PGA DFS: Valspar Championship

The WGC – Mexico Championship provided unique challenges across the board for the field this past weekend. From the lack of course data to the elevation to stomach problems, there were issues aplenty throughout Club de Golf Chapultepec. Dustin Johnson overcame all the obstacles on his way to his second victory in as many starts.

This week will, hopefully, feature none of this issues. Course data and elevation won’t be a factor at all. If history is any indication, the DFS community should be targeting accuracy guys. The Copperhead course at Innisbrook Resort does play 7,340 yards but distance specialists haven’t performed well here. I’m searching for high GIR%, good strokes gained on approach shots and some scrambling ability this week. Distance off the tee will most likely be a tie-breaker for me, but all-around golfers should be able to make moves up the leaderboard in this weaker than average field.

High-Priced Studs ($10,000+)

Justin Thomas ($11,900) finally bounced back a little last week on his way to a T5 finish. He has scored well all year and has the best Vegas odds to win this weekend. The lack of truly elite talent in the field this weekend could pave the way for another Thomas victory. Thomas’s putter ran hot last week. His tee to green game seems like it’s getting back to the form we saw in Hawaii where he dominated the field two weeks in a row.

Henrik Stenson ($11,700) was forced to withdraw in Mexico due to the aforementioned stomach issues. He played well in two Euro events this year, but hasn’t played a meaningful, full round of golf since the beginning of February. With that said, I will be underweight on Stenson this weekend by a bit. Matt Kuchar ($10,200) is performing similarly in my model and the extra $1,500 in salary will provide enough relief to spread out exposure in the mid-range.

Daniel Berger ($10,100)  is the last of the $10,000+ guys. He’ll be rostered some but his recent GIR% is below average compared to the field.

Mid-Range Players ($8,000-$10,000)

Gary Woodland ($8,900) leads this group for my by a long shot. In 5 of his last 7 events, Woodland has been in the Top 20. He didn’t play particularly well last week but his all around game has been impressive this year. Woodland has the 4th highest driving distance in the field this week and is also in the Top 20 for birdie or better percentage and greens in regulation.

Bill Haas ($9,200) will be very popular this week. He has elite ball striking stats relative to the Valspar field. He has every opportunity to perform well but it might turn out to be a positive to fade him simply from a game theory perspective.

Charles Howell III ($9,400) and Patrick Reed ($9,700) are interesting plays at these prices. The game theory play is to pivot off of Howell and go to Reed just based on overall sentiment around the industry. Howell has been playing very well this year and has solid course history. Reed isn’t in his top form right now, but has a 7th place finish and a runner-up finish in his last two starts at the Snake Pit. Take the lower ownership and look for World Number 12 Reed to perform well on the weekend.

 

Value Plays ($8,000-$7,000)

The choice between Billy Horschel ($7,900) and Jason Dufner ($7,900) at the same price will probably make the difference between winning lineups. Horschel has better recent stats when it comes to greens in regulation and strokes gained on approach shots. But, Dufner’s recent scoring average and course history at Copperhead is better than Horschel’s by quite a bit. I’ll be split pretty evenly between these two.

Chez Reavie ($7,000) has taken a few weeks off after a string of missed cuts. Reavie has sneaky greens in regulation and approach stats though and should be relatively unowned. He can be a sneaky play in a GPP this weekend.

JJ Spaun ($7,200)  started off the year in great form. He’s finished no worse than T21 in 3 of his last 4 starts. Spaun hits greens and puts himself in position off the tee. He isn’t the longest hitter in the field but his combination of distance and accuracy can prove valuable on a course like Copperhead.

Bargain Plays (Sub-$7,000)

Adam Hadwin ($6,800) is money in the bank this week. He saw a slight bump in ownership after his 59 but he’s played solid all-around golf besides that impressive round. Hadwin hasn’t played well in the past here, but his current form is the best that he has played on tour. He has made 8 straight cuts and has above average ball-striking for his salary.

Bud Cauley ($6,500) and Scott Brown ($6,900)  are some of my favorite plays in this range. Cauley played well at The Honda Classic, posting a T27 and has made 4 of his last 5 cuts. Brown is also on a streak of 8 straight made cuts which included a runner-up finish at the Genesis Open.