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DraftKings PGA Preview: WGC-Mexico Championship (2020)

Feb 18, 2020

Hideki Matsuyama has finished no worse than T11 in his last five no-cut events, including three top-three finishes.

After we were treated to a great event with Tiger’s tournament at Riviera last week, the best golfers head to the World Golf Championship in Mexico City. Seven of the world’s best will play in this no-cut event this week. My suggestion to you (and definitely, myself) is to go easy on the bankroll this week. WGC’s are hard to figure out from a DFS perspective. Manage your bankroll appropriately this week. Rory McIlroy (5:1) and Dustin Johnson (6:1) are the two favorites in the betting markets this week. Jon Rahm (10:1) and Justin Thomas (10:1) are the only other golfers with odds approaching single-digits.

DraftKings provides us with a salary cap of $50,000 to select six golfers (average roster spot of $8,333). Out of the seven golfers priced at $9,500 or above, only two of them are in the 11K range. Rory McIlroy ($11,500) and Dustin Johnson ($11,000) lead the way on DK pricing. Justin Thomas ($10,800), Jon Rahm ($10,600), Hideki Matsuyama ($10,000) are the only other golfers with five-figure price tags. The site has a variety of contests at different price points starting at $0.10 per entry. They also have a $10 contest with a $200,000 first-place prize.

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 my customized model that includes a variety 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 throughout the course of a golf season. However, from week-to-week, major variance can occur. This is especially true in a no-cut event. The margins are razor-sharp for these events. Don’t get too high or too low when looking at your rosters the first few days. So much can change on Sunday.

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.

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Tournament Notes

  • The WGC-Championship is played at the Club de Golf Chapultepec near Mexico City. The course is a Par-71 measuring 7,345 yards.
  • The course sits at an elevation of nearly 8,000 feet above sea level, which causes players to be able to hit the ball farther. Essentially, even though the course yardage is 7,345 yards, it plays about 6,700 yards.
  • The undulating poa greens average 5,100 square feet, which is below the Tour average. It measures a 12 on the stimp meter.
  • The Kikuyu fairways are narrow and tree-lined.
  • All three past champions finished in the top 10 at the Genesis. Adam Scott, Matt Kuchar, Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, and Chez Reavie are the only ones that could continue that trend this year.
  • Rory McIlroy and Webb Simpson have top-five finishes in each of their last two events.
  • This event has only been played in Mexico for the last three years.
  • Dustin Johnson won in 2019 (-21) and 2017 (-14), while Phil Mickelson won in 2018 (-16).
  • If you are into narratives, Carlos Ortiz and Abraham Ancer, members of the Presidents Cup team, are the two Mexicans in the field.

Course Fit & Key Statistics

Overall Statistics
My customized overall stat model measures all key stats (driving, approach, short game, putting, etc…) from both a short-and-long-form standpoint. From a stats perspective, this week’s best golfers (in ranked order) are Rory McIlroy, Hideki Matsuyama, Xander Schauffele, Adam Scott, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Webb Simpson, Colin Morikawa, Paul Casey, and Corey Conners.

Approach Game
The greens are among the smallest on the PGA Tour and players that can consistently hit a high number of greens in regulation will have an advantage. Traditionally, the golfers that have the best approach game and are able to stick the ball close, hitting a higher number of greens in regulation fare better at this tournament. In looking at both short and long-term form, the ten golfers with the best approach game combined with the ability to hit greens in regulation (in ranked order) are Adam Scott, Corey Conners, Hideki Matsuyama, Paul Casey, Rory McIlroy, Gary Woodland, Xander Schauffele, Jon Rahm, and Webb Simpson.

Recent Scoring Ability
It is always important to be playing well coming into a tournament. In particular, since we are playing DFS, it is valuable for a golfer to be scoring well, and not just making par after par. The golfers that rate out the best in my customized recent form scoring model for birdie-or-better percentage and fantasy scoring (in ranked order) are Rory McIlroy, Webb Simpson, Hideki Matsuyama, Adam Scott, Colin Morikawa, Louis Oosthuizen, Patrick Reed, Justin Thomas, Gary Woodland, and Jon Rahm.

Course History
The golfers who have gained the most total strokes at this course during the last three years (in ranked order) include Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Rory McIlroy, Sergio Garcia, Tyrell Hatton, Tommy Fleetwood, Paul Casey, Brandt Snedeker, Rafael Cabrera Bello, and Cameron Smith. DJ and JT have finished in the top 10 each of the three years the event has been in held in Mexico. Rory McIlroy is finished in the top 10 both times he has played on this course. Sergio Garcia is the only other golfer with top-10 finishes each of the last two years.

No-Cut Events
In a no-cut event, scoring matters more than cut-making ability. Each golfer is guaranteed to play four rounds of golf. In fact, two players could have the same finishing place but not the same fantasy scoring output. For example, two players could finish a round at even-par, but one had 18 pars and the other had nine birdies and nine bogeys. In DraftKings scoring, the golfer with all pars would have 9.0 DKFP but the one that was up-and-down all day would end up with 22.5 DKFP. In looking at the last 12 no-cut events played the past two years, the best golfers (in ranked order) have been Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas, Xander Schauffele, Hideki Matsuyama, Tyrell Hatton, Byeong Hun An, Gary Woodland, Paul Casey, Adam Scott, and Sungjae Im. Xander Schauffele has had four straight top-10 finishes in no-cut events. Rory McIlroy and Gary Woodland are the only other golfers with at least three straight top-10 finishes in no-cut events.

