Firestone CC: Akron, OH Par 70, 7,400 yards
Defending Champion: Dustin Johnson (-6) by one shot over Scott Piercy
ROSTER LOCK: 7:30am EST (6:30 CST, 5:30 MST, 4:30 PST)
Looks like rain off and on for the first two days of the tournament, with winds picking up to about 15 mph on Friday and Saturday. The Tour has moved up tee times so that everyone tees off in the morning the first two days, within a two-hour span. So I don't see any advantage in stacking tee-times. If it's going to be this soft, it gives an edge to long distance drivers and those who are good at approach.
In no particular order, here are the projected highest owned players: Jon Rahm, Rickie Fowler, Kyle Stanley, Jordan Spieth, Daniel Berger
I don't have a great feel on others. Those five are the most likely to be over 20%, but I wouldn't be surprised if someone else was.
My Lineup Changes
Players I'm playing not listed on Monday: None.
Players I'm higher on than I was Monday: Daniel Berger, Jason Dufner, Kevin Chappell, Justin Rose, Charley Hoffman
Players I'm NOT play listed on the Monday article: Matt Kuchar (I'm not concerned about vertigo, just like others around his price), Branden Grace (didn't like that range. Grace was last person off my list), Adam Scott, Zach Johnson, Marc Leishman, Patrick Reed, Brian Harman, Bernd Wiesberger, Pat Perez, Hideto Tanihara, Brendan Steele.
Once I get hit the word "Publish" on this update, I will be starting the PGA Championship analysis. I will be on SiriusXM at 10:35 EST on Saturday to talk a little bit about it, if you want to listen in.
I think I could have built 15 lineups this week; there are so many options. I limited myself to one lineup on each site due to the fact it's a No Cut event. The 8k range on DraftKings is one that you saw I only rostered one player from. It should also be a low owned range so in tournaments, playing everyone from there may be a good idea. Be smart with the bankroll this week and get ready for the PGA Championship next week.
The third World Golf Championship of the year takes place in Ohio this week as a final prep for the PGA Championship next week. This is an invite only, reserved for anyone who won a tournament that met a certain field strength during the past year, and for anyone who made the Ryder Cup. With only 76 golfers, it is a no-cut event, meaning every golfer gets four rounds unless they withdraw or get disqualified.
RBC Canadian Open Recap
For the fourth time this season, a golfer came in as defending champ, and defended his crown. Jhonnatan Vegas won for the second year in a row, suddenly turning a trend of five missed cuts prior to his win. The birdie-fest led to a lot of low scores and rounds, including a Saturday 62 from Robert Garrigus. There were a lot of lineups with everyone making it through the cut on all three sites, so you did need some of those top golfers in order to cash.
My late additions of Kevin Chappell and Robert Garrigus worked well for me on FanDuel. I'm still debating what hurt me more in my contests: Shane Lowry's awful second nine on Friday to miss the cut, or the Ollie Schniederjans and Morgan Hoffman Sunday struggles to have me barely min cash on DraftKings. But with those three par 5s on the final six holes and a playoff, it was a fun tournament to watch.
WGC Bridgestone Invitational
This tournament last year led to one of the more auspicious withdrawals you'll see. Daniel Berger hit a tee shot on the first hole, and withdrew with an injury. It wasn't reported or well-known, so about 15% of lineups were out. But since it's a WGC event, as long as a golfer starts the event, they get a guaranteed prize of about $50,000. Why do I bring this up? If there is anyone who pops up with an injury concern this week, you may want to be cautious. This also applies to those who tend to withdraw from events at a frequent rate (Looking at you Si Woo Kim).
As far as the course, it is a Par 70 and 7,400 yards. Most of the 12 Par fours are between 400-499 yards (shortest is 398). A slight majority are in the 450-499 range. So Par 4 Efficiency will be looked at from that 400-499 range. Driving Distance will play a key, as that popped up as important for the top finishers in past events. The #1 thing that popped up for those in Top 15 the past few years was Greens in Regulation. That along with Approach will be focused on. All of the strokes gained categories will be looked at as well. Some of the Euro Tour players won't have the most accurate stats, since the Euro Tour doesn't either keep track of them or publish them.
With this being a no-cut tournament, there may be a lot of fluctuations from one round to the next. Also, with a major next week, if someone is out of contention after Friday or Saturday, they may take their money and head to North Carolina a day early. I would limit my play and avoid cash games. I think we will see a lot of stars and scrubs lineups with there being no cut, though I don't like many of the bottom values. Finally, with only 76 golfers (and probably 10-15 not being realistic contenders), it may be smart to leave salary on the table in tournaments.
Finally, I'm going to do a bit of a different format this week. I'm going to list my two favorites from each tier, and then will mention others I like, but no write-ups on them. If you would like to know why I'm thinking about using a certain player, tweet at me and I will be happy to discuss it.
