often as well.
8. J.B. HOLMES [YAHOO CLASS C] - WORLD RANKING: #37
Holmes is a tough one to peg this week, but my gut says he's a great play. Holmes fits the mold of a bomber who excels with his wedges, so I'll definitely take a hard look this week. He played very well early this year, but the past few events have been a backslide for the Kentucky native. Holmes is an elite talent, and definitely has the birdie-making prowess to contend this week.
9. DANIEL BERGER [YAHOO CLASS C] - WORLD RANKING: #40
Berger and partner Thomas Pieters missed the cut last week in the Zurich Classic, but I'm putting zero stock into that result. Berger has been up-and-down all season, but the past few individual starts have been solid. Berger is a birdie-maker who should be very comfortable in the windy conditions he'll face at Eagle Point, and the bermuda/bentgrass combination is right up his alley. Berger could win, or he could miss the cut. He's a solid gamble at this price, though.
10. WILLIAM MCGIRT [YAHOO CLASS B] - WORLD RANKING: #54
McGirt has been in solid form all season, highlighted by his 22nd place finish at Augusta and 3rd place finish at the RBC Heritage. McGirt burst onto the scene with a win at Memorial last year, and I think this course translates decently well. McGirt makes birdies, hits fairways, and is fantastic on par-4s. McGirt is a North Carolina native, so he'll be comfortable playing in his home state.