The Cheat Sheet provides fantasy golf players with course info, player history and the most noteworthy trends of the week to help them with their roster selections.
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We head into the fourth official event since the restart of the PGA Tour after an extended layoff due to COVID-19. The Rocket Mortgage Classic made its debut last season and saw a first-time winner in Nate Lashley ($6,600) dominate the field. The event this year will again be a full-field event with approximately 156 players teeing off and the usual cut rules applying — top 65 and ties play the weekend. The field does weaken a touch here as some top players will be taking a week off. In attendance though will be the likes of Webb Simpson ($11,000), Patrick Reed ($10,500) and Bryson DeChambeau ($11,700), three players who are firmly inside the top 15 in the OWGR.
Also in attendance will be several younger players, including the likes of Viktor Hovland ($10,000), who has shown some form of late, and Doc Redman ($8,500) who finished runner-up at this event last season. From a withdrawal standpoint, it’s important to point out that Dylan Frittelli is not in the field anymore, as he tested positive for COIVD-19 after he missed the cut last week. Harris English also withdrew after testing positive on Monday as part of the pre-tournament screening process. It’s possible there may be more withdraws before the tournament begins as the pre-event testing has expended.
Detroit Golf Club (North Course)—Detroit, Michigan
Par 72, 7,330 yards; Greens: Bentgrass/Poa Annua
The Rocket Mortgage Classic replaced the old Quicken Loans event that was always played out East and has found its new home at the North Course at Detroit GC.
The North Course at the Detroit Golf Club is an original Donald Ross design and has history back as early as 1916. The venue has seen lots of renovations since that time and several holes have been altered, lengthened or even moved around. Some highlights of the venue include a long par 5, which is set to play at 625 yards for the week, a closing stretch of holes that includes a solid risk-reward par 5 (the 14th) with water guarding the green and a tough finishing hole with a massive putting surface which will likely feature a tough pin placement on Sunday.
The venue played quite easy in its first season, as it produced the eighth-best scoring average on Tour with the field shooting an average of 70.113 for the week. Even with the long par 5 in play, the four par 5s ranked out as the easiest four holes on the course with the long par 3 11th (a Ross trademark) ranking as the toughest hole on the course. The fairways and greens ranked out as quite easy to hit compared to the average Tour stats, so birdie opportunities and good iron play become very important. The four par 5s and easy to hit fairways should favor big hitters over the long haul, but it’s worth noting that Lashley only ranked 44th in Driving Distance last year during his dominating win.
Possible correlations between this venue and other Donald Ross-designed venues on Tour may also be something to note this week, and results from courses like Pinehurst No. 2, Plainview, East Lake and Sedgefield would all be good starting points.
2020 Outlook: The weather this week looks like a complete non-factor. The highs will hit around 90 to 95 degrees every day of the event while the winds are expected to be minimal at best. There’s also only a very small chance of precipitation in the forecast right now, so don’t expect stoppages as we have had in the past couple of weeks. The only thing to consider here is that the greens could play a touch faster than last year and make holding the greens on approaches and putting a little more difficult. While we should expect another birdie-fest, quicker greens from the hot weather would at least give this easier venue some defense. Players who excel on fast greens could have an advantage this week.
1. Nate Lashley -25
2. Doc Redman -19
3. Wes Roach -18
Rory Sabbatini -18
Six players tied at -17
Notable Missed Cuts 2019 (Cut was -5): Brian Harman, Corey Conners, Dustin Johnson, Gary Woodland, Bubba Watson
2019 Winners Stats: Nate Lashley
SG: Off the Tee—+0.7
SG: Tee to Green—+8.0
SG: Around the Green—+1.8
Birdie or Better %/Birdie Opps
Par 5 Efficiency 550-600 yards/Par 4 efficiency 450-500 yards
Eight of the top 10 finishers from this event last season gained +2.2 Strokes on Approaches or better. The fairways here were incredibly easy to hit, so gaining strokes with irons and the putter became the key factor in having a successful week.
Birdie Opportunity and Birdie or Better Percentage is also another stat you can emphasize here. The winner exceeded 20-under par, so anyone giving themselves a ton of looks and chances to get hot with the putter this week should be a solid target.
Lastly, the venue contains a big variety of holes in terms of distance but does have four par 5s that are all 550 yards or more and four par 4s that are all 450-500 yards. Looking at efficiency stats from these ranges can be helpful to find a golfer who may be a good fit for this venue.
Odds to win are one factor to think about when making rosters and often a good way to identify solid value plays. This section is going to detail a few of the players who have the best fantasy value comparative to their odds of winning this week (odds taken from DK Sportsbook, subject to change).
Player Odds DraftKings Price Comparables:
Adam Hadwin (+5000) $8,200 – Doc Redmon (+5000) $8,500
Jason Day (+5000) $8,600 – Rory Sabbatini (+5000) $8,800
Scottie Scheffler (+3300) $9,000 – Bubba Watson (+3300) $9,200
Kevin Na (+4000) $9,100 – Rickie Fowler (+3000) $9,500
*With just one year of data, we’ll be looking more at recent form here as we have little to go on in terms of course history.
