PGA Core Plays
The PGA Championship
By Derek Hill
The PGA Championship
First of all, I hope everyone did well with their lineups last week. Our Top-end and Mid-Tier favorite picks finished 1-2. We also had some other great finishes with Fitzpatrick and Todd. Hopefully they were in your lineups and made you some money.
Alright, here we go!
After 13 long months without a major championship, we are finally back this week with the PGA Championship! If it feels to you like it has been an eternity…..that’s exactly how it feels to all of us. TPC Harding Park in San Francisco will host this year’s contest for the Wannamaker Trophy. Harding Park has hosted two WGC events and a President’s Cup, but will be hosting a major for the first time. It joins other great courses like Bethpage Black and Torrey Pines as municipal courses that have risen to a level to host a major event.
The two most recent winners at Harding Park are Tiger Woods (2005) and Rory McIlroy (2015) in WGC events. Brooks Koepka is the 2-time defending champion who is hoping for a 3-peat. This looked next to impossible just 2 weeks ago when Koepka was in a significant slump, but his play in Memphis last weekend looked like the Brooks we are used to seeing. This return to form comes right on schedule as we are back at a major event. The guy just knows how to turn it on.
The location of the course will present some very unique challenges this week. The course sits a few miles from the coast, but the effect of the coast is very much apparent. The winds and sometimes dense fog can be in full effect on the course. First of all, forget about the listed yardage of 7,251 on this par 70 course. Cool (mid 60’s for a high), dense, breezy conditions will make it play more like 7,600+. There have already been reports of this effect in guys playing their practice rounds. Word is that Gary Woodland hit a fairway wood off of a par 3 (251 yards) yesterday. I expect the longer hitters to have an advantage this week, assuming they can correctly calculate their distances on approach shots. The rough is reportedly already brutally long and may not be cut before play starts on Thursday. Fairways have been narrowed and there isn’t much roll out on the fairways. Players will be forced to decide on whether they want to hit driver to leave a shorter distance, but bring rough into play; or if they want to shorten up off the tee to find the short grass and leave a long iron into the green. Some important metrics to look at will be SG: Off the Tee and SG:Approach (you could simplify this and just look at SG:Tee-to-green.) The many curved fairways will also allow players to be aggressive, if they choose, in trying to cut corners. This can be risky, as there are cypress trees that can result in a lost ball. Lake Merced comes into play on the 14th hole where it will be on the players’ left side for the rest of the round. The wind usually picks up here and makes for a tough finish.
The water doesn’t really come into play, so the courses main threat comes from bunkers and long rough.
As was mentioned, the shorter yardage here is deceiving due to the cool dense conditions. It is deceiving for several other reasons. The presence of just 2 par 5s means that the length comes elsewhere. There are 7 par 4s that are >460 yards which makes long par 4 scoring one of the most important stats this week. Both par 5s are over 560 yards. There is also the aforementioned 251-yard par 3. So, the course does play quite long.
For the players who choose fairways over distance, you may want to consider stats on approach from ~175 yards. And for players who hit driver, approach stats from the rough are definitely relevant.
Justin Thomas: Let’s just start off with last week. A winner once again (3rd time this season.) 4 top 10s and a T18 in 6 events since the restart. Regained the #1 world ranking. His number 1 ranking on tour in SG:Tee-to-green is crucial this week since SG:Off-the-tee and SG:Approach will both be important. He also ranks 7th in Par 4 efficiency 450-500 yards which will be a very common yardage this week.
Brooks Koepka: Kind of crazy seeing Brooks back on here after the way he had been playing of late. Like clockwork, he has himself primed for another major run. The PGA/US Open setups suit his game so well. He has the distance, he has the power to play from the brutal rough. The 3-peat very possible.
