DraftKings PGA Preview: RBC Heritage
Tiger! Tiger! Tiger! I can still hear that chants from that magical Sunday afternoon at Augusta this past week. Unfortunately, he is not in the field this week, but it is still an unusually stacked field for the week after the Masters. Eight of the top 20 players in the world are set to tee it up this week. It’s not the Master’s smorgasbord of great contests, but Draftkings still has a variety of decent contests this week. There are seven golfers priced at or above $9,500 this week. Dustin Johnson and Francesco Molinari are the two highest priced golfers at $11,600 and $11,300, respectively. Xander Schauffele ($10,900), Bryson DeChambeau ($10,400), and Matt Kuchar ($10,000) round out the five-digit salary club. DraftKings provides you with $50,000 to select six golfers for an average roster spot of $8,333.
Remember that just like real-life golf, DFS golf can be frustrating and fun all at the same time. DFS Golf is really hard. Work at having a solid process week in and week out as opposed to getting bogged down by recency bias or the ups-and-downs of the weekly golf grind.
All of the tips and information that I mention in this article are plays that I will be considering for my own lineups. However, that doesn’t mean that I will end up with all of the guys that I mention. Additional news, research, and roster construction may lead me to different plays. Remember to check the news and social media reports leading up to the first golfer teeing off. Though golf is more difficult to get injury news, you might be able to pick up a nugget or two that helps with roster construction – especially when dealing with possible withdrawals.
Have a solid process and use all the information available to make the best decision possible for your lineup. Good luck and, most importantly, have fun! Whether you win or lose, golf is one of the most entertaining fantasy sports to follow because you get four days of action.
The RBC Heritage is played at the Harbour Town Golf Links in Hilton Head, South Carolina. The Pete Dye-designed course is a Par 71, which measures 7,099 yards and has narrow fairways and small greens.
The Royal Bank of Canada has been the title sponsor since 2012.
There are four Par 3s (190-yard average), 11 Par 4s (427-yard average), and three Par 5s (547 average yards) at Harbour Town.
132 golfers are scheduled to tee it up this week with the top 70 (and ties) making the cut.
91 players made the cut in 2013, which is tied for the most in PGA Tour history.
The averaged cut line is 2-over par and the average winning score is 13-under par.
Previous winners of the RBC Heritage that are in the field this week include Satoshi Kodaira (2018), Wesley Bryan (2017), Branden Grace (2016), Jim Furyk (2015, 2010), Matt Kuchar (2014), Graeme McDowell (2013), Brandt Snedeker (2011), Brian Gay (2009), Boo Weekley (2008, 2007), Aaron Baddeley (2006), Stewart Cink (2004, 2000), and Davis Love III (2003, 1998, 1992, 1991, 1987).
The winner has been decided in a playoff five of the last nine years.
Brian Gay’s 20-under par in 2009 is the tournament record.
Davis Love III has won this event five times and is currently tied with Jay Haas with 30 starts. This week would be his 31st start.
Four of the world’s top 10 ranked players (Dustin Johnson, Francesco Molinari, Bryson DeChambeau, and Xander Schauffele) are scheduled to play this week. Additionally, four more players (Tommy Fleetwood, Matt Kuchar, Patrick Cantlay, and Webb Simpson) are ranked in the OWGR top 20.
Of the defending champions able to defend their RBC Heritage title, 24 straight champions have made the cut in the year following their win.
Each of the past six winners have been trailing by at least three shots on the final day.
COURSE FIT (Key Statistics)
Shots Gained: Approach
Distance is not as important off the tee as shorter hitters can do very well here (see: Luke Donald). When you consider that you don’t need to be long off the tee and the greens are some of the smallest on tour, then it becomes necessary that a golfer have a strong second shot game. I looked at SG: Approach statistics for the last 8, 12, 24, 36, and 50 rounds (placing slightly more emphasis on 24 rounds). The top 10 players in overall approach game recently are (in rank order) Dustin Johnson, Jason Kokrak, Xander Schauffele, Russell Knox, Corey Conners, Chez Reavie, Patrick Cantlay, Zach Johnson, Jim Furyk, and Ryan Moore.
Pete Dye Courses
This is a Pete Dye-designed co9urse, which tends to mean narrow fairways, extreme angles on approaches, and tree-lined fairways. The same guys tend to play well on Pete Dye-designed courses. These courses just seem to fit different player’s eyes. Webb Simpson, Dustin Johnson, Ian Poulter, Patrick Cantlay, Si Woo Kim, Emiliano Grillo, Tommy Fleetwood, Bryson DeChambeau, Bud Cauley, and Beau Hossler have been the top 10 golfers at comparable courses to Harbour Town in the last 24 rounds.
