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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The PGA Tour has two events this week, with the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in Akron, Ohio, and the Barracuda Championship at Reno-Tahoe, in Nevada. We’ll give the full treatment to the Bridgestone, and we’ll give a free top 10 this week for the Barracuda in case you’re in a league that asks you to pick for both tournaments.
The field is further fractured this week because the European Tour didn’t co-sanction the event this year so it could prop up the 100th playing of the French Open.
Meanwhile, a quick look back at last week’s Quicken Loans National. If you had Billy Hurley III, Vijay Singh and Jon Rahm in your lineups last week — OK, Rahm made some sense — then you’re a genius.
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. Dustin Johnson — The U.S. Open champion comes back after winning at Oakmont. He’s been playing incredible golf all year. This course, given how he drove the ball at Oakmont, makes a lot of sense. However, his Firestone record isn’t all that great.
2. Jason Day — It’s a good week for Day to come through, just like Oakmont. Long and firm. Day has been in the top 12 here in the last two years, and this tournament came amid a great run for him last year.
3. Adam Scott — Scott was the 2011 winner here, and he’s become a practical top 15 lock here. Coming off a respectable T-18 at the Open.
4. Brooks Koepka — This course should set up well for Koepka. He was sixth here last year. The question mark is driving, which undid his Sunday bid for 63 or better at Oakmont…but that was with long irons and Open pressure.
5. Jordan Spieth — Spieth has been largely forgettable of late and was a total non-factor at Oakmont. However, he was in the top 10 here last year, and his relative lack of length shouldn’t hurt him at Firestone.
6. Shane Lowry — The defending champion here obviously had a letdown in the final six holes of the U.S. Open. His performance showed, though, that he belongs in this company.
7. Patrick Reed — Reed has a good Firestone record, finishing in the top 15 the last two years. Reed is a solid player, though his preferred draw flight can sometimes get in his way.
8. Jason Dufner — Dufner’s on a roll of late, and he handles this course well. In 2012-13, he went T-7, T-4. That’s a good run. He’s been in the top eight in two of his last three starts.
9. Jim Furyk — Good finish at Oakmont, modest T-21 finish at Congressional. Not a bad few weeks. Furyk loves this course.
10. Matt Kuchar — After a run of four events inside the top six, Kooch was T-46 at Oakmont. He’s got a good, steady game for Firestone.
My DraftKings team for this week:
1. Adam Scott – $10,500
2. Shane Lowry – $8,700
3. Jason Dufner – $8,500
4. Marc Leishman – $8,100
5. Chris Kirk – $7,000
6. Andrew Johnston – $6,300
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:
- Brooks Koepka — T-2 FedEx St. Jude Classic, T-13 U.S. Open
- Chris Kirk — T-15 Dean & Deluca Invitational, T-12 Quicken Loans National
- Dustin Johnson — T-3 the Memorial Tournament, 5th FedEx St. Jude Classic, WIN U.S. Open
- Jason Dufner — T-6 Dean & Deluca Invitational, T-8 U.S. Open
- Marc Leishman — T-13 Dean & Deluca Invitational, T-11 the Memorial Tournament
- Matt Kuchar — T-6 Dean & Deluca Invitational, T-4 the Memorial Tournament
- Patrick Reed — T-15 Dean & Deluca Invitational, T-8 the Memorial Tournament
We’re also interested in the players in the field that have finished in the top 15 at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational multiple times in the last five years:
- Jim Furyk – 4
- Adam Scott – 3
- Justin Rose – 3
- Rickie Fowler – 3
- Jason Day – 2
- Jason Dufner – 2
- Matt Kuchar – 2
- Patrick Reed – 2
- Zach Johnson – 2
Ideally, we want to find players who are both playing well now and have a history of playing well at Firestone. Our guys this week? Jason Dufner, Matt Kuchar, Patrick Reed.
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 $500 over their average salary this season, keeping in mind that we only have 60 players with salaries this week:
- Dustin Johnson
- Brooks Koepka
- Billy Hurley III
- Shane Lowry
- Jim Furyk
Here are players with multiple top 15 finishes in their last five events that are playing this week at least $1,500 below their average salary this season:
- Jimmy Walker
- Brandt Snedeker
- Kevin Kisner
- Rickie Fowler
- George Coetzee
- Kevin Na
Firestone Country Club is a slog. It’s long, firm and fast. It’s like a U.S. Open course, but the rough isn’t as zany and the course isn’t taken to the absolute limit of fairness. It only makes sense, then, to consider strokes gained off the tee this week. Then it’s important to look at greens in regulation from 150-175 yards, since that’s going to be a common range for approach shots this week.
2. Bubba Watson (61)
3. Dustin Johnson (170)
4. Justin Rose (T-154, which is 60%)
5. Brooks Koepka (46)
6. Rickie Fowler (7)
7. J.B. Holmes (134)
10. Hideki Matsuyama (26)
14. Shane Lowry (T-91)
T-18. Louis Oosthuizen (34)
20. Jordan Spieth (T-154)