Jordan Spieth (12,000)
Not bad form: two wins and a second in the past five tournaments, including a win at the Open Championship. He's had success here recently as well, with a 3rd and 10th the past two years. In past 12 rounds, ranks 1st in Total Strokes Gained and 2nd in Strokes Gained Tee-to-Green and Approach. In past 24 rounds, ranks 14th in Par 4 Efficiency. On season, is 1st in SG: Approach and Par 4 Scoring, and 2nd in Greens in Regulation. Three in a row seems very possible to me. (Cash and GPP)
Rickie Fowler (10,600)
If wanting to go with a little bit of a more balanced lineup, Fowler is a great starting point. He has been in the Top 10 the past three years at Firestone, including a 10th last year; a year where he struggled for most of the season. His Par 4 Scoring isn't great, but is 5th from 450-499 yards. If I look at his past few Par 70 courses, here are his Par 70 finishes this year: 22nd, 3rd, MC, Win. In his past 24 rounds on Tour, Fowler ranks 1st in DK Points and 4th in Total Strokes Gained. In his past 12 rounds at Firestone, Fowler is 3rd in DK Points and Total Strokes Gained, 9th Tee-to-Green, and 10th in Approach. Form and history here are good, Fowler is another good choice in this loaded tier. (Cash and GPP)
Others I will consider: Dustin Johnson, Jon Rahm, Justin Rose (especially on FanDuel), Henrik Stenson
Matt Kuchar (9,000)
Let me get something out of the way here with Kuchar. Yes, he was battling some sort of illness last week; yet, he finished the tournament. All of this after coming off an emotional Open Championship. He also doesn't seem like the type to mail it in if having a bad week. So if people are concerned about the illness, that may lower his ownership. Though he may not be a long hitter, Kuchar has had a lot of success at Firestone: Two Top 10s and no finish worse than 27th the past five years at this event. In the past 24 rounds, Kuchar is 9th in Strokes Gained Tee-to-Green and Par 4 Strokes Gained. In past 12 rounds here, only Justin Rose and Rory McIlroy have gained more strokes than Kuchar. I think he's very low-risk and should find your way into cash games if you decide to play them this week (Cash, GPP)
Branden Grace (8,600)
Grace is quietly having a good year, coming off a 6th at the Open, and has eight Top 25s this season. His past three years here: 10th, 17th, and 23rd. Nothing is going to statistically jump out at you in this field or on the season, but is top half in most of the strokes gained categories. Grace is 9th in Par 4 Efficiency in past 24 rounds from 450-499 yards. In past 12 rounds at Firestone, Grace is 4th in Approach, and 8th in Total Strokes Gained and Tee-to-Green. I think Adam Scott will be quite popular in this range, making Grace a nice pivot off of Scott. (GPP)
Others I will consider: Adam Scott, Daniel Berger, Marc Leishman, Zach Johnson
Rafa-Cabrera Bello (7,900)
I remember Cabrera-Bello slumping earlier this season, which was uncharacteristic for him. Since then: Win at the Scottish Open, and 4th place finishes at the Players Championship, St. Jude Classic, and Open Championship. He will not appear to be great on the stats because he's been playing on the Euro Tour. He's also only played here once in the past five years: a 29th. However, he is a ball striker on a ball striking course, who is in great form. This is going to be a form play for me this week. (GPP, Cash Game Playable)
Charl Schwartzel (7,200)
Schwartzel and the word "safe" will never be mentioned in the same sentence (or at least without the word safe in quotes). But in a week where there's a limited field, I like taking some upside options in this range. Charl has enjoyed his recent trips to Firestone CC: Two Top 10s and Two other Top 25s in the past five years. That shows in his last 12 round stats at Firestone: Top 10 in every single Strokes Gained category except Putting. In past five years, ranks fourth in Total Strokes Gained at Firestone. In his last 24 rounds on Tour, he is average in Par 4 Strokes Gained, but is 10th from 400-450 and 33rd from 450-499. Schwartzel is my favorite value GPP play this week. There is risk, as he does have a little history of withdrawing from tournaments. But, I can't ignore his history here and Top 10 upside he brings to every event he plays in. (GPP)
Others I will Consider: Patrick Reed, Charley Hoffman, Brian Harman (FanDuel), Kevin Chappell (FanDuel), Xander Schauffele (FanDuel and FantasyDraft), Jason Dufner, Bernd Wiesberger (FantasyDraft)
Francesco Molinari (6,800)
Not in love with the 6k range this week, but I don't know what Molinari is doing down here. Yes, he has missed two of his past three cuts (both majors) and doesn't have the best history here. He does have three Top 10s in his last 10 events, including some top field events in The Players and Euro BMW Championship. His stats over the last 24 rounds are nice: 2nd in Tee-to-Green, Approach, and Par 4 Strokes Gained (4th from 400-450). He is 5th in Total Strokes Gained during this span. Simply put, he's too cheap on DraftKings, and while he may be popular, he makes a great 6th golfer to finish a lineup. (Cash and GPP)
Bryson DeChambeau (6,800)
Maybe I'm biased since I was on 18 at the John Deere and saw Bryson win, but I don't think he's a bad play here. I'm throwing out the Open Championship performance, as he had little time to prepare after winning the Deere. He wasn't going to the Open unless he won. Prior to the Deere, he finished 14th, 17th, and 26th. Over the past six weeks, Bryson is 3rd in this field in Total Strokes gained, and is in the Top half in past 24 rounds in nearly all of the strokes gained categories. He also ranks 13th in Par 4s from 450-500 yards. Yet, he is minimum salary on FanDuel. He's a great punt (I don't even think he's a punt) and has done well in top field events before. (GPP, Cash Game playable on FanDuel)
Others I will Consider: Bill Haas, Pat Perez, Hideto Tanihara, Kyle Stanley, Brendan Steele
A little different format but with such a short field, I wanted to put my primary targets and not write up half the field. Yet, I want to make sure that you are aware of everyone I'm looking at. On the Wednesday update, I will let you know which golfers didn't make my lineups. If the sites put up salaries for the PGA Championship this week, I will attempt to get that article up by Friday night. I will be on SiriusXM on Saturday at 11:35 EST to talk football and PGA Championship picks with Dan Clasgens and James Adams. If you have SiriusXM, tune in for my initial thoughts (James will include his thoughts as well). I'll update weather, ownership, and any additional thoughts on players on Wednesday. Good luck with your lineups and feel free to chat with me on Twitter (@skeeterrobinson) if you have any questions.