PGA Core Plays – The Wyndham Championships

I already had so much respect for what Collin Morikawa had accomplished in his short PGA Tour career, but what he did at Harding Park last week just took that respect to another level. He went toe-to-toe with an absolutely packed and talented leaderboard and easily came out on top. He showed no nerves whatsoever. He now has as many majors as he does missed cuts on tour. The sky is the limit for this young kid.

We downshift a little bit this week as we play the last event before the start of the FedEx Cup Playoffs. This week might not include the same caliber of field from the PGA Championship, but there will be fierce competition as there are guys fighting for a place in the playoffs. This week we are covering the Wyndham Championship at Sedgefield Country Club (7,127 yd par 70) in Greensboro, North Carolina.

It seems like when we have events in the Carolinas, there is talk of “home field advantage” for players who are from the area. That was very much the case last year as North Carolina native JT Poston won his first tour event while the runner-up was Webb Simpson, another North Carolina native. Poston rose to the top of the pack by leading the field in GIR and ranking 2nd in driving accuracy (Simpson ranked 1st.) Poston also went the entire week without posting a bogey. Even though Sedgefield is one of the easiest par 70s on tour, that is still an amazing accomplishment.

It is a little hard to pinpoint one or two statistics that point to success this week. Hitting fairways was a common denominator amongst the top finishers last year, but there isn’t much to penalize players who miss the fairway. The most important stat IMO is GIR. Whether you hit the fairway or not, greens can still be hit. Proximity to the hole also is an important factor.

Take a look at the recommended picks for the week:

Top-End Love:
Webb Simpson: While he was 2nd place last here, his history here is so strong that he has to be the favorite to win. He is 10-10 since 2010. He won in 2011. He has 8 top 11 finishes, two of which are 2nd place to go along with a third-place finish. 31st in driving accuracy and 29th GIR set up his top 20 ranked putting.

Top-End Like:
Paul Casey: Casey played well enough at Harding Park to win, he unfortunately was bested by an amazing performance from Morikawa. Everything in his game was solid last week, except for his driving accuracy (58.9%.) Despite missing so many fairways, he still managed to hit a very impressive 76.4% of greens in regulation. The rough at Sedgefield won’t be nearly as penalizing which means he could hit a ton of greens (ranks 10th in GIR on tour.) T13 last year and that could be improved on if he hits a few more putts. Also has a T3 to his name at Sedgefield.

Top-End Maybe: Justin Rose, Patrick Reed

Mid-Tier Love:
Kevin Kisner: 5-5 at Sedgefield with 2 top 10s. Solid play since the restart with a solo third and two other top 25s (T13 last week at Harding Park.) Accurate off the tee and solid putter. If he can consistently hit greens, he is primed for a good run this week.

Mid-Tier Like:
Harris English: 6 for 6 at Sedgefield with 2 top 15 finishes. Finished in the top 20 in each of his last 4 starts. 11th in GIR.

Mid-Tier Maybe: Si Woo Kim, Billy Horschel, JT Poston, Corey Conners, Brenden Todd, Ryan Moore

Value Play Love:
Henrik Norlander: 5-5 in his last 5 events including T6 at the Memorial and top 25s at the Rocket Mortgage and 3M. His GIR (19th) game projects well this week.

Value Play Like:
Kyle Stanley: Taking a little bit of a shot here in going with Stanley. I love his GIR (2nd) and Driving accuracy stats(4th.) T13 at last year’s Wyndham Championship. T32 at the 3M Open and T12 at the Barracuda Championship.

Value Play Maybe: Jim Furyk, Brice Garnett, Lanto Griffin

Any questions or comments?

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PGA Core Plays – The PGA Championship

PGA Core Plays
The PGA Championship
8/4/2020
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.

Top-End Love

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.

Top-End Like

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

Mid-Tier Love

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.

Mid-Tier Like

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

PGA Core Plays – WGC FedEx St. Jude Invitational

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?

Top-End Love:

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.

Top-End Like:

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

Mid-Tier Love:

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.

Mid-Tier Like:

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

PGA Core Plays – 3M Open

PGA Core Plays
3M Open
By Derrek Hill

 

 

PGA Core Plays – 3M Open

 

What a wild week at the Memorial! It definitely was not short on entertainment. We saw DeChambeau take himself right out of contention and out of the weekend by recklessly blasting 3-wood after 3-wood from the rough, over the fence, and out of bounds. We saw Phil going completely rogue and putting from almost 80-yards out and just setting his tumbler down next to him on the green while putting. We got a microscopic view of Rahms ball in the rough which moved a fraction of a millimeter before being chipped in to lock down the victory, only to be penalized later. All of it produced some great golf.
I don’t know about you, but I love the style of golf we saw at Muirfield Village. Bad golf shots were severely penalized while good golf shots were generally still rewarded. The leaders were able to keep it under par, while guys who were off their game really struggled. I think that setup really helps weed out the week and allows the best golfer to come out on top. Rahm definitely was the best player this week. He really maintained his composure and remained patient, taking advantage of his opportunities while avoiding mistakes.
Most importantly, when evaluating the DFS opportunities, it was a bit of an unexpected result. Some big names completely tanked (DJ.) Some guys started too far back on day one which negated their great play the rest of the week (Schauffele, JT.) Let’s take a look at what all this means for this week.