Shots Gained: Around the Green
The greens here are some of the smallest on tour. The percentage of greens hit in regulation is well below the tour average. Certainly, hitting greens gives a golfer an advantage (we account for some of that in SG: Approach above) but the reality is that many approach shots will fall short and miss the green. The ability to gain shots around the green will be important. The top 10 golfers in terms of SG: Around the Green are Bud Cauley, Aaron Baddeley, Brandt Snedeker, Byeong Hun An, Louis Oosthuizen, Si Woo Kim, Webb Simpson, Ian Poulter, Lucas Glover, and Tommy Fleetwood.
Webb Simpson ($9,300)
Only Patrick Cantlay has gained more total strokes in the last two years here than Simpson. He is tops in fantasy scoring in the last two seasons. He finished T5 last year after a T11 in 2017. Overall, he has made four straight cuts here.
Kevin Kisner ($9,100)
Overall, he has made five straight cuts at this event, including a runner-up performance in 2015. Last year he finished T7 after a T11 in 2017. Only Patrick Cantlay and Webb Simpson have gained more total strokes on the field in the last two years than has Kisner.
Branden Grace ($8,300)
Grace skipped this event last year after having a streak of three straight top-11 finishes, including a win in 2016. When taking into account every golfer’s last 12 rounds at Harbour Town, nobody has gained more total strokes or scored more fantasy points than Grace.
Luke Donald ($7,200)
We have to mention Mr. RBC Heritage himself as this might be the only time all year that his name is prominently mentioned in this column. He has been the long-time face of the Royal Bank of Canada when it comes to golf. The world’s former number one player has seven top-five finishes in his last 10 starts at the RBC-Heritage. He did miss the cut last year after two straight runner-up performances, though. Overall, he has made the cut in 10 of his 13 starts. He has five runner-up finishes here.
Dustin Johnson ($11,600)
This should be obvious, but he was almost the forgotten man at Augusta with all of the attention on Tiger. Even prior to Augusta, what attention wasn’t on Tiger was directed toward Rory being the overwhelming favorite. DJ has quietly dominated (is that possible?!?) in 2019. He has six top-10 finishes in his seven starts this calendar year, including a T2 at The Masters and a win at the WGC-Mexico Championship. He is the number one player in the world for good reason.
Xander Schauffele ($10,900)
Other than a missed cut at The PLAYERS, he has been extremely consistent in 2018-19 (pretty much since turning pro, actually). He is coming off a T2 finish at the Masters. He has nine top-25 finishes in his 11 starts of the 2018-19 season, including two wins (WGC-HSBC and the Tournament of Champions). In the last 50 rounds, only Bryson DeChambeau has scored more fantasy points and only Dustin Johnson has gained more total strokes as Xander ranks second in each of these major categories.
Matt Kuchar ($10,000)
Kuchar won the Mayakoba Classic back in November and has been on a roll ever since. That win was the first of two wins and the first of six top-12 finishes. Three of those top-12 finishes have occurred in his last three events with a T12 at the Masters, T7 at the Valero, and runner-up at the WGC-Dell Match Play. Overall, in the last 36 rounds placed, he ranks seventh in total strokes gained.
Graeme McDowell ($7,500)
After winning in the Dominican Republic, McDowell came back with a very respectable T7 at the Valero Texas Open the next week. Since his win at Puntacana was an alternate field event (opposite the WGC-Dell Match Play), he didn’t qualify for The Masters. Overall, he has made 12 of his last 13 cuts, including eight in a row.
FAVORITE $9,000+ PLAYS
Patrick Cantlay ($9,700)
Dustin Johnson is the obvious play here and you don’t have to twist my arm to pick him to win. I think he is the best golfer in the world. Xander Schauffele won me a decent amount of money last week at the Masters and I am always trying to get him in my lineups. Webb Simpson is my overall favorite golfer not name Tiger Woods and he should contend here on Sunday. But I want to give you a slightly different name as the guy that could very well win this week and I think makes the best play when you consider winning potential and price.
