Riviera CC, Pacific Palisades, CA Par 71, 7,322 Yards
Defending Champion: Dustin Johnson (-17) by five over Thomas Pieters and Scott Brown
Primary Stats- SG: Tee-to-Green, SG: Approach, SG: Putting, Proximity (150+)
Secondary Stats- Scrambling, Birdie or Better %
Timeframe: Past 24 Rounds unless specified.
Roster Lock: 6:40am PST (9:40 EST, 8:40 CST, 7:40 MST)
I was sweating out some players on Friday, including Dustin Johnson, who shot a nice 2 under 69 to get inside the cut line, Paul Casey, who had to birdie his last hole of the day to make the cut, and Chez Reavie, who struggled with a 76 to barely make the cut. I have two 6/6 teams on DraftKings (only played 7 teams this week there), and did get all six through on FanDuel. Looks like it will be another 5/7 for me on FantasyDraft, as J.J. Spaun and K.J. Choi did me in there.
For the Weekend Analysis on DraftKings, I'm looking at a couple of things. First, who are some class golfers that are farther back on the leaderboard. These guys over four rounds will tend to play better than most; hence, why they are so expensive. Second, I'm looking for golfers that have been good tee-to-green, but have struggled putting. I am emphasizing approach too this week. Putting tends to have the highest variance from round to round, so if someone is striking it well, I tend to think that will be more predictable. Of course, golf is a high variance sport to begin with; but using this approach has worked well for me so far in weekend golf in 2018. Even the times I didn't cash, I have not been too far away from cashing. So with that in mind, here are some of my thoughts; purely looking at stats.
- I mentioned looking at class golfers (Those who make Tour Championship every year or contend in majors often) who are down the leaderboard. We have quite the selection with Dustin Johnson (10,000), Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy, Adam Scott, Matt Kuchar, and Paul Casey, to name a few. Remember why DJ was chalk before rounds 1-2? He played better on Friday and course history has me going right back to him. I think a Saturday charge is in store for DJ, who is positive in SG: Tee-to-Green through 2 rounds.
- Paul Casey (9,100) kept popping for me, despite a rough start. He's gaining nearly 2 strokes Tee-to-Green, but losing 1.8 Putting. This was a problem for him last week as well, but he's normally a better putter than this. I expect him to move up the leaderboard on the weekend.
- Phil Mickelson (9,300) is at -1, and is +2.38 SG Tee-to-Green through 2 rounds, with +2.24 coming from his approach. His putting is at -0.72. A two-time winner here, Phil is definitely in play.
- Perhaps my favorite play for the weekend slate is Bubba Watson (7,700). He had it to -7 before coming in with a double bogey and bogey on his final few holes to end up -4. He's gained 3.34 Strokes Tee-to-Green, with 2.74 coming from Approach, and slightly negative putting. Bubba has made 10 birdies so he is scoring well. He's also won here before and looks confident. Way too cheap at 7,700.
- Want someone that very few will be on? Vaughn Taylor (7,500) is +1.45 Tee-to-Green, with 1.38 on Approach. A slight negative of -0.30 on Putting is not a huge concern for me. He's only even due to a triple bogey on Friday.
- I don't usually like to take leaders in weekend golf: They tend have shot their best round already. However, I think a case can be made for Graeme McDowell (6,900) and Patrick Cantlay (7,500). They are the only two golfers that have gained more than 4 strokes Tee-to-Green. Cantlay is better on Approach and Putting, while McDowell is significantly better around the green, but also more complete. Cantlay is way too cheap at 7,700, but is chalk I'm probably willing to go with. McDowell is a perfect punt play for those looking to go top heavy with their lineups.
- Other Players I may use: Branden Grace (7,800), Tony Finau (7,700), Cam Smith (7,600), Chad Campbell (6,900).
Bill Haas has withdrawn after being the passenger in a car crash overnight Wednesday morning that saw one person killed. He is fine, but has decided to withdraw.
