Chalky Hoffman was a unanimous pick to win last week and he paid off nicely for all those who took him. Charley played solid golf all the way through the Valero and proved that course history really is something to rely on in certain cases. Hoffman grabbed the victory with a lovely sandy bird on 18 which placed him one shot better than his playing partner, Patrick Reed. Reed actually played better golf down the stretch and gave himself some truly makeable birdie putts on 16 and 17 which he was unable to convert.
This week, the TOUR moves on to Texas’ neighbor to the East, Louisiana, for the playing of the Zurich Classic. Truth be told, this is kinda of a lull in the PGA TOUR schedule as we see less star power in these events than what is common from week to week. As such, it makes player selection a little more difficult but DFS a little more fun as we can really exploit expected ownership levels on certain players.
In the 2015 installment of the Zurich we saw players take on a completely soaked course after the Louisiana area was hammered with rain for a large portion of play on Friday and Saturday. As such, they were able to take advantage of the soft conditions and post some severely low numbers. In the opening round, we saw Boo Weekley and Brendon de Jonge get off to hot starts as they both lit this track up to the tune of 8 under 64’s. The second round brought forth a massive charge from Aussie, Marc Leishman, who rolled in 10 birdies to total a round of 63. That round brought Leishman 116 spots up the leaderboard but he ultimately cooled off and settled for a T28 finish. Round three saw another Aussie pop up in the form of current World #1, Jason Day. By the completion of the third round (had to be finished Sunday morning due to weather) Day held the co-lead alongside Englishman, Justin Rose, at 16 under par. Due to time constraints with all the weather delays that occurred throughout the week, the TOUR decided not to repair the groups for the 4th round of play. As a result, Day and Rose were not paired with one another. Rose played some phenomenal golf in the final round as he fired a closing 66 to finish at 22 under par and take the title by 1 shot over a surging Cameron Tringale. By my count, there were fifty-five players at least 10 under for the tournament, a sign of the traditionally low scoring of this event.
TPC Louisiana is a very interesting track. If you strictly look at the total yardage this place houses (7,520), you’d be led to believe it’s a true bombers track while in fact, that is not the case. Yes, hitting the ball long off the tee is always an advantage and something to consider but the makeup of holes here doesn’t necessarily lend itself to one type of player over another. If you take a look at the leaderboard over the past several years of this event, it’s littered with average length hitters. The thing is, this course is extremely gettable as the average winning score since 2010 has been 19 under. The greens are slightly smaller than the TOUR average at just 5,700 sq. ft. so hitting plenty of them is what has proven to be the key to competing over the years (who would’ve thought?!). Since the TOUR moved to this venue in 2005, players have actually hit the greens at a 67% clip which is very, very impressive. This leads me to believe two things:
- Driving Accuracy isn’t critically important this week
- Putting will be of less importance
Let me explain. Driving Accuracy takes a step down this week because such a historically high GIR% leads me to believe that the rough isn’t a massive factor in inhibiting players from reaching greens and upon a little further research I found that the type of grass used in the rough here is that of TifSport Bermudagrass. Now, TifSport was developed by Dr. Wayne Hanna at the University of Georgia and, as it’s name states, its main purpose is for sports use. As such, the grass has been designed to withstand a lot of wear and tear so it’s a rather dense grass. This week, it’s set at just 2″ in height so any ball that travels into it will have a very high chance of propping up nicely rather than nestling down. This, I believe, has attributed immensely over the years to the massive GIR% success rate. As for putting, the greens are slated to run at 11′ on the stimp this week which is below the TOUR average and considered somewhat slow to be honest. Due to this, players can be far more aggressive on their putts. The green surfaces do have some undulation as they’re a Pete Dye design but it’s far less than his typical output.
This is getting to be very long for an intro so let’s get tour our key stats for the week:
- Birdie or Better %
- Where the typical winning score falls anywhere from -15 to -22 it’s essential to make a ton of birdies
- Par 5 Scoring
- Par 5’s are extremely gettable on this course, refer to this graphic from FantasyLabs which shows the last three years of Par 5 scoring:
- Strokes Gained: Tee to Green (12 week average)
- Where this event lends itself to such low scores, we need to focus on overall solid play and the best measure of that is SG:T2G. Fantasy Golf Metrics has a wonderful wealth of SG:T2G statistics packed into their Survival Guide every week
As you can probably tell, most of our stats are somewhat intertwined this week but breaking down the whole into it’s specific parts will produce a more thorough and trustworthy path of research. So, without further ado, let’s take a look at our targets this week.
