PGA National Champion Course: Palm Beach Gardens, FL Par 70, 7,140 Yards
Defending Champion: Rickie Fowler (-12) by four over Morgan Hoffmann and Gary Woodland
Primary Stats- SG: Ball Striking, SG: Approach, Good Drives
Secondary Stats- GIR, Bogey Avoidance
Timeframe: Past 24 Rounds unless specified.
Roster Lock: 6:45 AM EST (5:45 CST, 4:45 MST, 3:45 PST)
I didn't realize the U.S. Open got moved up to late February. What a tough course PGA National has been for two days so far. +5 makes the cut, and the lead is at -3. 8 shots from first to making the cut. 6/6 lineups are hard to find: 5 is my best. Lots of 4/6 and 3/6 with a Top 5 player or two is not out of the running either. So, while your initial teams struggled: so did everyone else's.
WindFinder has winds around 15 mph with gusts up to 20 mph for Saturday, with steady 10 mph winds on Sunday. This looks to be another tough day for scoring on Saturday, with maybe a chance for some birdies and such on Sunday. As usual for weekend golf, I'm looking for players who are gaining strokes Tee-to-Green, but losing them putting. Putting is the highest variance asepct of golf, so those who are striking it well, especially in these condidtions, should be at an advantage to play better for weekend golf. I'm also going to look at who has not made too many bogies (or worse) for the first two days.
- Luke List (7,400) and Thomas Pieters (7,500) had the ideal situation on Friday: First off of 10 and with only 2 members (Danny Lee was third member who withdrew), they were able to play 9 holes at a fast pace, including the Bear Trap, before the wind really picked up. List had the round of the day with a 67, while Pieters shot 70, still way above average. Both hitting well Tee-to-Green, but be careful when evaluating them for weekend: They won't get the same weather advantages.
- Tiger Woods (7,700) is only four off the lead, and has gained strokes in every category except Off-the-Tee (only -.20 there). I don't mind him as a play; however, when I factor in expected ownership, I will probably pass. But if you don't care about ownership, I think he's a fine play.
- I was not on Rafa Cabrera Bello (7,700) to begin the week, but will be playing him this weekend. He has gained over 3.5 strokes Tee-to-Green, with 3.7 being on Approach. You know what the problem is: -1.66 Putting. RCB has only made 5 bogies (no Double or Worse) too. He had a great Friday last week on a tough course, so we know he can shoot low in tougher conditions.. He stands out as a great play with the stats and pedigree.
- I liked him at the start of the week and I don't see much reason to get off of Tommy Fleetwood (9,000) for the weekend. Like RCB, he's only made 5 bogies with no doubles or worse. However, he also has seven birdies, two behind the leader at 9. He's gained 3.4 of his 3.9 total strokes gained from Tee-To-Green, with most on approach. He's positive in every category. My favorite spend.
- Scott Piercy (7,500) only trails Luke List for most SG: Tee-to-Green through two days, gaining 3.83. He's just under 1 stroke lost due to putting. He does offer scoring upside, as he has had 9 birdies; but also 9 bogies. But, no double or worse. Only three shots off the lead, making birdies, and hitting it well on approach, Piercy looks to be another great play this weekend.
- Keegan Bradley (7,700) is playing this tournament like he does most others: be real good tee-to-green (+3.5) and struggle on the greens (-1.1). His putting probably isn't going to improve, but only four off the lead. Tournament only for me with him.
- C.T. Pan (7,400) is the last golfer that stood out to me based on SG: Tee-to-Green vs Putting. Good news: +3.5 Tee-to-Green and 7 birdies in two rounds. Bad News: -1.6 Putting, 7 bogies, and one double bogey. If you are looking for someone to be less than 5% owned, with a chance of being 1-2% or lower, Pan is your guy.