Bubba Watson is scheduled to play in the Celebrity Game at the NBA All-Star Weekend on Friday night. He does play Friday morning, so he should have plenty of time to make it to Staples Center. However, is his mind really going to be on golf? He has said if there was any weather delay, that he would withdraw. That doesn't seem likely according to the forecasts, but just something to think about if you were thinking of using him. I am not.
According to the National Weather Service, another sun filled week for golf; a big contrast to the rainy first three days a year ago here. The only concern is Friday has 10mph winds, with gusts around 15 mph in the morning and very early afternoon. I don't think it's significant enough to change things around, though maybe you end up seeing the Thursday AM/Friday PM shoot slightly better scores. It's nothing I'm basing my lineup decisions on.
Ownership (FanShare Sports)
In no particular order, here are the names expected to see around 20% or higher ownership: Dustin Johnson, Thomas Pieters, Paul Casey, Phil Mickelson, Chez Reavie, Ollie Schneiderjans, Tommy Fleetwood
The only guy I'm fading here is Thomas Pieters. You will hear how he won a collegiate event on this course in 2012 and was runner-up last year here. Both true. But, his form hasn't been great since playing so well at The Masters. When I see 23% as a projected ownership on him, I'd rather pivot to other guys around his price point.
Players on my Roster Not Mentioned in Original Article
- Matt Kuchar: I know he didn't have the best weekend at Pebble, but 7% projected ownership? Yes please. 8th and 22nd here the last two years. 6th in Putting, 10th in Scrambling, Top 50 in other stat categories I'm looking at this week.
- Rafael Cabrera-Bello: Goes from Chalk last week to 8% projected ownership, while salary goes up 800. 5 Top 10s this season worldwide and has made 5 eagles in his past 8 rounds. 4th in Scrambling and 28th in Birdies or Better.
Players Not on my Roster that were Primary or Secondary Write-Ups
- Tiger Woods: Ownership is fair at 11-12%. No success at course, while in prime, keeps coming back to me when I thought about whether I would roster him. Also, I would rather have Noren and Perez (DraftKings) or Ollie on FanDuel at same price range. I also expect Tiger's ownership to end closer to 15-20 percent. I think FanShare and other sites struggle to project the casual user. No fault of theirs either.
- Kevin Chappell: 13% ownership with decent finishes here, but nothing great. I'll pivot to Cabrera-Bello, Finau, or Perez, based on the site.
- Martin Flores: Decided to go the 1 stud/balanced lineup on FanDuel. Too many other pivots I liked better on other sites.
AT&T Pebble Beach Recap
I just missed having a profit on all three sites. I hit my cash games on FanDuel and FantasyDraft, but not GPPs. DraftKings had 4 of the teams make the money. I had no Ted Potter, who came out of nowhere to shoot 62 on Saturday, and outplay Dustin Johnson in the final group to get his first win in over 5 years. A great story.
What else benefited me and probably you as well was the last golfers on Saturday struggling enough to make the cut fall from -4 to -3. That primarily got Chesson Hadley and Matt Kuchar into Sunday, but 6 of 6 lineups were still scarce at 10%. Chez Reavie with back to back 2nd place finishes puts him on the radar again this week, and Jordan Spieth did play better, but his putter is still far from where he needs it to be.
Best Pick I made: Russell Knox: Had a great weekend to go from concerned about not making cut to T15.
Worst Pick I made: Austin Cook. We knew there would be some traps with the mispriced players on DraftKings, and Cook was the biggest one. Never got it going, finishing +6 after three rounds.
National Fantasy Pregame Show
https://www.facebook.com/nationalpregame/. Also on MyFantasyFix. Free to view for everyone
It will be late Friday night this week, probably by Midnight EST. Free for everyone, including non-subscribers.
Riviera is a fun course, and has a couple unique holes to start each 9. #1 is the shortest Par 5 on the PGA Tour at just over 500 yards. It's basically a Par 4, so expect to see quite a few eagles here. Perhaps the most famous hole is #10: A 300 yard Driveable Par 4, with a small green surrounded by bunkers. You will see eagles here, you will see double bogeys.
