With the second WGC event of the 2018 season in the books, Phil Mickelson has snapped his nearly 5-year long win-less streak and I have officially begun counting down the days to Masters week. Tiger Woods has confirmed his participation in two more events leading up to his long-awaited Masters return, and this week’s Valspar Championship is the first of that duo. Let’s get right into it.
The Course & Preview: Innisbrook Resort – Copperhead Course. A 7,340 yard par 71 with plenty of trouble to get into. We’re back in Florida and back to a golf course that is highly regarded on tour and is known to play relatively difficult, all things considered. More tight fairways surrounded by trees, plenty of bunkers, and plenty of water. Very reminiscent of PGA National, which we saw a couple weeks ago for the Honda Classic. The greens are fast and scores will again be higher than what we are used to. Some stats that I chose to put a high emphasis on this week (compliments of FantasyNational.com) are: Strokes gained tee to green, Strokes gained approach, Strokes gained putting, Strokes gained around the green, Fairways gained, and bogeys avoided. With a very high percentage of bogeys coming from the nine par-4’s historically, emphasis will be put on driving accuracy/fairways, gaining strokes on the approach, and scrambling, specifically around the green. Here is a breakdown of notable performances at Innisbrook over the past five years:
A couple things to note here – Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy are yet to play this course in PGA competition. In regard to Tiger, that could raise some eyebrows. Why choose a track you’ve never played in competition for your third tournament back after an extended break? Well, the obvious answer is to get the reps in before the Masters – I like to believe he is truly competing to win here, and I’m not ready to count him out. Sergio Garcia is returning to Innisbrook for the first time since 2013 after a quietly good showing in Mexico last week, and Justin Rose will also be making an appearance which does not come as much of a surprise, as he has had quite a bit of success here over the past decade or so. Other notable names include Henrik Stenson (first PGA Tour start of 2018), Jordan Spieth, Paul Casey, and some of our favorites of the 2018 season thus far: Tony Finau, Gary Woodland, Chez Reavie, amongst many, many others. We have a field of 140 and your usual two-day, top-70 and ties cut after Friday.
Studs ($10,000+ DraftKings):
Jordan Spieth ($11,800): So far this season, Spieth is yet to do anything spectacular, but has been quietly consistent. He has definitely been living in the shadows of names like Justin Thomas, but may have a good setup here this week with a course he’s very comfortable on, as seen from his last five outings here which consist of a win and four top-20 goes at it. He played well last week at the WGC Mexico where he finished in 14th, but his putting still doesn’t look like that of the Jordan Spieth we are all used to. His elevated price is almost surely based on his tournament history, and I was personally more into him last week when we were pretty sure he’d be a nice low owned option. I would not consider him a must play by any means this week.
Sergio Garcia ($10,900): He’s my favorite stud of the week at the moment, and I’m not doubting that will be contrary to the popular opinion here. Sergio had a very good looking performance in Mexico last week and fits the bill here in terms of keeping the ball in play and hitting good approach shots. He’s another guy that can lose strokes around the green, but we didn’t see much of this from him last week. Of the $10k+ options this week, he’s my guy.
Henrik Stenson ($10,200): I like this price point for Stenson this week because it allows you to get some more upper to mid range guys in those lineups. He’s coming off of some rest and has some real impressive course history. In terms of hitting fairways and just about everything to do with keeping the ball in play and converting around the greens, Stenson is top-notch. He’s my first-look favorite option in the field, my only reserve been a rest vs. rust debacle.
Mid-Range Options ($8,000 – $9,900 DraftKings):
Tony Finau ($9,400): Tony Finau has only really let us down one time this season and that was his missed cut at the Waste Management at the beginning of last month. He went on to take a couple weeks off and came back strong with a runner-up finish at the Genesis. His distance will surely help at this relatively lengthy course, as long as he keeps the ball in play, which he sure has been as of late. Prior to finishing 5th here last year, he missed the cut twice – this may be the reason for his moderate pricing in relation to the field this week. He looked good last week but struggled on Sunday, as did quite a few that were toward the top of the field. I usually avoid him due to the DFS world’s obsession with him, but eating the chalk may not be a bad idea this week.
Adam Hadwin ($8,800): Hadwin was a guy a lot of people seemed to like last week – and for good reason. He seems to have found his game and is in great form. He finished 6th at the Genesis and 9th last week, finishing with a 67-66 Saturday-Sunday – sheesh! His par-4 scoring stands out and he’s been draining putts. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention he’s the defending champ.
Louis Oosthuizen ($8,100): For starters I’d like to mention that he missed the cut here three years straight, from 2013-2015. With that said, his price is very reasonable and he bounced back in a big way here in 2016, finishing T7. Last week he looked like the guy you wanted in your line, especially after his first round 64. This unfortunately didn’t exactly last, with his 3rd round 76 dropping him down the ranks quite a bit. He did however sneak away with a T30. I see Oosthuizen as a solid mid-to-low priced option here with some real upside. We know what he’s capable of and he’s familiar with the course.
Other Mid-Range options to consider: Matt Kuchar, Byeong-Hun An, Kevin Na, Cam Smith
Value Options (< $8,000 DraftKings):
Jason Dufner ($7,800): Dufner’s game is slowly reemerging and this could be his time to make a move back up to the top of the leader board. People may see last week’s 55th place finish and be scared away – but if you look just a little closer, it wasn’t until Sunday that things really fell apart for him. He has very good course history (maybe the most consistent of the entire field), and we’ve seen a new putt-draining, dart throwing Dufner lately that I am really in to. Barring any large numbers like last week’s finale, I can see Duf making noise this week. Plus, he’s probably going to be wearing some pretty cool hats again, and you always want to root for the guy wearing the cool/funny/ironic hat.
Charl Schwartzel ($7,500): What a price for a guy that’s finished 1st and 6th his past two outings at this event. Additionally, he’s made 8 cuts in 8 starts on the season. On the other hand, he just doesn’t have any standout finishes in any of those 8 events outside a couple top-20’s. The consistency factor combined with very, very good course history however, is enough to justify this price point for Schwartzel this week.
Kevin Streelman ($7,500): He won here in 2013, had some good outings at this event in the years since his victory, and has been playing great golf so far this season. He’s made 10 cuts in 10 starts and is one of the more consistent players on tour. I love Streelman at a course where you want to avoid bogeys, because he’s great at doing just that. If he can get some fantasy points through the likes of birdies and a top-10 finish, he will hit value and more. An option that’s hard to ignore at this course.
Other value options to consider (this range is massive): Luke List, Jason Kokrak, Chesson Hadley, Charley Hoffman, John Huh, Chris Kirk, Dominic Bozzelli (FOTP), Sam Saunders, Keegan Bradley, Harris English
As always, I’d like to point out that this is a “first-look” at this week’s field. For in depth analysis and picks for this week’s tournament tune into the podcast (Lineup Logic) // “The Sweet Spot” coming in the next day or so. Subscribe, rate, review, etc! Also feel free to follow me on Twitter at @DonaldRemington and @LineupLogicDFS for more PGA and other DFS content. Thanks for reading and good luck this week!