Guess who’s back?? Last week Tiger Woods made his triumphant return to the golf world, and this week is arguably even more exciting. Yes ladies and gents — I am back for my first DFS golf preview of the year! Almost as exciting as Tiger’s return, right? Right???
This week the PGA Tour plays one of its most fun events – the Waste Management Open. This tournament features the par-3 16th hole which has stadium seating and is easily the loudest hole in golf. The folks in Arizona get rowdy for this golf tournament and it usually brings about exciting play. TPC Scottsdale is a Par 71 course, measuring about 7,250 yards. All three par 5s are easily reachable and there is also a driveable par 4. Fantasy scoring will be high this week. I focused on 5 stats this week: strokes gained total, strokes gained approach, strokes gained around the green, birdie average and par 4 scoring. Let’s get right to it.
If you have any questions – don’t hesitate to hit me up on Twitter at @AssemblyNeil.
Jordan Spieth ($11,400 DraftKings/$12,500 FanDuel) – Despite the fact that Hideki Matsuyama is the back-to-back champion at this event and has four straight top 5 finishes, Spieth is my highest owned player of the week on both sites. Spieth leads the field in par 4 scoring and is 3rd in the field in birdie average. On top of that, while Spieth has not been dominant at this course like Hideki, he still has top 10 finishes in his only two appearances at this event. I am picking Spieth to win this week.
Rickie Fowler ($10,400 DraftKings/$11,900 FanDuel) – Rickie burned some folks last week when he missed the cut by one stroke at the Farmers Insurance Open. I am hopeful (though not all that optimistic) that this will lead to slightly depressed ownership because I think Fowler will be near the top of the leaderboard by the end of the weekend. Fowler leads the field in strokes gained around the green and is 6th in the field in birdie average which portends great things. Even more exciting is Rickie’s course history as he has top 5 finishes in his last two appearances at TPC Scottsdale. Fowler could make it 3 top 5s in a row this week.
Upper Middle Class
Webb Simpson ($8,900 DraftKings/$11,000 FanDuel) – There are definitely some fellows who dig this event, and Webb Simpson is certainly one of those fellows. Simpson has finished in the top ten 4 of the last 5 times he has played this tournament. And it is not like he pooped the bed that fifth time either as he finished in a very respectable 14th place. It is easy to see why Webb does so well at this event as he is 2nd in the field in par 4 scoring average and is 7th in strokes gained total. I will be paying to see if Simpson can add another top 10 finish to his resume.
Phil Mickelson ($8,500 DraftKings/$10,300 FanDuel) – I wonder what Mickelson’s ownership will be this week. On one hand, his form has been patently mediocre the last two weeks as he has missed a cut and finished a pedestrian 45th place last week. On the other hand, Mickelson is another guy who has had success at this course. Prior to TPC Scottsdale’s redesign in 2013, Mickelson was otherworldly in the desert, with a win, a runner up and another top 10 finish. However, even with the tighter course layout, Phil has been quite solid here with consecutive top 16 finishes the last two years. Mickelson is 6th in the field in strokes gained approach and 4th in birdie average. This looks like it might be his breakout week.
Zach Johnson ($7,700 DraftKings/$10,600 FanDuel) – DraftKings has some funny pricing this week, and ZJ is among those who is criminally underpriced. For one, he has been in solid form this year with top 25 finishes in his last four events. On top of that, (and stop me if you have heard this before), Johnson is yet another golfer who has played really well on this track. ZJ has five straight top 25 finishes on this course, including landing in the top 15 the last 3 years. In terms of stats, Johnson is 5th in the field in birdie average and 10th in the field in strokes gained approach. ZJ should be another mainstay in both your cash and tournament lineups.
Ollie Schniederjans ($7,600 DraftKings/$9,100 FanDuel) – I was going to throw Patrick Reed in here as he is yet another guy who is severely discounted on DraftKings, but I figured I should give you a player who is affordable on FanDuel as well. First, full disclosure, I am an unabashed Ollie lover. This guy has amazing talent and will be a multiple time winner on the PGA Tour in due time, and I believe he has a major or two in him as well. This course sets up well for Ollie’s game as he is 7th in the field in birdie average and 13th in strokes gained total. Schniederjans does not have as extensive a course history as the guys that I outlined before, but he did finish a pretty solid 24th place in his only appearance here last year. I like him to do even better this time around.
Bang for your Buck
Cameron Smith ($7,400 DraftKings/$9,200 FanDuel) – The talented young Aussie has been in form this year, with 5 straight top 25 finishes, including a win in his homeland. I like for Smith’s good form to continue in the desert as his stats line up extremely well for this course. Smith is 5th in the field in par 4 scoring average and is 10th in birdie average. He is the first of my picks with spotty course history (42nd place and missed cut), but hopefully that leads to low ownership. Smith should be in contention this week.
Bud Cauley ($7,300 DraftKings/$9,300 FanDuel) – Cauley is another talented young golfer who should perform well at this fun venue. The erstwhile University of Alabama standout has not missed a cut at this event, though his finishes have all been mid-pack. I think Cauley has a higher finish in him as he is 6th in the field in strokes gained total and 18th in strokes gained around the green. This price seems low for Bud and I think he will more than make value.
Kevin Na ($6,900 DraftKings/$9,100 FanDuel) – This was another strange pricing decision by DraftKings as Na has been dynamite on this course in his career. Na has made 10 of 11 cuts at this event, including his last 6. But Na is not just making the cut, he has some excellent finishes in Scottsdale, including 3 top 5s. In his last 4 years at this tournament, Na has finished in the top 26 each year. His stats line up well for a repeat as he is 5th in the field in strokes gained around the green. Look for another top 20 for Na.
John Peterson ($6,900 DraftKings/$7,800 FanDuel) – This should be a low owned play and is one that I am excited for in GPPs. Peterson is fresh off of a medical exemption and has been playing decent golf in his return. Peterson actually leads this field in birdie average and is 3rd in the field in strokes gained approach, which are key indicators for a good finish. On top of that, Peterson actually has some decent course history as he had a 12th place finish here last year. This is a boom or bust play, but I think Peterson will go boom this week.
OTHERS OF NOTE:
Here are some other guys that will make their way into my lineups:
Ryan Palmer ($7,900 DraftKings/$9,300 FanDuel) is in good form, coming off a 2nd place finish last week. He traditionally plays well here and should do decently well.
Francesco Molinari ($7,300 DraftKings/$10,200 FanDuel) is a world class player who is probably $1,500 too cheap on DraftKings. Take advantage of this silly price.
Brendan Steele ($7,800 DraftKings/$9,600 FanDuel) is another guy who is much too cheap on both sites. Steele is 15th in the field in birdie average.
Peter Uihlein ($6,800 DraftKings/$8,700 FanDuel) is a scorer and this is a course that yields birdies. I will be firing him up in GPPs.
Chesson Hadley ($6,900 DraftKings/$8,900 FanDuel) has been in form this season and is 2nd in the field in strokes gained total.
Good luck to all of you this week!