There are six holes that play over 450 yards as Par 4s. Proximity from 150+ will be a big factor due to that. The fairways are a bit narrow, but the rough is not a big deal. The greens tend to be smaller than tour average, making Tee-to-Green, Approach, and Scrambling worth considering. I'll throw in Putting and Birdies or Better as things to look for as well, with winning scores usually between 10 and 15 under. This is a deep field with many options, including some from the Euro Tour. Should be a fun week, let's get into the pick.
Paul Casey (11,600)
Dustin Johnson is my favorite play in this range. The only other player I have interest in is Paul Casey. No matter what stat I look at and what timeframe, he's Top 2 or 3 in my models. He has two Top 10s this season, including an 8th last week that was due to play holes #7+8 in 3 over on Sunday. He finished 2nd here in 2015 with 39th place finishes the past two years here. Statistically, he fits greatly: 1st in Approach, 3rd in Tee-to-Green, and 15th in Birdie or Better. He ranks Top 20 in all proximity from 150+, and is Top 45 in the other stat categories. I'm going to be looking to play some DJ-Casey lineups if I can find the value, but Casey seems to be a great fit here, in good form, and is a nice pivot off of DJ, Spieth, Rory, and Thomas. (Cash and GPP)
Others to Consider:
- Dustin Johnson (12,900): See National Fantasy Pregame Show (#1 Pick this week for me)
- Phil Mickelson (11,300) has won here twice and is coming off a 2nd and 5th the past two weeks. The rough isn't penal so that's a plus for Phil. 2nd in Birdies or Better and 5th in Putting. Good elsewhere except proximity. I will fade if he's projected over 20%.
- Alex Noren (11,100) finished 21st in Phoenix after losing the long playoff at the Farmers. 10th in Approach, 20th in Scrambling, 22nd Tee-to-Green. Solid elsewhere. Like him better on the other two sites, but will be low owned here.
Cash: DJ, Mickelson, Noren
GPP: DJ, Mickelson, Noren
Tommy Fleetwood (10,800)
I have some decisions I have to make with players and high ownership: Fleetwood may be #1 for me this week. He's making his first start of the season in the United States, but has 4 consecutive Top 10s worldwide (3 if you don't want to include the Hero World Challenge), including a win in Abu Dhabi a few weeks back. He's only missed one cut since June, including a 4th at the U.S. Open. He will not be a guy I completely fade: However, how much I own him will be due to ownership, as he is a little underpriced for being the #12 player in the world. (Cash, prefer in GPP)
Tony Finau (10,500)
After making his first six cuts of the season, Finau came up one shot short in Phoenix: regardless, if it's a course that doesn't penalize for inaccurate drives and plays long, Finau is in consideration. He has missed his last two cuts at the Genesis, so that is a bit of a concern. But, his stats mean he should be able to correct the past two years: 14th Tee-to-Green, 16th Approach, 23rd in Birdies or Better, and solid everywhere except Scrambling. Probably a better tournament play this this price range but Finau's day is coming where he wins an event, giving him tremendous upside everytime he plays. (GPP)
Others to Consider:
- Daniel Berger (10,500) has three Top15s to start the year. 21st Tee-to-Green and 19th in Proximity where he is Top 10 in every 25 yard category starting with 125-150, all the way through 200+.
- Kevin Chappell (10,200) has played here the past six years: 3 missed cuts, 23rd, 24th, and 26th. 4 for 4 in making cuts in 2018 with two Top 10s the past three starts. 18th Tee-to-Green, 23rd in Proximity: 200+.
- Chez Reavie (9,900): See National Fantasy Pregame Show Video
- Brendan Steele (9,700) has made his past 6 cuts here with a Top 10, gaining 23.6 strokes the past five years. Coming off a 3rd in Phoenix. 9th in Birdies or Better and 29th in Tee-to-Green. Average Proximity, especially from 150+.
