Although we managed to grab onto the eventual winner, Hideki Matsuyama and hold a nice piece of third place finisher, Harris English, last week proved to be a somewhat harrowing experience as we had multiple casualties who fell short of the 2-day cutline. Onward and upward!
The PGA Tour continues its West Coast swing this week as we remain in California for the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. This event, much like the CareerBuilder from three weeks ago, features a 54-hole cut and will be sure to offer some superb golf. It’s a bit of a test out there on weeks like this as the Pro-Am can really kill a player’s momentum and groove as you can imagine the talent gap between these PGA Tour pros and their amateur partners is quite sizable. Last year saw Brandt Snedeker open with a first round 64 and never look back as he posted 3 consecutive 67s thereafter to claim the title by three over Nick Watney.
Three courses make their way into the rotation during this tournament and oddly enough, not a single one of them measures over 7,000 yards. Pebble Beach Golf Links plays as the official host of the event and the iconic 18 hole track gets Sunday’s final round. Monterey Peninsula CC plays as the easiest of the 3 courses on a consistent yearly basis so targeting players who begin their tournament here is never a bad idea but certainly not a necessity. Spyglass Hill rounds out the bunch and traditionally plays as the hardest course in the rotation. Four of the last five years have seen Spyglass play over par through the first 3 days of the tournament.
Even with all three courses being so short, I’ve seen a lot of chatter about Driving Distance being at a premium this week. Now, I can see the logic behind this in that longer hitters will essentially turn this place into a Drive, Chip and Putt championship. However, from my experience, any course measuring under 7,000 yards is not nearly long enough to contain any player on the PGA Tour so I don’t feel as though you need to focus so heavily on distance but rather Total Driving would be a much smarter way to go. All three courses in this rotation are comprised of Poa greens so this is something we definitely want to pay attention to and find players who have positive Poa versus Bermuda splits. As a result, Strokes Gained Putting will be a very important statistic this week. And once again, what’s the simplest and most effective way to climb the leaderboard? Birdies, and lots of them. So, much like every other week, Birdie Average / Birdie or Better% will be a main focus. Last, but not least, Proximity from 125-150 yards will be at a premium this week as I believe the majority of a players shots are going to fall into this range. Whoever can manage themselves the best from said distance will certainly have a great shot at taking down the title. Now, without further ado, let’s take a look at some players we’ll be targeting.
High End Targets ($9,000+)
• Jordan Spieth
Not a whole lot ever needs to be said to justify taking the #1 golfer in OWGR. Spieth is an incredible talent and a genuinely solid lad so pulling for his success is quite easy. We last saw the young Texan on North American soil in early January when he shredded the field at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions making 28 Birdies and 2 Eagles en route to posting 166 DK points. To put into perspective just how good this kid is, if you look at his last 8 competitive rounds in the US of A he’s a combined 50 under par. Let thank sink in for a minute. Spieth ranks at or near the top in almost every statistical category of relevance and week after week he shows us why. Using Fantasy Golf Metrics’ Player Comparison Tool, during that incredible 8 round stretch that Spieth has been on, his Strokes Gained Putting number is +7.639, Birdie or Better% is 36.8%, and his Strokes Gained Tee to Green is +9.58. Those numbers are utterly ridiculous. Even at a price tag of $12,300, this man is still underpriced. It will be interesting to see whether the masses pivot down to DJ, Snedeker, and Mickelson because if they do, getting Spieth at anything less than 20% is criminal and will go a massive way to ensuring profit this week.
• Brandt Snedeker
It’s kind of hard to write a targets article and not include the hottest golfer on the planet. Sneds has won this event two of the last three years and somehow finds himself as only the 4th most expensive player on the slate. Having enjoyed an incredible amount of success throughout his career on Poa courses, Snedeker has tallied $6.26M more on these courses than that of the Bermuda type. Aside from being arguably the best putter on Tour not named Spieth, Sneds ups his putting stats on Poa surfaces. In 129 starts on these types of greens, the Vanderbilt product has gained 2.013 strokes over the playing field on average per event. The thing about Brandt is that you wouldn’t necessarily believe he’s the hottest golfer going right now just by looking at his stats as he’s 159th in Total Driving, 48th in Proximity from 125-150, and 52nd in Birdie Average but because he’s such an incredible putter you almost have to ride him when he’s hot as he can pour the ball in from anywhere.
• Jimmy Walker
Mr. Consistency himself, Slippin’ Jimmy Walker. Jimmy rolls into Pebble Beach toting some fantastic form and even better Tournament History. Since 2011, we haven’t seen this man outside of the top 21 come week’s end. With a win here in 2014, a T3 in 2013 and back to back T9s in ’12 and ’13, Jimmy seems to get along well with this event. The product of Baylor University tips the scales in all of our key stats this week as he’s 12th in Total Driving, 22nd in Proximity from 125-150, 2nd in Strokes Gained Putting, and 8th in Birdie Average. That’s a pretty legitimate mix to get yourself into contention at any PGA Tour event. An interesting tidbit on Jimmy here that I believe many will overlook is his Apex Height. Basically, Jimmy is known for hitting a much more piercing ball than most of his combatants and with the wind expected to be kicking up during Saturday’s round this is something that will benefit Jimmy immensely as his shots won’t be ballooning into the wind and coming up short.
