DraftKings PGA Preview: Wyndham Championship
DraftKings has nine golfers priced at $9,500 or above this week for the last regular-season PGA Tour stop. Webb Simpson is the highest priced golfer at $11,200. Hideki Matsuyama ($10,900) and Jordan Spieth ($10,600) are the next most-expensive guys. Last week’s Barracuda winner Collin Morikawa ($10,400) and last year’s Wyndham champion Brandt Snedeker ($10,000) round out the golfers with five-figure salaries. DraftKings provides you with $50,000 to select six golfers for an average roster spot of $8,333.
All of the tips and information that I mention in this article are plays that I will be considering for my own lineups. In fact, most of the plays mentioned are based upon an extensive customized model that is based on a number of statistics and results. However, that doesn’t mean that I will end up with all of the guys that I mention. This article is written early in the week and additional news, research, and roster construction could 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.
Remember that golf is very difficult to play but DFS golf is even tougher. The best golfers will perform at a high level during the course of a golf season. However, from week-to-week, major variance can occur. Any golfer on the PGA Tour is capable of winning an event. On the flip side, even the best golfers in the world are capable of missing the cut in a given event.
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. Use all the information available to you 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.
156 players are scheduled to tee it up this week in Greensboro, NC. The top 70 (and ties) will advance to the weekend. The MDF (secondary cut) is in effect this week.
The Greensboro, NC area has played host to this tournament for its’ entire history. The tournament is currently played at the Sedgefield Country Club. The Sedgefield course is a Donald Ross design and opened in 1926. It was restored in 2007 and after a 30-year hiatus, returned to hosting this event in 2008 (Forest Oaks Country Club hosted from 1977-2007).
The Par 70 course measures 7,127 yards.
The Bermuda greens measure about a 12 on the stimp meter and are average size. However, they have a great deal of undulation and false fronts, which is typical for a Donald Ross design.
There are only two Par 5’s on the course but they surrendered an incredible 70 eagles last year. Both measure around 540 yards and are reachable in two for all the golfers in this field. The birdie or better rate was 60% last year for the Par 5’s.
There are 12 Par 4’s with eight of them being in the 400-450 yard range.
There are four Par 3’s with two of them measuring 175 yards, which is right in the scoring wheelhouse for most of the golfers.
Previous winners of the Wyndham Championship scheduled to tee it up this week include Brandt Snedeker (2018, 2007), Patrick Reed (2013), and Webb Simpson (2011).
Brandt Snedeker made a twenty-foot putt from the fringe last year to shoot a 59 in the first round.
Last year, C.T. Pan and Brandt Snedeker were tied on the 18th hole on Sunday when Pan hit his tee shot out of bounds, which led to a three-shot swing and the win for Snedeker.
Each of the last three winners (Brandt Snedeker, Henrik Stenson, and Si Woo Kim) have won with scores better than 20-under par.
This tournament was one of the easiest courses on tour last year (40th out of 50).
Last year’s leaderboard was Brandt Snedeker (1), Webb Simpson (T2), C.T. Pan (T2), D.A. Points (T4), Jim Furyk (T4), Brian Gay (T6), Ryan Moore (T6), Ryan Armour (T8), Nick Taylor (T8), and David Hearn (T8).
Only 10 of the Official World Golf Ranking top 50 are playing this weekend. They include Webb Simpson (17), Paul Casey (19), Patrick Reed (24), Chez Reavie (28), Hideki Matsuyama (31), Jordan Spieth (37), Billy Horschel (41), Cameron Smith (43), Alex Noren (44), and Brandt Snedeker (48).
Eight of the top 30 in the FedEx Cup standings are playing this week. They include Paul Casey (8), Webb Simpson (13), Chez Reavie (14), Charles Howell III (17), Sungjae Im (25), Scott Piercy (26), Hideki Matsuyama (29), and Lucas Glover (30).
COURSE FIT & KEY STATISTICS
My customized overall stat model measures all key stats (driving, approach, short game, putting, etc…) from both a short-and-long-form standpoint. The best golfers, in terms of stats, for my customized model this week (in ranked order) are Viktor Hovland, Joel Dahmen, Paul Casey, Collin Morikawa, Chez Reavie, Adam Hadwin, Luke Donald, Hideki Matsuyama, Webb Simpson, and Billy Horschel.