Patrick Cantlay has long been a DFS darling. He has an amazing game and can score fantasy points in bunches. The problem is that he can’t putt. With the greens the way they are this week, I don’t believe his putting deficiencies will be as much of a disadvantage as usual. If you watched him at the Masters, you saw an unbelievable weekend out of him. After a slow start, he shot 12-under par on Saturday and Sunday. Since the 2018-19 season started back up again in the fall, he has played the weekend in eight of his 10 starts. In all of the events that he made the cut, his worst finish has been 17th in the first event (Safeway Open). He has six top-10 finishes, including the T9 at the Masters this past week. Prior to that, he had a T6 at the WGC-Mexico. He is number one in my customized model that combines recent form, course history, Pete Dye course results, and key stats (It should be noted, however, that DJ would have finished first if he had played this course more than once). There is a limited sample of only two events but Cantlay has two top-10 finishes. Behind the strength of his T7 and T3 finishes, he leads the field in total strokes gained in the last two years. Because of the small greens here, his putting deficiencies haven’t been as noticeable either. Because he is playing great, has finished in the top-10 here each of the last two years, and is nearly $2,000 cheaper than DJ, I will choose Cantlay as my favorite high-priced play of the week.
Jim Furyk ($9,400)
In the last 24 rounds, only Dustin Johnson and Xander Schauffele have gained more strokes on the field than has the 2018 Ryder Cup Captain. He has made the cut in all six of his PGA events in 2019. His worst finish has been T37 at the Genesis. Other than that, he has five top-25 finishes, including two top-five finishes. Maybe most impressive is that he was runner-up at The PLAYERS to Rory McIlroy. He typically does well on Pete Dye-designed courses (like TPC Sawgrass) and Harbour Town has been no exception as he has won this event twice (last coming in 2015) and finished runner-up twice
Tommy Fleetwood ($9,200)
This is a much stronger field than you’d expect but still Fleetwood should not be the 10th highest priced player. He is #15 in the world rankings and fifth in the field according to the OWGR, so he is mispriced slightly. It is not that he’s been playing poorly, he just probably hasn’t fulfilled our expectations this year. In the last 36 rounds, he is sixth in fantasy scoring and ninth in total strokes gained. He has made 18 straight cuts on the PGA Tour. He “struggled” to a T36 at the Masters but finished T5 at The PLAYERS and T3 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational prior to that. Overall, he has played the weekend in 23 straight events dating back to last July. During that time, he has 16 top-20 finishes.
FAVORITE $8,000 PLAYS
Jason Kokrak ($8,800)
We’ll see if the week off cooled him down at all, but Kokrak has been one of the hottest players in golf this year. Only Byeong Hun-An has made more PGA Tour cuts in a row than the 18 that Kokrak has made. The last time he didn’t play the weekend was back in July at The Open Championship. In the 2019 calendar year, he has finished in the top 20 in seven of his nine starts. He also has four top-10 finishes in his last five tour starts. The only time he didn’t finish in the top 10 was his 47th at The PLAYERS. At his most recent tour stop, he finished T7 at Valero after finishing runner-up at the Valspar. In the last 24 rounds, only Dustin Johnson, Xander Schauffele, and Jim Furyk have gained more total strokes. He is number one in the field in ball-striking and approach shots for the last 24 rounds. Overall, he is ninth in fantasy scoring during that same time frame. As far as course history goes, there is good news and bad news. The good news is that he has finished T6 (2016), T18 (2015), and T12 (2014). The bad news is that he has missed the cut each of the last two years at Harbour Town. He is playing the best golf of his life, so I expect him to take his strong recent form and find his groove once again at a course, where he has experienced success.
Sungjae Im ($8,400)
The tour rookie has been so close to a win lately. He has three top-10 finishes in his last five events. He missed the cut at The PLAYERS but so did a lot of other people. The only thing that bothers me about that is it is a Pete Dye course. However, we have to remember that he’s still a rookie and every event can be a learning experience. He finished T20 at the Valero Texas Open in his most recent tournament, but he had a bad opening round and then went sub-70 each of the next three days. Since he earned his PGA Tour card in the fall, he has nine top-20 finishes. He ranks eighth in my custom model for recent form. He is ranked 10th in the last 24 rounds for total strokes gained against the field.
Byeong-Hun An ($8,200)
He is going to win a golf tournament one of these days, but I have no idea when. Actually, I know when, but I just don’t know the exact date. It is going to be when he has a good tournament with the flat stick. He is one of the absolute best swingers of the golf club on tour, but he is atrocious on the greens. Despite that, he has put together the PGA Tour’s longest streak of consecutive cuts (19). In my custom model, he ranks eighth in course history, 10th in recent form (remember despite being able to putt), and 17th in Pete Dye course results. In the last 24 rounds, he ranks in the top five in ball-striking, tee to green, and off the tee. Additionally, he is first in SG: Around the Green (but 128th in putting). However, remember that these greens are extremely small so putting will be slightly de-emphasized this week. In his last tournament (Valero), he finished T7 and that was despite losing six strokes putting for the week. He has three top-20 finishes in his last six tournaments, including two top-10 finishes in his last three. The only event in his last three that he didn’t finish in the top 10 was a T26 at The PLAYERS. He finished T7 last year in his only visit to Harbour Town.
