Putting For Dough: The Players Championship

Tournament: THE PLAYERS Championship

Course: TPC Sawgrass (Par 72, 7093 yards)

Location: Ponte Vedra Beach, FL

Defending Champion: Webb Simpson

Corollary Courses: Bay Hill (last week) & Pete Dye designs in general

Considering the time constraints that I encounter with my “Real” job and the fact that I know most of you aren’t particularly interested in how I did each week, I’ve decided to simplify my article somewhat and will try the following layout:

  • My Rules of playing DFS (same each week but just so you understand my POV)
  • Background on the Course/Tournament for the current week
  • Review of who I think are the Course Horses
  • Summary of results when I use the modeling tool I subscribe to giving you players showing best (1) Current Form (CF), (2) Course History (CH) and (3) a combination of CF/CH/Key Stats – which the Key Stats will vary each week
  • My “Tier Analysis” – I like this because it gives each of you a list of players I like either because of the analysis or simply “my gut”.
  • “GUT” Plays

I’m hoping this makes it easier for me and still allows all of you to get the information you need to combine with my partner, Alex White’s, information. We take slightly different perspectives in our analysis but are on a lot of the same guys each week. Hopefully, this gives you validation.

NOTE: No matter what the format of my article, I am ALWAYS available on Slack Chat! You can discuss your ideas/issues with everyone in the #pga-dfs channel or you can DM me on there if you have an idea you really want to keep to yourself, but need someone to bounce it off of!! I promise, I won’t tell!!! …… as long as you let me use it! LMAO!

Remember the Rules of playing DFS:

  • You will probably lose more weeks than you win.
  • Play Single-Entry (S/E), S/E Double-Ups and 50/50s as a hedge against the GPPs you want/like to play.
  • If you play GPPs, look for Single-Entry contests first. After that, play the ones that allow five (5) entries or less. The only exception I have to my rule is that I play the $1 WTA each week that allows 20 entries. I don’t always play the maximum but I use it to help me set the 10-20 lineups I like to set each week. I am NOT a Mega-Multi Entry player!
  • In PGA-DFS, DO NOT get overly excited by your position after Round 1 (Thursday).

REMEMBER, Full disclosure, I’m not a guy that’s big on the statistics, although given Al’s success the last few weeks, I’m becoming more receptive. I’m someone that likes:

  1. Current Form (CF)
  2. Course History (CH)
  3. My Gut

Course Background

We are moving to what is being called the “5th Major” at the TPC-Sawgrass.

The pricing on DK this week is a lot softer than normal in my opinion. Over the years that I have played PGA DFS, this isn’t uncommon. When you get to “Majors”, the DFS companies tend to make it easier for those “fair-weather” players to have an opportunity to make a “stud” lineup with names they know. THE $7000-$9000 range is STACKED!!!

The Players is an important tournament as indicated by its name. “The Players” view this as “their” Championship and not one particularly tied to a country or organization (PGA Championship). Even The Masters is a form of “organization” and its similarity with The Players is that it’s always on the same course.

Greens: Bermuda & Small (in Tour terms)

Rough: Bermuda

Water: Plentiful

NOTE: We will be looking at historical statistics this week along with a player’s CF, but we must remember that the last time this tournament was played in March was 2006. The rough should not be as bad given that it hasn’t had the opportunity to grow out. Wind is more likely so we may need to look at Stacking Tee Times. The course will also not be as firm, but as we will discuss a little later, placement is more important that Bombing off the tee.

Set Up for this Week: Despite the difficulties noted above, the course does allow for under par winners as the last three years winning scores have been -18 (Webb Simpson), -10 (Si Woo Kim), and -15 (Jason Day). From 2018 back to 2016 the Cut Line has been Even, +2, and -2 respectively. So, we can expect some scoring which, in turn, equals DFS points!

Although I don’t typically pay much attention to tee times, for those of you that like to play PGA-DFS and gain a possible advantage, check the weather. If a player has a morning tee time on Thursday, they have an afternoon tee time on Friday. So, in short, tee times are AM-PM or PM-AM. So, if winds or other weather is predicted to happen at opposite times of the day (i.e. not in the morning both days or in the afternoon both days), you can “stack” tee times. You can find the tee times on www.pgatour.com

THIS COURSE DOES NOT FAVOR THE BOMBER! “Less than Driver” players can and do excel at TPC-Sawgrass (or any other Pete Dye course). The key at Sawgrass is putting yourself in position in the fairway so that you have the approach shot you want – even if it’s with a longer than normal club for holes of similar distance on other courses.

