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.
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What a finish! Jordan Spieth wowed everyone once again with a short-game clinic to win at Colonial. Nine putts for the final nine holes?! Are you kidding?! Summer should be good.
We move to the Memorial Tournament and Muirfield Village in Ohio. Jack’s place identifies great players because of its emphasis on par-4 scoring and its fairness in relationship to length and width. All of the top 3 players are in the field, and we should be in store for a great week.
For GNN Plus subscribers, you can access our NEW searchable database of PGA Tour results from 2011-present, 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.
Now, on to the picks!
1. Jason Day — I know, I know. Jason Day doesn’t have the best results here. However, he’s got playing privileges at Muirfield Village and won in his last start. He’s a different golfer than a year ago.
2. Jordan Spieth — Spieth had a very Craig Perks finish to win at Colonial, and it shows what Spieth can do with his short game magic. Not that he left, but he’s back to winning and hopefully that helps him move on from Augusta.
3. Matt Kuchar — Kuchar has the best record at Muirfield Village in the last five years of any player in the field. He’s also on fire of late, including a pair of third-place finishes in his last five starts.
4. Rory McIlroy — McIlroy is absolutely majestic when he’s playing his best golf. It’s the prettiest of the Big Three. He has a solid Memorial record and he’s feeling very confident.
5. Hideki Matsuyama — Matsuyama is a former winner here and he’s been flexing his ballstriking muscle of late. Putting is the knock on him, but he’s middle of the Tour this year. Good enough for us.
6. Dustin Johnson — You don’t have to be long to do well at Muirfield Village, but it doesn’t hurt if you can harness it properly. D.J. does. He was T-13 last year.
7. Bill Haas — Haas could be a huge value play this week. Not only has he top-8-ed here in two of the last three years, but he’s flying off the radar despite making 7 of his last 8 cuts.
8. Chris Kirk — Kirk has a nice finish at Colonial in his title defense, continuing a string of solid play. He has a fourth-place finish here, which makes sense. He’s great tee-to-green.
9. Jason Dufner — You have to like that Dufner found something at Colonial, where he was a playoff loser in 2014. He’s been in the top 25 here in each of the last two years.
10. Bubba Watson — It’s beginning to feel like each Watson start is like a shooting star: rare. Hasn’t missed a cut all year, but he’s ho-hum.
My DraftKings team for this week:
1. Matt Kuchar – $9,900
2. Jason Dufner – $8,400
3. Chris Kirk – $8,300
4. Daniel Berger – $7,800
5. Bill Haas – $7,700
6. Charles Howell III – $7,400
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.
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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 this week’s field with the most top-15 finishes in the last five PGA Tour events:
- Charles Howell III – 2 – T-11 Zurich Classic of New Orleans, T-4 AT&T Byron Nelson
- Chris Kirk – 2 – T-5 Zurich Classic of New Orleans, T-15 Colonial
- Hideki Matsuyama – 2 – T-11 Wells Fargo Championship, T-7 The Players
- Jason Day – 2 – T-5 Zurich Classic of New Orleans, WIN The Players
- Kyle Reifers – 2 – T-10 AT&T Byron Nelson, T-5 Colonial
- Matt Kuchar – 3 – T-3 The Players, 3rd AT&T Byron Nelson, T-6 Colonial
- Spencer Levin – 2 – T-15 Zurich Classic of New Orleans, T-4 AT&T Byron Nelson
We’re also interested in the players in the field that have finished in the top 15 at the Memorial Tournament multiple times in the last five years:
- Matt Kuchar – 3
- Bill Haas – 2
- Billy Horschel – 2
- Charl Schwartzel – 2
- Dustin Johnson – 2
- Hideki Matsuyama – 2
- Jim Furyk – 2
- Kevin Na – 2
- Luke Donald – 2
- Rory McIlroy – 2
Ideally, we want to find players who are both playing well now and have a history of playing well at Muirfield Village. Our guys this week: Matt Kuchar, Hideki Matsuyama, and I’m adding Rory McIlroy because of his Players finish and Irish Open win.
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 $600 over their average salary this season:
- Kyle Reifers
- Jason Day
- Bud Cauley
- Thomas Aiken
Here are players with multiple top 15 finishes in their last five events that are playing this week less than $200 above their average salary this season:
- Charles Howell III – $922 BELOW
- Matt Kuchar – $150 BELOW
Each week, we want to look at the initial odds for a PGA Tour event and compare their order of ranking to salary rankings at DraftKings. This way, we can see gaps in who the oddsmakers are enticing enough to rank well and who DraftKings thinks are worthy of a higher salary.
First, let’s look at the players who could be big DraftKings values: players who are ranked at least 5 spots worse on DraftKings than on the books.
Kevin Chappell: 12
Daniel Berger: 11
Russell Knox: 10
David Lingmerth: 10
Luke Donald: 10
Bill Haas: 8
Anirban Lahiri: 7
Then, we look at players who could be substantially overrated by DraftKings, whose DFS rankings are at least 5 spots higher than their book rankings:
J.B. Holmes: -5
Gary Woodland: -6
Jason Kokrak: -7
Tony Finau: -9
Kevin Kisner: -11
Muirfield Village is one of my favorite courses. Frankly, it’s Jack Nicklaus’ best work as a designer, and it’s because he took — and continues to take — a page from Augusta National. The course isn’t arduously long. It’s just 7,300 yards. There is a great mix of long and short holes. Every shot style is required. You can be errant but not incredibly so. You don’t have to be long to win here because you can score well on the par 4s and/or the par 5s. The par 3s, in my view, are bonus holes.
So, our big stat for this week is par-4 scoring, which, by the way, often tells you the best players in the field — and why we see so many class champions at Memorial.
1. Jordan Spieth
2. Rickie Fowler
3. Kevin Na
5. Hideki Matsuyama
T6. Jason Day
T6. Dustin Johnson
8. Charles Howell III
T10. Matt Kuchar
T13. Branden Grace
T13. Kevin Kisner
T15. Roberto Castro
T15. Russell Knox
T15. Marc Leishman
18. Sean O’Hair
T19. Lucas Glover
T19. Russell Henley
T21. Daniel Berger
T21. Jason Bohn
T23. Aaron Baddeley
T23. William McGirt
T23. Webb Simpson