Bryson DeChambeau: So-so T30 finish last week in Memphis. Before the Memorial, he had that insane run of top-10 finishes. 9th in SG:Tee-to-Green, 5th in par 4 efficiency 450-500 yards, 11th in Approach 175-200 yards. His obsession in calculating distances based on elevation, air density, etc. is well known. He could have an advantage in that category this week over players who are going by “feel.” Obviously has the distance to shorten the course. No doubt, he will take some chances, if he can limit the mistakes he could find himself at the top.
Rory McIlroy: I would actually put Rory higher if not for his heavy price tag this week. He is the most expensive option for the PGA Championship. However, it is worth considering because his ownership may be down with his high price and sub-par play as of late. But you have to know his game projects well at Harding Park. He is the most recent winner on this course (2015 Match Play,) 5th in SG:Tee-to-green, 13th in Par 4 Efficiency 450-500 yards, 6th in approach 175-200 yards. Not to mention the pressure is not on him so he can go out and play relaxed.
Top-End Maybe: Jon Rahm, Xander Schauffele, Patrick Cantlay, Dustin Johnson
Webb Simpson: I’m not sure how Simpson is priced as a Mid-Tier play this week, but don’t miss out on that steal of a deal. He won the 2012 US Open at Olympic just a stone’s throw away from Harding Park. Solid all-round play and a fantastic season to this point. 12th in SG:Tee-to-green, 1st in par 4 efficiency 450-500 yards, 17th in rough proximity.
Sergio Garcia: Another guy I’m not leaving out of lineups this week is Sergio. To be honest, he is being slept on. I haven’t seen anyone who is picking him. This would normally make me hesitant, but after doing my homework, I think he is going to have a great week. Recent play is good, but not stellar (T5, T32, T32, T35.) He is the only player in the field that ranks inside the top 20 in my most important categories this week: SG:Tee-to-green (3rd), Par 4 efficiency 450-500 yards (16th), rough proximity (18th), and approach 175-200 yards (15th.) I suspect ownership will be low which will give you a chance to gain on the other competitors this week.
Gary Woodland: Familiar and successful with courses like the one he will see this week. Winner of last year’s 2019 US Open at Pebble Beach which had conditions similar to what we will see this week. Runner-up to Rory at the 2015 WGC Match play at Harding Park. I like Woodland’s low ball flight and ability to find fairways with stingers off the tee.
Daniel Berger: 6 top 10 finishes in his last 7 starts including his runner-up finish last week. 13th in SG:Tee-to-green, 10th in par 4 efficiency 450-500 yards, and 18th in rough proximity.
Matthew Fitzpatrick: T27 at Workday, 3rd in difficult conditions at the Memorial, T6 in Memphis last week. He is one of those guys who loves it when conditions go south. The cool weather and dense air will feel like home to him. Add in the fact that he is 2nd in SG:Putting. I think he continues his hot run this week.
Bubba Watson: For a course that demands length, ability to play from rough, and shape shots around curving fairways, you look for a player exactly like Bubba. He ranks high in important categories this week: Par 4 efficiency 450-500 yards (2nd), rough proximity (5th), and Approach 175-200 (9th.)
Mid-Tier Maybe: Viktor Hovland, Hideki Matsuyama, Collin Morikawa, Shane Lowry, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Tony Finau
Value Play Love
Joaquin Niemann: So-so play the last month or so, but his game projects really well this week based on important stats: SG:Tee-to-green (19th), Par 4 efficiency 450-500 yards (20th), Approach 175-200 yards (3rd.) He also hits a low ball which can help in windy conditions.
Brenden Todd: Picking Todd last week was one of my better picks, even though he stumbled on Sunday. Even though he is stronger in categories that suited the course last week, a guy who is accurate off the tee and can scramble and putt the lights out should do well this week too.
Value Play Like:
Kevin Na: Two top 10s in his last 4 starts. 3rd in SG:Putting. I like his chances as long has he doesn’t W/D with injury, which is always a concern.
