With the Florida swing concluding at The Honda Classic this past week, we now head to Texas, Austin specifically, for the World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play. Since 2016, Austin Country Club (par 71, 7,108 yards) has hosted this event, but unfortunately, last year’s edition was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This by default makes 2019 winner Kevin Kisner the defending champion of this WGC stop. First and foremost, this isn’t your standard week of fantasy golf. The WGC-Dell consists of 64 players that will be assembled into groups of four, creating 16 pools. Every golfer will play a round against the other three golfers in their pool, starting Wednesday and finishing Friday. The players who come out of the three-day period with the best records from each pool will move onto the round of 16. Then, these 16 golfers will face off in a sudden death format, with the round of 16 and quarterfinals taking place Saturday, and then the semifinals and finals on Sunday. Just like March Madness, this is a bracket styled format, with seeding based on current world golf rankings. So, targeting players who we believe have the best path to the finals is the obvious strategy. As for DraftKings scoring, this is also a completely different format. Everything is based on holes and matches won, not birdies, bogeys and finishing position.
Now, onto the course. Austin Country Club was designed by the late Pete Dye and is an excellent layout by the legendary architect. This par 71 has a very interesting mix of tricky par fours and fives, and similar to most Dye designs, the Bermuda greens are on the smaller side, putting a heavy emphasis on approach game. The four winners since the WGC-Dell Match play was moved to Austin have been Jason Day, Dustin Johnson, Bubba Watson and Kisner, in that order. Evident from this group, we have seen both short and long hitters succeed at Austin Country Club, and your work off the tee is less important than your play with your irons. Ranking as the three easiest holes on the scorecard, all three of the par fives at this par 71 are obtainable by most of the field in two shots, and I will be putting a larger weight than usual on par five scoring this week. Just like a standard DFS golf slate, we need to roster six players this week, and to gain exposure to the top seeds, we need to take some cheap gambles. Below, I present to you four of my favorite sub $7,500 options.
Harris English, $7,300
English has never competed at this track, but he has a legitimate chance to win his pool this week. The top dog of his four-player group is Daniel Berger ($9,000), who is returning after a rib injury kept him out of last week’s Honda Classic. English was also dealing with a back injury that forced him to withdraw prior to THE PLAYERS, but he is now two weeks removed from the ailment, and this course sets up well for the veteran. Throughout his career, English has preferred Bermuda, and he ranks 15th in total strokes gained over his last 50 rounds on courses that feature this cut of grass.
Plus, after a rough patch striking the ball, English appeared to be trending in the right direction in his last full start, gaining 6.2 ST2G at the Arnold Palmer Invitational (T29). If he can maintain this part of his game this week, English has a much higher ceiling than his low salary suggests. Of all the players who are priced at $7,400 or lower this week, the 31-year-old carries the best odds to move onto the round of 16 (+250), via DraftKings Sportsbook.
Bubba Watson, $7,400
Watson’s pool is no cake walk, taking on Patrick Reed, Joaquin Niemann and Christiaan Bezuidenhout, but his success at Austin Country Club can’t be overlooked at this soft of a price tag. As noted above, the left-handed bomber won the 2018 Dell Match Play and he also made it to the round of 16 the following season. The younger players in Niemann and Bezuidenhout both have never teed it up in Austin, and there is a strong possibility that this pool comes down to Watson vs. Reed.
The latter has been playing solid golf as of late, but Watson has the clear advantage in terms of course history and embracing his volatility in this head-to-head format is logical for GPPs this week.
Brian Harman, $7,200
Harman has been very reliable, playing on the weekend in 18 of his past 19 starts, and his performance at THE PLAYERS was very impressive. During this T3 finish, Harman ranked T3 in SG on the par fours and T5 in SG on the par fives at TPC Sawgrass. His flat stick caught fire on the Bermuda greens at the Florida venue, leading the field in SGP, and let’s not forget that this course was also designed by Dye.
Following this top-five, Harman now ranks 9th in total strokes gained when we compare every player in this elite field’s last 50 rounds, specifically at tracks created by Dye. Of the four players in his pool, Harman was the only one to make the cut at THE PLAYERS and his price tag is just too cheap for his chances of proceeding.
Talor Gooch, $6,600
Coming into his WGC-Dell Match Play debut this week, Gooch is strong form, making it to six of his last seven weekends. During this stretch, the 29-year-old made some serious noise at TPC Sawgrass, posting a career-best T5 at the famous Dye course. Across his past eight rounds, Gooch ranks 3rd in SG APP, 11th in SGT2G and 8th in BOB%.
As for his pool, Gooch will be facing Webb Simpson, Paul Casey and Mackenzie Hughes. Gooch should be able to secure his match against Hughes and I wouldn’t put it past him to take to down Simpson or Casey, considering how well he has been striking the ball as of late.
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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is Hunta512) 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. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.
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