This is one of the easiest courses on tour and the average winning score is around 17-to-18-under par. It is important to score. The players that rate out the best in my customized stat model for birdie-or-better percentage (in ranked order) are Collin Morikawa, Matthew Wolff, Adam Hadwin, Hideki Matsuyama, Wyndham Clark, Rory Sabbatini, Sepp Straka, Webb Simpson, Denny McCarthy, and Doc Redman.
Players that hit the fairway have an 80% GIR, while players that miss the fairway are only around 50%. At first, I was going to look at GIR more heavily but as I investigated more I realized that hitting the fairway is most important. In fact, it has been the most correlated statistic to Wyndham success. The top 10 golfers (in ranked order) in driving accuracy percentage are Chez Reavie, Ryan Armour, Andrew Landry, Brice Garnett, Brian Gay, Brian Stuard, Russell Henley, Austin Cook, Michael Thompson, and Abraham Ancer.
FedEx Cup Motivation
At the conclusion of the Wyndham Championship, the top 125 golfers in the FedEx Cup standings will get into the playoffs and retain their tour card for next season. There is not a guaranteed way of knowing how a player handles the pressure of their tour card being on the line but in terms of motivation, this is huge. The 10 golfers that are just inside the top 125 and those on the outside looking in are Brice Garnett (121), Pat Perez (122), Sebastian Munoz (123), Robert Streb (124), Alex Noren (125), Austin Cook (126), Richy Werenski (127), Martin Trainer (128), Patton Kizzire (129), and Peter Uihlein (130).
Bill Haas ($7,600)
He has made the cut in nine of his last 10 starts at the Wyndham, including seven in a row. He has four top-10 finishes in his last 10 starts here. His best finish was a runner-up in 2014.
Ryan Armour ($6,900)
Along with Webb Simpson and Brandt Snedeker, he is the only golfer to have top-10 finishes the last two times that he has teed it up here. Simpson and he are the only ones to do it in 2017 and 2018. Armour finished T8 last year after going T4 in 2017.
Harris English ($6,800)
He has made the cut here in each of the last four years, including a T11 last year. He also had a T10 in 2012 giving him a 5/5 made cut record.
Roberto Castro ($6,500)
He didn’t play here last year but made the cut here in four straight years between 2014-2017. Two of those made cuts resulted in top-20 finishes.
Collin Morikawa ($10,400)
The guy just turned pro six events ago and has made all six cuts. Even more impressive is that he has finished in the top-five each of his last three events, including a win last week at the Barracuda.
Billy Horschel ($9,600)
He has made 23 or his last 25 cuts. He had made eight in a row until missing the cut at the Open Championship (he never plays well over there). He just finished T9 at last week’s WGC-FedEx St. Jude Classic. In his last eight events, he has five top-20 finishes.
Viktor Hovland ($9,500)
Another rookie who just turned pro a few weeks ago. He has made seven straight cuts. He doesn’t have the high finishes or wins like his fellow “just turned pro” phenoms (Morikawa and Matthew Wolff) but he has been extremely consistent. He has four top-16 finishes in his last five events. He also has popped off the page with his stats during the last two months. He is an extremely good all-around golfer.
Sebastian Munoz ($7,000)
He finished 11th last week at the Barracuda after finishing T9 at the Barbasol the week before. He has made the cut in eight of his last 10 events, including four in a row. During his last 10 events, half of them have resulted in top-11 finishes. He started that 10-event stretch far outside the top 125 in FedEx Cup standings but has now played himself into the contention at 123rd.
FAVORITE $9,000+ PLAYS
Webb Simpson ($11,200)
His daughter is named “Wyndham” for Pete’s sake! He loves this course and is in good form. That is a nice combination. His price is really high, but he just might be worth it. His price was high last year and he finished runner-up. Four top-six finishes in the last five years at Sedgefield C.C. is pretty good. He has made nine straight cuts here, including a win in 2011. Simpson has eight straight top-30 finishes, including two runner-ups in the last four events on the PGA Tour.