• Patrick Reed
Reed makes for an interesting play this week as I’m not really sure what to expect of his ownership. I feel as though there’s a chance he comes off as a contrarian play while I also feel there’s a chance many people will take his name value and feel that $9,600 is too low and roster him that way. Ownership aside, I’m high on Reed this week. The brash American comes into the week having withdrawn from the Farmers Insurance Open two weeks ago citing an ankle injury but I think we can all conclude he was likely excusing himself from having to play in those treacherous conditions while he stood no chance of winning the event. The one thing that stuck out to me with Reed this week is that in 48 career starts on Poa greens versus 45 career starts on Bermuda greens his Strokes Gained Putting numbers are +1.037 over the field on Poa surfaces. With this week’s greens being rather small overall I feel as though there’s a premium on putting and this is the sort of confidence boost we’re looking for. Having played this event from 2013-2015, Reed has managed finishes of T7, T13 and T29. His 16th place ranking in Total Driving, 34th in Proximity from 125-150 and 23rd in Birdie Average has the Georgia Bulldog poised for another title run.
Mid Range Targets ($8,900 – $7,000)
• Shane Lowry
There’s been an interesting tidbit of news circulating through the Tour this week in which players were asked about when they’re playing multiple weeks in a row, at what point do they feel most in tune with their game. The overwhelmingly popular answer was week 3. Now, Shane Lowry comes into Pebble on his third consecutive week of action in which he’s seen his results improve the previous two. After a T13 at the Farmers, Lowry built upon that result and finished T6 at the Waste Management last week in Phoenix. The Irishman made his first appearance at Pebble last year where he finished in a tie for 21st. Lowry rates out very fairly in Fantasy Golf Metrics’ Custom Rankings Dashboard as he’s 35th in Birdie or Better%, 52nd in Proximity from 125-150, 97th in Strokes Gained Putting, and 24th in Total Driving. Ride the hot hand and feel confident in rostering Lowry this week.
• David Lingmerth
Back to the well we go. Lingmerth burned me bad last week but I’m reverting to a short memory on this one. The Swede is just incredibly underpriced in my opinion and that’s something we need to take advantage of. As I expect basically the entire field to spend the extra $100 and go with Danny Lee in this price range, I think we’re going to grab Lingmerth at an absolute steal of a percentage here this week. Although he’s not incredible at any one aspect, he’s insanely solid at all of them. Just a few weeks ago we saw the true talent of this Swede shine through as he went 62-65 on his two weekend rounds before ultimately losing to Jason Dipner in a playoff. The FGM Customer Rankings Dashboard has Lingmerth slotted at 18th in Birdie or Better%, 50th in Proximity from 125-150, 13th in Total Driving, and 86th in SGP. Basically, if he can get his putter going early and often this week we could be in for some serious fireworks. Simply too cheap for a player of his quality, I have a lot of faith in David Lingmerth this week.
• Jonas Blixt
If you’re looking for a sneaky GPP option this week then look nor further than Mr. Hans Blix. The Swede’s stats don’t necessarily jump off the page in terms of what we’re looking for this week but I feel he’s viable due to his drastic performance splits on Poa versus your standard Bermuda grass. Much like the aforementioned Brandt Snedeker, Blixt has accumulated $3,862,868 more prize money on Poa courses in his career. That’s an insanely drastic difference compared to Bermuda. Such an increase in his winnings can be attributed to several factors. Blixt finishes an average 21.6 spots better on Poa, accumulates 10.8 more DK points, gains 12.7 DK points against the field, makes 29.3% more cuts, and has a +0.799 strokes gained putting number. If those empirical stats aren’t intriguing to you, we need to talk, pal. Just two weeks ago Blixt played the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines on Poa and finished T6 with a 77 in brutal conditions during the Sunday/Monday final round. Now, I’m not saying Jonas is a world-beater by any stretch of the imagination but I feel as though he certainly brings a lot of value to the table this week.
• Sean O’Hair
Sean O’Hair is a guy we’ve come to know for his relatively consistent results from week to week. His past five years here at this event have resulted in him going 5/5 in cuts made with no finish higher than T56. Hi consistency shines through when you look at his rankings in our key stats of the week. 50th in Total Driving, 39th in Proximity from 125-150, 58th in Birdie Average, and 60th in SGP. Obviously nothing in that list blows you away, but nothing in that list makes you question O’Hair’s abilities. Very steady from tee to green, I feel we can expect much of the same from O’Hair this week.
Low End Targets (>$7,000)
• Lucas Glover
Offering much in the way of salary relief, I see Lucas Glover being a strong option this week. We know this guy can win as he’s a proven US Open Champion but he’s just lacked the consistency since then. At a +28 salary vs odds comparison we’re getting Glover at a massive discount this week. Ranking 9th in Birdie or Better%, 5th in Proximity from 125-150, 148th in SGP, and solo 1st in Total Driving in FGM’s Custom Model, Glover is the man for salary relief this week. The beauty of this 54-hole cut is that we can take more risks on our scrubs as they’re guaranteed a full three rounds of action this week giving them a much better chance at actually advancing through the cutline and making some noise on Sunday.
• Chez Reavie
Reavie has struggled the last two weeks having missed the cut at both the Farmers and Waste Management but I feel like the time is right for him to get back on track here this week. Reavie finished T16 at his last 54-hole cut event which was the CareerBuilder Championship three weeks ago. Although he is obviously lacking a little form, this tournament could provide the perfect boost as Reavie has some tremendous Poa vs Bermuda splits. He’s amassed $2.4M more on Poa surfaces than he has on Bermuda in just 10 more starts. Reavie’s Top 25% is 8.5% higher while his Cuts Made% is 8.6% higher on Poa. With so few trusting options below the $7,000 mark, we’re looking to hit it big on one of these guys and that guy could be Reavie. 42nd in Birdie or Better%, 19th in Proximity from 125-150, 122nd in SGP, and 12th in Total Driving, if Chez can get his putter going he could be a welcomes surprised.
Below is a link to The Fantasy Golf’s model which I have used to quote statistics throughout this article for all those who would like to check it out on their own:
Stats quoted with FGM can be found here:
Best of luck to all competitors this weekend!