Others You Can Use: Thomas Pieters, Charles Howell III, Pat Perez
Cash: Berger, Reavie, Steele, Howell III
GPP: Berger, Chappell, Reavie, Steele, Pieters, Perez
Ollie Schniederjans (9,400)
Add him to the growing list of someone who is going to win an event in the near future. Ollie just missed the cut at the Farmers; but, surrounded that with a 7th at the Sony and 3rd at Phoenix. This is his second time playing Riviera, finishing 8th in his debut last year. Ollie ranks 1st in Birdies or Better, but is about average or slightly above average in the other categories. Early chatter could have him being a little more popular than I want to see. But if he's around 15% owned, I think he has great upside in tournaments and will score a lot of fantasy points if he ends up competing for a Top 10. (GPP)
J.J. Spaun (8,300)
Playing fantasy sports, especially DFS Golf, we need to have short-term memories. I'm trying my best to forget about the missed cut at the CareerBuilder and the withdrawal at Phoenix; the only two times I've played him this year. When I haven't played him in 2018: 23rd and 47th. He's a statistical play this week: 2nd in Approach and Proximity, 3rd in Birdies or Better, and 12th Tee-to-Green. Short game is a concern but if he's on, he will be scoring points and contending come Sunday. He will be in some lineups for me, but only as a GPP play. (GPP)
Others to Consider:
- Tiger Woods (9,300) and Brandon Harkins (8,600): See National Fantasy Pregame Show Video
- Jason Kokrak (9,100) has a 22nd and 2nd the past two years here. 14 of 16 rounds this year are under par. 27th in Birdies or Better and 28th in Tee-to-Green.
- James Hahn (9,000) has made all five cuts in 2018, with a 2nd and no finish worse than 45th. Won here in 2015. 11th in Birdies or Better, 19th in Approach, 24th in Proximity, and 34th in Tee-to-Green.
- Kevin Streelman (8,600) has missed his last two cuts here, but has made all 9 cuts on Tour this season with 5 Top 25s and 2 other 29ths. 4th Tee-to-Green and 13th in Approach. Short game is the concern, but playing too well to ignore.
Others You Can Play: Charley Hoffman, Keegan Bradley, Luke List, Ryan Armour, William McGirt, Tom Hoge
Cash: Harkins, Streelman, Kokrak, Hoffman
GPP: Tiger, Harkins, Hahn, Hoffman, Bradley, List, Armour, McGirt, Hoge
Martin Flores (7,800)
Two picks in this range and I'll start with Flores, who has a 21st and 35th the past two tournaments on Tour. No great finishes here, but has made two of his past three cuts. What has me interested besides his form the past two weeks are his stats: 17th in Birdies or Better, 18th in Approach, and 27th Tee-to-Green. If I can find a value guy that can put up points and has a decent chance to make the cut (6 of 8 this season), I will play him in tournaments, and I'm not sure many will be on Flores either. (GPP Punt)
K.J. Choi (7,700)
There's usually two tournaments I target Choi: The Farmers (MC this year) and The Genesis. He has never missed a cut here and only trails Dustin Johnson for most number of strokes gained the past five years, gaining over 35. He's never finished worse than 33rd the past six years, with a 5th in 2016. His Tee-to-Green game isn't great, but he does rank 25th in Scrambling and 33rd in SG: Putting. Certainly a tournament history play, but at this price and his success at Riviera, Choi is a very nice tournament option, or even Cash Game Punt if you really like the rest of your lineup. (GPP, Cash Game Punt)
Please make sure to watch my video on the National Fantasy Pregame Show. It happens to have three of my favorite golfers on the week, so find out why I'm high on DJ, Reavie, and Harkins. Weather played a huge role here last year, and I did correctly call a tee time stack. We will see what it's like in the Wednesday update, as it will include ownership, weather, roster lock, and some additional golfer information. Good luck with your lineups and feel free to contact me on Twitter (@skeeterrobinson) if you have any questions or suggestions.