COURSE HORSES

Francesco MolinariMC-6th-7th-DNP Plus a win last week on a corollary course (Bay Hill), “Moli” is sure to be popular this week.
Adam Scott11th-6th-12th-38th Adam Scott usually does the exact opposite of what I think, but with this history, I can’t avoid him – so, play him at your own risk! LMAO!!
Rory McIlroyMC-35th-12th-8th 6th and 8th in the two years prior to the last 4. Last year’s MC was his first here since 2012.
Justin Thomas11th-MDF-3rd-24thHas never missed a Cut, just failed to make it to Sunday in 2017.
Sergio Garcia70th-30th-54th-2nd3rd and 8th in the two years prior and he has not missed a Cut here in 10 years!!!
Webb SimpsonWin-16th-DNP-66th Prior to the last couple of years, Webb has been a little inconsistent. From 2009-2014, he also has a 15th, but FOUR MCs
Si Woo Kim63rd-Win-23rd-DNPHas never missed a Cut but only has 3 years of history
Chris Kirk46th-12th-WD-13th Tack on another 13th place finish in 2014 and you can see his is a good player here. However, CF is littered with MCs. He did finish T15 at Bay Hill last week though.
Ian Poulter11th-2nd-57th-30thThe Honey Badger is in good CF and always gets up for Majors and head-to-head competition. Made 8 of last 10 Cuts at Sawgrass and finished 27th in 2006 – the last year played in March

Others with little history (or at least Current History), but success: Brooks Koepka (11th-16th-35th-MC), Alex Noren (17th & 10th), Emiliano Grillo (37th-11th-MC), Rafa Cabrera Bello (17th-4th-MC), Branden Grace (never missed a cut – 5/5), and Matt Kuchar (17th-MDF-3rd).

Henrik Stenson (23rd-16th-MC-17th-34th-5th) is also solid on paper. He shot -5 at Bay Hill and finished T17. At his price this week ($7800), he may be worth a shot. Just don’t expect the old Henrik and his pin-hunting approaches!

CURRENT FORM

If I use the modeling tool that I typically rely on with Current Form at 100% – broken down as 20% for the last 3 months, 50% for the last two weeks, and 30% on last week – the following players are the Top 15 (My Favorites in the table are in BOLD):

  1. Dustin Johnson
6. Matthew Fitzpatrick11. Paul Casey
  1. Rory McIlroy
7. Lucas Glover12. Sergio Garcia
  1. Francesco Molinari
  1. Patrick Cantlay
13. Matt Wallace
  1. Tommy Fleetwood
9. Tiger Woods14. Xander Schauffele
  1. R. Cabrera Bello
  1. Keith Mitchell
15. Jason Kokrak

Others I like (some more than the Top 15) just outside Top 15 – Charles Howell III, Ian Poulter (Ding! Ding!), Justin Thomas, Rickie Fowler, Brooks Koepka and Gary Woodland.

Remember, this is 100% Current Form weighted to the last two weeks so, if low-priced guys are playing well and the field is weaker than normal, some of the bigger names fall outside the Top 15. I almost weighted the last week at 40% and the last two at 40% given the Florida courses and Bay Hill as a corollary, but I want to try to stay consistent.

COURSE HISTORY

Agreed, this relates to Course Horses directly, but I wanted to do the same thing with Course History as sole factor using the modeling tool. Again, the Top 15 (My Favorites in the table are in BOLD):

  1. Adam Scott
  1. Brooks Koepka
  1. Si Woo Kim
  1. Dustin Johnson
  1. Alex Noren
  1. Harold Varner III
  1. Ian Poulter
  1. Webb Simpson
  1. Sergio Garcia
  1. Chris Kirk
  1. Henrik Stenson
  1. Patrick Cantlay
  1. Justin Thomas
  1. Jason Day
  1. Tommy Fleetwood

Just so you have the information, the others outside the Top 15 I like: Rafa Cabrera Bello, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Rose, Xander Schauffele, Matt Kuchar, Rory McIlroy, Francesco Molinari, and Paul Casey.

