How is everyone doing today? I hope that everyone is as excited as I am for The PLAYERS Championship, one of the best events on the entire golf calendar. As many have accurately said before me, this golf tournament might have the strongest field of any. If you look at the majors, the Masters has a small field which includes former champions who have no chance of competing, the US Open and British Open have qualifiers and amateurs in the field, and the PGA Championship has local tour professionals who qualify.
The PLAYERS, often considered the 5th major, has only good golfers in the field. 48 of the top 50 players in the world are playing in this event, and I for one can’t wait for it to get started.
In terms of what I am looking for in lineup construction, unlike last week, the driver is not all that important a club. Many of these holes are surrounded by water, and players will be hitting irons or fairway metals off the tee. Stats that I am keying in on are strokes gained approach and greens in regulation. I am excited about the possibilities this week, so let’s see what we came up with.
If you have any questions – don’t hesitate to hit me up on Twitter at @AssemblyNeil.
Rory McIlroy ($11,200 DraftKings; $10,500 FanDuel) – Before I even get started on Rory, note that there is a bit of risk in this play as McIlory stated today that he is battling a bit of a back injury. Unless he pulls out of the tournament though, I am treating that as a red herring. Rory has been an absolute beast on this course as of late with 4 straight top 12 finishes, with 3 of those finishes in the top 10. I think McIlroy will find his way to the top of the leaderboard this week.
Jon Rahm ($9,600 DraftKings; $10,100 FanDuel) – This man is an absolute machine. Rahm had another top ten at the Wells Fargo Championship last week, his 4th such finish in his last 5 tournaments. Even more encouragingly, Rahm ranks an excellent 10th on tour in Strokes Gained Approach. This should be another top 10 finish for the 22 year-old Spaniard.
Upper Middle Class
Hideki Matsuyama ($9,700 DraftKings; $9,600 FanDuel) – To give you all a little insight on my process, I like to write this article when I am finished with my own research and before I read what others may be saying this week. This is quite simply because I want to give you my own opinions and analysis instead of rehashing what others might have said.
All this to say, I have a sneaking suspicion that Hideki Matsuyama will be overlooked this week. He is relatively high-priced, and his form has been pretty good, but not as good as it was early this season. That said, Matsuyama loves the PLAYERS as he is 3/3 in cuts made with all 3 finishes in the top 25 and 1 top 10 finish. Matsuyama also checks the box for Greens in Regulation as he ranks 14th on Tour in that stat. I will have a fair amount of Matsuyama exposure this week.
Rickie Fowler ($9,300 DraftKings/$9,400 FanDuel) – Fowler has a strange course history at this event as he has missed the cut disastrously twice in the last 5 years, but also has won this tournament and finished in 2nd place during the same time period. I feel like it will be good Rickie this week as he has been in phenomenal form this year. As you know, we are looking for players who are good in Strokes Gained Approach this week and Fowler is #4 on Tour in that stat. Let’s fire him up and look for another top 5 finish.
Francesco Molinari ($7,700 DraftKings; $7,600 FanDuel) – Molinari got off to a sparkling start at the Wells Fargo, shooting a 66 on Thursday but then fizzled to the finish line finishing in a tie for 24th place. His form has been pretty decent though this season making 8 of 9 cuts with to 25 finishes in 7 of those events. Molinari has a nice history at the PLAYERS with two straight top 10 finishes. He is also #3 on tour in Strokes Gained Approach. I may have mentioned that I want to play guys who excel in that stat this week.
Bill Haas ($7,400 DraftKings; $7,600 FanDuel) – Usually the first step in my research is not actually research at all. I take a look at the DraftKings and FanDuel salaries and I write down the guys that I think are underpriced and that I think I will base my lineups around. Bill Haas did not make my first list. But the more I dig, the more I like him this week. Haas has made 4 of his last 5 cuts at this event including 3 top 26 finishes and 1 top 5 finish. He also is an accurate player ranking #19 in Greens in Regulation, one of my stats of the week. Haas has missed his last two cuts, so form is potentially an issue, but I will have him in a fair amount of lineups this week.
Bang for your Buck
Tony Finau ($7,400 DraftKings; $7,000 FanDuel) – This might be my favorite value play of the week. I do fear that Finau may be a little bit chalky in GPPs, but no matter. At this price he is almost a must play. First off, Finau’s recent form is off the charts for a guy at this price point. He has made 4 straight cuts, including two top 5 finishes. Moreover, Finau has been masterful with his irons this year ranking 23rd on Tour in Strokes Gained Approach and an even more impressive 5th in Greens in Regulation. Finau’s downfall used to be his putting but he has made huge strides in that area this year. I feel good about Tony this week.
Marc Leishman ($6,800 DraftKings; $7,100 FanDuel) – Leishman is one of the few guys that I will have heavy exposure to that does not tick the boxes in terms of a strong approach game. That is actually the weakest part of his game as he ranks higher in strokes gained off the tee and strokes gained putting than strokes gained approach. That having been said, Leishman is priced right and has an excellent history at the PLAYERS. He has made 5 consecutive cuts, including 3 top 25 finishes and 1 top 10. In this case, the proof is in the pudding and if we can get an excellent player with a good course history at an excellent price, I will fit him into my lineups, regardless of the stats.
Bernd Weisberger ($6,800 DraftKings; $6,300 FanDuel) – Weisberger is mainly a European Tour player and that tour keeps some pretty crappy stats, so I actually am not sure where Weisberger ranks in terms of approach game. The eye test, however, tells me that he is pretty accurate with his irons. More importantly, Weisberger is an excellent player who is in excellent form, with consecutive top 5 finishes including a win on the European Tour. He is the 30th ranked player in the world and is priced near the bottom of the barrel. I will be sure to pair him up with Rory and Rahm to fill out my lineups.
Kyle Stanley ($6,700 DraftKings; $5,500 FanDuel) – When I think of guys with deadly approach games, I think of Kyle Stanley. This guy ranks 9th on tour in strokes gained approach and 3rd in greens in regulation. Somehow it has not translated to major success just yet, but especially at $5,500 on FanDuel, Kyle Stanley will be all over my lineups.
OTHERS OF NOTE:
I just want to quickly point out some guys that look to be underpriced on one site, but priced properly on the other. On FanDuel, I like Kevin Chappell ($6,700), Patrick Cantlay ($6,000) and Russell Henley ($6,800). On DraftKings, I like Branden Grace ($6,800) and Adam Hadwin ($6,900). And one more guy that I love, but I just ran out of space to write about is Cameron Smith ($6,900 DraftKings; $6,300 FanDuel). This young Ozzie is super-talented and is coming off of his first career win.
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