We’re heading to the Midwest this week for the 3M Open. Just to refresh your memory, TPC Twin Cities has hosted Champions Tour events yearly for some time now, but just last year held its inaugural PGA Tour event. Matthew Wolff won his first tour event in just his third tour start.
The field is much weaker this week when compared to the other events since the restart. There are few big names in the field, and some of those big names are far from their best form.
There will be limited top-end and middle-tier guys to choose from this week. This means a few different things in regard to DFS. Choosing a top-end guy who has a lower ownership % will help you against the competition. I would pick a top-end player, load up on the mid-tier guys and sift through the value-plays to find those sure to make the cut. Hitting the right ones will probably predict if you get paid or not.

Before making those picks, let me give you a little overview of the course this week. TPC Twin Cities is a 7,431 par 71 course. It has some really long par 5s (all 3 of them are over 590 yards,) some long par 4s mixed in with some driveable par 4s for long hitters. The fairways are lined with trees and expected to have long primary rough. Those trees and rough were not enough to prevent some really low scores last year. I would expect a lot of birdies to be made again this year.

Driving distance will allow longer hitters the chance at birdie and eagle that other players may not get on certain holes this week. However, I think the 2 statistics to look at this week will be par-5 scoring, Proximity, SG:Putting due to the fact that these greens are huge and will likely be running around 13 on the Stimpmeter.

Top-End Love

Tony Finau: Finau came into the Memorial on a “quiet” hot streak. He had been playing better and then as was mentioned several times on the broadcast, he shot an incredible course record 59 at Victory Ranch in very windy conditions. He continued that hot streak into the Memorial where he had a 3-stroke lead halfway through the second round. His fall from the top was in the spotlight which made his stumble seem worse. In reality, almost everyone struggled at Muirfield. If he had started out poorly and finished strong, he would be the obvious pick. This may be your chance to get him at lower ownership.

Top-End Like

Dustin Johnson: Another instance where people might shy away due to his 80, 80 missed cut at The Memorial. The reality is that he has a short memory and could easily come back and win this week. He has the distance to shorten the course this week and can make birdies in bunches.

Top-End Maybe: Paul Casey, Brooks Koepka, Tommy Fleetwood

Mid-Tier Love

PALM BEACH GARDENS, FLORIDA – FEBRUARY 27: Harris English of the United States plays a shot from a bunker on the sixth hole during the first round of the Honda Classic at PGA National Resort and Spa Champion course on February 27, 2020 in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

Harris English: 9 top 20s this season including T13 at the Memorial. Really good all around game including 30th in SG:Putting. One of the big reasons I love him this week is his ownership percentage will likely be lower than guys in his price range like Wolff.

Matthew Wolff: Obviously Wolff is the defending champion of the 3M Open. He also is coming off of a T22 finish at the Memorial. The course sets up pretty well for him which means we could see repeated success here. 7th in driving distance and above average in every other relevant statistic this week (GIR, Proximity, Putting.)

Erik Van Rooyen: Not many players could claim Minnesota as “home field advantage.” Van Rooyen played collegiate golf at the University of Minnesota. Has family there which makes it an easy travel site. T22 last week.

Mid-Tier Like

Sam Burns: T7 last year. 10th in driving distance, 27th in SG:Putting, 23rd in par 5 scoring. His game projects well here. 3 consecutive top 30 finishes.

Patrick Rodgers: Top 20 finishes at the Charles Schwab and The Memorial which were both really strong fields. Large, fast Bentgrass greens at TPC Twin Cities will play to his advantage since he is one of the best putters on tour. Not a one-trick pony as he is 17th on tour in driving distance and 45th in par 5 scoring average.

Lucas Glover: T7 here last year. Shares course record 62 which he shot last year. 5-5 with 4 top 25s since the restart.

Mid-Tier Maybe: Luke List, Charley Hoffman, Carlos Ortiz, Alex Noren

Value Play Love

Keith Mitchell: Mitchell made his first cut last week since missing the previous three. Not only that, but he finished T22 in a loaded field on a brutal course. He gained strokes on the field in all 4 SG categories last week. He is one of the few value play guys who has a chance to win.

