DraftKings PGA Recommended Plays: RBC Heritage
The Masters Tournament has come and gone, but there is still a jacket to play for this week. Although any winner of this week’s RBC Heritage would admit that they would rather be putting on a green one, the champion in Hilton Head will take home the Heritage Plaid jacket, along with a sizable check. After getting over the post-Masters withdrawal that has been affecting me over the past few days, I was able to dive into some research for the field this week, as the players tackle Harbour Town Golf Links, which is a short par-71 playing just over 7,000 yards. This week’s event is notorious for getting a relatively weak field, as most of the Tour’s top-ranked players usually plan ahead to give themselves some rest after Augusta. When that happens, DFS players should be licking their chops. A field like this gives the well-informed fantasy players the advantage to find some real success, because those who aren’t familiar with many names in the field will not be able to find value, or may not even make a lineup at all. This week, I compiled a group of consistent, under-appreciated players who should be able to find some real success on Hilton Head Island, feeding into the trends of course comfort and current form. Before my recommended plays for the RBC Heritage, let’s quickly examine our Masters’s results from last week.
Justin Thomas: T-17
Tiger Woods: T-32
Phil Mickelson: T-36
Paul Casey: T-15
Matt Kuchar: T-28
Nobody that seriously contended, but also nobody that missed the cut. I think these results, and the results of the last 10 major championships are trying to tell fantasy golf players an important piece of information. Nine of the last 10 major champs have been first-time major winners. Since the 2015 PGA Championship where Jason Day claimed his first major, every single major winner, except for Jordan Spieth at the 2017 Open Championship, has been a first-time champion. It’s really quite incredible. It’s simple what this means as far as fantasy golf goes; “experience” is an outdated necessity in picking a champion. We are all victims of this, including myself. We will argue against picking a player to win a major if they haven’t already won one. We need that extra security, that extra reassurance that it’s already been done once before, but the players don’t. Refusing to pick a player that’s never won a major championship before is refusing to go along with the evolving game of golf. It’s not the same game anymore, and years from now, a fresh new pair of faces that we’ve never even heard of yet will be dominating the sport. For the next three majors, I encourage you to take risks, and don’t limit yourself to the obligatory “seasoned” picks that people feel like they need to make in important events. Who knows, maybe I’m just ranting because I’m still mad that I picked Phil Mickelson last week in my One and Done league. Nonetheless, it’s time to turn our sights toward Hilton Head.
Paul Casey ($11,300)
From now on I will refer to Paul Casey as “Backdoor Sunday Paul Casey.” This man has made a living off going out early on Sunday before the galleries start to build up and shooting a low number to sneak into the top-10, or in the case of two starts ago, into the winner’s circle (Valspar Championship). He did it again last week at Augusta, firing an exciting final-round 65 that actually ended with two bogeys, keeping him from tying or beating 63, the magic number for low-round in a major. Casey is always a great guy to have in your roster because he’s never out of it. With most guys, a poor round on Thursday or Friday will derail their hopes of winning the event, but Casey bounces back all the time. A good example of this was the 2014 RBC Heritage, where he posted one of three career top-25s at the event. He shot 3-over 74 on Thursday, but then rebounded with three rounds in the 60s to claim a T-18 finish. His string of 12th-1st-15th in his last three stroke-play starts gives me more than enough confidence that we will see Backdoor Sunday Casey again this week.
Matt Kuchar ($10,800)
My “sleeper for cheaper” (TM) from last week takes a huge hike in salary for this week’s event, due to the fact that he is a past champion and he’s one of the better players in the field. I think those are some pretty good reasons to include him in the article this week as well. Kuchar was decent but not great last week at Augusta, finishing T-28, but that made it three weeks in a row that we’ve seen him play above-average golf, and he still hasn’t missed a cut yet on the season. Last time I pointed out a stat like this was when I jinxed Rafa Cabrera-Bello’s flawless cut record two weeks ago in Houston, so I have my fingers crossed (well, actually my toes) while typing this. In the two weeks leading up to the Masters, Kuchar had consecutive top-10 finishes at the Match Play in Austin, and the Houston Open. Considering all of this, Kuchar already justifies a spot in most rosters this week, but that’s before examining just how good his past play has been at Harbour Town. Not only did Kuchar taste victory here in 2014, but since that victory, he has finished 5th in 2015, T-9 in 2016, and T-11 a season ago. He’s my recommended horse for the course, and if deciding between him and the other Harbour Town specialist Luke Donald (7 top-3 finishes since 2009), I’d lean Kuchar’s way, considering Donald has missed more cuts than he’s made this year. I’m not saying Donald is a bad roster addition in any way (and for only $7,700), but in all those high finishes, he’s never actually closed the door. Go with the 2014 champion this week. He’s a must-play.
Cameron Smith ($9,000)
Get to know this kid. I’m serious. Only 24 years old, the young Australian is due for a breakthrough victory very soon, so don’t miss out on it if this week happens to be the one. I had a lot of fun watching him last week at the Masters, and he dazzled on Sunday. Sitting at 3-under for the tournament at the turn of his final round, Smith fired a back nine 30, and was a putt away from 29 on the 18th green. He impressed on his way to a 9-under, T-5 finish on one of the biggest stages in golf, which actually happened to be his second consecutive T-5 finish going back to the Match Play in Austin. Still searching for his first PGA Tour Victory (he won the Australian PGA Championship in 2017), he seems comfortable enough on Harbour Town to get it done. In 2015, he was competitive all week long, using three rounds in the 60s to post a T-15 finish. Maybe I just have a man-crush on Smith, but maybe we’re on the verge of seeing the breakout of a new young star. I’d pay $9,000 all day long to find out.
Kevin Kisner ($8,700)
We haven’t seen the Kisner we’ve become accustomed to this season, as he has three missed cuts in his last five stroke play events, but his performance at the Match Play Championships was a huge step in the right direction. He seemed to gain back a lot of confidence and competitive fire, finishing as the runner-up after losing to Bubba Watson in the final match. He followed that up with a T-28 finish at Augusta last week, which is good enough to maintain his momentum heading into an event in which he has had some serious success. In 2015, he lost in a playoff to Jim Furyk at the Heritage, which also happens to be the same year he lost in a playoff to Rickie Fowler at the Players Championship. Add that all together with the aforementioned match play runner-up finish, and you have a two-time winner on tour who is probably just as good as any five-time winner out there. Last season at Harbour Town, Kisner finished T-11, which included a Friday 64, the round of the day. As I mentioned with Kuchar, Kisner is clearly one of the better, more-established players in this field, so for less than $9,000 dollars, he’s a very solid investment.
Sleeper for Cheaper
Charley Hoffman ($7,700)
There must be something about early April that makes Charley Hoffman show up, but I can’t really put my finger on what it is. It seems like every year he’s in the mix at Augusta, and he’s good at carrying that momentum over to Hilton Head, where he has three top-15 finishes. The most recent of these came in 2016, a tournament in which he probably should have won, or at least turned in a higher finish. After back-to-back 68s, he shared the 36-hole lead, but a 4-over weekend dropped him to a T-14 finish when all was said and done. However, the positive takeaway from this is that he’s been in position to win at this event before, and his current form gives me confidence that he can capitalize this time if he’s in that situation again. His T-12 finish at Augusta was his second straight top-15 stroke-play finish, as he placed tied for 14th at Bay Hill just a handful of weeks prior. Hoffman has too many arrows pointing up this week to leave him untouched down at a sub-$8,000 price.