This week we have our first full field of 2018 – and boy is that exciting. I’d like to first remind everyone to go a few weeks back in your mind and remember how different lineup construction was during the fall swing versus the past couple events (Hero World Challenge, Tournament of Champions). As we all know, the goal is to get an entire lineup on to the weekend. Missed cuts = points lost. End of story. Another challenge this week is that we are working with stats that may not be all that relevant in the grand scheme of things. Golf is a funny game. You can be hot one day and hit rock bottom the next. So those guys that were at the top of their games in September, October, November….may not necessarily be the guys that will be atop the leader board this week. I am going to do my best to break it down for you and give you something to work with as we begin to set those lineups for this week’s Sony Open.
The course: Waialae Country Club / 7,044 yards / par 70
This course is very different from what we saw last week. Rather than focusing on the long-ball hitters that gain strokes off the tee, we will target guys that stand out from 150-yards in. We want accurate approaches, strokes gained around the green, and the guys with the hot hand on the green. The stats I focused on this week are as follows: SG tee to green (as always), SG approach, SG around the green, SG putting, birdies gained, par 4’s 400-450 yards, and proximity 150-175 yards. The emphasis undoubted is placed on SG approach, SG around the green, and SP putting. The fun part about this week is that DFS pricing is a bit random, in my opinion. Coming off of a 6+ week layoff for a lot of the guys in the field, it’s hard for any algorithm to put an exact value on any of these players, and I hope to take advantage of that as much as possible. For starters, here’s a little chart of some notable finishes at Waialae for this week’s field over the past three years:
As always, I am going to do my best break this field down. I’ll start with the top dollar studs, sift through this massive mid-range, some value options, and quickly touch on a few super cheap “darts” to consider. All stats that are mentioned are taken from a 36-round sample size and come from fantasynational.com
Studs: $10,000+ (DraftKings)
Jordan Spieth ($12,000): I am conflicted on Jordan Spieth this week. For starters, I like him more than Justin Thomas, but his price tag is massive. He finished 3rd here last year and played very well last week aside from his first round 75, finishing 9th. The real question is, where did Jordan Spieth’s putting go? There was a time that he was one of the best putters on tour, but that just simply isn’t true right now. For 36-round stats in the field, he is very impressive: 1st SG tee to green, 2nd SG approach, 1st SG approach, 3rd birdies gained, 1st par 4 400-450 yards, and first in proximity 150-175 BUT … he’s now 64th SG putting. If you feel you have enough value to put him in, go right ahead.
Marc Leishman ($11,100): At this point in time, I pretty much Leishman regardless of where he’s playing. He had a ridiculous end to last season and followed it up with a 2nd place finish at the CJ Cup, 4th at the Australian PGA, and finished 7th last week. He hasn’t taken time off, and his game has stayed top-notch. For 36-round stats, he is 6th SG tee to green, 10th SG approach, 7th SG around the green, 23rd SG putting, and 2nd birdies gained. Like Spieth, his putting is questionable and his price is high.
Kevin Kisner ($10,100): Something tells me Kisner will be chalky this week, and that’s likely due to his 5th and 4th place finishes his last two times in this event. However, $10,100 is just flat out pricey for Kisner. I do think he is a strong option to finish top-10 this week, but it’s not a sure thing whatsoever – his 36-round stats in this field are not all that impressive either. The only ones worth noting are 4th SG putting and 5th in par 4’s 400-450 yards. I am personally not afraid to fade him here.
Other “studs”: JT and Brian Harman – JT won here last year and set multiple course records. Is he playing his best? No. Could he win? Yes. Brian Harman’s last four starts have resulted in a 5th, 8th, 4th, 3rd. It’s hard to ignore, but at this point in the season you simply cannot make me pay $10,600 for him. Really, I don’t have strong feelings about any one guy in this field priced over $10k. I can see lineups without any of these guys taking down GPP’s this week. Fading them all could be the differentiation you’re looking for.
Midrange: $8,000 – $9,900 (DraftKings)
Zach Johnson ($9,500): Taking price into consideration, I am loving ZJ here. He finished 9th and 6th here the past two years and had a solid fall swing finishing top-25 in the Safeway, the OHL, and the RSM. For 36-round stats in the field, he’s 27th SG tee to green, 32nd SG approach, 23rd SG around the green, 9th SG putting, 4th bogies avoided, 3rd par 4’s 400-450 yards. For the price, he is a good building block and a likely cut-maker.
Webb Simpson ($9,300): Here’s another guy I’d put on a similar level to Zach Johnson – in that respect I agree with the pricing here. He’s finished in 13th here the past three years. How’s that for consistency! Taking into consideration how he was playing at the end of last season, I’d say he’s a good bet to improve on that 13th place finish.
Si Woo Kim ($8,500): Si Woo appears to be heating up. He was very consistent last week going 69-71-72-69 to finish 10th. His one downfall (which is starting to look like a theme) was his putting. I am banking on momentum here. Catch him while he’s getting hot and is still affordable. He also finished 4th here in 2016. He’s a modestly priced mid-range option – for 36-round stats he actually has nothing worth noting, but one way or another, he’s on my radar.
Chez Reavie ($8,000): Sound the Reavie alarm – if you have been reading anything I write you kinow I love rostering Reavie. He’s consistent, he’s never over-priced, and this is his kind of course. The last three years he’s made the cut each time and went on to finish 26th, 42nd, and 8th. Trending in the right direction. For 36-round stats in the field, he’s 25th SG tee to green, 31st SG approach, 10th SG putting, 8th bogeys avoided, 38th birdies gained, and 4th par 4s 400-450 yards. That $8k price tag doesn’t scare me at all.
Other midrange I will be considering: Russell Henley, Tony Finau, Charles Howell III, Daniel Berger, Jamie Lovemark
Value: ($7,000 – $7,900):
Gary Woodland ($7,800): With his course history I am a little surprised at his price tag, at least in comparison to others in the field. Woodland finished 3rd here in 2015 and 13th here in 2016. For 36-round stats, he’s 7th SG tee to green, 4th SG approach, 60th birdies gained, and 10th bogeys avoided. He is surely a standout at this price.
Jason Dufner ($7,300): Dufner looked good last week. He’s not the most consistent guy out there, but he was in the mix until a 4th round 4 last week. For 36-round stats, he’s 26th SG tee to green, 5th SG approach, and 15th par 4s 400-450 yards. He also finished 9th here in 2016.
J.J. Spaun ($7,600): For a guy that was crushing toward the end of last season, this is a surprising price tag. He actually ended the season at the RSM classic with a DK price of $9,000 where he finished 2nd. I’ll let you think about that…
Other value options I’ll consider: Brian Gay, Patton Kizzire, Kyle Stanley, Hudson Swafford, Ben Martin, Russell Knox, Chris Kirk
Too Cheap/Super Value (< $7,000) – The darts! – (take caution)
Harold Varner III ($6,700), Stewart Cink ($6,800), Ryan Armour ($6,900), Whee Kim ($6,900), Smylie Kaufman ($6,600), Greg Chalmers ($6,600)
Thanks for reading – follow me on Twitter @donaldremington and feel free to reach out with comments, questions, advice, etc. Also follow @LineupLogic for all sorts of DFS content. Good luck this week and see you for the next one!