Welcome back to Golf News Net’s weekly fantasy golf picks. Each week of the PGA Tour season, we’ll present our top picks for that week’s tournament and make recommendations for DraftKings’ one-week fantasy leagues.
Have you ever played one-week fantasy leagues? Give them a try with a free entry this week with your first deposit. (Be aware of the risks in playing daily fantasy sports tournaments.) You could take down our expert picks and win some big bucks.
This week, the first World Golf Championships event of the year kicks off at Trump National Doral with the Blue Monster serving host to one of the stronger small fields of the year. Dustin Johnson is defending champion as Adam Scott rides a huge wave of momentum into the week.
For GNN Plus subscribers, you can access our top-15 finish chart and season-long trends on DraftKings valuations. They’ll be available at your disposal as part of a growing set of tools to help in your research. Going forward, GNN Plus subscribers will also get access to the last five years of leaderboards for an event, namely the top 15 and ties from 2011-2015, the data that we use to define our horses for courses each week.
Now, on to the picks!
1. Adam Scott — The Honda Classic winner has gone T-2, WIN. Sounds good to me. And, oh yeah, four top-15 finishes here in the last five years. Auto pick.
2. Bubba Watson — Watson is also another automatic pick this week, despite the fact that he has been a vocal critic of Gil Hanse’s redesign. The Riviera winner has been in the top three here in three of the last four years.
3. Rory McIlroy — McIlroy missed the cut again at Honda, which leads us to believe that’s just not his bag. However, he loves Doral. Four top 15s here in the last five years.
4. Rickie Fowler — Fowler fell apart a little on Saturday at the Honda after playing what amounts to a perfect first 36 at PGA National. Two top 15s here, playing great overall.
5. J.B. Holmes — How no one is talking about J.B. Holmes of late is a crime, so let us do it. Four top 15s in the last five PGA Tour events. Runner-up here last year.
6. Dustin Johnson — Johnson, the defending champion, is a top-15 machine at this course. His length is a huge asset here. He was fourth in his last start at Riviera.
7. Henrik Stenson — Stenson may well fly in here under the radar because of the great play from top players on the PGA Tour, but he’s playing excellent golf coming off off-season knee surgery. He was T-4 here last year and this place sets up for his game.
8. Justin Rose — Rose is a former winner at Doral back in 2012 and had a nice defense. Hasn’t been swell on the redesign, so that’s something to worry about this week.
9. Jordan Spieth — Spieth was no good at Riviera, a place he loves. Call it a bad day on Thursday and the kick in the butt he needs. He lacks the length to do his short-game thing here, but if the wind isn’t a huge factor, Spieth should be.
10. Louis Oosthuizen — Oosthuizen ended a nearly two-year winless drought on the European Tour last week at the Perth International in Australia. He’s long and has a grooved swing. That’s a dangerous Louis.
My DraftKings team for this week:
1. Adam Scott — $11,600
2. J.B. Holmes — $9,400
3. Billy Horschel — $7,700
4. Shane Lowry — $7,400
5. Jason Dufner — $7,200
6. Jamie Donaldson — $6,700
If you want to win at DraftKings daily fantasy golf, you have to figure out a way to find six golfers that play all 72 holes and earn roughly 85 points each.
You likely have to identify a couple of players in the top five, at least the top seven, and you’d ideally not have a player finish outside the top 20.
Doing that takes research, looking at a variety of factors, including:
- Finish trends, both in recent weeks on the PGA Tour and at that week’s event,
- Salary trends, deciphering which players are showing value based on their performance, and
- Statistical trends, identifying the common threads among winners in that week’s event
That’s what Golf News Net will deliver each week to GNN Plus members in this space, offering a complete research package which dives into these three areas to find the players that should be in your lineup for this week’s WGC-Cadillac Championship.
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We start by looking at the recent past, back at players who have finished inside the top 15 in the last five PGA Tour events — not their last five starts. Here are the players in the WGC-Cadillac Championship field with the most top-15 finishes in the last five PGA Tour events:
- J.B. Holmes – 4 – T-6 Farmers Insurance Open, T-6 Waste Management Phoenix Open, T-11 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, T-11 Northern Trust Open
- Adam Scott – 2 – T-2 Northern Trust Open, WIN The Honda Clasic
- Billy Horschel – 2 – T-8 Farmers Insurance Open, T-8 The Honda Classic
- Bubba Watson – T-14 Waste Management Phoenix Open, WIN Northern Trust Open
- Hideki Matsuyama – 2 – WIN Waste Management Phoenix Open, T-11 Northern Trust Open
- Jimmy Walker – 2 – T-4 Farmers Insuance Open, T-11 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am
- Phil Mickelson – 2- T-11 Waste Management Phoenix Open, 2nd AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am
- Rickie Fowler – 2 – P-2 Waste Management Phoenix Open, T-6 The Honda Classic
- Shane Lowry – 2 – T-13 Farmers Insuance Open, T-6 Waste Management Phoenix Open
We’re also interested in the players in the field that have finished in the top 15 at the WGC-Cadillac Championship multiple times in the last five years:
Adam Scott – 4
Dustin Johnson – 4
Rory McIlroy – 4
Bubba Watson – 3
Graeme McDowell – 3
Matt Kuchar – 3
Charl Schwartzel – 2
Jason Dufner – 2
Justin Rose – 2
Rickie Fowler – 2
Ideally, we want to find players who are both playing well now and have a history of playing well at the Blue Monster, and we have three of those this week:
DraftKings salaries change from week to week, depending on field strength and size, as well a player’s recent record and their history on a course. It’s in looking at how a salary changes over time that we might get some clues as to players that could be a little overrated or underrated.
Here’s the list of players in the field playing $1,000 over their average salary this season:
Adam Scott ($1,025 over)
Here are players with multiple top 15 finishes in their last five events that are playing less than $600 above their average salary for the season, with players with salaries BELOW average value notated (keeping in mind that salaries are different in smaller, no-cut fields like this one):
- J.B. Holmes ($220 BELOW)
- Billy Horschel ($60 BELOW)
- Hideki Matsuyama ($1,300 BELOW)
- Jimmy Walker ($1,900 BELOW)
- Phil Mickelson ($720 BELOW)
- Rickie Fowler ($525 BELOW)
- Shane Lowry ($975 BELOW)
At the Blue Monster, you’ve got to be long and you’ve got to be able to do something with that length. The simplest measure of that is strokes gained tee to green. So, we look first at that, then by driving distance.
Hideki Matsuyama – 1 (54)
Adam Scott – 2 (8)
Sergio Garcia – 3 (85)
Bubba Watson – 4 (6)
Rory McIlroy – 5 (T-10)
J.B. Holmes – 6 (T-3)
Phil Mickelson – 7 (41)
Rickie Fowler – 8 (30)
Dustin Johnson – 9 (7)
Marc Leishman – 10 (21)
Justin Rose – 12 (T-19)
Kevin Na – 14 (168)
Jordan Spieth – 18 (93)
Billy Horschel – 20 (T-73)
Justin Thomas – 21 (26)
Jason Dufner – 25 (T-109)