Official World Golf Ranking
All the statistics and course history are good to know but sports (in particular, DFS golf) oftentimes comes down to playing the best golfers. Sure, salary is involved but the more good golfers you can fit in your lineups, then the better chance you give yourself. According to the OWGR, the best ten golfers in this field (in ranked order) are Rory McIlroy (#1), Jon Rahm (#3), Justin Thomas (#4), Dustin Johnson (#5), Adam Scott (#7), Webb Simpson (#8), Xander Schauffele (#10), Tommy Fleetwood (#11), Patrick Reed (#14), and Matt Kuchar (#15).

Favorite Upper-Tier Plays

Rory McIlroy ($11,500)
His fifth place at Riviera last week gave him his eighth top-five in his last 12 worldwide starts worldwide. This includes wins at The TOUR Championship and the WGC-HSBC, both of which are no-cut events. He is firing on all cylinders right now and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him come out on top this week. He was runner-up to DJ here last year and was T7 in 2017.

Dustin Johnson ($11,000)
He didn’t exactly play well last week but was still within striking distance for much of the tournament before eventually finishing T10. He is still shaking some rust off and getting his game back to where it needs to be after his knee issues. He has three top-10 finishes in his last four worldwide starts. As for this course, he has won here twice in the last three years. He finished T7 in 2018.

Hideki Matsuyama ($10,000)
He has finished no worse than T11 in his last five no-cut events, including three top-three finishes. Matsuyama is coming off a T5 at the Genesis last week. He is a superior ball-striker with a strong approach game. In the last 24 rounds played, he ranks second in total strokes gained and third in fantasy scoring. The only concern for me is that he has only finished T19 and T25 here in Mexico City.

Favorite Mid-Tier Plays

Gary Woodland ($8,300)
He has not been setting the world on fire, but the 2019 PGA Champion seems slightly underpriced. Only he, Rory McIlroy, and Xander Schauffele have at least three straight top-10 finishes at no-cut events. He finished T7 at the Tournament of Champions, T5 at the ZOZO, and T3 at the CJ Cup. Additionally, he finished T15 at the TOUR Championship. His T17 last year was his best finish in Mexico. The biggest concern that I have is with his form as he is coming off having finished only T40 at the WMPO and missing the cut at the Farmers. I am betting on talent and his track record in no-cut events. I also plan on playing a good amount of Colin Morikawa ($8,500), who rates out extremely well statistically and is playing really well.

Sungjae Im ($8,000)
He finally missed a cut after making 14 in a row. That doesn’t matter for this week in a no-cut event. In fact, he shot 69-75, but one round doesn’t hurt too much in a no-cut event. Im leads the PGA Tour with the most rounds in the 60s. That is a big deal in a no-cut event. In his last five no-cut events, he has four top-20 finishes, including a T11 at the WGC-HSBC and T3 at the ZOZO (his last two played). In the last 50 rounds, he is eighth in fantasy scoring and 10th in total strokes gained.

Corey Conners ($7,500)
He is one of the world’s best ball-strikers. If he can have an average day putting, then he can really go low. In the last 36 rounds played, he is 21st in fantasy scoring and 25th in total strokes gained. He has a game that is well-suited for no-cut events. He has top-20 finishes in five of his last six no-cut events, including a T7 at the BMW and a T6 at the ZOZO.

Favorite Lower-Tier Plays

Byeong Hun An ($7,400)
In his last three no-cut events, he finished T14 at the WGC-HSBC, T8 at the ZOZO, and T6 at the CJ Cup at Nine Bridges. He is coming off a T9 at his last event (WMPO). He is a strong ball-striker and is a magician around the greens, in case he happens to miss these small greens with his approach shots.

Robert Macintyre ($7,200)
Prior to missing the cut in his last event (which doesn’t matter for this week’s no-cut event), he had a streak of six top-20 finishes, including four top-10s. During that stretch, he had a T17 at the WGC-HSBC. He is not a household name, but he might ring a bell from last summer’s Open Championship when he finished T6. He is a solid value in relation to his betting odds. He is 34th in the betting markets but is the 39th most expensive golfer on DK.

Scottie Scheffler ($7,100)
Only Rory McIlroy has scored more fantasy points in the last 24 rounds than has Scheffler. During that same stretch, he is also ranked third in total strokes gained. The guy can score and that is what is necessary for success at a no-cut event. He is tied with Hideki Matsuyama for fifth on the PGA Tour with 23 rounds in the 60s. Overall, he has six top-20 finishes in his 11 events this season, including three top-five finishes.

Favorite Punt Play

Carlos Ortiz ($6,600)
In the last 36 rounds played, he is 14th in total strokes gained and 15th in fantasy scoring. The Mexican native has a strong approach game, which should come in handy this week. In his last 10 events, he has three top-five finishes. He has finished T26 and T25 the last two weeks. He is also 12th on the PGA Tour with 21 rounds in the 60s this season, which can be very important in a no-cut event.

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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 a leadership consultant, 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 recommended in this article.