Value Play Like

Johnson Wagner: Here is a guy who, even as a value play, could slip under the radar. He finished 23rd last year. He has a smaller sample size, but ranks 1st in proximity to the hole on tour.

Wyndham Clark: T5 last year, T12 in par 5 scoring average. Good putter, ranking 24th in SG: Putting

Value Play Maybe: Hudson Swafford, Adam Schenk, Xinjung Zhang

PGA Core Plays – The Memorial

PGA Core Plays
7/15/20
By Derek Hill – @DerekHillGolf 

The Memorial

 

 

For the first time since 1957 we will witness a golf course hosting PGA Tour events in back to back weeks. While Muirfield Village GC (7,456 yard, par-72) is hosting the Memorial Tournament the week after hosting the Workday Charity Open, the course is expected to present a very different challenge for this event. The setup last week was more player-friendly, while this week’s event is expected to be more viewer-friendly. That means that conditions will be a little tougher. The rough will likely be grown out all week. The greens will increase in speed from the 11-12 that they were running last week up to 13-14 this week. We may see some wear and tear from the Workday Charity Open make an impact this week. The setup will likely try to avoid this impact, but surely there will be more than one instance where a guy’s ball lands in a divot made the previous week. Hopefully that is limited.

The top 5 in the FedEx Cup standings are in the field this week, as is Patrick Cantlay, who is defending his title as 2019 Memorial Champion. Most importantly, we get to see THE BIG CAT back in action. We haven’t seen him play since the charity event at Medalist GC where he put on a clinic, specifically off the tee. Being a 5x winner at Muirfield definitely means he could go out there and win this week.

Muirfield seems to produce guys who have sustained success here. I’d lean toward players with a history of success at this course. Going off of statistics, I would have to say that driving accuracy will be important with the longer rough, but everyone will miss some fairways. Likely the most important stats this week will have to do with longer rough and really quick greens. I assume those will be rough proximity, scrambling, SG:around-the-green, and SG:Putting.

Top-End Loves:

Bryson DeChambeau: Not sure what else there is left to say about DeChambeau…7 consecutive top 10s. He’s almost a lock for a top-10 at this point regardless of the course or the field. He is better than he was in 2018 when he won this event. 3rd in scrambling. 12th in SG:Putting.
Justin Thomas: He is just too much of a competitor to not have a strong bounce back after losing in a playoff last week. A little hit/miss at Muirfield Village, but 2 top 10s at the Memorial show he can win here. Not to mention he has 3 top-10s in 4 events since the restart.Patrick Cantlay: Defending champion and coming off T7 at the Workday. In his last 12 rounds at Muirfield, his stroke average is 68.33. Hasn’t missed a cut on this course. Also has a 4th place finish in 2018.

Top-End Likes:

Collin Marikina: Nothing left to prove for this young buck. He is one of the best players on tour already. More wins than missed cuts. Very solid tee to green game. He showed last week that when he putts well he is hard to beat. May struggle just a little with quicker greens this week, but still likely a good pick.

Top-End Maybes: Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, Webb Simpson

Mid-Tier Loves:

Kevin Streelman: Must-have player this week. Finished T7 last week at the Workday. Runner-up finish at the Travelers. Top 20 finishes at Memorial in 4 of his last 5 appearances including 4th place last year. T14 in Rough proximity
Tiger Woods: Never would I have thought you could get a 5-time winner of an event for Mid-Tier value when he is still playing so well. Tiger doesn’t play many events anymore which makes him more unpredictable, but when we have seen him lately, he has impressed.

Mid-Tier Likes:

Xander Schauffele: 3 top 20 finishes since the restart. T14 at workday. Led last year’s event in total driving and SG:Off-the-tee.
Rickie Fowler: Top 15 finishes in each of the last 3 years at the Memorial. Two different second place finishes. Has the short game to score well on slick surfaces.

Mid-Tier Maybes: Daniel Berger, Byeong-Hun An, Gary Woodland, Jason Day, Tony Finau, Jordan Spieth

Value Play Loves:

Jason Dufner: Dufner has defied logic and has improved his play at the Memorial as he has aged. He won at Muirfield Village in 2017 and placed 7th last year.
Ryan Moore: Has made 12 of 14 cuts at Muirfield Village including 3 top 10s and 8 top 25s. Ranks first in Rough Proximity.
David Lingmerth: 7 for 7 at The Memorial. Winner over Justin Rose in 2015.

Value Play Likes:

Rory Sabbatini: Sabbatini has become a staple player in the last few months. He continues to play well. He is valuable because he rarely misses the cut. Has made 10 of 12 cuts in this event with 2 top 10s and 6 top 25s.
Troy Merritt: Co-leader after 36 holes last year en-route to a T17 finish. Has made 4 consecutive cuts and has back to back top 25 finishes.