Ryan Moore ($8,100)
After a tough start to the 2018-19 season, Moore is starting to find his groove. He finished T3 at the Valero Texas Open two weeks ago. He had a T16 last year in his debut performance at Harbour Town. He is ranked 11th in my custom stat model for approach shots, which is my favorite corollary stat for this week. He is also 12th in my custom model for Pete Dye-designed courses, which makes his T20 recently at The PLAYERS understandable.
FAVORITE $7,000 PLAYS
Justin Harding ($7,900)
He may be overlooked because he has played mostly on the Euro Tour, but he is playing as well as anyone in this field not named Dustin Johnson (or Xander Schauffele). He will not stand out in any PGA Tour stat models (though I have him 18th in my SG: Approach model) but is seventh in scoring on the Euro Tour and fifth on the Euro Tour in SG: Around the Green. He is coming off a T12 finish at the Masters, which earns him a trip to Augusta next year as well. This finish was also his sixth top-12 finish in the 2019 calendar year. Included in this 10-event stretch was a win and a runner-up. He also fired an opening-round 69 at the Masters and then continued to play well against a stacked leaderboard. Not only do I like him for DFS, but I have already placed a wager on him at 90-1 so he is definitely one of my favorite plays of the week.
Lucas Glover ($7,800)
He is second overall in my customized stat model and 21st in recent form. Since the 2018-19 season started, he has been on fire. If he makes the cut, he finishes well. His worst finish this year was at the first event of the year (Safeway Open) when he finished T17. He has only missed the cut twice this season while racking up top-20 finishes in all 10 of his made cuts. Three of those finishes were inside the top 10. In the last 24 rounds, he is sixth in total shots gained on the field. He has not been anything special here recently but also hasn’t been bad. He has four straight top-35 finishes.
Russell Knox ($7,700)
He has played the weekend in 13 straight events worldwide dating back to October. He has yet to really break through during the 2018-19 season but has been consistent. He has five top-25 finishes in his last 13 events. He finished T35 at The PLAYERS, which isn’t great but that is one of the toughest fields of the year and many big-name players missed the cut. In the last 24 rounds, he is ranked 22nd overall in total strokes gained but more specifically to this course, he is ranked sixth in SG: Approach. Not only is he playing decent golf right now but he has good course history at Harbour Town making all five of his cuts, including a runner-up performance in 2016. Overall, he has four top-20 finishes here.
Matt Wallace ($7,300)
Another Euro Tour guy that will go under the radar, especially after missing the cut at the Masters. Unfortunately, I switched on to him at the last minute in some of my higher dollar buy-ins. But I will not let recency bias sway me as I will get right back on the Wallace train this week. He has eight top-20 finishes in his last 13 events. He first showed us Americans what he was capable of when he finished T6 at the stacked Arnold Palmer Invitational. He then followed that up with a T30 at The PLAYERS. He doesn’t do anything great on the golf course but also doesn’t have a weakness. He is a very solid overall player, who was runner-up to Bryson DeChambeau over in Dubai at the end of January. He is ranked 36th in the OWGR, which makes him the 18th best player in the field but he is priced as the 41st most expensive player giving us a player that appears to be mispriced (based upon his OWGR).
FAVORITE $6,000 PLAY
Wyndham Clark ($6,600)
In the last 24 rounds played, he is fourth in the field in fantasy scoring and seventh in total shots gained. The former Pac-12 champion and GolfWeek Player of the Year has quietly started playing like many thought he could as he has made seven straight cuts, including four top-20 finishes. Other than recent his recent form, his statistics aren’t going to jump off the page, but at this price, he is certainly someone to keep an eye on.
Jamy Bechler is a regular contributor to FantasyPros for NBA, NFL, and PGA. You can follow him on his DFS twitter @WinningDFS101. When he is not playing DFS, Jamy is an author, host of the “Success is a Choice” podcast, and is a leadership trainer, working with businesses and teams across the country (including the NBA). Even though he offers his advice on players and contests, after additional information and consideration, he may end up using different players and strategies than what he recommends.