The Sony Open in Hawaii turned into the Justin Thomas show. Thomas shot a 59 and never looked back, winning by 7 strokes. We managed to hit on 4/7 of our $8K and under picks, all of which had Top 50 finishes. As we turn our attention to the CareerBuilder Challenge in La Quinta, California there are a few things to look for that can point to success. Prior success at this tournament is somewhat important given that there are 3 different courses. Five of the ten most difficult holes last year were Par 3s which opens up opportunities for some of the ball-strikers in the field. There isn’t quite as much of a premium on distance, as average length drivers have seen success in the last few years.
Let’s check out the picks for this week’s upcoming PGA event.
The Clear Studs ($9k+)
Patrick Reed ($11,200) has the best Vegas odds in the field. His ball-striking hasn’t been where it needs to be recently and I don’t see him paying off at his current price. Phil Mickelson ($10,800), Bill Haas ($10,500), and Zach Johnson ($10,200) are all in consideration for cash games and GPPs this week. If I’m picking two of those four to pay up for, I’m looking at Haas and Johnson. Haas has dominated in La Quinta, posting 3 straight Top 10s. Johnson put together a couple of bogey-free rounds last week and is striking the ball well. If he can make a few more putts this week, Johnson will be a good cash play.
Under that $10K group are names like Charles Howell III ($9,900) and Jamie Lovemark ($9,600). Howell III has had success here in the past (Runner-up in 2013, 11th place in 2016). If the recent course history isn’t enough for you, he’s on a streak of 5 tournaments in a row with no worse than a T13 finish. Lovemark hit 75% of the greens in Waialae on his way to a T4 to start the calendar year. Look for him to continue that play in California this week.
The Mid-Range Guys ($7K-9K)
Luke List ($8,600) leads the mid-range guys for me. He played well in La Quinta last year, posting a 6th place finish. Since the Fall leg of the tour kicked off in mid-October, List has been in the Top 25 in 5 of 6 events. That 6th event? He was T26. He has been inconsistent in the past but it seems like he is onto something with his approach shots since October. List is hitting more greens and should be in the Top 25 again this week.
I have nothing but good things to say about Webb Simpson ($8,200). I certainly liked him better when he was down at $6,800 last week, but he’s in play again this week despite the price increase. Chez Reavie ($7,500) comes in with the 16th best odds to win but the 27th highest salary. That’s a pricing discrepancy that should be exploited considering DraftKings doesn’t typically have a gap that large.
Value Plays (Sub-$7K)
Last week we had our quartet of $6,800 guys that looked good, but it seems to be slim pickings this week. The optimal strategy might be a balanced lineup of guys in the $7K-$9K. Henrik Norlander ($6,800) pulled off a T20 at last week’s Sony Open. He has only missed 1 cut since last May. He may provide some of the salary relief needed to get up to Haas. Michael Thompson ($6,600) is another guy who can provide some salary relief. He’s coming off of a T13 and a T20 his last two times out. Thompson shouldn’t be in cash game consideration but he hits greens and is a solid putter which has been a successful combination at La Quinta in the past.