- What if I told you a Top 10 player in the world was only seven shots off the lead, has a weakness at putter that has had positive strokes gained so far, and is a past champion? Yet, will Rory McIlroy (9,600) be overlooked with Garcia and Thomas right around him? His Approach has been the weakspot, so far, losing over a stroke. However, his Off-the-Tee game is strong at +1.3. Only 4 birdies in two rounds does concern me, but we know his upside. I always like the class player towards the back of the field, and will probably take a chance on him this weekend.
- Others I would consider based on stats/form: Russell Henley, Stewart Cink, Aaron Wise, Kelly Kraft.
According to the National Weather Service: About as good as we're going to see in Florida. 80 Degrees, slight chance of rain every day (nothing that should cause delays). Winds consistently around 10 mph. I don't see any gusts either. I have heard a couple people favor the Thursday AM/Friday PM wave slightly. I don't see it, but may depend on where they are looking. As far as I'm concerned, I'm not stacking tee times or making any changes due to weather.
According to FanShare Sports, here is everyone expected to be over 20% owned: Rickie Fowler, Sergio Garcia, Chesson Hadley, Graeme McDowell. Others who may see some higher ownership: Justin Thomas, Gary Woodland, Adam Scott, Jason Dufner, Tyrell Hatton
Players I'm fading due to ownership: Graeme McDowell (I like him, I'm just not sure I like him at 20%+ ownership), Stewart Cink (Good course history but poor form and is one of a very few good options below 7k on DraftKings), Jason Dufner (Great Ball Striker, but near 20% ownership is one I will pass on), and Patton Kizzire (15% is fair, been playing great. But, does play first two rounds with Tiger Woods. That can have a negative effect on golfers sometimes).
Additional Players I'm Playing/Considering that I didn't write-up in Original Article: Louis Oosthuizen (10% owned, 29th in the World, good combo of price/talent), Lucas Glover (4th, 21st, and 3 Missed Cuts past 5 years, solid in all stats, only one missed cut this season in eight events), and William McGirt (8th and 22nd in past three years, cheap on DraftKings). I think this is all: I apologize if I miss one name. Not my intent to ever play someone I didn't mention on Monday or Wednesday. But, it will happen once in a while.
Check back late Friday night for my weekend golf analysis. Is free for everyone, so feel free to let others know and if you haven't been playing weekend golf, give it a try!
After spending 7 weeks out west, the Tour heads to Florida for the Honda Classic. 144 entrants includes some European Tour players, who are starting to get tuned up in the U.S. for The Masters, which is less than two months away.
Genesis Open Recap
I was panicking a bit after Thursday. Dustin Johnson and Paul Casey, both core players in lineups for me, were missing the cut. DJ would bounce back on Friday and Saturday before struggling Sunday. But, Bubba Watson enjoyed a return to Riviera with his third win here in his career. I did mention on Friday night that he was my favorite weekend play: I just wish I wasn't scared off of the NBA All-Star Weekend appearance.
Best Pick I made: Tony Finau. Tied 2nd, his day is coming to win. It may take him having a 2-3 shot lead on the back nine to win, but he's battling and as a nice pivot off of Fleetwood, he turned out to be a great pick if you took him.
Worst Pick I made: J.J. Spaun. I was hoping he was fully off his issues that caused him to withdraw in Phoenix. However, his struggles continued and he missed the cut by over 10 shots. He's back playing this week and while he still pops in my stats, I'm avoiding him until he shows signs of his game returning to form.
National Fantasy Pregame Show
No video this week. It will return next week.
It will be late Friday night this week, probably by Midnight EST. Free for everyone, including non-subscribers. I've had success with this during this 2018 season, so give it a read and consider playing some weekend golf on DraftKings.
You may have noticed in my stats to key on includes Bogey Avoidance. There is water on a majority of the holes at PGA National, with the most infamous holes being the "Bear Trap:" Two Par 3s and a Par 4 that make up holes 15-17. With only two Par 5s and a lot of approach shots coming from 150-200 yards, scoring isn't going to be weighted high. I am really focusing Tee-to-Green with Good Drives, Approach, and Greens in Regulation. Those who do well here should avoid the water most of the time.