High End Targets ($10,000+)
** For this top tier, it should be noted that I’m very high on all players available and as such I won’t spend a lot of time breaking them down as they all fit our keys extremely well. The only exception is that of Berger. However, it should be noted that I still think Berger is a viable play, I just think you’re better off with one of the five guys listed below. **
• Jason Day
Day is simply an unreal golfer and needs to be on your radar every time he tees it up for the foreseeable future. This man is #1 in the world for a multitude of reasons.
- SGT2G: +3.874
- BoB: 23.3%
- Par 5: -0.49
• Justin Rose
Rosie comes in as likely the chalk of the week. Winner here last year with a slew of top level finishes throughout his multiple trips here.
- SGT2G: +6.183
- BoB: 24.4%
- Par 5: -0.48
• Rickie Fowler
Rickie has a wonderful game for this course. A phenomenal ball striker and putter, he should find himself near the top come the weekend.
- SGT2G: +9.472
- BoB: 22.8%
- Par 5: -0.43
• Charley Hoffman
One of the hottest golfers on the planet, the type of form we love to capture. Victory hangover? I think not.
- SGT2G: +3.343
- BoB: 20.5%
- Par 5: -0.30
• Billy Horschel
First career win came here in ’13. Riding a string of solid play. T4 last week.
- SGT2G: +2.823
- BoB: 20.7%
- Par 5: -0.32
Mid Range Targets ($9,900 – $8,000)
• Smylie Kaufman
Last time we saw Smylie tee it up, he stumbled to a disastrous final round 81 at Augusta. Such a finish was somewhat predictable as the young American found himself in the final pairing alongside his pal, Jordan Spieth. Any of you who followed the recent vacation of Smylie, Thomas, Fowler, and Spieth saw just how laxed the boys were about their respective collapses as they even went as far as to chirp each other. I love seeing that stuff and it tells me Smylie is in the right spot mentally and won’t have any issues teeing it back up this week. The LSU Tiger gains 2.196 strokes on the field from tee to green, makes birdie or better on 18.8% of his holes, and plays his Par 5s in -0.28 strokes to par. Lovely numbers for this track.
• Marc Leishman
Leish fits the bill really well for what we’re looking for this week. He’s a very strong ball striker and plots himself around courses very nicely. With Pete Dye designs, he tends to visually intimidate players and force them to play a lot of target golf which is exactly what makes Leish so appealing. A 28th place showing last year on the heels of a second round 63 has this Aussie poised for improvement.
- SGT2G: +3.991
- BoB: 19.4%
- Par 5: -0.28
• Charles Howell III
CH3 is yet again price so oddly. DK just loves to dangle this guy in front of us such that it’s nearly impossible to fade him. Especially when we consider how well he fits all the keys that we’re looking for this week. Chucky gains 3.684 strokes on the field from T2G, holds an 18.9% BoB clip, and runs through the Par 5s at a wonderful -0.39 scoring average.
• Danny Lee
Mr. Lee is someone that is always on my radar at events like this. His style of play suits this track so well as he’s a premium target golfer. Danny commands himself properly and doesn’t find a ton of trouble. His biggest issue in my eyes has been his Driving Accuracy but with the course setting up shorter this week I think we’ll see him gear down quite often and leave very accessible approaches into the greens thus augmenting his chances of success a great deal.
- SGT2G: +1.289
- BoB: 20%
- Par 5: -0.33
• Patton Kizzire
Kizzire is someone whose grown on me a great deal throughout this season. He grabbed his TOUR card by way of leading the Web.com Tour’s money list last season. Kizzire held nearly a $200k lead on second place, Martin Piller. Last week we saw Piller enjoy some wonderful success at the Valero and I feel this week could lend itself to some Patton style fireworks. The strong standing American doesn’t fulfill our exact needs in the SGT2G department as he loses 0.696 strokes to the field but he bounces back in a strong way with a 19.2% BoB clip and -0.35 Par 5 scoring average.