Brandt Snedeker ($10,000)
Simpson was T2 last year and Snedeker won it after going wire-to-wire starting with a 59 on Thursday. This was his second win at the Wyndham Championship. Overall, he has made the cut in nine of his 11 starts, including six top-10 finishes. Three of those were in his last four starts here. On the PGA Tour, he has made eight cuts in his last nine events, including four top-20 finishes. He was T5 at the Rocket Mortgage Classic and T4 at the RBC Canadian Open. This past week he was only T27 at the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Classic. However, on the weekend, he was number one in Strokes Gained: Tee to Green but lost three strokes putting. That is a good sign because he is one of the better putters on tour. This means that he is starting to get into a groove with his swing. Guys will have a bad putting round every once in a while. I like his form coming in and there is no doubt that his course history is exceptional.
Patrick Reed ($9,700)
He hasn’t been putting great lately (which we know he can) but he has still been playing well. His recent performance — T12 at WGC-Fed Ex and a 10th place finish at the Open Championship — in the last two weeks tells me that he is really trending up. This is not as strong of a field as the last two weeks. He is ultra-competitive and is motivated to make the President’s Cup team. His stats don’t rate out well, especially since he started the year poorly. He seems to have gotten it turned around lately.
FAVORITE $8,000 PLAYS
Adam Hadwin ($8,500)
He has the game to excel on this course and can definitely get hot with his putter – which could be very important this week. He rates out sixth in my customized stats model and fifth overall in my rankings. In his last four events, he has a fourth and a sixth-place finish. He is also sixth in fantasy scoring in the last 24 rounds. As only the 19th most expensive golfer on DK this week, he is one of my favorite value plays.
Scott Piercy ($8,100)
He has made the cut in 18 of his last 20 events. He has had five top-20 finishes in his last 8 events, including a T15 in his last event at the 3M Open. He has made 4/5 cuts at the Wyndham Championship. He is sixth in DK scoring among players in this field but is only the 24th most-expensive golfer.
Jason Kokrak ($8,000)
His hot streak is apparently over but that doesn’t mean that he isn’t a good play still. He has made the cut in 25 of his last 26 events. A T32 at the Open Championship and a T23 at the PGA Championship is impressive for the last two majors. He is a strong ball-striker, which should serve him well at this course. He made the cut at this event last year and finished T16 in 2017. He is the 24th most expensive golfer on DK but is sixth in fantasy scoring.
FAVORITE $7,000 PLAYS
Kevin Streelman ($7,800)
He has made the cut in nine of his last 10 events, including seven in a row. He has three top-10 finishes during those 10 events. His worst finish was a T57 when he got into the Open Championship unexpectedly. He has made the Wyndham cut in all five tries, though the last time (2017) he finished T72.
Vaughn Taylor ($7,400)
Seven straight made cuts, including four top-20 finishes. In his last three events, he has finished fourth at the John Deere Classic and T6 at the Travelers. He has a solid floor and has shown upside. At this price, he becomes a very strong play. He missed the cut here last year but overall has made the cut in seven of his 11 Wyndham starts. In the last 24 rounds, he is 14th in total shots gained and 17th in fantasy scoring.
Peter Malnati ($7,100)
His stats don’t jump off the page for me but he combines solid recent form and cut making ability with decent course history. At this cheap price, all you need for him to do is to make the cut. He has made the cut in 15 of his last 16 events, including nine in a row. His finishing position has been getting worse and worse the last few starts so that does concern me but if you need someone cheap, he is a decent option. He has also made all four of his cuts here at the Wyndham, including a T24 last year.
Brice Garnett ($7,100)
Garnett is not someone that I normally play but he rates out very well in my model this week and is extremely cheap. Overall, he is my 19th ranked golfer. He has a strong approach game and is 25th in my customized overall stat model. He has made four cuts in a row on the PGA Tour with three top-25 finishes during that streak. He also finished 20th in each of his last two starts at the Wyndham (2018 and 2016).
FAVORITE $6,000 PLAYS
Nick Taylor ($6,800)
He has made the cut in 16 of his last 18 starts, including seven in a row. He also has four top-35 finishes during those seven straight events. He has made the cut in two straight Wyndham Championships, including a T8 last year.
Charlie Danielson ($6,100)
As far as punt plays go, this is as good as it gets. He should be low owned, and he is nearly min-priced. He finished T7 last week at the Barracuda and T15 at the 3M Open. If you want to see how he has done against strong competition, look no further than his made cut at the U.S. Open. He missed all of 2018 with an injury and is playing very well right now. He has four starts on the Mackenzie Tour since coming back and has three top-15 finishes. Certainly, that is a long way from the PGA Tour but combined with his recent PGA performances, show that he looks to be back in form.
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.