Current Form (CF)/Course History (CH)/KEY STATS (KS)

Yes, I know, this isn’t my normal key component, but I’m beginning to realize it has to be a corollary factor to use in addition to Current Form and Course History. Alex will discuss these in more detail in his article, but for me, I’m using the model at 40% CF/30% CH/30% KS.

“Key Stats” are:

  • 20% SGT2G – Shots Gained Tee-to-Green (“Ball Striking”)
  • 10% SGP – Shots Gained Putting
  • 20% PAR5 – Par-5 Scoring
  • 5% APP 125-150 – Approach Shots 125-150 yards
  • 5% APP 200+ – Approach Shots 200+ yards
  • 10% PAR4 – Par-4 Scoring
  • 20% BOB% – Percentage of Birdies or Better
  • 10% SCRAM – Scrambling

 

Again, the Top 15 (My Favorites in the table are in BOLD):

  1. Dustin Johnson
  1. Tiger Woods
  1. Brooks Koepka
  1. Rory McIlroy
  1. R. Cabrera Bello
  1. Jason Day
  1. Justin Thomas
  1. Paul Casey
  1. Hideki Matsuyama
  1. Tommy Fleetwood
  1. Xander Schauffele
  1. Webb Simpson
  1. Patrick Cantlay
  1. Ian Poulter
  1. Francesco Molinari

This more resembles a list of “known” names. However, just outside the Top 15 are guys I like a good bit as well: Charles Howell III (CH3), Lucas Glover, Patrick Reed, Matt Kuchar, Bryson DeChambeau (although he has been more erratic than normal), Adam Scott (I think he hates me!), Justin Rose, Bubba Watson and Byeong Hun An.

Value in this bunch (less than $7500): Cabrera Bello, CH3, Glover, Keegan Bradley, An, Billy Horschel, and Bubba Watson.

TIER ANALYSIS

My “tier analysis” will fluctuate from week-to-week due to the pricing structure on DraftKings. This week, the quality in the Tiers will be better given the “soft” pricing:

  • $9,000 and above
  • $7,100 – $8,900
  • $6,600 – $7,000
  • $6,500 and Below – This is where you find a “Deep Dive”

$9,000 +

We have 12 guys in this price range this week. There are no wrong picks in this price range. This is tough. Pricing makes it difficult at times to use more than one or two of these guys so you will probably have to take a stand and fade someone unless you are doing 10 entries or more.

Group A

Group B

Group C

Dustin JohnsonJustin RoseTiger Woods
Justin ThomasBrooks KoepkaJason Day
Rory McIlroyJohn Rahm
Rickie FowlerBryson DeChambeau
Sergio GarciaXander Schauffele

I put those two in Group C because they give me a little more hesitation due to their health. I’ve seen rumors that Tiger was making an excuse because his schedule was still too hectic and that J-Day was seen at Disney World with his family after withdrawing last week. However, rumors always pop up with the elite guys and we’ll just have to wait and see.

Justin Rose – I just didn’t like the way he finished the weekend at Bay Hill.

John Rahm – Only played here twice and was 63rd and MDF. Think he is still learning this track- but he’s a pretty quick learner.

Bryson DeChambeau – Like Rose, something just didn’t seem right last week – or the week before in Bryson’s case.

NOTE: Just my “gut” on those couple of guys. There is nothing wrong with having a “Gut” feeling contrary to what I have. Go with it!

$7100 to $8900

This will be a popular price range since this is a solid field of golfers and any of these guys could put together a week that produces a win, but more likely a Top 20.

Favorites:

Tommy Fleetwood ($8800) – I think he is back on his game after a little hiccup. Plus, in two attempts he went from 41st to 7th here…..trending in the right direction and played Bay Hill well.

Francesco Molinari ($8600) – Can you say “MoliWood”? Those of you that remember the Ryder Cup know what I mean. Yes, he won last week and that could have an effect on ownership either upward or downward depending on your perspective. Increase it because the “novice” players you will see this week in DFS will flock to that or decrease it because of the chance for back-to-back wins. I don’t need a win from him! Just continue his good play and rack up the points!

Patrick Cantlay ($8700) – He’s had one bad performance – Torrey Pines. Outside of that, he hasn’t finished below 17th in his other 7 events. He too has played here twice with consistent results – 22nd (2017) & 23rd (2018).