• Gary Woodland
Woodland is very intriguing at his price this week. He’s an absolute bomber which isn’t necessary this week but will very rarely hurt a player. His length is something that could have him slashing these Par 5s into bits and really generating a good buzz for our lineups. Gary is widely considered to be the best all-around athlete on TOUR and his keys check out wonderfully as he ranks inside the Top 59 in all three categories:
- SGT2G: +1.681
- BoB: 19.9%
- Par 5: -0.58 (#1 on TOUR)
Low End Targets (<$8,000)
• Steve Stricker
Trusty ‘ol Strick. This lad was just named as the 2017 Presidents Cup captain for the Americans. Such an honor. The thing with Strick is that he’s basically the true model of consistency among golfers as his swing very rarely slips out of form and his putter is routinely hot. If he can manage to continue striking the ball well I think we could see him roll in a ridiculous amount of putts this week and catapult himself up the leaderboard. The TOUR veteran has finished inside the Top 13 in three of his last four trips here as well as inside the Top 11 in two of his last three starts on TOUR overall.
- SGT2G: -0.999
- BoB: 20%
- Par 5: -0.22
• Boo Weekley
Booooo. Horses for courses. This guy right here fits that bill to a T. Boo has made three consecutive cuts on TOUR and comes here with some lovely course history. Not quite to the level we saw with Charley Hoffman last week, but very respectable nonetheless:
- 2015: 3rd
- 2014: T29
- 2013: T6
- 2012: DNP
- 2011: CUT
- 2010: T10
- 2009: T13
At just $7.8k, Boo is sure to be highly owned this week but don’t let that deter you from tossing him into your cash lineups. Notice I said cash lineups there as I don’t think he’s the most +EV GPP play available in this price tier. His BoB% is just a little too low and I don’t feel like he can push deep enough into the red figures for four consecutive days to truly compete for the win.
- SGT2G: +0.672
- BoB: 18.7%
- Par 5: -0.33
• Jamie Donaldson
Jamie Donaldson is rating out very highly for us this week but I do have one glaring concern and that is his SGT2G play. Donaldson has lost 1.925 strokes to the field from tee to green over the last 12 weeks. I would be lying if I told you that didn’t concern me but I think the positives outweigh such a number this week. Donaldson is a truly talented player as he ranks 56th in the world but simply isn’t priced as such. For the sake of a quick comparison, Daniel Berger is the 47th ranked player in the world while Smylie is the 49th and they’re priced at $10.1k and $9.5k respectively. I think jumping on this price break is something we need to strongly consider this week when digging into this price tier. The Welshman sports a nice respectable 18.1% BoB clip while scoring -0.32 strokes to par on his Par 5s.
• Luke List
Luke has been on a nice surge of late having made his last four cuts successively and not finishing outside the Top 39 during that span. He was a popular play at the Valero last week as he’s a bomber and things panned out well for his owners so he likely will be respectfully owned again this week but it’s for good reason. Every one of his keys check out very well for here:
- SGT2G: +1.973
- BoB: 19%
- Par 5: -0.29
• Whee Kim
Whee Kim has been on fire having made his last 5 cuts in a row. Last week he treated his owners to a respectable 29th place finish at the Valero in which he rolled in 17 birds. That’s a good sign for this week as we know the amount required to win will be even higher. Statistically speaking, Whee is actually a very mediocre play this week but I feel like the combo of form and a solid 8th place finish in his only showing here last year has him primed for a strong push.
- SGT2G: -0.646
- BoB: 17.4%
- Par 5: -0.15
• Alex Cejka
The ultimate salary relief this week comes in the form of grizzled vet, Alex Cejka. The product of Czech Republic has been on TOUR since 1989 but has recently found a good bit of form. The one worry is the neck injury that he has been dealing with which has forced him to WD from two events since February. Other than that, for $6.3k, I can’t see anything wrong with playing Cejka. In fact, he actually rates out near the top of FGM’s 2nd tier in their player rankings for the week. Everything about his game just makes sense for his tiny price. Is it too good to be true? Possibly, but it’s certainly worth the minimal salary risk.
- SGT2G: +1.937
- BoB: 21.2%
- Par 5: -0.34
All stats referenced in this article are a product of FGM: