As the season winds down the excitement for the FedEx cups ramps up for the battle to make it to the final 30. Unfortunately the excitement in DFS has already peaked as we are left with mostly non cut events and small fields until the fall swing season hits. All WGC events consist of small fields and no cuts thus reducing the edge with no cut. What we do have though is a very strong field with almost every name player teeing it up. That alone will keep ownership moderate amongst the small field.
TPC Southwind is the host course and it plays as a par 70 at around 7250 yards. This will be the third WGC held here so if looking at course history just use the past two years. Prior to that the course was the site for an annual pga tournament. Unfortunately it was played as a weak field and the majority of the current field have no history in those tournaments.
The course itself can be challenging and was one of the tougher tests on tour when played annually as a pga tournament. Since becoming the host of a WGC the scores have gotten better. Some of this can be attributed to the stronger fields. In the end I wouldn’t consider this a birdie fest but a solid test of golf. The past two years we have seen 5 and 7 players eclipse -10 or better. The winning scores have been -13 and -10, interestingly both by three strokes.
Trouble is lurking all over this course but it’s the back nine we’re players will find it most often. This is especially the case for holes 12, 14 and 18 were the double bogey rate for all three falls in the 5-7% range, a high rate for double bogeys. On the other end the easiest path for a streak will be the opening three holes with two of the three playing under par.
The biggest defense for the course is the water. It can be found in play on eight holes. Water balls are common and annually the course competes for most balls finding the water on tour.
Off the tee the fairways are on the average to slightly difficult side when it comes to finding them. Finding those fairways will provide the players with the opportunity to show off their iron play. Finding the greens will be important in providing birdie opportunities. The rough is only 2.5” deep but Bering of bermuda it can be tough to get out of. The greens are on the small side while being of bermuda strain and on the faster side.
When looking for player prototypes that fit the course the leaderboard shows the cream rises to the top. Name players finish within the T10 whether they are bombers or just solid distance wise off the tee. The one type of player that has struggled in general would be the course management type player or shorter hitters. In the past couple years we have seen only 1-2 each year find the way to the top.
Looks absolutely beautiful with no rain! Wind will be non existent for rounds 1 and 2. We do need to watch the wind over the weekend as we should see some albeit not major. Sunday appears to be the worse of the weekend approaching 13-15 mph.
Stats To Focus On
As always strokes gained on approach is at the top when dissecting stats to focus on. This is definitely a second shot course with solid iron play being rewarded. With the small greens I also want to pay attention to who is hitting greens in regulation. The sweet spot on approach for this tournament has been in the 150-175 yard range when looking at were most approaches come from. Finally, players need a solid game off the tee. I won’t necessarily focus on strokes gained from off the tee but overall driving.
We have a loaded field of 66 players with 48 of the T50 in the world teeing it up. I will once again limit my bankroll with the edge being reduced. My focus will remain to be on single and three entry contests. As you can imagine pricing is on the softer side due to the limited field and all the elite players. With a guaranteed four rounds I will be going with a stars and scrubs construction.
I am going with a core of three players in my limited lineups. My first choice is Collin Morikawa off a long trip from Tokyo along with garnering the most expensive tag. We all know Morikawa is the best ball striker in the game. The small greens should play to his advantage when it comes to iron play. He should have plenty of opportunities for birdies and his elite ball striking should limit his balls finding the water. Collin enters in excellent form and I feel the price tag keeps some people away.
Next up is perhaps the player in the best form of anyone on tour, Louis Oosthuizen. Louie is doing everything well currently from tee to green. His iron play has gone to the next level which has been a key in his recent results. Oosthuizen has always been solid on and around the green while the irons were the missing ingredient. He has played well here in two trips and obviously the from is better than both prior visits. I also feel the price tag keeps some people away.
My last choice will be Daniel Berger who has had very good success at TPC Southwind. Berger is hitting his irons quite well most recently and enters coming off a solid Open Championship performance. The latter is important for me as he usually doesn’t play major championship golf well. Berger is a hot putting week away from contending for a win.
Statistically all three fit well. Over the past 24 rounds they rank 1, 2 and 6 in greens in regulation. When it comes to approach the rankings are 1, 3, and 4. As far as the 150-175 proximity the rankings are 2, 16 and 1. Perhaps what I like most is the amount of fairways and good drives all three have accumulated. The latter is the piece that is allowing them to accumulate the great iron play stats.
No doubt the above core is expensive but it offers up plenty of win and T5 equity. With that said I will be dumpster diving to fill out my three remaining spots. Having a guaranteed four rounds helps when playing the cheaper players. The negative though is the course doesn’t exactly provide a plethora of birdies and diving deep could hurt if the players selected struggle. I am not exactly sure which route I am taking on the below players but I have narrowed my options.
When playing Sergio Garcia you know your going to get solid ball striking and a player who will do well off the tee. It will all come down to his putting. The results for Garcia have been solid recently finishing around 20th in five consecutive tournaments. With the greens being smaller you would think his three putt opportunities will be limited. In addition we have seen horrible putters perform well here in the past.
Perhaps his favorite course is TPC Southwind as Billy Horschel has faired well over his career. On the other hand it could be the zoysia fairways as Horschel also has had success at East Lake which bodes the same grass. Either way Billy tends to play well in the heat of the late summer. Horschel could go lower owned as his recent form isn’t the best but returning to a place he enjoys should help.
I think Sam Burns is a high risk high reward play. He tends to be volatile and with all the water lurking it could be a disaster for his play. With that said he has faired well at The Valspar Championship along with the Honda Classic. Both courses have some similarities in bermuda greens, distance of courses, and lots of water. He continues to hit his irons well, a huge plus, and loves putting on bermuda. In addition I feel many have jumped off Sam recently and I feel he should be a little more expensive.
It hasn’t been a good year for Kevin Kisner but recently his play has been better. Prior to the Open Championship he finished in the T10 on b2b weeks. The course should set up well for Kisner being a southern guy who enjoys the bermuda and heat. During those two solid weeks he gained strokes in all a aspects of his game. I don’t expect Kisner to garner much ownership making him a nice pivot in this range.
Someone looking to regain form from earlier this year would be Stewart Cink. His form isn’t great but I feel much of that has to do with the courses not setting up well for his game. Most recently he has had some good rounds but compounded them with bad rounds. In addition during his recent run his irons have remained solid while the putter has gone cold. A return to bermuda should definitely help.
Just a few short weeks ago Lucas Herbert was on quite the run with four consecutive solid finishes. Two happened to be on the Euro tour with two on PGA soil. Most recently he hasn’t played as well due to a few bad rounds. I like that Herbert has put up plenty of birdies and has shown to have T20 upside in stronger field events.
I pondered hard between Brooks Koepka and Morikawa but I will take my chances with Collin at a lower ownership. Another tough area for me was the low 9k’s as I don’t mind Scottie Scheffler and Paul Casey. In the end I am going with the two who I feel have a slight advantage due to course history in Louie and Berger. That’s all, let’s finish the season strong and Run Pure at the WGC!