1. Bryson DeChambeau ($11,700, Recent finishes: T6-T8-T3): Bryson continued his tear at the Travelers last week, posting another top 10 finish. He gained over five strokes with his putter but was let down by an off week with his irons. It feels like he’s getting uber close to going on a multi-win run.
2. Tyrrell Hatton ($10,700, Recent finishes: T3-win): Hatton made a real run at winning two in a row in his first start after the break, finishing T3 at the RBC Heritage. The Englishman actually lost strokes off the tee for the week there but gained over nine strokes with his putter. He’ll need that club to stay hot in this week’s likely birdie-fest.
3. Viktor Hovland ($10,000, Recent finishes: T11-T21-T23): Hovland has been much more consistent coming off the break, landing three top 25 finishes in three straight starts. He gained over seven strokes with his irons last week, but couldn’t get the putter going, a club he’ll need to rebound quickly here.
4. Doc Redman ($8,500, Recent finishes: T11-T21): Redman has improved in each of his first three starts since coming off the hiatus, landing a T11 finish last week on the back of a final round 63. He also finished runner-up in Detroit last year and should be a popular DFS target this week.
5. Lucas Glover ($8,400, Recent finishes: T20-T21-T23): Glover’s been surprisingly consistent since coming off the break, landing three straight top 25 finishes. It’s all been on the back of great ball-striking too as the veteran has gained over three strokes on his approaches for the week in the first three events.
Cash Games: The top-heavy nature of this field definitely makes going with a top-heavy approach here less appealing. As such, I like targeting the duo of Viktor Hovland ($10,000) and Scottie Scheffler ($9,000) to get started. Hovland’s jacked-up price tag may seem hard to swallow, but he’s hitting his approaches better than anyone in the field, while Scheffler remains discounted in a weaker field after one missed cut. Both should enjoy this week’s venue with four scoreable par 5s. After these two, Adam Hadwin ($8,200) and Brandt Snedeker ($7,900) stick out as potential sources of value. Hadwin’s posted two made cuts in two starts with decent numbers across the board while Sneds should be looking forward to this event after finishing T5 here last season. Other potential cash targets here include Tyler Duncan ($7,000-see below) and Lanto Griffin ($6,800).
Tournaments: I am a well-known glutton for punishment, but I still think Rickie Fowler ($9,500) needs to be strongly considered this week. His poor restart hasn’t led to a huge drop in price yet, but that will only keep his ownership low. Fowler’s putter could easily explode at an event like this and lead to a massive week. Likewise, I also like the potential here for Alex Noren ($7,800), who has been massively hot or cold with his irons but very consistent with his putter. Finally, Si Woo Kim ($7,200) has to be on your radar after a T11 finish at the Travelers where he got hot with his irons. He’s a player who can go extremely low when everything is clicking. Other potential GPP targets include Aaron Wise ($6,700) and Wyndham Clark ($6,600).
MY PICK: Hideki Matsuyama ($10,200)
Despite a terrible missed cut in his first tournament back at the RBC Heritage, Matsuyama offers quite a bit of appeal in the DFS realm for me this week. The 28-year-old still ranks first in Strokes Gained: Approach stats in this field over the past 24 rounds and didn’t show much rust in that department in his two rounds at Hilton Head even as he came apart everywhere else. He’ll also be playing Detroit Golf Club for the second time in a row this season, finishing T13 in his first attempt. It’s also worth noting that Matsuyama performed well on these greens last year, gaining over a stroke on the field with the putter. He has also putt much better on Bentgrass historically than any other surface, gaining 11.9 strokes with his putter on Bentgrass over his past 50 rounds. From a strategy perspective, his poor start and the fact he’s priced over $10K should also keep his ownership somewhat suppressed in big field GPPs on DraftKings this week, making him a nice pivot if you’re looking to gain leverage in that department. He undoubtedly carries more risk than others in his range, but his long-term form and tendencies suggest we shouldn’t expect another poor week from him here.
MY SLEEPER: Tyler Duncan ($7,000)
In a weaker field like the one we’re getting this week, there will be lots of players in the low $7K range that will come in with ugly looking stats, which is one of the reasons why Duncan looks like an extremely solid target. The winner of the RSM Classic in late 2019, Duncan has looked good since coming off the break, recording three made cuts in a row and a T32 last week at the Travelers. More impressive, is the fact that Duncan has done this all despite not really heating up with his putter, as he still ended up losing over three strokes on the greens last week. The American has gained at least two strokes on his Approaches in his first three starts and ranked fifth in SG: Tee to Green stats at the Travelers. While he missed the cut here last season, that shouldn’t be particularly bothersome, as he was in almost the exact opposite of the sort of form he’s in now. At just $7K in price, Duncan’s the type of player who should give himself a ton of good looks at birdie or better on this easier track and if his putter gets hot he’ll have the ability to massively outperform what appears to be an undervalued price tag this week.
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is wavegoodbye) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above.