Matt Wallace: T4 at Memorial 3 weeks ago. T19 and T3 in his last 2 PGA Championship starts. His game doesn’t project really well for this course statistically, but I think performance in similar situations is a better predictor. Not only is his PGA history strong, but he also placed 12th last year in the US Open at Pebble Beach in similar conditions. He also comes in to this week playing well.
Tom Lewis: If you’re not familiar with the name Tom Lewis yet, now might be the time to do so. He has gone T12, T32, and T2 in his last 3 starts. Stats say he will have another good week. 23rd in par 4 efficiency 450-500 yards, 24th in driving distance, 42nd in SG:Off-the-tee. No slouch on the greens either.
Value Play Maybe: Max Homa, Carlos Ortiz
NBA Value Street
By Dylan Thompson
Good morning Money Team. If you guys haven’t been reading my articles, you are missing out. Here’s my results from yesterday
Aaron Holiday 6.1X
J. Richardson 6.4X
T. Bryant 6.9X
And my hurricane pick AD went off for 73 fantasy points and a 7.9X return
Let’s dig in today
PG Eric Bledsoe – We are currently unclear about how many minutes Bledsoe will play tonight, due to him getting to the Orlando bubble late. His price tag is only $4700 and that’s why I am mentioning him in this article. Brooklyn is ranked 22nd in the league guarding against the point guard position, and if Bledsoe plays at least 22 to 24 minutes, he can absolutely crush this price tag.
SG D. Wright – Our guy here just put up a 5.1 X return against the Phoenix Suns. It was a game that stayed close, so everyone played their regular allotment of minutes. This game against Sacramento could get out of hand very quickly, and if that is the case we should see our guy put up some extended run. His price tag is only $3800, and I am projecting him tonight for at least a 5.5 X return. Sacramento is ranked 22nd in DvP, which is what I like to target.
SF J Holiday – playing against in Orlando team tonight that is still trying to find their groove, Holiday is in a perfect bounce back spot tonight from his less than stellar performance last night. His price tag is also $3800, and Orlando’s second unit is ranked pretty low when it comes to DvP. Realistically if this game gets out of hand I could see Holiday putting up at least a 6.5 X return for us tonight.
PF Robert Covington – I understand his price tag is $6800, but in my opinion he’s facing a Portland team that is dead last in DvP. In his last two games, he has played 37 and 42 minutes, which is why he is being mentioned here in this article. We know he can put up the fantasy production, and has major upside. Since the return of the NBA in the last two games he is averaging 43 fantasy points per game. Lock him in and Move on.
C Ivica Zubac – I am still waiting for his breakout return game, and I think tonight could be the time to target him. There are plenty of centers to pay up for tonight, But I think this might be a position that I am going to pay down out tonight for some salary relief. Phoenix has been pretty good at defending the center position, I am just going with a gut feeling tonight and looking for at least a 5.5 X return. His price tag is $4300, which means we need 25 fantasy points for that return. Seems pretty realistic to me.
My hurricane pick of the night
Luca Doncic – this man was my inspiration behind creating the hurricane pic. He is the eye of the storm when he is on the court. Tonight will be no different against a Sacramento team that has absolutely no one to guard this young man. Let’s look for a huge night tonight.
If you have any questions feel free to ask, let’s get this money and take down those pesky Dfs sharks.
NBA Value Street
By Dylan Thompson
What up Money Team. We did it again, massive results from our previous value street article. Let’s dig in again.
And my hurricane pick Embiid went bonkers for 80 fantasy points and 8.9X
PG Aaron Holiday – Here we have Indiana facing one of the fastest pace teams along with one of the worst defenses. At a price tag of $4500, I honestly believe this game could get out of hand quickly and if it does holiday will see an extended run. More minutes means more fantasy profiting opportunities.
SG Josh Richardson – The last time I played this young man I was sadly disappointed, but today he has a much better match up against the San Antonio team that is still currently trying to find a rhythm. I see a bounce back spot here with my projections putting him at right around 6X return. San Antonio is middle of the pack when it comes to defensive efficiency, and we all know that Richardson has potential to put up big points.