Stats may also be a tad skewed this week. I use Fantasy National for stats: but, they don't take into account tournaments on the Euro Tour. With so many Euros playing, the stats are going to bring in what they did in 2017. For someone like Tyrell Hatton, who struggled a bit at the end of 2017, they may be skewed. So, I will probably focus more on form and tournament history, if available. Stats will still play a role for some players; just not everyone. Finally, this will probably be an early roster lock (Probably 6:30am-7:00am EST). Just be aware of that now that the Tour is on the east coast.
Rickie Fowler (12,300)
The defending champion loves PGA National, with three Top 10s, and two other Top 25s the past six years here. He leads the field in strokes gained at this event the past five years with 39.2, eight more than the second place person (who I'll get to next). Rickie's problem has been putting tournaments away, as we saw him struggle down the stretch in Phoenix a few weeks back. But, four Top 11s in the past five tournaments with a come from behind win at the Hero is still pretty impressive. He doesn't have great stats this week: ranking 15th in Bogey Avoidance, and average in the other stats. He's the highest priced person on all sites this week and while there enough values to fit him in, I don't think you have to force Rickie into your lineups. (GPP)
Sergio Garcia (11,900)
Sergio is making his first appearance in the states in 2018, as he prepares to defend his title in Augusta in a couple of months. He has won two of his past six events worldwide, so he's playing well. He also plays PGA National well: 2nd, 8th, 14th, and 31st the past four years, gaining 31.2 strokes in that time, second to Fowler. Statistically, he fits well: 10th in Ball Striking, and 11th in both GIR and Bogeys Avoided. Rickie was the one who was due for a win here last year: maybe it's Sergio's year? (Cash and GPP)
Others to Consider:
- Justin Thomas (12,100) has a third here, but also has two missed cuts. He's battling in every tournament right now, and only a matter of time until he puts four rounds together. 4th in Ball Striking, 5th in Approach, 6th in Bogey Avoidance.
- Tommy Fleetwood (11,300) was 37th last week but had four Top 10s prior. If it gets windy, he should be able to handle it just fine. Ranks 5th in both Good Drives and SG: Ball Striking. Also 13th in Bogey Avoidance and 16th in Approach.
GPP: Thomas, Fleetwood
Gary Woodland (10,700)
Woodland has had a great start to this season, with a win and only missing one cut (at Pebble, the week after his win in Phoenix). With a 7th and 12 place finish before his win, Woodland is certainly in good form. He was runner-up to Fowler last year, but hadn't had much success at PGA National prior to that. He is a great statistical fit here: 2nd in Approach, and 3rd in both GIR and Ball Striking. He's playing too well to ignore and I have no issues starting lineups with Woodland and going with a more balanced approach. (Cash and GPP)
Tyrell Hatton (10,600)
Hatton had his struggles during major season in 2017, missing the cut in all 4 majors. He took a few weeks off after the PGA Championship. It worked. In 10 tournaments, he made all 10 cuts, had two wins, and his worst finish was 19th. He played here last year for the first time, finishing 4th. I did mention that his stats would be a bit skewed, as it doesn't include his Euro Tour starts. His best stat is 9th in SG: Ball Striking. He's at a nice discount on FanDuel, compared to the other two sites. Hatton is one of my favorite plays this week and even if he gets trendy as a pick, I don't see myself getting off of him. (Cash and GPP)
Others to Consider
- Adam Scott (10,200) has played here three times recently: 1st, 12th, and 14th, gaining 28 strokes in those three events. 2nd in Ball Striking and 4th in GIR. Did look better at Genesis last week. High upside tournament play.
- Patton Kizzire (9,600) is still playing well, even after already winning twice this season. Has made the cut in both appearances at PGA National. Ranks 5th in Bogey Avoidance and 18th in Approach.
- Russell Henley (9,500) was 15th at Pebble Beach, after missing two straight cuts by one shot. He has won here before and has gained 19.5 strokes the past 5 years here. He ranks 8th in Good Drives and 9th in Approach.
