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.
We had a really solid week overall at the Puerto Rico Open, though we ultimately didn’t call Tony Finau or Steve Marino. However, with the likes of Scott Brown and others piling up top-10 and top-15 finishes for us, it was a very good showing.
The PGA Tour moves to the Shell Houston Open as the final stop before the Masters. Plenty of top-tier players here this week, with a good mix of players in good form and horses for courses.
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. Henrik Stenson — The best ballstriker in the field with massive distance on a course that favors it. Was T-3 at Bay Hill and had a nice week off while skipping the Match Play.
2. Phil Mickelson — Mickelson is pretty much automatic in the top 15 here and a winner in 2011. He’s so much better to par here than any other player in the last five years.
3. J.B. Holmes — The defending champion has three top-15 finishes here in the last five years. Wasn’t great at the Match Play, but sometimes showing up to friendly turf is fix enough.
4. Louis Oosthuizen — This may not be Louis’ week (mortgage your home on him at Augusta), but a quality ballstriker with length who got to the Match Play final deserves consideration this week.
5. Patrick Reed — Reed buzzsawed his group at the Match Play before meeting his demise on the weekend in Austin. He’s consistent from week to week, becoming the new Matt Kuchar of sorts.
6. Jordan Spieth — Spieth got to the weekend on a course he knew well in Austin Country Club, but then, as he said, he lost his swing. He needs to find it this week for four days in a row to set up next week. Playoff loser here last year.
7. Rickie Fowler — Fowler wasn’t much to speak of at the Match Play, which was a little surprising. Sixth here in 2014. Very consistent throughout the year.
8. Dustin Johnson — DJ has been close here before, back in 2013 with a T-4. However, that’s his only made cut in Houston, which might also explain his Augusta record. He’s collecting big checks — even if not the novelty size — left and right in the last 12 months.
9. Charl Schwartzel — Schwartzel is playing winning golf. Three worldwide wins since November. Former Masters winner on a Masters Lite course. Pretty much a lock to make the cut and top-25 it.
10. Charles Howell III — Three Sticks has two top-10 finishes here in the last three years. He’s playing good golf overall.
My DraftKings team for this week:
1. Louis Oosthuizen – $10,200
2. Charles Howell III – $8,900
3. Keegan Bradley – $8,300
4. Cameron Tringale – $8,000
5. Scott Brown – $7,900
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 Puerto Rico Open.
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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 Shell Houston Open field with the most top-15 finishes in the last five PGA Tour events:
- Louis Oosthuizen – 3 – T-14 WGC-Cadillac Championship, T-7 Valspar Championship, 2nd WGC-Dell Match Play
- Dustin Johnson – 2 – T-14 WGC-Cadillac Championship, T-5 WGC-Dell Match Play
- Graham DeLaet – 2 – T-5 Valspar Championship, T-11 Puerto Rico Open
- Henrik Stenson – 2 – T-11 Valspar Championship, T-3 Arnold Palmer Invitational
- Patrick Reed – 2 – T-7 Valspar Championship, T-9 WGC-Dell Match Play
- Scott Brown – 2 – T-7 Valspar Championship, T-5 Puerto Rico Open
We’re also interested in the players in the field that have finished in the top 15 at the Shell Houston Open multiple times in the last five years (which isn’t exactly a good thing):
Cameron Tringale – 3
J.B. Holmes – 3
Keegan Bradley – 3
Phil Mickelson – 3
Brendon de Jonge – 2
Charles Howell III – 2
Hunter Mahan – 2
Louis Oosthuizen – 2
Pat Perez – 2
Russell Henley – 2
Ideally, we want to find players who are both playing well now and have a history of playing well in Houston. We only have one this week: Louis Oosthuizen.
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:
- Rafael Cabrera-Bello
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:
- Louis Oosthuizen
- Dustin Johnson ($420 BELOW)
- Graham DeLaet
- Henrik Stenson ($450 BELOW)
- Patrick Reed ($38 BELOW)
The idea this week is to hit the ball long — straight is optional — to set up finding as many greens in regulation as possible. It’s a pretty simple formula we’ll use for the Masters, too. So, which is more important: distance or GIRs? We’ll prioritize GIRs, with driving distance rank in parentheses.
4. Lucas Glover (T-42)
5. Rickie Fowler (T-29)
7. Johnson Wagner (124)
8. Kevin Streelman (T-133)
T-9. Sergio Garcia (52)
T-9. Jhonattan Vegas (28)
14. Henrik Stenson (T-88, deceptive)
16. Greg Owen (T-33)
18. Graham DeLaet (T-33)
19. Roberto Castro (175)
T-20. Louis Oosthuizen (32)