Value Play Maybes: Matthew Wolff

PGA Core Plays – The Rocket Mortgage Classic

PGA Core Plays
By Derek Hill

Rocket Mortgage Classic

 

 

This week the PGA Tour returns to Detroit Golf Club (North) which will be hosting the second edition of the Rocket Mortgage Classic. It is a 7,334-yard par 72. Last year had a surprising but great story of Nate Lashley running away with the win after being the last guy in the field. The course played possibly the easiest on tour last season. The 5-under cut line was the lowest cut on tour since 2016. It is expected that the rough will be grown out to make the course play a little more difficult this year.

The fairways will be lined with trees pretty much tee to green. With the rough being lengthened, it will be tough for players to stop the ball on relatively small quick greens. Last year, the thought was that the players would have a hard time hitting the green from the rough but players just picked this course apart. I would expect that this will come into play a little more this year. This means that hitting fairways and greens will be important this week. Look for guys who rank high in categories like Driving accuracy, SG:Tee-to-Green, SG:Approach, GIR%, and rough proximity. I would expect the champion this week to be an average or better putter but I don’t think putting will be as important this week as hitting fairways and greens.

Although it is a bit of a drop off as far as field strength, there are some big names playing this week. Amongst them are guys like: Rickie Fowler, Bryson DeChambeau, Bubba Watson, Hideki Matsuyama, Patrick Reed, Jason Day, Tony Finau, and Webb Simpson.

Top-End Loves:

Webb Simpson: The guy is just a stone-cold killer. Nothing flashy. Just a beautiful, fundamental, solid, all-around golfer. Accurate off the tee. Solid on approach. Great putter. There is nothing keeping me from putting him in my lineups.

Tyrrell Hatton: If Simpson is option 1A, Hatton is 1B. He has been playing so well as of late. His Tee-to-green game is almost unbeatable. Combine that with being one of the best putters on tour this season and you’ve got a recipe for a win.

Top-End Likes:

Bryson DeChambeau: With as much as he has been playing since the restart, and how hard he swings it, you wonder if fatigue will catch up with him at some point. You also wonder if there will be a course that just doesn’t fit his game. So far, the answer to those questions is no. He has 6 consecutive top-10 finishes. With a weaker field this week, I’d say his chances of winning this week are the highest they’ve been since the restart. His game projects well in Detroit.

Top-End Maybes: Hideki Matsuyama, Patrick Reed

Mid-Tier Loves:

Viktor Hovland: T23, T21, T11 in the 3 loaded events since the restart. Very solid from tee to green. Putting is just barely below average. Notched a T13 last year in just his second start as a pro.

JT Poston: T11 at the inaugural event last year. Was coming off consecutive top 10 finishes before just missing the cut at The Travelers. Top 10 putter who showed that when his approaches get relatively close, he can convert them into birdies in bunches.

Doc Redman: Redman’s value gets a major lift this week, probably for good reason. He has made all 3 cuts since the restart, 2 of which resulted in top 25 finishes. This week projects to be his best when you consider he placed 2nd last year after a Monday qualifier. 13th in driving accuracy and 17th in SG:approach.

Mid-Tier Likes:

Rory Sabbatini: The resurgence of Sabbatini’s career continues. He continues to place inside the top 25. He finished T3 at this event last year where he led the field in driving accuracy

Brenden Todd: It’s been 2 days since DJ raised the trophy at The Travelers and Todd is still hitting fairways. He couldn’t miss a fairway and rarely missed a green. If he could have converted on his 12 chances at birdie, his story could have been much different. I fully expect to see more fairways and greens hit this week. A few more made putts could have him in contention.

Will Gordon: The pressure is off Gordon to secure his tour status. He can play with less pressure this week. Coming off his impressive T3 at the Travelers. His last 5 starts on the PGA tour have resulted in 4 top 25s, 2 of which were top 10s. Ranks 13th in GIR%. Very cheap mid-tier play this week.

Mid-Tier Maybes: Sungjae Im, Adam Hadwin, Brandt Snedeker

Value Play Loves:

Brian Stuard: Stuard has made all 3 cuts since the resume which is quite an accomplishment considering the field strength. Coming of T20 last week. 5th in driving accuracy. T5 at 2019 Rocket Mortgage Classic.

Value Play Likes:

Cameron Tringale: T5 in 2019. 28th in SG: Approach, 37th in SG: Tee-to-Green.

Harry Higgs: 27th in rough proximity. 2 of 3 cuts made since restart. In all honesty, I think Higgs is trending up and could find himself knocking on the door of the top 50 within a year or so.

Value Play Maybes: Ted Potter Jr., Wyndham Clark