SF Jrue Holiday – At almost a bare minimum price tag of $3800, you simply cannot ignore this play tonight. I’ve already spoke in length about the weakness of Washington’s defense, and here is another prime spot to target especially if you are looking for salary relief. Washington is ranked 29th against the small forward position, and I can definitely see holiday taking advantage of this here.
PF Clarke – New Orleans looked fantastic against Utah, but that hope quickly dissipated in the next game. Clark should be in an amazing position to return almost 7X value here, with New Orleans coming in ranked 22 in the league defending the power forward position. His price tag is slowly starting to climb, so while he is still only $5000 we need to take advantage of this while we still can.
C Thomas Bryant – had a price tag of $6300 one of the only reasons that I will be targeting Thomas Bryant in this matchup is simply because he will be facing Miles Turner. We seen what Embiid Did against Turner a couple days ago, and Thomas Bryant should be able to have his way as well in this matchup. I would not be surprised to see another 6X return at least against a poor interior Indiana defense.
My Hurricane pick of the night….
Anthony Davis – you will hardly ever hear me talk about Anthony Davis in extent, but tonight is just a gut feeling and I’m going to roll with it. I have Rostered him twice in the past week and he has let me down both times, but I think tonight is the night we see AD do what we know he can do. As long as the minutes are there, he should have no problem at all playing bully ball against a Utah team.
If you have any questions feel free to ask, let’s get this money and take down those pesky Dfs sharks.
PGA Core Plays
St. Jude Invitational
By Derek Hill
PGA Core Plays
Finally, it feels like we are entering the heart of the PGA Tour season! This week’s WGC – FedEx St. Jude Invitational will be a stacked tune-up before starting the season of the majors. That’s right, we are just over a week away from the PGA Championship at Harding Park!
The event this week will be a smaller field of 78 golfers. That number, believe it or not, is larger than the 63 that played this event last year. This will be another event with an expanded field due to COVID-19. There will be no cut so all 78 players will have 4 rounds to come out on top come Sunday. This allows players who get off to a poor start to have a reasonable shot at a comeback, so don’t count out your guys if they have a poor showing in round 1.
Notable players skipping the event this week include: Shugo Imahira, Francesco Molinari, Thomas Pieters, Justin Rose, Adam Scott, Lee Westwood, and Tiger Woods. This will allow 15 players from outside the Top 50 the chance to play this week.
Most players are not skipping out this week. The field will include the top 9 in the FedEx Cup standing, the Top 8 in World Golf Ranking, and 45 of the top 50 ranked players in the world.
TPC Southwind will be hosting the event for just the second year. Brooks Koepka is the defending champion, having prevailed by 3 shots over runner-up Webb Simpson.
The scoring average last year was 69.504 which was just under par on this par 70 course. This course yields birdies but is known as a complete test of golf. Poor shots will be penalized and bogeys (or worse) will be made.
Distance is a plus on this course but is not required. The course measures 7,277 yards. A new sight will be the renovated bunkers which have been moved to more strategic locations. This means bunker play will likely be a bigger factor this week. Be sure to consider sand save % when making your picks. Bermuda grass greens are expected to roll at about 12 on the Stimpmeter. Putting is always important but I don’t expect it to be the most important stat to consider this week.
Let’s dive into the stats a little more. The last 3 winners of this event have been in the top 3 in both the FedEx cup standings and OWG ranking at the time the event was played. This might make you consider taking Justin Thomas this week since he is the only player that fits into both of those categories. Koepka is the only winner of the last 5 who finished in the top 10 in driving accuracy. Chez Reavie led the field last year and finished in the middle of the pack (T27.)
