Rickie Fowler gave many of us who rostered him in DFS quite the sweat down the stretch on Sunday as he was able to hang on for the win despite a couple of shaky holes. Rickie is one of the nicest guys on the PGA Tour so it was great to see him get a long overdue victory and hopefully this will be a springboard to a great season for him. For this week’s event we head back to the California coast for the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am that will give the pros a brief look at the host course for the US Open to be held in June. Like three weeks ago in the desert, this is a pro-am format played across three different courses with the cut coming after 54 holes as opposed to 36. Because of this, we will see only the top 60 and ties play on Sunday instead of the low 70 and ties we normally see. All golfers in the field this week will get an opportunity to play each of the three courses used for this event with those making the cut playing Sunday’s round back at Pebble Beach. Here is a brief description of each of the three courses:
Pebble Beach Golf Links: Par 72, 7,700 yards. Pebble will host the 2019 US Open a little over four months from now so players and caddies will get the chance for a walk through under tournament conditions. However, golf in coastal California during the winter and summer are completely different animals and with the USGA not catering their pin locations and greens to a pro-am field the level of insight we walk away with this week will likely be less valuable than most think. Historically the fairways at Pebble have been easier than to hit than the PGA Tour average but there have been some reports that the course has begun the early stages of preparation for the US Open by narrowing fairways and growing out some of the rough that may increase the accuracy premium. This may add a bit to Pebble’s reputation as a less than driver course that has seen an average tee ball around 15 yards shorter than tour average. Pebble’s greens are smaller and more difficult to hit than the PGA Tour average. However, we should expect easy pin placements throughout the week due to the pro-am should make scrambling less difficult. Approach shot distribution at Pebble clusters in the 100-125 yard range so this week’s winner will need to be sharp in the scoring zone.
Monterrey Peninsula Country Club: Par 71, 6,958 yards. MPCC is the easiest of all three courses in play this week. Although it is a par 71, it features four par fives, two of which, see birdies or better at a rate of 45% or higher. The fairways and greens are much easier to hit here than both the PGA Tour average and the other two courses in play this week. If playing Weekend only or Showdown DFS contests it makes sense to stack your lineups with players that have tee times at MPCC.
Spyglass Hill Golf Club: Par 72, 6,953 yards. Spyglass is a bit of an underrated test as historically it has played similar in difficulty to Pebble, although we may see that change this year due to the US Open preparations. Like MPCC, it features four par fives, two of which, see birdies or better at a rate of 45% or higher. However, the par fours here are more difficult and while the fairways are easy to hit by PGA Tour standards, the greens are small and difficult to hit.
Here are our top stats to consider this week:
- Strokes Gained Approach
- Fairways Gained
- Birdie or Better Rate
- Proximity from 100 to 125 yards
- Par 5 Efficiency
Dustin Johnson is coming off a win in Saudi Arabia to headline a stronger than average field as many of the world’s best would like to get a peek at Pebble prior to the US Open. Other notable names teeing it up this week include Jason Day, Jordan Spieth, Phil Mickelson, Tony Finau, Tommy Fleetwood, and Adam Scott. Rain and wind is expected to be a factor on at least two out of the four days of the event and we’ve received word that preferred lies will be played in the fairways as the courses have been saturated from nonstop rains over the past week. Because of this I’ll be placing additional emphasis on players who pepper fairways off the tee as getting to place the golf ball while hitting scoring clubs into soft greens with pro-am pin placements will provide a nice advantage this week. Additionally, players who putt and scramble well on Poa greens will feel at home this week on all three courses. Here are three targets for your cash game / single entry tournament lineups on DraftKings this week:
Upper Mid Range – Jordan Spieth – $9,400
I’ll preface this by saying Dustin Johnson is a great play this week and I’ll likely be overweight the field in tournaments but in cash games I feel I can get in three golfers in the $9K range on my roster if I start with Jordan Spieth and as of now, I’m leaning in that direction as it will allow me to build a bit more floor into my main lineup this week. Although Jordan has not been in the greatest form over the past few months a few things are aligning here that make him a strong play this week. We’ve seen a couple flashes of significant improvement in his putting over the past two events. On Friday afternoon at the Sony he made a back nine charge but fell one stroke short of making the cut and at Torrey Pines we saw him near the top of the leaderboard through the first 27 holes in which we saw him sink many of the 5-10 foot putts he’s struggled with over the past year. The other factor going for him here is course fit. Jordan won here in 2017 in weather conditions like those forecasted for this week, historically he’s been at his best on Poa greens and shorter courses where he is not forced to hit driver off every tee and can take advantage of his strong wedge game.
Upper Mid-Range – Chez Reavie – $9,000
It may be difficult to stomach paying $9,000 for Reavie in a semi-strong field but when combining form, stats, and course history it makes sense to go there this week. Reavie is first in fairways gained over the long term that will be very helpful during a week that we will see lift, clean, and place in the fairways. Additionally, he’s in the top five of the field in strokes gained approach and has historically putted well on Poa greens. He overcame a slow start last week in Phoenix to finish in fourth place and when you pair that with his second-place finish at Pebble last year it shows Reavie can provide the upside we need at that price.
Lower Mid-Range – Rafa Cabrerra Bello – $8,300
Rafa comes into the event in great form with top 20 finishes in three of his last four tournaments and is on record saying that Pebble Beach is his favorite course. He hasn’t played here a whole lot due to the event being so close to a lot of the early season Euro Tour events he profiles well for the course with his strong iron game and putting and provides some safety for cash lineups in a week we may see some added variance due to the weather and limited number of reliable sub-$8,000 value options
Bonus Value GPP pick – Doug Ghim – $7,600
Last time we saw Doug Ghim he was teeing off in one of the final groups on Sunday at the Farmers Open and turned in a somewhat underwhelming performance to drop a T20 finish. That Sunday round may have proved to be mostly due to nerves as he rebounded nicely with a 2nd place finish on the Web.com. Doug is not long off the tee so the AT&T course rotation may be a better fit than Torrey Pines for the former #1 ranked amateur golfer to take advantage of his strong wedge game. Although, I would consider him a bit risky to play in cash, projected low ownership makes the upside worth the risk in large field tournaments.
How we did last week:
Hideki Matsuyama – T15
Zach Johnson – T39
Emiliano Grillo – T33
Optimal Sports Subscribers Core Plays:
Hideki Matsuyama – T15
Rickie Fowler – Won
Zach Johnson – T39
Emiliano Grillo – T33
Lucas Glover – MC
Sung Jae Im – T7
Last Week’s DraftKings Double Up Contest Result: Win
2018-2019 Season Double Up Record: 9-4
Record in Double Ups Since 1/1/18: 34-14
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