- Chesson Hadley (9,500) has twoTop 25s in three appearances here and is four for four in making cuts in 2018. Ranks 1st in Ball Striking and Approach, 9th in GIR, 12th in Good Drives, and 18th in Bogey Avoidance.
Cash: Kizzire, Henley, Hadley
GPP: Scott, Kizzire, Henley
Russell Knox (9,400)
Knox continues to have a solid 2018, making four of five cuts including a nice 15th at Pebble Beach two weeks ago. Knox missed the cut here last year, which was a struggle for him. However, prior to last year: 26th, 2nd, and 3rd, resulting in 21.8 SG the past four years at PGA National. Knox is #1 in this field in both GIR and Good Drives, while 2nd in Bogey Avoidance, and in the top third in Ball Striking and Approach. He comes in at a nice bargain on FanDuel (27th ranked, compared to 10th and 11th on DraftKings and FantasyDraft, respectively). I like everything about his game this week and will be a key to my lineups. (Cash and GPP)
Graeme McDowell (9,300)
After a rough start to the 2018 year, McDowell held a share of the 36 hole lead last week at the Genesis, before ending up 26th after a rough Sunday. What has me intriuged with McDowell is his success at PGA National in the past: Three Top 10s, and a 14th in his past six events. In his last five, he has gained 27.6 strokes, fourth best in this field. He's average in all of the stat categories, so he's setting up as more of a tournament history play. I think I like his 7,300 price on DraftKings the best, but is playable as a tournament play on any site. (GPP)
Others to Consider
- Ryan Palmer (9,400) missed the cut in Phoenix after a strong start to 2018. He has made his past six cuts here, including a 2nd and 25th. Ranks 6th in Ball Striking and 26th in Approach.
- Tiger Woods (9,100) has finished second here before, but never has won. He struggled last week, which I think is probably more likely than his Top 30 at the Farmers, at least to start. People will play him due to name, but I am going to wait until I see him be able to more consistently be able to put four rounds together.
- Keegan Bradley (9,000) has an odd past six years here: 3 straight missed cuts, but a 4th and two 12th prior. Has made three of four cuts in 2018. Ranks 6th in Good Drives, 7th in GIR, 10th in Approach, and 11th in Ball Striking
- Chris Kirk (8,800) has a 10th, 11th, and 35th this year, with the only 2 missed cuts by a shot at the Pro-Am events. Has missed his last two cuts at the Honda, but does have a 12th here before. Ranks 2nd in Approach, 10th in Bogey Avoidance, and 16th in Ball Striking.
- Sam Saunders (8,400) has made all four cuts in 2018, with no finish worse than 26th. Finished 14th in his lone appearance here. 24th in Ball Striking, slightly above average in every other category.
Others You Can Use: Bud Cauley, Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Dylan Fritelli, Jamie Lovemark (DraftKings Only), Peter Uihlein, Luke Donald
Cash: Palmer, Kirk, Saunders, Cauley, Donald
GPP: Palmer, Tiger, Bradley, Kirk, Saunders, Aphibarnrat, Fritelli, Uihlein, Donald, Lovemark
Tom Hoge (7,900)
Hoge is the only player I have interest in in this price range, as he's been a nice scoring option for cheap this year. He did have a 3rd at the Sony Open and 12th at the Farmers. Other than that, he doesn't have great finishes but to get Top 15 potential at this price is rare. Hoge did finish 37th in his lone appearance here in 2016. Hoge has nice stats: 7th in Good Drives and Approach, and 8th in Ball Striking. He has made 8 of 11 cuts this season, so he's not the worst punt option, even in cash, if you really like the other five in your lineups. (GPP, Cash Game Playable)
Expect there to be wind this week, so finding players who do well in the wind and can stay out of trouble will be key. Don't be afraid to play some of the Euro Tour players mentioned, as they should go underowned, due to them not being household names. As usual, the Wednesday Update will look at weather, ownership, and any changes of thinking on my end. Good luck this week!