The areas of most importance this week IMO, are the following:
GIR (protected greens will cause a lot of misses)
Scrambling (a lot of misses into greens means scrambling will be very important)
Sand Save % – more strategic bunkers will require good bunker play
Bogey Avoidance (9/18 holes last year played over par which means that making par will gain you strokes on the field on half of the holes this week)
There is one player in the field this week that ranks in the Top 11 on tour in every one of these categories and that’s Bryson DeChambeau.
Weather is expected to present a challenge to players this week. This time of year in Memphis means hot/humid conditions. We are expecting to see rain and plenty of wind. This could be enough to move those guys to the top who are proven in tough conditions. Is there a possibility of a leaderboard that is top-heavy with foreign players?
Justin Thomas: 7 top 10s in last 10 WGC events. 3 top 10s and a T18 in 5 events since the restart. As was mentioned he is the only one that fits the mold of the past 3 winners here, ranking in the top 3 in the OWG ranking and FedEx Cup standings. If he can avoid his short spurts of poor play that occasionally plague him, he has a tendency to rise to the top over the course of 4 rounds. 6th in Bogey Avoidance and 3rd in sand save %
Bryson DeChambeau: Missed the cut at The Memorial, but that was exclusively due to the fact that he lost his mind for about 20 minutes on one hole that resulted in a 10. If you eliminate that one hole, he should be the clear favorite. Let me tell you why. He is the only player to rank inside the top 20 (he ranks inside the top 11 in all of them) in the following important categories this week: Bogey Avoidance, Scrambling, Sand Save %, and GIR. Add in the fact that he is 14th in SG:Putting. I won’t even get into his insane run of top 10s before his miss at the Memorial.
Webb Simpson: TPC Southwind fits his game really well and his runner-up finish last year proves it. Ranks inside the top 13 in Bogey Avoidance, Scrambling, and GIR.
Joh Rahm: His first event since claiming the title and number one golfer in the world. He shined in a very difficult test at the Memorial. 4 wins worldwide in the last year and placed 7th in this event last year.
Top-End Maybe: Rory McIlroy
Daniel Berger: 5 top 10 finishes in his last 6 starts. Returning to TPC Southwind for the first time since 2018. He won back to back events on this course in 2016 and 2017 before it started hosting this WGC event. Ranks 11th in Bogey Avoidance, 2nd in scrambling, and 20th in Sand Save %. Won at colonial and 3rd place at Harbour Town.
Matthew Fitzpatrick: T27 in difficult conditions at the Memorial. Rejoins forces with his regular caddie this week. That team finished T4 last year in this event. Will likely gain some strokes on the field if conditions are poor this week. He is one of those guys who loves it when conditions go south. He is a great “feel” golfer and that will likely be needed this week.
Tyrrell Hatton: In last 4 starts he has finished in the top 6 every time, including one win. Ranks first on tour in more than one category, including putting and bogey avoidance. Also ranks 3rd in scrambling.
Billy Horschel: Since 2013 he is 6-6 in cuts made with 5 top 10s on this course. Not only that, but he is playing well lately on other courses too, notching top 15s in his last 2 events.
Mid-Tier Maybe: Tony Finau, Jordan Spieth, Marc Leishman
Value Play Love:
Ian Poulter: Greens that are small play to his advantage with his good scrambling ability. He has putted very well lately. If that continues this week, he could find himself in the top 10 for a second consecutive year. T14 at Heritage and T5 at Workday.
Value Play Like:
Matt Wallace: T4 at Memorial 2 weeks ago. Placed T27 last year, but is playing better golf and is a good golfer when conditions get tough. The wind is expected to blow and there is likely rain in the forecast. This means he could gain some shots on the field.
Brenden Todd: Probably not a name you expect to see in a loaded field like this one. However, Todd’s game projects well this week. I think it is worth the shot to pick him. He ranks inside the top 20 in: Bogey Avoidance (14th), Scrambling (1st), and Sand Save % (5th).
Value Play Maybe: Rafa Cabrera-Bello, Li Haotong