FanDuel PGA Preview: RBC Canadian Open
Only five golfers are priced at $11,000 or above on FanDuel this week. Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka are the two highest priced golfers at $12,600 and $12,500, respectively. Rory McIlroy ($12,000), Justin Thomas ($11,500), and Matt Kuchar ($11,300) round out the top five, in terms of salary. FanDuel provides you with $60,000 to select six golfers for an average roster spot of $10,000
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.
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. 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-Canadian Open is a tournament played at rotating sites each year. This year, it is at the Hamilton Golf and Country Club in Ancaster, Ontario. The tournament was previously played at Hamilton in 2012, 2006, and 2003.
The Par 70 course measures nearly 6,700 yards. The tree-lined fairways are slightly narrower (about 25 yards) than tour average. The undulating bent grass greens are mixed with POA and are also slightly smaller than tour average. The rough should be 3.5” to 4.0” thick so it will be important for players to hit the fairways.
The winning scores in the three previous years at the Hamilton course were 17-under par in 2012 (Scott Piercy), 14-under par in 2006 (Jim Furyk), and 8-under par in 2003 (Bob Tway).
The course features four Par 3’s, three of which measure more than 200 yards. The birdie or better rate is only 9%.
There are 12 Par 4’s on the course. Seven of them measure between 400-450 yards. The birdie or better rate on all the Par 4’s are 17%.
There are only two Par 5 holes on the course, measuring 542 and 550 yards. Both of them have birdie or better rates of more than 45%.
Even though the tournament rotates courses from year to year, it is still worth mentioning who has performed the best at this tournament the last five years. In terms of total shots gained over the last years, the best performers have been Dustin Johnson, Jim Furyk, Matt Kuchar, Ricky Barnes, and Brandt Snedeker.
Previous winners at the RBC-Canadian Open (at various courses) that are in the field this week include Dustin Johnson (2018), Brandt Snedeker (2013), Scott Piercy (2012), and Jim Furyk (2007 & 2006).
This is considered the national open for Canada so if you are looking for a narrative, you could look at Canadians. Some notable Canadians in the field worth considering include Corey Conners, Adam Hadwin, Mackenzie Hughes, Roger Sloan, and Nick Taylor.
Top-30 finishers from 2012 that are in this year’s field include: Scott Piercy (1st), Bud Cauley (T4), Josh Teater (T4), Scott Stallings (T7), J.B. Holmes (T15), Brian Harman (T19), Ryan Palmer (T19), Cameron Tringale (T19), Jimmy Walker (T28), and Brian Gay (T28).
COURSE FIT & KEY STATISTICS
The best golfers, in terms of stats, for my customized model this week (in ranked order) are Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Rory McIlroy, Erik VanRooyen, Sergio Garcia, Webb Simpson, Matt Kuchar, Scott Piercy, Ryan Palmer, and Bubba Watson.
Short Game Mix
The following are the ten golfers that grade out the best in my customized model that takes scrambling, shot game, and around-the-green game into account: Brandt Snedeker, Bud Cauley, Webb Simpson, Peter Uihlein, Jim Furyk, Luke Donald, Sungjae Im, Ryan Armour, Dustin Johnson, and Matt Kuchar.
Consecutive PGA Cuts
The following golfers have made the most consecutive cuts on the PGA Tour coming into this event: Dustin Johnson (18), Graeme McDowell (12), K.H. Lee (8), Henrik Stenson (8), Scott Piercy (7), Roberto Diaz (6), Brooks Koepka (6), Alex Noren (6), Daniel Berger (5), Adam Hadwin (5), Webb Simpson (5), and Kevin Tway (5)
The best 10 golfers in my customized ball-striking model that takes into account both short and long-term, as well as driving and iron play (in ranked order) includes Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Sergio Garcia, Ryan Palmer, Keegan Bradley, Erik VanRooyen, Matt Kuchar, Corey Conners, and Webb Simpson.
Dustin Johnson ($12,600)
He has four top-six finishes in his last five events. The only event that he didn’t contend was his T28 at the RBC-Heritage the week after his runner-up performance at the Masters. We last saw him valiantly trying to run down Brooks Koepka with a late Sunday charge at the PGA Championship. In the last 24 rounds, nobody has scored more fantasy points or gained more total strokes on the field than DJ. He is playing lights out this year and has made 18 straight cuts on the PGA Tour.
Brooks Koepka ($12,500)
He is now the world’s number one ranked player, so I’d say that he is in good form. Only Dustin Johnson has gained more total strokes than he has in the last 24 rounds played. However, Koepka leads in strokes gained and fantasy points scored when you consider only the last 12 rounds. That makes sense because his last three finishes have been T2 at the Masters, T4 at the Byron Nelson, and he won the PGA Championship.
Matt Kuchar ($11,300)
I have no idea why Kuchar missed the cut last week. Great form, course history, and stats should have made him a sure thing but golf is tough and DFS golf is even tougher. Regardless, it is a small hiccup and he still has great form. So far this year, he has a couple of wins and before his MC last week, his worst finish in the last two months was a T12 at The Masters. During that stretch, he has two runner-up finishes (WGC-Match Play and RBC Heritage) and finished T8 at the PGA Championship. He had made 16 straight PGA cuts, which made last weekend even weirder. I will chalk last week up to the variance that golf brings.
Webb Simpson ($10,800)
Other than his top five at the Masters, Simpson has not had any big-time finishes, but he is very consistent. He has missed only one cut since last June. Both his long- and short-term form is solid. In the last 100 rounds (essentially, the past year), he is fourth in total strokes gained and fifth in fantasy scoring. In the last 24 rounds, he is also fourth in total strokes gained and seventh in fantasy scoring.