Webb Simpson ($8500) – Elite Ball Striker!! Need I say more? OK, defending Champ and a cut-making machine this year.

Matt Kuchar ($8000) – Kuch at less than $8500? Sign my a$$ up anytime! One missed cut here in the last 10 years and perfect this season. He’s a course manager and, with position more important than distance, this tournament is in his wheelhouse.

Henrik Stenson ($7800) – He has excellent history here! While not playing “Henrik-like” this year, he has played better recently – including last week. I’m willing to risk it on him at this price!

Ian Poulter ($7600) – Are you kidding me?!! At this price, the way he is playing, and the requirements for success here, I’M ALL IN!!! The Honey Badger will be in 50% of my lineups or more!!! If he falls apart, then so be it!!

Rafa Cabrera Bello ($7400) – With a T17 and a T4 here, how can I avoid playing him?

CH3 ($7300) – Charles Howell III at this price, playing the way he is, is criminal! It’s a steal…so steal it!

Lucas Glover ($7100) – See CH3!!!

Considerations:

This Tier is FULL of opportunity so I apologize for the long list. But, with the soft pricing, this may be the sweet spot for at least 3 of your players. So, also consider, at the higher end of the Tier, Phil Mickelson, Tony Finau, Patrick Reed, Hideki Matsuyama, Paul Casey and Adam Scott. At the lower end (below $7900), Marc Leishman, Alexander Noren, Billy Horschel, Gary Woodland, and Bubba Watson.

Once again, this Tier is FULL OF POTENTIAL for your lineup construction. For me to discuss them all, would take up far too much of your time and mine. PLEASE, use Slack Chat and Twitter to ask questions. My Twitter handle is @Farris1967.

$6600 to $7000

Favorites:

Kevin Kisner ($7000), Luke List ($7000), Zach Johnson ($7000), Matthew Fitzpatrick ($6900), Russell Knox ($6900) (although I’m not as high on him given his course history), Sungjae Im ($6800) (no history, but he seemed to like Bay Hill), Byeong Hun An ($6800), Keith Mitchell ($6800) and Matt Wallace ($6700).

Call the Police again, this is a Felony – not a Misdemeanor: Jason Kokrak ($6700)?????

I know he has more MCs here than balls that will hit the water on Hole #17, but this guy’s game is different this year than others. Feel free to play him ENTHUSIASTICALLY!!! Even if he misses the Cut at this price, I think the remaining 5 guys you can get should be worth the risk.

Considerations:

Russell Henley, Brandt Snedeker (he’s a solid player that’s priced this cheaply because of his length – and the potentially soft course conditions), Daniel Berger, Kevin Na, Bud Cauley, and Patrick Rodgers (based on his play last week).

YOU LIKELY DO NOT NEED TO GO THIS DEEP, but just in case, there are a solid amount of players that can give you point value for their price.

$6500 and Below

Personally, I’m not going this far down for anyone but Sung Kang ($6000). He was a late add to the field and I honestly think this is a pricing mistake – it is minimum price!

However, if you need names down here: Martin Laird, Stewart Cink, Chris Kirk (he has a solid course history – just not in March), Aaron Baddeley and Rory Sabbatini.

If you have questions on any other golfer, ask me on Slack Chat or Twitter.

GUT” PLAYS

DEEP DIVE(S): Sung Kang, Keith Mitchell and Daniel Berger ….  I guess Jason Kokrak may be considered this as well…SMH!!

Gut Feeling Winner: Tommy Fleetwood (I think the other half of MoliWood pulls it off this week)

2nd Choice: Brooks Koepka

Longshot Winner: Ian Poulter (has to be below $8000 before I consider them a longshot)

 

FUN LINEUP

  • Tiger Woods $10,500 T22
  • Sergio Garcia $ 9,100 T14
  • Ian Poulter $ 7,600 T27
  • Jim Furyk $ 7,100 T3
  • Phil Mickelson $ 7,900 T14
  • Henrik Stenson $ 7,800 T3

 

ALL OF THESE GUYS PLAYED IN 2006 WHEN THE TOURNAMENT WAS STILL PLAYED IN MARCH!!!

Where the finished is to the right! De ja vu?

 

JOIN Slack Chat! The ScoutArmy is here to help!

GOOD LUCK! And LET’S SEE SOME GREEN THIS WEEK…..but maybe, just maybe, leave a little for me again please!!