FAVORITE $11,000+ PLAYS
Dustin Johnson ($12,600) & Brooks Koepka ($12,500)
I will be playing more “balanced” lineups because I hate the low-priced golfers this week and can’t find comfortable value plays. I play a variety of MME’s, single-entry, 3-max contests. I will dabble with both Koepka and DJ in my MME builds because I will mix and match the bad golfers hoping to hit on the right one. I do think that DJ and/or Koepka will be in contention on Sunday and want to have them in my MME’s. With the single-entry and 3-max lineups, I am okay with fading them with the hopes of not having to cross my fingers with a low-priced golfer. I feel good about my initial balanced builds. With all of that said, Koepka has said that he likes to play the week before a major in order to generate some momentum. The last time he did this, he finished runner-up. I have been a DJ truther for quite some time, but Koepka is a stud and he has just a different competitive mindset that we haven’t seen this side of Tiger Woods. I don’t think you can go wrong with Koepka or DJ this week and I’ll be playing both of them – more so in my MME’s on FanDuel where the salary cap is looser than DK.
FAVORITE $10,000 PLAYS
Scott Piercy ($10,500)
He won this event the last time it was played on the Hamilton course in 2012. That was a long time ago, but it is more relevant because he is having himself quite a year. He has made 16 of 18 cuts this season, including four top-10 finishes. This is a steep price tag to pay for Piercy, but he has good form, has been a winner here, and rates out very well in my customized stat models. I might look elsewhere if it appears that he will be highly owned. Otherwise, I will fire him up in all formats.
Brandt Snedeker ($10,300)
He likes playing in Canada as evidenced by his T8 last year and a T5 in 2016. He has been solid, though not spectacular, in his last couple of events with a pair of top-20 finishes at the Charles Schwab and the PGA Championship. He still has upside to his game when he put together a T5 at The PLAYERS back in March. Overall, he has made the cut in 19 of his last 21 events. These greens are small and undulating and he has perhaps the best short game and around the green game in the field if it is needed this week.
Jim Furyk ($10,100)
Going even farther back than Piercy’s 2012 win, Furyk was victorious here at Hamilton in 2006. Once again, that is relevant because Furyk is playing decently right now. An uncharacteristic poor Sunday performance two weeks ago at the Charles Schwab dropped him out of contention or he might have ended up hoisting the trophy. He was runner-up at The PLAYERS back in March so he has shown that he can contend. In his last 10 events, he has four top-15 finishes. In the last 24 rounds played, he is eighth in the field for total strokes gained. He is second in my customized bogey avoidance model (behind DJ) so he is a fairly reliable player. He also, seemingly, likes playing in Canada as he has made the cut each of the last five years at this event. This includes a T4 in 2015 and a T2 in 2014. During that five-year stretch, only DJ has gained more strokes than Furyk at this event.
FAVORITE $9,000 PLAYS
Ryan Palmer ($9,700)
He is a higher risk-reward type player as he could just as easily show up on the leader board as miss the cut this week. He “carried” Jon Rahm to a victory at the Zurich Classic team event a few weeks ago and then went sub-70 in all four rounds at his last event (Charles Schwab) to finish T6. However, he has missed the cut in four of his last nine events. If he can avoid big numbers (i.e. bunkers and water) then he should have a good week because he is swinging the club really well right now. He finished T19 when this event was last played on the Hamilton course.
Graeme McDowell ($9,100)
Only DJ has made more consecutive PGA Tour cuts than McDowell among the golfers in this week’s field. He has quietly put together a nice season with 12 straight cuts, including a win back at the end of March at Puntacana. He only has two top-10 finishes during this streak but he has been fairly reliable. At this price point, a consistent cut maker with a win under his belt this season is a nice value. In the last 24 rounds, he is 15th in total strokes gained and 16th in fantasy scoring. That is a nice value since he is the 31st priced golfer this week.
Erik VanRooyen ($9,100)
He has five top-15 finishes in his last eight worldwide starts, including two runner-up performances. He plays a lot on the European Tour but showed he can compete with the best on the PGA Tour when he finished T8 at the PGA Championship. Statistically speaking, he doesn’t do anything great but has a solid all-around game, which is needed at this course this week. In a limited PGA sample size, he rates out as the fourth-best all-around golfer in my customized stat model, which measures all-around play.
FAVORITE $8,000 PLAYS
Nick Watney ($8,800)
In the last five years, he is 4/4 in cuts at this event with all of them being inside the top 35. His best was a T12 in 2014 but that is a good track record in Canada for a guy at this price point. It is even better since his form is trending up. He is 10th in the field in the last 12 rounds for total strokes gained and 13th in fantasy scoring. His approach game and ball-striking have been really solid lately. After struggling early this season, he seems to be coming into form as he has made the cut in three of his last four events, including a T8 at the Charles Schwab.
Mackenzie Hughes ($8,700)
Here is your narrative play of the week. He is Canadian, finished top 10 in his last tournament (Charles Schwab), and finished top 10 last year at his country’s national open. What more do you need to know? You probably haven’t played him yet this year, so go ahead and fire him up.
Nate Lashley ($8,000)
I barely like any of the mid-tier options this week and I really hate the low-priced options. Lashley has made three straight cuts so I guess that makes him one of the better bad options available. In the last 24 rounds, he is 14th in SG: Approach, which is a stat that will be important this week. Overall, during that same time frame he is 37th in total shots gained, which is decent considering his price.
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.